Launching NextGen Broadcast: An SBE Tutorial at PBS TechCon 2019

ATSC 3.0 and the rapid launch of NextGen Broadcast are the drivers behind the first-ever SBE/PBS TechCon collaborative tutorial day, which takes place Saturday, April 6, 2019 at PBS TechCon, held at the Flamingo Las Vegas Hotel. Open to anyone eager to learn what ATSC 3.0 means for the future of broadcast, the tutorial takes place the day after TechCon, is affordable ($95 for SBE and PBS members), and open to all. Online registration is now open for this session at bit.ly/SBEatPBS.

PBS TechCon 2019Periodically, broadcast goes through an extensive revamp. The launch of TV, FM, DTV – and now NextGen Broadcast – are pervasive and swift. For decades, the Society of Broadcast Engineers (SBE) has held programs and tutorials to help broadcast professionals build the necessary new skill sets required in our industry. This year, several dozen NextGen stations take to the air. The pace is likely to pick up. Broadcast engineers need to understand the potential of ATSC 3.0 and see what’s under the hood: the architecture, equipment, configurations, and options that go into NextGen. What follows are highlights of the daylong agenda.

– The regulations that dictate the requirements of the transition and technical compliance. These include MVPD notifications, carriage and 1.0 host requirements and agreements. Meeting these obligations and preserving station cashflow require that broadcast engineers have a good handle on how far ATSC 1.0 content compression can be pushed and at what cost. It’s valuable to have a firm grasp of video quality measurements. Partnering is a big part of Pearl’s and many others’ transition plans creating channel shares. It’s a broadcast engineer’s role to competently fill in the technical specifications in each of these legal arrangements.

– Converting a transmitter to 3.0 service and performing the proof-of-performance and acceptance testing will be covered by the engineers that build the transmitters. Further, some studio-to-transmitter links (STL) can be reutilized or upgraded; others cannot. While most stations will start with converting a “big-stick,” many will be looking at extending their coverage and increasing their penetration with the additional boosters that OFDM enables in a way that no other modulation previously used in broadcasting has. We will give you a good foundation for designing (or selecting vendors and partners that can help), planning and building your NextGen distribution system, including single-frequency networks.

– The centerpiece of NextGen is the scheduler. This cannot be understated. You will understand why this is, and we’ll cover the most practical configuration options. Key vendors will address how to use their solutions and explain the tradeoffs and system limitations for each as well as existing workarounds. We will also look at the field measurements of the past and future and how they impact an ultra-flexible system where so many variables are in play.

– Performance. We will cover monitoring the performance of the NextGen system and look at what test equipment, TVs, dongles and first-day hacks are available. These are all critically important to a successful launch. The options are early in their development cycle, and broadcast engineers will be doing a lot of hand-holding and integrations (read that “MacGyvering”).

– Finally, we’ll address some of the issues of adoption, timing, budgeting, project planning and (looking further out), the enhanced content and services that NextGen Broadcasting is designed to enable. Everybody in your world will want to know what NextGen is all about. Some will have overindulged in the hype. Most will have more misunderstandings than real knowledge (we don’t throw out TVs this time). For others, there will be fear, uncertainty and dread. We’ll conclude with what is real and what is not, matching adoption curves with equipment life cycles. We will separate what happens today and what happens further down the road. In particular, we’ll look at what changes in broadcast station architecture and workflows, including digital ad insertion and ad tech, will help move the revenue needle.

We’ll do the best we can to give you what you need. But when the hype becomes real, it is always a big deal. This year, you might want to get support to come to Vegas a couple of days before NAB opens, and join us Saturday, April 6, at the PBS Technology Conference. Register now: bit.ly/SBEatPBS.

Also at TechCon, Another ATSC 3.0 Option
The IEEE Broadcast Technology Society will be hosting the ATSC 3.0 Roadshow at PBS TechCon 2019. BTS will be hosting the ATSC 3.0 training seminar taught by expert Gary Sgrignoli of Meintel, Sgrignoli, and Wallace, the noted digital TV transmission consulting firm. This course will cover the ATSC 3.0 Physical Layer and prepare participants to take the SBE ATSC 3.0 certification exam. Registration and seminar information can be found on bts.ieee.org.

