All posts by Gary Stigall

FCC Issues TV Spectrum Auction Results

The FCC today announced both the winners of the spectrum auction and the station winners of cash.

There are surprises

FCC LogoSomehow it seems just wrong to have such classic stations as WNBC-TV New York go dark, taking their $214-million auction winnings with them. Just so you don’t get too teary-eyed, they will be able to channel share with their superior signal from Comcast O&O sister WNJU. Comcast stations in Chicago and Philadelphia will also shut down and multiplex with their NBC sister stations. For more information, see the FCCBroadcasting & Cable and TV Technology sites.

The biggest spenders in the auction:

  • T-Mobile at $8-billion,
  • Dish Network (“ParkerB.com”) second at $6.2-billion
  • Comcast (“CC Wireless Investment”) at $1.7-billion
  • AT&T at $910-million

Interestingly, Verizon did not participate.

In San Diego DMA 28

Locally, the big money winners were KSEX-LD getting over $34.7-million and K35DG (UCSD-TV) getting $24-million to each shut down their operations. Also,

  • KBNT-CD will move from channel 25 to 24
  • KNSD-TV 40 will move from channel 40 to 17
  • KPBS-TV will move from channel 30 to 19
  • KSWB-TV will move from channel 19 to 26

You may ask yourself why make unnecessary moves? Why not just have KPBS take channel 26 and KSWB stay on 19? It has to do with the pre-determined rules on how stations were going to shuffle. Preference is given to a channel change over a loss in population coverage. KSWB was going to lose a thousand or so viewers, so bingo, they get a new channel along with a new antenna, filters, and possibly a transmitter funded by auction proceeds.

Low power UHF broadcasters on channels 38 – 50 like KSDY-LD will have to wait until the FCC opens a window allowing change applications and hope they can get spectrum. There is no guarantee and no compensation offered.

Meanwhile In Los Angeles DMA 2

If you were wondering how LA was going to fit in all those TV stations, wonder no more. Most are going to shut down for good. Ethnic viewers may lose out in the short-term, though ATSC 3.0 will allow stations to multicast like never before, and TV cable with switched digital service and FTA satellite serve those constituents well.

  • KAZA-TV will go off-air for $91.1-million
  • KBEH will go off-air for $146-million
  • KCBS 43 will move to channel 31
  • KDOC-TV Anaheim will get $66.6-million to move to channel 12
  • KESQ-TV 42 Palm Springs will move to channel 28
  • KILM will go off-air for $76.5-million
  • KJLA will go off-air for $135.5-million
  • KLCS (LA Unified School District) will go off-air for $130.5-million
  • KMIR 46 Palm Springs will move to channel 26
  • KNET-CD will go off-air for $53.7-million
  • KNLA-CD 50 will move to channel 32
  • KOCE-TV 48 (PBS) will go off-air for $138-million
  • KPXN-TV 38 will move to channel 24
  • KRCA will go off-air for $142-million
  • KSFV-CD 23 will go off-air for $64-million
  • KTLA 31 will move to channel 35
  • KVCR-DT 26 (PBS San Bernardino-Riverside) will move to channel 5 for $157-million
  • KWHY-TV 42 will move to channel 4

Not all low power stations are listed for the Los Angeles DMA.

Two Engineers Making the Transition with CW6

Jeff Latimer

Two TV Maintenance Engineers have moved to KFMB-TV from XETV Bay City Television just ahead of the closure of the Bay City facility down the street in Kearny Mesa.

Jeff Latimer had served as Broadcast Engineer and Facilities Manager at Bay City Television since 2012. He started March 6 as Broadcast Maintenance Engineer at KFMB Stations.

Mark Goodman

Mark Goodman had served as Director of Engineering at Bay City Television since 2013. He started March 12 as Broadcast Maintenance Engineer at KFMB Stations. He will continue some part-time work at XETV in the transition period. Mark started with Bay City in January 2006.

