The Broadcasters' Desktop Resource

The Broadcasters' Desktop Resource

Current News Items


6/18/22 - INOVONICS is celebrating their 50th Anniversary. A short two minute video slide show highlights some of the things they have done over the past 5 decades. Take a look HERE!

6/17/22 - JAMPRO is ramping up to visit the Texas Association of Broadcasters Convention in Austin, on August 3 and 4. This is a well-planned and attended show, even in Texas' August heat. The BBQ is pretty darn good, too!

5/27/22 - The FCC announced that in their June meeting, they will consider allowing LPTV stations to contunue to run FM radio audio at 87.9 - usually known as Franken FMs.

5/20/22 - Broadcasters in the Portland OR area were saddened to learn of James Boyd suffering a fatal heart attack at the age of 76. He was well-liked and always ready to share knowledge and assistance to others.

Among the gifts he left behind was a discussion of the NRSC  measurements for AM, an early submission to the BDR.

5/19/22 - The FCC unanimously approved the petition from Dielectric to use software to predict and prepare FM DA antennas.

Noting that 1/5 of FM stations are now using Directional antennas, FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel said "This is smart—and spectrally efficient." Referring to the policy that has been replaced, she said: "with high-quality computer modeling tools now available, this [previous] policy
no longer makes sense. " Of course, the FCC also noted that doing test-range measurments is still acceptable. 

The NAB concurred, saying this "would eliminate the need for unnecessary measurements without jeopardizing broadcasters' service to the public." Some objections relating to interference issues was raised, but the FCC has left that alone for now.

5/6/22 - the continuing move to replace the CDBS at the FCC with the LMS takes another major step on the 17th, when a whole series of applications must be filed on the LMS. A Public Notice provides the https://docs.fcc.gov/public/attachments/DA-22-476A1.pdfinstructions on how to proceed. 

Some of the items involved: 

  • FM Engineering Special Temporary Authority (STAs)
  • Request for Silent STA
  • Extension of Silent and Engineering STA
  • Suspension of Operations Notification
  • Resumption of Operations
  • AM and FM Digital Notification
  • Modification Dependent Carrier Level MDCL) Notification
  • Change of Primary Station Notification
  • Tolling Notification
  • Reduced Power Notification
  • Pending Application Withdrawal
  • Withdraw Pending Applications

A few items, such technical applications for AM stations need to be handled by email. 

4/28/22 - the FCC issued a Report and Order - with a fact sheet prepended - says the Commission is ready to let FM and LPFM statinos to use computer modeling for directional patterns instead of having to prove the pattern  by measuring it on a test range.  They plan to approve this Report and Order during the FCC's May 19th, Open Meeting.

Also during NAB, the FCc said a mid-May Public Notice will alert broadcasters to some updates on the LMS portal as more formerly CDBS forms and filings will most to the LMS. This will also include STA requests, that currently are requested by email. The LMS portal will also bring back the Form 395 (not used for a couple of decades), which seeks a breakdown by race and gender of station employees.

Finally, the FCC really wants stations to file changes in LMS contact information. This is what the FCC uses to contact stations to inquire about problems with renewal applications and the Biennial Ownership Reports. When there is a change, sometimes the FCC will inquire, and if they do not get a response, can - and will - delete applications, which can cause stations problems if not caught in time.

4/23/22 - Something from the NAB Show, even before it started! A press release from the Las Vegas today announced that GatesAir was acquired by Thomson Broadcast from the Gores Group, which has owned GatesAir for the past eight years. In recent years, Thomson has been looking to become a major force in the US market.

The transaction is subject to certain regulatory filings and is expected to close in the second half of 2022. Thomson, a French company, has a US base in West Palm Beach, Florida.

4/12/22 - The FCC has signalled that random spot inspections, halted by the pandemic, are about to resume. The Enforcement Bureau has told the field offices that the halt  has ended. Inspections may start at any time.

Chief Operators: check those logs for EAS and tower light entries, etc. With most of the Public Information File materials now on line, the emphasis on any inspections will likely focus on the RF plant.

4/4/22 - The FCC has upgraded the ECFS (Electronic Comment Filing System) by making it "cloud system." According to the FCC, there will now be "expanded features and functions"  over the coming year. 

And just to remind you the cybermen are out there, reCAPTCHA functions have been added. So get ready to click on photo blocks. 

3/24/22 - The FCC has released the next set of tentative selections for the winners of the NCEFM application process. Included is the reasoning for the selections. 

3/22/22 - The FCC has released its first round of EEO audits for 2022. Stations with more than five fulltime employees must comply with the 73.2080 of the Rules. The FCC aims to audit 5% of stations each year, randomly selected. Some 250 are first up this year.

Stations must upload results of the audit to their FCC  online-web pages by May 5th.

3/14/22 - The current radio license renewal season is coming to an end with Delaware and Pennsylvania required to file by April 1st. The next renewal season starts in about 5 year.

