The Broadcasters' Desktop Resource

The Broadcasters' Desktop Resource

News Items Archive - 2014

December

  • 12/27/14 - Urbana OH based Hughey and Phillips has purchased TowerSentry in Lakeland FL, to enhances the products and services they provide in the obstuction lighting industry. The manufacturing and services are to remain in place. (Thanks: Mike Shillhahn)

  • 12/21/14 - Dayton Industries, manufacturers of monitor receivers - including a very popular line for SCA reception, has announced they are closing, although they will have limited warranty/repair support for an undetermined period. Phone calls to the company are currently not being answered.

  • 12/19/14 - The FCC has movd on two issues, the NPRMs for the contest rules and the NPRM for Public Files. The FCC NPRM on the contest rules has been published in the Federal Register and the comment period is now openuntil February 17th - with Reply Comments due by March 19, 2015.
     
    In the other NPRM the FCC signals that it intends to get most, if not all stations and cable systems to post their Public Files on the Internet. There is language in the NPRM to "phase in" the process, letting small market stations hold off for two years - and possibly exempting non-comm stations entirely. The comment period will begin as soon as the NPRM is published.

  • 12/15/14 - If you are waiting for parts, support, or money from Energy-Onix, do not hold your breath. A local news report, in Valatie, NY says the village is suing what is left of Bernie Wise' company for a "large part" of a community loan of $500k. Bernie died late last year, and his son Jack apparently was unable to operate the company - he recently (see 9/29/14 below) closed the doors and walked away. Village officials are planning to foreclose on the factory - likely leaving little for anyone else.

  • 12/15/14 - The FCC seems to have decided it has heard enough on Net Neutrality, and according to staff will not issue a Public Notice seeking further comment. (See 6/3/14, below - John Oliver fostered a pile of comments.) After millions of comments, they reason, what else can be said?

  • 12/12/14 - A couple of residents in Whatcom County, WA are seeking to amend the zoning regulations for their area so to prevent "high wattage" transmissions from radio and television stations. All sorts of reasons are offered as justification, from preventing interference to health issues. A station with a CP for 50 kW (10 kW-N) is the immediate target, but the filers allege there is no need for any broadcast tower or antenna to exceed - are you ready? - 25 feet and a maximum of 1500 Watts. 
     
    BDR Comments: NIMBYs, BANANAs, and NOPEs stand aside! Over the years, all sorts of strange efforts have been made by activists to block construction of radio towers. Although early reports from attendees at a hearing on Dec. 11th indicate the proposal may not fly, we might need a new acronym for this one.

  • 12/11/14 - FCC Chairman Wheeler has apparently pushed through, on party lines, requirments for radio stations and cable systems to place their Public Information Files online. The matter, reported to being done "on circulation," was quickly approved by the three Democratic members of the Commission, while the Republican members were left in the dust.
     
    BDR Comments: This is among the most controversial moves the Commission has made in recent times, in direct opposition to comments by the NAB and many others, who note the "melt down" of the FCC system when the requirement was made for TV stations. Can they handle the load? Will it be used to "catch and fine" stations that miss a filing date? What of small market stations without wideband Internet access?  This one may have more to come. 

  • 12/10/14 - The flagship station for the Worship Radio Network, WMDR-FM, Oakland, ME, lost its tower in the snowstorm this morning. A guy wire on the 200-tower snapped under the snow, ice, and wind, taking down the tower and antenna. The station engineer, Joel Epley notes that it could be May before the road is clear enough for a 4x4 to enter. Temporary repairs by snowmobile are planned as soon as the weather clears.

  • 12/9/14 - A partial resolution to WCIS problem: a 27-year-old man was arrested in connection with vandalism of the WCIS site (see 12/4/14, below), as well as theft of truck.

  • 12/8/14 - The Lincoln Financial Media Group has been acquired by Entercom Communications. The deal, $105 million in cash and stock, covers 15 radio stations in four markets, Atlanta, San Diego, Denver, and Miami.

  • 12/5/14 - One of the effects of solid state transmitters has been the reliance on a single transmitter. A West Virginia TV station has been off the air since Thanksgiving morning, A notice on the website says "We are currently experiencing technical difficulties WOAY-TV has experienced a catastrophic failure at our transmitter, we are currently working to fix the problem, but waiting on equipment. We don't have a set time frame for when it will be fixed but we can assure you we're working our best to get it done. Sorry for the inconvenience and thank you for your patience."

  • 12/4/14 - A North Carolina station was knocked off the air when thieves broke in and wrecked both of the station's transmitters, ATU, and other copper. Some $50k in damage (video here) put WCIS-AM off during a fund-raising event, until a replacement transmitter can be found and repairs made. (thanks to Stoney Owen/WKBC)

November

  • 11/24/14 - Continental Electronics has ended 24/7 parts and support hours. The change, which took effect over the past weekend, is designed to "improve the support experience." All calls outside of normal business hours (M-F, 8A-4:30P, Central time) will be returned the next business day.

