12/30/13 – An interesting result of some legislation rolling through the Congress regarding patent trolls: Intellectual Ventures has listed some 32,000 of their 40,000 patents that they hold. The Senate Bill working its way through Congress would seek to reduce the number of lawsuits files – often against end users – by holders of patents, some of them tenuous.
12/10/13 – The House Energy and Commerce Committee has passed a Bill (HR3675) to reform certain FCC processes. The Bill now goes to the full house. One feature that will make a difference: a requirement to prevent proceedings from dragging on for years. Meanwhile, the Committee was sending a warning to the FCC regarding a new initiative that was labelled “Fairness Doctrine 2.0,” a $900k study to seek News Philosophy and proceedures of stations. The letter indicated the FCC had no business probing the news judgement of stations.
12/6/13 – New FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler has stated that the Incentive Auction for TV spectrum will likely be put off until mid-2015, due to difficulties in getting the process moving. He advocates solving a few issues before holding the auction. Gary Epstein, the Chairman of the Auction Task Force says minimum bids will be set high – reflecting what the FCC feels is the value to cell companies.
12/5/13 – The House of Representatives passed the HR3309 Innovation Act, a patent reform bill, by 325-91 and is sending it on to the Senate. Perhaps some change is coming in the Patent Troll world. If it passes the Senate, some of the worst abuses may be slowed or stopped, including the practice of sending out demand letters without specifying exactly how and why the recipient is in violation of a patent.
12/4/13 – Two Congressmen have stated a desire to see an update of the Telecom Act, last updated in 1996, before the Internet was dominating communications. Representatives Fred Upton (R-MI) and Greg Walden (R-OR) want to see the current Rules reviewed and perhaps lead to a rewrite. The NAB and FCC Commission Ajit are in favor.
BDR Comments: At this moment, we would settle for the promised Part 11 rewrite. Taking on the entire Telecom Act is not going to happen overnight – unless they have to pass the law to find out what is in it.
12/2/13 – The FCC issued a list of eight radio stations in California that did not file renewal applications and, if they are still on the air, are unauthorized. Fines may follow.
11/27/13 – Would you like to “see” the LPFM applications in your area? Cavell, Mertz, has produced a Google Earth plug-in that plots the LPFM applications by frequency. Download it here. Then start Google Earth. Gary Cavell says “the left hand menu bar should show “LPFMs by Channel” – (probably under an FCCInfo heading) – then expand that button and click on the channel / frequency of interest. You can zoom and pan in Google Earth as usual to see where these things are. Click on an applicant’s balloon, and you can get more details – click on the Facility Id link, and you can drill down and see more.” Don’t know what frequencies are sought in your area? Just follow the CDBS link in the next item and add the state and/or city of interest. You will get a list of all the LPFMs in your area.
11/26/13 – The large consolidators continue to juggle debt loads. The latest is a notice by Clear Channel, seeking to delay some loans due in 2016 to 2019 and 2021. According to Bloomberg, the company actually spent more than it took in last year and is in danger of running through its cash reserves. More alarming, the report says CC has not had enough operating income to pay interest expenses in any quarter since 2008 (other non-operating income had included sale of stations, etc, but this past year the only solution was to burn cash).
11/26/13 – The Department of Defence as decided to defer to broadcasters as to the control of the Broadcast Auxiliary Service (BAS) frequencies in the 2025-2110 MHz band. The agreement reached shares the band, with broadcasters and DoD as co-primary users on paper, but broadcasters will have first priority and DoD will not interfere with transmissions.
11/22/13 – “Don’t forget us.” That was essentially the message to the FCC that formed the basis of the speech NAB’s Gordon Smith gave at the Media Institute Luncheon. Noting the “abrupt policy priority shift” that happened in 2009, under Julias Genachowski, Smith talked about the Commission’s current obsession with broadband, to the exclusion of things that would strengthen and help broadcasters. Smith mentioned Genachowski’s list of his 50 accomplishments all related to broadband. Among Smith’s hopes for FCC attention were those related how IP cannot help during disasters – only radio is there to communicate. But the FCC needs to help broadcasters with the same “verve” that it has had for the broadbanders.
11/21/13 – The LPFM Window is closed, with 2819 applications successfully filed, according to Austin Airwaves. This number was confirmed at an AFCCE reception by both Jim Bradshaw & Peter Doyle, but could be adjusted a bit as things settle. If you would like to see them, go to the CDBS applications screen, then under Service “FM Low Power” and use the dates “10/13/2013” to “11/17/2013”. If you desire, filter by state and/or city. It will return right about 2820 applications. Approximately two dozen are duplicates/triplicates; 1/3 are “singletons” and a list of them may be released by the FCC as early as next week.
11/15/13 – The FCC announced another after-effect of the October shutdown. Due to the lack of access to the database, the FCC has permitted commercial stations that were supposed to file their Form 323 biennial Ownership Reports by December 2nd to now file up until December 20th. (Non-Comms still have their original deadline.)
11/15/13 – Did you see the CDBS crash coming? The load of LPFM applications yesterday caused so much crashing of servers that the FCC extended the LPFM deadline yet again, to this afternoon.
11/14/13 – Selling off the land under old AM stations has been a trick used by a number of companies over the years. But this is a big one: Cumuius has said they are planning to sell the property where KABC has been for decades. The site in SW Los Angeles, is said to be worth as much as $90 Million. Would KABC’s two towers stay – or where would they go – that is the question. No time frame was announced, but the LA Times shows the site in their article.
