News & Press
AM Revitalization Is Still a Work in Progress ; Here’s the practical context for the latest revisions
In late March, further progress was made in incrementally easing some of the regulatory challenges faced by AM radio stations. This latest batch of new rules, which covers an array of mostly AM “moment method” proof-of-performance related issues, became effective with the publication of the adopted rule changes in the Federal Register.
The text and background for the changes can be found in the FCC’s Third Report and Order in MM Docket No. 13-249 (https://tinyurl.com/yb46glg9); I’ve summarized the changes for you at the end of this article.
Radio World readers know that these new rules are a continuation of the FCC’s AM revitalization efforts, which are intended to ensure their continued viability of the AM band. The First Report and Order in MB Docket No. 13-249 (https://tinyurl.com/ychdnwwz) started it all by opening the companion FM translator process, modifying principal community coverage requirements, eliminating the “ratchet rule,” easing the MDCL implementation process, and relaxing the AM antenna efficiency standards. With more AM-friendly rule changes likely in the future, it’s worth taking a moment and reviewing impact of the first R&O and the drivers for AM station relocation and the potential benefits and challenges of collocation.
As has been discussed in Radio World, the AM radio business model increasingly has become challenged by competing services, a rising noise floor and shrinking effective coverage reach. Meanwhile, the rug is almost literally being pulled out from under existing AM stations as rising real estate values and more lucrative land uses pressure these stations to either find a new transmitting location or go dark.
Developing a brand-new site is fraught with time- and cost-intensive processes such as local permitting, legal contracts, environmental concerns and other hurdles. Often the involved costs and timeframes far exceed the costs of on-site engineering, equipment and construction. As a result, station collocation at an existing AM antenna site is becoming the most attractive option.
The collocation of an AM station with “non-AM” towers, such as FM or TV towers, is often possible, but requires a bit of forethought and may not always be a practical option. Typically, these towers are not base-insulated, so a properly designed skirt wires system must be installed on the host tower to accommodate the AM operation. Depending upon the tower height and the involved AM frequency, some skirt systems can become complicated, and involve tuned and detuned (isolating) sections. Also, insulators will have to be installed in the existing guy wires, (for guyed towers), and a suitable ground system still has to be plowed in.
The often “simpler” option to consider is the use of existing AM transmission sites since much of the necessary infrastructure is already at hand. Of course, the existing tower heights and ground system radial lengths must be compatible — for instance, diplexing a 630 kHz station into a 1590 kHz station may not be feasible because of the big difference in wavelengths. On the other hand, the involved frequencies must not be too close either, due to practical filtering considerations.
A non-directional station can, of course, look at collocating at another non-directional station’s site. Or in the alternative, a non-directional station can share a tower at an existing directional site. This requires the de-tuning of unused towers at the host site in addition to the customary diplexing system filtering hardware and matching system.
A directional station seeking a host will look for another directional station since the necessarily larger acreage is already available at an existing directional site. Of course, you still need to evaluate existing towers at that site to assess whether the heights are compatible and the geometry (tower layout) can accommodate the design needed for your station’s pattern from this new vantage point. Sometimes you can add another tower or towers to an existing site to make things work — and quite often (from a local zoning standpoint) it can be easier to add towers to an existing site than to try to develop a new site from scratch. One caution — even if the tower heights and geometry seem to work, careful consideration has to be given to the involved filter circuits; some situations do not lend themselves to practical (or achievable) solutions.
Site selection and the business case go hand in hand, and the cost implications of collocation are numerous and sometimes complex. What lease terms are available? What replacements, repairs or upgrades will be needed at the site for successful collocation? Are there environmental issues that could become a shared responsibility? An experienced broadcast communications lawyer should be sought to answer these and other related questions.
In all these scenarios, the site location and geometry of the host tower array must meet the tenant’s purposes while still satisfying FCC-mandated (day, night and sometimes “critical hours”) protection of other stations. The site must also be able to provide the desired coverage into communities of interest as well as the station’s city of license. Fortunately, aspects of the FCC’s signal protection requirements and, to a greater extent, principal community coverage requirements and antenna efficiency have been revised under the FCC’s First R&O, providing greater flexibility for site relocations. Other potentially more significant rule changes remain under consideration in the FCC’s “Further Notice".
