September 2003 Archive
August 2003 - October 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 September comment -Meters are likely to replace diaries for ratings soon. We consider the ratings future.
RNW August comment - Considers how different regulatory regimes have affected the success of digital radio.
RNW July comment - More of what - or is the technological fix a pipedream? Is technology that could potentially add thousands of broadcast channels a move forward or a delusion without the political will to give access to the airwaves?
2003-09-30: Scottish Radio Holdings, as expected (See RNW Sept 29), has bucked the trend and reported significant rises in its advertising revenues in its trading update
Overall it says its radio and press revenues are estimated to be 18% ahead of last year with like-for-like group revenues (in constant currency terms) up 5%, made up from a 6% rise in radio revenues and a 4% increase in press revenues.
Including acquisitions, notably its purchase of GWR's stake in Vibe Radio Services Limited, SRH radio revenues are estimated to be 21% ahead of last year.
In the UK public sector, BBC Radio Five Live has announced that Johnny Vaughan is to launch new radio debate show Fighting Talk on Saturday.
Vaughan, best known as host of the Channel 4 TV's The Big Breakfast, has been contracted for 22 editions of the live show, which will run from 11am and 12 noon on Saturdays.
Vaughan commented of the move," Vaughan said: "I'm really excited to be doing Fighting Talk on Radio Five Live. I've always been a fan of the station and this gives me a chance to preside over an hour of feverish sports debate. I can't think of a better way to spend Saturday mornings."
In the US, Christian broadcaster Salem Communications has lowered its third quarter guidance, saying it now expects net revenues in the range USD42.5-42.8 million compared to previous guidance of USD42.8 to USD 42.3 million.
It says station operating income will be in the ranger USD14.9 to 15.2 million, down from UD15 to 15.5 million.
Salem has also restated its credit facility, which now comprises a USD 75 million term loan, maturing September 2009 and a USD75 million revolver facility, maturing March 2010. The combined facility provides for a maximum total debt leverage ratio of 7.25x.
As a result of the completion of this facility, Salem has cancelled a contemplated debt offering, which will result in a one-time expense of approximately $0.7 million.
Its Chief Financial Officer David A.R. Evans commented, "We are pleased to have completed this transaction, which provides sufficient capital resources to support the company's continued growth. We are highly appreciative of the strong level of support and commitment that we received from our financial partners."
Also in the US, Clear Channel has made a move into another business: It has joined the ranks of broadcasters connected with the restaurant business and has licensed the name of its KFAN sports station in Minnesota to start a KFAN restaurant in Roseville, Minnesota, near St. Paul.
Clear Channel is to receive 5% of the restaurants sales, predicted by Grand Management in St. Paul, which is opening the restaurant, to reach USD 10 million in its first year but half the sum is to be returned in the form of advertising time. The restaurant will not carry the Clear Channel name.
Previous Clear Channel:
2003-09-30: The Australian Broadcasting Authority (ABA) says it has received nine applications for the new Adelaide commercial FM, the first of four commercial FM licences it is to auction; the others to be issued will be one each in Brisbane, Melbourne, and Sydney.
There is a reserve price of AUD 1 million (USD 680,000) for the licence but with the level of interest bidding is expected to be fierce with particular interest centred on the two bids by DMG, the Australian arm of the Daily Mail and General Trust, owner of Northcliffe Newspapers.
DMG paid a record AUD 155 million in 2000 for a new Sydney licence and AUD 70 million for its Melbourne licence.
DMG is still building its Nova network but has said although it is keen on the licence it won't be bidding so aggressively this time.
The only application not from an existing broadcaster came from Hot Tomato, controlled by Rupert Murdoch's ex-wife, Anna Torv, and her brothers.
Austereo, the largest broadcast in the country, is barred from applying because it already has two licences in Adelaide and another potential bidder, Rural Press, which had expressed interest in the auctions, did not put in a bid for Adelaide.
The nine bids are from:
*ARN South Australia Pty Limited.
*Brougham Broadcasting Pty Ltd.
*CPS Radio Pty Limited.
*DMG Radio Adelaide Pty Ltd.
*Hot Tomato Australia Pty Ltd.
*Macquarie Radio Network Pty Limited.
*Northcliffe Radio Pty Ltd.
*Radio Adelaide FM Pty Ltd.
*Third National Network Australia Pty Ltd.
2003-09-30: Latest UK ratings from Gfk Media show BBC Radios 1 and 2 gaining audience during the summer and BBC Radio Five Live and talkSPORT both losing listeners, a drop Gfk put down to the absence of soccer.
Gfk's National Broadcast Media Survey for the period from May 19 to August 17 still lists BBC Radio 4 as the most listened to station wit 40% of UK adults in its audience.
Overall the weekly reach figures for the main UK networks from GFK for the period from March 24 - June 22 (with in brackets Gfk ratings for quarter April 21 to July 20 and then RAJAR figures to the end of June) in rank order were:
BBC Radio 4 - 18.05 million (18.05 million; 9.70 million): Unchanged 40% of national adult audience.
BBC Radio 2 - 16.45 million (15.74 million; 13.03 million): Up from 35% to 37%.
BBC Radio 1 - 12.93 million (12.62 million; 9.87 million): Up from 28% to 29%.
BBC Radio Five Live - 8.37 million (8.82 million; 5.80 million): Down from 20% to 19%
BBC World Service - 4.80 million (4.80 million) Unchanged 11%
BBC Radio 3 - million 4.27 (4.30 million; 2 million): Down from 10% to 89%.
talkSPORT - 6.28 million (7.16 million; 2.16 million): Down from 16% to 14%.
Classic FM - 6.12 million (6.81 million; 5.57 million): Down from 15% to 14%.
Virgin - 4.34 million (4.24 million; 2.80 million): Up from 9% to 10%.
Previous Gfk ratings:
Previous RAJAR ratings:
2003-09-30: Arbitron's RADAR 78 (Radio's All Dimension Audience Research) Radio Network Audience Report just released covering the year from June 27, 2002 - June 18 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 gained some 540, 00 listeners a week to end up with a weekly audience of 9.29 million up from 8.75 million in the RADAR 77 survey; its AQH rating rose from 3.7 to 3.9.
CNN Max increased its reach by some 127, 000 ending with a reach of just over 7.55 million and AQH rating up from 3.1 to 3.2.
In third place, Premiere Pulse Network gained some 28,000 listeners to end up with a weekly reach of 5.44 million and the same 2.3 AQH.
ABC Morning News Radio Network in fourth place gained some 42,000 listeners a week to end up with 5.26 million and the same 2.2 AQH and fifth placed Premiere Morning Drive AM Network gained 76, 000 listeners a week to end up with just over 5 million and the same 2.1 AQH.
During the RADAR 78 survey period, 75 percent of U.S. consumers, age 12+, heard one or more network radio commercials in the course of a week. Among the prime audience demographics sought by advertisers, the commercials that aired on the 37 radio networks reached 76% of Adults, age 12-34; 78% percent of Adults, age 35-49; and 72% of Adults, age 50+.
As in the past, radio did better among upper-income adults with 78% of adults living in households earning USD 75,000 a year or more are in the network audience each week
Previous Disney/ABC, America:
Previous RADAR (RADAR 77):
Previous Premiere Networks:
Previous Westwood One:
2003-09-30: Singapore radio ration WKRZ-FM has been fined SGD 15, 000 (USD 8,650) for broadcasting sexually explicit comments on its morning show in July this year.
The island state has been easing its straight-laced censorship laws recently in an attempt to sell itself as a centre for arts and the media but its Media Development Authority (MDA) found the show, which featured discussions on masturbation, cunnilingus and orgasm to be "obscene and in bad taste."
The station is owned by UnionWorks Pte Ltd, a joint venture between Singapore's National Trades Union Congress and Singapore Press Holdings, the publisher of the Straits Times; it fired the DJ involved, Pete Leung, the day after the show.
In the show he had invited female listeners to call in to talk about how they liked to experience orgasm and those who called in were asked to describe details of their sexual experiences with one caller being asked to simulate orgasm and another to masturbate herself.
The MDA said the broadcast had led to calls of complaint about its content, which it said was in breach of its Radio Programme Standards & Censorship Code.
Bernard Law, chief operating officer for UnionWorks, told the Straits Times, "We have paid the fine. We accept that what happened was distasteful."
Singapore MDA web site:
Straits Times report:
2003-09-29: The Senate may have voted against them but the Federal Communications Commission's new media regulations are far from dead and are still the top radio-related story in the US.
It seemed therefore sensible to start off this week's look at print comment on the medium with an insiders view on the likely prospects courtesy of a Boston Herald business report by Jay Fitzgerald.
He quoted Representative Edward Markey (Democrat-Malden) as saying that Congress was unlikely to substantially roll back the new rules, even though a court has currently stayed their implementation.
Markey suggested that Congress might well reject the increase in the national TV ownership cap from 35% TO 45% but not other planned changes.
These are being opposed by the House's GOP leadership, led by Majority Leader Tom DeLay (Republican, Texas) and a Presidential veto is also promised; to override this would need a two-thirds
Vote in Congress and this seems unlikely according to Markey, an opponent of the new rules, who spoke of "an uphill fight."
After dissatisfaction over regulation in the US, over to the UK where the Independent's Media Editor Vincent Graff writes of discontent with programme changes at BBC Radio 3, formerly primarily a classical music channel but now, under controller Roger Wright, in the middle of change.
The changes have attracted criticism from listeners, described by Graff as "perhaps the most conservative audience in the land" and also from Gerald Kaufman, the chairman of the Commons Select Committee on Culture, Media and Sport. Mr Kaufman, a frequent critic of the BBC.
Kaufmann comments that he is "very concerned about what appears to be a trivialisation of Radio 3."
" There appears to be less and less music and more talk. I do not want to listen to all that chatter. I do not want to hear the little anecdotes and thoughts of Radio 3 presenters."
Bayan Northcott, the paper's classical music critic also criticised the network, saying, "With three or four exceptions, the general level of presenting is terrible. The attitude is to jolly along the audience and tell them, 'Don't worry, this music isn't so frightening'."
"They have lost any nerve to challenge their listeners and lead them. They are always trying not to offend so that people keep their sets switched on," he said.
In Canada, radio changes are also being introduced but this time getting a more favourable response judging by an article by Michael Posner in the Toronto Globe and Mail, that took a look at the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation's radio service and Jane Chalmers, vice-president of CBC Radio.
She took over from Alex Frame, who, says the article, "virtually reinvented the radio service in the 1960s, and then masterminded its operation for the next four decades."
As he came up to his retirement last year (see RNW Sept 27, 2002), Frame had to refashion CBC's radio programming to attract to a younger, more multicultural demographic rather than its aging mainly white audience, but, says Posner, execution of the plan had been sloppy.
Chalmers, suggests Posner, has a walk-softly style but can wield a big stick. She speedily removed CBC radio director of programming Adrian Mills - replaced by Jennifer McGuire - and also ordered a revamp of the flagship morning show Sounds Like Canada, now based in Vancouver with a larger role for host Shelagh Rogers. Chalmers also increased the dominance of women in CBC radio senior roles with the appointment of Krista Harris as director of production and resources, topping this up more recently with Linda Groen's appointment as head of current affairs.
And of radio itself, she described it as a naked medium, in the sense that it can't mesmerize audiences with pictures or techo-wizardry; everything rises or falls on the cogency of presentation -- the simple power of voice and idea.
Back in the USA, the San Francisco Bee's David Barton profiled National Public Radio host Terry Gross commenting perceptively on a skill that seems in little demand amongst many commercial talk radio hosts in the US, that she "speaks well, but she listens even better."
Gross has been with "Fresh Air", which has a weekly audience of some four million, since 1975 and is producing a book of transcripts of interviews carried out on the show.
Among the suggestions put to her was one about being used as an outlet for someone's opinion or to promote their work.
Back came an honest answer about the trade-off: "The person is on the show because they have a new book, record or movie that they want to promote -- that's the way the world works right now, and I don't find that difficult to accept."
"But it's my job to make sure that the listeners learn something. Usually, we like that new book or movie, and we're happy to tell our listeners about it. But sometimes it's not the best representation of their work, and there's not that much to talk about, but it's just the ticket to get to the person. Then I'll focus on their body of work, the sensibility of their work, or play their greatest records."
For those who wished to learn something about the way moralising Britain behaved fairly recently, the BBC Radio 4 programme on Child Migrants to Australia (that we recommended earlier this month - See Columnists Sept. 15) provided some disturbing content last week (It's still available -just - on the Internet).
To quote a brief segment of Elisabeth Mahoney's radio review in the UK Guardian, "The racist politics of what was happening were clear enough. The Bishop of Perth, encouraging the import of British children, argued that this would save Australia from "the menace of the teeming millions of our neighbouring Asiatic races". Pitted against such self- serving rhetoric were the sad autobiographies of those who had been brought in to fill up the country."
" Many accounts mentioned the cruelty, both physical and mental, meted out by nuns. Children were routinely told that their mothers were dead, and letters from home were often withheld and always discouraged. One man breaks down as he recounts finding out his mother had died much later than he had been told, thinking of the letters he could have written, or received."
"Physical punishments were from The Magdalene Sisters' handbook of sadistic wickedness. 'I've seen a girl being stripped, laid on the bed, another nun held a pillow over her head and a leather strap was used against that girl's back and bottom,'" recalled one woman. Another was put in solitary confinement "'o think about God' for two months. '"I used to stand by the window,'" she said, 'and I used to count all the blue cars, all the red cars, all the white cars. Little wonder she never thought about God
RNW comment: If nothing else, it makes the late Garner Ted Armstrong, who died aged 73 last week, seem a saint rather than a rogue; his life may have included excommunication from his father's church, rows involving money and a downfall encompassing a masseuse, but he doesn't seem to have been in the same league when it came to cruelty as routinely seems to have been the case of many supposedly upright members of the Catholic church.
Finally, yet another BBC plug, as usual influenced by the availability of programming not just as a live stream but also on-demand on the Internet.
This week, we'd suggest BBC Radio 4's "The Towers of Silence", being broadcast on Wednesday at 10.00 GMT, a programme concerning the centuries old tradition of feeding dead bodies to vultures on top of the Towers of Silence in Bombay.
If too queasy for that, BBC Radio 2 could be worth a listen at 2100 GMT on Thursday when "Jammin" wreaks havoc on two of Midge Ure's hits.
Boston Herald - Fitzgerald:
San Francisco Bee - Barton:
Toronto Globe and Mail - Posner:
UK Guardian - Mahoney:
UK Independent - Graff:
2003-09-29: Sirius has pledged funds to help keep Greenwich Village music cabaret The Bottom Line, from which it broadcasts the show "Live From The Bottom Line" continue operations.
Sirius on-air personality Meg Griffin, who is spearheading the drive to save the club, commented, "The Bottom Line is too important of a music institution to lose. Our goal is to help this historic club get back on its feet and do what it does best, showcase some of the music world's greatest names."
The club, opened by Allan Pepper and Stanley Snadowsky, has been in operation since 1974 but has fallen on hard times since the attack on the World Trade Centre.
Pepper commented, "I am gratified that SIRIUS shares my passion for live music. Stanley and I founded the club to showcase great music by artists young and old. Thanks to SIRIUS, I hope to continue the tradition for another three decades."
The club is also in partnership with partners with WFUV-FM, the public radio station at Fordham University, to produce "Required Listening," "In Their Own Words" and other programs.
WFUV program director Chuck Singleton added, "We speak for the entire music community in our desire to see a resolution of this difficulty, so that there will continue to be a supportive home for intelligent song writing on West Fourth Street."
2003-09-29: Scottish Radio Holdings (SRH) today issues the latest in a run of updates from British radio companies and is expected to outperform other companies that have recently issued their updates with like-for-like radio revenues up around 6%. National advertising is expected to be up by some 10%.
SRH is among the UK groups bidding for the new Dublin City and County licence to be awarded in the summer of 2004. It has two bids from its Today FM subsidiary, for Indie/New Rock and Gold/Oldies services.
Other UK companies involved in bids for the licence are SMG with two bids - for locally-produced rock and classic hits services, Capital Radio with a bid for an Xfm, Dublin, licence for its "service of "predominantly guitar-led, non-manufactured music" and the Storm, which like Xfm is available on a number of UK digital services, with a format of new, classic and heritage rock.