11/7/13 – The “New FCC” with Chairman Wheeler has announced its first open meeting. Your first look at the New Comission will be on November 14th. The first item relates to transfer of control of broadcast properties, including the foreign ownership factor.
11/5/13 – MALWARE ALERT!: you might think this is just another scam to be ignored – the message from a rather nasty bit of new malware you should know about: CyberLocker. This has been called “ransomware” as, if it gets on your system, it will encrypt your key files, then demand a ransom for the key, to be paid in something like 100 hours – or they will just delete the key and leave you with all your files killed. Of course, even after some have paid, the key is not sent. Worse, it will move around a LAN and destroy anything connected.
As Sgt Esterhaus used to say: “Please be carefui out there!” It really is important that your entire staff is careful where they browse or what files they open, even in email. Even your weekend operators – who often can be the source of infections. And do not forget have an off-network, off-site backup.
11/4/13 – Another apparent Patent Troll has appeared on the broadcast horizon. Delaware Radio Technologies, LLC and Wyncomm, LLC have filed a Patent Infringement lawsuit in Delaware, naming Disney as the defendant. Wyncomm claims several Patents, including Patent 5,506,866, gives them all rights to NRSC-5 and HD Radio, and Delaware Radio claims to be the sole licensing agency. If there is a Patent Troll going on, expect other entities to be named.
10/31/13 – Here it is! Just in time for your weekend reading, the FCC released its Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) for the Revitalization of AM Service. The comment period is two months.
10/29/13 – Sad news today from Cavell, Mertz, and Associates. Partner Richard Mertz passed away this morning, with wife and sons at his side, after a battle with pancreatic cancer. Gary Cavell tells us his partner “is now at peace.” Memorial arrangements for set for Sunday, November 1st. Some more details are on the Cavell, Mertz site, here.
10/29/13 – We now have a “full” FCC. The Senate voted this afternoon to confirm Tom Wheeler as the new Chairman and Mike O’Reilly as Commissioner, after discussions relieved a political concern that the Commission might push hard to impose new rules on political ads.
BDR Comments: We hope that the FCC confirmations marks the start of a productive and broadcast-friendly approach to regulation. They would do well to start with the EAS rewrite and interaction with the FEMA and EMs, the LTE “interference issue” (see the 10/28/13 item below), and the AM revitaliation, among other issues.
10/28/13 – LTE versus the world continues. AT&T lawyers got the Commission to cite a hair salon under Part 15 for “harmful interference” to an LTE site next door. The owner was not cooperating. In the footnotes, GE did offer to replace the lighting system that caused the interference, but the owner wanted to do it himself, seeking cash.
10/28/13 – After 54 years, Broadcast Engineering is no more. Over the weekend, Penton announced the closing of the print and web operations, citing the depressed economy especially in the TV marketplace.
10/23/13 – The 2013 FEMA Reauthorization Act has been filed in the House of Representatives. Among the provisions in extending funding and authority for the FEMA is language to strengthen IPAWS, including a provision mandating a National Test of the EAS CAP system once every three years (Section 102 (b)(2)(F)), and that the Public Warning system be made more resilient and secure (Section 102 (b)(2)(G)).
10/22/13 – So, should we note that Apple’s latest tablets were released today? How about the announcement that the latest OS upgrade will be a “free” download?
10/18/13 – We will not call it a complete guessing game, as the FCC has issued more guidance on filings and deadlines. Simply put, many are just moved 16 days – but that is an oversimplification. On the other hand, some of those who might have missed deadlines, like the license renewal deadline on October 1st, are still “alive.”
STA’s that were expiring during the time the FCC was closed are extended to November 4th.
10/17/13 – A notice on the FCC website says that all filings have been delayed by the FCC closure will continue delayed until further notice. The means everything from license renewals to the LPFM Window. Further information is expected next week and the FCC is suggesting that folks do not file applications seeking “relief” until the additional guidance is given.
10/17/13 – The FCC has returned. Among the first notices was a listing of 14 stations in AZ, NM, NV, UT, and WY failed to turn in renewal applications on June 1st.
10/17/13 – Microsoft has released Version 8.1 of Windows. It is a free download at microsoft.com
10/10/13 – T-Mobile announced today that they are removing most roaming costs for international service. Data and text will be free, and calls will be 20 cents per minute, according to the statements made.
10/7/13 – The 135th AES Convention in NYC later this month will feature a number of broadcast related seminars. Additionally, it has been announced that on Friday a special program remembering Ray Dolby and his inventions will be presented. Looking for a free floor pass? Just click here and use the promo code NYAES. Our thanks to David Bialik for this goodie.
10/1/13 – The halls are deserted in much of the Federal Government, including the FCC. And, as can be seen, quite a lot of planning (and staff time) went into the FCC’s shutdown plan.
Basically … until Congress works things out, everything is on hold, including filings due at the FCC. The FCC Plan essentially seems to say that everything “missed” will be due on the first day after the government returns to work (Some outages must still be reported).
Most links on the FCC site have been redirected to the “shutdown-page,” with some barebones information, although a few remain. AMQuery appears to work at this writing, for example.
9/27/13 – The FCC has been busy – and things are about to get busier. The LPFM Window is due to open in just over two weeks. The Commission says it is ready for the LPFM applications and has just about handled the translator backlog. (Between translators and LPFM, we could see 3000 or more new transmitters and antennas sold.)