    BDR Comments:  Although many of us learned transmitter troubleshooting from Ken, Dave, Richard, J. Fred, and John, few are actually doing it at zero dark 30 any more. The good news is that CE will continue to provide tech support and parts for their products - just during business hours. 

  • 11/21/14 - The FCC has started a Rule Making to update contest rules (now nearly 40 years old). It is expected that a lot of the rules will now be permitted to be posted on the Internet, rather than read at "triple speed." On the other hand, stations do need to remember there often are state laws regarding contests, some of which may be more expensive to violate than FCC rules. Do not expect an "NAB Gift" surprise, the Reply Comments extend into late April. Nevertheless, being able to use the Internet in some fashion to allow proper recitation of contest rules will be a boon to broadcasters.

  • 11/19/14 - A $10k reward has been offered in a vandalism case in Kennewick, WA. Last Saturday, someone broke in around 1 AM and set fire to the site, located behind Kamiakin High School in Kennewick, and set fire to the building housing three stations. One of the three stations was said to be off for "a while."

  • 11/14/14 - iHeart Media has announced they will be discontining CCSS satellite service operations. Current contracts will be fulfilled and CCSS will help clients to migrate to other providers, but no new clients will be accepted. The closure of CCSS will not affect Premiere Satellie Services. 
     

October

  • 10/31/14 - The FCC has announced a couple of initiatives for radio, one desired, one not so much. The Commission will begin their November meeting with a discussion on "modernizing contest rules." They also are starting the process to see if they want to put radio stations' political files - or perhaps even the entire Public Information File - online.

  • 10/31/14 - No, it is not as bad as the ebola, although stations that have been hit might argue the point. Still, more than 20 markets have reported stations getting smacked with Ransomware. The perpetrators do seem to have found a mechanism that has crippled more than a few broadcasters.

    BDR Comments:  We repeat: do not panic. The sky is not falling. But, please take steps to prevent complete loss in the case of infection.

  • 10/30/14 - This is the weekend. DST ends in most states. Take a moment now to stop and plan for your automation and traffic systems,  the remote control (and power change times), and any other critical function that could be a hour "off" after this weekend. It is time to "Fall Back!"

  • 10/29/14 - It was two years ago that Hurricane Sandy rolled ashore in New Jersey, dumping tremendous flooding and damage on NJ and NY, along with 22 other states and parts of Canada. With the floods came the loss of power, cell phones, Internet, etc. It was broadcasters who came through to deliver news and helpful information to anxious people - some sitting in the dark and waiting for help. Paul Rotella, President of the New Jersey Broadcasters Association, used the occasion to recall the efforts of broadcasters in the state and how they "continue to serve the public ... every day of the year, not just during emergencies, where our service is unparalled, but always..."

    BDR Comments:  That is why broadcasters are such a valuable resource - and should continue to strive each day to do even better. 

  • 10/28/14 - Still more reports of ransoware taking down broadcasters are coming in. A cluster in Michigan, another station in North Texas lost some six hours when the on-air computer locked down. Also reported: an infection running through a WAN.

    BDR Comments:  Do not panic. But, especially in light of how easy any station can be infected (see next item), concern and planning definitely are called for.

  • 10/24/14 - A computer security research firm has announced finding poisoned links/ads on Yahoo and AOL, among other places on the Internet. So .. as you read the item below from 10/20 and 10/21, check this link, and see why care is so important.

  • 10/24/14 - An EAN was sent was part of a radio show from Nashville. The tones, from the National EAS Test in 2011, tripped receivers in many markets - especially those conforming to the FCC's edict that EANs run "immediately" regardless of time-stamp. More info and audio are here.

  • 10/21/14 - Another station, this time in Arkansas, has reported being hit by ransomware. The warnings in the next item are worth repeating... do not have mission critical computers "live" to the Internet. Make backups away from your LAN. Train staff to stay away from dangerous situations and sites. Make backups away from your LAN. Should we say it again? Make backups away from your LAN.

  • 10/20/14 - Life imitates art which imitates life: The day after a network program featured a plot where Russian hackers held a law firm's files ransom, the Louisiana Association of Broadcasters reports a cluster of member stations lost at least seven hours of airtime when a ransomware virus demanded payment (of $500 in bitcoin) to restore the files on their automation system. One report indicated a possible cause was the stations were still using XP on machines exposed to the Internet, but most experts dismiss that idea. The owner estimated costs of "tens of thousands of dollars to replace computers and software."

    BDR Comments:  No, mission critical systems do not need to be connected to the Internet. Period. Another thing - and too many are in danger here, because ransomeware can traverse your LAN - when was the last time you did a full backup that was not on your network?

  • 10/20/14 - Sadly, a Long Branch, NJ radio tower has been used not once, but twice this year for suicide. Following a similar incident in April, a man climbed the WWZY tower and "stepped off" to his death.

  • 10/15/14 - Customers of the recently shuttered LARCAN company seems to have some parts and support options again. Joe Wozniak and Bill Meechem have announced the opening of Maple Leaf Systems and Service. Although there is no web site announced as yet, the telephone area code indicates the new company is in the Philadelphia area: 610-692-7283

  • 10/14/14 - Some changes at PTEK in San Jose, CA. Larry Longhurst  has been named as President of the FM transmitter manufacturer and additional engineering talent has been added to the company.

