Industry News

As Saga Stock Slowly Rebounds, A Q4 Results Date Is Secured

Radio+Television Business Report - Wed, 01/20/2021 - 11:00

It’s been a challenging year for radio industry pure-play Saga Communications. But, after a late October 2019 dip of its stock to nearly $17 a share, this audio-focused company appears to be in recovery mode.

How it performed in the final three months of 2020 will be made known on the second Friday in March.

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Pai Says Farewell to FCC; Read His Statement

Radio World - Wed, 01/20/2021 - 10:16

Chairman Ajit Pai issued this statement on departing the Federal Communications Commission today. Pai, a Republican, was named to the FCC by President Obama in 2012 and designated chairman by President Trump in 2017. Earlier he had worked for four years in legal roles in the general counsel office. He departs as President Biden prepares to take office.

“Serving the American people as Chairman of the FCC has been the greatest honor of my professional life.  Over the past four years, we have delivered results for the American people, from narrowing the digital divide to advancing American leadership in 5G, from protecting consumers and national security to keeping Americans connected during the pandemic, from modernizing our media rules to making the agency more transparent and nimble.  It has been a privilege to lead the agency over its most productive period in recent history.

“None of this—not a single action, big or small—would have been possible without the incredible staff of the FCC.  They are remarkable public servants who brought to the task each day their expertise, diligence, and collegiality.  As I’ve had the chance to tell them during farewell events over the past week, they are inspiring public servants.  I’ll miss working with our engineers, economists, attorneys, 24/7 public safety staff, consumer outreach teams, policy experts, administrative staff, and many others.  Their accomplishments are even more remarkable considering that they have been working from home for the past ten months, as the FCC became one of the first federal agencies to implement comprehensive telework.  I thank each and every one of our staff for their outstanding service to the Commission and to the country.

“Thank you to the American people for their support during my time at the FCC.  I look forward to the next adventure.”

Pai’s office posted a list of what he considers the commission’s most important accomplishments during his term. He also posted a thank-you video message to FCC staff.

[Related: Read Radio World’s 2017 interview with Pai as incoming chairman.]

The post Pai Says Farewell to FCC; Read His Statement appeared first on Radio World.

Categories: Industry News

Inside the Jan. 20, 2021 Issue of Radio World

Radio World - Wed, 01/20/2021 - 10:09

In your latest issue of Radio World:

The FCC wants to know what you think about FM geo-targeting … NAB’s David Layer talks about tech initiatives for 2021 … Joe D’Angelo on why Xperi is excited about DTS Connected Radio … WJMC rushes to put up an emergency antenna … and lots more.

Read it here.

The post Inside the Jan. 20, 2021 Issue of Radio World appeared first on Radio World.

Categories: Industry News

COVID-19 and Civil Unrest: Fuel For Local TV News In 2021?

Radio+Television Business Report - Wed, 01/20/2021 - 10:00

From a news perspective, 2020 was a year like no other.

And, as Americans settle into the prospect of a fresh start in 2021, a divided nation still living in a pandemic continues to elevate the importance of news, particularly at the local level.

For Nielsen, it’s clear that consumers’ on-demand lifestyles are having an effect on leisure time video viewing, but the unsettled population in the U.S. has elevated the importance of news to consumers across the country looking to stay informed about everything from social unrest to the presidential election to the protests and riots at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 6, 2021.

“Linear TV viewing is at a crossroads, given the shift away from scheduled, appointment viewing on TV, but consumers are voracious when it comes to wanting to stay informed,” says Justin LaPorte, VP of Local Audience Insights at Nielsen. “That elevates the opportunity for news programming across local, national and cable.”

LaPorte shared the details at a presentation given Tuesday at the NATPE virtual conference, based on fresh Nielsen Insights data.

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Categories: Industry News

Emergency Audio at the Touch of a Button

Radio World - Tue, 01/19/2021 - 17:31

Chicago is very much a competitive PPM market. While it is hard to be perfect, seconds of off-air time are costly, and minutes of off-air time are just not acceptable. If you’re not on the air with PPM encoded audio, you are losing ratings.

