Radio Currents Online – Jun 09 – Jun 22, 2003
Jun 1, 2003 12:00 PM
Radio technology news updated as it happens.
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Senate Committee Votes to ReverseFCC Ownership Decision
Washington – June 19, 2003 – Following the FCC’s decision earlier this month to relax ownership limits, the Senate Commerce Committee approved legislation on June 19 that could restore the media ownership restrictions. If adopted into law, the TV and newspaper restrictions would return to their previous limits. The radio ownership limits, which only saw changes in market definitions, would lose the grandfather status that they currently enjoy and would be forced to sell stations that exceed the limits. Clear Channel, Infinity, Cumulus and Citadel are at risk of being affected by the decision.
The bill faces some opposition in the Senate and strong opposition in the House. The NAB opposes the legislation, except for the TV ownership limit, which it wants restored to 35 percent from the newly allowed 45 percent.
An amendment to the bill also seeks to modify the FCC’s decision-making process by requiring the agency to hold five public hearings in diverse regions before it alters its media ownership rules. The FCC has been heavily criticized for failing to consider public opinion on the issue. The amendment also clarifies that the FCC can reregulate as well as deregulate media ownership.
This is yet another chapter in what has been described as a soap opera between the FCC and Congress. If the bill is passed, it will further diminish the FCC’s effectiveness by solidifying the action that Congress will pass a law when it doesn’t agree with the agency decision. If the FCC is not effective in its role, the agency needs to be reorganized and not micromanaged by Congress.
Arbitron Enhances PPM
New York – June 18, 2003 – Arbitron will enhance its Portable People Meter (PPM) system to include the ability to distinguish between in-home and out-of-home media exposure. The enhanced PPM system will use radio frequency codes transmitted at very low levels by the PPM household collector to determine if consumers are in their homes or outside their homes when watching broadcast and cable TV or listening to radio.
Arbitron will also add two new features to the PPM, which are important for the requirements of audience measurement in international markets. The company will offer a wireless Global System for Mobile (GSM) modem, in lieu of the existing landline modem, to accommodate the increasing penetration of homes with only a wireless phone. In addition, Arbitron will offer a portable recharger, which allows the PPM to store multiple days of media exposure data.
All three new features will be integrated into the PPM system in early 2004.
New GIS Mapping and Error CheckAvailable for FCC ULS
Washington – June 16, 2003 – As part of an ongoing effort to improve the Universal Licensing System, the ULS Geographic Information System has been redesigned for ULS License Search queries. New mapping and database software has improved the speed and reliability of obtaining map information, and the user interface has been reconfigured to enhance the user experience. Customers may also create maps from ULS Application Search using the previous version of GIS; however, this software is outdated and may produce inconsistent results. The new GIS will be made available for ULS Application Search in a future phase of the ULS redesign project.
The new ULS GIS enables users to map all the licenses found in a ULS License search�up to a top limit of 3,000�by clicking the Map Licenses link that appears at the top of the ULS License Search Results screen. To map a single license, click the call sign of the license on the License Search Results screen, then choose the Map License link at the top of the next page, the License Detail screen. For either option, GIS will generate an interactive geographical map that illustrates the location of the license, displayed with their call signs or market designators.
ULS users can also check errors before submitting an application. Check Errors will verify that all required fields have been completed; check that all dates, email addresses and alpha-numeric information has been entered correctly; and identify other information that might cause the application to be returned or dismissed for incomplete or incorrectly entered responses. Errors will be displayed in a new window. Click the return button in the error window to return to the application to make corrections. Use Check Errors as often as necessary. When all errors have been corrected, Check Errors will display a window that indicates no errors were found.
Arbitron Releases PPM One-yearStatus Report
New York – June 17, 2003 – The Philadelphia market trials of Arbitron’s Portable People Meter (PPM) have been active for one year. The large-scale evaluation of the portable people meter (PPM), consisting of a panel of 1,500 consumers aged six and up were equipped with portable meters. The test has shown that media outlets can successfully encode their signals to enable the PPM to automatically detect audience exposure, and that the encoding and decoding technology works as planned. Currently, nearly 90 media outlets are encoding their signals for the Philadelphia market trial.
The panelist compliance results also show that consumers will continue to wear the PPM over time, without evidence of fatigue. The attention of media researchers is now turning to the practical matters as they evaluate the sensibility of the ratings and how the updated ratings method can help the media outlets business.