EAS Blue Alert Code Becomes Effective January 18, 2019

By Larry Wilkins, CPBE, chair, SBE EAS Advisory Group

In January 2018 the FCC amended its regulations governing the Emergency Alert System (EAS) and Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) to add a new event code, BLU, to allow alert originators to issue an alert whenever a law enforcement officer is injured or killed, missing in connection with his or her official duties, or there is an imminent and credible threat to cause death or serious injury to law enforcement officers.

Delivery of Blue Alerts over EAS will be implemented January 18, 2019.

Sage Endec users: Update firmware will be available next week.

DasDec users: The BLU event code is in the v4.0 software update.

Trilithic/Viavi: includes BLU event code in its v18.10 software update.

Gorman-Redlich: has a update, contact their office for details

As a reminder the BLU event code is in the “voluntary” list, that is, it is not one of the FCC required relay alerts (EAN, NPT, RMT). Stations can elect to relay these alerts or not, with guidance from their state and local EAS plan.

Broadcasters and Cable Operators should watch for information updates from your SECC (State Emergency Communication Committee).

Blue Alerts over WEA takes effect July 18, 2019.

Read the FCC ruling.

Senate Moves READI Act Forward

By Larry Wilkins, CPBE, chair, SBE EAS Advisory Group

Just before the end of the year, the Senate passed the READI (Reliable Emergency Alert Distribution Improvement) Act, a bipartisan bill meant to improve the Emergency Alert System, extend it to new platforms, and avoid a repeat of the false alarm nuclear missile strike alert in Hawaii that drew an FCC investigation.

While most of the points in the bill deal with the creation and origination of EAS alerts, one item is of interest to broadcasters: It would allow broadcasters to repeat presidential and FEMA alerts, something they can’t do now.

The bill still must be passed by the House and approved by the president, after which it will be sent to the FCC and FEMA to work out details of implementation, followed by an FCC notice of rule changes. So, it will be some time before any changes to the way EAS Alerts are created and/or distributed.

The SBE will continue to issue updates as the bill moves through the approval process.

SBE Statement on the Passing of SBE Fellow and Past President Barry Thomas

Barry ThomasWe are deeply saddened by the passing of Barry Thomas, CPBE, DRB, CBNE, who died on Dec. 6, 2018. Barry devoted a great deal of his time and talents to the Society of Broadcast Engineers. He joined the SBE in 1986 and served the SBE with involvement in several local SBE chapters and on the national level. His national involvement included two terms on the SBE Board of Directors from 2002 to 2005, and two terms as treasurer from 2005 to 2007. He served as the society’s 25th president from 2007 to 2009 and immediate past president from 2009 to 2011. In 2017 he was elected to serve on the board again, but decided to step down early in his term. In 2011, Barry was elevated to the membership grade of Fellow.

On Barry’s passing, SBE President Jim Leifer, CPBE, said, “Barry served the SBE in many capacities and has been a voice for many engineers in our industry for decades. After hearing this news, I remembered so many occasions where Barry spent time developing younger engineers and being that mentor so many of us talk about. He was a devoted father, son, brother and fellow engineer who will be sorely missed by all.”

SBE MemberPlus Marks One Year

It has been almost one year since the SBE began to offer the SBE MemberPlus option. If you are not aware of what this is, those who choose the option receive a significant increase in membership value. Access to all live and archived webinars the SBE produces during the membership year, at no additional cost. With the never-ending changes in technology, most SBE members look for ways to keep up at a reasonable cost. Our members’ desire to learn about new technology was one of the reasons the SBE created this membership option.

SBE MemberPlusOver the past several years, the SBE has produced a significant number of technical broadcast and media webinars of interest to our members, more than 70 and climbing, many of them on evergreen topics. After the live presentation, each webinar is archived and available on the SBE website 24/7/365. The SBE is grateful to the many talented and knowledgeable individuals, all subject matter experts, who have presented webinars for the SBE in the past and in the future.

In the traditional membership model, members who pay annual dues of $85 would pay an additional $59 for each webinar they wanted to take. With SBE MemberPlus, which has an annual cost of $175, there is no additional cost to take as many of these webinars as you want. Just taking two webinars more than pays for the higher dues cost.

We had heard from members that paying for multiple webinars was cost prohibitive, no matter if they were paying for it themselves or if their employer was. So for an additional $90 investment, a significant educational benefit was now within reasonable reach of many members.

You may wonder how SBE MemberPlus has been received. I am happy to tell you that since January 2, 2018, when it first became available, we saw far more members take the option than we ever anticipated. As of this writing, 871 members have chosen SBE MemberPlus. That number represents more than 20% of all renewing Members and Senior Members, and more than 41% of all new members.

