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August 14, 2007

 

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July 2007 Newsletter

SBE Chapter 48 / SMPTE Rocky Mountain Section
June 2007 Meeting Report

Applications of File-based Video and Content Management Systems at the CMC

Date: Thursday June 7, 2007
Location: Comcast Media Center (CMC), 4100 E. Dry Creek Road, Centennial, CO 80122
Time: 6PM Refreshments, 6:45PM Presentation

DanHolden, Comcast Fellow, is leading many initiatives for the CMC, including Interactive Television (eTV and OCAP), Video Over IP, Internet based Television, Interactive Games, and content distribution. Dan gave an overview of those initiatives with introductions to the supporting software and content flow through the CMC facility. His fascinating talk was followed up by a demonstration of some of the new interactive features being deployed by Comcast in test markets.


Dan Holden presents the latest cable technologies to a well attended meeting

We would like to thank Dan and Comcast for hosting this meeting and providing the program. Your Denver chapters of SBE and SMPTE provided refreshments prior to the meeting.

Report by Tom Goldberg

 

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Random Radio Thoughts


Cris Alexander, CPBE, AMD
Crawford Broadcasting Company

Now we know… well, sort of.
Last month, I was bemoaning the fact that it had been over sixty days since the FCC commissioners voted to approve new rules for terrestrial digital radio and at that time we still had no report and order. Right after writing that, the R&O was released. There were few surprises in the release; it contained everything we were expecting and maybe a thing or two we weren’t.

Two things in the R&O that will require some doing on the part of digital broadcasters have to do with station ID and public file. Each stream must be separately identified at the top of the hour, and some indication must be provided that tells the listener that he is listening to a digital stream. The FCC indicated that the normal text display on HD Radio receivers would take care of the latter requirement. As for the public file, the FCC says that the same “public interest” requirements that apply to the analog station also apply to the digital (multicast) signals. Our communications counsel advises that this means we must provide public interest programming and a separate issues/programs list for the public file. We have all already been in compliance with multicast EAS requirements; interim rules on that went into effect last December. None of this really impacts FM stations without multicasts or AM stations.

AM nighttime digital was the one thing many of us were waiting on, and that was in the R&O. Now we get to wait again, this time for publication of the R&O summary in the Federal Register. The rules will become effective, I’m told, 30 days after such publication. No word yet on when that will take place.

Six weeks later…
Last month, I mentioned the Santa Catalina Island fire and its effect on our Los Angeles station, KBRT. Now more than six weeks after the fire, KBRT is still operating on generator power and using our Ku-band satellite link for an STL. Edison has restored power to the site, but they could not “legally” give us the same three-wire delta configuration that the site has used since 1952. That has required us to reconfigure the site wiring and service entrance, not an easy task on a desert island. So while the local electrician works on our problem along with all the other jobs he has going, our chief engineer continues to schlep diesel up the hill in five-gallon cans, 20 gallons (and $100) a day (diesel is $5.00/gallon on the island – think about that the next time you feel like griping about $3.20/gallon gas along the Front Range!).

LED Marker Lights
Have any of you tried LED obstruction lights on your towers yet? Crawford has installed them on several of its Front Range area towers of late and so far, so good. We are using Dialight L810 fixtures, which are 120-volt direct replacements for a standard marker fixture. They screw right onto a 1-inch conduit (they are supplied with a 1-inch to _-inch reducer, so they’ll also screw onto a _-inch conduit). Just connect the hot, neutral and ground wires to the existing wiring and you’re good to go. The GRB crew has made short work of the replacements to date, reporting no issues.

We’ve been paying about $275 each for these. Every time we lose a marker lamp on a tower, we replace all the marker light fixtures on the tower with LED fixtures. Since most of the cost of replacing a tower lamp is in the labor, it makes sense to use the labor cost that would go to the relamp and use it for a one-time (within the five-plus year lifespan of the LED fixture) replacement. Next year, we plan to replace all our beacons with LED fixtures. Those are a bit pricier, but should pay for themselves quickly in reduced utility and relamping labor/bulb costs. Dialight has a beacon retrofit kit wherein the top half of the existing code beacon is replaced with an LED beacon fixture. The bottom half of the beacon is used as a junction box for the wiring.

