SBE 24 February 1997 Newsletter


Contributors this month:

Leonard Charles
Neal McLain
Eric Schultz
Tom Smith
Paul Stoffel
Tom Weeden

Thanks to Chris Cain for his work on the Chapter 24 WWW page and electronic newsletter.

© 1997 by SBE Chapter 24. Views expressed herein do not necessarily reflect the official positions of the Society, its officers, or its members. SBE Chapter 24 regrets, but is not liable for, any omissions or errors. The Chapter 24 Newsletter is published twelve times per year. Other SBE Chapters are permitted to use excerpts if attributed to the original author, sources, and SBE Chapter 24.

Contents for this Newsletter

About this Newsletter
Meeting Announcement
Upcoming Meeting Schedule
Meeting Minutes
April Chapter Elections
EAS Committee Update
EAS Firsthand
NAB Votes on Duopoly
The Year 2000
New Auction Proposals
Telecolm Industry News
Amateur Radio News
Sustaining Members

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The Chapter 24 Newsletter is published monthly by Chapter 24 of the Society of Broadcast Engineers; Madison, Wisconsin.
Original hard copy edited by Mike Norton on Pagemaker 5.0.
Submissions of interest to the broadcast technical community are welcome.
You can make your submissions by e-mail to:

Information and/or articles are also accepted by US Mail. Please address them to:

SBE Chapter 24 Newsletter Editor
46 Trillium Court
Madison, WI 53719-2308

Please submit text file on DOS or Windows 3.5" floppy diskette if possible.

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Thursday, February 20, 1997

This months presentation will cover another digital tape format.
Kevin Peckham from Sony Broadcast Products Division will be demonstrating Sony's Betacam SX digital tape machine.

Pizza and Beverages provided by Sony at 6:00pm
Rocky Rococo
7952 Tree Lane
(Mineral Point Road near the Beltline)
Business meeting begins at 7:00pm, followed by the program.
Visitors and guests are welcome at all of our SBE meetings!

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Tentative Program Subjects

Tue, Mar 18, 1997
Radio Automation

Wed, Apr 16, 1997
Elections and NAB Review

Thu, May 22, 1997
ATM Technology

Tue, Jun 17, 1997
Facility Tour - TBA

Sat, Jul 26, 1997
Annual Family Picnic

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Submitted by Neal McLain, Secretary

Chapter 24 of the Society of Broadcast Engineers met on Wednesday, January 22, 1997, at Alt’n’Bach’s Town Tavern, in Madison. There were 33 persons in attendance, 18 of whom were certified. The meeting was chaired by Chapter 24 Chairman Paul Stoffel.

Call to order: 7:05 pm. The minutes of the December meeting were approved as published in the January Newsletter. Paul thanked Denise Maney for her work in organizing the December Holiday Party.

Treasurer’s Report (reported by Stan Scharch, Treasurer): the chapter balance is in the black.

Newsletter Editor’s Report (reported by Mike Norton): The deadline for the February Newsletter is midnight 2/7/97; the folding party is 5:30 pm 2/12/97 at WKOW-TV.

Sustaining Membership Report (reported by Paul Stoffel in Fred Sperry’s absence): Five renewals have been received: Clark Wire and Cable; Richardson Electronics; Scharch Electronics; WISC-TV; and WKOW-TV.

Frequency Coordination Report (reported by Tom Smith): no activity.
Special Events: no report.
Certification and Education (reported by Jim Hermanson): the next opportunity to sit for an examination will be on April 8 at the NAB convention in Las Vegas. Application deadline is February 21.
National Liaison Report (reported by Leonard Charles: (1) The Society is assessing whether to petition the FCC for minor changes in the EAS rules. (2) All stations must now have paper copies of the EAS handbook. A hard copy can be requested from the FCC or downloaded from the FCC website. (3) All stations should have received a copy of the Wisconsin EAS plan. (4) The Executive Committee met in January in Phoenix; actions included decisions affecting the Ennes Workshops and the annual fall meeting. The Ennes Workshops will be scheduled during the NAB convention. The annual fall SBE convention (no longer part of World Media Expo) will travel around the country, coinciding with regional conventions; the 1997 fall convention has been scheduled for September, in Syracuse, NY.

