Radio Currents Online - Nov 24 - Dec 6, 2003

Radio technology news updated as it happens.

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News


Canada's Digital Radio Rollout Enters New Phase
Nov 21, 2003 - Having fulfilled its current four-year mandate, Digital Radio Roll-Out Inc. (DRRI) will now be operated under the auspices of the Canadian Association of Broadcasters (CAB) and structured to provide an ongoing foundation of partnership between private radio broadcasters, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) and the Communications Research Centre Canada (CRC), all of which have actively participated in the development of Canadian DAB.

In the short term, DRRI will shift the primary focus away from marketing to address the policy and regulatory issues fundamental to the advancement of digital audio broadcasting. A number of elements such as the digital radio web site, liaisons with manufacturers/retailers and the national adbank will remain in place.

Jointly with the announcement of DRRI's updated status, other announcements were made.

A series of meetings with key manufacturers from around the world will take place in Toronto during December and January. Cost-effective receivers have been adapted for the Canadian marketplace and are expected to ship in the new future. DRRI is arranging for and coordinating this rollout.

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) has just approved an application from the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) to broadcast weather, traffic and news on an adjacent channel to the digital radio station associated with CBF-FM Montreal. This station is now on the air. The CRTC has previously approved an application by Sur Sagar for a DAB exclusive multicultural station to operate in Canada.

In terms of expanding the number of DAB markets in Canada. O.K. Radio Group has applied for a transitional digital radio license associated with its existing stations CJZN-FM and CKKQ-FM in Victoria.

More than 60 Canadian DAB stations are currently on air, making service available to 11 million people in Vancouver, Toronto, Windsor, Montreal, and Ottawa. Seven Halifax DAB signals are currently being field-tested, including three CBC (Radio One, Radio Two, Première) as well as CIOO-FM, Q104, Country101 and FM96.5.

DRRI is a non-profit joint initiative of private broadcasters including Astral Radio, CHUM, Corus Entertainment, Rogers Media and Standard Radio, and public broadcasters including the CBC and Radio Canada. The effort is supported by the the Canadian government. DRRI's mandate is the introduction of digital audio broadcasting services across Canada.
Gray Radio Museum Finds New Home
West Chester Township, OH - Dec 1, 2003 - The Gray History of Wireless Museum is a repository of thousands of artifacts from the beginning of radio, including a shard of glass from a condenser used by the Guglielmo Marconi in his early experiments.

On July 12, 2003, volunteers began moving the Gray from the WCET-TV facilities in Cincinnati to its new home, the Voice of America Museum in West Chester Township, a suburb of Cincinnati. The VOA was made available through an agreement between the museum’s board of trustees and the West Chester trustees.

The new facility makes the Gray Museum more accessible to the public and provides a larger display area. Plans are in the works to expand the museum's offering, including a participatory element.

The Gray, referred to as “the secret museum” in a local newspaper, also includes many historical items relating to Powell Crosley, builder of the Voice of America Bethany Relay Station.

The Gray Museum will remain an independent non-profit corporation with its own board of trustees and will retain ownership of the items in its collection. The Gray’s transition to the Voice of America is expected to take some time as arrangements are made to provide secure areas for storage of the collection.

More information on the Gray Museum is available at the museum's website at www.graymuseum.org.
NAB Prepares License Renewal Guide
Washington - Nov 25, 2003 - The NAB's Radio Station License Renewal Guide is now available on the NAB's website. This manual provides all of the essential materials and information needed to obtain a radio station license renewal from the FCC. New for this renewal cycle: the updated manual is online and interactive, enabling users to immediately link from the Renewal Guide directly to relevant FCC rules and decisions, and additional, in-depth advice from NAB and others. The new manual also allows users to quickly and easily go back-and-forth between a detailed "how to" guide to completing the FCC's renewal application (Form 303-S), and the application itself. Click here to access the guide. It may take several minutes for slower connections to download this document. For further information, contact NAB Legal at (202) 429-5430.

The NAB link: http://tinyurl.com/wnf3
FCC Releases Quarterly Report on Inquiries and Complaints Washington, DC - Nov 20, 2003 - The FCC has released the report on the inquiries and complaints processed by the Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau (CGB) during the third quarter of calendar year 2003.