RELAXED RULES FOR AM PROOFS
Skipping back to this article’s beginning topic — the Third Report and Order’s rule changes — the FCC relaxed the partial proof rules for conventionally proofed antenna systems by reducing the number of measurement radials required. You need to only measure eight points on each radial that includes a monitor point.
For arrays proofed with Method-of-Moments technique, the FCC eliminated the biannual sample system recertification requirement. (Recertification is only needed when sample system equipment has been repaired or replaced.) They also clarified the base region model shunt capacitance assumptions that can be used in a MoM proof, eliminated the need for a surveyor’s certification when an existing AM array’s towers are involved for a new station or design (as long as no new towers are added or the existing geometry changed), and deleted the requirement to take new reference point measurements when the same array and pattern is being relicensed.
“Stay tuned” — more changes are likely and warrant our attention and comment as they are being considered.
Dr. Poppy Crum, Chief Scientist at Dolby Laboratories will be joining the Broadcast Technology Society as a Keynote Speaker on Tuesday, October 9, 2018 at the 2018 IEEE Broadcast Symposium
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Margaux Toral, Society Promotions & Marketing Manager
BTS Announces Albert Shuldiner to Keynote at IEEE Broadcast Symposium 2018
Albert Shuldiner, Chief of the Audio Division of the FCC will be joining the Broadcast Technology Society as a Keynote Speaker on Wednesday, October 10, 2018 at the 2018 IEEE Broadcast Symposium
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Broadcast TV’s future revealed: ATSC 3.0 enables new business models
Consumers in the digital age are quick to adapt new media consumption habits as new media and methods of accessing it and interacting with it evolve. Every media technology must innovate and compete or become obsolete. For broadcast television, this challenge is practically existential. The broadcast model of one-to-many for television (and radio) dominated the second half of the 20th century. But the introduction of cable and satellite TV and the Internet enabled not only a direct one-on-one relationship between a media source and consumers but tailored personalized services and offerings that bolster “stickiness” or loyalty.
Madeleine Noland is Chair of the ATSC 3.0 Technology Group.
To keep pace, broadcast TV migrated to digital signals over the past 20 years, representing the first major technology shift since analog color TV was introduced in the 1950s. Digital broadcast TV offers improved, high-definition pictures, more realistic sound, more channels, and more choices.
But changes in media, how it is accessed and consumed, and consumer behavior continued to evolve at an increasingly rapid rate.
Consumer expectations, new platforms
Consumers, quick to adopt new media and ways to tap into it, have come to expect the ability to access sight-and-sound content from any source on any device, anywhere, anytime – whether that content is broadcast over-the-air, delivered via cable, satellite, phone lines or stored at home.
Digital TV was a start in this direction, but the past dozen years have witnessed technology revolutions in nearly every related field and consumer expectations have risen accordingly. Alternative delivery paths have proliferated. Receiving devices such as smartphones and tablets have proliferated. Consumers expect interactivity. Behind the scenes, major improvements have taken place in video and audio coding efficiency, while broadcast spectrum has become scarcer.
The role of standards
Invisible to consumers are the technical standards that enable solutions to broadcast TV’s challenges. Standards really provide the basis for fundamental shifts in technology because they ensure the interoperability and economies of scale that lead to innovation and market adoption. The standards for digital TV were developed beginning in the late 1980s and approved by the FCC 1996, and it took nearly a decade to move the market to widespread adoption.
As consumers came to expect access to content historically delivered by broadcast TV pretty much anytime, anywhere and device-agnostic, those involved in conceiving and writing applicable standards had to lead the way to a sustainable future. And achieving that future, meeting consumer expectations, meant that new standards had to be extensible, scalable, and adaptable to unforeseen developments.