In other Scottish radio business, Fife station Kingdom FM has acquired the Scottish radio assets of UKRD, giving it control of Clan FM, Lanarkshire, a quarter of River Fm in West Lothian, and 18% of the Go-FM consortium that is bidding for the new Glasgow commercial licence.
Previous Capital Radio:
2003-09-29: New York pirate station East Village Radio has gained some - welcome, or unwelcome - publicity in the New York Times in a somewhat tautologously titled report "In a Small Walk-Up, a Radio Signal Is Born. But Mum's the Word."
The 10-watt station is being financed by restaurateur Frank Prisinzano, whose empire includes three restaurants in the area.
The station, which is also available online, has a format of news and entertainment and Prisinzano, who was a club D.J. in college, commented, "The East Village has been extremely supportive of us. We wanted to return the favour to the neighbourhood."
He says he wants to make the station legal and has applied for a licence for the station but added, "The F.C.C. doesn't really come bother you as long as you're not stepping on anybody's toes. There is also a law on the books that anybody can broadcast during wartime, and I would say we're at war."
East Village radio web site:
New York Times report:
2003-09-28: The main current regulatory news last week was again from the US where debate continues over new media ownership regulations and the Federal Communications Commission approved, on a 3-2 party political vote, Univision's takeover of Hispanic Broadcasting Corporation. Elsewhere Australia was in long-term mode but other regulators were generally concerned with more routine matters.
In Australia, the Australian Broadcasting Authority (ABA) has said that is has no current plans for extra commercial analogue licences but its general policy is "not intended to constrain decisions that may be made in future concerning digital radio systems."
It added that it does not plan to allocate an further analogue commercial radio licences until at least five years after the last allocation in its present licence round and even then may not start a further round of allocations.
In releasing the decision, ABA chairman Professor David Flint said that it felt, having completed the planning of all of the radio licence areas in Australia, it was "now appropriate to give some indication of our current intentions concerning that sector."
In addition the ABA noted, "The major periods of expansion occurred before World War II, in the case of AM radio, and from 1980 until the present in the case of FM radio."
"Although digital technology may soon open up new frontiers for expansion, further growth of analogue radio on the scale of the last decade is unlikely. Analogue radio spectrum is now heavily congested in the metropolitan areas and many of the more densely settled regions. While further increases in the number of services might be achieved, in congested areas where spectrum is scarce it can be expected to come at the cost of changes to existing services.
The ABA was also involved in a forum held in Sydney to consider what digital radio broadcasting system should be adopted and how DAB should be introduced into Australia (See RNW Sept. 26)
In Canada, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) has been had a fairly quiet week: On the radio front in Quebec it approved new 575 watts FM transmitter at Victoriaville for CIRA-FM, Montréal.
It has also issued a public notice, with an intervention deadline for October 29, concerning a number of applications including Ontario applications to convert to FM the current AM transmitter CHYK-2 at Kapuskasing that rebroadcasts the signal of CHYK-FM, Timmins, and to allow oldies format CKDO-AM, Oshawa, to broadcast a minimum 30% of Canadian music rather than the normal 35% required of other formats.
In New Brunswick, following a call for applications for a low power FM to serve Fredericton,, the Commission says it has now received an application for a broadcasting licence to provide a regular protected class commercial radio service to serve Fredericton and calls for any other interested parties to submit an application for licences for the area.
In Ireland the Broadcasting Commission of Ireland (BCI) has now signed ten-year contracts with East Coast Radio Ltd. (trading as East Coast FM), related to the County Wicklow licence and with Corrmuda Ltd. (trading as South East Radio), related to the County Wexford licence.
It has also confirmed an extension until November 30th for Radio Kilkenny to continue operations. Radio Kilkenny, along with CKR- FM (Carlow- Kildare Radio) lost its licence following a re-drawing of boundaries. An extension had already been agreed with CKR-FM (See RNW Sept 16).
The UK was fairly quiet with the only Radio Authority release being its assessment of the award of the Carmarthenshire, Wales, licence to Radio Carmarthenshire / Radio Sir Gar; an opposing application from Carmarthenshire Sound / Sain Sir Gar had been withdrawn (See Licence News, Sept 14).
The Authority says its members considered that Radio Carmarthenshire Ltd. benefited from investors, including Haven FM, the licensee for the adjacent area of Pembrokeshire, who could offer relevant experience and a commitment to local radio and that the bid also presented a sensible business plan, which despite the competitive nature of the local market, was justified by the experience of the station in Pembrokeshire.
The station is to provide a full service station with a generous commitment to a minimum of 25% speech - in English and Welsh -during weekday daytimes, including such features as surf reports, local obituaries and 'Cool Cymru', a programme about contemporary Welsh bands. All the presenters being employed by the station, it notes, speak Welsh.
There has also been an announcement from Ofcom, the successor super-regulator that is to take over later this year, that it will extends the current pilot community (formerly access) radio scheme for another year until the end of 2004.
The Radio Authority set up the scheme and 13 groups are currently involved, operating 14 stations including two in Manchester operated by the same group.
In the US, as well as approving the Univision takeover of Hispanic Broadcasting (See RNW Sept. 24), the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has also reduced from USD 7,000 to USD 6,000 a fine on former California broadcaster Clarke Broadcasting Corporation (See RNW Sep 24)
Previous Licence News:
Previous UK Radio Authority:
ABA web site :
BCI web site:
CRTC web site:
FCC web site :
UK Radio Authority web site:
2003-09-28: Controversy is building up in the UK over a BBC decision to allow a group of Radio One DJs to front an Amnesty International campaign against the arms trade next month.
The decision was made against a background of attacks over the Corporation's political impartiality in its reporting of the war on Iraq and follows a decision in February this year when presenters and journalists were barred from taking part in an anti-war march because of the need to appear independent and impartial (See RNW Feb 15).
The DJs involved - Jo Whiley, Zane Low and the Dreem Team - are each to host a night of films and debate as part of Amnesty's "DJ Saved My Life" event and have been told that they must not compromise their "political neutrality".
Amnesty says the event is part of its ongoing pressure for increased regulation of the arms trade.
2003-09-27: Australian commercial radio broadcasters have called for government aid in the transition to digital broadcasting, which they estimate would cost them around AUD 300 million (USD 200 million.
The call came from Commercial Radio Australia chief executive Joan Warner at a digital radio forum in Sydney (See RNW Sept 26).
"As the commercial radio industry has invested billions of dollars in setting up free to air commercial radio in this country and pays on average $12 million dollars a year in licence fees, we are firmly of the view that the needs of the existing in-band broadcast community must be considered first in any future planning for digital radio," she told the Digital Radio Study Group consultative forum that had been discussing which route and technology Australia should use in moving to digital audio broadcasting (DAB).
She added that it was essential for the Australian government to set aside spectrum to enable the consortium of commercial broadcasters, the ABC and SBS in conjunction with community broadcasters and narrowcasters, to run consumer trials of digital radio; so far the consortium has spent some AUD 1.4 million (USD 950,000) to establish consumer trials to start this year in Sydney.
Commercial Radio Australia, on behalf of the broadcaster consortium, has applied for spectrum on VHF Band III to start trials in Melbourne early next year followed by trials in other parts of Australia.
Once trials of technology have been completed and decisions made, the CRA says broadcasters should be given an appropriate transition/simulcast period to allow the migration of the current listeners and their 40 million radios to the new technology.
Previous Commercial Radio Australia:
2003-09-27: In more US radio deals, Clear Channel has added yet another station, albeit a small one, with the USD 300, 000 cash purchase of KBRQ-FM/Hillsboro, in the Waco, Texas, area from Chase Radio Partners. It has been running the station under a local management agreement and will now own five stations in the market.
Also adding to its clusters is Citadel Communications, which has announced agreement with 222 Corporation to acquire New Orleans radio station WCKW-FM; earlier this month Citadel closed on an eleven-station purchase from Wilks Broadcasting, announced in May (See RNW May 13) that included four stations in New Orleans.
No price was announced but Citadel chairman and CEO Farid Suleman commented of the deal that it "further enhances Citadel's position in New Orleans."
When the deal, expected to close in 2004, goes through, Citadel will own eight stations in Lafayette, and six in Baton Rouge as well as five in New Orleans.
In Missouri, Metropolitan Radio Group is selling WEW-AM, St Louis, to Detroit-based Birach Broadcasting for USD 1.35 million. WEW, which has a format of health and ethnic programming, first went on air in 1921.
Previous Clear Channel:
2003-09-27: Although presented in a positive light, the latest updates from British radio groups indicate continuing uncertainty about an advertising recovery.
Capital Radio said it anticipated broadly flat revenues for the year to the end of this month compared to a year ago whereas those for the previous quarter were down 6%, leading it to anticipate like-for-like revenues to be down 4% for the full year to the end of September.
Capital said October revenue was likely to be up compared to a weak October a year ago and commented "With the recent optimism in the media marketplace we have seen some limited signs of improvement. However, we remain cautious and believe that it is too early to tell when the UK advertising sector will recover."
GWR, whose Classic FM flagship saw revenues down 12% in the first half of the year, said revenue for its local stations would be up 10.4% for the half year to the end of September, taking overall revenues for the period up 4%. Total GWR Group revenues are forecast to be broadly comparable with the same period last year.
GWR was bullish about digital radio, saying it continued to be encouraged by its uptake in the UK with recent announcements concerning Sony's entry into the portable DAB receiver market and support from major retailers confirming its view that there will be mass consumer uptake of digital radio.
"We believe GWR is the best placed UK radio operator to take advantage of the opportunities this presents," said the company.
Overall GWR says it is " are beginning to see improved short-term visibility of revenues" and is confident of delivering a satisfactory result for the year."
UBC Media in its update said it continued to trade in line with market expectations but noted a sharp recovery in airtime sales from June, adding prospects for the remainder of the year appear positive.
It also highlighted prospects for digital radio and chief executive Simon Cole commented, "With High Street retailers now reporting that sales of digital radios represent up to 50% of the market, the trend in the take-up of digital radio in the UK matches our expectations and underpins our confidence in the value of the portfolio of digital assets we have built up".
Previous Capital Radio:
2003-09-27: Clear Channel-owned Rochester, New York, WHAM-AM, says it is to continue employing its midday conservative talk host, Bob Lonsberry, suspended earlier this week when, to use the station's own words, he "poked fun at Rochester's African-American mayor, Bill Johnson, in a way that alluded to an orang-utan at the zoo" but it still doesn't say when he will be back on the air.
Station manager Jeff Howlett said that in the last few days, Lonsberry has provided WHAM with "sincere and compelling evidence that he has a much clearer understanding of the highly offensive, insensitive nature of his remarks" and WHAM management has chosen to stand by Lonsberry's decision to face his mistakes and address the issues.
Howlett also said that the station, which refused to put callers on air to discuss the matter, had received hundreds of calls, many supporting Lonsberry.
In a later statement he added, "I would like to apologize to our listeners, advertisers and employees for Bob's offensive remarks. Talk shows are by their nature controversial; however, there is a community standard to which we hold all of our on-air talent."
The Rochester Democrat and Chronicle says Lonsberry himself in an unsigned faxed statement on WHAM-AM letterhead said, "I sincerely apologize for my offensive comments. I will be taking additional time off the air to reflect and begin diversity training. Further, I want to personally extend my heartfelt apology to Mayor Bill Johnson. I am sorry for the pain I've caused by my shameful comments."
The comments are part of a long history of disagreement between the two men, dating back the paper says to Lonsberry's career as a columnist with the Democrat and Chronicle and commentator at WHEC-TV
Lonsberry did not refer to the Mayor by name in his comments but Johnson commented that the host knew what he was doing - especially since he had made two comments, the first a month ago and the last on Friday a week ago.
Lonsberry had apologized during a two-minute taped message at the beginning of his show on Monday before a guest host took over, saying, "I mean neither the mayor nor anyone else any personal harm or insult. "And I would certainly apologize for any interpretation of my words, which would appear to be racist. I am not a racist. But then racism is in the eye of the beholder, not in the heart of the speaker."
RNW comment: The last tendentious sentence above would seem to indicate that Lonsberry needs more than diversity training -a good dictionary and training in respect for accurate use of language and truth would also probably help. We rather suspect however that this would put him and many of his colleagues out of business.
Previous Clear Channel:
Rochester Democrat and Chronicle web site:
WHAM web site:
2003-09-26: The Washington, DC-based public interest group Essential Information, which was founded in 1982 by activist Ralph Nader, has urged the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to deny Clear Channel renewal of the licences for 63 of its stations in Maryland; Virginia; West Virginia; and Washington, DC, on the basis that it is not fit to hold them.
In a statement, Jim Donahue, project director of Essential Information, says, "The FCC is required by statute to deny applications for license renewal if a licensee exhibits poor character."
"In the three years since Clear Channel became the largest holder of station licenses in the nation, it has demonstrated that it lacks the requisite character to hold broadcast licenses," Donahue said, adding that Clear Channel had "compiled a record of repeated law-breaking."
"Clear Channel and its subsidiaries have violated the law on 36 separate occasions over the last three years, demonstrating its poor character. Clear Channel is not qualified to hold a broadcast license under the FCC's own character rules," he added.
The group lists a number of violations it says Clear Channel was involved in including misleading the public about the rules for radio contests, deceptive advertising, broadcasting conversations without obtaining permission of the second party to the conversation, broadcasting obscene and indecent material during daylight hours when children are likely listening; illegally taking operational control of a radio station; repeatedly flouting the rules pertaining to the testing of the emergency alert system, maintenance of station logs, and antenna construction; conviction for animal cruelty in violation of state law for the purpose of promoting an on-air personality; pleading guilty to criminal mischief in violation of state law for the purpose of promoting an on-air personality; disturbing the peace in violation of state law for the purpose of promoting an on-air personality; defacing public property in violation of state law for the purpose of promoting an on air personality; and falsely causing a public emergency to be reported for the purpose of promoting an on air personality.
RNW comment: In essence, the group seems to us to be taking the obvious route as we have suggested before and logically concluding that if a licence holder breaches the conditions of the licence the ultimate penalty should be removal of the licence. We doubt that anything will happen in this case but if nothing else it may cause some serious thought in the boardrooms of some of the US media giants.
Previous Clear Channel:
Essential Information web site:
2003-09-26: Digital radio has taken more steps forward this week on three continents, Australia, Europe and America: In Australia, the Australian Digital Radio Study Group (the DRSG) is holding a consultative forum in Sydney today to hear views from "stakeholders on the issues affecting any future implementation of digital radio in Australia."
Attending will be representatives of members of the group - the Department of Communications Information Technology and the Arts (DCITA), the Australian Broadcasting Authority (ABA), and the Australian Communications Authority (ACA)- who will give information about developments in digital radio technologies and approaches taken in various parts of the world in the implementation of DAB.
They will be followed by various speakers including representatives of Worldspace, Commercial Radio Australia and Austereo.
The DRSG was set up in May this year to advise the Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts on the merits of the technologies available and their implementation in Australia. The technologies being looked at include Eureka 147, Ibiquity's IBOC, Digital Radio Mondiale and digital satellite and hybrid satellite/ terrestrial services, in overseas markets.
In the UK, more BBC digital transmitters have now commenced broadcasts: they are the transmitters in Piccadilly Plaza, Manchester and Idle, in Bradford, that together add around another 200,000 potential listeners to the service as well as improving reception for nearly 1.5 million people.
In the US, there have been more developments for iBiquity's HD IBOC(in-band-on -channel _ system with the announcement that Kenwood has delivered the first production run of 1,000 KTC-HR100 HD Radio tuners. The tuners are designed to be used by stations for internal listening and consumer-awareness promotions.
The system is also being promoted heavily next week at the US National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) Radio Show in Philadelphia where iBiquity will be taking orders for the tuners.
Three simultaneous HD displays will be staged at iBiquity's stand at the show featuring amongst other things displays of receivers from manufacturers such as Alpine, Delphi, Harman Kardon, JVC, Kenwood, Sanyo, and Visteon, an AM listening station showcasing a new HDC Codec, and live digital broadcasts from Beasley station WXTU-FM and WXTU-FM and WWDB-AM. There will also be discussion sessions about the likely impact of HD radio on Am and Fm stations.
Previous Commercial Radio Australia:
2003-09-26: The latest Arbitron Internet Broadcast Ratings just released show generally higher listening with a surprise leap up the rankings by contemporary Christian K-Love which was second compared to 13th a week earlier. MUSICMATCH and AOL retained their top station and network rankings.
