The Revolution Will Be JAMMED!
Broadcast Industry's OWN STUDIES prove that Independent Community and College Radio signals are about to be jammed. Deadline for public comments is March 21st.
Richmond, Virginia 2/19/02:
Grassroots defenders of independent radio have found proof that a new airwaves regulatory plan will jam and eventually destroy the signals of small community, religious, and college radio stations.
A powerful coalition of mainstream broadcasters (National Association of Broadcasters, NAB) and the electronics manufacturers is pressuring the FCC to force broadcasters to stop transmitting in the current "analog" transmissions. This could cause great harm to the public and independent radio stations, warns one of the country's experts in community radio issues.
"The proof is in the industry's own studies," according to Christopher Maxwell, Secretary of the Virginia Center for Public Press, a non-profit educational organization supporting independent media and radio broadcasting.
Preliminary testing by the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) proved that serious damage to existing FM and AM signals would occur, unless a third band was created solely for Digital Audio Broadcasting (DAB). So ironically, the same organization pushing for all-digital proved it would be harmful.
Grassroots comments to the FCC as well as instructions and more information is available at http://www.DigitalDisaster.Org
The all-digital imposition on FM and AM bands contrasts to the rest of the world, which establishes DAB on a third band. Historically in America FM was placed on a different band from AM rather than obliterating it.
Other than loss of diversity, there are many other issues to face if analog radio is forced out of business by special interests.
Maxwell asks, "Over one in five Americans find the only radio station that speaks to their soul are the noncommercial stations that are often inevitably the weakest and most distant one on the dial. Besides losing your favorite programming, do you have hundreds of dollars to replace every Walkman, clock radio, car radio, home stereo, and boombox? Is your locality ready for all your old radios going to the landfill? Or the pollution caused by manufacturing to replace 500,000,000 radios in America alone?"
The Europeans and Canadians began their push to establish Digital Audio Broadcasting (DAB) in 1992 with a third band. But the new DAB signals offered an insignificant increase in quality, according to Sony Inc., during testimony to the FCC. Combined with the same bland programming, the European and Canadian DAB flopped in the marketplace.
So the coalition wanting to go all-digital had to figure out how to force us to make the conversion, without a third band that might fail. The typical listener is happy with the current signal quality, and really wants more variety, and fewer ads. Proof of that is the flourishing ad-free Internet and satellite radio stations, and declining listenership for traditional stations.
Instead of honest competition, they decided they would make the government compel all broadcasters to convert to digital on the existing AM and FM bands.
Radio stations will be forced to double their bandwidth on the radio dial. This would be a "big box" store effect, destroying the smaller and weaker competitors and further homogenizing the airwaves.
For example, folks living in Williamsburg, Virginia, can now hear both WHRV89.5 from Norfolk (the only eclectic NPR affiliate in Central Virginia), and WAUQ89.7FM (a Christian radio station owned by the American Family Association) in Charles City, Virginia.
Since these two stations are immediately next to
each other on the dial, people living mid-way in Williamsburg lose the
option of listening to both. This is because both stations are slated to
double in width and in so doing, now will overlap each other's signals.
In Richmond,Virginia, listeners could lose reception to as many as 18 out of 32 radio stations, and then be forced to buy digital radios to hear the remaining ones.
Those weak signals are very important to Americans, whether they want to hear Christian programming, college stations, or shock jocks. For example; when Howard Stern was taken off the air in Richmond, the Norfolk station that still carried Stern increased its listenership by picking up Richmonders that missed the programming. A distant Norfolk station (70 miles away) was able to take an impressive "3 share" rating among Richmond listeners. Historically, half of a typical radio dial serves audiences on less than a "3 share" in the ratings. That opportunity to listen to Stern in Norfolk from Richmond would be gone.
In addition to eliminating competition, the true financial motive of the digital conversion is the creation of a new largely subscription system, called "IBOC-DAB" (In-Band, On-Channel, Digital Audio Broadcasting).
Maxwell calls IBOC-DAB "fax for your radio." While you can talk in analog on the telephone, your Internet connection or fax machine must talk in digital, resulting in that screech you hear. The fax machine converts a page into blocks that are digital binary blocks of ink (on) or lack of ink (off) to reform the picture on a page at your end. IBOC-DAB similarly converts the audio into bursts of energy closely clustered together as "digital sidebands".
When conversion is complete, the big broadcasters plan to keep the new double-wide all-digital signal, and use most of that space to sell subscription delivery of digital downloads from the Internet and wireless broadband Internet. Sony Inc. states in the official FCC record that broadcasters only need 30 of the requested 430 kilohertz of space on the dial to duplicate the current FM audio quality and existing RDBS data services.
NPR (National Public Radio) has expressed concern over this issue, preferring also that DAB should take a third separate band. They would like to provide multiple audio programs at one time, including reading services for the blind, and other important community services. As currently designed IBOC-DAB only allows one audio channel. NPRs needs would be impossible with the new plan, which would force the majority of the bandwidth to be taken over by datacasting from huge monopolies.
Many smaller stations such as all-volunteer WDCE 90.1FM at the University of Richmond will not be able to afford the $30,000 to $120,000 conversion costs, and will probably just go off the air altogether.
The AM dial is threatened with similar plans. What about the Soul music, gospel, community talk and city council critiques on WCLM 1450AM, is that doomed also?
The real plan is to make their money from selling that remaining space to send wireless data, not for a lively, competitive radio signal containing music and the lively debate and news of a vibrant Democracy. The only thing remaining on the dial will be Top 40, car ads, and screeching data streams in code owned and approved of by less than a handful of corporations.
And the spaces on the dial now used by
Pirates or Part 15 microbroadcasters for civil disobedience or neighborhood
watch radio stations? Gone, completely covered over.
To find out more about this potential environmental
and free speech disaster (including congressional testimony) , visit: http://www.DigitalDisaster.Org
To stop this disaster;
A.) Add your comments in to the FCC during their public comment period. Deadline is March 21st. Visit http://DigitalDisaster.Org and follow the instructionsB.) Call your Senators, Member of Congress and FCC Commissioners: 1) Tell them to require that anyone interested in transmitting in Digital Audio Broadcasting format must move to another band. Just as FM was established on a separate band from AM, so should DAB.
2) Tell them that the European version of DAB (Digital
Audio Broadcasting)[called "Eureka 147"] was a marketplace failure, because
they asked people to pay hundreds of dollars for new radios carrying the
same old tired programming.
Senators and Members Of Congress:
Senate Operator: 202-224-3121
House Operator: 202-225-3121
Phone: 888-CALL-FCC (225-5322)
Or visit http://www.DigitalDisaster.Org