These are the challenges that have been met by ATSC 3.0, which now has regulatory approval from the U.S. Federal Communication Commission for voluntary commercial services, clearing the way for actual trials in test markets to understand best practices for applying the ATSC 3.0 standards for the next-generation of broadcast TV and how consumers respond to new service offerings.
The process for achieving the ATSC 3.0 suite of standards that enable a future-oriented, commercially viable business model for broadcast TV and commensurate consumer benefits is similar for most technical standards. I will not bore readers of The Broadcast Bridge with the minutiae of actual standards writing and approval. (I personally find it fascinating, but it’s not everyone’s top choice.) Suffice to say that it requires years of work by hundreds of dedicated individuals from the worlds of industry, academia, consultancy, public interest and policy, as well as sponsors, to develop the underlying concepts, architectures and features and hash out the standards to support them. The process basically requires a global consensus among all participants, who bring their collective expertise to bear on every detail of myriad technologies and how best to define them for commercial use in the real world.
This process more or less culminated in 2017 with approval of the bulk of ATSC 3.0 standards and led to the March 2018 approval of commercial licenses by the FCC in specific U.S. markets that will test current best practices for applying the standards and contribute to new ones.
Launching in the ‘real world’
As you read this article, two major trials are underway in “model markets” to test ATSC 3.0 services, consumer response to the offerings and also the simultaneous delivery of ATSC 1.0 which was mandated by the FCC for stations launching ATSC 3.0 services.
In January, Sinclair Broadcast Group and its partners announced that it would broadcast ATSC 3.0 signals in Dallas, Texas. This trial is viewed as a first step toward a national service launch in some or all of Sinclair’s 100 U.S. markets. The Pearl TV Business Alliance – a coalition of broadcast groups backing ATSC 3.0 – announced its Model Market project in Phoenix, Arizona, in concert with 10 local stations there. The two trials, and others such as the joint NAB-CTA ATSC 3.0 test station in Cleveland, Ohio, will exercise different business use cases that the system enables.
These ongoing trials are providing implementers and the ATSC 3.0 community with new insights on recommended practices for implementing the standard, a variety of business and use cases and consumer response to the enhanced services and content on offer. One of our key ATSC 3.0 initiatives going forward is to maintain dialogue between our group and early implementers to improve the standards when additional clarification is needed and help see that the future for broadcast TV is as bright as we envisioned.
The ATSC 3.0 standard enables broadcasters to explore many new business models and opportunities, including the long-coveted ability to establish a one-to-one relationship with individual consumers. The creation of hybrid over-the-air (OTA) and over-the-top (OTT) content based on ATSC 3.0 standards is really the first time that broadband and broadcast have been “married,” on a common IP backbone. If new consumer-facing value propositions create “stickiness,” and a competitive advantage, we are likely to see rapid adoption of ATSC 3.0.
With the marriage of broadcast and broadband, consumers will finally realize their evolving demand for access to content from any source on any device, anywhere, all with immersive audio, high-definition video, added services (including improvements in public emergency notifications) and interactivity. In fact, it is difficult to put into words the leap in sensory richness that ATSC 3.0 will enable.
To enjoy these advancements, consumers will need a “receiving device,” and various devices and form factors are expected to come to market. It could be a new ATSC 3.0-enabled TV, a box that feeds 3.0 to your current TV or a mobile device, or perhaps even an autonomous vehicle.
In 2018, after many years of dedicated work, participants in the standards development process for ATSC 3.0 will finally see the fruits of their labors in setting a 21st Century course for the evolution of broadcast TV that will revitalize the industry and bring consumers a plethora of delightful, sensory-rich benefits.
About the author
Madeleine Noland received her Bachelor of Music from the University of Massachusetts in 1989. She began her career in the television industry in 2004 with Backchannelmedia, Inc., an interactive television technology developer.In early 2013, Noland joined LG Electronics with a focus on development of industry standards and guidelines.Noland participates in a variety of industry organizations on behalf of LG, including the IEEE Broadcast Technology Society and has served in leadership roles within the ATSC 3.0 project. She is succeeding Triveni Digital’s Dr. Rich Chernock as ATSC Technology Group Chair. Noland also chairs the Guidelines Work Group within the Ultra HD Forum and the ATSC Advanced Emergency Alert Implementation Team.
