ALERT: FCC has moved up the vote
on the Low Power Radio Service to JANUARY 20th.
What does this mean?
a) The FCC could KILL community radio outright
in favor of the latest corporate welfare
(so-called "Digital Audio Broadcasting") Read more here.
b) The FCC could vote for everything democracy needs to survive
the 21st century via the Low Power Radio Service.
c) The FCC could come up with an as-yet unheard-of combination
of (the currently largely mutually exclusive) In Band On Channel
Digital Audio Broadcast proposal.
1) Low Power Radio Service hearings at the FCC ... have ended ... now the clock is ticking TO NEW DEADLINE 1/20/2000 for support from our Congressmen and Senators to support or remain silent. If the only people that the FCC hears from are the enemies of community radio ... then community radio dies.
The FCC commissioners will read the comments on the proposal to create community radio opportunities ... then put their fingers to the proverbial political winds to see if the public supports them via their Congressmen and Senators ... where will your representative stand?
HOUSE IS NOW ACTING ON A LAW SPECIFICALLY TO KILL COMMUNITY RADIO.
2) Digital farce is next tactic to kill community radio
... why do the broadcasters ask for rules to enable them to do what they
are already able to do with existing rules and technology ... except to
kill community radio?
Minority and niche subculture Low Power TV operators have been kicked off the air ...
ALL applications for competitive LPTV stations have been frozen ...
even though there is no good technical reason to do so!
Digital TV doesn't work ... and neither will digital radio ... except to kill competition.
The reason ... the technology they
plan to rely on is too sensitive to interference
and doesn't work for mobile operation.
Therefore we should ask Congress
to pressure the FCC
into accepting technology that DOES WORK
The world standard of Digital Audio Broadcasting on the "L-Band"
OR USING TECHNOLOGY AND RULES THAT ALREADY EXISTS
This link leads to
an even more detailed discussion of the full ramifications of the possibility
We may be handing over the keys to the wireless internet revolution to the big broadcasters!!
3) Allies of the developing monopoly have friends in
Congress ... they are threatening the FCC by threatening "restructuring"
during the Fall 1999 budget process.
Clinton has vetoed the underfunded proposal by enemies of community radio ...
the Congress is now considering an attempt to override the veto.
NAB has created a fund to get minorities into radio
... after they have been
given the "Clarence Thomas" test.
View more info on agenda and hear meeting here on 1/20/2000.
The Low Power Radio Service reply-comment period was extended to November 15th.
This extended the time we have to try to give progressive forces at the FCC the support they need to open up frequencies we can use. They need the support because this is the year that the FCC is "reauthorized" for its 2000-2004 cycle.
House Telecom Subcommittee "Billy" Tauzin has promised the FCC that "it's hammer time" if they continue to consider creating competition for the big broadcasters with new frequencies for civic organizations, churches and small businesses.
Tauzin's daughter worked for the broadcasters lobbying organization, the National Association of Broadcasters.
So this is not a surprising reaction.
However it is also like a judge hearing a case where
his daughter is the prosecutor!!
(for more information, go to our FAQ section)
If that wasn't bad enough, we now have reports from Radio&Record that Tauzin's cohort in crime, Representative Mike Oxley (Ohio) introduced a bill 11/17/99 that would prohibit the FCC from establishing rules authorizing low-power FM radio stations.
HR3439, the "Radio Broadcasting Preservation Act of 1999" (the bill reference number is H.R. 3439) has (barely) bipartisan support of Oxley's Telecommunications Subcommittee.
"FCC Chairman Bill Kennard's desire to provide a public
forum for community groups is laudable," Oxley said, "but a multitude of
alternatives already exist." Oxley called the low-power proposal "ill-advised
and unnecessary, and is inconsistent with sound spectrum management." NAB
President/CEO Eddie Fritts applauded the bill and called the FCC's LPFM
proposal a "misguided initiative."
(Oxley's statements are on H.R. 3439 here)
The only thing being "preserved" is the near monopoly by the big broadcasting chains ... hundreds of "close-spaced grandfathered" FM stations have used the same spacing rules that the Low Power Radio Service stations would use ... with no complaints from listeners of interference!!!
The big boys claim that the current spacing rules are required because the bottom-of-the-heap radio receivers ($7 walkmans, $12 clock radios) will not be able to separate stations that close together on the dial. The FCCs own studies dispute that claim and the existence of hundreds of full-power stations that have been closer together on the dial with no problems for decades is the proof of this convenient oversight.
In short, the only thing that actually needs preservation is free enterprise and competition that is being throttled by this bill!! How ironic.
Digital radio as the big broadcasters have proposed it will be a FARCE.
It is very likely that the digital they claim to support will be so bad that it would destroy them and therefore it is likely that there are no serious plans to go digital at all.
