Broadcast Industry News
Broadcasting & Cable
The Ringer to produce six-part series on ‘pivotal moments’ for popular acts
Bill Simmons and HBO are partnering on a multi-part documentary film series focused on music. There will be six parts. The untitled project “will concentrate on pivotal moments or stretches for a popular artist or band, an iconic album or the music business as a whole,” said HBO, with each episode featuring a different director.
Simmons’ digital media company The Ringer is in on the project. The series is scheduled to debut in 2021 and will be a six-week event.
“We’ve had a longtime collaboration with Bill, and we are thrilled that he came to HBO with this idea,” said Casey Bloys, president HBO Programming. “We look forward to working with him and the team at The Ringer to illuminate many of the fascinating artists and moments that have shaped the music industry.”
Simmons is executive producing with Jody Gerson, chairman and CEO of Universal Music Publishing Group, and Marc Cimino, chief operating officer, UMPG. Polygram Entertainment is executive producing too.
“It’s been a dream of mine to put this project together,” said Simmons. “It wasn’t until I started working with Jody and Marc that the potential of it started to seem real. We see an opportunity to elevate the storytelling form with music docs much like 30 for 30 changed the landscape for sports documentaries at the end of last decade. We don’t want to make music docs that just cover the beginning, middle and end of someone’s career. We think there’s a different way to do these. And we want to work with the best directors possible, talented filmmakers who have the same passion for this project that we do. I couldn’t be more excited for the challenge. Being able to explore this with HBO is like the cherry on top.”
CBS is second in total viewers for day one, according to early returns
Over the first four hours of coverage on broadcast and cable, 1-5 p.m. Jan. 21 (1-3 p.m. for CBS, which was the extent of its live coverage), FNC had 2,654,000 viewers 2-plus, compared to number two CBS with 1,943,000. MSNBC was third at 1,909,000, followed by ABC at 1,630,000, NBC with 1,437,000, and CNN at 1,439,000.
In primetime (8-11 p.m.), when ABC, CBS and NBC had returned to regular programming, FNC was the clear leader, with 3,507,000 2-plus and 654,000 in the key news 25-54 demo, with MSNBC second with 2,530,000/490,000 and CNN third with 1,511,000/459,000.
Has already begun commenting on impeachment
CBS News has named Reince Priebus as a political analyst.
Priebus, President Donald Trump's first chief of staff, hit the ground running, commenting on the second day of impeachment proceedings in the Senate.
Priebus, currently president of law firm Michael Best & Friedrich, LLP, is also the former chairman of the Republican National Committee.
Takes on oversight of KTVW-KFPH Phoenix, a Univision-UniMas pair
Joe Donnarumma has been named president and general manager of Univision Arizona. He starts February 10. Overseeing KTVW and KFPH, a Univision-UniMas pair, and four radio stations, he will be based in Phoenix. Donnarumma will report to Luis Fernandez-Rocha, president and regional general manager, Univision Communications.
Donnarumma previously led sales at Tegna’s KUSA Denver, an NBC affiliate. Before that, he worked in sales at Tegna’s WCNC Charlotte, which is also affiliated with NBC.
He succeeds Alejandro Santamaria atop the Univision stations in Phoenix.
Jason Biggs plays not-so-smart father of super-smart kids in multi-cam comedy
Comedy Outmatched, starring Jason Biggs as a blue-collar father raising a bunch of genius children, begins on Fox January 23. Lon Zimmet created the show and is executive producer.
Maggie Lawson plays the mother of the brilliant kids. The cast also includes Tisha Campbell, Jack Stanton, Connor Kalopsis, Ashley Boettcher and Oakley Bull.
Three of the kids in the family are geniuses, and one, eight-year-old Leila, appears to be of ordinary intelligence.
Biggs starred in the American Pie film franchise. He plays a handyman on Outmatched.
Lawson’s TV work includes Psych and Lethal Weapon. She plays a pit boss in Atlantic City.
The multi-camera comedy “takes an honest and heightened look at every parent’s worst fear – that they’re ‘ruining’ their kids,” said Fox. “When you have children with the type of gifts that can change the world, the pressure is really on. Raise them right, and these kids could cure cancer, stop global warming or invent time travel. But screw it up, and you could unleash three new super villains into the universe – good luck!”
20th Century Fox Television produces the show.
'Dr. Phil' returns to talk lead, while 'Jeopardy!' prevails over all shows
Syndication got back to business in the week ended Jan. 12, with many shows returning to original episodes and hitting new season highs.
CTD’s Dr. Phil regained talk’s top spot after two second-place finishes over the holidays with reruns.
The perennial talk leader scored the largest increase of any syndicated strip in the session, skyrocketing 42% from the prior week to a new season-high 2.7 live plus same day household rating, according to Nielsen Media Research, the show’s biggest number since the week of May 20, 2019. Among daytime’s key demographic of women 25-54, Phil also led with a 1.1.
Disney’s Live with Kelly and Ryan, which had enjoyed two straight weeks at the top, held steady at a 2.1 for second place.
Warner Bros.’ Ellen DeGeneres, which, like Dr. Phil, returned to originals after two weeks of repeats, rebounded 25% from its season low to a third-place 2.0.
Debmar-Mercury’s Wendy Williams also went back to original episodes after two weeks of reruns and recovered 30% to a 1.3.
NBCU’s Maury was unchanged at a 1.2 for the third straight week. CTD’s Rachael Ray rose 10% to a 1.1. NBCU’s Steve Wilkos remained at a 1.0 for a fourth straight week. Sony Pictures Television’s Dr. Oz picked up 13% to a 0.9. Warner Bros.’ The Real raced ahead 20% to a 0.6. CTD’s The Doctors delivered a 0.5 for the fourth consecutive week. NBCU’s out-of-production syndicated run of Jerry Springer slid 25% to a 0.3.
NBCU’s freshman The Kelly Clarkson Show held steady at a 1.3 to tie Wendy Williams for fourth place among the talkers.
Disney’s Tamron Hall, which, like Clarkson, has been renewed for year two, jumped 11% to a 1.0, matching its season high.
Further back among the new talkers, SPT’s Mel Robbins rallied 25% to a new season-high 0.5 after Nexstar upgraded the show to 4 p.m. from 3 a.m. on KTLA Los Angeles.
NBCU’s Judge Jerry held its ground at a 1.0. In other rookie jurisdictions, Trifecta’s Personal Injury Court and MGM’s Protection Court both were unchanged at a 0.5 and 0.3, respectively. Among the new game shows, Fox’s 25 Words or Less added 25% to a new season-high 1.1 while SPT’s off-GSN America Says stayed at a 0.7 for a sixth straight week.
CTD’s Judge Judy led the courts with a 23% surge to a 6.9, that show’s second-highest rating of the season and its best performance since the week of Nov. 25.
CTD’s Hot Bench moved ahead 5% to a 2.0. Warner Bros.’ People’s Court climbed 8% to a 1.4. Warner Bros.’ Judge Mathis, Fox’s Divorce Court and Debmar-Mercury’s Caught in Providence all were unchanged at a 0.9, 0.7 and 0.5.
Entertainment magazines stayed boosted after getting a lift from covering the Golden Globes on Jan. 5. CTD’s Entertainment Tonight moved into first place among all magazines with a 20% leap to a new season-high 3.0. That was ET’s strongest week since the week of March 11, 2019.
CTD’s Inside Edition was next, adding 16% to a 2.9. NBCU’s Access Hollywood, which was up the most in the prior session when it gained 27%, added another 7% to a 1.5, equalling its season high. Access also advanced 33% in the key women 25-54 demo to a 0.8, matching its season high.
Warner Bros.’ TMZ tacked on 22% in households to a 1.1, while Warner Bros.’ Extra improved 11% to a 1.0, matching its highest rating of the season and jumping 25% among women 25-54 to a 0.5.
CTD’s DailyMailTV held steady at a 0.8. Trifecta’s Celebrity Page posted a 0.2 for the 28th consecutive week.
CTD’s Jeopardy! apparently benefited from ABC’s highly rated Greatest of All Time primetime matches on ABC, which began Jan. 7. Syndicated Jeopardy! added 18% to hit a 7.1 and lead all of syndication. CTD’s Wheel of Fortune, which is paired with Jeopardy! in access many markets moved up 16% to a new season-high 6.6 Debmar-Mercury’s Family Feud picked up 3% to a 6.0. Further back, Entertainment Studios’ Funny You Should Ask responded with a 0.5 for the 16th consecutive week.
Disney’s RightThisMinute maintained a 0.9 for a second straight week.
On the off-net crime front, NBCU’s Dateline was flat at a 1.1. SPT’s off-A&E Live PD Police Patrol skidded 18% to a 0.9. NBCU’s scripted Chicago PD warranted a 20% decline to a 0.8.
On the sitcom scene, Warner Bros.’ leader The Big Bang Theory caught fire with a 17% increase to a new season high 3.4. Disney’s Last Man Standing spiked 5% to a new season-high 2.2. Disney’s Modern Family forged ahead 21% to a 1.7. SPT’s The Goldbergs, Warner Bros.’ Two and a Half Men, Disney’s Family Guy and Disney’s Black-ish all broke even at 1.3, 1.2, 1.2 and 1.0, respectively. Warner Bros.’ Mike & Molly elevated 11% to a new season- high 1.0, tying Black-ish and SPT’s Seinfeld, which also added 11%. Warner Bros.’ Mom remained at a 0.9, tying Warner Bros.’ steady 2 Broke Girls.
Starts with call for civility
The Senate chaplain, opening the second day of the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump, attempted to set the tone after a first day marked by accusations of cover-ups and serial lying.
"Words have consequences," intoned Chaplain Barry Black. "Give them a civility built upon integrity."
That followed an admonition from Chief Justice John Roberts the night before to take a more civil tone suitable to the venue.
The Democratic impeachment managers delivered their opening arguments as broadcast and cable nets aired special report live coverage.
Those Dems did not appear sanguine about their prospects or about the process.
In a press conference preceding day two, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) suggested, as have others, that the way the Republicans wanted to set up the trial was an effort to push the case against the President into hours when fewer people would be watching.
Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) said that it was clear that the impeachment trial was a "forced march toward a predetermined outcome."
Hailed for 'zealous commitment' to serving public
While the Justice Department has gotten blowback from deal critics on its vetting and approval of the T-Mobile-Sprint deal, DOJ clearly doesn't see it that way.
The team reviewing that merger, which the department approved with conditions, received an award Wednesday from Assistant Attorney General Makan Delrahim.
The award was for "outstanding work to benefit American consumers by the Division’s civil, criminal, international, appellate, and economics staff," and Delrahim praised that team and other winners for their "“zealous commitment to public service."
A handful of states are currently in the process of suing Justice over that merger decision.
Three CRAS Graduates Will Also Be On Hand for the Feb. 1 Open House, as Well as Participate in an Open Panel Forum Jan. 31 for Current CRAS Students
Gilbert, Ariz., Jan. 22, 2020 - The Conservatory of Recording Arts & Sciences (CRAS; www.cras.edu), a leading institution for audio engineering education, will be opening the doors to its Gilbert, Ariz. campus (1205 N. Fiesta Blvd.) to prospective students, parents, and the media on Saturday, Feb. 1 from 10am – 4pm. Three CRAS graduates will be on hand for the Open House, and will also be part of an Open Panel Forum held for current CRAS students the evening of Jan. 31.
“There are a host of opportunities for our students once they graduate, and we want to give them an idea of what’s out there first hand for them once they enter the open market,” said Kirt Hamm, CRAS administrator. “Besides our mandatory internship program, getting our students in touch with our graduates who either are working for others, or who have made the leap into self employment, is huge. That’s what this grad panel is about in our upcoming Open House. Continued education, networking, and learning what it takes for going out on one’s own by those who have done it already is of enormous value for any student.”
Hamm added that CRAS also wants prospective students and their parents to discover everything there is to know about a CRAS education, and with hard work and dedication just how successful they can be.
Members of the February Open House Grad Panel include:
· Skyla Rose Wuebber; 2014 CRAS graduate; currently works as a full-time Audio Engineer at AV Concepts (AVC) in Tempe, Ariz. As an audio engineer at AVC, she travels the world helping design cutting-edge technology and audio solutions to support corporate events for companies such as Google, Oracle, and VidCon. Wuebber has designed and mixed many large-scale PA systems for arena-sized audiences. She has worked with many renowned artists, such as Fall Out Boy, Charlie XCX, Alice Cooper, Rebelution, Iration, and Snoop Dog, as well as corporate leaders such as Bill Clinton, Jimmy Carter, Joe Biden, Al Gore, and many more.
· Nicholai Crees; 2018 CRAS graduate; currently working as a Design Engineer in the Media and Entertainment department for Diversified. Crees works on designing and maintaining broadcast systems for a wide array of clients. Prior to this, he was a Maintenance and Studio Support Engineer with ABC Disney. He has worked with companies such as Prinerica, the VA, Gulfstream, Dimensional Fund Advisors, and Auburn University. He has also worked on the shows Good Morning America, World News Tonight, and Around the Horn.
· Bryan Hosack; 2015 CRAS graduate; currently an Audio Fleet Supervisor for Carnival Cruise Lines (CCL). He started his job with CCL in 2016 as an A1 Audio Technician in charge of mixing up to 12 IEM mixes as well as FOH for main lounge production shows. He was also in charge of mixing a variety of music acts as well as maintenance of all audio systems on board. His current position as supervisor is traveling the fleet of 26 vessels to ensure company standards are being met for the audio department, which entails conducting trainings and coaching audio technicians on board, advanced trouble shooting of equipment issues, and follow up visits for dry dock and contracted audio work.
At the February Open House, guests will be able to interact with CRAS faculty and get a taste of the curriculum and the state-or-the-art audio gear spread throughout its numerous classrooms as well as its 42-foot Mobile Broadcast Unit. They will also be able to participate in live demonstrations in many of these real world audio recording studios, live sound venue, and labs.
The Conservatory of Recording Arts & Sciences is composed of two nearby campuses in Gilbert and Tempe, Ariz. A CRAS education includes Broadcast Audio, Live Sound, Audio Post for Film and TV, Music Production, Commercial Production and Video Game Audio, all taught by award-winning instructors who have excelled in their individual fields. CRAS’ structured programs, and highly qualified teaching staff, provide a professional and supportive atmosphere, which is complemented by its small class sizes allowing for individual instruction and assistance for students in engineering audio recordings. CRAS has been providing quality vocational training in Audio Recording for more than three decades. The curriculum and equipment are constantly being updated to keep pace with the rapid advancements in the music and sound recording industries. CRAS’ course offerings and subject matter have always centered around the skills and knowledge necessary for students’ success in the Audio Recording industries.
The 11-month program is designed to allow every student access to learn and train in all of the Conservatory’s studios which are comprised with state-of-the-art audio recording and mixing gear, the same equipment used in today’s finest studios and remote broadcast facilities, including Pro Tools 12, API Legacy consoles, SSL G+ and AWS consoles, Studer Vista consoles, and much more. All students must complete a 280-hour industry internship to graduate from the Master Recording Program II that may ultimately lead to industry employment.
“We want everyone to see, hear, and feel how our 11-month program focuses exclusively on what a student needs to know to begin living their passion in any one of the many facets of the Recording Arts,” Hamm concluded.
About The Conservatory of Recording Arts & Sciences
Based in the heart of The Valley of the Sun with two campuses in Gilbert and Tempe, Ariz., The Conservatory of Recording Arts & Sciences (CRAS) is one of the country’s premier institutions for audio education. The Conservatory has developed a unique and highly effective way to help the future audio professional launch their careers in the recording industry and other related professional audio categories.
Signals tech challenges will be on agenda of new commission
Attorney General William Barr made clear Wednesday that one of the issues a new presidential commission will be tackling is the battle with Big Tech over access to devices and the "new obstacles" to law enforcement presented by technology.
Barr was delivering opening remarks for the creation of the President’s Commission on Law Enforcement and the Administration of Justice in Washington Wednesday (Jan. 22).
He pointed out that the last such commission was back in 1965, created by President Lyndon Johnson.
"Much about our world has changed in the decades since President Johnson’s Commission," he said. "The incredible pace of technological change has meant the rapid evolution of new ways to commit and conceal crimes, from the proliferation of synthetic opioids to the use of warrant-proof encryption and the dark web to sexually exploit the most vulnerable members of society."
The issue of accessing iPhones and whether law enforcement should have a back-door route to such data surfaced last week in Barr's press conference on the December 2019 shooting at Pensacola Naval Air Station.
The attorney general, as did law enforcement officials in the Obama Administration, has pressed Apple to provide technological backdoors to help them access information to locked phones, but Apple has balked pointing to privacy issues.
On Dec. 6, Second Lieutenant Mohammed Saeed Alshamrani, a member of the Royal Saudi Air Force training in the U.S., shot and killed three U.S. sailors, and wounded eight other people, before being killed himself. It has been branded an act of terrorism.
Barr cited two Apple iPhones owned by the shooter but damaged during the incident.
CW’s Tuesday dramas drop
NBC got the top score in Tuesday ratings, with This Is Us leading the network to a 1.0 in viewers 18-49, per the Nielsen overnights, and a 5 share. That squeaked by the 0.9/4 that CBS posted.
NBC had Ellen’s Game of Games at 1.0 and This Is Us at 1.4, both level with last week. New Amsterdam slid 13% to 0.7.
On CBS it was NCIS at a flat 1.0 and FBI went up 13% to 0.9, then FBI: Most Wanted fell 13% to 0.7.
Fox and Univision both rated a 0.6/3. Fox had The Resident at 0.7 and Gordon Ramsay’s 24 Hours to Hell and Back at 0.6, both flat.
On Univision it was Ringo down 17% to 0.5 and Amor Eterno up 20% to 0.6, and the premiere of Rubi at 0.6.
ABC got a 0.5/3. The Conners posted a 1.0 and Bless This Mess a 0.6, both comedies flat with their last fresh airings. Mixed-ish and Black-ish both got a 0.5. Mixed-ish lost 29% after last week’s Jeopardy! special lead-in and Black-ish was flat. Emergence lost 25% for a 0.3.
Telemundo rated a 0.4/2. Exatlon Estados Unidos fell 20% for a 0.4 and La Dona was a flat 0.3, then El Senor de los Cielos shot up 33% to 0.4.
The CW scored a 0.3/1. Arrow dropped 40% to 0.3 and DC’s Legends of Tomorrow slid 60% from its season premiere to 0.2.
Olympusat CEO Tom Mohler applauds PlayBox Neo’s completion of a large-scale playout system upgrade for Olympusat, a leading provider of broadcast media services. The project includes the enhancement of 26 servers to the latest-generation Version 19 Channel-in-a-Box Neo, TitleBoxNeo and SafeBox Neo.
"We invested in PlayBox Neo Channel-in-a-Box two years ago with an installation at our engineering center in Culver City, California, and we are very pleased with it," said Olympusat Operations Manager Michael Kohl. "Van Duke and his colleagues at PlayBox Neo worked closely with us during the original install to integrate our existing ad sales management tools. Upgrading to Neo-19 software makes our workflow even more efficient. The PlayBox Neo team has added extra engineering features including support for SCTE commands and N+M redundancy."
