The Broadcasters' Desktop Resource

The Broadcasters' Desktop Resource

News Items Archive - 2015

December

  • 12/30/15 - As one might expect, emergency and disaster response can be a political area. Just as Congress closed up for the last recess, it sent a Bill to the President designating non-commercial stations as eligible for special funding to recover from disasters. What these stations are to do while waiting for the money is not explained, although the money might help in future preparations.

  • 12/30/15 - While AM broadcasters struggle to survive, in some countries, the battle is over: ARRL reports that all remaining German AM (MW) stations will shut down at year's end, ending a process that has been going for since the end of 2014. Radio France is also slated for shuttering, saying listener numbers have become "marginal."

  • 12/25/15 - Stevan White of SW Commercial Electronics in Amarillo, Texas passed away from a sudden heart attack. The family is closing down his contract engineering business.

  • 12/23/15 - The FCC announced the filing window dates for FM translator modification applications relative to the AM Revitalization Proceeding.
     
    The first modification filing window will open January 29, 2016 and close on July 28, 2016 and will be open to Class C and Class D AM radio stations only. The second modification filing window will open July 29, 2016 and close on October 31, 2016 and will be open to any Class AM radio station.
     
    Applications will be processed on a first come, first served basis. If you are on file first but a conflicting application is filed subsequent to your application, your application will get priority.  Therefore, it is important to get your application on file ASAP.
     
    The attached Public Notice includes twelve (12) questions & answers on important topics related to this proceeding and the preparation & processing of these applications.  (Thanks Cary Tepper)

  • 12/21/15 - Broadcast Electronics reports that Tim Bealor has retired after over 40 years at the company. Since 1975, when he started as a technician, Bealor has worked at most every position at BE, and has long been a welcome face at NAB shows. Most recently, last August, Bealor was appointed Director Emeritus.

  • 12/15/15 - Due to a not as yet fully explained reason, WGHQ-AM, Kingston NY's program line was dropped by Verizon over the weekend. According to the station manager, Verizon claims it told WGHQ in March that they were going to discontinue the program loop. Curious.  (Thanks: Harold Hallikainen)

  • 12/14/15 - George Marti, whose name is synonymous with "remote broadcast gear," has passed away in Texas. 

  • 12/14/15 - Security has become more and more a concern at stations across the country - even in the smallest towns. You may recognize Pahrump, NV - about 60 miles down the hightway from Las Vegas - as the home of Art Bell's programs. It is also the location where Bell reported being shot at again by a stalker. On his website, Bell points out his family is more important than his radio show - and has decided to retire once and for all. 

  • 12/8/15 - Are you planning to move from ISDN to IP? Tieline has built an ePub to help you understand the technology and options. It is free to download.

  • 12/7/15 - The FAA has released its latest update to it Obstruction Marking and Lighting Rules - Advisory Circular 70/7460-1L is effective immediately aside from one aspect, with revision K now cancelled.
     
    Among the principal changes in this AC are: 1. The height of a structure identified as an obstruction has been lowered from 500 feet above ground level (AGL) to 499 feet above ground level. 2. New lighting and marking standards are provided to reduce impact on migratory bird populations.
    3. Medium-intensity white and medium-intensity dual obstruction lights are now authorized on towers up to and including 700 feet AGL. (Thanks, Jack Mallaney)

  • 12/3/15 - In an address to the inaugural dinner to give an award regarding efforts to advance "Internet Independence" Commissioner Pai noted the continuing partisan  disagreement relating to the direction Internet regulation has taken in recent months. While talking about it may not solve it, it does explain some of the Commission's decisions.

  • 12/1/15 - It used to be well-known: do not say certain things on the air relating to rating periods and, if you learn about someone who has a book, Do not do anything stupid, like paying them to list your station. That is at the heart of the million-dollar lawsuit between Nielsen and Todd Clem, aka Bubba the Love Sponge. According to the amended suit, Clem "tampered" with the ratings in at least two states, apparently tweeting exhortations and instructions to listeners with diaries. Nielsen has also delisted Clem from at least one set of ratings.

    All-in-all, a good reminder to make sure your staff knows the rules.