The one thing we’ve got to figure out how to deal with is monitoring. With the LED fixtures consuming less than 10% of the power of conventional incandescent lamps, current sampling isn’t so easy. Hopefully, SSAC will soon come out with an LED tower light monitoring module.

Radio Technical Programs
I have heard from quite a number of Front Range radio engineers in recent months with the message that they want radio-specific technical programs at Chapter 48 meetings. In response, I have asked a number of industry people if they would be interested in coming to make technical presentations. Not surprisingly, the response has been enthusiastic. I have several commitments, all of which will undoubtedly involve very interesting presentations, and I expect many more. We should be able to fill the calendar.
As fall approaches, I will let you know the dates, locations and times for these presentations. If you have any specific requests, drop me a note and I’ll see if I can line something up. The best technical programs are those that address real-world problems or deal with the real-world issues that we face every day.

We very much look forward to seeing all of you at the annual Lookout Mountain picnic on the 13th!

If you have news to share with the Rocky Mountain radio engineering community, drop me an email at crisa@crawfordbroadcasting.com.

 

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The KE0VH Hamshack.doc


Jack Roland
jroland@entercom.com
Entercom Denver

We have changed the IRLP Reflector Worldwide node now and the SBE IRLP Hamnet is meeting on the Great Lakes Reflector 9615. This node reflector is now the SBE National connection dedicated to (as much as any frequency can be, of course anyone is welcome to use the reflector) SBE Amateur and Engineering Communications. This reflector will also be dedicated to Broadcast Engineering emergency communications for any who need it anytime in time of disaster or need of any help. Thanks to Tom K8TB, in Grand Rapids Michigan for setting this up and helping us out.

The SBE IRLP Hamnet meets on the 1st and 3rd Saturdays of the month at 11am Mountain time, 1pm Eastern, 12noon Central, and of course 10am Pacific. Locally in Denver on the WA2YZT repeater, on 146.805 (2 meters) and 447.175 (70 centimeters) with a pl of 186.2. AND, now on the IRLP reflector 9615.

To find a node in your area you can go to the www.irlp.net website, click on the "Node Info" on the left, then click on the "List of nodes and frequencies" in the middle of the page. In a moment a full list of node numbers, cities, countries and the like will appear and do a page search for you city. When the node is highlighted click on the node number and that repeater information will appear, usually with contact information of the trustee/repeater owner. When you have done this and are able to access your node (usually at 4 digit code on the local repeater unless it is a closed club system), you will want to connect to the Great Lakes Reflector 9615. See also www.wa2yzt.com

If you need further help contact Jack at either KE0VH@qsl.net, or jroland@entercom.com.

...until next month, 73’ de KEØVH

 

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AMATEUR RADIO NEWS

Compiled By Tom Weeden, WJ9H
From Chapter 24 - Madison

Field Day 2007
Amateur Radio’s biggest operating event of the year, Field Day, was held June 23-24 this year. While Field Day’s focus is on setting up temporary portable stations operating on emergency power, stay-at-homes and mobiles also participate. Since 2003, there has been a special category for stations operating from established Emergency Operations Centers.
Cell phones are ubiquitous these days, and it’s natural to rely on them —but what happens when they don’t work? As the world becomes ever more dependent on complex telecommunications systems to cope with daily life, the goal of Field Day is to show that hams can communicate with one another, no matter what, without the need for any infrastructure. This is a capability that tends to be taken for granted, but that is increasingly rare — and increasingly valuable.

ARRL demands Ambient’s BPL be shut down
The American Radio Relay Leage has again demanded that the FCC shut down Ambient Corporation’s broadband over power line (BPL) pilot project in Briarcliff Manor, New York. On May 21, the FCC called on the BPL equipment maker and system operator to demonstrate it’s complying with all terms of the Part 5 Experimental license authorizing the system, or face possible enforcement action. In a May 31 letter to FCC Spectrum Enforcement Division Chief Kathryn S. Berthot, ARRL General Counsel Chris Imlay, W3KD, contended that it’s "long past time that the Commission enforce its own rules," and again objected to the Commission’s "inexplicable inaction" in the face of evidence the system is noncompliant. Imlay pointed out that the FCC’s May 21 letter made no mention of Condition #1 of Ambient’s Part 5 Experimental license.

