Category Archives: News

Got Dishes? Take a Lump!

The FCC is clearing for auction some of the C-Band spectrum that broadcasters have used over the past decades. It seems they are in a bit of a hurry, so they’ve put into place some pretty good incentives to get out of the way of 5G telecom companies ready to bid.

KSDY-LD San Diego C-band dish, photo by Gary S.

If your company owns and has registered satellite dishes, the FCC has put together a catalog of reimbursable expenses you may incur to rearrange your C-band receiving habits. For example, if your programming syndicator is continuing its broadcasts without any interruption or change of frequency, you may only need a new inline receive filter. If you are part of a network that will need tighter compression, you might need a whole new receiver, along with that filter, plus the labor to install it. All the costs associated with those changes can be claimed, and your network provider, satellite owner, or your own corporate engineering crew can help with getting your organization reimbursed.

One interesting wrinkle is that in the interest of expeditiousness, the FCC is offering another route, and this is not to be ignored. They will pay a lump sum of $9,000 for a usable port to get you off the band. I installed a four-feed multibeam modification a few years ago for a client and now they are eligible for $42,000 as a lump sum, even if they only need to buy four passband filters for a total of about $2,500, including installation. That means they can pocket $39,500 without guilt or fear of prosecution. Pretty good, no?

What’s the catch? Well, the deadline for filing was pretty tight–August 31–but the FCC has extended that for two more weeks to September 14. If you are using an Intelsat satellite, you have probably already been contacted about this. Others, like NPR, Premiere Networks, or your TV network, has likely been in touch with you. If you are independent, contact your station attorney or vendors like Dawnco or SEG Wesco to see how to get your money.

Cyber Hackers Strike Salem Group

Salem Media, owners of KCBQ 1170 AM San Diego and K241CT Oceanside, apparently got hit by hackers with damaging ransomware. Salem announced it has been able to recover “many of its critical Operational data and business systems,” and that the company does not expect the incident to have a material impact on its business, operations or financial condition. No word on the impact on their San Diego operations.

Attacks in the last year caused damage to the Bicoastal Media, Urban One and Entercom groups.

FCC Allows AM/FM Simulcasts

The FCC last week issued a Report and Order eliminating prior rules (section 73.3556) that kept co-owned stations from broadcasting the same programming on both their AM and FM stations simultaneously. It was a rule intended in 1964 to begin pushing broadcasters to have more “voices” in a given community.

FCC Logo

However, the competitive climate of broadcasting has changed. There are infinitely more voices in a a given community due to the introduction of cable, satellite, HD subchannels, and now internet broadcasting. AM broadcasting struggles now with NRSC bandwidth limits, lack of stereo, electrical noise, and all that competition from better sounding sources.

The FCC R & O said that simulcasting will facilitate AM stations transition to digital broadcasting by allowing them to simulcast on FM or other AM stations until they can stand on their own feet as AM digital radios become more common. AM digital, when well implemented, can fill in gaps in rough terrain and cover longer distances.

The rule also allows duplication of FM programming even when coverage contours overlap. For example, a major ownership group could create a network of stations in adjacent markets that all have the same programming 24 hours per day much like EMF’s “K-Love” and “Air1” formats.

The change takes effect immediately.

Dave MacKinnon is Leaving KNSD

NBCUniversal San Diego’s VP of Technology and Operations since 2008, Dave MacKinnon announced recently he’s leaving the station on September 1, 2020. I asked Dave about his years at the station and his goals.

Dave MacKinnon
David MacKinnon

Q: You were hired to lead the Engineering Department at KNSD though you had come from a non-broadcast background, right? That speaks highly of your impressing the hiring staff. What had you done before taking that job?

A: I worked for the Dept of Defense. This was my first job in TV. I had to learn a lot very quickly, but I was helped by an amazing team at KNSD, an industry changing to look more like IT, and similarities between broadcast and DoD standards.

Continue reading Dave MacKinnon is Leaving KNSD

Sprint Has Left the Room

Sprint Nextel Corporation, the communications company with the iconic yellow and black marketing appearance, is no more. As of this week, the name was discontinued by T-Mobile after the two merged in April 2020.

Most people don’t know that the name SPRINT began decades ago as the Southern Pacific Railroad Internal Network Telephony, having evolved from the Southern Pacific Communications Company, which had its origins in the telegraph era of the 1800s. Railroads and gas pipelines make good utility rights-of-way, so they were the beginnings of several telecom companies.

Brown Telephone Co., which started in 1899 and became United Telephone, later merged with Sprint, so they get partial credit for the early history of the combined company, as well.

You likely remember that Sprint Nextel bought the spectrum at the bottom end of the 2 GHz broadcast auxiliary band for its CDMA network in the early 2000s. This forced itinerant ENG users to go digital and smoosh together with much smaller channels.

T-Mobile similarly bought large chunks of the 600 MHz band of spectrum from UHF-TV channels 38 – 51 and have begun using it for their consumer LTE communications network nationwide.