Saturday, March 13, 2010

A Review of the HFCC A10 Conference

by Dr. Jerry Plummer, WWCR

The A10 HFCC Coordination Conference was held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, February 1-5, 2010. The theme, or key, of the conference was "Developing Friendship." Domestic U.S. shortwave broadcasters were represented by Tom Lucey of the FCC, George Ross and Mike Sabin of Trans World Radio ( Guam ) and Dr. Jerry Plummer, representing the NASB and WWCR. A total of 118 attendees were present for the Conference.

Regarding climactic conditions in Kuala Lumpur, temperatures in the Fahrenheit scale typically were 92-94 daily and 73-76 in the evenings. To me, it felt like Punta Cana, but no pool or ocean nearby. However, it was generally tolerable, and being located directly in the "Golden Triangle" of KL offered much dining and shopping activities, with a myriad of varied type restaurants, offering all imaginable types of fare-as well as a milieu of merchants, offering everything from knockoff Rolex watches to "reflexology" sessions (i.e. massages).

The meeting opened promptly at 9:30 Monday morning, and the opening included welcoming remarks by several members of the Board, including Horst Scholz of Deutsche Welle; Oldrich Cip, Chairman of HFCC and representative of Czech Radio; Geoff Spells of VT Communications; and Bassil Zoubi of Arab States Broadcasting Union. Upon completion of the opening remarks, the coordination activities began, and ran through Friday morning.

The conference room was a spacious, well-equipped area with plenty of room for all members, including room to suitably place extra chairs across each table for visiting representatives to sit and discuss collision correction. The wireless network worked well, including external Internet access; although (as expected) peak times of activity slowed down overall speed. However, the system was usable the entire time. The print server never was operable to several representatives, but anything needing to be printed could be at the four workstations located at the back of the conference room.

A meeting was held Tuesday afternoon for the G8 representatives and Steering Board regarding the Russian contingent(s) and its requirements entries. GFC, as one group, and TRW and RAM as another group, previously separately entered requirements. If I understand correctly, one group was VOR and the other two combined for all "retail" sales to out of country leased transmitter time. GFC told the G8/HFCC group that they were now responsible for all Russian shortwave coordination activities, and requested the HFCC to announce as such, and to remove all entries not posted by GFC. The HFCC, preferring to not become politically involved, declined to do so at the current time. Thus, there are 173 duplicate entries in the database.

To quote the HFCC:

Wording of the Russian Delegation for the HFCC Conference Minutes:

"The delegation of the Russian Federation gave explanations regarding 173 radio broadcasting requirements which were submitted on 01.02.2010 on behalf of the General Radio Frequency Centre (GFC) of Russia within the process of the HFCC Conference.

"The above mentioned radio broadcasting requirements fully duplicate the requirements submitted by the Radio-Agency-M Ltd. (RAM) and TV Radio Wave (TRW) organizations with the used technical facilities to broadcast radio programs from the territory of the Russian Federation . Only the name of the Frequency Management Organization (FMO) was changed in the above requirements.

"Coordination of new 173 radio broadcasting requirements was carried out by the GFC organization at the HFCC Conference. In doing so the former requirements of the TRW and RAM organizations which were duplicated should have been ignored within the process of the HFCC Conference.

"To avoid confusion and misunderstanding in the work of the HFCC conference the delegation of Russia requested the HFCC Steering Board to delete the RAM and TRW requirements with the use of technical facilities to broadcast radio programs from the territory of the Russian Federation from the list of the requirements to be coordinated.

Answer of the SB for the HFCC Conference Minutes:

"The HFCC Steering Board thanked Alexander Stadinchuk for the detailed explanation for the duplication of requirements of RAM and TRW via facilities in Russia by GFC. However, the SB stated that it cannot accept the request to delete the corresponding RAM and TRW requirements for those transmissions from the territory of the Russian Federation . The reason for this is that both RAM and TRW are members of HFCC and the SB does not have the authority to delete requirements of any member. The SB states that the duplication of requirements significantly hampers the informal co-ordination process. On this occasion the Steering Board of the HFCC suggests to the Administration of the Russian Federation to work with the three FMOs on the territory of the Russian Federation with the aim of eliminating the duplicated requirements and to resolve this difficult problem. As RAM and TRW are not present at the joint HFCC/ASBU/ABU-HFC meeting held in Kuala Lumpur, the SB will inform them of this matter."

Coordination flowed smoothly all during the week, with no computer or network anomalies. Much interaction was noted among all members during the coordination times.

For the first time that I remember, no group dinner was held at the Conference, although a Friday afternoon tour was arranged, which included trips to the 500 metre Communications Tower, as well as KL's skyline Twin Towers. The tour also included a visit to Malaysian radio studios and a trip to a local group of craft shops.

During the conference, the Group of Experts met (Wednesday) and offered the following information on the Friday Plenary (closing) statements:

G. of E. documents will soon be placed on the website for everyone to review.

Regarding the new software showing target ID by polygon, the testing is going well. It will offer clearer and better collision calculation.

Antenna design frequency, used in the requirements file, must be filled in. It is used for calculation of collisions. A warning message will be displayed whenever a requirements file missing this information is entered.

More information regarding a new antenna program will be coming in future.

Older DOS versions of the plotting software should not be used; consider using newer software.

A list of minutes from Punta Cana of requests and their updates will be issued shortly.

Geoff of VTC says that ITU is considering adding DRM to its system, which includes HD Radio, etc. This will be reviewed in April, 2010 for acceptance.

The following items came from Geoff, also:

26 MHz DRM for local broadcasts services proposal is in the ITU pipeline.

A proposal for DSP for new receivers was not approved, but will be reviewed again in April, 2010.

G9960 includes a proposal regarding powerline devices to extend range to 200 MHz. The intention is greater bandwidth for data services, but also offers tremendous interference for many bands, outside of shortwave, too. Much discussion has occurred over this proposal.

Oldrich addressed the need to increase access to shortwave listeners, particularly via the HFCC website. Currently, the public access database is updated twice per year, and there was a vote to update the public record more regularly. The delegates approved this measure.

Regarding finances, Geoff reported that 2008 was a lean year for the HFCC, but 2009 year-end numbers indicated that things were back financially where the HFCC should be. Geoff says that this is partially because member arrearage has been paid. He noted that Czech law has changed, and there is a chance that the HFCC will be exposed to a value added tax. This must be investigated more to determine if the HFCC is applicable to this taxation law change. Results will be forthcoming.

Horst chaired the election activities, where two posts were to be voted on:
Chairman and System Coordinator. Oldrich Cip was the only candidate for the former, and was unanimously elected. Gerald Theoret of Radio Canada International and Sergio Salvatori of Vatican Radio were co-elected to the System Coordinator position. Upon election Oldrich called for an increase in public awareness of the HFCC and its functions.

Oldrich noted that REE Spain, who had been absent for two years, will be back next time; and that an FMO name change was awarded for DTK changing to MDK.

It was noted again about the duplication of requirements due to the Russian situation noted above.

In closing the Plenary meeting, Oldrich thanked the ABU for hosting and orchestrating the Conference.

(NASB Newsletter, March 2010)

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