Notably the plans for going digital have been laying
on a shelf since 1992 ... because the plans won't work! The Big Broadcasters
only drag out these plans now to try to kill Community Radio.
(for more information, go to our FAQ section)
This follows the same pattern
that has been set for digital TV ...
First diversity and free market activists join together and managed to convince the FCC that a new kind of service should be created for community television operators to serve niche minority audiences. These are audiences that are regarded as too small, too odd or otherwise not worth serving by the large television station operators.
The FCC bought this argument and in the early 1980s created the "Low Power TV" (LPTV) station.
Thousands of minority and niche subcultural people applied and won a license to build an LPTV station.
The big stations presumably did not like the competition.
Enter digital TV. This was such an obscene giveaway of public resources to corporations, that even BOB DOLE and McCain complained about it!!
Congress gave away over half of the entire TV spectrum
so that stations could continue to broadcast in their usual analog form
AND simultaneously broadcast the same content in digital form on another
channel. This would continue until some critical mass of America had purchased
digital TVs and then the analog transmissions would cease.
PROBLEM 1: Low Power TV operators were kicked off the air! [In more crowded markets (like Washington DC, New York)]
Their diverse programming ceases in order to make room for a digital version of more of the same old same old.
Enforcement of this decrease in free enterprise competition was at taxpayer expense, of course, under the guise of "preserving the spectrum integrity" (your ability to receive NBC, CBS, etc. schlock).
TO MULTIPLY THIS TRAVESTY ... ALL applications across the entire USA for any LPTV stations were frozen ...
This is especially strange considering that it is no mystery how much bandwidth is necessary for the big boys to accept their welfare of spectrum space. If there is space left, why not let an LPTV station begin?
Could it be that the broadcasters don't actually care about "going digital" and actually this is a ruse to shut down the competition?
Consider then ...
PROBLEM 2: DIGITAL TV DOESN'T WORK!!!!!!!
The broadcasters are pulling back from their original target dates for starting digital transmission because they have found that what worked in the laboratory DOESN'T WORK IN THE REAL WORLD.
The current method of encoding the digital signal is super sensitive to what is called "multipath interference".
Multipath interference can be seen when a strong signal has what appear to be two or three shadow figures of the people on the screen ...
That is because there are two or three of everything. What is happening is that the original signal gets to your TV, is decoded and presented ...
a few microseconds behind the original signal is the same signal ... that bounced off a metal truck in the street, or a steel rod in the wall of your apartment ...
they are all decoded and presented by your TV that doesn't know one from the other.
To fix this, you must have a directional antenna that only accepts the signal from one direction. This shuts out the reflected signals.
Rabbit ears (used by a large proportion of urban TV viewers) are not directional ... and so they accept multipath interference.
Digital TV is utterly destroyed by multipath interference.
That means that if the broadcasters switch to digital, anyone with rabbit ear antennas will stop watching their station ... because there will be nothing to watch!!!
Would you spend million$ of dollar$ to upgrade to something that will shut out million$ of viewer$???
Maybe ... if it would also kill your competition!
Because then you can tell the FCC that you must keep both frequencies because so-and-so many people cannot receive your digital signal.
Then you can transmit the expensive programming (the stock market report etc.) down the digital signal and put Oprah and Regis on the analog signal.
BRAVO... you have acquired TWO different TV stations with none of the hassles of competing with others for those frequencies.
AND killed those pesky minority broadcasters
that were stealing some of your audience.
AND HERE COMES DIGITAL RADIO WITH THE SAME PATTERN:
Digital radio does not work for many of the same reasons. It is also sensitive to interference ....
And also uses up the space on the spectrum that would otherwise be used by the Low Power Radio Service stations that would provide competition for the listeners.
The world standard was established in 1992.
That standard was a "pure" version of Digital Audio Broadcasting (DAB) technology referred to as "Eureka 147" that uses a third "L-Band".
Just as FM uses higher frequencies (87 Mhz [million vibrations a second] to 108 Mhz) than AM (530Khz [Kilo as in thousands of vibrations a second] to 1710 Khz [0.530Mhz to 1.170Mhz] to do a better job of creating a good sound ...
So also the Eureka 147 world standard for DAB uses higher frequencies on the "L-Band" at around 1400Mhz.
The lobbyists for the big broadcasters ... the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) ... originally supported Eureka 147.
Then the military said they would not give up using the L-Band for test aircraft telemetry. One of the FCC commissioners at the time, a self-professed "hawk" supported this saying "I will not support anything that will prevent smart bombs from reaching their targets." This suggests that Canadian, French and British L-Band DAB radio stations will be able to "Jam" smart bombs and perhaps the only place smart bombs will be working is on American citizens in America!! Of course, this is ridiculous, a stupid and unthinking excuse ... we may never know the real reason the FCC rolled over for the Pentagon and their masters at McDonald Douglas etc.
