The Broadcasters' Desktop Resource

The Broadcasters' Desktop Resource

News Items Archive - 2017

December

  • 12/27/17 - The NAB is stepping back into the Spectral Repack - asking Congress for more money and more time to get it done. The NAB noted that there was not enough money for the repack (something questioned by many watching TV stations scoop up hundreds of millions of dollars), not enough tower crews, nor time enough to get it done in three years. Turning to Congress, the NAB has asked that more money be set aside for the repack funding.

  • 12/20/17 - The Italian manufacturer Elenos has purchased Broadcast Electronics.  BE, which goes back to its early roots as Spotmaster (cart machines) has been making transmitters since 1977. Elenos plans to continue its focus on transmitters for radio and TV, with special attention to energy efficiency. BE was last sold a little over a year and a half ago, to BE's vice president of engineering Brian Lindemann, (IIC Acquisitions).

  • 12/19/17 - Just days after the FCC cancelled the Wheeler Commission's Net Neutrality rules, Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), Chair of the House Communications Subcommittee has begun to move what she calls  the Open Internet Preservation Act.
     
    Blackburn's legislation would restore the ban on slowing or blocking websites. It also includes the public disclosure requirements from the latest FCC action - and tells the FCC to enforce the provisions. "Paid prioritization" is not yet a part of this Bill.

  • 12/18/27 - Norway has become the first country to end national FM radio in favor of DAB. The national networks were switched off last Wednesday, although most local stations are allowed to continue at this date. The decision to take public radio off FM was made in January 2017, and has proceeded around the country. Interesting, it is being reported that the move reduces costs to the government by 7/8, but citizens must buy new radios at $100 - $225 to receive the state broadcasts.

  • 12/15/17 - The FCC has initiated a web page called "Workload and Operations Dashboard" to show how the Commission views its own progress. Do they get high marks?  Take a look.

  • 12/14/17 - As expected, the FCC deleted the "Net Neutrality" rules from the Wheeler Commission.  It also approved the new BLU code for EAS use.

  • 12/7/17 - Closing your "Main Studio" or reducing staffing?  You are a bit ahead of the FCC. The notice of ending the Main Studio Rule is to be in today's Federal Register. Main Studios can be shuttered on January 7th.

  • 12/6/17 - Disney and Fox have agreed on about $54 Billion for Disney to take 20th Century Fox' assets, including movie production and satellite operations such as parts of NatGeo, SkyNews, etc.

  • 12/5/17 - The FCC has announced the last Window for AM stations that had not filed in previous Windows to seek a new FM translator. The Window is January 25th to 31st, and contains a freeze on regular translators, boosters and LPFM stations.

  • 12/1/17 - iHeart is not having similar success as Cumulus with its creditors. iHeart creditors, who currently are asking for 95.3% of iHeart and 100% of Clear Channel Outdoor, would leave 5% for junior bondholders and shareholders - while iHeart wants to keep 12.5% of each. It is all more complicated that this, and the looming debt coming due in 2019 and beyond are the reasons the creditors seem to prefer Chapter 11 for iHeart.

November

  • 11/29/17 - Cumulus filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy this afternoon, saying that the Restructuring Support Agreement with some 69% of their creditors will result in a $1 Billion savings to the company. The restructuring deal says they have enough cash on hand to operate.

  • 11/26/17 - The Net Neutrality issue heated up again this week. A Twitter storm attacked FCC Chair Pai (who is planning to roll back what Tom Wheeler's Commission did) - even publishing his home address and his son's name - and has been met by a Myth/Fact sheet from the FCC.  You can read it here.  Pai has indicated he plans to undo the Net Neutrality rules out in place by the Commission under Tom Wheeler.

  • 11/17/17 - This week a radio institution for 90 years has begun disappearing. CBS Radio - the last of the major networks (NBC and ABC sold their radio division years ago - is now part of Entercom. Dating back to 1927, the United Independent Broadcasters became Columbia Phonographic Broadcasting System, then was sold to William Paley, who renamed it the Columbia Broadcasting System. It was in 1995 that Westinghouse Electric bought the company, rebranding as Infinity Broadcasting, then merged with Viacom and in 2005 was spun off as CBS Radio - and now merged into Entercom. Among the lasting parts - for now - KCBS, San Francisco and WCBS, New York.
     
