Category Archives: Engineering

Michigan Engineering Day September 21

Note:  this event is presently full, but interested attendees may place their name on a waiting list in the event of cancellations.

Nautel, in conjunction with Comrex, Double Radius, ERI, Munn-Reese, Optimized Media Group, Wheatstone and the MAB, are hosting a one-day series of engineering sessions for engineers in northern Michigan. This will be a full day of non-sales-oriented training, focused primarily on smaller market broadcasters who must get every watt they can out of every piece of equipment.

The event is scheduled is September 21 at the Hometown Inn in Indian River.

This is being provided at no cost to attendees, with breaks and lunch included, and will consist of eight presentations, each running 40-45 minutes, with 10 minutes at the end of each time slot for questions/discussion – a short “round table” period where attendees can discuss what was presented and add their own thoughts/ideas.

Presentations planned are as follows:

8:45 – 9:40 a.m. Alex Hartman, Optimized Media Group: “Studio maintenance and optimization”

9:40 – 10:35 a.m. Comrex: “Audio over IP – the hows and the whys”

10:35 – 10:50 a.m. Morning break (pastries and beverages)

10:50 – 11:45 a.m. Mike Erickson, Wheatstone: “Getting the most out of your processor and what to do when it just doesn’t sound right”

11:45 a.m. – 12:40 p.m. Double Radius: “STLs and wireless IP – best practices”

12:40 – 1:10 p.m. Lunch (sandwich assortment with deli salad)

1:10 – 2:05 p.m. Ed (E.T.) Trombley, Munn-Reese: “LTE interference mitigation for when the cell company calls”

2:05 – 3:00 p.m. Don Roudebush, ERI: “Care and feeding of the FM antenna system”

3:00 – 3:15 p.m. Afternoon break (brownies)

3:15 – 4:05 p.m. Jeff Welton, Nautel: “Lightning protection and facility grounding practices”

4:05 – 5:00 p.m. Round table/Panel – Welton/Trombley/Hartman: “Transmitter maintenance and cost of ownership/operation”

In keeping with the theme (Engineering on a Budget), this will be a no-frills day of hardcore engineering topics. Attendance is limited to the first 25 to sign up.

As the event is currently “sold out”, you may still get on the waiting list by contacting Jeff Welton at Nautel (jwelton@nautel.com), or Jacquelen Timm at MAB (timm@michmab.com).  Email timestamps are used to select the first 25 for this session, as well as using the total count of registration requests received to determine if there is enough interest for the MAB to continue this as a yearly tradition. Please include: Name, Email, Phone and Company (Station).

 

FCC Extends Satellite Receiver Filing Deadline

Stations now have more time to register their C-Band satellite dishes.  The FCC has granted a request that it keep a filing window open until October 17. That’s 90 days beyond the previously-announced July 18 deadline. The International Bureau is also making it easier to make “batch” filings and clarifying other rules in a way that should save some broadcasters money.

The NAB and others have said the three-month window wasn’t enough time to get every radio stations to register their satellite receivers, in part because it’s something that was never asked of the industry before. The association said without every station meeting the filing deadline, it would leave the FCC without accurate information as it considers opening the C-band to mobile broadband services. International Bureau chief Tom Sullivan agreed, and said in a four-page notice that the additional 90 days should help address those concerns.

The FCC also announced that it will continue to waive the $1,500 coordination report fee during that extra three months, however the required $435 filing fee associated with Form 312s remains in place. The NAB had been lobbying the FCC to drop the filing fee, calling it an “undue and unfair burden” on stations. While it declined to do that, Sullivan clarified the agency’s policy explaining that a broadcaster with multiple receive-only antennas at a single location can file all of the antennas on a single application and only pay the $435 filing fee once. “This filing option provides financial relief from application fees for operators with multiple co-located antennas at a single site,” Sullivan said.

Even with broadcasters still submitting their earth station filings, the Commission is moving ahead with its plan to begin opening the C-band. FCC chair Ajit Pai announced this week he’ll bring to a vote at the Commission’s July meeting a proposal that would repurpose 500 MHz, allowing for what he described as “more intensive use” of the spectrum. Pai wrote in a blog post that wireless companies have come up with a number of “creative ideas for making better use” of the C-band spectrum. The item may be a precursor to a wider opening of the mid-band frequencies to wireless companies.

