June 2003 Archive
May 2003 - July 2003
Links- internally where there are follow-up stories we try, at the end of each story, to put a pertinent link to the top of the next relevant story. Regarding external links see note at end of page.
RNW June comment - our view of new US media regulations introduced this month.
RNW May comment - Public v Private Interests- considers whether current regulation, copyright and patents has become skewed in favour of the private rather than public interest and whether all should be subjected to regular re-evaluation, as US media regations now are by law.
RNW April comment - War, business, freedoms and responsibilities.
2003-06-30: Although issues of media regulation remain high on the agenda in the US and Australia, where the government's attempt to loosen regulation were defeated when the Senate supported an amendment from Independent Brian Harradine to bar cross-ownership of television stations and newspapers (See RNW June 28), we opted this week to look for other articles relating to radio.
First, from the UK, the story that made headlines in most papers, was the court case lost - along with quite a few millions - by former Virgin breakfast host Chris Evans (See RNW June 27)
His defeat spurred profiles in most English national newspapers and we opted for the UK Independent version by Thomas Sutcliffe of what the paper called "a spectacular fall from grace" by Evans.
"With a neatness that will probably satisfy those irritated by Evans's prodigious successes as a broadcaster and media star," wrote Sutcliffe, "he's reached that point in his career when the very qualities that elevated him have left him with a serious headache."
"The last few months have been crapulous ones for Evans - with two failed television shows and one underperforming in the schedules, and now an expensive courtroom defeat. And, in nearly every case, this is the story of a man bought low by his strengths."
"That Evans has a talent for popular entertainment isn't really in question. That he knows how to control it and prevent it turning toxic is another matter altogether."
." Take his most conspicuous quality - the mischievous scampishness that made his GLR radio show a cult listen and that underpinned his huge success on Channel 4's The Big Breakfast. On both shows Evans was having fun, often at the expense of the done thing. Running orders would be jettisoned and the illusion of seamless fluency was simply abandoned."
"The audience at home looked on him as one of them, an outsider who had somehow got past the security guards and in front of the cameras. He broadcast as if he'd got lucky and wasn't going to go quietly. But as seductive as this virtue is in a presenter, it's nitro-glycerine - a highly unstable compound that can easily blow up in your face."
"Radio 1 eventually heard the bang and so did Virgin - both of them partial victims of Evans's failure to find a way for the enfant terrible to grow up a little. The recklessness always seeped from his on-air performance to his off-air professional relationships - and the result was inevitable. Evans simply doesn't have access to the winning self-deprecation that his hero and model Terry Wogan uses to cut the ubiquity of his presence."
" Then there's the in-crowd conviviality that is the other hallmark of Evans's broadcasting. He was never alone when he seized control of the microphone, being always accompanied by a gang of accomplices, and the result was a raucous sense of celebration. His disciples and sidekicks both provoked his invention and instantly rewarded it - and since they were having such a good time it seemed almost churlish for you not to join them."
"This intimacy wasn't simply a confection, either: Evans met his first wife, Carol McGiffin, on air at GLR, and memorably conducted some salient parts of the courtship while the microphone was open. But, like the scampishness, cronyism is dangerously volatile stuff. It can corrode your sense of judgement and entirely clog your self-critical mechanisms."
Sutcliffe then runs through more of Evans' history but the two comments above are the guts of the article, amplified later by Trevor Dann, a senior executive at GLR in Evans' time there.
"He was - and is - a bit like a medieval monarch," commented Dann. "He has to set up a court. When he was at GLR he had a circle of acolytes and admirers, who formed his court. But he is a terribly attractive bloke and very generous with people who are part of his team. I remember at GLR, even when he didn't have a lot of money, he once bought a colleague a car. He is both a bully and a charmer. You get one or the other from him. To my mind, he is a dysfunctional boy."
Dann adds that Evans alienated his fans because "his appeal was that he was one of us, an ordinary, cheeky bloke getting access to those stars, but then he suddenly became one of them. He joined precisely the class he had risen to fame taking the piss out of. He plays golf with the stars; he holidays on Mustique. And he has become irrelevant."
And from an individual who has problems to a format that hasn't had the best of times in Canada. In the Toronto Globe and Mail, William Houston looked at how successful all-sports radio has been in the country.
It began with The Fan in Vancouver followed by other stations and eventually the ill-fated launch by CHUM of its sports radio network that was folded in summer last year.
"Sports radio is a niche product that appeals to 50 per cent of the potential radio audience," comments Houston. "Women don't tune in, and, therefore, the stations rank near or at the bottom in radio ratings."
He quotes Rick Dhaliwal, the program director for Team1040 in Vancouver as saying, "It's a male-driven format. We don't have females, at least not many. We don't have elderly people. And the kids don't listen. When you break it down, it's a small piece of the pie."
Houston notes that even the original, The Fan, nearly folded under the burden of rights fees in the mid-1990s and adds of current sports radio in Canada -- CHUM's remaining stations in Vancouver, Ottawa and Montreal (it re-formatted its flagship Toronto station and other stations in Winnipeg, Halifax and the Ontario), Rogers Communications the Fan stations in Toronto and Calgary, and Standard Broadcasting's The Team in Edmonton - that it's "unlikely that any of them are making money, except the Fan in Toronto, which turns a buck but isn't a big earner for Rogers."
"In terms of big numbers, no one's going to hit the jackpot," commented Lee Hambleton, vice-president and general manager of Montreal's Team990. "It's a genre product, like a specialty channel in television."
However, it may be a question not of the width but the quality and Houston says the all-sports operators say advertisers are keen to buy time, because the product appeals to a dedicated audience of relatively young men who have money to spend. The target is male, aged 25 to 54, with the bull's-eye in the 35-to-44 range.
Advertisers, he adds, also like the fact that the price is right and stations at the low end of the ratings scale cannot command top advertising dollars.
Houston then comments that sports executives dispute the reliability of the ratings, noting that the Bureau of Broadcast Measurement's diary system requires respondents to record their listening routine over a week and then mail in the results. That's a tall order for a guy with a job and family.
"Men 25 to 54 don't take a week out of their lives to fill out a diary," said a source with the Edmonton station.
"It's a pretty sad way to do it," Dhaliwal said. "But even if the audience numbers are not there, the sales are. I golfed with a guy last week, one of our advertisers, who said he gets more response from his ads on the Team than any other station in Vancouver."
He says the key seems to be broadcasting the local teams' games and concludes saying that there is a consensus seems to be sports radio can survive, even in smaller markets, if given enough time and if programming costs can be kept down.
"Besides," he asks, " what is the alternative for these AM stations? In the music formats, they cannot compete with the sound quality of FM."
"There are very few stations making a go of it on AM," said Chris Gordon, program director for the Ottawa station. "Compelling talk, whether it's sport talk or political or issues of the day, that's the way to go."
Finally from the UK, two items, starting with Paul Donovan's Radio Waves column in the Sunday Times that looks at BBC Radio Four's team of newsreaders - none of the four main ones being journalists.
Peter Donaldson is to step down as the channel's chief announcer in autumn (fall) after 15 years at the age of 57 although he will still remain on air, Harriet Cass has bee ill and off the air, New Zealand-born Brian Perkins is to retire in September after clocking up 25 years with the Corporation, leaving only Charlotte Green seemingly unscathed by change.
David Anderson, Radio 4's presentation editor, reports Donovan, says he hopes Perkins will return as a freelance the day after he is forced to retire from the staff at 60.
Donaldson's move he is reluctant to talk about: "It's still under discussion. It's not common knowledge among the rest of the announcers yet. I do think one person is needed to lead the team, but we have bureaucratic procedures to sort out.
"We take an evolutionary approach to things here. We now live in a less formal age, and Radio 4 presentation has to reflect that, but without junking the heritage."
Donovan then continues, "Anderson accepts that the four main newsreaders - and the nine less familiar continuity announcers, who do news, links and the Shipping Forecast - exemplify, in the main, Received Pronunciation, but says: "Accent is not an issue for me: clarity and authority are." Of his rising talents, he mentions Rory Morrison, Corrie Corfield and Carolyn Brown: "You note her regional accent, which is Crewe, but it does not impair the clarity or authority of her delivery."
Noting that Donaldson and Perkins were last year voted by Radio Times readers the second and third most attractive male voices on the air, with Green the most attractive female voice, Donovan concludes that "however their manager appoints in the coming shake-up, it will be impossible for him to retain that extra- ordinary level of quality."
The key to this? The non-journalistic background! "Their backgrounds lie elsewhere - acting and music, for example," writes Donovan. "They have to read the words of journalists, but they do not practise that rough trade themselves. An old-fashioned tradition, but on Radio 4 it still works superbly well."
And from the UK Guardian, a review of an outstanding BBC Radio 3 drama "Packet of Seeds" that aired on Sunday a week ago, just too late to pick it up online before a repeat.
As Elisabeth Mahoney writes, " The team behind this epic, innovative play about creativity sent a packet of seeds to a number of artists worldwide, inviting them to ponder how a creative thought takes root. "
After giving some more detail, she concluded, "Like a secret garden suddenly discovered, Packet of Seeds was full of precious surprises and sensual treats. Intensely visual, and with music that lingered long after the stories were told, it made you ponder the hefty questions it posed about the creative process, but most importantly, it made you feel."
Toronto Globe and Mail - Houston:
UK Independent - Sutcliffe:
UK Guardian - Mahoney
UK Sunday Times - Donovan:
2003-06-30: Veteran Canadian broadcaster Shelagh Rogers who has been off the air for medical reasons since January (see RNW Jan 26) is back on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) airwaves on Canada Day (Tuesday, July 1).
In a profile in the Toronto Globe and Mail, she tells Sarah Hampson of the stresses that led her to check her blood pressure - she had a reading of 220 over 135, well above a normal rate of 120 over 60- and subsequently a break from broadcasting on doctor's orders.
Rogers now has a reading of 130 over 80, has lost nearly 12 pounds (5.5 kg) and has cut out as much salt as possible and reduced alcohol: "My diet is bland beyond belief and I drink moderate alcohol -- a glass of wine a day," Rogers commented.
Rogers began in radio on the campus station at Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario, where she majored in art history and started her professional career working on a CBC music programme in Ottawa in 1980.
Four years later she moved to Toronto to host a local CBC drive time show, later switched to Metro Morning, and in 1986 started the arts programme that became The Arts Tonight.
Ten years on she was given the chance to deputise for Peter Gzwoski on Morningside but did not get the host's job when Gzwoski retired.
It went instead to Michael Enright, co-hosting with Avril Benoît, but later after Benoît had been dropped and Enright decided to cut back Rogers did become host of the programme, now This Morning.
There was a sting immediately though, as the CBC revamped Radio One and dropped This Morning in favour of a combination of a new 90 minutes news show and a two-hour Canadian lifestyles "Sounds Like Canada" show hosted by Rogers (See RNW July 27, 2002).
There were suggestions that he medical problem was the result of frustrations with the new show but Rogers denied this, saying, "The stories that I 'suffered' were exaggerated. I wasn't unhappy. It's not fair to say I was unhappy. It was challenging because I was dealing with a new program style. We were experimenting. It just so happens that my hypertension happened at the same time."
."We tried everything all at once, and it was confusing for the listeners," she says, adding that the newly formatted Sounds Like Canada in the fall will build on her "strengths,"
Rogers, who is moving from Toronto to Vancouver to host the show from the fall says her brush with a potentially fatal medical condition made her re-evaluate her work and life.
"At the beginning of Sounds Like Canada, I was holding myself back. My laugh was an issue, and I'd think, 'Am I laughing too long?' But that's not an issue any more. If something requires joy, what's wrong with that?"
Toronto Globe and Mail profile:
2003-06-29: Last week was one of the quietest we have seen for actions by the regulators with nothing worthy of note concerning radio from Canada, Ireland and the UK.
In Australia, the Australian Broadcasting Authority (ABA) has decided to stick to its schedule for issuing new commercial licences (See RNW June 24); it has also announced that in Queensland it is planning to make FM channels available at Hinchinbrook and Murray Falls for Innsifail commercial service 4KZ and at Hinchinbrook and East Palmerston for Innsifail commercial service 4ZKZ.
In the US, the story of media regulation is not yet over with political moves, as we have reported, continuing to get some of the new Federal Communications Commission (FCC) rules reversed. The final version of the rules is expected to be released on Monday (See RNW June 27).
It has also confirmed a USD 10, 000 penalty on a Florida pirate operator (See RNW June 27).
Previous Licence News:
Previous UK Radio Authority:
ABA web site :
FCC web site :
2003-06-29: BBC Radio One has revealed a revamped weekend schedule to start in September that includes a new Sunday morning show for Colin Murray and Edith Bowman, who already have the 10 am to 1 pm local time Saturday show; Spoony, from The Dreem Teem, will gain his first Radio One solo show when he takes over the breakfast show on both days.
Radio One is also to relaunch its Sunday afternoon show Backstage to include news and tittle-tattle from the entertainment world n place of just music when its current host Rajesh Mirchandani leaves the channel. The new show is to be hosted by a number of guest personalities as Radio One looks for a replacement for Mirchandani.
Previous Bowman and Murray:
2003-06-28: The Australian government says it is determined to continue its push to ease media ownership laws despite failing to gain the support from independent Senators that it needed to pass its plans (see RNW June 23).
The Senate passed an amendment from Independent Senator Brian Harradine that would bar newspaper owners from purchasing a broadcaster but according to Communications Minister Richard Alston the government is likely to try and revive its legislation that would allow a company to own more than one TV station, newspaper or radio station in the same market.
Alston said that the result of the rejection of its plans would be to limit Australian media companies' ability to grow and leave them little option apart from cuts to costs and services.
2003-06-28: Actor Stephen Fry has won the UK Commercial Radio Award for his Incomplete & Utter History of Classical Music on Classic FM, Nick Ferrari of LBC the Commercial Radio presenter of the Year award, and Saffron of Galaxy 105-106 the newcomer of the year in the 2003 NTL awards, which marked the 30th year of the UK commercial radio industry.
Station awards went to Liverpool Juice FM as commercial radio station of the year award for stations with a potential audience of more than 1 million listeners, Belfast City Beat for stations with a potential audience from 300, 000 to 1 million and Grimsby station Compass FM for stations with a potential audience up to 300, 000; Oneword, the speech-based comedy and drama channel was named commercial digital station of the year.
A special award went to Douglas Cameron, who was with LBC at its launch in 1973, and is still a mainstay at the re-launched station 30 years later and Emap's Big City Network took the commercial radio gold award.
2003-06-28: Chicago AC WLIT-FM morning co-host Bill Leff is likely to end up as a competitor to his partner Melissa Forman according to Robert Feder in the Chicago Sun-Times.
Feder says that Leff, whose contract at the Clear Channel station expired on Sunday, is expected to finalize a deal for his own morning show at a rival.
Chicago-born Leff made his name as a stand-up comic before moving into radio and teaming up with Wendy Snyder, first at WLUP-FM and then at WKQX-FM, where they hosted mornings until Mancow Muller replaced them in 1998.
Leff has been with Forman on WLIT for two years, and Feder says the station bosses made a less than wholehearted effort to renew his contract.
Chicago Sun-Times column:
2003-06-28: MUSICMATCH retained its top station spot and AOL retained the top network ranking Arbitron-MeasureCast's latest Internet ratings just released; at the top end classical music and jazz did well, although overall listening was down.
For the week to June 15, Arbitron-Measure Cast's top five stations ranked by Total Time Spent Listening (TTSL) with (in brackets) TTSL and Cume persons (a measure of the cumulative audience -CP) for the previous week - were:
1: Internet only artist-match MUSICMATCH - TTSL 445,658 (445,466); CP 156,732 (160,393). Same rank with slightly higher listening but lower reach.
2: Classical format WQXR-FM- TTSL 222,870 (230,966); CP 31,030 (32,019). Same rank with lower listening and reach.
3 Smooth Jazz format AOL Smooth Jazz - TTSL 209,691 (193,838); CP 33,783 (49,352). Up from sixth with significantly higher listening but lower reach.
4: Hot Adult Contemporary Virgin AM & FM - TTSL 207,999 (219,809); CP 48,277 (57,351). Down from third with lower listening and reach.
5: Jazz format Jazz FM - TTSL 198,372 (169,924); CP 27,633 (26,373). Up from eleventh with higher listening and reach.
*AOL Top Pop (Internet-only) Top 40 dropped from fourth to seventh with TTSL of 195,324, down from 203,124, and CP of 68,697, down from 136,610 and AOL Top Country (Internet-only) Country dropped from fifth to eighth with TTSL of 189,529, down from 194,468 and CP of 41,585, down from 81,734.
The top five networks for the week to June 15 (Previous week's figures in brackets) were:
1: AOL Radio@ Network - TTSL 4,529,786 (4,564,783); CP -680,495 (1,245,771) . Same rank with lower listening and reach.
2: Launch - TTSL 2,957,618 (3,058,818); CP - 638,919 (646,330). Same rank with lower listening and reach.
3: Live365.com - TTSL 2,574,425 (2,595,564); CP - 473,177 (482,758). Same rank with lower listening and reach.
4: MUSICMATCH Inc. TTSL 1,523,068 (1,556,402); CP 381,114 (397,296). Same rank with lower listening and reach.
5: The Adsertion Network TTSL 1,219,036 (1,160,801); CP 125,518 (128,028) - Same rank with higher listening but lower reach.
Previous Arbitron-MeasureCast weekly ratings:
2003-06-27: The US Senate Commerce Committee has proposed doubling to four years the current requirement on the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to review its regulations biennially; it made the proposal in an amendment to Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain's FCC-reauthorization bill that would have required a review every five years.
McCain's bill, which would also increase ten-fold the fines that could be levied by the FCC, would be the first re-authorisation of the FCC since 1991.
As well as the review amendment, from New Hampshire Republican Sen. John Sununu, South Carolina Democrat Ernest "Fritz" Hollings attached an amendment that could potentially increase penalties even further by allowing the FCC to treat each individual utterance of indecent language as an offence rather than the current practice of considering only entire exchanges.
FCC chairman Michael K Powell has said that the Commission will probably release on Monday final versions of its rules governing media ownership and local phone competition.
Both sets of rules have created dissention in the commission; the media rules were passed by a 3-2 party-line vote with the two Democrats opposed. The phone rules, which would keep regulations that allow rivals to the "Baby Bells" more competition in providing local services, formerly a monopoly of the "Baby Bells", were opposed by Powell but a Republican split allowed them through on a 3-2 vote with Republican Kevin Martin voting with the two Democrats.
2003-06-27: British former DJ and media tycoon Chris Evans has lost his GBP 8.6 million (USD 14.2 million) claim against his former employer, SMG's Virgin Radio.
Evans has also been ordered to pay costs, estimated at up to GBP 4 million (USD 6.6 million) plus damages to SMG; he was branded a "petulant prima donna" by High Court Judge Mr Justice Lightman who also commented, " where it suited his purposes, he had resort to lies."
Evans, who was fired in June 2001 by Virgin from his GBP 1.7 million (USD 2.8 million) a year breakfast job after failing to turn up for work and going on a drinking binge, had claimed that he was owed a final instalment of 4.9 million, worth GBP 8.6 million (USD 14.2 million); they were the third instalment, due in January 2002, of 15.8 million SMG shares that he was to have received under the GBP225 million (USD 370 million) sale of his Ginger Media Group, which owned Virgin, to SMG in January 2000.
The incident that led to him being fired was the last of a series of clashes with his former employers including the BBC - he also walked out on the BBC Radio One breakfast show; He had also failed to turn up to host his Virgin Breakfast show at the start of May 2001.
In his judgement, Mr Justice Lightman, who is to rule later on the damages owed to SMG - they counter sued for GBP 20 million (USD 33 million, was scathing in his comments about Evans.
Although he described him as a "talented radio performer" and paid tribute to Evans' "spontaneity, inventiveness and irreverence", Mr Justice Lightman said Evans was "manipulative and has resort to any means, fair or foul, to achieve his ends."
He also termed him "any management's nightmare" and rejected Evans claims that illness had led him to take time off work.
After the verdict, Evans' solicitor, Amanda Phillips, delivered a statement saying, "All will come out right at last, have we such faith in the goodness of providence."
SMG in a statement said, "Virgin Radio is delighted with today's judgement and was always confident that the court would support its position."
"It was clear to everyone at the time Chris Evans walked out that Virgin Radio was put in an impossible situation and had no option but to take action. Virgin Radio is saddened that it has taken so long, and a needless court case, for it to be clear that his actions were totally unacceptable."
Virgin Radio chief executive John Pearson commented, "We're obviously delighted with today's judgment but we were always confident that the court would support us, given the overwhelming strength of our case. We had a duty and responsibility to SMG's shareholders to defend our position."
2003-06-27: US radio revenues were flat in May according to the latest figures from the Radio Advertising Bureau (RAB).
Compared to May 2002, overall revenues were unchanged as were local sales but national advertising showed a 4% rise. Year to date figures showed overall revenues up 2%, national up 5% and local revenues up 1%.
RAB's index, which sets pre-dot com boom 1998 as a base of 100, was 133.5 for May with the local index at 132.9 and the national index was 138.7; For the year to date the figures were 135.9, 134.8 and 139.2 respectively.
RAB President and CEO Gary Fries commented, "Radio has managed to tread the waters of a challenged economy that was further muddied by world events."
"We see a strong, consistent recovery in Radio starting in 3rd Quarter. Business activity has stabilized and is accelerating as we move forward through the year."
2003-06-27: The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has confirmed a USD10, 000 penalty on Florida pirate Brian N. Bloom of Altamonte Springs; a Notice of Apparent Liability was issued in February but no response was received.
2003-06-27: Toronto-based CHUM Ltd has announced two deals to sell non-voting Class B shares, one of which will raise around CAD 86 million (USD 63 million) to be reduce debt and enhance its "flexibility to finance strategic opportunities as they arise" and the other a separate sale of CAD 3 million's (USD 2.2million) worth of class B shares being divested by Allan Waters Enterprises Ltd. (AWEL), a private corporation owned by the company's founding Waters family.
The shares are priced at CAD 50.50 per share with 1.7 million shares from CHUM and of 59,400 shares from AWEL, and are being bought by a syndicate of underwriters, led by TD Securities Inc.
AWEL says it intends to distribute the net proceeds from the offering to Sheryl Bourne, a shareholder of AWEL and a director of CHUM Limited.
CHUM also announced estimates of preliminary results for the quarter to the end of May this year; it says it expects revenues in the range CAD140-142 million (USD 103.2 to 104.7 million) compared to CAD 131 million (USD 96.5 million) for the same period of 2002; EBITDA is estimated to end up in the range CAD 26-27 million (USD19.2 to 19.9 million) compared to CAD 22 million (USD 16.2 million) a year ago.
The EBITDA estimate, adds CHUM, " includes an anticipated increase in pension costs of $1.0 million to $1.1 million related in part to a funding shortfall, on a solvency basis, in the CHUM employees pension plan and in part to a change in certain actuarial assumptions underlying the plan."
CHUM's board has also approved the submission of a special resolution to be put to an annual and special meeting in December giving it authority to implement a split of outstanding Class B shares in the period up to the end of January next year.
2003-06-26: The latest public debate on the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) decision to ease US media regulation is being held today in New York City during the National Association of Hispanic Journalists' 21st Annual Convention.
The "Town Hall Meeting", titled, "The Changing Media Landscape: Boom or Threat to Diversity and Democracy?" will include media executives, industry representatives and journalists and will discuss the effect the changes would produce on "democratic discourse", with particular relation to the 38 million Hispanics in the US.
Panellists are Democrat Federal Communications Commissioner Jonathan Adelstein, Seattle Times publisher Frank Blethen, Tribune Broadcasting president Patrick Mullen, National Association of Black Owned Broadcasters executive director James Winston, Belo Capital Bureau (DC) vice president George Rodrigue, NAHJ president Juan González, and el diario/LA PRENSA editor- in-chief Gerson Borrero.
The debate comes as momentum continues to develop amongst politicians opposed to the new rules to reverse them, although most analysts seem to think that Congress will defeat any success in this in the Senate.A number of approaches are being suggested to effect the reveral, some of them through amendments to legislation or not providing a budget for implementation of the changesand others through a revesal of the rules.
Two of the Senators opposing the changes, North Dakota Democrat Sen. Byron Dorgan, and Wisconsin Democrat Russell Feingold, outlined their attitude in an op-ed in the Chicago Tribune this week. They say they are proposing that Congress should "abolish these new rules and require the FCC to re-draft them in the public interest" by invoking the Congressional Review Act and say they know that the new rules do a "disservice to the American public" because of the experience of radio after the 1996 Telecommunications Act eased ownership restrictions.
"The rules just recently approved by the FCC," they write, "threaten to undermine the diversity of voices in the television and newspaper industries, just as diversity in the radio industry has been diminished. Under the new rules, television will begin to look more like radio, with absentee owners, standardized and homogenized programming, less local news, and less community involvement and knowledge. The five giant media conglomerates that already dominate the airwaves will expand their reach and further stifle localism and diversity."
"What makes the FCC's ruling all the more frustrating is that Americans had so little chance to evaluate it. The FCC held only one public hearing on loosening the ownership restrictions before the commissioners ruled on June 2. The FCC's media ownership proceeding has been open for a long time, but only in mid-May did the outlines of what the commission actually planned to do begin to come out through news reports. In a very real sense, the hundreds of thousands of public comments the FCC received were just concerned citizens taking shots in the dark."
"There was never any formal, detailed proposal available for the public, or, for that matter, members of Congress, to analyze."
"The FCC's new rules don't have to have be the final word in the media consolidation debate. Congress can use the Congressional Review Act to right the wrong done by the new media ownership rules. If we don't, the range of voices that Americans have come to expect, whether we open the newspaper, turn on the television or tune into the radio, will continue to fade away."
RNW comment: While we doubt that in the current US political environment any significant changes are likely to be forced on the FCC, we are increasingly coming to share the concerns expressed about the lack of public debate.
We continue to accept many of the points made by FCC chairman Michael K Powell about the Congressional mandate on the FCC in terms of justifying its regulations - and hence that the ultimate decision is political - but feel that the absence of cover of the issue in advance combined with Powell's opposition form a strong case for any future changes to be made almost solely with concern for the public interest and virtually none for the financial impact upon big media owners.
Chicago Tribune op-ed:
2003-06-26: BBC Radio 2 is to stage an evening of programmes on the crisis in the British music industry, which is faced with a major drop of 13% in sales in the first quarter of this year and a near halving of the sales of singles.
On the evening of Wednesday,July 2, the channel will run three hours of programmes on the issue starting at 1800 GMT, hosted by Stuart Maconie and including a live debate chaired by Jeremy Vine; the station is already asking on its web site for questions to be sent to it.
Among the contributors in the first three hours will be Steve Lamacq, who looks at the rise and decline of A&R; Kate Thornton, who examines the music industry's secret ways to get a number one; Tom Robinson, who investigates music piracy; Paul Gambaccini, who takes the lid off the music business; and Simon Mayo, who looks at the fate of the single.
Their contributions will be followed by the debate, commencing at 1950 GMT and running to 2100 GMY after which Janice Long will host a half-hour Live And Exclusive showcase featuring five new acts. Listeners are also being invited to vote in a poll on the future of the single with the results being revealed on the Richard Allinson Show that runs from 2130-2300GMT
2003-06-26: Arbitron's latest report on radio listening in Puerto Rico shows some very significant differences between the sexes in listening terms and more of the population listening as they get older.
Overall some 95% of Puerto Ricans listen to radio each week, with the lowest listening amongst the 12-17 demographic (85.3% of girls and 92.5% of boys) and the highest in the 25-34 (98.5% of women) and 35-44 demographic (97.7% of men).
The top five formats are Spanish Tropical/Regional with a 38.4 share, followed by Adult Contemporary with 34.2, Contemporary Hit Radio with 33.1, News/Talk/Information with 28.1 and Southern Gospel/Contemporary Christian with 13.1.
These ranks change significantly, however, if differentiated in terms of the sex of the listeners.
For men the top five are Spanish Tropical/Regional (23.9), News/Talk/Information (20.5), Adult Contemporary (9.9), Contemporary Hit Radio (9.8) and Southern Gospel/Contemporary Christian (4.7) whilst for women they are Adult Contemporary (16.3), News/Talk/Information (15.4), Contemporary Hit Radio (13.1), Spanish Tropical/Regional (11.9) and Southern Gospel/Contemporary Christian (8.6).
