Message From The SMPTE Chair
Rome Chelsi, Section Chairman
On behalf of the local board members of SMPTE, I would like to take this opportunity to welcome our newest board member: Kim LeGate. Kim is presently the Director of Engineering for Crown Media. Kim brings 30 years of technical experience to our board having served as head of Engineering for ABC Los Angeles; a holder of two US patents and nine international patents, served in Engineering Management capacities with Sony and Ampex, and Director of Engineering for Fox Sports Net.
Since we combined the activities of SBE Chapter 48 and SMPTE and through the efforts of our board members, we have been able to present some extremely interesting programs over the last year:
Tektronix provided us with an educational meeting on MPEG stream analysis. The ATSC environment is here and many of the broadcasters are trying to figure out how to deal with the additional bandwidth available. Pete Lude of IBlast came into town and gave us a vision of datacasting and how additional content can be made available using terrestrial broadcast. In one of the more interesting applications of databases and MPEG; Steve Schutt of Knowledge Industries showed off his instructional application used by the National Football League. Recently, we toured @Contact in Sedalia and were provided with insight into the future of satellite communications technology from former Lockheed wiz Erwin Hudson who is now president of Wild Blue. Earlier this year we presented a well attended forum discussion on streaming. And of course we hosted our popular social events: the annual Lookout Mountain luncheon and the annual award banquet which honors outstanding service to our local broadcast community -honoring George Sollenberger.
In the next few months we will again host the Lookout Mountain luncheon and have a number of interesting meetings on tap.
I am gratified and would like to take this opportunity to additionally thank the members of the SBE and SMPTE board and our many sponsors for all their efforts, time, and money in putting on our events.
Rocky Mtn. SBE-48/SMPTE Board members:
Rome Chelsi Section Chairman SMPTE: firstname.lastname@example.org
Feel free to contact any of the board members if you have an interest in or would like to suggest meeting topics or have general questions regarding our respective organizations.
NAB Las Vegas 2002 Short Takes
by Kent Randles K7YXZ CBRE
There were a LOT less folks at NAB this year. Way slow in the North Hall, where the radio stuff is, as well as all the satellite, truck, and helicopter folks are now located instead of in the parking lot. A little better in the Central Hall, where most of the TV stuff was. It was quite busy in the new South hall, with stuff that isn't Internet (at the Sands), or won't fit in the Central hall. It's where that strip of cheap motels used to be across the street to the south. They turned that street into a 4-lane "subway" to that goes under the walkway between the halls was a lot busier, .
I saw one musical show (for $32.50): "The Fab Four," which is a Beatles "tribute" band formerly know as Rain. If you're a Beatles fan, or enjoy music from the 60's, it's great. Wigs, costumes, accents, and the Ed Sullivan impersonator from the movie Pulp Fiction. Apparently the hotels are charging Broadway-New York prices for the big shows, like over $100 per person for the Blue Group, and $150 for the white tiger guys.
I went to the Harris 80th Birthday Party on that Tuesday night, and sat with the Oregon Public Broadcasting engineers. We watched the magic shows, the bubblegum-blowing contest, and listened to the guy impersonating various singers, etc. for 3 1/2 hours. Ironically, the most entertaining part was watching to see what the other engineers were floating aloft using the helium-filled balloons that were at every table. My favorite was ice, dripping as it melted, hung from a group of balloons that were eventually stuck on the ceiling.
I learned about some of the practical aspects of implementing IBOC digital broadcasting, at least for FM. High-level combining means losing 10% of your analog transmitter's output, and 90% of your digital transmitter's output. Even the current solid-state FM transmitters have to be derated by 30 to 40%. After listening with my WalkMan to the 1140 station in Las Vegas which has AM IBOC running, I was disappointed to hear the louder-than-100%-modulation-pure-noise adjacent channel sidebands. Plus, at a vendor's booth later I noted that the large amount of data reduction used on the digital portion sounds kind of ragged, especially on women's voices.
The Hops Motel, Ichabod's favorite cheap place to stay in Las Vegas, has closed. Looks like at least one unit suffered a fire. Patti and I stayed there in 1988 and enjoyed the multi-colored shag carpet and pink ceramic tile.
Both Eimac and Econco announced that they will be making a new model of the 4CX20,000 that could replace the infamous YC-130, the tube used in Continental 35 kW transmitters that does not last very long. The weakest part of the YC-130 is the 7.5 volt filament, so the Eimac 4CX20,000E and the new Econco tube will have 10 volt filaments. Chris Murray has been lobbying Econco for some time to do this.
National Sound Contractor's Association Convention
The National Sound Contractor's Association held their annual get-together at the Colorado Convention Center in Denver in April. Their exhibit floor was quite similar to an NAB, except that the highest powered transmitters were wireless microphones! NSCA is a systems integration expo that features the newest products in audio, video, data cabling, security, lighting and other commercial electronic systems technology. The show attracts thousands of visitors and 500 exhibits and has a strong educational program. The aim is to highlight the industry's latest trends and give exhibitors the opportunity to talk about their specific markets and products.
