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Current process is “nasty, brutish and long,” FCC Chair Ajit Pai says

WASHINGTON — A new rulemaking proposed by the Federal Communications Commission would help to streamline and modify FM translator interference complaint and remediation procedures.

At its Open Meeting on May 10, the commission released a proposal that would provide greater certainty to full-power stations regarding complaint requirements, limit contentious factual disputes, and ensure prompt and consistent relief from actual translator interference, the FCC said in a release .

“Today the chair brings forth an appropriate solution with more effective process for handling legitimate complaints,” said Commissioner Michael O’Rielly, referencing the fact that the of licensed FM translators has increased from 1,850 in 1990 to more than 7,500 in 2017 — with more to come. “[I] hope to hear from stakeholders on whether or not this will adequately address the rise in interference concerns due to the successful [AM Revitalization] proceeding.”

Added Chairman Ajit Pai: “The current process for resolving such interference complaints can be nasty, brutish and long. That’s why we aim to streamline and expedite it,” he said. “These measures would provide more certainty to translator stations and full-service FM stations alike. And in many cases, they would eliminate the need for further remediation measures, resolving interference complaints more quickly.

The notice proposes that translators be given greater flexibility to move to another available frequency in the case of interference and that the rules be clarified and standardized when it comes to complaint requirements. The notice also suggests that proposed technical criteria should be used to assess actual and predicted interference, and that an outer distance limit should be created beyond which interference complaints would not be actionable.

In response to the notice, the National Association of Broadcasters said it is grateful the FCC is considering new policies. 

“[These] will extend local radio service through the use of translators while protecting the existing service of FM broadcasters,” said NAB Executive Vice President of Communications Dennis Wharton.Comments can be left at the FCC ECFS database using Media Bureau docket number 18-119.

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The acronym stands for “Preventing Illegal Radio Abuse Through Enforcement Act”


WASHINGTON — Another legislative step has been taken in the effort to fight illegal pirate radio operations.

On May 8, Rep. Leonard Lance (R-NJ) and Rep. Paul Tonko (D-NY) formally introduced a bill to Congress designed to thwart and penalize illegal radio operations.

Known as the ‘‘Preventing Illegal Radio Abuse Through Enforcement Act,” the PIRATE Act will increase the ability of the Federal Communications Commission to crack down on pirate activity by increasing fines, streamlining enforcement and placing liability those who facilitate illegal radio broadcasts.

“It is time to take these pirates off the air by hiking the penalties and working with the Federal Communications Commission on enforcement,” Lance said in a statement. Chairman Pai and Commissioner O’Rielly have been able partners in making sure these broadcasts are stopped. This bill will give the FCC even more tools to take down these illegal broadcasts.”

[Read about Chairman Pai’s plans for more anti-piracy efforts.]

As a commissioner who has long been searching for more Congressional authority to address pirate radio operations, FCC Commissioner Michael O’Rielly commended the effort after the news was announced.

“This bill rightfully increases the penalties, requires regular enforcement sweeps, and augments the tools available to the commission, which are woefully inadequate and outdated, to deal with illegal pirate broadcasters,” O’Rielly said in a statement.

O’Rielly noted that the bill notably excludes legitimate Part 15 operations — those radio hobbyists who have authority to operate without a license as long as their ERP levels remain below a specific threshold.

“While I defer to the legislative process, I think the PIRATE Act has a great chance of becoming law and helping stomp-out this illegal activity,” O’Rielly said.

The bill has been endorsed by several groups including the New Jersey Broadcasters Association, which said it has been calling for an initiative such as this for several years. “Congressman Lance has championed this legislation in an effort to protect communities from the harmful and potentially life-threatening consequences of the many illegal pirates operating in or near New Jersey,” said Paul S. Rotella, NJBA president and CEO. “This is a significant national enhancement of penalty and enforcement for those who would violate our airwaves and should give such offenders pause,” he said.

In a release expressing its support for the bill, Rotella said that members of the public may not understand the real danger that pirate radio operators pose. He pointed to potential interference to the Emergency Alert System as well as the creation of excessive RF radiation to residents and businesses in buildings with pirate radio station operations.

New Jersey is one state with a statute against pirate operations; in the Garden State, it is a forth degree felony to operate a pirate radio station, with penalties of up to $10,000 in potential liabilities and a maximum of 18 months in prison, the NJBA said. The PIRATE Act will offer a “meaningful nationwide remedy” against pirate radio operators, the organization said, since many states do not have such pirate radio laws in place.

The amendment to the Communications Act of 1934 gives “real teeth to stop these violators and keep them out of business,” Rotella said.

As reported in Radio World, the PIRATE Act proposes to hike the fine for violations to as much as $100,000 per day, with a maximum fine of $2 million. The rules currently allow the FCC to impose a maximum daily penalty of about $19,200 per day. At a Congressional hearing on the bill in March, New York State Broadcasters Association President David Donovan told lawmakers that illegal operators are undermining the nation’s Emergency Alert System, causing invasive and insidious interference, pose potential public health problems due to overexposure to radio frequency radiation, and interfere with airport communications.