9/25/13 – Potential LPFM stations and others should be on the guard against a company calling itself FCCFrequency and selling 100 Watt transmitters from the Dominican Republic. Oh – one other thing – despite their name, they apparently neglect to tell customers they need a license from the real FCC to use the gear. The FCC is looking into the Fundacion Cristiana De Comunicaciones and is demanding some explanations. -Thanks Mike Langner
9/24/13 – While it may be a bit early, the NAB has set up a hotel page for the 2014 Spring Show. (You will note rates are rising again!). Check it out, to help get your plans ready.
9/20/13 – The NAB has filed comments with the FCC to try to protect the Broadcast Auxiliary Services (BAS) band at 2 GHz (2025-2110). CTIA wants to take some 15% of the band for auctioning. The NAB, in return, says that wireless companies already have plenty of spectrum, why destroy BAS to add to the stockpile?
9/20/13 – Among the take-aways from the Fall Radio Show are the Acting Chairwoman’s proposals for AM and Larry Wilson’s saying “voicetracking is dead.” Both aim to bolster local broadcasting.
9/18/13 – The Fall Radio Show for 2014 has been announced for Indianapolis: 9/10/14 to 9/12/14.
9/17/13 – The IBC closes today in Amsterdam. The total attendees topped 50,569, an increase of about 1,000 from last year.
9/17/13 – Ibiquity has announced discounts on their licensing system that would bring the license fee down to $7500 with up to eight years to pay (the fee for HD2/3/4 is $1000/year or 3% of income). This beats the discount in 2007 ($10,000), offered prior to an announced fee increase to $25k in 2008.
9/16/13 – A couple of station sales seem to show that some companies are actively picking up new stations – a sign of improvement in station trading, if not the rest of the industry. Larry Wilson’s Live and Local just picked up five stations in Columbia, SC, and Nexstar and Mission Broadcasting picked up another five stations in IA and NY.
BDR Comments: Dare we hope this will encourage more – as L&L’s name says: “Live and Local” broadcasting? Otherwise, the continuing increase of empty studios around the country will do nothing more than continue to fuel the people a the FCC who think broadcast’s time is past.
9/9/13 – Something is going on at Talk Radio Network. After a weekend of leaked information, TRN announced it had shut down America’s Radio News Network (ARNN). A lawsuit between TRN and WestwoodOne (Dial Global) is partially involved.
9/9/13 – The LPFM Window definitely is getting closer. The FCC opened a filing Window today for the singleton translator applications that have been pending for some ten years. Applicants have until October 9th to file their Form 349 Application for Construction Permit.
9/3/13 – There had been speculation about it, but today Dial Global made it official: before they sell themselves off to Cumulus, they are changing their name to Westwood One, reclaiming the original name of one of the companies that became Dial Global. Westwood One is remembered as a satellite syndication company with many programs and news networks, from Mutual to NBC and CBS.
8/31/13 – What happens when the company fixing your gear closes? At least this time, the Sinclair Broadcast Group purchase of Dielectric Communications antenna factory has brought hope to three stations in Virginia, which have been on an auxiliary antenna at lower power since a storm in March damaged their antenna.
8/30/13 – August closes with three transactions revolving around Cumulus Media. Townsquare Media has purchased 68 stations from Cumulus and Peak Broadcasting (after divesting or exchanging eight stations). The deal is said to be total $281 Million of small and middle market stations, and brings Townsquare up to third place in the number of stations owned: 312 stations in 66 markets.
The sale will, in turn, provide cash for Cumulus to purchase Dial Global for a reported $260 Million. This will give Cumulus a major platform (DG includes the remants of Westwood One and some other radio news brands) to provide programming to their stations and others.
The markets involved are: Battle Creek, MI; Cedar Rapids, IA; Danbury, CT; Faribault-Owatonna, MN; Kalamazoo, MI; Lansing, MI; Portland, ME; Portsmouth-Dover-Rochester, NH; Quad Cities, IA-IL; Rochester, MN; Rockford, IL; Waterloo, IA, Boise, ID, Fresno, CA, Dubuque, IA, and Poughkeepsie, NY.
8/28/13 – Results are in from the SBE’s annual election of officers. Joe Snelson is the new SBE President, Jerry Massey is the the VP.
8/27/13 – SoundExchange has filed a suit against SiriusXM regarding royalty payments – as much as $100 million of payments. Much of the litigation concerns music that is now over 40 years old and already part of existing actions.
BDR Comments: We hope that thinking about early 1970s music doesn’t make you feel old!
8/22/13 – The old myth that “lightning never strikes twice” got a good brusing in Florida last month. WGSG in Mayo, FL got whacked not once or twice, but three times on July 31st. The report in Suwanne Democrat/Mayo Free Press tells the story of a non-comm station owner “understandably at wits end.” WGSG is on the air – barely. (thanks, Blaine Thompson)
8/19/13 – The FCC issued a Report and Order that updates the rules regarding MoM installations and construction near to existing stations.
8/18/13 – A pirate station picked the worst possible place to set up: across the street from a fire station with firefighters unwilling to accept interference. According to the Brockton, MA Enterprise, when a Haitian programmed pirate started affecting radios in the firehouse, a delegation went over and offered to cut the coax. The station relocated rather quickly.
8/15/13 – Sprint and Emmis have announced the availablity of cell phones with the FM chip activated. According to Emmis, two HTC models (One or EVO) will now work with Emmis’ NextRadio app, which can be downloaded from this Google Play site. This is off-air reception, with no data usage.