For the week to Sept 14, Arbitron'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 (*Non Commercial) - TTSL 697,286 (586,913); CP - 206,309 (183,375). Same rank with higher listening and reach.
2: Contemporary Christian K-Love (Non Commercial) TTSL 326,935 (171,157); CP - 42,691 (32,849). Up from 13 with higher listening and reach.
3: AOL Top Country (Internet-only) Country format (Commercial) - TTSL 315,784 (277,173); CP - 112,741 (116,533). Down from second despite higher listening although reach was lower.
4: Smooth Jazz format AOL Smooth Jazz (Commercial) - TTSL - 295,668 (250,042); CP - 63,303 (57,760). Same rank with higher listening and reach.
5: Hot Adult Contemporary Virgin AM & FM (Commercial) - TTSL 276,311 (255,641); CP - 53,455 (53,589). Down from third despite higher listening although reach was slightly down.
*AOL Top Pop (Internet-only) Top 40 (Commercial) fell from fifth to sixth with TTSL (236,465); CP - 130,398 (150,167).
The top five networks for the week to Sept 14 (Previous week's figures in brackets) were:
1: AOL Radio@ Network (Commercial) - TTSL - 6,730,160 (5,907,839); CP - 1,542,096 (1,588,754). Same rank with higher listening although reach was down.
2: LAUNCH TTSL (Non commercial) - 3,731,526 (2,795,477); CP -742,351 (680,247). Same rank with higher listening and reach.
3: MUSICMATCH Inc. (*Non Commercial) TTSL - 1,969,762 (1,657,963); CP -442,689 (397,228). Same rank with higher listening and reach.
4: The Adsertion Network (Sales Network) TTSL - 1,062,648 (926,558); CP - 134,010 (114,503) - Same rank with higher listening and reach.
5: Virgin Radio (Commercial) TTSL - 485,076 (437,301); CP - 74,785 (73,924) - Same rank with higher listening and reach.
Arbitron does not now rank Content Delivery Networks (CDN) alongside other networks but does report on them; for the week the top Content Delivery Networks were Live365 with TTSL 2,501,976, up from 2,312,551 and StreamGuys with TTSL 519,492, up from 500,929.
Previous Arbitron Internet Broadcast Ratings:
2003-09-25: Citing a slower than expected recovery in local advertising revenues, Viacom has trimmed its forecast for 2003 earnings growth from mid-teens to low to mid teens.
It has also said it now expects to deliver mid- to high-single digit growth in revenues and operating income for the full year, versus its earlier guidance of high single-digit growth for revenues and double-digit growth for operating income.
It does not split out any details for divisions, which include Infinity Radio, but adds that it continues to expect a record year for revenues, operating income, net earnings (before cumulative effect of change in accounting principle), and earnings per share in 2003, as well as strong growth for 2004
In other US business, Journal Communications, the Milwaukee-based company that owns the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, plus 38 radio stations and WTMJ TV, has gone public, selling 17.25 million shares at an offering price of USD 15 per share.
In addition to the offering its underwriters, led by Morgan Stanley and Robert W. Baird & Co. , were granted an over-allotments option to purchase up to an additional 2.6 million shares. The shares ended Wednesday up nearly 9% at USD 6.25
2003-09-25: An Arbitron-Edison Media study just released says that more than 50 million Americans - a fifth of the country's population, use streaming media every month.
The study, Internet and Multimedia 11: New Media Enters the Mainstream, says that Sixty-one percent of people who tune to Internet audio and 59 percent of those who watch Internet video prefer free programming supported by advertising.
It also says that weekly streamies own one-and-a-half times more DVDs than average consumers.
"Fuelled by increasing broadband penetration, Internet broadcasting is rapidly approaching mainstream status among Americans," said Bill Rose, vice president and general manager, Arbitron Internet Broadcast Services. "The growth in regular usage of Internet audio and video is compelling evidence that Internet broadcasting is becoming more of a regular habit. As such, marketers should consider including Internet broadcasting in their media mix since frequent users of Internet audio and video are very likely to try new products and services, make purchases online, and consume new forms of audio and video entertainment."
2003-09-25: The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) is to get CAD 10 million (USD 7.4 million) less from the government over the next six months than it had been expecting according to supplementary estimates released by Canada's Treasury Board.
Heritage Minister Sheila Copps had earlier said the CBC would get CAD 60 million (USD 44.5 million) in addition to the CAD 860 million (USD 637 million) promised to it by Finance Minister John Manley but this figure has been cut back by CAD 10 million, which is being redirected into a CAD 1 billion (USD 740 million) re-allocation of spending announced by Manley to finance social initiatives by the government.
Reacting to the cut, CBC President Robert Rabinovitch said in a statement that the cut clearly aggravated "a funding environment already under pressure" and that the effects would be felt in programming "at some level" as well as in "work-force adjustment."
On the radio side, the CBC has named Linda Groen, former executive producer of The Sunday Edition, as its new Radio head of current affairs.
Groen, a former newspaper journalist, moved to the CBC in 1989 as producer of its Morningside programme and then became executive producer of As it Happens. She takes up her new post on September 29.
2003-09-25: Conservative US talk host Rusty Humphries has now signed up to host the 0900-1200 show on Fisher Communications' KVI-AM, Seattle, following a court order that prohibited Citadel from hindering his search for work away from its KKOH-AM, Reno, Nevada, where he had hosted its afternoon show since 1998 (See RNW Sept 24).
Humphries is to start on October 10 in the slot, still listed by the station web site as occupied by Rush Limbaugh.
Humphries, who went to high school in the Seattle area, says he is making the move for personal reasons. He will continue his syndicated show for Talk Radio Networks.
2003-09-25: The Indian government has been pushing Rupert Murdoch's Star News about queries over uplinking facilities for its news operation and the ownership and functioning of the Radio City FM station in advance of the ending this week of a month's extension given to Star to continue for the uplinking.
It had earlier come under pressure from Indian media groups about what they considered slack guidelines about investment by foreign media groups, particularly in relation to foreign investment by Star News.
The Information and Broadcasting Ministry ha asked for a prompt reply from Star, which has been able to continue its uplinking through a number of extensions and an order from the Bombay High Court prohibiting the government from cutting off the link.
In the case of Radio City, the entire operation of the channel is outsourced to Music Broadcast Pvt. Ltd. (MBPL), a Star subsidiary whose ownership is unclear (See RNW July 18). The Ministry says it wishes to know the ownership of MBPL, its directors, and its debt-equity ratio.
Currently India only permits limited ownership and control of FM radio stations by non-Indian interests.
It also currently prohibits private FM stations from carrying news but has indicated that it may lift this prohibition, which is regarded as illogical since private TV channels can broadcast news bulletins.
It does, however, seem reluctant to allow foreign ownership of community radio, which has yet to build up but which could have be significant eventually, particularly in terms of the implication of allowing ownership by NGOs, many of which are foreign-funded.
Previous Indian Radio:
2003-09-24: The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has finally approved - by a 3-2 party-line vote as widely forecast - the USD 3.2 billion Univision takeover of Hispanic Broadcasting Corporation subject to divestments.
These relate to the agency's finding that the combined company would violate the FCC's new Local Radio Ownership Rule in two markets - one each in Houston and Albuquerque, were the new rule effective and previous Department of Justice conditions relating to the divestment of much of Univision's holding in Entravision..
The Commission has said that the merged company must comply with the new radio ownership limit six months from its effective date of introduction but "found that the merger will serve the public interest, convenience and necessity. "
Opposition to the takeover had centred on arguments that it would give one company too much control of the US Spanish speaking market and that this should be considered as separate from the general market but the FCC said the "transaction would not adversely affect competition or diversity in any media market."
The agency added that "Univision's TV stations (Univision owns or controls 32 full-service broadcast TV licenses, but no radio licenses) and HBC's radio stations (it owns or controls 68 full-service radio station licenses (18 AM and 50 FM) and 6 FM translator licenses, but no TV stations) do not compete in the same product market" and noted that Spanish speakers in the US are now likely to have "more media options available to them today than ever in this country's history."
There was also comment that Clear Channel's holding in the company - it will have a 3.66% share of the combined company - would "ameliorate, not exacerbate, any competitive problems that may currently exist."
Principals in both Univision and Hispanic Broadcasting, which is now Univision Radio but will remain headquartered in Dallas, welcomed the decision.
Mac Tichenor, Jr., former Chairman and CEO of Hispanic Broadcasting, who has been named President of Univision Radio, commented, "We are thrilled to now be part of Univision, and eager to participate in and further the growth and success of this unique, multifaceted company. The benefits of this combination are numerous and far-reaching. Advertisers will benefit from the ability to conduct more effective, coordinated campaigns using multiple media. Our employees will see expanded professional opportunities, our audiences will enjoy expanded news, information and entertainment programming, and we will be able to better serve our communities, both locally and nationally, with even deeper involvement."
Univision chairman, president and CEO A. Jerrold Perenchio said, "The merger with Hispanic Broadcasting and creation of Univision Radio opens important new avenues of growth for Univision." "Univision's entry into the $20 billion radio industry presents tremendous opportunities for our employees, advertisers and shareholders. Approximately 60% of all national advertisers do not yet advertise in Spanish. We expect that Univision's new ability to offer advertisers the brand-building power of television in combination with the promotional power of radio will accelerate their development of Spanish-language marketing campaigns."
The three Republican Commissioners who voted for the deal - Chairman Michael K. Powell and Commissioners Kathleen Q. Abernathy and Kevin J. Martin - commented in a joint statement that the combined company would "give Hispanic media a better opportunity to compete against big media companies" and added, regarding calls for separate treatment of the Spanish speaking market, "The implications of treating Hispanics as an insular group removed from the general mainstream of news, entertainment, and information are troubling."
"While the dissent makes reasonable points in this regard, such an approach would diverge from 30 years of FCC precedent declining to evaluate program format. Moreover, that approach could prove a limitless notion by opening up claims that there should be language-specific, or even viewpoint-specific, ownership rules."
They also commented," Both the FCC and the DOJ have long maintained that television and radio are separate markets. In this transaction, a pure television company is buying a pure radio company and thus there is no reduction in competition" and noted regarding the power of the combined group that, apart from the fact that most Hispanics spoke English as well, "for those who speak only Spanish, there are currently 26 Spanish language television networks."
"Univision will not monopolize Spanish media nationwide," added the trio. "The merged firm will own 51 of 222 Spanish language television stations and 67 of the 706 Spanish language radio stations. It will own three of the 26 Spanish-language television networks available today on broadcast, cable and satellite. These are not the numbers of dominance."
The dissenting Democratic Commissioners, Jonathan S. Adelstein and Michael J, Copps, each issued separate statements as well as a joint one in which they commented, "It's no bother to the majority that the proposed merger threatens significant harm for millions of Americans who rely on Spanish-language broadcasting as the primary means of accessing news, information and programming relevant to civic and cultural participation in our society."
" The company is aptly named Univision - "one vision" - because that describes what is likely from Spanish-language media from now on. The degree of concentration in Spanish-language broadcasting resulting from this transaction threatens to endanger competition, diversity and localism for millions of Americans who speak only or principally Spanish. Whether they watch broadcast or cable TV, listen to the radio, buy CDs, or surf the Internet, they will face the monolithic Univision - a reach no other media company is anywhere close to attaining with its respective audience. The proposed transaction creates an opportunity for a single media company to serve as a media gatekeeper for millions of Americans."
"Common sense, empirical evidence, the Department of Justice's conclusions in this case, the Commission's own statements as recently as last year, and Univision's assertions to advertisers and investors suggest that Spanish-language broadcasting serves a distinct audience."
"It is pure fiction to assert that advertisers seeking to reach Latinos are just as likely to use English media as Spanish media, or that Telemundo, were it to be cut off from advertising its shows on HBC's radio stations, could be equally effective advertising on English-language radio stations.
"After all of the adverse reaction to the Commission's recent weakening of its media ownership rules, we should have treated this merger as we have other major media mergers, with public hearings and an in-depth analysis of the practical and realistic effects on Spanish speakers of this proposed combination. Instead, the Commission once again fails to evaluate the public interest adequately and marches forward allowing further media concentration."
The two dissenting commissioners also brought up the issue of the potential effect on other Spanish media companies and anti-competitive behaviour with creative talent
Previous Clear Channel:
Previous Hispanic Broadcasting:
2003-09-24: UK Emap in a trading update says that it expects revenues in the six months to the end of September to show underlying and total group revenues up 3% on a year before with revenue growth at all its divisions.
Its Consumer Media is forecast to do best with a 6% increase followed by Emap Communications, with a 4% increase and Emap Performance, which includes its radio operations, up 2%. Laggard is its French operation with only a 1% increase predicted.
On the radio front, Emap says it has seen airtime revenues up 9% in the first half of the year after an exceptionally strong first quarter, driven by national revenues. This largely reflected significant share gains in London across Kiss and Magic on the back of healthy audience growth.
Also updating it s figures has been the Daily Mail and General Trust, which specifically noted impressive results from DMG Radio Australia's stations in recent independent listener surveys.
Nova Sydney and Nova Melbourne it says continue to increase advertising revenues in competitive conditions and the regional stations have also made gains in advertising revenues.
Overall it was hit by a fall in advertising revenues and cautioned that is still faces "challenging trading conditions" in advertising markets.
2003-09-24: Tony Shryane, the BBC producer for the first episode of the BBC Radio 4 farming "soap opera", the Archers, now the world's longest running radio drama serial, has died aged 84 at his home. As well as producing the first episode of the soap on January 1, 1951, he produced another seven thousand plus episodes.
Shyrane started work with the BBC in its Effects Department and returned to the Corporation after service in the Second World War; He worked on the Corporation's first radio soap, The Robinson Family, and also on Mrs Dale's Diary and Dick Barton.
Shryane also devised a number of radio quizzes including crime quiz Guilty Party, literary quiz My Word, and musical quiz, My Music, the later two for television as well as radio.
He retired from the BBC in 1979 aged 60 but continued as a freelance producing My Word and My Music until 1984 when he had completed 50 years with the Corporation.
Commenting on his legacy, BBC Director of Radio & Music Jenny Abramsky said, "Without Tony Shryane, some of the most iconic programmes on Radio 4 would not have been created. "
"His is a lasting legacy and while his contribution to The Archers is rightly regarded as hugely important, we also remember his contribution across a whole range of BBC programmes such as working on My Word and My Music."
2003-09-24: A Nevada judge has ordered Citadel Broadcasting not to attempt to hinder talk show host Rusty Humphries, who had been afternoon host on its KKHO-AM, Reno, since 1998, in his search for a new job.
Humphries, who has said he move for personal reasons (See RNW Sept 10) was reported by the Reno Gazette-Journal to have been close to tears when the judgement was announced.
The judgement clears the way for Humphries to join Fisher Communications' Seattle station KVI-AM and he said he could start as early as next month, adding, "This town has been very good to me. This is very difficult for me but it was best for my wife."
Citadel has declined to say whether it planned action for breach of contract against Humphries, who says his contract has expired, or KVI.
Humphries' lawyer, Pat Lundvall, told the court the two sides had never reached agreement on a new contract and this left Humphries free to negotiate with another company so long as he did not compete with KKHO. She said KVI had told Humphries the injunction was needed before it could offer a post to the host.
The decision does not affect the syndication of Humphries show by Talk Radio Network.
Reno Gazette-Journal report:
2003-09-24: The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) had reduced from USD 7,000 to USD 6,000 the penalty on former California broadcaster Clarke Broadcasting Corporation for transmitter-related offences at KTIQ-AM, Merced.
The initial penalty was levied in August last year in relation to offences in November 2001 when inspectors fount that the station's power was not being reduced at sunset.
Clarke argued for a reduction or cancellation based on a previous history of compliance but the FCC pointed out that it had issued two other notices of apparent violations in August 2001.
The agency did however reduce the fine on the basis that the company's replacement of its chief operator prior to the inspection had demonstrated "good faith."
The station was sold to Mapleton Communications in June 2002.
2003-09-23: The Radio Music License Committee (RMLC) representing US commercial radio companies and Broadcast Music Inc. (BMI) have announced approval by the New York Federal District Court of their ten-year agreement announced last month concerning copyright fees for airing the music in the BMI's repertoire (See RNW Aug 3).
The agreement covers the period from 1997 through 2006 and includes blanket and per programme licenses for over-the-air broadcasts and also includes a separate fee for streaming their over-the-air signal. Contracts are to be mailed to radio stations over the US within the next fortnight.