Olympusat CEO Tom Mohler congratulated both the Olympusat and Playbox teams for the seamless upgrade process: “I want to thank both sides for their teamwork and professionalism as we continue to deliver high quality content to our network audiences."
Olympusat’s Kohl said PlayBox Neo’s functionality offers increased flexibility and customization: “We control the entire system from our facility in Florida, processing 30 full high-definition channels in the way we have found most effective rather than the way some solutions would have imposed on us. PlayBox Neo gives us the freedom to schedule programs, commercials and promos for fully automated playout. It also allows us to insert additional files or switch to fully live broadcasting on any selected channel at any time."
PlayBox Neo’s US Director of Operations Van Duke noted that flexibility is just one of the system’s key features: "PlayBox Neo servers can be configured from modules such as graphics, up-conversion, down-conversion and IP streaming to match practically any workflow. The Olympusat installation back in 2017 confirmed AirBox Neo's ability to scale up to any number of channels simply by integrating additional servers. Each server has the CPU power to support two full HD channels in a single chassis. Going beyond that, each server even supports four SD channels or a mixed combination of one HD plus two SD channels. The Neo-19 software also offers future-proofing in a world where UHD could eventually co-exist with or even replace HD and SD."
But marathon proceedings get plenty of cable and streaming time beyond broadcast cut-offs
Only about a third of the way into the marathon first day of the Senate trial on whether to remove President Trump from office, the most of the broadcast networks and their affiliates returned to regular broadcast programming for late afternoon and prime time, relying on streaming and cable coverage to carry the load.
The first day was admittedly confined to debate about the trial rules, with a series of Democratic amendments to those rules being debated and voted down by Republicans. But during the amendment process the Dems pretty much laid out their case for impeachment.
The proceedings started at 1 p.m. (Jan. 21) and extended to almost 2 a.m. Tuesday, but by late afternoon Monday local Washington stations were airing their newscasts, then the network news, then syndicated access shows like Wheel, Jeopardy and ET. Then it was regular prime time entertainment fare.
NBC covered the proceedings from 12:30 until 5 p.m., when the Senate took a break, then continued to offer coverage to affiliates until about 7:40. The coverage was live all day on streaming service NBC News NOW.
ABC's network coverage was from about 12:30 to a little after 5, while streaming service ABC News Live (ABCNL) carried it all.
A source familiar with the network's plans says coverage will start on ABC and ABCNL at 1 p.m. ET, and will continue on the network until about 6 p.m., with ABCNL continuing to cover it all.
Fox offered live coverage to its affiliates anchored by Bill Hemmer, though some, like WTTG Washington opted for regular programming on the broadcast net while airing impeachment coverage on their web sites.
CBS was not available for comment at press time about its live coverage, but a source monitoring the nets said it ended about 3 p.m. CBS' streaming service, CBSN, not only covered the impeachment, but several clips of its past news on the issue were featured as evidence by impeachment managers.
Cable news outlets generally went gavel-to-gavel, with some breaks for split-screen commentary or analysis. They captured lots of name calling, a lengthy argument about whether to subpoena witness John Bolton, and an admonition from Chief Justice John Roberts, who is presiding over the trial, for a tad more civility given the venue.
For example, at one point Democratic impeachment manager Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) repeatedly called the Republican defense team liars, which is unusual language for the "cooling saucer" of the Senate, though this is a trial featuring lawyers and House members as well as senators, not normal proceedings where senatorial courtesy generally reigns.
‘Instant Replay’ employed with no cameras in courtroom
With camera’s not allowed in the courtroom, Court TV said it plans to cover the Harvey Weinstein rape trial by having voice actors record testimony as it happens.
The network is using what it calls ‘Court TV Instant Replay’ to bring the case to viewers. The actors will reach trial transcripts, statements and exchanges verbatim as they happen. The audio will be supplemented with images of the trial participants who are speaking.
Courtroom sketches, exclusive interviews with players in the case, and in-depth analysis by the country’s brightest attorneys, most experienced investigators and experts also provide legal insight and perspectives into the proceedings.
Court TV Instant Replay is our commitment to viewers to quickly turnaround and bring to life the critical moments of the trial,” said Court TV senior VP Scott Tufts.“These innovative presentations will combine with the expertise and reporting of our leading team of legal journalists and behind-the-scenes personnel to give consumers an immersive viewing experience of the Weinstein trial they will not get anywhere else.”
Court TV petitioned the court for media access to the Weinstein trial, but was denied.
For Court TV, part of the E.W. Scripps Co., Seema Iyer and Vinnie Politan will be anchoring Weinstein trial coverage live from the network’s studios in New York.
Court TV has conducted interviews in the case with Weinstein accusers Hope D’Amore, Heather Kerr, Kadian Nobel, Lauren Sivan and Dominique Huett; Weinstein attorneys Donna Rotunno and Damon Cheronis; Gloria Allred, who represents many of the accusers and defense expert Dr. Elizabeth Loftus.
More Jada Pinkett Smith, plus Gloria Estefan and family
Facebook Watch said it made a new deal with Jada Pinkett Smith and Westbrook Studios that will keep the daytime series Red Table Talk on the platform for three years and extend the franchise with a new series featuring musician Gloria Estefan and her family.
Red Table Talk features three generations of women from one family discussion timely social and personal issues with celebrity guests and experts.
“We’ve been fortunate enough to be in business with such wonderful partners and are thrilled to expand the Red Table Talk franchise with Jada Pinkett Smith, the Estefans and Westbrook Studios,” said Mina Lefevre, head of development & programming for Facebook Watch. “Red Table Talk is a shining example of how content, community and conversation come together on Facebook Watch. We’re proud to keep this conversation going around topics our fans care about.”
Red Table Talk is produced by Westbrook Studios with Jada Pinkett Smith, Ellen Rakieten, Miguel Melendez and Jack Mori serving as executive producers.
Red Table Talk with the Pinkett Smith family features Jada Pinkett Smith her daughter Willow Smith and month Adrienne Banfield Norris.
“I’m incredibly proud of Red Table Talk, and thrilled to build upon this franchise with my family and with Gloria, Emily and Lili,” said Pinkett Smith. “Red Table Talk has created a space to have open, honest and healing conversations around social and topical issues, and what’s most powerful for me is hearing people’s stories and engaging with our fans in such a tangible way on the Facebook Watch platform. I’m excited to see the Estefans put their spin on the franchise and take it to new places.”
Red Table Talk: The Estefans will feature Gloria Estefan, her daughter Emily Estefan, a rising musician, and her niece Lili Estefan, a daytime Emmy Award winner.
“I’m incredibly excited to carry the Red Table Talk torch with my family in Miami,” said Estefan. “Jada and I have spoken about this a lot and feel my daughter, niece and I can tackle issues important to us and our fans with a new and fresh voice. Jada has done this incredibly and continues to do with her family in their candid, intimate, and groundbreaking conversations at the iconic Red Table.”
Replaces old benchmark that mandated 70% of movie or TV episode must be watched before it could be counted
Continuing to play by its own rules and metrics, Netflix said Tuesday that it has changed its benchmark for a counting views to whether a user sat through at least two minutes of the content.
In its fourth-quarter letter to shareholders, the leading streaming platform said that it’s moving on from the old methodology, which based a content view on whether the user watched at least 70% of a movie or TV show episode.
For more stories like this, visit our sister publication Next TV.
That means that the threshold for counting viewership for Martin Scorsese’s latest mob opus, clocking in at 209 minutes, just got reduced from 146.3 minutes to two.
In its shareholder missive, Netflix executives conceded that the change will increase the amount of viewership it repots to the public.
“The new metric is about 35% higher on average than the prior metric,” Netflix executives said. “For example, 45 million member households chose to watch Our Planet under the new metric vs. 33 million under the prior metric.”
Netflix said two minutes of viewing is "long enough to indicate the choice was intentional.”
Since Netflix doesn’t sell commercial time, it’s hard to gauge the impact the change will have. Certainly, it will make it more difficult for media-tech news sites like this one to reference prior benchmarks, given those examples have been rendered apples to the newly created two-minute oranges.
“Our new methodology is similar to the BBC iPlayer in their rankings based on ‘requests’ for the title, ‘most popular’ articles on the New York Times, which include those who opened the articles, and YouTube view counts. This way, short and long titles are treated equally, leveling the playing field for all types of our content including interactive content, which has no fixed length,” Netflix executives said in their letter.
Technically savvy leader to help organizations shift into modern media workflows that connect deeper with audiences and customers
Paris, France – January 22, 2020 – Dalet, a leading provider of solutions and services for broadcasters and content professionals, today announced the appointment of Matthew Carter as Head of Sales UK, Benelux and South Africa. Carter, who led global sales engineering for the recently acquired Ooyala Flex Media Platform business, will spearhead Dalet sales initiatives with oversight of Dalet market strategy, customer workflow design and implementation of both Dalet Galaxy five and Ooyala Flex Media Platform in these key territories.
“We’re in the midst of a media revolution. The increasing appetite for personalized, on-demand content is challenging business models everywhere. Traditional media, sports organizations, corporate brands, and agencies need to adapt to the changing market dynamics and position themselves to take advantage of the unprecedented level of opportunities available today to engage consumers. They need to evolve their media strategy,” states Stéphane Schlayen, chief operating officer, Dalet. “Matthew has the proven technical breadth and depth and business acumen required to successfully architect our customers’ ambitious digital transformations. His expertise will help businesses across market verticals modernize their media operations, deepening viewer and customer engagement as well as take advantage of entirely new revenue streams. We welcome Matthew into his new role and have the utmost confidence in his success.”
An experienced industry executive, Carter has a comprehensive understanding of media workflows and operational business needs across production, post-production, corporate and broadcast. His sound guidance has helped world-renowned clients like Smoke and Mirrors reduce content delivery times to its customers by as much as 85%, and Sky Sports automate the distribution of Premier League highlights to syndication partners in near-real-time with incredible SLA accuracy.
“With video content so ubiquitous across platforms and its consumption growing at an incredible pace, media companies have more opportunities than ever to leverage technology and grow their businesses. However, it all comes down to selecting the right mix of technologies and deploying the right workflow design to capitalize on the potential,” comments Carter. “The Dalet suite of solutions enables media companies to own the entire multiplatform production and delivery content supply chain. The powerful combination of Dalet Galaxy five and Ooyala Flex Media Platform delivers an unparalleled level of functionality. Combined with our consulting and change management expertise, we can help our customers innovate their operations and bring to fruition their bold business plans,” Carter concludes, “With the explosion of content creation, it is truly an exciting time to be in media and I look forward to working with our customers to revolutionize their businesses.”
About Matthew Carter
An accomplished technologist and business strategist, Carter has held senior leadership and technical roles with Ooyala since 2012, overseeing pre-sales, software engineering, and project delivery functions that optimized customer media supply chains. Prior to Ooyala, Carter was a consultant with Accenture working across multiple market sectors including media and entertainment where he transitioned ITV to an innovative tapeless workflow. You can contact Matthew Carter directly at [email protected]
About Dalet Digital Media Systems
Dalet solutions and services enable media organisations to create, manage and distribute content faster and more efficiently, fully maximising the value of assets. Based on an agile foundation, Dalet offers rich collaborative tools empowering end-to-end workflows for news, sports, program preparation, post-production, archives and enterprise content management, radio, education, governments and institutions.
Dalet platforms are scalable and modular. They offer targeted applications with key capabilities to address critical functions of small to large media operations - such as planning, workflow orchestration, ingest, cataloguing, editing, chat & notifications, transcoding, play out automation, multi-platform distribution and analytics.
In July 2019, Dalet announced the acquisition of the Ooyala Flex Media Platform business. An acceleration of the company’s mission, the move brings tremendous value to existing Dalet and Ooyala customers, opening vast opportunities for OTT & digital distribution.
Dalet solutions and services are used around the world at hundreds of content producers and distributors, including public broadcasters (BBC, CBC, France TV, RAI, TV2 Denmark, RFI, Russia Today, RT Malaysia, SBS Australia, VOA), commercial networks and operators (Canal+, FOX, MBC Dubai, Mediacorp, Fox Sports Australia, Turner Asia, Mediaset, Orange, Charter Spectrum, Warner Bros, Sirius XM Radio), sporting organisations (National Rugby League, FIVB, Bundesliga) and government organisations (UK Parliament, NATO, United Nations, Veterans Affairs, NASA).
Dalet is traded on the NYSE-EURONEXT stock exchange (Eurolist C): ISIN: FR0011026749, Bloomberg DLT:FP, Reuters: DALE.PA.
Dalet® is a registered trademark of Dalet Digital Media Systems. All other products and trademarks mentioned herein belong to their respective owners.
For more information on Dalet, visit www.dalet.com.
Fremont, CA - January 22, 2020 - Blackmagic Design announced today that EFILM Senior Colorist Skip Kimball used DaVinci Resolve Studio to grade Twentieth Century Fox’s “Ford vs Ferrari.”
Directed by James Mangold, the film follows the true story of car designer Carroll Shelby (Matt Damon) and test driver Ken Miles (Christian Bale) as they work to build a revolutionary sports car for Ford Motor Company in their bid to outperform Ferrari at the 1966 24 Hours of Le Mans.
Cinematographer Phedon Papamichael looked to earlier inspiration for the look of the film, in particular the 1966 “Grand Prix” starring James Garner. “Grand Prix was a classic cinemascope, 70mm Kodak picture, and I just loved the framing and simplicity of it. Back then, they didn’t have this technology of tracking cars with fancy cranes and drones… It was very important to us to convey that these little machines are just a few nuts and bolts holding together this gigantic engine. Not really having braking ability, and the danger and the intensity of what it’s like in a race car.”
Despite the film’s setting in the mid 1960’s, Kimball and Papamichael, who had worked together on three previous projects, were resistant to creating a “vintage” look out of the box. Instead, they developed a unique LUT early in the process. “We developed the show LUT during camera testing,” said Kimball. “It was important that the film evoke a period feeling without feeling like an old movie.”
Typical practices of desaturation or “aging” would not be acceptable. Kimball wanted the film to feel like the 60’s, as if actually there. During pre-production, Kimball researched classic styles from a variety of sources. “I often referred to my father’s old car magazines from the period. This gave me a great sense for the look of the time, that the car manufacturers, marketing people and photographers designed.”
Throughout the film, the style adjusts based on the setting as well, from the Ferrari factory to the race at Le Mans. “The early scenes of the Ferrari factory have a dreamy quality compared to the more steely and industrial feel of the Ford Factory,” said Kimball. “This compliments the different philosophies the manufacturers had. Shelby’s garage is a blend between the two.” And while the period affected the style of the film, Kimball found inspiration from other sources as well. “’The Godfather’ was a huge inspiration for Lee Iacocca’s negotiation with Enzo Ferrari.”
DaVinci Resolve played a critical role not only in grading the film but also enabling fast reviews and continuous visual effects updates. Conformed in Resolve, “Ford vs Ferrari” relied on EFILM conform editor Tashi Trieu to keep up with the cut and provide director James Mangold the ability to audition looks and versions easily. “Because it was conformed natively in Resolve, we could offer our clients complete flexibility in the DI theater,” said Kimball. “
When the director and picture editor Mike McCusker wanted to experiment with the timing of a particular VFX sequence, we could audition edits right there.” Changes could be tested on the big screen, and accompanied by the surround sound mix, allowing them to truly evaluate looks and changes in a high quality environment.
Kimball took advantage of Resolve’s native tools in a variety of ways. Shot on at least seven different camera flavors, Resolve’s resolution independence allowed Kimball to work with all footage in their RAW format, and 15 different sizing procedures. Resolve’s Camera Shake tool was used frequently to help match the energy between shots, sometimes adding to what VFX was already doing.
“Ford vs Ferrari” presented the team with a variety of challenges, but none more challenging than the final race at Le Mans. Shot across five different locations, the diverse footage required Kimball to match the characteristics of the light, the sky and the time of day. “The scene is so intense and exciting and, like Ken Miles, all anyone should be focused on is the race,” Kimball explained. “Jim was insistent that the look never go over the top. He’s such an experienced filmmaker that he sticks with subtle details, in line with the nuances of photorealism.”
Mangold had a clear vision for the sequence and had very specific direction throughout. “That whole sequence is a product of our combined inspirations and experimenting with different looks together.”
Product photos of DaVinci Resolve Studio as well as all other Blackmagic Design products, are available at www.blackmagicdesign.com/media/images.
About Blackmagic Design
Blackmagic Design creates the world’s highest quality video editing products, digital film cameras, color correctors, video converters, video monitoring, routers, live production switchers, disk recorders, waveform monitors and real time film scanners for the feature film, post production and television broadcast industries. Blackmagic Design’s DeckLink capture cards launched a revolution in quality and affordability in post production, while the company’s Emmy™ award winning DaVinci color correction products have dominated the television and film industry since 1984. Blackmagic Design continues ground breaking innovations including 6G-SDI and 12G-SDI products and stereoscopic 3D and Ultra HD workflows. Founded by world leading post production editors and engineers, Blackmagic Design has offices in the USA, UK, Japan, Singapore and Australia. For more information, please go to www.blackmagicdesign.com.
Executives from CBS Interactive, NBCU Telemundo, WarnerMedia, Disney, Newsy, PBS, Fox TV and Sinclair Broadcast Group will receive the awards.
NEW YORK: Broadcasting+Cable has announced the full list of executives who will receive its annual Technology Leadership Awards.
B+C has been giving these awards, which are one of the most prestigious tech awards in the TV industry, since 1999 to honor individuals who have made an important and innovative contributions to the way TV, digital and streaming media companies use technology in their businesses.
B+C announced the first round of award winners earlier. This week the magazine is proud to round out the 2020 class of Tech Leadership Award Winners with five additional Award winners. These are:
Executive Vice President, Technology Solutions
Walt Disney Television
Executive Vice President, Monetization & Data Platforms
WarnerMedia Technology and Operations
Executive Vice President & CTO,
The Walt Disney Company, Direct-to-Consumer & International
Vice President of Engineering & Operations
WAGA-TV (FOX TV-owned station in Atlanta)
They join the five winners previously announced by Kent Gibbons, Content Director, Broadcasting+Cable.
Director of Next Gen TV Implementation
ONE Media 3.0 - Sinclair Broadcast Group
Vice President, Production, Media and Distribution Operations
PBS Technology and Operations
Senior Vice President, Engineering, CBS Sports Digital
Senior Vice President of Operations and Technology
NBCUniversal Telemundo Enterprises
Vice President of NY Engineering & Strategic Initiatives
WarnerMedia Technology and Operations
The award winners will be profiled in the Feb. 17 issue of B+C and receive their awards at an Awards Dinner on March 5 during the annual Technology Leadership Summit in Atlanta, Georgia.
Their full bios can be found at: https://www.technologyleadershipsummit.com/awards.
The awards will be presented at this year’s Technology Leadership Summit, which is put on by Future plc titles Broadcasting+Cable, TV Technology and Multichannel News.
In addition to receiving their awards at the March 5 award dinner, the winners will sit on panels at the Summit.
