SBE 24 May 1997 Newsletter


Contents for this Newsletter

About this Newsletter
Meeting Announcement
Upcoming Meeting Schedule
Chapter Election Results
Meeting Minutes
SBE Board Meeting
EAS Firsthand
FCC Issues Final DTV Rules
Digital Television System Comments
Auction Debate Continues
Telecom Industry News - Must Carry
FCC Rulemaking
Amateur Radio News
Short CircuitsSustaining Members
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.

Leonard Charles is the editor for the Electronic Version of this Newsletter uploaded monthly onto SBE Chapter 24's web page.

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

Contributors this month:
Leonard Charles
Ken Dixon
Neal McLain
Steve Paugh
Tom Smith
Fred Sperry
Paul Stoffel
Tom Weeden

© 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.

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Thursday May 22, 1997

This month's program will be a presentation on Personal Communication Services (PCS). Todd Klassy from PrimeCo Personal Communications, Milwaukee, will explain how PCS systems work, and will also explain what PCS Services are available in the Madison, Area. Please join us in learning about this new emerging technology.

Dutch Treat Dinner starts at 5:30pm
Business Meeting and Program begins at 7:00pm at:

CJ's West
5618 Odana Road

Visitors and guests are welcome at all of our SBE meetings!

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Tentative Program Subjects

Tue, Jun 17, 1997
Norlight NMC Facility Tour

Sat, Jul 26, 1997
Annual Family Picnic

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By Jim Hermanson,
Chapter 24 Nominations Chair

The Chapter 24 election ballots were certified and counted on April 23rd. There are 77 voting members in Chapter 24. We received 17 ballots, 15 ballots were certified as valid and 2 were invalid. The two rejected ballots would not have affected the results of the election. Congratulations to our newly elected officers.

      Chairperson- Fred Sperry
      Vice Chair-Kevin Ruppert
      Secretary- Neal McLain
      Treasurer- Stan Scharch
The nomination committee members are Jim Hermanson, Herb Jordan and Steve Paugh.

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Minutes submitted by Fred Sperry, Vice Chair

Chapter 24 of the Society of Broadcast Engineers met on Wednesday April 16, 1997 at J.T. Whitney's restaurant in Madison for its regular monthly meeting. There were 13 SBE members present, 12 who were certified, and two guests for a total attendance of 15.

The meeting was called to order at 7:10 PM by Chair Paul Stoffel. The minutes from the March meeting were approved as published in the April newsletter. In Treasurer Stan Scharch's absence, Leonard Charles reported the Chapter's account balance. In Newsletter Editor Mike Norton's absence, Paul Stoffel reported the deadline for submissions to the May newsletter and the date of the folding session.

Membership Chair Paul Stoffel reported that the Chapter currently has 77 members and is distributing 129 newsletters. Paul also announced two additions to Chapter 24 membership. They are Bill Fletcher and Michael Murray. Sustaining Membership Chair Fred Sperry announced that the Chapter has two new sustaining members. They are Alpha Video and Louth Automation which puts the current total of sustaining members at 24.

Program Committee representative Steve Zimmerman discussed transportation options for the June meeting at Norlight Telecommunications in Brookfield. Certification and Education Chair Jim Hermanson reported that new paper study guides for the different certification levels are now available. Frequency Coordinator Tom Smith reported no local activity, but gave a report on spectrum management problems.

National Liaison Leonard Charles reported on several items from the National level including a reminder to those who haven't renewed their membership to do so to avoid being dropped as a member. In EAS related news, Leonard announced that the FCC had published final drafts of the radio and TV EAS handbook. He suggested that anyone interested in a copy for their facility should call the FCC soon as there were a limited number of these publications printed. Chair Paul Stoffel indicated he had received an updated list of EAS Chairs for Wisconsin. This includes Jim Hermanson who is now South Area Broadcast Chair. Leonard then mentioned that the afternoon portion of the engineering session of the upcoming WBA conference in Lake Geneva will be dedicated to discussion on EAS.

There was no old business or new business to report.

In professional announcements, Dennis Behr mentioned that Fred Sperry is now the Leadworker for the Transmission and Satellite Control area within the Telecommunication Operations Center.

Chair Paul Stoffel adjourned the meeting at 7:33 PM. At this time, Nominations Committee Chair Jim Hermanson conducted Chapter elections. Following the election process, Program Committee member Steve Zimmerman introduced the program for the evening which was the NAB review.

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By Leonard J. Charles

The Spring 1997 SBE Board of Directors meeting began with a Conference Committee report from Jerry Whitaker. Whitaker sited the success of the first ever Ennes workshops at a Spring NAB convention. Attendance was high and comments were good. The Conference Committee is finding it much easier to focus on the spring show now that the World Media Expo is discontinued.

SBE Treasurer, Troy Pennington, delivered a healthy 1997 budget performance thus far, in part due to early mailing of renewal notices which created a higher than expected income for the month of March. Expenses were also down. The numbers are expected to more closely reflect predictions as the year progresses.

Awards committee Chair Ray Benedict reported a disappointing response thus far to this years awards nominations. Only one application had been received so far. The Committee is considering creation of a new award in conjunction with State Broadcast Associations and the EAS effort in their state. In the program, each State Association would select the most EAS active SBE member in their state and present a conjunctive award at an Association yearly function.

Certification Committee Chair, David Carr, reported the total conversion of the software used to database certification test questions. The new software platform will enable the computer to generate all tests dynamically. The process of keeping the questions current to reflect the changing technology is also much easier with the new software. The less-expensive new paper preparation guides have been selling better than expected prompting the Committee to seriously debate the need to generate new computer guides.