November

  • 11/24/15 - It was 37 years ago when perhaps the most famous TV episode ever about a broadcast station aired. Repeat after us: "As God is my witness, I thought turkeys could fly." It seems appropriate to remember WKRP this week. Cut to Les Nessman.  A longer version with the setup

  • 11/23/15 - Have you been stunned by some of the recent fines announced by the FCC EB - $600k, $718k, $750k, $1 million, and others? Here is the catch: in testimony before the Walden Subcommittee - you know, the one about trans-parency and efficiency at the FCC - it was revealed that the FCC has collected a total of $0. Various excuses were offered, relating to the "procedure" to arrive at the issuance of NALFs. Unfortunately, the FCC's history is not reassuring. It was not so long ago that the FCC had to give up on a huge pile of fines because by the time they were ready to ask the Justice Department to act, the Statute of Limitations had expired.

    Right now, it seems the FCC is a rather large dog with a loud bark - lots of publicity about their fines - but no bite, as its teeth are stuck in "the process.

  • 11/17/15 - Yet another hearing by the House Communications and Technology Subcommittee, and more promises from the FCC to be transparent and proactive. A lot of discussion concerned the continuing issue of pirates, with FCC Chair Tom Wheeler asking for help, since currently enforcement amounts to "whack-a-mole" frustration. Another topic was how to get telecommunication services back up faster after a local disaster (storm/flood/blackout/etc).
     
    For the second year in a row, a House Bill reform the way the FCC interacts with broadcasters was passed in the House. H.B. 2583 hopes to do better than the one that died last year in the Senate.

October

  • 10/29/15 - The Empire State Building celebrated 50 years of FM operation, with a light show and simulcast of Steely Dan's "FM (No Static At All)" on WCBS-FM. You can watch it here.

  • 10/23/15 - In a Friday Afternoon surprise, the FCC has released the First Report and Order on AM Revitalization. Among the key items are the end of the "Ratchet Rule," Two AM only Windows for translators, modified AM Proof rules, efficiency standards, and modified AM Protection Standards.
     
    Analysis here from Laura Mizrahi and Clarence Beverage.

  • 10/22/15 - The FCC this week moved to raise the amount of "foreign ownership." In simple terms, the old 25% limit is raised to 49.9% ... largely due to investment pressures  to make broadcast investment easier and to reflect that so many corporations where the individual ownership is not easily identified.

  • 10/20/15 - The FCC released information regarding the upcoming Auction of TV spectrum, Among the interesting aspects are the values attached to some of the stations. The big example is if WCBS-TV took the money and just signed off, they would likely get $900 million.  Other amounts pertain to those that would release spectrum and share another station's spectrum. Interestingly, some markets, like Las Vegas do not appear to have any wanted bandwidth.

  • 10/19/15 - As if there was not enough controvery over the Nielsen PPM system and the Voltair processor, Nielsen has filed a lawsuit against "Bubba" Clem who apparently was working with a PPM user to distort the ratings reported. Neilsen is asking $1million+.

  • 10/14/15 - The weeklong FCC server makeover has the Commission asking folks to "test out" the new fcc.gov site. Can you find the information you need?

  • 10/7/15 - In a speech, FCC Commissioner Pai has thrown his support behind the 250-mile wavier for moving translators bought by AM station ... and while still hoping for a real "Window" for new applications, acknowledges that Chairman Wheeler's objection to a Window is prevailing right now.

  • 10/6/15 - Wheatstone has acquired Audion Labs - VoxPro.

  • 10/5/15 - A new radio news network began this morning. Fox Headline News started operations - on Satellite Radio - Siruis Channel 115.
     

September

  • 9/29/15 - The Fall NAB Radio Show begins in Atlanta. AM station owners are hoping they will get a translator Window, FM station owners are looking to hear more about the Voltair controversy.

  • 9/29/15 - As the Fall NAB Show starts, it will be without Lew Dickey as CEO of Cumulus. With its stock at a six-year low and dropping as low as the 68 cent range, Dickey stepped aside as Chairman/CEO in favor of Mary Berner, formerly CEO of the Reader's Digest Assn. Dickey is still on the board, analysts are cautious. Cumulus is still not out of the woods, with a market cap around $170 million chasing at $2.4 Billion (with a B) debt.

  • 9/22/15 - The FAA has notified users that by December 15th, all NOTAMs will be time-stamped with a time code expressed as a 10-digit code (YYMMDDHHMM) for both origination and termination - EST being defined as "Estimated." More information is found here.

  • 9/22/15 - Brazil is in the process of moving AM stations to the FM band, specifically the 12 MHz originally occupied by Channels 5 and 6 - 76 to 88 MHz. Shively Labs has announced new field-assembled wide-band antennas for the new service. 

