Radio Currents Online - Sep 15 - Sep 21, 2003


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FCC Forms Approved and Availablefor Use


Washington - Sept 17, 2003 - The FCC's Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has approved the reactivation of the following forms:


FCC, State of Michigan ToAssess Effect of Towers on Birds


Washington, DC - Sept 17, 2003 - The FCC's Wireless Telecommunications Bureau has signed a memorandum of agreement with the State of Michigan and the FCC Enforcement Bureau. The agreement ensures that in connection with the construction of the Michigan Public Safety Communications System (MPSCS), the state will comply with requirements under the FCC’s rules implementing the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The statewide MPSCS includes 180 towers, which support communications for state and local public safety agencies.

The agreement recognizes Michigan’s commitment to participate in and facilitate an Avian Collision Study at selected towers in the MPSCS. The Avian Study, which will be conducted over the next 2.5 years, will contribute to the understanding of the effects of communications towers on birds protected by the ESA and migratory birds.

The Avian Study was developed and designed collaboratively by ornithologist Paul Kerlinger, of Curry and Kerlinger, and wildlife biologist Al Manville, of the United States Forest and Wildlife Service Division of Migratory Bird Management, and reviewed by volunteer ornithological scientists with the assistance of the Ornithological Council. The study is intended to systematically research the effect of lighting, height and guy wires on avian collisions at selected towers in the 350 to 500 foot height range in the MPSCS. The variety of types and heights of towers within the system provides conditions that are conducive to systematically measuring the effects of these variables. Depending on funding and the ability to negotiate access, the Avian Study may also be expanded to include some taller towers. The study is designed to help identify reasonable and cost-effective measures that might be available to minimize any impacts of the studied towers on birds protected by the ESA and migratory birds.

This agreement promotes Chairman Powell’s action plan, announced in May, to improve the Commission’s ability to protect valuable historic and environmental resources, while at the same time accelerating the process of developing necessary communications infrastructure. Specifically, by providing empirical scientific information on bird collisions with towers, the study will help the Commission carry out its environmental responsibility in an efficient, effective and streamlined manner. On Aug. 20, 2003, the Commission also released a Notice of Inquiry to gather comment and information on the impact that communications towers may have on migratory birds.

Copies of the Avian Study and agreement are available at the Wireless Bureau’s website at
wireless.fcc.gov/siting.


Senate Repeals Media OwnershipRules


Washington - Sept 16, 2003 - In a 55-40 vote, the Senate has repealled the FCC's media ownership rules. The Senate voted to undo changes to FCC regulations that govern ownership of newspapers, television and radio stations. The FCC adopted new rules in June that increased the number of local stations networks can own from 35 percent of the national audience to 45 percent of the national audience.

The measure faces a battle in the U.S. House and the threat of a veto by President Bush if it reaches his desk.

In response to the Senate's move, FCC Chairman Michael Powell said:

This resolution, if passed by the House and signed by the president, would only muddy the media regulatory waters. It would bring no clarity to media regulation, only chaos. It would create perverse results, such as a return to looser radio rules permitting greater consolidation. This is a harm the FCC’s new media rules were designed to avoid. It would also reinstate ownership rules that were overturned by the courts. Under the terms of the resolution, the FCC would be forbidden from reissuing any substantially similar rules. In short the agency would be powerless to cure the infirmities identified by the court.

What is most important is to have the best policies for the American people. I hope the House will take a more considered view of the public interest.


No Fee Waiver for BAS Updates in FCCULS


Indianapolis - Sept 10, 2003 - With the FCC rule change that specifies that prior notification procedures, like those used for part 101 frequencies, will be used for Part 74 broadcast auxiliary services, the Society of Broadcast Engineers (SBE) issued the following memo to its frequency coordinators. The memo was written by Chris Imlay, general counsel for the SBE.

