From the Chair – July 2010

Jim Dalke, CPBE AMD

When Apple announced the iPhone 4, I decided I needed one.  I logged on to my AT&T wireless account June 15 to preorder only to get an undecipherable server error message.  What I suspected became truth when the trade press reported the preorder demand was far greater than the servers were able handle.  I went to my local AT&T store and the salesman said he could not get one either and could not make any commitment on delivery.  Oh well, maybe I will wait for the inevitable first edition bugs to get worked out anyway.

One of the reasons I would like to get the new iPhone is the chance that I will be able to get off-the-air FM reception.  Supposedly the chips are already installed but AT&T’s exclusive agreement with Apple precludes the use of the receiver to favor AT&T streaming programming.  In a related development, AT&T has announced they are moving away from their unlimited data pricing plans because of the rapidly increasing demand for streaming audio and TV services.  Perhaps this will open the door for “free” smart phone FM reception.  Some of the proponents of the smart phone FM receivers remind us that in major emergencies, cell phone services often fail.  The public could get emergency messages from FM broadcasters.

An innovative Florida company has come with a radio service that will use DTV to carry 50 audio channels in major US markets.  Ludwig Enterprises says that, like HD radio or Satellite radio, it will require a special receiver.  The company says, unlike Sirius-XM, the new service will be entirely ad supported.

FCC Commissioner, Mignon Clyburn, brought up the topic of allocating television channels 5 and 6 for FM broadcasting at the 35th Annual Community Radio Conference in St. Paul MN last month.  While this old proposal would take years and millions to develop, it might be a way for AM and non-commercial broadcasters to reach more of our increasingly sophisticated listeners.

The FCC responded quickly to complaints the Society of Broadcast Engineers had not been invited to a Forum on re-allocating TV spectrum from free broadcast to subscription based broadband services.  The invitation came after the SBE sent a strongly-worded letter asking the FCC how they could have such a forum without having the SBE participate.  We relayed a couple of messages from SBE national asking us to inform our members of the snub.

Our Canadian neighbors to the North have been quietly shutting down DAB facilities across the country.  The Canadian government basically admits its DAB transition has stalled as a result of the economy, high capital requirements and expensive receivers.  The Canadians are apparently looking to the possibility of deploying US Ibiquity HD in the AM and FM spectrum.  It was not that long ago the Canadians were complaining to the FCC about interference from US HD transmissions.

Plans are well underway for the annual SBE Chapter 16 picnic on July 24.  This year’s event will be even better than last, and I hope to see you there.


Jim Dalke