When it comes to time spent listening, men in the 55-64 demographic listen most (30:00 hours) with women in the same demographic and also aged 65 plus listening 28 hours a week; Working women listen from an hour to ninety minutes a week more than their non-working compatriots.
Lowest listening is in the 12-17 demographic (13 hours for boys and 18 hours 30 mins for girls).
Overnight listening increases with age during working life, peaking at 35 hours a week for males from 35-64 and 24.8 hours for females in the same demographic.
In format terms, News/Talk/Information is the most-listened to (15 hours a week), followed by Southern Gospel/Contemporary Christian (12 hours 30 minutes a week), Religious (11 hours 30 minutes a week), Spanish Tropical/Regional (11 hours a week) and Adult Contemporary (9 hours 30 minutes a week).
In time of day terms, the breakfast period has most home listening (80.7% of men and 78.5% of women) with a weekday audience peak at 7 am and a Saturday and Sunday peak around noon.
The proportions listening to FM is way above those listening to AM, particularly among the young -only 5.2% of the 12-17 demographic listen to AM - but AM listening then rises until at age 45 plus the proportions are reversed with AM taking 70.3% of male listening and 59.7% of female listening.
Overall, AM listening in Puerto Rico is higher than in other similar-size markets.
Arbitron report (1.18 Mb PDF):
2003-06-25: Latest Australian ratings from the AC Nielsen McNair survey show no change in the top Sydney rankings but the three leaders all increased their share of listening whilst fourth-placed 2UE lost share.
DMG's Nova, maintained its lead with the 18-25 demographic but its share fell from 38.2 to 34.4; Austereo's 2-Day, second placed with this demographic, also lost share- down from 18.2 to 15.2.
Alan Jones retained the top breakfast slot for Macquarie Radio Network's 2GB and took his share up from 15.7 % to 16, with Steve Price at talk rival Southern Cross's 2UE losing share in the time-down from 8.9 to 8.6.
In the morning slot John Laws retained top ranking talk crown for 2UE but his share fell from 12.3 to 10.8 whilst 2GB's share fell far less - from 9.9 to 9.7.
City by city, the top three were (previous % share in brackets):
*Adelaide: SAFM - Same rank with 23.9 (24.1); 5MMM 14.6 (14.7) - up from third; 5AA 14.3 (16.7) - down from second:
*Brisbane - B105FM - Same rank with 17.8 (18.4); Triple M 14.1 (13) - up from third; NEW 97.3 FM - down from second 13.9 (14):
*Melbourne -3AW 15.9 (16.3); Fox FM 12 (11.9); Nova 10.8 (10.3) - -No change in rankings:
*Perth - MIX 94.5FM with 22.2 (22.4All New 92.9 with 11.1 (10.3)- up from third; ABC 720 with 10.6 (11.3)- down from second:
*Sydney - 2-Day with 11.4 (10.7); 2GB 10.9 (10.2); Nova 10.5 (10.1) -No change in rankings; *2UE remained fourth with share down from 9.2 to 8.5.
Previous Australian ratings:
Previous Southern Cross:
2003-06-25: The US National Public Radio programme "Fresh Air", hosted by Terry Gross, is now back on Boston public station WBUR-FM after a hiatus during which it was replaced in its 1pm local slot by BBC World Service news (See RNW June 7).
It is being broadcast at 3p.m., allowing WBUR to keep the BBC bulletin.
Despite protests at the loss of the programme, WBUR remains adamant that its decision was correct at the time of the war against Iraq with its spokesperson defending the strength of the BBC news team as being able to provide "the very best coverage of the complex events as they developed."
2003-06-25: Judgement is expected tomorrow in the court case involving former Virgin breakfast DJ and owner Chris Evans and the stations current owner SMG.
Evans is claiming GBP 8.6 million (USD 14.2 million) for share options withheld and unfair dismissal and SMG, the former Scottish Media Group, is counterclaiming some GBP 20 million (USD 33 million) for damage it says was caused to its business by Evans behaviour that culminated in a five-day drinking binge after which Evans was dismissed.
2003-06-24: Sirius has announced that it has now has more than 100, 000 subscribers, described by President and CEO Joseph P Clayton as, "an important milestone for SIRIUS, which underscores the growing interest in our service as the premium provider of nationwide satellite radio entertainment."
The total compares with 600, 000 plus for rival XM, and Sirius is stressing its programming quality.
Citing a review from Sound & Vision magazine in which two out of three of its music critics preferred Sirius, and another review by Fortune magazine that also preferred Sirius to XM.
Sirius added that the reviews of the service combined with the introduction of new "Plug & Play" products were enhancing its future.
"We reached our subscriber milestone without the benefit of these new products in the market place," said Clayton. "With the introduction of the "Plug & Play" units this summer, home products this fall, and the roll-out of the balance of our OEM automotive programs this year with Ford, Mercedes, Audi and Infiniti, we believe that momentum will continue to build."
2003-06-24: Both UK UBC Media and Scottish Radio Holdings (SRH) have reported strong results; for SRH turnover from continuing operations for the six months to the end of March was up 28% to GBP41.5 million (USD 68.3 million) and Group operating profit from continuing operations was up 41% to GBPP 9.6million (USD 15.8 million) and for UBC turnover for the full year to the end of March increased 12.3% to GBP 10.3 million (USD 17 million) and gross profit increased 8.4% to GBP 3.2 million (USD 5.3 million).
Within the SRH results, radio revenues - including acquisitions - from continuing operations were up 335 compared to an increase of 21% for its press interests. SRH also noted that it now has five digital multiplexes in operation - the Score Digital radio multiplexes for Glasgow, Edinburgh, Ayr, Dundee and Northern Ireland. It has also been awarded the Inverness digital licence.
SRH chairman, Lord Gordon of Strathblane, commented, "The strong first half growth in revenues and operating profits in both radio and publishing is extremely encouraging."
"SRH is well placed for continued growth with its market leading radio companies in recognised geographical marketing areas and well-established local press titles."
"Trading in the second half has also started strongly, underpinning the Board's expectation of a good result for the year as a whole"
SRH said radio, its largest operating division, "performed well in the six months with like-for-like local and national advertising revenues rising 3% and 8% respectively against the previous half year."
SRH said like-for-like radio revenues for the six months were up 5% on last year, including an increase of 3% in sponsorship and promotions income, adding, "This was in spite of increased competitive efforts by other radio and television operators in SRH's key markets and the well reported difficulties in the market place, especially the general weakness in national advertising experienced across the UK."
In the Republic of Ireland, Today FM listenership was up 6% on a year ago in the latest figures to 995,000 and overall SRH's radio stations in the Republic saw audiences up 2% to 4,123,000 a week.
UBC said it had now broken into an operating profit before development but overall, after amortisation and development is still had a loss of GBP 1.5 million (2.5 million), compared to GBP 2.3 million (USD 3.8 million) a year earlier.
Chairman Michael Peacock commented, "UBC Media has moved into operating profit before development, while investing in a portfolio of strategically important digital radio assets."
"Our radio production business had a successful year, despite a difficult environment for the industry, and stands ready to benefit both from the increased commitment of BBC Radio to the independent production sector and from any advertising recovery. Our digital radio assets are very well placed to generate substantial revenues as DAB digital radio becomes a mass market product".
He added that all parts of the group had performed well over the year in a difficult environment, stressing digital developments and commenting, "With the launch of new digital radios in the market and the prospect of the number of digital radios in use doubling again over the next 12 months, the all important question of 'when digital radio takes off' is fast being addressed by consumers."
"At the same time," he continued, " UBC's heritage businesses have continued to perform well; demonstrating the strength and resilience of the Group's range of activities, and the management team's ability to deliver both strong organic growth and to manage and extend the business in the face of harsh trading conditions.
Chief Executive Simon Cole commented, "Our vision of an integrated production and broadcasting business well positioned for the radio industry's transition to digital has taken shape this year."
"The development of our core production business, with the addition of the AA Roadwatch network, and the strong growth at Classic Gold Digital has meant we have taken the significant step of returning to operating profit earlier than had originally been anticipated."
"This has been achieved in a year when digital radio has stepped up a gear, consumer demand for receivers is strong and the value of the digital portfolio we have established through careful investment is becoming apparent."
For the year, UBC's radio production revenues were stable at GBP 1.97 million (USD 3.24 million);
its airtime commercial revenues, aided by the launch of the AA Roadwatch traffic and travel news service had revenues up 12.1% to GB 2.59 million (USD 4.27 million); Classic Gold Digital had a strong year with revenues up 21.6% to GBP4.5 million (USD 7.4 million, partly reflecting the acquisition of six stations in the preceding year; and its radio services division, Unique Facilities, increased revenues by 8.5% to GBP 1.3 million (USD 2.1 million).
UBC has also announced the appointment to its board as a non-executive director of Kelvin Harrison, CEO of Azur Group, a company providing enterprise software solutions and services to the manufacturing and distribution sectors.
Previous Lord Gordon:
2003-06-24: Arbitron's RADAR 77 (Radio's All Dimension Audience Research) Radio Network Audience Report just released covering the year to March 26 this year shows no changes in rankings at the top with ABC Daytime Direction Network again retaining the top spot followed by Westwood CNN Max Radio Network and Premiere Pulse Network in third place.
The ABC Daytime network lost some 440,000 listeners a week to end up with a weekly audience of 8.75 million, down from 9.2 million in the RADAR 76 survey; its AQH rating dropped from 3.8 to 3.7.
CNN Max increased its reach by some 59,000 ending with a reach of just over 7.4 and the same 3.1 AQH rating.
In third place, Premiere Pulse Network lost some 19,000 listeners to end up with a weekly reach of 5.4 million and the same 2.3 AQH.
ABC Morning News Radio Network in fourth place lost some 139,000 listeners a week to end up with 5.2 million and the same 2.2 AQH and fifth placed Premiere Morning Drive AM Network lost 214, 000 listeners a week to end up with just under 5 million and an AQH of 2.1, down from 2.2.
As already indicated in preliminary reports (See RNW June 18), radio listening remains higher amongst wealthier and better-educated Americans.
Previous Disney/ABC, America:
Previous RADAR (RADAR 76):
Previous Premiere Networks:
Previous Westwood One:
2003-06-24: The US Senate Commerce Committee hearing on new Federal Communications Commission (FCC) radio ownership limits has been postponed from tomorrow to allow Committee chairman Sen. John McCain (Republican, Arizona) and other senators to attend a memorial service for former Arizona Congressman Bob Stump, who died last Friday aged 76. The hearing is to be rescheduled but no date has yet been announced.
The hearing on McCain's FCC reauthorization is currently still scheduled to go ahead on Thursday, June 26.
2003-06-24: The Australian Broadcasting Authority (ABA) is to go ahead with its scheduled allocation of further commercial FM licences in Adelaide, Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne as with the commencement of the Adelaide price-based allocation to be announced shortly.
The ABA had received seven submissions in relation to deferring the availability of spectrum for further commercial radio licences in the four markets - from
Austereo, APN News & Media, DMG Radio (Australia), Star Broadcasting Network, Clemenger Communications Ltd, and two individuals Phil Dobbie and Brian Chew.
Austereo and APN argued that there has been a severe change in economic conditions and no improvement in program diversity since the determination of the relevant licence area plans and opposed the allocation of the licences. Austereo wanted a minimum two-year deferral and APN asked for deferral in favour of an industry review.
DMG, on the other hand, wanted the allocations to go ahead and argued that radio revenue markets have grown and there had been an increase in program diversity since the release of the licence area plans.
Clemenger Communications supported the deferral in all four markets and Star Broadcasting Network Pty Ltd supported the deferral in the Brisbane market whilst Dobbie supported all of the planned allocations and Chew supported the planned allocation of the Brisbane licence.
The ABA said that the crucial question for it was whether circumstances in the market (or similar markets) have changed in some significant way since the release of the licence area plans such that proceeding with the allocation now would fail to promote the objects of Australia's Broadcasting Act and the economic and efficient use of spectrum.
In relation to this it held the diversity issue was not relevant; in relation to economic factors it noted that the overall trend in capital city FM had remained positive since the determination of the relevant licence area plans although it noted that revenue levels fell in 2000-01 and 2001-02 from a base in an increase in 1999-2000 that was above the long-term trend rate. In real terms, it said, radio advertising grew at an average 2.6% a year between 1993 and 2002.
On this basis, the ABA concluded there had not been significant change in the circumstances of any of the relevant market and said it would go ahead with its allocation plans.
DMG, which wants to expand its Nova youth network, is said to be firmly interested in Adelaide and Brisbane frequencies to complete the network and could also be interested in gaining additional Melbourne and Sydney licences but would be cost-conscious in making its decision. The bids for the licences are not expected to be anywhere near the levels of past bids when DMG was setting up the network - it bid a record AUD 155 million for the Sydney licence (See RNW May 25, 2000).
2003-06-24: The UK Digital Radio Development Bureau (DRDB), which was set up by the BBC and UK commercial radio companies to promote digital audio broadcasting (DAB), says that there could be up to half-a- million receivers sold in Britain by the end of this year, adding that growth has been driven by purchasers wanting to listen to new digital-only stations.
So far some 175,000 receivers have now been sold in the UK - nearly half of these over the 2002 Christmas period -and the DRDB has set a year-end target of between 350,000 and 500,000; in addition to listening on digital radio receivers, digital radio in the UK is also widely listened to via digital satellite from SKY TV's system and on the Freeview terrestrial TV system.
The DRDB launched a new advertising campaign for digital radio on Monday, running to July 26 and coinciding with the BBC's summer campaign for DAB over its radio and TV networks.
DRDB Chief Executive, Ian Dickens commented, "DAB Digital Radio will be hot this summer! Alongside BBC TV and radio, and commercial radio campaigns, there will be on-air competitions in the regions, some local print promotions, and a lot of new products coming through to attract consumers."
"Recent Omnibus Tracker research conducted by the DRDB shows awareness of DAB digital radio is currently at 30% population, or 17.2 million people. By the end of the summer we expect to see this figure climb significantly."
Data from post-purchase questionnaires has shown a fifth of purchasers buying their receivers to listen to BBC 7, the BBC's comedy, drama and children's speech-based channel launched in December last year; other stations names as influencing purchases included BBC Radio 5 Live and World Service plus commercial stations Classic FM, TalkSport, Planet Rock, and Jazz FM. Around a quarter of the receivers were bought from one mass-market retailer, Argos.
DAB receiver sales were up 170% in 2002 and the DRDB says they the one million mark could be reached by December 2004.
Dickens commented, "Radio broadcasters, both public and commercial, have been committed to DAB digital radio for some years now, although at times it was a lonely place to be."
"This market data provides credible proof that consumers are buying into DAB, and that commercial opportunities exist for manufacturers, retailers, advertisers and broadcasters alike. Suddenly, the case for DAB has moved from theory to fact."
The DRDB says around four-fifths of receiver buyers bought their sets to listen to the new digital channels and adds that the success of the medium over last Christmas has encouraged more manufacturers to produce sets; the latest to be announced is the Intempo Digital PG-01 dual-band radio, a mains model featuring digital and FM bands and an alarm clock. It will be in the ships in September priced at GBP 130 (USD 215). The set automatically tunes to all available DAB stations in an area and lists them; it also has pre-set buttons for four digital and four FM frequencies.
In addition to the growth in production, more shops are also stocking DASB - up from some 600 a year ago to 3,000 now.
There is also increased investment in digital transmitters; as well as the channels on commercial digital multiplexes, the BBC is to invest some GBP 2 million (USD 3.3 million) in 47 new digital transmitters, taking its coverage of the UK population up from 65% to 85%.
2003-06-24: Nameloc Broadcasting has filed a petition with the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for reconsideration of its sale of Urban AC KYFX-FM, Little Rock, Arkansas, to Disney-owned ABC, which wants to use the station for its Radio Disney format.
The USD 2.6 million deal was announced in March but Nameloc claimed it had not formally agreed the sale and on March 10 filed a petition to deny the sale that was rejected by the FCC.
2003-06-23: Yet again last week the continuing issue of US media regulation - and regulation elsewhere (see below) - dominated print cover of radio but before moving to that a look through the eyes of UK Sunday Times columnist Paul Donovan at the influence of radio pirates in the UK seemed to us worthwhile.
Donovan pegged his Radio Waves column on a story about a 60-year-old in Wakefield, Yorkshire who "has apparently set up his own pirate radio station in Wakefield to play classic Buddy Holly tracks, using "a camouflaged 32ft mast in his back garden". (How do you disguise a 32ft mast? Make it look like a fastigiated hornbeam?)"
He then moves on to note some of the names still on air - such as Tony Blackburn, Johnnie Walker and John Peel -who started on Radio Caroline but then moves on from considering just the original pirate radio ships to commenting, "The second generation of pirate radio, black rather than white, dominated not by North Sea trawlers but 1980s council estates, is having a remarkable impact on today's arts and broadcasting."
"Two events in particular demonstrate its legacy," writes Donovan - Kiss FM, now a legal brand with nearly 2.5 million listeners a week and which grew from an illegal operation that was regularly raided, and Liverpool's winning bid to become European Capital of Culture in 2008 partly because of its annual African music festival Africa Oye, which was spawned by a pirate radio station in Toxteth.
"This pirate-radio element of Liverpool's winning bid seems to have eluded the rest of the media," noted Donovan, "and I wish I could claim it as my scoop. But it is not. It is that of Radio 3, whose World Routes programme is looking at Africa Oye on Saturday."
"It is a story that cannot be told without explaining the role of TCR (Toxteth Community Radio), the pirate outfit involved. Kenny Murray, who in 1988-9 was an African music and gospel DJ on the station, explains: "We broadcast from people's bedrooms, basements and various front rooms and garages: hip-hop, early house, reggae and gospel - all long before Radio 1."
"We had dummy transmitters that protected the real transmitter. We were raided, we were fined hundreds of pounds and the records were confiscated. We were eventually closed down. "
"But many thought that the music that had proved popular on the air ought to be heard live. That was how Africa Oye was born. Five thousand people came to the first festival, in 1992, and 80,000 last year. It is free, funded by Liverpool city council and the Arts Council, and it generates a lot for the local economy. It is the only international festival Liverpool has. That was its significance in the bid."
"Pirates," concludes Donovan, "should not be romanticised - they knowingly break the law, possibly interfere with emergency services' trans- missions and withhold royalties - but their legacy, years later, can be one that helps not only pirates, but excise men, too."
Having strayed to a side plate, back to the main repast and the US Senate Committee vote that would overturn most of the new media regulations proposed by the Federal Communications Commission.
The opposition to the FCC has crossed normal political boundaries, gaining support from a wide variety of commentators and organisations including columnist William Safire, often seen to use words from his own New York Times column as "a rightwing nutcase on most issues."
He had strongly opposed the FCC moves which he said "opened the floodgates to a wave of media mergers that will further crush local diversity and concentrate the power to mold public opinion in the hands of ever-fewer giant corporations."
After comment on the strong public reaction on the issue as seen in his mailbag, and running through some of the politicians involved, he commented before the vote on Senate Commerce Committee chairman, Sen. John McCain.
"Where does Chairman McCain stand?" asked Safire. " The maverick whose hero is the trust-busting Teddy Roosevelt is uncharacteristically torn. He's against regulation in principle and admires F.C.C. Chairman Michael Powell, so he won't support Stevens's rollback to 35 percent (which McCain thinks will pass in committee, and which he won't fight) or support Dorgan's amendment on cross-ownership (which McCain thinks is doomed - "the fix is in on cross-ownership"). "
"But I can feel the Arizonan coming around. "There's already too much concentration in radio," he says, as only four companies reach almost all listeners in the U.S. in what some of us remember as a blessedly local medium. "That could be the miners' canary. We'll hold hearings on that." (He should call in artists to examine how one radio combine gained a stranglehold on popular music.)"
Safire then estimates further Stevens' chances of success with his bill and comments, "the legislative intricacy shows how a power grab engineered by a seemingly unstoppable lobby has at least a chance of being stymied by an aroused public resentful of media manipulation."
He later adds, "The effect of the media's march to amalgamation on Americans' freedom of voice is too worrisome to be left to three unelected commissioners. This far-reaching political decision should be made by Congress and the White House, after extensive hearings and fair coverage by too-shy broadcasters, no-local-news cable networks and conflicted newspapers."
In similar mood in the UK Guardian was David Teathers in a column asking if Britons should be worried at the prospect of Clear Channel acquiring UK stations under planned loosing of UK media regulation (RNW note - This is coming under some pressure here and it currently seems that the government will have to ease back on some of its proposals, mainly those concerning TV ownership.)
Commenting on laments for US radio, Teathers describes Clear Channel as little known in the UK, despite being the biggest player in outdoor advertising, as in America often being "held solely responsible for the cultural malaise that has choked the airwaves."
"The company, with 1,200 radio stations - around 10% of the market - is five times bigger than its nearest competitor," he notes. "It is also the biggest venue operator, a concert promoter for the likes of Madonna and U2, and the largest outdoor poster site owner. The business model is that the company can keep revenues within the family and cross-promote heavily."
Noting the comment made by Chairman and CEO Lowry Mays at the beginning of a long speech about why a radio company cannot sell more without great content that Clear Channel is in the business of "selling Fords, burgers and toothpaste", Teathers quotes Michael Bracy, director of government relations at the lobby group the Future of Music Coalition as saying, "People are flocking from radio in droves. So many people have become disenfranchised that they simply don't listen anymore. Smaller local artists are being freezed out by centralised programming. It's very damaging to the culture. There is a climate of fear surrounding Clear Channel. People will say in private, 'They did this or they did that,' but they won't speak out because they have to do business with them."
Clear Channel, he notes, "argues that, far from killing American radio, it has been its saviour, buying struggling stations and diversifying formats. Its supporters contend that consolidation actually forces more diverse programming to prevent overlap in a single market. "
"The bigger the radio groups, the better they can serve advertisers, and more resources are then available to invest in output for the benefit of listeners," said Mays in a lecture at Cambridge last year.
Peter Jenner, the former Pink Floyd manager who now looks after Billy Bragg, was unconvinced. "Stations used to have alternative programmes and we used to be able to go in and do interviews ahead of a gig," he said. "If you are a corporation, what do you do? You centralise things and take costs out. But central programming rips the heart out. Everything is done by research, which might mean a 30-second snatch of a song played down the phone. So people go for the familiar. You don't have a chance to get to like something new. "
"It's creative death, it's standardisation - McDonaldisation. Creativity requires diversity. If you introduce free markets without regulation, you are prescribing monopoly. The only upside to all of this is that it gets so bad that things start to develop underground on the internet or satellite radio. That's what happened with the Floyd."
According to Roger Parry, who runs the international division of Clear Channel, fears about it buying British radio are premature.
"If the price was right - and at the moment we don't think it is - and if there was a friendly deal on the table, then we'd look at it," he says. "But it's not something that is high on our agenda. My role is to look at investment opportunities outside America, and if I had $500m sitting around, there are probably better things to do with it than buy radio stations in Britain."
And if it did invest in British radio, it would not import US management techniques and models, adds Parry, commenting, "You make money as a media owner by understanding and serving the needs of a local audience."
And finally another lament, this time about the problems and future of public broadcasting in the US from Rich Hanley, professor of e-media at Quinnipiac University in Hamden, Connecticut, on MSNBC. COM.
Hanley comments about the dire finances of US public broadcasting, writing, " PBS and NPR are cratering, and unless a new model of funding emerges, public broadcasting as we know it will die."
He then comes up with a suggestion as to how financing could be delivered. Noting the precedent in the creation of C-Span by the US cable TV industry, he suggests, " Each company that commands the maximum allowable reach into the American market and companies that hold multiple media properties in a single market must fund local public broadcasting news, public affairs and documentary programming totalling 10 hours a week in each market."
"National programming, however, should not be the target for this plan to save public broadcasting. Local programming is what will be lost in the consolidation game, and to save it, the National Football League's revenue-sharing arrangement stands as the blueprint."
" All funds raised from the "consolidation fee" will be channelled into a centralized fund to make sure all local public broadcasting stations stand as first among equals. That's how the NFL does it, and that's why the Green Bay Packers have won more Super Bowls than the New York Giants."
"Under the NFL model as applied to PBS and NPR, a public broadcasting station in Albuquerque will produce programming on par with that of a much larger market, as its budgets will be the same relative to the cost of living."
Henley then goes on to say that "all news and public affairs programming produced by the local public broadcaster [should] be made available to the local commercial affiliates and be applied as the public interest programming they now must produce" and "Local public broadcasting station, in turn, must agree that all funds secured through the deal go to local news, local public affairs and local documentaries."
The idea is interesting and not dissimilar to those we suggested for ensuring proper funding of news cover in our October 2002 comment.
MSNBC.Com - Hanley:
New York Times - Safire:
UK Guardian - Teather:
UK Sunday Times - Donovan:
Washington Post - Shales:
2003-06-23: Media regulation is on the agenda in a number of other countries as well as the US at the moment and last week the Sydney Morning Herald ran a number of articles on the situation in Australia in anticipation that the government will soon loosen cross media and foreign ownership regulations.
The current regulations date back to 1986 when Bob Hawke's Labor Government passed laws aiming to limit media concentration by separating newspaper and television owners and amendments proposed to the later Broadcasting Services Act 1992 are expected to ease regulation.
The most widely expected deal would involve a move back to owning Australian TV stations by Rupert Murdoch, who formerly owned the Ten Network, but dropped his Australian citizenship to become an American and built up his US interests.
Under current rules, a company in Australia can own only one radio or TV station or newspaper in a city, and are limited to owning one TV station or two radio stations in a market. Foreign ownership of TV licences is capped at 20% and of newspapers at 35%.
Under Australian government proposals, they would be allowed to own two of the three media (radio, TV or newspapers) in a market and foreign ownerships would be limited; commercial TV stations would be bound to broadcast a minimum level of local content.
The Australian government needs to get the country's four independent Senators to support its measures, but, reports the Herald, its plans could be thwarted at the last moment by independent Brian Harradine and it hasn't finalised agreements with any of them.
He revealed that he would seek a ban on mergers between major TV stations and newspapers in Australia's capital cities and says he will move to amend the bill when it is debated in the Senate this week.
Sen. Meg Lees, who has worked most closely with the Government to draft the amendments, has signed off on the bill, says the paper is still holding out for extra funding for ABC programming and community broadcasting.
"It is not an ambit claim, it is supported by the other independents and in fact is a small percentage of what the ABC asked for in its budget submission," she said.
But, reports the paper, Sen. Lees refrained from calling ABC content funding a deal breaker. She has already wrung a commitment from the Government to extend the transmission of News Radio to all places with more than 10,000 people.
The Herald also says that Tasmanian independent Shayne Murphy is still considering whether the proposed amendments satisfy his concerns that existing law is not strong enough to prevent mass consolidation of media ownership and One Nation senator Len Harris wants the Government to provide an extra AUD 9 million (USD 2 million) over three years to help fund an accreditation course for community broadcasters.
Sydney Morning Herald report on independent senators:
2003-06-22: Yet again the issue of US media regulation dominated regulatory news in the US as the political fight to cut back the new rules developed (See RNW June 21) with routine matters heading the file elsewhere.
There was nothing radio-related from Australia or Ireland.
In Canada, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) has both issued and revoked licences as well as issuing a number of public notices.
The licence revoked, at the request of the licensee, was for a licence issued to Corey Lascelle for North Battleford, Saskatchewan.
The public notices relating to radio (in order of province) included:
*Application by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) to add a 20 watts FM transmitter at Quesnel for CBU-FM Vancouver so as to broadcast the programming of CBC's Radio Two service to Quesnel.
The transmitter involved is at the moment licensed to North Cariboo Community FM Stereo Society as a radiocommunication distribution undertaking (RDU) and rebroadcasts the same CBC Radio Two service. If the CBC application is approved the Society has requested that its licence which expires on Aug 31, 2004, be revoked.
Newfoundland and Labrador:
*An application by NewCap Inc. to delete the transmitter CKXB at Musgravetown that transmits the service of CKXD-FM Gander. Newcap says that it has suffered numerous breakdowns and the cost of repairs to the transmitter would be prohibitive; it also notes that the transmitter's coverage area is served by three of its stations, CKVO-AM, Clarenville, CKGA-AM, Gander and, VOCM-FM-1 Clarenville.
*The Commission also noted the withdrawal by the Seventh-Day Adventist Church In Newfoundland and Labrador of its application to change the frequency of transmitter VOAR-1-FM, Bay Roberts, that carries the signal of VOAR, Mount Pearl (See Licence News Feb 9).