The two parties now estimate the total value of the deal at around USD 1.6 billion.
2003-09-23: UK Capital Radio has announced wholesale programming changes to come into effect next Monday at its flaghsip London station as it tries to increase its appeal to its core 25-34 audience.
The changes, spearheaded by Capital FM managing director Keith Pringle will, says the company in a news release mean that, "The station will super serve its adult 25-34 listening core, being true to their entertainment and listening needs but will deliver strongly across the commercially attractive 15-44 demographic."
In the changes, Andi Peters and Emma Forbes, who made their name on the BBC Children's TV show Live & Kicking, are back together for a new weekend breakfast show, their first spell together on radio.
Other weekend changes include a new chart show on Saturday mornings, Double Top 20 hosted by Mick Brown, which will air London's most 20 most popular tracks of the week mixed with a Top 20 from the past, and Saturday nights will include six hours of mixed dance tracks without adverts, followed by four hours of post club chillout and laid back tracks.
Capital's Album Chart with Jane Gazzo moves to Sunday nights and the current Hit Music Sunday show co-hosted by Kate Lawler and Peters has been axed.
In the week, Capital says "Daytime will see a more intensive music mix, while throughout the evening, Capital FM will be at the centre of the city's vibrant nightlife"; changes include a move from an early breakfast time to a mid-morning slot for James Cannon and 30 minutes of non-stop music every hour throughout the workday.
In the evenings Margherita Taylor will host a new entertainment and music led late show from Sunday to Thursdays.
Commenting on the changes, Pringle said, "When you're the most listened to station in town its easy to stick with a tried and tested formula. However, we know that to stay ahead of the rest we need to be constantly innovating and evolving to keep pace with London and Londoners. The development of our music policy and new shows across evenings and weekends will highlight our passion for music across the spectrum and give our listeners the quality radio they deserve."
"We live in a world of perception not reality," he added. "The reality is that Capital plays a huge breadth of music, but this is often not recognised. It takes time to change perceptions; you need to actively keep doing things that point people in the right direction. This means playing the right tracks, promoting the right artists, putting on the right competitions and the right events. Capital FM is not just a pop station aimed at teenagers. It champions the very best of today's music across a wider range of styles than any other station."
2003-09-23: US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) chairman Michael Powell defends the new media regulations produced by the agency as being produced because of duties laid on the agency by Congress rather than part of a deregulatory agenda in an interview carried by the New York Times.
"We didn't initiate this as a deregulatory plank of an agenda, which is the way it is portrayed," he said. "Trust me. Every chairman knows you don't want to tinker with the media. It's the third rail."
"I cringe a little when I read that I am the architect. This was not my deregulatory plan. This was a duty, and that's all I ever considered it. For me, I do not personalize it and am not particularly bowed by the controversy. I am frustrated by it."
Powell is said by the paper to have "mused inconclusively about how much longer he would be at the agency" commenting, "I've gone through various moments about wanting to leave. I have a kid who is starting high school who was 6 when I started this. I've been in public service for 20 years."
"It's not always fun. It's not necessarily that much longer. There is an election ahead.
"I have a tired family, tired children and a tired spouse. Candidly, I once said I would be in this job for three years and then leave. That was three years ago."
He then dampened the impact of the comment by adding, "There is no urgency in terms of quitting and going into the private sector. It will be there when I am ready."
In the interview Powell accuses his opponents of misrepresenting his views, distorting the facts, and of attacking him as a tactic rather than dealing with the issues; he also says that the debate became lopsided because of the strong views of opponents of the new regulations and suggested the public was more upset with the media than the rules themselves.
He also said that on principle he had deliberately avoided doing any political spadework in advance of the new rules, something the article suggests was an error.
It quotes an anonymous source, described as "a friend and former top official at the commission" as saying, "He came into office with the best opportunity an F.C.C. chairman ever had, and he has squandered it. He spent the first two years talking vaguely deregulatory rhetoric. And then, when he started to do things this year, he never used the bully pulpit. It was a combination of stubbornness and unwillingness to fight, and I think he fundamentally misperceived the job."
"The saying about him is he can talk about nuclear physics, but he can't count to three," said another former top official who remains friendly with Mr. Powell. "This is like the story of a guy who is a great high school ballplayer, comes to the majors and then can't hit a curve ball. You expect him to hit .380, and then he hits .150."
New York Times report:
2003-09-22: We start this week's look at print comment on radio with two positive features about US satellite radio, one from the Financial Times in the UK and the other from the New York Times and if they are right the future is bright for the medium.
In the Financial Times, whose report is more oriented to business, Demetri Sevastopulo quoted Jim Collins, head of corporate communications at Sirius, as saying, "We are talking about an industry that is at the tip of the iceberg. It is just beginning to take off. The potential is absolutely huge."
Sirius is of course significantly behind XM Satellite Radio in the race for subscribers - it recently passed 105,000 while XM had nearly seven times as many thanks in part to getting its service out first.
The two companies notes Sevastopulo have very different strategies but both are very conscious of their dependence on the driving audience and the importance of their links with the motor industry - XM has a 12-year exclusive contract with General Motors to install AM/FM/XM radios in its cars whilst Sirius has contracts with Daimler Chrysler, BMW and Ford.
Each presents their alliances positively with Sirius President and CEO Joseph Clayton noting that they have more exclusive deals and XM that the rollout by Sirius partners has been slower than its own by GM.
In terms of their current offerings, there are more XM receivers on the market, but in the longer term the most significant difference is the attitude to adverts; Sirius is staking its future on the premise that people will pay extra - its subscription is USD 1.295 per month - to avoid advertising clutter and is keeping its 66 music channels (it also has 44 news, sport and entertainment stations) advert free while XM is more like terrestrial radio with adverts on half its 69 music channels; it has another 41 news, sport and entertainment channels and charges USD 9.99 a month,
XM also has only two satellites than Sirius, which a three - but has more terrestrial repeaters to deliver its service to areas where satellite reception is difficult. Neither company is yet breaking even and the paper says future success is by no means guaranteed for either.
In the New York Times, Barnaby J. Feder revisits satellite radio 15 months after first sampling XM and he finds much has changed, from a significant fall in receiver prices and availability of more models with a particular growth in the availability of factory-installed systems.
He takes the view that "The major decision is whether to get satellite radio, not which service to choose" and says the service is a luxury albeit not particularly expensive.
Moving into more positive tone, he continues, "That said, free radio may seem unbearably monotonous once you have tried XM or Sirius. Unlike free radio, there is always something entertaining available somewhere in the diverse world of satellite broadcasting. And once you have locked in on something you like, you can drive forever without ever losing the digital signal."
In his case a family of five, including children aged 9-13, came down in favour of XM for a variety of reasons including fewer blips in the area where they had used the system, because they found its organization of channels "slightly more intuitive" ( although he noted Sirius was smarter in breaking "classical instrumental music into symphonic and chamber music while XM opts for the vaguer categories of "traditional classical" and "popular classical."), and also content on the basis that Sirius's promotions were "nearly as annoying as paid advertising."
Feder also notes that "Sirius appears to be hungrier to find underserved audience niches" but then added that its "single comedy channel seemed rarely to run more than a few minutes without broadcasting routines unsuitable for children."
He also says that "None of the differences between the two services may be as important as what kind of car you want to drive, so that may be the determining factor in the satellite service you select" and concludes, "In the end, almost everyone can find reasons to prefer one of the two satellite radio services, but it will be a rare subscriber who is not happy with either one."
After the positive start, a more negative view of radio came from the new Toronto Star radio critic William Burrill who began his column by writing, "I think I got the gig as radio critic because I'm just back from a nearly two-year absence due to a weird tropical disease I picked up in Panama which put me in the hospital for a month, nearly killed me and, in fact, actually DID kill me for a minute or so."
" You know. Out of body. The tunnel. The whole bit."
"This uniquely qualifies me to be radio critic because:
*I can do the job lying down with my eyes closed.
*I've listened to - and in a previous life as an author, been on - a whole bunch of radio shows.
*Most importantly, I believe my editor feels that anyone who has actually been dead - even if only for a while - will be able to tolerate and withstand most local radio broadcasting, especially those CBC interviews that go on for ever. You think you see light at the end of the tunnel but never actually get there."
His first assignment was "to listen to local talk radio and see how they're handling their election coverage" and he wasn't very impressed by much of it, noting how little actually had anything to do with the election, a lot of it was "ripped" from the Star (or maybe that was a plus!).
He did note that CFRB morning host Ted Woloshyn in response to a call about Toronto's gun registry was "quick to point out "that report you refer to was in the Toronto Star and was disingenuous in the way the facts were provided."
"Disingenuous is a good word for Woloshyn to master," commented Burrill, " since, as his TV ads prove, he doesn't know the difference between 'prolific' and 'profound.'"
Gerry McCarthy in the UK Sunday Times also has a dig in his weekly column, in his case over an Irish state broadcaster RTÉ's programme, The Current Affair, and a widely used technique.
After noting the ease with which it is now possible to cut and paste material, he continues, "So take the high points of a day's broadcasting: the most penetrating interviews, the zaniest quotes. Stick them all together, add links, and what do you get? A greatest hits compilation or a ghastly incomprehensible mess? Both, judging by Donal O'Herlihy's nightly round-up."
"O'Herlihy snips out extracts from the day's talk shows, segments of interviews, news stories and callers to phone-in programmes, and re-presents them as entertainment."
"In one sense, The Current Affair can only be appreciated by a radio anorak. If you've heard the shows already, if you understand who the speakers are and can grasp the significance of what they are saying, then you can also gauge just how far O'Herlihy is stretching his soundbites. But the average listener is not thus prepared."
"This is not satire. Satire only works when the audience knows the person or institution being satirized. This is a kind of meta-radio: witty but unintelligent, heavily contrived and deeply indifferent to the world."
In the US the current debate about radio continues to be more about ownership regulation than actual content and an AP report by David B. Caruso we noted in the Chicago Tribune notes that some of those formerly put out of business by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) are now getting satisfaction from the pressure they have been able to put on the agency over the matter.
In particular he mentions Radio Mutiny veteran Pete Tridish (a pseudonym- he was born in New York as Dylan Wrynn); Philadelphia pirate operator Mutiny was closed down by the FCC five years ago and Tridish helped found The non -profit Prometheus Radio Project that helps low power FMs to set up in the US.
It's also managed to get a Philadelphia court to stay the introduction of the new FCC regulations (See RNW Sept 4).
Tridish is cautious about how far the current success may translate into eventual victory, commenting, "Eventually, the weight of the system always seems to wind up catching up with you."
Prometheus believes the new regulations will make public access to the airwaves more difficult to obtain and one staffer Hannah Sassaman commented of the giant media groups, "They need to be curtailed in how far they can spread their arms over the countryside. It will change the way broadcasting sounds in America if it is all centralized out of the big cities."
The FCC says that the new rules will not increase the likelihood of media domination by a few large groups and says other rule changes have increased the number of LPFM licenses.
US National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) senior vice president Dennis Wharton also contested the Prometheus viewpoint, saying, "We don't buy into their claim that radio has somehow lost its local flavor. The reality is that the most successful stations today are highly committed to serving their local audiences."
RNW comment: The NAB and FCC responses seem to us examples where spin predominates over honesty and in the NAB case of setting up its own coconut shy rather than responding to the full arguments being made.
The FCC increase merely brings forward some applications (See RNW Licence News Aug 31) rather than changes the fundamentals including the limitations of the numbers of possible low-power FMs that came with the introduction of third adjacent channel protection requirements for which there was a heavy NAB lobby (See RNW Dec 19, 2000).
The comments would also have more strength had there been significant airing in the US by the main public channels of dissenting views concerning the war against Iraq before action was taken and indeed of the pros and cons of the proposed new media rules. In each case, we suggest democracy was badly served by the media whatever the rights and wrongs of the actions actually taken.
Finally our pick of a couple of programmes - apart from the interactive drama The Dark House - see below - well worth a listen this week, both on BBC Radio 4 but concerned with music.
The first is Le Squeezebox, also tomorrow (1230GMT) that follows American cartoonist Robert Crumb's quest to find out why there were so few women accordion players.
The second is the Friday Play (2000GMT) that is based on the singing Belgian nun Jeanine Decker, known for her hit Dominique, who after success left the convent and eventually killed herself in 1985 having made a suicide pact with her lesbian lover. Both remain available on-demand online for a week after their airing.
Chicago Tribune - Caruso:
New York Times - Barnaby Feder:
Toronto Star - Burrill:
UK Financial Times - Sevastopulo:
UK Sunday Times - McCarthy:
2003-09-22: BBC Radio 4 is to take another step into interactive radio drama tomorrow with The Dark House (22:00 GMT) co-produced by producers Izzy Mant, a theatre/radio director who specializes in new drama writing, and Nick Ryan, a sound designer and composer. It was developed in collaboration with BBC Radio Drama and BBC Creative Research & Development.
The channel previously experimented with interactive drama in a different mode in 1981 with Wheel of Fortune, which was broadcast on BBC Radio3 and 4 with billions of choices available through switching between channels at the end of a one-minute segment (See RNW April 17, 2001).
The new drama used a different technique of allowing voting to determine which character takes over the story in a mystery drama centred round three main characters Lucy, Kelly and Jim, who are trapped in a haunted building.
Each will try and convince the audience of trustworthiness and listeners, having decided which character to put their trust in, can vote by text message or phone to choose which character's perspective is heard in a chilling ghost story.
The voting system can handle up to 10,000 calls a second and computers then toll the votes; every three minutes during the 45-minute drama there is a "switch point" at which the character with the most votes takes over the story.
The programme has been recorded using binaural techniques in which microphones are placed near the actor's ears and various permutations are on the recording for the computerized selection.
Mant likens the technique of the programme to choosing different camera angles to watch a soccer game rather than influencing the play itself.
Helen Boaden, Controller of Radio 4, who commissioned the drama, commented, "The Radio 4 audience is very technically literate. We're asking listeners to interact through their mobile phones if they want to change the perspective of their characters and shift from one to the other. "
"I'll be interested to see how this experiment goes because I think drama is, by definition, an interaction. Your imagination interacts with the words you hear."
BBC Radio 4 "Dark House" web site:
2003-09-21: Last week again saw controversy continuing over new US media ownership regulations as we have already reported and also saw the FCC closed at the end of the week because of Hurricane Isabel; elsewhere matters were more of a more routine nature.
In Australia, the Australian Broadcasting Authority (ABA) is proposing to make capacity available for additional community and national radio services at seven locations in the Illawarra, South East New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory based on a redefinition of the area using 2001 census figures rather than the figures from 1999, based on the 1996 census, used for the existing area plan. The new plan will also include changes for existing services. In terms of locations, the proposed chances include:
Reserving capacity for two additional national radio services to serve the Batemans Bay/Moruya area, changing specifications for commercial channel 2EC Bega to improve its coverage in outlying areas and making capacity for an additional community radio service in Eden. In addition existing community service, 2BAR Bega, would be allowed to move transmitter site from Old Bega Hospital to Dr George Mountain
Make channel capacity available for additional FM transmitters for community stations 1RPH to serve the city of Wagga Wagga, NSW, and for 1WAY to serve the area of Tuggeranong, Australian Capital Territory, and also give Queanbeyan community station 2QBN the option to change its current technical operating conditions to serve the communities of Sutton and Bungendore.
In addition additional open narrowcasting services would be made available in Canberra and two frequencies, currently listed as available for community services would instead be reserved for Canberra national radio service, 2PB to convert to FM; the existing AM frequency would continue to be reserved for a national radio service.
Make available channel capacity for an additional transmitter for the community radio service, 2MNO Cooma, to serve the town of Bombala, NSW, change the polarisation of the 2XL and 2SKI commercial radio services in Bombala from mixed to vertical to prevent interference to WIN3 Narooma television service and also change the frequency of the existing Bombala open narrowcasting service in order to avoid potential interference from the proposed Illawarra high power national service.
Reserve channel capacity for an additional national radio service to serve the city of Goulburn, make channel capacity available for an additional community radio service to serve the town of Braidwood, NSW, and vary the nominal transmitter site of the 2GN and 2SNO's transmitters to Eurodux Road, Brushy Hill in Braidwood.