And so the NAB transferred their support to an inferior technology called IBOC.
IBOC stands for In Band On Channel and would "fatten"
currently existing radio stations on the FM and AM band by enlarging their
"subcarriers" to carry the DAB signal.
PROBLEM 1: Subcarriers are more sensitive to interference.
For many years the existing five subcarrier channels have been used to transmit "Muzak" to restaurants etc. as well as data services such as for pagers, grocery stores and stockbrokers. Occasionally public and religious radio stations have used their subcarriers to carry programming in foreign languages and reading services for the blind.
The problem is that these subcarriers have never worked well for mobile receivers. The Muzak and data receivers were either very minimal (pagers) or had a "yagi" antenna mounted on a roof pointing to the radio station. Look around town and you will see many an antenna that looks like a stick with seven or twelve small wings pointing out. Many of these were to pickup those signals.
IBOC plans to expand on this and purport to sell you a $300 or $400 receiver to pick up that subcarrier Digital Audio Broadcast signal. But if you are mobile, you can expect it to be sensitive to interference even now under current conditions. Just like the farce of digital TV ... nondirectional antennas will only work in the laboratory ... not in the real world!!
By convincing the FCC that they must expand the subcarriers, they use up space that the Low Power Radio Service community broadcasters would use to create programming that the existing broadcasters cannot be bothered with!
This way they cheaply destroy competition, and charge
US for the enforcement of their monopoly on programming control ...
The big broadcasters DONT NEED ANY CHANGES IN FCC RULES TO TRANSMIT A DIGITAL SIGNAL. So why are they asking?
People who used to rely on radio stations subcarriers had to buy specially modified receivers to pick up the station's subcarrier.
Because it is ILLEGAL to receive any subcarrier that you are not contracted to receive, these special receivers must be customized for each individual marketplace. So if you are blind or want your religious or other minority-interest programming ... and you move ... the subcarrier receiver you bought for one city often won't work in the other city. Either that or you have an illegal universal subcarrier audio decoding radio!
Now that TV stations have a Second Audio Programming (SAP) channel nearly universally usable by people with stereo TVs ... much of that programming has transferred to the TV stations SAP channel.
It is not illegal to receive the TV SAP signal ... therefore anyone with a stereo TV or stereo VCR can turn on their SAP channel ... go to the station that carries that programming and viola, with no special hassle can now pick up that signal.
Therefore there is little general public use for the FM subcarriers any more.
The only use for the big broadcasters use of the public resource, the airwaves that carry their subcarriers ... are private contracted data transmissions that we are actually legally prohibited from receiving!!
Go here for a more detailed discussion of this technical issue ...
AND THOSE ALREADY EXISTING SUBCARRIERS ARE ALREADY WIDE ENOUGH TO CARRY DIGITAL AUDIO BROADCASTING!
Therefore, the big broadcasters can "go digital" tomorrow, with no special rule changes by the FCC.
Since none is getting busted for receiving subcarrier audio ... they could just start selling car radios etc. with universal subcarrier audio streaming decoders (like MPEG1 or MP3) and viola ... with no special technology at all, ... they are digital!!
If they wanted to be legal about it, just have a bit of legalese that the act of purchasing a DAB enabled subcarrier radio contracts you to receive their DAB signal.
The bandwidth of the existing subcarriers is far far in excess of what is needed for a nice, clean single stereo MP3 streaming signal of 63Kbaud, or even (second version of this plan) the FULL CD quality 128Kbaud stream!!
Cue Corporation sells a series of data receivers that use the existing DARC 35Khz bandwidth subcariers that could use existing technologies dating from 1916 and no later than the late 1980s to transmit at 84,000 bits per second ... of which only 63,000 bits per second (plus some redundancy for error correction) are needed for full stereo Digital Audio Broadcasting that sounds very close to CD quality ... certainly indistinguishable from CD quality over the road noise, the yelling children and the rushing of traffic!! [More detail on the this here]
CONCLUSION: The Big Broadcasters DONT NEED IBOC to go digital ... they need IBOC to kill the competition ... just has already been done with the digital TV farce.
The NAB stations can use what they already have ...
The NAB stations have not chosen to use what they already have ...
The NAB stations have not acted to build IBOC stations in the eight years since they accepted that inferior technology in 1992.
Odd how suddenly after eight years of collecting dust, an inferior technology is suddenly marketed as the second coming of Christ for the radio industry.
Even though IBOC doesn't work!!
WE WILL NEED TO CONVINCE CONGRESS AND THE SENATE TO PRESSURE THE FCC TO EITHER FORCE THE BROADCASTER TO USE WHAT THEY ALREADY HAVE ...