Those 871 members have been using their expanded benefit in a big way. Through September 2018, SBE MemberPlus members had registered for 2,023 SBE webinars. That is 96% of the total webinars taken this year and the total is far more than any previous year!

As of the end of September, 488 new members have joined and, as I mentioned earlier, 41% have chosen the SBE MemberPlus option. It’s safe to say that the added membership value has helped attract many of them.

When membership renewal comes around in a couple of months, we encourage those who are SBE MemberPlus members will choose to renew and maintain that status. We also hope that if you passed on it the first time around, you will choose the SBE MemberPlus option when you renew.

Looking ahead to 2019, the SBE Education team is planning a full slate of new webinars, including our series on ATSC 3.0 and more in our series on Advanced RF. The ATSC 3.0 series will begin in January 2019 with Networking for ATSC 3.0. Our growing archive of webinars incudes the popular, eight-part SBE RF 101 Terrestrial Transmission series, the SBE basic and advanced series on IP Networking and many more.

If your employer has not been willing to cover the cost of traditional dues in the past, let them know about the expanded educational benefit. They may just decide that the added educational benefit, which potentially could help their station’s performance and bottom line, is worth the investment and be willing to pay for it.

The SBE MemberPlus Option
Individuals can choose to join or renew with the SBE as a traditional Regular, Senior or Associate member at the low-cost rate of $85. They receive access to SBE publications, social media outlets, job listings, compensation survey results and access to a life insurance program at no additional cost. Traditional SBE membership also provides member discounts for SBE certification, education programs and purchases at the SBE Bookstore, and the opportunity to participate in local chapters affiliated with the national SBE

SBE MemberPlus has all the benefits of traditional SBE membership, plus access to all the archived Webinars by SBE and all new webinars the SBE produces during the membership year, at a cost of $175. Currently, there are more than 70 webinars archived and available online, with more added every month, that cover a wealth of topics of interest to broadcast and media engineers and technicians.

Free access to the extensive SBE webinar education resource is an enormous benefit. For less than the cost of two SBE webinars, the member who opts for SBE MemberPlus has access to archived programs including the eight-part SBE RF101 series and five-part Fundamentals of IT Networking, as well as the current Advanced RF and ATSC 3.0 series.

Q: Can I upgrade my Regular membership to SBE MemberPlus at any time?
A: Yes. Annual membership renewal takes place on April 1, but an SBE member can pay the difference from Regular membership to SBE MemberPlus at any time to add the benefit.

Q: If I join the SBE midyear, can I prorate any portion of my dues?
A: New SBE MemberPlus members who join from October through December pay the full SBE MemberPlus rate and then will pay a prorated SBE MemberPlus amount at their first renewal cycle the next year, just as new traditional Regular members do. This will sync those members with the April 1 membership cycle.

Q: Can I renew before April 1 to take advantage of SBE MemberPlus?
A: Yes. Members can elect to renew their membership as early as January 2 each year to access the SBE MemberPlus program. Get up to an additional three months of SBE webinars free!

Q: What if I do not renew my SBE membership by April 1?
A: SBE MemberPlus members who do not renew by April 1 lose the SBE MemberPlus benefit at that time. Their membership reverts to traditional Regular membership and remains active until the three-month grace period ends June 30. The SBE MemberPlus benefits are reinstated if the member renews after April 1.

Apply or upgrade to SBE MemberPlus at the SBE website, sbe.org/join.

SBE Begins Work on Strategic Planning Conference Tasks

On June 9, 2018, the SBE conducted a professionally facilitated, all-day strategic planning meeting attended by members of the Board, chapter chairs and national staff. The result was a list of 46 action steps to accomplish objectives of growing and retaining membership, attracting new and younger members to the SBE, and increasing participation in SBE activities among members.

SBE President Jim Leifer enlisted a special Strategic Planning Task Group to review the 46 action steps with the intent to prioritize, group and refine them to a manageable number. They brought their recommendations back to the Board at its meeting on Oct. 2, 2018. At that meeting, the Board adopted the recommendations, which identified 14 priority action steps, each assigned to one of three priority levels.

