The NRSC has been busy

The National Radio Systems Committee has been busy with several initiatives, including the release this spring of an EAS guideline for FM stations and the ongoing review of noise sources on the AM band in the United States.

The NRSC, which held meetings at the NAB Show this spring, is jointly sponsored by the National Association of Broadcasters and the Consumer Technology Association. The group aims to help broadcasters and receiver manufacturers come together to find solutions to common problems in radio broadcast systems.

The EAS Directive adopted in April sets out recommendations on how best for broadcasters to implement EAS functionality in their facilities. The action was taken during the first set of NRSC subcommittee meetings to be held face-to-face at a NAB show since 2019, according to David Layer, NAB’s vice president of advanced engineering technologies.

The EAS document does not represent a requirement for conformance to a standard. However, the group hopes that broadcasters, automation software vendors, transmission equipment manufacturers and consumer electronics makers will find the document’s recommendations useful.

The NRSC’s Data Services and Metadata Subcommittee, chaired by New York Public Radio’s Steve Shultis, has adopted the guideline “Best Practices for Broadcasting Emergency Alerts and Information for FM Broadcasters (NRSC-G303).

The document includes technical information about broadcasters’ participation in EAS, as well as general information about FCC rules relating to EAS and the infrastructure used to generate alert messages.

EAS message delivery methods as well as life-saving emergency information provided by broadcasters are discussed in the document, Layer said.

The directive places special emphasis on the use of metadata on FM radio signals, Layer said, including both analog and digital. The NRSC noted the number of FM signals nationwide — about 13,000, plus another 9,000 translators and amplifiers — and how the service’s “pervasive, ubiquitous infrastructure” makes FM especially important after a natural disaster.

A graphic in the NRSC document, recreated here, shows how a digital radio station can implement HD Radio’s enhanced emergency alert functionality with the introduction of an alert processor that receives content from alert from an authorized source, then generates the main alert message and any accompanying audio. or visual images. The alert message is sent from the Alert Processor to the HD Radio Exporter or, in the case of stations that have implemented other advanced services, to the HD Radio Importer.

In the document, the NRSC acknowledges that the receipt and correct display of metadata is highly dependent on the receiver, but that metadata “sent using RDS is more likely to be used by listeners because there are a large number receivers equipped with RDS on the market”. .”

Additionally, the metadata provided on the HD Radio digital radio system will be useful for listeners who have HD Radio receivers, although these are fewer in number.

The work on the guidelines was conducted within the Emergency Warning and Information Working Group, chaired by Matt Straeb of Global Security Systems.

The document can be found here under the Standards and Guidelines tab.

The EAS guideline includes a discussion of RDS best practices; the implications of locating streaming functionality in the cloud; Support HD Radio broadcast of HD Radio emergency alerts function; and considerations for hybrid radio systems, including DTS AutoStage.

The Federal Communication Commission is working to upgrade the emergency alert system in the United States. It also recently updated its rules to increase the reliability, speed and accuracy of wireless emergency alerts.

Other activities

Layer said the main activity of the DSM subcommittee takes place in its metadata and streaming working group, which is chaired by David Bialik, president of David Bialik & Associates.

The group began work on another NRSC document, NRSC-G304, “Metadata for Streaming Audio Guideline”. He will aim to help broadcasters support their audio streaming operations and better coordinate the use of metadata for live and streaming signals. It will be the first streaming-focused document developed by the NRSC, Layer said.

The guideline will focus on the HTTP Live Audio Streaming (HLS) method, which has become the de facto standard in the broadcast industry, he said.

Meanwhile, the Analog AM and FM Broadcast Subcommittee, chaired by Martin Stabbert, Vice President of Engineering for Townsquare Media, is studying several topics of interest to AM broadcasters, including the benefit of having AM carriers from different stations synchronized to help reduce co-channel interference from skywave propagation.

Layer said work is also continuing on a compendium of studies characterizing RF noise in the AM band with the goal of educating broadcasters, the Federal Communications Commission and others about where all the noise is coming from.

Much of the AM work is coordinated by the AM Improvement Task Force, chaired by Brian Henry, President of Henry Communications.

Meanwhile, the NRSC’s Digital Broadcasting Subcommittee – co-chaired by Glynn Walden, consultant for Audacy, and Jackson Wang, president of e-Radio Inc. – is focused on continuing developments with digital on-channel radio in the band, Layer said.

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The IBOC Standards Development Task Force, Layer said, is developing a guideline for all-digital radio operations on the AM band and updating the NRSC-5 digital on-channel broadcasting standard in the band. , as part of a mandatory period of five years. verification process. This update, which describes the Xperi HD Radio system, should be completed by the end of this year.

The update includes new FM band operating modes, both backward compatible and non-backward compatible, which would increase the digital capability of radio stations and could be used, for example, to support the types of services found in “the Internet of Things,” Layer said.

Xperi is submitting updated reference documents for review by the IBOC Standards Group, which is chaired by Alan Jurison, Senior Operations Engineer at iHeartMedia.

The next NRSC meeting is scheduled for October 18 in conjunction with the NAB Show New York.

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