  • 10/10/14 - The huge backlog of renewals waiting at the FCC got a major reduction as some 700 renewals were granted - part of the FCC dismissing thousands of complaints that had stacked up so long, some stations were on a second "renewal" without a full license. The FCC says it will triage future complaints and prevent such backlogs from reappearing.

  • 10/10/14 - Alpha Media will purchase the Buckley Communications stations in California - Bakersfield and Merced. With these six stations Alpha Media will total over 70 stations.

  • 10/6/14 - Is a replacement for the CDBS coming soon to the FCC? The new "Licensing and Management System" (LMS) is already being implemented for Full Power TV stations, but the plan is to have radio as well, using a new Form 2100, which the FCC hopes will replace all forms.

  • 10/6/14 - > Rick Neace, an industry veteran who has operated SRS Electronics, a repair and support company for Marti products, closed up shop last week due to serious health issues. No new units are being accepted for repair, all those in the shop have been boxed and returned. While the company is closed for business, the phone is being answered and messages are being taken.  If you wish to send a card, the address is:

    Rick Neace                              Need Marti repair/service?
    SRS Electronics                       Here is what you need to know.
    1501-D N. Main Street
    Cleburne,Texas 76033

  • 10/3/14 - The Digital Radio Mondial (DRM) consortium is hard at work on a new receiver that will be manufactured in India. The Avion AV-DR -1401 follows on a major transmitter installation program in that country. If successful, DRM could receive one of its biggest boosts yet. (Interestingly, the FM side of that radio, in some places, is reported to be include the 78-87 MHz frequencies.) Here is another look at the unit.

  • 10/3/14 - Have you been to a conference at the Marriott's Gaylord Grand Ole Opry Hotel in Nashville and found you could not access the Internet from the conference rooms? Seems Marriott was jamming frequencies to increase revenue. This week they got a good slap from the FCC: a $600,000 Consent Decree.

  • 10/3/14 - Beasley Broadcast Group announced they are to swap (no cash) 5 stations in Philadelphia and Miami for 14 stations from CBS Radio in Philadelphia, Tampa-St. Petersburg, and Charlotte. The deal is anticipated to close by the end of the year. Until then, the stations will continue as they are now.

September

  • 9/30/14 - With a newly issued judgement against Sirius/XM in a California court, Flo and Eddie now are targeting PandoraThe California case, which is about royalties on songs prior to 1972, is being appealed. However, the quest from songwriters to wrest more money from satellite and Internet broadcasters continues.

  • 9/30/14 - Two radio stations in the Seattle market are planning a series of lengthy tests of digital only AM transmission from Thursday through next Tuesday (Oct 2 - 7). KRKO (1380) and KKXA (1520) will partner with NAB Labs for the tests. Stations owner Andy Skotdal says analog listeners will hear only silence during the tests which will run between four and seven hours at various time during day and night over the weekend.

  • 9/29/14 - The Fall Solar Transit is upon us. Some locations will experience interruption of their satellite audio delivery as soon as this coming weekend. To identify your exposure to outages, you can input satellite and your location here.

  • 9/29/14 - Energy-Onix has apparently joined the ranks of the companies that have left the broadcast industry. For well over two weeks now, no one has answered the telephone nor responded to enquiries by email or USPS mail. The E-O website is still up, but those seeking parts and support seem especially to be left in the lurch.

  • 9/26/14 - The NAB has posted information about Floor Passes for the 2015 Spring Convention in Las Vegas.  If you would like a free pass, click here before October 31st. The link uses a SA01 code. If the URL doesn't automatically do it, it works this way: Enter name and email, then on the next screen use SA01 in the box on the right. Then the Exhibits-only 3-pack) will show $0.00.

  • 922/14 - AES will be holding its Fall Convention in Los Angeles in October, from the 9th to the 12th. A free floor pass is available.

  • 9/20/14 - The FCC Media Bureau turned down a request to move an FM translator 70 miles to service an AM station in Indiana - a station on 1230.

  • 9/17/14 - Numbers are still being added up, but the combined NAB/RAB Radio Show drew several hundred fewer attendees this year than last, with the semi-official total of about 2100 (compared to 2304 last year). Organizers are hoping Atlanta (the 2015 site) will attract more attendees. In contrast, IBC in Amsterdam had an attendance of over 55,000.

  • 9/12/14 - In an unusual arrangement, the NAB Fall Radio Show closes in Indianapolis today - and on the same day, the IBC in Amsterdam opens. If you call some of the exhibitor companies for information, you will need to be understanding that their personnel are being "stretched" this week. Some new products are here.

  • 9/12/14 - The NAB Fall Show had a lot of discussion about the AM Improvement issue. Of course, in the recent months, AM Improvement seems to mean FM translators for AM stations. Many have pointed out the contradiction in terms. Little has been done to improve AM, but translator owners have had a windfall as AM seems to be turing into FM. Is this what Commissioner Pai is advocating?