We thought our readers might enjoy seeing a few pictures of the exhibit floor, including some possibly familiar faces like Jim Hammond from Scott Studio Systems and Steve Lampen of Belden Wire and Cable.
Z Technology's RF Newsletter - DTV Edition - May 15, 2002
Thank you for accepting our DTV RF Newsletter. You may contact me at any time to suggest topics, contribute ideas, or even discontinue your subscription. I hope you will stay with us while we refine the newsletter to best serve you and your staff.
In respect of your email connection, and your time, we will try to keep things short and to the point. Your email address is sent as a blind carbon copy. Website links will be used instead of attachments, illustrations will be kept small, and commercial content will be kept to a minimum. Back issues will be archived on the Z Technology website, www.ztechnology.com.
May is here.
With the May 1st FCC DTV deadline*, many broadcasters have opted to initiate DTV service to their communities with low power transmitters and interim antenna systems. Whether this is right for your station depends on your circumstances, goals, and perhaps on your budget, but it does offer a flexibility to approach 8VSB transmission in a manner that could in the long run serve your technical needs and viewers better.
DTV is a complete change in your method of distributing your programs over the air to home antennas. It involves not only a new transmission format, but also a new channel frequency, a new transmitting antenna, probably a new antenna height, and maybe even a new antenna location. All things not to be taken lightly.
Here is the good part. DTV receivers are coming on the market and your affluent viewers (think advertisers) are starting to see what you are up to. Even a low power signal will be first directed at this "audience", and this is what will get DTV rolling.
What is good about low power?
This signal is also a "test transmitter" for your station. Using this signal, you can make real measurements in your community to determine what will be ultimately required to keep a viable signal to your audience when your 8VSB DTV signal is the only one under your complete control.
As development work moves beyond the laboratories and test sites into your real world, it is useful to gather real information as to how your signal is reaching your viewers. Using this measured coverage data, you can determine what has to be done to continue a viable on-air business. Real data will help determine your ultimate power level, and reveal changes to your design to reach the audience you want to reach.
New RF measurement products for DTV
Two new RF measurement products were introduced by Z Technology at the April 2002 NAB to help station engineers and consultants design and implement the best system for your community. The first is the DM1010W laboratory reference demodulator for off-air channels 2 through 69 that lets you see your DTV signal free from receiver artifacts. Outputs include RF at 44 MHz and 4 MHz intermediate frequencies and an LVDS MPEG transport stream. Controlled from a Windows XP™ PC running Z Technology application software, the demodulator provides a display of tap energy, signal to noise ratio, segment error rate and RF input level. It also provides indications of sync and equalizer lock. This is a true test instrument designed for critical monitoring applications when coupled with an MPEG transport stream analyzer. (Please see the Z Technology website www.ztechnology.com for complete product information.)
The second new product is the DSS5800, a DriveTest™ measurement system used for analog and 8VSB digital coverage measurements. It consists of a programmable field strength meter, GPS receiver, 8VSB decoder, and a Windows XP™ PC running Z Technology application software. This compact system both measures and documents DTV and analog signals while driving throughout the coverage area. It plots signal strength in dBuV/m on street maps and can record extensive data on multiple signals during a drive test. This data is invaluable when taken before changes are made to the RF system, and provides information to judge how the system coverage compares with new frequencies, powers, antennas, and signal formats.
Low Power may be the fastest way to full coverage
The move by many stations to low power DTV, then, may in fact both speed up the development of the viewer base, and in the long run give the engineer a "tool" to improve the quality of the final full power transmission of digital quality television. The key is to "measure" each step, technically, and act using real information.
Z Technology, Inc. is in the RF measurement business. We are a team of engineers, committed to the RF transmission industry. In partnership with you, we believe in the value of the transition to digital television transmission and understand the economic commitment you must make to reach your business goals.
Watch this space
Newsletters have a way of coming and going. It is our goal to update this newsletter with current information as it becomes of interest to the broadcast community. We want to offer information that will help you provide the best on-air DTV coverage to your audience, and of course we believe Z Technology RF measurement systems will help you do that.
We value your input. Please click here to tell us what you think, and what will help you best reach your viewers. email@example.com
*FCC DTV information is located at: http://www.fcc.gov/dtv/2002forumdtvtransition.ppt
SBE's Short Circuits
This issue of SBE Short Circuits features news for you and all SBE members. Please feel free to use the information contained in this newsletter for announcements at meetings and in your chapter newsletter.
