Delay system for 7HO | radioinfo

Delay system for 7HO

Wednesday 02 November, 2016

As part of its response to the recent Anna Dare incident, 7HO is planning to install a delay system in its studios.

Contrary to some popular beliefs, it is not mandatory for stations to have delay systems, the regulations require stations to "prevent the broadcast of programs which are unsuitable..." How that is done is up to the station.

Many music stations operate without delay systems, because music formats are considered less likely to generate unsuitable content that would need to be dumped, but it seems 7HO has decided that it needs more options to mitigate against problematic content going to air, and has ordered the new equipment.

Delay systems, also known as 'profanity delay' in other countries, were introduced as far back as the 1950s, when tape recorders were modified to record and replay content a few seconds later so that the broadcast of bloopers and unsuitable material could be prevented. They were also originally used to get around the rule that live telephone calls could not be broadcast - a tape delay was deemed not to be a 'live' broadcast, but a recording.

Originally the tape based systems delayed the broadcast by about six or seven seconds by leaving a large gap between the record and playback heads of the tape recorder. When cart machined were introduced the system was modified so that the loop of tape in the cartridge was seven seconds, the longest length that was technically reliable before the tape would break or twist.

Modern digital delay systems are no longer limited to seven seconds, because a digital recorder can be set to any duration for storage and dump functionality. Kyle Sandilands famously has a long delay in his studio (and a censor to hit the button if he oversteps the mark).

Delay is usually used when presenters take calls from listeners, because no one can predict what a listener will say when live on air. It can also be used for potentially controversial or embarrasing segments.

Many announcers don't like using delay because it is difficult to get into and out of. You need to change your monitoring and make sure that there is no dead air when leaving the delayed feed. Some more sophisticated systems 'ramp in and out' of delay so that the process is much easier, but announcers still need to change their monitoring and other studios such as newsrooms, also need to adjust their feeds so that they can come in properly on cue.

It takes a little getting used to, but once proficient with delay, it can save many embarassments. It is a sensible move for 7HO.

No official comment from the station was available at the time of publication.

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