  • 9/11/14 - "All Digital AM" broadcast tests have been going on for a while now. The early reports are rather interesting in that they "glow" with the "benefits" of digital. Others point out the issues of dropouts, especially with Directional Antenna systems.

  • 9/6/14 - West Virginia will be the test bed for the FEMA IPAWS CAP system. A sort of "National" test using the NPT code is scheduled to be done on Wednesday September 17th, except it will be only sent to stations in WV. At least that is the plan. A rebroadcast of the meeting about the test is here.  The WVBA posted this message.
     
    Test Info:  2:00 PM EDT on September 17. Event Code: National Periodic Test (NPT)
    Originator Code: Primary Entry Point (PEP). Location Code: All of West Virginia

  • 9/5/14 - With the September 23rd deadline fast approaching, some stations have been confused about which fee to pay. Clarence Beverage points out that Appendix E makes it simple - identify the population within the principle community contour (city grade contour). Most engineering programs with the 2010 Census Data can do this.

  • 9/4/14 - As the Patent suit over HD radio works its slow way through the US Patent Office, Delaware Radio Technologies continues to sue various radio entities - except iBiquity. iBiquity filed a counter suit over the summer, claiming they own HD radio and not DRT, but DRT is petitioning to have their suits heard first, perhaps hoping to get money before iBiquity is able to demonstate DRT's patents are not viable.

  • 9/2/14 - The FCC released the 2014 schedule of Annual Regulatory Fees for broadcasters - due no later than September 23rd (missing the deadline will incur an automatic 25% fine). Two interesting changes from past years: (1) The FCC will accept credit card payments only, and the AM Expanded Band stations that had been exempted from the fees in prior years now must pay up like all the other stations.

August

  • 8/29/14 - The CRTC in Canada has announced that all stations relay emergency messages from the National Public Alerting System. Previously a voluntary matter, the NPAS receivers similar to those used in the USA must be placed in operation by March 31, 2015 (Native, community, and campus broadcasters have a deadline of 3/31/16.

  • 8/27/14 - A new industry grouping - or cooperative, although one press release seems to indicate an eventual merger - links six companies: Jampro, BW Broadcast, SCMS, Orban, StreamGuys, and Daysequerra. These companies are planning to explore ways to cooperate more closely and assist each other in sales. The name of the group is BIG ... really ... the "Broadcast Industry Group."

  • 8/27/14 - GM appears to be focusing more on streaming audio than HD Radio. On the web site
    GMAuthority.com, several models for 2015 like the Chevy Traverse include notes like "Completing the deletions list is the removal of three features: HD radio ... " The same seems to apply to the  Chevy ImpalaGM SierraBuick Enclave, and others which will not have HD in them (some also appear to omit satellite radio as well). Instead, GM seems to be heading to a commitment for 4G LTE in cars.

  • 8/25/14 - Nautel announced that effective today Peter Conlon has stepped down from the company and Kevin Rodgers will now serve as President and CEO of the company. The company stresses that it will maintain "business as usual."

  • 8/13/14 - Radio Disney announced plans to sell 23 of its 24 stations, aside from KDIS in Los Angeles, which the company plans to keep. The plan is to take the format to a digital distribution (Internet, Satellite, mobile), where the vast majority of their listeners get it now. In the past 10 years, Disney has sold some 36 other stations, including 22 to Citadel, which then sold itself to Cumulus. 

  • 8/11/14 - The NAB announced that NAB President Gordon Smith will interview FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai during the upcoming Fall Radio Show. 

  • 8/6/14 - We knew it was just a matter of time.  Cary Tepper draws out attention to: "a two-page Public Notice issued yesterday by the FCC seeking the expansion of Online Public File obligations to cable and satellite TV operators. But neatly tucked inside this Public Notice is the following:
              'We also seek comment on whether the Commission should initiate a rulemaking
               proceeding to require broadcast radio stations to use the online public file,
               and on an appropriate time frame for such a requirement.'"

     
    Tepper says: "It is no surprise that the FCC is moving in this direction since all commercial TV broadcasters are now required to post their public files online on the FCC's web site. Public comments on this matter are due August 28, 2014 should you wish to submit your opinion. Reply comments are due September 8, 2014. Subsequently the FCC will need to initiate a formal 'Notice of Proposed Rule Making' and follow that up with a ruling."
     
    Tepper does not expect the online Public File obligations to hit radio broadcasters this year but thinks it will likely be required in 2015.  Questions? Ask Cary here.

  • 8/5/14 - Hot on the heels of the Journal/Scripps announcement, Ganett has announced a similar move: they will shortly be breaking the company into two - a broadcast/digital unit and a publishing (newspaper) unit.

July

  • 7/31/14 - Journal Communications and E.W.Scripps have agreed to merge companies, then spin off separately the newspaper printing operations and the broadcast/digital side. A video message from Journal Chairman and CEO Steven Smith is on the Journal home page.