Handling emergency audio situations has evolved considerably since I first came to manage the engineering department here at Crawford Broadcasting’s Chicago operation six years ago. I remember early on that there seemed to be no plan. When something out of the ordinary occurred, like the automation system stopped playout, the operators seemed to have no plan what to do.

When this type emergency occurred, if it was a time when engineers were on duty, they would leave the room to try to find an engineer without putting anything on the air first.

Many times, when I walked into a control room, the staff would be throwing their hands in the air, saying something like, “I didn’t do anything!” to which my reply would be, “You’re right, you didn’t do anything!” In other words, why were you not getting any audio on the air before seeking or calling an engineer?

To me the priorities of every operator should be, Number One, making sure no objectionable material gets on the air — we don’t want a $325,000 fine — but Number Two, keeping the meters moving! It’s a competitive PPM market, and the minutes waiting to find an engineer to fix the issue are just not acceptable. The duty of every operator is to make sure we have audio on the air, then call engineering to get things fixed and back to normal audio.

About the only plan that seemed to exist among the operators was perhaps to find a CD to put on the air. Often, they didn’t know where the emergency CD was located, or they didn’t even know such a thing even existed.

Basically, there was no plan, and very little training for such events. The plan seemed to be call engineering and throw up your hands to make sure everyone knows it wasn’t your fault.

A few years back, we purchased USB thumb drive players to place at the transmitter sites for emergency audio. Using silence detection and macro programming in the Burk ARC Plus Touch remote control units, we designed a system that will play audio from the USB stick when both STL paths are silent for two minutes. Then, when normal audio is restored for a solid two minutes, it will revert back to it.

This is great for dire emergencies like the STL equipment being down or the studio generator not coming on during a power outage. However, for events like audio problems in the studio, when we have operators on hand, two minutes is an eternity!

So we wanted to give the operators a way to do the same thing we had at the transmitter site, but this time in the studio.

Dedicated fader

To achieve this, we added USB thumb drive players in the studio. We again put emergency audio on thumb drives and these were attached to the players by chains so they wouldn’t be lost.

While this was a better plan than CDs that would get lost in the studio, we still found operators not remembering in an emergency where to locate the drives, how to get the fader on the board changed to the player, and how to get it on the air. By the time this all took place, the two minutes were up, and the transmitter site player was already on the air.

I knew that the WheatNet-IP blades offered internal audio players, but we were still in a mixed infrastructure with the control rooms still having G5 Wheatstone control surfaces connected to the legacy TDM system. We also had some WheatNet-IP blade infrastructure with interconnections to the TDM system.

Still, it was going to be an issue for the operators to use the internal players if they had to dial up a fader on the old G5 surfaces

We went through our studio rebuild this past year and now have an entirely WheatNet-IP infrastructure. With that, we are now using the LXE control surfaces, which also took us from 16 faders to 20 faders. This allowed me to have a dedicated fader just for an emergency audio source.

We purchased four licenses, one for each station, and activated the Audio Player tab on each of the M4 microphone processing blades in the control rooms.

The audio player screen in the Wheatnet Navigator app.

We then assigned them to the very last fader on each of the LXE control surfaces.

Now here’s the catch: We wanted to make things as easy as possible — to have an emergency audio source that the operators could get on the air with one button. This means we had to make it difficult for the operators to change the fader to any other audio source.

One cool thing about the LXE control surfaces is that they are very programmable. Just about every button on the surface can be customized to the need.

Well, the first thing I did after assigning the emergency audio player to Fader 20 was to defeat the source select knob to remove the ability to change to the source at all on that channel. I also programmed the soft key to only select the emergency audio player.

I then took the program bus select button on the channel and made it into a tally-only button, showing that the fader is in program. Hitting the button does nothing to turn the fader program on or off. I instead used the second soft key button to be the program assign button on the fader.

The emergency channels are on the far right on the LXE surfaces.

The idea is that this fader is always in program and can’t be easily taken out of program without special knowledge. We still have conscientious operators who turn the program bus assignment off on what they deem unnecessary faders at the beginning of their shift, a practice that you usually only find with our very experienced operators but is not desired in this instance.