Old business: none.
New business: none.
Professional Announcements: none.

The business meeting was adjourned at 7:22 pm. The program featured: (1) A discussion about the January EAS tests, conducted by Leonard Charles, Ken Sweet, and Doug Campbell; (2) A demonstration of the Panasonic DVCPRO and JVC Digital-S digital video recording systems.

Submitted by Neal McLain, Secretary

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This is a reminder that April is election month for officers of SBE Chapter 24. Contact Paul Stoffel if you are interested in any of the following positions: Chair, Vice-Chair, Treasurer and Secretary.

Also, Chapter 24 is always in need of volunteers and ideas for its monthly programs. Do your part to keep Chapter 24 strong!

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By Leonard Charles

Throughout 1997, the SBE EAS Committee will be determining the need to file petitions to the FCC for EAS rules changes. In order to best represent the membership in this process, the committee will accept suggestions from SBE members on proposed changes. The only criteria is that your suggested changes, if enacted, be beneficial to the entire EAS in addition to being a benefit to your individual area.

Please include your SBE membership number with your suggestions and email them to the Committee Chairman Leonard J. Charles at

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By Paul Stoffel

The South Wisconsin EAS Local Area is invited to join the Chapter 24 e-mail listserver. Contact Paul Stoffel for listserver information. The following is a compilation of users’ EAS comments taken from various e-mail sources:

From Leonard Charles:

On the SAGE unit, there is a filter built in to filter out the Attention Signal (EBS tones to us old folks) from being recorded in digital storage. Then, in your incoming programmable filter for alerts, you must specify the amount of Attention Signal you want to be transmitted when you relay the message. Your encoder will insert that much tone at the appropriate place in the message.

Here is the problem. If the levels into your decoder are not quite right, or the incoming signal distorted, or the originated tone crunched in processing to "bend" the tones, the filter does not recognize the incoming Attention Signal as Attention Signal and does not filter it. It then gets recorded in digital storage as if it was part of the audio message.

Of course when you relay the message, you get two consecutive bursts of Attention Signal. The first is what you have programmed for your box to send, and the second recorded in digital storage as part of the voice message.

Make sure that your incoming filters have 8 seconds in the Attention Signal field (or whatever length you wish the tone to be; 8 seconds is the legal minimum for messages that contain voice.)

Also, the FCC cautions that any event codes must be in the FCC Rules before they can be used. As such, the event codes found in the Wisconsin State Plan Appendix C, page 3 are not yet legal to use.

Some manufacturers must put added event codes into an EPROM revision and send it to the users. These manufacturers will not do this until the codes are in the Rules.

From Harold Price, Sage Endec Project Manager:

We’re adding in some additional new features in response to requests that have come in as people run the RMT. We’re updating everyone at the same time, so we want to make sure it is right, and at the same time get as many new features in as possible. I’m trying for the right mix between getting some fixes out ASAP, and also getting new features in the "for free" update. We’re now looking at the end of February for the release.

Word has it that the State EOC (Wisconsin Emergency Management building on Wright Street in Madison) has just installed a transceiver on the state EAS frequency (45.120 MHz, PL=136.5 Hz), and that the contractor plans on installing the EAS encoder/decoder.

Question: How does an EAS decoder compare two messages to determine if they are duplicates (in which case the second is ignored) or if they are two separate messages that need to be passed through?

Answer: The EAS decoder looks at the header information (the first set of "blurps") and compares the time it was sent, the nature of the warning and other information to determine if it’s been received already. It is easy enough for a computer to compare two pieces of data. If the date stamps are within the window of activation and strict time is enforced, then the second will be ignored.