A couple of things were learned: the need to upload the Issues & Programs list on time. Some stations tried to upload seven years' worth with the renewal. That often generated a fine. Slow uploads on the political file seem likely to provoke fines in the next go-round. Also, being off-air for lengthy periods is receiving scathing comments from the FCC - and some licenses were lost this time aruond. 

In other words, this is a good time to take a look at procedures and avoid problems over this license period.

3/9/22 - The FCC has begun unravelling the conflicitng applications for the NCE FM allocations in the recent Window. 15 groups were tentatively settled. 

More info is here. 

3/8/22 - Stations receiving programming from Westwood One will shortly be getting new receivers, as the service moves away from the XDS and Wegener i6420 units.

The Wegener iPump 8640 has a number of features, including the ability to running 4 program outputs 24/7. On the other hand, it seems the relay/remote start functions will change. More information will be available here. 

2/28/22 - The Forest Service has given notice that it wants to change every communication site a $1400 "administration fee." TV. Radio, Cellular, WiMax, Ham, and microwave services would all be expected to pay the new fee - in addition to any site rental changes.

With some 1367 sites in 43 states, the Forest Service is already receiving significant rental fees, with plans for rents to range from $1120 for a small AM to $60,469 for  a large FM.

The NAB believes that, in numbers, the largest group of facilities by far on Forest Service land is translators. Imposing a $1400 fee on each might well break the bank - and the translator chain - for many stations.

2/25/22 -John Warner has passed away. The well-known VP of Engineering for Clear Channel (and VP of AM Engineering as Clear Channel became  iHeart Media), he was an expert, specializing in AM facilities, and was involved in upgrading/rebuilding a large number of them. He was 73.

2/22/22 -It does seem new software collided with  old software to drive (puns intended) some Mazda owners - especially those listening to KOUW - just a bit crazy.

It seems the software update did strip the file extension on images and clashed with the firmware in the 2014-2017 Mazda radios and either locked the radios to the station or completely bricked them.

The "fix" ... a $1500 connectivity master unit. 

While dealers in Seattle are stepping up to make the repairs at no charge, the question is "how many will be found?" both in Seattle and elsewhere. Clearly, this is a problem that requires a specific set of factors that few stations are likely to repeat - at least now that they know. 

Of course, you can be sure  the software vendor is being driven to speedily issue an update so as to ensure the problem will not become a big national one. (sorry, hard to resist the puns.)

And as a way to keep their listeners from being too upset, the station involved in Seattle has indicated on social media that they will give a "gift" to any listener reporting the problem.

2/17/22 -The FCC has released its Report and Order on amending, updating or eliminating some rules. Among the changes, those that limits on the power levels used by AM transmitters, coverage requirements for NCE FM stations, translator interference, and more. 

2/9/22 -There are a series of reports today that follow an article discussing how Mazda cars in Seattle and Western Washington end up with their radios locked to one channel - or stop working at all.

According to this report, a certain number of car radios react very poorly for graphics without a file extension or to the character stream "99%" 

Why has it taken a half-dozen or more years to see this issue? It appears no one thought there was a problem since most stations were using graphics with a .jpg, .gif, or .png extension. Apparently, this station fired off a graphic without an extension. It could have been due to linux - or, remember: Windows default is not to show extensions in file explorer, so it might not have been obvious.

There is a podcast called "99%" and again, it took a while for someone with the affected vehicles to tune in this podcast, where the "%%" created some digital "indigestion."

The big problem for these car owners: supply chain issues mean replacements are hard to find!

 

2/1/22 -FCC Chair Rosenworcel has set new heads of several bureaus at the FCC. Among others, Holly Saurer will head the Media Bureau, Loyaan Egal the Enforcement Bureau, and Debra Jordan is the new head of the PSHSB

1/31/22 -The FCC has indicated that during the open meeting on February 18th they intent to amdend/delete several obsolete AM rules.

Feb 18th
The Commission initiated this proceeding to identify and amend broadcast radio regulations that have become outdated or unnecessary.

  • Eliminate the maximum rated transmitter power limit rule for AM stations.
  • Apply the current noncommercial educational (NCE) FM community of license coverage standard consistently throughout the rules.
  • Apply the signal strength contour overlap requirements applicable to all other NCE FM stations to Class D NCE FM stations.
  • Eliminate the requirement for broadcast radio services to protect grandfathered common carrier services operating in the 76-100 MHz frequency band in Alaska - as there are no longer any common carrier services in that band.
  • Apply the definition of an "AM fill-in area" consistently throughout the rules.
  • Amend the spacing and power requirements for radio stations near the Mexican and Canadian borders to conform to current treaty obligations.

1/11/22 -The FCC has notified users that  Consolidated Database System (CDBS) will cease accepting filings as of 5 PM Wednesday January 12th. The move has been anticipated, but pressing technical issues have prompted the transition at this time.