"That condition requires that if any interference occurs, the holder of the authorization will be subject to immediate shutdown," Imlay wrote." Interference has repeatedly occurred, and it has been witnessed and verified by a member of the Commission’s Enforcement Bureau staff. Yet no action has been taken whatsoever to terminate this experimental authorization over a period of more than two and one-half years. This is inexcusable."
Ambient operates the Briarcliff Manor BPL pilot program under Experimental license WD2XEQ. ARRL testing as recent as late May indicated the system is operating outside of the parameters of its FCC authorization.

The ARRL’s complaints regarding interference to Amateur Radio communication from the Briarcliff Manor system date back to October 2003 and included supportive technical reports and test results.

New measurements done May 24 by ARRL Laboratory Manager Ed Hare, W1RFI, conclusively establish that the Ambient BPL system, in Hare’s words, "continues to operate well above the Part 15 emission limits that are stipulated as a condition of its Experimental license." Hare said his latest excursion marked the third time his emissions testing in Briarcliff Manor showed the system to be operating significantly above Part 15 emissions limits.

"The spectral masks in this system intended to protect some radio services from interference work poorly enough in this generation-1 equipment, but when the system is operated at excessive levels, strong interference is an inevitable outcome," he commented. "By operating this system above the Part 15 emissions limits, Ambient is making it impossible for any electric utility to use results from this experiment to reach any conclusions about the technical and commercial viability of BPL."

ARRL seeking relief

The ARRL is going to court to attempt to get relief from recent FCC inaction. The League has filed a federal appeals court brief outlining its case and requesting oral arguments in its petition for review of the FCC’s broadband over power line (BPL) rules. The League has petitioned the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit to review the FCC’s October 2004 Report and Order in ET Docket 04-37 and its 2006 Memorandum Opinion and Order. In its brief filed May 17, the ARRL contends, among other things, that the FCC’s actions in adopting rules to govern unlicensed BPL systems fundamentally alter the longstanding rights of radio spectrum licensees, including Amateur Radio operators.

"For the first time ever, the FCC has permitted new unlicensed devices to operate in spectrum bands already occupied by licensees, even if the unlicensed operations cause harmful interference to the licensees," the League said in stating its case. "The orders under review reverse nearly seven decades of consistent statutory interpretation and upset the settled expectations of licensees without so much as acknowledging the reversal, let alone justifying it."

The ARRL argues that the FCC’s approach to adopting rules to govern BPL flies in the face of Section 301 of the Communications Act, which requires that operators of devices that emit radio frequency energy first obtain an FCC license. "For years, the FCC has consistently read Section 301 to apply to unintentional radiators, such as BPL devices, and has expressly embodied that interpretation in its rules," the League’s brief recounts.
The Commission then compounded its error by asserting that BPL devices do not fall within Section 301 at all, the League said. "This hail-Mary attempt at justification is another unexplained departure from prior policy that independently requires invalidation of the orders," the ARRL remarked in its brief.

The ARRL contends that the FCC orders under review "jeopardize the license rights of ARRL’s members and other license holders by authorizing providers of a new device -- Access Broadband over Power Lines, or ‘BPL’ -- to send radio signals across the electric grid in the frequencies the license holders occupy, but without having to obtain an FCC license."

The ARRL brief asserts that, for the first time ever, the FCC "has authorized the operation of unlicensed devices that it concedes interfere with licensed devices" and has declared that such devices "may continue operating even where proven to cause interference." The FCC’s response to the League’s brief is due July 2.

(Excerpts from the American Radio Relay League’s Web site, arrl.org)

 

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The YXZ Report

by Kent Randles K7YXZ CBRE
Senior Engineer, Entercom-Portland
Co-Chair, Portland/Vancouver ECC
Chapter 124 Secretary

SBE MEMBERSHIP DRIVE WITH LOCAL PRIZE DRAWING
To help with the annual SBE Membership Drive, Chapter 124 is going to have two drawings. One will be for members who bring new members into the chapter, and another for the new members. We'll do this at the July 10th meeting. The prizes will be two HD Radios.