John L. Poray, CAE
PHOENIX TO HOST SBE NATIONAL MEETING
NOMINATION OPEN FOR SBE FELLOW
5th EDITION OF TV OPERATORS HANDBOOK, CERTIFICATION PRACTICE TESTS NOW AVAILABLE
MEMBERSHIP DRIVE ENTERS FINAL MONTH
SBE NATIONAL AWARDS NOMINATIONS OPEN
A FEW SEATS LEFT FOR BROADCAST ENGINEER MANAGEMENT TRAINING
CERTIFICATON EXAM SESSION DATES ANNOUNCED FOR 2002
ATSC SEMINAR RESCHEDULED
Society of Broadcast Engineers
Amateur Radio News
By Tom Weeden, WJ9H
o South African Mark Shuttleworth, who paid $20 million to have the time of his life in space and conduct a little research recently completed four "Amateur Radio on the International Space Station" (ARISS) school contacts. On April 29 Shuttleworth spoke with students at Bishops College-his alma mater-marking the first ARISS contact with a school in Africa. He also thrilled several US amateurs by showing up unannounced on 2 meters during a North American pass May 1.
A native of South Africa, Shuttleworth now lives in London. He and his two crewmates, Russian cosmonaut and ISS veteran Yuri Gidzenko and European Space Agency astronaut Roberto Vittori, IZ6ERU, blasted off April 25 from Russia's Baikonur Cosmodrome aboard a Soyuz "taxi mission."
o American Radio Relay League officials took advantage of the National Association of Broadcasters convention to promote amateur radio among members of the broadcasting community-many of them already amateur licensees themselves. ARRL President Jim Haynie, W5JBP, this year became the first League president to attend the annual NAB gathering since it's been held in Las Vegas.
Haynie also greeted those attending the popular NAB amateur radio reception which drew an estimated 600 to 800 amateurs. He briefly mentioned ARRL's Amateur Radio Education & Technology Program ("The Big Project") and said he hoped to be back again next year to promote it at the NAB gathering.
o The FCC can't seem to make up its mind about whether or not it wants to know the date of birth of an Amateur Service applicant. Supplying a date of birth used to be a requirement on amateur applications, and the FCC made the information public as part of a licensee's record. But a few years ago, the FCC dropped the requirement and hid the database field that once displayed birth date information.
Last year, the FCC flip-flopped and announced it was revising FCC Form 605 to include a date of birth field and would again require the information-although it would not be made public. Now, the FCC has changed its mind once more. Missing from the latest version of Form 605 is the requirement for Amateur Service applicants to supply a date of birth, although they may do so if they wish (it is a requirement for certain other wireless service applicants). The latest version of FCC Form 605 (dated April 2002) is available on the FCC Web site.
(Excerpts from "The ARRL Letter" and the www.arrl.org web site)
AM IBOC Endorsed For Daytime Use
By Mike Norton
The National Radio Systems Committee (NRSC) announced during NAB 2002 that it has endorsed the In-Band On-Channel (IBOC) technology for AM radio, developed by iBiquity Digital. The NRSC has recommended to the FCC that the IBOC system be authorized as an enhancement to the existing AM system, limiting the system for use during daylight hours. Additional testing is needed before the NRSC can further comment on the nighttime performance and compatibility of AM IBOC. An FM IBOC system, also developed by iBiquity, was endorsed by the NRSC in November of 2001.
The AM IBOC system is designed to improve perceived quality, by perceptually coding the audio information as digital data in the existing AM channel. Six digitally modulated carrier signals are placed within and adjacent to the existing analog AM signal. The total power of the digital carriers is approximately 12 dB below that of the analog signal. The AM IBOC system uses orthogonal frequency division multiplexing (OFDM) modulation to carry a digital audio bit rate of 36 kbps. The resulting quality delivered by this system will represent a significant improvement over current analog AM, and is claimed to offer near FM-quality stereo with approximately 15 kHz audio. A portion of the data can also be used for transmitting data services.
A significant concern in the current AM broadcast band is existing interference. By adding digital sidebands to analog AM carriers, interference may be generated for co-channel and adjacent channel stations. This needs to be balanced with the interference improvements that the IBOC system can provide. The variability of skywave propagation conditions will make the testing procedures complicated to gather significant test data.
The NRSC is jointly sponsored by the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) and the NAB, and serves as an industry-wide standards-setting body for technical aspects of terrestrial over-the-air radio broadcasting systems in the United States. The complete NRSC evaluation report of the iBiquity AM IBOC system is available on the NAB website at http://www.nab.org/SciTech/nrsc.asp.
The Federal Communications Commission is seeking comment on the NRSC report, conclusions, and recommendations concerning the proposed AM IBOC hybrid digital audio broadcasting system. Interested parties may file comments on or before June 18, 2002 by using the FCC's Electronic Comment Filing System at www.fcc.gov/e-file/ccfs.html.
Compiled By Tom Smith - Madison Chapter 24
ET Docket No. 98-142; FCC 02-23
The FCC has allocated the bands 5091-5250 MHz and 15.43-15.63 GHz for Earth to Space uplinks, and 6700-7025 MHz for space to Earth downlinks for use in commercial Non-Geostationary Satellite Orbit Mobile-Satellite Service. The FCC had previously allocated the 7025-7075 MHz band for use by three satellite gateways.
