H.266 Standard Finalized

It seems that audio and video compression is undergoing its own version of Moore’s Law progression, halving the required storage space or transmission bandwidth every few years. The Versatile Video Coding (VVC), or H.266, standard finalized July 6, 2020, by the Joint Video Experts Team (JVET). The standard is said to have a 30 – 50% better compression rate than the HEVC H.265 standard adopted in 2013, which was about 30 – 50% better than H.264, adopted in 2003. Naturally, the math is complex and compression encoding and decoding times are pretty hefty right now, but you know how that goes–someone’s going to design a chip, and next thing you know it’ll be part of your earphones.

We’ll see if ATSC 3 NextGen will include the standard in upcoming set-top boxes and televisions. H.265 has had some trouble with patent quibbles, which could lead to accelerated adoption of the newer H.266 standard.

Introducing 760 kHz, KGB-AM

The transition from multigenerational, family-owned KFMB-AM-FM-TV to corporate ownership by three different entities, it seems, has finally been laid to rest. The last move was iHeartMedia’s change of call letters for the AM property they acquired from KFMB-AM to KGB-AM. They’ve been using the historic three-letter call now for several days.

The call letters KGB were requested by general manager George Bowles in 1928 after initially signing on as KFBC in 1922. According to David Leonard and Wikipedia, KGB operated on 1210 kHz from 1925 till 1932. It switched to 1330 kHz, then in 1942 with a major nationwide shuffle of channels, landed on 1360 kHz. When the station went all-news for a while, the station changed call letters to CNN in 1982 and ceded the KGB callsign to its FM sister station at 101.5 MHz.

TEGNA bought the KFMB Stations in 2018, then sold the radio properties in early 2020 to Local Media San Diego, who immediately sold the AM station at 760 kHz to iHeartMedia. KGB-AM runs a conservative talk format out of iHeart’s San Diego studio complex.

SBE 36 Online July 14: Introducing Hybrid Internet/Broadcast Radio

In a few months’ time, there will be cars driving the streets of Southern California that have hybrid radio receivers. Connected to the Internet and receiving broadcast radio, this is an opportunity to evolve the experience of radio to match other media services. Hybrid challenges radio technologists to work together across the industry and within organizations to make the most of its capabilities. Nick Piggot, Director of the RadioDNS Project, will look at some technical details and what needs to be done right now to make it work for everyone.

Join us Tuesday, July 14 at 11:30 AM PT. This online meeting will be held in cooperation with SBE Chapter 47 Los Angeles. Send a request to RSVP@SBE36.ORG to get details on how to join the presentation. Members and interested parties are invited.

About Nick Piggot

Nick has spent the majority of his career working in the radio industry. He created a team that launched the world’s first commercial DAB digital radio stations, and then went on to deliver technology-driven online innovation for over a decade. Nick continues to play an active role in the development of DAB digital radio, most recently in the trials of open source DAB transmissions in the UK.

Nick is the Project Director (and one of the founders) of RadioDNS Hybrid Radio, which combines broadcast radio and IP together. RadioDNS works closely with the WorldDAB on the development of open technology standards and the promotion of Hybrid DAB/DAB+ to the automotive industry.

No National IPAWS EAS Test this Year

(From FEMA.gov) Due to the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) public health emergency reponse, FEMA will not conduct a national test of the Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (IPAWS) this year.

FEMA is moving the next national test of the system to 2021 out of consideration for the unusual circumstances and working conditions for those in the broadcast and cable industry. Although systems remain in place for rapid automatic transmission of the test message by broadcast and cable operators, the follow-on reporting activities associated with a national test place additional burdens on technical staff that are already quite busy maintaining as close to normal operation as possible.

IPAWS is a national system for local alerting that provides authenticated emergency alert and information messaging to the public through cell phones and internet applications using Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA), and to radio and television via the Emergency Alert System (EAS). Emergency officials across the country have sent more than 360 important safety messages on the COVID-19 pandemic to their residents via WEA and EAS.

FEMA is required by law to test IPAWS at least every three years. The national WEA capability was most recently tested in conjunction with the EAS in 2018. 

FCC Tells XEWW to Shutdown Chinese Programming from Irwindale

The FCC’s International Bureau today dismissed an application to deliver Mandarin Chinese programming from a studio located in Irwindale, California to XEWW-AM in Rosarito, BCN for rebroadcast back into the United States. The application was dismissed because the parties failed to include in their application a key participant, Phoenix Radio, which produces the Mandarin programming in its studio. Phoenix Radio is partially owned by two entities with Chinese government ownership, Extra Steps Investment Limited and China Wise International Limited. The parties have 48 hours to cease broadcast operations related to this application.

Continue reading FCC Tells XEWW to Shutdown Chinese Programming from Irwindale

Society of Broadcast Engineers, San Diego