LIFE WITH HD RADIO
There are currently 12 FM HD signals (nine with HD2, and one with HD3) and two AM HD signals on the air in the Portland market. For a complete list, see http://www.ibiquity.com/stationlist_hdradio.php?theState=OR&sortBy=StnMark et&theCity=PortlandOR#stationlist .

HD Radio multicasting is now in the top 100 radio markets.

91.5 KOPB-FM realigned the bandwidths of their HD Radio subchannels. HD1 was 49.00 KHz and is now 48.01 KHz, HD2 was 32.00 KHz and is now 32.03 KHz, and HD3 was 15.00 KHz and is now 16.01 KHz. They discovered that HD Radio treats any subchannel under 32 kHz as mono, so their HD2 (which is a music format) can now be heard in stereo. Thanks to OPB Engineer David Switzer for the information.

The FCC has issued the text of their rules on digital audio broadcasting. See http://hraunfoss.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/FCC- 07-33A1.doc . The effective date of the new rules is still 30 days after its publication in the Federal Register.
When the rules take effect, the biggest item will be AM HD at night. 1190 KEX Engineer Shawn Cupples says they are ready to do HD in the 3- tower directional night mode. 1330 KKPZ is a DA-1, so they'll just leave their HD on.

The next biggest item will be FM HD in the extended hybrid mode which gives more digital bandwidth. I am eager to experiment with this.

PEOPLE NEWS
Jeff McGinley has joined Entercom-Portland as an Engineer.

 

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Clay’s Corner for July 2007

Featuring News, Rumors and Views
From Usually Reliable and Irrefutable Sources

By Clay Freinwald
SBE Seattle Chapter 16

I’m writing this a bit early this time due to the need to get my column written prior to leaving on my vacation trip to Colorado (to visit Mom) as well as Boise to see our oldest Son get married. Bound to miss something important in the news…

What I do know –
The battle of US Oil vs. KKOL is getting a lot of attention, as it should. The story even made the front page of Radio World. This is involving several members of our local Chapter. For me, I think it’s best to stay neutral and just report on the story as it unfolds.

If you were at the last Chapter meeting you heard me present an overview of changes to EAS, if you were not there, read on -

The big news this time around is the FCC’s second FNPRM related Docket 04-296 and the EAS released on May 31st. This time they announced a number of changes….

They finally adopted CAP (Common Alerting Protocol) as the foundation for the EAS as we move forward. This obviously made SBE happy as we promoted this heavily in our filings. If you are not familiar with CAP…I suggest that you ‘Google’ the topic and become familiar with the matter. It’s clear that there are a lot of problems with the existing EAS, mainly the fact that it’s basically an audio system designed for Radio. Moving EAS to an all text system will mean a couple of major improvements–

  1. TV and Cable systems will be able to, at last, receive detailed messages in text form…in fact, the text will be the same as the voice message.
  2. The audio message will be distributed in text form rather than in analog with the ‘reading’ taking place at the stations decoder, thereby eliminating the problem with poor audio that has impacted us all.

Reacting to the calls for the ability of EAS messages to be understood by non-English speakers, they called for a meeting of the stakeholders to deal with the issues and put the matter on the fast track.

The Headliner in this action is the addition of the requirement of EAS participants (this means Broadcasters) to transmit state and locally targeted alerts originated by governors or their designees. So what does this mean? It means that in addition to the requirement to air President Messages (EAN’s) and the testing for them (RMT’s) we will be adding messages from the State. In our case this will likely mean that Washington State EMD generate messages will become an ‘must-carry’. Additionally, for example, should King County or the City of Seattle wish to warn the public about an event, they could contact State EMD and that message would be forwarded to all Broadcasters who would be required to carry it.

In this FNPRM, wire-line video providers were also given EAS participation orders.
Finally, the FCC is very likely to be looking for a means of verification that the EAS is indeed working well. This could mean more tests, reporting requirements etc.

This May 31 announcement told us what they want to do….however it did not tell us how they propose to accomplish it. Of particular interest is the new must-carry state message requirement. Those of us that deal with the technical aspects of EAS have been tossing around a number of changes that might be required to make this work. One is to create a new ‘originator code’ to the existing system. This would enable the EAS units to be programmed to respond automatically to the incoming state level message. Due to the fact that the FCC was silent on how their goals will be handled, we are all left to wait for the details to come for our answers. The major question is how will this effect existing EAS units in place. My best guess is that it’s very likely we will have to modify the in-place ‘boxes’. It’s likely that not all, in place, EAS units will be able to be modified. In a couple of cases, there is no longer any support for these. Then again there may be new units coming to market.