Make channel capacity available for an additional community radio service to serve the town of Sanctuary Point, NSW and vary the existing technical specification of commercial radio service 2ST Nowra in order to rectify signal deficiencies in the north of its licence area and to make available an additional FM transmitter for 2ST to serve the south east section of its licence area.
Reserve channel capacity for one additional national radio service to serve the Illawarra area and move existing SBS service, 2EA, to an alternative channel in order to be able to transmit with a maximum ERP of 2 kW.
In Canada, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) has been involved in licence renewals and amendments rather than the issue of new licences.
In order of province decisions included:
Allowed oldies CKMX-AM, Calgary, to reduce to Canadian musical selection content 30% rather than the normal 35%.
Approved a 20 watts transmitter in Quesnel for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) to allow CBU-FM Vancouver to rebroadcast the national English-language network service, Radio Two.
Allied with this is the revocation of the licence of the North Cariboo Community FM Stereo Society, Quesnel, which currently rebroadcasts CBC Radio 2.
Allowed oldies CISL-AM, Richmond, to reduce to Canadian musical selection content 30% rather than the normal 35%
Refused an application for a 50 watts commercial low-power English-language FM in Port Alberni; the Commission accepted that the only local commercial station in the market, CJAV-AM, Port Alberni, one of the few remaining independent local radio stations in British Columbia, was struggling to become profitable and that the market could not sustain two commercial stations without causing an undue negative impact on CJAV.
Approved power decrease from 100,000 watts to 63,700 watts and contour changes for CJZZ-FM, Winnipeg, whose transmissions have been moved to a different site because of overlapping noise problems at the originally scheduled transmitter site.
Newfoundland and Labrador:
Approved the deletion of CKXD-FM, Gander's, transmitter CKXB Musgravetown; Station owner Newcap had said the ageing equipment broke down frequently and the cost of repairs was prohibitive; it also noted that the coverage are was also served by its stations CKVO-AM, Clarenville, CKGA-AM Gander and VOCM-FM-1 Clarenville.
Renewed from 1 December 2003 to 31 August 2007, instead of the maximum term of seven years, the licence of CICZ-FM Midland; the shorter period was imposed because the station had broadcast during a week in November 2001 only 29.7% of Canadian music instead of the required 35%.
Allowed a new ethnic FM station for Ottawa/Hull (Gatineau) to temporarily operate from a different transmitter site from a lower tower but increase power from 800 watts to 1500 watts; this will reduce coverage for the temporary period.
Allowed oldies stations CKOC-AM, Hamilton and CKSL-AM, London, to reduce to Canadian musical selection content 30% rather than the normal 35%.
Allowed oldies CKJH-AM, Melfort, to reduce to Canadian musical selection content 30% rather than the normal 35%.
In Ireland the Broadcasting Commission of Ireland (BCI) has received 61 expressions of interest for new licences to be issued for the Dublin City and County area (See RNW Sept 20).
The Commission has also now confirmed an extension until November 15th of the licence of Carlow Kilkenny Radio (See RNW Sept 16), which has lost its licence under a change to the licence area (See RNW Sept 8).
The UK was fairly quiet with the only licence activity from the Radio Authority relating to the Plymouth/Cornwall digital multiplex licence, the last application the Authority will be concerned with before it hands over responsibilities to the new super regulator Ofcom at the end of the year.
It received only one application, which was from South West Digital Radio Ltd. whose shareholders are Now Digital Ltd., a wholly owned subsidiary of GWR Group plc (67%), and UKRD Group Ltd. (33%).
In addition to carrying BBC Radio Devon for one part of the area and BBC Radio Cornwall in the other, a total of six channels are being proposed. They are:
Contemporary hit radio - Pirate FM (provider: UKRD Group Ltd.)
Contemporary hit radio - Plymouth Sound (provider: GWR Group plc)
Gold -Classic Gold (provider: Classic Gold Digital Ltd.)
Dance - Kiss (provider: EG Digital Ltd.)
Modern rock -The Storm (provider: GWR Group plc)
Access (a variety of programme strands, including a service for students) - SBN (provider: SBN Ltd.)
The Authority has also announced new guidelines for religious ownership of Independent Radio licences to take account of the early commencement of the new provisions in the Communications Act which liberalise the rules on religious ownership and will allow religious bodies to apply for Digital Sound Programme Service Licences and Digital Additional Service Licences; they are still barred from holding Independent National (analogue) Radio licences, and National and Local Digital Multiplex licences.
Any such bodies will be required to supply detailed information about their constitution, aims and objectives, including the constitution, aims and objectives of any associates or participants. A statement of belief may also be required.
The Authority may also seek additional information, at its discretion, for example about the applicant's funding, business plan and staffing and in making its decisions on licence awards will consider whether applicants would be able to adhere to the Authority's programme and advertising and sponsorship codes and also whether, in the view of the Authority, the current aims or practices of the religious body are compatible with those codes.
In the US, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has been involved in a rang of activities including various changes related to the problems its new media ownership regulations have run into, enforcement actions, and a study with the state of Michigan about the impact of communications towers on migrating birds (See RNW Sept 18).
The new media regulations are mired in both the political and legal arenas; the Senate has voted in favour of a resolution that would mean reversion to the former rules (See RNW Sept 17) and a Philadelphia court has stayed their introduction following a suit by the Prometheus Radio Project (See RNW Sept 4); oral hearings are currently slated for November 5.
The Commission has also confirmed a USD 3,000 fine on WANA-AM, Anniston, Alabama, for failing to register its antenna structure.
Owner Dewey Lankford originally received a notice of apparent liability in September last year and had responded by admitting the offence but asking for reduction or cancellation of the penalty because he had then tried to comply with the rules; he also said that he though, based on information from the station's previous owner that registration was not required because the tower is subject to no lighting or marking requirements.
The FCC took the view that non-compliance with the rules should attract the original penalty.
Previous Licence News:
Previous UK Radio Authority:
ABA web site :
BCI web site:
CRTC web site:
FCC web site :
UK Radio Authority web site:
2003-09-21: Former Chicago WJMK-FM morning host Fred Winston, now back with the Infinity Oldies station as afternoon host, has signed a one-year contract with the station a month after taking the slot that had been vacated by Big John Howell in July (See RNW July 17).
His previous tenure at the station from 1989 to 1991 was not a happy time and he told Robert Feder of the Chicago Sun-Times,
"I'd felt I had reached the end of the line career-wise I felt like an old guy hacking oldies."
Now, he comments, it's a different station - he is playing a "retro-Top 40 format" - and adds, "I'm doing exactly what I want to do, exactly where I want to do it," he said. "I could see myself here for another 15 years."
Chicago Sun-Times - Feder column:
2003-09-20: Radio consolidation has been in the news on both sides of the Atlantic this week, in the one case because of anticipated consolidation when the UK's Communications Bill comes into effect this year and in the latter in relation to the Federal Communications Commission's new media ownership regulations and issues surrounding the consolidation that has already taken place in the US.
In the UK, UK radio shares have risen sharply since the middle of July when the UK's Communications Bill received Royal assent; it will allow foreign ownership that was formerly prohibited and also allows two commercial stations plus the BBC to dominate a local market whereas current rules stipulate a minimum of three commercial owners plus the BBC.
An article in the UK Financial Times notes that in the period Capital Radio shares have gone up by 8%, those of GWR Group by 18.5%, of SMG by around 25% and of Scottish Radio Holdings (SRH) by 15%.
Analysts says the paper think that there is scope for consolidation in the sector in the UK but do not expect activity until early next year; there are also perceived regulatory complications that could affect the pattern of changes following the May ban by the UK Competition Commission of a purchase of Bristol-based Vibe FM by a joint-venture between GWR and Scottish Radio Holdings because it could reduce competition in the local advertising market where GWR has a dominant position (See RNW May 17).
The deal ended with SRH buying out GWR's share of the joint venture (See RNW May 23) but Capital Radio chief executive David Mansfield told the paper his company had looked at buying the station "but couldn't work out where the price was coming from."
He added that "Valuations may prove to be a difficult hurdle" and noted, "If you look at many players' shareholding structures and balance sheets, some already have high debt while others may have major shareholders who don't want to [buy]."
Other factors that may deter major US groups such as Clear Channel and Viacom from purchases says the paper "include the power of the BBC and relatively stricter rules governing content."
In the US, Clear Channel, which owns more than 1200 stations in the US as well as some 250 elsewhere, has already gone much further than the new regime would allow in the UK, with consequent attacks on it from many quarters.
This has led, according to an Associated Press report we noted in the San Francisco Chronicle, to the company spending "a great deal of time defending itself against what it says are lies spread mostly by critics, competitors and people who have lost jobs amid changes in the radio industry the past few years."
At the same time, adds the report, Clear Channel says the conduct of its business will not be affected by the publicity. It quotes Clear Channel radio CEO John Hogan as saying; "I'd be kidding you if I'd say the scrutiny hasn't had an effect. We have to do a better job of communicating our position, telling our story," ...but "we don't program the stations based on what Washington has to say or what The New York Times has to say. We program them on what our local listeners want to hear."
The report also notes that the new FCC media rules loosened regulations generally but tightened them for radio because of concerns about the size of the big players and that Senate Commerce Committee chairman Sen. John McCain (Republican Arizona) has proposed expanding those rules so they apply to stations a company already owns.
John Dunbar, telecommunications director at the Center for Public Integrity, questioned the usefulness of new tighter ownership rules that don't force companies like Clear Channel to sell some of their stations.
"It gives them a government-sanctioned competitive advantage in these markets they already have a stranglehold on because ... no one's going to be able to challenge them," Dunbar said. "The government created the environment as it exists. They should have changed the rules a long time ago."
Previous Capital Radio:
Previous Clear Channel:
San Francisco Chronicle/AP report:
UK Financial Times report:
2003-09-20: Hispanic-owned Border Media Partners has agreed a USD 24 million deal to buy Spanish Broadcasting System's two San Antonio stations - regional Mexican KLEY-FM and KSAH-AM - for USD 24 million in cash, subject to regulatory approval.
SBS says the sale is in line with its policy of selling none-core assets and concentrating on building clusters in the largest US Hispanic markets.
Its chairman, president and CEO Raúl Alarcón sad the deal was a "win-win transaction that will help us fund our growth in Los Angeles, the nation's largest Hispanic market."
He added, "I am pleased that we were able to provide a growing Hispanic-owned company the opportunity to serve San Antonio's Hispanic radio audience."
Border Media Partners, which owns six Spanish-language radio stations along the Texas-Mexico border, plans to continue operating the stations' Spanish-language formats.
Previous Border Media:
2003-09-20: Emmis Communications, which has just named Lance Richard as General Sales Manager at its alternative format WKQX-FM in Chicago (See RNW Sept 19), has now announced the appointment of Mike Stern as Program Director for the station.
He replaces Tim Richards who was fired in July (See RNW July 16).
Stern, who has been PD for Saga's active rock WLZR-FM (Lazer 103) in Milwaukee since August last year, had worked for Emmis previously as PD for its KXPK-FM in Denver after which he was promoted to Operations Manager for both KALC-FM and KXPK-FM in Denver. He will take up his next post within a few weeks.
Making the announcement, Q101 Vice President/General Manager Chuck DuCoty said, "Mike's experience in the alternative rock format, coupled with his ability to create compelling, successful radio stations, makes him the perfect fit for Q101."
2003-09-20: A total of 38 groups have submitted 61 expressions of interest in new radio licences to be issued for Dublin City and County in Ireland by the Broadcasting Commission of Ireland (BCI).
The licences are for a Dublin City and County licence, for which 32 expressions of interest were received, for Dublin City and Part-County, which attracted 18 submissions, and two Dublin licences for which 11 submissions were received.
The submissions are mainly for music formats from Irish folk music to alternative rock (No classical submission though) although there are also religious, speech-based and tourist service submissions.
BCI Chief Executive Michael O'Keeffe commented, "This is a phenomenal response to the first phase of the licensing process and confirms the huge level of interest in the provision of services in the Dublin area. There is a great diversity in the type of services proposed which will make the Commission's decision making quite interesting in the coming months."
2003-09-20: In a further promotion of digital radio in the UK, digital radio consortium MXR has brokered a three-way integrated marketing partnership between Intempo, who are new to the digital radio manufacturing market, electrical retailers Currys and Dixons and a number of MXR service provider analogue stations including Heart, Saga and Century to promote Intempo's new stereo DAB digital radio and alarm clock.
The four-month campaign running up to Christmas will include Heart FM and Saga FM in the West Midlands, the entire Century network and also digital stations on the Sky satellite platform and digital multiplexes in London, South Wales and the West.
Digital receiver sales are already outstripping those of analogue receivers in value at Dixons.
2003-09-19:The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC), which like much of Washington closed on Thursday because of fears of Hurricane Isabel, has now formally approved the re-activation of its old forms for use until the courts decide whether its new rules will be enacted; applications submitted using the old forms will have to be re-submitted using the old forms within a month.
Meanwhile in continuing deals, Ocean Broadcasting LLC. is to pay USD 1.25 million in cash to Salt Water Broadcasting Inc. for Alternative format WPPG-FM, Fair Bluff, North Carolina, Buckley Broadcast is to pay USD 1.2 million to Crawford Broadcasting for religious format WDCW-AM in Syracuse, New York, and in Iowa P. & J. Dennison is to pay USD 1.01 million to KILJ Inc. for oldies KILJ-AM and Country KILJ-FM in Mount Pleasant.
Another deal now moving forward following FCC approval is the USD 8.25 million sale of Chicago suburban station WAIT-AM by Denver-based NextMedia Group to Chicago-based Newsweb Corporation.
Newsweb is expected to change the station to a time-brokered ethnic, foreign-language and special-interest program outlet along with its other stations in this format -- WCSN-AM, WSBC-AM and WCFJ-AM.
Previous Newsweb Corporation:
2003-09-19: UK Emap, which earlier this month announced that it was to launch Mojo as its seventh national digital radio channel to tie in with the tenth anniversary of its Mojo magazine (See RNW Sept 5), has now announced that it is to launch Heat Radio, also tied in to an eponymous magazine, as a digital radio service on SDN on the UK Free-to-air Freeview terrestrial digital radio and TV platform at the end of this month.
The radio station will not have the diet of show business gossip that features heavily in the magazine, but will instead feature a format of up-tempo music from the 1980s to the present from such artists as Sister Sledge, Justin Timberlake and Beyonce Knowles.
Emap regards its involvement in digital radio as a success story -- Kiss digital radio has helped increase the station's national reach to 2.57 million listeners, with nearly 1 million listeners outside the traditional London heartland, while Smash Hits digital radio has 853,000 listeners and Kerrang! digital radio has notched up 773,000 listeners according to latest ratings.
Ratings for three more of its digital stations - Q, Magic and The Hits - are due in ratings to be released next month.
Also in the UK, Chrysalis Group has said in a trading update that it has significantly outperformed the radio industry and achieved revenue growth of 14.8% for the year to the end of August; it says this will give full year revenues of GBP 53.2 million (USD 85.5 million) with revenues from associate income taking this up to GBP 56 million (USD 90 million), up 14.1% on a year earlier.
Excluding acquisitions such as LBC and Galaxy 101, Chrysalis says its like-for-like revenue has grown more than 13% compared to an industry average of 3%.
The group adds that it has started its next financial year strongly and expects like-for-like revenues in September to be up 15%on a year ago and other divisions to trade in line with its update at the end of July when it announced the sale of its TV division as it concentrates on radio (See RNW Aug 2).
2003-09-19: Clear Channel's new Chicago AM, which could be on the air by the end of this month, is likely to re-unite a bevy of Chicago radio stars of the 60s and 70s according to Robert Feder in the Chicago Sun-Times.
He says that veteran Tommy Edwards, renowned for a 14-year run at WLS-AM, is expected to sign on as program director and morning personality for the station and is likely to be joined by Larry Lujack, his former "Animal Stories" partner. Also likely to join is Ron Britain - King B - who featured on the former WFCL and other Chicago stations for 35 years.
Feder says the station, licensed to west suburban Berwyn and with a 10,000 watts daytime, 1,000 watts nighttime output is likely to target 45 plus baby boomers with a combination of adult standards plus popular hits from the 50s and 60s.
Also in Chicago, Emmis has named Lance Richard as General Sales Manager at its alternative format WKQX-FM (Q101) to replace Matt White, who is retiring later this year due to the effects of ALS, Lou Gehrig's disease.
