CONTENTS

Rocky Mountain Section Meeting Report

Random Radio Thoughts

SBE Certification NEWS

Clay's Corner

Wisconson Emergency ID

The YXZ Report

FCC Priorities

FCC Rulemaking

New DTV Bill

Amature Radio News

Unlicensed Devices

Humor

Etc.

News Archives

 

March, 2007

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

Lifetime Achievement Award Banquet
Honorees for 2007: Mr. John Switzer and Mr. Jeff Grazi

Date: Tuesday, February 20, 2007 
Location: Green Gables Country Club, 6800 W Jewell Ave, Denver, CO 80232

Each year the Rocky Mountain Section provides recognition to those who have served the chapter and the local broadcast community through our Lifetime Achievement Award. This year two of our members were recognized. John Switzer of Sony Corporation - Membership Chair and Jeff Grazi of Grazi Communications – Board Manager where presented with the awards at a banquet held in their honor at the Green Gables Country Club in Denver on February 20, 2007.



John Switzer and Jeff Grazi display their awards

John and Jeff each have served our industry for over 30 years and during that time have held managerial posts in the section. Their dedication and service to the broadcast industry in the Rocky Mountain Region is widely known among engineering and production communities. Over 50 people attended including many of the folks who were instrumental in building the broadcast infrastructure in the Rocky Mountain Region.

    

Rome Chelsi Makes the Awards Presentations

Larry Thorpe of Canon USA and SMPTE Fellow provided a brief history of television. Many know Larry from his service in the advanced technology groups of RCA and Sony. We wish to thank Canon USA for their support as well as the following underwriters for the event: Kay Baker, Avid Technology, Beck Associates, Burst Group – Denver, Ceavco Audio Visual, Harris Broadcast, Miranda Technologies, Omneon Video Networks, Sony Corporation, and Quantel Corporation.

Rome Chelsi
Rocky Mountain Section Chair

 

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Random Radio Thoughts


Cris Alexander, CPBE, AMD
Crawford Broadcasting Company

A Different Perspective
I was honored to be invited to participate in a couple of technical panels at the National Religious Broadcasters (NRB) convention in Orlando last month. The topic was HD Radio. But this wasn’t the usual NAB-style tech conference. The audience was primarily managers, so that made my job in presenting the topic a little more difficult than were I talking to a bunch of engineers.

Many of the questions that I and my fellow panelists fielded from the audience were more financially oriented, questions like, “When is the right time for me to convert my small market FM station to HD Radio and why?” A more technical question would have likely resulted in a snap answer, but I and my fellow panelists had to stop and think about some of the questions that were being asked.

One of the panelists in the early session was another Denver local, Jack Pelon. Jack did an outstanding job in his AM HD-R presentation. He showed a pre-produced voice over slide show with some of the history of KPOF and AM radio in general, concluding with the KPOF HD-R conversion process and studio upgrade. As a manager himself, I think Jack was able to really connect with the other managers in attendance. Jack also set up an AM HD-R demo in the meeting room. Had I been one of the non-technical people in the room, Jack’s presentation and demo would have done much more to convince me of the viability and “wow factor” of AM HD-R than all the techno-speak that went before. And for what it’s worth, I still say that KPOF wins the award for best-sounding AM HD-R in Denver. The secret: According to Jack, it’s a combination of an all-digital signal path in the studio, no digital compression in the HD storage and no STL.

PAD
I have noticed that most AM stations still don’t have any PAD data or messaging running in the Denver market and I wonder why that is. The FMs seem to have mastered it. Perhaps FM operations are already geared to this sort of thing because they have for years been transmitting much the same data via their RDS stream. Perhaps they have the infrastructure in place to convey the data from studio to transmitter site because of the RDS or multicasting and perhaps AM stations largely do not have Ethernet paths to their transmitter sites. The Crawford Denver AM stations, by the way, are all transmitting PAD data, but Ed Dulaney is still working on timing issues. It seems Prophet NexGen has not quite perfected its export delay function. Whether the timing of the exported PAD data will line up with the 40-second-delayed program audio is anyone’s guess; it varies from break to break.

Progress
I haven’t heard much about progress at the KCKK 1510 DA project of late but understand that the new four-tower 10 kW-D/25 kW-N array is complete and proof-of-performance measurements are underway. We can look forward to hearing the improved metro signal from this new facility soon.