LP-1s define their "local Area" as the EAS Local Area defined in their State Plans for their tests, particularly RMT’s. That way if the LP-1 sends an RMT, the LP-2 will echo it, the Participating stations will pass it, but there it ends due to the events occurring within the alert’s time frame.

It can be seen that the clock in each box should be accurately set and checked periodically.

And finally, from the Sacramento SBE Chapter 43 newsletter: A source for Endec thermal paper other than Harris-Allied is Quill (800-789-1331). Their vendor number is PMF906, stock number is 5228. It comes in 5 packs for $4.10 per pack. That makes it $0.82 per roll. (Harris Allied wants $2.50 per roll) The author of the article is Michael A. Golchert <> who says he has tried the paper and it works fine.

(Send “EAS Firsthand” contributions to

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By Tom Smith

In an issue that has members divided, the National Association of Broadcasters joint board called for the FCC to relax the TV ownership rules to allow for the continuation of local marketing agreements, and for the TV broadcasters to own 2 UHF stations or one UHF and one VHF station in a market. The vote was 13 to 9 by the TV board.

This vote was greeted with mixed reactions from the rank and file, with some station groups saying that it would give broadcasters an opportunity to present more diversity of programming and put them on a more equal footing with cable. Other broadcasters fear more consolidation, and that the vote does not represent the views of most broadcasters. Some said the NAB should not take a stand on the issue.

The NAB will file comments in support of the relaxation of the rules with the FCC before the February 7th comment deadline on the FCC’s notice of inquiry on TV ownership rules.

(Compiled from Broadcasting and Cable and Electronic Media )

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By Eric Schultz - SBE Chapter 48

With the new year, we are all reminded that the next century will soon be upon us. There is much folklore regarding the new millennium. But Michel de Nostredame himself did not foresee the fortunes that await the computer industry in the year 2000. In fact, many computer software and hardware designers can not predict the events that will take place at the turn of the century. The computer industry is not quite ready to come to grips with the next millennium. My computer is reluctant to face the year 2000. Is yours? You may want to perform this test at home:

Before starting, make sure all of your data is backed up. Now, by either using the Windows Control Panel or the DOS TIME and DATE commands, set your computer’s clock to 23:58:00 1999. Next, exit Windows and turn off your computer. Wait three or four minutes and turn your computer back on. Use the DATE command again, or use the Windows CLOCK accessory. What date does your computer tell you? If your lucky, it’s January 1st, 2000, just after Midnight. If you’re like most PC users, you’ve just entered a time warp. My home PC woke up in the year 1984. The machine I use for work woke up in the year 1994. Interesting little bug, isn’t it? It’s about as interesting as six hundred billion dollars, the estimated cost to the computer industry for fixing this problem.

What causes this anomaly, known as the Year 2000 or Y2K bug, to occur? The CMOS Real Time Clock (RTC) inside AT type PCs (286 though Pentium clones) keeps track of a two-digit number that represents the current year. When this number exceeds 99, it rolls over to 00. The result is a RTC with 1900-01-01 00:00:00. DOS, which calculates the date in terms of days since 1980-01-01, sees 1900-01-01 as invalid and, in most cases, determines that the date is 1980-01-01.

The RTC is not the only problem. Operating systems and application software will also exhibit Y2K bugs. Any software that uses only two digits to store the year will not be able to determine the new millennium.

There are other factors that compound the Y2K problem. To begin, January 1st, 1900 was a Monday. Some software programs use this fact to calculate the day of the week. January 1st, 2000 will be a Saturday. It may be a problem if your accounting software decided to conduct Friday’s business on Wednesday.

Secondly, not all software is aware that the year 2000 is a leap year. There are three rules that determine which years are leap years. First, years divisible by four are leap years. Second, years divisible by one hundred are NOT leap years. Finally, years divisible by four hundred ARE leap years. Software that is not aware of the third rule will skip the last day in February.

