Weekly Tech Reminders: Repack, Wireless & 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.

ATSC 3.0 NEWS

The Next Generation of Television Broadcasting (ATSC 3.0) is gearing up to get started. The ATSC committee is putting the final wraps on all the standards and the FCC voted on March 5th to authorize the transition.

One of the sticking points still to be worked out is how the service will actually be rolled out. The Commission has already determined that it will be voluntary.

Because ATSC 3.0 is not backward compatible with our current system (ATSC 3.1) stations will be required to transmit both formats at this time. Stations implementing the new transmission will initially have to simulcast both ATSC 1.0 and ATSC 3.0 with in-market TV station partners. One channel would transmit both stations ATSC 1.0 signal and the other channel would transmit both stations ATSC 3.0 signal.

TV REPACK AND RADIO

As a large number of television stations start their transition to new channels per the Television Repack, radio stations that share space on a television tower need to sit down with television engineers and map out the construction time table and decide what their options are for staying on the air during the construction work on the tower.

Some may have to construct temporary sites on another tower, which would create expenses that where not in the stations budget. The good news is that Congress is working on a bill that first of all increases the reimbursement to television stations for their construction and will also have funds available to help offset any expense incurred by radio stations.

Now is the time for radio stations to get a plan in place and not get caught at the last minute on this project.

WIRELESS EQUIPMENT

In addition to the situation discussed in the article above, all users of wireless equipment (microphones, IFB systems, in ear monitors) are reminded that because of the TV repack the frequencies above 608 MHz are no longer available for use by wireless devices. While the deadline is 2020 cell companies that received the use of these frequencies have already begun to bring their systems online.

The problem is not just for broadcasters, but churches, theaters, convention centers, stadiums and anyone that use wireless systems will be effected.

Engineers should check all their wireless devices and if any are above 608 MHz, replacement units will have to purchased. Several of the major wireless manufacturers are offering rebates for upgrading to new units.

REVIEW OF SMPTE ST2110 STANDARD

SMPTE ST2110 is a standard that will be a major part of ATSC 3.0. It is designed to allow each part of the signal to be in a different stream. This means video, audio channels, and ancillary data will all be separately routable, allowing recipients to ask for exactly what they want, and get only that.

This differs from ST 2022-1/2/3/4: MPEG-2 Transport Stream over IP and ST 2022-5/6: SDI over IP, which are "multiplex" standards, where the video, audio, and ancillary data signals (plus blanking and padding) are wrapped up into a single IP stream.

ST 2110 is broken down into six different groups:

  • 2110-10: System Timing
  • 2110-20: Uncompressed Video
  • 2110-21: Traffic Shaping Uncompressed Video
  • 2110-30: PCM Audio
  • 2110-31: AES3 Transparent Transport
  • 2110-40: Ancillary Data

We encourage you to watch a most informative tutorial by SMPTE Fellow John Mailhott, CTO Infrastructure Imagine Communications.

CHIEF OPERATOR RULES

FCC rule 73.1870 states that the “licensee of each AM, FM, TV or Class A TV broadcast station must designate a person to serve as the station’s chief operator. At times when the chief operator is unavailable or unable to act (e.g., vacations, sickness), the licensee shall designate another person as the acting chief operator on a temporary basis.” In addition, “the designation of the chief operator must be in writing with a copy of the designation posted with the station license.”

This designation (with the most current information) can be posted with the station license at the control point and/or placed in the additional documents folder under the basic station tab on the their online public file site.

The basic requirement of the chief operator is to “Review the station records at least once each week to determine if required entries are being made correctly. Additionally, verification must be made that the station has been operated as required by the rules or the station authorization.”

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