AM Module Failure
Our Birmingham CE recently told me about an interesting but irritating phenomenon he has experienced with his Nautel ND-5 5 kW AM transmitter. From time to time, when a module fails (for whatever reason – we have had occasional unexplained module failures since the HD-R conversion), the HD-R signal is seriously degraded. According to that CE, when this happens it sounds like “…the worse Web stream ever done.”
We plan to dig into this further, but I can see how when a module fails and stops contributing to the power output of the transmitter, the impedance seen by the remaining modules must go down or otherwise change. I wonder what this does to the overall phase shift through the combiner. What’s interesting to me is that the HD-R stays locked; again, the issue is degraded digital performance and distorted HD-R audio. When/if we figure out what the issue is, we’ll publish it in these pages. I know there are several ND-5s along the Front Range and I suspect the issue is not confined to that particular rig.

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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SBE CERTIFICATON NEWS

SBE Leader Skills Seminar - Management Skills for Engineers

The SBE Leader-Skills Seminars, in its 11th consecutive year with the Society, is specifically designed for broadcast engineers who have or aspire to have management responsibilities. SBE offers the two-part series in cooperation with instructor Richard D. Cupka, Sr., West Lafayette, Ind. Both courses are being offered in Indianapolis in 2007.

Course I, “Leadership – The Framework of People Skills” will be held June 5-7, 2007. It covers the function and nature of your leadership role; how to build stronger teams and effective internal cooperativeness; the complex differences of people; and discovery of your “natural” style of leading and how to nurture a “developed” style to help you adjust to different people in differing situations.

Course II, “Leadership – Expanding Your People Skills” will be held Aug. 7-9, 2007, and picks up where Course I leaves off. Those wishing to attend Course II must have attended Course I sponsored by SBE or prevciously NAB (dating back to 1965). Course II explores individual behavior in groups and dynamics of interaction between groups; the complex motivations of different people and how to deal with them; how best to handle disciplinary processes; and where emphasis should be in a leader's ultimate responsibility over people and activities.

Cupka, who has 40 plus years experience in adult training, has directed and taught the Leader-Skills seminars to broadcast engineering managers, supervisors and technicians for 40 years. Many of the most respected broadcast engineering managers in the country today, are graduates of the program and continue to send members of their staffs so that they, too, can learn from Cupka.
Designed to take technically–adept people and instill in them sound supervisory and management skills, the Leader-Skills Series can also be viewed as a tool for personal growth and development, even for those without prior management or supervisory responsibilities.

Registering early! Each course is limited to a minimum of 10 and a maximum of 18 participants. Deadlines to register are May 2 for Course I and July 5 for Course II. The cost of registrations is $545 for each course, which includes three days of instruction, all course materials, a certificate of completion and classroom refreshments.

All transportation, housing and meals are the responsibility of the participant. The location will be the Holiday Inn Select - Indianapolis Airport. The discounted guest room rate is $105 plus tax.

 

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
April 17, 2007 NAB - Las Vegas March 2, 2007
June 1-11, 2007 Local Chapters April 20, 2007
Aug 10-20, 2007 Local Chapters June 8, 2007
Nov 9-19, 2007 Local Chapters September 21, 2007

Fees are as Follows:

Certification Level Member Non-Member
Broadcast Technologist $40 $100
Broadcast Networking Technologist $55 $115
Broadcast Engineer $55 $115
Audio/Video Engineer $55 $115
Senior Broadcast Engineer $80 $140
Professional Broadcast Engineer $105 $165
Specialist Certification    
AM Directional Specialist $50 $110
8VSB Specialist $50 $110

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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Clay's Corner

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

By Clay Freinwald
SBE Seattle Chapter 16

Ready for spring? If you are like me, this winter has been something that I look forward to getting far away from.

Big news item of late has to be the proposed merger of Sirius and XM Satellite Radio…This activity has moved from rumor to actual announcement. Sounds like sides are being drawn. Predictably, NAB has come out against it. On the other side the claim is that neither one can survive their continued losses without the merger. I have to wonder if they created a lot of their own mess by spending so much money battling each other? In the end they will likely get their way, but it could be this time next year when the matter is settled. A couple of interesting wrinkles – 1) The two systems are very different and thus far no receivers exist that work with both. 2) Their studio facilities are in two different locations. Recently while having my pickup repaired (got bashed during the last snow) my rental, a new pickup, had Sirius satellite radio. This was my first time to spend a week driving my usual routes and listening to see how it works. A couple of observations. On the negative side – Tunnels and behind some of our hills did the system in. The biggest negative was the varied audio quality. Some channels sounded fair to good while others were obviously compressed to the point they were severely bit – starved. I found that KPLU sounded superior to their jazz offerings and KING-FM sparkled compared to the dull, almost AM sounding classic channel. On the plus side was clearly content….There was everything there you could imagine. I found it very interesting to note that a major cable news channel, while covering the Sat/merger story ran a crawl telling quite a bit about HD Radio. Their commentator speculated too that the merger would be approved, in time, and that this would enable the entity to become profitable because they could raise their prices knowing that there was no direct competition. I feel strongly that Satellite Radio has a place in our society and will continue for years to come.