The potential downside for broadcasters in the extended deadline is that it means the temporary freeze preventing the filing for new earth stations or modifications of existing ones that’s been in place since April 19 will also continue until October.

MAB Holds ABIP Inspector Workshop

ABIP workshop attendees at inspection of WKAR-TV (East Lansing)

On June 14, the MAB held  a workshop  for prospective Alternate Broadcast Inspection Program inspectors, as well as for station engineers who were interested in the process.

The workshop was conducted by Dennis Baldridge, an SBE certified broadcast engineer who has been a contract engineer, consultant, and ABIP inspector since the 1980s.

Over the course of the day, the first half of the workshop was held at a local hotel meeting room.  Following lunch, Baldridge and the attendees moved to the studios of WKAR-TV in East Lansing to begin an actual inspection.  Following the studio visit, attendees then went to the WKAR transmitter site.

Our thanks to Gary Blievernicht of WKAR for allowing the MAB to conduct an ABIP inspection of his facility for this workshop.

Michigan Broadcaster to Receive $16k in Energy Rebate from Power Company

Buying a New Transmitter? Substantial Energy Rebates Available Through MAB!

You may be able to get a refund from your energy company if the new equipment that you plan to purchase or have purchased within a year saves energy. Knowing that many of you will need to purchase a new transmitter as part of the repack, and the equipment will most likely be more energy efficient than the ones that you have, MAB is filing with local energy companies to create a special category for broadcasters to receive cash back.

You already pay into this account as a surcharge on your electric energy bill, everyone does. Electric Energy companies are required to place the money into a special account and use it to provide refunds and incentives for energy conservation. These incentives will help the energy companies to reach their declared energy reduction plans. You pay into the energy fund on your bill, so why not try to get a little back?

Example: One MAB member radio station will see a one-time rebate from Consumers Energy in the $16,000+ range by replacing its transmitter with a more energy-efficient unit.

Here’s how it typically works: Your power provider will measure usage with your present equipment and then once the new equipment is operational, will do another measurement. The power savings are then calculated and a one-tme rebate is set up for energy savings.

The rebate can be usually estimated in advance of these measurements with equipment manufacturer efficiency data.

Call the MAB at 1-800-YOUR-MAB and we will set you up with our Energy Consultant Don Johns, EnStar Energy. Don is an expert on all things energy and he can help you traverse the paperwork to see if you qualify. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain.

Reminder: Register your C-Band Satellite Dishes

Radio and Television stations that receive programming via large C-band satellite dishes   should consider registering their downlinks prior to July 18 to protect their reception.

On April 19, the FCC issued a public notice freezing the filing of new or modification applications for fixed-satellite service (FSS) earth station licenses, receive only earth station registrations and fixed microwave licenses in the 3.7-4.2 GHz frequency band. The purpose of this freeze is to preserve the current landscape of authorized operations in the 3.7-4.2 GHz band pending Commission action as part of its ongoing inquiry into the possibility of permitting mobile broadband use and more intensive fixed use of the band.

In a post on the Barry Mishkind’s BDR (read here) Broadcaster and tech consultant Karen Johnson of LinkUp Communications  says it’s about the proposed new 5G wireless service, and “in a nutshell, broadband companies like Verizon and Google are putting pressure on the FCC to hand over or sell all of these frequencies to major Internet providers.” So there’s a 90-day freeze on new receive-only earth stations in the C-Band, while the FCC sifts through comments.

Johnson advises that in the short-term, “Take care of business…if you own one or more C-band downlinks, make sure each one is registered.” The deadline for that is July 18. More about the situation (and how to register existing earth stations) from attorney Michelle McClure at CommLawBlog here.