As part of the shift toward the Licensing and Management System (LMS), all filings that cannot be made on the LMS will need to be sent via email to audiofilings@fcc.gov. At the moment, the CDBS will remain available for searching for older filings, but is eventually expected to fade away as more material and data is built into the LMS. 

For those with questions, it may be advisable to consult your Engineering Consulant, DC Attorney, or the  LMS Help Center at https://www.fcc.gov/media/radio/lms-help-center.

1/9/22 - Supply problems, the severe reduction in true POTS, and the pandemic have combined to put the Optilator - a popular optical isolator - down for the count.

1/1/22 -Sad news to start the year. Terry Baun has passed away at the age of 74. 

12/23/21 - 5G SOLUTIONS?
The FAA and the airline industry screamed after the FCC raised over $81 Billion by auctioning off a large portion of the C-Band spectrum for 5G use. Recently, the wireless (CTIA) and aviation camps have said they will cooperate, sharing data,  to help  resolve the potential interference. As part of this, ATT and Verizon indicated they were going to delay use of the frequencies they got in the auction. On the other hand, the FCC's new Chairwoman wrote to the Senate that the Commission is thinking of strengthening restrictions in 5G operations.

12/22/21 - AES has inaugurated a "President's Award" for group efforts. The First such aware went to the committee that worked on and set out a series of recommendations for loudnss levels in Internet streaming and other on-demand situations. 

The 11 awardees are:  David Bialik, Rob Byers, Jim Coursey, Eelco Grimm, Bob Katz, John Kean, Scott Norcross, Robert Orban, Shawn Singh, Jim Starzynski, and Alessandro Travaglini.

12/22/21 - The Telos Alliance now has a V4.0 software upgrade for the Omnia.11, along with the Silvio Clipper, from Frank Foti.
This free upgrade is available here - just register your Omnia.11 with its serial number.

12/12/21 - Jeremy Ruck and Dennis Baldridge have passed away recently. 

11/30/21 - The FCC announced that 1282 applications for NCEFM stations were tended, of them 883 were MX (Mutually Exclusive) applications from 231 groups. The Commission indicated that 13 were "dismissed." 

11/25/21 - Phil Kane, former FCC District Director in San Francisco has passed away. 

11/15/21 - The IBC has noted that the current three-week "lockdown" for covid-19 that the Dutch government started on Friday may have an impact on the Convention due to start on December 3rd. IBC announced on Tuesday that they are going ahead with the convention, but with some cautionary actions. 

11/4/21 - The FCC is expecting the biennial Ownership Report by December 1st. If you are not doing it now, do not delay. Sometimes a question will take some time to answer, so leaving it to the last minute is not good. This is not a deadline you want to miss, as fines and more fees will be likely - and during the last week of November, you can expect the FCC system to be slower than normal. 

11/3/21 - The FCC has indicated that some Staff may have the option to return to the office in the "new" building, just opened a year ago. While some may return soon, full staffing in not expected until sometime next year.

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10/27/21 - During its October Meeting, the FCC The FCC has introduced MB Docket 21-422, to determine if Dielectric's proposal for allowing computer modeling to compute directional patterns for FM, similar to the changes on AM and TV in recent years.

10/26/21 - The President nominated FCC acting chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel to be the agency's official Chair. In addition, the Administration is nominating Gigi Sohn to fill the vacant 5th seat on the Commission. (Sohn is said to be "progressive")

With the Commission up to full strength and 3 to 2 Democrats, we should probably expect changes to be in the air - pun intended.

10/14/21 - The NAB has announced that in 2022 there will be no Fall Radio Show. The Radio Show program will be added to the Spring Show. Following the pull-out of several more major manufacturers, including Sony, Panasonic, Canon, and others, the NAB today issued a Press Release that  announced the 2021 Fall/Spring Show has been cancelled, with plans for a Show in Spring 2022.  The notice is here.

The new dates set for the 2022 NAB Convention are April 23-27, 2022. 

AES has also cancelled their plans for a live convention in Las Vegas. 

9/10/21 - The FCC has now set the due date for the 2021 Regulatory Fees. It is September 24th. Substantial penalties are added for late payment. Page 57 of the FCC's notice is a good place to look. The Public Notice is here.

9/9/21 - The AES has permitted us to share the podcast "Rebuilding New York" in the aftermath of the 9/11 disaster.  You will find it here.

9/3/21 - Among other places, some stations in Pittsburgh, Omaha, or Honolulu, among other cities, have noticed interference aurally and/or visually on their satellite feeds. While some of this may be interference from licensees testing their %G allocations on the lower part of the C-Band there is another aspect that may affect you - users building out 5G on other frequencies.

8/31/21 - Hurricane Ida came ashore 16 years to the day since Katrina whacked New Orleans. At least one thing worked: there was little or no reporting of any problems with the levees and pumps.