Complaint activity increased within all major areas except cable during the third quarter. The largest increase occurred within radio and television. A total of 19,920 indecency and obscenity complaints were received during the quarter. Complaint activity was higher in all five top wireless categories, with the largest percentage increases coming from the service quality and equipment categories. In total, wireless complaint volume rose from 3,901 last quarter to 4,825 this quarter. Wireline complaints edged up from 10,418 to 11,093 due to a rise in Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) complaints. By contrast, cramming complaints fell by more than half during the quarter, tempering the increase in composite wireline complaints. Cable complaints slipped from 273 to 253 during the third quarter as increases in billing/rates and disability complaints were outstripped by a decline in service-related complaints.

Meanwhile, inquiry activity fell in all major areas during the third quarter. Radio and TV broadcasting inquiries fell the most, dropping from 6,014 to 3,244. Wireless inquiries dropped from 13,983 to 11,828 due largely to sharp declines in electrical interference and amateur license inquiries. Slamming and cramming accounted for most of the decrease in wireline inquiries, which fell from 50,249 to 44,550 during the third quarter. Cable inquiries eased from 4,818 to 4,474, with most of the decline coming from the over-the-air-reception device (OTARD) category.

The complete report is available online at this link.
FCC Announces Voice Over IP Agenda
Washington - Nov 24, 2003 - The FCC will hold a forum to discuss voice over Internet protocol (VoIP). All the FCC Commissioners will participate. The hearing is open to the public, and seating will be available on a first-come, first-served basis. The hearing date, time and location are:
Monday Dec. 1, 2003
10:30 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.


Federal Communications Commission
Commission Meeting Room
445 12th Street, NW
Washington, D.C.


The purpose of the forum is to gather information concerning advancements, innovations and regulatory issues related to VoIP services. Information concerning the forum, including the agenda, copies of presentations and bios of the speakers, are available at the forum webpage at www.fcc.gov/voip.

The VoIP Forum will be webcast live and also archived for later viewing. Access to and additional information concerning the webcast is available at www.fcc.gov/realaudio.
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Business


Audemat-Aztec Expands to Latin America
Miami, FL - Dec 5, 2003 – The Audemat-Aztec office based in Miami is now in charge of sales for the entire North American continent. The decision was made after a successful year in Miami, establishing market awareness in Canada, the United States and Mexico. The second phase of expansion will concentrate on bringing this same awareness to Latin America.

Audemat-Aztec has appointed Luis Alpiste (alpiste@audemat-aztec.com) to handle the Latin America territory. Alpiste is fluent in Spanish, as is Sophie Lion Poulain, the manager of operations, marketing and communication efforts. Christophe Poulain continues as vice president of Audemat-Aztec.
ERI Protects Rototiller Trademark
Chandler, IN - Dec 5, 2003 - Electronics Research has reaffirmed that it will protect and defend its registered trademark of the word Rototiller, the trade name of ERI’s most popular side-mounted, circularly polarized FM antenna product line. The Rototiller antenna was designed by ERI’s president and CEO, Tom Silliman in the early 1970s and the term was first used in commerce in early 1976.

"The term Rototiller was actually first applied informally by personnel at the radio stations that used the product. Later we at ERI also began referring to our LP and SHP series FM antennas as Rototiller’s as well," said Silliman. He added, "the whole product line has been successful beyond our most optimistic expectations. The Rototiller has been marketed and sold directly by ERI and is available in private labeled versions from Harris, Continental and Broadcast Electronics."

In regards to the use of the term Rototiller among the radio industry, Silliman said, "We feel that it is necessary for us as a company to protect the name and prevent other companies from deceptively identifying their FM antennas as being a Rototiller. Rototiller FM antennas are only available from ERI and no other manufacturer has duplicated this product in terms of construction, features, performance, and reliability."

The formal application was made a few years ago, and the registration of the word mark was granted by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office occurred early last year. While the ownership of this trademark does not prevent other companies from manufacturing and selling similar FM antennas, the registration does preclude the use of the term in a manner that may confuse buyers as to the product they are purchasing.
XM Gets Serious, Sirius Gets Panasonic
By Cory Dietz, About.com
Dec 3, 2003 - XM Satellite Radio and Sirius Satellite Radio, the two companies competing for the newly emerging satellite radio market, both recently announced changes to their products in the hopes of capturing the attention of a public still easily distracted by numerous radio choices.