*Application to increase the power of CKWR-FM Waterloo, from 2,400 watts to 15,200 watts so as to improve the quality of the signal in Cambridge and Guelph as well as to reduce the level of interference caused by WKSE-FM, Niagara Falls, New York.
*Application to renew the licence of radio station CICZ-FM Midland, expiring 31 August 2003. The CRTC notes apparent failure of the licensee to comply with regulations concerning the percentage of Canadian music broadcast.
*Application to renew the licence of radio station CJTK-FM Sudbury and its transmitter CJTK-FM-1 North Bay, expiring 31 August 2003. Again the CRTC notes apparent failure of the licensee to comply with regulations concerning the percentage of Canadian music broadcast.
The CRTC has also approved two applications for deadline extensions; one was from Aboriginal Voices Radio Inc. to extend until June 5, 2004, the deadline to start operating its Aboriginal-language station to serve Vancouver; this is the second extension requested.
The other was a second request for an extension to the deadline for the addition of a transmitter at Denare Beach for CJLR-FM La Ronge, Saskatchewan; the new deadline is August 29 this year.
In the UK, the Radio Authority has fined East Lancashire radio station Asian Sound Radio GBP 3,000 (USD 4900) for breaching its rules relating to political advertisements and on the same day renewed a batch of 15 analogue licences that gained automatic renewal through providing a service on the local digital multiplex. (See RNW June 18).
It also announced that it had received two applications for the new to serve as much of the county of Carmarthenshire, in Wales, as proves to be technically feasible.
They were from Carmarthenshire Sound / Sain Sir Gâr, which is proposing a community-focussed bilingual English and Welsh service with local news and information plus hits from the 60s onwards, and Radio Carmarthenshire / Radio Sir Gâr, which is also proposing a local news and information service in English and Welsh plus a mix of popular hits.
In the US, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), as well as running into a Senate Committee vote to tighten up its new regulations (See RNW June 20) has also been involved in a number of penal actions.
In Alaska, it has revoked to full-service licences of Peninsula Communications Inc. following a long-running dispute over Peninsula's continued operation of seven FM translators connected with them whose licences had already been revoked (See RNW June 20).
It also reduced from USD 11,000 to USD 8, 000 a penalty for emergency alert system offences imposed on Roser Communications Network, Inc. (See RNW June 17).
We also noted that the long-running saga of Entercom's takeover of KWOD-FM, Sacramento, from Royce International Company may not yet be finally ended as we had supposed (See RNW May 22); The FCC has now accepted a petition for re-consideration from Royce , having denied its earlier petition to stop the transfer.
Previous Licence News:
Previous UK Radio Authority:
CRTC web site:
FCC web site :
UK Radio Authority web site:
2003-06-22: Toronto radio hosts "Mad Dog and Billie" (Jay Oliver and Billie Jo Ross) tomorrow take over the CHFI-FM morning show tomorrow (June 23) having left JACK FM, the former KISS-FM that was recently re-formatted away from its former top-40 bias to a wider selection by Rogers Communications, which owns both stations (See RNW June 8).
They're taking over from Erin Davis and Bob Magee, who had hosted the CHFI show for just over three years; Davis has left the station, and Magee, who hosted the CHFI morning show on his own last week, is remaining and is currently discussing his future.
Davis had been morning co-host at CHFI since 1988, most of it with Don Daynard,who retired from the morning show in 1999 (See RNW Nov 26, 1999)
CHFI web site:
2003-06-21: Clear Channel has reacted strongly to the Senate Commerce Committee amendment to the Stevens/Hollings bill that would force it to divest itself of some radio stations (See RNW June 20).
In a statement, its senior vice president for government affairs Andy Levin said all the stations were acquired legally and went on to add, " by one vote, the Senate Commerce Committee decided to ignore the Constitution and the best interests of radio listeners across the country."
"This is an attempt to single out one company for being successful and punish them for playing by the rules."
"We are deeply disturbed that the Committee would attempt to force companies to divest assets simply because it decides to change the rules in the middle of the game."
" It is bad precedent and bad policy, and is precisely why the Fifth Amendment prohibits unlawful government takings. We certainly hope and expect the full Senate will reject this highly controversial and dangerous measure,"
Levin went on to note that the FCC had recognized that it could not take the stations away and had "grandfathered" them.
"The Senate's measure," concluded Clear Channel, "eliminates the grandfather provision, despite a long history of protecting property legally acquired under U.S. law. In the unlikely event this measure is enacted into law, it is virtually certain the courts would overturn it."
Clear Channel received backing from The Council for Citizens Against Government Waste (CCAGW), the lobbying arm of Citizens Against Government Waste, whose president Tom Schatz commented, "It has been a long-standing tradition for the government to protect property legally obtained through existing laws."
"By eliminating the grandfather clause, the committee would destroy carefully set business plans, and hurt consumers by reducing the choices and diversity of media outlets available in the local community. The number of options in these communities will most probably shrink with the absence of national news services."
"Whenever Congress gets involved in the marketplace, it usually makes the wrong decision," Schatz continued. "We urge the Senate to reject this provision of S. 1046 when the bill comes to the floor. Otherwise, companies will not take risks to grow as what may be a legal transaction one day, may become illegal the next."
"Such regulation will only hurt economic growth, federal revenue, and taxpayers who will be forced to foot the bill for these changes in the law."
(RNW comment: Schatz seems to be over-egging the cake to the extent that it's more of an omelette in his conclusions. Companies may take such matters into account in investment decisions but only as one factor of many.
We also thought that broadcasting licences were leases of spectrum from the public to companies, not outright sales and thus, although there is clearly a short-term point legitimately made by Clear Channel there seems no reason why licenses in case where current rules are breached should simply not be re-awarded.
In other words, why not accept the continuance of licences until next due for renewal and then revoke the largest over-the-limit licences in any area.
It would get over Clear Channel's objections and ultimately cost them a lot more than is being proposed - double justice!)
On the other side of the argument, Democrat Federal Communications Commissioner Jonathan Adelstein has now joined fellow Democratic FCC Commissioner Michael Copps in applauding the committee decision.
Adelstein termed the Congressional action "a dramatic rebuke of a bad decision."
"This is what happens when an agency ignores an outcry from Congress and the public to slow down and tread cautiously," he said. "The FCC ran right through the warning lights and into a guardrail."
"The Senate has taken the first steps - the FCC shouldn't let these rules take effect until the public is heard through its elected representatives."
The Consumers Union, which on June 2 issued a statement condemning the FCC vote and saying," In one sweeping move, three FCC political appointees are dramatically worsening the nation's media landscape for decades to come", welcomed the Senate Committee vote as an "enormous victory for consumers."
Its Director of Advocacy and Public Policy Gene Kimmelman said the vote was a "huge blow to big media conglomerates" and "created "creates enormous momentum to block further mergers among media giants."
"It represents a victory for those who support more competition and diversity from local and national media. But the fight is not over. Now we are going to carry this momentum to the full Senate and House."
The US National Association of Broadcasters (NAB), which favoured the TV cap, the original substance of the bill, opposes the amendments and has changed its stance.
Its president and CEO Eddie Fritts said in a statement, "NAB is pleased the Senate Commerce Committee voted to roll back the national television ownership cap to 35%. However, the bill also adopts provisions that reinstate the newspaper-broadcast cross-ownership ban and require radio companies to divest legally acquired stations. Consequently, NAB will strongly oppose this legislation."
The bill is likely to face tough opposition in the House, where Louisiana Republican Rep. Billy Tauzin, chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, supports the changed media rules; his spokesman said he had "no intentions of taking up that bill. This has become a political soap opera, and given the chance Chairman Tauzin intends to cancel its run."
The subject of the Senate vote was prominent amongst US radio industry executives comments during the 2003 Radio and Records Convention as to a lesser degree were the FCC rules themselves.
Cumulus CEO Lew Dickey commented to the "Radio: State of the Industry" panel that he didn't think the new FCC rules had been well thought out. He said he thought the provision in the FCC rules that would allow cluster owners only to sell intact to minority buyers or as individual stations would ultimately harm smaller stations.
He said that it was most likely that owners would spin-off their weakest stations to comply with the new rules, leaving the buyers with a hard time competing and added that in some of Cumulus's clusters the small unprofitable stations would kept on air through the performance of larger more profitable stations (RNW comment: We have a degree of scepticism here. Do the small stations concerned lose significant money when their share of group overheads, most of which would remain if they did not exist, are removed? In addition, there is the question of whether Cumulus keeps perceives a value in keeping them to stop a competitor building in the area. We are not fully convinced about the degree to which an owner is likely to keep real money losers operating out of an ideological or community commitment.).
Clear Channel CEO John Hogan said the radio industry has been slow in responding to the fervent criticism, a lot of which is focused specifically at Clear Channel. "We were slow to recognize the problem," he said, "but now we're very focused on talking about all of the great things radio does." He added that community service efforts at stations are "so ingrained, we fail to publicize it."
Also backing consolidation was Entercom President and CEO David Field who said consolidation allowed more resources for promotions and programming and added of criticism of the industry, "Polls show that 80% of listeners are still satisfied with radio, but we're still being maligned for things like corporate playlists and other sins we haven't committed."
He also opined that the Senate vote wasn't likely to lead very far: "I think there's a very good chance that as this works its way through the process on Capitol Hill," he said, "you'll end up with essentially a resolution that will be a minor nuisance, but not a disruptive event for the industry."
Previous Clear Channel:
R&R Online web site:
2003-06-21: The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) which last month mysteriously removed from its web site a release announcing that former US First Lady Hillary Clinton is to read excerpts from her "Living History" memoirs on BBC Radio 4 from June 23-7 (See RNW May 25) is now trailing the readings regularly, including excerpts of readings.
The broadcasts will be at 0845 GMT daily next week with a repeat at the end of the day.
2003-06-21: According to the Wall Street Journal, the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is likely to approve Univision's USD 2.4 billion takeover of Hispanic Broadcasting Corporation this month.
The paper says a draft of the order allowing the deal through has been sent to all five commissioners and it forecasts a 3-2 vote along party lines, the same split as with new media regulations issued this month.
The Journal says the draft argues that the Spanish-language broadcast market should not be treated as separate to other broadcast markets as critics, who said it should be considered a separate market from the English-language market, had suggested.
Previous Univision/Hispanic Broadcasting:
2003-06-21: Bonneville International Corporation has added a third San Francisco station to its list of stations broadcasting a digital signal using iBiquity's HD system. Classical format KDFC-FM joins KOIT-FM and KKDV-FM, which had already made the move. Bonneville is also converting its Chicago stations WTMX-FM and WRDV-FM.
Last month the University of Southern California classical station KUSC-FM became the first non-commercial licensee of the technology (See RNW May 30) and at the start of May Clear Channel introduced it at its Chicago Smooth Jazz WNUA-FM and Urban Adult Contemporary WVAZ-FM.
Previous Clear Channel:
2003-06-20: The US Senate Commerce Committee, chaired by Arizona Republican John McCain, has voted in favour of a bill to reject the national TV cap and cross ownership changes in new US media regulation passed by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in a 3-2 party-line vote on June 2.
The bill, which is likely to face a tough time in the full Senate, would restore the 35% cap on the national viewing audience that can be reached by a company's TV stations and also prohibit newspaper-broadcast combinations and also force divestment of stations owned by a group that did not meet the new tighter market definitions introduced in the new regulations.
In the case of the cross-ownership ban, the bill would allow state regulators to recommend to the FCC exemptions for small communities where a merger may would support media outlets in financial trouble.
The FCC had proposed a 45% cap, would have allowed cross-ownership in but the smallest markets and would have grandfathered all current ownerships.
The first measure was in the original "Preservation of Localism, Program Diversity & Competition in Television Broadcast Service Act of 2003" introduced in the Senate by South Carolina Democrat Sen. Ernest F. Hollings and Alaska Republican Sen. Ted Stevens; the second relating to cross-ownership came in the form of an amendment moved by North Dakota Democrat Sen. Byron L. Dorgan and the third measure to force divestments came in an amendment from Sen. McCain.
Another amendment to the bill is a direct reproof of FCC chairman Michael K. Powell , who came out strongly against public hearings proposed by the Democrats on the Commission; it would require the FCC to hold five public hearings in diverse regions before it alters its media ownership rules.
In addition to the Commerce Committee move, other lawmakers have pledged opposition to the new FCC rules by other means.
Sen. Dorgan, who fought for a 25-percent cap in 1996, has said Congress could overturn the FCC's rules by passing the Senate version of the revision or by adding a rider to an appropriations bill that would prohibit the use of federal money to pay for the rules changes.
Democrat FCC Commissioner Michael J Copps has expressed support for the Committee's move and asked the Commission to postpone its decision to loosen ownership restrictions until the House and Senate had completed their consideration of the issues.
If the bill is passed without further amendment it would force some sell-offs by Clear Channel, which is in violation of some of the new radio regulations, by Viacom and News Corporation, whose holdings exceed the 35% TV limit, and the Tribune Company, which owns newspapers and broadcast stations in some markets.
Also potentially affected would be a merged Univision-Hispanic Broadcasting Corporation.
It is expected, however, to have a hard time in the House, where Louisiana Republican Rep. Billy Tauzin, chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, supports the new FCC regulations.
Also in the Senate, there has been a delay in discussing Sen McCain's FCC Reauthorization Act of 2003, which is not to be brought up at a Commerce Committee hearing on June 26.
The Act would change the current requirement for a biennial review of media ownership regulations to require such a review by the FCC only every five years.
It would also give the FCC powers to tighten up regulation as well as loosen them and also ban commissions from accepting payments from industry groups to travel to conventions and conferences.
2003-06-20: The Australian Broadcasting Authority (ABA) is expected to announce today or early next week if it is to keep to its decision to issue four new commercial FM licences - Adelaide, Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane or delay them; it asked for submissions from industry on the issue in April (See Licence News April 13), receiving seven responses.
DMG is reported to have threatened to take legal action should the ABA, whose board met on Thursday, opt for a delay (See RNW May 20) but Austereo and Australian Radio Network (ARN) have lobbied for a delay on the basis that further licences would threaten the industry's viability.
DMG wants to develop its Nova network but the other companies would face further competition.
2003-06-20: The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) , following a long-running saga over the continued operation by Alaskan broadcaster Peninsula Communications Inc (PCI) of seven FM translators, has now revoked the licences of two of the company's legitimate full-power stations -- KWVV-FM, Homer and KPEN-FM, Soldotna- that were used in conjunction with the translators.
It has decided that Peninsula should not lose the other licences it hold, for KGTL, Homer, and KXBA-FM), Nikiski.
The FCC had begun hearings in February last year as to whether Peninsula should lose all its licences in view of its continued operation of the translators in defiance of FCC orders (See RNW Feb 7, 2002).
Peninsular, said the FCC, had used the translators, to build a network outside the areas of its main service, and had continued operating them in defiance of FCC orders for 15 months on the basis that it was fighting a court case on the issue.
It interpreted a September 2001 Washington DC Circuit Court ruling as questioning the finality of an earlier order made in May that year whilst the FCC said the later court order merely requested a status report but did not question the finality of the order.
Peninsula has also been fined USD140, 000 in connection with the operation of the translators (See RNW Aug 31, 2001), and a collection action is pending in the United States District Court for the District of Alaska.
In its conclusions , the FCC says Peninsula "has paid a heavy price in losing seven FM translators, and probably will be required after de novo collection litigation to pay a hefty forfeiture."
"PCI's conduct was seriously misguided, bordered on contemptuous, and was deserving of those sanctions, in addition to revocation of two full service FM stations that were used in operating the 'network,'" it continues.
"But under the circumstances of this case, PCI's misconduct was not such a "cavalier disregard" of licensee obligations so that PCI should lose unrelated full- power FM licenses or unrelated translator licenses, a sanction that would not be in keeping with Commission policy."
2003-06-20: MUSICMATCH retained its top station spot but classical format WQXR-FM moved up to second for the first time in the latest Arbitron-MeasureCast Internet ratings; on the network side, AOL retained the top rank.
For the week to June 8, Arbitron-Measure Cast's top five stations ranked by Total Time Spent Listening (TTSL) with (in brackets) TTSL and Cume persons (a measure of the cumulative audience -CP) for the previous week - were:
1: Internet only artist-match MUSICMATCH - TTSL 445,466 (398,823); CP 160,393 (155,991). Same rank with higher listening and reach.
2: Classical format WQXR-FM- TTSL 230,966 (200,494); CP 32,019 (31,547). Up from third with higher listening and reach.
3 Hot Adult Contemporary Virgin AM & FM - TTSL 219,809 (299,028); CP 57,351 (70,803). Down from second with lower listening and reach.
4: AOL Top Pop (Internet-only) Top 40- TTSL 203,124 (189,982); CP 136,610 (135,679). Same rank with higher listening and reach.
5: AOL Top Country (Internet-only) Country - TTSL 194,468 (184,213); CP 81,734 (80,322). Up from seventh with higher listening and reach.
* Smooth Jazz format AOL Smooth Jazz dropped from fifth to sixth with TTSL of 193,838, up from 186,474, and CP of 49,352, almost unchanged from 49,350.
The top five networks for the week to June 8 (Previous week's figures in brackets) were:
1: AOL Radio@ Network - TTSL 4,564,783 (4,302,192); CP - 1,245,771 (1,291,092) . Same rank with higher listening but lower reach.
2: Launch - TTSL 3,058,818 (2,548,306); CP - 646,330 (608,928). Up from third with higher listening and reach.
3: Live365.com - TTSL 2,595,564 (2,866,537); CP - 482,758 (552,251). Down from second with lower listening and reach.
4: MUSICMATCH Inc. TTSL 1,556,402 (1,381,707); CP 397,296 (384,261). Same rank with higher listening and reach.
5: The Adsertion Network TTSL 1,160,801 (1,074,937); CP 128,028 (123,343) - Same rank with higher listening and reach.
Previous Arbitron-MeasureCast ratings (Month of May):
Previous Arbitron-MeasureCast weekly ratings:
2003-06-19: Australian radio listening has increased over the past five years according to a ratings trend study issued by Commercial Radio Australia (CRA) that next week is to launch a new campaign targeted at advertisers to boost its share of advertising revenues.
According to CRA, radio hit a listening peak in 2001 following the launch of DMG's Nova network and then fell back slightly in 2002. On average Australians aged ten and over now listen to 22 hours and 58 minutes of radio a year, up from 22 hours and 11 minutes in 1998.
The only group listening less than they did in 1998 was the over-55 demographic.
Previous Commercial Radio Australia:
2003-06-19: Sky Radio, part of Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation media empire, has paid USD 8.4 million for a nationwide Danish FM signal, one of two channels auctioned by the Danish government on Wednesday; the other went to Netherlands-based Talpa Radio International for USD 3.5 million.
The two new channels will break the monopoly held for 78 years by the state-owned Danish Broadcasting Corporation, which has four radio and two TV channels; they are expected to go on air mid-November.
The Sky signal will reach some 80% of Denmark and has to provide at least 1,000 hours a year of local and national news programming and devote 30 percent of its music programming to Scandinavian artists.
The Talpa signal, which will only reach some 40% of the country, has not had any requirements imposed on it by the government.
New York Times - AP report:
2003-06-19: UK Chrysalis-owned LBC is to revamp its weekend programming next month, six months after it was re-launched.
Out goes Katie Derham, the TV newsreader who currently hosts a Sunday morning show and is to leave LBC at the end of her contract; she has a young daughter and says she wants to spend more time with her family.
She is to be replaced by another TV newsreader, Krishnan Guru-Murthy, who previously presented LBC's Sunday breakfast show; the breakfast slot will go to James O'Brian who moves from a late night Sunday slot to host both weekend breakfast shows.
David Prever will drop the Saturday breakfast show to concentrate on his weekday afternoon programme.
LBC veterans from the 70s Brian Hayes and Angela Rippon both get new shows; Hayes will host a Sunday night phone-in show from 2200-0100 Monday and Rippon, LBC's arts correspondent, will host a new Sunday afternoon arts show.
The Sunday afternoon media programme, previously co-hosted by Hayes and Guardian media-correspondent Matt Wells, will move to 2100 on Sundays and be hosted by Wells on his own.
2003-06-19: Arbitron has announced enhancements to its Portable People Meter (PPM) audience measurement system that will enable it to distinguish between in-home and out-of-home listening or viewing and will also offer a wireless Global System for Mobile (GSM) modem option for homes without a landline and a recharger to allow the PPM to store a number of days of media exposure data.
The enhancements are to be introduced early next year.
2003-06-19: The Pacifica Radio Foundation has started moving its national headquarters back to Berkeley in California following three and a half years in Washington DC, a move made after clashes over programming and local control with Pacifica's Berkeley station, KPFA-FM in 2000 that led to a sudden move out of the Berkely HQ (see RNW Jan 9, 2000).
The organisation later clashed with activists at a number of its stations but last year a settlement made with the dissidents led to the election of an interim board (see RNW Dec 14, 2001) that voted to return the headquarters to Berkeley.
The new headquarters is adjacent to KPFA.
2003-06-19: Live 365 pushed Yahoo's "LAUNCH" music destination into the second network rank in Arbitron-MeasureCast's May monthly Internet ratings but MUSICMATCH Artist Match retained the top station rank.
The top five stations for May were (April figures in brackets):
1: Internet only artist-match MUSICMATCH - TTSL 1,496,382 (1,252,021); CP 487,937 (405,291). Same rank with higher listening and reach.
2: Hot Adult Contemporary Virgin Radio - TTSL 1,333,140 (995,663); CP 218,303 (161,749). Same rank with higher listening and reach.
3: Jazz Format Jazz FM - TTSL 974,017 (788,125); CP 89,698 (75,392). Up from fifth with higher listening and reach.
4: Classical format WQXR-FM - TTSL 964,874 (964,362); CP 92,103 (93,466). Down from third despite slightly higher listening although reach was down.
5: News-Talk WLS-AM - TTSL 752,632 (855,844); CP 76,956 (94,212). Down from fourth with lower listening and reach.
The top five networks for May were (April figures in brackets):
1: Live365.com - TTSL 13,518,061 (10,025,171); CP 1,926,027 (1,477,109). Up from second with leap in listening and reach for third consecutive month.
2: Yahoo LAUNCH - TTSL 13,289,183 (13,627,782); CP 1,824,513 (1,842,449). Down from first with slightly lower listening and slightly higher reach.
3: MUSICMATCH Inc. TTSL 5,758,968 (5,421,057); CP 1,235,573 (1,165,253). Up from fourth with higher listening and reach.
4: Adsertion TTSL 5,106,624; CP 345,892. First month in rankings.
5: WARP Radio TTSL 3,413,544 (3,414,191); CP 471,870 (438,463). Same rank with higher listening and reach.
Previous Arbitron-MeasureCast ratings:
Previous Arbitron-MeasureCast monthly ratings:
2003-06-18: The world's first live daily Digital Radio Mondiale (DRM) broadcasts have been launched in conjunction with the International Telecommunications Union's World Radiocommunication Conference currently being held in Geneva, Switzerland.
The short wave broadcasts by leading broadcasters, including the BBC World Service, Deutsche Welle, Radio France International, and Voice of America (VOA) and at a reception at the WRC those present were able to hear broadcasts in Chinese, English, French, German, Russian and Spanish, followed by music.
Like other digital broadcasts, the DRM digital signals are claimed to provide the ability to add data and text services as well as better quality signals - near-FM level for DRM's short-wave broadcasts - and DRM says that the universal standardization of its system means it can be used worldwide and that existing transmitters can easily be modified to carry its signals as well as analogue ones.
"DRM's introduction will forever alter the course of radio broadcasting," said Peter F. Senger, chairman of the Geneva-headquartered consortium, which was founded in Guangzhou, China in 1998 and now has more than 80 members.
DRM's system is being introduced in a world that already has two main digital signals, the Eureka 147 (DAB) system using separate frequencies that is already on the air in Europe, Asia and Canada, and iBiquity's HD digital system that uses part of an existing analogue frequency that has now been approved for the US.
2003-06-18: Disney-owned ABC has now followed the other three big US broadcast networks and pulled out of membership of the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) because of a dispute over NAB's support for TV ownership caps.
Like Viacom before it, ABC has also taken its radio group out of NAB, and Disney executive Vice President Preston Padden, said it and other networks had begun talks to form a new group to represent local stations whether network-owned or not.
Padden accused the NAB of being used as a weapon by the affiliates in their fight against the networks and advancing the business interests of one segment of broadcasters over another.
Disney/ABC had "gone the extra mile (and then some)" to salvage unity, he said in a letter to NAB, concluding, "We can try no more. With genuine sorrow, we hereby resign all of our stations and networks from membership in the NAB."
NAB spokesman Dennis Wharton said that it was evident that ABC had left because of the dispute over the 35% national TV ownership cap, which NAB supports, adding that they were in agreement on virtually all other points. He added that NAB regretted the move but did not feel it would be undermined by the departure noting that it would still have more than 7,400 local radio and TV stations in membership, along with the Pax TV network, representing a base of radio and TV broadcasters in every US city and congressional district.
2003-06-18: UK GWR has announced that its Chief Executive Patrick Taylor and New Media and Digital Director Simon Ward are to step down from its board in changes made following a recent streamlining of the business.
GWR says in its statement that it has now completed the disposals of overseas radio interests and non-core UK interests resulting in a "more focused and efficient portfolio of businesses, centred principally on the UK."
As a result, it says, the board has concluded it no longer needs six executive directors and Taylor, who joined the Board of GWR as Finance Director and Deputy Chief Executive in 1996 and has been chief executive for the past two years, will leave the board along with Ward after its AGM on July 31.
Taylor's responsibilities will be assumed by Steve Orchard, Managing Director of Local Radio and Roger Lewis, Managing Director of Classic FM, who along with the Group Finance Director Wendy Pallot, will report direct to the Executive Chairman, Ralph Bernard.
Taylor himself has accepted a part-time consultancy role as Non-Executive Chairman of Livetime, GWR's initiative to exploit its digital radio data capacity to broadcast multimedia information and entertainment services to mobile devices, with a remit to accelerate the development of this venture and secure third party funding.
Ward will remain with the company and will concentrate exclusively on leading GWR's digital radio division.
GWR, which posted a pre-tax loss of GBP 14.8million (USD 23.7 million) for the past year and was forced to sell its entire stake in Bristol-based radio group Vibe (See RNW May 23), says the disposals have allowed it to cut its debt by approximately GBP 100 million (USD 165 million) in a little over a year; it now owed some GBP 66 million (USD106 million).
GWR Executive Chairman Ralph Bernard said, "In his seven years as Finance Director and Chief Executive, Patrick has shown total commitment to maximising the value of GWR's business, and has achieved much."
"The Board wishes to place on record its deep gratitude to Patrick and also to Simon for their contributions to the Board. We are pleased that we shall continue to have the benefit of their knowledge and experience in their new roles at Livetime and in the digital division, where there is so much potential value to be added."
2003-06-18: Preliminary figures from Arbitron's RADAR 77 (Radio's All Dimension Audience Research) Radio Network Audience Report show that in a typical work radio reached 96% of US adults in houses with an income of USD75, 000 or more with the same percentage of college graduates listening to radio compared to only 92% of those who did not go to college.
The release is the first phase of a sample size increase which has seen a leap from 12,000 for Radar 72 in March last year to 55,000 for this report and a planned 70,000 for Radar 80 in March next year.
The full RADAR 77 results are to be released next week.
2003-06-18: XM Satellite Radio has closed its USD 175 million offering of 12% senior secured notes due 2010.
It has also announced that it granted the initial purchaser an option to purchase up to an additional $25 million of notes to cover over-allotments.
The announcement came as both US satellite radio companies got a boost from a study by satellite radio industry publication SkyWaves Research Report that says even on a conservative basis Sirius and XM combined could have around 30 million subscribers by 2012 and that the total could go up to 48 million. It predicts that the two companies will have a combined 1.5 million subscribers by the end of this year and more than three-quarters of a million by the end of this month.
2003-06-18: The UK Radio Authority has fined East Lancashire radio station Asian Sound Radio GBP 3,000 (USD 4900) for breaching its rules relating to political advertisements.
The station broadcast an advert that identified a Liberal Democrat candidate as "the first Asian from the North West in the MEP election" and added a message of goodwill, which said, "We congratulate him from North West and pray for his success" thus breaching both the UK Broadcasting act and the Authority's Advertising and Sponsorship Code.