“[O]ur communities are better served when broadcasting is governed by the rule of law,” Tonko said. “[This is] important legislation that will ensure our airwaves are protected from piracy and Americans on the job or on their way to work can tune their radios in peace.”

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NABEF Names Six Board Members

Emily Barr, Kim Guthrie, Rebecca Hanson, Rosemary Mercedes, Kevin Perry and Craig Robinson join the organization’s board of directors

The National Association of Broadcasters’ Education Foundation has elected six new members to its board of directors. Learn about them here.


Kim Guthrie serves as president of Cox Media Group. She oversees content, sales and operations for 14 broadcast television stations, more than 60 radio stations, seven newspapers, 11 non-daily publications and more than 100 digital sites and services.

View the 6 images of this gallery on the original article

[Read about other personnel changes at NABEF.]

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Here’s some of what you may have missed at the LVCC

LAS VEGAS — If you didn’t make it to this year’s NAB Show, here’s your chance to get a flavor of the show floor.

Contributor and broadcast engineer Chris Wygal strolled through exhibit halls, camera in hand, and this is some of what he saw.

View the 26 images of this gallery on the original article

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“Connected” means more than just transmission and reception of data, according to NAB Show session

LAS VEGAS — The word “connected” in the topic of connected cars represents more than just transmission and reception of data. That was the focus of the Sunday NAB Show Digital Futures Exchange session “New Business in Connected Car.” Attendees learned that those data connections provide much more than just information — they provide an opportunity to reach the audience behind the windshield with personally relevant information.

Audi Development Engineer Christian Winter (shown at right) spoke about the company’s hybrid radio that is featured in European versions of the Audi A8 and A6. Winter showed the system capabilities. The system is based on the RadioDNS architecture; Winter is a member of the RadioDNS steering board.

He says that the hybrid radio system for North American versions provides capability for AM and FM HD radio reception. “We love radio. It is still the number one button and the first tile on the shortcut [menu] screen.”

A demonstration of the system is located at the RadioDNS booth (N6021).

General Motors Director of Global Data Monetization Saejin Park was responsible for the rollout of 4G LTE data capability in GM vehicles. In her presentation, Park said GM has around 13 million vehicles with the OnStar system on the road today, and 8.5 million of those vehicles are 4G LTE-capable. That scale provides an opportunity to broadcasters. “You can get information on what the consumer inside is listening to, along with GPS data. When you have that kind of data, that kind of information, you can understand their listening habits.” Because of this capability, she said, “The automobile and radio industries have a chance to become more interesting and meaningful” in the coming years.

Avis Budget, one of the biggest automobile consumers, has embraced the connected car as a way to better connect with its customers. Panelist Jeff Kaelin, global vice president for product and customer experience for the Avis Budget Group, described his idea of a connected car: “a vehicle that we are able to interact with leveraging telematics equipment, and that allows us to gather information from the vehicle and communicate with the vehicle.”

Kaelin said that connectivity filters down to the entertainment options so Avis can provide “a personalized and customized experience for our consumers.”

The company has a fleet of more than 60,000 connected cars around the world; it expects to have more than 100,000 such cars by the end of summer 2018 and has committed to a global 100-percent connected car fleet by the end of 2020.

© NAB

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“Fast Tracking Radio’s Future” will feature Caroline Beasley, Paul Jacobs & others

LAS VEGAS — This year’s NAB Show will feature a Business of Broadcast panel discussion that will delve into what’s next for the radio industry.

“Fast Tracking Radio’s Future” is scheduled for Wednesday, April 11 at 1:30 p.m. and will be moderated by Jacobs Media President Fred Jacobs. The panel will tackle “on industry efforts to engage with the auto industry, connect with marketers, and launch innovative initiatives,” according to a press release.

The panel participants are Beasley Media Group CEO Caroline Beasley, Media Group Executive Vice President Cox Bill Hendrich, jacAPPS and Jacobs Media President and General Manager Paul Jacobs, Entercom Senior Vice President of Corporate Business Development Tim Murphy and NAB Executive Vice President of Strategic Planning Steve Newberry.

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Chairman Ajit Pai and Commissioners O’Rielly, Carr and Rosenworcel will participate in different four sessions

WASHINGTON — At this year’s NAB Show , the Federal Communications Commission will be out in full strength. FCC Chairman Ajit Pai and Commissioners Michael O’Rielly, Brendan Carr and Jessica Rosenworcel will participate in four separate sessions, April 7 – 12 in Las Vegas. Commissioner Mignon Clyburn is not scheduled to attend.

[Read: House Energy & Commerce Committee Chair to Headline NAB Show]

Chairman Pai will deliver remarks at the “We Are Broadcasters Celebration” Tuesday, April 10, 3–4:15 p.m. The new event celebrates local radio and TV stations’ role in communities and “commitment to innovation that enables broadcasters to better serve listeners and viewers,” according to the announcement.