With panels on the newest developments on cloud, AI and IP technologies as well as discussions of news, sports and streaming operations, this conference designed to help executives at stations, networks and digital companies deploy new technologies and strategies for the future of their businesses.
During the Summit, leading technologists, including the award winners, will share their expertise on new technologies and explain how they are using new technologies to build new business, cut costs and boost profits.
In addition to the panels, attendees will have complimentary access to the award dinner, where they can meet and mingle with the winners and colleagues, as well as free hotel rooms and meals. Attendees must be approved by the organizers and attendance is limited to a relatively small number of technologists.
To apply for access to the Summit or to get more information on the agenda or sponsorship opportunities see: https://www.technologyleadershipsummit.com/.
And more from Promo Mojo, our exclusive weekly ranking of the programming networks are promoting most heavily
B+C has partnered with always-on TV ad measurement and attribution company iSpot.tv to bring you a weekly chart we call Promo Mojo: exclusive data showing the top five TV promos ranked by ad impressions. These are the shows networks have been promoting most heavily to drive tune-in (our data covers the seven-day period through Jan. 19).
On the strength of 285.5 million TV ad impressions, the promo for Investigation Discovery’s Aaron Hernandez: An ID Murder Mystery tops our chart. Just like last time, cable networks own three-fifths of our ranking, with ID joined by National Geographic in third place for Brain Games and Paramount Network in fifth for 68 Whiskey.
Notably, the Aaron Hernandez spot earns the highest iSpot Attention Index (153) in our ranking, getting 53% fewer interruptions than the average promo (interruptions include changing the channel, pulling up the guide, fast-forwarding or turning off the TV).
London, 22 January 2020 – Imagen, the leading SaaS video management platform business, has been chosen by the International Tennis Federation (ITF), the world governing body of tennis, to manage and distribute its extensive content archive of 15,000 assets dating back to the 1940s from the Davis Cup and Fed Cup competitions.
Following a project in which the ITF digitised its content catalogue, which previously existed only in physical copies across multiple formats, including VHS, betacam, SD and HD tapes and 2K film, the ITF engaged Imagen to store, manage and share its content in order to generate more value from its assets and actively commercialise content. The Imagen content portal provides the ITF’s internal teams with instant access to high-resolution video from its entire archive.
A key benefit for the ITF is quick access to the archive when trying to manage and access footage. The platform allows the Federation to distribute content to its partners, manage clip sales and asset licensing, and leverage archive content for digital campaigns to maximise its value.
Imagen Media Logger allows the ITF to apply time-based metadata to its video, making it quicker and easier to search for specific types of clip, including fan reactions, bench moments or aces. The metadata functionality therefore drastically reduces the time it takes for the ITF to deliver content to clients and has allowed for faster reaction time internally to events happening across tennis. This allows the ITF’s social and digital teams to capitalise on the exposure of an event in the moment, particularly with short form clips.
The customisable platform enables the ITF to target certain clients with relevant content. In future, the platform will allow the ITF to provide access to content to its member nations in order for them to use it for regional promotional materials.
Kelly Fairweather, ITF Chief Operating Officer said: “Imagen was the clear market leader in this field and offered a wealth of expertise and knowledge when it came to getting this project underway. Imagen listened to what we aspired to achieve with this project and came up with a bespoke solution that we felt was ideal and has allowed us to exploit the maximum benefit from our content.”
Charlie Horrell, CEO, Imagen, added: “With extensive experience of working with other sporting bodies, we have in-depth knowledge of how organisations like the ITF use content and its value to their businesses. Thanks to this we were able to ensure we catered to the ITF’s exact needs, whilst also introducing them to other services and ideas which have worked for other clients.”
The Switch, a leading provider of production services and global delivery of live video, has announced it is partnering with Turkish news agency New TR to add crucial Middle Eastern and European news hotspots to its global transmission network while enabling the Istanbul-based organization to extend its own global reach.
· The Switch gains access to Middle Eastern and European news hotspots to provide live feeds of breaking events
· Ensures Turkish news agency partner gets stories on air fast and takes its content global, while leveraging The Switch’s studios in New York and London
New York – January 22, 2020 – The Switch, a leading provider of production services and global delivery of live video, announces it is partnering with Turkish news agency New TR to add crucial Middle Eastern and European news hotspots to its global transmission network while enabling the Istanbul-based organization to extend its own global reach. The agreement allows both organizations to acquire and distribute live feeds between the Turkish agency’s new Istanbul teleport and The Switch’s London facility.
The deal gives The Switch’s clients greater access to key news hubs in the Middle East and Europe, while giving New TR the capacity to cover international events in markets where it does not have a network presence on the ground. The Switch can now easily connect to any of New TR’s facilities across the Middle East and Europe to carry news to broadcasters in the US, Canada, UK and other countries while, for distribution in its key markets, New TR can receive content from any location in The Switch’s extensive global network.
“Getting breaking news to viewers first is critical and this agreement enables The Switch to help our media customers gain easy, fast access to stories from the strategic Middle East region,” says Nicholas Castaneda, Senior Vice President of Sales, The Switch. “The partnership with New TR also allows them to leverage our global network reach and connectivity to deliver news from many locations, while their services can also reach new markets more readily.”
Thanks to the agreement, the Turkish news agency has access to global connectivity and network connections to 800+ of the world’s leading broadcasters and content providers, while The Switch’s customers now have access to more live feeds from across the Middle East. New TR operates an international team of journalists, producers and cameramen in locations that include Algiers, Doha, Dubai, Jeddah, Riyadh and Kuwait City, as well as Moscow, Brussels, Paris, London and Washington.
To keep critical news content flowing without delay, The Switch is providing two dedicated transmission paths between its London hub and New TR’s Istanbul facility, plus a return path from Istanbul to London. New TR is also able to leverage The Switch’s fully equipped studios in New York and London for live inserts and breaking news events.
“Working with The Switch gives us unprecedented reach and enables us to grow our customer base,” Jihad Asmar, Director, New TR notes. “Our agency provides a range of content services – from breaking news stories to investigative reporting, from live event coverage to multi-camera studio shows for broadcasters around the world. The Switch’s experience handling live feeds and robust network performance ensure we can deliver flawless feeds to media outlets and online platforms. This is a valuable partnership that will help us maximize our position in the gateway between the Middle East and Europe.”
The partnership follows similar deals The Switch has forged recently with EI Towers, a leading provider of network infrastructure and services for broadcasters in Italy, and MTI Teleport, Germany’s leading media backbone operator.
Castaneda adds: “This partnership with New TR is an important milestone for us as we continue to extend the global reach of The Switch network. By leveraging key partnerships across Europe we can open up new opportunities for our clients, giving them access to our unmatched services as they meet the growing demand for live sports, news and event coverage.”
About The Switch
In the action-packed world of live video production and distribution, The Switch is always on and always there – setting the industry benchmark for quality, reliability and unmatched levels of service. Founded in 1991 and headquartered in New York, The Switch has been connecting viewers around the world to live events for almost three decades, bringing them the content they want across linear TV, on-demand and streaming platforms, on multiple screens and devices.
Our comprehensive production platform combines mobile and remote services to enable our customers to cost-effectively capture, edit and package compelling live coverage. Our global delivery network connects production facilities with 800+ of the world’s largest content producers, distributors, and sports and event venues – seamlessly linking rights holders, broadcasters, streaming platforms, media outlets and web services and turning on live content across the world.
About New TR
New TR News Agency is an international news agency. Our agency offers both news gathering and satellite transmission services from various locations. New TR has more than 20 offices in the world. New TR News Agency tries to be always present in the world’s hot spots to cover events and big stories. Our cameramen, staff and crews are able to respond immediately to the customer’s needs and requirements to ensure quick access to hot or breaking news. New TR also continues to work in MENA, Europe, Asia and America and supplies SNG and studios as well as political, economic, sport and cultural news packages. We arrange fiber connectivity, Turnaround, IP Streaming, Microwave, signal conversion, between any point till its client and coordinate all troubleshoot through its well experienced staff. Our aim is to carve our place among the leading news agencies in the world.
For more information please visit www.newtr.tv
For further press information, please contact:
+44 207 486 4900
Cologne – January 22, 2020 - Make.TV, a division of LTN Global, used by leaders in news, esports, sports and entertainment to handle live video in the cloud, has today announced that Germany’s Cologne Broadcasting Centre (CBC) will be deploying Live Video Cloud for its popular nightly live talk show, ‘I’m a Celebrity... Get Me Out of Here - the Hour After’. CBC will use Make.TV’s cloud solution to simplify the show’s production management by streamlining remote live video contributions from guests across the world. The show is being broadcast across the country’s leading free-to-air channels RTL and RTL Plus from the 11th to 27th of January 2020.
CBC is part of Mediengruppe RTL Deutschland and provides production to several television channels including RTL and RTL Plus. Following the popularity of ‘I’m a Celebrity … Get Me Out of Here!’ (Ich bin ein Star - Holt mich hier raus!) RTL recognised the potential of running an after-show and began to produce and broadcast the ‘Die Stunde Danach (The Hour After)’ programme from the Cologne studio in 2018. Last year the live nightly talk show attracted on average of 2.29 million people.
In The Hour After, three celebrity guests provide exclusive insights into what is happening with the contestants. Using Live Video Cloud’s Web Real-Time Communications (WebRTC) feature, experts from various fields as well as friends and partners of the contestants will join the Cologne studio via a live feed to try to classify and explain the social behaviour of the participants. The transmission control of the multiple live streams will be managed by CBC’s editorial team in Live Video Cloud’s Multiview.
“By bringing in live feeds of friends, partners and family as well as field experts into the show’s format, we can provide our fans with exclusive insights into their favourite celebrities,” says Mido Fayad, Director Production & Broadcast Operation at CBC. “With Live Video Cloud, our production team simply has to send a URL link to remote participants to start a live video feed - this avoids the need for sending out SNG cars, disclose personal credentials by our celebrities or having participants download a dedicated app”.
“This show has a very strong appeal in Germany and attracts significant viewership figures, so we’re pleased that our solution is being used for a crucial element of the show’s format,“ says Andreas Jacobi, co-founder and CEO of Make.TV. “This is a strong example of how cloud infrastructure is evolving production, giving operators an uncomplicated, flexible and a cost-effective approach to live video management without compromising on quality.”
Make.TV’s Live Video Cloud opens pathways for video to be shared between content creators, producers, programmers and advertisers with scale, speed and relevance not previously possible. It makes it easy to acquire content quickly, handle remote production and deliver content across broadcast, online and social media networks.
Channel features stories from local O&O markets
The ABC Owned Television Stations plan to rebrand their Live Well digital broadcast network to Localish, the group’s local storytelling initiative.
The change is effective Feb. 17.
With a broadcast home, Localish will be expanding from short-form series into long-form programming. Localish will also continue to debut stories on its website, localish.com.
“We first launched Localish as a reflection of our deep commitment to the communities we serve,” said Wendy McMahon, president, ABC Owned Television Stations. “The resonance of Localish’s storytelling has enabled us to forge connections with a new generation of viewers. We’re excited to start this next chapter of the brand and give our viewers even more ways to live like a local.”
ABC introduced Localish in 2018.
The series that will make up the initial programming on Localish include:
⦁ More In Common: Inspiring stories of Americans who come together despite their differences
⦁ All Good: Escape from negative news and discover the people trying to make a positive change in their communities.
⦁ Secretly Awesome: Whether you’re a local or a visitor, we introduce you to spots the locals love.
⦁ My Go-To: Your go-to places to be, people to see and things to do
⦁ Bite Size: Highlighting the most unique dishes from local restaurants, bars and festivals
⦁ Worth the Wait: We’re seeking out the longest lines in America to determine if they’re worth the wait.
⦁ Pumped: Uncover the latest and greatest fitness trends across America.
⦁ Glam Lab: Watch us test out the newest products and trends in beauty and self-care.
⦁ Out of Office: We are currently out of office; enjoy watching these vacation videos on your work computer.
⦁ Stroke of Genius: Finding the inspiration behind America’s most talented artists.
Despite new rivals, earnings, revenues rise
Netflix said it added 8.8 million additional global subscribers as net income and revenue rose in the fourth quarter.
Net income was $587 million, or $1.30 per share, compared to $134 million, or 30 cents a share, a year ago. The company said as average revenue per subscriber rose 12%.
Revenue rose to $5.467 billion, up 31%.
The results come amid added competition in the streaming arena, most recently from Apple’s Apple TV+ and The Walt Disney Co.’s Disney+. Heavy hitters AT&T and Comcast will be entering the market this year with new services.
Netflix added only 420,000 subscribers in the U.S.
For more stories like this, visit sister publication Next TV.
“Our low membership growth in [the United States and Canada] is probably due to our recent price changes and to US competitive launches,” Netflix said in its letter to shareholders. “We have seen more muted impact from competitive launches outside the US (NL, CA, AU). As always, we are working hard to improve our service to combat these factors and push net adds higher over time.”
For the first quarter, Netflix is forecasting adding another seven million subscribers worldwide, which bring its total to 174 million.
It sees first quarter earnings hitting $750 million, or $1.66 a share and revenues increasing to $5.731 billion, up 26%.
The guidance and domestic sub trends were below Wall Street expectations.
"Netflix continues to lead the way among all streamers with a deep slate of original content," said Neil Begley, senior VP and lead Netflix analyst at Moody's Investors Service. "Continued growth in Q4 was fueled by strong international subscriber additions, bringing the company to over 167 million subscribers at the end of 2019. We believe the company remains on track to reach 200 million global subscribers in Q1 2021, along with steadily improving margins and declining negative cash flows."
The company said that Witcher, launched in the fourth quarter, was tracking to be Netflix’s biggest season one TV series. Through its first four weeks of release, 76 million households had watched.
“We have a big headstart in streaming and will work to build on that by focusing on the same thing we have focused on for the past 22 years - pleasing members,” Netflix said in its shareholder letter. “We believe if we do that well, Netflix will continue to prosper. As an example, in Q4, despite the big debut of Disney+ and the launch of Apple TV+, our viewing per membership grew both globally and in the US on a year over year basis, consistent with recent quarters,”
Netflix noted that there were more searches for Witcher than there were for Disney+’s The Mandalorian, Apple’s Morning Show or Amazon’s Jack Ryan.
Exec part of Viacom for 20 years
Amy Doyle is leaving her position as general manager of MTV, VH1, CMT and Logo. She’s been with parent Viacom since 1999. She will move on in the spring.
Published reports said the decision to move on was Doyle’s. She is known as a key ally to Chris McCarthy, president of MTV, VH1, CMT and Logo. McCarthy informed staff in a memo January 21. He saluted Doyle for building teams, championing talent and being an advocate for female voices.
Doyle has been a vital player in the Viacom networks’ events, including the VMAs. McCarthy credited Doyle for bringing the likes of Beyonce, Adele and Queen Latifah to the stages of the networks.
Doyle was named general manager of the four networks three years ago.
Said McCarthy in his memo, “She is a huge champion of our brands, our social impact work and each of you – she has helped shape the heart and soul of the company and for that we thank her dearly.”
RIAA advised he seek answers individually
FCC commissioner Michael O'Rielly has reached out to some major music companies to ask what they are doing to protect against payola, which is exchanging something of value for broadcast airplay. O'Rielly also suggests that the fact those restrictions don't apply to streaming or Internet radio is problematic.
Last September, O'Rielly asked the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) about reports of possible violations of federal anti-payola laws and regs, but was told the he needed to reach out to individual members.
He has now done so.
In letters to the heads of Sony Music Entertainment, Universal Music Group, and Warner Music Group, O'Rielly said that "even the most cursory review of consumer complaints and assertions provides cause for concern regarding the persistence of payola."
O'Rielly, who is not fan of government overregulation, said he was not saying payola restrictions were perfect, including that they applied to radio but not to streaming, Internet radio or podcasts.
He said that "asymmetry" clearly impacts the radio industry's financial well-being and perhaps even "long-term sustainability."
He also said that compliance is tough given that radio companies deliver content "via multiple platforms and methods."
He said in the interests of better understanding those challenges, he wants to know what mechanisms are in place to prevent payola.
He asked for answers to the following questions by the end of February.
1. "As technologies become more complex and incite platforms other than traditional over-the-air broadcasting, what types of arrangements exist between your company and radio broadcast stations for song placement and frequency of air time?
a. "In this context, how does your organization define payola and what specific practices does it deem to be in violation of federal law and FCC regulations?
b. "Does your organization deem the solicitation of artist appearances and performances with implied or express benefits, or pressures against non-participation. as legally prohibited?
2. "What specific procedures have you developed, adopted, and implemented to ensure that payola, as defined by federal law, does not occur within your organization?
a. "What oversight protections do you have in place to report violations and verify compliance?
b. "Are company employees required to be trained in payola prohibitions and potential penalties?
3. "Are you aware of any individual or company, in partnership with, or associated with your organization, that has provided or sought to provide monetary benefit, service, or other consideration in violation of current payola prohibitions in the last five years?
a. "If yes, how was the conduct addressed?
b. "Have any of your organization’s employees, partnerships, or associations been terminated or disciplined due to potential or actual payola violations?
c. "Please provide specific details of any such instances.
4. "In the last five years, how many times have you or your organization directed a radio broadcast station to include a notification in a broadcast pursuant to the payola statutory provisions?
5. "Where do you see the greatest risk for potential violations within the recording industry as it interacts with ever-changing audio distribution technologies, including the radio broadcast industry’?
6. "Have existing federal statutes and the relevant internal compliance processes worked to restrict payola?
a. "Where do you see weaknesses in the current approach or need for reform to target and address any remaining violators? "
Hisense to pre-load streaming service on sets sold in Mexico
Tubi said it is launching its ad-supported streaming service in Mexico working with TV Azteca, a major producer of Spanish-language programming.
Tubi’s streaming service will be pre-loaded on TV sets made by Hisense in Mexico, where Hisense’s Vidaa platform will be Tubi’s exclusive connected TV partner.
“We’re thrilled to collaborate with a world-class partner and, together with TV Azteca, launch a new free streaming home to some of Mexico’s most celebrated television franchises,” said Tubi CEO Farhad Massoudi. “Our expansion into Latin America is just beginning and we look forward to announcing additional territories in the future.”
TV Azteca will handle advertising sales in Mexico and promote Tubi on its broadcast, online and other properties.
Some of TV Azteca’s most popular shows will be available free to Tubi customer in Mexico.
“As part of TV Azteca’s transformation towards the future, we are looking forward to enhancing our distribution and make the best television productions available to a broader audience via Tubi,” said Alberto Ciurana, chief content & distribution officer for TV Azteca. “We are excited to be part of the construction of a more connected and technological Mexican audience.”
Hisense will be giving Tubi prominent placement on the Vidaa TV homepage and promote the streaming service in-store and on packaging, including with Elektra stores, which are owned by TV Azteca.
“Providing users with access to the best free content locally in every market and from all over the world is one of the key goals of our platform, and Tubi is a great partner for this,” said Guy Edri, executive VP of business development for Hisense’s Vidaa platform. “The vast library of amazing content, provided by Tubi, is a great addition to our platform and will be a great benefit to consumers in Mexico. They will provide hours of high-quality entertainment in their language to buyers of Hisense TVs and will be completely free, which is a unique proposition not only in Mexico, but also globally.”
