Sage ENDEC problem leads to missed weekly test

January 15th, 2014

From State EAS Chairman Ed Brouder:

endecphotol[Some] stations did not receive the FEMA weekly test of the Emergency Alert System on Monday.  Upon checking, FEMA discovered a problem unique to users of the 2012 generation of Sage ENDECS.  A security certificate expired meaning no further traffic from IPAWS would be allowed through those Endecs.  The fix is fairly simple and can be found here.

If your station uses other brands of EAS gear it would be wise to check with the manufacturer to find out the status of its security certificates.

It would also be wise to include a copy of this note in your EAS file in case the FCC stops by for an unexpected visit.

Advertising tax deductibility challenge looms in 2014

December 17th, 2013

A new issue has been added to the now standard mix of issues facing New Hampshire’s broadcasters.  The “usual suspects” are still present; retransmission consent, the television spectrum auction  and reallocation (which has been delayed until 2015) and radio’s performance tax.

Congressman Dave Camp

Congressman Dave Camp

Congressman Dave Camp (R-Mich.) and Senator Max Baucus (D-Mont.) have each introduced proposals that would drastically affect businesses ability to deduct advertising costs on their corporate tax returns.

Camp, who chairs the House Ways and Means Committee, introduced his proposal in late September which calls for businesses to take only a 50% deduction for advertising costs in any given year, with the remaining 50% amortized over the course of the following ten years.

Senator Baucus’ proposal isn’t much better, stating that the “other” 50% of advertising costs be amortized over a five year period.

Currently businesses can deduct costs for advertising on radio, television, outdoors and online as well as the costs for advertising agencies and the costs of copyrighting logos and slogans.  Promotionally, businesses can deduct business card and flyer expenses, sponsorships and the costs associated with holding special events for customers.

It doesn’t take a math degree to see that these are massive deductions for companies both big and small.  The impact to broadcasters is obvious, reduced spending across the board.  According to an AdWeek article “almost $6 trillion of the U.S. economy is generated by advertising, as well as almost 15 percent of jobs.”

Dozens of organizations have come out against the proposed tax reform.  From the National Association of Broadcasters and the NHAB to the Association of National Advertisers, advertising agencies and chambers of commerce organizations have expressed how these changes would have a devastating effect on the economy.

Stay tuned to NHAB.org and the NHAB Facebook page for updates. For more information on all of the issues facing broadcasters, log on to the NAB’s issue pages for radio and television.

Deadline for NH to file Annual EEO Public File Report – Dec. 1

November 26th, 2013

fccThe following advisory from Pillsbury law references the December 1, 2013 deadline for all non-exempt radio and television stations in New Hampshire.

If you have any questions regarding your filing, you can call the NHAB’s Federal legal hotline at 202-663-8266 or email Dick Zaragoza – richard.zaragoza@pillsburylaw.com

Advisory – November 2013 – Communications – Annual EEO Public File Report Deadline for Stations

 

NHAB files ex parte letter re: TV political files online

November 21st, 2013

fccThe New Hampshire Association of Broadcasters, along with 46 other State Broadcasters Associations, joined in filing with the FCC an ex parte letter in continuing opposition to the requirement that television stations post their political files online, particularly given that there is no parallel regulation requiring cable and satellite providers to post online the same competitively sensitive information about political advertising rates.

We urged the Commission to lift its current broadcast-only, asymmetric online political file rule at least until the FCC requires cable and satellite operates to post the same information online.  For the same and other reasons, we also urged the Commission to defer its tentative deadline of July 1, 2014, by which the FCC would apply its online political file rule to all television stations, irrespective of affiliation and market size.  Lastly, we strongly opposed the one-size-fits-all proposal of a coalition of public interest groups, which is urging the Commission to mandate that all television stations to use the same form to record political time information, because such a requirement would impose “substantial costs, not only for the time spent by station personnel but also for the necessary training, sale material redesigns, and software development.

The letter can be read here.