Radio Authority chair Richard Hooper commented, "The rules on political advertising and undue prominence go to the heart of the regulatory process and must be adhered to at all times. Asian Sound Radio is in breach of two fundamental sections of the Broadcasting Act and our Codes."
The serious nature of the breaches and the obvious failure of compliance by the licensee are of great concern."
"Such serious lapses in compliance have brought about this financial penalty. However, when determining an appropriate level, the Members of the Authority took into account the station's admission of compliance failure, the immediate withdrawal of the advertisement, and its promise of a thorough review of training and procedural requirements which are necessary for compliance."
The Authority has also renewed a batch of 15 local licenses in the UK; they all qualified for automatic renewal because the stations concerned are all providing, or are contractually committed to provide, digital sound programme services on relevant local multiplexes.
The renewals were for:
Brighton/Eastbourne & Hastings FM licence for Southern FM (Capital Radio):
Brighton/Eastbourne & Hastings AM licence for Capital Gold 1323/945 (Capital Radio):
Great Yarmouth & Lowestoft FM licence for The Beach (Tindle Radio):
Kent FM licence for Invicta FM (Capital Radio):
Kent AM licence for Capital Gold (Capital Radio):
Liverpool FM licence for Radio City (Emap Performance):
Liverpool AM licence for Magic AM (Emap Performance):
South Hampshire FM licence for Ocean FM/103.2 Power FM (Capital Radio):
South Hampshire AM licence for Capital Gold 1170/1557 (Capital Radio):
South Yorkshire FM Hallam FM (Emap Performance):
South Yorkshire AM licence for Magic AM (Emap Performance):
Stoke-on-Trent FM licence for Signal 1 (The Wireless Group):
Stoke-on-Trent AM licence for Signal 2 (The Wireless Group):
Swansea FM licence for The Wave (The Wireless Group)
Swansea AM licence for Swansea Sound (The Wireless Group):
Previous UK Radio Authority:
2003-06-18: The Portland (Oregon) School Board has approved the sale of the licence of its KBPS-FM classical-music station to the station's foundation for USD 5.5 million; it is to retain the licence for KBPS-AM.
The new owners will pay USD 750,000 initially and then launch a five-year campaign to raise funds to pay off the balance. They intend to retain the classical format.
2003-06-17: ABC News Radio won four awards and CBS Radio News three in the 2003 Edward R. Murrow Awards from the Radio-Television News Directors Association (RTNDA), dominated on the TV side by NBC, with six awards and CBS with five.
The ABC radio awards were the overall excellence award for Radio Network plus the radio network newscast award for the 11 AM Information Network Newscast, the spot news Network award for "Miners Trapped" and the radio network writing award for "Keith Olbermann Speaking of Everything"
The CBS awards were the radio network continuing coverage award for "DC Sniper", the radio network sports reporting award for "Olympic Preview" and radio network news series for "Changed Forever".
Other Overall excellence radio winners were WTMJ-AM, Milwaukee, Wisconsin (the Radio Large Market winner) and KFDI-FM/KFTI-AM, Wichita, Kansas ( the Radio Small Market winner).
WMAL-AM, Washington, DC, won the Radio Large Market newscast award for "WMAL News at 8" and KFDI-FM/KFTI-AM, Wichita, Kansas , took the Radio Small Market newscast award for "5 pm News, June 7"
The Radio Large Market spot news award went to WTOP-AM, Washington, DC, for "Serial Sniper" and the Radio Small Market spot news award went to WATD-FM, Marshfield, Massachusetts, for "An Escaped Convict in Duxbury"
The continuing coverage awards went to WMAL-AM, Washington, DC for "Sniper Attacks" (Radio Large Market award) and KFDI-FM/KFTI-AM, Wichita, Kansas, for "Carr Murder Trial"( Radio Small Market award).
Public radio, which had missed out on the news awards, won the radio network Investigative reporting award for "NPR's On the Media: Commercials That Masquerade as News. Case in Point: The World Business Review" from WNYC-FM, New York ; the radio large market investigative reporting award went to WBBM-AM, Chicago, Illinois, for "Day Care Criminals: A Day Care Licensing Investigation"
The feature reporting awards went to National Public Radio for "Matt Savage: A Remarkable Jazz Pianist" (Radio Network award), KGO-AM, San Francisco, California, for "Voices of 9/11...Remembering Lauren" (Radio Large Market award) and Regional Radio Timisoara, Timisoara, Romania for "The Courage to Face Fear" (Radio Small Market award - the first Murrow award to a station from a former Iron Curtain country.).
The remaining sporting reports awards went to WBAL-AM, Baltimore, Maryland, for "Amer Sports Too" (Radio Large Market ) and WVPE-FM, Elkhart, Indiana, for "Women's Football" (Radio Small Market) and the remaining writing radio awards went to KOMO-AM, Seattle, Washington, for "McPhee McGift" (Radio Large Market) and WATD-FM, Marshfield, Massachusetts, for "Writing Samples From Ed Perry" (Radio Small Market).
Radio website awards went to WTOP-AM, Washington, DC (Radio Large Market) and New Hampshire Public Radio, Concord, New Hampshire (Radio Small Market).
Previous - 2002 - Murrow Awards:
Murrow Awards full winners list:
2003-06-17: Emmis's New York WQHT-FM (Hot-97) host Star (Troi Torain), who was suspended in late May (see RNW May 22) has hired lawyers to try and free him from a non-compete clause in his contract that would keep him off the New York airwaves until 2005 according to a report in the New York Times.
Star had been suspended repeatedly before this but, says the paper, it now appears that he may be out from Emmis permanently. It notes that DJ Sway is the new host for the station in the 0600-1000 slot and speculates that behind the hard line approach may be Emmis's new senior vice-president and New York market manager Barry Mayo who succeeded Judy Ellis in December last year (See RNW Dec 13 2002).
Mayo had already made his mark by removing the Tom Joyner Morning Show from Emmis's WRKS-FM (Kiss) saying he was dissatisfied with the show's ratings. He also, says the Times, hired new sales managers and sales teams and pushed on-air personalities to be less offensive in an effort to entice new advertisers and make existing ones happier.
He clashes with Star, who with his sidekick Timothy Joseph (Buc Wild), who is also black, "peppered their show with misogynistic insults and racial epithets."
Star commented that he had worked well with Ellis, saying "We had tension, but we had a good relationship. She understood the goal: ratings."
On that front, however, Hot 97, faced competition from Clear Channel after it changed classic soul Jammin' 105 to an contemporary Power 105 and Star's show fell from third to fifth overall in the ratings, straining relationships between Star and Mayo. In addition, reports the paper Star was seeking a new USD .7 million a year contract.
Three weeks ago, Star said he ripped 20 awards plaques off the walls of Hot 97's offices and stormed off the air and out of the station's office on Hudson Street after which Mayo withheld two USD 30,000 salary checks that were owed him.
The host also attacked Mayo, who is also black, personally, terming him in an interview "Benson" (the butler from the 1980's sitcom).
No Emmis executives would comment on the current situation but, reports the Times, Emmis chairman and CEO Jeff Smulyan , told analysts last month that he was pleased with WQHT's recovery against Power 105, especially during an economic downturn, which was brought on by the attacks on Sept. 11.
Others did comment,: Tom Poleman, program director for Clear Channel New York, said ." It can only mean good things for us. Star was a well-established brand. Those listeners are looking for new places to go and we have some excellent shows."
The paper also says Clear Channel executives have said privately they would be interested in hiring Star.
And the man himself? "Doomsday is coming for Hot 97 and it will be spearheaded by me," he said.
Previous Clear Channel:
Previous Emmis/ Star (Troi Torain):
New York Times report:
2003-06-17: Baltimore public station WYPR-FM, formerly the John Hopkins University Station WJHU-FM that was sold to a not-for-profit headed by host Marc Steiner in February 2002 (See RNW Feb 2 2002) is this month ending a successful first year standing fully on its own.
Membership levels have risen, its local news desk is now filing stories and its output includes two new programmes on classical music featuring the performers and concerts of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra; it has also increased its revenues from corporate and foundation sponsors by around 12% on the previous year to some USD1.3 million. Inncome from members at around UD1.2 million is up 10% and the number of people who are paid up members has risen from around 9,000 in2000 to 13,500.
General manager Anthony Brandon told the Baltimore Sun that the new shows have created "revenues for the station and benefits for the listeners" and Stein, still a talk show host and also senior vice-president adds that he thinks in many ways the station "is on the cutting edge" of changes in US public radio.
Some of the fund raising has, however, come under criticism and Annapolis public broadcasting consultant John Sutton, who formerly acted for WJHU, says that the aggressive linking of sponsors and programmes may endanger core values of public stations.
Reacting to a policy that each new segment has to attract an underwriter, albeit there are restrictions on how explicit promotional spots can be, he commented, "The trend in public radio is toward greater commercialization. Public radio is increasingly treating its listeners as consumers, including at WYPR."
Steiner rejects the concern and says that to survive the station must develop programming for which underwriting can be sold (RNW comment - thus allowing the piper to call the tune in agenda terms?) but insisting that WYPR is scrupulous about insulating show from sponsors, although in the case of cultural programming such as the Baltimore Symphony programmes, the orchestra controls the content.
Baltimore Sun report:
2003-06-17: Canadian broadcasting pioneer Conrad Lavigne, who died earlier this year aged 86, gets a rather belated obituary in Monday's Toronto Globe and Mail.
Born in the small Quebec town of Chénéville, he moved to Ontario at 18 and opened a small grocery store and butchers with his uncle; he sold the shop before enlisting in the Canadian Army in the Second World War and after his return bought a hotel in Kirkland Lake, Ontario.
He sold the business in 1951 and a year later founded CFCL, the first French-language radio station in Ontario, after the local station denied airtime to francophones.
He remained devoted to radio until the mid-1950s when he moved into TV, starting CFCL-TV in 1956 and later, with engineer Roch Demers, who became president of Telemedia, added rebroadcasting stations eventually adding stations and building Mid-Canada Television into the world's largest privately-owned system of its time. He sold off his broadcasting holdings in 1980, although he remained a director of Mid-Canada, and was for 20 years a property developer in the Timmins area of Ontario.
Toronto Globe and Mail obituary:
2003-06-17: The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has reduced from USD 11,000 to USD 8,800 on grounds of a history of past compliance a penalty issued to Roser Communications Network, Inc. for failure to have a fully operational Emergency Alert System (" EAS") installed, failure
to log the reasons for the failure of its EAS apparatus to receive test transmissions and failure to transmit the required monthly EAS tests.
Roser, licensee of broadcast stations WBGK, WBUG and WBUG- FM in Utica, New York, had initially not denied the offences but had submitted a report through its contractors saying that the problems had been remedied. It later denied the offences, pointed to a past "spotless" record and claimed that the penalty would cause it hardship.
The FCC did not accept the withdrawal or the hardship arguments but did reduce the penalty on the grounds of a past history of compliance.
2003-06-16: This week we skimmed through a number of US business journals - all owned by American City Business Journals - and start on the running issue of US media regulation before going on to other aspects of radio; whether by coincidence in their connection or not, the balance of views was against further deregulation.
In Sacramento, the Sacramento Business Journal bluntly stated its position in an editorial as: "California needs more news and information companies, not fewer" and argued that if the six papers in its area were owned by two or three companies instead of the current six there might be business benefits in terms of overheads and advertising sales but "there'd be less useful competition overall."
"Affiliate,." it commented, "don't compete like true rivals any more than your right arm competes with your left."
After looking at the proposed changes it moved on to radio, commenting, "Recent experience with radio warns against consolidation. Before Congress relaxed radio ownership rules in 1996, Sacramento had at least 20 independent radio stations. Now three companies own most of the market -- Clear Channel Communications, Entercom and Viacom. The consolidation has made the market blander."
And the reasons? "That's no surprise when you review some of the attitudes at the top. 'If anyone said we were in the radio business, it wouldn't be someone from our company,' Clear Channel chairman and CEO Lowry Mays told Fortune magazine last winter. We're not in the business of providing news and information. We're not in the business of providing well-researched music. We're simply in the business of selling our customers' products.'"
That comment says the paper, "Coming from one media owner among many" would be "be just one sour flavour of competition."
"Coming from the exec whose company owns nearly 21 percent of the U.S. radio market, the attitude is suffocating. Profits are essential for any company. But in radio, only a monolith could get away with such indifference to the business of offering news, information and "well-researched" music."
Further east, Jon Delano in the Pittsburgh Business Times started with a disclaimer that was quite revealing of the US media business: "I work for a number of media outlets, including Viacom which owns CBS which owns KDKA-TV. This newspaper, the Pittsburgh Business Times, is a division of American City Business Journals, which is owned by Advance Publications Inc. and has similar papers in more than 40 markets, along with a 'strategic content relationship' with MSNBC."
"And Oakland-based WQED Multimedia is not just Channel 13 anymore. It owns a radio station, publishes a monthly magazine, and produces television programming seen worldwide."
He then went on so comment, "None of the media outlets with whom I have worked has ever pressured me to write or say something I didn't want to say, so -- as is always the case -- this opinion is strictly my own.
He then went on to develop his argument, namely that both sides were exaggerating what was going on, and agreed that there was more media choice now for Americans but also that that giant conglomerates do control more media outlets than ever before.
"The greater long-term concern, in my view," wrote Delano, "is not that consolidation will reduce the availability of diverse viewpoints. I think just the opposite seems to be the case. My concern is the impact of consolidation on local news content and quality."
"That's a legitimate issue in a democracy in which we need to know what's happening in the neighbourhood to make intelligent choices about public policy and to choose elected officials to serve us. Many people and organizations are worried that control of local media by international conglomerates will both "dumb down" local news stories and increase the "drivel," as one dissenting FCC commissioner charges, that we see on local TV. Instead of hiring more reporters to cover local news, TV stations will be forced by their parents to use pre-packaged stories created elsewhere."
And from Florida, Robin Londner in the South Florida Business Journal went straight to radio, writing under the title "Radio to TV: Listen to us and learn".
"Radio veterans," he commented, "have their patter down on sales pitches in an era of consolidation: Emphasize brands rather than ratings and fight accusations that larger media companies hamper competition."
He then quoted Peter Ferrara, senior VP of Clear Channel's southeast radio region, on US radio consolidation.
"In 1997, we were faced the with situation of 'Who's ever had eight radio stations to own and operate in the marketplace?'" Ferrara said, recalling when the Telecommunications Act of 1996 kick-started radio consolidation by easing radio ownership restrictions to allow a single company to own as many as eight stations in large markets. "We had to reinvent our business to benefit our advertisers and to our listeners. Television is going to be faced with the same issues as it grows and expands."
Clear Channel regional VP for South Florida Dave Ross gave advice on the lessons learned by radio consolidations, although he did note that radio was segmented in a way TV is not.
He said he did not try all of Clear Channel's seven stations in the area to one advertiser but focussed the pitch on "how to sell to certain types of viewers via the individual stations they watch."
Ross also advised TV stations to fight the idea that larger companies cut jobs and reduced diversity in on-air content. Clear Channel said that in 1997 the eight stations that Clear Channel soon owned employed 191 people; One was sold the next year but the remaining seven stations employed 215 people - seeing increases in sales staff and new departments such as graphic design and the Internet but fewer in some areas such as ad scheduling. He said consolidation was about increasing revenues not cutting costs and, commenting on such practices as voice tracking said, "Nobody complains Jay Leno comes from Los Angeles."
"But somehow it seems to matter in radio that I may export a program from this building up to Fort Pierce."
Citing the example of WHYI disc jockey Michael Yo he asked, "Why shouldn't I export that talent through the use of technology to my Palm Beach radio station or a station in Tallahassee?" "I can use his extreme talent instead of mediocre talent."
He also noted that he could pay individuals more when DJs played in more markets and argued that Clear Channel's scale could serve the company and marketplace as in its shift from news to sports talk at WRFX-AM in a market where Clear Channel also owned news format WIOD-AM and did not want its stations to compete for the same listeners.
The change converted a loss of around USD 500, 000 a year for WRFX (formerly WINZ) into a profit of around USD250,000 a year and meant it could sell advertisers 24 hours of sports.
Consolidation may, however, offer some consolation prizes for the small player according to the article, which reports on the fate of Spanish Media Broadcasting's single station, WKAT-AM in Miami.
Its general manager Andrew Korge noted the difficulties in competing, especially with national buyers who often find it easier to "buy a market" from a single deal with one company that owns a cluster of stations.
He then noted that WKAT had benefited from consolidation when Cox purchased classical station WTMI-FM in July 2000 and after a spell when it was persuaded to persevere with the format switch it at the end of 2001 to techno-dance (See RNW Jan 4, 2002).
This left a niche that WKAT took over, switching from Spanish talk to classical.
(RNW comment: The switch to use meant that public frequencies leased to a private company certainly in technical terms provided a less satisfactory service.
Classical would benefit more from FM than talk or dance and we do tend towards the British view that the public probably gets a genuinely wider variety of choices when frequencies are allotted to a bid that is tie to a format and a licence can be lost when a company deviates from this too much.
We can't recall an actual licence loss on this basis but the possibility exerts a significant influence on station owners and the main downside seems to be that this system militates against private profit from reselling public frequencies without relation to public interest.
We would also note that commercial enterprises see no anti-capitalist bias in inserting restrictive clauses in their leases of property).
Away from the US and media regulation, Paul Donovan in his UK Sunday Times Radio Waves column looked not so much at the departure of Henry Kelly from Classic FM after being with it from its launch (See RNW June 13) as at the way in which the station handled the matter publicly.
He commences by noting that the centenary of author George Orwell's birth is currently being marked on BBC Radios 3 and 4 before referring to the station as "as it became last week, Classic Orwell."
After running through the sequence of events from Kelly being told that Simon Bates would get his breakfast slot, he notes the way in which Kelly vanished from the station's web site: as Donovan wrote, "' He was abolished, an unperson,' to borrow Orwell's phrase."
He then continued, "When Bates took over, there was no explanation to listeners of where Kelly had gone. Next day came a new on-air jingle for Bates that went: 'Your favourite music, played by your favourite presenter.'"
"This is untrue. Bates is not Classic FM's favourite presenter. Kelly is. In the first quarter of this year, Kelly got 3.36m, and Bates, in the drive time show he has now vacated, got 2.47m. Bates is not even number two. Jane Jones is, with her lunchtime requests, which got 2.89m. Yet it is playing that jingle over again, presumably in the hope that if you repeat something often enough, people will eventually believe it."
Donovan then deals with the station rationale in making the move, agreeing that figures show Bates to have increased the audience on each show he hosted and implicitly accepting the argument that changes always have to be made, albeit not taking the same view as to how this one was handled.
He ends with a paragraph that seems to show Stalinism hasn't ended so much as moved to the business world:" Mysteriously, however, he [Kelly] reappeared on the station's website, though without any information as to the key role he has played in making Britain's first national commercial radio station such a part of people's lives."
RNW comment: Just the kind of thing Kremlinologists studying Stalin-era photographs would have been familiar with - and a fairly common practice amongst commercial as well as political spin merchants, albeit the commercial organisation can often get away with conduct that the politician would have to take care over.
Kelly also got a mention- and a link with Orwell - in Elisabeth Mahoney's radio review in the UK Guardian on Friday.
It began with a review of a BBC Radio 4 In Nature programme (Still available on the Internet) on the Uist Hedgehogs - introduced to the Outer Hebrides in the 70s on a whim and now multiplied because of the absence of natural predators to the degree where they are endangering the local bird population whose nests they raid.
As a result a cull was proposed, opposed by hedgehog lovers, who instead want to take them back to the mainland and loose them into the English countryside( RNW note- at a cost of around GBP25 - USD 40- per hedgehog).
" Henry Kelly knows how those hedgehogs feel," commented Mahoney, who after summarising the tale of his departure and replacement by Simon Bates, wrote of the new show, " over the weekend, strange trailers were slipped into the station's output, introducing Simon Bates as the new morning host in upbeat fashion. "He's what mornings were made for," one claimed, not altogether accurately."
"Even more gruesomely, another promised that the show would be 'so fresh you could paint it yellow and call it a lemon.'"
"There was no mention of Kelly, nor would there be - it was as if he'd been vaporised in true Orwellian fashion - until yesterday, and an announcement that he was leaving the station. You can hardly blame him, given the unceremonial (even Microsoft picks up this one and points towards unceremonious) nature of his replacement."
The hedgehogs also got a mention in Sue Arnold's radio review in the Guardian's sister paper, The Observer, but the main review was of a BBC World Service series, "The Politics of Water" currently airing.
"Horror stories don't come scarier than the World Service's new documentary series about water - or rather the shortage of water that is threatening the planet on a global scale," wrote Arnold.
"The statistics say it all - only one in five people has access to clean safe water."
" Presenter Michael Embley argued that politicians are as much to blame as climate To meet the needs of five-star hotels in Goa rivers hundreds of miles away have been dammed and diverted, depriving villagers of their water supply."
"Embley's first call was El Paso in Texas on the US-Mexican border where the Rio Grande is on the verge of drying up. Will Rogers, the country singer, said it was the only river he knew that was in need of irrigation. "
"'Drought, population growth, profit and politics are turning water into a very precious commodity,' said Embley, who went on to investigate the curious situation whereby Mexico now owes the US a billion-litre water debt."
"Listening to politicians discuss when and how the debt will be paid was confusing. Listening to Mexican immigrants in shanty towns describe how many children die from drinking contaminated water was heartbreaking. A householder with a tap who allows an unauthorised person to borrow a bucket of water can be fined USD500."
"Mark Twain once wrote that whisky was for drinking and water was for fighting over. How right he was. No one does the big-planet picture better than the World Service - I only hope the right people with clout and compassion were listening."
Pittsburgh Business Times - Delano:
Sacramento Business Journal - editorial:
South Florida Business Journal - Londner:
UK Guardian - Mahoney:
UK Observer - Arnold:
UK Sunday Times - Donovan:
2003-06-16: Political moves in the US to counter the media ownership rules issued by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) on June 2 seem to be edging towards the use of two tactics.
One, proposed by North Dakotan Democrat Sen Byron Dorgan, would use the 1996 Congressional Review Act to reverse the rules.
The Act is operated through a Senator entering a joint resolution of disapproval, which is referred to committee; if the committee doesn't act, 30 senators can force the resolution onto the Senate's calendar by signing a petition. It can then be brought up at any time by the majority leader or pushed forward through a motion to proceed.
For a rule to be voided, the resolution has to pass both the Senate and the House and be signed by the President but the very act of pushing forward the motion would create political pressures and put the matter onto a wider public agenda.
Another favoured option, one that is more frequently used, would be the more common tactic of limiting appropriations in a spending bill, thus denying the Commission federal funding to move ahead with implementing its rules.
2003-06-16: An Indian 16-year-old who has set up his unlicensed radio has achieved celebrity status locally rather than, so far at least, being prosecuted for his operation although police have confiscated equipment a number of times according to the Times of India.
Shyamaprasad Sardar broadcasts in Uttarbhag near Baruipur from 8 am to 8 pm from his rooftop and the service comprised of Hindi songs has been a commercial success from advertising revenues and a 2 Rupee (around 2 cents) charge for every request played- some 1,500 letters a week are received according to the family.
The station, which has a range of around 10 miles (15 km) radius, also escapes the hefty licence fees charged to Indian commercial FMs- claimed in many cases to be around two-thirds of a station's operating costs.
Previous Indian Radio:
Times of India report:
2003-06-15: As the debate over US media regulation moves into the political rather than FCC sphere, last week saw a comparative return to normal amongst the regulators with a low level of routine decisions in most areas.
In Australia there was nothing on the radio front and in Canada there were only a few decisions from the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC).
These included one approval of a new station, a 50 watts low-power English-language Christian music FM in Truro, Nova Scotia, for Hope FM Ministries.
The station will broadcast a minimum of 22 hours per week of local station-produced programming, including some live programming from Monday to Friday. Local news, weather and sports will be broadcast hourly throughout the day, Monday to Sunday.
In Manitoba, the CRTC has approved a transmitter relocation and power decrease from 210,000 watts to 100,000 watts for CITI-FM Winnipeg, and in Quebec it has approved a frequency change for CJMC-FM Sainte-Anne-des-Monts, and a third extension - until than 25 July - of the deadline to commence operations.
Also in Quebec, it approved an extension until June 15 for the start of operations of a native FM station in Dolbeau-Mistassini.
In Ireland, the Broadcasting Commission of Ireland (BCI) has signed a broadcasting contract with Beat 102-103, the successful applicant for the country's first regional radio broadcasting license. Beat's service, targeted at the 15-34 age group, will serve Counties Carlow, Kilkenny, Waterford, Wexford, and South Tipperary in the South East of Ireland and will go on air on July 1.
In the UK, the Radio Authority has awarded the new FM licence for Helensburgh in Argyll & Bute, Scotland, to Castle Rock FM against competition from Peninsula Fm Ltd (See Licence News April 2).
It has also published its Annual Report on Restricted Service Licences, both long and short term, issued during 2002.
450 RSL services were licensed in 2002, an increase of 9% over 2001 when 423 licences were issued.
As well as short-term licences, the Authority issued 16 new long-term RSLs during the year with 108 such licences in operation at the end of the year, held by 91 separate stations.
Of these the largest single group - 21% of the total - went for religious purposes compared to18% in 2001; 26 of these were for broadcasts related to the holy month of Ramadan and Eid.
The second largest group went to youth and community project related services, which took 16% of the total compared to 18% in 2001.
For this month some 50 short-term licences have been issued covering a variety of purposes from Wimbledon Lawn Tennis broadcasts and the Glastonbury Festival to the licence for Bonnet FM in Stewarton, Ayrshire, which is broadcasting to promote the Bonnet Guild Festival, a local tradition which began in 1933 and celebrates the town's one-time main industry of bonnet-making.
In the US, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has re-confirmed a USD3, 000 penalty imposed on Mount Rushmore Broadcasting Inc. for offences concerned with transmission and power levels for KZMX-FM, Hot Springs, South Dakota.
(See RNW June 11).
Previous Licence News:
Previous UK Radio Authority:
BCI web site:
CRTC web site:
FCC web site :
UK Radio Authority web site:
UK Radio Authority RSLs Annual Report ( 60kb PDF):
2003-06-15: Sirius has announced that affiliates of the Blackstone Group have distributed some 57 million shares of Sirius common stock to their limited partners, amounting to around 5.75% of Sirius stock.
They will make their own investment decisions in relation t the stock distributed to them.
In addition Peter G. Peterson, the co-founder and chairman of Blackstone, is resigning from the Sirius Board in line with the firm's customary practice of discontinuing our board representation after distributions of this nature.
He commented that he was sorry to be going and added, "I am pleased with the progress the company has made in 2003 in completing a recapitalization and then raising $350 million in recent weeks to facilitate execution of its business plan."
Blackstone said it had no near term plans to sell any of the Sirius shares that had gone to the firm itself or its principals; it also has warrants to purchase approximately 42 million shares of stock at a blended exercise price of USD 0.99 per share, now due to expire in September 2004, but has not said what it intends to do about these. Sirius shares ended last week at USD1.85.
2003-06-15: Schenectady, New York public broadcaster WHMT is eliminating 16 posts in a restructuring to cut costs and is evaluating other cost-cutting measures.
Of the posts going, six were vacant; they range across the board from clerical to management personnel.
President and general manager Deborah Onslow commented, "It is critical that WMHT take strong action to remain financially viable, so we can continue to serve our communities."
"The uncertain economic environment has had a major impact on local fundraising, causing significant revenue shortfalls for the current fiscal year. In addition, WMHT, along with other public broadcasters around the country, is facing uncertain government funding, while the costs of broadcasting have increased."
WMHT, which employed 74 people at the start of March, says the changes will not affect programming at its WMHT-TV and WMHT-FM; it also provides RISE, a radio reading service for the visually impaired and print-disabled, as well as community outreach and family learning initiatives.
2003-06-14: Contradicting claims by some of Canada's media companies, two equity analysts have told a Senate committee that the companies don't need relaxation of foreign ownership restrictions to be successful, although they would probably benefit if regulations were loosened..
Tim Casey of BMO Nesbitt Burns Inc. in Toronto told the committee that the Canadian companies could finance their business without problems under current ownership restrictions and Andrea Horan of Westwind Partners Inc., also in Toronto, commented, "Whether or not they need foreign ownership or whether foreign ownership would be nice are two different questions. I don't think the industry needs foreign capital to keep the wheels turning."