  • 9/18/15 - The FCC has approved changes to the Contest Rules, which will be implemented 30 days after publication in the Federal Register. Essentially, these changes will permit posting of rules on the Internet, rather than read and speed them to the point of non-intelligibility.

  • 9/8/15 - A lot of frustrated users of the FCC.gov website found out that the scheduled "downtime" was only a "serving suggestion." Due back up today, the latest from FCC spokesmen is that they expect the system to be back sometime Thursday.
     
    Of course, this has caused a lot of frustration for people who were prompted to pay their yearly Regulator Fees - and could not understand why they could not even find the right page. Others knew about the downtime, but had applications to file, etc., and have been stymied in gaining access. Thursday? We will see.

  • 9/2/15 - iBiquity is being purchased - for $172 Million - by DTS, inc, a high-end audio company that makes a good deal of money by licensing technology.

  • 9/2/15 - TFT is said to be in the process of attempting to restructure finances and, at the moment, is not shipping product. All staff was laid off, and the Florida owners are not responding to email questions.

August

  • 8/28/15 - "The Mouth from the South" has been silenced. Dave Hultsman, a fixture in the industry for six decades and over 50 straight NAB Spring Shows, passed away in Birmingham, AL from the oral cancer that has wreaked havoc on him over the past couple of years. A "memory page" is here.

  • 8/28/15 - The FCC has placed "contest rules" on the Sept 17th agenda. This should permit placing rules on the Internet, instead of the rapid read/time compression of the rules on the air.

  • 8/25/15 - It is never nice to see a tower come down unexpectedly. WYKX, 104.7 in Escanaba, MI. lost about half its tower this week during a storm. (Thanks: Blaine Thompson)  This is not the first problem at WYKX. In January, a snake got in and took the station down.

  • 8/21/15 - The FCC announced that database maintenance and upgrades will be conducted over the Labor Day weekend, beginning Wednesday, September 2. Tjis means no applications can be filed from then until Tuesday the 8th. Filing deadlines during the September will be extended, but others who need the CDBS or EDOCS may wish to get their filings in prior to the shutdown.

  • 8/13/15 - The FCC Chairman has promsied action on AM Improvement and the Contest Rules. With the August vacations at hand, we probably need to wait until Fall to hear anything substantial, but this week, the FCC "Circulation List" includes "Revitalization of the AM Radio Service." This means the final version currently developed has been blessed by the Chairman and the other commissioners are reviewing the proposals in preparation for a vote to issue a Further Notice of Proposed Rule Making (FNPRM). AM stations certainly will be pleased and hope for relatively quick action. (Thanks Ron Rackley)

  • 8/12/15 - The FCC issued a Report and Order making some changes to the rules governing wireless microphone use. There will be both licensed and unlicensed bands made available to users.

  • 8/7/15 - The FCC was busy this week, taking several actions that affect broadcasters and their facilities. The bidding procedure for the 2016 Incentive Auction of the TV bandwidth, the filing deadline for the Biennial Ownership reports (Dec. 2), new rules for unlicensed services (microphones) in the 600 MHz band, and the results of FM Auction 98 (29 of 131 CPs did not get a bid).

  • 8/6/15 - Hot on the heels of iHeart Media selling off hundreds of its towers for cash now, Townsquare has done the same at 41 sites with 47 towers. Townsquare gets nearly $23 million, but here is the big deal: a yearly rent of $41 and a split of revenue with Vertical Bridge which will market space on the remaining towers (something over 250). The deal covers 35 years.

  • 8/4/15 - Those who thought the major consolidation was over will be interested to learn that Larry Wilson's Alpha Media is in the process of buying the 116 stations of the Digity chain for $264 million. The combined total upon closing would be 251 stations, putting Alpha as the fourth largest group in the country.

  • 8/1/15 - One of the nicer guys in the business, Tim Bealor, has reached 40 years at Broadcast Electronics. While Tom Beck takes the reins as President, Bealor will stay on and will become Director Emeritus.

July

  • 7/28/15 - AT&T has agreed to activate the FM Chip in their 2016 Android Phones. The NAB quickly issued a statement announcing and applauding the action.

  • 7/28/15 - A nasty hack: someone managed to change the feed to the RDS on Houston station KBXX, sending the "N Word" out to startled/shocked listeners. The RadioOne station was alerted from outside (who monitors their own signal these days?) and issued apologies to their hip hop audience.