FCC issues advisory regarding EAS tone usage

November 7th, 2013

The Federal Communications Commission is coming down hard on Turner Broadcasting and CBS/NBC station WNKY, licensed to Bowling Green, Kentucky due to misuse of the Emergency Alert System tones.

1709852_GThis article from MediaBistro explains that TBS used the tones inappropriately during a promo for the “Conan O’Brien Show” and has been asked to pay $25,000. The television station in Kentucky used the tones in and ad for The Fan Wear and More Store and has agreed to contribute $39,000 as well as perform additional on-air and online actions.

On November 5 the FCC released this Enforcement Advisory further explaining the station’s transgressions and why they take the violations so seriously.

The moral of the story is simple. NEVER use EAS tones for anything. Anything closely resembling the tones should also be avoided. The only time these sounds should go out over your air is for a required test or an actual emergency. Don’t make a $40,000 mistake!

FCC announces Revitalization of AM NPRM

November 1st, 2013

On October 31, 2013 the Federal Communications Commission released a much anticipated Notice for Proposed Rule Making regarding the “Revitalization of the AM Service”

The NPRM includes many changes that AM owners have been clamoring for:

  • an exclusive filing window for FM translators
  • community of license coverage standard changes
  • ending of the “ratchet rule”

mignon_clyburn

A quick summary of the 32 page document can be found at AllAccess.com.

Both interim FCC Chairwoman Mignon Clyburn and AM radio champion Commissioner Ajit Pai spoke about the revitalization of the AM band at the September National Association of Broadcasers/Radio Advertising Bureau Radio Show.  Both Commissioner Clyburn and Commissioner Pai issued statements about the NPRM.

Interested parties have 60 days to review the NPRM and file comments.  The MBA along with other State Broadcasters Associations will be filing comments on members behalf.  Please forward any suggestions and comments to NHAB Executive Director Jordan Walton at jordan@nhab.org.

Longtime NH broadcaster and NHAB Board member Darrel Clark passes away

October 21st, 2013

525ed7a82725d.imageClark_Darrel_1987Darrel Clark, former New Hampshire broadcaster and NHAB Board member passed away on October 13 at the age of 75.

Clark held various positions in New Hampshire radio including Sales Manager of WKNE-FM in Keene as well as working at New Hampshire Public Radio.  Clark also owned WTSL-AM in Hanover, NH.  He served as New Hampshire Association of Broadcasters Treasurer for many years, including several years after his retirement to Florida.  Clark won the New Hampshire Association of Broadcasters “Broadcaster of the Year Award” in 1986.  Read the complete obituary here.

 

The fight to save AM radio

October 8th, 2013

091212_Pai_Ajit_hiAM radio broadcasters took a front seat at the joint National Association of Broadcasters and Radio Advertising Bureau Radio Show in Orlando, Florida last month.  The week’s events included a very informative panel discussion moderated by  Bryan Broadcasting Corporation Vice President and General Manager Ben Downs and was headlined by a speech from Federal Communications Commissioner Ajit Pai.

Buoyed by a recent article in the New York Times, the “revitalization” of the AM band has been a top priority for Pai, who grew up in Kansas.  He often recalls listening to his high school basketball team winning the state championship on KLKC 1540 and has stated that AM radio is a lifeline in times of emergency, especially in rural areas.

The problem for AM radio in 2013 is the ever-increasing interference from all things electronic.  Pai’s possible solutions are simple.  One is to repeal the “ratchet rule” which was adopted in the early 90’s to help reduce the interference from AM stations at night.  The second way to help AM radio is to make it easier for AM stations to get an FM translator.  By allowing an AM station to rebroadcast their signal on FM, you allow them to be heard without interference.  Also, the station would be available on HD radios as well as cell phones that have enabled their FM chips.  This makes these stations even more available in case of an emergency.