Richard, who has for the last two years been Executive Vice President for Sales and Strategic Marketing for online publisher IP2M Inc., moves into the post immediately while White, who has been in his post since 1999, will stay on through a transitional period.
Previous Clear Channel:
Chicago Sun-Times report:
2003-09-19: 2003-09-12: The latest Arbitron Internet Broadcast Ratings just released show few changes in the top ranks with AOL continuing its dominance.
For the week to Sept 7, Arbitron'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 (*Non Commercial) - TTSL 586,913 (634,114); CP - 183,375 (195,987). Same rank with lower listening and reach.
2: AOL Top Country (Internet-only) Country format (Commercial) - TTSL 277,173 (276,290); CP - 116,533 (114,694). Same rank with higher listening and reach.
3: Hot Adult Contemporary Virgin AM & FM (Commercial) - TTSL 255,641 (244,867); CP - 53,589 (51,794). Up from fourth with higher listening and reach.
4: Smooth Jazz format AOL Smooth Jazz (Commercial) - TTSL - 250,042 (247,807); CP - 57,760 (57,977). Down from fourth despite higher listening although reach was slightly down.
5: AOL Top Pop (Internet-only) Top 40 (Commercial) - TTSL 236,465 (237,875); CP - 150,167 (150,347), Same rank with lower listening and reach.
The top five networks for the week to Sept 7 (Previous week's figures in brackets) were:
1: AOL Radio@ Network (Commercial) - TTSL - 5,907,839 (5,956,900); CP -1,588,754 (1,558,651). Same rank with lower listening although reach was up.
2: LAUNCH TTSL (Non commercial) - 2,795,477 (3,086,471); CP - 680,247 (706,777). Same rank with lower listening and reach.
3: MUSICMATCH Inc. (*Non Commercial) TTSL - 1,657,963 (1,796,500); CP - 397,228 (416,387). Same rank with lower listening and reach.
4: The Adsertion Network (Sales Network) TTSL - 926,558 (1,132,622); CP - 114,503 (128,934) - Same rank with lower listening and reach.
5: Virgin Radio (Commercial) TTSL - 437,301 (429,605); CP - 73,924 (71,871) - Same rank with higher listening and reach.
Arbitron does not now rank Content Delivery Networks (CDN) alongside other networks but does report on them; for the week the top Content Delivery Networks were Live365 with TTSL, 2,312,551 up from 2,049,156 and StreamGuys with TTSL, 500,929 up from 469,777.
Previous Arbitron Internet Broadcast Ratings (Month of August):
Previous Arbitron Internet Broadcast Weekly Ratings:
2003-09-18: In more US radio deals, Clear Channel has added a seventh Memphis station to its stable with the USD 1.08 million cash purchase of Gospel format KWAM-AM from Concord Media.
The sale is the third in the past half year that Concord, alleged last year to be a front company for Clear Channel, has sold to the latter; the others were Oldies WYCL-FM in Pensacola (See RNW Aug 21) and WGUY-FM, Bangor, Maine (See RNW June 7)
All three stations were being operated by Clear Channel and the latest purchase seems to be closely linked to regulatory changes; Clear Channel sold KWAM to Concord three years ago to comply with Federal Communication Commission (FCC) restrictions after it had bought a TV station in Memphis.
Under the FCC's new rules, which include JSAs in a company total in a market, KWAM, which was being managed by Clear Channel under a JSA, would have counted towards its Memphis total even if the company had not bought it.
In other US deals this week, Educational Media Foundation is paying USD 2.5 million in cash to Colorado Christian for a seven-station deal including KFDN-FM, Lakewood, KLBV-FM, Steamboat Springs, KLZV-FM, Sterling, all in Colorado plus KLRV-FM, Park City, MT and an FM CP,.
It is also paying USD 1.2 million in cash to Lifetalk Broadcasting Association for WSOH-FM, New Washington, Indiana.
In Alabama, Great South RFDC LLC is entering the Monroeville market with a USD 1.5 million cash purchase of oldies WFNU-FM, Repton, from Brantley Broadcast Associates.
Previous Clear Channel:
Previous Educational Media Foundation:
2003-09-18: BBC Radio 1 is to broadcast tonight (2300 GMT)a One World special to be hosted by Death Disco boss Alan McGee showcasing the best in new and unsigned British acts.
One World is dedicated to the best in underground music from across the globe and the special will include a number of genres but will focus on new rock guitar bands that McGee, who heads the Poptones record label and was behind the success of such acts as Oasis, Jesus and Mary Chain and more recently The Kills, D4, Kathryn Williams and Mew, has come across recently.
McGee commented that now is a "most exciting time for new British music since the early Nineties with many UK acts breaking through in a big way."
2003-09-18: Veteran and much-retired US late night host Art Bell is to make a comeback yet again on Premiere Networks' Coast-to-Coast AM but this time only on a part-time basis.
He will replace Barbara Simpson as weekend host from this weekend, broadcasting from his home studio.
Bell who signed off "for good" at the end of 2002 (See RNW January 1), was replaced as full-time host by George Noory who earlier this week signed a long-term deal to continue with the show, which has a reported 475 affiliates.
Bell commented that his return to radio was "both mysterious and reassuring."
2003-09-18: Following an announcement last month that the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) had adopted a Notice of Inquiry (NOI) to gather comment and information on the impact that communications towers may have on migratory birds, the agency's wireless bureau has announced that the state of Michigan is to initiate a study assessing the impact of communications towers on migratory birds.
A memorandum of agreement has been signed with the state that ensures that Michigan will comply with requirements under the FCC's rules implementing the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and the Endangered Species Act (ESA) in the construction of its statewide Public Safety System that includes 180 towers to support essential communications for state and local public safety agencies.
An Avian Study to be conducted over the next 30 months is intended to systematically research the effect of lighting, height, and guy wires on avian collisions at selected towers in the 350- 500 foot height range in the MPS and depending on funding the ability to negotiate access, the Avian Study may also be expanded to include some taller towers.
RNW Note: As we reported in February (See RNW Feb 24), US bird lovers had taken legal action against the Commission, which they said had "unreasonably delayed" action in complying with mandatory duties imposed by statutes concerning the impact of transmission towers on migratory birds.
2003-09-18: Seattle-headquartered Fisher Communications Inc. has announced that it has avoided delisting by NASDAQ and will be trading under the new symbol FSCI from today.
The company had been told it was in violation of Nasdaq's rules because of delays in filing its Form 10-Q report for the second quarter of this year that had followed a decision to restate historical financial results for 2002 and the first quarter of this year (See RNW Aug 26)
2003-09-17: The US Senate has voted by 55-40 in favour of a resolution of disapproval that would overturn the US Federal Communications Commission's new media regulations announced on June 2 and revert to its previous rules, even though courts had overruled these on a number of occasions.
The measure now moves to the House where it is expected to face tough opposition; a presidential veto has also been promised by the White House.
The issue is also still wending its way through the courts and the Philadelphia federal appeals court that earlier stayed the implementation of the rules (See RNW Sept 4) has now set November 5 as the date at which it will hear oral arguments about the petition from the Prometheus Radio Project for the repeal of the rules.
The FCC, News Corporation, and Viacom had requested that the case be moved to a Washington DC, court, but in a 2-1 decision the Philadelphia panel refused the request, saying it was as qualified as any other court of appeals to "determine whether the FCC has appropriately considered the public interest in its decision making."
Reacting to the vote, FCC chairman Michael K Powell said in a statement that the resolution "if passed by the House and signed by the president, would only muddy the media regulatory waters."
"It would bring no clarity to media regulation, only chaos," he continued. "It would create perverse results, such as a return to looser radio rules permitting greater consolidation."
"This is a harm the FCC's new media rules were designed to avoid. It would also reinstate ownership rules that were overturned by the courts." "What is most important is to have the best policies for the American people. I hope the House will take a more considered view of the public interest."
The vote had been opposed in the Senate by Finance Committee chairman Sen John McCain (Republican, Arizona) on the basis that what was "going on here" deserves "some investigation, not just some simple resolution of disapproval."
"We have a very complex set of issues here to address that need to be fully ventilated and fully understood," said Mc Cain who also noted the points about the return to looser radio rules. He said the vote would be futile in view of the lack of support for it in the house and opposition from the White House.
2003-09-17: Four candidates have been interviewed for the post of BBC Radio 2 controller, currently held by James Moir whose contract expires at the end of the year.
Moir has built the channel into the leading rank in British radio.
Those interviewed were the favourite, Moir's current deputy Lesley Douglas, the UK radio authority's director of programming and advertising regulation, Martin Campbell, Antony Bellekom, the managing editor of BBC digital station 6 Music, and former Capital Radio programming chief Jeff Smith who left Capital in January following a reshuffle (See RNW January 21).
2003-09-17: US National radio advertising revenues in July were 12% up on a year ago but local revenues were flat according to the latest figures from the US Radio Advertising Bureau (RAB); overall revenues were up 3%.
On a year-to-date basis, overall revenues are now up 3%, whilst national revenues rose 8% and local ones 1% compared to a year ago.
RAB's Sales Index, which takes 1998 year as a base equated to 100, the July combined index was 144.6, the local index was 142.3 and the national one was 150.8; the respective year to date figures are 136.7 combined, 134.8 local and 144.6 national.
Commenting on the figures, RAB President and CEO Gary Fries said, "This is a continuation of forward momentum for Radio, as we progress into the second half of 2003. All indications point toward steady growth throughout the remainder of the year."
2003-09-17: Latest Australian ratings from the AC Nielsen McNair survey show Macquarie Radio Network's 2GB going into top spot in Sydney followed by Austereo's 2-DAY and DMG's Nova, which remained third but with an increased share. One-time leader Southern Cross Broadcasting's 2UE remained in the doldrums with the same fifth rank but it again lost share.
Nova increased its lead with the 18-25 demographic-taking it up from 29.9 to 30.7.
Alan Jones retained the top breakfast slot for 2GB taking his share up from 14.7 to 15.3 whist Steve Price at talk rival 2UE lost share -down from 8.0 to 7.5.
In the morning slot John Laws, who lost his top talk crown for 2UE in the last ratings lost his top talk crown had the further ignominy of seeing 2GB take the top slot as it moved ahead of Nova and 2-DAY..
Over the country, Austereo saw its overall audience share again drop slightly - from 26.8 % of the 10 plus audience in the last ratings to 26.6 %; it also lost in the 18-24 demographic where its share dipped from 47.1% to 44.5%
City by city, the top three were (previous % share in brackets):
*Adelaide: SAFM - same rank with 19.5 (21.1); 5AA - 16.4 (14.7) - same rank; 5MMM -14.6 (13.5) - same rank:
*Brisbane - B105FM - same rank with 18.8 (17.9); NEW 97.3 FM with 13.0 (13.4)- same rank; Triple M with 12.5 (12.9) - same rank:
*Melbourne -3AW same rank with 14.3 (14.1); ABC 774 with 13.2 (12.3) - same rank; Fox FM with 11.7 (12.1) - same rank; *Nova with 9.1 (10.4) dropped another rank, to fifth, below 3MMM:
*Perth - MIX 94.5FM same rank with 20.5 (21.5) All New 92.9 with 11.8 (12.3)- same rank; 96 FM with 11.8 (11.6) - same rank. *ABC 720 with 11.8 (9.8 )- was up from fifth.
*Sydney - 2GB 12.2 (11.1) - Up from second; 2-Day with 10.9 (12.6) - down from top rank); Nova 10.8 (10.3) - same rank; *2UE dropped share again- from 7.9 to 7.2 but remained in fifth rank, below ABC 702.
Previous Australian ratings:
Previous Southern Cross:
2003-09-17: Although AOL held on to its top radio network rank in the Arbitron Internet Broadcast Rratings for August, it saw its listening down as did most of those ranked; the notable exception was Yahoo's Launch Network which saw its listening in the second rank leap by almost 40%. Top station, MUSICMATCH, also saw a rise in listening.
The top five stations for August were (July figures in brackets):
1: Internet only artist-match MUSICMATCH (non-commercial) - TTSL 2,644,975 (2,348,767); CP 645,444 (601,887). Same rank with higher listening and reach.
2: AOL Top Country (commercial) - TTSL 1,202,027 (1,181,453); CP 438,960 (410,916). Up from third with higher listening and reach.
3: Hot Adult Contemporary Virgin Radio (commercial) - TTSL 1,104,233 (1,333,099); CP 164,407 (181,778). Down from second with lower listening and reach.
4: AOL Smooth Jazz (commercial) - TTSL 1,089,513 (1,113,546); CP 209,479 (206,684) Up from fifth despite lower listening and reach.
5: AOL Top Pop (commercial) - TTSL 1,074,353 (1,178,664); CP 597,391 (632,924). Down from fourth with lower listening and reach.
The top five networks for August were (July figures in brackets):
1: AOL Radio Network (commercial) - TTSL 25,936,299 (26,211,800); CP 4,288,679 (4,257,805). Same rank with lower listening although reach was up.
2: Yahoo LAUNCH (commercial)- TTSL 14,481,309 (10,285,403); CP 1,993,451 (1,541,995). Same rank with leap in listening and reach.
3: MUSICMATCH Inc. (non-commercial) TTSL 7,629,301 (7,224,323); CP 1,348,466 (1,321,045). Same rank with higher listening and reach.
4: Adsertion (sales network) -TTSL 4,913,206 (5,170,467); CP 360,549 (352,416). Same rank with lower listening but higher reach.
5: Virgin Radio (Commercial) - TTSL 1,955,148 (2,305,129); CP 226,538 (259,942). Up from sixth despite lower listening and reach.
* Warp Radio (sales network), which was fifth in July was absent from the ratings this month.
Arbitron is not now ranking content delivery networks but it does list the top two --
Live365.com, which has a TTSL of 9,997,750 hours , down from 10,962,524 in July, and StreamGuys with a TTSL of 2,007,132 hours, down from 2,287,024.
Previous Arbitron Internet Broadcast Ratings:
Previous Arbitron Internet Broadcast monthly ratings:
2003-09-16: The US Senate is to vote today on a resolution that would roll-back all the US Federal Communication Commission's June 2 media regulations and re-instate the old rules.
Should the measure, co-sponsored by North Dakota Democrat Byron Dorgan and Mississippi Republican Trent Lott, be passed it will still face an uphill battle in the House and is also threatened with a presidential veto.
2003-09-16: Former UK Classic FM breakfast host Henry Kelly, who was replaced by Simon Bates in June this year (See RNW June 10) and later hired by Chrysalis (See RNW July 1) is to become drivetime host for Chrysalis's LBC FM station.
He takes over from Frank Partridge and Caroline Feraday, who have hosted the show since LBC's re-launch at the start of this year.
Feraday is to take over the Friday night show business slot from Steve Allen and talks are continuing about a new role for Partridge.
2003-09-16: Although overall consumer complaints to the US Federal Complaints Commission (FCC) fell in the quarter to the end of June, indecency complaints rose dramatically over the quarter and there was also a jump in the overall number of broadcast-related complaints.
The latter were up from 439 in the first quarter of this year to 724 and the Commission noted that this was driven up by "disability-related complaints received in connection with a write-in campaign that urged television stations in Richmond, Virginia, to provide real-time closed captioning of live news broadcasts." Disability-related complaints were only two in April but went up to 172 in May and 98 in June. Indecency and obscenity complaints rose from 47 in April to 62 in May and 242 in June.
The Commission was also loaded significantly with inquiries relating to its new media rules, inquiries about which rose from 123 in April to 1,233 in May and 926 in June, a significant factor in taking the total Radio and Television Broadcasting inquiries from 4,681 to 6,014; cable-related inquiries by comparison fell from 5,190 to 4,818 and wireless inquiries fell from 15,539 to 13,983 due largely to declines in Amateur License & Electrical Interference inquiry activity.
2003-09-16: The Broadcasting Commission of Ireland (BCI) has now confirmed that it has agreed an extension until November 15th of the contract for CKR FM (Carlow- Kildare Radio), one of two licence holders that are to lose their local licences following a re-drawing of transmission boundaries (See RNW Sept 8).
The Commission offered conditional extensions to both CKR and Kilkenny Radio (See Licence News Sept 14) but so far no announcement has been mode concerning a possible extension of its licence until November 30
Commenting on the agreement BCI Chief Executive Michael O'Keeffe said the " primary aim in granting this extension was to ensure the continued provision of a broad-based dedicated local radio service for listeners in the Carlow and Kildare areas."