Reports indicate a number of broadcast stations were knocked off due to loss of power - or worse. This time, it was not just New Orleans that got hit and had stations go do, but with all power in New Orleans completely out, only those with generator kept going - led by WWL. Also in New Orleans itself, 15 of 17 TV stations stayed on, although one had major issues when the roof came off and they could see the sky. Some clusters like Cumulus went totally dark when power failed. iHeart lost five stations for a time. And a 2000-foot tower at Vacherie, LA shared by iHeart and Cumulus for WZRH and KVDU lost the top 1800 feet. (It had been the tallest tower in LA.)

As bad as it was for broadcast (not to mention trees, buildings, etc), cell service was really beat up. 100% failure in NOLA - including 911 service over the weekend - and much of the area affected by Ida saw 60-100% cell towers down. That makes the small percentage of issues from the recent NPT pale in comparison. 

8/31/21 - If you are due compensation from the recent C-Band relocation program, the Relocation Payment Clearinghouse (RPC llc) site is now up and is accepting claims. There are some deadlines, so if you were impacted by the C-Band changes, check it out.

8/26/21 - Andrea Cummis, CTO for WLVT-TV in Bethlehem PA and the current SBE Vice President, was elected as the first female President of the SBE, effective October 11th. Ted Hand, former treasurer, will be the new Vice President. The other officers elected are Secretary: Kevin Trueblood and Jason Ornellas.

8/18/21 - The NAB has issued a Press Release stating that all attendees at the October NAB Spring Show and Radio Show must show proof of being vaccinated against the Covid virus. FYI: those attending the BEA sessions also will need to show proof of vaccination. 

8/6/21 - Darryl Parker, the "face" of TFT from 1991 until it closed has passed away. 

8/1/21 - The NAB has sent out information that this coming NAB Spring/Fall/everything Show will be a no-touch affair. Exhibitors are expected to keep booth visitors separated by distance and dividers and they and attendees are cautioned to use non-contact greetings, among other cautions. 

7/23/21 - The FCC has issued a Public Notice announcing the forthcoming NCE FM Window. It will run From November 2-9, 2021.  An FM application Freeze will start on October 5th. Form 2100, Schedule 340, which must be filed on the LMS, will be available on August 2nd.  The Public Notice with informational links is here. 

7/23/21 - The FCC has now licensed - 5,676 licensees - for operations in the 3,7 - 3.98 GHz band. Public Notice is here.  We will soon find out if the anxiety about interference was justified.

7/13/21 - The FCC decided to push the group of Rules adjustments and changes right into NPRM status. (The Comment period will be comment due date 30 days after publication in the Federal Register, with 15 days after that as the deadline for Reply Comments.)

7/12/21 - Scott Incz, co-founder of Broadcast Warehouse and BW Broadcast has passed away. Details are sketchy, but Scott was hit hard by the Covid virus last year. His co-founder partner Roger Howe passed away last year.

6/29/21 - The Fall NAB Show (with the Radio Show tacked on at the end) in Las Vegas will also be joined the  annual AES (Audio Engineering Society) Show. The AES event will also be streamed globally from Oct. 20 to 23.

6/26/21 - We learned that Ken Branton has passed away.

6/25/21 - Bob Moore passed away earlier this month.

6/22/21 - The NAB has announced the winner of the Engineering Achievement Award for Radio for 2021: David Hershberger. Now retired from Continental Electronics, Hershberger has worked for  several radio and TV manufacturers, developing exciters, modulators, and more. 

The TV award went to David Folsom of Pearl TV,  for work on Next Gen TV.

6/10/21 - It is now official: The FCC's PSHSB has issued a Public Notice designating August 11th at 2:20 PM EDT for the National Periodic Test of the EAS. 

6/10/21 - CHLO Toronto has begun testing IBOC HD Radio. The station, on 530, is said to be the first in Canada to use HD on AM. 

6/3/21 - Ransomware has hit another group of US broadcasters. This time it is Cox Media Group, operator of 57 radio and TV stations. Reports indicate the many of the chains local networks and streams were affected and some completely taken offline. Some programs, including TV News at some stations, had to be cancelled. Some other groups that have been hit are listed here.

5/25/21 - The IBC has been delayed, due to health concerns to December 3rd to 6th. The International Broadcast Convention, normally held in early September in Amsterdam is one of the largest international broadcast shows each year. 

5/24/21 - WFAS(AM) in White Plains, NY has converted to all digital operation. The third station to do so, the conversion coincides with a change to all talk radio. 

4/28/21 - The FCC issued a Public Notice to announce the effective date of the FCC's 2019 Report and Order on RF Exposure. The requires all stations to do an evaluation no later than two years of the RF Exposure on the site.  This does not affect most broadcast stations - they already are required to do this and there is no change in the limits - although translators under 100W lose a previous exemption, and amateur stations are brought under the rules. New and modified stations must do the evaluation immediately. It goes into effect on May 3rd. 

