Posts Categorised: Deep Dig

The advocacy group called the FCC’s earlier decision arbitrary, capricious and contrary to LCRA

WASHINGTON — While the industry digests the 998 objections that Prometheus and two other advocacy groups filed with the FCC on May 17, the Federal Communications Commission has issued a firm “no” in a separate Prometheus filing — one that may be of interest to low-power FM stations, AM operators, LCRA supporters, and those watching for a future tug of war between AM radio stations and LPFMers.

Last year the Prometheus Radio Project filed a series of petitions with the FCC saying the commission’s 2017 formal order on the siting of cross-service translators for AM stations was arbitrary, capricious, contrary to the goals of the Local Community Radio Act of 2010, and insensitive to the needs of community-oriented noncommercial educational LPFM providers.

The issue surrounds the commission’s decision not to adopt a specifically defined distance limit on the siting of cross-service translators for AM stations with a 2 mV/m contour exceeding 25 miles.

As part of its AM revitalization efforts, the FCC amended a rule in February 2017 surrounding the siting of an FM translator that is rebroadcasting an AM station. The draft of this Second Report and Order differed from earlier documents in that it did not include any specific distance limits on the siting of translators.

This was done intentionally, the FCC said, to give AM stations flexibility in using a cross-service translator to serve its core market — assuming that it still did not extend its signal beyond the station’s core service area.

Prior to the circulation of this Second R&O draft, the rules were quite specific: a cross-service FM translator had to be located such that its 60 dBμ contour was contained within the lesser of either the AM station’s daytime 2 mV/m contour, or within a 25-mile radius centered at the AM station’s transmitter site.

As the FCC put it: “refraining from adopting a limit would be consistent with the objective, articulated in the [AM Revitalization Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking], to provide flexibility to an AM station using a cross- service translator.”

Prometheus objected, however. It argued that without the proposed 40-mile limit, expanded siting options for cross-service FM translators would lead to an increase in the short-spacing of low-power FM stations from multiple directions, and would significantly restrict incumbent LPFM stations’ ability to relocate in the event of lost transmitter sites.

The commission dismissed Prometheus’ objections at the time and went ahead and approved the Second R&O without any mention of the 40-mile limit. The commission said Prometheus neglected to quantify the number of LPFM stations that would be affected and noted that the new rules still made space for mandated minimum spacing and contour overlap protections.

Prometheus responded again with a stay petition and reconsideration petition and demanded a freeze on the processing of related applications.

The FCC again disagreed. “Despite Prometheus’s claims, the commission did not fail to account for any adverse impact that the order will have on LPFM stations,” the FCC said. “Rather, the commission found that the public interest benefits of providing greater flexibility for AM stations to locate cross-service translators, even beyond the 40-mile limit, were significant and that nothing in the record, including Prometheus’s February Ex Parte, demonstrated harm to LPFM stations that would outweigh these benefits.”

Nor does the commission agree with Prometheus’ assessment that it violated the LCRA by not adopting a set distance limit on siting of cross-service translators.

“[The order] addresses community needs by allowing improved primary service by AM broadcasters” such that the requirements of Section 5 of the LCRA have been met, the FCC said.

The commission rejected Prometheus in another way: its assessment that the FCC favored expansion of commercial stations, “many of which are controlled by large national ownership groups at the expense of noncommercial local LPFM,” Prometheus told the FCC.

Elimination of the set distance limit does not favor expansion of commercial stations at the expense of noncommercial stations, the FCC said. “The increased flexibility in siting of cross-service translators will benefit both commercial and noncommercial AM stations … [and] the potential for harm to noncommercial LPFM stations resulting from this increased flexibility is remote.”

As a result, the commission rejected Prometheus’s request for reconsideration and dismissed its stay petition as moot.