The Electronics Communications Committee report showed diminishing use of the National SBE BBS in favor of the SBE web site. Committee Chair, Jim Bernier reports that at both locations, the SBE job line is the most accessed information, with the EAS Committee page next most popular. Future improvements to the Home Page include an on-line store and on-line membership renewals. The notion of generating advertising revenue from the site was deemed inappropriate as the site is provided cost free by The Board felt that to offer advertising on the SBE site would infringe on the provider's ability to produce revenue for their business and thus adversely affect the SBE's relationship with them.

EAS Committee Chair, Leonard Charles, reported on a number of EAS issues that SBE members have asked the Committee to look into. The Committee has been communicating with the National Weather Service, the FCC, and all EAS equipment manufacturers toward possible changes in the EAS. A petition for rules change is being prepared toward that goal. The Committee has published a report on the SBE web site detailing the areas that are being considered for change. In light of several membership complaints directed at the NOAA Weather Radio (NWR) integration into EAS, the Board directed the EAS Committee to write an official policy statement dealing with NWR issues and forward it to the Executive Committee for approval before sending it to NOAA. The Committee is just beginning the process of talking with DTV committees on the placement of EAS messaging in the new digital TV structure.

Dane Ericksen, the Chair of the SBE FCC Liaison Committee reported on regulatory issues being followed by his committee. In the past year the SBE filed comments opposed to a request for Wireless Fixed Access Local Loop Services in the 2GHZ band. This access would be used for the final link to individual residences and businesses and would preclude spectrum now available to Broadcast Auxiliary Services (BAS) on a case by case spill over basis. The SBE filed reply comments on the Public Safety Wireless Advisory Committee report on spectrum requirements through the year 2010 which proposes huge raids on Broadcast and BAS frequencies. The SBE sited several gross errors in the request. The SBE sent a formal letter to the FCC in support of a Petition for Rule Making filed by NASA to codify the existing sharing of 2GHZ frequencies. The SBE also filed comments in support of more flexible standards for Part 74, Part 78, and Part 101 Directional Microwave Antennas. SBE opposition comments were filed against proposed increased power levels by Part 15 Biomedical Telemetry Devices on unused VHF High Band and UHF Television channels. The Committee also continues to follow closely the reallocation of 35MHZ of the 2GHZ BAS spectrum for Mobile Satellite Services. Objection comments were filed jointly by the SBE, MSTV, NAB, ABC, CBS, NBC, PBS and the RTNDA on this issue before the FCC granted the reallocation. The MSS industry has been charged by the FCC with paying for broadcasters relocation within the band or the upper expansion of it.

The Frequency Coordination Committee unveiled its Coordinator Guide Book to assist Chapter coordinators in their job. Rick Edward, the Committee chair, also asked for and received full Board endorsement to begin a pilot program aimed at electronic filing of license applications with the FCC. The FCC had asked the SBE to submit a proposal to this program.

Vice President Ed Miller's Futures Committee presented a list of objectives for the Society including: 1) launch an aggressive PR campaign promoting the value of SBE membership and certification to the General Management at each facility, 2) develop a plan whereby local chapters "feel" the support of the National, and 3) develop a plan for membership dues increase as warranted.

The Ennes Educational Foundation reported an aggressive involvement in seminars and workshops at regional SBE events and invited the Board to present more possible events that could use the Foundation's assistance. The Scholarship Committee has received nine applications to date for the 97 Ennes Scholarship. The National has sent out 373 packets in response to scholarship requests.

General Counsel Chris Imlay updated the Board on litigation issues his office is involved in on the SBE's behalf and then presented a listing of the SBE legislative agenda for the year. That list includes; the FCC technical expertise issue; the flawed FCC policy of spectrum allocation by competitive bidding; Federal regulation of local land use issues; FCC acceptance of Frequency Coordination services; and no net reduction of allocation spectrum for broadcasters.

Industry Relations Chairman Andy Butler announced an agreement with Radio World and TV Technology publications for quarterly columns written by SBE members on SBE issues. Butler also talked about his committee's involvement in the Advanced Television Systems Committee and ITS meetings. He also presented the Board with a member request to become involved in a manufacturing issue concerning a dispute over head life of video recording equipment from a specific manufacturer. The Board agreed that our mission did not include getting involved in product claim issues.

The International Committee announced a new SBE Chapter in Uganda.

Membership Committee Chair Bob Hess expressed approval with the level of new members generated by this years membership drive. He also discussed changes he proposed that would streamline the approval process of new members.

Larry Wilkins, Nominations Committee Chair, presented a healthy list of candidates for this years National elections. For the first time in a while there will be competition for some National Officer positions.

Sustaining Membership Chair Tom Weber reported a total of 84 National Sustaining members which reflects a net gain of one following the loss of three members but gain of four. Nine more applications have been sent and are awaiting response.

Executive Directory John Poray ran through a list of projects receiving on-going attention by the National Office staff. Among them was the announcement of a new SBE Regional Convention planned for Louisville Kentucky, progress on applications for the Engineering Management Seminar this Summer in Indianapolis, office software and hardware upgrade progress and plans, the planned National meeting in fall at the Syracuse New York Regional Convention, and the latest staff changes at the National Office. John also said he had received two requests from Regional Convention sites for the 1998 Fall SBE National meetings and Award Banquet. One came from the Wisconsin Broadcasters/SBE Annual Broadcast Clinic in Madison, and the other from Seattle's Chapter 16 annual Fall Convention. John also announced the pending marriage of SBE Certification Director Linda Godby which will coincide with the Summer SBE Executive Committee Meeting in Indianapolis. An invitation was extended to the entire Board.