4/21/21 - The FCC Media Bureau has announced the dates for the upcoming NCE FM Window: November 2-9, 2021. It will encompass channels 201-220, with a limit of 10 applications per organization. 

4/7/21 - The FCC has released its latest census of broadcast facilities. As of March 31st, there are 4,546 AM and 10,895 full power FM  stations with 2124 LPFM, and 8521 FM translators and boosters. 

One year into the pandemic, where some stations saw a 75% drop in income, 78 full power AM and FM stations and 45 LPFM stations have turned in their licenses.

4/7/21 - NAB Chief Gordon Smith will step down as President/CEO on December 31st, in favor of Curtis LeGeyt, currently COO of the NAB. 

4/2/21 - A breach in systems at manufacturer Ubiquity has exposed millions of units - some still running default credentials. 

4/1/21 - Ken Benner passed away peacefully today. He was  one of the main architects of the Alternate Broadcast Inspection Program (ABIP).

4/1/21 - Canada's Western Association of Broadcasters confirmed that the only broadcast technical training program currently operating in the country - at the South Alberta Technical Institute - will end with the current class. 

3/30/21 - Entercom has changed its corporate name to Audacy (the new stock ticker will be AUD). According to the company, this will allow the company to focus on the wide variety of audio offerings from its sevearl divisions. There already is a new website.

3/20/21 - Bob du Treil, Sr. has passed away. The founding member of du Treil, Lundin, and Rackley was 88. 

3/19/21 - The free audio editing program Audacity has been upgraded to V3.0.0. Among the most visible changes, the way projects are stored has changed, to bring the files together. The main interface has not changed a lot, which will be of help to casual users. The info and download links are here. 

3/13/21 - The program automation company ENCO has moved after 20 years, and is now down the road to new offices. The new site in Novi, MI is 17 miles from the old offices.

 

Among the benefits of the move, ENCO will have a lot more space, and be able to bring all departments together at one location, making the whole operation more efficient. 

3/12/21 - The FCC has been putting out a lot of Public Notices and Enforcement Advisories recently, reminding stations of key issues, apparently being missed in the Public File uploads.

  1. Stations are reminded to ensure all ads have proper sponsor identification disclosures.
  2. If a station is doing joint sales, time brokering, or shared service agreements, these need to be in the online Public File. 
  3. Stations need to be sure their transmissions stay in their assigned frequencies, and not infringe on others, like Air Traffic Control (ATC). Even translators are included.
  4. Trying to "game" the FCC with short sporadic operations to avoid the statutory deletion for not operating for 12 months is not seen very favorably. A station renewal can be in jeopardy for inconsistent operation.  

3/9/21 - You may recall that in January the FCC issued a Public Notice to remind stations to report all C-Band satellite dishes in use by April 19th or the Commission would presume these earth stations were inoperative and delete its authorization.

The FCC had tasked RSM to identify and list as inactive earth stations that are no longer operational. If you have registered, it is worth taking time to ensure you have "confirmed" use to the FCC by April 19th, or any protection will disappear.

3/5/21 - The computer security folks have noticed a major 0-Day hack by multiple bad guys attacking the Outlook/Exchange email software. Chinese hackers thought to be responsible have seized control over hundreds of thousands of Microsoft Exchange Servers worldwide, at least 30,000 in America

Microsoft has released emergency security updates to plug four security holes in Exchange Server versions 2013 through 2019 that hackers were actively using to siphon email communications from Internet-facing systems running Exchange. More information and patch information is available here.

3/4/21 - In the old days, when a record skipped or a cart machine failed to stop and cue, sometimes it repeated a phrase or section over and over, until someone stopped it. 

On the other hand, how about a TIS station that repeated the same traffic report over and over for 8 years. And no one noticed!  Take a look here.

2/24/21 - The FCC issued another Public Notice to remind stations of things they need to do - this time to register changes in the ownership of any ASR  registered tower structure.

2/23/21 - EEO Audits by the FCC are scheduled to start soon. The stations chosen randomly are listed in this Public Notice.

2/22/21 - The March FCC Open Meeting should provide a look at what the Commission plans to do in response to the READI Act (Reliable Emergency Alert Distribution Improvement Act) Congress has pushed READI through primarily to respond to the January 2018 fiasco in Hawaii, where  a false EAS activation frightened people expecting a missile attack. 

Congress wants the FCC to demand reports on fake EAS Alerts, repeat EAN messages, make changes to the SECCs, etc. They call it modernization of the EAS.  The Senate version did not pass last Congress, but the Act was made part of the Defense Authorization Bill that Congress passed - and 0verrode the President's Veto in January. 

2/12/21 - The NAB has filed a strong opposition to a petition to allow FM Boosters to originate separate programming from the main signal.

1/26/21 - Ward Beck, well-known Canadian manufacturers of broadcast consoles for over 50 years, is Closed Down on January 31st. 