Would modify Espionage Act
Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) said he is working on legislation to protect reporters from prosecution.
That came in a tweet Tuesday (Jan. 21).
According to Khanna's office, the bill would amend the Espionage Act to prevent it from being used to indict journalists. It was prompted by the indictment of Wiki-leaker Julianne Assange, who was charged under the Espionage Act.
"The Trump administration charging Assange opened up a chilling effect on journalism," Khanna told CBS News.
Season nine of competition series goes down this summer
American Ninja Warrior returns to NBC this summer for season nine. Production begins in the spring. The competition series will shoot in Los Angeles, Washington, D.C. and St. Louis, before the finals happen in Las Vegas.
Matt Iseman and Akbar Gbajabiamila host and the sideline reporter is Zuri Hall.
Drew Drechsel won the last season of American Ninja Warrior.
Last summer the show averaged a 1.1 in viewers 18-49, per the Nielsens, and 5.4 million total viewers in live plus seven day Nielsens.
Ninja Warrior is based on Sasuke, from Tokyo Broadcasting System Television. It is executive produced by A. Smith & Co. Productions’ founders Arthur Smith and Kent Weed. Brian Richardson, Anthony Storm and Kristen Stabile are also executive producers.
NBC has not announced a season premiere date.
Healthy growth for ‘AGT: The Champions’ on NBC
ABC won prime ratings Sunday, as The Bachelor paced the net to a 1.5 in viewers 18-49, per the Nielsen overnights, and a 7 share. That easily topped the 0.9/4 that NBC posted.
The Bachelor shot up 19% to 1.9 from 8 to 10 p.m. and The Good Doctor grew 13% to 0.9.
NBC had two hours of America’s Got Talent: The Champions up 22% to 1.1 and Manifest at a level 0.7.
Fox got a 0.8/4 and CBS a 0.7/3. On Fox it was the debut of 9-1-1: Lone Star, with Rob Lowe and Liv Tyler, and Prodigal Son at its usual 0.7.
On CBS it was The Neighborhood down 11% at 0.8 and Bob Hearts Abishola down 25% at 0.6. All Rise went up 20% to 0.6 and Bull was a flat 0.6.
Univision rated a 0.5/2 and Telemundo a 0.4/2. On Univision, it was 0.5s for Ringo and Amor Eterno and the El Dragon finale. Ringo was flat while Amor lost a tenth and El Dragon gained a tenth.
On Telemundo, the premiere of Exatlon Estados Unidos got a 0.5 and La Dona went up 33% to 0.4. El Senor de los Cielos got a flat 0.4.
The CW scored a 0.2/1. All American and Black Lightning both did a 0.2. All American was flat and Black Lightning lost a tenth.
Cheryl Idell named executive VP
Snap executive Cheryl Idell has been hired as executive VP and chief research officer of WarnerMedia Entertainment & Direct-to-Consumer.
Idell will be in charge of centralizing expertise in viewership, content and strategic market research, insights and analytics. That includes all aspects of research for HBO Max.
“As the evolution of video consumption continues to move at a rapid pace, staying at the forefront of technology, consumer trends and future capabilities is imperative for our success. Cheryl’s background in technology and entertainment makes her the perfect candidate to lead our research teams and build an industry-leading research practice that will take us into the future,” said Bob Greenblatt, chairman, WarnerMedia Entertainment and Direct to Consumer.
Idell will report to Greenblatt.
As Snap, Idell served as head of U.S. Vertical Measurement. Before that she was with media agency Mindshare, Nielsen, 20th Century Fox, IAG Research and Initiative Media.
“I could not be more excited about the opportunity to work for Bob and alongside the exceptional executives and creators at WarnerMedia,” said Idell. “It is such a thrilling time to be working in this business and WarnerMedia Entertainment has emerged as one of the biggest, boldest players through creativity and innovation. The company’s best-in-class brands, networks and programs make this a truly irresistible opportunity. I can’t wait to lead this incredible research team and help shape the future of audience insights and engagement through a combination of linear, streaming and direct-to-consumer data, research and analytics.”
Los Angeles, CA (January 21, 2020) — Telling the true story of the Ford Motor Company’s upset racing victory at Le Mans in 1966, Ford v Ferrari (titled Le Mans '66 in some European countries,) has earned praise for what many car aficionados say are the most realistic race scenes ever created for a feature film. This involved capturing the dialogue of co-star Christian Bale (as driver Ken Miles) at realistic speeds, a challenge which fell to production sound mixer Steve Morrow, a 25-year Lectrosonics user nominated for Academy Awards for his work on La La Land and the 2019 remake of A Star Is Born. Morrow kindly took some time with Lectrosonics to explain how he used ultra-compact SSM transmitters and rugged UCR411a receivers to put the audience behind the wheel of Bale’s fire-breathing Ford GT40 — as well as to explain the rest of his rig including the Venue2 modular receiver system, HMa plug-on transmitters, and more.
“I always use SSMs for all the actors’ mics,” says Morrow. “They’re the smallest and lightest transmitters Lectrosonics makes, they’re ultra-reliable, and the talent barely knows they’re there. Lectro has other transmitters with higher output power, but we’ve never had a problem with range. For most of the dialogue, we have active shark-fin antennas on long coax cables, powered from the Venue 2 receiver chassis.”
Recording cockpit dialogue, however, called for a different approach, as the cars would be driven around actual racetracks. “The cars, including the Shelby Cobra and Ford GT40, were put on a vehicle called the ‘Biscuit rig,’ so named because it was used in the movie Seabiscuit,’ explains Morrow. “It has its own motor and stunt driver, a movable pod for a camera operator, and hauls the vehicle around the track at speed. Christian was focused on acting, not driving, and we miked him up with an SSM and DPA 4062 mic, then put a simple bag rig consisting of UCR411a receivers and a field recorder right in the trunk of the car. The Biscuit rig is designed for shooting and there’s no room on it for a sound operator, so we had to just start the recorder, watch them drive off, and trust we were going to get a good recording. Lectrosonics lets me have that trust, and I like the UCR411a for this sort of guerilla work because it can really take a beating.”
The method worked so well, in fact, that they were able to record an exchange in which Bale talks to another driver who briefly pulls up alongside him: “For that scene, we didn’t have a separate audio bag in the other car, just a second UCR411a feeding another track of the recorder in Christian’s car. When the other driver pulled up, his SSM came within range, he said his lines, then drove away. It went off without a hitch!”
Lectrosonics recorded the sounds of the cars as well as their drivers. “We only had one vintage Ford GT40 on set,” recalls Morrow. “The rest were film cars with more modern engines for the sake of reliability. So, for authenticity, the post-production team went to a track day and convinced a bunch of guys with actual GT40s to let them record their engine sounds. Where boom mics were needed, we put HMa plug-on transmitters on the boom poles so that the operators could move around freely.”
For on-set communications and IFB monitoring, “my team, which included Craig Dollinger and Brian Mendoza, used LT transmitters to talk to each other, because of the convenient red toggle switch on the top that can be used as a mute. We also used an older UM400a as an IFB transmitter, and we all listened using IFB-R1a receivers. I’ve recently just gotten into the M2 Duet system as well, and am looking forward to using it more.”
Morrow credits Lectrosonics’ reliability and performance for his long-term loyalty. “The Lectrosonics gear never fails, it sounds as good as if you’re running cables, and it holds onto frequencies for dear life. I now have three Venue 2 units on my main cart, so I can do 18 channels of wideband. The SSMs are wideband-capable, which is key with the available frequency spectrum being such a moving target.
“Let me give you one last example of how solid it is,” he continues. “In 2017 I did a film called The Front Runner, which starred Hugh Jackman as the presidential candidate Gary Hart. We had 21 actors miked with SSMs at all times, and a lot of it is rapid-fire dialogue with people talking over each other, like a Robert Altman movie on steroids. Scanning for frequencies at the beginning of each shooting day took no more than 20 minutes — for everybody — and we had zero problems with crosstalk, dropouts, or interference. Even if you’re starting out in sound and on a budget, I strongly recommend that you get however many channels of Lectrosonics you can afford. This is gear you won’t want to replace in two, five, or ten years.”
Well respected within the film, broadcast, and theatre technical communities since 1971, Lectrosonics wireless microphone systems and audio processing products are used daily in mission-critical applications by audio engineers familiar with the company's dedication to quality, customer service, and innovation. Lectrosonics received an Academy Scientific and Technical Award for its Digital Hybrid Wireless® technology and is a US manufacturer based in Rio Rancho, New Mexico. Visit the company online at www.lectrosonics.com.
Divided Senate, and media, convene for historic Senate event
"History will be our final Judge. Will senators rise to the occasion?" With that question from Democrat Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), the Senate closed out regular business Tuesday, Jan. 21, preparing to gavel in the first impeachment since Bill Clinton, only the third Senate trial of a President, and the first of the Twitter age.
On CNN, legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin was calling the Senate plans for a speedy trial without witnesses a sham that would go down in shame, while commenting on Fox, Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), one of the President's defense team, said that the facts were with the President, which was why a speedy acquittal was in the cards.
In Washington, the affiliates of ABC, CBS, and NBC, were all going with live special reports, while the Fox affiliate was going with its counter-programming strategy of sticking with syndicated fare while streaming its live news coverage of the trial online.
The gallery was warned of keeping quiet on penalty of imprisonment.
Asked whether the President would be watching the coverage, press secretary Stephanie Grisham said: "He has a full day here in Davos, but will be briefed by staff periodically."
ATLANTA and ST LOUIS – January 21, 2020 – Synamedia, the world’s largest independent video software provider, today announced that it has entered into an international strategic partnership with technology and supply chain service provider World Wide Technology (WWT).
The companies are joining forces for sales and delivery management, and this mutually beneficial partnership will provide Synamedia’s best-in-class video products and solutions to WWT’s customers while helping to strengthen Synamedia’s reach across regions. WWT’s network augments the distribution of Synamedia’s products to satellite DTH, cable, telco and OTT operators, broadcasters, and media companies around the world, a key step for Synamedia as it continues to expand its partner program with the best-of-breed technologies and services to help its customers excel.
“We’re thrilled to be joining Synamedia’s partner program because it enables us to offer more, quality video services to our valued customers,” said Brent Massey, Area Vice President, GSP MSO and Media, WWT. “The businesses who trust both Synamedia and WWT have very diverse needs, from video software to storage and we are committed to delivering the right answers for them. Making Synamedia’s best-in-class video solutions such as those for live OTT, ATSC 3.0, Content Delivery Networks and more available to customers via our single source of delivery management aligns well with both companies’ goal to provide the best customer experience.”
“Through our partnership with WWT, our customers will benefit from the great service, system integration, and logistics management capabilities WWT has built its brand on,” said Dave Longaker, Senior Vice President and General Manager, Americas, Synamedia. “Leveraging WWT’s international reach and their strong technical expertise and experience with our award-winning portfolio, our partner program and work together will be focused both on reaching new customers as well as strengthening our relationships with existing customers by providing an expanded set of solutions and services.”
Synamedia offers exceptional video services for linear pay TV broadcast and OTT streaming, which help to deliver on the company’s mission to transform the way the world is entertained and informed. WWT provides digital strategy, innovative technology and supply chain solutions aimed to deliver business and technology outcomes. Through this new partnership, Synamedia and WWT are furthering their commitment to providing the best viewing experiences for consumers.
We’re helping service and content providers around the world to deliver, protect and monetize video content so they can win in the age of Infinite Entertainment. Our video network business unit boasts a portfolio designed to ratchet up the quality and cost effectiveness of live streaming, featuring award winning services such as our virtualized Digital Content Manager and ATSC 3.0 solutions. Synamedia is trusted by over 200 top satellite DTH, cable, telco and OTT operators, broadcasters and media companies. Synamedia is backed by the Permira funds and Sky.
About World Wide Technology
World Wide Technology (WWT) is a technology solution provider with more than $11 billion in annual revenue that provides digital strategy, innovative technology and supply chain solutions to large public and private organizations around the globe. While most companies talk about delivering business and technology outcomes, WWT does it. Based in St. Louis, WWT employs more than 5,000 people and operates over 2 million square feet of warehousing, distribution and integration space in more than 20 facilities throughout the world. For more information about World Wide Technology, visit www.wwt.com.
For press and analyst queries, please contact:
Breakaway Communications for Synamedia
+ 1 (212) 616 6003
ATLANTA, GA and MELBOURNE, FL – January 21, 2020 – Synamedia, the world’s largest independent video software provider, today announced that it has entered into a strategic partnership with USSI Global, a leading provider of network, broadcast and digital media services, to serve joint customers in the United States. Through this collaboration, USSI will provide technical and logistics support, fulfillment and deployment services for both new and existing Synamedia video network customers. The companies will also partner to help customers with a go-to-market strategy for ATSC 3.0, the next generation broadcast standard.
Synamedia’s best-in-class video distribution technology and existing relationships within the broadcast and service provider sectors enable USSI to expand its content portfolio to meet the digital content distribution needs of their customers. USSI provides systems integration services – including factory testing, deployment and installation – for customers of Synamedia’s PowerVu distribution systems, as well as logistics, fulfillment and signal authorization services for users of Synamedia’s D9800 Network Transport Receiver to support high efficiency video coding (HEVC) and ultrahigh-definition (UHD) delivery over satellite and IP terrestrial content distribution networks. Additionally, USSI provides on-site assistance and software updates for Synamedia’s PowerVu Network Center users.
“We’re thrilled to be trusted by Synamedia to bring its best-of-breed video network technology to our joint customers in the U.S.,” said David Christiano, CEO and President of USSI. “Not only does this partnership allow us to expand the portfolio of services available to our customers, but it also enables us to broaden our reach and provide third-party equipment to all users of Synamedia’s PowerVu portfolio. We share Synamedia’s commitment to delivering the best services and technology, and our customers will benefit from the expanded offerings and capabilities at the heart of this partnership.”
“As the industry continues to transition to cloud-based environments, we are working closely with USSI to provide the software integration necessary to achieve the functionality that our customers need to continue being successful,” said Dave Longaker, Senior Vice President and General Manager, Americas, Synamedia. “We’re constantly seeking the best technical support and fulfillment services, and USSI has been an instrumental partner in seamlessly integrating and maintaining our solutions, helping our joint customers to win in the age of infinite entertainment.”
We’re helping service and content providers around the world to deliver, protect and monetize video content so they can win in the age of Infinite Entertainment. Our video network business unit boasts a portfolio designed to ratchet up the quality and cost effectiveness of live streaming, featuring award winning services such as our virtualized Digital Content Manager, and ATSC 3.0 solutions. Synamedia is trusted by over 200 top satellite DTH, cable, telco and OTT operators, broadcasters and media companies. Synamedia is backed by the Permira funds and Sky.
For press and analyst queries, please contact:
Breakaway Communications for Synamedia
+ 1 (212) 616 6003
Bill would exclude in-kind exactions from 5% cap
A group of Democratic legislators are trying to thwart an FCC effort to deregulated franchise fees by ruling that in-kind services or equipment local franchise authorities (LFAs) require those cable operators to provide as part of their franchise agreements must count toward the FCC's 5% (of cable revenues) cap on franchise fees.
The FCC voted along party lines back in August 2019 to count in-kind contributions, with an exception from the in-kind counting for some, but not all, capital costs of providing public, educational and government (PEG) channels, whose public interest value the FCC said it continues to recognize.
FCC chair Ajit Pai said counting in-kind "exactions" from LFAs was necessary "to prevent local authorities from unlawfully evading the 5% statutory cap on franchise fees" via those non-monetary conditions.
But Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) and Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.), joined by some of the Democratic presidential candidates and others see it very differently. Markey early on asked the FCC to rethink the decision.
They have introduced the Protecting Community Television Act, a bill of only a few lines (Protecting Community Television Act 2020)*, that would make it clear that a franchise fee cap is only on money, not in-kind services, so as to prevent what they said was an LFA having to choose between funding public, educational and government channels (PEG) and other services for critical institutions like schools or libraries.
*The bill would change the language in Sec. 622g(1) of the Communications Act by replacing the word "includes" to "means" and adding "other monetary" before "assessments, per the following: (1) the term ''franchise fee'' [MEANS] any tax, fee, or [OTHER MONETARY] assessment of any kind imposed by a franchising authority or other governmental entity on a cable operator or cable subscriber, or both, solely because of their status as such."
Also sponsoring the bill are Sens. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Marie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), and Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.).
CBS Television Distribution adds Nexstar, Sinclair, Weigel and more to station group mix
CTD has added such station groups as Nexstar, Sinclair, Weigel, Scripps, Gray, Tegna, Meredith and Mission to its initial launch group of CBS-owned stations, bringing the show’s total clearance level to 85% of the country.
The Drew Barrymore Show, which stars actress and producer Barrymore, will be produced and distributed by CBS Television Distribution. Drew Barrymore, Chris Miller and Ember Truesdell are executive producers.
Service will also stream syndi shows including ‘Judge Judy,’ ‘Ellen’ and ‘Jeopardy’
Sinclair Broadcast Group’s year-old over-the-top streaming service Stirr is adding a new channel that will focus on election news.
Stirr also plans to stream episodes of syndicated shows a day after they’re broadcast on Sinclair stations, starting later this quarter. The shows include Judge Judy, Dr. Phil, The Ellen DeGeneres Show, Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy. The shows will be available on a market-by-market basis on Stirr.
2020 Live, launching this week, will have continuous live coverage that will feature campaign events from around the country, including town hall meetings and stump speeches.
Sinclair said coverage will be presented without any commentary and will provide a bias-free view of the campaign trail.
The approach is a departure for Sinclair, which has been politically conservative and until recently compelled its stations to run political commentaries from Boris Epshteyn, a former aide to President Trump.
The controversial segments were discontinued on Dec. 13. At the time, Sinclair said it was shifting its emphasis away from political commentary in favor of investigating reporting.
“Stirr’s offering of live, local news content reflects that its purpose isn’t to solely entertain, but to serve members of local communities and provide information that impacts their lives,” said Sinclair CEO Chris Ripley. “We’re incredibly proud of the growth and success the platform has seen throughout the year, and look forward to providing users with more value. With the addition of local broadcast TV syndication programming coming to the platform, we’re excited for what the next year has in store for Stirr.”
Sinclair’s reputation for pushing conservative views onto its stations was a concern among journalists at Tribune Broadcasting when Tribune agreed to be acquired by Sinclair. That deal fell through. Tribune was subsequently acquired by Nexstar Media.
Last week Nexstar announced plans to launch a three-hour, daily newscast on cable network WGN America that will originate in Chicago at WGN-TV, one of the Tribune stations acquired by Nexstar.
Sinclair launched Stirr a year ago with 24 channels. The company said Stirr, which is free to the consumer and ad supported, now offers 100 linear channels and more than 5,000 hours of VOD content.
The Stirr app has been downloaded more than 1.6 million times, the company said, and more than 130,000 hours of live, local news were streamed across Stirr City local channels in 2019.