  • 7/27/15 - A slow start on Auction 98. After three days, there has not been a single bid for over 25% of the CPs offered. While there is still time, one has to wonder if we have reached the point of diminishing returns for FM Auctions. The FCC Auction page is here.

  • 7/24/15 - The FCC approved the AT&T acquisition of DirecTV. The deal, said to be worth nearly $49 Billion, does have some FCC "goodies" such as a push to put more capacity into schools and libraries, words that supposedly address potential Internet data caps, and an initiative to offer discounts for broadband to low income.

  • 7/23/15 - And they're off!  Auction 98 is officially under way, with bidders picking from among 131 potential CPs. For information on where bidding stands, etc, the FCC Auction page is here.

  • 7/21/15 - The word from Nielsen is ... sort of non-word: as expectd, the ratings organization announced in a private web seminar that they will not support nor endorse the Voltair processing system, which is marketed as a way for talk stations and those with "soft" audio, like classical music, to not be left behind in the ratings. On the other hand, Nielsen says they will be altering the PPM encoding procedure early next year to overcome any perceived problems with PPM. In other words, the debate about problems with "soft" audio is still going on. 

  • 7/9/15 - We noted (6/19, below) that the FCC is expecting stations to correct wrong information - and will not protect any license where the information is incorrect. We hope you checked your licenses.
     
    Is it a small problem? There are some 1800 bad licenses shown in the ULS data base. Many are defunct (no longer used) or missing just the receive coordinates, but others could be a landmine for stations in the future.

  • 7/9/15 - According to FCC data, there are now 6,366 FM  translators on the air. Sales of translators have been very "hot" in recent months, as AM owners seek to grab translators and FM operators seek to put HD2 and HD3 programs on a signal that can be heard.

  • 7/7/15 - If you send email to a friend or colleague with a clearchannel.com address, expect it to bounce. Existing addresses were converted this week to iheartmedia.com

June

  • 6/25/15 - Standard General, a hedge fund involved in the recent Radio Shack bankruptcy is now the owner of the Radio Shack brand name, trademark, and intellectual property, including the customer lists. The cost: $26.2 million, bid at auction in May. Standard General did keep 1700 Radio Shack stores, which now feature Sprint services. Meanwhile, lawyers are still fighting over the money.

  • 6/19/15 - TV Stations: check your coordinates!  As part of the upcoming spectrum auction, the FCC WTB is telling stations that it is important that they verify their transmission coordinates by June 29th. Many errors are being correct, some going back decades. (Thanks Clarence Beverage!)

    Radio stations might take this as a hint that they should double-check their coordinates (and remember the conversion to NAD27). There have been cases where appiications have been filed and granted that might not have happened if the "protected" station had accurate coordinates on file.

  • 6/15/15 - It is the summer convention season, and there are several programs worthy of your attention, from the NJ Broadcasters' Association in Atlantic City to the Broadcast Depot Education Workshop in Miami, and places in-between. Check dates and locations here.

  • 6/10/15 - They did not wait long: New York broadcasters, supported by New Jersey broadcasters, have asked the FCC for help in shutting down pirates in a letter signed by 33 Members of Congress. The letter notes the large number of pirates in just Brooklyn and the Bronx, and asks the FCC to do what Chairman Wheeler promised the House Energy and Commerce Committee this week: stepped up enforcement and a broadcasters' round table.
     
    Florida broadcasters are said to be considering a similar petition to the FCC.

  • 6/9/15 - After 40+ years of providing FM antennas, unparalled support, and educational opportunities for broadcasters, Bob Surette will be retiring from Shively next month. It is too early to say exactly what form Bob's activities will take, but broadcasters can certainly hope his appearances, inciuding the various iterations of the so-called "Bob and Tom Show" with Tom Silliman will continue.

  • 6/8/15 - Want a home where a major part of the broadcast industry started? The home formerly owned by Art Collins, founder of Collins Radio is for sale in Cedar Rapids. (Thanks: John Hutson)

  • 6/2/15 - And now the other shoe (see 5/5, below) finally drops on the Pandora purchse of KXMZ, Box Elder. SD. The FCC has approved the sale (rejecting the ASCAP and other oppositions). Next step, the lawyers and royalty wars. Pandora purchased KXMZ largely to get the "Broadcast" rate for streaming music, even as the music industry is on a fullly-loaded mission to get more cash from broadcasters.