Lots of news stories in the media-trades about TV stations across the country opting for all HD news coverage. I have to admit that I’d like to see more high quality video from the field and not just HD pictures of the talking heads.

By the time you read this, the separation of KIRO,KTTH and KBSG from the other four should just about be completed. Seems that it was not that long ago I was writing about the areas biggest cluster of stations with Entercom buying 3 stations from Bonneville making it 8. At that time we were all wondering if consolidation would mean that ever ownership would have 8 stations in this market. Over time it turned out that this was not to be the case. Now Entercom will have 4 stations while CBS and Sandusky will each have 5. It appears that Tom Pierson will be the engineering honcho at Bonneville while Dwight Small will assume the lead role at Entercom. On the management side – For Bonneville it will be Scott Sutherland. Scott has been working for Bonneville in Phoenix. For Entercom, it appears that Jerry Mckenna will continue as Market Manager. The offices of Marty Hadfield, John Price and other Entercom corporate types will be moving to Met-Park-West as soon as space is created for them.

Another wild card to watch – the ‘move-in’ to Covington. From what I hear this station can be up-graded in class and operate from Cougar Mt significantly increasing its value. I would not be surprised to see one of the existing cluster owners step up and plunk down some big-bucks for this one. Let’s wait and see …..

Retraction time –

In my December column I said that KSTW’s master control operations would be moving out of state with the station being ‘central-cast’ from afar. Ron Diotte, KSTW’s Chief Engineer, in a email, set the matter straight - Their ‘cousin operation in San Francisco will be minding the KSTW transmitters on Capital Hill and have access to KSTW’s back up server stream during overnight and weekends while the local station is un-manned. Ron added that this ‘hosting’ operation is being tried with other CBS O&O’s and is being accomplished via T-1’s. And, Yes Ron….Next time I will give you a call.

So who is going to purchase Tribune? The $64,000 questions appears to still be in search of an answer. Lots of big names tossed about, including, Rubert Murdoch.

For some time your choices of TV providers was Satellite or Comcast. Watch out for Verizon. Down in the Portland area, Washington County to be specific, Verizon is gearing up for head to head competition. Meanwhile, around here, there are folks just discovering that old technology called an antenna can bring them HD TV pictures. It’s hard for us older folks to understand that there are a lot of people that don’t have any clue how that works. Sort of like discovering that milk does indeed come from a cow !

Speaking of HDTV - Interesting to note that the Superbowl is one of major movers of HD sets with a ton of folks shelling out the bucks for a big wide-screen to catch the action. Also interesting that of the 69 spots during the game, only about a third were in HD….word is that these spots were expensive enough without having to shell out the extra bucks for the HD version.

Do you have the latest NOAA/NWS (Tab 15) for the State EAS Plan in your binder?
If not – Drop me a note and I will send it to you. Remember that our state’s EAS plan is constantly being updated. There are two vehicles used to get that information to you. The best-method is the State EAS Remailer. (eas-wa@broadcast.net) when you subscribe to this system you will receive the updates as soon as they are released (along with a lot of other timely and important EAS info) The Second method is the WSAB Web Site that will have these updates posted some time after their release. For more information, drop me a note, or call me –

Looks like once again the law-makers are thinking that we should put down our cell phones and drive. This, once again, stirred up the Amateur Radio Community who was fearful that they would not be able utilize their 2-meter rig while driving. If you drive a vehicle like mine, a bit taller than most, you will see all kinds lf things going on to distract drivers….My favorites are people – Reading newspapers, books and maps and, of course, women putting on makeup. I fail to understand how they can see where they are going, or what’s behind them, when they are using the rear-view mirror to make sure their eyelashes are properly coated….At least using a cell phone does not require the use of a mirror.

The FCC really stirred up a hornets nest with the news that they are giving a pirate FM station in Nevada a free pass. When you have a powerful US Senator behind you it’s funny how rules seem to disappear. Don’t think we have heard the last of this one.