She was the 2016 recipient of the prestigious ATSC Bernard J. Lechner Award for her leadership roles related to the development of the next-generation ATSC 3.0 suite of standards.
The IEEE Broadcast Technology Society Hosts the “IEEE-BTS Symposium” Technical Sessions at NAB 2018 in Las Vegas
The IEEE Broadcast Technology Society (BTS) Hosts the “IEEE-BTS Symposium” Technical Sessions at NAB as part of the 2018 Broadcast Engineering and Information Technology Conference (BEITC) at the Las Vegas convention center. The IEEE Broadcast Technology Society is bringing hot topics and industry leaders to the April 2018 NAB Conference in the form of technical sessions.
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BTS Member Madeleine Noland Chosen To Lead ATSC Technology Group
She Will Succeed Chernock in May
WASHINGTON, Feb. 20, 2018 – The Advanced Television Systems Committee’s Board of Directors has selected Madeleine Noland of LG Electronics to lead the ATSC’s primary technology group supporting implementation of the new ATSC 3.0 next-generation broadcast TV standard. She will succeed Triveni Digital’s Dr. Richard Chernock as Chairman of the ATSC Technology Group in May.
“Throughout the development of the ATSC 3.0 suite of standards, Madeleine has been a consistent and dependable leader. She is adept at forging agreements on difficult technical issues within the collaborative standards development process. Following in Rich’s footsteps is a logical progression for her. We are delighted that Madeleine has accepted this new assignment to guide the Technology Group’s continuing development of standards and recommended practices,” said ATSC President Mark Richer.
The 2016 recipient of the ATSC’s highest honor, the Bernard J. Lechner Outstanding Contributor Award, Noland has been a key player in the development phase of Next Gen TV powered by ATSC 3.0, Richer explained. For instance, as the Chair of the Specialists Group on Applications and Presentation for ATSC 3.0 (TG3/S34), Noland demonstrated “outstanding leadership and dedication,” he said.
The S34 group is focused on user experience, including support for next generation video and audio codecs, linear TV services, interactive applications, accessibility including closed captioning, and other features. She led the effort to develop key ATSC 3.0 features, including vetting of standards for watermarking, advanced emergency alerting, personalization and companion devices. The same group also enabled compelling high-quality video capabilities, as well as high dynamic range and wide color gamut solutions.
As Vice Chair of the S31 Specialists Group, Noland helped to frame the system requirements for ATSC 3.0, coordinating the full documentation of the new standard with the work of other committees. She also played an active role in developing usecase scenarios that describe the desired attributes of the new standard.
Noland began her career in television systems in 2004 with Backchannelmedia, Inc. (BCM), an interactive television technology developer. It was during her work with BCM that she first started working on ATSC projects.
Through her involvement in industry standards work, Noland’s efforts were noticed by longtime ATSC member LG Electronics, and she joined their ATSC 3.0 team, in LG’s Office of the Chief Technology Officer, in early 2013. An alumna of the University of Massachusetts, Noland also is a talented wind synth and keyboard player in a band called Eccentric Orbit.
She is credited on three U.S. patents for television technology.
About the ATSC:
The Advanced Television Systems Committee is defining the future of television with the ATSC 3.0 next-generation broadcast standard. ATSC is an international, non-profit organization developing voluntary standards for digital television. The ATSC’s 140-plus member organizations represent the broadcast, broadcast equipment, motion picture, consumer electronics, computer, cable, satellite, and semiconductor industries. For more information visit www.atsc.org.
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BTS Media Partner of DVB World 2018
DVB World 2018
Warsaw InterContinental Hotel, March 12 - 14
The upcoming annual DVB World conference is a must for broadcasters, manufacturers, policymakers and other industry participants. The three day event provides an opportunity to hear leading industry figures give updates on the latest in digital broadcast technologies and beyond.
With this year's theme of 'Expanding the Digital Opportunity', DVB World 2018 seeks to address the global issues facing broadcasters today.