8/15/13 – The legal system at its best? Bet you thought the LightSquared effort to use a frequency band to do wireless Internet ended when the FCC declined to offer another wavier of the interference with GPS receivers and LightSquare declared bankruptcy. Not true. A successor company has now filed suit for $1.9 Billion in damages from Deere and other GPS industry groups for opposing the plans. Oh … and so no one is left out, a $2 Billion suit was filed against Dish Network’s CEO. (Thanks Dennis Gilliam)
8/14/13 – FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai is to speak at the Radio Show Luncheon regarding his continuing support for local broadcasting, especially small AM stations.
8/13/13 – The FCC has released its schedule of fees for the Fiscal Year 2014. Aside from the expected slight increase in fees, the big change this year is the elimination of the “UHF Discount,” now that we have moved to digital television and UHF channels often are demonstrably better than VHF channels.
8/10/13 – If you are following the Pandora purchase of a broadcast station and ASCAP’s attack on it, a Petition to Deny, you might enjoy the latest filings. Lawyers love this stuff: ASCAP’s filing Pandora/Connoisseur’s response.
8/9/13 – We hear the FCC has finally started to get its collective mind wrapped around the LTE Cell sites vs FM interference issue. The word is that the different departments were not communicating (really? Who’d a thunk that?) and that now there starting some effort to back away from citing FM stations. Of course, the EB would like to keep it quiet.
BDR Comments: The BDR is pleased to see some sanity returning to the process. Let’s hope that continues.
8/8/13 – In recent years, the FCC has changed the Form 323 for the biennial Broadcast Station Ownership Report, to include set a single deadline date, get additional information – and to include more stations. This year, all commercial full-power AM, FM, TV, and LPTV stations – and entities with attributable interests are required to file their forms by November 1st. However, the FCC has released an Order delaying the deadline this year to December 2nd. Data must be accurate as of October 1st. Nevertheless, the FCC suggests filing as early as possible after October 1st.
8/2/13 – President Obama has nominated Mike O’Rielly to be an FCC Commissioner, filling a vacany created by Robert McDowell’s resignation. O’Rielly, an advisor to Senate Minority Whip John Cornyn (R-TX), was said to be the “political balance” nominee for Tom Wheeler, slated to become the next FCC Chairman. His background includes working for Sens. Jon Kyle (R-AZ) and John Sununu (R-NH).
7/31/13 – The nominee for FCC Chairman, Tom Wheeler, has passed the Senate Commerce Committee. His confirmation by the full Senate may come soon.
7/23/13 – FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai visited KDKA for a tour and history program today. His remarks continued his campaign to provide some help AM radio from the Commission. His remarks are here.
7/16/13 – Hubbard Broadcasting has purchased 10 radio stations in Seattle and Phoenix from Sandusky Radio. The $85.5 million deal is the second major sale in two days. Larry Wilson’s L&L bought six Jackson, MS stations from YMF Media.
7/15/13 – Two Salem stations were damaged yesterday by a fire at their Bainbridge Island, WA site. according to the local paper, what sounds like an ATU shed fire knocked KLFE (1590), a two-tower DA and KNTS (1680). Partial service was restored to KLFE by the end of the day, while KNTS remained off for repairs.
7/15/13 – The FCC’s Enforcement Bureau has extended the deadline for commenting on its indecency policy to August 2nd.
7/10/13 – Hot on the heels of Fox’ WWOR eliminating their last news broadcast in favor of a magazine program, Senator Robert Menendez – D and Representative Frank Pallone – D both have asked the FCC to revoke WWOR’s license. The license was originally “saved” decades ago during the RKO scandal by a special law granting renewal to a VHF station serving New Jersey.
7/9/13 – Several publications, including ZDNet and Wired have reported security holes in DASDEC EAS boxes. This is old information, as DAS had released firmware in April to resolve any issues. More information is here. All DASDEC units should be updated to V2.0-2 at the DAS site.
7/9/13 – Harris Broadcast has names Charlie Vogt as their new CEO. Vogt has experience in information technology and communications, including cable, most recently as CEO of GENBAND. another acquisition company. Vogt has received multiple recognitions in the IP and VoIP industries.
7/3/13 – Harris Broadcast will be announcing a new CEO next week. Harris Morris, has departed, effective immediately. No reasons were given in an email memo distributed to the company employees yesterday. Harris Broadcast is now owned by The Gores Group.
6/28/13 – Plans have been announced for the resumption of programming by a television station that is moving over 2000 miles from Wyoming to Wilmington, DE (see 3/18/13, below). In addition to the long move, the news report notes another unique attribute: both stations will still carry their “K” call sign, unless they change it after the move, something uncommon East of the Mississippi River.
6/28/13 – A reminder that the FCC NPRM into RF exposure guidelines is still underway. Some reports are that some announcements will be made in August, although the comment period is until September 13th.
6/27/13 – The California Historical Radio Society has learned that the building where they have been located – the old KRE building, and site of the movie American Graffiti -is being sold.
6/26/13 – The buildout of 700 MHz LTE cellular networks is starting to have some impact upon FM broadcasters. In at least four instances FM transmitters have been accused of improper operation by cellular companies – and one FCC Field Agent issuing an NOV – even when the FM is operating well within the Rules and spectrum limits.
BDR Comments: While this is early in the process, it is vital the NAB take the lead in investigating what is happening, how the FCC intends to proceed, and what broadcaster need to do to prevent expensive retro-fits, should a co-located or near-located LTE site claim interference. Remember – broadcasters do not step up – quickly – with a unified voice, the cellular industry will!
6/24/13 – Journal Broadcast’s Andy Laird is a real heavy-lifter. Now celebrating 15 years as CTO for Journal, and married for two, Laird has carved out a record setting place in a his non-broadcast pursuits. And he is not done yet!