"We are pleased that the terms and conditions of the extension were accepted by the directors of CKR FM and that the service will now be provided for the duration of the extended period," he added.
The Commission also announced the receipt of a total of 6 applications for the first phase of additional community sound broadcasting services.
These were from Dublin West Access Radio for the West Dublin licence, Liffey Sound FM for the Lucan licence, Radio Active Dundalk FM for Dundalk Town, Roscom Radio for Roscommon Town, WLCR FM for West Limerick and Tipperary Mid West Community Radio for Tipperary South West.
2003-09-15: As the issue of media deregulation is currently high on the agenda in the US, we felt it not inappropriate to start this week's look at print comment in the media by putting an issue significantly related to it in a slightly wider context courtesy of the Washington Post.
In it Reza Dibadj, assistant professor of business law at the University of Miami, asks, "What does the controversial decision by the Federal Communications Commission to allow further media consolidation have to do with the financial crisis afflicting energy companies?"
His answer? "Both showcase the failures of naive deregulatory policy."
He continues by summarizing US deregulation policies as a "tragedy in three acts" - first " Problem solved" in which deregulation on the basis that just deregulation will automatically produce a paradise of "Lower prices, greater choice, better quality and hefty profits."
In the second act, which he terms, "Where Did All the Competitors Go?" he says mergers and anticompetitive tactics end up by creating oligopolies and reducing competition to the detriment of consumers.
The third act - "Pity the Oligopolist", he terms "astounding" as those who combined to thwart competition run into economic woes.
Dibadj then suggests various ways in which the balance of maintaining competition and yet sustaining investment can be better achieved through devoting sufficient resources to enforce competition laws, possibly confining regulation to "'bottleneck inputs'" and letting competition flourish elsewhere, and also by "addressing the reality that companies, much like people, sometimes do not behave rationally."
The above - particularly to anyone who looks at history in terms of the way faith and greed can pervert rational behaviour - seems unexceptional and rather banal and rather begging many questions that need asking when regulation is applied to something a important to a democracy as the provision of information; things matter rather less in our view when it comes to the ins and outs of accessing pop music but even there the question of regulation - in this case through copyright, is of vital importance.
Logically, of course, there is no really good reason why US radio stations should be exempt from normal business practices in terms of the way in which charges for playing music over the air are assessed; Current practice is a historical hangover from the distant past when technology was different and it was effectively impossible for the average household to record music played over the air but when people could be motivated to purchase a record through what they had heard on air.
The current system for radio, however, is put forward in the Los Angeles Times as a possible blueprint for the Recording Industry Assn. of America (RIAA) to consider in dealing with file-sharers.
In an article that terms the RIAA's current amnesty " a sham", Fred von Lohmann, senior intellectual property attorney for the San Francisco-based Electronic Frontier Foundation, notes that the amnesty boils down to the RIAA suggesting that all copies of tracks be destroyed and guilt confessed in return for "nothing."
"Oh, the RIAA promises not to assist copyright owners in suing you," writes von Lohmann. "But its major-label members reserve the right to go after you, as do thousands of music publishers and artists like Metallica."
"In other words, once you have come forward, you are more vulnerable to a lawsuit, not less. This is more "sham-nesty" than "amnesty." What a waste. "
What he suggests is, "Rather than trying to sue Americans into submission, imagine a real solution for the problem. What if the labels legitimized music swapping by offering a real amnesty for all file-sharing, past, present and future, in exchange for say, $5 a month from each person who steps forward?"
"Five bucks a month doesn't sound like much, but it would be pure profit for the labels. No CDs to ship, no online retailers to cut in on the deal, no payola to radio conglomerates, no percentage to Kazaa or anyone else."
"Best of all, it's an evergreen revenue stream - money that would just keep coming during good times and bad."
"It has been done before. This is essentially how songwriters brought broadcast radio in from the copyright cold. Radio stations step up, pay blanket fees and in return get to play whatever music they like. Today, the performing-rights societies like ASCAP and BMI collect the money and pay out millions annually to their artists."
In effect, suggests von Lohmann the record labels can either create a new business model and "stop whining and woo the 60 million potential customers who have voted with their PCs for file-sharing, or some new companies will."
Moving slightly back towards Radio as a medium but sticking with an offbeat angle, this time on how the BBC PR department uses spin as opposing to BBC journalists reporting on government spin.
The angle comes in Paul Donovan's RadioWaves column in the UK Sunday Times.
In it he writes how the cellist Julian Lloyd Webber had originally written in an article on the state of classical music in Britain for the Daily Telegraph that, as Donovan puts it, "that Listeners' Choice, on Radio 3, was about to be axed, having learnt this from Radio Waves in April."
Webber then checked with BBC Radio 3's press office to be assured the programme was being "revamped", not "axed".
"He duly changed his copy," writes Donavan, "which is how the paper came to print "soon-to-be-revamped" in respect of a programme killed off a month later. Its replacement from next week is a "new", "inter- active" request show, 3 for All. Brian Kay, its host, will "spearhead Radio 3's new autumn schedule".
Moving back into the mainstream of worthy programmes, however, Sue Arnold in the UK Observer as usual comes up with some choice phrases in her weekly review.
Headed "Beware randy giant squids" her column deals amongst other things with the BBC World Service's "monster season" (See RNW Aug 28).
"Architeuthis dux, commonly known as the giant squid, was last week's monster," she writes, "and all I can say is, thank God I am not a female of the species. By the way, if you thought X-ratings didn't apply to radio, think again. "
After detailing some of the creature's habits including a note about its foreplay techniques she goes to the gory details, "Having mounted its mate, Archie uses its metre-long penis like a sort of hypodermic plunger stabbing deep gashes into the female's arms and injecting them with sperm packets. She then squirts a vast, gelatinous mass of eggs through her... ugh, that's quite enough of that."
As Arnold comments, "Sound is infinitely scarier than sight, X-rated radio spookier than X-rated television, because it leaves the imagination unshackled."
Finally a pick of a BBC programme still available online and worth a listen; it's the BBC Radio 4 programme, The Child Migrants, being broadcast today on BBC Radio 4 (0800 GMT - but available online for a week) and hosted by veteran Charles Wheeler.
It deals with the shipping of unwanted children from Britain to the colonies all round the world - a total of around a quarter of a million of them between 1906 and 1970. Some 150 of them were interviewed for the programme and their tales should give pause for thought to those who uphold "Western civilization" as being superior to other varieties.
Los Angeles Times - von Lohmann:
UK Observer - Arnold:
UK Sunday Times - Donovan:
Washington Post - Dibadj:
2003-09-15: Beleaguered BBC Radio 1 is to take a leaf from the pages of its commercial rivals and try to boost itself with an advertising campaign early next year although it says the move has been on its schedule since April this year and is not a reaction to its falling ratings.
The station had a weekly reach of under 10 million in the latest ratings, the lowest in its history, with particularly heavy losses for the flagship breakfast show hosted by Sara Cox; this lost more than 400,000 listeners a week in the quarter to the end of June.
The campaign will showcase Radio 1's top DJs including Cox, whose contract runs until April next year. There has been considerable speculation that should her ratings not improve it will not be renewed.
2003-09-15: XM Satellite Radio today broadcasts two shows live from Detroit by its DJs Kurt Gilchrist and Phlash Phelps who are making their final stop after a 10,000 mile (15,000 Km) drive taking in every one of the 48 contiguous US states as part of the company's drive for 1 million subscribers.
The drive began at the start of the month (See RNW Aug 29) in a customized Cadillac.
2003-09-14: Last week was one where the main regulatory news was more about what has not happened yet in the US than what has happened elsewhere, or not as the case may be.
Australia was quiet in radio terms and in Canada there was only a low level of activity from the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) with the approval of a number of new transmitters and other changes being the prime radio-related decisions.
In order of province the decision were:
Approval of a new 11,500 watts FM transmitter in Bonnyville to rebroadcast the programming of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation's national English-language network service Radio One, from CBX, Edmonton.
Extension of deadline for filing of a full technical submission and a contour authorization application for new French-language FM community radio station in Toronto.
Approval of power increase from 0.23 watts to 1.03 watts for low power Camp IAWAH FM in Wesport area.
Approval of new 20.7 watts transmitter in Petite-Rivière-Saint-François and 32.2 watts transmitter in Saint-Siméon for CIHO-FM Saint-Hilarion
Approval of a power increase from 200 watts to 250 watts of CHOC-FM Saint-Rémi in connection with relocation of its transmitter.
In Ireland the Broadcasting Commission of Ireland (BCI) has offered short extensions of their contracts to CKR FM and Radio Kilkenny, which are at the centre of a row about their losing the franchises following changes to their licence area (See RNW Sept. 8).
In the UK, the Radio Authority has awarded one new licence, re-awarded another, and announced its preliminary determination of short form public interest test for Guardian Media Group plc in connection with a bid for the new West Midlands licence against competition from ten other applicant (See RNW May 13).
It says concerning the last that following a decision in March 2000 that if another wholly owned subsidiary of Guardian Media Group plc were to be awarded a regional radio licence, this arrangement could not be expected to operate against the public interest it is minded to make the same determination concerning the application for the West Midlands licence from Jazz FM.
The new licence is for Carmarthenshire and it has gone to Radio Carmarthenshire / Radio Sir Gâr, the sole remaining applicant after a competing application was withdrawn; Radio Carmarthenshire is offering a full service of local news and information in English and Welsh combined with popular hits.
Re-awarded was the for Dumfries & Galloway FM licence in Scotland, which went to existing licence holder South West Sound Ltd. which was facing competition from one other applicant.
In the US, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has ended the freeze it put on transfer and new licence applications after a court stayed the introduction of its new media ownership regulations (See RNW Sept 12) but otherwise it was mainly in the news because of what hasn't happened.
In one case this was the continuing delay in announcing a decision about approval of the takeover of Hispanic Broadcasting Corporation by Univision despite reports that approval under a party-line vote was imminent. (See RNW Sept 10).
The other area where delay is the main story concerns the Senate Vote about rolling back the new regulations, now expected to come on Tuesday and with those in favour of the rollback predicting victory.
However many observers think the vote will be close and note that, even if passed by the Senate, the measure would face a harder time in the House and is likely to be vetoed by the White House.
Previous Licence News:
Previous UK Radio Authority:
BCI web site:
CRTC web site:
FCC web site :
UK Radio Authority web site:
2003-09-14: Infinity's WNEW-FM (Blink) in New York has wielded the axe on its on-air staff and is now broadcasting on what Infinity terms a new "contemporary music format with a mix of popular music and entertainment reports."
The new format puts in competition with Clear Channel's soft-AC WLTW-FM and Disney-ABC's Hot AC WLPJ-FM but no announcement has yet been made about its new on-air talent.
Amongst those out from the old format are morning hosts Booker and Lynda Lopez, J-Lo's sister, midday host Rick Stavy, afternoon hosts Tim Virgin and Alison Stewart, and night host Todd Newton.
A number of entertainment reporters and producers have also gone.
The station's Program Director Steve Kingston resigned earlier this month (See RNW Sept 11) not long after Maire Mason from WCBS-FM was appointed general manager in an Infinity re-organization (See RNW Aug 23).
Blink had fared badly in the ratings and Mason commented that it was clear the station's "adult female listeners want more of their favorite music." The changes, she said, would increase Blink's audience and "allow us to capitalize on this niche marketplace."
2003-09-13: A close vote is expected on Monday or Tuesday by the US Senate on a bipartisan call to use a legislative veto to order the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to reconsider its June 2 party-line vote that would ease ownership regulations and end the cross-ownership ban that stops companies owning a newspaper and TV station in the same market.
The measure, co-sponsored by North Dakota Democrat Byron Dorgan and Mississippi Republican Trent Lott, is likely to be vetoed by the White House if it passes and would also face opposition in the Republican-controlled House where Republican leaders who oppose it have refused to bring it to the floor.
Dorgan says that the battle is "between the public interest and the special interests" and has accused the agency of caving in "completely and quickly to the industry it is supposed to be regulating."
In addition to opposition by politicians from both parties, the FCC is being opposed by a coalition of groups from the National Organization for Women to the National Rifle Association and nearly three-quarters of a million signatures have been gathered for petitions against the new rules.
Initiatives by Moveon.org, the activist site started by Silicon Valley entrepreneurs has spurred some 350,000 into communicating with the FCC, National Rifle Association members have also written some 300,000 letters, and 100,000 from the Consumers Union are also en route to the agency according to Dorgan.
Eli Pariser, Moveon.org's campaigns' director, said a presidential veto would backfire and fuel anger about the FCC decision.
On the other side of the argument, various Senators say that changing technology has given consumers more choice --- Dorgan's response was that "people "may be hearing many different voices, yes, but they are from the same ventriloquist" - and also that the 1996 Telecommunications Act as ordered the FCC to reconsider its rules and justify them on a biennial basis. In addition they point out that courts have overturned a number of agency rulings and Virginia Republican Sen George Allen said the arguments that one community could dominate all media in a community under the new rules were "simply not true"
He added that it was an "alarmist argument" flying in the face of a situation where cable and the Internet had given consumers an "unprecedented abundance of choices."
2003-09-13: BBC World Service has added a Zed to its outlets with a five-year agreement with Voice of Tanzania Zanzibar, which is to broadcast the service in English and Swahili on FM in Zanzibar and on the island of Pemba.
It already has an extensive network of FM relays and broadcasting partnerships in Africa, including those in Dar es Salaam, Mwanza, Arusha, Chinyanga, Moshi and Dodoma in Tanzania, as well as Nairobi, Mombasa and Kisumu in Kenya, and Kampala, Mbale and Mbarara in Uganda.
Commenting on the latest agreement, Voice of Tanzania Zanzibar director Yussuf Omar Chunda said, "We are grateful to the Zanzibar government for making this new partnership possible This is a wonderful development for us and we view the new partnership with the BBC as a symbol of friendship and genuine co-operation."
2003-09-13: The Vancouver-based CBC Radio Orchestra celebrates its 65th year on Sunday with the first of a three concert series in the city that are to be broadcast on CBC Radio One rather than the orchestra's usual home on CBC Radio2.
The concerts are the spoken word and music "Heart, Soul and Mind" concert that is to be followed on October 2 with "East Meets West" and finally "Mario's Mozart" on November 9.
Ira Dilworth, the CBC's then regional director, set up the orchestra, originally the CBR Concert Orchestra, in 1938 to give musicians of the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra more work in the off-season.
It is now the only radio orchestra left in North America but at one time it was one of several CBC orchestras working in Winnipeg, Halifax, Montreal and Toronto, and had companion orchestras north of the border where the major US radio networks also had in-house orchestras.
Most famous were the NBC Symphony Orchestra, which was established in 1937 by NBC for the conductor Arturo Toscanini and folded by them in 1954 after he retired, and the CBS Symphony Orchestra that broadcast from 1933 to 1950.
The CBC orchestra has had only three principal conductors in its history -- John "Jack" Avison who conducted it from its founding until he retired in 1980, British conductor John Eliot Gardiner who took over the helm until 1983 when Ontario-born Mario Bernardi moved into the post.
2003-09-12: Following a court order that stayed its new media regulations announced on June 2 and ordered it to work to its previous rules (See RNW Sept 4), the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has announced that it will resume processions applications for new stations, assignments of licences and transfers of control using its older forms.
It had frozen applications, for which it had commenced using the new forms, immediately after the court ruling. Applicants are no longer expected to comply with the June 2 rules.
The political debate over the new regulations is continuing and in the Senate on Thursday, 11 September 2003 North Dakota Democrat Sen. Byron Dorgan, who has introduced a proposal to reject the new rules, termed them "detrimental to our government and detrimental to our country."
He suggested that the FCC acted in the economic interests of large media conglomerates not the public in writing the rules and also spoke against the practice of voicetracking. This he said could dupe listeners into believing hosts were local when they could be "halfway across the country."
Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Sen John McCain (Republican, Arizona), who has spoken against the new regulations, opposed a Senate reversal of the rules, saying that instead of this the Senate should set new guidelines for the agency. He noted that the agency had been forced to act by the 1996 Telecommunications Act and court decisions that overturned several of its rulings.
McCain suggested that the debate on the issue had swung him away from past support of deregulatory moves into believing that it might be appropriate to institute "stringent but reasonable limits on media ownership."
Meanwhile the White House is still saying that senior advisers would recommend a Presidential veto if the Senate voted against the new rules.