The event kicks off with the Pre-conference Masterclass, which this year is: ‘Internet Delivery of Content in a Multi-Device World’ presented by Martin Schmalohr (IRT).
The main conference program covers a broad range of topics that are on the broadcast agenda.
Evolution of cable: QAM to IP?
Euan McLeod (Comcast)
25 years of DVB: lessons from the past for the future
Ulrich Reimers (Technische Universität Braunschweig)
Further Keynote Speakers to be announced.
Other Highlights include:
How is broadcast evolving in an IP world? – a report by JP O'Sullivan (Kagan – S&P Global Market Intelligence)
UHD – 18 months later, where do we stand? by Stephan Heimbecher (Sky Deutschland)
DVB-I: a new "physical" layer? An overview by Paul Szucs (Sony Europe)
4G, 5G and Broadcast, a report from Stefan Ilsen (Technische Universität Braunschweig)
WiB – the new T3? asks Chris Nokes (BBC),
High Frame Rates from 4EVER-2, insights from Matthieu Parmentier (francetélévisions) & Mickaël Raulet (ATEME)
Delivering Targeted Advertising in broadcast TV with DVB and HbbTV technologies - Vincent Grivet (TDF) brings us up to date
New satellites on the horizon, David Peilow (European Space Agency)
Evolution of cable: QAM to IP? - Euan McLeod (Comcast)
Forensic watermarking and premium content, Laurent Piron (NAGRA)
Is VR still the future? asks Ludovic Noblet (b<>com)
And - the evolution of Augmented Reality technology
25 years of DVB: lessons from the past for the future - Prof.Dr.-Ing.Ulrich Reimers who was one of the leading forces that led to the creation of the DVB Project and was the Chairman of the DVB Technical Module from 1993 to 2012.
The DVB World 2018 Conference & Exhibition will take place in Warsaw on March 12 - 14. It will be held at the InterContinental Warsaw hotel, set in a landmark contemporary tower in the heart of the city and close to the Old Town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Don't forget to save the date in your diary, 12 - 14 March – Warsaw
Register Now - www.dvbworld.org
IEEE BTS Sessions Offer Food for Thought for Broadcasters
2017 IEEE Broadcast Symposium Gets Down To Business
Frederick D. Moorefield, Jr., Director, Spectrum Policy & International Engagements Office of the Department of Defense Chief Information Officer will be a Keynote Speaker at the IEEE Broadcast Symposium
Frederick D. Moorefield, Jr., Director, Spectrum Policy & International Engagements Office of the Department of Defense Chief Information Officer will be a Keynote Speaker on Wednesday, October 11, 2017 at the IEEE Broadcast Symposium.
Mr. Moorefield is currently serving as the Director of Spectrum Policy & International Engagements for the Department of Defense (DoD) Chief Information Officer (CIO). His primary duties include strategic oversight of DoD spectrum policy and plans as well as overall management of key DoD CIO international partnerships and outreach. Mr. Moorefield represents DoD in a variety of national and international spectrum forums and provides spectrum resource management program oversight. On a broader front, he leads overall DoD CIO international engagements and related activities to include technology transfer, foreign disclosure, and internet governance. He has served in this position since October 2012.
Mr. Moorefield joined Federal service in 1989 in the Air Force as a civil servant, where he served for 19 years doing Research and Develop and Acquisition. He also served in the Defense Information Systems Agency at the Joint Spectrum Center for four years where he was first introduced to spectrum management.
His education includes a Bachelor degree in mathematics from Wilberforce University, located in Wilberforce Ohio and a Bachelor and Master of Electrical Engineering degree from the University of Dayton in Dayton Ohio.
WHERE: 2017 IEEE Broadcast Symposium at the Key Bridge Marriott in Arlington, Virginia
WHEN: Tuesday, October 10th thru Thursday, October 12th
ABOUT BTS: The IEEE Broadcast Technology Society (BTS) is a technical society and council dedicated toward advancing Broadcast electrical and electronic engineering by maintaining scientific and technical standards, as well as educating its members through various meetings, presentations, events, conferences, and training programs.
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