On June 2, 2003, the Society of Broadcast Engineers filed an emergency request for waiver with the Office of the Managing Director at FCC. The waiver, which would have been applicable to all Part 74 licensees, would waive the requirement of tendering filing fees for certain Part 74 modification applications filed on FCC Form 601. Specifically, the SBE request asked that Part 74 licensees be permitted to file a form 601 application to modify their existing Part 74 Broadcast Auxiliary (BAS) licenses without tendering a fee, to the extent that the modification applications provide information missing from the Commission’s database. A filing fee would, under the SBE’s proposal, have been necessary for an application filed in order to correct erroneous information, or to otherwise modify an existing Broadcast Auxiliary license. This waiver request was denied by the Commission’s chief financial officer, Mark A. Reger, on September 3, 2003. As a result, it is necessary for all Part 74 licensees to review and modify their Part 74 licenses to include any missing information, including especially fixed receive sites, immediately. To do so, FCC Form 601 must be filed and the normal application fee of $120.00 must be tendered with each modification application.

The SBE had requested the waiver in order to encourage licensees to improve the now substantially defective FCC database for Part 74 facilities, in anticipation of the new coordination procedures for Part 74 fixed facilities that are soon to go into effect. In ET Docket No. 01-75, the Commission released a Report and Order, FCC 02-298, on November 13, 2002. That docket proceeding revised the Part 74 Broadcast Auxiliary Service (BAS) rules to update them and to permit more efficient technologies to be deployed in that Service. Among many other things, the R and O created a specific, mandatory frequency coordination system prior to licensing of new or modified BAS facilities applicable to most fixed point-to-point Aural and TV BAS facilities. The new prior coordination procedures were modeled after the existing Part 101 procedures used for fixed microwave paths. The procedures involve both standard coordination processes and a prior notification procedure for co-channel and adjacent channel licensees in nearby geographic areas. This process obviously presumes a valid and current database that would be used by the Part 74 coordinators.

After the release of the ET Docket 01-75 R&O, the Commission granted an SBE request for temporary stay of the effective date of the new prior coordination procedures for fixed BAS facilities. The SBE asked for additional time to allow BAS licensees to provide and correct BAS receive site information in the licensing database (ULS) to ensure that the new procedures effectively avert interference to existing systems. Though the SBE had asked that a stay be granted for a period of one year, the Commission granted this stay for a period of only six months, on April 15, 2003. The stay terminates October 16, 2003, unless otherwise extended.

The SBE argued to the FCC that for historic reasons, principally the fact that the old FCC form 313 did not require information such as receive site coordinates, for example, the database now does not include such information for a significant percentage of existing stations. Furthermore, because there was a disconnect between broadcast license assignments under Part 73 and the Part 74 database, the Part 74 database was, and remains, substantially corrupted. While the new FCC Form 601 solves most of the missing information problem for newer facilities, the database remains corrupted by inaccurate, outdated and missing information. While the Commission staff has on recent occasion called for correction of database information by licensees, some information required to accurately conduct the new prior notification procedures and updated coordination processes is simply missing. The SBE argued that it would be unfair to subject BAS licensees to an inaccurate and incomplete database, because prior coordination efforts for new facilities would fail and result in interference. Incumbent licensees have had existing fixed studio-to-transmitter links and other BAS fixed facilities in place for many years and provided all information required at all relevant times to keep their license information up to date, but simply weren’t required to, and did not, provide certain information now critical. A bad database is also unfair to new applicants who go through the process of applying for a new fixed BAS facility, only to find that there are existing receive sites which will suffer harmful interference because they were not in the database, precluding the coordinated new facility.

Because there must be an incentive to licensees to correct the database, and because the missing information and the bad database is not the fault of the Part 74 licensee, but rather the legacy of FCC forms and database management, the fee waiver appeared entirely appropriate to the SBE.

The FCC’s number crunchers, however, taking an unusually unsympathetic tone, said that waivers should be requested for each individual station, not on a blanket basis. In any case, they said, waivers are not granted liberally, but only for extraordinary and compelling circumstances. Obtaining an accurate database is not such a circumstance, they said. FCC indicated that the six-month stay on the effective date of the new, prior coordination procedures, was sufficient accommodation to allow licensees to correct the database, and therefore the fee waiver was not shown to be in the public interest.

Where do we go from here? The stay on the effective date of the new Part 74 prior coordination rules for fixed BAS facilities expires October 16, 2003. The SBE intends to request an additional period of 6 months before the new Part 74 prior coordination procedures for fixed BAS facilities goes into effect. In the meantime, licensees should immediately check their Part 74 licenses and add any missing data, such as receive locations and information that might not have been provided in the past using the old FCC Form 313.