Arbitron has released a paper that compares and contrasts the PPM ratings data to the results from the existing radio diary and TV meter-diary methodologies in Philadelphia. The findings highlight the specific advantages the PPM system offers for better understanding actual audience behaviors.
The paper has been posted to the Radio magazine website and can be viewed or downloaded by following this link.
NAB Radio Show has New Policyon Guest Passes
Washington – June 13, 2003 – The NAB has changed its policy in issuing exhibit floor passes for the NAB Radio Show. At previous conventions, an unlimited number of guest passes were issued through exhibitors and trade publications. This year, each exhibitor will receive only 10 passes for Thursday and 10 passes for Friday.
The convention is changing in response to the needs of the exhibitors. One change is that the show floor is now being called the Radio Exchange, and it will also host eight sessions on the exhibit floor in two separate presentation areas. Holders of the day passes, called VIP Passes, will have access to the exhibits and these exhibit-hall sessions.
A separate area will host the additional sessions, and only full-convention registrants will be able to attend these sessions, as at previous conventions.
For attendees, this means a little more advance planning is required. Instead of finding a pass code at the last minute, attendees should make plans earlier to obtain a VIP Pass if they expect to attend for no cost. For larger groups that send many individuals, this will mean that several exhibitors may need to be contacted to secure a sufficient number of passes.
Some exhibitors have expressed concern over the change, saying that this will further reduce the number of attendees. NAB disagrees. According to the NAB, there were 650 guest-pass attendees at the 2002 Radio Show. The new policy provides 10 one-day passes for each day (20 total) to all the exhibitors. An individual is only allowed one pass for the entire convention. If all the VIP Passes are used there could be up to 1,400 attendees.
The actual number will likely be less because out-of-town attendees will probably not fly into Philadelphia for a single day.
Under the old policy, anyone could complete a guest-pass registration. Many registrants would then not attend the convention. The NAB cites that at the 2002 Radio Show, one exhibitor was issued 100 guest passes, of which only two were used by actual attendees. It is likely that other exhibitors have similar stats.
According to the NAB, exhibitors have asked for ways to improve the quality of the audience. The NAB has addressed this by holding some sessions on the exhibit floor and by changing the guest pass policy. NAB expects that this will result in more serious attendees who have equipment and services purchase intentions.
The NAB Radio Show has seen a decline in attendance and exhibitors over the past few years. Last year’s attendance was 3,983. The 2001 attendance was 5,227. There were 112 exhibitors last year. There are 70 exhibitors this year. The NAB has not predicted 2003 attendance because Philadelphia is a new city for the NAB Radio tour.
Rumors have circulated through the radio industry that the NAB would like to end the Radio Show and completely roll it into the spring convention. This idea presents a financial plus for the NAB, but manufacturers and many attendees don’t like the idea. The spring convention is already so spread in focus that radio is almost an afterthought now. The Radio Show provides a single focus on radio.
This recent action may prove to backfire on the NAB and further reduce attendance.
SBE Certification Program AttainsRecognition
Washington – June 10, 2003 – The National Skills Standards Board (NSSB) was formed in response to the large number of industry certifications in the marketplace. NSSB Certification Recognition was designed to help users of certifications navigate through the maze of certifications by identifying those that meet high professional and technical standards for quality assurance. To receive recognition, a certification must undergo a comprehensive review to ensure that it meets specific quality requirements.
The Society of Broadcast Engineers Program of Certification offers several levels of certification for the broadcast industry. The program began in 1975 as an industry response to the reduction in FCC operator licensing. Since then, the program has grown to include a group of sequential certifications that cover traditional broadcast engineering skills and knowledge, as well as certifications for TV operators, radio operators and broadcast computer networking technologists.
While the broadcast industry has long accepted SBE Certification as a valid mark of an individual’s skill, the SBE National Certification Committee has sought approvals from outside the broadcast industry to further the program’s existing reputation.
On June 10, 2003, the NSSB granted its recognition of the following SBE certification levels:
- Certified Broadcast Technologist (CBT)
- Certified Broadcast Engineer (CBRE/CBTE)
- Certified Senior Broadcast Engineer (CSRE/CSTE)
- Certified Professional Broadcast Engineer (CPBE)
- Certified Broadcast Networking Technologist (CBNT)
- Certified Audio Engineer (CEA)
- Certified Video Engineer (CEV)
- Certified Television Operator (CTO)
“This achievement marks a significant peak for the Program of Certification,” said Chriss Scherer, CSRE CBNT, chairman of the SBE National Certification Committee. “The SBE Certification Committee members-current and past members alike-devote a great deal of time and effort to the Program of Certification. This honor strengthens our belief in our own efforts and takes SBE certification to a higher standard of excellence.”