KFMB-TV 8 will be taking over the CW Network affiliation contract and the CW6 identity in San Diego from XETV Tijuana, which decided to close its U.S. operations at the end of May. The last day of news programming at XETV was Friday, March 31.

KFMB is also hiring news, operations, sales, and programming personnel in anticipation of the CW affiliation.

Signal Wiz Partners with Wireless Infrastructure Services for TV Spectrum Repacking Services

Broadcast contract engineer Gary Stigall at Signal Wiz is teaming up with Wireless Infrastructure Services to provide services for broadcasters who participated in the FCC Spectrum Repacking Auction. WIS is a well-known Corona-based tower installation and services company. Signal Wiz provides broadcast engineering services to California and Arizona broadcasters and offers engineering, project management, installation, and training services for repacking. The partnership is designed to extend the capabilities of each firm.

Contact Gary Stigall at 858-349-9191 or gary@signalwiz.com for more information.

Entercom Takeover of CBS Radio Progresses

Last week, the FCC recorded Entercom’s applications to transfer several of their stations into a trust for the purpose of divesting them due to exceeding the maximum stations allowed within a given metropolitan market.

Entercom, which owns four FM stations in the San Diego market, announced an agreement to merge with CBS Radio on February 2, 2017. CBS owns two FM stations in San Diego. In order to conform to the FCC limit of five FMs, KSOQ 92.1 MHz Escondido was offered into a divestiture trust for later sale.

Similarly, the new group asked the FCC to put into the same divestiture group KSWD 100.3 and KCBS-FM 93.1 in Los Angeles, though only one will likely sell.

In San Diego, two full-time engineers work for CBS Radio and two for Entercom.

Area TV Stations to Switch Network Affiliations

A number of San Diego and Tijuana stations have changed, or are changing soon their network affiliations for various reasons.

The CW Network is moving from XETV (physical channel 23) to KFMB 8 May 31 as a cost-savings move for Televisa. The CW 6 news operation discontinues March 31, though KFMB is expected to re-start CW6 news on June 1 and take over the channel 6 cable and satellite slots with the CW6 brand.

Galavision is moving from XHBJ 44 to XETV 23 May 31. Galavision is owned by Televisa, which also owns XETV.

Azteca America has moved to XHDTV 47 from KZSD analog 39, but is expected to eventually land at XHAS 34.

Currently, KZSD 39 is duplicating KGTV 10, but is expected to leave the air during repacking.

Telemundo is moving to KNSD 40 from XHAS 34 on July 1. This has been foreseen for some time since KNSD’s owner, Comcast NBC Universal, also owns the Telemundo network.

March Meeting: Jampro Antennas and Design Considerations of TV Spectrum Repacking

Broadcast TV antenna manufacturers should make some good sales numbers in the next couple of years as the FCC forces broadcasters to shuffle channels again. This time around, the emphasis will be on broadband designs. Jampro has been working to make their antennas work on multiple channels with minimal wind loading. Many broadcasters will be looking at designs that make the best use of ATSC 3.0 as well. There are things to keep in mind you as broadcast engineers may not have considered, like OFDM Crest Factor and circular polarization for mobile coverage. Jampro logo

As a bonus, they plan to talk about their experience in Singapore with DVB-T2 and Single Frequency Networks.

Join us March 15 at 12 noon at KGTV, 4600 Air Way near I-805 and CA-94 in San Diego for the Chapter 36 regular monthly meeting. Jampro is buying lunch in the cafeteria.

Come on by, and bring a friend.

