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Current News Items



2/6/24 – An AT&T cellphone tower collapsed in 80 MPH winds recently, causing major outages until a temporary tower could be tasked to handle traffic.

This is just a sort of warning about why it is important to check on your tower(s) and ensure they are still in good shape to handle what weather throws at them. 

2/5/24 – WNIX, Greenville, MS, saw its tower (199 feet) come down Sunday when a cement truck backed into a guy wire and … well … not to be too fussy … all the metal was on the ground. 

The FM side is on a short tower on the studio site, while the AM is being temporarily fed to a disused but standing tower. 

1/23/24 – The FCC had adopted new rules that voice, cable., and Internet providers report their status each day the DIRS (Disaster Information Reporting System) is activated. Broadcasters are currently exempt, but the Commission is considering an NPRM (PS Docket No. 21-346) to require the reports which are now voluntary (only 1/5 to 1/3 of stations in affected areas usually participate).The NAB suggests this is not going to work easily, especially for small stations – or any place where the Internet goes down.

In case you would like to see DIRS in action, there will be a “mock emergency” from Feb 6th  -8th. Participation is opt-in, if you are interested, contact: michael.caiafa@fcc.gov, john.healy@fcc.gov, or ryan.hedgpeth@fcc.gov by February 2nd

1/22/24 – Police in Paris Texas arrested a pair of copper thieves who caused some $500k of damage to the KITX (Hugo, OK) tower in in otder to get about $100 worth of copper.

This is just another sad example of what many stations know all too well: the reward for the crooks is so small, compared to the damage caused. 

1/11/24 – We are now down to a dozen weeks before NAB 2024 hits the stage in Las Vegas. The 2024 NAB Show registration is now open. If you are thinking of going, you can get a free floor pass now: Inovonics shares this Free Floor Pass code: NS5268 and Nautel is using NS9564. Also, do not forget the Nautel User Group (NUG) on Sunday at NAB.

1/9/24 – The FCC  relased it quarterly total of broadcast stations that are licensed. There were basically just a literal handful of changes, although the erosion, especially on AM continues: Townsware has taken five stations dark, and turning in the license for at least three of them. 

1/8/24 – The January FCC Open Meeting (on 1/25) current has the DIRS (Disaster Information Reporting System) on the agenda. The FCC is said to be working toward making participation (reporting disaster outages and other operational issues) to be mandatory. While that may not be settled this month, and NPRM is expected to be set out on the matter.

1/8/24 – Accounting for inflation, the FCC’s maximum fine for obscene, indecent, or profane broadcasts is now up to $495,500 for each violation – or per day for continuing violations. The new maximum is $4,573,840. Plus legal fees.

Pirate fines also went up: unlicensed operation can be fined $61,238 a day, up to a maximum of $612,238. For most other rules, the daily fine is $61,238, but tops out at only $612,238. Plus legal fees.

12/30/23 – 2023 was not kind to more than one broadcast industry company. Although streaming services were also under pressure from new copyright royalty fees, the competition say several companies saw their stock prices fall – or worse. 

For example: 

  • at the end of the year, Salem Media Group  voluntarily delisted their public stock from sale on NASDAQ as the sahre price went down to 36 cents.
  • Audicy is also only available “over the counter” as its stock has dropped to 21 cents a share, despite a 30 to 1 reverse split.
  • Omnirax has filed for bankruptcy. 

12/29/23 – FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel has released her view of the where the FCC is and what was accomplished in 2023, as well as her plans for 2024.

Rosenworcel covered a lot of topics, from broadband to cyber security to AI.

12/28/23 – Among the things the FCC did at the end of 2023 was to release a Public Notice regarding analog service offered at 87.7 MHz from low-power TV stations around the country – sometimes referred to as “Franken FMs.”

Specific rules and information have been approved by the OMB, and are now in effect. The FCC expect each FM6 LPTV station to confirm whether it will use analog audio and under what parameters by January 29th. 

12/26/23 – It only took an extra five years, but the 2018 quadrennial review of ownership rules is finally done. It did take the US Court of Appeals to force the issue. 

In the end, as one of the most anticipated things from the FCC this year the network and TV station ownership limits – a fair part of the long overdue 2018 quadrennial review the FCC has been slow to conclude – the upshot: no real major changes, albeit some tightening of existing rules, like the Top Four rule, which seeks to keep the TV industry from consolidating away from localism.

11/20/23 – Not having an antenna tower sort of makes it hard to operate. One station, KCPQ in Chubbock ID is no longer. Somehow the site lease was allowed to lapse and this led to the destruction of the station’s towers. Bottom line, rather than pay for rebuilding at another site, the station owner decided to stay dark and turn in the license.