    As a further result, many stations have been spun off from Entercom/CBS to iHeart, Beasley, Bonneville, and EMF. Format changes are everywhere.

  • 11/9/17 - The FCC has issued a reminder that the Biennial Ownership Report is due during a window between December 1 to March 1. Although the new Form 323 is not yet available, stations could use the time to ensure the FRN information for the station and all those with attributable interest in the station (they are to have personal FRN's) - i.e., names, addresses, phone numbers, etc. (thanks, Cary Tepper)

  • 11/2/17 - One of the big winners in the Entercom/CBS merger will be Bonneville, currently with 14 stations: three in Seattle and Phoenix, four in Denver and Salt Lake City. In the merger deal, Bonneville will add eight more stations: four in San Francisco and Sacramento, now totaling 22. Another winner: iHeart, which gains WBZ and three others in Boston. Beasley also will grow from the sell off.

October

  • 10/24/17 - As expected, the FCC voted to end the Main Studio Rule, which mandated two persons in the studio during business hours. Reaction varies, with owners thrilled, staff not so much. The Commission indicates their next actions will deal with cross-ownership restrictions, annual reports, and publishing notice of station sales.

  • 10/18/17 - The US House of Representatives is currently "marking up" the Bill to authorize the FCC, a $322,035,00 affair financed totally by regulation fees. Among the items included are process reform and more transparency in operations - especially to Congress. Will it happen? As they say; "stay tuned."

  • 10/17/17 - In disaster times, Radio Works!  As the cleanup in Puerto Rico continues, more stations are slowly coming back on air, to complement the handful of stations that tried to keep going through hurricane Maria. US broadcasters, led by the NAB have sent thousands of battery-operated radios to the island. (On the other hand, the University station was shut down on purpose.)

  • 10/15/17 - POLITICS VS TECHNOLOGY - Likely you have read the back and forth about whether Apple (or other companies) should activate "FM Chips." Notwithstanding that there is no "FM Chip" but a feature in some cell phone processors, there is still the issue of "Can You Hear Me?" as
    some cell phones are now killing the headphone jack, meaning that there is no real antenna for FM, much less AM. In fact, in most Apple phones with the Qualcomm chip, the antenna leads are not even hooked up.
     
    THE BDR THINKS: What we really need to see is some study showing if cell phones are capable of receiving FM or are mostly deaf. And then there is the battery issue. Instead of politics or business leading the discussion, how about some technical data, please?

  • 10/15/17 - SONOMA COUNTY HERO - a broadcaster. The post mortem analysis of public warnings in Sonoma County, where a tremendous number of buildings were destroyed and dozens killed should soon begin. Sadly, there was no alert given by EAS - the country officials decided not even to use WEA - but it is reported that came after many cell sites were burned out. On the other hand KZST's owner and staff were exemplary in being there for their listeners.

    The question that seems to be spreading is "Why was there no use of the EAS?" MSN reported "... emergency alert system failed ... "   But no alerts were issued in Sonoma County, etc.

  • 10/14/17 - Word coming from Chairman Pai's office says there will be no more spectrum auctions, unless Congress legislates the issues.

  • 10/11/17 - At least FCC Commissioner Mike O'Reilly is happy so far with the FCC Reauthorization Act undergoing "markup" at the moment. O'Reilly says the current status mirrors what he and Chairman Pai propose and would make the Commission more transparent.

  • 10/4/17 - Chairman Pai indicated this month's open meeting (on the 24th) will likely see the end of the Main Studio Rule - the one requiring two persons available at all times during the business day. Last month, many rules concerning DA proof and maintenance were deleted. And, in a puzzling move, the FCC has permitted EAS-like tones in PSAs.
     
    Meanwhile, an NPRM is getting ready to end the requirement that stations have a copy of the FCC Rules on hand (paper).

  • 10/3/17 - President Trump visited Puerto Rico to assess the damage and meet victims. Only 5% of power has been restored, and most broadcast stations were still off the air. An appeal has gone out for mainland broadcasters to help with new or used gear, etc.
     
    Want to help? Eduardo Rivero, the Puerto Rico Broadcasters Association VP, has volunteered to be a contact point for broadcasters on the island. Eduardo can be reached at: (787)638-1059 or reduardo@milestoneeventspr.com. A consulting engineer, Felix Bonnet, can also be reached with questions: (787)635-2939 or (787)324-9484.

  • 10/2/17 - FCC Chairman Ajit Pai was confirmed for his second five year term by a Senate vote of 52-41 (there was some Democrat resistance due to Pai's work on dismantling the Title II Net Neutrality). Pai is now part of the Commission until 2021. 

September

  • 9/28/17  - A Miami TV tower accident claimed three lives. Cedar Hill, TX based riggers were replacing an antenna at the top of the 1049-foot tower when a gin pole failed. The link to Channel 10 had two reports back-to-back when posted. Here is a link to a 30 minute clip.

  • 9/15/17  - The FCC announced that 2017 Regulatory fees - although still unpublished - are due on September 26, before 11:59 PM, lest a 25% penalty and interest fall on you, with a possible "red flag."  (Update: Florida, Puerto Rico, Texas, Louisiana, Alabama or Georgia have three extra days, with the fees due on the 29th.  Thanks Cary Tepper)

  • 9/14/17  - A job posting on the government jobs site indicates Peter Doyle will be retiring.

  • 9/13/17  - According to FCC and other reports, some three dozen stations were knocked off the air by Hurricane Irma. Most problems were flood issues rather than loss of towers - Florida stations have been to this dance a few times! About a dozen are back up, with other awaiting the water to recede. On Monday (18th), FCC Chairman Pai and Commissioner Clyburn are to visit the state.

  • 9/12/17  - Gordon Smith, head of the NAB, has agreed to a contract extension through 2023.

  • 9/8/17  - The NAB reports attendance was down a bit this year - likely due to the hurricanes in Texas and Florida. Appropriate to the confusion of late arrivals and early leavers, about 2000 were in Austin, compared with 2272 in Nashville, and 2170 in Atlanta (2015).

  • 9/6/17  - ... and now Florida. Maybe. There is so much speculation where Hurricane Irma will hit, that we just have to wait another day or so. Meanwhile Florida is getting ready. The FEMA has begun to set up, but some broadcasters are readying their plans to ride out the hurricane, as they have been doing since the mid-1920s.

  • 9/6/17  - The Fall NAB Radio Show was in Austin this year. Keynote was Ajit Pai. Among the "gifts" to broadcasters, a promise the Main Studio Rule soon will be history, along with an immediate end of the requirement (you may have forgotten, but it is still on the books) that each station have a printed copy of the Rules and Regulations. Pail promised more is coming. At the same time, the station owners were not unclear about what they want: removal of the sub caps that limit what they can own in one market. Additionally, there was pleasure to hear that over 60 pirate stations were "cited" in the FCC's  whack-a-mole operation.

August

  • 8/29/17 - The nearly unprecedented rainfall on Houston and surrounding areas from Hurricane Harvey has stressed most broadcasters. Some sites were flooded, but reports seem to indicate most transmitter sites (like Senior Road, where most FM's are) continue to be accessible and operating. Channel 11 got flooded out of their studio.
     
    Overall, nine stations were reported off the air, but most stations have survived, often sharing programming and pitches for donations to the people left stranded. The biggest challenge: getting staff to and from the studios over blocked and damaged roads. 
     
    This might be a good time to check your plans should an unexpected disaster hits your station(s). For that we offer up a couple of disaster recovery articles well worth your time.

    The Cellular industry did not do as well. By today, according to the FCC's Disaster Information Reporting System, nearly 400 cell sites (5% or total sites) are down. with some others limited to text only.

  • 8/28/17 - Tom Osenkowsky passed away Sunday. One of the nicest and more talented guys in broadcasting, with a wonderful sense of humer.

  • 8/16/17  - Fire broke out on the antenna mast of the CN Tower in Toronto, Canada. The 4AM fire was extinguished about 3 hours later after calling some 30 firefighters to climb up into the cramped mast. Power to all the radio and TV facilities was cut during the fire. 

  • 8/10/17 - The Wisconsin Broadcasters Association has announced the dates for the 2017 Broadcasters' Clinic in Madison. October 10-12 are the dates, with special room rates until September 28th.

  • 8/4/17  - Mooretronix is temporarily on "hold" while owner Bob Moore is recovering from a motorcycle accident in Alaska.

  • 8/3/17 - The total number of applications in the latest Window for AM Improvement was 1081. 

  • 8/2/17 - the FCC is now back to Five members as Brendan Carr and Jessica Rosenworcel are confirmed.

July

  • 7/25/17 - Did you know the FCC has to be re-authorized from time to time? This is, in fact, one of those times, and Congress needs to re-authorize the FCC or it goes out of business. The last time the FCC was re-authorized was 1990. This term would run through 2022.

  • 7/23/17 - Congressional Rep. Frank Pallone (D-N.J.)  just introduced The Viewer Protection Act of 2017, offering $1 Billion or so relief to reimburse TV stations as well as FM stations that are harmed by the coming Spectrum Repack activity.

  • 7/14/17 - Estimates for the costs of the Spectrum Repack have now exceeded the amount budgeted by the FCC and Congress by about $500 millon. The FCC is to "vet" the proposed expenses and give approval or not. Meanwhile the 39-month clock to implement changes appears to be running.

  • 7/13/17 - With the upcoming Window for some AM stations to acquire FM translators, the FCC has arranged for a web-based tutorial on how to file the applications - and who is eligible.

  • 7/3/17 - ETRS V2 - The FCC announced in a Public Notice that they want every station to register (again) for the upcoming NPT later this summer.

    The FCC Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau notice tells all EAS participants they must create an FCC Username within the FCC?s Commission Registration System (CORES) to access the 2017 EAS Test Reporting System (ETRS). While further information is coming, it looks like all stations have to 'start over' with ETRS, unless the FCC changes things in the next couple of months.

    At least, it will allow easier entry - they say - for multiple station sites.

  • 7/1/17 - The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has approved the FCC's change in paperwork requirements - specifically ending the need to save in the Public Information File and correspondence received by the station. 

June

  • 6/29/17 - It is now official: President Trump picks Brendan Carr for the open seat on the Commission. His nomination will go forward, paired with that of Jessica Rosenworcel, to the Senate for confirmation.  

  • 6/22/17 - In amongst all the bureaucratic stuff going on, the FCC has been busy with some items that affect broadcasters:
    • The Commission has now formally adopted the Blue Alert - another law enforcement problem code - and issuing an NPRM shortly.

      The BDR Notes: Many see this as either just political pandering or a "feel good" addition to EAS. The FCC continues in total non-motion on the Part 11 (EAS) re-write, expected only six or seven years ago.

    • In testimony before Congress, Commissioner Mike O'Rielly continues the "war" against pirates, but seeking more "tools" to combat the "whack-a-mole" pattern in recent years.

    • Chairman Ajit Pai has managed a reduction in expenses and employees at the FCC. Telling Congress he can "do more with less." Pai called it a normal response to the pressures to make government more efficient - although he noted the FCC "pays for itself" by fees, etc. and essentially does not cost the government. A graph in the budget shows the lowest number of employees in a long time.

    • Chairman Pai also has stated that the FCC desperately needs re-organization of its structure to deal with current regulatory needs.
       
      The BDR Notes: This is an understatement. The Bureaus and staffing reflect the way things were several decades ago (can you say pre-Internet?) and truly need attention. Both procedures and Staff need help in reducing the tremendous delays in handling matters that currently define many Commission issues.


    • The new head of the Enforcement Bureau was announced: Rosemary Harold. Chairman Pai notes his hope that the EB can get back on track after the previous head opted for huge fines and little action. 


    • The comment period on the deletion of the Main Studio Rule is getting ready to close. The initiative has has gotten heavy support from companies large and small.
       
      The BDR Notes: But will access by Internet email or voicemail be sufficient for stations to truly serve their listeners. The old rule of two people sitting around all day at a "studio" has been outdated since satellite program delivery blossomed. On the other hand, many point out that there really needs to be easy access to a live person for the station to truly be a part of its community.


    • The "Random" EEO Audit list was released this week.
       
      The BDR Notes: Do we really have to point out this is a political hot potato? The pressure for EEO matters is from Congress. Although the FCC has made a change that will help many stations - using the Internet for advertising openings - the tree-killing paperwork and hassles connected to the EEO rules are enormous time and financial burdens. Perhaps the current FCC leadership will manage more positive changes. The FCC announcement and list is here.

  • 6/14/17 - President Donald Trump has signaled (by a tweet) his intention to nominate former Democratic FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel to a return engagement as Commissioner  for a five-year term. Among the names being suggested for the third Republican seat is Brendan Carr, a former staffer for Mr. Pai and currently the acting FCC General Counsel.
     
    By the way, terms for both Chairman Ajit Pai and Commissioner Mignon Clyburn run out at the end of June. It is expected President Trump will nominate both for a new term.

  • 6/7/17 - The next AM translator Window was announced by the FCC. It opens on July 26 and is designed for Class C and Class D radio stations - low powered and daytimers that did not participate in last year's translator-fest. WINDOW: The FCC says the Window will be open from July 26 to August 2 - One week! A "freeze" on FM minor applications will also be in force.

  • 6/6/17 - The FCC has released information on the Main Studio Rules. The Comment Period is from now until July 3rd. Reply Comments will then be accepted until July 17th. The matter is known as Docket 17-106, where you can comment.

  • 6/2/17 - The FCC and OSHA have produced a booklet on tower safety. A free download, you can get it here.

  • 6/1/17 - The EAS you do not want: According to Philadelphia's NBC 10, there was an accidental nuclear warning issued to two New Jersey counties in late May. Then Emergency Managers decided to use Reverse 911 to tell residents there was no such emergency. (According to the EMs, only 50% of the robo calls were answered - likely many by voicemail.) Is this an example of "Failure to Communicate?"

May

  • 5/19/17 - The FCC set several things in motion this week: Comments are already rolling in on eliminating the Main Studio Rule. While most are in favor, some, including Commissioner Minon Clyburn noted the main studio is often the only physical tie a broadcaster has to the local community and by eliminating the rule, "we are embracing a world in which automated national programming is the new normal."

  • 5/9/17 - First came the wave of stations with large directional antennas selling the land, leaving the stations as daytimers with minimal or no night power at all. Then came diplexing, which allowed many stations to sell more land, and end up with more downgrades.
     
    MDCL power management came along next, where stations saved significant electrical costs by varying the carrier power.
     
    Now, iHeart's KXMR, Bismark, ND, is asking the FCC for permission to abandon their 50 kW daytime authority and site to run 4 kW around the clock from the night-time site. With such great conductivity in the upper mid-West, 4 kW is more than enough to cover Bismark. A quick guess is the electric bill will drop almost 80%, which could be attractive to some other stations. By the way, this 92% daytime power reduction is a "minor modification."

  • 5/9/17 - The NAB is asking again that the FCC alter the spectrum repack time-table. Noting the effect on many FM stations, the NAB asks for more "flexibility" on the proposed timeline.

  • 5/8/17 - Sinclair Broadcast Group has signed a deal to acquire the Tribune Broadcast Group. The 42 TV stations in 33 markets, along with WGN America cable channel and some additional assets, including WGN, Chicago, will add to Sinclair's 173 TV stations, for a total of over 215. The reported price: $3.9 Billion.

April

  • 4/24/17 - The FCC gave the industry a present with a ruling that stations can use the Internet to recruit new workers. While this reduces the number of outlets needed when seeking a staffer, the Commission still expects stations to do "outreach" within the community, especially when organizations request notification of openings.

  • 4/22/17 - According to MarketWatch, Bob Pittman plans to warn iHeartMedia investors in the next quarterly report that its survival is uncertain - perhaps not lasting another year. The $20 Billion mountain of debt owed by the company continues to be a tremendous burden.

  • 4/21/17 - The FEMA released its report on the 2016 EAS NPT in September. A copy can be seen here.  A test is expected to be announced during the NAB Show for this Fall, likely September.

  • 4/20/17 - FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn has said she will stay on the FCC past her June 30th term expiration. (FCC commissioners can stay on until the end of the next Congress.) Speculation had been that she might step down to prevent the FCC from having a quorum to do business. At this point, she could well serve into around 2020. 

  • 4/13/17 - The clock is running on the move to AMC18. Since this slot requires 2 degree dish specifications, a number of stations are reporting problems with the new slot. Several companies are hard at work helping stations in the transition deal with small dishes and frozen hardware, etc.   (See 3/20/17, below

  • 4/12/17 - The FCC released new figures on the number of stations. With all the actions last year for LPFM and translators, their numbers jumped.
                AM - 4,666, compared with 4,725 in 2014 and 4,301 in 1970
                FM - 6,754, compared with 2,157 in 1970
             LPFM - 1,924, compared with 724 in 2014 and 0 in 1970
    Translators - 7,542, compared with  0 in 1970

  • 4/11/17 - The FCC is stepping up its publicity about its Consumer Complaint Center, with a demo on how to file a complaint or gain information. A summary of complaint data is here.

  • 4/11/17 - A petition from Prometheus asks the FCC to rescind the new siting ruies claiming that they could allow 1 mV/M contours to where translators could cause problems for LPFM stations.

  • 4/11/17 - Roy Stewart, a former Chief of the Media Bureau and 44 year veteran at the FCC has passed away. His obit is here.

  • 4/10/17 - As we approach the Spring NAB Show, speculation is growing that the FCC will announce the next set of translator windows - or action to remove the sub-caps on AM/FM stations. Many expect the announcement in Las Vegas.

  • 4/4/17 - Broadcast manufacturer and consultant - and a really nice person - Ron Nott has passed away at 83. His obituary is here.

March

  • 3/30/17 - The APRE (Association of Public Radio Engineers) has announced their Engineering Achievement Award for 2017. The award is being given to Dan Mansergh, the Chief Technology Officer for KQED, San Francisco.

  • 3/27/17 - GatesAir made a huge sale to Cumulus - 70 transmitters, some AM and some FM.

  • 3/23/17 - Two stations are officially going "dark" this week. WGPC in Albany, GA was damaged by a storm and the owner, Cumulus, has decided not to rebuild the station. In Chattanooga, TN, WFLI's owners are signing off on March 31 after 56 years. A history of WFLI and video from 1992 here.  UPDATE: The Benns family did sell. $100,000 cash for the license. A move may be in the future.

  • 3/20/17 - The "Adjustment Period" is running for stations to realign their satellite dishes from AMC-8 to the "mid-sky" AMC-18 before June. This is the time for stations to stop and check their dishes. For more than a few, the hardware may be difficult to loosen, the dish may have obstructions - or - the dish may not support 2-degree spacing of satellites, something not so important in the old slot.  Companies such as Mark Johnson's LiNKUP can identify problems and make adjustments now, while there is time to do so without panic.

  • 3/17/17 - Need your FM fear the Repack? Of course, not all information is in, but the CPB studies for NCEFM staions suggests a number of commercial stations will also be affected - from downtime during repack or loss of site.
    It is probably worth checking with your consultant.

  • 3/10/17 - International Crystal Manufacturing in Oklahoma City announced it will close, after 66 years, as they were running out of stock.

  • 3/15/17 - A week after a judge ruled against the Cumulus debt restructuring, iHeart has put out a proposal to do something similar. Some investment counselors are saying bankruptcy is inevitable, with Cumulus now down to 58 cents a share and asking staffers to join the sales efforts.

  • 3/14/17 - This FCC announced Chairman Ajit Pai will address the NAB Show on April 25th. He is expected to discuss the changes he is seeking to make the FCC more responsive to broadcasters. 

  • 3/13/17 - This past week, at least two more stations were added to those who have been hacked. A Sage box at WZZY in Winchester, IN was hacked with a "Zombie Alert" and a Long Island religious station had its RDS hacked.

    Both cases appear to have involved gear exposed to the Internet without a firewall. It is getting more and more dangerous to operate without keeping your gear from being improperly exposed.

    One quick check to see if you have open ports is the free check from Gibson Research.

  • 3/8/17 - It appears the standoff between Rich Broadcasting and American Tower (ATC) is headed to an end. Websites for KMTN, KZJH, and KJAX invite listeners to get the station on their computers. Rich Broadcasting, in Chapter 11 bankruptcy, has owed ATC rent for its three stations for up to five years, but says ATC is charging rates far above similar sized markets, where stations are paying as little as 1/6 what ATC is seeking from Rich. Wednesday, the stations are still on the air, but Rich has no idea for how long.

  • 3/8/17 - FCC Chairman Pai was nominated to serve a further five years on the FCC by President Trump. Pai's comments.

  • 3/3/17 - A reminder that directional stations need to be alert to construction in their area: an 11-acre solar array is said to "severely distort" the pattern of WADB, Asbury Park, NJ. (Note Exhibit 34, at the end.) 

  • 3/1/17 - Nautel announced their yearly gathering at the NAB has been changed from the Flamingo to the Paris  Convention Center due to construction at the Flamingo hotel. The Nautel Users Group (NUG) will meet at 9AM on Sunday April 23 in the Vendome A ballroom. Some 400 are expected to attend. Paris is at 3655 S. Las Vegas Blvd, and is on the Monorail. 

February

  • 2/28/17 - The former Chief Engineer for Chicago NPR station WDCB, John Valenta, pleaded guilty to felony theft - taking $400k over the past 16 years. The plea agreement specifies at least six years in prison. The theft ran for many years until a new station manager came in and discovered the problem. (- thanks Tom Taylor)

  • 2/24/17 - A real sign of change: the FCC has permitted a company owned 100% by non-Americans to control broadcast stations. The Australian couple Richard and Sharon Burns' company, Frontier, has two stations in Alaska and two in Texas. Will newspaper/broadcast combos be next?

  • 2/17/17 - Console manufacturer Wheatstone has purchased the assets and intellectual of Pacific Research and Engineering from GatesAir. Wheatstone now is the home for Auditronics, Audion/VoxPro, PR&E, AudioArts and Wheatstone brands. The new PR&E line will be represented exclusively by SCMS in the USA.

  • 2/15/17 - The "Future of Radio Audio Symposium" left attendees thinking the future was bright. FCC Chairman Pai told the North American Broadcasters Association, meeting at the NAB headquarters, that "under my Chairmanship, radio will not be neglected.  Pai's comments are here.

  • 2/9/17 - FCC Commissioner O'Rielly has brought more suggested changes to the table, including bringing old proceedings to a close (some a decade old) and an amnesty window for fixing issues without incurring fines.

  • 2/8/17 - And the FCC is making more changes. Chairman Pai  has noted his approval of reversing former Chairman Wheeler's Net Neutrality stance. Stating that market must determine the direction, Pai sees no trouble with the "zero data" rates for some cell services, if using their services, and has closed investigations into the matter.
     
    Other changes include telling EB Staff not to make Consent Decrees without a full Commission vote.

  • 2/8/17 - Several Florida stations were knocked off air by severe weather. Repairs are in progress as the stations worked to get back on in some fashion. 

  • 2/7/17 - The FCC Chairman, Ajit Pai has acted on two changes to enhance transparency. He accepted a suggestion from Commissioner Clyburn to issue a one-page fact sheet to summarize proposed items on FCC meetings. Also, agreed was to no longer allow Staff to make "substantive edits" to any item after circulation but before consideration at a meeting.

  • 2/7/17 - The Spectrum Auction action continues with the FCC lifting some "silence" orders. Among the companies that have said something, Fox announced they expect to get $350 million and not change their operations, Sinclair is expecting $313 million, Tribune is expecting about $190 million, Gray is anticipating $90.8 million, and Central Michigan U will shut its station for $14 million.  The top count for one station: $244 million for WRNN, Rye Brook, NY, a family owned station. The 39 month transition is to start March 30th.

  • 2/3/17 - The "New" FCC has moved quickly to rescind the rules on political ad record keeping and due diligence that were passed in the last days of the Wheeler Commission. In a statement, it was noted the Media Bureau did not have the authority to issue such rules.  (Thanks Cary Tepper)

  • 2/3/17 - The NCC arm of the FCC has reached out to warn stations using Barix boxes to make sure they are protected. A spreadsheet appeared with over 240 IP addresses responding to "Barix," asking for those who know to let others know of the danger.

  • 2/2/17 - Entercom will sign off KDND 107.9 on Feb 8th and turn in the license. According to the Sacramento Bee, Entercom hopes this will end any FCC action related to the ill-fated "Hold your Wee for a Wii" contest, especially in connection with the merger with CBS.

  • 2/2/17 - Entercom has entered into a merger arrangement with CBS Radio, which, if approved by shareholders and regulatory agencies, is expected to close later this year. The combined company will be known as Entercom, headed by current Entercom President David Field. The result of the merger will be the second largest radio organization, with 244 stations in 23 of the top 25 markets. The combined value was said to be $1.7 Billion. Of course, some divestiture will likely be expected. 

  • 2/1/17 - The Voice of America (VOA) is 75 today. Originated during WWII, the first broadcast was to Nazi Germany. Now, the VOA services reach some 236 million around the world via over the air and Internet feeds.

January

  • 1/31/17 - The Ajit Pai-led FCC voted unanimously to delete the requirement that broadcast stations keep copies of all correspondence from the public in the Public Information File. Pai had previous said he was readying the "weed whacker" to eliminate outdated "rules that should go."

  • 1/24/17 - And now the FCC is moving - to a new building at 45 L Street. The current site (since 1999),The Portals, was considered to be a bit more isolated than desired. Among the new neighbors for the FCC in the area called NoMa (North of Massachusetts Avenue) is NPR. Move-in is expected to be complete by November 2019.

  • 1/23/17 - President Trump has nominated Ajit Pai to be the new FCC Chairman.  Both Commissioners Clyburn and O'Rielly supported the nomination.

  • 1/21/17 - Several stations around the country apparently had been hacked yesterday. For example, the Louisville Courier-Journal said WCHQ-LP had its program hijacked for a profane loop that attacked Donald Trump, for about 15 minutes. In WCHQ's situation, it was their Barix STL that was hacked.  Other stations said to have been compromised, according to radioinsight.com: including WIAH-LP Evansville IN, WMGC Murfreesboro TN, and KCGF-LP San Angelo TX. The station manager at WCHQ commented that all of them were using Barix boxes which had not been protected.

  • 1/12/17 - Court tells American Tower they cannot evict stations in WY and ID owing $500k. 

  • 1/18/17 - It took four rounds, but the Spectrum Auction seems to be headed to a conclusion. Broadcasters offered to vacate 84 MHz for about $10 Billion - bidding by cellular oprators finally closed in the $18 Billion range. (For earlier bids, see 12/6/16, below.) Some more procedural items remain, and then we will know more on how it will all conclude.

  • 1/11/17 - The FCC Open Meeting on January 31st has one item on it as of now: dealing with Public File issues - specifically the requirement for saving correspondence from the public. What happens will depend on who is still on the FCC after the Inauguration of the new President. Coming soon: Will there be an interim or permanent Chairman named?

  • 1/11/17 - The Association of Public Radio Engineers is seeking nominations for the next annual APRE "Engineering Achievement Award" in April. Nominations can be submitted on a form at www.apre.us by March 15, 2017.

  • 1/11/17 - Bill Sacks has passed away after a lengthy fight against several cancers. A well-known broadcast engineer and manufacturer of audio gear (Straight Wire Audio), Sacks made some of the best quality pre-amps and other audio products. 

  • 1/9/17 - Norway announced that they were going to shut down all analog FM radio by the end of the year. Bureaucrats say there are now enough DAB receivers to justify ending the FM service.

  • 1/5/17 - Outgoing President Obama submitted Jessica Rosenworcel's name for nomination to the FCC. She had been serving since 2012, but was never confirmed. The temporary appointment ended when Rosenworcel moved out last week. Now, she c ould be back...

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