In an article on Tom Taylor’s daily newsletter “Tom Taylor Now,” its reported that National Public Radio (NPR) told FCC Commissioner Mike O’Rielly that its PRSS (Public Radio Satellite System) is “an indispensable link” between it and hundreds of NPR member stations. And that “the non-commercial, non-profit public radio system cannot afford alternative means of program distribution, such as terrestrial/fiber networks.” Those alternatives are not just more expensive. It says “for the “rural and remote part of the country where fiber does not reach, there are no alternatives to satellite distribution, regardless of cost.”

Speaker line-up announced for Next-Gen TV Summit

With the first group of U.S. stations now “on-air” with ATSC 3.0 and with Spectrum Repack planning well underway, local station General Managers and Engineering personnel need to know how the upcoming transition to Next-Generation ATSC 3.0 TV transmission will affect their advertising offerings and engineering plans. Broadcaster Associations throughout the Midwest are pooling resources to present this event targeted to local stations who need to get ready for the transition to Internet Protocol-enabled broadcast TV.

Location: Marriott Columbus Northwest in Columbus, Ohio. Hotel sleeping room rate = $143/night. Click here to register now!

Wednesday, June 27

3:00 p.m.
“Start at the Beginning with ATSC 3.0: An Overview of
Television’s Next Big Leap”
— Rich Chernock, Triveni Digital (Past Chair, ATSC Technology Group 3)
— Skip Pizzi, Vice President, Technology Education & Outreach,
National Association of Broadcasters

5:15 p.m.
Bus transportation begins to evening reception in Hilliard, OH (10-minute bus ride) at the Early Television Museum, sponsored by LG Electronics. Bus service back to the hotel continues until 7:30 p.m..

Thursday, June 28

8:30 a.m.
Welcome

8:35 a.m.
Cleveland Test Station Update: Starting Place for ATSC 3.0 Broadcasts
— Lynn Claudy, Sr. VP of Technology, National Association of Broadcasters

“Deployment Details: An ATSC 3.0 Plan for General Managers and Engineers”
Panel Discussion
• Moderator Myra Moore, Digital Tech Consulting
• Joseph Seccia, GatesAir
• Jeff Andrew, Osborn Engineering
• Greg Martin, Rohde & Schwarz USA, Inc.
• Lisa Hobbs, Ericsson Media Solutions

“Building New Revenue with NextGen TV and SFN Deployment”
— Jerald Fritz, Executive VP, OneMedia

“Monetizing ATSC 3.0 with Personalized Advertising and Viewership Data from Next-Gen TV”
Panel Discussion
• Moderator Glen Dickson, TVNewsCheck.com
• Marc Hand, Public Media Venture Group
• Brad Seitter, TVB
• Jason Patton, Verance

12 p.m.
Luncheon

“Better Television: First Market Phoenix, Arizona”
— Ray Thurber, Vice President of Engineering, The E.W. Scripps Company

“Alert & Aware with AWARN Emergency Alerting”
— John Lawson, AWARN Alliance

“The Consumer’s Appetite for New Technology”
— Stephen Baker, NPD Group

“All Eyes on the Viewer & the Evolution of Television”
— Tim Hanlon, The Vertere Group

4:15 p.m.
Conclusions & Dismissal

ABIP Training Day will be Offered June 14

The MAB is looking for a qualified individual to conduct Alternative Broadcast Inspections for our members (learn more here) and will offer a special one-day ABIP training session for interested individuals. A day-long ABIP training session will be offered on June 14, 2018 at the Courtyard by Marriott, 2710 Lake Lansing Rd., near the Eastwood Towne Center in Lansing.
While the training is geared toward interested applicants, the MAB has opened the session to all who want to learn more about the ABIP inspection process. 
Dennis Baldridge, Baldridge Communications, LLC, a respected 35 year broadcast veteran, will conduct the training. Mr. Baldridge is a Senior Member of the SBE and holds the following certifications: CPBE, CBNT, AMD Specialist, 8-VSB Specialist, and DRB Specialist. Baldridge holds an FCC Lifetime General License (formerly a First Class FCC License) and Amateur Radio Extra Class License (K0DB). As owner of Baldridge Communications, LLC, he works as a contract engineer and has also authored several articles for Radio Guide.
A small non-refundable $40 fee will be charged to off-set the trainer’s travel expenses. Space is limited to the first 30 participants.
Whether you are interested in becoming our official MAB ABIP inspector or just want to learn more information about performing your own self-inspections, this training a great opportunity to further develop your skills and expertise that are so vital to the our broadcast industry.
Itinerary for June 14 Training Day:
8:30 a.m. – Meet for Continental Breakfast at Courtyard by Marriott, Lansing
9:00 a.m. – Training begins
12:30 p.m. – Lunch on Your Own (several options in the area)
1:30 p.m. – Meet at a Local Station (TBD) for a hands-on inspection
If you are interested in this special training opportunity, act now. Only 30 seats are available and will be reserved on a first-come basis. Click here to register now.
If you have and questions, contact Ann Walters 1-800-968-7622 or or email walters@michmab.com.