Interviewed after their appearance before the Senate's transport and communications committee, the two analysts told the Toronto Globe and Mail it was unlikely that U.S. investors would be particularly excited about the opportunity to invest in Canadian media companies, unless they could take full control of their investment targets.
Earlier this week, the Canadian House of Commons heritage committee released a report saying that foreign ownership limits on broadcasting and telecommunications should be maintained (see RNW June 13) but in late April, the industry committee said the government should dismantle foreign ownership restrictions on telephone and cable television companies.
Toronto Globe and Mail report:
2003-06-14: The US National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) board has unanimously elected Carl Gardner, the Journal Broadcast Group Radio President, as its Radio Board chairman.
Also elected unanimously as Radio Board vice-chair was Bonneville International President and CEO Bruce Reese. The third seat on the Radio Board has gone to Wagonwheel Communications President Alan Harris.
NAB has also formally re-elected Eddie Fritts, who has been in the post since 1982, as President and CEO.
In connection with US media regulation, NAB has directed its Executive Committee to form a working group to develop recommendations about its position on Federal Communications Commission (FCC) rulemaking in relation to market definitions for non-rated radio markets.
2003-06-14: BBC World Service is to broadcast a three-part series presented by Jon Silverman on international law and justice next month, starting on Monday July 7.
The first programme will examine the situation in Chile four years after Britain's highest court ruled that General Pinochet, who took power in a coup 30 years ago, was not - as a former president immune from trial. The judgement was followed by a rush of legal cases in Chile brought by former torture victims.
The second programme looks at the impact of international law on Bosnia, visiting a former concentration camp in Omarska with a Muslim judge who was incarcerated and raped there and also talks to the brothers of a Bosnian Serb who was the first person to be convicted by the International Criminal Tribunal (ICT), created ten years ago, for crimes against humanity committed at Omarska.
The final programme on July 21 looks at Sierra Leone where thousands of people were killed or mutilated by machete-wielding militia during the 1991-2001 civil war. The country has established a Truth & Reconciliation Commission (TRC)to examine events going back to the start of the civil war; uniquely, it is running in parallel with a UN Special Court been set up to try war crimes committed between 1996 and 2000.
2003-06-14: The board of governors of the Salisbury University Foundation in Maryland has voted unanimously not to sell station WSCL-FM, which was founded in 1987, after an outcry over the prospect of losing its classical music and news output but the retention is conditional on an understanding that WSCL staff will work with Salisbury University to make the station more reflective of the campus culture.
It is to form a panel of university officials, students and station staff to review its format.
Salisbury English professor James Welsh, who hosted a program at the station several years ago and commented that it wouldn't make sense for the university to sell its "best cultural asset", told the Salisbury Daily Times that the station had a "snobbish notion that only classical music should be played.
He added that as a university station WSCL should offer internship opportunities to students and ought to make room for other music.
"If a student has the initiative to start a progressive rock program, there's no reason why they couldn't give an hour late at night to that student," he said.
University President Janet Dudley-Eshbach said at the governors meeting that in recent years the station had few links with the university programmes, staff or students "For Salisbury University to continue to support WSCL, and I believe we should do so, a stronger relationship must be established with the university," she said.
"To maintain the status quo between Salisbury University and WSCL is not an option," Eshbach added, commenting that to justify continued support the station should provide internship opportunities, reflect the listening needs of a wider audience and feature university cultural events.
"Programming should take into consideration the interests, not only of off-campus listeners, but also the interests of the individuals who live, study and work at Salisbury University," she said.
WSCL station manager Fred Marino acknowledged the need to provide opportunities for students, but Added, "The radio station has always been open to students as volunteers and interns. The fact is, we've had very few take advantage of it."
"That being said, we should have been, and will become, more aggressive in creating student involvement."
The university also has a student-run station that feeds programmes into dormitories and campus buildings and its former manager Michael Camillo told the paper the problem was the format not the station's policy.
WSCL is not the only radio station on campus. SU also has a student-run station that broadcasts programs into dormitories and other campus buildings.
"The students just weren't charged up about classical music. I don't think students on campus have much interest in the station. It's the wrong format," he said, adding that students who were interested could usually find internship opportunities in Washington, Baltimore and at local commercial stations.
He still felt the station was worth having.
"The station is a positive thing for the campus. I don't think many students listen, but it makes the university look good. I think if the format was changed, you might lose a lot of listeners," he said.
Salisbury Daily Times web site:
2003-06-14: Border Media Partners has announced it has completed its USD 8 million acquisition two Regional Mexican format Texas radio stations, KILM FM in the Rio Grande Valley and KBDR FM in Laredo, from Sendero Multimedia
The stations bring holdings up to a total of six Spanish-language radio stations along the Texas-Mexico border, two in Laredo and four in McAllen..
The Hispanic-owned and managed company has a majority of Mexican-Americans among its shareholders and on its board.
It says it has also received USD 15 million in equity and mezzanine debt financing from the Goldman Sachs Urban Investment Group and Darby-BBVA Latin America Private Equity Fund, LP, bringing the total capital raised in the company's first year to USD 25 million, USD$15 million of which is in equity.
Border Media President, CEO and Vice Chairman Thomas Castro said, "We're building a dynamic bi-national company in several key markets along the Texas-Mexico border. Buoyed by the strong growth in trade between the US and Mexico, these markets are among the fastest growing in the U.S."
Castro previously founded El Dorado Communications in 1993; it owned Hispanic radio stations in Houston, Dallas and Los Angeles.
They were purchased for USD23 million and recently sold for USD140 million.
El Dorado's single largest deal was the USD 80 million sale of the frequency of KQQK-FM, Houston, by one of its subsidiaries to Hispanic Broadcasting for USD 80 million (See RNW April 26, 2001).
2003-06-13: A report on the Canadian broadcasting system by the country's Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage has called for an overhaul of both public and private broadcasting in the country but has recommended retention of foreign ownership limits on broadcasting and telecommunications and also a moratorium is needed on broadcast licences for media companies seeking to own both television networks and newspapers.
Liberal MP Clifford Lincoln, chairman of the heritage committee, told a news conference, "We felt the concentration of media in a few hands in Canada has demonstrated that more and more now, editorial policy and access to information is getting more and more concentrated - to the point that we don't feel that it's beneficial for a diversity of information and editorial opinion as Canadians deserve."
The report says that the government should instruct the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) to strengthen its regulations on the separation of newsroom activities in cross-media ownership situations and postpone renewals of existing broadcast licences and issue of new licences where cross ownership is involved until a new policy is published but it does not propose breaking up existing groups.
"The committee is of the view that the potential problems with cross-media ownership are sufficiently severe that the time has come for the federal government to issue a clear and unequivocal policy on this matter," the report said.
The foreign ownership recommendation contrasts sharply with those of a report in late April by the Commons industry committee, that said foreign ownership restrictions on telephone and cable television companies should be dropped.
The 872-page report "Our Cultural Sovereignty" also calls amongst other recommendations for the development of a Local Broadcasting Initiative Program to encourage more regional and local programming, increased funding to increase diversity in Canadian broadcasting, the establishment of clear goals for programmes that support Canadian TV programming, a study of the feasibility of requiring Canadian broadcasters to run a percentage of Canadian-made commercials, the creation of a Canadian broadcasting monitor in the Auditor General's office to report on how well the objectives of Canada's Broadcasting Act are mat, and - shades of the FCC biennial review rule - a biennial re-evaluation of Canadian content policies and programmes.
Foreign ownership restrictions are supported by Canada's Heritage Minister Sheila Copps and the Toronto Globe and Mail suggests the report could presage a clash with Industry Minister Allan Rock, who has hinted strongly that he supports more foreign investment in the industry.
Lincoln told the paper that Canadians won't be able to retrieve control of the industry once it is lost.
"We believe that Canadians lack neither the will, nor the capital, nor the imagination to make Canadian broadcasting a world leader in the twenty-first century," he said.
The report was welcomed by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) and Carole Taylor, Chair, Board of Directors, CBC/Radio-Canada said in a statement, "The report reaffirms the importance of public broadcasting as an essential tool for developing, preserving and sustaining Canadian culture. That's a significant statement not only about CBC/Radio-Canada's role as one of the country's most important cultural institutions, but also its role in providing a platform for distinctly Canadian voices."
Robert Rabinovitch, President and CEO, CBC/Radio-Canada, commented, "First and foremost, we are pleased that the Committee has recognized the importance of increased and stable multi-year funding for CBC/Radio-Canada," said Rabinovitch. "With this recommendation the Committee acknowledges not just our need to develop high quality distinctly Canadian programming across all of our services, but also the specific financial pressures and demands of the television production cycle."
Toronto Globe and Mail report:
2003-06-13: UK Classic FM, owned by GWR, has now officially confirmed that Herny Kelly, its former breakfast host who was replaced by Simon Bates this week (See RNW June 10), has left the station.
In a statement the station said, "After 11 successful years at Classic FM, Henry Kelly has decided to embrace new challenges elsewhere. His departure comes with some inevitable sadness on both sides," Classic FM said in a statement."
"Henry wishes Classic FM continued success in the future. Classic FM would like to thank Henry for his passion and commitment to the station and classical music in general and to wish him well as he embarks on to the next stage of his career."
Kelly, who had been with the station 11 years, has now been removed from the list of presenters on Classic's web site.
2003-06-13: The American Federation of Radio and TV Artists (AFTRA) has accused Infinity of requiring staff to mention AOL Broadband in news stories following the signing of a USD 30 million marketing alliance with it by AOL (See RNW April 2).
In a news release the union quotes from an Infinity memorandum to stations in Detroit and St Louis telling newscasters to "use AOL for Broadband every day while you are on the air and make reference to the interesting content there" and also to work mentions into programming every day and send examples back to AOL of how they had talked about them.
AFTRA National Director of News and Broadcast Thomas Carpenter wrote to Infinity objecting "to this policy to the extent that it conflicts with any of our collective bargaining agreements, to the policies of Viacom, CBS and/or Infinity, and to the extent that it conflicts with Sections 317 and 507 of the Communications Act of 1934."
"AFTRA specifically reserves its right to challenge the application or enforcement of this policy in the future," he added.
Infinity defended itself by saying that news stations were exempt from the deal.
2003-06-13: As forecast in the announcement that AOL's Radio@ Network was to join the Arbitron-MeasureCast Internet ratings service (See RNW June11), AOL has debuted with a clear lead as the number one network; in addition 13 of its individual stations were in the top 25, two of them in the top five, displacing Jazz stations Jazz FM and KPLU-FM.
For the week to June 1, Arbitron-Measure Cast's top five stations ranked by Total Time Spent Listening (TTSL) with (in brackets) TTSL and Cume persons (a measure of the cumulative audience -CP) for the previous week - were:
1: Internet only artist-match MUSICMATCH - TTSL 398,823 (372,253); CP155,991 (149,825). Up from second with higher listening and reach.
2: Hot Adult Contemporary Virgin AM & FM - TTSL 299,028 (379,690); CP 70,803 (81,273). Down from top rank with lower listening and reach.
3 Classical format WQXR-FM- TTSL 200,494 (221,518); CP 31,547 (31,361). Same rank despite lower listening although reach was up slightly.
4: AOL Top Pop (Internet-only) Top 40- TTSL 189,982; CP 135,679. First week in ratings.
5: AOL Smooth Jazz (Internet-only) Smooth Jazz - TTSL 186,474; CP 49,350. First week in ratings.
* Jazz format Jazz FM dropped from fourth to sixth with TTSL of 184,241, down from 217,674 and CP of 27,586, down from 29,396 and Jazz format KPLU-FM dropped from fifth to 25th with TTSL of 96,125, down from 189,591 and CP of 17,006, down from 32,563.
The top five networks for the week to June 1 (Previous week's figures in brackets) were:
1: AOL Radio@ Network - TTSL 4,302,192; CP - 1,291,092. First week in ratings.
2: Live365.com - TTSL 2,866,537 (3,099,717); CP - 552,251 (571,152). Down from top rank with lower listening and reach.
3: Launch - TTSL 2,548,306 (2,999,925); CP - 608,928 (670,402). Down from second with lower listening and reach.
4: MUSICMATCH Inc. TTSL 1,381,707 (1,325,396); CP 384,261 (370,042). Down from third despite higher listening and reach.
5: The Adsertion Network TTSL 1,074,937 (1,208,047); CP 123,343 (131,607) - Down from fourth with lower listening and reach.
* Warp Radio , which previously was fifth with TTSL 768,299 and CP 147,222 fell to sixth with TTSL down to 678,109 and reach down to 139,940.
Previous Arbitron-MeasureCast weekly ratings:
2003-06-13: Fresh from upsetting Rafe Mair fans in Vancouver (See RNW June 11), Corus and its Vancouver program director Tom Plasteras have now upset fans of Los-Angeles based US talk host Tom Leykis by dropping his show from its male-oriented talk station MOJO-AM in favour of ESPN Game Day,
The move has led Leykis to devote a significant section of his web site to the action that MOJO-AM said on its web site was because of editing required to make the show conform to Canadian industry standards.
A message from Plasteras on the station web site says, "We know that Tom Leykis has a loyal following of listeners and his show has helped establish MOJO Radio in the Vancouver market. However, we have an obligation to abide by the broadcasting standards and codes in Canada and the amount of editing required to make the Leykis show conform to these standards made it impossible to continue broadcasting."
Leykis, on his site comments, "Despite rising from last to first place in its first ratings period (males 18-24 from 0.2 to 17.0), the TLS has been unceremoniously booted from MOJO Radio in Vancouver, B.C. due to pressure from the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (RNW comment: Where he got the CRTC pressure line from, we do not know, since the main Canadian broadcasting watchdog on matters of standards is the Canadian Broadcasting Standards Council, but then we don't really think Leykis's listeners are attracted by his accuracy in details; mammary content maybe but facts?).
The site then lists contact details for fans to e-mail Corus, the CRTC and Mojo and suggesting that fans can listen to the show on a Seattle station; it also carries a long stream of messages from fans.
We went through the list, noted a large number of comments suggesting - mainly in intemperate language - that those who don't like the show can tune to another channel plus the selection of comments below that probably say as much about the Leykis show as the much longer blurb on his site.
I have no doubt in my mind that some BITCH in power heard the knowledge that you've been spittin' and didn't like the truth."
." Tom, I am so fuckin sick that the CRTC has pulled your show. I have listened since October and am now Leykis 101 student. My eyes are open. The CRTC is PUSSIFIED."
" Tom What the hell is going on I turn on the radio to listen to your show and find this GAY ESPN sports show in YOUR Spot??? And I learn from Billy Courage this morning that your show was cancelled and MOJO had replaced you with this GAY ESPN sports show???? What the F*ck???? I am A LOYAL listener since I discovered you when MOJO picked up your show. I LOVE YOU MAN!!!!!! Lets say I agree with about 99.9 % of what you say and don't find anything offensive."
Leykis web site:
MOJO-AM web site:
2003-06-12: US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) chairman Michael K Powell has described as "garbage" suggestions that the US public was not informed about the changes introduced this month in US media regulation and was uninvolved in shaping the decisions.
In an interview at the National Cable & Telecommunications Association annual meeting in Chicago, Powell said," ''I don't accept the premise that the public wasn't informed."
" How is it that you have half a million comments but somehow the public wasn't informed? I have e-mails; I have letters; I have telephone calls. We have a 60-person call center that logged calls all day. We had more public response on this issue than any other issue I've seen in my tenure (at the FCC as a Commissioner and chairman)."
He suggested that a ''silent majority'' backed or accepted the changes despite vociferous, organized opposition.
"''If members of the public aren't as excited as you or don't care as much as you, it doesn't mean they aren't informed,'' he said.
Commenting on a Pew Foundation study that showed 70 percent of Americans hadn't read or heard much about the FCC proceeding, Powell said a less publicized finding of the same study showed 57 percent felt they weren't going to be affected much by them.
''If members of the public aren't as excited as you or don't care as much as you, it doesn't mean they aren't informed,'' Powell said. While a widely publicized Pew Foundation study showed 70 percent of Americans hadn't read or heard much about the FCC proceeding, Powell said a less publicized finding of the same study showed 57 percent felt they weren't going to be affected much by them. ''You never hear that cited,'' he remarked.
''There was a really dramatic misunderstanding of the substance of what was at issue,'' Powell said, noting that standards had been changed for several rules and adding, "We just drew the lines'' at new standards, based on orders from federal courts to reconsider the legality of media ownership caps. Broadcast companies challenged the old caps and ban on newspaper-TV cross-ownership, arguing the rules were outdated because of the profusion of cable channels and Internet news and entertainment sources."
Democrat Commissioner Jonathan S. Adelstein declined to respond to Powell's comments directly but said that in a case like this it was impossible to have too much comment.
''In this circumstance, maybe we should have gone to extraordinary lengths because these were extraordinary circumstances,'' he said, adding that he is considering asking the FCC to reconsider the vote.
(RNW comment: We find it somewhat disturbing that any honest senior officer of a major US agency can seemingly be as innumerate or disingenuous as Powell on this issue.
If 70% of Americans haven't read or heard much about the FCC proceedings, there cannot have been any really adequate public consideration of the issues, however much the US public overall might or might not care or feel they would be affected.
If the reason those involved had not heard or ready anything about the matter was that there had not been much cover by the US media, then comments about "silent majorities" deserve fulsome contempt.
As it happens, from our problems in finding print reports when searching for cover as opposed to happening to come across it in even a major city newspaper never mind national broadcast cover, (which was reported on TV to have boiled down to one ABC report until the final days before the June 2 vote) we would conclude that the amount of cover given to the matter would seem to have been skimpy to say the least.
This may be because most Americans are too busy being consumers to be involved or informed citizens and that the media adjudged their interests correctly as opposed to having any vested interest in dampening down public reaction that could have been against their perceived interests.
But, even if this is so, it does not alter the fact that cover was scant and that "silent majorities" would be best left to Hollywood "zombie movie makers" than cited in support of anything.
We would also note that if you take away the cover that appeared in local outlets when field hearings were arranged by Democratic Commissioners -and openly opposed by Powell - the picture becomes even worse.
We would suggest to Powell that the Pew study, if anything, supports the calls made for more field hearings.
Powell, as we have said in our June comment, did have some fair points in this case but he diminished himself, his office, and democracy in the comments he made in Chicago.
We still, however, regard the matter as essentially political and agree with Powell's assessment of the relationship between the FCC and the lawmakers; the question now will be how strongly enough of the latter feel about the issues involved.
If enough think that the FCC was wrong in its decisions, they can amend the legal framework within which it operates but it is a statement of fact that the amount of pressure they will come under from the public on any issue will be related to the degree to which US media cover the issue and it should disturb Powell as much as anyone that the cover by US media of this issue was more remarkable for absence than presence.
Boston Globe report:
2003-06-12: The Australian Broadcasting Corporation's show "The Country Hour", which this year celebrates 58 years on air on the Corporation's Rural Radio service is featured in the ABC's latest newsletter.
It was introduced in December 1945 as part of a special post-war programming strategy introduced to support the government's push to improve agricultural practices and increase the country's food supply.
Other programs introduced as part of this strategy, like the BBC Radio 4 programme "The Archers" that was first broadcast as a pilot show in the UK Midlands in 1950, used plotlines to provide a context for agricultural information, were the Rural Report and the drama serial the Lawsons which after a few years morphed into the Blue Hills.
The latter ended its run in 1976 but The Country Hour and Rural Report, like the Archers are still going strongly although the latter now has long changed its role away from agricultural information.
ABC Radio's Rural team is comprised of approximately 70 specialist journalists and broadcasters and editor Shane Mahony notes, "'Many of our people have specialist training or degrees in agriculture or rural sociology."
The team's output is broadcast on all ABC's channels except for its Classic FM; they also produce a special program "Rural Reporter" for the international network Radio Australia.
Rural programs for the ABC domestic radio networks include Bush Telegraph and Country Breakfast for Radio National; The Country Hour for regional stations as well as Darwin and Hobart, a local edition of Rural Report and Rural Update for every regional station (58) around Australia; Rural News and Dust and Dollars for ABC NewsRadio and Local Radio and various information pieces for Triple J.
Previous ABC Australia:
ABC Newsletter (1.29 Mb PDF)
2003-06-12: Sirius has raised approximately USD 146 million from its recent offering of shares, selling all 75 million shares on offer plus an additional 11.25 million shares that went to underwriters, Morgan Stanley and UBS Warburg, who exercised their over-allotment option (See RNW June 6).
The proceedings are to be used for general corporate purposes.
Sirius has also appointed David K Frear as Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer. He replaces John Scelfo who left the company on April 7.
Frear was previously Executive Vice President and CFO for SAVVIS Communications, a global managed network services provider with operations in 44 countries. Before that he was Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer for Orion Network Systems.
2003-06-12: Tennessee broadcaster Maxine Humphrys has marked her 50th anniversary on Greenville, Tennessee, country music station WGRV-AM; she joined the station part-time in 1953 after working in the employment office at Tennessee Eastman in Oak Ridge.
Paul Metcalfe, the retired patriarch of the family-owned radio station said of Humphrys, "First thing, she has a nice voice. It carries well. That is very important in radio. And she was pretty, personable, a local girl. She had all those things going for her."
She has been sponsored from the start by the Doughty-Stevens Funeral Home whose president Joe Hickerson said, "She is a legend in Greeneville It wouldn't surprise me if one of every two radios in Greene County, and maybe more, is tuned to the noonday news with Maxine."
As well as reading and reporting the news, Humphrys has also handled many jobs at the station from looking after its books to its radio bingo game. She became full-time for many years but seven years ago when her late husband, Ransom Humphreys fell ill she considered retiring but was persuaded to continue doing the newscasts part time by the Metcalfes.
"I feel like I have been where God can use me because I am doing things for the people,'' she said of her time at the station. "I have really taken it to heart.''
Her 50th anniversary brought a range of accolades and congratulations including messages from Senators Lamar Alexander and Bill Frist, Governor Phil Bredesen and from National Associations of Broadcasters president and CEO Eddie Fritts.
New York Times/AP report:
2003-06-11: Top Vancouver talk- host Rafe Mair, one of Canada's best-known radio personalities has been fired by Corus station CKNW-AM after 19 years following a clash over his refusal to conform to the company's employee behaviour code.
Mair was said to have forced his producer to get coffee for him, put sprinkles in the coffee and have coffee with him and had also used the 'f' word during a staff meeting and termed some newspaper stories corporate "blow jobs."
Listeners to his morning show heard program director Tom Plasteras announce that Mair was no longer with the station. A statement by Plasteras on the CKNW web site says, "I'm here to inform you that CKNW has ended its relationship with Rafe Mair and the Rafe Mair Show."
" The decision is an internal matter and is no reflection of Rafe's journalistic abilities or the quality of his show."
"We are committed to providing our listeners with top quality journalism and news commentary and we will be announcing a replacement program in the coming weeks."
"We thank our employees, advertisers and listeners for their continued support."
"On a personal note, I would like to thank Rafe for taking talk radio and CKNW to another level. His work ethic, intelligence and feistiness combined to serve this city and province in ways unparalleled. Rafe is an icon in our industry and we thank him for 19 brilliant years at CKNW."
According to Canada.com, the 71-years-old host and former British Columbia cabinet minister cabinet minister, said the firing had resulted from a "smouldering exchange of views" and a rift with his producer Dallas Brodie.
Mair sent out a news release at the weekend saying she had made nine harassment complaints against him -six of which he acknowledged and three that he denies - and that the station had threatened to fire him.
He would not detail the settlement made apart from commented, "They paid me out in accordance with the terms of the contract. I'm going out on a high note."
He added, "I have nothing but good feelings towards the station. They let me say what I wanted to say without any interference for 19 years."
"I think there's a generation gap between me and Corus I'm a stubborn, old fart, that's the trouble."
Mair began his radio career at the now -defunct CJOR-AM in Vancouver in 1981 after he left politic. He joined its then archrival CKNW in 1984.
Mair had just over two years left of his contract, which paid around CAD 300, 000 (USD 221, 000) a year.
His show, which ran from 0830 to 11:00 had around an 18% share of the Vancouver audience.
CKNW web site:
2003-06-11: The proposal to move city-owned Dallas classical station WRR-FM to a different frequency has been rejected by City Council members at a briefing at which they unanimously agreed to take the idea not further.
The proposed swap, which would have brought the city around USD 60 million, was felt by most members to be a good financial deal but not good for listeners according to the Dallas Morning News.
It quoted council member Veletta Forsythe Lill as saying of the deal, recommended by a panel of experts, "These guys brought us a great business deal. But it is not a great deal culturally for the city."
Many of the members expressed concern that the proposed exchange would have given WRR a frequency that was inadequate in the southern part of the city.
Although the frequency swap now appears dead, the Morning News reported that the City may still explore a local marketing agreement with KERA-FM which would involve KERA operating the station and guaranteeing the city a fifth of its gross earnings. The station was said by the panel of experts to be earning between 20% and 30% less than classical stations in comparable markets.
Dallas Morning News report:
2003-06-11: The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has denied a petition for reconsideration of a USD 3,000 penalty imposed on Mount Rushmore Broadcasting Inc. for offences concerned with transmission and power levels for KZMX-FM, Hot Springs, South Dakota.
The penalty, together with a USD 10,000 penalty for operation of an "unlicensed aural broadcast auxiliary station" was confirmed by the FCC in October last year (See RNW Oct 30 2002).
Mount Rushmore had not filed a response to the original notice of apparent liability but subsequently, although it did not dispute the violations -- inability to access its station's power and modulation levels by remote control from the main studio, its inability to turn its station's transmitter on or off by remote control from the main studio and its failure to establish monitoring procedures and schedules to determine compliance with operating power and modulation levels - submitted that the violations were not wilful, had been corrected and said the penalty was "very big for a small operator."
The FCC noted that subsequent correction did not mitigate the offences and after examining federal tax returns supplied by the company commented that the "forfeiture is a very small percentage of its gross revenues" and ruled that it should stand.
2003-06-11: America Online's Radio Network is to be rated by Arbitron-MeasureCast from the week to June 1 whose results are to be released later this week.
On the basis of figures released for the previous week, the AOL network would have been the top ranked network with total time spent listening (TTSL) of 4,888,916 hours compared to 3,099,717 hours for Live365.com, which led the rankings that week. It also had more listeners with a CP of 1,249,774 compared to Live 365's 571,152.
Yahoo's LAUNCH, which also recently began to subscribe to the ratings, was second in the same week
Previous Arbitron-MeasureCast weekly ratings:
2003-06-11: Spanish Broadcasting System's Board of Directors has nominated former Infinity Radio president Dan Mason and former Lehman Brothers' Media Group Managing Director and Global Co-Head Jack Langer to serve as independent members of the board.
Their election, together with those of incumbent directors Raúl Alarcón, Jr., Pablo Raúl Alarcón, Sr., Jason L. Shrinsky and Carl Parmer, is to be voted on at the company's Annual General Meeting, which has been put back from June 19 to July 10 to allow shareholders time to review the nominations.
2003-06-10: The reason US radio was not allowed further easing of regulations by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in its proposals that eased TV and Cross-ownership restrictions was "more a tale of politics than of business" according to a report in the New York Times.
The story, it says, "almost exclusively centres on Clear Channel Communications, the company that began rising from obscurity in 1996, when radio ownership caps were raised, to amassing nearly 1,250 stations."
It noted that, although Clear Channel is respected as a business on Wall Street it had drawn the wrath of musicians, who accused its concert division of strong-arm tactics, and the scrutiny of Congress, some members of which accused it of anti-competitive practices.
" in Washington good business necessarily means practicing good politics, especially for the media business," says the article.
"Politicians, after all, depend on local media outlets to reach constituents through both advertising and news coverage. And as much as it purports to be independent, the F.C.C. is a political creature, influenced by public opinion and pressure from Capitol Hill."
"These are fundamentals that Clear Channel evidently grasped too late.."
It quotes John Dunbar of the Center for Public Integrity, who has put together a searchable database of media ownership (at www.openairwaves.org) as saying, "Everyone, regardless of party, is running away from Clear Channel as fast as they can. They've had a terrible run of publicity."
Clear Channel started to address the situation at the end of last year when it opened an office in DC and it now has three former Capitol Hill aides working as lobbyists but, according to the Times, the "real power of lobbying is in preventing issues from becoming an open debate, and by the time Clear Channel had assembled its Washington team, the debate had long become public. The best its team could do was limit the damage.