I, of course, enabled all the necessary steps so the player is remote started. The result is that the operators have an emergency audio source that only takes two steps: Turn up the fader and push the “on” button.

In my mind, this should mean that anything more than 10 seconds of silence is unacceptable. If the main audio source stops playing, that first instinct should be to immediately press that “on” button and then call engineering.

This article originally appeared in the Local Oscillator newsletter of Crawford Broadcasting.

Rick Sewell, CSRE, CBNT, AMD is engineering manager for Crawford Broadcasting–Chicago. Radio World welcomes tech tips and story ideas at radioworld@futurenet.com.

 

The post Emergency Audio at the Touch of a Button appeared first on Radio World.

Categories: Industry News

Richards To Exit Emmis as New Indy Radio Leader Is Named

Radio+Television Business Report - Tue, 01/19/2021 - 16:53

Starting March 1, Emmis‘ Indianapolis radio stations will have a new Market President.

It is a woman who has spent 22 years with Emmis in a variety of radio sales and promotions leadership roles.

She’ll replace a 11-year veteran who will be moving on.

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Pearl TV Members Cheer FCC’s DTS Decision

Radio+Television Business Report - Tue, 01/19/2021 - 16:44

The Pearl TV broadcaster business group is applauding the decision by the FCC to give broadcasters more flexibility when using a Distributed Television System (DTS) for NEXTGEN TV broadcasts using ATSC 3.0.

Public and commercial broadcasters had sought the refinement of Commission rules, in order to ensure that a local broadcaster could better serve its market of viewers.

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Categories: Industry News

WGN America Selects a ‘Creative Marketing’ and Brand VP

Radio+Television Business Report - Tue, 01/19/2021 - 16:35

CHICAGO — WGN America, the cable network that’s getting a major news-focused overhaul under new owner Nexstar Media Group, has selected a VP of Creative Marketing and Brand Communications to help growth the operation’s presence even further in 2021.

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Categories: Industry News

Meet Scripps’ New Chief Revenue Officer

Radio+Television Business Report - Tue, 01/19/2021 - 16:35

The E.W. Scripps Company has appointed a veteran television sales executive to serve as its new Chief Revenue Officer.

Today marks his first day in his new role.

Landing the position is Michael Teicher.

He’ll be responsible for developing the company’s ad sales strategy for all the Scripps networks across all platforms, including general market, direct response, programmatic/digital, long-form and sponsorship advertising.

He reports to Jonathan Katz, chief operating officer and head of entertainment for Scripps networks.

Teicher joins Scripps from 20th Television, where he served as EVP of Media Sales, overseeing the syndication for all Fox and Debmar Studios Syndicated television shows, including Modern Family, Family Guy, Family Feud, and The Wendy Williams Show.

Teicher was previously EVP/Media Sales for Warner Bros. Domestic TV Distribution, leading the sales efforts for all of the company’s syndicated television shows.

He also spent more than a decade in ascending roles with Turner Broadcasting Sales,  where he developed new, incremental revenue streams around the Turner and Time Warner portfolio while also helping to create and run the company’s marketing solutions group.

Teicher also had successful sales stints with Major League Baseball Productions, Replay TV and Harmonic Communications.

“Michael is one of the industry’s most widely-respected and seasoned sales executives, having successfully brought to market some of the most popular shows on television,” Katz said. “As we bring ION into the fold and combine our networks, his experience positioning top brands and creating unique and powerful marketing solutions for advertising partners across multiple platforms will be a tremendous asset.”

Categories: Industry News

Netflix Sputters In Q4 As Net Income Dips

Radio+Television Business Report - Tue, 01/19/2021 - 16:30

The modern era’s biggest competitor to broadcast media content consumption, Netflix, on Tuesday afternoon released its Q4 2020 results.

How did it do? Perhaps the Q1 2021 forecast is a better topic of discussion. While 21.5% year-over-year revenue growth was seen for Netflix, net income was down.

Why? Global Streaming Paid Net Additions were down year-over-year in Q4.