OR ACCEPT THE WORLD STANDARD OF EUREKA 147 ON A SEPARATE
Shortly after the FCC originally started this process, "Billy" Tauzin started his "Reauthorization Hearings" ... and the hearings started THE next DAY after a letter in SUPPORT of Community Radio went out with just under 30 cosigners to the "Bonior Letter".
Representative Bonior of Michigan had invited other Congresspersons to sign on to his letter of support for the Low Power Radio Service ... and when only 28 signed on ... Tauzin felt empowered to condemn the FCC as if his voice was the only one that matters.
The mainstream media has avoided reporting that Tauzin's daughter worked for the National Association of Broadcasters for years ... during the year that Tauzin served as chief "oversight" to the FCC on broadcasting issues!!
This is like a judge hearing a case where the prosecutor is his daughter!!
Unfortunately, since he is the House Telecom Subcommittee
Chair ... unless many more Congressmen can be convinced to publicly support
the Low Power Radio Service ... he is likely going to get away with this
Radio&Record online reported late November 1999 :
President Clinton vetoed Commerce, State and JudiciaryThe "rest of the story" so to speak is obvious if you have read much of this website.
appropriations legislation yesterday, citing among other things the bill’s inadequate funding of the FCC. (The commission had asked Congress for $231 million, but the version submitted to the President authorized only $210 million.) According to commission spokesman David Fiske, this means the agency will continue to operate under a "stopgap" funding measure. Meanwhile, Congress will consider overriding the veto.
McCain Examines Effects Of Consolidation
"We worry whether increasing consolidation in the radio
broadcasting industry will homogenize radio programming,"
Senate Commerce Committee Chairman John McCain said in
opening Nov 8th hearing on telecommunications mergers.
Sen. Byron Dorgan later noted that prior to passage of the 1996
Telecom Act, the top 10 radio companies owned 194 stations;
today they own 1,647. "Lifting the ownership limit was not in the
best interest of the country then, and it is not in the best interest
now," he said. Dorgan then asked FCC Chairman Bill Kennard,
one of the witnesses testifying before the committee, if he was
concerned about the death of local broadcasting. "We should be
very cautious [about mergers]," Kennard responded, "and we
need to look for ways to bring new voices into broadcasting."
Kennard thanked McCain and Sen. Conrad Burns for introducing
the tax certificate bill aimed at adding diversity to broadcast
ownership. Although the hearing also focused on telephone
issues, it was clear broadcasting will be a concern as the
committee continues its probe of mega-mergers. As McCain said,
"This may not be the last hearing we have on this issue."
Side Note:] With the restrictions on which==========================
minorities qualify, they have virtually
defined the only acceptable minority
must have been anointed into the
corporate broadcasting culture ...
a "Clarence Thomas" test* so to speak.
USADR Pushes IBOC On Global Front
USA Digital Radio has been meeting in recent months with
representatives from a number of countries interested in an IBOC
solution for digital radio, USADR President/CEO Bob Struble tells
R&R ONLINE. Many of these nations are experimenting with or
have implemented the Eureka-147 L-band digital system, but
those who've implemented it are disappointed with stagnant sales
of Eureka receivers. Struble points out that since IBOC and
L-band occupy different bands, they could co-exist very easily.
SIDENOTE:] That is probably because few=========================
will $pend hundred$ for a receiver that
has programming no different from
the radios they already own!!
IBOC will be no different.
In its latest Communications Industry Forecast, released
yesterday, Veronis, Suhler & Associates projects radio will be a
$23.9 billion industry in 2003, reflecting a compound average
growth rate of 9.7%. That's the good news. The bad news: After
peaking at 13.7% in the year 2000, radio's projected annual
growth rate will decline sharply, falling to 8.4% in 2001, 7.7% in
2002 and 6.7% in 2003. Part of the problem is declining usage,
with annual per capita radio listening expected to drop from 1,050
hours last year to 992 hours by 2003.
FCC Sets Comment Period For DAB Proposal
Public comments on the digital radio proposal are due Jan. 24,
while reply comments must be in by Feb. 22. Reply comments on
the commission's proposed low-power FM service – which many
believe would threaten the buildout of IBOC DAB were due last week. Now the effort to kill the community radio LPRS shifts to Congress.
CONTENT IS KING ... people are more and more turned off by "beancounter radio" that is programmed from a spreadsheet.
And the research backs this up, research that fits in the mind of a spreadsheet addict ... and yet due to their cultural prejudices ... the beancounters who control programming on most radio stations cannot stomach creating programming that serves a broader spectrum of values cultures and politics.
Rather than serve more different people, the NAB is willing to kill the goose that laid the golden egg, radio.
People are listening less, losing interest.
And yet like lemmings, they march on.
Hopefully we can save them from themselves ... and
our diverse multicultural and competitive free market freedom-loving society
while we are at it!
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