In new business the Board was presented with a proposal from Harris Corporation to offer their "Open Houses" and "Expos" as SBE regional events. The Board decided to develop guidelines toward such an alliance with a commercial vendor so as not to violate the SBE's educational mission of non-endorsement. John Poray requested Board approval to purchase a voice mail system for the National Office. The Board directed John to begin the search for a viable system including possible replacement of the office phone system. The Board also discussed the feasibility of a Scholarship in memory of former FCC staffer and SBE member Robert Greenberg following his unexpected death in March. The Board approved a resolution to ask that the Ennes Scholarship Committee consider the creation of the Bob Greenberg Memorial Scholarship.

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By Paul Stoffel

Compiled by Paul Stoffel

• Using the Emergency Alert System, WHA-TV automatically relayed EAS alerts received from the National Weather Service's WX Radio that included five Thunderstorm Warning alerts (SVR) on April 5 and one High Wind Warning (HWW) was relayed on April 6.

• To minimize potential confusion, the NWS used the code DMO (Demo Warning), instead of the TOR (Tornado Warning) code when they issued April 24's simulated tornado warning. This was a "log only" event for broadcasters.

• Gary Timm, Wisconsin Emergency Communications Committee Chair, has named two new Local Area Emergency Communication Committee (LAECC) Broadcast Chairs: Congratulations to Jim Hermanson, WKOW-TV, for his appointment as chair of the South Wisconsin Area, taking over from past-chair Ken Sweet. Congratulations also to Jeff Ayers, WHBM-FM/WLEF-TV, Park Falls, for his appointment as the North Central Area Chair. (This is an update to the State Plan, Appendix F, page 2.)

• An ENDEC printer jam can only be reset by powering the ENDEC down and back on.

• An accidental EAN sent last month was explained in e-mail by Al Kenyon, the President of the PEP Advisory Committee: "Hello, WLS... Can you hear me? This is a test" was the contents of test audio intended for the NP automatic insertion box at the WLS, Chicago transmitter site which was accidentally sent to WTAM, Cleveland, OH; WTQM, Pine Hills (Orlando), FL; and WWL, New Orleans, at 1954 Zulu (2:54 EDT). What led to this incident? WLS CE, Warren Shulz, had just completed the rather complex installation of his station's Primary Entry Point (PEP) EAS automatic signal insertion device in his main and backup audio chains and he wanted to make sure that everything was working properly. Warren called his FEMA contact and asked them to send him an activation so he could proof his install. The Alert center operator deselected all of the other NP/PEP stations (or so he thought) and proceeded to send the activation. Unfortunately, WTAM, WQTM and WWL also received the activation which was coded as an EAN. Stations monitoring these NP sources also had their audio seized and rebroadcast the test message. WTAM and WWL were seized for approximately two minutes, for some unknown reason WQTM's insert box did not automatically release.

• Also from Gary Timm: Due to our experience that originating separate RMT's on our dual LP-1s causes dual test interruptions on other stations, our LP-1s and LP-2s will not be originating any more RMTs until we can address this problem at the WBA EAS Summit this Summer.

In order to have a single origination point, and thus a single alert circulating in the EAS web, all upcoming RMTs will be originated by either the Area SR Station or the local NOAA Weather Radio Station. These tests should be relayed by the LP-1s and LP-2s.

The June RMT will be originated by Weather Radio, as scheduled. The July RMT will be originated by the SR Stations, as scheduled.

Plan to attend the WBA EAS Summit at Lake Geneva on July 16, 2:00 - 4:00 PM. Be thinking about: How do we remedy the dual LP-1/dual-test problem?; should we stay with random test days or fix a day each month?; do we want random test times, or should we alternate the same two fixed "day/night" times every other month and at what times?

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By Tom Smith

On April 1st, the FCC issued the final rules concerning the transition to a digital TV transmission system. On April 24th, the FCC issued the table of allocations for the new DTV channels.

There were many last minute compromises before the new rules were a done deal. The FCC got the 4 major networks to agree to have their affiliates in the top ten markets on the air by May 1, 1998 with more than half on the air by Christmas 1998. The network affiliates in markets 11-30 have till November 1, 1998. This was requested by FCC Chairman Hundt to prevent broadcasters from dragging the transition out. The rest of the commercial stations have 5 years to get on the air with public stations having to be on the air 1 year later.

The FCC will hold stations to the present public interest standards with the possibility that the requirements may be increased. President Clinton plans to create an advisory group to look at public interest obligations. The public interest obligations are being required in lieu of auctioning the spectrum for DTV.

The FCC set the year 2006 as the date for ending analog transmissions, but they will examine the issue every two years.

At that time, they will move all stations into channels 2-46 or 7-51 and auction the remaining 78 mhz. The FCC will reallocate channels 60-69 immediately. Analog stations currently operating on these channels can remain on them till 2006.

Other issues that the FCC ruled on were that stations must file for their construction permits within 50% of the time that they must be on the air with DTV. Analog and digital licenses are paired and if sold, they must be sold together. Broadcasters are not required to air HDTV programming, but if airing multichannels, one channel must be free. Simulcasting of both DTV and analog programming will increase to 100% by the last 2 years of the transition period.

The big questions concerning the DTV rules are the power levels that were assigned and the channel allocations. Power levels were set from a minimum of 50 kilowatts to a maximum of 1 megawatts. Power levels that were assigned are suppose to give stations about the same coverage they currently have.