1/9/21 - The companies bidding for former C-Band space must see a big profit ahead: FCC reports that over $80 billion was bid in the 5G auctions. As the bidding winds down, it now is expected easily to top more twice than predicted. 

12/17/20 - The FCC has moved quickly to exercise some new powers, granted under the recently passed Protecting Intellectual Rights Against Theft and Expropriation (PIRATE) Act. The Public Notice sends a message that landlords knowing about and permitting pirate stations on their property can be fined as much $2 million under Section 1.80. Right on cue, the Enforcement Bureau has sent letters to three landlords in New York notices of potential liabilities. 1    2    3 .

12/8/20 - The FCC kicked off another 5G spectrum auction, this time selling off 280 Megahertz of prime mid-band spectrum in the 3.7-3.98 GHz band — a portion of the C-band. Some analysts predict this auction might end up with $38 Billion for the Treasury.

11/19/20 - The Western Association of (Canadian) Broadcast Engineers (WABE) 2020 convention recognized Laverne Siemens with the RW Lamb Award for his lifetime achievement in the industry. The convention was "virtual" this year, like so many others, so please cue your applause!

11/18/20 - Starting today, if you need to file Forms 314, 315, 316, or 345 (assignment of Construction Permits), you need to go and use the LMS system as the CDBS database continues its run toward decommission. The Public Notice is here.

11/10/20 - Prospective Commissioner Simington's hearings hit a snag when Senator Blumenthal (D-CT) put a "hold" on the nomination. The "reason" stated was concern of whether the FCC should change the Section 230 shield used by social media in view of recent actions that some deem as censorship.

11/3/20 - The four towers that served WMAL for decades were demolished. The video from drones is pretty dramatic. A close up is in this one. A lot of homes are to be built on the 75 acre site.

11/2/20 - For commercial stations (AM and FM) public notification of filings has changed. Use of local print media is not required in most cases, for example, replaced by on-line links to the Public File.

11/2/20 - The FCC has now set into operation new rules for NCE FM and LPFM stations. It mostly relates to new forms and filing procedures and some technical things like LPFM Directional antennas.

10/27/20 - The FCC today approved, as expected, provision for AM stations to convert to all-digital operation. This will be a voluntary option, allowing operation as analog, hybrid, or full digital modes.

10/18/20 - The FCC has opened an NPRM to adjust the fees charged for "services" to users.  The idea is to more closely match the fees to the actual costs in time and people to receive and deal with applications. Comments are invited until November 16th, with reply comments due November 30th.  Your can see the NPRM here, with tables of proposed fees for AM in paragraph 61, commercial FM in paragraph 67, and translators in paragraph 74.

10/16/20 - The move that only took 5 1/2 years: Not that they were (or are) accepting visitors at this time, the FCC has now left the Portals behind and is in a brand-new office tower at 45 L Street N.E. The move is two miles from the Portals, and comes three years after the lease had ended, but the FCC is said to be saving  more than $100 million going forward.

10-14-20 - Cumulus has turned in the licenses for two more AM stations: WJLG and WBMQ, Savannah, GA. One of them, WBMQ, has been on the FCC "Silent" list since July, along with 86 other AM stations. Some are already over the one year deletion date (although there may be some leeway with the pandemic), along with 249 FM, LPFM, and translator stations. Reportedly, a lightning strike put the finish on these two stations.

10-9-20 - There is a new director for FCC field operations. Axel Rodriguez has taken the position after seven years as a supervisor in the FCC's Office of Engineering and Technology lab. Rodriguez is in charge of the FCC's 13 field  offices enforcement efforts, pirate radio, and post-disaster communications restoration.

9/23/20 - Nautel has released an app for transmitter control that does not rely on browser-based Flash. This app does not require a transmitter visit. (You may recall that the browser makers have pledged to drop Flash support at the end of the year.)

9/17/20 - The FCC turned down a request by Rep Mark Green (R-TN) to permit broadcasts by churches to exceed the power limits in Part 15. Allowing waivers would "undermine the Commission's goal of ensuring the integrity of the already-crowded FM radio spectrum," according to Chairman Pai, and would remove critical protections for licensed broadcasters, who provide critical up-to-the-minute information needed in the local communities.

9/17/20 - Nathan Simington has been nominated by President Trump to fill the seat of departing FCC Commissioner Michael O'Rielly. Simington has been a senior advisor at the National Telecommunications and Information Adminsitration (NTIA) and an advocate of some restrictions on Internet Social Media. O'Rielly had been against such changes, but was also involved in the order to allow Ligado Networks to put 5G signals next to radar and GPS.

9/8/20 - Are we staring at the future of broadcasting? After six months of shutdown from the corona virus, most every broadcaster has had to deal with staffers and guests in widely varying remote locations - and with a variety of equipment solutions. So, it is not surprising that there is tremendous pressure to permanently reduce the footprint of station clusters. For example, one company (Entercom) plans to reduce the $70 million they pay in rent each year by using the tools and procedures developed this year and apply them in ongoing operations.