  • 7/27/14 - UPDATED WITH LINK TO THE FCC COMMENTS page: C4, anyone? If you agree - or not - with Mark Wesolowski that another increase in power for Class A stations (Remember 3 kW?) is needed and a "C4" will do the trick, you have until August 18th to comment on the Petition for RuleMaking RM 11727. Approximately 1/3 of all Class A stations may be able to upgrade according to Wesolowski. Read and make comments here.

  • 7/24/14 - Those of you who have stuggles with zoning bodies and local politicians may find the continuing situation in Rutland, WI of note. The local Board of Supervisors again voted against a new tower for the second time.
     
    BDR Comments:  Interestingly, a new state law may yet give the station life - if the CP does not run out first.

  • 724/14 - Townsquare Media went public today ... opening at $11 a share (the original estimate was about $12-16), and settling at $10.25 on the first day of trading.

  • 7/21/14 - Clear Channel hass announced a deal with AdsWizz to supply inserted targeted ads in the iHeart streams.

  • 7/14/14 - The FCC's EAS NPRM is now published in the Federal Register, starting the clock on comments. Check it out here.

  • 7/14/14 - Transmitter manufacturer LARCAN TTC abruptly closed it doors July 10th, laying off all employees and cutting off all the phone lines. The company, a descendent of Canadian General Electric, became LARCAN in 1981. It purchased Wilkinson and TCC, and was eventually taken over by a Chinese company, Sumavision. The company website does not mention anything, but all phone calls go to a disconnect sounder or a voicemail box. Support options are not yet known, although some employees are seeking to salvage something and/or lease the name.

  • 7/5/14 - The FCC is overloaded with paper - proceedings, applications, complaints, etc. So, what can a government agency do? The solution chosen - and not for the first time - is to just "clean house" by deleting what are deemed to be "dead" - no action in a long time or no paperwork filed in years. The FCC deleted about a thousand proceedings in 2011, another pile about the same size are slated for termination. Participants in dockets slated for termination have 30 days to make their case (see Docket 14-97).

  • 7/1/14 - A lawsuit has been filed to blunt the efforts yet more Patent Trolls in the broadcast industry. iBiquity has filed suit against Delaware Radio Technologies and Wyncomm LLC, who claimed last year that, together, they "own" three patents that would require broadcasters and car makers to pay them to use digital radio technology.

June

  • 6/24/14 - Townsquare Media LLC, a consolidator with 312 stations has filed for an IPO worth approximately $144 million. Planning to list on the NYSE as TSQ, the company, an LLC under the Oaktree Capital roof, has approximately 2500 employees in 66 markets.

  • 6/23/14 - More unlicensed 5 GHz frequencies would be available if Sen. Marco Rubio's new Bills pass.

  • 6/17/14 - After Tom Wheeler announced at the FCC Open Meeting that he was not a dingo, John Oliver returned to the topic, in rather scathing terms. (see 6/3/14, below for the first salvo.)

  • 6/13/14 - Some good news on the Patent Troll front: at least one federal judge in New York has had enough.  US District Judge Denise Cote has awarded what may be as much as $200,000 to FindtheBest.com after their battle with Lumen View Technology over an alleged patent infringement where Lumen View had demanded $85,000, then $55,000, for a license. Lumen View also complained that FindtheBest had called them a "patent troll," calling it a "hate crime." 

  • 6/12/14 - The FCC has sent out another series of "random" letters asking some stations for a EEO audit. Reports continue to indicate there is more interest in meeting the "letter" of the law than the intent.

  • 6/6/14 - Update: Paul Gregg died early last week. The family has released the autopsy report: heart failure. There is still an investigation surrounding the circumstances, which were described as "suspicious." For more information - and no speculation - about Paul, click here.

  • 6/4/14 - The FCC announced they had missed the last page in the new filing fee schedule that was to be effective this week (June 6), so a corrected Public Notice has been sent to the Federal Register. The full fee schedule now will go into operation on July 3rd. The previous filing fee schedule is located here.  The increases are generally 8%. (Thanks: Cary Tepper)

  • 6/4/14 - The FCC has released a technical change in the regulations surrounding the CALM Act, to ensure television programs do not have commercials running louder than the programs themselves.

  • 6/3/14 - Focused on interest in Net Neutrality, John Oliver did a 13 minute rant on Net Neutrailty on his HBO program Last Week Tonight this week, including a line about how picking the new FCC Chairman was "the equivalent of needing a baby sitter and hiring a dingo." Oliver encouraged viewers to take advantage of the FCC Comment system (FCC.gov/Comments). Apparently more than a few did, as the page crashed. Want more information? Click here. The FCC announced their site crashed due to a web-based database attack on the 17-year-old commenting system.

  • 6/3/14 - Sprint has been touting NextRadio on its newer offerings as a "free emergency FM radio." Now AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile will be offering it on their newer HTC One M8 cell phone.

  • 6/2/14 - Nostalgic for WKRP, that crazy station supposedly in Cincinnati? This Wednesday the Paley Center in Beverly Hills will host the WKRP 35th Anniversary Reunion of folks like Tim Reid, Howard Hesseman, and Loni Anderson plus creator Hugh Wilson and directors Jay Sandrich and Asaad Kelada. The event, to be streemed at 10:30 PM, will feature a panel discussion and questions from those in the audience, as well as from around the world.