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Says new insights will enable advertisers to measure and optimize ad campaigns

NEW YORK — The competition among broadcast groups for radio advertising dollars continues to escalate, due in no small measure to new technologies. The revolution began with the introduction of programmatic ad buying, which streamlined what had been a cumbersome process. At the same time, the drive towards better real-time analytics began. RW recently reported about Veritone’s announcement of partnerships with Beasley Media Group, Reach Media, the Tom Joyner Network, Townsquare Media and Results Radio, giving these broadcasters a license to use the Veritone aiWARE platform at their stations to process, transform, and review audio data in near real-time, with ad and content tracking, analytics.

The driving force behind much of this effort is bringing radio analysis to a parity with the traditionally more precise online media metrics. Now, iHeartMedia is jumping in with “iHeartMedia Analytics,” which it claims is the first fully-digital attribution service for broadcast radio. By leveraging the data from iHeartRadio’s digital ecosystem, the company claims, iHeartMedia will enable broadcast radio to measure and show results in the same way as digital media, giving advertisers easy access to campaign performance insights.

Brian Kaminsky, president of Revenue Operations and Insights for iHeartMedia, explained the logic behind this move: “We continue to see advertisers spend money on less effective mediums simply because they provide a perceived level of measurability and accountability. Now, marketers will be able to capitalize on the scale and reach of iHeartMedia’s more than 270 million monthly broadcast listeners. They can receive the same kind of real-time measurements, insights and custom reporting they are accustomed to getting from digital media, quantifying the full power of radio. In addition they can get attribution information that is missing from most of the digital marketplace.”

iHeartMedia Analytics is the latest addition to the company’s marketing optimization toolbox. It also includes SoundPoint, a programmatic real-time radio ad buying platform, and the recently introduced SmartAudio, which enables advertisers to do impression-based audience planning and dynamic radio ad creative that utilizes real-time triggers such as weather, pollen counts and sports scores.

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It’s a translation of the fourth edition of the “NATE Tower Climber Fall Protection Training Standard”

WASHINGTON — The National Association of Tower Erectors is now offering one of its primary resources in a Spanish language edition.

“Norma de Capacitación de Protección contra Caidas para Trepadores de Torres de la NATE” is the translated version of the fourth edition of the “NATE Tower Climber Fall Protection Training Standard.” The standard establishes the minimum requirements to which all tower climbers should be trained, and the NATE CTS outlines the individual standards for varying levels of tower climber expertise, as well as contains a Course Training Plan to demonstrate how to implement and utilize the NATE CTS and a Definitions section.

The Spanish edition is available online as a free resource for member companies, and the print format is available for both members and non-members to purchase.

“A Spanish language edition of the NATE CTS is crucial for the industry’s growing multicultural workforce. Making it accessible to a larger audience will help ensure all employees are adequately trained and maintain the highest level of safety standards,” Sindy Benavides, chief operating officer and acting CEO of the League of United Latin American Citizens said in a press release.

The association also said it plans to translate other resources to Spanish in the future. 

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Reps from the Center for International Media Action, Common Frequency and the Prometheus Radio Project believe the FCC has had its eye off the ball since 2014

WASHINGTON — The FM spectrum wars seem to be heating up.

Three organizations that support low-power FM stations in the United States have filed objections to 998 applications by full-power stations that want to extend coverage via FM translators.

Representatives from the Center for International Media Action, Common Frequency and the Prometheus Radio Project believe the FCC has had its eye off the ball since 2014 as it has handled translator applications.

This is the latest development in a years-long tug of war over U.S. FM spectrum management that often finds LPFM advocates and translator licensees pitted against one another a situation and that has gotten worse first as the LPFM service expanded and then as FCC policies encouraged further proliferation of FM translators for full-power stations including AMs.

The groups argue that after the Local Community Radio Act expanding the LPFM service was signed into law in 2011, Congress ordered the FCC to ensure that urban areas had opportunities for LPFM and translator applications and that the two types of radio facility be treated equally.

While the FCC previously had carefully modified translator processing procedures so that applicants could show that they were honoring the LCRA, argued Paul Bame of the Prometheus Radio Project in a letter on its website , “since 2014, something switched and they have allowed a giant spectrum grab by repeaters without regard to future LPFM opportunities.