Troy Pennington, CPBE CBNT, president of the SBE added, “I’m pleased that the SBE Certification Committee has pursued and obtained this important recognition for the various certification levels within the Program of Certification. We’re proud of the significance that SBE certification holds in the broadcast industry, and this honor further proves the value and significance that SBE certification provides.”
For more information on SBE certification, contact the Society of Broadcast Engineers at 317-846-9000 or www.sbe.org.
Less Than One Week to Go forDRM Launch
Geneva – June 11, 2003 – During the International Telecommunications Union�s (ITU) World Radiocommunication Conference (WRC 2003), international, national and local broadcasters will simultaneously send the world�s first live, daily Digital Radio Mondiale (DRM) broadcasts toward Geneva and across the globe, on Monday evening, June 16, 2003. The non-proprietary, DRM system has received the broadest ITU recommendation of any other digital radio system in the world. DRM uses existing short-wave, medium-wave/AM and long-wave frequencies and bandwidth to provide near-FM quality sound.
The participating broadcasters include the BBC World Service, Christian Vision, Deutsche Welle, the Ministry of Information of the State of Kuwait, Radio Canada International, Radio France Internationale, Radio Netherlands, Radio Vaticana, the RTL Group, Swedish Radio International, Voice of America, Voice of Russia and Wales Radio International. Their DRM broadcasts will reach Europe, North America, the Middle East, Australia and New Zealand. Within Europe, national broadcasters DeutschlandRadio and Radio France, plus local station Georg-Simon-Ohm-Fachhochschule in Nuremberg, will showcase DRM broadcasts on medium-wave/AM. Also participating in DRM�s debut are Fraunhofer IIS, Nozema, TDF, Telenor/Norkring, Thales Broadcast & Multimedia, T-Systems Media&Broadcast and VT Merlin Communications.
Coding Technologies GmbH has announced that production of a second-generation, DRM-capable, world band receiver is underway for distribution in late 2003. Further commercial DRM-capable receivers should become available in stores within two to three years.
The DRM system was developed, tested and standardized by the DRM Consortium over a period of five years. Founded in Guangzhou, China in 1998 and headquartered in Geneva, the consortium has expanded into a group of 80 broadcasters, network operators, equipment manufacturers, broadcasting unions, regulatory bodies and NGOs representing 29 countries.
DRM information and audio samples are available at www.drm.org.
Motorola, StratosAudio, HyundaiAutonet Collaborate on Interactive Radio
Austin, TX – Jun 23, 2003 – Motorola’s Semiconductor Products Sector is pairing its Symphony digital radio chipset with capabilities from other technology and manufacturing innovators to deliver an in-vehicle interactive radio. StratosAudio, Motorola and Hyundai Autonet are working to develop and demonstrate a competitively priced interactive receiver and broadcast system with content identification and one-button purchase capabilities by September 2003.
With the interactive Symphony digital radio, consumers can expect to experience great digital-quality sound with enhanced home stereo features in addition to identification, real-time response, purchase and digital download of on-air events.
StratosAudio, an interactive broadcast radio service provider, gives listeners a means to respond to on-air content � making purchases and requesting more information at the press of a button. The StratosAudio Broadcast Management Software (SABMS) is designed to provide instant in-vehicle access to advertised discounts and premiums, music information, listener voting, traffic alerts and more, with follow-up via mobile phone and the Internet. This one-button capability meets the demands of listeners, including the 62 percent who, according to a 2001 Edison study, want to know the artist and title for every song they hear on the radio.
“We are intrigued by the marriage of Motorola Symphony digital radio’s enhanced audio and StratosAudio’s interactive services and look forward to experimenting with those capabilities,” said Jeff Littlejohn, senior vice president of engineering, Clear Channel Radio.
StratosAudio�s SABMS is designed to extend the reach of digital content to the vehicle. Listeners can respond while in transit or hours later by reviewing on-air events cached in the radio�s memory. They can buy music from major record label catalogs with hundreds of thousands of digital tracks available. These tracks may be downloaded to a PC and burned on a CD.
Launched last fall, the Symphony digital radio chipset was engineered to deliver enhanced sound quality and signal reception for existing analog broadcasts. Designed for home and automotive stereo systems, Symphony digital radio is engineered to greatly improve the reception, quality and reach of traditional AM/FM analog broadcasts.