An article from RadioSurvivor.com quotes Pai as saying, “I’ve heard firsthand how this step has been a lifeline for many AM broadcasters. But I’ve also heard from countless station owners who are frustrated by their inability to get a translator. A petition is currently pending at the Commission to make it easier for AM stations to move FM translators, and I support that effort. But the FCC should go further—we should open up a window where any AM station without an FM translator can obtain one so long as there is available spectrum.”  Spectrum is the key to any future FCC decision to open up FM translators for AM broadcasters.  While this is a viable solution for many broadcasters in suburban or rural areas, FM spectrum is far more limited in cities across the country.

This leads to the long-term solution of transitioning the AM band from analog to digital.  Pai mentioned at the Radio Show that a draft order would be released by the FCC seeking public opinion on these ideas.  The New Hampshire Association of Broadcasters, along with its fellow broadcasters associations will submit reply comments at that time supporting any effort to help our AM broadcasters.

NextRadio App impresses at Radio Show and beyond

October 8th, 2013

State Broadcaster Association Executives were granted hands on time with the new NextRadio app developed by Emmis Communications during a session of the NAB/RAB Radio Show.  Making the presentation was Emmis CEO Jeff Smulyan and Senior Vice President/Chief Technology Officer Paul Brenner.

NextRadio-screenshotThe application makes use of an FM chip in HTC One and HTC EVO 4G LTE phones carried by Sprint as part of the deal struck between Emmis, on behalf of the radio industry and the nation’s third largest cellular company.  The application allows users to tap into the FM chip and listen to over-the-air FM radio anywhere.  The application will seem very familiar to anyone who has used Clear Channel’s iHeart Radio or the CBS Radio.com app.  You can scroll through available stations and see station logos by default (and without a charge to stations).  Stations that use the optional, web-based, TagStation service can show artist and song information and can even have listeners participate in station promotions, interact with advertisers and even send feedback on a song back to the station.  The difference, of course, being that the music itself is received just like your car radio, over-the-air.

The advantages to utilizing an over-the-air signal are significant.  One, using the FM chip as opposed to 4G service saves users a substantial amount of data.  As Brenner pointed out at the Radio Show, cell data is going to become more and more expensive as time goes on and to be able to give consumers music, news, talk, sports and weather anywhere they go without incurring data costs is a huge plus.

Second, utilizing NextRadio and the FM chip doesn’t use as much battery.  It seems the more advanced the phone, the less battery life it has.

Lastly, and most importantly, NextRadio will still be available should the internet become unavailable in an emergency.  The same emergency information that consumers rely on from traditional over-the-air television and radio can be had in the palm of their hands with an FM chip and the NextRadio app.

The benefits of the app aren’t just for the consumer.  The ability to add a station promotion or enhancing a client’s over-the-air ad could mean the difference between making the sale and being left in the 20th century.  Watch the promo video and the demonstration video.  Here are a few ways you can utilize TagStation within the NextRadio app.

Tagstation_ads_1

tagstation_ads_2

 

This demonstration made a very strong argument for FM broadcasters of all shapes and sizes to get involved.  At the very least, stations can show their branded logo or tagline for free.  The additional benefits of the Tagstation platform come at an extra charge.

NextRadio launched on August 15th and the early returns have been positive.  All Access took the app for a test drive and gave it positive reviews.  In the first two weeks the app was downloaded 8,000 times with over 2,000 stations listened to from coast to coast.  One user reviewer said “Finally, someone got it right. Great reception on my HTC One. Extremely user friendly app. This one made it to my home screen.”

For more information you can log on to TagStation.com/nextradio.

NAB releases statement against Eshoo retrans draft bill

September 10th, 2013

11794658_BG1National Association of Broadcasters President and CEO Gordon Smith released a statement yesterday regarding Representative Anna Eschoo’s (D-CA) draft bill on retransmission consent rules titled “The Video CHOICE (Consumers Have Options in Choosing Entertainment) Act.” The full language of Eshoo’s bill can be seen here.