Coming so soon after the announcement by SPX that closed the division, the sale will keep in place the staff at Raymond, ME and preserve the knowledge and experience that reaches back to the days Dielectric took the RCA designs and set up as a separate company.
6/17/13 – Another sign of changing times: WYFR, Family Radio’s Shortwave service, will terminate on June 30th. Fourteen transmitters and 23 antennae at Okeechobee, FL will go silent, ending a history that started with W1XAL, Boston, MA in 1927, and had been run by Family Stations for the past 40 years.
6/13/13 – As the Pandora turns: Now BMI has decided to join ASCAP in going after Pandora, filing a lawsuit after negotiations failed.
6/13/13 – The Gannett company has announced they are purchasing the Belo Corp. for $1.5 Billion in cash and assumption of $715 million in debt. According to the NY Times, Gannett will nearly double its TV station group to 43 (from 23), and enhance the share of revenue from broadcast and digital sources.
6/11/13 – The Internet streaming company, Pandora, has purchased KXMZ in Rapid City, SD for $600k. This move into ownership appears related to the fight to get reduced royalty rates for the music played on Pandora. According to Pandora, it will put them on an equal footing with competitors such as Clear Channel and their iHeart service, which benefit from a different royalty rate given to broadcasters. ASCAP was not amused and said they would pursue a lawsuit.
6/11/13 – FCC Commission Pai released a letter from an AM station owner, along with supporting letters from the community, pleading for help for AM owners, especially in smaller markets. Among his suggestions: permit AM stations up to their day power or a maximum of 2000 Watts at night. The station owner, Brian Winnekins, would like to see a test of this during the coming Fall/Winter months. He would also like to see more AM fidelity and stricter enforcement of the Part 15 Rules on RF Interference. More information is here.
6/6/13 – KaYou Communications and International Datacasting have announced the end of stock and end of life dates for the ABR202 and DAC7000 receivers. According to KaYou, the ABR series will no longer be sold after September 30th, although International Datacasting reports stock may be exhausted by July 31st. The replacement, the Star Pro Audio receiver is currently being offered with a $500 upgrade rebate through the end of the year. More information is availalble here – or send an email to Mark Johnson.
6/4/13 – As part of the “shuffle” at the FCC, the “temporary Chairwoman” took the head of the Enforcement Bureau to her personal staff. She is now replaced by Acting Chief Robert Ratcliffe.
6/4/13 – The FCC has released new rules relating to RFR and exposure levels. There is also a new NPRM which is open for comments until September 13th – but already has 360 comments ranging from “shut down all the radio stations” to “lift all restrictions.”
6/3/13 – FCC Commissioner Pai provided the opening speech for the Missouri Broadcasters Association conference this past weekend. Following up on his appearance at the Spring NAB Show, Pai reiterated his support for AM stations – and focusing on how it was an AM station in Joplin, MO that served the community after the tornado last year that took out a lot of the power and cellular infrastucture.
BDR Comments: The problems AM Radio faces are well known and have been discussed for years. We hope Commissioner Pai is successful in moving some of the many proposed solutions off the table and ito action.
6/3/13 – Clear Channel quickly found the financing to move $5 Billion in debt out to 2019. This is not the first time CC has refinanced, but the interest rates do rise with each new offering.
BDR Comments: While there may be debate on the merits of allowing non-comms to run more “traditional” commercials, this is designed to reduce government subsidies. If this works out in Canada, we can expect the concept will be promoted in the US.
5/28/13 – Australia is going through the analog to digital TV conversion. This week Brisbane stations dropped their analog broadcasts. BTQ-7’s final analog video is here. (Thanks Blaine Thompson.)
5/24/13 – The FCC is seeking comment on their plans to raise the regulatory fees charged for Contruction Permits and Licenses. An 81 page Notice and Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, contains a chart of fees and proposed fees. Start around page 25 to see the data.
BDR Comments: The fees are based on the station desgination and market size. But one thing is for sure, the FCC will not close the Federal Deficit with fees on radio stations.
5/22/13 – Clear Channel is following in the path of other companies in restuctuing debt now, while interest base rates are relatively low. This week, CC announced that they are offering holders of notes due in 2016 a bit more interest to hold until 2021. If it pays off, it sure will be a lot better than any bank CD.
5/21/13 – Hot on the heels of the tech box dismissals, the FCC opened a two-month window today to try to resolve the MX applications remaining in the 2003 Auction 83. Communication rules are to be slightly relaxed. Here are the three documents: DA-13-1170A1.pdfDA-13-1170A2.pdfDA-13-1170A3.pdf If you are in this group (the second pdf), you only have eight weeks.
5/20/13 – More tornados in this rather busy tornado season; this time in the Oklahoma City metro area. With a path of obliteration almost two miles wide and 20 miles long, this was pretty bad, even by OKC standards. Several broadcasters, including Clear Channel and Cumulus both hooking all their stations onto company simulcasts. Reports indicate the tornado came close to two AM facilities – at KOKC (1520, the old KOMA), the three-tower DA was missed by a matter of several hundred feet, and a close miss as well to the KTOK (1000) site.
BDR Comments: With no power and many cell towers dropped, communication was back to broadcasters. EAS broadcasts gave as much as 15 minutes warning to take shelter, which likely saved many lives in this densely populated area. This is when broadcast can/should shine. This is something emergency managers need to be educated to observe and copy.
5/13/13 – The FCC has issued a new policy that gives student-run stations a small lifeline. More discussion is on the Enforcement Watch page.