Vast majority of viewing-related tweets go to Fox nets
An overwhelming majority of President Donald Trump's live tweets about news network programming in 2019 were in response to news he saw on Fox.
That is according to a study by Media Matters for America, the liberal watchdog group, which said that of his 681 live tweets about networks he was apparently watching, 559 were about Fox News, 98 about Fox Business, and only 24 for all the other networks combined.
Those 657 Fox-related tweets constituted 9.5% of all his tweets for the year, an average of almost two live tweets about Fox per day.
His highest one-day total of live Fox tweets was 10, which was Dec. 18, the day he was impeached by the House. December was also his highest-volume Fox live tweet month of the year with 97. Of his Fox live tweets, almost half (45%) were about either Russia or Ukraine.
The President is a big fan of Fox's Fox & Friends morning show and his tweets reflected that, with 206, more than three times any other program.
Will Arnett, a.k.a. Lego Batman, hosts and produces
Lego Masters, a competition series featuring ace Lego enthusiasts coming up with standout creations, begins on Fox Feb. 5. Will Arnett hosts.
The series will feature pairs of hardcore Lego builders facing off in brick-building challenges with an unlimited supply of bricks on hand. Judges critique their work.
“This show is an hour of fun for the whole family and Will is the ideal host. He’s already a member of the Lego family and his passion for this show is infectious,” said Rob Wade, president, alternative entertainment and specials, Fox Entertainment. “He’s also a great collaborator and, let’s be honest, he’s hilarious – which makes him perfect for this competition.”
Arnett voiced Lego Batman in The Lego Movie franchise. He’s an executive producer on Lego Masters.
“It gives me piece of mind to be able to continue building my relationship with The Lego Group,” said Arnett. “Ultimately, my goal is Danish citizenship.”
Lego Masters has aired in the U.K.
The show is produced by Endemol Shine North America and Tuesday’s Child, under license from The Lego Group. Plan B is executive producing Lego Masters. Anthony Dominici is showrunner and executive producer. Also exec producing are Sharon Levy, DJ Nurre and Michael Heyerman from Endemol Shine North America; Karen Smith and Steph Harris from Tuesday’s Child; and Jill Wilfert and Robert May from The Lego Group.
“It isn’t a show about building sets from a box,” said Levy. “It’s about real artistic people who are passionate in this medium, creating things that will blow your mind.”
Byron Allen-owned studio orders production of 650 new episodes for 2020-21 TV season
Byron Allen’s Entertainment Studios has renewed five of its court shows for the 2020-21 TV season, including America’s Court with Judge Ross, Justice for All with Judge Cristina Perez, Supreme Justice with Judge Karen, Justice with Judge Mablean and The Verdict with Judge Hatchett. Each show will tape 130 new episodes for the new TV season.
Los Angeles-based Entertainment Studios sells the court shows to TV stations in blocks and cumes the advertising across the entire block. The shows are currently cleared on TV stations covering 90% of the country. They also are available to watch on DirecTV, AT&T U-verse, Verizon Fios and Dish, as well as online at Entertainment Studios’ JusticeCentral.TV.
“Ten years after we launched our first court series, America’s Court with Judge Ross, our viewers continue to enjoy some of the best court shows available,” Byron Allen, founder, chairman and CEO of Entertainment Studios, said in a statement. “Whether in broadcast syndication or on our 24-hour HD network JusticeCentral.TV, the investment to produce these 650 additional new episodes shows our commitment to being the largest producer of high-quality television court programming – and our unwavering confidence in this strong and engaging genre.”
Besides producing TV shows, Entertainment Studios also owns nine U.S. cable networks, including The Weather Channel, and 15 TV stations. It also owns the Local Now streaming service, powered by The Weather Channel, and African-American-centric digital news platform, TheGrio.
Independent station out with nightly news a day before Detroit CW debuts
WADL Detroit is premiering a nightly 10 p.m. newscast starting January 21. Kevin Dietz hosts News Now with Kevin Dietz, a Monday-Friday program.
Independent station WADL airs primarily off-network programming, with Dateline and Black-ish among the primetime offerings. Family Guy was on at 10 p.m. prior to the newscast’s launch.
CBS announced that its CW affiliate WKBD Detroit is starting a 10 p.m. news January 22. WKBD is hiring multimedia journalists for the program, and the newscast is produced at the CBS duopoly in Dallas.
Dietz was at WDIV Detroit for 26 years. He was dismissed last summer.
WADL CEO Kevin Adell said the newscast will play to Dietz’s investigative strengths. It will typically feature two long reports, and will not focus on house fires and burglaries. It will be produced at WADL. “It’s definitely local--what’s going on at the water cooler,” said Adell, who told Detroit Free Press Dietz will fight for the underdog.
Dietz departed WDIV following comments he made at a journalism conference that were in conflict with the station’s zero-tolerance policy on racially insensitive comments. Graham Media Group owns WDIV.
Dietz told Detroit Free Press the newscast will connect with locals in DMA No. 14. “"I was born and raised in this town and I've been an investigative reporter for 25 years,” he said. “I know the community and will be talking about topics important to the people that live here.”
The political spending tied to the presidential election was a factor in News Now’s launch, said Adell.
Fremont, CA - January 21, 2020 - Blackmagic Design today announced that Nippon Design Center Inc. used DaVinci Resolve Studio for a promotional movie for TOYOTA's new concept car “RHOMBUS." Nippon Design Center used the software as a pipeline tool for VFX to work from both Tokyo and Nagoya office in real time.
The TOYOTA “RHOMBUS” is an EV concept car that was proposed on the theme of the values and lifestyles of young people born after 1990.“RHOMBUS” was developed by TMEC, a research and development company based in China, and unveiled at the Shanghai International Motor Show 2019 for the first time.
Nippon Design Center Inc., which was in charge of VFX for the video, is an advertising production company established in 1959 and handles advertisements in various genres such as web design, catalogs, commercials and book design. They also produce TV commercials for big companies such as Toyota, MUJI, and KOSE.
In charge of VFX for this work, they used the collaboration features of DaVinci Resolve as a pipeline tool for managing all the material for producing VFX. Yuki Saito, the CG director, said: “The running scene of RHOMBUS is all made of CG and combined with the background footage. We had a huge amount and different kind of material such as camera footage (LOG, RAW), footage for background which was panoramic videos, panoramic photos and still images, offline material, CG footage, etc. DaVinci Resolve was the best tool for managing and updating such material.”
He continues: “In CG production, each staff member worked on their specialty to complete a job, so footage was scattered because we’ve managed them by date, shooting, CG etc., and it was not possible to manage them centrally. Therefore, we streamlined the work with a workflow in which the camera footage, background material and offline footage were put in the timeline on the Edit page of DaVinci Resolve, and only the parts necessary for creating CG were exported and used. By placing all material on the timeline, we all can see everything as a whole, and always share the latest status.”
“DaVinci Resolve's collaboration feature allows multiple staff to work at the same time, so they can work efficiently. Using the chat function, you can also give instructions and let others make corrections in real time. We have two production bases and used to share the production status in meetings and spreadsheets, but collaboration workflow eliminates transition briefing time and overlapping work, ”he said.
Nippon Design Center’s production bases are located in Tokyo and Nagoya, and each have built their own systems that can communicate with each other via dedicated lines. This collaboration feature is now indispensable for working in two locations, and has allowed them to have already produced various works using the collaboration workflow.
“We are a comprehensive creative company, we handle both still image and video. DaVinci Resolve allows anyone, even a photo retoucher who never touched a NLE, to quickly learn the features you need for your work. It is easy to learn and so affordable to start. With collaboration features, we can save time and focus on more creative work than before,” he concluded.
Product photos of DaVinci Resolve Studio as well as all other Blackmagic Design products, are available at www.blackmagicdesign.com/media/images.
About Blackmagic Design
Blackmagic Design creates the world’s highest quality video editing products, digital film cameras, color correctors, video converters, video monitoring, routers, live production switchers, disk recorders, waveform monitors and real time film scanners for the feature film, post production and television broadcast industries. Blackmagic Design’s DeckLink capture cards launched a revolution in quality and affordability in post production, while the company’s Emmy™ award winning DaVinci color correction products have dominated the television and film industry since 1984. Blackmagic Design continues ground breaking innovations including 6G-SDI and 12G-SDI products and stereoscopic 3D and Ultra HD workflows. Founded by world leading post production editors and engineers, Blackmagic Design has offices in the USA, UK, Japan, Singapore and Australia. For more information, please go to www.blackmagicdesign.com.
Digital lifestyle network adds more than 400 hours of content from ITV Studios, All3Media
Dabl primarily airs on TV stations’ digital spectrum, including the CBS-owned TV stations in major markets, and also recently added cable distribution via a deal with Altice.
As part of the digital lifestyle network’s expansion, CTD also has acquired more than 400 hours of programming from ITV Studios and All3Media International, including titles from British chef and reality TV star Gordon Ramsey such as Kitchen Nightmares USA and The F Word. That content joins the previously acquired libraries of Emeril Lagasse, Martha Stewart, Bob Vila and Jamie Oliver. Other content acquired from ITV Studios includes interior design show 60 Minute Makeover, Nanny 911 and The Instant Gardener.
“We are thrilled with the growth we have seen in Dabl in just four months,” Steve LoCascio, chief operating officer, CBS Television Distribution, said in a statement. “It’s been a value add to our station partners, giving them quality content for their digital channels, and been embraced by the advertising community as a way to reach viewers interested in lifestyle content.”
Cites conflicts of interest
In a letter to shareholders, Tegna defended its performance and attacked Standard Media, which is seeking seats on Tegna’s board, as “conflicted.”
Last week Standard Media said it has an 8.7% stake in Tegna and put its founder, Soohyung Kim up for a board seat.
Tegna pushed back last week and this week is appealing to shareholders.
In its letter, Tegna said its board evaluated Kim. “Based on this in-depth evaluation, the Board has serious concerns about Mr. Kim’s prior board service. Many who know him well commented on his track record of endorsing and executing corporate actions in favor of his own interests to the detriment of other shareholders, as well as a dismissive attitude toward the perspectives of other directors,” Tegna said in its letter.
Tegna also said that Standard General has conflicted because it has stake in two other companies that own media properties.
“We believe that it is highly inappropriate for another industry operator to have access to Tegna’s proprietary information, including our M&A pipeline, product development plans, R&D efforts, and partnership and affiliation strategies. Accordingly, the Board has unanimously determined that adding Mr. Kim to the Board is not in the best interests of Tegna and its shareholders,” the letter said.
Tegna said that contrary to Standard General’s assertions, it’s board is open to all paths to create value.
It added that since becoming a pure-play TV company, two year total shareholders returns have been 23.6%.
“Tegna is executing on its proven strategy to generate value through organic growth and targeted M&A. As a best-in-class operator in the markets we serve, with top-of-the-market retransmission rates and TSR performance well above our peers, Tegna is delivering for shareholders,” the letter concluded. “We will communicate regularly with you in advance of the 2020 Annual Meeting and thank you for your support.”
Here is the text of the Tegna letter:
Dear Fellow TEGNA Shareholders,
Over the past several years, TEGNA has transformed its portfolio to become a pure-play broadcasting company, adding more than 40 stations in attractive markets and divesting non-core assets. As a result of this strategic evolution, TEGNA has generated attractive revenue and cash flow growth, reduced economic cyclicality and delivered value for shareholders.
TEGNA is now one of the largest U.S. broadcasting groups and a leading local news and media content provider in the markets we serve. Through the combination of our growing subscription and political revenues and our proven M&A track record, TEGNA is generating substantial free cash flow and shareholder value. Further, as a preferred M&A partner, TEGNA is well positioned to benefit as a platform for further industry consolidation.
The successful execution of TEGNA’s strategy has delivered significant shareholder value. With the completion of our transformation into a pure-play broadcasting company following separation from Gannett in 2015, the spinoff of Cars.com in June 2017 and the sale of our remaining stake in CareerBuilder in July 2017, TEGNA today is a fundamentally different company and has outperformed its peers.
Post-transformation into a pure-play, TEGNA’s two-year total shareholder return (TSR) in 2018-2019 was 23.6% relative to the peer median of 3.1%. Moreover, our one-year TSR in 2019 was 56.4% compared to the peer median of 29.0%. These are the appropriate time periods to evaluate the success of our current strategy, which was implemented after exiting our previously owned publishing and digital businesses. With our recent report of quarterly outperformance on January 9, the upward momentum of our stock price has continued into 2020.
TEGNA is focused on five pillars of value creation – best-in-class operations, disciplined pursuit of M&A opportunities, innovation and expansion into adjacent businesses, maintaining a strong balance sheet and rapidly de-levering, and producing strong financial performance. We delivered revenues of ~$2.3 billion and Adjusted EBITDA of more than $700 million in 2019, and are positioned to take advantage of robust growth opportunities in 2020 and beyond.
A CONFLICTED INVESTMENT FIRM IS DEMANDING SEATS ON
TEGNA’S BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Since Standard General’s disclosure in August 2019 of a position in TEGNA, our Board and management team have met on multiple occasions with Mr. Soohyung Kim, Standard General’s Founding Partner, to learn about his perspective on TEGNA. In those meetings, Mr. Kim demanded a board seat for himself, but offered no concrete ideas to create shareholder value.
TEGNA’s Board thoroughly evaluated Mr. Kim as a potential director. Board members, including the independent Chairman and members of the Nominating and Governance Committee, held several meetings with him, interviewed a number of people who have served with him on other boards (including those he offered as references), and conducted a detailed assessment of his track record and current investments in the broadcasting industry.
Based on this in-depth evaluation, the Board has serious concerns about Mr. Kim’s prior board service. Many who know him well commented on his track record of endorsing and executing corporate actions in favor of his own interests to the detriment of other shareholders, as well as a dismissive attitude toward the perspectives of other directors.
As further described below, the Board is also concerned that Mr. Kim’s significant investments in and influence over other broadcasting companies would create a conflict of interest as a TEGNA director, including with respect to potential investment opportunities in the sector. We believe that it is highly inappropriate for another industry operator to have access to TEGNA’s proprietary information, including our M&A pipeline, product development plans, R&D efforts, and partnership and affiliation strategies. Accordingly, the Board has unanimously determined that adding Mr. Kim to the Board is not in the best interests of TEGNA and its shareholders.
While Mr. Kim’s strategy to create shareholder value is not clear, our dialogue with him suggests he thinks there is easy money to be made through “transformative” M&A that only he knows how to source and execute. What is clear to us is that our highly qualified Board and management team have a proven track record of proactively evaluating strategic alternatives, deep experience executing strategic, accretive M&A, and strong relationships with industry participants. The Board is open to all paths to create value and has the independence and expertise to analyze strategic opportunities from the perspectives of shareholders.
The Board remains open to hearing Mr. Kim’s perspectives on TEGNA’s business as a shareholder. Additionally, the Board will evaluate the three other Standard General nominees, who Mr. Kim identified for the first time on January 15.
TEGNA IS DELIVERING FOR SHAREHOLDERS
Our strategy is delivering growth and profitability – 2019 was another strong year for TEGNA and our shareholders. The TEGNA team built on its track record of operational excellence, meeting guidance of subscription revenue growth in the high teens while improving overall revenue mix. In addition to subscription growth, our premium over-the-top (OTT) ad network Premion is delivering double-digit revenue increases.
Through our sharp focus on operations, we have achieved ~33% Adjusted EBITDA margins over the last 12 months and we continue to benefit from sharing our operational expertise with each of the stations we acquire, innovating our content and executing on our go-to-market strategy.
TEGNA’s 2019 M&A activity was successful on a number of metrics. Our disciplined approach to acquiring new assets generated significant value, without impacting our flexibility to acquire additional stations in the years ahead. The $1.5 billion in completed transactions in 2019 are immediately accretive to free cash flow and we expect they will be accretive to EPS within nine months. They are also expected to provide annualized revenues of ~$500 million, Adjusted EBITDA of ~$200 million, and free cash flow of ~$100 million, all on a two-year average basis. These and previous transactions have helped drive our outperformance versus peers since becoming a pure-play in 2017.
A STRONG FOUNDATION FOR FUTURE GROWTH
Looking ahead, we expect the momentum from our organic growth and recent acquisitions to further strengthen our business in 2020 and beyond.
Our portfolio has been strategically constructed to take advantage of increasing “even” year political spending with stations in many high-spend battleground states. Coupled with Premion’s capability to address OTT viewers in and outside of TEGNA markets, we are well positioned for future election cycles. In 2020 alone, we expect TEGNA to capture at least $300 million in high-margin political advertising revenue.
TEGNA has also been successful in generating durable subscription revenues in recent years and we anticipate another strong year ahead. Due to the current subscription fee repricing cycle, we expect to generate at least mid-twenties percentage growth in 2020.
Together, our high-margin political and subscription revenues are expected to comprise ~50% of total two-year revenues in 2019/2020, with an even higher percentage thereafter. We are on track to achieve our recently increased guidance for free cash flow as a percent of revenue of 19-20% over the 2019/2020 and 2020/2021 periods.
Our strong free cash flow enables us to rapidly de-lever following transactions while paying an attractive quarterly dividend. This active management of our balance sheet includes the recent completion of two debt refinancings, taking advantage of the low interest rate environment to reduce interest expense and improve our financial flexibility. We plan to de-lever to ~4.0x by year-end 2020, enabling TEGNA to continue to play a key role as an industry consolidator in the years ahead.
CREATING SUBSTANTIAL SHAREHOLDER VALUE THROUGH M&A
We maintain a disciplined approach to M&A, acquiring high-quality assets in broadcasting as well as in compelling adjacent businesses that overlap with our existing broadcasting footprint. We seek to acquire assets that are synergistic and expected to be accretive to earnings and free cash flow, while producing attractive returns. Over the past three years, the transactions we have completed have been at or below market trading multiples of approximately 7.8x (6.7x on a tax-adjusted basis). We are well positioned to complement our strong organic growth prospects by taking advantage of additional M&A opportunities.
· We have significant capacity for further M&A due to the ample headroom we have under the FCC’s household ownership cap. Our recent acquisitions have been efficient, adding significant revenues, EBITDA, and free cash flow while using only three points of cap headroom.
· We prioritize high-quality assets that fit well with our geographic and affiliate portfolio and have clear and achievable synergies. We acquire these assets at attractive multiples (at or below market trading levels) and integrate them efficiently to deliver on clearly identified synergies and drive near-term EPS and free cash flow accretion more effectively than our peers. It is industry practice to reflect buyer multiples with and without tax benefits, including synergies. Our buyer multiples reflect the superior value we are able to extract by applying our top-of-the-market retransmission rates to acquired assets. We also generate incremental synergies as we add acquired stations to our Premion business and place Daily Blast LIVE, our daily interactive TV and digital program, on new stations at no incremental programming cost.
· We are a leading broadcaster in the large markets we serve, and through repricing 85% of our paid subscribers (50% in 4Q 2019 and another 35% expected in 2020), we have top-of-the-market rates for our portfolio of Big Four affiliates. As our retransmission rates increase, so do our “mechanical” synergies, which we recognize when we acquire smaller businesses that have less scale to leverage in negotiations with distributors.