May

  • 5/30/15 - The Oregon Legislature passed a Bill, now signed by Governor Brown, giving broadcast engineers "First Informer" status. This will help them deal with access issues during emergencies, when it is important that they get to a transmitter site.

  • 5/28/15 - The FCC loves to collect EEO information from stations. On June 1st, the first of the FCC Form 397 EEO Mid-Term Reports for this year are due. This applies to radio stations with more than 10 fulltime empllyees or TV with more than five fulltime employees (30+ hours).
    The Form must be filed four years after the due date of the unit station’s last license renewal application. First Up: DC, MD, VA, WV.  Next up:  NC and SC.

  • 5/28/15 - The FCC has announced iits plans for the Fiscal Year 2015 Regulatory Fees.

  • 5/26/15 - TV stations are breathing a bit easier after the FCC extended the deadline fo them to implement the Audible Crawl Rule to at least November 26th. Stations would be required to audibly present transcriptions of the video crawl during emergency alerts or face stiff fines. 

  • 5/6/15 - Patent Troll Alert: Delaware Radio Technologies, et al, have dropped their HD lawsuits against 14 broadcast companies. The suits were dismissed late last month.

  • 5/5/15 - And a shoe finally drops, so to speak, on the Pandora purchse of KXMZ, Box Elder. SD. The FCC has discarded potential objections to Pandora's stockholder percentage US vs foreign, and permitted the sale to go ahead.

  • 5/4/15 - Cumulus has announced it has a buyer for their WMAL site in Bethesa, MD. The company plans to use the proceeds to reduce their debt, but the long term status of WMAL is unclear.

April

  • 4/30/15 - Boss Radio is 50 years old this weekend. Go ahead, say it: " ... and the hits just keep on coming!" Boss Radio changed contemporary radio in a way nothing has since.

  • 4/28/15 - Tom Wheeler, the FCC Chairman, has expressed support for Pandora in its application to purchase KXMZ-FM in Rapid City, SD. The purpose of the purchase is to qualify Pandora for more favorable royalty terms, as a broadcaster.

  • 4/23/15 - The FCC has announced a freeze on FM Minor Change applications from May 18 to May 28, 2015. This is to facilitate the Auction 98, which is scheduled to begin July 23rd. Stations should plan accordingly.

  • 4/22/15 - There has been a lot of discussion in the past week or so regarding the new Voltair audio processor from Frank Foti and 25/7. The basic argument is that formats with lengthy periods of silence can lose ratings points on the PPM service from Nielson, due to the inability to send the "hidden" tone data. The Voltair is said to correct that. Nielson says it is not needed, but will not provide scientific information as yet.

  • 4/21/15 - Scott Mason, long time engineer for CBS in LA has passed away. More info here.

  • 4/21/15 - Some notes about the new Enforcement Burieau Chief are here.

  • 4/20/15 - Norway has announced that they will end analog FM transmissions by 2017. A rollout is slated to being in early 2017, eventually leaving only digital next year, and transmission to DAB - on a different band 174-204 MHz - is anticipated to conclude by the end of 2017.

  • 4/17/15 - A Trenton, New Jersey Townsquare Media station identified and then notified police about a pirate station in its area. NJ, by the way, like Florida, has a law that local enforcement can go after pirate stations. Lindon NJ agents did. The result is the end of one pirate, at least for now.

  • 4/9/15 - At least one of the FCC Commissioners, Michael O'Rielly, has opined that the Commission should make it easier to get rid of pirate stations. O'Rielly sees no real benefit to the community at all by pirate operations, and hopes to make it easier for real stations to sue. Noting that it takes the FCC years to even issue a fine against many of these stations, O'Rielly wants to give full authority for legal stations to sue pirates.
     
    BDR Comments: Although most pirates have few assets, it might be a good idea to clarify laws to permit stations to initiate proceedings, either to get court orders to shut down or confiscate the pirate stations with local law enforcement personnel. It certainly would provide faster relief than the Enforcement Bureau. It could be interesting.

  • 4/7/15 - The NAB is on the move from its long-time place at 1771 N Street NW to South Capital and M Street SE, directly south of the Capitol and just north of the Washington National's ballpark.

  • 4/6/15 - iHeartRadio (formerly Clear Channel) closed on the sale of some 367 tower sites, generating $360 million in cash. iHeart will lease back the sites at $20.8 million per year (and forgo about $10.7 million in rental fees to other companies) . The new landload, Vertical Bridge Holdings (based in Boca Raton) will also rent space to cellular and other services. The initial lease term is 30 years, with options for three more five year terms. There were 44 other tower sites that were not part of this sale; supposition is that they did not meet some requirement for transfer, either legally or possibly structurally, in terms of meeting all the FAA standards.
     