May

  • 5/27/14 - "Net Neutrality" continues to be a contentious issue that worries some. They feel the FCC's approach assumes the public can be fooled. Is that viewpoint cynical or realistic? Here is one man's opinion.

  • 5/22/14 - One day before it was due to be voted on, Senator Patrck Leahy pulled his Patent Refore bill. The reason stated was opposition from a number of directions.

  • 5/18/14 - AT&T  announced today that they plan to merge with Direct TV, subject to government approval. The deal is said to be worth nearly $50 Billion. Here is another report, this one from Broadcasting & Cable.

  • 5/16/14 - The FCC is planning change the way wireless microphones are licensed. Companies with more than 50 may get them licensed (and have priority). Users with less than 50 wireless  microphones shold be able to continue "as they do today, on an unlicensed basis."

  • 5/15/14 - The issue of Net Neutrality was one of several items on the FCC's plate at their open meeting this morning. The issue is tangled is politics and finance - and many observers suggest it will continue that way. Part of the problem is the way the FCC chose to regulate the Internet ...  long before knowing what it would be today. Meanwhile, the Commission has continued its approach to the Spectrum Auction. The NAB immediately expressed their disappointment saying, among other things, that broadcasters will not be guaranteed full compensation.
     
    The FCC open meeting can be seen here.  Want to see the NPRM?  Start here   The FCC plans to seek comments for the next four months.  Want still more?  Washington Post   Gigaom  Forbes
     
    One last thing: You were not thinking money is involved were you? Really?  (Thanks: Glen Clark)

  • 5/7/14 - The FCC's new filing fee schedule has now been printed in the Federal Register, so they take effect early in June. The increases are generally 8%. 

  • 5/7/14 - As if the MAD (Mission Abstract Data, now Digimedia) patent troll against broadcasters using computers to store music was not enough, James Logan's PersonalAudio is suing Fox, CBS, NBC, and Adam Carolla for patent infringement for podcasting. Although the US Supreme Court is looking at the whole patent troll business, each time one of these deals pops up it costs a lot in legal fees. The Electronic Frontier Foundation has already filed a challenge at the US Patent Office.

  • 5/6/14 - Another new name has joined the larger consolidators. Digity will own at least 110 stations as it closes on Three Eagles Communications' 48 stations. The fast growing consolidator is owned by Dean Goodman. Adding to his "Goodradio" and NextMedia stations, Goodman is specializing on small to medium market stations.

  • 5/5/14 - It was a familiar theme when FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai spoke to the Pennsylvania Association of Broadcasters: the FCC needs to help broadcast as much as broadband. Commenting on the benefits of the "one to many" mode of broadcast, Pai said the Commission needs to provide assistance for AM stations soon, and stop kicking the can down the road and address the ownership rules.

  • 5/2/14 - American Tower Company has announced the purchase of Richland Towers. The $386 million deal means that ATC adds 60 additional sites to its large group of existing sites.

April

  • 4/28/14 - The Request for Comments regarding requiring muiti-lingual EAS accouncments has been pushed back to May 28th. This is something every Manager and Program Director needs to see and should file a comment. See Richard Rudman's comments here. 

  • 4/24/14 - The FCC appears to be dancing a bit regarding their plans to change rules regarding Internet service and Net Neutrality after a Wall Street Journal article suggesting the big players were getting ready for a new revenue stream in offering preferred access. Late in the evening (post 10 PM EDT), FCC Chairman Wheeler felt it necessary to circulate a statement and calling for a media briefing this morning to explain that "behaviour harmful to consumers or competition ... will not be permitted." According to Wheeler, the new rules will be similar to the old rules, except for the language the courts struck down. 

  • 4/17/14 - Larry Wilson's broadcast companies continue to grow. L&L (Live & Local) and Alpha Broadcasting are merging into Alpha Media, which, in turn is scheduled to purchase Main Line Broadcasting, which will bring Alpha Media to 68 stations.

  • 4/17/14 - It only took eight years, but a pirate station in Boston finally was silenced by US marshals. Touch 106.1 FM has been run by a former police officer and mayoral candidate, who admitted he had no license for the 100 Watt station, but along with MA Governor Deval Patrick - a frequenct guest on the station, accuses the FCC of an effort to "silence the community." Patrick has reached out to the FCC for a solution. A previous $17k fine was ignored by Charles Clemmons, Jr., the founder. The current owners operated out of a non-profit run by Clemmons' mother. The raid followed complaints Clemmons used the station in an unsuccessful mayoral bid.

    BDR Comments: One has to wonder if this will turn into another "Harry Reid Wavier" where a pirate is given an LPFM license? It certainly shows that a large segment of the population is not really thrilled with the results of consolidation. Interestingly, Chairman Wheeler has indicated he sees no need for further consolidation at this point.