Broadcasters currently use the spectrum from 6875-7125 MHz for remote television pickup and STLs. The new rules will require broadcasters to coordinate the band from 6875-7025 MHz under part 101 of the rules, which require the use of a commercial coordination firm such as Comsearch. The FCC will not be adding any more gateway stations to the 7025-7075 MHz band and will designate the band for remote pickup channels that can freely be used anywhere in the US. The FCC is also recommending that the channel of 7075-7100 be use for airborne TV pick-up and whenever possible 7100-7125 MHz also be used for Airborne TV pick-up, whenever possible.
The 5091-5250 MHz and the 15.43-15.63 GHz band are currently allocated for aeronautical radionavigation band, with the 5091-5250 MHz band used for landing guidance systems. Coordination with the Federal government is required for mobile-satellite service in these bands. Published in the FEDERAL REGISTER on April 10, 2002 on Pages 17,288-17,300.
WT Docket No. 00-32; FCC 02-47
Published in the FEDERAL REGISTER on April 9, 2002 on pages 17,009-17,013.
ET Docket No. 98-206; RM-9147; RM-9245
Amendment of Parts 2 and 25 of the Commission's Rules to Permit Operation of NGSO FSS Systems with GSO and Terrestrial Systems in the KU-Band Frequency Range
The FCC has amended its rule to allow for the operation of a terrestrial based Multichannel Video Distribution and Data Service (MVDDS) in the same band as the 12 GHz direct broadcast satellite service on a co-primary basis as long as the MVDDS system does not cause interference to the DBS Band. In this action, the FCC ruled that the parties that proposed the service would be required to bid at auction for the spectrum. The ruling adopted power limits, permitted one-way operation, provided for DBS systems to request changes in the terrestrial systems power levels, required Private Operational Fixed Service licenses (POFS) to protect both DBS and MVDDS and prohibited new POFS stations and prohibited cable providers from owning MVDDS systems in area's where the own cable systems. This action was adopted on April 11, 2002.
Frequency Coordination & Other Stuff...
Everett E. Helm W7EEH CPBE
IMPORTANT TO CHECK FCC DATABASE RECORDS!
One of the main points that we discussed this year at the annual SBE Frequency Coordinator's meeting was the poor data in the FCC database for the Broadcast Auxiliary services. As most of you know, the BAS (broadcast auxiliary service) licenses are renewed at the same time as your Part 73 main station licenses. The problem, is that the ULS, in many cases, has lost the linkage between the two services, mostly due to station ownership, or call letter changes. The result is that many Part 74 licenses are now obsolete, or shown as expired. Some users are using commercial coordination services for their BAS applications. These coordinators do not consult the local SBE volunteer coordinator, and therefore recommend frequencies that are in use on a regular daily basis by stations, but do not show up on the FCC database. The software that is used does not take local terrain, or special conditions into the study, therefore, many channels we all use would not be available by their standards. We BAS users are much more efficient with the use of the spectrum, than are the Part 101 folks. Please check your licenses in the FCC database, and make the appropriate modifications as necessary. A very useful tool for this search is: http://www.fccinfo.com.
Best In Sound For Miles Around Or?
By Mike Wenglar, Director of Engineering, KVUE TV
When I think back to my childhood days I think of my first radio adventure when my dad and I put my first crystal set ($8.00) together. It was exciting to tinker around with the coils, cat whisker and the like and to finally pickup a radio station ($0.00). Times have changed and I guess today's dad orders a satellite radio receiver (about $300) off of the WEB and the dad and his child calls or receives an email to authorized reception (about $10/month). I guess that could be exciting. Quite a change between then and now! To think that a signal now can come from a satellite transmitter 22,223 miles above the earth is a remarkable advancement in technology. I know that many of you have been reading it in the trades, yes it's here, Satellite Radio. I know of three in operation today. They are Sirius Satellite Radio, XM Satellite Radio and WorldSpace. (WorldSpace is broadcasting in Africa and Asia and will be broadcasting in South America soon).
XM Satellite Radio broadcasts 100+ channels from of pair of orbiting satellites, dubbed Rock and Roll. You have to have a special receiver, which can cost from $299 to $1,000. You have to subscribe to the service with is $9.99/month. There is country, rock, alternative, classical, jazz, it's all there. If you are tuned out on this, there is plenty of sports, news and comedy stations, such as ESPN Radio, CNBC and Laugh USA. Some manufacturers make a satellite radio that you can take between your home and car. It needs an outdoor antenna in either case. If you have the hardware and subscription, don't expect streaming CD-quality music without interruption. According to a source who has a system, the sound is generally good, not CD quality, but better than average FM quality. The vendor touts that you can drive coast to coast without changing stations, though overhead obstructions such as tunnels and overpasses may briefly kill or impair your reception. Only about 35 of XM channels are actually commercial free, though test channels are not "interruption free". According to my source the interruptions typically consist of their own promotional spots. The remainder of the 100+ channels have about six minutes of advertising per hour. According to XM's web page, this is less than the 18 to 24 minutes you find on a local station.