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Categories: Industry News

‘A Bit Confused’: SCOTUS Offers A Cloudy FCC Forecast

Radio+Television Business Report - Tue, 01/19/2021 - 16:15

For exactly 82 minutes until what seemed to be, at least to laymen, an abrupt end, the U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday heard oral arguments in the FCC and NAB’s case seeking the high court’s reversal of the Third Circuit Federal Appeals Court remand of its cross-ownership media rule rewrite.

What’s the key takeaway from the session? Several justices seem confused by what they are being asked to judge, and the Justice Department’s Deputy Solicitor General serving as the FCC’s counsel was definitely on the hot seat.

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Categories: Industry News

Entercom Shares Soar On Wells Fargo’s Upgrade

Radio+Television Business Report - Tue, 01/19/2021 - 15:59

When Marci Ryvicker was Managing Director of Wells Fargo Securities, a role she had for 16 years before exiting in August 2018, she was a champion of Entercom Communications.

Some 2 1/2 years later, her successor at Wells Fargo is equally enamored with the audio media company, as he’s just given its stock an important vote of confidence.

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The InFOCUS Podcast: Davina Sashkin

Radio+Television Business Report - Tue, 01/19/2021 - 15:15

The U.S. Supreme Court for exactly 82 minutes on Tuesday morning (1/19) heard a consolidated oral argument in FCC v. Prometheus Radio Project. That’s the case that sees the Commission seeking the reversal of the Third Circuit Federal Appeals Court’s remand of its cross-ownership rule rewrite.

The questions from the justices and, in particular, how the FCC’s legal counsel addressed some of them, was just one of the topics Fletcher, Heald & Hildreth co-Managing Member Davina Sashkin discussed in an exclusive conversation with RBR+TVBR Editor-in-Chief Adam R Jacobson.

What was on the mind of the justices? What happens now? When can the broadcast media industry expect a ruling? Sashkin shares all in this podcast, presented by DOT.FM.


Listen to “The InFOCUS Podcast: Davina Sashkin” on Spreaker.

Categories: Industry News

Earthworks Audio Debuts Icon Microphones

Radio World - Tue, 01/19/2021 - 15:13

Earthworks Audio has introduced its Icon USB and Icon Pro XLR microphones, both intended for use in podcasting, remote working, streaming and home recording.

The condenser-type Icon USB offers a frequency response of 20 Hz to 20 kHz, used a cardioid polar pattern, and can take on up to 132 dB. Meanwhile, the phantom-powered Icon Pro expands on those specs with a frequency response of 20 Hz to 30 kHz and a maximum acoustic input of 139 dB. Both versions weigh 1.5 pounds.

[Check Out More Products at Radio World’s Products Section]

Designed with an eye towards providing visual flair for those who appear on camera with their mics, the Icon series mics are stainless-steel constructed. Earthworks partnered with Triad-Orbit to design and build a custom desktop microphone stand that ships with the Icon microphones. The integrated M-2R swivel ball joint can be disconnected and remounted on any studio mic stand or boom arm.

Icon Pro looks and feels similar, but is hand-tuned with an extended frequency response; the capsule has a faster rise time speed of 11.67 microseconds. Because it is an XLR broadcast microphone requiring 48 V of phantom power, it offers extended headroom and dynamics. The mic ships with an integrated Triad-Orbit M-2R adapter as well.

Both microphones are currently shipping. Since all components are machined and hand-assembled in Wilton, N.H., the initial launch will cater to U.S. distribution. Icon retails for $349 and Icon Pro sells for $499.

Info: https://earthworksaudio.com

 

The post Earthworks Audio Debuts Icon Microphones appeared first on Radio World.

Categories: Industry News

Emmis Tabs Graham for Indy Market

Radio World - Tue, 01/19/2021 - 14:52

Emmis Communications will promote company veteran Taja Graham to become president of its important Indianapolis radio market on March 1.

She’ll succeed Bob Richards.

Graham is currently VP of sales. The company said Richards recommended Graham for the role and that he will pursue other career interests after a transition period.

