From the Chair – September

Jim Dalke, CPBE 8-VSB AMD

This will be my last “From the Chair” column as our 2010 board election nears reality.  I will continue to provide some of my thoughts as a broadcast engineer as editor of the Chapter Waveguide.

The broadcast industry continues to “evolve” with difficult financial times and changing electronic media technology.  Broadcast HD technology is a good example.  Leslie Stimson wrote an interesting article on the diminishing interest in AM HD radio in Radio World magazine.  Leslie says the AM HD has stalled, and may even be diminishing as some HD AM’s are turning of the HD transmitters they installed earlier.  You can read Leslie’s assessment at: http://www.radioworld.com/article/105898

In the Puget Sound market, there are four AM HD stations, KKDZ 1250, Radio Disney, KHHO 850, Clear Channel Sports, KUOW 1340, Puget Sound Public Radio, and KRKO 1380, Sports Radio.

While more prolific and successful, the FM HD market is still struggling.  The Puget Sound market is one of the more successful with 32 stations broadcasting 59 HD radio channels.

Radio Ink Magazine reports a New Jersey law firm is preparing a class action lawsuit related to HD Radio.  The firm says there have been “numerous complaints about HD Radio from not only the radio industry but also consumers.”  Among the complaints cited on the law firm’s website are receivers switching from HD to analog and an associated “echo sound,” “crackling or static sound when HD Radio is inactive,” “insufficient numbers of HD Radio stations,” “loss of signal while driving in valleys or between high buildings,” signal disruption in different environmental conditions, and interference with adjacent channels.  You can read more at: http://www.radioink.com/Article.asp?id=1938660&spid=24698

HD radio aside, another indication the AM market may be in decline, is the major market 50 kW AM’s decision to simulcast their News-Talk programming on the FM band.  Locally, we have seen this transition with both KIRO 710, and KOMO 1000.  Nationally, the latest is WSB Atlanta.  Other market migrations include KSL, Salt Lake City, WTOP, Washington DC, and KTAR, Phoenix.

It will be interesting to see if the FM cell phone mandate becomes reality.  There is no lack of controversy in either the broadcast or wireless industry.  The consumer electronics industry does not want to be told by congress what they have to include in their products.  The broadcast industry sees the capability as a way to increase their audience, as well as a means of communicating with the public when emergency situations clog the wireless networks.  The FM chip mandate would include PDA’s and other wireless devices as well.

Not to be outdone by the inclusion of FM receivers in cell phones, there is another move on to mandate DTV receivers on all new cell phones.  The proponents are citing as precedent the 1962 congressional mandate requiring UHF tuners on all TV sets, and in 2004, requiring digital tuners in all sets sold after 2007.

All that is further complicated by or perhaps a solution to the ongoing controversy over collecting music royalties from broadcasters.

73

Jim