Wicked weather in Florida took down a 1500 foot tower in early February. Lots of pictures were circulated showing the leftover mess. Apparently the station was able to get on the air from an alternate location rather quickly.

Wonder what it means when Sharper Image starts selling HD Radios?

A lot of eyebrows were raised to the announcement by Harris that they are cutting back their broadcast division. One of the reasons cited, weak performance in their radio and TV transmitter business. I understand now the #1 TV transmitter maker carries a German name.

If you have always wanted to get involved with Amateur or Ham Radio but were scared away due to the Morse Code requirement, you are now free to join the ranks without Dittidadahdidit.

If my stats serve me right, the power increase for KRKO will give this area its 9th 50Kw AM station. (Any corrections?)

A couple of months ago I asked what electronic communications system you would be willing to give up – received several responses. Most felt that their land-line would be the first to go. Guess I am just not ready to dump the old telephone and become a cell-only guy.

I was in Sacramento California on Feb 24th participating in an SBE Ennes workshop. Just under 60 showed up for the sessions that were directed to Radio and TV engineers. Amazing how many folks I knew that far away. The following week was the annual EAS Summit in Washington DC. I’ll give you a report on that event in the next issue. The next event on my schedule (as I know it at this writing) is the annual trek to NAB in Las Vegas. The full SBE Board will meet on Sunday AM, April 15th at 8AM. If you are in the area, come see what SBE is all about. The following day, Monday, April 16th, will be the annual EAS meeting. Before I leave the subject of SBE….It is often the case that the VP runs for president….In my case, considering the amount of travel involved and our location in relation to New York, WDC and other places the Veep is expected to travel to etc I have declined to run for the top office. I made that announcement to Jim Bernier, chairman of the nominating committee. As a member of SBE since 1968 and a member of the national board for over 7 years, I fully understand the meaning of this decision. I am far more interested in the success of the Society than me holding the top office. – I hope you understand.

Well folks, that’s my allocation for this month – see you next time –

Clay, CPBE, K7CR

 

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Wisconsin Broadcaster Emergency Personnel ID Card Program

by Gary Timm
Milwaukee Chapter 28

Beginning February 1, the Wisconsin Broadcasters Association (WBA) is offering a program to all Wisconsin broadcasters to obtain state-issued ID cards for their station transmitter engineers. This grew out of problems experienced by Katrina-affected stations having difficulties in reaching their transmitter sites in the aftermath of the disaster. The intent of these Wisconsin Broadcaster Emergency Personnel ID Cards is to allow transmitter engineers to pass through police lines for the purpose of maintaining the transmitter to keep it on the air delivering emergency information to the public. The cards can also be used by engineers involved in reaching the local EOC as part of the MSRC program, if such participation is requested by local officials in your area. The cards are specifically not to be used by news-gathering crews.

Your Station Manager recently received information from WBA regarding this rogram. If you are a transmitter engineer and your station anagement doesn't approach you on getting this ID, you should approach them. Your Station Manager will need to sign the Request Form for the ID(s). A JPEG photo must also be emailed to WBA for use on the ID Card. All the details of the program are on the WBA website, www.wi-broadcasters.org. Click on the "Broadcaster ID Program" logo on the left side of the WBA Homepage. Also at the WBA Homepage, you will see an article on the new WBA President, long-time Executive Vice President, Michelle Vetterkind. Michelle and I worked together to broker this ID Card agreement with the Wisconsin Department of Justice. We hope all stations will take advantage of it.

Gary Timm, Broadcast Chair
Wisconsin EAS Committee
gteas@execpc.com .

 

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THE YXZ REPORT

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

KISN LEAVES THE AIR
Engineers are to radio stations (and programming formats) as doctors are to people: there at birth, and there again at death.

So it was with most of the Entercom-Portland engineers and the last hour of KISN radio, a station that started as top 40 on AM in 1959, eventually moved to FM as an oldies station, and finally moved back to AM not long ago.

The disk jockeys had been let go weeks before, but on the 31st of January we gave it a good send off, playing songs from the format in the themes of goodbye, the end, etc. The FCC forced the station off the air for four years in the 70s when they yanked the license, so at the end of the last hour we played the last two songs they played back then, "She's Gone" and "Someday We'll Be Together," followed by an edited aircheck of that signoff. The aircheck ends with the carrier dropping and several seconds of distant co-channel stations fluttering. After 30 seconds of silence we faded up audio from Salem's 93.1 KTRO in time for their 12 AM I.D.

