Radio Currents Online - Jan 19 - Jan 25, 2004

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Senate Approves Spending Bill with Broadcast Ownership Verbiage

Washington - Jan 22, 2004 - The Senate approved a $373 billion bill to fund most federal agencies. The catch-all measure passed in a 65 to 28 vote. The bill now goes to President Bush, who will sign it soon, according to Republicans.

Included in the bill is language that sets the national TV ownership cap to 39 percent. While the FCC increased the limit to 45 percent in June, a federal court has debated the issue. The 39 percent compromise was established by lawmakers at the end of 2003.

The NAB is pleased with the bill's passage. NAB President Eddie Fritts released the following statement:

"We're pleased the national television ownership cap issue appears to be resolved by the passage of this legislation. We salute all broadcasters who worked with Congress to reach this compromise that recognizes the enduring value of free, local television stations."

FCC Sets Agenda for Localism Hearing

Washington - Jan 22, 2004 - The Localism Task Force of the FCC has released further details of the San Antonio field hearing regarding broadcast localism. Chairman Michael Powell will preside along with Commissioners Kathleen Abernathy, Michael Copps, and Jonathan Adelstein. The hearing will be held Jan. 28, 2004, from 5:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. at the City Council Chamber, Municipal Plaza Building, San Antonio, TX.

The purpose of the hearing is to gather information from consumers, industry, civic organizations and others on broadcasters’ service to their local communities. An important focus of the hearing will be to gather information and to conduct outreach for the ongoing nationwide round of broadcast station license renewals. The designated speakers were selected to compose balanced and informative panels, and include representatives from consumer and advocacy groups, the creative community and broadcasters. The hearing format will enable members of the public to participate via “open microphone” and submission of written questions.

Confirmed panelists include:

  • Ray Benson, co-founder/guitarist/vocalist of the band “Asleep at the Wheel”; board member, The Recording Academy, Texas Chapter.

  • Lydia Camarillo, vice president, Southwest Voter Registration Education Project, San Antonio.

  • John Freeman, chief operations officer, Southern Development Foundation, licensee of low-power FM station KOCZ-LP, Opelousas, LA.

  • Steve Giust, general manager, KWEX-TV (Univision), San Antonio.

  • Tom Glade, vice president/market manager, Clear Channel Radio, San Antonio.

  • Jerry Hanszen, owner and general manager, KMHT AM-FM, Marshall, TX, and KGAS AM-FM, Carthage, TX.

  • Joe Linson, vice president, NAACP, San Antonio Branch.

  • Robert G. McGann, president and general manager, KENS-TV (CBS) (Belo), San Antonio.

  • Oscar Moran, senior advisor to the executive board and former president, League of United Latin American Citizens, San Antonio

  • Ray Rossman, director, Parents Television Council, San Antonio Chapter.

    A detailed agenda along with the final roster of panelists will be released prior to the hearing.

Jampro Investigates Nitrogen vs. Dry Air Debate

Sacramento, CA - Jan 21, 2004 - The use of desiccated air vs. the use of nitrogen to pressurize transmission lines is seldom given much attention beyond the ongoing costs of the desiccating equipment or the nitrogen bottle rental. But following some research by Dupont at the urging of Technical Broadcast Associates, Jampro has released information that endorses the use of dry air for chemical reasons.

Pressurized transmission lines use Teflon insulators to maintain the spacing between the outer and inner conductors. When Teflon is heated to 500° C, the carbon and fluorine atoms, normally bonded into CF2 molecules, will become a double-bonded CF2 molecule. This double bonded CF2 becomes CF3 (a gas) and C (carbon, which is visible as soot).

The chemical result of CF2 + CF2 when heated with nitrogen yields HF + CF2O (carbonate fluoride) + C (carbon). Carbon inside the antenna and coax is not a favorable condition.

However, when CF2 + CF2 and dry air are heated, the result is HF + CF2O + CO2, a less damaging gas.

While dry air contains some nitrogen, the additional gases, notably oxygen, modify the chemical reaction.

High heat in a coaxial cable can be caused by an electrical arc or a lightning strike. During the arc, the heated air expands quickly and may open the pop-off valve, which allows more air to move through the system. When dry air is used, more oxygen is provided to bond with the CF2, creating more CO2. Once the oxygen is depleted, the resulting byproduct is carbon. Depending on the duration of the flash-over or arc some carbon will still form in the presence of dry air, but not nearly as much as in the presence of nitrogen. Some carbon will likely result whether nitrogen or dry air is used, but using dry air should significantly reduce the amount of carbon during the reaction.

Jampro recommends that stations likely to experience lightning or that use transmitters capable of sustaining an arc for more than few seconds should only use dry air, not nitrogen. Nitrogen can be used to test pressurization or to purge a line, but the nitrogen should also be purged when the coaxial cable is put into regular service.

FCC's Powell Wants to Boost Fines for Obscenities

Washington - Jan 16, 2004 - FCC Chairman Michael Powell last week proposed a tenfold increase in the fines that can be imposed on broadcasters for indecent programming. The current maximum levy is $27,500, which Powell termed as "peanuts" for large media companies.

"They’re just a cost of doing business," Powell told a National Press Club luncheon. "That has to change."

Such a change would require congressional approval. It comes in an election year amid conservative criticism of the FCC for a ruling last October (an expletive uttered by the musician Bono on a network TV program was not indecent because it was used as an adjective rather than to describe a sex act).