5/7/13 – Auction 94 has concluded. Full reports on the FCC site here. Quick summary: 93 permits went to 55 bidders. 19 permits did not received a single bid. Although one CP (West Palm Beach, FL) went for over $2 million, most were much more modest – 82 were sold for under $100k … and some for under $1,000.
5/1/13 – A new FCC Commissioner has been nominated by the President: Tom Wheeler. This is going to be interesting, as Wheeler – approved of by the NAB – was a lobbyist for the cable industry. In the meantime, Mignon Clyburn has been named Interim Chairman of the FCC.
Wheeler has a long history of being head of the cable industry association (NCTA) and cell industry associaion (CTIA) as well as being a strong backer of the the President, helping with his election campaign in 2008.
4/25/13 – FCC Commission Pai is pressing ahead with his hopes to revitalize AM. Stating that “..time isn’t on the side of AM broadcasters …” Pai advocates getting things moving – including more FM translators for AM stations.
4/25/13 – According to various sources, Microsoft is readying an update to Windows 8 that will restore a “Start” button to the opening screen. Although no return to the “start menu” style, Windows 8.1 is said to be an acknowledgement that Microsoft went a bit too far in Windows 8’s redesign.
4/22/13 – A Fisher Communications Shareholders’ Foundation has filed lawsuit to stop the the takeover by Sinclair Broadcast Group. The suit alleges that Fisher was sold too cheaply and that it was unfair to stockholders.
4/19/13 – SPX’ Dielectric Communications has announced it will close by the end of June 2013, due to market conditions. Sales and deliveries will stop on May 31st. Calls to the company are currently routed to voicemail, confirming the situation. The company will reopen a week from Monday.
4/12/13 – With the growing effects of the government financial “Sequestration,” several sources indicated the move to force radio stations to put their Public Information File on the FCC’s website will be delayed. No word as yet on how long.
4/10/13 – Sinclair Broadcasting says it has acquired Fisher Communications for $373+ million. Since Sinclair exited the radio business a few years ago, there is speculation as to what will happen with the radio stations in three markets that are included in the sale.
4/5/13 – Television broadcasters were told today that a freeze on any application that would increase their coverage area has been implemented until further notice. This is in relation the the spectrum auctions the FCC and Congress want to hold to raise money.
4/2/13 – Two Ft. Myers, FL DJs got yanked from the air after telling people their water was contaminated with “dihydrogen monoxide.” The station’s GM was not pleased and suspended the pair immediately. Utility and emergency managers reported a “lot of wasted time.” (Thanks: Blaine Thompson, Alan Alsobrook). (Update: the suspension was for one day.)
4/1/13 – Despite the date on the News Release, it appears the FCC has solved much of its backlog of indecency complaints by – are you ready? – dismissing over a million of them in the past six months. The Commission directed the Enforcement Bureau to pursue only the egregious cases and – wait for it! – has asked for comments on whether to keep the current policy or change it.
The Good News in this is that a number of radio license renewals were being held up by some of these complaints – some quite petty – and this will help move those renewals along.
BDR Comments: A large number of the complaints apparently were past the statute of limitations. On the other hand, it does make one wonder why such a backlog was allowed to occur in the first place. Could it be “Sequestration?” Even the BDR would not be so cynical.
3/27/13 – Where the money is – at least radio station billing. Hubbard’s WTOP was listed as the top-billing station in the US for the third consecutive year. BIA/Kelsey does a year report, and this year lists WTOP at $64.6 million. #2 was Clear Channel’s KIIS, LA at $56.8 million.
BDR Comments: It is pretty clear there is money in radio. So, where are the jobs, salaries, and tech budgets below the corporate and GM/SM rank? The front line folks do not seem to be sharing in the spoils – or the million dollar plus bonuses.
3/26/13 – Wondering what the status is on the MAD Patent Case. The judge on Monday issued an order keeping the “stay” in place until the patent “re-examination” process has ended.
3/25/13 – An interesting outcome for a channel move in Texas. Radio Dalhart was ordered to pay Perryton Radio Inc $73,553.73 as a result of the move of KBEX(FM) which bumped KEYE(FM) from its dial position. Once the move was over Radio Dalhart decided not to pay the money. The FCC has now made that an Order.
3/21/13 – TransLanTech has sold its Ariane audio processor line to BW Broadcast.
3/21/13 – The National Radio Club announced that their DX Audio Service for the blind is moving from cassette to CD delivery. Also MP3 audio is available via Internet subscription, the DXAS is now begins its 28th year of service. More information is located here.
3/20/13 – Robert McDowell indicated this morning that he would be leaving his post as FCC Commissioner “in a few weeks.” McDowell, a Republican, has served on the FCC since 2006 and was known as a “Free Market” proponent, seeking to reduce regulations. Combined with the expected resignation of Chairman Julius Genachowski, it could mean two new Commissioners will be nominated this year.
3/19/13 – An Oklahoma LPFM station has lost its license for not complying with FCC orders after it was found that the antenna was 100 feet higher than it was supposed to be – and the station was running “regular” commercials. The FCC had given a conditional renewal, but that has now been withdrawn. KEIF-LP, Enid is now XKEIF-LP.
3/18/13 – A curious set of “moves” this week, from a little remembered law passed to protect the then WOR-TV in the New York Market. Congress passed a law in the 1980s, by NJ Senator Bill Bradley, mandating the FCC license a station wanting to serve a state with no VHF TV station.
3/12/13 – The FCC today approved the acquistion of MetroPCS by T-Mobile.