A third compounding factor is that many systems store dates in six-digit form. For example, 671125 represents November 25th, 1967. Using this representation, it’s easy to determine if a certain date has passed. However, does the date 001225 come before or after 760704? Your computer would probably guess that 001225 comes first.

What can you do to remedy the Y2K bug? Some computer manufacturers have Y2K- compliant BIOS upgrades available. There is also a free software patch called Year2000.exe, available at, that can be used with DOS or Windows and will keep your system happy until the year 2049. These fixes will at least supply the correct date to the computer. As far as fixing any software that is not Y2K-compliant; that’s probably going to involve a software upgrade.

If you decide to perform the test shown above, you may be surprised at the quirks you’ll encounter if you try running software with a system clock set in the 1980’s. If you think these quirks are minor, consider this: perhaps you work at a broadcast facility that utilizes traffic software, accounting and billing software, or even playback automation software. Food for thought, isn’t it? And keep in mind that problems associated with the year 2000 are not restricted to PC compatibles. The Y2K problem is something that you should address before it’s too late.

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By Tom Smith

There have been a number of new proposals about spectrum auctions. The Clinton administration, in it's budget proposal that was released on February 6th, has proposed spectrum auctions as part of it’s revenue rising effort to balance the budget by the year 2002. Some critics suggested that the predicted amount of revenue from spectrum auctions was overly optimistic.

Another proposal came from the new head of the Senate Commerce Committee Senator John McCain, who ask the FCC to not issue any new licenses for radio or TV stations. The Commerce Committee deals with telecommunication issues. He stated that he was going to introduce a bill that would call for the auctioning of analog broadcast licenses along with the auctioning of the new DTV licenses. Senator McCain has been a ardent proponent of the auctioning of DTV licenses. This proposal was brought up due to the large number of TV applications that were filed before the freeze on new TV applications in September. There were 710 applications in 91 markets made before the freeze took effect.

(Compiled from Broadcasting and Cable, Radio World, Electronic Media, and the Wisconsin State Journal)

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By Neal McLain


The long-planned changes in the administration of the North American Numbering Plan (NANP) are finally beginning to take shape. As we noted in a previous article,(1) NANP is the telephone numbering plan used in World Zone 1, which includes the United States, Canada, and parts of the Caribbean.

Ever since the breakup of AT&T (the old "Bell System") in 1984, the assignment of telephone numbers within World Zone 1 has been the responsibility of three entities:

• Area codes are assigned by the North American Numbering Plan Administration, or NANPA. NANPA is part of Bell Communications Research, or Bellcore, the research organization owned by the seven regional holding companies (RHCs) which resulted from the breakup of AT&T. The RHCs (one of which is Ameritech) also own the local telephone operating companies formerly owned by AT&T.

• Central office (CO) codes are assigned by a CO Code Administrator in each state. The "dominant" local exchange carrier (LEC) usually performs this function; in most cases, the dominant LEC is the former Bell System operating company. Canadian provinces and various Caribbean nations have similar arrangements. Here in Wisconsin, the CO Code Administrator is Ameritech Wisconsin, a subsidiary of Ameritech.

• The local number (last four digits of the telephone number) is assigned by the local operating company.

This arrangement generally worked well in the years immediately following the breakup of AT&T. However, in recent years, new service providers, such as paging and cellular companies, have alleged that this arrangement places them at a competitive disadvantage with respect to the RHCs. A case in point: AirTouch, a California-based cellular operator, claims that it is "intolerable in a market as competitive and dynamic as telecommunications that when, how and where a wireless carrier assigns numbers to its subscribers is regularly dictated by a competing user of those numbers." Similarly, Teleport Communications Group, a landline service provider, notes that when applying for CO codes from CO administrators, it was required to divulge sensitive information that could be used in an anti-competitive manner by the LECs.(2)