Back to the subject of CAP. Washington State is not waiting for the FCC to act to start using CAP and has already begun to use the system here in our state. Initially this change over will start slow due to funding limits. I would think that TV stations and some news oriented Radio operations may wish to get in on the ground floor and purchase equipment now.

To find out more of how these changes will impact us in this area, consider attending, in person or via conference bridge, the next SECC (State EAS Committee) meeting on July 11th at 930 AM. The Washington State EAS Remailer (eas-wa@broadcast.net) will have the details of the meeting.

As reported at the last meeting, KMCQ/104.5 has been testing from their site on Radio Hill near the old Weyerhaeuser mill site in Enumclaw. The Engineer from the parent company was at our last chapter meeting. Not sure what the next steps are for this facility. Apparently they are going to study the data to help them select the best antenna system. There are rumors that the owners of this station hope to move it to Cougar Mt and increase power. To do this the Bellingham operation on Mt Constitution on 104.3 would have to move. Already this move-in has seen a number of changes as the various owners play FM Radio domino’s.

Looks like there is an unlicensed operation going on in Olympia. Recently while driving through the city I noted a very strong operation on 87.7…In stereo too. Understand that the Kirkland branch of the Commish has been on their trail.

The FCC was handed a bit of a set back recently as they attempt to deal with Indecency. I’m still confused by all of this. I fail to understand how a wardrobe malfunction or graphic language are sinfully bad and yet guns, violence and murder are just fine. I can understand that potty mouthed rappers are not exactly what you want your kids to have to deal with….However it seems to me that if you are going to try and outlaw or prohibit
Immoral behavior that you should not be selective in the process. Bad is bad, sin is sin. Then again there is the off button !

Sorry to report that Mr Wizard passed away. Don Herbert was 89. Its tragic that we have so few folks that promote science and technology in the media.

Another passing is that of Ed “Hack” Hewson. He was a long time leader at KING and was noted for launching NMT or Northwest Mobile Television. He was 78 and lived in West Seattle.

A recent survey found that 65% trust advertising information on TV but only 28% on Radio. Newspaper and Print came in about 50%.

The number of manufacturers hitching their wagon to HD Radio recently took a giant step with the announcement that Sony is going to offer HD products.

On the HD TV front…Looks like we are starting to see some unified effort toward getting the word out that analog TV’s end is coming.

SBE has started conducted Web based classed dealing with RF exposure, NIER etc. We are looking at a class in our area sometime in October. If you are interested, let one of the Chapter officers know.

July in Picnic Month for Chapter 16. Hope to see you at the event on the 28th. Look for details elsewhere in this months Waveguide.

Gotta put the wraps on this for this month….Here’s wishing you and yours a great summer.

Clay, CPBE, K7CR etc

 

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DTV TUNERS & INTERFERENCE

By Tom Smith
Madison Chapter 24

On March 30, the FCC released a notice that requested comments on tests the FCC took to determine the interference immunity of DTV tuners. The FCC tested 30 fifth-generation DTV tuners taking 2,055 measurements. They selected eight of the DTV tuners for more extensive test

The report concluded that all of the tuners were single conversion tuners where the channel selected is converted to a lower IF frequency. The tuners that the DTV allocation table and most of the early DTV tests used was a double conversion tuner in which the incoming TV channel is converted to a frequency above the highest TV channel, about 900 MHz and then converted to the standard 44 MHz IF frequency.

The Commission’s tests found that the DTV tuners exhibited many of the same interference issues as analog TV tuners did. They were subject to interference from second adjacent channels above and below the channel selected as well as from a number of the former analog taboo channels. These channels were the first, second, third, fourth and sixth channels below the selected channel. These issues were found to occur when tuned to a station with low signal levels. The sets also exhibited interference from channels located at seven channels above the selected channel. This is the IF oscillator frequency. The DTV tuners did perform better from the IF image channels located at 14 and 15 channels above the selected channel. The IF interference was exhibited at moderate signal levels.