Register C-Band Satellite Downlinks Before July 18

Radio and Television stations that receive programming via large C-band satellite dishes should consider registering their downlinks prior to July 18 to protect their reception.

On April 19, the FCC issued a public notice freezing the filing of new or modification applications for fixed-satellite service (FSS) earth station licenses, receive only earth station registrations and fixed microwave licenses in the 3.7-4.2 GHz frequency band. The purpose of this freeze is to preserve the current landscape of authorized operations in the 3.7-4.2 GHz band pending Commission action as part of its ongoing inquiry into the possibility of permitting mobile broadband use and more intensive fixed use of the band.

In a post on the Barry Mishkind’s BDR (read here) Broadcaster and tech consultant Karen Johnson of LinkUp Communications  says it’s about the proposed new 5G wireless service, and “in a nutshell, broadband companies like Verizon and Google are putting pressure on the FCC to hand over or sell all of these frequencies to major Internet providers.” So there’s a 90-day freeze on new receive-only earth stations in the C-Band, while the FCC sifts through comments.|

Johnson advises that in the short-term, “Take care of business…if you own one or more C-band downlinks, make sure each one is registered.” Deadline for that is July 18. More about the situation (and how to register existing earth stations) from attorney Michelle McClure at CommLawBlog here.

In a article on Tom Taylor’s daily newsletter “Tom Taylor Now”, its reported that National Public Radio (NPR) told FCC Commissioner Mike O’Rielly that its PRSS (Public Radio Satellite System) is “an indispensable link” between it and hundreds of NPR member stations. And that “the non-commercial, non-profit public radio system cannot afford alternative means of program distribution, such as terrestrial/fiber networks.” Those alternatives are not just more expensive. It says “for the “rural and remote part of the country where fiber does not reach, there are no alternatives to satellite distribution, regardless of cost.”

 

MAB Partners with Dennis Baldridge for 2018 ABIP

The MAB has partnered with broadcast engineering veteran Dennis Baldridge to conduct its Alternative Broadcast Inspection Program (ABIP) in 2018.

The MAB offers ABIP through a  unique partnership between the with the FCC. Participating stations are able to receive a three-year exemption from routine FCC inspections.  Once any deficiencies noted in the MAB ABIP Report are resolved, a copy of the three-year ABIP Certification granted to the station will also be provided to the FCC.

Dennis Baldridge

Dennis has been working in the field of broadcasting for over 35 years.  He is a Senior Member of the SBE and holds the following certifications:  CPBE, CBNT, AMD Specialist, 8-VSB Specialist, and DRB Specialist.  Baldridge holds an FCC Lifetime General License (formerly a First Class FCC License) and Amateur Radio Extra Class License (K0DB).

Dennis is a member of the SBE’s education committee, Technical Presenters group and has conducted many webinars as part of SBE’s educational efforts. He was the 2013 recipient of the James C. Wulliman SBE Educator of the Year award.  He holds a M.A.E and has taught science courses for Upper Iowa University.  As owner of Baldridge Communications, LLC, he works as a contract engineer and has also authored several articles for Radio Guide.   In 2017, he presented an 8 part webinar for the SBE titled RF101.