The paper says that "In many ways, Clear Channel's naïveté resembles the early political trip-ups of Microsoft, another company that grew huge and found itself unprepared for life in the spotlight of public opinion and government scrutiny. "
Clear Channel, as evinced in comment on the FCC regulations from its President and COO Mark Mays (see RNW June 3) felt itself hard done by but competitors, according to the Times, feel the new rules will make it even more difficult for them to try and catch up.
The company is still taking a different view on the record: "They needed to have something to point to and say, `We've tightened the rules in this area, so obviously we've done a balanced review,' They needed to have a scapegoat " said Andrew Levin, its Senior Vice President--Government Relations and a former aide to Michigan Democrat John D. Dingell.
Previous Clear Channel:
Previous Mark Mays:
New York Times report:
2003-06-10: UK Classic FM, owned by GWR, has replaced long-time breakfast host Henry Kelly with Simon Bates, the former BBC Radio 1 DJ who was hosting its drivetime show.
The station web site on Monday still showed Kelly, who had been with Classic FM since it launched and had hosted the breakfast show, which has around 3.3 million listeners a week, for the past four years in its list of presenters.
It described him as "Award-winning Henry hosts Classic FM's highest rating weekday programme" but the link then produced a message beginning, "Sorry but we've found an error that is currently preventing us from serving this page to you."
Bates had added around 200, 000 listeners a week in the drivetime slot since he took over, but the events surrounding Kelly's departure are still unclear and Classic has not commented about it, although the station website carried a number of comments from listeners attacking the move.
Mark Goodier, who took over as host of the Classic FM chart show in January in succession to Paul Gambaccini (See RNW Jan 6), is hosting the drivetime show this week.
At the BBC, Stuart Maconie has taken over Radio 2 veteran Johnnie Walker's Drivetime show this week whilst Walker undergoes treatment for the cancer whose existence he revealed on air last week (See RNW June 7).
Walker is due back on air on Monday next week but Radio 2 says that if he needs more time Maconie will continue to deputise.
2003-06-10: Irish state broadcaster RTÉ has appointed Aodán O'Dubhghaill as the new Head of RTÉ's classical music and arts channel, Lyric FM.
Aodán, who joined RTÉ in 1979 as a Trainee Sound Operator in Radio, was appointed Producer-in-Charge for Lyric FM last year and will retain that tile. Before that he had been Senior Producer with responsibilities for three shows - the request programme, Lunchtime Choice, Reels to Ragas (world music) and Seinn! (Play!), Lyric's occasional traditional music series presented by Mícheál Ó Súilleabháin.
A keen fiddle player he is also a former member of the Irish Youth Orchestra.
2003-06-10: US National Public Radio (NPR) has announced an agreement with Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) to deliver live 30-60 second video newsbreaks to PBS station from NPR's Washington DC headquarters starting in September.
The breaks will be provided at the top of every primetime hour seven days a week but host and other details are yet to be announced.
NPR executive vice president Ken Stern commented, "NPR News On PBS is a logical fit. Viewers and listeners are going to benefit as PBS and NPR stations add another level of service to their communities."
2003-06-10: The board of Salisbury University public radio station WSCL-FM has voted against selling the station, the only classical station in the region, to WYPR-FM, Baltimore (the former John Hopkins University station WJHU-FM).
The Salisbury Daily Times says the station was valued between USD 800, 000 and USD 1.1 million in appraisals conducted recently after WUPR had made its approach (See RNW May 21).
It quoted Albert Mollica, executive director of the Salisbury University Foundation as saying that revenue from the sale could be used to provide more scholarships for students by the Foundation, which has suffered significantly from the fall in the value of its stock holdings.
"I don't think anybody questions the value of WSCL to the community. But we have a fiduciary responsibility to look at how our programs serve a large body of students," he said, noting that students and faculty are not involved in the operation of the station.
Salisbury Provost David Buchanan said he supported the continued presence of the station on campus, under the condition of greater student involvement but allocating student dollars for programs that don't benefit students is problematic.
"There needs to be more involvement of students in the operations. I think there can be much better integration. ... (But) I don't think WSCL sees itself as part of Salisbury University," said Buchanan.
WSCL board member Charles Emery said the station relied almost exclusively on financial support from listeners and is an integral part of the community.
Listeners who have protested about the possible sale backed him. One of them, John Mateyko, an architect from Lewes, told the paper, "For the larger community, this is the crown jewel of Salisbury University. Once you go past Salisbury, this is what people know about the university."
Previous WYPR/WJHU FM:
Salisbury Daily Times report:
2003-06-09: While the political battle over US media regulation has only just started, the new Federal Communications Commission (FCC) rules announced at the start of the week look as if they will be garnering print comment for quite a time yet.
Before considering any of that comment, however, this week's look at print comment on radio takes in some praise and denigration of the medium from both sides of the Atlantic.
First the praise, for BBC Radio 4's breakfast show, The Today Programme, courtesy of Sue Arnold in the UK Observer.
In her radio review she comments, "It's only when you compare Today with the other breakfast shows that you realise how truly professional it is" and then goes on to plug a particular report aired on Tuesday last week (RNW note - this should still be online for another day as the BBC now has a policy of keeping shows available for a week after broadcast).
"Shortly before 8am last Tuesday," she writes, "Today had a piece so utterly riveting I had to stop brushing my teeth to listen. It had all the elements of a classic scoop."
"Rick Chapman, typical plane-spotting anorak like the ones recently cleared of spying in Greece, sees ancient Spitfire in Berlin museum. Investigates. Records reveal it was last seen plummeting into the North Sea after an RAF sortie in 1940, together with its Czech pilot, Augustin Preucil, who, it turns out, was a Nazi spy. He didn't drown; he flew the plane to Belgium."
"It was a terrific story, grippingly told by Robin Aitken with a lot of atmospheric aircraft noises in the background. Pity they didn't let it run over into 'Thought for the Day', just as they let John Humphrys's antler-to-antler clash with John Reid about whether Blair did or didn't deceive us all about Iraq, run through sport, weather, trailers, everything."
"Thank God that tiresome business of presenters advising interviewees that they have eight seconds to outline what the growing New Con presence in the White House means to NATO is over."
After the praise, the reverse: From the UK Independent came a complaint by Sholto Byrnes about the output of Jazz FM, which was recently cleared of breaching its terms of licence by playing too little Jazz (See RNW June 4).
Byrnes doesn't agree with the acquittal. "What would you expect to hear on a radio station named Jazz FM?" he asks.
"Jazz, perhaps? No, no, don't be so naive! The way of the world - of commercial radio, of marketing, audience shares and remits - is much more complex than that."
"Although jazz is used to sell everything from perfume to coffee to cars, the music is far too difficult to inflict on an unsuspecting public. Who knows what delicate soul reared on the comforting pap of chart music might accidentally turn the dial and be assaulted by a few bars of Charlie Parker or Bud Powell? How could the poor dears stand the shock?"
"Those who don't subscribe to this view have long been infuriated by the programming policy of Jazz FM, which since it started has filled its airwaves with a diet of musical junk-food. Plenty of hackneyed blues and soul and a mind-numbing stream of commercial fusion artists, all of whom have learned the same "funky" piano parts and copied the worst aspects of the Sanborn school of "impassioned" sax playing. Apart from the excellent evening shows like Dinner Jazz, the chances of actually hearing any jazz on the station - any Miles, Dexter or Trane - have been as great as Louis Armstrong rising from the dead to perform a rap version of "What a Wonderful World" with Busta Rhymes."
After more comment and a reference to the Radio Authority investigation into the station's output, Byrnes lists the music played between 8:30 and 9:30 one morning, finding only one track he'd term "Jazz."
His conclusion, "No wonder nobody I know in the jazz world listens to Jazz FM. But that, of course, is because we actually like jazz."
From Boston, a lament at the loss of the ''Daytime Divas'' Doreen Vigue and Darlene McCarthy, who were dropped by WRKO-AM last month.
Mark Jurkowitz notes in the Boston Globe that the move puts yet another conservative male on air and leaves only "one local woman handling a mainstream-issues talk show on a major Boston station: Margery Eagan, who is half of a WTKK-FM male/female team whose hours were slashed to make room for the radio career of Fox News Channel's Bill O'Reilly."
The move, says Jurkowitz "provides further evidence that being a woman is bad for business in the sweaty, angry, conservative world of talk radio" and he notes that Talkers magazine publisher Michael Harrison was unable to name a top woman talk-show host.
"Industry analysts and executives," he says, "offer many reasons for the scarcity of females in the world of Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, and Don Imus. There isn't enough of a talent pool. Men sound more authoritative on the big issues. Fewer women propound the rock-ribbed conservatism that dominates the medium."
"And unlike men, women on the air must be both compelling and likable, a tricky tightrope act. (If a female host bellowed like Michael Savage, she would most likely be burned at the stake in Salem.)"
''The arrogance and incredible ego that we'll put up with in men, it bothers us with a woman. There are too many things to find wrong or annoying,'' says Eagan, who is also a Boston Herald columnist. ''You don't want her to be a word that rhymes with witch.''
McCarthy says researchers had told her that male listeners sometimes express a view along these lines: ''I've got a wife at home. I don't need one on the air, too.''
The comments and attitudes would seem to indicate a mainly male audience but in fact the split seems to run at around 53% male and 47% female.
WRKO program director Mike Elder said he dropped the ''Divas'' because the station could not pay ''two six-figure salaries'' for that time slot. ''I have found that women don't always want to listen to women,'' he added.
And from Harrison, "''It's more difficult for the female personality to capture an audience because what you need is anger, commentary, and charisma. Females, when they get angry, seem not to have the kind of charisma [of] an angry man.''
RNW comment: Sexist or what? It would be interesting for BBC Radio 4's Woman's Hour, which is less macho, more inquiring and more intelligent than most US talk radio, to conduct a survey on its US audience.
The news for radio from Brent Staples in a New York Times opinion column "Driving Down the Highway, Mourning the Death of American Radio" was even worse.
Staples is installing a CD player in his car, an act that he says, "symbolizes my despair that commercial radio in New York - and most other major markets - has become so bad as to be unlistenable and is unlikely to improve anytime soon."
He has a good word for one station: "I listen religiously to the public radio station WBGO in Newark, the best jazz station in the country."
But then he goes on; "Man does not live by jazz alone. If you want decent pop, rock or country, you pretty much have to spin it yourself."
The reason? According to Staples, "Commercial stations in New York are too expensive to be anything but bland, repetitive and laden with ads and promotions. A station that could be had for a pittance 30 years ago can go for more than $100 million in a big market like New York. Congress increased the value of the stations in 1996, when it raised the cap on the number of stations that a single company could own; now, three corporate entities control nearly half of the radio listenership in the country."
Reminiscing, he writes, "I grew up glued to radio and was present at the creation of legendary album-format stations like WMMR in Philadelphia and WXRT in Chicago."
"These stations played rich blends of rock, pop and jazz, and sometimes featured local bands. (This wide-ranging format enriched the collective musical taste and paid dividends by producing ever more varied strains of popular music.)"
" Independent radio even 25 years ago was as important to a civic landscape as city hall or the local sports star who made good. The disc jockeys (or "on-air personalities," as they came to be called) embodied local radio to the public. You could hear their distinctive influences when you drove into Philadelphia, Chicago, Minneapolis or Wheeling, W.Va. radio stations could be identified not just by the call letters but from the unique blend of music that was played in each place."
"Pre-corporate radio commonly played established, nationally known musicians along with unknown locals and travelling bands. In town for a show, a young, unknown Elvis could swivel-hip down to the local station for airplay and some chat. This sort of thing was still possible in the early 1980's, when an unclassifiable band out of Athens, Ga., called R.E.M. became hugely popular while barnstorming the country in a truck. R.E.M. forced itself onto the air without conceding its weirdness and became one of the most influential bands of the late 20th century."
Nowadays though, he says, "Radio stations where unknown bands might once have come knocking at the door no longer even have doors. They have become drone stations, where a once multifarious body of music has been pared down and segmented in bland formats, overlaid with commercials."
Staples also took other swings at the effects of deregulation, commenting amongst other things about the ban on the Dixie Chicks music after their lead singer criticized President Bush.
"Corporate radio's treatment of the Dixie Chicks," comments Staples, "argues against those who wish to remove all remaining federal limits on corporate ownership - not just of radio, but of television as well. The dangers posed by concentrated ownership go beyond news and censorship issues, to the heart of popular culture itself. By standardizing music and voices around the country, radio is slowly killing off local musical cultures, along with the diverse bodies of music that enriched the national popular culture."
So having already arrived at the topic of media regulation, views for and against the changes made by the FCC.
In the "con" camp, John C. Roberts, Dean emeritus and professor of law at DePaul University College of Law, writing in the Chicago Tribune, referred to the reform as " dishonest".
He says the "Bush administration is pursuing radically conservative, business-oriented policies despite the fact that a majority of the American people apparently disagree with that course" and against that background is more than just sceptical about the arguments put forward by FCC chairman Michael Powell to justify the decision, particularly arguments in terms of judicial rejections of existing rules.
The 1996 Act, he argued, allowed an increase in regulation but Powell had preferred the opposite course
"It is quite true, as Powell argues," wrote Roberts, " that two conservative panels of the U.S. Court of Appeals last year struck down several of the FCC's rules and sent them back to the commission for further consideration."
However, he continues, "The courts did not, as Powell asserts, tell the commission to get rid of the rules. Rather it ordered the FCC to do a better job of explaining and justifying them based on up-to-date market facts. Even though these two decisions seem inconsistent with the attitude of the U.S. Supreme Court toward the FCC's ownership policies and its discretion under the 1996 Act, the FCC did not appeal them to the Supreme Court. Rather it disingenuously claimed that the decisions forced it to deregulate."
"In fact, the Supreme Court has always strongly supported the FCC's goals of localism, competition and diversity, and has deferred (in ways the Court of Appeals in the ownership cases did not) to the FCC's judgment and experience in this area. Had the FCC appealed, it might well have prevailed, but Powell preferred to comply with the lower court's mandate."
"Make no mistake, then. The FCC is not some unwilling pawn of the Congress or the courts in deciding to loosen its rules and allow further consolidation of the media. Despite the clear evidence that Americans are extremely concerned about the consolidation they already see around them--combining station ownership, cable ownership and program production into a few hands Powell is pursuing the Bush administration's deregulatory, pro-business agenda at all costs. "
"The new rules appear to be legally vulnerable in some important respects, and opponents may well defeat them in the courts. Or Congress could conclude that the FCC has gone much further than was intended in 1996 and overturn the changes."
And finally, in the "pro" camp, a business view on the likely effects, from Wharton's where Business and public policy professor Gerald Faulhaber, who served as the FCC's chief economist in 2000-2001, predicts that the controversial deregulatory action is likely to have little impact on either the structure of the media industry or on the number of voices to which people are exposed.
"Turn on your cable, turn on your satellite and you've got hundreds of channels. People have talked about localism in television. In Philadelphia I've got more local news than I can possibly stand," he says, noting that local news programs are featured on seven different stations.
Faulhaber did, however, suggest that the consolidation in US radio after 1996 was not intended.
Telecommunications policy experts generally see the extent to which radio has consolidated as an accident, he says, and many experts believe the opportunity was the result of a drafting mistake by congressional staffers, not deliberate policy. No one intended to create a regulatory landscape in which a single company could "just vacuum up a bunch of radio stations."
And from another Wharton media expert, Wharton business and public policy professor Joel Waldfogel, a view on options available in the US.
In a paper commissioned by the FCC and submitted in 2002, Waldfogel looked at the degree to which consumers substituted one form of media for another.
He found that, on the whole, there was a high degree of consumer substitution among different forms of mass communication - meaning that if consumers don't like what they see on TV, for instance, they will look at the Internet instead.
Waldfogel did, however, also find that there was an effect on civic participation in earlier research he conducted.
In earlier research on media consumption patterns, Waldfogel had found that what one read or listened to appears to have an impact on civic activity.
~ For example, there was a negative correlation between New York Times readership and participation in local elections but among African-Americans a positive correlation between black voting rates and the presence of black-targeted radio stations.
Boston Globe - Jurkowitz:
Chicago Tribune - Roberts:
New York Times - Staples:
UK Independent - Byrnes:
UK Observer - Arnold:
2003-06-09: Trevor Dann, the former BBC Radio 1 head of production and later managing director of Emap Performance, Emap's division that includes its broadcasting activities, is back at BBC Radio Cambridgeshire where he hosted a rock show for five years in the 1980s. He is co-hosting the station's breakfast show with Emma Maclean, billed as "the Zeta-Jones of Cambridge"
Dann, welcomed back on the station website as "'Trevor Dann the music man' (as he's fondly known... in other circles replace 'music' with the word 'hatchet'... we're watching our backs!), was nicknamed "the hatchet man" when at the BBC in the 90s he and then BBC Radio 1 controller Matthew Bannister, now himself a late-night DJ on BBC Radio Five Live, axed many of the channel's older DJs such as Dave Lee Travis, Simon Bates.
Dann himself was made redundant in 2000 by the BBC, with whom he had started his broadcasting career in local radio in 1974.
At the time he had moved from Radio 1 to become head of BBC music entertainment and was reputed to have fallen out with his new boss, Alan Yentob.
His out of office e-mail at one point was, "Out of the office... out of favour... out of the loop... and now out of the country until 7 August. If it's internal BBC bollocks, Alan Yentob's yer man."
Dann left EMAP in February last year and set up his own production company.
BBC Radio Cambridgeshite web site:
2003-06-08: The past week's biggest story from the regulators was the US vote on new Federal Communications Commission (FCC) media regulations upon which we have already reported and the subject of this month's comment; elsewhere it was mainly a matter of routines although for once there was nothing of radio note from the UK and Irish regulators.
In Australia, for the first time, the Australian Broadcasting Authority (ABA) suspended a commercial radio licence; the action was taken after a failure to submit audited annual returns (See RNW June 3).
In Canada, the main radio decision by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) was the award of a new adult contemporary FM licence for St John's in Newfoundland.
The licence went to Andrew Newman and Andrew Bell (Newman/Bell) against competition from an application by Newfoundland Broadcasting Company Limited (NBCL), which already operates CHOZ-FM and the only local private TV station, CJON-TV, in St John's. NewCap, which operates the other four commercial radio stations in the market, was the only organisation supporting NBCL's application against 14 interventions supporting the rival application, but it questioned the effects of another commercial station in the market whose 2001 advertising revenues were CAD 9.3 million (USD 6.8 million).
Newman/Bell, which proposed a 20,000 watts station, and NBCL, which proposed one of 100,000 watts on a different frequency in an easy listening/adult contemporary format; each said the market could not sustain two additional stations.
The CRTC concluded that St John's could support an additional commercial station and that the approval of the Newman/Bell application through introducing a "new player" would increase diversity of editorial voices and the level of competition.
The CRTC has also approved a new low-power 47 watts tourist FM service for North Battleford, Saskatchewan, and an application to increase the power of CHYZ-FM, Sainte-Foy, Québec, from 239 watts to 6,000 watts.
As noted, there was nothing from Ireland or the UK: In the US, as well as issuing its new regulations, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), was also involved with a couple of tower-related penalties.
In one case it confirmed a USD 10, 000 penalty on Ashley Communications, owner of an antenna tower in Dover, Florida, for failing to comply with lighting/marking regulations. Ashley had not responded to a Notice of Apparent Liability issued in January this year.
In the other it reduced USD 10,000 penalty in Florida to USD 1,000 on hardship grounds (See RNW June 5).
Previous Licence News:
ABA web site :
CRTC web site:
FCC web site :
2003-06-08: BBC Radio 1 breakfast host Sara Cox has won her intrusion of privacy case against the People Sunday newspaper, which published pictures of her swimming and sunbathing naked on her honeymoon on a private island in the Seychelles (See RNW Oct 24, 2001).
Her lawyers had sued the paper plus photographic agent Jason Fraser and two photographic agencies with which he is associated under Article 8 of the Human Rights Act; the High Court settlement of the case awards her GBP 50,000 (USD 82, 000) on top of which the defendants will face legal costs estimated at more then GBP 200, 000 (USD 323, 000).
In addition they must destroy or delete all copies of the pictures including those in electronic form.
Cox, through her agent, had already received an apology in the paper the following week after a complaint to Britain's Press Complaints Committee, whose code forbids use of photographs taken of someone in a private place; she is said to be pleased with the settlement but considers that the photographs "ruined" her memories of her honeymoon.
2003-06-08: Rogers Communications has re-launched its Toronto Kiss 92.5 FM as JACK FM, switching away from a playlist of top 40 songs slanted towards rhythm and blues with a wider offering of hits from almost every modern music genre.
The re-launch was done without fanfare at 16:07 on Wednesday and station manager Chuck McCoy told the Toronto Star "with JACK, who cares if it's the top of the hour, or a Monday or a Friday. JACK does what JACK does and it doesn't fit into the pattern."
(RNW comment: A prime example of virtually meaningless verbiage more associated with a bovine quadruped's rear end than communicating much in our view!)
The company is hoping with the move to repeat its success with a similar station re-format in Vancouver in December last year which took the station from a seventh place overall to top rank; it has also launched a JACK FM station in Calgary.
All but two of the Toronto KISS personalities have gone and the station is currently running music without adverts whilst it hires replacements.
The format, supposedly to cater for the wider tastes of a 25-54 audience, has also been adopted by CHUM, which launched its BOB stations in Ottawa and Winnipeg.
Toronto Star report:
2003-06-07: Clear Channel and Citadel, owned by Forstmann-Little, have both been named as defendants in a lawsuit filed in New Haven, Connecticut, seeking USD 100 million plus in damages on behalf of four people who died and another four who were injured in the Station night club fire in Providence in March.
Clear Channel and brewer Anheuser-Busch were named in an earlier lawsuit filed in Rhode Island on the basis that they were promoters and sponsors of the event at which the fire took place (See RNW March 12).
The latest suit also names Citadel on the basis that three of the deceased won tickets to the show from Citadel's WQHN-FM, New London.
(RNW comment: Although not Clear Channel's greatest supporters out attitude to this claim, like the earlier one, is that so far we have seen nothing to merit saddling any broadcaster with responsibility since they were in no way involved in running the event.).
In another court case, Clear Channel and WHAM host Bob Lonsberry are being sued for USD 22 million for defamation and libel by former WCMF-FM, Rochester, New York, radio personality and Brother Wease sidekick Cindy Pierce.
Pierce filed a sexual harassment case against Wease in 1999 and in May last year alleged that WCMF employees had breached terms of a confidential settlement reached in 2000 in an on-air discussion. The latest lawsuit concerns comments that the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle says were posted on his website in June last year calling her a gold-digger for filing a USD 17 million breach of contract lawsuit against WCMF.
That case is still to be resolved but Supreme Court Justice Thomas A. Stander has said that the settlement of the earlier case did forbid Wease and others from talking about Pierce directly or indirectly in any media forum - including broadcast and Internet - as well as with third parties.
Clear Channel and Citadel have also both been involved in more conventional radio business. In the former's case it is spending USD1.2 million to repurchase WGUY-FM, Bangor, Maine from Concord Media Group.
It sold Concord the station in June 2001 but continued to operate it via an LMA after the sale and new Federal Communications Commission regulations are to take JSAs and LMAs into account in determining a company's reach.
In the Citadel case, its USD7.6 million purchase of KXKC-FM from Bonin Broadcasting (See RNW June 6) would have taken it above limits in the Lafayette market although new rules might have let it off the hook. It is ensuring it has no problem through a simultaneous sale for USD 500, 000 to Bonin KRXEFM, Opelousas, which serves the Lafayette market.
In Colorado, Newspaper Radio Corp. is spending a total of just over USD 7.9 million in two deals.
In the first it is to pay Salisbury Broadcasting USD 4.68 million for KSPN-FM, Aspen; KNFO-FM, Basalt, KTUN-FM, Eagle; KRMR-FM, Hayden and KFMU-FM, Oak Creek.
In the second deal it pays American General Media USD3.23 million for KSMT-FM, Breckenridge; KKCH-FM, Glenwood Springs; KIDN-FM, Hayden and KSKE-FM, Vail.
Newspaper Radio Corp already owns two stations in Denver.
In Texas, Gleiser Communications is making a start in radio with the purchase of four AMs and an FM from Citadel for USD 6 million. The stations involved are Tyler stations KGLD-AM, KTBB-AM, KYZS-AM and KDOK-FM plus KEES-AM, Gladewater.
Previous Clear Channel:
2003-06-07: The lobbying battle by Univision to get its bid for Hispanic Broadcasting approved by the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has been stepped up over the past week following the release of proposed new media regulations; the FCC had said it would not make a decision until after they were released but is expected to approve the deal shortly.
On Wednesday, Univision paid for full-page advertisements in a number of newspapers including the Washington Post and New York Times that featured a letter from New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson urging Democratic leaders in Congress to support the deal.
The letter, which had been sent to Senator Tom Daschle and Representative Nancy Pelosi, went head to head with critics who had alleged that the deal would give Univision too strong a position in the Hispanic market.
"As the only Hispanic State Governor -- and a senior Democratic elected official, " wrote Richardson, "I wholeheartedly support the pending merger of Univision and Hispanic Broadcasting Corporation (HBC). This pro-competitive combination will result in a Hispanic-run company with the resources to attract new advertisers and better serve this country's 37 million Hispanics."
"More than 80 percent of Univision's employees are Hispanic, including the Presidents of all three of its business units. As the single largest employer of Hispanics in the broadcast industry, as well as a leading source in fostering the development of young Hispanic producers, directors, writers and journalists in the U.S. today, Univision's unique dedication to the celebration of Hispanic culture and language has been a source of pride for the entire community. This merger will increase, not decrease media opportunities for Hispanics."
It did not take up some of the comment about giving Univision too much influence over news and information provided to the US Hispanic community; if the deal goes through it will allow Univision through its television, radio and record label interests to command around two-thirds of the advertising dollars spent on Spanish-language media in the U.S.
"There's huge monopolistic concerns," Rep. Linda Sanchez (Democrat-Lakewood, California) told the Los Angeles Times. "If you have one company that controls almost all of Spanish-language television, radio and Internet portals, then I'm worried that you won't have a diversity of viewpoints or expression."
Univision TV networks president Ray Rodriguez concentrated in his comments on the position Univision would have overall rather than in terms of US Spanish speakers.
"Nationwide, Univision has 4.5% of the viewership and approximately 2% of the advertising dollars," he told the paper. "If we can't compete effectively, then we can't get more resources for more news and improved programming. This is going to help Hispanics."
The adverts were placed following earlier advertisements places last month in which Univision and its opponents, who claim Univision is controlled by Los Angeles billionaire A. Jerrold Perenchio and white business executives, effectively each accused the other of lying (See RNW May 30).
Previous Hispanic Broadcasting:
Los Angeles Times report:
2003-06-07: Veteran BBC DJ Johnnie Walker has started treatment for colon cancer and is currently on a week's break from his Radio 2 Drivetime show.
He revealed his illness on air just before his show ended on Thursday night, saying, "Before I go there is something I want to mention. It is something that normally a person in my position would want to keep close to their chest but, because of the occasional time off I might be taking, I wanted to go public with it."
Walker said he was diagnosed with the cancer, " non-Hodgkin's lymphomas, which is apparently a very treatable type of cancer," five weeks ago and was starting treatment on Friday (June 6).
He then signed off by playing the Simon and Garfunkel song Bridge Over Troubled Water.
A message on his show's web site says, "I'm very lucky to have the support of a wonderful wife, close friends and my bosses at the BBC who have been very understanding and helpful."
Walker, who started his radio career as a DJ on pirate station Radio Caroline in the 1960s, moved to BBC Radio 1 in 1969 and has worked on and off for the Corporation since then despite a number of clashes.
In 1976 after disputes over the music he wanted to play on his then lunchtime Radio 1 show -
Among other things he called the Bay City Rollers' songs 'musical rubbish' and then told fans who protested to 'take a running jump' - he moved to San Francisco where he recorded a weekly Radio Luxembourg show.
After returning to England he worked for a number of local stations in the 1980s then moved to present the Stereo Sequence show on Radio 1. He later moved Radio 2 in 1998, initially in a Saturday slot and at the end of the year to the Drivetime Radio 2 show, which he has hosted for five years and which has a peak audience of around 5 million.