The Commission did state that the digital tuners tolerated interference slightly better than analog tuners. But because of the use of single-conversion tuners instead of the ATSC-specified double-conversion tuners, none of the tuners meet the ASTC specs for interference rejection that the DTV table of allotments was based on. This report was entered as part of the comments of the unlicensed use of TV "white spaces." The results of this report will no doubt impact the debate on allowing unlicensed devices on the TV bands for some time.

From FCC Report and Releases (www.fcc.gov)

 

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FCC LOOKS HARD AT EAS

It was a banner day for the FCC, which also moved forward on EAS. The commission adopted an order that requires EAS participants to accept messages using Common Alerting Protocol after FEMA adopts standards.

NAB applauded the efforts "including much-needed outreach with state and local officials to ensure a robust EAS system."

As we’ve reported, CAP involves the transmission of EAS alerts as text, audio and video via broadcast, cable, satellite, and other networks. The FCC says using this will make it easier for the disabled and non- English speakers to receive alerts. The commission seeks comment on how best to deliver EAS alerts as well as broader emergency and public safety information to these groups, and commits to adoption of a final order within six months.

The agency also seeks input on how EAS is (or is not) working and whether additional testing, station certification and assessments of how well the system works after an EAS warning has been triggered.

The agency left open the issues raised in a petition filed by several groups representing non-English speaking persons and directed its Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau to meet as soon as possible on providing emergency information to non-English speakers.

 

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FCC RULEMAKINGS

Compiled By Tom Smith
Chapter 24/Madison

FINAL RULEMAKINGS

ET Docket 03-65
Interference Immunity Performance Specifications for Radio Receivers
.

On May 2, 2007, the FCC terminated two Notices of Inquiry and Proposed Rulemaking on interference standards for radio receivers. The first dealt with the amount of background noise or interference that a receiver would be able to tolerate. The FCC proposed to set limits to how much noise or interference an unlicensed device could add before it would affect the ability of the receiver to recover the desired signal. Comments were generally opposed and no one provided any information on technical rules that would allow for the implementation of any technical rules.

The second inquiry and rulemaking pertained to receiver standards. The FCC had wanted to create rules for making receiver standards on a broad basis, but decide that it would make any receiver standards on the basis of a frequency band or service specific proceeding.
These proceedings were undertaken in order to allow for more unlicensed devices to share various bands with licensed services.

PROPOSED RULEMAKINGS

MM Docket 93-17
An Inquiry into the Commission’s Policies and Rules Regarding AM Radio Service Directional Antenna Performance Verification.

On May 4, a group of radio broadcasters, equipment manufacturers and consulting engineers acting collectively as the AM Directional Antenna Performance Verification Coalition ("Coalition"), submitted recommendations to the Commission on computer modeling to assess operation of AM antenna systems as authorized. The computer modeling would also be used to assess the effects of construction of other towers near an AM direction array. A copy of the report can be found on the FCC Web site at http://gullfoss2.fcc.gov/prod/ecfs/comsrch_v2.cgi. Comments are due by July 23 and replies due on August 22.

WT Docket No. 96086
Development of Operational Requirements for Meeting Federal, State and Local Public Safety Communications Requirements Through the Year 2010

The report and order and notice of rulemaking, despite the length of its title, mainly concerns what the Commission plans to do with TV channels 52-69. This band includes four channels that are reserved for public safety use. The rest of the channels will be auctioned off. In the part of the band current occupied by channels 52-59, the band is divided up in blocks that match the current TV channels. In the channel 60-69 band, there are two 12 MHZ blocks; channels 63 and 64 and 68 and 69 are for public safety; and the rest of the band is divided into two 1 MHz pairs, two 2 MHz pairs, two 5 MHz pairs and two 10 MHz pairs. The FCC has auctioned of one 6 MHz pair and a single 6 MHz channel in the channel 52-59 band, and the 1MHz and 2 MHz pairs in the channel 60-69 band. The single 6 MHz channel auctioned in the channel 52-59 band is being used by Qualcomm for its national MediaFLO service on Channels 55. The FCC has also auctioned off several licensed in one of the one MHZ pairs on the channel 60-69 band.