In the market, Emmis owns news/talk WIBC(FM), adult contemporary WYXB(FM) “B105,” country WLHK(FM) “Hank FM,” the multi-signal sports/talk “The Fan,” and Network Indiana.

Graham has been with Emmis for 22 years in a variety of radio sales and promotions leadership roles. She is a graduate of the Radio Advertising Bureau’s Mentoring and Inspiring Woman in Radio (MIW) Rising Through the Ranks program.

The change was announced by Chairman and CEO Jeff Smulyan.

Bob Richards has also been an executive with Cumulus and Susquehanna. Smulyan commended him for his successes with revenue and ratings at Emmis Indianapolis.

The post Emmis Tabs Graham for Indy Market appeared first on Radio World.

Categories: Industry News

Duplication Rule Vote Lacked Due Process, Critics Say

Radio World - Tue, 01/19/2021 - 14:17
Future of Music Coalition logo

Three petitioners are firing back at the National Association of Broadcasters in their debate about the radio duplication rule and whether the Federal Communications Commission allowed a last-minute “switcheroo” before voting to kill it.

The petitioners are REC Networks, musicFIRST Coalition and Future of Music Coalition. At issue is whether the FCC acted properly last year when it ended the rule for commercial FM stations as well as AMs.

The three groups want to overturn the inclusion of FMs. Their petition, filed in November, has been the subject of strongly worded back-and-forth comments filed with the FCC.

Ex parte in question

The former rule prohibited commercial AM and FM stations from duplicating more than 25 percent of an average week’s programming on commonly-owned stations in the same service (AM or FM), in the same geographic market.

The FCC last August killed it by a 3–2 vote in part to “help struggling stations stay on the air” and help with a potential voluntary digital transition in AM. It also called the change part of its effort to streamline and modernize its media rules.

But the draft order that the FCC had published ahead of that meeting explicitly said the rule was to be changed only for commercial AM stations. Shortly before the day of the vote, FM stations were added to the proposal.

The critics, which believe this change will inevitably lead to less program diversity, said the FCC added FM after the NAB lobbied Republican commissioners “on the literal eve of the applicable Sunshine Agenda Period.” They said this timing effectively prevented others from further advocating prior to the vote.

So in November they asked the FCC to revoke the FM part of the decision. They believe the FCC violated due process in allowing a “180 degree switcheroo” after NAB had made a critical last-minute presentation without due public discussion.

NAB countered with a vigorous filing this month, as we’ve reported. It said the FCC vote was justified, that the critics didn’t understand the business fundamentals of radio, and that musicFirst and FMC were being “retaliatory” because of the separate issue of performance royalties. [Read more on NAB’s filing.]

Latest filing

Now the three groups are criticizing the NAB for making an “ad hominem attack.” They say in their reply comments that the NAB didn’t even try to address their complaint that the FCC failed to follow proper procedures.

“Instead, NAB asks the commission to simply accept its unsupported assertion that there is so little demand by broadcasters for program duplication on commonly-owned FM stations, that the commission shouldn’t worry about radio owners actually taking advantage of the rule change,” they wrote.

“NAB’s argument fails to take into account that larger corporate owners of FM radio stations could engage in widespread local duplication of FM programming in the wake of this needlessly drastic rule change … Such widespread duplication of programming would necessarily harm the public interest in program diversity at local market levels.”

The groups pointed out that another critic, Common Frequency, said the FCC broke its own rules by failing to issue a public notice about NAB’s ex parte meeting until after the vote. Common Frequency also said the NAB and FCC both publicly misidentified the recipients of NAB’s presentation as the Media Bureau, not the majority commissioners who had the authority to vote on the matter.

The three groups concluded by again calling for the FCC to reinstate the FM portion of the rule. Instead they want the commission to monitor waiver applications for local FM duplication of programming “in order to determine how often, and under what types of circumstances, owners seek relief from the rule designed to protect the public interest in programming diversity on local FM airwaves.”

The post Duplication Rule Vote Lacked Due Process, Critics Say appeared first on Radio World.