The Board voted to establish five task groups, enlist three of our existing committees and create a new Technologies Committee to research the resources and outline the steps needed to accomplish the objectives of the 14 action steps. The task groups will be chaired by members of the Board and include other SBE members, including other Board members. Each task group will have a member of the SBE staff assigned to it to serve as staff liaison.

On the task group and committee assignments, SBE President Jim Leifer said, “It’s important for the SBE to set specific plans to guide the future of our organization. This first round of tasks will lay a firm groundwork to help serve our current and future members more effectively and grow the SBE.”

Each task group and committee will research their assigned priorities (objectives), establish a list of action items to meet the objectives, recommend timelines for completion and assess the impact on SBE resources in terms of volunteers, staff and budget.

The following groups and group chairs have been established. Also shown are the first priority tasks assigned to each group, which have project deadlines for a report to be submitted at the April board meeting. Additional tasks have been assigned to each group, but those have later action dates.

Task Group 1
Chair: Wayne Pecena
Expanding SBE Membership Scope
Research the non-traditional tech professionals and begin to generate a list of other mediums that use similar skills and knowledge as traditional SBE members.

Task Group 2
Chair: Kirk Harnack
Expanding Member Participation
Create monthly virtual program for member engineers, technicians and other broadcast professionals, wherever they may be.

Task Group 3
Chair: Jim Leifer
Public Relations/Marketing
Research the advantages and disadvantages of redefining Society mission and name/branding. Task Group 3 to include several Executive Committee members and others. (Report due Oct. 15, 2019.)

Task Group 4
Chair: Kevin Trueblood
Public Relations/Marketing
Develop a “first responder” broadcast team, activated to help other broadcasters in time of disaster.

Task Group 5
Chair: Roz Clark
Website, App and Social Media
Bring website up to date, while keeping it functional. Research the advantages and disadvantages of an app and its application to SBE.

Certification Committee
Chair: Ralph Hogan
Certification
Expand SBE Certification programs to include newer technologies and review existing programs for their accuracy and relevance.

Publications Committee
Chair: Andrea Cummis
Expanding Member Participation
Create archive of program resources (tutorial videos) for use by individual members and chapters.

Social Networking Committee
Chair: Kirk Harnack
Public Relations/Marketing
Advocate the value proposition of SBE membership – education and certification, to broadcast management via state broadcaster associations and the NAB.

Website, App and Social Media
Improve and increase SBE social media presence, primarily to reach younger people.

Technologies Committee
Chair: Shane Toven
Strategic Planning
Create a Technologies Committee that includes Board and chapter representatives, dedicated to seeing that new technologies are integrated into SBE educational and certification programs.

Education
Identify content to educate an expanded scope of membership (the new audience).

Research and recommend to the Education Committee, and for purposes of certification, to the Certification Committee, expanded educational and training materials to include 5G and future multimedia content delivery technologies including streaming, OT and all non-traditional distribution mediums.

Board and Executive Committee
Chair: Jim Leifer
Strategic Planning
On an ongoing basis, regularly evaluate success/progress of strategic planning objectives and action items.

SBE Files FCC Comments on Flex Use of 3.7-4.2 GHz

The Society of Broadcast Engineers, the association for broadcast and multimedia technology professionals, filed comments on Oct. 29, 2018, with the FCC in response to the notice of proposed rulemaking (FCC 18-91), released July 13, 2018. That notice sought comment on various proposals for transitioning all or part of the 3.7-4.2 GHz band for flexible use, terrestrial mobile spectrum, and explores options for more efficient and intensive fixed use of the same band, all while protecting incumbent C-Band satellite earth stations from harmful interference.

The SBE comments constitute a counterproposal that offers a reasonable alternative to dividing the 3.7-4.2 GHz band, a reverse auction, or other action that would not protect incumbent C-band receive-only earth stations. The SBE suggests that, given the huge number of C-band registrations since the opening of the window (now reportedly greater than 16,000), the FCC’s initial premise that the C-Band could be shared with 5G as an overlay was simply wrong.

Recognizing that the European 5G proposal is 3.4-3.8 GHz, and since that offers 1 MHz of overlap with the U.S. proposal, the U.S, should adopt the European allocation, put the commercial broadband providers in the 3.4-3.7 GHz band and use the small overlap segment with C-band for local, private 5G networks critical for next-generation manufacturing and industrial applications. That is actually workable with C-band in the 100 MHz overlap segment. It leaves the vast majority of the spectrum, 3.8-4.2 GHz, intact with no 5G.

