Category Archives: Local

October 2008 Member News

SBE recently bestowed Certified Television Operator (CTO) status to Chapter 36 members Randy Borgwardt and Carl Reis. Tim Toole earned Life Certification as Certified Broadcast Television Engineer (CBTE). Also, Gail Pineda of TV Magic recently joined the chapter. Thanks and congratulations to you all!

Schecter Leaves Lincoln Financial Group

In another sign of tough economic times, Lincoln Financial Media and Eric Schecter, the San Diego Market Director of Engineering have agreed to part company. Eric had come to San Diego from Phoenix in 2005 where he had worked in technical management at CBS radio. He’s served as Chapter 36 Chairman for the past two years.

Schecter oversaw a number of projects at Lincoln, including new HD Radio facilities for KSON-FM, and preparation for rebuilding the KSON-AM tower downtown. “Walking out of City Development Services with an approved Building Permit was a great accomplishment. Thanks to the many companies and individuals whose efforts will not be forgotten”.

Eric says that for the time being, he will be doing work as an independent contractor. You can contact him via email at or by calling him at 619-517-1974. That number will be good through the end of October.

Broadcasting groups have released a number of well-known broadcast engineering managers and on-air personalities lately, most notably Ira Goldstone from Tribune Television in Los Angeles. Presumably, cost is a factor.

FCC Issues Forfeiture Order Against KUSI

The Federal Communications Commission issued a Forfeiture Order against KUSI (TV) San Diego for $25,000. The September 17 order relates to KUSI’s coverage of the October 2003 wildfires in which several local TV stations were accused of not providing sufficient graphical emergency information for people with hearing problems. The FCC found that some critical information was provided, but was incomplete compared with vocal information, or delayed more than 30 minutes. The agency disagreed with KUSI’s arguments that they have a "filtering" role, asking why the station was filtering information only for those unable to hear the dialog. KUSI broadcast some maps and graphical emergency information, but did not have real time closed captioning during their extended coverage of the fires.

KFMB-TV settled their Notice of Apparent Liability last March for its lack of visual emergency information during coverage of the 2003 fires with a Consent Decree in which they agreed to make a "voluntary contribution" to the US Treasury for $18,000 and have all charges dropped.

(The author is Director of Engineering for Bay City Television, the US operations company for XETV Tijuana, and was an engineer for KFMB Stations at the time of the 2003 wildfires.)

KSON-AM Finally Set to Rebuild Tower

Lincoln Financial Media finally got approval from the City of San Diego to reconstruct its KSON-AM tower south of downtown. That tower, you may remember (article), had its top crumple over in a windstorm late in December 2004. Some 200 feet was left after the limp top sections were removed.

The replacement, also a self-supporter, will reach the same 445 feet height nearby on the same plot of land in the middle of a towing yard along I-5 where it meets the south terminus of State Route 15. The new tower will also have the same shunt feed design. But the new steel members are designed to be of sufficient strength to handle high winds and some antennas on top.

KSON-AM at 1240 kHz and KURS at 1040 kHz have continued sharing the remainder of the old tower after crews removed the damaged upper third.

According to San Diego Market Director of Engineering and SBE Chapter 36 Chair Eric Schecter, Joel Saxberg has served as AM consultant for the project. David Evans and Associates has provided navigation through the city permitting processes that started three years ago. Sabre Communications of Sioux City, Iowa will fabricate the steel kit, and RD Engineering and Construction of El Cajon will erect the tower.

Upon its completion, KBNT-CA channel 17 is expected to return to the top with an ERI 8-bay omni-directional antenna along with an antenna from Teletrac Fleet Management radio services. Eric expects crews to complete construction by the end of 2008.

XETV and KSWB Swap Networks

In February, Ed Wilson left his position as President of the Fox Television Network to become President of Tribune Broadcasting. The next month, he announced that Tribune’s TV station KSWB in San Diego would take over the Fox affiliation from XETV August 1, 2008, ending channel 6’s 22-year run with the network.

The race was on for KSWB Director of Engineering John Weigand to outfit the station not only for news, but high definition. Last Friday the station did just that, airing a four-hour morning program and hour-long 10 PM newscast, both in HD. This after a year of outsourcing news entirely to NBC O&O KNSD.

During the four months, they installed multiple Sony PMW-EX3 1080i cameras, a Ross Vision switcher, and related furniture and terminal gear. Crews from Tribune sister stations KTLA Los Angeles and WGN Chicago helped out.

Meanwhile, XETV negotiated with the CW Network to assume that affiliation on the same August 1 date. The contract wasn’t finalized until July 3, with 29 days to air.

The only technical challenge for XETV after changing web domain names was converting its DTV chain from the Fox Network’s elegant MPEG splicer that doesn’t involve decoding to the CBS distribution scheme that involves decoding not only HD video, but Dolby E audio, then rencoding AC-3 on an MPEG2 stream downstream of local switching. XETV aired the first night of CW with simple stereo audio, not having yet received the Dolby equipment.

There were a few stumbles during the transition, like Dish Network’s swapping channels, DirecTV’s forgetting to swap HD resolutions, KSWB’s 40 minutes of silence to debut its morning news, and XETV’s lip sync issues. But KSWB successfully introduced HD news, including ENG, and at a new price point as the technology advances.

The author is Director of Engineering for Bay City Television, US Operators of XETV Tijuana.