Business



Rohn Tower Files for Bankruptcy


Peoria, IL - Sept 16, 2003 - Rohn Industries, a provider of towers to the telecommunications industry, announced that the company and five of its direct and indirect subsidiaries have filed voluntary petitions for Chapter 11 relief in the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of Indiana. The company also announced that, concurrent with the Chapter 11 filing, it has entered into a $9.5 million debtor-in-possession line of credit with the lenders that are party to the company's amended and restated credit agreement, subject to the approval of the Bankruptcy Court, which will include funds that will be rolled forward from the company's current credit facility.

Subject to the provisions of the Bankruptcy Code, the company remains in possession of its assets and properties, and continues to operate its business. Rohn said that the objective of the Chapter 11 proceeding is to maximize recovery to creditors by facilitating an orderly sale of assets. Rohn is currently in discussions with an unrelated third party regarding a proposed sale of the assets of the company.

On the filing of the bankruptcy petition, Stephen Gorman and Jordan Roderick each have resigned from the company's Board of Directors. Currently, Horace Ward, the chief executive officer of the company, is the only remaining director.


Omnirax Focuses on Broadcast


Sausalito, CA - Sept 16, 2003 - Omnirax, a manufacturer of pro audio studio furniture for more than 15 years, has expanded its line to include models designed specifically for the broadcast industry. Omnirax has provided furniture for radio and TV stations across the United States in the past, but the new commitment to broadcast comes on the heels of an arrangement to develop and provide the broadcast furniture for a large group moving to a new radio broadcast center in Los Angeles. The name of the broadcaster will be announced at a later time.

Contact Omnirax at 800-332-3393,
info@omnirax.com or www.omnirax.com.


Yes Networks to License Data fromMediaguide


Berwyn, PA - Sept 16, 2003 - Yes Networks will integrate data licensed from Mediaguide for the company's Yes service, which allows consumers to learn about songs they hear on radio and TV stations, and buy associated products at Amazon.com and Ebay. No terms of the deal were announced.

Mediaguide creates a unique set of identifiers, or a "fingerprint," of a song or advertisement, and uses this fingerprint template to monitor content across its network. Mediaguide's data will enable Yes listeners to view real-time information on a particular song or artist that is playing on a radio station, before purchasing music. Yes Networks and Mediaguide will work together to deliver accurate, timely, and definitive information on music, whether transmitted through analog and digital terrestrial broadcast radio, Internet or wireless networks, so that consumers can access information on what they want to buy or what has been purchased.

Mediaguide currently monitors more than 2,200 radio stations in the United States in more than 200 markets. The database is comprised of millions of tracks. Mediaguide automatically compares content to its database and, for new or unknown content, and can compare against similar registered works. The company's proprietary technology, which was originally developed by Connexus, has been tested for several years within the music industry and has been designed as a plug-and-play network that can scale flexibly to monitor limitless numbers of stations, providing cost benefits to customers.


Multichannel DAB Tests in UK


Amsterdam, IBC2003 - Sept 12, 2003 - Microsoft, Capital Radio, NTL Broadcast and Radioscape have partnered to test 5.1-channel surround sound with digital audio broadcasting (DAB) in the United Kingdom. The trial will involve live Internet Protocol (IP) datacasting of Microsoft Windows Media Audio 9 Professional (WMA Pro) 5.1-channel content over L-Band in the central London area starting October 2003. The trial is expected to last for about six months.

Capital Radio will provide the surround-sound content. NTL Broadcast's special DAB trial multiplex will transmit the material, which is expected to be able to be received throughout the central London area. WMA Pro can deliver 5.1-channel surround sound at bit-rates as low as 128kb/s. The audio data will be streamed from a Windows Server 2003 and then broadcast via the DAB transport stream.

Two Radioscape DAB receiver designs that deliver 5.1-channel audio DAB data streams are currently in commercial production. These designs include Modular Technology's L-Band DAB PCI card and the Gyro-1112 DAB receiver module from Gyro Signal Technology, both of which interface with a PC for the final stage of the 5.1 audio decoding.