  • 4/6/14 - With considerable turmoil on the Internet, a number of Internet security professionals are warning about an exploit, dubbed "Heartbleed," that compromises millions of computers running OpenSSL, VPN, and various OSes. Since an informed response is a safe response, your IT folks should do a check. Several quick checks are available and you can find them here. However do not think this is the only threat: The Identity Theft Resource Center has counted 204 data breaches just in the first three months of 2014, with a loss of 4,238,983 records related to sensitive personal information.

March

  • 3/31/14 - The FCC has added 100 MHz in the 5 GHz band for unlicensed Wi-Fi operations. Increased power and outdoor operation are among the changes in rules for U-NII gear. (Thanks, Chip Fetrow)

  • 3/26/14 - The just released BIA/Kelsey Investing in Radio Market Report" for 2013 reveals the industry grossed $14.8 Billion last year. The top billing station was WTOP at $63.5 Million. The Top Ten billing stations alone brought in $489.5 Million. The whole list and report is here.
     
    BDR Comments: Overly simplified, this is why, in the midst of continuing budget and staff reductions, the "corporate celebrities" in radio take home millions in bonuses and go to the NAB Show to get awards. But then most of them will admit, in a moment of honesty, that they are not broadcasters. If this is not the best indication the industry has changed into little more than a money game, it will be hard to find a better one. Well, that is aside from the continued growth of radio people whose careers were ended early so the bosses' bonuses could be a bit higher. 

  • 3/26/14 - The FCC has released the list of new application fees for 2014, subject to the usual printing in the Federal Register. The increases are 8% over current rates.

  • 3/25/14 - Two weeks before ending official support, Microsoft is pushing out reminders that support for XP ends on April 8th. A free migration tool by Laplink has been released to move personal information and files to a new Windows 7 or 8 machine.

  • 3/20/14 - Today is the last day to comment on the AM Revitalization. If you intend to do so, just head over to the FCC and file your thoughts.  FYI ... the Docket is 13-249 .. scroll down and select.

  • 3/17/14 - Harris Broadcast has announced that they will be splitting into Imagine Communications, based in Frisco, TX (Dallas), and GatesAir, the latter to continue the over-the-air broadcast products, headquartered in Mason, Ohio.

  • 3/13/14 - Hackers managed to access the RDS feed to University of Michigan's non-comm stations WFUM in Flint and WVGR in Grand Rapids, and, according to their Marketing Director, send a profane message via the RDS text. The station has issued an apology for the breech.

  • 3/8/14 - Emmis has decided to implement an Employee Retention Plan. Accoring to the 2012 plan, about 600 employees will qualify for stock awards totalling $3.24 million.

  • 3/7/14 - There are reports of a spot for Kingsford Charcoal set to start on Monday, March 10th, and containing EAS tones. Good advice: do not run it!  Check with your production people to ensure it did not get into your system.

February

  • 2/28/14 - FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler has ended the so-called "Study" of newsroom policies and activities, instigated by Mignon Clybern while Acting Chair.
     
    BDR Comments: This was, of course, a non-started from Day One. Clybern, of course, swears she never meant to interfere with broadcasters nor the First Amendment. If that convinces you, hold on, we still have bridge in stock we could sell to you.

  • 2/24/14 - The NAB announced today that Jeff Littlejohn will receive the NAB Engineering Achievement Award at the Spring Show in April.

  • 2/21/14 - Citing changes in the hobby radio market, Popular Communications magazine is merging into a digital magazine, CQ Plus, effective with the February issue.

  • 2/20/14 - FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler has indicated he will find a way to make "Net Neutraily" work, despite a defeat in one court. Almost simultaneously with the court striking down the existing rules, Netflix complained of a 14% slowdown in video streaming on Verizon systems. Wheeler says he intends to find a way to prevent this from spreading.

  • 2/18/14 - A Public Notice from the FCC invites comments on "Process Reform," or possible ways to make the Commission more transparent and efficient for various users.

    BDR Comments: Along with AM Revitalization, the FCC is asking the public to believe they want to move faster than glaciers. If this process of fixiing the process does not become too politicized, some benefits might accrue. At least we can hope.

  • 2/17/14 - Hold on to your hats - the NAB has announced that FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler will address the NAB Show in April.

  • 2/13/14 - The FCC announced that it will be closed today and tomorrow (14th) due to the snow system that has been over the East Coast. Everything is at a standstill, including the grants of LPFM CPs (a big item this month) and other actions. The agency should reopen on Tuesday.

  • 2/13/14 - The police in Wichita, KS have made an arrest in the homicide of a KSGO radio employee on Sunday.

  • 2/13/14 - It was announced that the FCC would not be very forgiving for many kinds of errors on the LPFM applications. This has proven to be the case. Just the wrong sign on a set of coordinates dropped the WCCX application - the listed coordinates would have placed the station in China. Could this be the pattern for all applications in the future? (thanks, Northpine.com)

  • 2/12/14 - Comcast and Time Warner Cable announced plans to merge - a deal said to be worth $45 Billion ($159/share of TWC, which appears to be an 18% premium) and involving 33 million subscribers, 1/3 of all cable households. Charter was also chashing TWC.