9/4/20 - The FCC has issued two Public Notices ( One  -  Two ) regarding the payment of 2020 Regulatory Fees. The Commission notes that all payments must be electronic. Additionally, they will accept requests for some relief, such as extended payments, provided they are received by September 25th.

8/27/20 - The FCC WTB has extended the deadline for stations to decide whether to accept a "lump sum" payment for C-Band upgrades. The deadline is now September 14th.

Our friends at LinkUp Communications note that there were several things from the FCC that were included the recent NAB webinar with FCC personnel that were unsettling:

  1. They could not tell us if a single mistake would throw out a “lump sum” election.
  2. They weren’t very clear about how you would electronically file a letter without a form.
  3. The election letter would have to be signed by an officer of the organization and include certification by a Notary Public.
  4. There was a statement about perjury and legal issues that means the station could be at risk from issues related to the “lump sum” election.

The C Band Timeline:
– Sept. 14, 2020 Earth Station (downlink) owner must decide whether to participate in the satellite owner transition or opt out for lump sum.
– December 08, 2020 —  Auction begins (top 46 markets)
– December 05, 2021 — Phase 1 deadline: 3700-3820 to be cleared in 46 top PEAs
– December 05, 2023 — Phase 2 deadline: 3700-4000 to be clear nationally
– December 05, 2025 — Sunset of all FSS license protection for 3700-4000

8/26/20 - The NBC affiliate in Lake Charles, LA (KPLC) sustained major damage to its STL tower, with debris reportedly impacting the station's studio. Meanwhile, Cumulus Media's building is gone, one of its stations announced - all the stations were off the air for a while. By Friday afternoon, three were back up. Other stations were affected including KWSL-LP (CBS).

8/6/20 - It used to be that any station that had a "unique" transmission site they had to make it available to other potential users or the FCC would not renew their license. The latest FCC Report and Order deletes that requirement.

6/30/20 - The Portals is history. The FCC circulated a memo to staff that they will not be returning to offices until at least August 27 - and then not at the Portals, but at the new building they have been planning for several years.

6/1/20 - The FCC has announced that the five satellite service providers have agreed on an accelerated clearing of the C-Band in favor of 5G installations. This could shorten the transition period by two years. How this affects stations/services will depend upon location and will be announced by the services.

5/25/20 - ATSC 3.0 service has been launched in Las Vegas, joining six other cities now hosting the new transmission standard.

5/21/20 - Like so many other conventions, the IBC (Amsterdam) has been cancelled for this year.

5/19/20 - Major trouble in Chicago: a four-foot flood swamped the basement of the Willis Tower early Monday morning, causing the ComEd power substation to fail. The failure was so severe that the entire building was evacuated, and the FAA notified there were no tower lights. Many stations decamped to the Hancock Building, but, in some cases, manufacturers were racing to provide spare transmitters. No relief is expected until the weekend.

5/18/20 - Sad to say, we have lost another broadcaster who has helped a lot of us over the years. Bob Groome passed away a week ago Sunday. Cancer took him at 77.

5/12/20 - The FCC has released its report on the 2019 NPT EAS test. It looks iike 82% of radio broadcasters and 68% of TV stations filed Form2/3 on reception. You can see the whole report here.

5/4/20 - As the industry reels from layoffs all over the place, the FCC has offered a bit of help in bringing staff back - waiving the EEO requirement that broadcasters engage in a "broad outreach" to fill any full-time job position. Because of the COVID-19 crisis, the FCC will allow a limited waiver to the rehiring of station employees that were laid off due to the pandemic, if the employee is then rehired within nine months of being laid off.

5/4/20 - Start of a trend? A petition at the FCC is requesting that FM boosters be allowed to originate limited amounts of programming separate from the main station. The original petition is supported by the NAB. Meanwhile, some 24 owners calling themselves Broadcasters for Limited Program Origination have added a petition to further expand the alternate origination to translators. The NAB is not currently in favor of this.

5/4/20 - A series of copper thefts around Omaha and Nebraska City - including some severe damage done to some of the equipment - show that site security is still important, especially now with the reduction in technical staffing at so many stations. With a lot of transmitter sites in rather rural or isolated areas, not having some sort of security - even the relatively cheap video doorbells - is just not smart. Although there is no "one fits all solution," Kevin Kidd has some suggestions that you should consider.

4/23/20 - The FCC plans to change 73.3580 regarding public notice on the filing of applications. This is planned for the FCC's May Open Meeting.

4/23/20 - The FCC has adopted changes to the 6 GHz band to allow unlicensed WiFi systems.

4/23/20 - The FCC has amended Parts 73 and 74 in order to update and improve several regulatory aspects, giving more flexibility for LPFM licensees, solving some issues and stating their position on some requests. This is in response to Media Bureau Dockets 19-193 and 17-105.