Harris Conducts DRM Tests inChina


IBC 2003, Amsterdam - Sept 12, 2003 - Harris has conducted China's first over-the-air Digital Radio Mondiale (DRM) digital audio broadcasting demonstration on the medium-wave broadcast band. The demonstration, conducted in late August at the SARFT transmitter site outside of Beijing, showed that Harris DX Medium Wave radio transmitter systems can be converted quickly, easily and cost-effectively.

According to Don Spragg, director of high-power radio and programs for Harris Corporation's Broadcast Communications Division, a Harris DX200, 200kW transmitter was prepared for DRM transmission in less than an hour for an extended over-the-air DRM broadcast. "The testing purpose was two fold: to assist SARFT with the first MW DRM demonstration in China; and to prove that Harris' DX line of 10kW through 2,000kW transmitters operating in the field are DRM ready."


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People



Professional Audio Design AppointsWalsh


Rockland, MA - Sept 12, 2003 - Professional Audio Design (PAD) has appointed Chris Walsh as the company’s new director of West Coast sales.

Walsh graduated from the Institute of Audio Research’s one-year program and immediately landed engineering jobs at several major record labels, including Elektra/Asylum Records and 20th Century Records. From there, he migrated to Warner Brothers Publishing, where he was in charge of studio operations and engineering.

His sales career began with Studio Maintenance, where he sold and installed large audio consoles. He was the studio manager and staff engineer for Yo-Dad Productions, general manager for The Guitar Center overseeing several retail outlets, and he was the vice president of sales and marketing for Martinsound. prior to joining PAD, Walsh served as the sales manager for Studio Products for Tannoy North America and as a product manager for DPA Microphones.


Lowery Joins RF Specialties


Mukilteo, WA - Sept 16, 2003 - Walt Lowery will be joining the Seattle-based office of RF Specialties as a transmitter specialist. Lowery will work with Bill Newbrough and Matt Meaney selling Nautel, Crown and Continental transmitters in Alaska, Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Montana.

Lowery has sold broadcast equipment in the Pacific Northwest since 1985. He is also known to many broadcasters from his years of service at Gentner Electronics, Symetrix and Allied Broadcast Equipment. He most recently was regional sales manager in the Northwest for Harris, achieving the VIP Quota Club and General Manager’s Pinnacle Awards.

Among his career highlights, he was responsible for development of the Gentner Teleswitch, the Symetrix 610 Broadcast Delay and the Symetrix 628 Digital Voice Processor. He is a contributing author to the seventh, eighth and ninth issues of the NAB Engineering Handbook.

Prior to entering the equipment sales field, Lowery was the chief engineer for WRAR-AM/FM, WMYK-FM and WZAM-AM in his home state of Virginia.

Lowery can be contacted at 425-210-9196 or waltlowery@aol.com.


Bisset joins DielectricCommunications


Raymond, ME - Sept 15, 2003 - Dielectric Communications has appointed John Bisset as the regional sales manager of radio products for the northeastern states, effective Sept. 29.

Bisset comes to Dielectric from Harris Corporation’s broadcast division where he served as district sales manager. Previously, he was with Multiphase and Delta Electronics and has held engineering positions at several major market radio stations.

Bisset is also a regular presenter at industry conventions.





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Products



Digidesign Offers Free Pro ToolsUpdate


Daly City, CA - Sept 16, 2003 - Digidesign has unveiled Pro Tools LE 6.1.1 software, a free, cross-platform update featuring an overhauled low-level driver architecture, and an open-hardware platform for users of third-party software products. The software update and stand-alone driver installers are available to Pro Tools 6.1 software owners via download from the Digidesign website at www.digidesign.com.

The update offers improved system stability and performance when using audio and MIDI I/O on Digi 001 and Digi 002/Digi 002 Rack systems. Pro Tools LE 6.1.1 also provides other enhancements, such as Core Audio driver support for Digi 002/Digi 002 Rack, new stand-alone installers for Core Audio, ASIO and WAV drivers that can be used without having to install Pro Tools and Windows Media 9 export on Windows XP-based systems.


Tascam Ships FW-1884


Montebello, CA - Sept 12, 2003 - Tascam’s FW-1884 DAW control surface and audio/MIDI interface is now shipping. Designed by Tascam and Frontier Design Group, the FW-1884 uses the Firewire high-speed data transfer protocol and features an 18-channel audio interface, eight mic preamps, 4x4 MIDI interface and flexible editing and mixing controls.


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