3/11/13 – There has been a lot of buzz on some of the social media sites about a report that two car companies were planning on pulling radio from their dashboards within two years. Although it sparked a lot of conversation the report was apparently not accurate, as car companies took the time to declaim any intention of dumping radios.
3/4/13 – The LPFM Window later this year is gaining a lot of interest. This article is from Wired Magazine, a geek/tech-heavy publication.
2/28/13 – Hammond Manufacturing of Cheektowaga, NY has purchased the Peter Dahl designs from Harbach Electronics. Closing is expected by the end of March 2013.
2/26/13 – Microsoft’s next version of Windows, named “Blue” is starting to make the rounds. Some sources claim it will be released to manufacturers in June and available to the public in August.
2/26/13 – There has been a lot of buzz this past week about the FCC abuptly terminating a number of enforcement actions with a very terse statement (“The Notice of Apparent Liability is hereby cancelled.”) and an admonishment to the licensee. This appears to be the result of pushback on the FCC’s continuing enforcement actions past the 5 year time limit for filing suit to recover the fines. Want to know more?
BDR Comments: Look for faster movement on the FCC’s part in coming months.
2/26/13 – NPR is in the midst of a study to see how stations can better serve deaf persons with EAS messages. Methods may include strobe lights or vibrators actiivated by RDS signals.
2/20/13 – The FCC has issued an NPRM (Notice of Proposed Rule Making) to add 195 MHz to the 5 GHz band for Wi-Fi use. The plan, which would increase existing Wi-Fi spectrum by over 1/3, was adopted unanimously. The cable industry was very pleased, as were a number of companies making wireless gear; the NPRM also called for streamlining the process of certifying Wi-Fi devices.
2/19/13 – Call it the Patent Troll Replay. Yep, Mission Abstract Data seems not willing to give up, even as the USPTO re-evalutes and dismisses the MAD claims. This week, MAD filed suit in East Texas courts against four radio groups for infringing on their patents. It seems like a try for some quick cash, but the whole patent lawsuit industry is so convoluted, it is hard to know for sure.
BDR Comments: Just so broadcasters do not feel alone, there was a recent article describes why certain companies are targeted by these deals. The topic: scan and email software. The article noted that the company holding the patents did not want to go after any large company with deep pockets and the capability to fight in court. They did not sue any equipment manufacturers, only small to mid-size companies who would be advised that, while it was unlikely the patent would “hold,” it was cheaper to pay than go to court – something these sort of cases count on. East Texas is known for rapid court calendars, so the combination of broadcast company size and being in East Texas seems to be the reason for MAD’s approach. On the other hand, check out Drew Curtis’ case.
2/13/13 – Comcast has purchased GE’s 49% of NBC, as well as 30 Rockfeller Center, and now owns NBC entirely. Interesingly, GE was an original owner of RCA from 1926 to 1932, then repurchased RCA and NBC in 1986. The price tag: $18.1 Billion.
2/11/13 – The NAB announced its Radio Engineering Award for 2013 will go to Frank Foti, and the TV Award to Jay Adrick. The Service to Broadcast Engineering award goes to Leonard Charles.
2/7/13 – Tom Ray is signing off at WOR in New York after 15 1/2 years. The former Corporate Director of Engineering for Buckley Broadcasting is setting up shop as Tom Ray Broadcast Consulting. This follows the sale of the station to Clear Channel.
2/7/13 – Harbach Electronics, which took over the Peter Dahl designs has announced on their website that they will be no longer building, selling, nor supporting the transformers, etc, that came to them when Peter Dahl retired, effective on February 14th. Jeff Weinberg’s comments are on the Harbach Home Page. (The sale to Hammond Manufacturing is above, date 2/28/13.) (Thanks to Rich Haan, Calhoun Communications)
2/7/13 – Libre Office 4 has been released. The successor to OpenOffice is now sporting new features (nach), and improved performance – including even if Java is not available. The free LO4 Office Suite is available for Windows, Mac, and Linux now, with more versions intended.
2/6/13 – Looking back at the hearings on Sandy, not a lot of really unexpected information. Broadcasters stayed on the air in many cases, while cell phones and Internet went dead. All participants said their companies performed well and provided many valuable lessons for similar future situations. A few noted that social media, before the loss of cell/Internet often had wrong information.
BDR Comments: There is no substitute for analog broadcast to inform communities during local emergencies. At least, that is true for stations that get people in and get off the automation!
2/5/13 – Today the FCC will hold field hearings in NYC and Hoboken, NJ regarding the communications problems during last year’s Hurricane Sandy. A number of broadcasters, FEMA managers, and others are expected to be heard. There is a live stream here.
2/5/13 – Think you have heard the whole deal: Sprint agrees to activate FM chips in cell phones using the NextRadio app? Now, information is slowly emerging that Sprint expects $15 million a year in ad inventory, plus some 30% of the revenue from the NextRadio app.
BDR Comments: Is this a good deal? That depends upon who is talking. Radio owners seem to like it, as they see it stemming trends to streaming by listeners. And we still do not know what effect this will have on battery life. Stay tuned – somewhere.
2/3/13 – Television stations with RPUs in the 6875-7125 MHz and 12700-13200 MHz bands have just under two months to comply with the requirement to register their receive sites. However, for the moment they can register receive sites without having to pay any of the $150 fees. The fee wavier ends on April 1st. Why register the sites? Without registration, the station might not have any rights should interference come from a new user on these RPU bands.
2/2/13 – The broadcast antenna farm in Duluth MN was affected when power dropped out this evening. At least three television and a number of radio stations were apparently without generators, and went down for about two hours. (Thanks to Blaine Thompson)
2/1/13 – Steve Scarborough’s Bay Country Broadcast Equipment is celebrating the start of its 16th year of operations – selling quality used broadcast gear.