For a $300+ investment and $10/month for the service, most people will have to seriously dislike their local radio channels to make XM worthwhile. Then there are those people who just like gadgets!
Pay radio from space is here, but for a fee of $80 million per satellite radio provider collected by the FCC to use space in the S-band (2.3 Ghz) what will they have to do to recap their investment, not to mention the cost of the satellite. At 9.99/month, they must be expecting a lot of people to sign up for the service. There are commercials, but I can't seem to get a "Satellite Radio Rate Card" from XM. They are optimistic however with their 2001 revenue at about $500,000 and operating costs of about $68 million I would think this is a loss. As far as this year, there are forecasting $20-$24 million and expect to have 70,000 customers by year-end. XM is also working with car manufacturers and consumer manufactures to pump out the satellite radios. Some of the manufactures include Alpine, Pioneer, Clarion, Delphi Delco, Sharp, Motorola and Sony. GM has invested $100 million in XM and Honda has also signed an agreement with XM. GM began installing XM satellite radios in selected models in early 2001.
Are they here for the long haul is a good question. There is another similar company, Sirius and is pretty much the same kind of operation except they don't use GEO satellites and are catering more to the car radio market. Will they try to merge at some point? They might for it is hard for me to imagine two services for subscription satellite radio, cost of operation etc.
Where will be localism for these 100 channels? Bullseye…there will be none. Most of the channels are "cookie cutter" Ex FM radio announcers and they all sound the same but tend to match the era of music. You won't be able to get local news, weather and sports. How about that Friday night local high school football game? Not there! But will they do what DirecTV and EchoStar is doing and add local radio channels from the larger markets? Good question, more satellites and channels would make this possible. So if you happen to be driving coast to coast, you can stay with your favorite channel from space.
I accept change, and change is good, but will this have a huge impact on local radio. I think some as satellite TV has affected local television stations. But there is still one common denominator that we have and they don't and that is localism and we are free, and we are getting better, which means will be here for the long haul. Can't tell what will happen to the other guys, let's listen and watch together!
(Part II will appear in the June 2002 Webletter)
Featuring News, Rumors and Views
Before I delve into my usual array of broadcast and broadcast related items I want to thank all of you that have expressed your support for all these years that I have been writing this column. As you no doubt know an effort like this is not without its down side. In a recent conversation with Chris Imlay, legal counsel for SBE, he sent me the following quote from Abe Lincoln that I want to share with you all:
"If I were to read, much less answer, all the attacks made on me, this shop might as well be closed for any other business. I do the very best I know how, the very best I can; and I mean to keep doing so until the end. If the end brings me out all right, what is said against me won't amount to anything. If the end brings me out wrong, ten angels swearing I was right would make no difference." (Thanks, Chris.)
Now to the interesting stuff.
At this writing I just returned from the NAB Convention in Las Vegas. For me this trip had three missions. 1) SBE business, 2) EAS, 3) Digging into IBOC and, 4) Looking for the "Seattle Factor": Let me take these in order.
SBE holds one of its two Board Meetings at the NAB Convention (7:30AM Sunday) I will not bore you with all the details, let's just say that SBE is doing very well. For those of you that made the last meeting, you heard a summary of this activity.
EAS was a big item at NAB for a couple of reasons. 1) The FCC's release of new Part 11 Rules. 2) The NAB's Release of the 'Amber-Kit'. My activities consisted of leading a two-hour meeting on EAS on Tuesday afternoon that was very well attended. This session was also broadcast over the Internet thanks to a great friend of our industry, Dave Biondi of Broadcast.Net. According to Dave some 450 were connected around the country, a first for me I will tell you. Amber was a large item, my thanks to Chris Murray, EAS Chair for Oregon, for presenting how this program is being handled in that state. Amber will likely become nation-wide before long (more on that later). On Wednesday morning I was on a panel, representing SBE, at the PPW Meeting (PPW is Partnership for Public Warning). Incidentally, SBE voted at the Board Meeting to Join PPW. I also dug into how the various manufacturers of EAS equipment would be handling the upgrade issue. Here is how this appears to be going-
Sage and Burk announced they will be offering FREE down-load of software. Jim Gorman said that he is working on the upgrade and would have something out in June. Daryl Parker of TFT said that it will cost $100 to upgrade those units.
IBOC is of particular interest to me as Seattle will be one of the roll-out cities for this new technology. There were a lot of technical sessions devoted to how to make it work for AM and FM stations. A number of vendors had equipment to show, all the way from exciters to antenna solutions. It was the BIG item at the radio part of things.