Since 2006, Baldridge has been an inspector for the Alternate Inspection Program of the Wisconsin Broadcasters Association.  He travels to radio stations throughout the state, verifying their substantial compliance to the FCC rules according to the FCC’s Self-Inspection Checklists.  Personal goals include educating broadcasters to help them understand the FCC requirements.

Not only is Dennis a well-respected broadcast engineer, but also a proficient musician. He holds a PhD in music, plays piano, trombone and harp and is a choral conductor.

Participation in the MAB Alternative Broadcast Inspection Program is voluntary and is open to all broadcast stations throughout Michigan.  Note that MAB membership is not a requirement to participate; however a non-member rate will apply.

2018 ABIP inspections are now being scheduled. Contact Ann Walters at 1-800-YOUR-MAB or download the no-cost, no-obligation ABIP contract request form and return it to walters@michmab.com.

 

NRSC Creates PI Codes for Every FM Translator

The National Radio Systems Committee (NRSC) has unveiled a new resource for broadcasters that utilize FM translators, providing a unique Radio Data System (RDS) Program Identification (PI) code for every FM translator in the United States.

FM translators have been a source of growth for the radio broadcast industry in recent years. Regulatory efforts such as AM revitalization, and the expanded use of HD Radio multicast channels as an audio source for translators, have introduced new uses for translators and have greatly increased their numbers.

Most FM translators broadcast the RDS digital subcarrier, which is used by FM stations to deliver “metadata” such as program format, station logo and/or web address, and song title and artist information to modern FM receiver displays (especially automotive receivers). The use of RDS on FM translators is encouraged, especially since so many vehicles now display RDS metadata when tuned to an FM radio station.

One of the most important types of metadata transmitted by RDS subcarrier is the PI code. The PI code is not displayed to consumers but it is used internally by the receiver to uniquely identify the audio program being broadcast by the FM station. In the United States, the PI code has historically been derived from a radio station’s call sign, however, when FM translators are involved there is a problem.

The NRSC defined the algorithm for calculating a station’s PI code back in the 1990s when the RDS standard was being introduced, and this algorithm is based on a four-character call sign, which is the standard call sign format for full-power FM stations (the exception being some legacy three-character call signs). Here’s the problem – FM translators are assigned a six-character call sign by the FCC, so the NRSC’s PI code algorithm does not work.

To resolve this problem, the NRSC’s RDS Usage Working Group (RUWG) developed a new algorithm just for FM translators, which can assign a unique PI code to each FM translator in the US. This algorithm has been implemented using a web-based tool and a list of PI codes for all FM translators in the United States is now available at http://picodes.nrscstandards.org/. FM translator operators are encouraged to visit this web page and obtain (and use!) the PI code which has been calculated for their translator (or translators).

In the vast majority of cases, these new FM translator PI codes should be used by translator operators, this is very important to help prevent PI code-related receiver issues (such as unintentional re-tuning) which can occur when stations use the wrong PI code. The principal reason why a translator would not use one of the PI codes from the NRSC’s FM translator PI code list is if that translator is being fed by the main channel audio signal of a full-power FM station and is simulcasting that signal (the “traditional” application for translators). In this exceptional case, the translator should use the PI code for the full-power station it is being fed by, calculated from that full-power station’s four-letter call sign.

Cross-service FM translators (that is, FM translators that are re-broadcasting an AM station’s signal) and FM translators being fed by an HD Radio multicast channel should most definitely make use of the PI codes provided on the NRSC FM Translator PI code web page. Here is a screen shot of the web page:

Some comments on the web page:

    • There are over 7,000 translators listed on this page, sorted by “Facility ID;”
    • Translator operators should use the “Filter” function, entering their translator call sign(s) in the appropriate box and clicking on “Filter,” this is the quickest way to find a particular PI code;
    • The algorithm used to generate PI codes utilizes the FCC’s Consolidated Database System (CDBS); once a day the CDBS information is downloaded from the FCC and checked to see if there are any new translators or whether a translator has moved in geographic location or frequency;
    • If a translator moves in either geographic location or frequency, then a new PI code may be calculated, so translator operators should visit the web page if their translator moves location or frequency to see if the PI code has changed.

Please contact David Layer at NAB if you have any questions or comments on the PI code web page.