From the Chair – April 2010

In December, Senate Bill 2881 was introduced as the “FCC Commissioners Technical Resource Act.”  The bill is supported by the SBE as one of the organizations legislative goals: “To promote the maintenance or increase of technical expertise within the FCC to ensure that decision making by the FCC is based on technical investigation, studies and evaluation rather than political expenditures.”

In March, a companion bill was introduced which would authorize an engineering staff person for each of the five FCC commissioners.  With a House bill now introduced, the legislation can move through the committee process of both chambers of Congress.

The introduction of the bill comes after representatives of the Society of Broadcast Engineers met with the legislative staff in Washington the week prior.  SBE’s Government Relations Committee chairman, Barry Thomas, CPBE, CBNT and General Counsel, Chris Imlay, visited offices of several members of the House to garner support for a companion to the Senate bill.

SBE members are being encouraged to contact their congressional representatives for support of the legislation.  For contact information for U.S. Representatives: http://www.house.gov/zip/ZIP2Rep.html.  For the U.S. Senate: http://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm

With the added voices of many members of SBE, we can make a difference and get this legislation approved.

The National Association of Broadcasters is having its big NAB 2010 Show in Las Vegas mid April with the latest developments in broadcast technology will be on display.  The likely innovation winner this year will be the introduction of the first production 3D video displays.

Many of our chapter members will be attending this year’s event although budget and work demands will keep a few away.  SBE National will have a full schedule of activities during the week. The SBE Spring Membership Meeting will be held on Tuesday, April 13.  The highlight of the meeting will be the announcement and presentation of the SBE Lifetime Achievement Award to an unsuspecting SBE member.

Wednesday evening the Amateur Radio Operators Reception, one of the more popular events will be attended by may SBE members who are also hams.

The FCC has announced its National Broadband Plan which will likely take 120 mHz of broadcast spectrum for wireless internet services.  The FCC expects broadcasters to “voluntarily” part with spectrum in exchange for a share in the proceeds of an upcoming spectrum action.

The FCC is heading to Seattle for an internet forum to be held on April 28 at the Jackson Federal Building.  The session starts at 9:30 pm with the workshop titled “Approaches to Preserving the Open Internet.”   According to the FCC, the media will address “…how the Internet’s openness can best be preserved, including by examining historical and ongoing efforts to protect Internet openness in the United States and other countries, and by discussing the key technological, economic, and legal considerations relevant to the need for and substance of the Commission’s proposed open Internet policies.”

The FCC is now allowing FM broadcasters to increase their IBOC power, but how many are going to do so?  The number of stations increasing power will likely be limited by capital cost involved and the relative increase in coverage.  The FCC approved the increase in January and says about 1,500 stations can increase their digital power by 6 dB ( a four times power increase.)

The controversial LPFM legislation, known as the Local Community Radio Act, has been officially placed on the Senate Legislative Calendar.  Prometheus Radio Project, promoter of the service, says the legislation is waiting for the Senate vote and the President’s signature.  Washington’s Maria Cantwell is one of the sponsors of the bill.

KING-FM has decided to become a non-commercial and listener-supported public radio station this July.  It will continue the Classical format that Seattle Broadcast Pioneer established 62 years ago.

The station is owned by Beethoven, a corporation which includes the Seattle Symphony, Seattle Opera, and the Arts Fund and has been operating as a non-profit organization since it was given to the community by the Dorothy Bullitt family.  Fisher Communications, which has handled ad sales for KING-FM, said it also supports the move to make the Classical station non-commercial.

That’s the view from the chair for this month.  I will provide a complete report on NAB 2010 in next month’s issue.

Jim Dalke