· Independent broadcasters have sought us out and we have executed significant acquisitions with limited competition from peers. This allows us to close transactions at attractive valuations and deliver great outcomes for our shareholders and partners.
THE TEGNA BOARD IS OPEN TO ALL PATHS TO CREATE VALUE
We are confident that our strategy will continue to deliver substantial value to TEGNA shareholders. Of course, the Board takes seriously its fiduciary responsibilities and would thoroughly evaluate any bona fide proposal at an attractive valuation.
In an attempt to discredit the Board and advance his candidacy, Mr. Kim falsely alleged that there has been a “rebuff of an acquisition proposal at a premium valuation from a credible buyer.” TEGNA has received no such proposal.
As we disclosed last August, Apollo approached us twice in 2019.
First, the day before our fourth quarter earnings release in February 2019, Apollo expressed interest in acquiring TEGNA at a premium without specifying a price. The following day, our stock price increased significantly after we released strong earnings. Apollo never followed through with a specific acquisition proposal.
In June 2019, we received a second approach from Apollo, but this time it was for us to acquire Cox Media Group from them at a significant premium to what they had just agreed to pay in an auction, even though they had not yet closed the transaction. We met with Apollo shortly thereafter to explore this possible transaction, but there was no proposal that would generate value for TEGNA’s shareholders.
We remain open to discussing potential transactions with Apollo or anyone else, but would only pursue a transaction if it is in the best interests of our shareholders.
TEGNA’S HIGHLY QUALIFIED, ENGAGED AND DIVERSE BOARD
HAS A PROVEN TRACK RECORD
TEGNA’s highly qualified, engaged and diverse Board is comprised of industry leaders with significant experience in areas that are highly relevant for evaluating TEGNA’s strategy and portfolio, including M&A execution and integration, technology, management and leadership, operational expertise, and broadcasting. The Board has a strong track record of objectively evaluating opportunities to create shareholder value and has taken decisive action to transform TEGNA’s portfolio to ensure continued success in an evolving industry landscape.
Since 2013, the Board has overseen numerous transformative and value-driving transactions (all accretive in less than 12 months):
- 2013 – Acquisition of Belo
- 2014 – Acquisition of six TV stations from London Broadcasting
- 2015 – Separation of broadcasting/digital assets from publishing assets
- 2017 – Spin-off of Cars.com
- 2017 – Sale of CareerBuilder
- 2018 – Acquisition of two TV and two radio stations from Midwest Broadcasting
- 2019 – Acquisition of TV stations in Toledo and Midland-Odessa
- 2019 – Acquisition of remaining 85% of multicast networks Justice and Quest
- 2019 – Acquisition of two TV and two radio stations from Dispatch Broadcast Group
- 2019 – Acquisition of 11 TV stations from Nexstar Media Group
The TEGNA Board is committed to strong ESG practices and is driven by the Company’s strongly held purpose to serve the greater good of our communities and to make a difference in our work, our company and our communities. Under the Board’s leadership, the Company maintains a dedication to investigative journalism, ensures its journalists adhere to the highest standards of ethics and journalistic integrity and engages with local communities through outreach and corporate giving.
As part of its dedication to strong corporate governance, TEGNA’s Board engages in a thoughtful refreshment process to ensure the appropriate mix of skills and experience to execute our long-term strategy and create shareholder value. We have added six highly qualified directors over the past five years and three since December 2017. We strive for a balance between fresh perspectives and institutional knowledge, and will continue to seek out directors who will add relevant skills and experience to drive value creation for all TEGNA shareholders.
STANDARD GENERAL’S TRACK RECORD AND CURRENT OWNERSHIP IN COMPETITORS PRESENT VERY SERIOUS CONCERNS
While we welcome constructive ideas and feedback from all of our shareholders, based on Mr. Kim’s current investments and what we learned about his previous track record with other companies, we believe he would be conflicted and unlikely to transcend his own self-interest to act in the best interests of TEGNA shareholders.
Mr. Kim’s investments in and significant influence over Standard Media Group and Mediaco Holding – two budding competitors in the broadcast space – are concerning due to serious conflicts that we believe he has with TEGNA’s business.
Also concerning is Mr. Kim’s record of poor shareholder returns and negative outcomes at companies where he and other Standard General representatives held Board seats. Key examples, which have all been widely reported include:
- The company filed for bankruptcy only 15 months after three Standard General directors were appointed to the company’s board – a Standard General insider as well as two other executives connected to Standard General, including the former CEO of RadioShack, another company where Standard General was involved and where other investors lost money (see below). Litigation by American Apparel shareholders against Standard General ensued.
- As lead independent director of Media General, Mr. Kim reportedly pushed for Media General (with a divided board) to buy Meredith Corp. despite proposals from Nexstar to buy Media General at a premium. Mr. Kim was reportedly “biased toward” a transaction with Meredith that was criticized by shareholders for both poor strategic rationale and inadequate price. Shareholders publicly complained about Media General’s poor M&A process. The Media General Board reportedly sidelined Mr. Kim as it eventually struck an alternative deal with Nexstar Media Group. While Media General shareholders did well in the end, their return was in spite of Mr. Kim’s actions, not as a result of them.
- Standard General, which took a 9.8% position in RadioShack in early 2014, acquired the company through bankruptcy in May 2015 and liquidated it later that year, wiping out other investors.
- Mr. Kim served on the Board of Twin River when the company launched a tender offer in 2016 that was alleged to be part of “an undisclosed buyback scheme which would have increased Standard General’s ownership position while diluting other shareholders. These actions spawned a lawsuit from another large shareholder against the Board (including Mr. Kim) that is ongoing.
In short, in our view, adding Mr. Kim to the TEGNA Board would add significant risk and uncertainty, potentially placing the interests of a conflicted investor ahead of the interests of all other TEGNA shareholders.
A VOTE FOR TEGNA’S HIGHLY QUALIFIED BOARD IS A VOTE FOR VALUE CREATION
TEGNA is executing on its proven strategy to generate value through organic growth and targeted M&A. As a best-in-class operator in the markets we serve, with top-of-the-market retransmission rates and TSR performance well above our peers, TEGNA is delivering for shareholders.
We will communicate regularly with you in advance of the 2020 Annual Meeting and thank you for your support.
Howard D. Elias
Chairman of the Board
President and Chief Executive Officer
Legislators are advising legal team in Senate trial
President Trump has named the Republican members of Congress who will help mount his defense against the articles of impeachment--obstruction of Congress and abuse of power--in the Senate trial that starts Tuesday (Jan. 21).
The White House said said they would help the President "combat" the "hyper-partisan and baseless impeachment," and suggested there could be more legislators joining the effort, identifying the list as an initial one.
They are: Congressman Doug Collins, Congressman Mike Johnson, Congressman Jim Jordan, Congresswoman Debbie Lesko, Congressman Mark Meadows, Congressman John Ratcliffe, Congresswoman Elise Stefanik, Congressman Lee Zeldin.
Those were identified as legislators who had already provided the White House legal team guidance on proceedings "concocted" by House Democrats as part of a "brazen political vendetta."
The President is on trial for allegedly using his power to attempt to solicit the head of a foreign government to interfere in the 2020 election for his benefit, and for refusing to provide info subpoenaed by the House in its impeachment inquiry.
Prices for spots up 8.6%
The National Football League continued to be a strong draw for advertisers in addition to viewers, according to new figures from research company Standard Media Index.
SMI said that revenue for commercials aired during NFL regular season games was up 10% from September through November.
The price per commercial was up 8.6% and the networks managed to increase the number of paid unit during games by 2%.
NBC’s Sunday Night Football commanded the highest ad rates, at $617.920, up 4.7% from last year. The other networks also showed strong price gains for their NFL game inventory, with Fox up 13.6%, CBS up 7.4% and ESPN registering a 6% hike.
NFL ratings were up for the regular season, bucking the erosion seen in most other TV programming. On Monday, CBS announced that its coverage of the AFC Championship game was the highest-rated program on any network since Super Bowl LIII last year. With 19,404 viewers, the AFC Championship was up 3% from a year ago.
Football wasn’t the only sport performing. Fox’s World Series revenues in October were up, largely because it required the Washington Nationals a full seven games to beat the Houston Astros.
The average cost per spot dipped slightly in 2019 to $329,700 from $336,500 in 2018, but was up from 2017’s average of $289,900, SMI said.
Despite the dip, total ad revenue for the seven-game series was $149 million, up from $119 million in 2018, when the Series went five games. The seven game 2017 series generated $134 million in ad revenue.
“The NFL and World Series results are a testament to the growing importance of live sports,” said James Fennessy, CEO of SMI. “The NFL telecasts account for 17% of season-to-date revenue across all programming on major linear channels, and 70% of FOX’s ad revenue during the current broadcast year.”
SMI’s data comes from the actual invoices from large media buying groups accounting for about 70% of all spending.
Exclusive presentation of Tour de France in Canada
FloSports, a digital sports platform, said it will be streaming more than 300 days of racing during 2020, including the exclusive presentation of the Tour de France in Canada.
In all FloBikes will stream more than 10,000 hours of competitive cycling programming.
This year will mark the first time the Tour de France has been carried in Canada exclusively on a digital platform.
Some of the competitions FloBikes will feature in North America include Giro d’Italia, Men’s and Women’s Tour of Flanders, UCI Road World Championships, La Vuelta a Espana, DVV Trofee Cyclocross Series.
In addition to live event coverage, FloBike will have commentary and analysis for subscribers.
Anaheim, January 16, 2020 – In the face of ever shrinking UHF spectrum available for the program-making and special events (PMSE) sector, Sennheiser is launching a “Link Density Mode” for its Digital 6000 wireless microphone series. “Virtually everywhere the world over, production companies, theatres and touring artists and their engineers have lost more UHF spectrum than can be compensated for,” explained Tom Vollmers, Manager for the Professional Portfolio at Sennheiser. “With the Link Density Mode for Digital 6000, we are providing greater leeway to PMSE professionals while continuing our joint efforts to secure frequency spectrum that is so urgently needed for productions.”
The new Link Density (LD) Mode significantly increases the number of links that can be operated in congested RF environments. While the standard Long Range Mode of Digital 6000 operates with a 400 kHz channel spacing to ensure best audio and RF performance, the LD Mode uses half of the spacing, i.e. 200 kHz. This means that up to 40 links can be accommodated in an 8-MHz TV channel in Europe, and up to 30 links in the smaller 6-MHz TV channel in the USA.
Giving engineers a choice
Behind the LD Mode is the new Sennheiser Performance Audio Codec (SePAC) which has been designed by Sennheiser’s developers to strike a new balance between channel count on one hand and RF and audio performance on the other.
“The LD Mode provides productions with a choice where there simply was none before,” said Vollmers. “They are now able to increase the number of channels by accepting slight trade-offs in the audio frequency response and RF range. This can be a good solution for applications that only have very limited spectrum at their disposal.”
The new LD Mode will be made available free of charge via a firmware update from January 16, 2020 at www.sennheiser.com/download. It can be used with all existing Digital 6000 systems in the market except for the EK 6042 camera receiver, which will not support LD Mode.
“For those visiting NAMM, we will have the new firmware version at the booth and will be happy to provide you with a demonstration,” added Vollmers.
Visit Sennheiser at NAMM, Anaheim Convention Center North, Level 1, Booth No. 14108.
What people are saying to the FCC about all-digital on the AM band
The post “It Will Make Millions of Receivers Obsolete … This Is Needless” appeared first on Radio World.
Radio World is providing an ongoing sampler of comments of what people are telling the FCC about its proposal to allow U.S. stations on the AM band to switch voluntarily to all-digital transmission. Here are more in the series:
Kirk Mazurek told the FCC that he is an avid AM listener who has “invested time and money in equipment towards my hobby as many others have. If this proposal goes through it will make the millions of receivers obsolete requiring the purchase of new equipment. This is needless, there are a lot of people who have vintage radios and a lot of them have been restored. This proposal would make them useless. I urge you not to ratify this proposal.”
Mark Wells raised concern about interference from digital to analog signals on the same channel. “This is especially applicable at night when one is listening to distant stations in out-of-state markets, he wrote. “For example, clear channel stations WBT in Charlotte and KFAB in Omaha are both on both on 1110 kHz. Let’s say one switches to digital, and one does not. As it is they both may fade in and out as the atmosphere does its nightly tricks, but the signals remain mostly useable. But, if one is digital and the other analog would it not ‘blank out’ the analog station?”
Wells also noted that existing analog AM receivers would become obsolete. “Adding a digital to analog converter as they did when switching to HDTV would perhaps not be a very practical solution, as it would require a not so easy installation.” And he reminded the FCC of AM’s role during disasters. “Analog AM receivers are among the most simple of devices to build. In a major disaster a person with the knowledge of how to do so, can build a receiver literally out of debris, and remain in contact with the outside world. This capability cannot be overstated — to say that a voice coming in on a dark, dark fright-filled night is a comforting cannot be denied, as well as the value of receiving emergency information.” He said one solution would be to limit all-digital stations to Class C local operations in the 1610–1700 kHz range “and leave the rest of the AM band as it is now.”
Amateur radio operator Edward Thierbach, AB80J, worries about the distribution of emergency information to the general population. “I suggest that the proposed rules be amended to require the following types of AM stations to retain analog AM broadcast capability for a period of 10–15 years: Clear-channel stations; Emergency Advisory Radio Stations; Other stations officially designated as emergency information stations, whether the official designation is made locally or nationally,” Thierbach wrote.
He said few if any emergency radios (typically hand-cranked or solar-charged) can receive HD Radio, and that relatively few people have portable radios of any type with digital AM capability. Not enough receivers in vehicles have digital AM capability either, he argued, and predicted that proliferation of digital AM radio would likely take much longer than digital TV, “due to less consumer incentive.” He thinks it would take 10 to 15 years before emergency information can be widely and reliably disseminated via digital AM.
And David Bowers takes pleasure in the fact that in radio’s 100th anniversary year, antique radios can still be used to listen to modern AM broadcasts. But he predicted that the dawn of digital AM transmission “would require the design, build and distribution of millions of converters, as was done with DTV in 2009.” He also looked further down the road, saying, “Keep in mind the consequences of this proposal. I know it starts as voluntary, but wheels of progress suggest it could evolve to universal.”
The post “It Will Make Millions of Receivers Obsolete … This Is Needless” appeared first on Radio World.
Audi/Qualcomm project explores emerging standard in northern Virginia
Here’s an interesting spectrum project for those watching the connected car space.
It’s called C-V2X, for “Cellular Vehicle to Everything,” and a notable deployment was announced Wednesday by Audi, Qualcomm and the Virginia Department of Transportation. The deployment will include warnings to automatically alert cars to work zones ahead as well as signal phase and timing, or SPaT, which enables cars to receive a countdown from a red to a green light.
The FCC is among those watching with interest. Chairman Ajit Pai put out statement noting that the deployment was made possible through an experimental license. He used the opportunity to voice support for the idea of redesignating spectrum in the 5.9 GHz band.
“The cars and trucks of the future will use wireless spectrum and advanced technologies to keep us safer on the road,” Pai said. “Cellular Vehicle to Everything, or C-V2X, is a new and promising technology that is gaining momentum in the automotive industry as it enables communications between cars, infrastructure, cyclists, pedestrians and road workers.”
He said rules governing the 5.9 GHz band need to be updated because they are tied up by Dedicated Short-Range Communications, a technology he said was “authorized by the FCC more than 20 years ago that has never been widely deployed.”
The commission recently voted to take “a fresh and comprehensive look” at the 5.9 GHz band and to designate at least 20 megahertz for deployment of C-V2X, calling it an emerging standard for transportation applications.
“If this proposal is adopted, it would be a significant step forward for automotive safety, since there is currently no spectrum designated for C-V2X. Americans on the move would be the beneficiaries — but only if the FCC takes action and leaves the failed status quo behind,” Pai said.
The FCC also has proposed to designate 45 megahertz of that band for unlicensed uses like Wi-Fi. “This 45 megahertz sub-band can be combined with existing unlicensed spectrum to provide cutting-edge high-throughput broadband applications on channels up to 160 megahertz wide,” it wrote in December.
You can read the Audi announcement about the deployment in Virginia here.
Digital Radio Mondiale lays out why it should be chosen over (or alongside) HD Radio
The FCC recently adopted a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that recommends giving AM stations in the United States the flexibility to adopt all-digital broadcasting voluntarily, based in part on the experimental experience of Hubbard station WWFD in Frederick, Md. The commission then asked for comments; one of the first was filed by Digital Radio Mondiale. Its filing is below, with minor edits for clarity. For background about DRM, see www.drm.org/what-is-drm-digital-radio/summary/.
In your document (FCC 19-123) you rightly highlight the great advantage of AM broadcasts, primarily the ability to cover large areas and number of listeners, while the band itself is losing popularity because of a variety of issues to do with propagation, interference [and] environmental changes. At the same time, digital audio broadcasting is no longer the new platform it was in 2002. At that time [the] FCC mandated a proprietary system (IBOC, “HD Radio”) as the only system to be used in the USA, with the possibility of applying DRM for HF.
Since then DRM (the ITU recommended, only digital audio broadcasting for all bands, open standard) has been tested and used all over the world on all bands, shortwave, medium-wave and FM.
So while you are recommending now pure digital HD, based on the NAB tests and [WWFD’s] not completely convincing trial, we would urge the FCC to consider opening the straightjacket of 2002 and allow DRM to be used as a sure, tested, efficient way of digitizing the AM band.
There are several reasons for this. DRM digital radio delivers, in the AM bands, significant benefits:
• Audio quality that is on par or better than FM. DRM, of all recognized digital standards, is the only one using the ultra-efficient and compressed xHE-AAC audio codec that delivers, at even very low bit rates, exceptional audio quality for speech, but music as well (www.drm.org/listen-compare/).
• Record Data: DRM has been tested in medium-wave all over the world in both simulcast and pure digital. A list of the main tests (some of which have become ITU adopted documents) are included in Annex 4 of the DRM Handbook (www.drm.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/DRM-Handbook.pdf). At the moment, 35 MW transmitters are on air in simulcast or pure DRM in India (http://prasarbharati.gov.in/R&D/).
• Auxiliary Data. DRM is the newest, most complete, open standard for digitizing radio in all frequency bands, and is recommended by ITU. DRM has been devised as a direct heir to analog AM (SW, MW). It uses 9/10, 18/20 kHz bandwidth and has a useful content bit rate of up to 72 kbps. It carries up to three programs on one frequency and one data channel, while data can be carried on each of the audio channels as well. One of the great advantages of DRM is that alongside excellent audio, the receiver screens will display visual information of any kind required (album titles, singer photos, maps, visuals of any sort, data of any kind). The Journaline application allows for extra information from the internet or the RSS feeds of the broadcaster to be captured and displayed. Currently broadcasters like the BBC, All India Radio [and] KTWR in Guam are using this extra facility that clearly differentiates digital [from] analog as a superior option.