“The congressional mandate is still in force, but seems to have been forgotten by the FCC,” he wrote.

According to the three groups, the FCC is supposed to serve as a referee between the interests of stations that wanted to extend their coverage with “repeaters” and new LPFMs looking to get a start in broadcasting.

“And from 2011 to 2013, they got it right,” the groups wrote. “Unfortunately, the referee has stepped off of the field, and incumbent owners are grabbing up everything they can, hoping no one will remember Congress’ mandate.”

They assert that the LCRA had determined that translator and LPFM services “remain equal in status” and “secondary to existing and modified full-service FM stations,” and thus, the groups argued, the FCC cannot enforce rules that give one service preference in relation to signal engineering.

Said Todd Urick with Common Frequency: “The rule of law still applies, and the FCC is bound by the orders that Congress gave it. Our objection to these 998 applications is a reminder that there was no sunset on compliance with this law in 2014 — it is still on the books and must be obeyed.”

Specifically, the groups said the FCC has informally sanctioned the practice of allowing translators to short-space existing LPFM facilities — i.e., allowing translator proposals to be spaced shorter than what LPFM services are allowed to propose to translators — without legally testing the issue. “This, by definition, affords a higher status to translators,” the groups said, a practice they say violates the LCRA.

In the case of a short-spacing, the groups said, a translator applicant “is free to propose endless minor changes and modification around the LPFM in perpetuity, but the LPFM is locked into its coordinate position from moving any closer to the translator.”

“The bias preemptively deems service preference to the translator party, with the LPFM party saddled with one-way mutual exclusivity,” the groups said.

Common Frequency, Prometheus and CIM are calling for all the applicants they list in their filing to confirm that their engineering requests meet the demands of the LCRA Section 5. They should demonstrate this prior to licensing, the group said, or be subject to dismissal or rescindment.

A list of the applicants are listed in in Appendix A of the group’s filing, and include applicants from all over the contiguous United States as well as Alaska, Hawaii and Puerto Rico.

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Organization says there will soon be 1 million cars equipped standard

The number of cars with DRM-enabled radio sets installed as standard equipment on  Indian roads is nearing 1 million, according to Digital Radio Mondiale.

All India Radio, the public broadcaster, has engaged in the past few years in what it calls the largest radio digitization rollout in the world; with 39 high-power DRM transmitters operational, AIR is covering a large part of the subcontinent and an estimated 600 million people, DRM says.

It argues that, like elsewhere in the world, digital radio in India is driven by listening in cars and is important for the success of India’s digital rollout program. DRM says the receiver industry has invested millions of dollars in development of DRM-capable receivers and that the rollout of DRM-equipped cars is “growing quickly by the month”

DRM also noted that Communications Systems Inc. of India, manufacturer of the Avion DRM digital receiver AV-1401 , has started its second production run after undertaking enhancements to the device.

The AV-DR-1401 has been upgraded with a new PCB design for enhanced sensitivity and an improved FM signal, it said. The manufacturer also upgraded the software for the Emergency Warning Functionality, so that it can be used when the receiver is in standby as well; and, the receiver is now able to pick up weaker signals and deliver those in better digital audio quality. Improvements have been done also on the antenna by providing a complete new design, also according to DRM news .

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Educational Broadcast Service spectrum to be used for LTE and 5G

The FCC voted unanimously this month to adopt a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that contemplates ways to put mostly “fallow” 2.5 GHz spectrum to use.

The 2496–2690 MHz band constitutes “the single largest band of contiguous spectrum below 3 GHz and is prime for next-generation mobile operations,” according to .

Significant portions of the Educational Broadband Service spectrum in this band currently are unused across nearly half of the United States, mostly in rural areas. The commission has limited access to the spectrum since 1995, and current licensees are subject to outdated regulations, according to the FCC.