From an investment perspective, the costs are minimal. An average broadcaster may spend up to $3,000 (USD) to acquire an RBDS (radio data system/radio broadcast data system) encoder. SABMS is designed to deliver a real-time playlist data feed to the RBDS encoder for identification of on-air content in addition to data population of the station website, mobile devices and interactive Symphony digital radio receivers. Broadcasters who participate in the promotion of StratosAudio�s interactive services will receive a free SABMS license.
Based on Motorola�s 24-bit digital audio architecture, the Symphony digital radio uses digital signal processors (DSP) to filter and improve signal reception. The software architecture allows for radio tuning, audio processing and data reception simultaneously on a single processor and software thread. A description of the technology behind the Symphony radio was detailed in the December 2002 issue of Radio magazine. Read the article online by following this link.
Hyundai Autonet (HACO), a leading supplier of automotive electronics and long time Motorola customer, is manufacturing the interactive Symphony digital radios currently in development. StratosAudio and Motorola anticipate conducting demonstrations of the in-vehicle interactive services later this summer; receivers are scheduled to be available for retailers in time for the 2003 holiday shopping season. Consumer pricing for the radio is projected to be in line with current radios on the market and receivers are expected to be available later this year.
New Address for Murray Company
St. Louis – June 19, 2003 – The Murray Company, an integrated design and construction services firm, will move into its new St. Louis offices on June 20. The new address will be
1807 Park 270 Drive, Suite 460
St. Louis, MO 63146
The telephone and fax numbers remain the same.
The Overland Park, KS, office can still be reached at the same address and phone number.
Intelix Announces TrainingSeminar Schedule
Middleton, WI – June 18, 2003 – Intelix has released its summer and early fall Direct Connect Seminar Series schedule. The Direct Connect Seminar Series provides free design and installation training for Intelix audio/video matrix and mic/line mixing products.
- Thursday, June 19 – Installing MARC Audio Room Combine Systems
- Thursday, June 26 – Wiring Intelix Matrix Mixers
- Thursday, July 3 – Psychologist Remote Monitor Mixers Overview
- Thursday, July 10 – MARC Audio Room Combine Systems Overview
- Thursday, July 17 – Installing MARC Audio Room Combine Systems
- Thursday, July 24 – Wiring Intelix Matrix Mixers
- Thursday, July 31 – AVM “Audio Leads Video” Matrix Audio Mixer/Video Switcher
- Thursday, Aug 7 – Intelix Mic/Line Mixers Overview
- Thursday, Aug14 – M-Series Audio Matrix Mixers Overview
- Thursday, Aug 21 – MZP Multi-zone Paging and Program Distribution Overview
- Thursday, Aug 28 – Installing MZP Multi-zone Paging and Program Distribution Systems
To participate, attendees need an Internet-ready computer and telephone for the 45-minute session. A short quiz is also offered online.
Broadcast Electronics Scores Order fromClear Channel
Quincy, IL – June 10, 2003 – Clear Channel Communications has placed an order for 69 Broadcast Electronics transmitters and exciters for delivery during 2003. The master purchase order includes almost a dozen each Broadcast Electronics AM-1A and AM-6A transmitters; 10 solid-state 1kW, 2kW and 5kW FM transmitters; 10 FXi-60 exciters; five IBOC FMi transmitters; and 16 T-series single-tube FM transmitters ranging in power level from 10kW to 60kW.
As part of this order, KIIS-FM and KOST-FM in Los Angeles, KYLD-FM and KKSF-FM in San Francisco, and WDTW-FM in Detroit will convert to IBOC by year-end using Broadcast Electronics low-powered FMi transmitters and FXi 60/250 exciters.
The stations will use separate antennas under an STA or high-level combine the signals in a common antenna. Both configurations take advantage of lower-powered, lower-cost transmitters for the conversion. Three of the five stations will use a Broadcast Electronics FMi 73 to transmit up to a 300W digital signal, another will use a FMi 31 to transmit up to a 150W signal, and the remaining station will use a FMi 201 to transmit up to a 875W digital signal.
Currently, Broadcast Electronics is the only broadcast manufacturer producing IBOC-compatible, low-powered FM transmitters for outputs below 3.5kW.
Clear Channel also ordered FXi 60 250W direct-to-channel digital exciters for the stations and FSi 10 signal generators to generate the IBOC signal and provide GPS synchronization and delay matching of the analog and digital paths for blending the two into one hybrid operation.