4/8/20 - The FEMA has tried to reduce confusion on any use of EAS or WEA for use in advising people to reduce any non-essential travel: Any alerts should use CEM and NOT SPW. The thinking essentially is that Shelter-in-Place is "go somewhere and do not come out until authorities say so," and is not the same as "Stay-at-Home."

4/5/20 - Regulatory Alert! Many churches, especially, are trying to set up transmitters in their parking lots for Sunday services and/or Easter Services. Not to put too fine a point on it, the FCC Rules for FM means that you probably have only a few feet that can be broadcast legally. A Part 15 AM transmitter might get you several miles. Equipment might be hard to find.
 
Of course, one might argue that putting so many in a parking lot might be a problem these coronavirus days - or that the FCC Field Agents are not likely to be out on Sunday. However, if an over-powered transmitter spits out harmonics or other things that might affect, say, airport frequencies, you might run into some issues. Perhaps the best solution is to partner with a local full-power station to run services...

3/31/20 - Regulatory Alert! Many churches, especially, are trying to set up transmitters in their parking lots for Sunday services and/or Easter Services. Not to put too fine a point on it, the FCC Rules for FM means that you probably have only a few feet that can be broadcast legally. A Part 15 AM transmitter might get you several miles. Equipment might be hard to find.
 
Of course, one might argue that putting so many in a parking lot might be a problem these coronavirus days - or that the FCC Field Agents are not likely to be out on Sunday. However, if an over-powered transmitter spits out harmonics or other things that might affect, say, airport frequencies, you might run into some issues. Perhaps the best solution is to partner with a local full-power station to run services...

3/24/20 - Pirate Hunters might apply. The FCC has included in its new budget $11 million to hunt down what it says are some 300 illegal stations on the air in the US.

3/23/20 - As might be expected in this rather unusual time, visitors are not welcome at the FCC right now, nor are paper applications, filings, etc. The FCC expects most all "contact" to come on the web site. Anything confidential that must be sent on paper should go to the FCC's Annapois MD address.

3/20/20 - The NAB has released a notice they intend to produce a digital "NAB Show Express" to launch sometime in April, and now plans to increase the size of the Fall NAB show in New York.

3/16/20 - The DHS has issued a pair of letters designed to help broadcasters access transmitter sites and get fuel during the Covid-19 crisis, since a number of places are putting on curfews in time and location. Of course, for those of you with First Responder status, this may or may not help - as would be driving a marked station vehicle.

3/16/20 - This is not news to most, but CBS in NYC had to evacuate the facility. Also Cumulus in Atlanta had to quarantine their studios. There are many more. In some places, the authorities have mandated non-essential workers stay home. The point here is that *every* station should have a plan to deal with this sort of situation. What would you do if your studios became unavailable or there was a severe power outage? The time to put a plan in place is *now.*

2/27/20 - As expected Chairman Pai's plans for C-Band were passed. He wants to pay satellite providers nearly $10 Billion, plus "transition" costs. The Commission has now released several documents, including a "Fact Sheet" ...  185 pages of material on how the Commission sees things developing. An auction is now scheduled for December 8, 2020. Broadcasters may not like sections like paragraphs 119-121, 130-131, and 139. Only those that registered downlinks are being offered reimbursement at this point.

2/13/20 - The FCC has announced its budgetary plans for Fiscal Year 2021, with the FCC keeping 1,448 Full-Time Equivalent employees and asking for a 1.2% budget increase to $343,070,000. Additionally, the FCC has asked for almost $135 million for spectrum auctions. You can read the FCC's plan here.

2/11/20 - It was sixty years ago when Congress began efforts to stop or curb Payola in the broadcast industry. DJs Wesley Hopkins of KYW in Cleveland and Stan Richard from station WILD in Boston testified at hearings, each admitting to receiving $12,000 or more in 1958 and 1959. They claimed the money was "listening fees" from the record companies for "evaluating the commercial possibilities" of songs.

On February 11, 1960, President Eisenhower condemned Payola. Quickly Congress piled on, saying Payola was an abuse of the public trust - the airwaves being the property of the people of the USA. The FCC moved to make Payola a crime. Among those affected: Dick Clark (American Bandstand) and Alan Freed, a DJ in Cleveland. Clark recovered his career, Freed did not.

1/27/20 - The President signed the PIRATE Act, which raises the fines for unauthorized opertation to $2 million.

1/27/20 - More layoffs have been reported this week, now totaling about 1500 from iHeart. Ohio Senator Brown has said he would start hearings if iHeart cannot explain why huge bonuses are being paid to executives while so many are laid off.

1/15/20 - Major layoffs have been reported in small to medium markets around the country at iHeart Media. Reports seem to place the size of the cuts to 850 to 1000 persons. Several have commented that this was the sad but expected logical outcome for large companies from the  elimination of the Main Studio Rule on January 1, 2018. Some small/medium market stations have lost their entire air staff - many with long years of tenure - and will be programmed centrally. 

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