The "Seattle Factor" is something that I always look for--and on this trip I was not disappointed. First of all the April 10th issue of Broadcasting and Cable magazine awarded our own Kelly Alford with its 2002 Technology Leadership Award for his work with Ackerley's Centralcasting ©. The Ackerley Group made a class move by having a full page congratulating Kelly on his accomplishment. The April 1st issue of Radio Ink featured an article on the 30 Most Admired Engineers in Radio. Seattle's own Marty Hadfield came in #5 on the list. It's really neat to know these guys, and their accomplishments should make us all proud that they hail from our 'neck of the woods'.
BIA is out with their list of top Radio Groups. Here are the rankings of some that have operations here in Seattle-
#1 is Clear Channel (they are buying the Ackerley Group).
A number of folks were recently surprised with the newspaper headline "Gates Buys KOMO Stake." Mr. Microsoft routinely sells some of his company's stock and buys other things. This time he picked up 5.3 percent of Fisher Communications, Inc. Certainly an eyebrow raiser, as is almost anything that the famous Bellevue resident does.
Ever pick up the paper and read about someone that YOU KNEW is going to prison? That's exactly what happened recently upon the news that a certain radio technician was recently sentenced to 18 months in a federal pen.
The march of Digital Radio continues with the various proponents issuing press releases almost weekly about who's going to offer their prouduct where, in an obvious attempt to convince the unconvinced that their system is 'smokin''. The two satellite guys, XM and Sirius, are making lots of waves; meanwhile the closer-to-ground Ibiquity/IBOC group is certain to be more closely watched by our industry. Seems no matter how you look at it, many broadcasters feel that all of this will end up costing them money. Ibiquity did have a setback of sorts recently with the announcement that, for the time being, their IBOC system for AM would have to be a day-time event. The AM band, being a two-faced creature, turns into a nasty medium when the sun goes down ya know.
NAB and other terrestrial broadcasters initially expressed concerns that the repeaters' proposed by XM might have a 'local input'. They are assured that this was not the case. More recently it's been learned that this might again be the case. To say the least, folks at NAB are not happy. The NAB has urged that both XM and Sirius disclose their plans in this sensitive area. Meanwhile, XM has announced that they now have almost 50,000 subscribers.
One of the best known names in our business recently announced his retirement. Richard Rudman who has been hanging his hat at KFWB in Los Angeles since 1975 is going to retire. Richard reads like a who's who in LA broadcasting. His list of accomplishments is a long read. I have had the privilege of working with Richard for the past couple of years with EAS, he being involved in the LA area in addition to serving as chairman of the FCC's National Advisory Committee (NAC). You don't go out and replace a guy like this. Good luck, Richard! My day will come too.
Eimac has announced that they are going to produce a new tube. Ya don't hear that kinda news very often either. The new 'jug', the 4CX20,000E, will use the 'ripple-fin' design that was introduced some years back. Notably BE used the 4CX12,000 in their 20 kW transmitters. The ripples in the cooling fins permit greater cooling and hence greater power output ability. Eimac says that they have tested this one at 40kW output. For those that operate Continental transmitters at high power levels, this is very good news. I understand that Econco is going to follow suit. Econco made it very clear at the NAB show that they are going to start making NEW tubes in addition to their long standing business of rebuilding them.
John Poray of SBE has announced that we have a new frequency coordination director. His name is David Otey. I had lunch with Dave at NAB and was very impressed with his drive and ambition. He's from the Denver Area and has a great broadcasting and microwave background. He's also been a TV station chief.
Got a note from Kent Randles in Portland the other day. The Infinity group there is looking for a 'Broadcast RF Engineer. [Editor's Note: Help Wanted Ad Here] This ad certainly caught my eye as it seems that RF is what I have been mainly doing for the past several years. This has something to do with the fact that folks that know something about this old analog high frequency stuff are getting harder and harder to find. When was the last time you ran into a young fellow, say, 25, that expressed a desire to work on RF things? Gee! just 'cause Terry Spring snowshoes 10 miles to get to his transmitter and back is no reason to turn up your nose at working on RF hardware!
Speaking of Terry, he and Arne Skoog have been reporting about some of the considerable damage that this past winter has done to things at the ATC site on West Tiger. If we are lucky, Terry will have some pictures for show-and-tell at an up-coming meeting.
Electro-Voice is celebrating their 75th birthday. I remember using their model 654 on remotes… and how many 635s? They certainly have made their mark. If that does not make you feel old, knowledge that the Bird Model 43 wattmeter is 40 years old might.
Here's a stat. that does not warm the heart of any broadcaster: In the rankings of the most Web Savvy towns, Seattle is ranked # 5. Let's face it, folks that are 'on-line' are not likely to be viewing or listening to local stations.
Congratulations to the folks at KIRO Radio on being named winners of the Regional Murrow Awards as well as being a recipient of a Crystal Award.
A couple of towers have fallen recently. An 1800 footer used by WKFT -TV channel 40 in Fayetteville, NC. Apparently a light plane hit a guy wire. A 640 footer belonging to KKEZ-FM in Fort Dodge, Iowa came down. Early reports point to vandals cutting a guy wire.