A different problem is plauging 92.7FM in Anuja, Nigeria. Their tower was being moved and, well, disappeared – the contractor said it was “snatched away.” Now, station officials are looking for the tower. The suspects are said to be officials of a state agency.

11/14/23 – The NRSC committee has released its latest report: NRSC-G304 Metadata for Streaming Audio Handbook, adopted last month. The entire report – over 110 pages of “best practices and terminology definitions – is available for download here.

11/8/23 – Sirius XM has a new logo and slightly reduced pricing plan, as it seeks to expand growth by focusing on its streaming offerings. 

11/7/23 – A lot has been written lately about AM radio and efforts to “save” it. Pressure has mounted on manufacturers not to remove AM from the dashboard, and some manufacturers are responding, although the European makers note that there are no AM  band transmissions in Europe. 

Congress has gotten into the action, with several Bills offered or proposed to ensure AM radio stays in vehicles. Noting the $7,500 tax credit for purchasers of electric vehicles, Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) has indicated his desire to stop the tax credits unless the vehicles have AM radios in them.

Meanwhile, the Center for Automotive Research reports a tricky issue: RF interference. EVs will need  shielding, filters, and other means of noise cancellation, both to the EV radio and neighboring cars. options. This can be done, the CAR says, but it can be costly … and manufacturers are a bit  hesitant to commit to such an effort. 

11/3/23 – Jack Sellmeyer has passed away. The well-known engineer, consulant, designer, and lecturer was 82. 

9/5/23 – ABC Radio and LinkUp Commnications have announced their new partnership, effect January 1, 2024. LinkUp will provide 24/7 service for the News and other audio services to the 1500 ABC AM and FM affiliates. A transistion period etween now and the end of the year will provide a smooth changeover. 

9/5/23 – ABC Radio and LinkUp Commnications have announced their new partnership, effect January 1, 2024. LinkUp will provide 24/7 service for the News and other audio services to the 1500 ABC AM and FM affiliates. A transistion period etween now and the end of the year will provide a smooth changeover. 

7/31/23 – The FCC will open a window for LPFM applications on November 1st. The one week window will be accompanied by an Application Freeze station September 1st. Click on the link for full information,

7/31/23 – Starting October 1st, stations are required to file their Briennia Ownership Report on Form 323 to report ownership stakes as of October 1st.

Note: The form, Form 323, will not be available on the LMS site until October. So, you can put information together now, but do not waste your time looking for the Form on LMS rght now. 

7/26/23 – Recently, there has been quite a lot of comment about this year’s NPT, largely due to an erroneous message from NPR, spawning a lot of “This just in” reports. There will be an NPT this year, but not yet – this notice was for an RWT on the NPWS – the new name for PEP stations. Yes, we will tell you about it when the FEMA does set the date/time. But for now, do not worry about it.

7/12/23 – It was coming all year, but a Public Notice was issued to announce the migration from CDBS to LMS has been completed. That means, effective July 26th that all applications now will be done on the LMS. The list of applications is available here.
Among them:

  • Application for Construction Permit for AM Broadcast Station
  • Application for AM Broadcast Station License
  • Application for Direct Measurement of AM Broadcast Station
  • AM Engineering Special Temporary Authorization (STA)
  • Extension of AM Engineering STA
  • Application for Construction Permit for New Class D Noncommercial Educational FM Broadcast Station
  • Application for Construction Permit for New Low Power FM Station
  • Equipment Test Authority Notification
  • Program Test Authority Notification
  • Restoration of Licensed Operation

7/16/23 – The headline, according to numbers released by the FCC  AM stations continue to go silent, with 46 disappearing since the first of the year – now 4,463. NCEFM stations have increased by 32 in the same time period to total 4,236.

7/14/23 – There is now a standard, published by the Audio Engineering Society (AES) setting Loudness Guidelines for Internet Audio Streaming and On-Demand Distribution.

There is some more information here. AES members may have the report free, non-memer are asked to pay $100. 

7/16/23 – Starting with WWOO-LD in New Hampshire, the FCC has granted LPTV stations 6-months authority to be the first station to experiment with 5G broadcasting, which has said will move beyond ATSC 3.0.

According to the FCC, the station may transmit TV signals that can be received by “smartphones, tablets, and any device (including traditional television sets) with a 5G chip that has been manufactured to permit the reception of 5G transmissions within the broadcast television band.” 

7/7/23 – The FCC is encouraging stations that have elected for the lump sum payments to ensure they have completed the transition and filed their certification as soon as possible.

The Commission wants everything done as soon as possible to reduce any possibilities for interference as the rebuild finalizes, and those entitled get their reimbursement. 

The FCC suggests checking Docket 23-97 in order to monitor the ongoing certification and validation process, 

6/22/23 – The FCC has announced the first LPFM filing window since 2013. Open from November 1 to November 8, 2023. 

