Weekly Tech Reminders: NPT, C-Band, FEMA & More

An excerpt from this week’s Monday Morning Coffee and Technical Notes
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The following is from the Alabama Broadcasters Association’s weekly e-newsletter, Monday Morning Coffee and Technical Notes. Thanks to ABA’s Larry Wilkins. To subscribe to the newsletter, email lwilkins@al-ba.com.

Last week seemed to busier than normal for most in the broadcast business. I spent a good part of the week traveling around the state conducting alternative broadcast inspections, plus putting the final touches on the ABA Engineering Academy's “ABIP Training Seminar” being held this week. The interest was so great we had close the registration for this session, but plan to repeat it later in the year.

FCC MONTHLY MEETING

The FCC had a busy day on Thursday as they held their monthly open meeting. Several items that effect broadcasters came out of this session.

The Commission announced it has opened the EAS Test Reporting System for 2018 filings. Each year, EAS participants are required to renew identifying information within the ETRS Form One. For 2018, the deadline to complete the 2018 ETRS Form One is before Aug. 27.

Keep in mind that each EAS participant should file a separate copy of Form One for each of its EAS decoders, EAS encoders, or units that combine decoder and encoder functions. (For example, if an individual is filing for a broadcaster that uses two units combining encoder and decoder functions, that individual should file two copies of Form One.)

This requirement is for all EAS Participants including low-power FM stations, Class D noncommercial educational FM stations, and EAS participants that are silent pursuant to a grant of Special Temporary Authority.

Filers can access ETRS at the commission's website here. Each user must have a registered FCC username associated with the correct FCC Registration Numbers — or FRNs — for which they will file.

NATIONAL PERIODIC TEST DATE SET

The Federal Emergency Management has proposed Sept. 20 at 2:18 p.m. (ET) as the date and time for the next nationwide test of the Emergency Alert System.

FEMA is also proposing a simultaneous first-ever national test of the Wireless Emergency Alert or WEA. It would involve sending an 87-character test message to be displayed on mobile handsets.

Alfred Kenyon, chief of the customer support branch in FEMA's IPAWS Program Office, wrote, "Periodic testing of public alert and warning systems is a way to assess the operational readiness of the infrastructure for distribution of a national message and determine what technological improvements need to be made."

C-BAND UPDATE

As expected the Commission issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to allow for more uses of the 3.7-4.2 GHz band, which is currently used for the reception of satellite-delivered broadcast programming and other services, while protecting existing users of the spectrum.

The rulemaking stated, "In recognition of the ever-growing demand for spectrum-based services and to facilitate the development of advanced wireless services, including 5G, the proposals set forth several steps toward making more mid-band spectrum available for terrestrial fixed and mobile broadband use."

The Order will require Fixed Satellite Service earth stations operating in the 3.7-4.2 GHz band to certify the accuracy of existing registration and license information and will collect additional information from space station licensees on their operations in the band to assist the commission and commenters in developing a clearer understanding of how the band is currently being used. The Commission will then use this information to evaluate the most efficient way to drive the deployment of mid-band spectrum for mobile services and more intensive fixed services.

Bottom line is broadcasters should take seriously the registration of their C-band downlinks, to avoid any disruptions in their program services.

EAS MONITOR LEVELS AND QUALITY

I know we are spending a lot of time today on EAS items....but the FCC and FEMA are putting a lot of emphasis on EAS operations.

As a result, engineers should make a note on their schedule to review their monitor inputs on the EAS decoders.

  1. Ascertain that the correct monitor sources (as assigned by the SECC in your state) are working correctly
  2. Review the audio level and quality of each monitor input. We have found a number of units either have the audio level too high (clipping) or the quality of the audio is not broadcast quality. Make necessary corrections
  3. Certify that the Chief Operator of your operation is reviewing the EAS log each week and reporting any operational problems to engineering.

The Alabama SECC maintains a monitoring service for EAS units around the state. At present we are monitoring 135 different EAS units. While this doesn't take the place of your legal responsibility of maintaining a Station Log, it does offer a "second set of eyes" watching the proper technical operation of your EAS equipment.

If you station is not on our monitor list contact Larry Wilkins for information.

HTML & XML ???

HTML is short for HyperText Markup Language. HTML is used to create electronic documents (called pages) that are displayed on the World Wide Web. 

XML is Extensible Markup Language and is a markup language that defines a set of rules for encoding documents in a format that is both human-readable and machine-readable.

XML and HTML were designed with different goals:

  • XML was designed to carry data — with focus on what data is
  • HTML was designed to display data — with focus on how data looks

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