Designated chairman by President Donald Trump in January 2017, Pai had previously served as commissioner at the FCC, appointed by President Barack Obama and confirmed unanimously by the United States Senate in May 2012.

Remember that Pai notably canceled an appearance at January’s CES, reportedly after threats to his safety over his position on Net Neutrality.

Commissioners O’Rielly, Carr and Rosenworcel will address three sessions within the NAB Show Business of Broadcast Conference , April 8–11, including a Law and Policy Q&A with the FCC and Capitol Hill, which is open to NAB members only.

View the 5 images of this gallery on the original article

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Rep. Greg Walden will take part in a fireside chat with NAB President CEO Gordon Smith


WASHINGTON — House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Greg Walden (R-Ore.) will be taking a break from Washington to talk with the broadcasters at the 2018 NAB Show. The NAB announced that Walden will take part in a fireside chat with NAB President CEO Gordon Smith and his Committee’s current legislation and the impact that it could have on the broadcast industry.

“From his days as a longtime radio broadcaster and now one of the most influential members of Congress, Greg Walden has been a steadfast champion of local broadcasting,” said Smith. “This is a great opportunity for broadcasters to hear from a key lawmaker about the legal, regulatory and legislative challenges facing radio and TV in Washington.”

[Read: NAB Announces 50 Crystal Radio Award Finalists]

In addition to Walden, NAB has announced that the 2018 NAB Show opening will feature Smith’s annual “State of the Broadcast Industry” address, a keynote from YouTube Chief Product Officer Neal Mohan and the presentation of the NAB Distinguished Service Award to Robin Roberts.

The 2018 NAB Show opening will take place on Monday, April 9 at 9 a.m. on the Main Stage in the North Hall of the Las Vegas Convention Center.

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The demo will feature a total of 12 HD Radio audio services from a single transmitter

LAS VEGAS — The NAB is planning a live demo of all-digital FM HD Radio featuring a total of 12 HD Radio audio services from a single transmitter during the show next month. The demo will feature a Nautel transmitter with Beasley’s KKLZ(FM) serving as the test station.

The demo will be available during regular NAB Show hours, according to Nautel officials. The special demo is tied to a session during the Broadcast Engineering and Information Technology Conference that will detail extensive high-power field testing of all-digital FM conducted earlier this year in Las Vegas using the Beasley station. Pilot, the NAB technology and innovation initiative, is hosting the session, “All-Digital FM Field Test Project” on Sunday, April 8, from 1:50–2:10 p.m.

[Read: More Reasons to Attend the 2018 BEITC]

The digital audio channels will be on even-numbered frequencies, so most receivers cannot get these. Attendees can go to the Pilot booth in the Futures Park section of the NAB Show where receivers will be tuned to the even-numbered channels.

Up until now only limited field testing of all-digital HD Radio has been conducted with low transmit power (100W) and reception equipment in non-real world test conditions.

KKLZ’s IBOC signal during the NAB Show will be based on the Nautel all-digital HD multiplex signal composed of three interleaved IBOC sidebands, according to Philipp Schmid, Nautel research engineer.

“To maintain KKLZ’s regular program service, the center sidebands are muted and replaced with the analog FM carrier. The result is two independent IBOC sidebands on both sides of the analog FM signal for a combined bitrate of 394 kbps (over 3.2x standard IBOC capacity), providing up to 12 HD Radio audio services plus the analog FM signal all broadcast by a Nautel GV40 transmitter from the Black Mountain transmission site,” Schmid wrote in an email to Radio World.

The experimental nature of the digital carrier consists of a “several minute-long loops of audio content” and is intentionally placed on the “even” dial positions, according to Schmid.

“The four digital sidebands will be available on 96.0, 96.2, 96.4 and 96.6 MHz that are not normally associated with standard FM radio stations and are receivable on some commonly available HD Radio receivers,” Schmid said.

Meanwhile, KKLZ’s regular FM programming will be available on 96.3 MHz with its regular HD programming suspended in favor of the special signal broadcast under experimental authorization, he explained.

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NAB Names SVP of Biz Development

Eric Trabb most recently served as VP of sales and group publisher for the NewBay Media Broadcast/Video Group

WASHINGTON — Eric Trabb has joined the National Association of Broadcasters as senior vice president of business development and will be responsible for leading and managing the association’s sales team, NAB announced this week.


Eric Trabb

“Eric is well-connected within the industries that NAB events and programs serve,” said Chris Brown, NAB executive vice president of Conventions and Business Operations. “His 25-plus years of experience leading national and international sales teams, combined with his proven track record in B2B sales generation around media and entertainment, will be a great asset to NAB’s business operations.”

[Related: “NAB Names Recipient of 2018 Radio Engineering Achievement Award “]

Prior to joining NAB, Trabb was vice president of sales and group publisher for the NewBay Media Broadcast/Video Group, publisher of Broadcasting & Cable, MultiChannel News, TV Technology, Radio World and Radio magazine. In all, he was responsible for 14 publications and their websites as well as show dailies, trade shows and events.

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