Categories: Industry News

Beasley Commences Notes Offering

Radio+Television Business Report - Tue, 01/19/2021 - 13:03

NAPLES, FLA. —Beasley Broadcast Group wholly owned subsidiary Beasley Mezzanine Holdings has announced that it intends to offer $280 million in aggregate principal amount of senior secured notes, subject to market and other conditions.

It can do so to persons reasonably believed to be qualified institutional buyers pursuant to Rule 144A under the Securities Act of 1933, as amended, and outside the United States in compliance with Regulation S under the Securities Act.

Beasley says the notes are expected to be fully and unconditionally guaranteed by the company and each of Beasley’s existing domestic majority owned subsidiaries and certain future material domestic majority owned subsidiaries on a senior secured first-priority basis, subject to certain exceptions, limitations and permitted liens.

It’s a new debt for old debt swap.

Beasley Mezzanine Holdings expects to use the net proceeds of this offering to repay in full existing indebtedness under the company’s senior secured credit facilities and certain other indebtedness, with remaining proceeds to be added to BMH’s balance sheet and used for general corporate purposes.

The Notes and related guarantees will not be registered under the Securities Act, or any state securities laws, and may not be offered or sold in the United States absent registration except pursuant to an exemption from the registration requirements of the Securities Act and applicable state securities laws.

— GlobeNewswire

Categories: Industry News

Scripps Clarifies Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Commitment

Radio+Television Business Report - Tue, 01/19/2021 - 12:48

Over the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday, word surfaced that The E.W. Scripps Co. was enjoying strong after-hours trading for its stock because of a report offered by a Smarter Analyst Wall Street observer that took note of a Securities and Exchange Commission disclosure from noted investor Warren Buffett.

While Smart Analyst’s Ben Mahaney said Buffett’s “Berkshire Hathaway” has snagged “a 24.9% passive stake” in Scripps, that’s not what’s happening.

According to Scripps, Buffett is helping Scripps out with its ION Media purchase.

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Categories: Industry News

Earthworks Audio Debuts Icon Microphones

Radio World - Tue, 01/19/2021 - 11:34

Earthworks Audio has introduced its Icon USB and Icon Pro XLR microphones, both intended for use in podcasting, remote working, streaming and home recording.

The condenser-type Icon USB offers a frequency response of 20 Hz to 20 kHz, used a cardioid polar pattern, and can take on up to 132 dB. Meanwhile, the phantom-powered Icon Pro expands on those specs with a frequency response of 20 Hz to 30 kHz and a maximum acoustic input of 139 dB. Both versions weigh 1.5 pounds.

[Check Out More Products at Radio World’s Products Section]

Designed with an eye towards providing visual flair for those who appear on camera with their mics, the Icon series mics are stainless-steel constructed. Earthworks partnered with Triad-Orbit to design and build a custom desktop microphone stand that ships with the Icon microphones. The integrated M-2R swivel ball joint can be disconnected and re-mounted on any studio mic stand or boom arm.

Icon Pro looks and feels similar, but is hand tuned with an extended frequency response; the capsule has a faster rise time speed of 11.67 microseconds. Because it is an XLR broadcast microphone requiring 48 V of phantom power, it offers extended headroom and dynamics. The mic ships with an integrated Triad-Orbit M-2R adapter as well.

Both microphones are currently shipping. Since all components are machined and hand-assembled in Wilton, N.H., the initial launch will cater to U.S. distribution. Icon retails for $349 and Icon Pro sells for $499.

Info: https://earthworksaudio.com

 

The post Earthworks Audio Debuts Icon Microphones appeared first on Radio World.

Categories: Industry News

AEI: ‘How Pai Restored The FCC’s Independence’

Radio+Television Business Report - Tue, 01/19/2021 - 11:15

Four years ago, the American Enterprise Institute played a key role in establishing a policy and regulatory path for an FCC under Republican Party control, led by Chairman Ajit Pai.

As AEI visiting scholar Mark Jamison looks back on the Commission’s Trump-era actions, as it concludes January 20, he believes Pai will be remembered “as one of the most consequential Federal Communications Commission chairmen in history.”

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