    BDR Comments: Among the site are some you will easily recognize: WOR, WHAM, WHO, KFI, KOA, WHAS, WTAM, WTVN and WLW. Eventually, these sites might follow KABC and WMAL to the sell-off of land, as land prices could exceed the stations' value.

  • 4/2/15 - As you walk the floor at NAB, you might notice some low level discussion of a streaming service coming later this year: What Apple is going to do with Beats Music.

    A lot of folks wonder why Apple would enter the online streaming game, but realize that when Apple does something like this, they have a definite, thought out goal in mind.

    When iTunes was started, Apple not only re-invented the way music was sold, they went to great lengths to improve and include the best codec available at the time: AAC-LC 256kbps, and they also went so far as to publish actual mastering standards as Mastering for iTunes.

    The question is what can Apple do to improve on the existing streaming sources? Some of the buzz suggests that Apple will "pass" on the existing formats of the major players and will be heavily promoting a place to discover new music hosted by top notch air talent. The European Union has already been prodded to check it out.

    One thing is for sure, Beats - or whatever name is used - will not be half-baked, but a well-thought out product, of interest to listeners - and something broadcasters should not ignore.

  • 4/1/15 - Scripps has completed its purchase of Journal ... and will soon spin the broadcast side out from the print side.

March

  • 3/22/15 - Buckley Broadcasting fades into history with a double thud, as the KIDD towers are dropped. Video of the first stick down is here.

  • 3/22/15 - Canada's broadcast regulatory agency, CRTC, will require cable systems offer a-la-carte programming. Calling bundles too expensive, the CRTC will demand users can "pick and pay" for what they want. Blackouts will not be permiited.

  • 3/22/15 - The NAB Spring Show will kick off by awarding Jerry Lewis with the NAB's Distinguished Service Award during the Opening Keynote session on April 13th.

  • 3/19/15 - The "hearings continue" in Congress for the FCC with some testy comments between Congressmen and the FCC Commissioners. Net Neutraliltytransparency, and FM radio chips in cell phones were among the major issues pressed. It is especially noteworthy that the House subcommittee chair is a broadcaster, Greg Walden. He also commented specificallyon the recent plan hatched to cut most of the field offices as a bad idea. Wheeler said he is not ready to mandate FM chips activation.

    Perhaps expectedly, Wheeler also found disagreement in the testimony of his Republican colleagues.

  • 3/19/15 - Have we already lost the war? An interesting report suggests that only 80% of in-car listening is to traditional radio .. and ... wait for it ... within three years will drop to 60% The report, from Amy Yong, a broker for the Australian Company Macquarie Capital, sees services like satellite radio and Pandora grabbing more listeners, especially as 4G wireless is expected in as many as 39% of new cars.

  • 3/16/15 - The FCC has announced Auction 98, with 131 allocations available, is now scheduled for July 23rd. All are in the commercial band, and a freeze on applications that affect these allocations has been put into place.

  • 3/16/15 - The reviews of the proposed mergers between AT&T/Direct TV and Time-Warner/Comcast have been put on hold. A lawsuit prompted the FCC to put everything on hold for a while.

  • 3/12/15 - The conference call for all field agents, set by the EB for this afternoon, was called off with only one hour's notice.

  • 3/12/15 - Major concern is being voiced in the aftermath of a reported memo at the FCC seeking to close most field offices and lay off at least 1/2 the staff. The memo, from EB Chief Travis LeBlanc and Managing Director Jon Wilkins, citeing a study by outside consultants, proposes a focus on rf spectrum enforcement  - and reducing field offices by 2/3 and staff by 1/2. Their position is that a "fresh look" is needed at the Bureau, citing changes in technology. The process is the same one that saw a large number of FCC engineers leave in 1995/6, when the Commission de-populated the monitoring stations. 

  • 3/9/15 - Apple announced the Apple Watch and their new HBO streaming video service, for some industry watchers, the most important news related to a lower key plan to stake out a place on new car control screens for Apple audio streaming.

  • 3/5/15 -  Nautel will show off their new NX 5 and 10 kW transmitter models with a web broadcast next Wednesday, March 11th. Sign up free here

  • 3/3/15 - Rubbing elbows with the FCC?  If you go to the Spring NAB Show, it is possible as the entire slate of FCC commissioners will attend this year. Will they listen to Radio? That is another question.

  • 3/3/15 - The Grant County (WA) Sheriff's Office announced the arrest of a transient who had vandalized a station belonging to Cherry Creek Radioi north of Quincy. Kyle Richard Schulz had about $10k in transmission gear in his vehicle, as well as methamphetamine and the proceeds of another burglary.

February

  • 2/26/15 - The Las Vegas Convention Authority has purchased the Riviera hotel, and will destroy it on the way to adding the another 1.8 million square feet of display space. The hotel closes May 4th.

  • 2/26/15 - Vote one: the FCC voted 3-2 to overturn state laws preventing municipalities from building their own wireless networks. Vote two: Chairman Wheeler's proposal on Net Neutrality also was passed 3 to 2.

  • 2/25/15 - The vote on Net Neutrality is expected on Thursday. Despite requests from the Republican commissioners, word is that the vote will be party-line.

  • 2/25/15 - The PRSS (Public Radio Satellite System called off the planned change in audio levels, scheduled for Thursday the 26th. The changeover date now has been delayed for several months until late Spring or early Summer to accommodate more checks and preparation.

  • 2/23/15 - The NAB announced their 2015 Engineering Achievement Award for radio will go to Tom King of Kintronic Labs. The TV award went to Richard Friedel. King has been instrumental in a lot of efforts to improve AM broadcasting, from the KinStar (low profile) Antenna to his work to address the various issues faced by AM facilities.

  • 2/19/15 - A retired radio engineer in the Chicago area was arrested for billing a station for hundreds of thousands of dollars for parts and work never provided - including using his own outside company to issue invoices he then marked "OK to pay." According to the Chicago Tribune, the engineer, John Valenta, had been convicted of a felony for similar conduct at another station. (Update: Valenta was indicted in early April.)

  • 2/17/15 - The WTB has announced an NPRM regarding Part 74 RPU stations. The Bureau wants to bring more digital tech to the RPU frequencies, and modify the Part 74, subpart D of the Rules, especially to make designating the "center frequency" easier.

  • 2/13/15 - The FCC has published the proposal for putting radio station Public Files on the Internet. Comments are by March 16th, with Reply Comments due by April 14, 2015.

  • 2/11/15 - The NAB is supporting a measure by Senator Dean Heller (R-NV) to require transparency from the FCC on several points - including publishing new rules before voting on them and ensuring the cost/benefit of new regulations makes sense. Of special note is the mandate to make clear the status of "open rulemakings" - proceedings that crawl along for years without doing anything. (While trying to foster AM Improvements, Commissioner Pai and others have pointed out proceedings that are well over a decade old - and growing older. Another "big" deal: letting any Commissioner bring a Bureau Action to a vote by the Commission.

  • 2/6/15 - Cumulus continues its land selloff. As the holder of a number of legacy stations, Cumulus has land now worth more than the radio stations. Recently, the company sold the land from under KABC, Los Angeles for somewhere between $90 and $125 million, depending upon who was speaking. Now, WMAL likely is set to move to diplex somewhere, leaving behind its 75 acre home. A local paper suggest the eventual sale price could be "hundreds of millions" - not bad for a company that has been described as "scrambling for cash."
     
    BDR Comments: What can you say? It is legal - and not the first time a company looked at land value and decided to take the money. In the late 80s and 90s many companies built fortunes selling off land under legacy stations for shopping centers and sub-divisions, leaving behind stations with highly compromised signals - even left to daytime only. This, as much as anything could be why many folks think the FCC's AM Improvement move is too little, too late.

  • 2/6/15 - Amazon is due to release Workmail in Q2 of this year. Said to be a direct competitor to Gmail and Micrsoft Exchange, Workmail is, in addition to email, planned to provide calendaring and resource booking, contact lists and task management, and public folders for $4/month per user.

  • 2/6/15 - The FCC really has not given proper attention to the needs of wireless microphone users, according to the NAB.  They note the FCC's incentive auction may reduce the available frequencies below the current level, deemed to be insufficient in many cases.

  • 2/5/15 - Major damage at KCBD-TV when an airplane hit the station's tower and utility pole, kiling one, a Lubbock doctor. About half the tower (about 400 feet) was lost, kncking KCBD off the air, along with KJAK-FM. A surveillance camera shows the hit.

  • 2/4/15 - The FCC's lease at the Portals is running out!  The agency has requested close to $200 million (much of that from auction income) to either move or "re-stack" the current site. In addition, the FCC plans to improve the computer systems.

January

  • 1/29/15 - If you were hoping the FCC auctions would dry up a bit, and discourage more of the auction business, you will not like the report from the current wireless spectrum auction. The FCC managed to bring some $44.9 billon (with a "B") to the US Treasury from the current AWS-3 auction. Congress is going to be tempted..... 

  • 1/28/15 - The FAA NOTAM website is up and running. A few folks who have used it have commented that it is nice that you can specify a longer time frame. But, it appears you have to register and renew passwords every 90 days. And, it is not coordinated with phone call reports as yet. Looks like a few kinks to work out!

  • 1/26/15 - What can you say or do when station employees purposely violate the FCC Rules - several times? In the case of WXNY-FM, it will cost $20k, plus a three year compiance plan. It is notable that the participants announced on the air that what they were doing was illegal.

    BDR Comments: In addition to the EAS aspect, this incident also brings up an area that may be getting a closer look from the EB: non-English programming. For many years, many stations operated with the knowledge that it was almost certain no one from the FCC spoke the language - or cared. Recent cautions by the EB about certain Spanish language hosts who have had pretty foul mouths indicate some sanctions may be coming. All-in-all, these points clearly call for better overall control of the content of non-English programming. It is the licensee that is responsible, even if they do not speak the language!

  • 1/26/15 - An engineer in Phoenix learned how short-lived Super Bowl credentials could be when he posted a picture of himsef with them on a Facebook page. NFL officials learned about it and pulled his credentials. Russ Knight will no longer be going to the the Super Bowl, and like millions of others, we be watching at home.

  • 1/20/15 - A station in Michigan has apparently been bitten twice this week with the Crptowall virus. The experience of WAKV in Ostego, MI is a reminder to have safe backups and a good policy on which machines can access the Internet - and how. Once infected, a machine may be "cleaned" but, unless it is done well, the virus may reappear and destroy more files. Worse yet, if you try to pay, it may not be so easy. This article may help.

  • 1/19/15 - The FCC is apparently ready to tackle two major issues. At this time, the February 26th open meeting will see action taken on Net Neutraliy and possibly act to pre-empt state laws that prevent some cities from installing municipal broadband systems.

  • 1/14/15 - Clients of Clear Channel Satellite Services will not be forced to quickly find a new home. Satellite Holdings Inc, has officially taken over the company, renaming itself Orbital Media Networks, Inc. The company President, Sam Dibrell, Jr. says they will continue operations at the same Denver location with the same NOC staff and honor all existing contracts with CCSS clients, pledging to seamlessly provide the same great service.

  • 1/13/15 - The patents in question are now expired, but the fight over money continues. This relates to the Patent Troll war over HD radio, with both sides pressing ahead. In fact, Wyncomm/Delaware Radio Technologies tried - but failed in its efforts - to kill the lawsuit iBiquity launched against them. A judge not only refused to vacate the November 2014 declaratory judgement against Wyncomm/Delaware Radio, but also let the 14 radio companies consolidate their lawsuits. (W/DRT would rather continue to press the radio companies for settlements).

  • 1/7/15 - Tests are now planned from the new World Trade Center antenna to quantify over-the-air coverage from the 1700-foot level of the spire. Transmitter rooms on the 89th floor will be used to feed the antenna. The turnkey transmitter installations are to be supplied by GatesAir to the Durst Organization, which hopes to eventually lease space for 11 TV and 21 Radio stations atop the tallest building in the US. A report on the tests is expected in February.

  • 1/7/15 - It is always sad to see a station go dark. Usually financial problems are part of the problem. When an old station has been operating with "non-conforming" zoning, is it like a time bomb. KIDD, Monterey CA, had its time bomb go off, and hence the station has gone dark. The all-sports station's towers had reached a point where it was considered unsafe to change the beacons. Without proper zoning, and the ability to rebuild on site, the towers must come down. According to station management, the costs of moving are too great, so there company has no plans to rebuild.

  • 1/6/15 - We were saddened to learn of the late November passing of Rick Neace.

  • 1/2/15 - Another three-letter call sign has been dropped from its legacy home. CBS sold WIP (610) to Beasley, which changed the call sign, which dates back to March 1922, to WTEL. (WIP is not completely gone, it still exists - as WIP-FM - on the newly renamed 94.1.) (Thanks to Phil Harris)

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