BBC Radio 2 Johnnie Walker website:
2003-06-07: Boston public radio station WBUR-FM, which has received hundreds of protests from listeners after it dropped the weekday syndicated "Fresh Air" interview show when the invasion of Iraq started on March 20, says it is to bring the show back towards the end of the month.
The show, hosted by Terry Gross, formerly ran at 1300 local and was replaced by "The BBC Newshour" to expand cover of the war in Iraq whilst Fresh Air was relegated to Saturday and Sunday shows.
WBUR says that it has not yet allocated a time slot for the revived weekday edition but will retain the weekend shows. It is to continue to run the BBC show at 1300.
Fresh Air, which is produced in Philadelphia by WHYY-FM, has been aired in Boston for some 15 years. Gross won the 2003 Edward R. Murrow Award (See RNW May 18).
2003-06-07: SMG, the former Scottish Media Group, said at its Annual General Meeting on Friday that it hoped for some improvement in trading in the second half of this year but did not expect a recovery in advertising markets until next year.
SMG, whose profits for the year to the end of December 2002 were down 28% to GBP 26m (USD 41 million) (See RNW March 5) and which is awaiting the outcome of a court hearing in which former Virgin Breakfast host Chris Evans is suing it for GBP 8.6 million (USD 14.1 million) for unfair dismissal and the loss of share options, was told by chairman Don Cruickshank there had been some signs of recovery in the second half of 2002 but these had stalled this year. He commented that the war in Iraq had "suppressed" the market.
Its shares were not affected by the forecast and ended Friday unchanged at 77.5 pence.
2003-06-06: US Senate Commerce Committee chairman Sen. John McCain (Republican, Arizona) has said he is to schedule a vote on June 19 vote on a bill to cut back to 35% the 45% national TV cap included in new media regulations approved by a 3-2 party-line Federal Communications Commission (FCC) vote on Monday; he is also to introduce measures that would allow the Commission to impose tighter media regulation in addition to loosening it.
McCain opposes the national TV cap proposal but it is expected to be approved by the Committee although it would face an uphill battle in the full house where a number of key members have said they will oppose any effort to undo the FCC changes.
The Los Angeles Times reports that a bipartisan group of senators has talked of circumventing the House opposition by attaching media ownership reform legislation to a broader appropriations bill.
Others say they may pursue a "legislative veto" under the Congressional Review Act, which provides an expedited mechanism for Congress to examine and overturn virtually any federal agency rule. That process can be launched with as few as 30 Senate votes.
The Commissioners had come under attack from both sides of the political spectrum at the Committee hearing on Wednesday and California Democrat Sen. Barbara Boxer told them, "It's interesting that the left and the right have gotten together on this as well in criticizing what you've done, and I hope to overturn what you did."
On the other side of the debate, the changes were supported by New Hampshire Republican Sen. John E. Sununu who commented, "If times have changed, technology has changed. If we do have more outlets, then we ought to at least make sure that the process we use to regulate these media companies is keeping pace with those changes."
McCain, who said he felt the FCC should be able to loosen or stiffen regulation, commented, "I intend to include specific language in a forthcoming FCC reauthorization bill to clarify that the commission may, and should, re-impose ownership restrictions as part of its biennial review where it finds such action would be in the public interest."
Los Angeles Times report:
2003-06-06: US radio giant Clear Channel is back on the acquisition trail.
In California and Mississippi it is paying USD 21.2 million to Chase Media Partners to re-acquire three stations it sold in 2000 as part of large-scale divestitures to meet Federal Communications Commission (FCC) ownership restrictions after its takeover of AMFM.
Chase paid USD45.6 million for six stations including the three its now taking back -- KCNL-FM/Fremont, California and WKNN-FM and WMJY-fm in Biloxi.
It had continued to run the three stations under joint sales agreements or local marketing agreements and new media regulations announced on Monday by the FCC are to take JSAs and LMAs into account in determining a company's reach.
In Nebraska, it is to pay Webster Communications USD10.5 million for KEFM-FM, taking it up to five stations in the market, and in Arizona it is paying CAM Communications USD 525,000 to re-acquire KXEW-AM in Tucson.
Clear Channel originally acquired KXEW in April 2001 in a USD17 million deal with Big Broadcast that also gave it KTZR-AM and KOHT-FM (See RNW April 14, 2001). The deal gave it seven stations in Tucson and to meet ownership limits it sold KXEW but continued to run it under a local marketing agreement.
In Louisiana, Forstmann-Little owned Citadel is paying USD7.6 million to Bonin Broadcasting for KXKC-FM, licensed to New Iberia and serving the Lafayette market.
Under current FCC contour definitions the deal would give Citadel nine stations in the market taking it over allowable limits but under proposed market definitions using Arbitron's definitions one of its existing stations might be considered outside the market.
Also going through are three deals announced earlier but that had been contested.
In Puerto Rico, the FCC has approved Hispanic Broadcasting's USD 32 million purchase of four stations from Fundación Angel Ramos (See RNW February 14). Petitions to deny the sales, filed at the start of April, were dismissed without comment.
Also dismissed were petitions from Clear Channel opponents David Ringer and Douglas Vanderlaan to stop the sale for USD9.25 million of four Jacksonville, Florida, stations to Salem Communications by Concord Media (see RNW Feb 21); Clear Channel had operated the stations through a joint sales agreement and Ringer claimed that Concord was a front for Clear Channel.
The other deal now expected to go through smoothly is Disney's USD2.56 million purchase of KYFX-AM, Little Rock, Arkansas, from Nameloc Broadcasting; it had been opposed by two petitioners including the National Assn. of Black Owned Broadcasters.
Previous Clear Channel:
Previous Forstmann-Little (owns Citadel):
2003-06-06: Former BBC racing commentator Peter Bromley, who in 1959 became the first ever sports correspondent appointed by the Corporation, has died aged 74 from cancer; he began his BBC broadcasting with a radio commentary at Newmarket in May 1959, although he had worked commentating at racecourses for the British Racing Amplifying and Recording Company from 1955
after an injury ended his career as an amateur jockey. His career ended with commentary on the Derby in 2001 (See RNW June 10, 2001).
He worked for the BBC Light Programme, Radio 2 and Radio 5 Live, and called all the Derby races from 1961 to 2001.
BBC Director of Sport Peter Salmon in his tribute said: "Peter Bromley set the gold standard for horse racing commentary on British radio. "His voice and expertise defined the sport for audiences. Our thoughts go to his family who will miss him dearly, though the loss will be felt by millions of radio listeners too."
Bob Shennan, Controller of BBC Radio Five Live, added: "He was one of the giants of sports broadcasting whose incredible voice became the hallmark of Saturday afternoon radio listening for millions."
UK Guardian obituary:
2003-06-06: Recent purchasers of Sirius stock were undercut on Thursday by the company's pricing of its offering of 75 million shares at USD1.80 compared to a closing price of 2:09 on Wednesday (See RNW June 5).
The offering, underwritten by Morgan Stanley & Co. Incorporated and UBS Warburg LLC., is expected to close on Tuesday next week and Sirius says it expects to use the proceedings of around USD127 million for general corporate purposes.
The underwriters have been granted an over-allotment option to purchase an additional 11.25 million shares.
Despite the pricing, Sirius shares fared better than those of rival XM Satellite Radio, ending Thursday down 1.44% at USD 2.06 compared to an XM fall of 2.85% to USD 12.63.
2003-06-06: It was again mainly a matter of chair swapping at the top of the latest Arbitron-MeasureCast Internet ratings, which show Virgin back at the top of the station rankings and Live365 holding on to the top network spot. Arbitron reports that two new subscribers - AccuRadio, which was the tenth ranked network, and Cincinnati-based WOXY.com, which was the 21st ranked station; noticeably absent from the network ratings, presumably because it no longer subscribes, was the previous week's fifth0ranked network Chain Cast/StreamAudio.
For the week to May 25, Arbitron-Measure Cast's top five stations ranked by Total Time Spent Listening (TTSL) with (in brackets) TTSL and Cume persons (a measure of the cumulative audience -CP) for the previous week - were:
1: Hot Adult Contemporary Virgin AM & FM - TTSL 379,690 (247,702); CP 81,273 (55,744). Up from third rank with higher listening and reach.
2: Internet only artist-match MUSICMATCH - TTSL 372,253 (335,350); CP 149,825 (137,760). Down from top rank despite higher listening and reach.
3 Classical format WQXR-FM- TTSL 221,518 (226,360); CP 31,361 (31,937). Up from fourth despite lower listening and reach.
4: Jazz format Jazz FM - TTSL 217,674 (251,737); CP 29,396 (32,163). Down from second with lower listening and reach.
5: Jazz format KPLU-FM - TTSL 189,591 (200,781); CP 32,563 (33,602). Same rank with lower listening and reach.
The top five networks for the week to May 25 (Previous week's figures in brackets) were:
1: Live365.com - TTSL 3,099,717 (3,160,752); CP - 571,152 (577,755). Same rank with lower listening and reach.
2: Launch - TTSL 2,999,925 (3,096,631); CP - 670,402 (687,282). Same rank with lower listening and reach.
3: MUSICMATCH Inc. TTSL 1,325,396 (1,300,609); CP 370,042 (360,044). Up from fourth with higher listening and reach.
4: The Adsertion Network TTSL 1,208,047 (1,209,314); CP 131,607 (127,487) - Up from fifth despite lower listening but reach was higher.
5: Warp Radio TTSL 768,299 (807,180); CP 147,222 (150,318). Up from sixth despite lower listening and reach.
* Chain Cast/StreamAudio, which previously was fifth with TTSL 1,623,812 and CP 194,895 was not in the top ten.
Previous Arbitron-MeasureCast weekly ratings:
2003-06-05: The US Senate Commerce Committee was told by Federal Communications Commission chairman Michael Powell on Monday that the background of past court rulings against the Commission were crucial to understanding the reasons for its conclusions on new media regulations in the US.
In particular he noted, "...while we concluded many of the rules cannot be sustained in their current form-many dating back nearly 60 years-we opted to modify the regime rather than eliminate it, Congress having provided only those two options."
He specifically added that the Commission had "kept in place the rule forbidding the top networks from merging" and had "have tightened the radio rule, fixing the anomaly that led to the now vaunted situation in Minot North Dakota."
"Given pending transactions," he said, "that market would be said to have 45 stations under our old rules. Under our new rules it would have only ten, thereby limiting the number of stations any one entity can own."
Noting that the Commission as an "administrative agency" was constitutionally bound to follow Congress's direction, he said he rejected "the sensationalist claims that our effort is nothing more than 'gratuitous deregulation.'"
"We did our job, and we did it well-with professionalism, rigor, and with the public interest at the forefront of our minds, " said Powell.
On cross-ownership, however, he said the Commission could not justify retaining a complete ban and added," Such a complete prohibition was clearly harming the public interest in significant ways. Yet, we retained some meaningful limits on cross ownership, utilizing a Diversity Index for the first time to weigh diversity, consistent with the manner in which consumers do, in drawing ownership limits."
On the other side of the argument, Democrat Commissioner Jonathan Adelstein asked the committee for help in fixing problems he saw with the new rules.
"This issue goes the heart of our democracy, so we desperately need to hear input from elected officials like yourselves. I'm afraid democracy was not served by Monday's decision," he said.
Adelstein's concerned were echoed by Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchinson who expressed concern about too much concentration in areas like Atlanta where Cox Communications controls the main newspaper, a major TV station and five radio stations.
2003-06-05: US radio revenues in April were up 1% overall and showed the same rise for local and national advertising compared to a year earlier according to the US Radio Advertising Bureau (RAB).
The rise, which followed a 2% drop in March, took the year to date figures to a 3% combined increase on a year ago with national revenues up 6% and local ones up 2%.
RAB's index, which sets pre-dot com boom 1998 as a base of 100, was 133.4 for April with the local index 135.1 and the national index 126.5; For the year to date, the overall index was 135.5, the local index was 135.5 and the national index was 138.9.
RAB President and CEO Gary Fries commented, "As these numbers bear out, Radio maintained a relative level of stability during the height of the war. While we anticipate some residual affects of the war over the next few months, Radio is well-positioned for moderate growth in the second half of the year."
2003-06-05: US Satellite radio companies Sirius and XM had mixed fortunes on Wednesday following the announcement by each of more fund raising efforts, with Sirius stock falling and that of XM rising.
Sirius announced on Wednesday that it intended to issue, subject to market conditions, 75 million shares of common stock at terms and pricings to be determined; XM had announced a similar offering of USD125 million principal amount of Senior Secured Notes Due 2010 to qualified institutional buyers, with interest rate and offering price to be determined by XM and the initial buyer of the notes.
Its shares, which rose 18% on Monday as investors gained confidence that it would survive, fell back by just over 11% on Wednesday to end the day at USD 2.09; over the past year it has now ranged between 0.389 and USD 4.25.
Sirius has also announced that Michael J. McGuiness, a portfolio manager for W.R. Huff Asset Management Co., L.L.C., has joined its board. He replaces Joseph Vittoria, who had been on the Sirius board since 1998.
In contrast, XM, which says it now has 600,000 subscribers and whose shares have also been rising but less spectacularly, gained another 4%.
It ended Wednesday 50 cents up at USD 13.00; over the past year it has ranged between USD 1.66 and USD 12.84.
2003-06-05: Former UK radio tycoon and Virgin breakfast host Chris Evans could face a bill of nearly GBP 4million (USD 6.6 million) if he loses his case in which he is claiming GBP 8.6 million (USD 14.1 million) for unfair dismissal and the loss of share options from SMG (the former Scottish Media Group), Virgin's owners, according to a report in the UK Guardian.
It bases the figures on a report in The Lawyer magazine that says SMG's law firm, Herbert Smith, is to submit a costs application in the region of GBP 2.5m (USD 4.1 million) to the judge presiding over the case
It says that Evans' law firm, Harbottle & Lewis, is expected to submit a claim for around half Herbert Smith's costs.
Should Evans lose he will have to pay both bills but, says the paper, the judge, that Mr Justice Lightman, has been a vocal critic of extravagant legal costs and could tell the lawyers to resubmit their application.
The verdict in the case is expected later this month.
Another former Virgin breakfast host, Steve Penk, who walked out of the station and whose late night show on Capital FM was dropped last month (See RNW May 31) is hoping to move the show onto TV according to the paper.
A spokesman for Penk's agent, MPC Entertainment, said the DJ had been working on the idea for some time, adding, "We are in negotiations with a couple of broadcasters. To get it out for autumn would be fabulous but Steve wants to get it right."
The spokesman also said that Penk was hoping to continue in radio and was talking to Capital about other opportunities it might have.
"He loves radio and wants to stay with it. There are a number of different options available within Capital but nothing is set in stone," said the spokesman.
UK Guardian on Evans:
UK Guardian on Penk:
2003-06-05: The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has reduced from USD 10, 000 to USD 1,000 a penalty imposed on WPGS Inc. for failure to have its red warning beacon operating on a tower used for WPGS- AM, Mims, Florida, in July last year.
WPGS had not denied the offence, which came to light when the FCC was told that the top beacon had been out of action for two months and that the station engineer had been informed; it subsequently carried out an inspection.
WPGS's chief operator had admitted that he became aware of the light outage but had not logged it nor notified the Federal Aviation Authority.
WPGS's president said the station engineer had medical problems during the Spring of 2002 and did not advise him that the beacon had been struck by lightning and was out and that on learning of the outage, he immediately had the beacon replaced, and has directed the engineer to check it on a regular basis and to report any outage to him immediately.
He also entered a plea of being unable to afford the penalty and attached tax returns backing up the claim. The FCC, as is normal practice, took the view that the circumstances did not form a sufficient reason to change the penalty but accepted the hardship argument and cut the fine.
2003-06-04: The vote by the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) on new media regulations (See RNW June 3) seems to have led to more reporting of, and comment about, the issue in US and worldwide media than it received in the eight months leading up to the vote, the time when pressures could have possibly altered the decision.
There was widespread reporting in all the major US newspapers (See out Other Links page for links to main papers) and also reporting of the decision in other countries.
Comment made was almost universally in line with advance remarks about the issue by the individuals and organisations concerned with the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB), whose members had conflicting views, diplomatically saying it appreciated the effort put in by the FCC staff and commissioners.
NAB President and CEO Eddie Fritts said in a statement that NAB's board of directors would fully review the decision next week.
In Canada, one of the Toronto Globe and Mail reports, as well as giving details of the decision, also considered its possible implications for Canada.
It notes that in some areas Canada is already less restrictive - in TV for instance, In exchange for cultural and programming obligations, private Canadian TV networks Global, CTV and French-language service TVA are allowed to reach more than 70 per cent of their potential audience and since 1984, Canada's media firms have been able to own a newspaper and hold TV and radio licences in the same market.
Daniel Roseman, an Ottawa based communications lawyer, said the FCC rules would "put more pressure" on the Canadian government to liberalize "the whole communications industry" but on the other hand an unnamed Ottawa broadcasting source suggested that the decision could lead to less US investment in media elsewhere.
"There is only so much money, and if you can spend it at home where you know the markets and the rules, why not?," he said.
In the Toronto Star Antonia Zerbisias wrote in a report headed "FCC, Big Media make scary bedfellows" that "it bodes badly for Canada where our media are even more converged, consolidated and concentrated. The U.S. decision means we can expect no relief because owners here will point south and demand an equal playing field for competitive reasons."
UK broadsheets carried fairly straight reports but in some of the smaller US markets there were some variations on the standard themes.
The Seattle Post-Intelligencer noted that the vote came "after a blizzard of public comments as well as millions of dollars in political contributions and lobbying fees."
"The precise numbers won't be available until August, when lobbying firms and companies must report their expenditures for the first half of 2003. But the number is certain to be large," it added.
The paper is owned by Hearst and it notes that the company and its majority-owned television company, Hearst-Argyle Television Inc., filed comments with the FCC urging repeal of the newspaper-television cross-ownership ban.
It gives some interesting figures on lobbying, noting that analysis by the independent watchdog, Center for Responsive Politics, shows media companies spent more than $82 million on federal lobbying efforts between 1999 and 2002 and another $26 million on political contributions.
Biggest spenders included AOL Time Warner, which spent $15.7 million on lobbying between 1999 and 2002, and distributed another $6.2 million in political contributions.(63% of the political donations went to Democrats and 36 percent to Republicans)and . Disney, which spent $16 million on lobbying and $2.8 million on contributions (55% to Democrats and 45 percent to Republicans.)
Whatever the spending, and FCC chairman Michael Powell denied that it influenced the decision, legal challenges are almost certain according to an Associated Press report in the San Francisco Chronicle.
The report quoted Blair Levin, a former FCC official who is an analyst with the Legg Mason investment firm, as saying, "The likelihood of a challenge to any major FCC action is approximately 100 percent," said.
Levin added that consumer groups seeking stiffer restrictions and media companies wanting even more deregulation are expected to fight the rules.
The political battle is also expected to continue and the report quoted Sen. Byron Dorgan (Democrat - North Dakota), a member of the Senate Commerce Committee, as saying that the decision was "decision "dumb and dangerous" and threatening action against the ruling.
It added that Dorgan was backed by South Carolina Sen. Ernest Hollings, the committee's ranking Democrat, and Mississippi Sen. Trent Lott, the former Republican leader but noted that the committee chairman Sen. John McCain (Republican - Arizona), had said he opposed legislation to overturn the new regulations.
The Committee is to hold hearings attended by all five commissioners today.
San Francisco Chronicle/AP report:
Seattle Post-Intelligence report:
Toronto Globe and Mail web site:
Toronto Star - Zerbisias:
2003-06-04: UK Jazz FM, owned by the Guardian Media Group, has been cleared by the UK Radio Authority of breaching its licence terms by playing too much soul and rhythm and blues and not enough jazz according to the UK Guardian; Jazz FM is .
The investigation was launched by the Authority after it received complaints following moves by the station at the start of this year to broaden its appeal by changing its schedule and including more non-Jazz music.
Jazz's format stipulates that "at least half the music during daytime must sit well with the label 'jazz'. The rest will be drawn from, and fully reflect, the broader soul, blues, and R&B categories."
Commenting, the Authority said it "noted that since the Guardian Media Group bought the licences last summer some changes to the schedule and presentation staff were introduced and the daytime music policy underwent some 'fine-tuning'."
"This maximised the amount of soul and R&B that was aired and led to a number of listeners complaining to us about this."
"We appreciated that some of the tracks being played may not be appreciated by jazz aficionados but the stations never promised to play just jazz and their licences, as mentioned above, have always allowed the inclusion of a significant amount of soul and R'n'B tracks."
GMG radio group programme director John Simons said he was "delighted" by the decision.
Previous Guardian Media Group:
Previous UK Radio Authority:
UK Guardian report:
2003-06-04: Australia's Special Broadcasting Service, whose multicultural mandate is to broadcast to the country's ethnic minorities, is involved in a row about its plan to axe its only Gaelic radio programming - both Irish and Scots Gaelic- along with Welsh programming.
They are to be replaced by programmes in Malay, Somali, Amharic, and Nepalese.
The Australian Scottish, Gaelic, and Celtic communities have launched protests against the decision; Susan McKerihan, secretary of Comunn Gaidhlig Astrailia, the Scottish Gaelic Association of Australia, said they had been told the decision was made because there were very few Gaelic speakers in Australia and "their information and education needs were relatively less acute" than those of some other minorities.
The show's presenter John Rankin said he had been told SBS wanted to end the show by the end of this month.
"We are all very upset. Things are looking grim," he said. "However, the Celtic languages are part of the cultural background of Australia. A lot of Scots are going to complain and they may be forced to change their mind."
Mossie Scanlon, founder of the Irish Language Association of Australia and a native Irish speaker said that Irish language was an integral part of the Irish identity. "We plan on doing all we can to ensure that the community doesn't lose the resource of a national broadcast," he added.
Both the Scots and Irish communities in Australia have deep roots and Gaelic was the second language of Sydney and Melbourne until the early 20th century
Glasgow Herald report:
2003-06-04: Cumulus has now taken control of four stations serving the Huntsville, Alabama, market whose purchase it agreed in April for USD 22 million in Cumulus stock (See RNW April 3). Seller Athens Broadcasting is now out of radio.
In other US deals, Clear Channel has sold three Tennessee stations to Peg Broadcasting for USD 515,000. Gospel/Talk WAEW-AM, Oldies WCSV-AM and CHR/Pop WXVL-FM all serve the Crossville market.
Previous Clear Channel:
2003-06-04: The Canadian Broadcast Standards Council (CBSC) has ruled against complainants in its two latest decisions, one concerning CISS-FM, Toronto, which used Italian to insult competitor stations in a promo, and the other concerning CHNL-AM, Kamloops, British Columbia, over a programme in which the commentator used the word "schizophrenic" to insult a former hockey player
In the case of rock station CISS (KISS) case, the promo featured a character who only spoke Italian and referred to the competition as "stazioni di merda [shit stations]" and said that those stations should "prender un martello e ficasselo nel culo [take a hammer and shove it up their arse]."
The watchdog in its ruling accepted the station's argument that the promo was meant to be humorous and that the references were tongue-in-cheek, although it did note that because Italian rather than English had been used it was "comforted by the fact that fewer people will have been offended by the coarseness of the language."
It added that the words were not derogatory of Italians and commented, "In the absence of negative generalizations about a group, the mere use of a foreign language does not amount to abusive comment.
In the second case, the CBSC panel said that the insult based on mental illness was "regrettable" but did not breach its codes and was not "abusively or unduly discriminatory towards individuals with the disease (schizophrenia).
The comment made by sports commentator Neil Macrae referred to Philadelphia General Manager Bobby Clarke as coming across "as some freaked-out paranoid schizophrenic."
The Panel noted its concern "that this misuse of the term could contribute to the desensitization of the public with respect to the disease, on the one hand, and could bring discomfiture or possibly even a sense of shame to the afflicted, on the other hand" but concluded that the word "attributed no negative characteristics to the disabled group."
2003-06-04: Interep, the US independent sales and marketing company specializing in radio, has said that it may not appeal against a delisting from the NASDAQ Small Cap market.
It was told it did not meet NASDAQ's alternative stockholders' equity, market capitalization or net income requirements for continued listing and would be removed from the start of business on June 6.
Chairman and CEO Ralph Guild said in a statement, "While considering an appeal, Interep will evaluate our options and determine what is in the best interest of our company and our shareholders. We may decide not to appeal the delisting if, after careful consideration, we deem that the over-the-counter market is a better fit at this time."
"Interep is a leader in the national radio representation business. Nothing has changed in that regard. Therefore, regardless of where our stock is traded, we do not believe it will affect the overall value of our stock holdings, or our market growth."
2003-06-03: Although the main attention has been on the overall easing of ownership restrictions, particularly cross-ownership prohibitions, in US media regulations that were passed in a 3-2 party-line vote by the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) on Monday, the changes are less far-ranging for radio concerning which the Commission said it found "the current limits on local radio ownership continue to be necessary in the public interest, but that the previous methodology for defining a radio market did not serve the public interest."
It is proposing to use Arbitron's geographic standard to define a local market and will hold a future proceeding to determine methods and standards for markets that Arbitron does not rate.
These new markets, it said, "will be specifically designed to prevent any unreasonable aggregation of station ownership by any one company."
Until these markets are defined, the FCC will use an interim modified contour method for counting the number of stations in the market so as to minimise the chance of creating new anomalies. The Commission will exclude from these markets any station whose transmitter site is more than 92 kilometres (58 miles) from the perimeter of the mutual overlap area, saying," This will alleviate some of the gross distortions in market size that can occur when a large signal contour that is part of a proposed combination overlaps the contours of distant radio stations and thereby brings them into the market."
Relating to market definitions, the FCC said that its signal contour method created anomalies in ownership of local radio stations that Congress could not have intended when it established the local radio ownership limits in 1996.
It will include all stations in a market, both commercial and non-commercial and also "stations licensed to other markets but considered 'home' to the market.
The FCC described its new rules as "enforceable, based on empirical evidence and reflective of the current media marketplace" and says that they are "carefully balanced to protect diversity, localism, and competition in the American media system."
It says it developed a "consumer-centric Diversity Index", based on information on how Americans gain their news from different media in order to permit a more sophisticated analysis of viewpoint diversity and enable it to establish local broadcast ownership rules that recognize significant differences in media availability in small versus large markets.
The new rules will allow companies to buy more television stations - lifting the 35% cap on national ownership to 45% but keeping the ban on mergers among any of the top four national broadcast networks - and also allow ownership of newspapers and broadcasters in larger markets.
No cross-ownership is to be allowed in markets with three or fewer TV stations although waivers will be allowed if a TV station does not serve the area served by a cross-owned property.
In markets with between four and eight TV stations there are three options - a daily newspaper, TV station and up to half the radio station limit OR a daily newspaper and up to the radio station limit OR two TV stations where permissible and up to the radio station limit.
For markets with nine or more TV stations, the limits are eliminated.
Concerning local radio ownership, the FCC said it "found that the current radio ownership limits continue to be needed to promote competition among local radio stations."
It is proposing the following:
*In markets with 45 or more radio stations, a company may own 8 stations, only 5 of which may be in one class, AM or FM.
*In markets with 30-44 radio stations, a company may own 7 stations, only 4 of which may be in one class, AM or FM.
*In markets with 15-29 radio stations, a company may own 6 stations, only 4 of which may be in one class, AM or FM.
*In markets with 14 or fewer radio stations, a company may own 5 stations, only 3 of which may be in one class, AM or FM.
Where the new rules result in situations where current ownership arrangements exceed the new limits, the FCC is proposing to grandfather owners of existing clusters but generally prohibit there sale with a limited exception to allow sales to small businesses.
The new regulations are almost certain to be challenged in the courts according to a New York Times report. It quotes former FCC official Blair Levin as saying, "There are certain issues that will be vulnerable to attack."
"But, " he adds, "my guess is the rules will be upheld, because the District of Columbia Court of Appeals, which is where appeals would be argued, is very pro-deregulation. I think the court will likely give them discretion."
Already they have been attacked from both those who wanted further loosening of regulations and those who wanted tighter rules.
In a statement, Clear Channel President and COO Mark Mays said, "Clear Channel is deeply disappointed with today's FCC vote to re-regulate the radio industry."
"While the FCC is supposed to act in the public interest, today they missed the mark by a mile. This FCC action will extinguish the substantial consumer benefits brought on by radio deregulation in 1996."