During the NAB convention and a week after the FCC issued the final rules, members of the computer industry announced their version of the scanning standards for DTV. This announcement was made in spite of last November's agreement. This announcement was made by COMPAC, INTEL and MICROSOFT. Their main proposal calls for phasing in scanning standards of 704 lines (horizontal) by 480 lines (vertical) in either 4:3 or 16:9 aspect ratio to 60 frames. That would be followed by 1280 (H) by 720 (V) at 24 frames by the year 2000 and lastly 1920 (H) by 1080 (V). The last 2 formats have a 16:9 aspect ratio.

Many issues still remain to be resolved including must-carry and spectrum fees from broadcasters who carry subscription services.


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By Ken Dixon

MPEG-2 will be the transmission standard. However, the FCC did not mandate any of the associated video standards (interlaced vs. progressive scan, etc.).

Broadcasters determine how the DTV channel is used. They must, however, provide at least one regular program channel. (They can not be used to deliver data exclusively).

The transmission of HDTV is not required.

Simulcasting will be required later in the 6-8 year phase-in period.

The minimum power level will be 50 KW; with a maximum of 1 MW.

Over 50% of the current channels will receive 100% replication of coverage area; over 93% will have 95% replication.

Channels 60 through 69 will eventually be auctioned off and will not be available for television service.

The final core spectrum of the DTV will be either channels 2-47 or 7-51. Three or four network affiliates in the top 10 markets will be required to be on-air by May 1, 1999; three network stations in the top 30 markets by November 1, 1999.

There will be extensions to Construction Permits.

Expect additional rule makings every two years or so for changes in the DTV implementation process.

The year 2006 will mark the end of the transition to DTV and the return of the NTSC channel.

The FCC did not say anything about:
• must-carry,
• public interest requirements,
• what happens with the currently vacant allotments.

The trade magazines and other sources will provide more detailed information as it is released by the FCC.

Additional related items not from the FCC:
• All of the talk about standards is really about DTV transmission and not about production.
• Most formats are progressive scan.
• There will be some letter-boxing.

There are a number of items that the standards people are still working on that seem to affect the television receiver more than anything. Items such as how to label or identify the several possible sub-channels; how captioning will be accomplished; how the TV set will separate data from the signal; how the content advisories will be handled.

NAB equipment display:
• Demo of HDTV over-the-air; it's good!
• Current projected initial price of consumer TV sets is $2,000.00.
•There were no revolutionary developments on display; only evolutionary.

Several manufacturers demonstrated video cameras in the 16 x 9 wide screen HDTV format with projected deliver dates in the 6 to 12 month area. Least expensive seems to be $90K without lens for a portable camera.

Many manufacturers hawking video servers. The primary thrust is in newsroom and master control applications.

Comark, Harris, and Andrew, in the transmitter, feedline, and antenna areas, are feverishly working on their hardware to adapt it for the DTV requirements.

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By Tom Smith

As the FCC prepared to take it's final actions on DTV, the debate over auctioning the DTV spectrum continued with much controversy

On February 4th, Sen. John McCain (AZ) introduced a bill that would require the FCC to allocate 24 mhz of the spectrum from channels 60-69 for public safety use and to auction the remaining 36 mhz for other uses within 5 years. Ten percent of the auction proceeds would be given to the states for law enforcement and public safety. The bill would also give the states the power to auction unused public safety spectrum. The FCC would also be given the permanent auction authority. The final DTV rules had a section concerning channels 60-69 similar to Sen. McCain's proposed bill. Sen. McCain would also like to make the FCC's analog spectrum give back date of 2006 a law instead of an FCC rule.

Meanwhile, the Clinton administration is expecting to raise $47.2 billion from spectrum auctions by the year 2002 with $14.8 billion coming from the auction of the current analog TV spectrum. The former head of the Congressional Budget Office is calling the Administrations projections too high. The CBO estimates the spectrum would raise $5.8 billion.

The Administration also called for broadcasters to make up any short fall for the analog auction, if it did not raise the $14.8 billion. Sen. McCain and Rep. Tom Bliley (VA), heads of the Senate and House Commerce committees rejected that idea.

Meanwhile, a number of other groups decried the give-away of the spectrum for DTV and called for auctions. They included Common Cause which held a press conference the day before the FCC adopted the final DTV rules. A small group of the Ralph Nader Consumer project protested in front of the FCC as the Commissioners met to adopt the DTV rules. There was one protester who tried to disrupt the FCC meeting.

Another group that would like a DTV auction is led by Robert Johnson, head of Black Entertainment Television, who advocates the auctions as a method for minorities and women to gain ownership of DTV stations. The Rev. Jesse Jackson and former New York Mayor David Dinkins are joining him in his push for DTV auctions.

An April 3rd article in the NEW YORK TIMES stated that the FCC was having trouble collecting payments from the PCS auction for the small business block, and had suspended collecting their payments. One company that owed $1.4 billion had defaulted and another that owed $4.2 billion was unable to meet a payment deadline and asked for restructuring. There is fear that most of the bidders may default as many banks and large corporate backers were backing out.

The recent auction for the Wireless Communications Service was projected to take in $1 billion and only took in $13.6 million.

On April 30th, it was reported that the Justice Department had started an investigation into allegations that a recent cellular auction may have been manipulated. One bidder filed a complaint that another bidder was using the last 3 digits in it's bid to indicate it was to drive up the bidding, if the other bidders did not drop out.

House Telecommunications Subcommittee Chairman Billy Tauzin (LA) called the wireless auctions for budget reasons bad policy, but was hinting that he may have another spectrum fee plan in a communication bill he was introducing.

As long as Washington is looking for revenue, the auction and spectrum fee debate will continue.


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By Neal McLain,


That headline, of course, isn't news to anybody who reads this Newsletter. It's safe to say that just about anybody who works in the broadcast industry is already familiar with the basic facts of this decision: the United States Supreme Court has upheld, by a 5-4 vote, the "must-carry" provisions of the Cable Television Consumer Protection and Competition Act of 1992. This is the act which gives television broadcast stations the right to demand carriage on local cable television systems.