Congress plans a hearing this month on broadcast indecency. Broadcasters are trying to compete with coarser cable programming and are targeting young men, who are coveted by advertisers and considered less likely to be offended by explicit language.

Under FCC rules and federal law, terrestrial broadcasters cannot air obscene material at any time, and cannot air indecent material between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m. The FCC defines obscene material as describing sexual conduct "in a patently offensive way" and lacking "serious literary, artistic, political or scientific value."

There are no such requirements for subscription TV channels, which do not use the public airwaves for transmission. Some critics say media consolidation has contributed to the use of stronger language on the airwaves. They argue programming decisions increasingly are being made by media company officials who have no connection to the communities they serve.

Powell, however, argued that broadcasting has simply become more competitive. But rather than spawning better programming, "it’s a race to the bottom," he said.

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Digidesign Acquires Assets of Bomb Factory Digital

Anaheim, CA - Jan 16, 2004 - Digidesign has acquired the assets of Bomb Factory Digital, a manufacturer of real-time audio DSP effects for the Digidesign Pro Tools platform. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

The Bomb Factory plug-ins are known for emulating the sound and look of vintage studio processors. Digidesign has not yet announced its plans for deploying the Bomb Factory assets across the Pro Tools product line.

Sales Call
  • The Audemat-Aztec FMB80 RBDS generator is seeing popular acceptance. Clear Channel is using this unit in its top-50 market RBDS rollout. The unit features a scrolling PS function that allows text to appear to scroll by sending blocks of characters for the static display. Since the Clear Channel sale, Audemat-Aztec has provided units to more stations including Emmis' WQHT, WRKS and WQCD in New York; KUSC in Los Angeles; Bonneville's WNND, WDRV and WWDV in Chicago; Susquehanna's KFOG in San Francisco; and Infinity's WBMX in Boston.
  • Sound Images, a production facility in Cincinnati, recently invested in a Worldnet Tokyo ISDN codec from APT. A primary part of Sound Images' business is recording voice-overs. The Worldnet Tokyo communicates via Apt-X, Enhanced Apt-X, Layer II, Layer III, G.722 and AAC algorithms.
  • There has been lots of Telos Zephyr activity in San Francisco lately, where ABC Radio's #1-rated News/Talk powerhouse KGO just received a Zephyr Xport and four Zephyr Xport codecs; across the dial, Univision's KSOL gets five rack-mount Zephyr Xstreams and a portable Zephyr Xstream MXP for use in on-location remote broadcasts.
    • The Lynx AES16 sound card is enjoying wide acceptance in pro audio. Los Angeles-based producer Rory Kaplan has added three AES16s to his digital recording system that is anchored by Nuendo and a Yamaha DM2000 console. Kaplan’s credits include The Eagles, Sheryl Crow, Frank Zappa, Queen, Chick Corea, Sting and the London Symphony Orchestra. Nashville engineer/producers Chuck Ainlay has upgraded his recording system to include three AES16s. Ainlay has worked with artists ranging from Mark Knopfler to George Strait to Vince Gill to Peter Frampton.

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Capasso Named President of Dielectric

Raymond, ME - Jan 22, 2004 - Dielectric Communications, a unit of SPX, has selected John Capasso to serve as the company's president. Capasso joined Dielectric in 1997 as the company's chief financial officer.

Capasso began his career with SPX in 1994 as CFO of the company's GFI Genfare business. In addition to serving as CFO for Dielectric, he has held the position of CFO for the Communication and Technology Systems Group of SPX.

Capasso earned his BS in Accounting from Boston College, and he is a CPA and member of the American Society of CPAs.

Clear Channel Recognizes Engineering Talent

Jan 19, 2004 - Clear Channel has begun a new program to recognize the talent of its engineers by creating an annual honor for the Clear Channel Engineer of the Year award.

Nominees were submitted by Clear Channel regional engineering managers, who submitted the names of the engineer that they felt were the best and details supporting this belief. The recognitions were divided into four market groups: Major Market (Arbitron 1-10), Large Markets (Arbitron 11-50), Medium Market (Arbitron 51-150), Small Market (Arbitron 151+).

The nominations were reviewed by Jeff Littlejohn, senior VP of engineering. The winners receive recognition among their Clear Channel peers and are provided with travel, lodging and admission to the NAB2004 convention.

  • Major Market Engineer of the Year for 2003: Josh Hadden, New York City.

  • Large Market Engineer of the Year for 2003: Erik Kuhlman, CSRE, Portland, OR.

  • Medium Market Engineer of the Year for 2003: Raleigh Rubenking, Des Moines, IA.

  • Small Market Engineer of the Year for 2003: Charlie Wooten, Panama City, FL.

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Internet Watch

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Cowan Communications Offers Marketing Checkup

Washington - Jan 14, 2003 - Hardware and software technology companies, service providers and radio stations may realize that their websites, brochures and other communications tools need to be updated, but time and financial resources prevent the changes from being defined, much less implemented. Cowan Communications has created the Marketing Communications Checkup to assist firms in assessing their existing marketing communications programs. The service includes a review of the company's current practices and a prescription for improvements and practical tactics to set priorities, allocate budgets and choose necessary collaborators.

More information is available through the Cowan website at

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