Some changes will be made to procedure and Form 318, for which the FCC says information wil be provided early on for those wishing to file.

6/17/23 – Radio Disney is completely gone. Disney has now sold off its last radio station, a renant of the Radio Disney network of  40 stations. the LA station (KRDC, x-KRLA) sold for $5 million.

6/2/23 – Radio listeners are our product, sold to the advertisers. So, reduced listenin levels are not only of interest, but potentially bad for the bottom line.

A recent survey indicates radio listening is on the decline, especially among Gen Z. None of this is really a major surprise, we have long known that Gen Z often denies even knowing what radio is. But how can stations protect themselves in the “new world” of consolidation and streaming. In several ways,  it is part of the “is AM dead?” discussion. But, on a larger scale, is broadcasting itself facing greater challenges.

5/23/23 – This past week both Houses of Congress introduced the AM For Every Vehicle Act, seeking to mandate AM radios in cars sold in the USA. The NAB endorsed the Bills, as did the National Association of Farm Broadcasters. The Bills would require the government set rules for AM radios within a year.

Obviously, some of this has been heard by auto makers: Ford has announced that they have decided to include AM radio in all vehicles – and offer a software update to any Ford EV without AM. 

What remains is a statement or plan to deal with all the EVs currently “broadcasting” on the AM band, as they pull alongside other vehicles.

5/22/23 – President Biden has renominated Anna Gomez to fill the open (fifth) seat on the FCC.

At the same time, Biden nominated Democrat Geoffrey Starks and Republican Brendan Carr to continue as FCC Commissioners for another 5-year term.

5/16/23 – The 30 acre “Tower Park” has been dedicated to the memory of Powel Crosley. The 100 year-old site, still anchored by the iconic WLW tower, will include everything from businesses to a public park. 16 parcels of land are being sold by Vertical Bridge, which bought the site from IHeart Media, at prices ranging from $650,000 to $1.2 million each.

There is already a car wash operating, and more businesses are expected to be added, including a self-storage site, medical offices, a daycare, a bank, a gas station and convenience store, and an auto parts store.

Observers are awaiting to learn of how potential RF issues are handled. 

An article from a local newspaper is here. 

3/13/23 – KID Radio (590), in Idaho Falls is about to end a 94 year history by turning in its license. Briefly stated, the farmer who managed the site with the three KID towers, knocked on over – and the site owner took the isurance money. Legal actions ensued, but eventually the land owner knocked over the other two towers and removed the transmission gear. Faced with $1.5 to 2 million to rebuild, the station could not justify the costs and turned in the license. 

The FCC today announced that the server problems continue to cause delays and have extended the date for filing the Issues & Programs filing for Q4-2022, and some other filings to February 28th.

1/27/23 – The FCC today announced that the server problems continue to cause delays and have extended the date for filing the Issues & Programs filing for Q4-2022, and some other filings to February 28th.

 

1/16/23 – According to the FCC’s year-end count, 25 AM licensees turned off the power and turned in their licenses during 2022, leaving 4,484 AM stations left in the US. Additionally 54 LPFM’s gave up and turned in their licenses. 

There were 13 more full power FMs on 12/31/22, compared to 12/31/21 and 84 new translators and boosters last year.

For those keeping score:
FM: 6,686
NCEFM: 4,207
Translators and boosters: 8,950
LPFM: 2,015

1/16/23 –  Broadcasters may have a new tool to fight lightning strikes on towers. A Swiss demonstration with a high-powered laser managed to divert lightning from hitting a 400-foot tower during the 2021 storm season. 

The test in Switzerland created a “virtual” lightning rod by pulsing a thousand times a second to heat the air around the tower. Some pictures are here.

With 40 millions lightning strikes in the US causing some $3 Billion in damages each year to towers and antennas, something like this could be a valuable solution for lightning strikes. 

 

1/12/23 – The NAB, NPR, Beasley, and Cox Media are among filers fully supporting Xperi’s petition to the FCC to increase HD Radio digital levels. The thrust of the NPRM to which comments were made is to allow stations to use assymetric sidebands and hight power for better signal penetration. General concensus is that this is a good move, although there are some reports it can have an adverse impact on low power stations and translators, including LPFMs. Reply Comments are due February 13th for Docket 22-405 and can be makde online on the ECFS page.

1/6/23 –  Once again the FCC servcrs have failed to handle the load when multiple users need to file multiple filings. Many have reported problems this week with the OPIF, for example.

The Commission announced today that the deadline for the Issues and Programs will be January 30th. 

Other filings, like Form One for EAS have also been difficult to file, but the deadline is Feb 28th for those.


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