BDR Comments: IL is the second state to pass such a law, which will make things a lot easier for broadcasters to get in and out of studios and stay on the air. Of course, the hope is that broadcasters will use this status to do more to provide information to their communities.
1/31/13 – An interesting kerfluffle: The International CES has decided to find another partner for their “Best of Show” awards in the future, after CNET owner CBS demanded CNET withdraw an award to Dish Network for their “Hopper” DVR. CES reinstated the award and will put out a Request for Proposal soon to replace CNET next year.
1/28/13 – For many years, the place everyone went to find out information about stations was the Broadcasting Yearbook. Last issued in 2010. After buying the database, Grey House Publishing has on sale the 2013 Edition of the Complete Television, Radio & Cable Industry Directory. The 2000-page book is still a hefty purchase – $350.
1/28/13 – The NAB filed comments with the FCC regarding the new wireless microphone rules. In addition to making it clear how important wireless microphones have become to broadcast operations, the NAB suggested the FCC make allowance for other users, like theaters, live music producers, government bodies and houses of worship.
1/26/13 – Is C4 an “explosive” concept? A petition was filed with the FCC to remove some of the protections afforded by the mileage charts and allow a new class of FM – C4.
BDR Comments: While the class, proposed for 12 kW at 100 m, would fill in a lot of coverage holes, others see it as just another dilution of the FM band. What the FCC thinks is not yet known. The only thing for sure: it will not happen fast.
1/22/13 – AM Stereo. Bet you have not heard much about that in a long time. For the next four months, a temporary Irish station has brouight the AM Stereo system back. While Zenith Class Rock may not be on many American DXer lists, except as a web stream, station manager Andy Linton says “AM Stereo sounds amazing!” (Thanks to Blaine Thompson)
1/20/13 – It is the legal silliness that will not go away. The MAD (Mission Abstract Data) affair is still not over, as a Federal judge is to hold a hearing on March 25th, to determine whether the recent decision turning down all of MAD’s claims will stand or if a trial will be ordered.
BDR Comments: With more information being found each month, the original claims by MAD are looking less and less viable. But it does show how the modern Patent process is broken.
1/18/13 – FCCInfo, the information website of Cavell, Mertz & Associates, has upgraded their Google Earth plugin. Now, in addition to all the existing features, they have broken out the data so you can find all the TV stations on each channel, all towers of a certain height, and more. Get the plug-in URL on the Resources/Software page.
1/16/13 – Scientists are saying this year will see a peak in sunspot activity. Some predict damage here on the Earth. Whether you believe these warnings or not, perhaps it is time to do an audit of the studio and transmitter sites. Perhaps this warning article is worth consideration?
1/16/13 – :Keep your eye out for another run of “diversity” hearings, aimed at getting more female and black station owners. Commissioners Pai and Clyburn are proposing a new initiative. . BDR Comments: Unfortunately, as the 80-90 process proved, unless the Commissioners adopt more than the usual “one-size-fits-all” style of FCC Rules, this initiative will not likely accomplish any more than past efforts. All it does is creat a lottery, making some minorities rich as they sell off their CPs as fast as possible.
1/16/13 – Liberty Media has received permission from the FCC to assume control of SiriusXM. Starting with a 2009 investment, Liberty has been slowly adding to its stock position and now has 50.5% as it converts preferred stock to common. It has been a good year for SiriusXM, with the stock jumping big time – now over $3.00.
1/14/13 – A reminder to TV stations: February 4th is the date for all TV stations to get their Public Information File materials on the FCC hosting site, with a few exceptions. While your DC Counsel likely has already alerted on this, here is a reminder to check.
1/11/13 – The FCC brought forth its “Derecho Report,” praising broadcasters for their efforts during the storms last year that wracked the midwest. The report looks to new generations of IP availability, but notes the cooperation between some 911 centers and broadcasters worked, even when power (and Internet) was down. The full report is here.
1/8/13 – The 2013 edition of the Adult Toy Story – the International CES – is holding forth in Las Vegas this week. Among the news coming out of the CES is Sprint’s decision to support the FM chips in some smartphones. Read about CES here.
1/5/13 – A village radio station in New Zealand will feature a transmitter purchased in 1937 this weekend. 1XT’s Collins 20C – the only known operating one in the world – originally was purchased for 1ZB in Auckland. Three station engineers worked to refurbish the 76-year-old transmitter – it had been gathering dust since burning out the high voltage transformer in 2000. The 20C will be utilized as a backup transmitter after its star turn this weekend.
1/3/13 – Longtime broadcaster and AFCCE Member Emeritus E. Noel Luddy passed away Sunday (Dec 30th) in Columbia, PA at the age of 95. During his 70 year career in broadcasting, Luddy worked for WLAP, RCA, and Dielectric.
1/2/13 – Just before adjourning the 112th Congress, FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn (D) was confirmed for another five-year term on the FCC.
1/2/13 – Here is a situation known to many broadcast engineers that work on busy mountain sites: after complaints about vehicle keyless entry problems in the past five months or so, a pirate radio transmitter was located and confiscated in Hollywood, FL. Apparently, the station on 104.7 was not using any filtering – and its 3rd harmonic landed right on the frequency used for car key fobs. Quite a few cars were towed, only to find no problem. The transmitter was located last week and removed. Police are said to be looking for the owner of the station.
1/1/13 – It is time to change the way you date your logs and checks.