Efforts have been underway for more than a year to get the FCC to issue an NPRM so that the EBS portion of the 2.5 GHz spectrum could be put to better use, according to the article. In 2014, the Wireless Communications Association, the National EBS Association and the Catholic Television Network got together and submitted a proposal on how to license the spectrum.

Sprint holds licensed 2.5 GHz spectrum assets, and said that adoption of new licensing opportunities for EBS licensees will further strengthen its existing 4G LTE and future 5G deployments.

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Let’s take a look at the progress of DAB across Europe. The primary reference for this article is from the EBU , written by Ben Poor. As a broadcasting union, the organization does want to see broadcasting continue and even thrive, but that’s no reason to unduly charge them with news “spin.”

The year 2017 saw an increase in the number of available services: Figures from the EBU Media Intelligence Service’s Market Insights on Digital Radio 2018 show that the number of digital stations increased by almost 25 percent. Some 468 stations are only available via digital transmission. Most of these are commercial stations “indicating an increasing recognition by private broadcasters of digital radio as a cost-effective place to innovate and reach new audiences.”

“A recent EBU analysis of the distribution costs for covering national populations by FM, DAB+ and Broadband showed that digital broadcast using DAB+ was significantly more cost-effective than the alternatives – even when calculated conservatively,” the article goes on to say. Thus, as digital listening grows, so does the case for planning for DSOs in the various countries.

For Norway: “The predicted drop of daily reach as a result of the disruption turned out to be less than expected.” Bauer Media predicts by the end of 2018 total radio listening and commercial radio revenues in Norway will have increased, and public radio listening will have bounced back. “DSO is disruptive and terrifying but it’s going to have been successful for everyone,” according to Bauer.

Let’s interject another source here. As reported by , in a recent media survey, made by Respons, for Nordic Media Days, 57% of respondents are “negative” that FM was switched off and replaced with DAB. 27% of respondents expressed their positive attitude towards digitization, while 16% of respondents did not know. The survey also shows that many still have not acquired a DAB radio: about 28% of respondents respond that they do not have DAB; 33% have acquired such a radio; 37% have digital radios at home.

Switzerland –in recent years, Switzerland has significantly built out its digital coverage, ahead of a cut-off date for DSO by 2024. “However, thanks to a close collaboration between government, industry and broadcasters, it is expected that DAB+ will be the main distribution platform from 2020,” according to EBU. “…success factors have included ensuring new cars are line-fitted with DAB+ receivers, [and a] a public information campaign and a partnership between public and private broadcasters.” Another reason given is regional layer built out using ‘low-cost’ solutions based on the freely available DAB+ broadcasting tools from OpenDigitalRadio . This has enabled local services to support the move to digital, bringing audiences with them.

Denmark–Denmark has one of the lowest numbers of digital-only stations within countries usually considered as digital radio ‘leaders’, but a plan for a DSO has recently been floated.

“The plan proposes a shutdown of FM two years after digital listening exceeds 50 percent, or in 2021 at the latest. Current figures (2018) put this at 37 percent, up from 31 percent in 2015.” This has followed a full transition from DAB to DAB+ during 2017, and a reorganization of frequencies for existing transmitters. I should also note that this is just a plan—it isn’t written into the law .

United Kingdom—“Digital listening in the UK is huge, with big seasonal spikes in the sales of home receivers and nearly 90 percent of new cars being line-fitted with a digital receiver,” according to EBU. The number of digital-only stations is almost twice the number of its nearest rival, Switzerland, with around 110 stations.

“A long-awaited figure of 50 percent digital share of listening across all digital platforms is expected during 2018.” This should then meet government criteria defined in its July 2010 Digital Radio Action Plan, triggering a process to “consider a decision on whether to set a date for [DSO]”.

The BBC still accounts for around half of all digital listening time and is a key player in any decision on DSO. A widely misreported speech by the BBC’s Director of Radio and Music, Bob Shennan , at the recent Radiodays in Vienna struck an optimistic but cautious tone. Shennan said a DSO plan “should be “audience-led” and that currently “audiences are best served by a mixed economy” of digital broadcast, broadband and FM in a ‘hybrid’ model.”