In contrast to other proposals, nothing is lost for current C-band users with the SBE plan. 5G moves into military radar spectrum, which was already designated years ago for broadband reallocation as part of the National Broadband Plan.

Read the SBE filing.

FCC Extends C-Band Registration Deadline to Oct. 31, 2018

In a public notice, the FCC announced a two-week extension, through Oct. 31, 2018, to the filing window for fixed-satellite service (FSS) earth stations currently operating in the 3.7-4.2 GHz frequency band (C-Band) announced previously in Public Notice DA 18-398 on April 19, 2018.

The FCC previously announced that the C-Band filing window would close on Oct. 17, 2018. Due to the large influx of applications filed near the mid-October deadline, the International Bureau Filing System (IBFS), which handles the registration, experienced intermittent difficulties that have prevented some applicants from filing for license or registration. Because of this, the filing window has been extended for an additional two weeks.

2018 SBE Board Takes Office, Committee Chairs Assigned

The Society of Broadcast Engineers, the association for broadcast and multimedia technology professionals, held its National Meeting Oct. 2 and 3 in Danvers, MA, in conjunction with the Media Resource Expo. Among the events during those two days, the SBE Board of Directors met, and the SBE held its annual Membership Meeting.

At the Membership Meeting on Oct. 3, the 2018-2019 officers and directors were sworn in to begin their new terms. (The results of the SBE election were announced on Aug. 23.) SBE President Jim Leifer, CPBE, also announced his committee chair appointments for the coming year, which were reviewed and approved by the Board of Directors at its meeting on Oct. 2. The committee chair assignments follow.

Committee Chair
Awards Tom McGinley, CPBE, AMD, CBNT
By-Laws Ted Hand, CPBE, 8-VSB, AMD, DRB
Certification Ralph Hogan, CPBE, DRB, CBNE
Chapter Liaison Mark Fehlig, CPBE, 8-VSB
Education Wayne Pecena, CPBE, 8-VSB, AMD, DRB, CBNE
Fellowship Troy Pennington, CSRE, CBNT
Finance Roswell Clark, CPBE, CBNT
Frequency Coordination R.J. Russell, CPBE
Government Relations Kevin Trueblood, CBRE, CBNT
International Charles W. Kelly Jr.
Membership Steve Brown, CPBE, CBNT
Mentoring Kimberly K. Sacks, CBT
Nominations Vinny Lopez, CEV, CBNT
Publications Andrea Cummis, CBT, CTO
Social Networking Kirk Harnack, CBRE, CBNE
Sustaining Membership Stephen H. Lampen, CBRE
Technologies Shane Toven, CBRE, CBNT

On the committee assignments, President Leifer said, “We have a wide range of talent and skills represented by our committee chairs. I look forward to working with all of them in the coming year to further the goals of the SBE and enact the plans being laid following our strategic planning conference held earlier this year.”

The national board of directors of the SBE is responsible for the development of policy and determines the programs and services the society provides to its more than 5,000 members.

National EAS Test Rescheduled for Oct. 3

The Federal Emergency Management Association (FEMA) previously announced that a National EAS test would be sent Sept. 20, 2018. Following the effects of the Hurricane Florence, the test has been moved to the backup date, Oct. 3, 2018.

The times for the test have not changed. At 2:18 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time (EDT), FEMA will send a Wireless Emergency Alert (WEA) test message to all WEA-capable wireless devices throughout the entire United States and territories. Immediately following the WEA nationwide end-to-end test, at 2:20 p.m. EDT, FEMA will conduct a live test of the Emergency Alerting System (EAS). All EAS participants are required to participate in this nationwide test. The EAS message will be disseminated via the Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (IPAWS).

Stations are encouraged to verify that their EAS units are communicating correctly with the IPAWS server. Review station logs (which should be checked once each week by the chief operator) to ensure stations are receiving the Required Weekly Test (RWT) from IPAWS. This RWT is fed every Monday at 11:00 a.m. local time. Contact your equipment representative for details on setting up your EAS decoder to properly receive and relay the National test.

EAS participants are reminded that they are required to register with the EAS Test Reporting System (ETRS). Form One was to be filed on or before Aug. 27, 2018. Then on or before 11:59 p.m. EDT, Oct. 3, 2018, EAS participants must file the day-of-test information sought by ETRS Form Two. Post-test data will be filed later with Form Three.

More information is availble from the FEMA website.