- Power/energy efficiency. Using SW or MW in DRM can reduce the power used up to 80%. As per calculations made by Ampegon, a medium-wave transmitter can cover an area of 235,000 square kilometers with a 100 kW transmitter. The DRM ERP of such a transmitter is about 50 kW and the coverage area is the same, while instead of one analog program, up to three digital channels and one data channel can be broadcast, all in excellent audio quality.
- Spectrum efficiency (more programs can be broadcast on one single frequency used for one program in analog) as explained above.
- DRM, unlike analog, offers enhanced and stable audio quality that is FM-like (mono or stereo). DRM also offers multiservice data enabled by applications like Journaline (the enhanced text services, more information captured as RSS feeds or from other internet source), slideshows, multilingual text (practically being able to show any characters of any language, not just Latin script), and the Emergency Warning Functionality (EWF) in case of disasters.
- Interference. This has not been noted, as the DRM signal will always be lower than the analog one. AIR has not noted any interference in its operation of DRM transmitters. The mask values required for an optimal functioning of DRM transmitters [are] clearly stipulated in the ITU documents and as long as the network planning is correct and the mask is respected, there should not be any issue of interference in digital-analog or digital-digital DRM transmissions.
- Receivers. Currently there are several receiver models and SDR options for the reception of DRM in AM. India has almost 2 million new cars fitted with DRM receivers, at no cost to the buyers, that are capable of and are receiving DRM medium-wave signals. The audio quality is excellent and a sure benefit to the users.
- DRM is in direct succession to the analog AM (and FM) services, not owned or controlled by any single company, and immediately available with full know-how and technology access by the transmitter and receiver industry.
- As HD in medium-wave is a bit of a necessary step but still a leap in the dark, it would make sense from the practical aspects and even receiver solution availability to allow DRM as the best, clearly proven solution of digitizing the AM band (in preference or alongside HD) in the U.S.
In short, the salient advantages of DRM are:
- The audio quality offered by DRM is equally excellent on all the transmission bands: MW, SW or VHF
- Robust signal unaffected by noise, fading or other forms and interference in all bands
- Clear and powerful sound quality with facility for stereo and 5.1 surround
- More audio content and choice: Up to two and even three audio programs and one data channel on one frequency
- Extra multimedia content: Digital radio listeners can get multimedia content including audio, text, images and in future even small-scale video, such as:
a. Text messages in multiple languages
b. Journaline – advanced text-based information service supporting all classes of receivers, providing anytime-news for quick look-up on the receiver’s screen; interactivity and geo-awareness allowing targeted advertising
c. Electronic Program Guide (EPG), showing what’s up now and next; search for programs and schedule recordings
d. Slideshow Program accompanying images and animation
e. Traffic information
6. Automatically switch for disaster & emergency warnings in case of impending disasters in large areas, automatically presenting the audio message, while providing detailed information on the screen in all relevant languages simultaneously. Great potential to become the surest and widest means of alerting the population to emergencies.
Therefore, we urge [the] FCC to take a wide view and consider all options including DRM, if AM is worth future-proofing in the USA.
Comment on this or any article. Email [email protected] with “Letter to the Editor” in the subject field.
The DRM Consortium describes itself as an international not-for-profit organization composed of broadcasters, network providers, transmitter and receiver manufacturers, universities, broadcasting unions and research institutes. Its aim is to support and spread a digital broadcasting system suitable for use in all the frequency bands up to VHF Band III.
Cedar Falls station recognized for two decades of community service
The National Association of Broadcasters announced it will bestow radio’s most esteemed community service award to an Iowa station at the 2020 NAB Show.The association will present the NAB Crystal Heritage Award to KCVM(FM) of Cedar Falls at the third-annual We Are Broadcasters Celebration scheduled for April 21. The nod is especially fitting for a station owned by Coloff Media, which espouses the motto “Service to Listeners, Clients and Communities.”
The Crystal Heritage Award is reserved for stations that have won five Crystal Radio Awards for service, and KVCM will be the ninth station to receive the honor during the program’s three-decade history. In 2019, KFOR(AM) joined the Crystal Heritage ranks, as did WTOP(FM) in 2018.
“KCVM has served Cedar Falls for over 22 years and exemplifies radio’s strong connection and service to local communities,” NAB Executive Vice President of Industry Affairs Steve Newberry said in the announcement. And don’t forget: Stations can still submit entries to the Crystal Radio Award program through Jan. 31.
Broadcasters want to think ahead about how to capitalize on 5G fixed wireless. The problem is, they don’t know what it is or isn’t yet. In this issue, we ask technical thought leaders how 5G may affect our industry, while Michael LeClair cocks a skeptical eyebrow in that direction. Also in this issue: Spooky podcasts, […]
Broadcasters want to think ahead about how to capitalize on 5G fixed wireless. The problem is, they don’t know what it is or isn’t yet. In this issue, we ask technical thought leaders how 5G may affect our industry, while Michael LeClair cocks a skeptical eyebrow in that direction. Also in this issue: Spooky podcasts, a history of synchronous AM, and cool technologies for your phones and talk show systems.
DRM Says “Not So Fast”
If the FCC allows U.S. AM stations to turn off their analog signals in favor of all-digital transmissions, Digital Radio Mondiale believes it should be among their options.
FUTURE OF RADIO
For Radio, It’s Wait and See About 5G
We asked a bunch of smart people how they think this new technology might play out in the radio biz.
ALSO IN THIS ISSUE:
Former Programmer of the Year takes on new leadership role
Beasley Media Group has promoted Executive Vice President of Programming Justin Chase to chief content officer, the company announced this week.
In a press release, Beasley Media Group CEO Caroline Beasley tasked Chase with “enhancing and expanding our content on all of our on-air and digital platforms.”
Chase has served as EVP of programming since 2016, and prior to that he was operations manager for Beasley Las Vegas and added the vice president of programming title in 2013. In Vegas, he also supervised KCYE(FM), KKLZ(FM), KOAS(FM) and KVGS(FM) as PD, and his work was recognized with Beasley’s “Program Director of the Year” award.
Additionally, Chase is a member of the National Association of Broadcasters Radio Board and serves on the Media Ratings Council’s board of directors, the MRC Radio Committee and the MRC Digital Committee. He has participated as a member of the Nielsen Advisory Council and in special projects with The Council for Research Excellence.
Still plenty of guesswork involved when asking how next-gen wireless will play out
The problem facing broadcasters trying to capitalize on 5G-fixed-wireless is they don’t know what it is or isn’t yet.
Prior to this month’s CES show, Gary Shapiro, president/CEO of the Consumer Electronics Association, assessed the state of 5G for the Jacobs Media blog: “In 2019, 5G moved from trials to commercialization, with commercial launches in the U.S., Europe and Asia. By 2022, the majority (76%) of smartphones shipping in the U.S. will be 5G enabled,” Shapiro said.
“This year, 5G is capable of significantly greater data capacity for video and telepresence applications, significantly more connections at a time and ultra-low latency. The U.S. is now in a global race for 5G leadership, and connectivity — delivering anytime/anywhere access and information — and it is one of the driving trends of our time.”
And 5G’s potential content delivery powers continue to tantalize radio technical experts. Though the phase-in of 5G networks has begun, the full technical evolution is three to five years off, experts say. This leaves radio broadcasters time to think about ways to take advantage of the next-generation of cellular networks.
The new wireless platform will be superior to earlier generations of mobile systems, with significantly greater throughput and considerably lower latency, according to those who follow the sector.
Fifth-generation cellular technology is expected to have a transformative effect on multiple industries, including audio and video delivery. 5G is initially being deployed in mobile broadband networks alongside 4G/LTE, with stand-alone 5G deployments following at a later stage.
Technical experts say 5G — which was also the theme of several NAB Show sessions last year, and presumably will be again this spring — has the potential to transform how radio broadcasters operate, with enhanced wireless data transmissions and more data-intensive applications, and even point-to-point links.
The FCC continues to conduct 5G spectrum auctions, recently reallocating part of the C-Band spectrum for its use, which will be critical to the deployment of 5G services and applications. And broadcast equipment suppliers like transmitter manufacturers and codec makers reportedly are experimenting with 5G in order to explore the potential of next-gen wireless, even though industry standards have yet to be set.
The point-to-point communication capabilities of 5G could someday eliminate the need for traditional STLs and other high-capacity data circuits for broadcasters.
Much has been written about the implications on video, including virtual reality and e-sports, but the end game for radio depends on the timing of 5G full implementation, since the adoption curve for 5G is a few years from completion.
Observers say broadcasters need to approach 5G from both the standpoint of what it means for consumers and for how stations acquire and deliver content.
“As 5G networks become more ubiquitous, wireless technologies will be incorporated into more consumer devices, expanding the availability of streaming services beyond even where it is today,” said Ari Meltzer, a partner in the telecommunications, media and technology practice at Wiley Rein LLP.
“And because 5G signals have more bandwidth than traditional AM or FM signals, radio broadcasters should anticipate having to compete against the almost limitless variety of programming that will be available over 5G networks.”
Radio broadcasters would be wise to incorporate 5G into their long-term planning, Meltzer said, even if some guesswork is involved.
“Radio broadcasters need to analyze how listeners are consuming their content and how that is likely to change as consumer adoption of connected devices continues to grow at an exponential pace. While this may create challenges for the traditional linear programming model, it also creates opportunities for radio broadcasters to provide expanded interactive services and to reach listeners in new ways with new content,” he said.
The European Broadcasting Union’s project group 5G Deployments is addressing technical and non-technical issues related to business arrangements, deployment models and regulatory conditions for 5G mobile systems, according to Darko Ratkaj, EBU senior project manager for technology and innovation.
“Where available, 5G will provide improved connectivity with high speed and low latency, which would improve the user experience with audio streaming,” Ratkaj said. “However, streaming of audio services is already possible over 4G networks and WiFi, and this is increasingly popular. Therefore, the impact of 5G will be incremental, rather than revolutionary. Much will depend on the availability and performance of 5G-enabled user devices.”
In addition, one of the main benefits that 4G and 5G bring to broadcasters, Ratkaj said, is the “possibility to deliver content and services to personal devices, in particular mobile phones, which cannot receive signals via terrestrial or satellite broadcast networks.”
He added, “Content distribution over mobile networks such as 4G and 5G may require different commercial arrangements compared to conventional broadcasting.”
The connected car is expected to make use of 5G next-gen technology as the service rolls out; indeed the connected car is likely to hog a lot of its capacity.
A radio working group of the North American Broadcasters Association notes that 5G is often cited as the primary path forward for vehicle connectivity. “It is believed by many in the automotive space that 5G video application and vehicle-to-vehicle communication will use the majority of 5G’s capacity,” the committee wrote in its report “The Value Proposition of Radio in a Connected World,” published last year.
TOO SOON TO SAY
Technical observers say it is too early to begin architecting radio’s future with 5G but acknowledge the need for the industry to consider all opportunities to share audio and metadata in a better connected world.
“It’s difficult to answer the question about how radio as an industry may take advantage of what 5G has to offer. It’s an emerging technology, and geographic availability is yet to be defined,” said Michael Beach, VP of distribution at National Public Radio.
Milford Smith, principal with Smith, Khanna and Guill Inc., said while 5G is being rolled out by various carriers, some more aggressively than others, he thinks it’s going to take nearly ubiquitous availability before broadcasters explore new applications.
“One thing is for sure, it’s unlikely that there will be much need much longer for heritage wired pathways for out-of-studio events,” Smith said.
Another veteran engineer said how media is consumed will affect the efficiencies of using 5G next-gen services. “Audio is mostly consumed while mobile, whether jogging through the park or commuting to the office,” said Frank McCoy, CE at Salem Media Chicago. “Video is delivered more often to stationary devices. It’s a lot easier to maintain smooth connectivity through a single path than through an environment that requires regular system handoffs. This remains a limitation. The back end structure required to make this work will still struggle, I believe.”
As the small cell infrastructure in high-density areas for 5G is built out, the 5G canopy will expand, McCoy said.
“The new spectrum will linearly expand throughput per cell, but that’s it. To exponentially gain throughput requires more and smaller cells, so this isn’t a problem that’s easy to solve.”
There are technical implications of 5G adoption, too, McCoy said. “I expect 5G will look a lot like 4G but with more bandwidth. It’s still physics-limited to about 3.7 data bits per spectrum Hertz, though. And it may come without support for IPv4. Better study up on IPv6.”
McCoy said he is unaware of any 5G planning done by Salem Media, though fixed, point-to-point services should benefit from more bandwidth. “Then again, the Silicon Valley folks seem to come up with new, better consumer tools that require ever more bandwidth to function. And free connectivity may emerge, driven by ad content, as radio is,” he said.
There will be investment costs for broadcasters to be ready for the 5G world, said Richard Engelman, a technical consultant with Wiley Rein LLP.
“Given the variety of ways in which radio broadcasters can adopt 5G technologies, the range of required investments will vary tremendously,” he said.
“At one extreme, because 5G is a network technology that can be used to distribute a variety of content, radio broadcasters can invest in IP-based content distribution and take advantage of 5G without any incremental cost for 5G itself. At the other extreme, building new point-to-point links or equipping studios and remote facilities to take advantage of 5G technology will require both an upfront capital investment and, potentially, investments in the spectrum required to deliver the signal,” Engelman said.
Are the number of qualified engineers in fact declining? And how is the industry responding to the situation?
Radio World Editor in Chief Paul McLane talks to experts in commercial radio, public radio and technical education in this special report, sponsored by Nautel and Shively.
Are the number of qualified engineers in fact declining? How are companies are balancing the needs of RF vs. IT? What choices are available for technical training? Are broadcast groups changing how they manage product buying or approach infrastructure design with a shortage of technical talent in mind?
Three-day event will feature some 160 exhibitors, over 100 conferences, masterclasses, and more
The post European Radio & Digital Audio Show Starts Thursday appeared first on Radio World.
Organizers of the 2020 European Radio & Digital Audio Show say they expect more than 8,000 visitors to the upcoming edition.
With some 160 exhibitors and over 100 conferences, masterclasses and workshops, the event is laying out what all in attendance will have in store for the three-day event in Paris.
“In 2020, in France and Europe, radio remains a safe bet and the soundest listening tool. Europeans love radio and have faith in it. It is still deeply rooted in the lives of listeners,” said show organizers Philippe Chapot and Fréderic Brulhatour.
“But at the beginning of the 21st century, audio is becoming more versatile and is spreading at an ever-faster pace over all areas of life and through all types of media. Digital audio is now available everywhere, anytime. It is definitely a new revolution and a new world of possibilities.”
“SOLID RADIO, LIQUID AUDIO”
The show’s theme for this year will be “Solid Radio. Liquid Audio.” Supporting that theme will be a number of events and presentations.
One example is the dedicated pavilion that will showcase German and Austria’s work in the industry. More than 15 German and Austrian exhibitors will be present in the pavilion, including Audi and its e-tron automobile, featuring its latest infotainment system. After conference hours, the pavilion will also host a “Biergarten” starting at 7 p.m.
The conference is also expanding its Podcast & Co. area to become the POD.Village. There will be the In-car XP stand on embedded digital radio and audio experiments in the automotive industry, while the DAB+ pavilion will offer updates on digital terrestrial radio around the world.
A number of popular features are also returning after successful debuts, including the Rebounce Audio hackathon that looks at the ins and outs of tomorrow’s radio and digital audio world; the Sales House for hosting conventions and cross-industry meetings, like the national convention of the Indes Radio, National Radio Day of the RCF network and the 90th anniversary of “Music & the Spoken Word”; and the Muzicenter Meetup, offering meetings between labels and director of programs.
Additional offerings at the 2020 conference include personalized sessions in a KEODA soundproof booth; the International Radio of the Year Award Ceremony; and the French Young Talent Awards for Radio, TV and Net.
The 2020 European Radio & Digital Audio Show is taking place from Jan. 23–25 at the Grande Halle de la Villette in Paris.
The post European Radio & Digital Audio Show Starts Thursday appeared first on Radio World.
“Poe Theatre on the Air” productions interpret terror classics for podcast audience
“Very well, I admit the deed! Tear up the planks! Here! Here! It is the beating of the old man’s hideous heart!”
This is the climax to Edgar Allen Poe’s horror classic “The Tell-Tale Heart.” And like many a classic, it’s a familiar tale that becomes fresh again when the retelling is new and different.
This is why the National Edgar Allan Poe Theatre’s podcast production of “The Tell-Tale Heart” is such a worthwhile listen. Hosted online by Baltimore NPR station WYPR 88.1 FM, “Tell-Tale Heart” is one of a series of Poe-based podcasts being produced by the company’s “Poe Theatre on the Air” initiative.
“Poe Theatre of the Air is based on the ‘theater of the mind’ approach to radio drama, which uses actors, music and sound effects to conjure up vivid stories in the listeners’ imaginations,” said Alex Zavistovich, the founder and artistic director of the National Edgar Allan Poe Theatre.
Orson Welles’ famous 1938 “War of the Worlds” broadcast is based on the theater of the mind approach. The dark stories of Edgar Allan Poe lend themselves well to this audio production style, even though his 19th century tales were written long before radio came to be.
An experienced actor and director as well as a former editor of Radio World, Alex Zavistovich is no stranger to radio drama. Previous to creating the National Edgar Allan Poe Theatre, Zavistovich founded and managed Lean & Hungry Theater, which performed radio adaptations of Shakespeare and other English literary classics. These adaptations have been aired on NPR affiliate stations in Austin, Texas; Tampa, Florida; and Washington, D.C.
Although Poe was born in Boston in 1809 and then lived in Richmond, the indisputable Father of American Horror did much of his writing in Baltimore, where he died at age 40 after being found incoherent in Ryan’s Tavern.
Poe’s ties to Baltimore appealed to Zavistovich when he moved to this city.
“I learned that there was no national theater dedicated to the works of Edgar Allan Poe,” he said. “So I have set about to raise Poe’s profile, and Poe Theatre on the Air is one way I’m doing it.”
As for hosting these podcasts on WYPR’s website? “Being affiliated with an NPR station instantly gave us a credibility and a reach that we wouldn’t have if we did this on our own,” said Zavistovich.
To date, Poe Theatre on the Air has produced five dramatic podcasts based on Poe’s works. As described by the theater’s web page, a sampling:
The Tell-Tale Heart: “A housekeeper takes a job caring for an old man, and it seems like a dream for them both. But the dream becomes a nightmare when the housekeeper’s obsession with the man turns deadly — with a truly heart-pounding ending.”
The Black Cat: “A man brings home a cat for his animal-loving wife, to replace a cherished pet. When the new family addition becomes too annoying for the man, it leads to a dark secret that the cat reveals at the worst possible time — for the man.”
Morella: “A man’s love for his scholarly wife fades as her fascination turns to morbid themes. On her deathbed, she gives birth and curses the man to ensure that he will never be freed from her memory.”
Posted more recently are episodes “The Cask of Amontillado” and “Berenice.”
In a nice touch, the stories are tied together by the device of the listener visiting an insane asylum. Each cell they visit contains a deranged inmate directly related to the Poe tale about to be told.
The scripts, drawn from Poe’s own works, are created by Zavistovich and Professor Richard Hand, a professor of media practice at the UK’s University of East Anglia. The actors are from the Poe Theatre on the Air’s company, with production being handled in Baltimore by long-time audio engineer and producer Ty Ford, another Radio World alum.