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Expire June 11, barring further developments like action in Congress

U.S. “net neutrality” rules will expire on June 11, the Federal Communications Commission said last week.

In December the FCC repealed the open-internet rules that had been set in 2015, barring providers from blocking or slowing access to content or charging consumers more for certain content.

“The prior rules were intended to ensure a free and open internet, give consumers equal access to web content and bar broadband service providers from favoring their own material or others,” Reuters reported.

“The revised rules were a win for internet service providers, whose practices faced significant government oversight and FCC investigations under the 2015 order, but are opposed by internet firms like Facebook Inc and Alphabet Inc.”

The new rules require internet providers to tell consumers whether they will block or slow content or offer paid “fast lanes.” Comcast, Verizon and AT&T  have all pledged to not block or discriminate against legal content after the rules expire. Some internet providers have said they could eventually offer paid fast lanes, also known as paid prioritization, for some future internet traffic.

A group of 22 states led by New York and others have sued to try to block the new rules from taking effect, and the U.S. Senate could vote to reject the December repeal. Acting New York Attorney General Barbara Underwood said, “The repeal of net neutrality would allow internet service providers to put their profits before the consumers they serve and control what we see, do, and say online,” as quoted in the same article. A spokeswoman for Underwood said the state attorneys general have not sought a stay of the FCC order yet.

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai has led the move to change the rules. Even if the Senate were to block this change, that effort would not likely survive the more heavily Republican House of Representatives or a presidential veto.

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U.S. radio industry technical leaders are emphasizing the importance of registering your downlinks by mid-July

U.S. radio industry technical leaders are emphasizing the importance of registering your downlinks by mid-July.

We’re reported recently about reminders from organizations like NPR and the Society of Broadcast Engineers. In this week’s Monday Morning Coffee Technical Notes , Larry Wilkins of the Alabama Broadcasters Association expands on the point.

He reminds readers that the FCC will be evaluating the C Band (3.7–4.2 GHz) for possibly repurposing for wireless broadband use. The band is used by many broadcasters for satellite distribution of programming.

[Read more about the history of this topic. “Mid-Band Spectrum Talk Worries Broadcasters,” Jan. 2018]

He stresses: “It is critical that you register your downlink so the FCC is aware of it during this 90-day window or you risk losing ALL of your satellite programming. The 90-day window closes on July 18, 2018.”

Wilkins adds, “Stations are also encouraged to contact your FCC attorney and let him or her know where you stand on the issue.”

C Band downlink stations need to be registered no later than July 18, according to Wilkins. There is a $435 fee, though NCE stations can get that waived.

He also shares a link to useful specific directions from space providers SES and Linkup Satellite. Read his post.

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Its servers were hacked by unknown cryptocurrency miners during a fundraising drive

PORTLAND — An Oregon community radio station is still battling the after-effects of an April 28 cryptocurrency attack, according to Katie Shepherd of Willamette Week .

KBOO(FM) Community Radio’s servers were hacked by unknown cryptocurrency miners during the last week of the noncom’s fundraising drive. Because of its website’s 80% slowdown, KBOO reps said the station saw a decrease in online fundraising efforts during this crucial fundraising period.

However, the station did not have any of its files breached — a somewhat dim silver lining, all things considered.

[Read about The Wandering Engineer’s fears of the coming It Apocalypse.]

As of May 11, the station’s website is still down — more than two weeks later — as part of efforts to scrub the system of the malicious code. According to the Willamette Week, the station aims to be back online in the next day or so.

KBOO was far from the only victim of the attack, known as “Drupalgeddon2.” Other affected organizations include Lenovo, the University of California at Los Angeles and the U.S. National Labor Relations Board. The hackers exploited websites that had not updated a patch that fixed a problem in the Drupal content management system.

This is another unfortunate reminder that stations need to pay close attention to cybersecurity protocols at all levels in order to reduce vulnerability, as cybercriminals become increasingly determined and inventive.

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