We are seeing the just about total demise of magnetic tape. The esssssy audio cassette is being replaced with the MD and CD. The workhorse VHS Video cassette is being kicked around by the DVD. At our media factories, Mag tape for audio and video have been sent packing for some time now. Oh yes, don't forget film. The term 'Film Chain' is a term that only oldsters (ah-hem) recall. But in movie theatres film continues to be the main vehicle for delivering the output of Hollywood to your neighborhood. Well, folks, the last days of 'sprocket jump' and 'scratch' may be coming to a theatre near you, and this has a LOCAL CONNECTION! Yep, Boeing is involved in the process of converting theatres to Digital Projection.
While I am at it, another local firm, Radio Frame in Redmond (a firm that makes wireless equipment for indoor networks), just got a 15 megabuck shot in the arm from its backers.
The main reason I am bringing up Paul's collection is the following:- Paul's widow has a MINT condition Hallicrafters TV Set. This gem features pushbutton tuning and includes Channel 1! For those of you that wondered, yes, there was a Ch 1. Now here's the problem. I want to put this into the hands of someone that will not put it in their attic; this is a set that ought to be on display in the lobby of a local TV station. If your station is interested… please give me a call and let's chat.
The FCC has proposed a fee increase. Why? you ask. To collect $218,757,000 as required by Congress! Most fees will rise about 9%.
The UK is attempting to implement new rules to deal with interference from DSL circuits, power line technology and home based LANs. Who would have thought that data speeds on the twisted pair would be a cause for concern?
Congratulations to Bert Goldman on being hired as Executive Vice President of First Broadcasting. Bert has some Seattle ties, having been a corporate DE with firms like Shamrock and Nationwide that owned Seattle radio stations.
Think that radio stations don't have much cash-flow? Consider KIIS in L.A. They billed reportedly $61.3 Million in 2001. That's over $5 million a month! Not too shabby for audio only. A number of folks I spoke with at NAB acknowledged that they do indeed 'borrow' portions of this column for use with other SBE chapters around the country. In particular they like my traditional column ending, i.e., the humor section. So with that I will leave you with the following from the David Christian Groaner Collection - (do not read this if you have recently eaten):
I. A bicycle can't stand on its own because it's two-tired.
See ya at the next meeting of SBE!
Clay Freinwald, K7CR, CPBE
The above comments and opinions are those of Clay Freinwald. They are not the opinion of the Society of Broadcast Engineers, Inc., or Seattle Chapter 16, Inc.
PDX Radio Waves
By Michael D. Brown N7AXC CSRE
Also heard on the floor, mostly from the smaller and medium-sized radio groups, were complaints about the complexity and cost of implementation, and the Ibiquity's proposed steep licensing fees. Indeed, most broadcasters seem to be caught off guard by these fees, which may be unprecedented. Most new technologies in audio and broadcasting over the years have either been established by industry cooperation and "grand alliances", and/or by licensing fees charged to the manufacturers of the equipment, not to the end users. More than one group executive I talked to was hopping mad at the principal of these fees, more that the actual costs. Just before the convention, Radio World had published that the fees, based on a one-time payment option, would be 15 times the FCC annual regulatory fees, or up to $68,250 for a major market Class C FM. By convention time, we were being told "10 times FCC" for the fees. Ibiquity also apparently plans to collect 3% fees in perpetuity, for station income from the ancillary data services.
On the technical front, while there was a large amount of information available on potential implementation schemes, even the manufacturers seemed to have more questions than answers. AM in particular may be tricky to implement. Almost all stations will need significant widebanding of their matching networks, with complex directional stations, short towers, and closely-space diplexed arrays being particularly dicey. The AM IBOC system is really an IBAC system, with sidebands extending well into the first and second adjacent channels. Indeed, on a narrowband car radio, we could clearly hear a strong digital buzz out to the 2nd adjacent channels. The problems of nighttime skywave present much greater challenges for AM IBOC. The low bit rate that is available for the audio portion of AM IBOC, (as demonstrated by the on-air demos), resulted in audio that clearly sounded "metallic" to me - not very pleasing, but still far better than the earlier iterations.
Both the AM and FM services will have some levels of increased adjacent channel interference when operating in the hybrid mode. IBOC might really shine if and when it is morphed into an all-digital service. An FM-band all-digital service, in particular, might provide greatly increased coverage areas, in the absence of co-channel and first-adjacent channel interference. Indeed, I contend that an all-digital FM service should have increased co-channel and first-adjacent spacings, and no third-adjacent spacing requirements at all. There's some evidence from the tests that I think suggests that, if only we could start from scratch, we might be able to develop a dynamite all-digital VHF service with very good reception out to about the 35 dBu contours. In many ways, the exiting FM band is a good frequency range for all-digital radio, having low-noise characteristics, but avoiding the "cellular" type approach being necessitated by the UHF frequencies now being employed by new-band DAB.