From FCC Releases and Notices, (www.fcc.gov)

 

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NM Radio Collectors Club

Help wanted collecting old equipment

I’m the president of the NM Radio Collectors Club and we are looking for new blood, I mean people interested in collecting old radios, jukeboxes and early television sets and other broadcast equipment.

We meet once a month in Albuquerque, the second Sunday of each month. if you think you might have any SBE members interested in collecting old equipment let me know. If you would like to have me address your SBE group just let me know. I’ve been in television and radio broadcasting for over 35 years and recently retired to Las Cruces.

Regards, Richard Majestic eMail: rmajestic@msn.com

 

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PDX RADIO WAVES

by Michael D. Brown N7AXC CSRE
Brown Broadcast Services, Inc., Portland
mike at brownbroadcast.com

Clear Channel is continuing its divestment of smaller market groups, and in Oregon, Bicoastal is the big buyer. The Tiburon, California-based company has agreed to pay about $37 million for CC’s 14 stations in Eugene, Medford, and Albany/Corvallis. Bicoastal currently owns a group in Coos Bay/North Bend, and has agreed to purchase 5 stations in the Gorge from Congressman Greg Walden.

More than ever, this year’s NAB convention was internationally- oriented, with an unprecedented 25% of the 108,000 attendees hailing from 141 foreign countries. We also noticed a growing presence from a number of offshore companies on the exhibit floors - many for the first time - particularly from China and Latin America. There was also a lot of buzz about possible "conditional access" (pay-for-play) uses for the HD subchannels, using addressable-receiver technologies currently as currently used in Satellite TV and radio.

Meanwhile, the long-awaited $100 price point for HD radios has been busted, with the Radiosophy HD boombox going for $99 retail, and an additional $40 rebate currently offered until July 3. Yet, with recent studies showing a very low level of consumer awareness and excitement for the technology, there’s still a long road ahead.

With the sunset date of February 2009 for NTSC TV now firmly established, many of us assumed that low-band VHF TV would be fully vacated, right? It’s a lousy frequency range for optimum DTV operation, right? And maybe, just maybe, we might still have a chance to reclaim all or part of TV Channel 6 (82-88 MHz) for an expanded FM band. Well, not so fast. The latest Tentative Channel Selection list still shows that there may be 8 DTV channel 6's (down from 50 NTSC ch. 6 stations currently), and 22 DTVs on channels 2-5. By comparison, I count 302 NTSC stations currently using channels 2-6. Most of these proposed low-band DTV stations have current NTSC stations on the same channels. This is an incredibly inefficient use of spectrum, IMHO. No wonder the purveyors of unlicensed devices have their eyes on using so-called TV "white spaces". With all the clamoring for new spectrum from "first responders" and the like, this spectral inefficiency seems utterly inexcusable. End of rant.

I could not have made this up if I tried. What follows are the first two lines of two entries in a recent FCC Daily Digest. Note the first words of each line.

BUZZ TELECOM CORPORATION. Denied the complaints regarding unauthorized change of subscriber's telecommunications carrier.

LIGHTYEAR NETWORK SOLUTIONS. Denied the complaint regarding unauthorized change of subscriber's telecommunications carrier.

Have a great summer!

 

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SBE to Offer New Specialist Certification

Following recent changes in the FCC rules recognizing the viability of digital radio and the official endorsement of multicasting, the National Certification Committee of the Society of Broadcast Engineers (SBE) is proud to announce its next specialist certification, Digital Radio Broadcast (DRB). This specialist certification will qualify an individual's knowledge of digital radio broadcasting including audio processing, studio-to-transmitter links and transmission of multi-channel digital program streams. The official roll-out of this specialist certification will be during the SBE National Meeting, held in conjunction with SBE Chapter 20’s, Pittsburgh Regional Convention, October 10-11, 2007, in Monroeville, PA.

SBE President, Chriss Scherer, CPBE CBNT remarked that, “while broadcast and media engineering continues to evolve to cover a broad range of technologies, certain aspects of broadcast engineering have a specific and specialized knowledge base. This is why the Specialist Certifications were developed.”