Sirius has teamed up with Panasonic and will debut Panasonic Sirius satellite receiver products in September. The new Panasonic line of satellite receivers will feature scrolling displays, 18 programmable preset channels, the ability to search channels by category, and artist and song title displays. The new products will be available through retail stores, car dealers and to commercial truckers through customary outlets.

Joseph P. Clayton, President and CEO of Sirius says, "We're convinced that once you listen to Sirius on a Panasonic system, it will be hard to go back to regular radio."

But, for those potential users who are still skeptical about buying a dedicated satellite radio receiver, the new CR-SRF 100 universal adapter kit will also be available. This will enable any vehicle with an FM radio to receive the 100 channels of Sirius programming, eliminating the need to purchase new hardware.

XM Satellite Radio has announced it will retool its 100 channel lineup. Effective, Aug. 26, the company plans to add new channels including: Neo-Soul, Books and Drama, Old-Time Radio Dramas, Folk Music, and Easy Listening, to name a few. Beginning Sept. 3, Playboy Radio, XM's first premium channel, will be offered to subscribers. This channel will cost listeners an additional $2.99 per month.

XM President and CEO, Hugh Panero says, "After nearly a year of delivering America's first nationwide digital satellite radio service, we've learned a lot about our listener's tastes and preferences. Based largely on subscriber feedback, we're making a number of enhancements to XM's 100 channel lineup."

Will new receivers and new channels help both fledgling companies to continue to build listenership? It's hard to say. Many people never thought they would want to pay for cable TV when they already had free television. But, we are a society that demands choices and choices usually cost money.
Regent Communications Standardizes with Wicks Broadcast Solutions
Reedsport, OR, and Covington, KY - Dec 4, 2003 - Wicks Broadcast Solutions has entered into an agreement with Regent Communications to integrate Wicks’ DeltaFlex 4 broadcast management software into Regent’s 76 radio stations located throughout the United States.
Susquehanna Orders Five IBOC Transmitters
Quincy, IL − Dec 4, 2003 - Susquehanna Radio is equipping five of its FM stations with Broadcast Electronics IBOC digital transmitters, signal generators and exciters. WFMS-FM and WGLD-FM, both serving Indianapolis, installed Broadcast Electronics FMi-1405 transmitter systems in November and December. Another Susquehanna station in Indianapolis, WGRL-FM, will receive the Broadcast Electronics FMi-703 transmitter package, including IBOC amplification, signal generator and digital exciter in late December. Susquehanna stations WARM-FM in York, PA, and WRRM-FM in Cincinnati will each take delivery of am FMi-1405 transmitter in early 2004.

The five transmitters are being configured for common amplification of both the analog and digital FM signals in combined low-level operation. The first phase of Susquehanna's IBOC implementation covers conversion of all the low-level combined operations. The Broadcast Electronics FMi-1405 transmitter is capable of producing the combined power levels necessary for Susquehanna’s Class B stations with 14kW TPO in an analog/low-level IBOC configuration. The FMi-703 transmitter generates up to 7kW TPO in an analog/low-level IBOC configuration.
New DVD Standard Unveiled
Tokyo - Nov 28, 2003 - The Associated Press reports that Toshiba and NEC have developed a new DVD standard that the DVD Forum, an international association of electronics makers and movie studios, has approved. The new format will hold five times the amount of information of current DVDs.

The approval only covers read-only DVD players. The companies will need similar approval for rewritable DVD recorders.

Toshiba and NEC call their new format HD DVD. NEC plans to launch the new technology in products in the fall of 2005. Toshiba may sell notebook computers with HD DVD drives in the future and plans to start marketing an HD DVD recorder sometime in 2004.
Andrew Completes Selected Sale of Assets to ERI
Orland Park, IL, and Chandler, IL - Nov 21, 2003 - Andrew has closed on its agreement to sell selected assets from its Orland Park, IL, location and all of the assets at its Gray, ME, facility to Electronics Research. Selected assets sold include filters, combiners and RF components for television and FM radio, antenna systems for TV broadcast applications and rigid transmission line products including the Macxline and Guideline brands. Financial details of the transaction are not being disclosed.
Klotz Completes Funding Round
Munich - Nov 24, 2003 - Klotz Digital has completed its current funding round increasing shareholders’ equity of Euro8.5 million. Deutsche Venture Capital (DVC) leads the investment, which includes other co-investors.

