FCC opens consumer complaint center

I found this interesting article in Inside Radio: FCC simplifies complaint process.

This is part of the “Reboot FCC” initiative which started many months ago.  While I applaud the FCC acknowledgement that they are essentially a slow, plodding government bureaucracy, saying something about it and doing something about it are two different things.

The Consumer Help Center is a website where the public can complain about such things as junk faxes, telemarketers, TELCO billing issues, ISPs, indecent language and a whole host of other topics.

My question is, what happens to the complaint, once it is received?  I’d like to hear if anyone has tried this and what the results were.  Perhaps they will include a section for reporting IBOC interference on the broadcast band.

If the CRTC has any sense….

They’ll run away screaming “NOOOOOOOO!” to this notion:

Canada’s plan “B” might include iBiquity.

(as reported by Inside Radio)

Let’s just hope that this is more of iBiquity’s wishful thinking, which is often presented as actual important news being based in fact.  By iBiquity.

Why does the CRTC need a plan B anyway?  Is in not enough that Eureka 147 failed mainly due to lack of public interest?  If it was something that was commercially viable, wouldn’t it have taken off on its own?  Now they are thinking of ruining the FM broadcast band, which, in my experience in Canada, is working perfectly fine.

Who says “digital” is better?  If anything, what has been discovered in this country is when it comes to HD radio, digital is worse.  Thus far, HD radio has the following going for it:

  • Proprietary system with expensive licensing fees
  • Complicated infrastructure
  • Insufficient building penetration
  • Poor performance in mobile reception evironments
  • Lack of original programming
  • Adjacent channel interference
  • Poor receiver sales
  • Lack of general interest and/or knowledge by public

All of these things have been well documented.  If you work for the Canadian Radio Television and Telecommunication Commission (CRTC) and are thinking about this, contact me.  I’ll even invite you down for a drive around and you can experience HD radio, in all its glory, first hand.

I-Buzz

Rumor has it that iBiquity is going to release a software upgrade for the AM IBOC system they peddle.  Allegedly it is going to improve the sound quality of the digital signal, allow the analog signal to increase it’s bandwidth to 10 kHz and provide data such as song titles.  No word on whether they will be providing software upgrades to consumers for the many HD radioTM receivers out there.

I have been following a discussion on AM quality over the last few days.  It seems many engineering types at least, acknowledge that analog AM can sound good, if not more natural that FM.  The addition of IBOC hybrid mode on AM station has created more noise and further degraded the station’s main signal by reducing the bandwidth to less than 5 kHz.

Tonight I am listening to WWVA on 1170 kHz, and there is this horrific white noise/hash over top of the station.  Same thing on 1190 kHz, all courstesy of WHAM 1180’s IBOC transmission.  It is one thing to trash your own station, limiting the analog audio response to 5 kHz.  It is quite another thing to trash the adjacent frequencies with noise making them unlistenable.

Here is a brief clip (recorded at 8:00 pm EDT, March 24, 2010):

Second clip, WWVA has faded out (recorded at 9:10 pm EDT, March 24, 2010)

The audio in these videos is adequate but not the best, still, it is pretty clear that there is a whole bunch of white noise on top of WWVA’s signal and on 1190 where no station is coming in. The only conclusion that I can draw is that WHAM is operating with their IBOC turned on. This was recorded at a location that is 197 miles from WHAM and 364 miles from WWVA.  I have made several better recordings directly into the computer without the video frequency readout reference.

In 1990, the FCC mandated NRSC-2 (73.44) spectral mask on all AM stations, requiring them to put in brick wall filtering to limit the bandwidth to 10 kHz or less.  They also require all AM station to do “equipment performance measurements” (73.1590) to verify that the stations are complying with FCC regulations.  This was done because of excessive sideband splatter by AM broadcasters creating interference to adjacent channel stations.  I agree in principle with the NRSC-2 standard, I think it serves a purpose.  Why then, are stations allowed to interfere with other stations with IBOC signals?  Even though Ibiquity has put up a spectral mask that complies with NRSC-2, it still creates interference.  Isn’t this a double standard?  A station in Pennsylvania gets fined $4,000.00 for operating past its sign off time (because operating after sign off might create harmful interference), yet, WHAM gets to generate noise all night and drowned out adjacent channel stations that are hundreds of miles away?

In the mean time, if the FCC inspector shows up at a station that has not made the required “equipment performance measurements” they will get a fine too.

Am I crazy, or is it hypocritical bull shit to fine one station for potential harmful interference, but then the FCC to ignores its own rules and allows another type interference?  Hint: I am not crazy.

I have recorded this in .wav format and I am sending it to the FCC with an interference complaint letter.  It is about time somebody made some noise about this noise.  Apparently, there are many engineers who feel the same way.  Will Ibiquity listen, or will they keep doing CPR on a corpse?