What appears most likely is that IBOC will be rolled out in a few test markets, probably including Seattle, but is still a few years away from wide implementation. And there's a real question whether the FCC will make IBOC mandatory.
The End User
Although the annual NAB convention in Las Vegas really isn't a show that focuses on end-users, here's a recap of the show from an end-user's viewpoint:
The Radio side of NAB was virtually dead, save for vendors selling IBOC hardware. However, AM IBOC was dealt a setback when the NRSC issued its recommendation that AM IBOC be daytime-only, to avoid problems with nighttime adjacent-channel interference. While this is only a recommendation, the suggestion that the AM system be used only part-time can only temper radio ownership's enthusiasm about implementing IBOC. Another issue that may dampen the IBOC rollout is the additional fee that stations must pay for transmitter software licensing in addition to costs for new IBOC hardware. Normally, when broadcast RF hardware is purchased, the owner doesn't have to pay fees to use it. But these new models of paying for software to use their RF hardware caught many by surprise, and made them go back and update their budgets. IBOC receiver rollout is planned for January 2003, and it remains to be seen if this date is pushed back because of slower-than-expected IBOC rollout at radio stations.
In the TV area, business was a bit more brisk, especially in the new South Hall, where Sony had about one-third of the upper level, an area equivalent to about three football fields. HDTV and DV were definitely the hot areas. Interestingly, after returning from NAB, I came across a column by PC Magazine's John C. Dvorak, in which he reports that "...it appears that the new copy-protection schemes being dreamed up by Hollywood will make every single HDTV set sold to date obsolete." Dvorak further alleged that consumers aren't being told about this obsolescence, and may be buying HDTVs that "...turn out to be white elephants." Sony, in fact, has introduced a new line of HDTVs supporting Digital Visual Interface (DVI) with high-bandwidth digital content protection (HDCP). I've asked for feedback on Mr. Dvorak's comments from local TV engineers, and will print their responses in next month's "End User."
Over at the Sands Expo Hall, the mood was best described as "tentative," mainly due to the CARP decision regarding music streaming fees. Both content and service providers are anxiously awaiting the Copyright Office's decision later this month on CARP's recommendations. And the hushed talk was about "monetizing," meaning finding ways to get users to pay for streaming content that used to be offered for free. It will be interesting to see how these two concerns play out in 2002 and the effect it will have on exhibitors at NAB 2003.
Next time you head to the store for a flashlight, don't be surprised if it has a LED for a bulb! The costs of manufacturing bright white LEDs have been steadily dropping, and are now low enough for the product to hit the mainstream. The big advantage to LED flashlights (aside from better bulb life) is the lower power consumption-some LED flashlights can run up to 100 hours on a single set of AA batteries. And you can bet that as soon as Mag-Lite brings out its LED flashlight I'll be at the store to get one right away.
Last month's "End User" reported on the five different recordable-DVD formats and the fact that none of them are compatible with each other. The incompatibility reports were somewhat inaccurate; it turns out that DVD+R and DVD+RW are compatible, and can write discs that can be read in most (but not all) consumer DVD players. With Microsoft's probable endorsement of the DVD+RW format (by adding support for it in the next version of Windows), it may become the winner of the recordable-DVD wars. But don't count the DVD-R/RW camp out yet -with backing from Apple, Hitachi, NEC, and others, it certainly will have a say in the DVD format wars.
And if you bought one of the first DVD+RW drives, the HP DVD100i and were told that it won't support DVD+R, take heart: HP has reversed its position, but it will cost you $99. From May 1 through June 30, HP will swap out your first-generation DVD100i for a new model that supports DVD+R. You can get details at http://www.hp.com/cposupport/information_storage/support_doc/lpg41420.html.
Finally, here's a couple of free utilities that I've found very useful:
You may know that Windows XP Professional ships with a "remote access" utility, which provides most of the same functionality as programs like RemotelyPossible or PCAnywhere. But what if you have a Mac or a Linux box? Try VNC; it stands for "Virtual Network Computing". It's a tiny utility that runs on Windows, Macs, Linux and other OSs, and allows you to access a remote computer through a Java applet that runs in your Web browser (or you can use the VNC Viewer application). It's available for download at http://www.uk.research.att.com/vnc/. I run it on my firewall server, and it works very well, even on a 486/75 laptop over a 28.8 dialup connection (as I did while at NAB).
And, if you want to know why your connection to certain Web sites is slow, or find out the connection speeds at the site you're accessing, download MyVitalAgent. It's a utility from Lucent Technologies that resides in your system tray, and monitors your connection health, and reports where the errors are occurring. It works with all types of internet connections--dialups to T1's. Download MyVitalAgent at http://www.myvitalagent.com/.
That's it for this month. Please feel free to send your comments and suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org. All the best to you!
The above comments and opinions are those of Rich Petschke.They are not the opinion of the Society of Broadcast Engineers, Inc., or Seattle Chapter 16, Inc.
Garneth M. Harris
Newsletter archives are available
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.