IEEE BTS Symposium Moves West
DIEGO — The IEEE’s annual Broadcast Technology Society Fall
Symposium, Oct. 9–11, drew approximately 110 participants from the
United States and nine other nations, according to organizers.
warm California sunshine allowed several IEEE Broadcast Symposium
events to be held outdoors. BTS President Bill Meintel, center,
presents certificates of appreciation to event co-chairs David Layer,
left, senior director of advanced engineering at NAB, and Paul
Shulins, director of technical operations for Greater Media Boston,
in a rooftop luncheon awards ceremony.
Photos by James O’Neal
the majority of the event’s focus was on television-related
developments and technologies, radio broadcasting was not ignored.
Audio transport for radio studios, audio codecs and digital
connectivity for FM stereo were discussed. So, too, were new FCC
rules to protect AM broadcasters from pattern interference caused by
nearby structures and the use of voltage sampling units to facilitate
AM directional proof-of-performance measurements.
the number of cellphone antenna sites continues to grow, so does the
threat of pattern changes to nearby AM broadcast operations from
signal re-radiation. However, there is hope for beleaguered facility
owners. Ben Dawson, managing partner of Hatfield & Dawson
Consulting Engineers, discussed the situation in his presentation
“The Effects of Nearby Structures on MF Antennas and the FCC’s
Newly Enacted Rules for Protecting AM Stations From Those Effects.”
“The presence of
possibly re-radiating structures near AM antenna systems has been a
problem for a long time and the FCC’s behavior with respect to
those problems has varied over time,” said Dawson. “But we have
the benefit now of a newly enacted set of rules that we think that
will allow the proponents of a new structure construction involving
FCC licensing to at least to have a clear understanding of what’s
necessary to mitigate the possible deleterious effects on nearby AM
World reported on the changes in October.
presented a brief history of AM directional antennas — their
implementation dates to the 1930s — and described some of the
difficulties in making proper pattern measurements in real-world
situations. He noted that this led to a petition to the FCC in 1989
to allow “method of moment” techniques in directional proofs, as
well as for evaluating re-radiation problems caused by nearby
metallic structures. The commission eventually acted on the proposal.
took them until 2008 to adopt the rules we suggested after a long
series of industry discussions,” said Dawson.
one thing they didn’t adopt was the technique for determining the
effect of potential re-radiation from other licensed service
recently-passed FCC rules go into effect, AM broadcasters will be
afforded protection from encroaching cell site towers and masts,
according to Ben Dawson of Hatfield & Dawson, shown.
determination was acted on a few weeks ago; it was to take effect
upon publication in the Federal Register, which was still pending.
Once effective, AM broadcasters will be afforded protection from
encroaching cell site towers and masts. Owners of such structures
will be required to perform remedial actions such as adding detuning
networks, within certain limits.
an omni[directional] antenna, the potential re-radiator has to be 60
degrees or more in height and within one wavelength of the AM
antenna; for a directional it has to be within the lesser of 10
wavelengths or three kilometers from the reference coordinates of the
antenna system and at least 36 degrees tall,” Dawson said.
a new structure or the modified structure would cause pattern
distortion more than ±2 dB for a non-directional antenna, then it
should be detuned. If it’s a directional antenna, then the pattern
distortion has to not exceed the value of the standard or augmented
pattern for that station. If these thresholds are exceeded then the
tower proponents are responsible for whatever detuning is necessary.”
told Radio World that while the new rule will protect broadcasters
from cell site or other licensed user re-radiation problems, it
doesn’t address other potential re-radiators such as permanently
installed or long-term “temporary” construction cranes, bridges,
power lines and, most recently, wind turbines. The commission has no
jurisdiction over such devices and structures.
more than 60 years, the BTS Symposium was in Washington. Last year,
organizers said they would move the event to the West Coast in an
effort to draw more and different attendees. The aim was also to make
the event more accessible to Western states’ BTS members.
Diego was chosen for the conference after a number of options were
explored, according to Paul Shulins, the co-organizer and director of
technical operations for Greater Media’s Boston cluster.
addition to being an easy-to-get-to and a desirable destination, San
Diego is in close proximity to Los Angeles and several other large
western U.S. markets where a sizable number of IEEE BTS members are
located,” said Shulins. “This venue provided many of these
members an easy opportunity to see what a worthwhile event we hold
the response to the new location was good, according to Shulins.
was a big experiment and we’re very pleased with the turnout,”
said Shulins. “We’re seeing a lot of familiar faces, but we’re
also seeing some new faces, which was our real goal — to expose the
symposium to some new people. The venue is wonderful and the people
are wonderful here, and we’re hoping to expand it again next year
when we move it to San Antonio, Texas.”
details about the 2013 symposium and future conference events on the
BTS website, bts.ieee.org.
James O’Neal is technology editor of TV Technology and a contributor
to Radio World. He also is a member of the symposium committee,
representing his television equipment consultancy.