Cox Radio Atlanta Chooses Harris forIBOC
Cincinnati – June 10, 2003 – Cox Radio has chosen Harris analog and digital transmission equipment to take its five Atlanta-area stations digital. Cox will use Harris Z HD and Z CD transmitters, and Harris Dexstar digital exciters to provide IBOC capabilities to its WSB Radio Group and to upgrade its current analog signals.
The new transmitters and Dexstars are being installed at WSB-FM 98.5, WALR-FM 104.1, WBTS-FM 95.5, WFOX-FM 97.1 and WSB-AM 750.
Cox Radio is the third largest radio broadcasting company in the United States, based on net revenues, and the largest pure-play radio station group based on net revenues. Cox Radio operates, acquires and develops radio stations primarily in markets ranked 10-70 based on revenues. Cox owns, operates or provides sales and marketing services to 78 stations (67 FM, 11 AM) in 18 markets and employs more than 2,300 people.
BSI Adds to Tech Team Again
Eugene, OR – June 11, 2003 – Broadcast Software International (BSI) has added Vince Gamboa to its tech support team. Gamboa is fluent in Spanish and English. He has strong technical skills as well, with experience in network operation, system building and customer service. Gamboa is currently working toward completion of a bachelor’s degree in Computer Science.
BSI benefits from Gamboa’s Spanish skills with the company’s increasing work with Spanish-speaking customers.
LightningcastProvides Insertion for AOL’s Online Radio
Dulles, VA – June 18, 2003 – America Online (AOL) has incorporated Lightningcast�s Media Thunder ad insertion technology into the AOL Radio@Network. The Lightningcast system inserts audio and video ads into online media.
The AOL Radio@Network encompasses Radio@AOL, Radio@AOL for Broadband, Radio@Netscape and Spinner.com. The network offers more than 175 music, news, sports, entertainment and seasonal stations, as well as celebrity stations and terrestrial streams from several broadcasters.
TDM Data Releases EAScriber Update
Parker, CO – Jun 16, 2003 – TDM Data Solutions has released version 2.0 of the EAScriber Pro application, following a three-month beta cycle intended to test recent improvements and verify new discrepancy reporting functionality. The 60-day demo of the application is not yet available for this version, but TDM plans to provide a downloadable demo in July. Since May of 2001, radio and TV stations in more than 16 states supporting more than 100 stations have selected EAScriber Pro to automate the EAS logging and reporting process. The software supports Sage, TFT and Burk hardware.
EAScriber Pro installs on a PC and monitors EAS activity through the serial ports included with most EAS receivers. Data is captured and logged in a database. The software will also print hard copy reports.
New functionality in version 2.0 includes more baud rate configurations, discrepancy reporting for seven-day and 30-day test delays, MSRP support for Sage ENDEC users, and TCP/IP support for monitoring EAS activity over an existing LAN or WAN. More information is available at www.tdmdatasolutions.com.
V-Soft Updates Terrain Database
Cedar Falls, IA – June 11, 2003 – V-Soft Communications has released a new, more accurate 03 arc-second terrain database in an effort to improve the existing United States Geological Survey (USGS) 03 arc-second terrain elevation database. The new 03 arc-second database was derived from the latest release of the USGS National Elevation Dataset 30 meter data, the most accurate terrain dataset currently available.
The old USGS 03 arc-second terrain dataset has numerous inaccuracies, as it was digitized using individual topographical maps at a 1:250,000 scale. The new USGS NED 30 meter dataset was produced in a seamless raster format with the most accurate terrain elevation information available. V-Soft Communications� implementation uses every tenth point to create the most accurate 03 second terrain elevation database to date. The improved quality of the 03 arc-second terrain elevation database will improve the accuracy of FCC, Longley-Rice and path profile analyses.
Contact V-Soft at (319) 266-8402 or [email protected].
Telos Finds New Supplier for MitelSupersets
Cleveland – June 9, 2003 – The Telos Direct Interface on-air telephone system has been a popular choice for many stations. This system routes calls for on-air use and includes a call-screener capability by attaching a Mitel Supreset IV telephone to the system. These phone sets, once a popular system on their own, have become harder to obtain at an affordable cost as demand has decreased.
To address concern over the growing cost of finding replacement sets, Telos has obtained a new supplier and has reduced the price it charges for the Mitel Superset IV phones with the correct software. While factory-new phone sets are no longer available, Telos can provide professionally refurbished units that are programmed and checked for proper operation with the Direct Interface.
The new supplier arrangement offers a replacement program where users can trade old Mitel sets for new ones at a cost that is less than 1/3 of what was previously charged. Contact the support department at Telos for more information.