Exacerbating the situation was the attempt by a number of RHCs to establish "service-specific" overlay area codes. A service-specific overlay is an overlay area code established specifically for paging and cellular services. Paging and cellular companies claim that this arrangement places them at a competitive disadvantage because they must assign "funny" numbers to their subscribers. This issue was the subject of a lengthy proceeding before the FCC, resulting in the so-called "Ameritech Order" which prevented Ameritech Illinois from introducing 630 as a service-specific overlay in the Chicago area.(3)

While all this was going on, the role of Bellcore itself was changing. Its owners (the seven RHCs) were becoming mutual competitors: they were invading each others’ service territories to provide cellular service or even (as U S West is now doing in Atlanta) to provide competitive landline service. Partly as a result of these rivalries, the seven owners decided that Bellcore should get out of the business of assigning area codes.

In August 1993, Bellcore notified the FCC of its desire to relinquish responsibility for the administering the North American Numbering Plan. The FCC studied the issue for a couple of years, issuing a Notice of Inquiry and a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking in the process. Eventually, in July 1995, it issued a REPORT AND ORDER establishing two new entities:

• A Federal Advisory Committee to be known as the North American Numbering Council (NANC). NANC was to be composed of industry representatives who would serve on a voluntary basis. According to an FCC press release, NANC "will have broad membership including industry, the states and other NANP member countries and be organized under the provisions of the Federal Advisory Committee Act. The Council will develop guidelines for number administration, provide guidance to the NANP administrator, serve as an initial forum for number disputes and advise and make recommendations, reached through consensus, to the Commission on numbering issues."

• An operating entity called the NANP Administrator, to be selected by the NANC. The NANP Administrator was defined by the FCC as a permanent "non-governmental entity that is not aligned with any particular telecommunications industry segment. [It] will process number resource applications and maintain administrative numbering databases. The NANP Administrator will assume Bellcore’s current numbering administration functions. In addition, administration of central office codes, a function currently handled by the dominant local exchange carrier (LEC) in each area code, will be centralized and performed by the NANP Administrator." (4)

It appears that the NANP Administrator will be organized as a non-profit corporation. Funding, estimated at "not [to] exceed $10 million" per year, will be recovered by assessments paid by all communications providers; each provider’s assessment will be based on its gross revenues. The Commission specifically rejected a suggestion that costs should be recovered on a per-number basis "as they may fall disproportionately on the fastest growing users of numbers such as wireless service providers." However, the Commission also noted, "there are other approaches, such as number auctions that could ensure more efficient use of number resources." (5)

The Commission did not indicate how the proceeds of a "number auction" might be disbursed.


The NANC held its first official meeting on October 1, 1996 at the FCC’s offices in Washington. A review of the minutes of the meeting indicates that much preliminary work had already been completed during the preceding 15 months.

The NANC membership appears to meet the FCC’s desire that NANC have "broad membership." Voting members include representatives from the seven RHCs, GTE, many smaller LECs, the interexchange carriers, equipment manufacturers, and several industry trade groups. The states are represented by the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC). Canada is represented by three voting members. The Council Chairman is Alan Hasselwander, of Frontier Corporation. (6)

The first meeting was devoted almost entirely to organizational issues. A number of working groups and task forces were established, and further meetings were scheduled. The Council’s most pressing matter is, of course, the selection of the NANP Administrator.

It appears that the Council is off to an effective, if belated, start. If things proceed as expected, the NANP Administrator should be in operation within 18 months, with full responsibility for assigning all future area codes and central office codes.


The administration of the North American numbering plan wasn’t the only Bellcore function to fall victim to its owners’ competitive rivalries. Early in 1996, Bellcore’s Board of Directors announced that the seven owners were considering selling the entire company. According to a press release announcing the sale, the decision to sell was "a result of changing developments in the telecommunications industry and the owners’ diverging strategies and business plans." (7)

After two years of negotiations, Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC) has signed an agreement to acquire the company. The sale was announced in November 1996, and is expected to close later this year.

SAIC describes itself as follows: "Employee-owned SAIC provides high technology products and services to government and private industry in the areas of information technology, systems integration, national security, energy, transportation, telecommunications, health care, environmental science and engineering. With annual revenues exceeding $2.2 billion, SAIC and its subsidiaries have 22,000 employees in more than 475 locations worldwide."

Bellcore expects to retain the RHCs as customers after it becomes part of SAIC. Quoting again from the SAIC press release: "According to Martin Kaplan, executive vice president of Pacific Bell and spokesman for the Bellcore Board, `Our companies look forward to continuing to do business with Bellcore as it embarks on the next stage of its successful evolution as a fully commercialized company.’"


(1) The North American Numbering Plan - Part 2. SBE Chapter 24 Newsletter, September, 1994, p. 5.

(2) Federal Communications Commission, REPORT AND ORDER. CC Docket No. 92-237, July 13, 1995, at 70.

(3) Federal Communications Commission, SECOND REPORT AND ORDER AND MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER. IAD File No. 94-102, August 8, 1996, at 281.

(4) Federal Communications Commission, FCC ADOPTS NEW MODEL FOR NUMBERING ADMINISTRATION. Press release, July 13, 1995.

(5) REPORT AND ORDER, at 94-100.

(6) Frontier Corporation, formerly Rochester Telephone, is based in Rochester, NY, and provides local telephone service there. Frontier also owns a number of interexchange carriers including Schneider Communications here in Wisconsin.

(7) "SAIC TO ACQUIRE BELLCORE." Press Release, Science Applications International Corporation, November 21, 1996.

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By Tom Weeden, WJ9H

• The "Little LEO" (Low-Earth-Orbiting) satellite industry’s efforts to secure spectrum space in the 2-meter ham band have narrowed their focus to the 146-148 MHz segment. The industry also appears to be attempting to reposition itself as a potential emergency communication adjunct to ham radio. Little LEOs would use satellites to provide position location and two-way data-messaging services to potential customers around the world. A lengthy document was submitted by the industry to one of the World Radio Conference’s Informal Working Groups (IWG). The paper proposes new primary satellite allocations in the 430-450 MHz ranges, where amateur radio is currently secondary to government radio services, as well as in the high VHF-TV and UHF-TV spectrum. Little LEO firms CTA, E-Sat, Final Analysis, GE Starsys, and LEO One submitted the paper which drew criticism from the American Radio Relay League (ARRL), the military, land-mobile interests, and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA). The document is currently tabled, but was expected to come up again at IWG meetings on January 21 and February 4.

• Amateur Radio delegates from eight countries and NASA officials met in November at the NASA Johnson Space Center in Houston to map plans to include a permanent ham radio station aboard the International Space Station. The delegates jointly developed a draft memorandum of understanding to promote the development of Amateur Radio on the International Space Station, to be known as ARISS. The ARISS group will provide for the planning, coordination and performance of amateur radio projects on the space station, similar to the way the Shuttle Amateur Radio Experiment (SAREX) Working Group currently coordinates ham radio activities on many space shuttle missions.

• The launch of amateur radio’s most sophisticated satellite to date, "Phase 3D," has been postponed until early July. The European Space Agency has announced a launch delay for Ariane 502, the rocket that is supposed to carry Phase 3D. The amateur satellite corporation, AMSAT, is still assembling the satellite in Orlando.

(Excerpts from February 1997 Badger State Smoke Signals and QST Magazine)

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Recent Renewals:

Scharch Electronics

Thanks to all our
Sustaining Members:

Broadcast Communications
CCA Electronics
Clark Wire and Cable
Comark Communications
Fuji Film I&I
Harris Corporation
Niall Enterprises
Norlight Telecommunications
Panasonic Broadcast
Richardson Electronics
Roscor Wisconsin
Sony Broadcast
Skyline Communications
Teleport Minnesota
Video Images

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