  • 2/7/14 - The FCC has announced an extension of the Reply Comments on AM Revitalization - until March 20th. The large number, 150+, of comments filed led to the a request by the AFCCE, and while they asked for 90 days, the FCC granted a 30-day extension.

  • 2/6/14 - Belden has announced it is buying Grass Valley for $220 million.

  • 2/6/14 - SiriusXM has had a good year. With quarterly revenue at $1 Billion and estimated penetration of 25% of vehicle (60 Milion), it is optimistic about continued growth. According to the company, they are currently converting 44% of trials to subscriptions.  On the other side, Pandora had a poor quarter, and its stock was down 10% Thursday from its year high of $37.95.

  • 2/4/14 - Sprint has announce two new models will run NextRadio - the FM application for their cell phones. On the Sprint web-site seven models are shown as "currently" able to run NextRadio. There are three or four other older models with the capability.

  • 2/4/14 - You know it is coming. But did you know a mobile Internet is being discussed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration; a plan to require all new vehicles to become "inter-connected?" While the intent here seems to be focused on safety (one car "telling" the next what is it going to do), a wireless Internet could become a byproduct.

January

  • 1/31/14 - The NAB has announced that some of the hotels they have negotiated for the Spring Show are getting full. Current pricing is guaranteed only to February 5th.

  • 1/29/14 - A trickle of LPFM CPs is getting closer to a flood. Well over 50 CPs were issued in today's Public Notice from the FCC. Start on page 46.

  • 1/22/14 - A warning to Google Chrome users: a series of malware issues related to Chrome "Add-ins" has been reported. Bad guys are paying off - or just buying - companies with popular add-ins and adding code that spam ads or even worse. Also this week, a report that the Chrome voice recognition system can permit others to listen to you, even after you have left a web site. Google is now aware of the problems, but users are cautioned to be watchful and careful.

  • 1/23/14 - Lenovo has announced that they are buying the IBM low end server business. This is the company that took over the ThinkPads. Now they are moving in on the server side.

  • 1/23/14 - The AM Revitalization comment period is closed. Some 150 comments have been filed. Many have rejected the FM translator route as a long-term solution, but at the same time, there is a good deal of support for using Channel 6 (and 5) for AM migration. Opportunities to make "Reply Comments" should be open until February 18th.

  • 1/22/14 - Somewhat abruptly, LogMeIn, a popular application allowing remote access, has discontinued their free version, giving users 7 days from their next log-in to convert to a paid version.

  • 1/22/14 - What began as a web site ‘redesign’ almost three years ago is now ready to take the front and center stage.  As of the 3rd of February the FCC’s “transition mode” will be finished and the new front page of the site will be fully operation with all of the tools and links that many users have relied upon through the years. Howard Parnell, Chief of the Web and Print Publishing Division, comments that “during the past year less than 2 per cent of overall traffic to the web site occurring through the transition.fcc.gov front.”

  • 1/22/14 - The power of complaints against LPFM stations was shown this week. A new LFPM station got to use his CP for 14 hours, before a complaint shut him down. Previously a Part 15 operation, the station in Edgar, NE was told it was interfering with another station. Efforts to return to the CP authorized power is ongoing. 

  • 1/17/14 - Canada has been experimenting with HD radio and the CRTC is accepting public comments until January 30th. This is the second effort in 15 years to bring digital radio to our Northern neighbors, having given up on the first in 2012.

  • 1/16/14 - As users figit about the coming End of Service of Microsoft's XP Operating System, an extension of 15 months has been announced for the anti-malware services for the OS.

  • 1/15/14 - Status report on Net Neutrailty: The DC Court of Appeals has knocked back the FCC's Open Internet Order. While the Internet providers (Verizon was the lead) like the idea of charging for faster access and priority, no changes are coming soon. This will be with the lawyers and courts for a while longer.

  • 1/12/14 - Clear Channel has announced the retirement of John Hogan and the simultaneous extension of Bob Pittman's contract for five years, presumably to show stability as the company continues its financial moves. Hogan, meanwhile, gets to count his golden parachute - something like $7 million, plus. Sorry about your coffee, there.

  • 1/8/14 - The FEMA IPAWS office issued a statement to try to resolve some of the comments recently about a proposal floated by FEMA that appeared to indicate a desire to privatize or outsize the IPAWS CAP services. Antwane Johnson wrote that IPAWS "does not anticipate that there would be any changes to the IPAWS-OPEN alert input or output interfaces and no impact to our alert origination and alert dissemination partners beyond normal planned functional improvements."

  • 1/8/14 - Wondering what is going on with DRM? A General Assembly of the DRM Consortium is scheduled for March, just before NAB. A status report and plans for the near future should be available to show where DRM adoption has reached.

  • 1/1/14 - The new year always brings some changes. While there was word that Winamp and Shoutcast were sold to Microsoft, TechCrunch now says the sale was to Radionomy - a Belgian aggregator of online broadcasts. This means that these two well-known applications may not be killed-off after all.

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