The specialist will include knowledge of importers, exporters, the various methods of combining analog and digital transmitters to antenna systems, delivery of digital audio signals and data to transmitter sites, transmitter emission mask measurements, AM and FM FCC rules, monitoring of digital signals and bandwidth requirements for AM antenna systems.

Digital audio broadcasting (DAB) enhances a broadcast licensee’s ability to not only better serve the public, but to provide means of additional revenue in this highly competitive industry. Station owners will rely on the knowledge and expertise of station technicians and engineers to implement this service for their companies. With this specialist certification, the engineer or technician carries the credentials needed for successful installation of digital radio transmission systems. The specialist certification will focus on the current in-band, on-channel transmission system being deployed in the U.S., and will be called the SBE Digital Radio Broadcasting Specialist.

By becoming a certified specialist, a radio broadcast engineer can assure his or her manager that he or she is up to date on the latest technology. Digital audio broadcasting is different than traditional analog services. An individual's ability to certify his or her knowledge of the entire system rather than just a single part will bring confidence to both the individual and station management.

To apply for the SBE Digital Radio Broadcast specialist certification, applicants must currently hold SBE certification at the Broadcast Engineer, Senior Broadcast Engineer, or Professional Broadcast Engineer certification level. The exam will consist of 50 multiple-choice questions and one essay question. Following the roll-out of the specialist certification, the SBE will release an update to its CertPreview software of practice tests. To obtain an application for the Digital Radio Broadcast specialist certification, go to www.sbe.org/Specialist_Cert.php on the SBE website or contact the SBE National Office.

 

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SBE Certification News

College Credit for Your SBE Certification:

College Credit for Your SBE Certification The Society of Broadcast Engineers and Excelsior College have teamed up! Your current SBE Certification may qualify for credit towards a degree from Excelsior College or could help you finish that degree you’ve been working on at another institution. If you’re interested, contact Excelsior College by calling toll-free at (888) 647-2388 to learn about the details.

When you are ready to submit your SBE Certification for credit to Excelsior College, download the SBE transcript request form at www.sbe.org or www.excelsior.edu, or contact the SBE National Office for a copy. When you’ve completed the form, e-mail, fax or mail it to Megan Clappe, Certification Director at the SBE National Office, who will prepare your transcript and send it to Excelsior College. Megan Clappe Certification Director Society of Broadcast Engineers 9102 N. Meridian Street, Suite 150 Indianapolis, IN 46260 mclappe@sbe.org

SBE CertPreview Software

SBE CertPreview sample certification test software is now available. It’s Microsoft Windows-based and replaces the previous DOS-based software. New sample tests are available for Broadcast Technologist, Audio Engineer, Video Engineer, Broadcast Networking Technologist, Broadcast Engineer and Senior Broadcast Engineer in both radio and television. Sample tests include 50 to 100 questions and indicate when an incorrect answer has been given. It provides a list of resources from which to learn more about a subject. Cost for each SBE CERTpreview practice test is $27 plus $3 shipping. Contact the National Office to order a copy.

Certification Exam Session Dates:

The SBE National Certification Committee certification exam session dates for 2007 are listed below. Check the list below for the exam period that is best for you. For more information about SBE Certification, see your Chapter Certification Chair or contact Megan Clappe, Certification Director at the SBE National Office at (317) 846-9000, or mclappe@sbe.org

Exam Dates Location Application Deadline
Aug 10-20, 2007
(reminder only)
Local Chapters

June 8, 2007
(deadline past)

Nov 9-19, 2007 Local Chapters September 21, 2007

Fees are as Follows:

Certification Level Member Non-Member
Broadcast Technologist $40 $103
Broadcast Networking Technologist $55 $118
Broadcast Engineer $55 $118
Audio/Video Engineer $55 $118
Senior Broadcast Engineer $80 $143
Professional Broadcast Engineer $105 $168
Specialist Certification    
AM Directional Specialist $50 $113
8VSB Specialist $50 $113

Please note: SBE Certification exams are administered only by SBE and are proctored in-person by qualified and approved representatives of SBE. No other organization is authorized to administer SBE exams.
Click here for more information about SBE Certification.

 

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Etc.

Newsletter Committee

Bill Harris - Editor In Chief
  (505) 767-6735
  billharris@ix.netcom.com

  Garneth M. Harris

  Tom Goldberg - On Line Editor

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