This is the third time that must-carry rules have existed, and the first time they have been upheld in court. This article relates the story of how the must-carry rules, in their present form, came into being.

Before proceeding, let me state the obligatory disclosure: I've been employed in the cable television industry for twenty years, and I've spent a lot of that time dealing with FCC regulatory issues, so I don't claim that my opinions are unbiased. On the other hand, however, I was in broadcasting for ten years before I got into cable, and I've been a member of SBE longer than I've been a member of SCTE.


"Must-carry" rules have been around for years. Two different versions of these rules existed during the 70's and 80's, both instituted by the FCC on its own authority, without specific authorization from Congress. These rules established different procedures for commercial and non-commercial stations.

For commercial television stations, a "specified zone" was established for each community of license - essentially a circle extending 35 miles from the community's "reference point." The reference point for each community was listed in the rules; in general, it fell in the center of the community, and had nothing to do with the location of the actual transmitters. Any cable television system falling "in whole or in part" within the specified zone was required to carry each station licensed to the community, at the request of the station licensee.

Commercial television stations also had another option: if a station could prove, through viewer surveys, that it was "significantly viewed" in non-cable homes in a distant county, it could extend its must-carry authority to all cable television systems within the county. Following this procedure, Rockford stations WREX-TV, WTVO, and WCEE-TV (now WIFR-TV) established themselves as significantly viewed in Green and Rock Counties, Wisconsin.

Non-commercial educational (NCE) television broadcast stations were granted must-carry rights within their Grade B contours.

These rules were subsequently vacated by the courts in the wake of a legal action initiated by the cable television industry. Cable successfully claimed that the must-carry rules infringed on its editorial discretion as a publisher under the freedom-of-the-press clause of the First Amendment.


Must-carry rules were re-established, this time with Congressional authority, by the 1992 Cable Act. This act, and the subsequent FCC rules which implemented it, again established different procedures for commercial and non-commercial stations.

Commercial television stations were granted two rights: must-carry and retransmission consent. Each station was granted the authority to elect, on a system-by-system basis, which of these two rights it wished to invoke with respect to each individual cable system. The first election took place in 1993; subsequent elections occur at three-year intervals thereafter.

If a station elects must-carry for a given cable system, the cable system is required to carry it under terms specified in the FCC rules. These rules deal generally with signal-quality issues; they also require carriage on the lowest level of service - the so-called "basic" service tier. Within certain limits set forth in the rules, the station can specify the cable channel on which it wishes to be carried; beyond that, however, the station has little authority over how a cable system carries its signal.

If a station elects retransmission consent for a given cable system, most issues, including channel assignment, are governed by a contractual agreement between the station and the cable system. The FCC rules still govern signal-quality issues, but most other issues are open to negotiation between the station and the cable system.

These rights exist within the television station's "market"; the old "specified zones" no longer exist. The market is defined as follows:

• Within the contiguous 48 states, the market is the Arbitron Area of Dominant Influence (ADI). As it happens, Arbitron withdrew from the television ratings business shortly after the act was passed; nevertheless, the ADI boundaries, as they existed in 1992, were incorporated into the FCC rules, and were used during the 1993 and 1996 elections.

• In Alaska and Hawaii, the market is the Nielsen Designated Market Area (DMA).

• In Guam, Puerto Rico, and U.S. Virgin Islands, each territory is defined by statute to be one market.

Satellite-delivered "superstations," such as WGN-TV and WTBS, have these same rights within (but only within) their home markets. These rules apply even to home-market cable systems which pick up the satellite feed.

The rules governing NCE stations are quite different: NCE stations have must-carry rights, but they don't have retransmission-consent rights. An NCE station can invoke its must-carry right if its community of license is located within 50 miles of the cable system's headend, or if its Grade B contour includes the system's headend.

Moreover, every cable system must carry at least one NCE station. If the system is located "beyond the presence" of an NCE station, it must import at least one. To comply with this rule, some cable systems, unable to receive any NCE station off-the-air, carry KRMA-TV, Denver via satellite.


The election process established for commercial stations has produced a wide variety of results.

Network affiliates and major independent stations generally elected retransmission consent, particularly for nearby cable systems. In the 1993 election, 80% of network affiliates elected retransmission.

Some stations demanded some sort of compensation in exchange for consent. Demands for financial compensation generally were not successful. A few stations which demanded financial payments were dropped by cable systems which refused to agree to the demand. In an extreme case, three network stations in Corpus Christi, Texas were dropped by TCI for several weeks during the 1993 election round.

Negotiated arrangements governing carriage of non-broadcast programming services were generally more successful. Fox, on behalf of its O&O stations, successfully negotiated the launch of fX; similarly, ABC launched ESPN2. NBC negotiated the launch of America's Talking (recently morphed into MSNBC) and secured extended carriage agreements for CNBC.

Only CBS, then under the leadership of CEO Larry Tisch, did not seize retransmission consent as a way to launch a non-broadcast programming service. Perhaps Tisch remembered too well the disastrous results of CBS Cable, CBS's first attempt to enter the cable programming business. At any rate, during Tisch's tenure, CBS did not invest in cable; instead it sold off its only cable holding, a one-third interest in SportsChannel. It was not until this year that CBS re-entered the cable programming business, with the recent launch of Eye on People. (1)

Weaker non-network stations generally elected must-carry, particularly with respect to cable systems located in distant cities within their markets. This situation has produced numerous anomalies in so-called "hyphenated markets" where a portion of a station's market may lie beyond its Grade B contour. A case in point: all stations in the Paducah-Cape Girardeau-Harrisburg-Marion market have must-carry rights throughout the entire market. Thus, independent station WTCT, in Marion, Illinois, has must-carry rights in Poplar Bluff, Missouri, even though Poplar Bluff is 105 miles from Marion and 45 miles outside WTCT's Grade B.

Fortunately for the cable industry, the FCC has imposed a requirement that a station must deliver a "good-quality" signal to the cable system's headend if it demands carriage. If a cable headend is located so far away from a station that the cable system can't receive an acceptable signal with a well-engineered off-the-air antenna installed on an existing tower, it's exempt from the must-carry requirement unless the station delivers an acceptable signal to the headend. Many stations have, in fact, complied with this requirement, either by constructing microwave links or by establishing translator stations. (2)


Within days of the effective date of the 1992 Cable Act, various cable television entities launched legal challenges to the must-carry and retransmission-consent provisions of the Act. One case, Turner Broadcasting System v. FCC, challenged must-carry on First Amendment grounds, claiming that the rules favored one class of speakers (broadcasters) over another class of speakers (cable operators). At first glance, this might seem odd, because Turner is itself a broadcaster (as licensee of WTBS), and therefore has the right to invoke must-carry with respect to cable systems in the Atlanta market. But Turner's real concern was the fact that its satellite-delivered cable programming services (CNN, TNT, Headline News, and WTBS outside the Atlanta market) might be dropped by cable systems needing capacity to add local must-carry signals.

The case was first considered in 1993 by the United States District Court for the District of Columbia. A three-judge panel of the court concluded on a 2-1 vote that the must-carry rules were "content neutral," and therefore did not violate the First Amendment. On direct appeal, the United States Supreme Court upheld that decision on a 5-4 vote, but remanded the case back to the lower court for further proceedings. In 1995, the District Court again ruled 2-1 to uphold must-carry. And once again, the cable industry - this time represented by the NCTA, Time Warner, and Discovery Communications in addition to Turner Broadcasting - sought Supreme Court review.

The Supreme Court heard oral arguments in October 1996, and handed down its decision on March 31, 1997. The final decision, again on a 5-4 vote, once again affirmed the must-carry rules. Justice Kennedy, writing for the majority, summarized the case as follows: "On appeal from the District Court ... the case now presents the two questions left open during the first appeal: First, whether the record as it now stands supports Congress' predictive judgment that the must carry provisions further important governmental interests; and second, whether the provisions do not burden substantially more speech than necessary to further those interests. We answer both questions in the affirmative, and conclude the must carry provisions are consistent with the First Amendment." Rhenquist, Stevens, Souter, and Breyer joined in the majority opinion.

Justice O'Connor, joined by Ginsburg, Scalia, and Thomas, dissented. In her opinion, O'Connor makes it clear that she did not accept the validity of much of the evidence presented during oral argument: "We ordinarily do not substitute unstated and untested assumptions for our independent evaluation of the facts bearing upon an issue of constitutional law."

The full text of the opinion may be found at < 95-992>.


With this issue finally resolved, the stage is now set for future legal battles.

One battle will center on DTV. Will the must-carry/retransmission-consent rules apply to DTV broadcast signals? If so, what encoding and modulation schemes will be used for cable retransmissions? If broadcasters use a portion of the bandwidth for non-broadcast signals, will cable systems be required to carry those signals too? Will broadcasters be permitted to make a "split election" (for example, elect retransmission consent for the NTSC signal and must-carry for the DTV signal)?

Another big battle will center on DBS. News Corporation recently agreed to purchase an interest in EchoStar; the resulting entity, to be known as SKY, has announced that it will seek permission to retransmit television broadcast stations within their local markets. The planned technique will utilize satellite spot beams; access will be restricted by zip code to authorized receivers in each station's market. How will the must-carry rules apply to these transmissions? If SKY carries one commercial station in a market, will it then be required to carry all commercial stations in the market? Will commercial stations have retransmission-consent rights? Will NCE stations have must-carry rights within zip codes in their Grade B contours? Will stations have the right to specify "channel" numbers?

And how will SKY control migrating receivers? If the Canadian government can't keep DBS receivers from migrating across an international boundary, how is SKY going to keep them from migrating across county lines?

Here in the Madison market, how will the addition of two new television stations (each presumably broadcasting on two channels) affect local cable systems? (3) Will the TCI system in Richland Center be required to carry the new Janesville station? Will the Marcus system in Janesville be required to carry the new Richland Center station?

It's all going to be very interesting.

(1) A more complete version of this story was featured in last month's issue of American Journalism Review. David Zurawik et al, "Saving CBS News," AJR, April 1997, pp. 16-23.

(2) A "good quality" signal is one of the following: a baseband video signal, a UHF signal level of at least +4 dBmV, or a VHF signal level of at least 0 dBmV, at the input to the first active headend device. 47 CFR 76.55(c)(3).

(3) Tom Smith, "Local Legals," Newsletter, October 1996, p. 7.

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Compiled by Tom Smith


ET Docket No. 95-18; RM-7927; PP-28
Amendment of Section 2.106 of the Commission's Rules for Use by the Mobile Satellite Service

This notice of proposed rulemaking concerns the allocation of 70 megahertz of spectrum from 1990-2025 mhz and 2165-2200 mhz for Mobile-Satellite Service. This service is a PCS or cellular type service that uses satellites instead of terrestrial towers.

In order to accommodate the allocation of this spectrum, the FCC will require that the broadcast auxiliary Service for television will be relocated from 1990-2110 mhz to 2025-2130 mhz. There will still be seven channels in the new band, but they will be reduced from 17-18 mhz in bandwidth to 15 mhz. Also, the Fixed Service operations in the 1990-2025 mhz, 2110-2130 and 2165-2200 mhz be relocated to five bands above 5000 mhz.

As this service is part of the Emerging Technologies policy of the FCC, the new user's of the band will have to compensate the existing users for their move to new frequencies. Part of the need to allocate spectrum in this band is to conform to international allocation standards.

The FCC adopted this notice of proposed rulemaking on March 13, 1997 and released it on March 14, 1997. Comments are due on June 23, 1997 and replies are due on July 21, 1997. This notice was published in the FEDERAL REGISTER on April 22, 1997 on pages 19,538-19,541.

CC Docket No. 92-297; FCC 97-82
Use of the 28 GHZ and 31 GHZ Bands for Local Multipoint Distribution Service

The FCC is seeking comment on the application and auctions of spectrum in the 28 and 31 ghz bands for use in the Local Multipoint Distribution Service. This service is similar to the existing wireless cable service in the 2 ghz band. Because of the frequencies in which this service operates, multiple transmitters are used much like cellular phones.

The FCC plans to issue 2 licenses in each of the 492 basic trading areas of the United States for a total of 984 licenses. New York City is excluded from the auction.

Comments were due April 21, 1997 and replies were due on May 6, 1997. The notice was adopted on March 11th and adopted on March 13, 1997. Published in the FEDERAL REGISTER on April 7, 1997 on pages 16,514-16,518.


MM Docket No. 87-268; FCC 96-493
Broadcast Services; Television Broadcast Services; TV Transmission Standards

This notice in the FEDERAL REGISTER makes official the FCC's decisions on December 24, 1996 that adopted the transmission standards for digital television transmissions. This standard is a modification of the Advanced Television System Committee's Digital Television Standard. The modifications were agreed to on November 26, 1996 by the broadcast and computer industries.

The standard includes all of the Advanced Television System Committee's standards except for the scanning formats. Also, the Dolby AC-3 digital audio standard was incorporated as the audio transmission standard.

The text for this notice is available from the FCC's web site ( and the standards are available from the Advanced Television System Committees web site ( Both web sites are listed in the notice.

These rules were released on December 27, 1996 and published in the FEDERAL REGISTER on March 25, 1997 on pages 14,006-14,015. The rules become effective on May 27, 1997.

PR Docket No. 92-235; FCC 97-61
Private Land Mobile Radio Services

The FCC has adopted new rules concerning the allocation of land mobile frequencies under parts 1, 20, 74, 90 and 101. These frequencies include the bands of 150-174 mhz, 421-430 mhz, 450-470 mhz and 470-512 mhz.

The FCC has reduced the number of categories of the private land mobile groups from 20 down to 2. The 2 new groups are the Public Safety Pool and the Industrial/Business Pool. The Public Safety Pool includes police, fire, highway and other government services. The Industrial/Business Pool includes taxi, trucking, railroad, power company, logging and other business groups.

Each of these 20 groups had its own small band of frequencies, but they will now share frequencies with like users in the larger pool. The FCC adopted these rules as part of a plan to encourage efficient use of these bands among the growing number of private land mobile users. The new rules also address the coordination of these frequencies and who should handle coordination. Some relocation of user's will be required under these new rules.

Part 74 user's (broadcasters) are affected only in relation to interference that they may cause or receive from other user's.

This notice is 102 pages long in the FEDERAL REGISTER with 83 pages of frequency use tables. This notice was adopted on February 20, 1997 and released on March 12, 1997. It was published in the FEDERAL REGISTER on April 17, 1997 on pages 18,834-18939. The rules take effect on October 17, 1997. Part 90.17 took effect on April 17, 1997.

GC Docket No. 95-21; FCC 97-92
Ex Parte Presentations in Commission Proceedings

The FCC amended its rules concerning Ex Parte communications with the Commissioners and FCC staff during Commission proceedings. The new rules were revised to make it simpler and clearer of when it is permissible to contact the FCC about various issues before the commission, such as rule makings and applications. Anyone with dealings with the FCC should understand these rules.

These rules were adopted on March 13, 1997 and released on March 19, 1997. The rules become effective on June 2, 1997. Published in the FEDERAL REGISTER on April 3, 1997 on Pages 15,852-15,858.

WT Docket No. 97-82; FCC 97-60
Competitive Bidding Procedures

The FCC has amended it's general competitive rules in order to streamline the auction process and improve competitive bidding processes.

Methods of bidding such as open single or multiple round auctions or sealed bidding and who determines which type is used is discussed in this notice. Also, methods of payment and how defaults are handled, including reauctioning defaulted licenses. These rules offer general guide lines for auctions and the specific rules for each auction will vary within these guidelines.

This notice was adopted on February 20, 1997 and becomes effective on April 12, 1997. The FCC released the notice on February 28, 1997 and it was published in the FEDERAL REGISTER on March 21, 1997 on pages 13,541-13,544.

GN Docket No. 96-228; FCC 97-112
The Wireless Communications Service ("WCS")

This action amends certain rules concerning power and out of-band emissions limits on WCS operations. WCS operates in the 2305-2320 mhz and 2345-2360 bands. The FCC issued these rules to protect multipoint distribution service and instructional television fixed service ("MMDS/ITFS") reception.

These services use wideband downconverters that are also capable of receiving WCS transmissions. The FCC is concerned that WCS transmitters could overload these downconverters and cause interference to MMDS/ITFS reception.

Besides power and emission limits, WCS will have to correct blanketing type interference to MMDS/ITFS receivers for a period of time after they start operation. The MMDS/ITFS industry will be required to develop and start to use a more robust receiver within 18 months after the release of these rules.

The FCC adopted these rules on March 31, 1997 and they become effective on April 7, 1997. The notice was published in the FEDERAL REGISTER on April 7, 1997 on pages 16,493-16,498.

From the FEDERAL REGISTER (also at <>)

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By Tom Weeden, WJ9H

• Two Wisconsin representatives, Scott Klug (R-2nd) and Tom Barrett (D-5th), have co-sponsored House Bill 1013, the Amateur Radio Volunteer Services Act of 1997. The bill was introduced in March and, if enacted, would place volunteers in the Volunteer Examination Program and the Amateur Auxiliary under the protection of the Federal Tort Claims Act. They would be treated the same as employees of the federal government while carrying out their volunteer duties. Representative Anna Eshoo (D-CA), who introduced the bill, said, "This bill would help protect the personal liability of volunteer Amateur Radio operators while performing duties on behalf of the Federal Government."

• The launch of the "Phase 3D" amateur radio satellite has been delayed again due to modifications to the Ariane 5 rocket's electrical system and software. The European Space Agency (ESA) has rescheduled the launch for mid-September. ESA said the schedule change was in response to recommendations of a board of inquiry that looked into the causes for the failure of the Ariane 501 launch last summer. Phase 3D will ride as a payload on a commercial launch and should attain a highly elliptical orbit for wide-area coverage.

• The "Radio Amateur Callbook," which has been publishing its telephone-book-size address listings of hams in North America and worldwide, has announced that it will be phasing out paper editions in favor of its CD-ROM product. The 1997 Callbook, the 75th edition, will be the last hard-copy version available.

(Excerpts from May 1997 "QST" Magazine)

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By John L. Poray, CAE
Executive Director


We haven't heard from a few of you about renewing your membership! It's almost time when we are required to drop you from the member list. If you can't locate your membership renewal form, call Teresa Ransdell at the SBE National Office at (317) 253-1640 or e-mail Teresa at, as soon as possible. Payments can be by check, VISA, Mastercard, or American Express.


The Board of Directors of the Society of Broadcast Engineers at their April 6, meeting in Las Vegas, passed a resolution recommending that a scholarship in remembrance of Robert D. Greenberg, CPBE, be instituted by the Ennes Educational Foundation Trust. The Trustees of the Trust, at their meeting the following day, voted to create the new scholarship.

Greenberg, passed away unexpectedly March 20. He is remembered for an 18 year career with the FCC that was characterized by his professional manner and his ability as a broadcast engineer.

Tax deductible donations may be made to the Ennes Educational Foundation Trust, specifying the Robert D. Greenberg Memorial Scholarship. Mail your donations to: Ennes Educational Foundation Trust; 8445 Keystone Crossing, Suite 140, Indianapolis, Indiana 46240.


The 1997 SBE Membership Drive, "One New Member," continues through May 31. Anyone who recruits a member during the campaign will receive a $5 discount on their 1998 membership dues, up to $25. In addition, he or she will be eligible to win special Membership Drive prizes.

Applications and sponsor forms must be received at the SBE National Office by 5:00 PM, May 31, to be eligible for prizes and the 1998 dues discount.

For all the details, see the February/March issue of the SBE SIGNAL or call Teresa Ransdell at the SBE National Office at (317) 253-1640. You may also e-mail your request to Teresa at


Registration for the Leader-Skills Course for Broadcast Engineers, presented by SBE, will close June 2. The course will run from June 9-13 in Indianapolis. Course instructor is Richard D. Cupka, well known management trainer.

The course fee of $650 includes five days of instruction, materials, classroom refreshments, and a certificate of completion. Transportation to and from the seminar site, housing accommodations and meals are additional. Registration forms can be faxed or mailed to you by calling the SBE National Office at (317) 253-1640; or they can be downloaded from the SBE Web Site -


SBE Chapter 35 in Kentucky, in conjunction with the Ennes Educational Foundation Trust and the National SBE, will be hosting a regional convention in Louisville, Saturday, October 18. A full day of Ennes Workshops will be presented and space for approximately 30 exhibitors is being set aside.


The National Certification Committee has prepared updated "Preparation Guides" for those working towards their SBE certification exam. The "Prep Guides" (formerly called "Study Guides") are in printed format and include 50 sample questions, answer key and a list of suggested books to use for further exam preparation. There is a "Preparation Guide" for each level of SBE Certification. All are priced at $19 each. To order, call the SBE National Office at (317) 253-1640, or fax your request to (317) 253-0418. Check, VISA, Mastercard or American Express are accepted. All payments must be in US dollars.


Three SBE publications are available from the SBE National Office. The Television Operator Certification Handbook ($39) and the Radio Operator Certification Handbook ($37) are thorough texts for the entry level operator at station facilities. With the purchase of each Handbook comes the opportunity to take an optional exam within one year of purchase. Fifty study questions are included in the Handbooks to help the reader prepare for the exam. The EAS Primer ($25 - SBE members; $35 - non-members) provides a complete rundown of EAS basics, system requirements and operational procedures. The Primer also outlines how to develop a local EAS plan.

To order, call the SBE National Office at (317) 253-1640, or fax your request to (317) 253-0418. Check, VISA, Mastercard, or American Express are accepted. All payments must be in US dollars.

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Alpha Video

Roscor Wisconsin


Broadcast Communications
Clark Wire and Cable
Comark Communications
Fuji Film I&I
Harris Corporation
Louth Automation
Niall Enterprises
Norlight Telecommunications
Panasonic Broadcast
Richardson Electronics
Scharch Electronics
Sony Broadcast
Skyline Communications
Teleport Minnesota
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