 

FCC Proposes Permissive Use of ATSC 3.0

The FCC last week issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that would give TV stations the right to use ATSC 3.0. This was made in response to a petition made in April 2016 by a consortium of Public Television, NAB, the Consumer Technology Association, and the AWARN Alliance.FCC Logo

There are several catches, however. One would require stations to continue broadcasting in ATSC 1.0 as they do now. The other is that manufacturers would not be required to produce equipment that could be used to decode the signals. The likelihood that broadcasters would use the technology is near zero, especially due to upcoming TV spectrum repacking that will use all available bandwidth in just about every market. A third hurdle is that consumers would have to bear the cost of converting the ATSC 3.0 signals to something usable with present TV sets.

Broadcasters and manufacturers will have an opportunity in the coming months to comment on the NPRM.

What Bob Gonsett Says About Loss of Bay City Television

Bob Gonsett, a well-known broadcast engineering consultant who counted among his clients XETV Tijuana, said this about the announced closure of their San Diego office:

Early XETV screen logo

XETV not only had the best channel to cover San Diego from a propagation standpoint, it also had a rich history of being technologically first in a number of important areas including the use of circular polarization which significantly improved indoor “rabbit ear” reception.  Station management in the U.S. was constantly striving to make XETV Number One and they made the funds available to do so. The Tijuana transmitter plant, run by Felipe Fernandez, was a meticulous operation in full compliance with SCT/FCC mandates and from a labor perspective,

Phil always advocated the very best for his engineers. He was a true father to many. It was an honor and privilege for me to work with XETV for decades as their FCC engineering consultant.

January 18 Meeting: LTE for Broadcast by Moseley

Sumit Singh of Moseley discusses LTE technology for broadcast microwave news at KFMB-TV.
Sumit Singh of Moseley discusses LTE technology for broadcast microwave news at KFMB-TV.

An attentive crowd at the KFMB studios heard Sumnit Singh make a case for using the technology developed for consumer mobile devices to relay news audio and video to broadcast outlets over private networks. It should be interesting to see if stations step up to the plate to capitalize this evolution, or if an organization will step up to finance the movement and then resell to broadcasters, or if the technology will die on the vine before being rolled out.

Many thanks to Sumit Singh for traveling to San Diego and for buying our lunch. Continue reading January 18 Meeting: LTE for Broadcast by Moseley

New Engineers Join KFMB

KFMB hired two Broadcast Maintenance Engineers in November.

Julio Ramirez, KFMB Staff Engineer
Julio Ramirez, KFMB Broadcast Engineer

The AM/FM/TV combo hired Julio Ramirez, previously with the Signal Wiz contract engineering company assisting with maintenance at KPRI (FM), KSDY-LD, and other clients. More recently, he had done IT work at XETV for Paul Redfield’s Orbdot contracting services company, and tech support for ESET security software. Julio enjoys music and photography after hours.

Joseph Pandolfo, KFMB Broadcast Engineer
Joseph Pandolfo, KFMB Broadcast Engineer

KFMB also hired Joseph Pandolfo, past Chief Engineer at each KMIR Palm Springs, WTXL Tallahassee and WDBD Jackson. He had also served with Harris Broadcast as server product field support engineer. He’s been a member of SBE since 1984 and has a CBNT certification.

FCC Catches Up to LA Area Radio Pirates

In early December, 2016, the FCC issued a Notice of Apparent Liability, proposing a $25,000 fine for Iglesia el Remanente Fraternidad Elim in Panorama City in the San Fernando Valley of Los Angeles. That church has operated a radio station on 93.7 MHz while repeatedly ignoring FCC requests to shut down since 2013. In fact, the website continues to publicize the FM pirate station.

In a second Panorama City church pirate radio case, field agents traced a signal at 95.1 FM back to an antenna atop the Ministerio Internacional Luz A Las Naciones church after they received complaints about the station in March 2015. They warned the property tenant, Nelson Quintanilla, that his continued unlicensed operations could lead to more than a warning. But the station remained on the air despite repeated warnings to Quintanilla—who at one point admitted to agents he was responsible for the station. The Enforcement Bureau says when agents returned to the church in October 2016, the station was broadcasting again. They are also proposing a $25,000 fine for this case.