The bill would give the Federal Communications Commission more power to intervene when broadcasters and pay television providers reach an impasse in retransmission consent negotations similar to the CBS/Time Warner spat that ended earlier this month.  The bill, as written, would strip broadcasters of much of their negotiating power leaving pay TV providers with less incentive to negotiate in good faith.  Eshoo’s press release on the bill is below, followed by the NAB statement.

Eshoo release:

Anna_eshooWASHINGTON, D.C.—In advance of the Communications and Technology Subcommittee hearing this week on innovation versus regulation in the video marketplace, Ranking Member Anna G. Eshoo (CA-18) released draft discussion legislation. The Video CHOICE (Consumers Have Options in Choosing Entertainment) Act is intended to eliminate television blackouts caused by retransmission consent disputes and give consumers greater flexibility to choose the channels they receive each month from their pay-TV provider.   The discussion draft comes just after the conclusion of a month long retransmission consent dispute between Time Warner Cable and CBS, which resulted in a programming blackout that impacted several million consumers in eight U.S. markets. During the blackout, CBS also blocked access to its online video content for Time Warner Cable customers. “A vibrant video marketplace is one in which there is healthy competition, consumer choice and basic protections to ensure consumers aren’t caught in the middle of a dispute they have no control over,” Eshoo said. “Recurring TV blackouts, including the 91 U.S. markets impacted in 2012, have made it abundantly clear that the FCC needs explicit statutory authority to intervene when retransmission disputes break down. This discussion draft is intended to spur constructive, actionable debate on ways to improve the video marketplace for video content creators, pay-TV providers and, most importantly, consumers.” The Video CHOICE Act has five key provisions:

  1. Preventing Broadcast Television Blackouts

Gives the FCC explicit statutory authority to grant interim carriage of a television broadcast station during a retransmission consent negotiation impasse.

  1. Ensuring Consumer Choice in Cable Programming

Ensures that a consumer can purchase cable television service without subscribing to the broadcast stations electing retransmission consent.

Wholesale Unbundling of Broadcast Stations in Retransmission Consent Negotiations Prohibits a television broadcast station engaged in a retransmission consent negotiations from making their owned or affiliated cable programming a condition for receiving broadcast programming.

  1. Examination into the Blocking of a Broadcast Station’s Owned or Affiliated Online Content During Retransmission Consent Negotiations

Instructs the FCC to examine whether the blocking of a television broadcast station’s owned or affiliated online content during a retransmission consent negotiation constitutes a failure to negotiate in “good faith.”

  1. FCC Study of Sports Programming Costs

Calls for an FCC study of programming costs for regional and national sports networks in the top 20 regional sports markets.

 

NAB response: 

GordonSmithhi1WASHINGTON, DC – In response to the introduction by Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-CA) of a draft bill related to retransmission consent rules, the following statement can be attributed to NAB President and CEO Gordon Smith:

“I have great personal affection for ranking minority member Eshoo and have long admired her thoughtful approach to legislating. I am therefore surprised by the pro-pay TV slant of her retransmission consent draft bill, which could embolden pay-TV giants to continue to game the system rather than negotiate in the free market for programming most valuable to viewers.

“Fundamentally, there is no such thing as a ‘black-out’ of broadcast TV programming. Our programming is always on, and always available to viewers on multiple platforms, including free to over-the-air antenna households.

“Our overriding goal is to increase viewer access to broadcast programming. A truly ‘pro-consumer’ bill would ask whether Time Warner Cable’s attempts to restrict that access to only its ‘TV Everywhere’ model does the same.

“Moreover, it is troubling that a proposal billed as ‘pro-consumer’ continues to allow pay-TV providers to avoid viewer rebates for loss of broadcast TV programming during a disruption. Coincidentally, the draft bill is also silent on ending the practice of charging consumers upwards of $200 in ‘early termination fees’ to shift to another pay-TV provider during a disruption.

“Time Warner Cable, DirecTV and DISH are spending millions in Washington manufacturing a crisis over retransmission consent, when in fact it is these three companies responsible for nine out of 10 disruptions of service.

“NAB strongly opposes this draft bill.”