I'D CHANGE THE REEL, BUT THERE AREN'T ANY MORE LEFT
Quantegy, the folks who own the Ampex recording media division, have announced that they are discontinuing various products from their magnetic tape lines. Magnetic Tape Product Lines affected by Discontinuation: 400 Series, ADAT and R-DAT audio tapes, and UMATIC, D1/D2, BETA, and VHS video tape products. See http://www.quantegy.com/.

I wasn't sad to see cart machines go away, but I spent a lot of time with reel to reel machines in the 60s through the 90s, starting with the Sony 4-track I got for my high school graduation present (all the rubber parts have dried up, but I still have it and its microphones), through cases and cases of "pancakes," and ending up with multi-track. Sorry, I guess I'm over-biased.

DAYLIGHT SAVINGS TIME STARTS EARLIER AND STAYS LATER THIS YEAR
This year Daylight Savings Time (DST) extends by approximately four weeks. It starts three weeks early on March 11th, and ends one week late on November 4th. All those Windows PC's will have to be set manually, or have the official update run on them that puts the new dates in the registry. See http://www.microsoft.com/dst2007.

LIFE WITH HD RADIO
Holding at 12 FM HD signals (nine with HD2) and two AM HD signals on the air in the Portland market.

I helped set up an HD Radio booth at the Portland International Autoshow in the Portland Convention Center for the Portland Area Radio Council, PARC. Ibiquity sent a listening station with a Kenwood HD car stereo and outputs for four headphones. A Boston Acoustics Receptor HD Radio was set up on a table. Fortunately, through 2nd story windows the booth was line of sight to the 12 HD FM stations at Stonehenge, Sylvan, and Skyline. Melissa Kunde, PARC Executive Director, said most of the people who came by the booth had heard of HD Radio but didn't understand it.

Tim Tushla of Radiosophy tells us "Product is en route. We will begin shipping the second week of February. Thanks for your patience."

 

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FCC BROADCAST ENFORCEMENT PRIORITIES FOR 2007

From Mark Humphrey K3XY
Chairman, SBE Chapter 18 - Philadelphia, Wilmington, South Jersey

Our SBE group (Chapter 18) traditionally holds an "FCC Update" meeting every January. Last night, Gene Stanbro and Dave Dombrowski of the Philadelphia field office were our guest speakers, and presented a very informative program. These are some of the broadcast enforcement priorities this year:

Compliance with Main Studio rule (minimum staffing, local phone number, location, etc.)

Public File - of course

EAS: The Philadelphia office is now evaluating the "EAS EAR" made by MTS: http://www.mts-comm.com/ . This monitors all EAS activity on a particular station and sends a detailed log -- and an audio recording of any EAS message to an attached PC. EB agents will monitor stations for at least a week before an inspection and will compare their log against the station's log, noting any discrepancies. Basically, they want to know if you're actually sending the tests as required by the rules, or just logging them as sent.

Tower lighting and registration - as usual

AM Tower fencing has become a very high priority. All hot towers must be fenced with *locked* gates. RFR compliance on rooftops and at multi-tenant sites is also a "hot" topic. (On this subject, one of our chapter members who owns a tower service company voiced his frustration at asking stations to power down during tower maintenance. In his opinion, some engineers fear they will be fired if the GM learns they are reducing power or switching to backup sites during the daytime, so the problem really rests with management. He finds this to be a bigger problem in smaller outlying markets than in the Philadelphia metro.)

LPFM stations will be targeted for compliance with enhanced underwriting rules. The FCC suspects the "underwriting" on some of these stations has crossed the line to commercial content. Also, LPFMs will be inspected to make sure they have working EAS decoders and type-certified transmitters.

Class A TV stations will be targeted for compliance with EAS, Main Studio, and Public File rules.

Pirate broadcasting has not been a recent major issue in the Philadelphia district (which includes the entire state of Pennsylvania and the southern counties of New Jersey) Only five pirate stations were shut down in 2006, but two are currently active and awaiting due process. Gene and Dave mentioned this is a much bigger problem in the New York district.

Their budget for test equipment has increased significantly in recent years. They are using the R&S FSH-6 and Agilent E4440A spectrum analyzers, the Z- Technology R-507 field strength meter, but their AM workhorse is still the Potomac FIM-41.

For RFR compliance testing, they use the Narda Radman, EMR-300, and SRM-3000.

Enforcement Bureau engineers continue to develop remote-controlled receivers that can be monitored through the Internet. These are usually installed atop Federal buildings and have directional antennas to aid in DF-ing unlicensed stations or sources of interference. A recent item is something called the "Ram Rotor", developed in Kansas City, that uses the Icom PCR-1000 and a rotor-mounted antenna.

One interesting point: The EB has found many Sirius terrestrial repeaters operating at unauthorized locations or with unauthorized antenna patterns and excessive power. However, after these were shut down, the EB office would then receive complaints from disgruntled Sirius subscribers who no longer could receive a signal!

I raised the question of the legality of inserting an "-HD" callsign between the licensed callsign and community of license, as has become common practice on several stations in this area. (Example, W$$$ and W$$$-HD, Philadelphia.) Gene Stanbro promised he will look into this. .

 

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FCC RULEMAKINGS

Compiled By Tom Smith
Chapter 24

PROPOSED RULEMAKINGS
WT Docket No. 03-187
Effects of Communications Towers on Migratory Birds

The FCC has extended the deadline for comments and replies on the inquiry into the effects of communication towers on migratory birds. The deadline was extended fro January 22, 2007 to April 23, 2007 and the reply deadline was moved from February 20, 2007 to May 23, 2007. On January 8, the American Bird Conservancy, CTIA—The Wireless Association, Defenders of Wildlife, Environmental Defense Fund, National Association of Broadcasters, National Audubon Society, the National Association of Tower Erectors and the PCIA—The Wireless Infrastructure Association filed a joint petition for an extension of time. The parties asserted that they were in a "dialogue related to avian safety" and that the extension of time would allow the record to more fully reflect the agreements and disagreements between the parties.

Normally, the FCC does not grant such a long extension, but did in this case because the parties represented were the most interested in this inquiry and represented both sides of the issue.
This action was adopted and released on January 12, 2007.

— From FCC release (www.fcc.gov) .

 

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NEW DTV BILL INTRODUCED
BILL REQUIRES CONSUMER EDUCATION ABOUT SWITCH TO DIGITAL BROADCASTING

By Tom Smith
Chapter 24 - Madison

A new DTV consumer education bill has been introduced in the House of Representatives by Joe Barton (R-Texas) with Fred Upton (R-Michigan) and former Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Illinois). The bill, "Digital Television Consumer Act of 2007," is similar to bills introduced in the last session of Congress.

The bill would require all retailers that sell or rent any analog TVs to post a notice in the vicinity of such sets to display a consumer alert. That alert would also be required on any Web site or direct mail or catalog of any mail-order distributor.

The alert would have to say the following: This television has only an analog tuner and will require a converter box after February 17, 2009, to receive over-the-air broadcasts with an antenna because of the nation’s transition to digital broadcasting. The TV should continue to work as before with cable and satellite TV services, gaming consoles, VCRs, DVD players and similar products. For more information, call the Federal Communications Commission at 1-888-225-5322 (TTY: 1-888-835-5322) or visit the Commission’s digital television Web site at www.dtv.gov.

Between May 1, 2007 and ending on February 17, 2009, multichannel video providers and broadcasters must conduct an outreach program. Multichannel providers such as cable companies must inform consumers of the digital transition and their options after the transition; this notice must be in their monthly bill or other mailings. Broadcasters directly or through their associations must report to the FCC every 90 days what steps they are taking to notify the public and what they plan in the next 90 days, including the times, frequency and content of any public service announcements relating to the DTV transition. This requirement would begin 45 days after the bill is enacted. There will be penalties for inaction by multichannel providers and broadcasters.

The FCC will be required within 30 days after the enactment of the bill to start operation of a digital television outreach program. They may partner with broadcasters, retailers, manufacturers, cable and satellite providers and consumer groups. They are to educate consumers of the transition, their options, and the DTV converter program. The FCC will be required to maintain a Web site containing this outreach information "as well as links to other Web sites that the FCC determines to be appropriate."

Also within 30 days of the enactment of the bill, the FCC shall establish an advisory committee to be known as the "DTV Working Group" to work with state and local governments, low-income assistance groups, educational institutions, community groups and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) to promote consumer outreach and assistance regarding the converter box program and the DTV transition. Members of the group will not be compensated. The group will provide advice to the FCC on creating and implementing outreach programs, advise the FCC on various procedures for doing the outreach, and provide the FCC with progress reports on ongoing and planned efforts to inform consumers of the transition.

The bill also sets converter box energy standards for the boxes to qualify for purchase under the coupon purchase assistance program.

Finally, the FCC will be required to submit a report every 180 days to the House and Senate Committees responsible for telecommunication and FCC oversight. The period shall begin on June 1, 2007 and end December 1, 2008, which means that the FCC will have to give a least three reports to Congress. The reports will have to give updates on border coordination efforts with Canada and Mexico, the FCC’s and other groups such as broadcasters, electronic manufacturers and consumer group’s education efforts. The NTIA will have to give a report to Congress every 90 days between April 1, 2008 and October 1, 2009 on the progress of the converter box coupon purchase program.

— From Congressional Web site (Thomas.loc) .

 

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AMATEUR RADIO NEWS

Compiled By Tom Weeden, WJ9H
Chapter 24 - Madison

AMATEUR RADIO NEWS

No more Morse code
The current 5 WPM Morse code requirement has officially disappeared from the Amateur Radio Service Part 97 rules on Friday, February 23, in accordance with the FCC’s Report and Order (R&O) in the "Morse code proceeding," WT Docket 05-235. Beginning on that date, applicants for a General or Amateur Extra class Amateur Radio license no longer will have to demonstrate proficiency in Morse code. They’ll just have to pass the applicable written examination. Publication of the new rules in the January 24 Federal Register started a 30-day countdown for the new rules to become effective. Deletion of the Morse requirement – still a matter of controversy within the amateur community – is a landmark in Amateur Radio history.

" The overall effect of this action is to further the public interest by encouraging individuals who are interested in communications technology or who are able to contribute to the advancement of the radio art, to become Amateur Radio operators; and eliminating a requirement that is now unnecessary and may discourage Amateur Service licensees from advancing their skills in the communications and technical phases of Amateur Radio," the FCC remarked in the "Morse code" R&O that settled the matter, at least from a regulatory standpoint. The American Radio Relay League (ARRL) had asked the FCC to retain the 5 WPM for Amateur Extra class applicants, but the Commission held to its decision to eliminate the requirement across the board. The R&O appearing in the Federal Register constitutes the official version of the new rules.

Until 1991, when a Morse code examination was dropped from the requirements to obtain a Technician ticket, all prospective radio amateurs had to pass a Morse code test. With the change, the United States will join a growing list of countries that have dropped the need to demonstrate some level of Morse code proficiency to earn access to frequencies below 30 MHz.

The new rules also put all Technician licensees on equal footing, whether or not they’ve passed a Morse code examination. Starting February 23, all Technicians will have CW privileges on 80, 40, 15 meters and CW, RTTY, data and SSB privileges on 10 meters. When the new rules go into effect, Technicians may begin using their new privileges without any further action.

Presidential kudos
President George W. Bush wrote to the ARRL to recognize the just-ended Hello Amateur Radio public relations campaign and to extend "greetings to all those celebrating 100 years of voices over the airwaves."

The president said the centennial of Reginald Fessenden’s landmark Christmas Eve 1906 voice broadcast "opened the door for technological advances" that improved the lives of people around the world.

" I appreciate all who work in radio, and I am grateful to the Amateur Radio operators who provide emergency communications that help make our country safer and more secure," President Bush wrote. "Your good work strengthens our society and represents the American spirit."

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

 

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UNLICENSED DEVICES MOVE FORWARD

By Tom Smith
Madison Chapter 24

The FCC continued its move to allow unlicensed devices on the TV broadcast band. On December 21, 2006, FCC’s Office of Engineering and Technology announced that it would accept prototype TV band devices for testing. Those parties wishing to have the FCC test their devices were to start notifying the Commission’s laboratory by January 19, 2009 to make arrangements.

In further Congressional action, Senators John Kerry (D-Mass.) and John Sununu (R-NH) introduced bills to speed up the process, even after the FCC had set a timetable on September 11, 2006 for the implantation of unlicensed devices in the TV band. Kerry announced his proposed bill on January 10, 2007, and Sununu announced his bill on January 18, 2007. Both had signed onto similar bills in 2006. Kerry’s bill would require the FCC to allow unlicensed devices within 180 days of enactment and Sununu’s bill would require the FCC to allow the use of unlicensed devices 90 days after enactment or October, 2007, whichever is earlier. The question is why the bills were introduced after the FCC had set a deadline to allow unlicensed use the day after the DTV transition deadline of February 17, 2009. A check of both senators’ campaign finances on opensecrets.org did not show any contributions from members of the computer industry and minor contributions from members of the telecommunication industry in relation to the overall funds contributed. This would not indicate undo pressure from contributors.

On January 31, the comment period ended for the current FCC rulemaking on unlicensed devices in the TV band. With comments from the earlier inquiry, the FCC has collected 730 filings. Not all of these filings are comments; some are notices that people had met with officials of the FCC in ex parte meetings. Since the FCC released its timetable for the impletation of unlicensed devices in the TV band on September 11, 2007, 320 filings have been made. The numbers are small compared to the filings concerning the ownership rules and they could even be considered even smaller than the number given. There were 195 e-mail filings that had the same comments which indicate an organized effort. There were a handful of filings that were slightly different, however, all but a few shared one common feature: They had North Carolina addresses.

Of the 135 other filings, some were ex parte meeting notices with the rest being comments. The Association of Maximum Service Telecasters (MSTV) and the National Association of Broadcasters made five joint filings totaling 515 pages, the New America Foundation and the New Media Project, along with other interest groups such as the Consumer Federation of America, Common Cause, United Church of Christ, Prometheus Radio Project and others made three filings totaling 298 pages. They were joined by at least five wireless Internet providers.

Another large filing came from the Brattle Group, a research group that consults on energy, Environmental, product liability, finance, commercial litigation, telecommunications and industry. They filed a 101-page report and thanked Qualcomm for its support. Motorola made a 32-page comment, and Dell, Intel, HP, Microsoft and Philips made a 37-page comment. Dell, HP, Intel and Microsoft, along with the New America Foundation, made at least one ex parte meeting with FCC staff. There were also a number of ex parte meetings between FCC staff and the MSTV and the NAB.
Other commentators included Shure, who made a number of small filings, translator owners and associations, musical concert producers and mobile radio groups.

From the first reading of the comments, the NAB, MSTV and wireless mike users objected to the use of unlicensed devices. The New America Foundation and its partners wanted unlicensed use, the faster, the better; and there were some who suggested that licensing was the route to go. From an early read, it appears that everyone felt there would be some sharing of the TV band with other users.

Reply comments are due on March 2 which should add to more dialog to the debate.

— From the FCC Web site (www.fcc,gov), U.S. Senate Web site (Thomas.loc)

Disclaimer: Author also filed comments in this proceeding.

 

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Humor

Jokes for the Older Crowd

Some Mature Humor…

A distraught senior citizen phoned her doctor's office.
" Is it true," she wanted to know, " that the medication you prescribed has to be taken for the rest of my life?"
" Yes, I'm afraid so," the doctor told her.
There was a moment of silence before the senior lady replied, " I'm wondering, then, just how serious is my condition because this prescription is marked 'NO REFILLS'."

An older gentleman was on the operating table awaiting surgery and he insisted that his son, a renowned surgeon, perform the operation. As he was about to get the anesthesia he asked to speak to his son.
" Yes, Dad, what is it?"
" Don't be nervous, son; do your best and just remember, if it doesn't go well, if something happens to me your mother is going to come and live with you and your wife...."

Aging: Eventually you will reach a point when you stop lying about your age and start bragging about it.

The older we get, the fewer things seem worth waiting in line for

Some people try to turn back their odometers.
Not me, I want people to know "why" I look this way.
I've traveled a long way and some of the roads weren't paved.

Long ago when men cursed and beat the ground with sticks, it was called witchcraft...
Today, it's called golf.

Two old guys are pushing their carts around Wal-Mart when they collide. The first old guy says to the
second guy, "Sorry about that I'm looking for my wife, and I guess I wasn't paying attention to where I was going."
The second old guy says, "That's OK, It's a coincidence. I'm looking for my wife, too. I can't find her and I'm getting a little desperate."
The first old guy says, "Well, maybe I can help you find her. What does she look like?"
The second old guy says: "Well, she is 27 yrs old, tall, with red hair, blue eyes, long legs, big bust, and is wearing short shorts. What does your wife look like?"
To which the first old guy says, "Doesn't matter, --- let's look for yours."

When I got home last night, my wife demanded that I take her out to some place expensive.
So I took her to a gas station !!!!!!!

§

 

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Etc.

Newsletter Committee

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

Garneth M. Harris

Newsletter archives are available online.

Visit www.smpte-sbe48.org/oldnews for an index of newsletter back issues.
Note: Old newsletters may contain outdated information, web links or email addresses. News archives are not updated when relevant information changes.

Views expressed herein do not necessarily reflect the official positions of the Societies, its officers, or its members. We regret, but are not liable for, any omissions or errors. The Denver SBE and SMPTE Newsletter is published approximately twelve times per year. It is prepared with a combination of text and graphic data. Submission deadline is 10 days before the last day of each month. Other SBE or SMPTE chapters are permitted to use excerpts if attributed to the original authors, sources, and/or the Denver SBE/SMPTE Newsletter.


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