Klotz recently announced several new contracts in the broadcast sector, including the Australian broadcasting companies DMG and Austereo, UK radio companies Radio Tay and Jazz FM, and Radio Rijnmond and RTV Noord Holland in the Netherlands.
OMT and CBC-Galaxie Launch Commercial Music Service
Winnipeg, MB, and Ottawa, ON - Nov 24, 2003 - OMT and CBC-Galaxie have signed a letter of intent to jointly launch a unique commercial music service in December 2003. As part of the agreement, Galaxie will provide the marketing and content programming expertise, while OMT will provide the technology and infrastructure. The unique commercial music service will include the ability to offer customized programming, insert messages or advertisements, and provide customer-influenced content. This subscription-based service will primarily be marketed in Canada, and will include English and French content.

OMT and CBC-Galaxie have built a strong business relationship that dates back to 1997 when OMT provided the technology for CBC-Galaxie's Continuous Music Network service. Since that time, the two companies have worked together to build, upgrade and deliver cost-effective media entertainment services.
Wicks to Outfit All Infinity Radio Stations
Reedsport, OR, and New York - Nov 24, 2003 - Wicks Broadcast Solutions has entered into an agreement with Infinity Broadcasting to integrate Wicks’ Deltaflex 4 broadcast management and Control Tower reporting and data consolidation systems into Infinity’s 185 radio stations located throughout the United States.

Deltaflex 4 is a traffic/billing/broadcast management software system. Control Tower allows detailed assignment of goals and targets to be matched against actual and projected sales. Control Tower aggregates all of this information generated at the station and market level and presents reports and graphs via a Web browser.

Infinity operates 185 radio stations, the majority of which are in the nation’s top 50 markets and reach more than 76 million listeners a week.
Andrew Acquires Channel Master Assets
Orland Park, IL - Nov 24, 2003 - Andrew has acquired selected assets of Channel Master and certain parts of its subsidiaries for total consideration of about $18 million in cash. Channel Master is a privately held designer and manufacturer of high-volume antenna and antenna-related products for professional VSAT (very small aperture terminal), consumer DBS (direct broadcast satellite) and TV accessory markets. The acquired assets include equipment, inventory, intellectual property and a lease on a portion of the Smithfield, NC, facility for a period as long as 18 months.

Andrew is currently working with former Channel Master customers to ensure delivery and service continuity while integration teams are examining customer, commercial and employee implications of combining Channel Master's U.S. and overseas operations into existing Andrew locations.
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Products


Burk Offers VRC1000, VRC2000 Trade-In Program
Littleton, MA - Nov 24, 2003 - Burk Technology has announced a $400 trade-in program on new orders for GSC3000 and VRC2500 transmitter remote control systems. The program allows customers who purchase a new GSC3000 or VRC2500 to send their existing VRC1000 or VRC2000 units to the factory to receive $400 back on their upgrade. The offer runs until Feb. 27, 2004, and is available on orders through all of Burk’s distributors.

The VRC1000 and VRC2000 were discontinued prior to Burk acquiring the newer product lines in April 2001. Since then, Burk Technology has released new firmware, software and hardware for the GSC3000 and VRC2500. In addition, the company is introducing the Web Interface to add IP-based site control whether or not there is direct LAN/WAN access at the transmitter site.

Details on the trade-in offer are at www.burk.com/trade-in.
Tascam to Distribute Kamesan Mixers
Montebello, CA - Nov 21, 2003 - Tascam has taken on the distribution of Kamesan location mixers in the United States. Kamesan has more than a 90 percent share of the ENG/EFP mixer market in Japan.

Three of the more popular models are the KST-2000 and KS-342 mixers and the Monicough. The KST-2000 is a compact three-channel mixer. The KS-342 has a pair of expansion modules, four mic inputs, comprehensive monitoring and a compact design. The Monicough is a stand-alone microphone preamp, talkback/headphone monitor system and mute switch for commentary applications.
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