Teaching theatrical actors to do radio drama wasn’t easy, Ford said. “We do the show in my 25- by-35-foot custom-tuned basement studio, and it took a while for some of them to get used to working with microphones rather than projecting to an audience from the stage,” he said. “But they’re getting the hang of it now.”
To make these Poe podcasts more compelling, Ford uses a mix of original music that he and Zavistovich compose/perform on the fly, plus recorded sound effects, and actual “real” effects that he creates as required.
“For instance, when we needed the sound of a trowel being used to brick a victim into a wall, I grabbed one of my own and rubbed across the terra-cotta saucer of a flower pot,” Ford said.
CLASSICS FOR THE PODCAST GENERATION
In creating theater of the mind audio productions, Zavistovich and Ford are aiming for the pinnacle of Golden Age radio dramatic production, a genre made popular by long-running radio series like “Gunsmoke” and “Suspense.”
Judging by the quality of Poe Theatre on the Air, they have hit this mark. These podcasts feature a lively mix of solid voice acting, convincing sound effects, and suitably eerie music that underlines Poe’s emphasis on pervasive, insistent unease; a sense of discomfort that begins by gently unsettling the listener at the outset, and building to a tsunami of terror by the end.
“We recently heard from WYPR that we have had 6,000 downloads for the first three shows,” said Ford, “not just streams, but downloads. They were excited by that and are planning even more promotion for the show.”
If all goes to plan, Alex Zavistovich hopes to keep producing new Poe podcasts on a monthly basis. “There’s a whole community of podcasts listeners who are deeply interested in radio drama and complex storytelling,” he said. “This is what we are trying to bring to them through the tales of Edgar Allan Poe.”
And if the living Poe podcasts transport their listeners into a world of deadly fear and trepidation, so much the better. As the Father of American Horror wrote in “The Premature Burial”: “The boundaries which divide Life from Death are at best shadowy and vague. Who shall say where the one ends, and where the other begins?”
Find more episodes at www.wypr.org/programs/poe-theatre-air.
With IP-based studios the new station covers western Kenya and greater Rift valley
In the main studio, Lawo’s crystal mixing console and Compact Engine mixing platform connect to a standards-based AES67/Ravenna AoIP network. In addition, the Lawo VisTool GUI Builder software powers a graphical interface that displays onscreen control of source selection, EQ and other options.
For Radio Simba’s second studio, the station makes use of Lawo RƎLAY VRX software with a multitouch-enabled graphical interface.
“RƎLAY VRX software, installed on the same PC that hosts the playout system, software codecs, streaming encoder and other studio tools, is the equivalent of an entire broadcast studio on a single touchscreen PC,” pointed out Lawo in a press release.
Byce Broadcast, Lawo’s Nairobi-based distributor and systems integration partner, managed the project planning, installation and commissioning of Radio Simba’s studios.
According to Lawo, Byce carefully reviewed the IT and broadcast technologies before fitting the studios to ensure Radio Simba would fully benefit from an IP-based studio environment.
“We are extremely proud of what we’ve achieved,” says station owner Joshua Kisiang’ani. “Our new studios are both very functional, and very beautiful!”
Community radio must take digital security seriously
Are you thinking about your community radio station’s digital security? It’s a more serious matter than you may realize.
This month, Google announced open enrollment for its new Advanced Protection Program. “The Advanced Protection Program helps high-risk users — like members of political campaign teams, journalists, activists, executives, employees in regulated industries such as finance or government — shield themselves from targeted, sophisticated attacks on their Google Accounts,” the release notes. “We’ve helped protect these types of people for many years.” Media is presumably a part of this group.
The new program relies on built-in security keys. It offers a layer of protection out of reach for most people for years.
Google’s effort is the latest salvo in the war against phishing, ransomware and other digital malware impacting both for-profit and nonprofit organizations. Malware alone is estimated to cost industry over $100 billion annually.
The most pernicious of these baddies is ransomware. In a ransomware attack, hackers encrypt data until a fee is paid. Ransomware attacks have impacted community radio on numerous occasions, including at KBOO and WNCU. The cost of ransomware lockdowns can be enormous.
How does your station avoid becoming a victim of ransomware, phishing schemes or other unseemly online assaults?
As cliché as it sounds, prevention is the best medicine for these problems. Online security in the form of virus protection, safe web surfing browser plugins from trusted providers, and regular operating system updates, especially of security patches, should be mandatory at your station. Your station should also be doing regular backups, which are then taken off-site and offline. In addition, there is a training component. If your station relies on volunteers, everyone should be taught not to open links that look suspicious. Don’t forget to give examples!
The proliferation of viruses through Facebook Messenger bots sending provocative links labeled things like “IS THIS YOUR PICTURE” are a dead giveaway. Still, you would be surprised how many people fall for these tricks daily.
Your station may consider going the extra mile and restricting web browsers’ activities to prevent people from going to websites with questionable content, like illegal music downloading pages or pornography. Such websites are often littered with popups and automated downloads of malicious software that can drag your systems down. In isolated cases, malware and other tools can await an unsuspecting user who clicks a file open.
The longtime leader in computer security IDG recommends several ways to avoid malware and ransomware. On the top of the list? Never give links administrative privileges unless you know exactly what the software in question is and what it does.
Once you’re the victim of malware or ransomware, the fixes could be easy to almost impossible. Many virus companies offer resources for saving data, but this work can come at a premium. The virus prevention company Malwarebytes suggests that your station should consult with information technology specialists before using software to try decrypting data sequestered by ransomware.
Digital security is not as complicated as it once was. For community radio, which sometimes can be avoidant to spending, that $100 you spend on basic protection could prove priceless later.
RW is sampling comments to the FCC about all-digital on AM; here's what one Ohio broadcaster says
The post “WLOH Would Have a Compelling Reason to Promote Its Signal Again” appeared first on Radio World.
Radio World is providing an ongoing sampler of what people are telling the FCC about the current proposal to allow U.S. stations on the AM band to switch to all-digital transmission if they wish.
This comment was filed by Mark E. and Arlene D. Bohach, licensees of WLOH(AM) in Lancaster, Ohio.
We are commenting to express our complete support of 19-311 and urge the FCC to adopt this proceeding as quickly as possible.
We are the licensees of WLOH(AM) in Lancaster, Ohio. Since the initial rulemaking allowing AM stations to operate FM fill-in translators, WLOH has been able to secure and operate three FM translators that effectively serve our AM listening area.
WLOH is the ideal candidate to convert our AM signal into an MA3-All Digital signal. Virtually all our listeners have migrated to our FM signals. Our AM signal serves no useful purpose anymore.
The idea of creating a viable all-digital signal that rivals the best FM sound quality and provides the metadata services that are expected today are strong inducements for us to make the investment. It would also create a powerful marketing tool for our operation and you can be sure that we would promote is heavily.
The only issue I foresee is what to call this new service. The term “AM” has a stigma among many people as a static-prone and inferior-sounding service. And since this would not be amplitude modulation, a new name would be needed that connotes the superior nature of the signal. But what a great problem that would be.
Our tower site lease is due for renewal this year and our transmitter is 15 years old. This would give us a compelling reason to maintain and even upgrade our AM equipment. The bottom line is this- WLOH would have a compelling reason to promote its 1320 kHz signal again. We want this to happen. Thank you for your consideration.
File comments in Docket 19-311. Comments are due March 9, 2020. Replies are due April 6.
The post “WLOH Would Have a Compelling Reason to Promote Its Signal Again” appeared first on Radio World.
Audio Engineering Society and five co-winners will receive it during spring NAB Show
The Audio Engineering Society will receive a Technical & Engineering Emmy Award for its work with audio over IP, sharing the award with six partners who were involved in developing the AES67 standard: ALC NetworX, Audinate, Kevin Gross, QSC, The Telos Alliance and Wheatstone.
The award is for “Development of synchronized multichannel uncompressed audio transport over IP networks,” and will be given in a ceremony at the NAB Show at the Wynn Encore on Sunday, April 19.
AES67 is a protocol that established a standardized language for audio transport. Although AoIP plays a huge role in radio, the Technology & Engineering Emmy Awards actually are given for developments or standardization in engineering technologies that affect television.
AES noted that its AES67 standard for high-performance streaming audio-over-IP interoperability was introduced in 2013. It stated: “AES67 compliance allows audio content interoperability between the proprietary IP-based audio networking protocols developed by the Emmy co-winners: Ravenna, Dante, Q-Sys, Livewire+ and WheatNet-IP.”
AES Fellow Kevin Gross led the AES67 Standards effort and is the chair of the AES Technical Committee on Network Audio Systems.
In the AES announcement, Gross was quoted: “The improvement from audio networking born in the mid-1990s to new IP-based solutions emerged as a simultaneous invention from the honored companies. While collectively this represented a technical improvement, interoperability was not addressed until the AES initiated the X192 project on audio interoperability.”
He thanked the late Steve Church, Rich Zwiebel, Philip Lawo and Andreas Hildebrand as leaders of companies who “understood the potential for a standard to take audio networking to the next level,” and thanked then AES Standards Manager Mark Yonge for mentoring the process.
AES Executive Director Colleen Harper said AES67 “fundamentally changed the broadcast audio landscape and paved the way for recent similar developments for video.”
Budget and entry-level brand gets WheatNet-IP technology
Coining a term, Wheatstone Director of Sales Jay Tyler said, “WheatNet-IP’ing this console effectively brings Wheatstone’s Intelligent Network routing and control to stations on a budget, allowing them to automate functions they couldn’t approach before. This enables them to run leaner, more efficient operations overall, and opens a pathway to the new world of AES67 interoperability.”
The DMX’s rackmount engine carries a WheatNet-IP network hub, providing the building block for an IP audio network for users without the need for an external or separate hub.
Nine students to receive scholarships totaling $29,000
The post AFCCE, IEEE-BTS and NTA Dole Out Spring 2020 Scholarships appeared first on Radio World.
In an effort to support students that are seeking careers in telecommunications and broadcast engineering, the Association of Federal Communications Consulting Engineers, the IEEE Broadcast Technology Society and the National Translator Association have selected nine students across the country to receive their spring 2020 scholarships.
Here are the nine recipients:
- Maurice Compton, University of Dallas
- Nathan Ellsworth, University of Texas at Dallas
- Andrew Heller, University of Minnesota
- Md. Tajul Islam, University of Missouri at Kansas City
- Daniel Klawson, University of Maryland at College Park
- Obagaeli Ngene-Igwe, University of Cincinnati
- Prosanta Paul, Old Dominion University
- Dylan Stewart, Old Dominion University
- Rafida Zaman, University of Missouri at Kansas City
The scholarships all range between $1,000 and $5,000, with $29,000 being awarded in total between the nine students.
Andrew Heller is the inaugural recipient of NTA’s Byron W. St. Clair Memorial Scholarship, which is given to promising students that plan to pursue a career in broadcast engineering.
“NTA congratulates Mr. Heller,” said John Terrill, president of NTA. “This scholarship is a good first step in the tradition of Byron St. Clair to enlighten young minds and encourage more interest in broadcast engineering, especially in the areas of translator and low power television.”
Ellsworth, Islam, Klawson and Stewart, meanwhile, were awarded IEEE BTS/AFCCE’s Jules Cohen Memorial Scholarships, which awards up to $10,000 to promising undergraduate or graduate students pursuing broadcast engineering.
Also of note, Zaman was the recipient of the E. Noel Luddy Scholarship, which was sponsored by Dielectric Communications.
In total, AFCCE says that these scholarships represented the groups’ largest ever award to students that they hope “will help shape the future,” said John George, AFCCE president.
The post AFCCE, IEEE-BTS and NTA Dole Out Spring 2020 Scholarships appeared first on Radio World.
One-year career development program open to recent and upcoming graduates
The post FCC Accepting Applicants for Honors Engineer Program appeared first on Radio World.
The FCC is seeking recent or upcoming college graduates with an engineering degree to take part in its Honors Engineer Program, which is accepting applications from now until Feb. 20.
The Honors Engineer Program, which the FCC launched in 2018, is a one-year career development program that offers public sector experience for new/recent graduates and allows them to work on current issues in the communications and technology industries.
Some of the areas that participants may work on include 5G; the Internet of Things; next-gen TV broadcasting; new broadband satellite systems; facilitating the deployment of broadband services; identifying technologies to improve access to communications services, particularly those with disabilities; supporting the introduction of communications technologies designed for public safety, homeland security, health care, energy, education and more; and developing policies that will support the innovation and investment in new communication devices and services.
“Engineers play a critical and essential role in the work of the FCC, and our recent Honors Engineers, in particular, have already made an important contribution to the agency’s mission,” said Ajit Pai, FCC chairman. “Most of the high-profile issues on the FCC’s plate require the input of engineers, so there is no better time for new engineers to embark on careers here that promise to be tremendously rewarding.”
At the end of the program, participants will be eligible for consideration for continued employment with the FCC.
In reviewing potential candidates, the FCC will look at academic achievement, technical skills, engineering and extracurricular activities and whether they have a demonstrated interest in government service and/or the communications sector.
Interested applicants can apply online.
The post FCC Accepting Applicants for Honors Engineer Program appeared first on Radio World.
Association names LeGeyt successor; also tabs Carty-Sipp for Newberry’s old post
The National Association of Broadcasters will have a new chief operating officer come Feb. 1.
Chris Ornelas, who has been with NAB for a decade, will depart to join Beasley Media Group, where he’ll oversee legal matters for the media company as its general counsel.
He will be replaced by Curtis LeGeyt, NAB’s executive vice president of government relations.
Ornelas joined NAB in 2010 as executive vice president and chief strategy officer and was promoted to COO the next year. Prior he had been the chief counsel on communications and technology for then-Senator Gordon Smith, now NAB’s president/CEO.
LeGeyt has been with NAB since 2011 as senior vice president and legislative counsel, and then senior vice president, public policy before being promoted to his current role in 2015. He also is a former senior counsel to then-Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Patrick Leahy.
In the announcement, Smith saluted both men and noted LeGeyt for his “superb management skills, the victories that NAB Government Relations has delivered on Capitol Hill, and his dedication to the mission of NAB and local broadcasting.”
Also, NAB has promoted three senior VPs — April Carty-Sipp, Shawn Donilon and Trish Johnson — to executive vice president.
April Carty-Sipp was promoted to EVP of Industry Affairs, succeeding Steve Newberry, who had announced earlier that he will be leaving to become CEO at technology company Quu.
Shawn Donilon was promoted to EVP of Government Relations, replaces LeGeyt.
Trish Johnson becomes EVP of Finance/Chief Financial Officer.
Don’t underestimate the potential of digital radio in times of crisis
The author is chairman of Digital Radio Mondiale.
The image of a lonely kangaroo against the orange sky of the burning Australian bush must have been seen by billions of people over the last few weeks. Yet, this is just one of the many disasters ushering in the new year. Let us not forget about the floods and earthquakes in Indonesia, the earthquakes in Puerto Rico, the first cyclones in Asia.
The increasing number of these disasters can challenge governments and authorities more often and for longer everywhere not just in Asia. And when a disaster strikes communication is of the essence.
Australian public broadcaster ABC has been rightly praised for its national emergency broadcasts these last few weeks. ABC’s “excellent job” in providing emergency information (as mentioned by the Minister of Communications) raises issues many public broadcasters and some commercial station are facing the world over.
How do they maintain proper and frequent disaster warnings that are able to reach everyone, even citizens in rural and less populated areas, and sometimes over many days and nights? And how can they fund all this “extra effort”? These broadcasts seem essential during emergencies but then they quickly drop to the bottom of the priorities’ list when the rain returns or the last cameraman has packed and gone to cover another more urgent story.
COVERING LARGE, TARGETED AREAS
Using analog broadcasting in emergencies is an old but often “alert-all” blunt instrument. If medium wave or shortwave are used in local or regional emergencies, the broadcast messages might also reach and alarm people in faraway regions who do not need to worry (yet). When disasters strike, cell towers, internet provision and FM transmitters are often immediately affected. Cell, radio or TV towers are often mounted on the highest location to give largest coverage. Electricity might be also impacted at transmission and sometimes at studio level, even if a generator is used.
A neater solution is to use a transmitter, a digital AM one, situated outside the danger area. One such AM transmitter could have helped the Australians. A DRM AM transmitter can support long-distance Emergency Warning Functionality (EWF) coverage from outside the disaster area being received just in the concerned area.
In emergency situations an explicit alarm signal is sent to receivers indicating where to find the actual emergency program and, if the rightly equipped receiver is used, the receiver will be even “woken up” if in standby mode (but not switched off). Does this sound so fanciful? Not more than talking to your smart speaker.
Then the DRM receiver becomes a smart radio activated not by the listener’s voice but by the transmitter, which has received the right information or files from the broadcaster linked to the emergency authority along a well-established path.
It’s possible to insert the emergency message for the target area quickly, while, for other unaffected regions, the regular programs continue unchanged. In other words, the technology exists for EWF localization but the planning and setting up of the transmission chain from the first message, map, telephone number to the listener needs human intervention that links the relevant authorities to the broadcaster etc. DRM has demonstrated how this can work (e.g. India, Bangladesh etc.), showing how inserting the necessary files alongside or instead of the audio file can be quickly implemented in a normal newsroom on a laptop.
The DRM AM digital audio broadcasting standard provides flexibility and also carries extra information that can be displayed on the car radio or standalone screens without flattening batteries as quickly as with cellular phones.
A map or an address, a clear instruction in your mother tongue or in several can save lives. And what is useful for many can become vital for people with hearing impairments, for example.
How about the thousands of FM transmitters in emergencies, if they are still up? Just turning them into emergency loudspeakers (no maps, or written instructions in analog) can be quite daunting, especially if the task needs to be completed fast and by staff who might not always be available.
All major digital radio standards have some disaster warning feature provision. Using one content server, one box, to feed several DRM for FM transmitters can be a quick solution and Indonesia is imaginatively trying to implement this very solution this year.
According to the Technology and New Media director of RRI, the Indonesian public radio, Mr. R. Ginging, “RRI is currently installing five DRM-FM transmitters in five cities. The five transmitters are equipped with an early warning system. If this technology runs well, we hope that in the future Indonesia can establish DRM as the national digital broadcasting standard.”
BUDGETS FOR EMERGENCIES
Emergency broadcasting is seldom a line in any broadcaster’s annual plan and it comes out of the base funding, as is the case with ABC in Australia. And when budgets are being cut, asking for potential emergency broadcasting money can sound extravagant.
Therefore, turning to digital radio is not just about being “on trend” about more channels or pop princesses’ pictures on screen. It’s not even about getting significant electricity and spectrum savings (in DRM of up to 80%). It’s about building emergency warning capability that is always available, at no extra cost (once properly planned and installed and with the receiver industry on board). This also delivers the extra benefit of localization, whether of regular content or of emergency warnings.
The Emergency Warning Functionality is one of the great benefits of digital radio like DRM. But we need to continue to demonstrate this potential and bring it to the attention of governments and accountants — digital radio can save lives and money, leaving nobody behind.