"Just ten years ago, nearly 60 percent of the nation's radio stations were operating in the red, cutting news budgets and laying off employees. Deregulation changed all that. But instead of letting radio stations find better and more innovative ways to serve their listeners, the FCC is intent on turning the clock back to a time when the industry was incapable of providing consumers the variety of programming it does today."
"Unfortunately, the FCC chose politics over the public interest, and American consumers will be the ultimate victims."
On the other side of the argument, the Center for Digital Democracy said the decision represented "a devastating blow to diversity and competition--in both the media marketplace and the marketplace of ideas."
Its executive director Jeff Chester commented, "...by setting aside the prohibition against a single company owning both a newspaper and a television station in the same community, the FCC has weakened the very fabric of our democracy. Fewer owners of the mass media means fewer voices will be heard, fewer opportunities for discourse and debate will be available, and ultimately fewer options for those who seek alternative and minority viewpoints. A handful of companies will gain from today's decision, but the public at large will lose."
FCC chairman Michael K. Powell in his comment re-iterated his point, made often beforehand, that. "Keeping the rules exactly as they are, as some so stridently suggest, was not a viable option." "Without today's surgery," he continued, "the rules would assuredly meet a swift death. As the only member of this Commission here during the last biennial review, I watched first hand as we bent to political pressure and left many rules unchanged. Nearly all were rejected by the court because of our failure to apply the statute faithfully. I have been committed to not repeating that error, for I believe the stakes are perilously high."
He was backed up by fellow-Republican Kathleen Abernathy who in her statement said. "Those who oppose our decision will continue to fear a mythical media monopoly that will descend upon our media landscape without any regulatory review of its power. "
" The reality is that today's order will prevent media companies from owning more than one of the top four stations in a market and will similarly forbid consolidation to fewer than six voices in the markets serving the vast majority of Americans."
" Democracy and civic discourse were not dead in America when there were only three to four stations in most markets in the 1960s and 1970s, and they will surely not be dead in this century when there are, at a minimum, four to six independent broadcasters in most markets, plus hundreds of cable channels and unlimited Internet voices."
Kevin Martin, the other Republican Commissioner, backed Powell and congratulated him for his "leadership" but also had a good word for the Democrat Commissioners, saying, "I also commend Commissioners Copps and Adelstein for their tireless efforts in reaching out to the public, informing them of the issues, and encouraging them to participate in the process."
"While I ultimately disagree with them on the course of action the Commission should take, I appreciate and respect the contribution they have made to this debate."
From the Democrat Commissioners, both of whom voted against the decision, there was a mixture of regret and stronger feelings.
Jonathan Adelstein said it was a "sad day for me, and I think for the country" going on later to say, "The public stands little to gain and everything to lose by slashing the protections that have served them for decades. This plan is likely to damage the media landscape for generations to come. It threatens to degrade civil discourse and the quality of our society's intellectual, cultural and political life."
"I dissent, finding today's Order poor public policy, indefensible under the law, and inimical to the public interest and the health of our democracy."
He later went on, "It didn't have to turn out this way. Congress and the courts forced a massive review. They did not force massive deregulation."
"We had a choice. The courts required us to justify our rules, not to gut them or replace them with pale substitutes."
"Certainly, the media markets have changed, and our rules must keep pace. But the majority chose to go much further than Congress or the courts required. They chose to pursue gratuitous deregulation. This is by far the most dramatic weakening of our media ownership rules this country has ever seen."
He also made a direct reference to the effect of previous deregulation on radio, saying, "Anyone who questions whether consolidation can cause harm need only look to the experience of radio." "The most constant refrain I heard from coast to coast was complaints about the homogenization and loss of news coverage on the radio dial since 1996. People begged us not to let happen to television what happened to radio."
"But the majority did not heed this concern. By ignoring this history, we may be destined to repeat it. Radio is a very sick canary in the coal mine, and we're about to infect television with the same disease."
" On the radio front, the retention of some local radio rules appears an acknowledgment by the majority that they couldn't stomach the fallout from the rapid consolidation of the past 7 years. And some actual improvements were made in the market definitions."
"Yet, for all the talk about tightening the radio rules, in several important respects the Order actually further unleashes the industry. It eliminates the radio-TV cross ownership rule. And it eliminates the current limit on the audience or advertising share any one owner can gain through mergers in a local market. For a rule designed solely to address competitive effects of mergers, it is mystifying why the majority would cast aside such a fundamental and economically sound principle as accounting for the measure of power of combined stations. The revised rule now clears the way for mergers that previously were denied or designated for hearing due to the strong likelihood of negative competitive effects."
Adelstein also attacked the rule concerning sales of clusters to small business as likely to prove inefficacious, both in terms of such businesses initially raising the capital to purchase clusters and also noting, "Most alarming is that after only two years, the small business can flip the grandfathered cluster to any large radio or media conglomerate like Clear Channel. Making this approach so ripe for abuse further diminishes the likelihood that it will serve much of a useful purpose, since real disadvantaged businesses will have to bid against companies that plan to sell to well-capitalized radio giants, raising the price of clusters."
"The ultimate beneficiaries of this approach could be companies like Clear Channel that could add even more grandfathered clusters than it currently controls. "
The remaining Democrat Michael J.Copps was stronger in his reaction: "I dissent to this decision," he wrote. "I dissent on grounds of substance. I dissent on grounds of process. I dissent because today the Federal Communications Commission empowers America's new Media Elite with unacceptable levels of influence over the media on which our society and our democracy so heavily depend."
"The Commission," he said, "has allowed fundamental protections of the public interest to wither and die - requirements like ascertaining the needs of the local audience, the Fairness Doctrine, teeing up controversial issues, providing demonstrated diversity in programming, ensuring decent quality programming for our children, to name a few of the safeguards we had once but have abandoned."
" The Commission cut back on its structural regulations that limited both horizontal (or distributional) concentration and vertical (or production) concentration, so that the same network distributing programs increasingly owned them. The worst monopolies in American history were built on this model. Then the Commission went further, eliminating outright the vertical safeguards that protected against a few conglomerates controlling all of the creative entertainment that we see."
" Don't tell me that those of us who feel strongly about this are being too emotional or are laying too much on one set of decisions. Some would have us believe that this is merely an ordinary examination of our rules that we conduct every two years. Let's not kid ourselves. This is the granddaddy of all reviews. It sets the direction for how the next review will get done and for how the media will look for many years to come. As for the emotion, I have seen the concern, the deep feeling and outright alarm on the faces of people who have come out to talk to Commissioner Adelstein and me all across this broad land. Are they emotional? You bet. And I think they are going to stay that way until we get this right."
Following the release of the new rules, most US radio stocks rose by an average of around 5%.
The next move related to the rules is a Senate Commerce Committee hearing to be attended by all five Commissioners and until the relevant forms are amended the FCC is ordering a freeze on all new transfer of control and assignment applications.
Previous Clear Channel:
Previous Mark Mays:
FCC release on new regulations (includes details of diversity index)
FCC -Abernathy comment:
FCC- Adelstein comment:
FCC- Copps comment:
FCC - Martin comment:
FCC- Powell comment:
Center for Digital Democracy comment:
2003-06-03: The Australian Broadcasting Authority (ABA) has suspended a commercial radio licence for the first time in its history.
The suspension for 14 days from June 15 is of the licence of the 6GS commercial radio service in Wagin, which is south east of Perth, Western Australia. It follows a finding that the licensee - Cybervale Pty Ltd - breached a condition of its licences in relation to audited returns for the year to the end of June 2002.
6GS, which operates on a non-broadcasting services bands commercial radio licence, had failed to provide the accounts on time.
ABA chairman Professor David Flint said the suspension reflected the seriousness with which it viewed the breach.
2003-06-03: The UK Daily Mail and General Trust (DMGT) would have to sell assets to make large acquisitions, such as a move into radio, according to the UK Independent.
The company is said to be considering the purchase of GWR, in which it already has a 29% stake, but has a debt of GBP900 million (USD 1.475 billion) and the paper quotes finance director Peter Williams as saying, "We don't want to increase our debt levels" and adding it was unlikely to issue further shares.
DMGT is controlled by the Rothermere family, who own about 75 per cent of the stock, and chairman, the current Lord Rothermere, does not like to see the size of the family holding diluted.
Last week DMGT reported flat group turnover for the six months ended March 30 at just under GBP950 million (USD 1.56 billion) but operating profits were up 10% at GBP 77.2 million (USD 126.6 million) and pre-tax profit was up 38% to GBP 44.4 million (USD 72.8 million).
Within the figures it said DMG Radio Australia had returned to profit. Regional station profits, it said, were up 13% despite "continuing depressed conditions in much of rural Australia."
It added that its three Nova FM stations - in Sydney, Melbourne, and Perth, where it has a 50% holding - had all "achieved No.1 status for their core 18-39 audience in the latest ratings" with the Sydney and Melbourne stations now in profit.
UK Independent report:
2003-06-02: Although future media regulation is continuing to get much cover, with announcements due today, we felt it better to leave the topic for a separate report (see below) and concentrate for this week's look at print comment on radio at comment on the variety of radio available - or not - as seen by various writers and reviewers over the past week.
First up, from the Los Angeles Times and Bob Baker, a column on radio hoaxes.
It began, "What if ... ? wondered Cleveland disc jockey Shane French. What if a cat was tethered to a helium-filled balloon and launched toward the heavens, and callers to his station offered periodic reports, and finally, one gallant listener fired a gun, popped the balloon and brought the cat down gently. Would that be great radio or what?"
"It's what passes for great radio these days. On April 29, French kept the hoax going for more than two hours, fuelled by recorded "calls" from "witnesses." It ended when police, suspecting a hoax after so many worried inquiries from animal lovers, visited the station and persuaded French to announce that none of it was true."
Baker then looks back, taking in the 1938 Orson Welles' Martians-invade-New Jersey broadcast, based on H.G. Wells' The War of the Worlds, which "inadvertently created widespread panic. "
He goes on, "There's rarely anything inadvertent in today's broadcast stunts, which feature an uneven variety of edgy cleverness and malicious manipulation. Radio stations with shrinking promotional budgets but a desperate need to stand out in their conglomerate-dominated world have taken on-the-air goofery to new heights."
He notes that the hoaxes go unchecked by regulators with no hoax case ever filed by the Federal Communication Commission Enforcement Bureau, despite a 10-year-old FCC rule banning hoaxes, which he says has "enough loopholes to exempt all but the most catastrophic incidents."
The article then considers a wide ranging selection of hoaxes, some of them causing significant disappointment as with a hoax about a Britney Spears appearance that led some 400 children and parents to turn up only to find the Britney in question was a doll others causing significant time waste for authorities as when a Kansas station warned citizens not to drink water because it contained dihydrogen monoxide -Water!; and a 1988 Opie and Anthony stunt that falsely reported the death of Boston's mayor in an auto accident. It took the duo four years to top that with their Sex in St Patrick's cathedral stunt that again led to them being fired.
Back across the Atlantic and Roland White in a UK Sunday Times Radio Waves column headed "Freem of speech" takes up the question of sloppiness in speech.
"Oh dear, I do feel old," he begins "Old enough to have listened with mother (RNW note- A Children's radio programme on the BBC) ... But most of all, old enough to remember when Angela Rippon pronounced the word guerrilla with about 15 syllables."
"Ah, yes. Whatever happened to syllables? We don't have guerrillas any more, of course."
"What we have now are tairists. Only last week, I heard on Radio Five Live how America has been bracing itself for a tairist attack. It's not just on Five Live, either: all over the place, people are talking about tairist networks, tairist activity and tairist charges."
"I realise that I should probably get out more, but this is driving me bonkers: why can so few people on the radio pronounce the word terrorist with three syllables? God knows they are getting enough practice."
Still on clarity of speech, his colleague Chris Campling on sister paper The Times, takes up the qualities of Formula One racing commentators.
In particular he picks fault with BBC Radio Five Live commentator Jonathan Legard whom he considers to have spent "too much time too close to F1."
He picks up two apparently conflicting tendencies -" like clouding events in euphemism, where a near-fatal crash is described as a "moment" - 'Nearly a moment for Schumacher there'" and on the other hand " incongruously, hyperbolising every minor event so that a spinning off becomes a tragedy and an appearance on the podium is the Second Coming."
Maybe we shouldn't be too hard; after all the current US president seems able to overdo WMD whilst being unable to pronounce "nuclear"!
Finally courtesy of the UK Guardian, a review by Elisabeth Mahoney of Aladdin and the Wonderful Lamp on BBC World Service - still available (just) on the BBC web site under its policy of making programme available on-demand for a week.
As Mahoney commented of the production " with a new soundtrack by Paul Oakenfold? What next - Fatboy Slim takes on Rumpelstiltskin?
" I was dreading this production, despite the comforting presence of actors Meera Syal and Saeed Jaffrey, because when such hip-sounding projects fall flat, they're worse than the lamest traditional approach. But when they work, as this in fact did, the existing tale can be richly reinvigorated."
"It took some getting used to, though. I found myself excitedly spotting Oakenfold's samples (the Carpenters and Björk) and then realising I'd lost the plot."
"Not a musical version of the story, or a soundtrack in the conventional sense, what Oakenfold produced was a musical mirror to the action and emotions, snaking through the scenes and slipping into the spaces between words. Ambient and swirly, this wasn't music signposting what was about to happen. Instead, it simply deepened the many moods of the original narrative, and much more subtly than I had expected."
"The words, too, were subtle in their modernity, steering largely clear of look-how-radical-we're-being cleverness. The only hints that this was a new take on an old tale was the prosaic nature of Aladdin's first line ("Eh? What?") and one reference to now ("Let us, as they're going to say in a few centuries time, fast forward"). Magical stuff."
Los Angeles Times - Baker:
UK Guardian -Mahoney
UK Sunday Times - White:
UK Times - Campling
2003-06-02: Long-awaited US media regulations are to be unveiled by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) today, although it seems likely that whatever is done there will be legal challenges to the new rules.
In the final run-up, despite a very slow start, there has been increasing cover of the story - it even made mainstream TV news in the US on Friday - with a wide range of comments as well as reporting on the rules at stake.
Amongst the highlights we have noted are the following, all from the Washington Post apart from a comment from Rush Limbaugh in typical immodest style.
On his web site he reckons the "conspiracy theories about Rupert Murdoch and Clear Channel" are all about stopping Limbaugh, later commenting, "We do what the mainstream press used to do, and America's natural hunger for real news instead of spin has led them to come our way."
And he ends, "The American people aren't asking for change. Folks, it's not my fault I'm dominant on radio. I didn't set out in this business to land in the middle - and nobody who succeeds in their (sic) chosen field does. It's content, content, content that determines what people choose to enjoy; the owners just don't matter."
With a little more modesty, Ted Turner, speaking as he noted "Only for himself" not for AOL-Time Warner, opposed changes that would ease regulation and enable more consolidation in the hands of big groups.
The changes he said, "will stifle debate, inhibit new ideas and shut out smaller businesses trying to compete."
"If these rules had been in place in 1970," he continued, "it would have been virtually impossible for me to start Turner Broadcasting or, 10 years later, to launch CNN."
Small businesses, he argued, could no longer compete effectively against the giants and he then went on to suggest why "the country should care."
"When you lose small businesses, you lose big ideas.," contended Turner. "People who own their own businesses are their own bosses. They are independent thinkers. They know they can't compete by imitating the big guys; they have to innovate. So they are less obsessed with earnings than they are with ideas. They're willing to take risks."
In comparison, he said, "Large media corporations are far more profit-focused and risk-averse. They sometimes confuse short-term profits and long-term value. They kill local programming because it's expensive, and they push national programming because it's cheap -- even if it runs counter to local interests and community values."
Turner also brought up implications for democratic debate, noting, "Some news organizations have tried to marginalize opponents of the war in Iraq, dismissing them as a fringe element. Pope John Paul II also opposed the war in Iraq. How narrow-minded have we made our public discussion if the opinion of the pope is considered outside the bounds of legitimate debate?"
"Our democracy needs a broader dialogue," he argued, continuing, " As Justice Hugo Black wrote in a 1945 opinion: 'The First Amendment rests on the assumption that the widest possible dissemination of information from diverse and antagonistic sources is essential to the welfare of the public.;"
"Safeguarding the welfare of the public cannot be the first concern of large publicly traded media companies," argued Turner. "Their job is to seek profits. But if the government writes the rules in a certain way, companies will seek profits in a way that serves the public interest."
From a consumer point of view, Mark Cooper, director of research at the Consumer Federation of America, argued, "The issue comes down to who covers local news, such as school board elections, fire and police services, local community values and congressional elections. Few cable systems have local news, and when one does, it is almost always a joint venture with a local broadcaster. The Internet has almost no local content. Broadcast TV stations and newspapers are overwhelmingly the dominant source of local news."
He then noted the decline in competing newspapers in most US towns and cities and a similar, albeit lesser decline, in competing local TV operations."
"Keeping newspapers and TV outlets separate also preserves the natural antagonism between print and TV news and the ability of each to play a watchdog role over the other," he argued.
"The networks use the complexity claim as an excuse to avoid covering an issue that threatens their interests, and the FCC uses it to pursue a deregulatory agenda in spite of overwhelming evidence that it should not relax media ownership limits."
And from the Washington Post itself as opposed to contributors, an editorial argued that there was a paradox in the way an "ever-increasing embarrassment of information riches coincides with a continuing consolidation of media companies."
"Fewer and fewer companies," it noted, "increasingly dominate a larger and larger percentage of the television programming Americans watch -- and newspapers nationwide have likewise been bought up by national corporations. The ironic result is that the dramatic democratisation of communications has coincided with diminishing diversity and quality in certain types of news coverage, particularly local news."
It then moved on to say, "The reality is that some of the current rules are a relic of a time when consumer choice was far more limited than it is today, and some change may be warranted."
It concludes that, "The larger question, one that is raised by the current review but that also goes beyond it, is what attitude the commission should take toward consolidation."
"Should it simply accept the idea that media, like other industries, cannot resist the efficiencies of integrating with one another? Or should it position itself to fight a rearguard battle against conglomeration on the theory that the media -- because they are so central to democratic life -- are different from other industries?"
"Further consolidation is probably inevitable, and reflexive opposition might be tilting at windmills. But the commission -- and Congress -- have a critical role to play in ensuring that this process does not cut off voices that the public is entitled to hear."
Limbaugh web site comment:
Washington Post - Cooper:
Washington Post - editorial:
Washington Post - Turner:
2003-06-02: US Satellite radio appears "primed to take-off" according to an Associated Press report in US newspapers which notes that less than a year ago, "potential subscribers and investors were treating it like an unwelcome visitor from another planet "and providers, XM Satellite Radio and Sirius were warning they might run out of cash.
Subscriber numbers, it notes, are now rising fast for both companies and financial re-vamping has removed immediate cash flow problems.
Sirius President and CEO Joseph Clayton said recently, "I'm glad to have most of the trying-to-get-everything-set-up behind us, so we can just compete in the marketplace with not only with XM but traditional radio. And that's the fun part."
Sirius launched its satellites first whilst XM suffered launch delays but then launched commercially ahead of its rival because of receiver problems and what Clayton describes as missteps by Sirius' original management team.
As a result it only has around 68,000 subscribers with around 300,0000 expected by the end of the year whilst XM has passed the half-million mark and expects 1.2 million by the end of the year.
Both companies have deals with automakers who are introducing receivers as factory-installed options in an increasing number of models - this fall Sirius will be an option on around 65 models including those from its BMW, DaimlerChrysler and Ford partners and XM will be in around 70 including those of its GM and Honda partners.
There will be some years delay before receivers for both services are compatible although competition is driving receiver prices down - Sirius, which charges USD12.95 a month for the first subscriber in a household, has a portable receiver on the market at USD100 and XM, which charges USD9.95 a month for the first household subscription, has followed suit, knocking some USAD 29 of its receiver price. Both companies have reduced fees for further subscriptions from the same household.
XM Chairman Gary Parsons was bullish about his company's lead, commenting, "It's pretty clear that we're the ice breaker that's breaking the new ground and they are following behind us."
Clayton, whose company has recovered some of the ground it initially lost, said the battle was not over: "Just because you're No. 1 out of the gate doesn't guarantee you success," he said. "The satellite radio industry has just begun."
San Francisco Chronicle/AP report:
2003-06-02: The BBC World Service has now launched 24-hours-a-day Arabic FM services in Baghdad and Basra; it also has an English World Service FM frequency in Basra.
Mark Byford, Director BBC World Service and Global News, said that there were also plans to extend FM services to other cities in Iraq.
"BBC World Service is widely listened to and respected across the Arab world and boosted its short wave and medium wave transmissions to Iraq at the start of the war," he added. "BBC World Service has a high standing in Iraq. In recent years Iraqis depended on international radio for their news after satellite dishes were banned."
2003-06-01: The main licence-related news over the past week yet again concerned new US media regulation with announcements to be made on June 2; otherwise things were quiet in North America and fairly routine elsewhere.
In Australia, the only radio decision from the Australian Broadcasting Authority (ABA) was not to allocate a new community licence for Gosford in New South Wales for the time being; the ABA had awarded the licence, Gosford's third community licence, to Gosford Christian Broadcasters Ltd. in December last year (See RNW Licence News, December 29, 2002).
The decision was subsequently set aside a month later by Australia's Federal Court on the basis that a decision to allow Gosford Christian Broadcasters Ltd to lodge a late application for the licence affected the legal rights, interests and legitimate expectations of the other applicants.
The ABA gave each applicant an opportunity to make a further submission in March this year after making a preliminary decision not to allocate the licence for now. After assessing the valid applications - from Newcastle Christian Broadcasters Ltd (Christian); Radio Yesteryear Inc (general community interested in music from 1930s to 1960s); and Wyong Gosford Progressive Community Radio Inc (minority groups) - it has confirmed the decision not to allocate but says it intends to re-advertise the licence late this year or early next year and in the meantime will set aside the frequency for temporary community licences.
ABA chairman Professor David Flint commented, "After giving careful consideration to the criteria laid down in the legislation and the information provided by the applicants, the ABA has decided in this case not to allocate the licence During the intervening period the ABA encourages the applicants to operate a temporary service to develop their capacity,"
There was nothing radio related from Canada over the past week.
In Ireland the Broadcasting Commission of Ireland (BCI) announced the signing of a five-year institutional sound broadcasting contract with the Mid-Western Health Board, which has been granted a licence to provide a radio service for Regional General Hospital, Dooradoyle, Limerick. Until this award
Regional Hospital Radio has held one-year institutional licences previously and the BCI described the granting of this the five-year contract as "a significant step in the long-term development of the service. "
The BCI has also been in a spat over a report by the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Communications, Marine and Natural Resources which addressed the BCI's radio licensing process for local and community radio.
In a rebuke, the BCI notes that it was asked by the committee in December last year to make a presentation on the Commission's general licensing policy for both local and community radio licences and responded confirming availability except for the weeks of February 3 and 10 this year.
The BCI says that it has received no further contacts from the Joint Committee, although it is aware "that the Committee interviewed a wide range of personnel from local radio stations concerning the licence application process."
"The failure of the Committee to respond to the Commission's stated willingness to meet with its Members," says the BCI, "calls into serious question the impartiality of their findings. The Commission fails to understand how any meaningful conclusions could be reached without any reference to, or response from, the licensing body, which administered the licensing process. "
In the UK, the Radio Authority re-awarded the Borders local licence to Scottish Radio Holdings subsidiary Radio Borders Ltd. under its special application procedure after a pre-advertisement failed to attract any competing applications, and also advertised the Plymouth/Cornwall digital multiplex.
The Authority also published assessments of the awards of the local licence for North Norfolk and the Nottingham digital multiplex.
The licence was awarded to Tindle Radio's North Norfolk Radio Ltd., to run for eight years from the date that the service commences broadcasting.
In the UK, the Radio Authority has published its assessment of the award of the North Norfolk FM licence to North Norfolk Radio Ltd. (NNR), which was competing against an application from Go-FM (Absolute Radio Norfolk Ltd.).
Members, it says, "considered that NNR's proposals for a radio station for the North Norfolk area were well-researched, well-developed, and would result in a locally-relevant service of broad appeal."
NNR is providing a music-led service with local news bulletins and is targeting the 25-54 demographic. Speech consent will range from 25-40% in the week and 20-35% at weekends and this attracted the comment that "the quantity and variety of speech features which NNR had committed itself to broadcasting would easily meet these proposed speech levels, and noted that a relatively high speech commitment should help to attract older listeners, who represent an above-average proportion of the local population."
NNR, it says, proposes to employ two full-time journalists, and will have the support of other Tindle-owned stations in the area, which should enable the group to deliver its proposals effectively.
The Nottingham digital multiplex licence was awarded to the sole applicant Now Digital (East Midlands) Ltd., which is proposing eight commercial services in addition to carrying BBC Radio Nottingham. (See RNW Licence News May 11).
Authority members commented "the services offered by NDEM would cater well for the local audience, providing programming for a wide range of age groups and interests, and enabling popular local services to be transmitted digitally."
They also noted that, "As with previous Now Digital applications, a quantitative research survey was conducted to demonstrate the level of audience support for the proposed programme services" and added, "Members noted that the volume of letters of support obtained for this application was unimpressive."
In the US, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), as well as continuing work on its media regulation plans, issued two red-flags on ownership concentration grounds.
One concerned a Florida change in ownership under which Styles Management Co Inc. would take control of five stations in the Panama City Market that had been in a partnership between Styles Media and Thomas DiBacco (See RNW May 29).
The other involved Davis Broadcasting's purchase of WEAM-FM, Cuthbert, Georgia from Alaga Communications Corporation.
Previous Licence News:
Previous UK Radio Authority:
ABA web site :
BCI web site:
FCC web site :
UK Radio Authority web site:
2003-06-01: The latest complaints bulletin issued by the UK Broadcasting Standards Commission (BSC) upheld one complaint and partially upheld another against radio, compared with three upheld in its previous bulletin (See RNW May 2).
Four further radio cases were considered resolved compared to three in the previous bulletin.
In all the Commission dealt with 88 complaints, 42 fewer than in the previous bulletin. 12 of these involved radio and the remaining 76, including advertisements and trailers, concerned TV compared with 25 and 105 a month earlier.
There were four fairness complaints compared to five in the previous bulletin, one involved radio and was not upheld, and three TV of which one was partly upheld; in the previous bulletin two TV complaints were partially upheld.
Standards complaints totalled 84, no statements being required in 42 cases, 6 of these being radio cases; of the cases where statements were required, 5 involved radio and the rest TV, including advertisements.
Eight TV standards complaints were upheld and three partially upheld.
The radio complaint upheld involved Sara Cox's breakfast show on BBC Radio 1 and what the complainant termed "inappropriate remarks about suicide."
The BBC said the presenter, knowing that she was talking about a subject of some sensitivity, had limited herself to recounting the main points of a newspaper story about a number of bizarre and gruesome suicides.
The standards panel found that, "notwithstanding her established approach and style, the presenter's jovial tone when discussing the report about the variety of ways in which people had committed suicide had exceeded acceptable boundaries for transmission."
The partially upheld complaint involved the Jonathan Ross Show on BBC Radio 2 and a complaint of "offensive remarks and sexual conversation."
The BBC said that although it appreciated that running over elderly or terminally ill people might not be usually considered a suitable subject for humour, regular listeners would know that the presenter had not intended the remarks to be taken seriously.
The 'game show' notion was no more than a flight of fancy, whose remoteness from the reality of elderly people being involved in road traffic accidents was the main source of humour.
It was that very distance from real life that gave the anecdote its purpose - to illustrate the strange notions that children sometimes had about the world, with reference to the presenter's own family. The intention was gently affectionate rather than mordantly satirical.
The panel took the view that the presenter's tale relating to comments made by his son about adding some excitement to the day by running over elderly or terminally ill people had been misjudged in the context of this programme and upheld this part of the complaint.
Previous BSC and BSC Complaints bulletin:
BSC web site (Links to report 105 kb PDF).
Links note: As far as possible we provide site links to the previous related story. Should these links not work, please advise us so we can sort out the problem.
Regarding external links, we give links where we can but an ever-increasing number of newspapers and stations either require registration or only keep items available for a limited period or move them to a pay-per-use archive (typically after 7 or 14 days in the USA).
Thus some links become outdated or sources you would have to pay for or subscribe to access. See links page for notes regarding various sites we think of value
Back to top :
May 2003 - July 2003
Radionewsweb.com, 38 Creswick Road, Acton, London W3 9HF, UK: