12/28/16 - The PSHSB (Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau) of the FCC has released its first look at the 2016 NPT in September. 94% of 21,000+ stations reported reception of the test, with 85% successfully relaying it. Over 2/3 reported no problems at all - all in all an improvement from 2011.
12/23/16 - The International Swaps and Derivatives Association ruled against iHeart in its most recoopent action on their debt service - paying off about 78% of what was due on December 15th. The company has reported 27 quarters of losses and, is trying all sorts of maneuvers to juggle the $20.5 Billion that it owes.
12/20/16 - Cumulus and iHeart have been reported to be working hard to put off debt payments and restructure debt. The road is perhaps best described as "rocky." In fact, just 10 weeks since Cumulus did an 8:1 reverse stock split (see 10/11/16 below) the stock has again closed under $1.00.
12/19/16 - EEO is the subject of many groans as stations try to jump through all the various and complex hoops that are part of the Rules. The FCC has issued a Public Notice seeking comments on whether stations can use just the Internet to recruit new employees, rather than the current complex and easy to violate rules. Comments due by Jan 30th.
12/15/16 - Public Information File reminder: If you are in the top 50 markets and not otherwise exempted from the new requirement, all Public Information File materials from before June 24th that are not on the FCC online Public File site must be uploaded by December 24th. If you are not certain which group you are in, a call to your DC attorney is a good idea. (Thanks, Cary Tepper)
12/15/16 - FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler announced today he was to step down entirely as an FCC Commissioner on January 20th after three years in the top spot at the agency. Up in the air: Jessica Rosenworcel. She lost her seat when the Senate adjourned without re-confirming her. Now, it is up to the incoming Administration whether to re-submit her name to the Senate.
12/7/16 - An FCC Commissioner is ready to get out the weed whacker! Ajit Pai, in a speech to the Free State Foundation, hopes the FCC will soon "fire up the weed whacker and remove " rules that should go." He noted "one way the FCC can do this is through the biennial review, which we kicked off in early November. Under section 11, Congress specifically directed the FCC to repeal unnecessary regulations. We should follow that command."
12/7/16 - Calling itself the "leading voice for diversity and inclusion" The Multicultural Media, Telecom and Internet Council (“MMTC”) has petitioned the new Trump Administration with 12 "imperatives "leading up "to the humane decommissioning of the AM Band." While the MMTC says that is not for three or four decades, they include the thought that the AM band can be sold off to raise money. A "midpoint" might be to either shrink the AM band or widen channels to 20 kHz, or both.
12/6/16 - The FCC's Spectrum Auction is entering the fourth round. So far, instant replay suggests: 1st Round: asked $88.4 Billion, bid $23 Billion 2nd Round: asked $56.5 Billion, bid $21 Billion 3rd Round: asked $40.3 Billion, bid $19.7 Billion The next set of bids is due to start after Dec 13th.
12/1/16 - iHeart Radio has entered the "pay for play" service with two options - iHeart Radio Plus and iHeart Radio All Access - between $4.99 and $9.99 a month. According to iHeart, the streams will be open for 30 days with the official launch on January 1st.
12/1/16 - The FCC just sent several Puerto Rican stations a letter telling them to discontinue their AM Synchronous operations within six months. This is in regards some licensed operation for as long as 13 years, albeit under "experimental" licenses.
The station's engineer, wrote the FCC relating some of his station's history and his activities, and asking how this is in harmony with "Commissioner Ajit Pai is urging broadcasters to use synchronous boosters as a way to improve their service contours. "
The FCC did issue a Public Notice indicating that, if there is enough interest, they might open a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking. According to the FCC comments on Rulemaking 11779 will be accepted for 30 days and reply comments for 15 days afterward.
11/23/16 - Dale Gehman has passed away after a long bout with cancer. Dale was an ABIP inspector and consulting engineer. For some years, he worked for the AL and PA Associations of Broadcasters. More info here. (Thanks: Tim Portzline)
11/22/16 - As the Wheeler Commission's time dwindles, Congress last week made sure there will not be any major (read: Controversial) changes in the next two months. HR 5982 - The Midnight Rules Relief Act - would allow incoming governments to drop any Rules passed in the final 60 days of Congress. Seeing no way out, Wheeler pulled four items off the agenda this past week.
11/20/16 - A major change in the satellite world is coming up in 2017. AMC8 has reached the end of its life. But here is the important point: All services will relocate to AMC18 - at a very different place in the sky: 105 degrees instead of 139. Furthermore, the new satellite will require a 2-degree compliant dish for reception. Stations need to plan ahead as current dishes may be "frozen" in place after 35 years of pointing at 139 degrees. (Thanks Dave Dickson, Skyview)
11/16/16 - According to the Nashville Business Journal, CBS is planning something in Nashville, something involving as many as 200 jobs and a $5 million investment. Curiously, CBS does not own any stations in Nashville - yet.
11/6/16 - Mike Callaghan, a 40-year veteran of the LA market, passed away Saturday night. He was 72. Callaghan had retired from iHeart in 2013.
11/2/16 - The Cumulus 8:1 reverse split is in danger of failing to prevent Cumulus stock from delisting. Just two weeks after the reverse split too the share price from 30 cents to $2.40, the CMLS closed at $1.05.
11/2/16 - DST "fall back" is just around the corner: Nov 6th. (The "jump ahead" next Spring is on March 12th, 2017.)
11/2/16 - With the 2nd window closed, the FCC reports 1091 applications were received to mate an FM translator to an AM station. The AM Improvement, as the FCC calls it has put an FM signal on about 1/4 of all AM stations in the US. The FCC is still processing them as fast as it can, with 95% of the first window's applications already approved.
The 250 mile wavier is over, and as might be expected prices for translators suddenly dropped from $25 k or $4 million to $5 k to $10 k. You do not have to feel sorry for translator owners, they made a pretty good pile of cash while the waiver lasted!
10/19/16 - As the Beasley purchase of Greater Media shakes down, a $24 million has essentially brought back together the former Lincoln-Financial group under Entercom's banner. (Entercom got the rest of the former Lincoln stations in a deal last year.)
10/19/16 - The second round of the FCC's Spectrum Auction has not gone as well as the first. Only $21.5 Billion was bid, against the asking of $56.5 Billion. So, there will be another round of this auction.
10/12/16 - Want more exercise next time you are in Las Vegas? The Nevada General Assembly has voted to authorize both an expansion of the Las Vegas Convention Center and a new NFL Football stadium. The LVCC will grow by 1.44 million square feet. $1.4 Billion is to be spent on the new space and upgrades on the current halls.
10/11/16 - Cumulus' Board of Directors voted to authorise the 8:1 reverse split on the company's stock. This prevented "delisting" on the NASDAQ stock exchange. CMLS started the day at $2.38 and settled down a bit over 16% at $2.01.
10/5/16 - The APRE (Association of Public Radio Engineers) is looking for proposals to be delivered at the 2017 APRE Conference April 20/21, 2017. Deadline is Dec. 15th.
ORIGINALLY: 10/5/16 - Two engineers interrupted what could have been a major arson at Sandia Peak in Albuquerque, NM. According to police, if the effort - called domestic terrorism - had succeeded, the currently unknown suspect could have destroyed most or all of the site. Some more pix.
10/5/16 - The APRE (Association of Public Radio Engineers) is looking for proposals to be delivered at the 2017 APRE Conference April 20/21, 2017. Deadline is Dec. 15th.
10/1/16 - The trade association NATE - The National Association of Tower Erectors - has announced the availability of the new A10.48 Standard - Criteria for Safety Practices with the Construction, Demolition, Modification, and Maintenance of Communications Structures. Orders can be made online here. This is recommended for all companies involved in wireless and broadcast structures.
9/26/16 - FCC Commissioners at the Nashville NAB Show gave broadcasters some hints of some changes they would like to see brought to bear. Ajit Pai said he would like to see the new C4 FM Class come to pass for smaller, rural stations. Other Commissioners also had recommendations.
9/21/16 - Cumulus has now begun the demolition of the WMAL transmitter building in DC. Nevertheless, controversy continues with locals protesting the 75 acre sale and forthcoming development of $1million+ homes. Nearby residents like the "park" around the towers, and want it left that way.
9/12/16 - Cumulus announces a planned 8-1 reverse split. The company, mired at about 35 cents a share, hopes the resulting price of around $2.80 will stimulate interest from the market as well as stop NASDAQ from booting it from listings.
8/31/16 - The first iteration of the FCC's long publicized Spectrum Auction did not bring the amount sought. The target: $88.4 Billion - the bid totals: $23 Billion. The next step is to return to broadcasters to see who will take less, then back to the bidders.
8/31/16 - The San Diego Radio Broadcasters' Association has merged into the Southern California Broadcasters' Association. The SCBA, now 168 stations, has been operating for 79 years.
8/29/16 - It was part of the FCC's plan to reduce expenses by shuttering a bunch of field offices. In January, the offices in Anchorage, Alaska, Buffalo, NY, Detroit, Houston, Kansas City, MO, Norfolk, VA., Philadelphia, San Diego, San Juan, Puerto Rico, Seattle, and Tampa, FL will be decommissioned. Employees losing their jobs get first choice at openings in the remaining offices.
That will leave offices only in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Columbia, MD, Dallas, Denver, Honolulu, Los Angeles, Miami, New Orleans, New York, Portland, OR, and San Francisco.
The FCC promises to have specialized teams to attack pirate broadcasters as a partial balance for closing the offices.
8/23/16 - If you use the AMC-8 satellite to get programming, etc, it is worth knowing that the satellite is nearing its end of life. (This is due to station-keeping fuel running out after nearly 16 years in orbit.) While news of AMC-8's death has been circulated, the new satellite/location has not yet been announced for sure.
8/21/16 - WHPK, Hyde Park (Chicago) was knocked off the air by ... bed bugs. The University of Chicago station has been silent since August 5th. Officials say that although the infestation was cared for by exterminators, university policy was that the homes of all 70 DJs had to be inspected, lest a repeat infestation occurs. The station is expected to return about August 29th.
8/19/16 - BIA/Kelsey reports that as of August 15th, 1727 AM stations are using 1961 FM translators, with nearly $4 million spent on translators since the Second Window opened.
8/18/16 - The CEO of Emmis, Jeff Smulyan, has made a third try in ten years to take the company private. This offer is for $46.5 million, or $4.10 per share. While Smulyan has, in effect, majority voting power, he and the board are not in full agreement for Emmis nor for NextRadio.
8/16/16 - The NAB has urged the FCC to be much more active in resolving the spectrum noise problems from manmade resources. In their comments to the FCC, the NAB says the lack of real enforcement has permitted a long list of manufacturers and products to avoid ensuring their products conform to Part 15 requirements. On the other hand, it was noteworthy that the cellular companies made a point of listing FM Broadcasting as a source of noise and interference - mostly relating to their LTE build-outs. Thus far, in many cases, the cell companies have tried to locate next to full power broadcasters and then bully them to get to something like -138 dBu, far past the 80 dBu level in the Rules.
8/12/16 - NATE (The National Association of Tower Erectors) has announced A10.48 Safety Standards. The minimum safety and operational standards should provide better working conditions for tower crews and safer projects for companies.
The text of A10.48 is being compiled for publication in the near future.
8/1/16 - Day 1 of the second Window for "AM Improvement" saw 243 applications for moving/modifying FM Translators, and 42 new applications to transfer control of a translator.
8/1/16 - Charlie Morgan passed away this week at the age of 92. Morgan was the SVP of engineering for Susquehanna Radio and an active participant on the NRSC committee for over 20 years, including acting as Chairman until 2009. More info is located here.
7/25/16 - Sometime early in 2017, broadcasters - and others - can purchase an Intermet URL and email address with the top level domain (TLD) of .radio ... The administration of the .radio domain will be handled by the European Broadcasting Union.
7/24/16 - The Massachusetts House has passed a Bill (4109) regarding those who would broadcast without a license (pirates). Broadcasters hope the State Senate will deal with it before adjourning on July 31.
7/22/16 - A reminder: The Window for Class C and D stations seeking to get an FM Translator ends on the 28th. On the 29th, the new Window opens for all classes. Note: in case of conflict, the earlier applications win - but stations are allowed only one translator application!
7/19/16 - Beasley Broadcast is buying Greater Media in a $240 million deal. 21 stations in 7 markets are involved, with $100 million in cash and at leat $25 million in stock going to Greater Media shareholders. Perhaps among the more important data: Beasley revenue will grow by nearly 150% - $106 million to $247 million.
7/13/16 - The FCC is patting itself on the back over its pirate radio actions this year. Saying 91 enforcement actions so far this year represents a major goal, Chairman Wheeler pointed out that over 20% of the Enforcement Bureau's activities were aimed at pirate stations. After promising action on pirates in return for closing more than one-half of the field offices, broadcasters continue to wonder about the ultimate results. Interestingly, at least 76 of those 91 actions were in the NYC general metro area.
7/12/16 - Not far from Villa Acuna, Mexico (home to legendary 250 kW XERA) a small market owner has grown tired of promises from regulators who say they want to help small market stations. George Chambers of DKXQK, Comstock, TX turned in his license and cancelled a CP. A station owner since 1982, Chambers says, "I have seen the FCC go from a governing and licensing agency to a money-grabbing small-business killer with unjustified regulatory fee increases yearly, and the threat of excessive fines daily." Chambers noted that it was a burden for small market stations to deal with "the continuing changes and demands being made by the FCC-FEMA-FAA-ASCAP-BMI-RMLC-SOUND EXCHANGE-SESAC-EAS-IPAWS and many more possibly to come in the future- this is killing us!" (more in Exhibit 4, at the bottom.)
7/11/16 - NBC Radio News is back on the air, through a deal between iHeartMedia and NBC News. Initially, some 850 iHeart stations and 1000 affiliates are said to be signed up.
7/8/16 - DaySequerra has purchased Orban, effective today. Orban reorganize as Orban Labs Inc, as subsidiary of DaySequerra and will move to West Berlin, NJ over the next quarter.
7/5/16 - CBS has indicated they are to offer an IPO to spin off the radio division - all 117 stations. According to the Wall Street Journal, this is after the corporation took a major ($484 million) value writedown on the division in Q4).
7/4/16 - A bog fire at Burns Bog in Western Canada has caused great damage and take down at least one radio station. CHMJ Vancouver (730) had its transmitter site was overrun and a few minutes after the picture in the link, was engulfed in flames and lost one of its four towers. An emergency antenna has been put up, and CHMJ is also running as an HD3 in the area.
6/22/16 - The FCC has asked for comments on dealing with the radio interference (aka: the noise floor). With more devices emitting radio energy the question is what to do, who to do it, and who will pay. The FCC's opened the public notice June 15, with comments due by Aug. 11. The Docket is 16-191.
6/28/16 - The FCC announced the first round in the Spectrum Auction has $86.4 Billion to be paid to television stations participating. Some industry analysts think the wireless companies may not be willing to go that high... and a second round may be necessary.
6/15/16 - The US Court of Appeals has moved back to the FCC's side on the matter of Net Neutrality - for the moment. After a vote of 2-1, Chairman Wheeler said he was pleased the Court saw it his way. The lawyers will likely continue the case.
6/14/16 - The FCC's new rules require most stations in the Top 50 markets to begin placing their Public Information Files on-line on the FCC Server by June 24th. All current materials much be uploaded after that time, with older materials uloaded by December 24th. A demo page gives a preview of the OPIF (Online Public Information File). The FCC is also re-arranging their online database, said to be improved, to replace what has been done by TV stations thus far.
5/27/16 - Congress is working on the SANDY Act, (the name refers to the "Superstorm" that inundated New York and surrounding areas with major destruction. The part that is of large interest to broadcasters is the intention of providing "First Responder" status to engineers and other staff working to keep stations on the air. The House has passed the SANDY Act, the Senate has been asked to take it up.
5/26/16 - The FCC EAS Rulemaking now is proposing to eliminate the requirement that public correspondence be kept in the file.
5/23/16 - The FCC has released its proposed reulatory fees for the next fiscal year. In addition to some significant jumps in fees, the FCC is going to add a new category of over 6 million, and expects stations in the top 10 markets to pay double that of stations in the 26-50 sized markets. Top ten TV market station fees will jump to nearly $61k this year. Here is a look at radio fees:
5/17/16 - Reports from around the country indicate a series of attacks and virus infections are affecting Ubiquity airOS radios. The problem involves a firmware exploit that was discovered and "patch," but has been aggressively used recently to attack thousands of sites. Removal tools are available and being implemented.
5/11/16 - The studio building for KHKC, Atoka, OK suffered major damage from a direct hit from a tornado. The station manager and his daughter were not harmed, but the station is off the air.
5/9/16 - Even broadcasters can become annoyed with the prevalent pattern of spot breaks - up to ten or more spots in a row. Some TV companies are already edging toward reducing the spot loads that viewers are asked to sit through. Perhaps a lot of this is due to DVRs that can skip entire breaks. Or radio streaming with few or no breaks.
5/9/16 - The proposed Charter Comm-Time-Warner Cable merger got FCC approval. California State approval is the last step.
4/29/16 - E. Harold Munn Jr. passed away this week, at the age of 87. He was the founding member of what is now Munn-Reese, serving clients from 1950 until his retirement in 1992, when he sold the business to Wayne-Reese, although continuing to provide advice and direction afterward. More information here.
4/26/16 - iHeart has filed with the FCC to formalize selling 49% of KLAC, Los Angeles (570), the current LA Dodgers' radio home, to the LA Dodgers.
4/14/16 - Paul Schafer - the "father of broadcast automation" has passed away February 23rd at the age of 90. In the early 1950s, Schafer developed remote control systems for radio stations and then moved to program automation. The first system, in 1956, in Bakersfield, CA, was a couple of Seeberg record players teamed with an Ampex machine to run KGEE overnights, with the system moving to the next event upon detection of "silence."
4/7/16 - Another spate of hijacked Barix boxes was noted this week, as a Colorado station had its transmitter feed re-directed to a profane audio source. (Also here) Several other cases were reported, and a lot of conversation developed regarding passwords, firewalls, and station security. That makes this a good time to review your own security arrangements. Some Internet sites devoted to it show scores of IP addresses for Barix boxes and other places for hackers to "play."
3/30/16 - A sad sign, another one of the state news networks, which used be almost everywhere, has closed. The MRN - Michigan Radio Network - stopped feeding 60 stations after 36 year. A competitor, the MNN - Michigan News Network is expanding efforts to pick up the slack from its WWJ headquarters.
3/24/16 - The EAS NPRM was published in the Federal Register this morning. Comments are due on or before May 9, 2016 and reply comments are due on or before June 7, 2016. NOTE: There is a new docket number, replacing 04-296. It is 15-94. If you go to the ECFS, be sure to use 15-94.
3/22/16 - Cumulus is seeking to spin some of their debt into new instruments which might even include some equity interest in the stations themselves.
3/15/16 - Could the FCC be disbanded? While some might wish for that, Senator John Thune (R-SD) has noted that the FCC is the oldest independent agency agency in the government, last "authorized" 25 years ago. Thune's current suggestion is to reauthorize the FCC for two years - and then see how the political winds blow.
3/15/16 - The CEO of CBS, Les Moonves, has indicated that he is looking at the potential to sell part or all of the 117 CBS radio assets.The announcement to "explore strategic options" has set off a wild round of speculation about who and how much will be generated to the CBS bottom line, as the corporation struggles to get ready for the post-Sumner Redstone era. While some historical call letters may be put in play, still few expect anything to happen quickly, especially on any large scale sale . (Thanks, Gary Bodnar)
3/9/16 - iHeart is under pressure from creditors - not exactly news. However, a few creditors seem desiring of forcing iHeart to pay up quickly. Meanwhile iHeart hustled off to court to try to stop things - or at least slow them down.
2/19/16 - The latest provisions for AM stations to use MDCL (Modulation Dependent Carrier Level) to save electricity has now gone into effect. Stations may implement MDCL and then notify the FCC within 10 days on a Form 338, located on the ECFS (Electronic Comment and Filing System).
2/18/16 - Cumulus announced this week that Conrad Trautmann will be their new SVP of Technology and Operations, as Gary Kline exits. Trautmann had been head of operations for Westwood One, which Cumulus had purchased. He now takes over the entire technical operations nationwide.
2/18/16 - Broadcast stocks continue under general pressure, with Emmis (EMMS) at 51.7 cents and potential delisting in June (Companies can do a reverse stock split to avoid this). In addition, Cumulus (CMLS) continues its residence in the cellar, at 32 cents a share (but up almost 100% from 19 cents in November, IHRT (iHeart) at 82 cents.
2/16/16 - NXP Semiconductors, the top supplier of automotive semiconductors, has completed tests of the DRM transmission system, and announced its availability for use in cars. Currently, AM radio covers 99% of India's population, while FM only covers 45% of listeners.
2/15/16 - The new Contest Rules, approved by the FCC in September have been published in the Federal Register, and will go into effect. Among the major changes: publishing the contest rules on a station's website, and removing those nasty, unintelligible, sped-up statements at the end of promos. Cary Tepper's analysis is here.
1/29/16 - The FCC released the latest EAS NPRM. It goes mto areas that surprised most EAS advocates.
1/26/16 - The NAB Hotel Office has announced room rates during the NAB Spring Show will rise on February 1st and Feb 15th.
1/26/16 - The NAB has joined the podcaster world, with a bi-weekly series of podcasts on topics considered timely for broadcasters. The 15 minute podcasts are free for all to listen for two weeks, then go behind the NAB paywall.
1/13/16 - PRSS (Public Radio Satellite Services) is again planning to adjust program levels on January 26th. The level adjustment - 6 dB - originally was planned for last February, but postponed. The change should occur at 1:59PM EST. Stations with questions can contact the PRSS Help Desk at firstname.lastname@example.org or 800-971-7677.
1/7/16 - Selling off physical assets - like Cumulus' land sales or the sale of tower sites/towers to raise money - might be compared to burning the furniture to a desperate effort to stay warm. However, it is proving to be a popular tactic. iHeart Media has added another assest sale: the outdoor company. Is there money there? Just five markets, Seattle, Cleveland, Memphis, Des Moines and Reno will bring some $458.5 million of badly needed cash flow. Similar additional asset sales are said to be in the works.
Sadly, this has not stopped a whole new round of staff reductions at a number of large radio/TVcompanies. Softness in Q4 2015 income has led to from a few to several dozen staffers being dismissed at different companies as they continue to trim their labor costs.
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