2003-09-12: Sony has now added its weight to the development of digital broadcasting in Europe by announcing that it is to enter the market with a portable receiver next year, a move that is likely to accelerate further entries into the market and bring down prices.
Sony has now lent its support to both the World DAB (Digital Audio Broadcast) Forum and the DRM (Digital Radio Mondiale) consortium by recently joining the commercial arms of both organisations and its Group Marketing Manager Business Developments, Sony Personal Audio Europe, Fenno de Boer, commented that with its active support of DRB in Europe it believed it could expand its use.
"Sony launched the world's first transistor radio for the mass market in 1955," he added, and Sony's success in the radio receiver market was the corner stone on which the company was built. We continue to be technological innovators in radio and are actively supporting the spread of digital radio broadcasting."
Annika Nyberg, President of the World DAB Forum commented, "Sony's involvement in digital radio in the commercial field brings the final ingredient for success in a mass market worldwide. Sony is a global player and their greater commitment to digital radio, both DAB and DRM, is fantastic news."
DAB was also on the agenda at this year's IFA consumer electronics show in Berlin where Germany's DAB marketing body, the IMDR, and international DAB forum, WorldDAB jointly hosted a digital radio stand, and German public broadcaster ARD hosted a DAB symposium that heard speakers representing different areas of the industry issued a strong call to work together for the success of DAB.
It heard sharp criticism from German Minister of Economics, Wolfgang Clement, who warned that lack of commitment to DAB - a broadcast technology largely developed in Germany - meant the country was forced to import more and more, rather than exporting their own innovations.
"We are well known specialists in missing technologies that have been developed in Germany," he said, adding that DAB was taking too long to come to market and urging manufacturers and broadcasters alike to move with more speed.
In the UK, another BBC DAB transmitter has now been put into operation to serve the Ipswich and Suffolk area with a population just over half a million. Five more transmitters are due to go operational soon as the BBC expands its digital radio coverage to serve 85% of the UK population.
2003-09-12: An Arbitron/Edison Media Research Study to be released later this month says that more than 50 million Americans used Internet audio or video last month and that six out of ten of those watching Internet video preferred free programming supported by advertising to other business models.
The study also says that online purchasing has nearly doubled over the past three years and the percentage of Americans with access to the Internet in some manner -home, work, school and public libraries etc - has now increased to 80%.
Previous Edison Media Research:
2003-09-12: XM Satellite Radio has announces that it has successfully completed the public offering of just over 11 million shares of its common stock that it announced earlier this week (See RNW Sept 9).
The deal was propelled forward because of disputes over insurance payments relating to faults that will reduce the life of its existing satellites and XM says that it will use most or all of the money to fund the building of a new satellite, XM4, should insurance funds not be released in a "timely manner."
Otherwise it will use the money as working capital and general corporate purposes, possible including debt reduction.
2003-09-12: 2003-09-12: The latest Arbitron Internet Broadcast Ratings just released show listening generally down on the previous week but apart from that the top of the ranks were fairly static with AOL continuing its dominance. In addition K-LOVE Radio has returned to the ratings as tenth ranked Internet Broadcaster and Sales Network.
For the week to August 31, Arbitron'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 (*Non Commercial) - TTSL 634,114 (600,741); CP - 195,987 (183,916). Same rank with higher listening and reach.
2: AOL Top Country (Internet-only) Country format (Commercial) - TTSL 276,290 (286,516); CP - 114,694 (116,149). Same rank with lower listening and reach.
3: Smooth Jazz format AOL Smooth Jazz (Commercial) - TTSL - 247,807 (261,035); CP - 57,977 (59,244). Same rank with lower listening and reach.
4: Hot Adult Contemporary Virgin AM & FM (Commercial) - TTSL 244,867 (240,566); CP - 51,794 (51,886). Up from fifth with higher listening and reach.
5: AOL Top Pop (Internet-only) Top 40 (Commercial) - TTSL 237,875 (252,514); CP - 150,347 (157,970), Down from fourth with lower listening and reach.
The top five networks for the week to August 31 (Previous week's figures in brackets) were:
1: AOL Radio@ Network (Commercial) - TTSL - 5,956,900 (6,163,846); CP - 1,558,651 (1,580,048). Same rank with lower listening and reach.
2: LAUNCH TTSL (Non commercial) - 3,086,471 (3,259,794); CP - 706,777 (709,719). Same rank with lower listening and reach.
3: MUSICMATCH Inc. (*Non Commercial) TTSL - 1,796,500 (1,737,222); CP - 416,387 (399,282). Same rank with higher listening and reach.
4: The Adsertion Network (Sales Network) TTSL - 1,132,622 (1,086,192); CP - 128,934 (126,827) - Same rank with higher listening and reach.
5: Virgin Radio (Commercial) TTSL - 429,605 (417,489); CP - 71,871 (70,714) - Same rank with higher listening and reach.
Arbitron does not now rank Content Delivery Networks (CDN) alongside other networks but does report on them; for the week the top Content Delivery Networks were Live365 with TTSL 2,049,156, down from 2,348,731 and StreamGuys with TTSL 469,777 , up from 457,519.
Previous Arbitron Internet Broadcast Weekly Ratings:
2003-09-11: The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has ruled that The Howard Stern Show, better known to it in the past in terms of indecency fines, is a "bona fide news interview program" thus removing from it the requirement to give all candidates in the Californian gubernatorial equal time should one of them appear on the show.
The ruling came following a request for a "declaratory ruling" from Viacom-owned Infinity Broadcasting which was concerned that should Stern air an interview with candidate Arnold Schwarzenegger all the 134 other candidates in the recall election would demand equal time.
The equal time rules have been in force since 1934 but genuine news shows are exempt on the basis that they were adjudged by lawmakers to stimulate political involvement.
In making its ruling, the FCC referred back to a 1984 exemption given to news interviews on the Donahue Show; It had commented at the time that "it would be unsound to rule that a program involving a unique or innovative approach to interviewing its guests somehow lacks sufficient
licensee control evident in traditional news interview programs like 'Meet the Press' or 'Face the Nation'" and that "to do so would discourage programming innovation by sending a signal to broadcasters that to be exempt an interview program should adhere only to the format of certain programs mentioned by Congress over 25 years ago."
Infinity, had argued in its submission that it had control over all aspects of the show and decisions on format, content, and participants were based on newsworthiness; and guests that happen to be political candidates were not selected to advance their candidacies.
The FCC in its ruling said that other "licensees airing programs that meet the statutory news exemption, as clarified in our case law, need not seek formal declaration from the Commission that that such programs qualify as news exempt programming."
The ruling was criticised by Andrew Jay Schwartzman, a communications lawyer who heads the Media Access Project in Washington who told the Washington Post, "What this means is that every 'morning zoo' disc jockey whose brother-in-law is running for city council can put him on the air without worrying about giving equal time to anyone else."
"They've removed the notion that a bona fide news interview show is supposed to apply to journalists. If Howard Stern is a real journalist, real journalists should be upset."
FCC Chairman Michael K. Powell referred to the decision in a speech to Republican business leaders at Washington's Capitol Club, telling them they should resist the calls for greater government regulation of broadcasters.
Powell also commented that the repeal of the Fairness Doctrine - which required broadcasters to cover both sides of controversial issues - helped spawn the rise of conservative radio and Fox News and accused critics of the agency's new media regulations of exaggerating their effect for their own political reasons.
Powell said he was surprised by the row that had arisen and said the "enormous energy" in the debate was "somewhat odd".
He asked if "democracy's survival really lying between 35% and 45%?(RNW note - the cap on national TV ownership before the new rules and proposed under them)" and went on to suggest that opponents of the changes wanted to see their own views better represented.
"People love a monopoly if it's your monopoly, if it happens to share the views you share," said Powell.
RNW comment: We can appreciate the FCC argument and have to consider this judgement in the light of the candidates that the California recall has drawn out of the woodwork but in the end tend to go along with Schwarzmann in terms of concern. Of course the real challenge for Stern would have been to do a reasonable journalistic job interviewing all the candidates who were prepared to talk to him and that would probably have been a sounder policy in overall democratic terms.
Some hope of that, of course. Stern's show is about "entertainment" in our view - and even then in a very limited frame - and any news content is serendipitous rather than central to it.
As for Powell, we are not sure whether he thinks he is merely stating a fact in his comments about attitudes to monopoly or approving them. The first in our view is a facile comment that massively underestimates the desire for fairness from many Americans from all parts of the political spectrum and the second contemptible.
We find outselves losing much respect for the man.
Previous Media Access Project:
Washington Post report:
2003-09-11: SMG, the former Scottish Media Group, has reported turnover for the six months to the end of June down 8.6% to GBP 86 million (USD 138 million) and pre-tax profit, before exceptionals and goodwill amortisation almost halved to GBP5.5 million (USD 8.8 million) from GBP 10.5 million (USD 16.9 million) a year earlier.
Turnover at Virgin Radio was down 13% to £11.8m, with operating profits halved to GBP 3million (USD 4.8 million); SMG is also spending GBP 3 million on promoting Virgin.
The company was upbeat about this performance, saying "All of its businesses have held market share or outperformed the competition" and that action has been taken to ensure it is " in good shape to develop and benefit from the recovery when it emerges."
SMG says it is now focussed on national advertising, which has "better growth prospects in the long-term as well as good short-term recovery prospects and also expressed satisfaction at the "positive outcome of the litigation proceedings initiated by Chris Evans."
Evans, former owner of Virgin and breakfast host at the station, lost his lawsuit and was ordered to pay Virgin GBP 7 million (USD 11.3 million)(See RNW July 29); SMG says his departure enabled it to carry out a root and branch review of its operations and put into place a line up of quality presenters backed by the right music policy with a consequent improvement in ratings.
SMG has also significantly reduced its debts through a GBP 216 million (USD 347 million) sale of its publishing business (See RNW March 29) that reduced debt by 40% to GBP 246 million (USD 395 million) and enabled refinancing on much improved terms
Chief Executive Andrew Flanagan commented that SMG was "cautiously optimistic about the second half of the year where we are already detecting signs of significant improvement in each of our businesses. However, we believe that it is too early to take a view on whether or not this is the start of the sustained upturn."
"Overall," he continued, "we anticipate a satisfactory performance for SMG in the second half of 2003, outperforming the first half. As the UK advertising markets recover, SMG will be well placed to generate faster growth."
2003-09-11: Viacom-owned Infinity Broadcasting has confirmed the departure of Steve Kingston from Blink (WNEW-FM) in New York, where he had been Program Director since the station's re-launch as Blink FM in April with a free-form music plus entertainment news and gossip format targeting young women (See RNW April 11); prior to that the station had a talk format targeting young males but it had been in the doldrums since the Sex in St Patrick's Cathedral stunt that led to the firing of hosts Opie and Anthony more than a year ago.
Last month WNEW gained a new General Manager with the appointment of Maire Mason from WCBS-FM in a reorganization announced by Infinity President and COO Joel Hollander (See RNW Aug 23) and there are suggestions that Kingston's resignation is linked to her desire for personnel changes linked to plans to increase the music content of the station and cut back on its entertainment emphasis.
Blink Assistant Program Director Craig Schwab is standing in as PD until an appointment is made.
2003-09-11: The Broadcasting Commission of Ireland (BCI) has offered two-month licence extensions to two Irish stations that are fighting to keep licences they lost under a re-drawing of their boundaries.
CKS-FM is being offered an extension to November 15 and Radio Kilkenny to November 30; both organisations had said earlier this month that they were going to take their fight to stay on air to the Irish Supreme Court (See RNW Sept 8).
The BCI said that in making its decision, it was "mindful of the fact that there would be no broad-based dedicated local radio services for the Carlow, Kildare or Kilkenny areas following the expiry of the contracts of CKR FM and Radio Kilkenny" and took into account the fact that negotiations had still not been concluded with the incoming licensees KFM (Co. Kildare) and KCLR Carlow/Kilkenny).
BCI Chief Executive Michael O'Keeffe, said, "The Commission's primary concern in offering contract extensions to both stations is to ensure that listeners in Kildare, Carlow and Kilkenny will continue to receive a dedicated local radio service". He stressed that the extension offers were subject to agreement to a number of conditions and that if these were not accepted the licences would expire this month.
2003-09-10: Taylor Nelson Sofres (TNS), the world's third largest market research firm, has backed calls to replace Britain's diary-based radio ratings system with a meter-based one; its chief executive Mike Kirkham termed diaries "very archaic" and said the change was inevitable.
TNS, which has been linked with Arbitron in various bids for radio meter audience contracts using the former's Portable People Meter (PPM) technology, recently saw Australia opt to stick with AC Nielsen's diary system for another three years on the basis that meter technology was not yet sufficiently proven (See RNW April 10) does provide meter-based audience figures in Belgium (See RNW March 3) and is testing it in Singapore (See RNW Dec 16, 2002).
The UK Guardian, which pegged its report to pressure from Wireless Group chief executive Kelvin MacKenzie for a switch to the RadioControl metering system now being used by GfK in its British National Broadcast Media Surveys, quoted Kirkhams as saying, "The existing methods of audience measurement of radio are very archaic."
"They require people to remember what they listen to and then write it down. It is becoming more and more difficult for people to do that. Long term, they have to move to some kind of electronic measurement."
UK radio rating service RAJAR (Radio Joint Audience Research), like Commercial Radio Australia, currently takes the view that metered systems are not yet proven but is involved in assessments of both the Arbitron and GfK systems.
TNS has also reported its interim figures for the six months to the end of June; they showed profits up 5.1% on a year earlier to GBP 25.8 million (USD 41.5 million) on turnover up 2.9% at GBP 304.7 million (USD 489.9 million).
Pre-tax profits including joint ventures and before goodwill charges and finance charges related to the GBP 264 million (USD 425 million) acquisition of US-based market research group NFO were up 8.9% to GB20.7 million (USD 33.3 million).
TNS's strongest regional performance came from its Asia Pacific operations whose underlying performance was up 10.4% compared to an 0.9% rise in the US and a 1.1% decline in Europe.
In particular it reported good growth from its TV audience measurement joint venture in China noting that it "is the clear leader in the Chinese market and now measures viewing in 18 provinces and 87 cities, while making good progress in rolling out its People Meter technology."
RNW comment: Bearing in mind TNS's commercial interests in moving away from the diary system, we are unsurprised by Kirkham's comments but we think the clear implication in comments of the pro-meter lobby that those who want a delay have a "stick-in-the-mud" approach over-egg their case. We have no doubt that eventually metering systems will come in but equally regard it as sensible that the switch should be made when their technology is both proven and adapted to meet the needs of broadcasters rather than prematurely. Ultimately we can see a hybrid-system as potentially the most valuable with meters proving the main raw quantitative date but current rating companies using the strengths they have build through their diary system to add qualitative feedback to this.
Previous Commercial Radio Australia:
Previous Wireless Group:
2003-09-10: Conservative US talk show host Rusty Humphries, whose show is syndicated by Talk Radio Network, has been granted a 15-day temporary restraining order prohibiting Citadel Broadcasting from interfering with his search for work outside Reno, Nevada.
Washoe District Judge Steven Kosach also set down September 19 for a hearing on a contract dispute between Humphries and Citadel, owner of KKOH-AM, Reno, which says he is still on its payroll although the host says his contract with the station has ended.
Humphries had been afternoon host on KKOH since 1998 but says he wants to move from Reno for personal reasons.
He filed a civil complaint against Citadel that claims his contract had expired with Citadel and he planned to leave his job by Sept. 1 but when he told them that he was discussing a possible new job with Fisher Communications' Seattle Radio, KVI-AM, Citadel sent a letter to Fisher threatening to sue.
The complain continued," Citadel is wilfully intending to prevent Rusty Humphries from obtaining other employment after (he) terminated his employment with Citadel."
Dana Johnson, vice president of Citadel Communications and general manager for the Reno area, told the Reno Gazette-Journal Humphries is still considered an employee, adding," "I still have him on the payroll."
Humphries, who is still listed on the station's web site, told the paper, "I just want to work. I just want to be able to take care of my family."
"My wife is real sick. And we've exhausted all of the doctors in this community. I want to go back home with my family. My aunt is dying. And I just want to go up to Washington state and be with my family."
Reno Gazette-Journal report:
2003-09-10: The fourth Appreciation Survey conducted by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation shows a small positive trend in perceptions about the quality of the Corporation's programming emerging over the past four years. It was based on telephone interviews conducted by Newspoll with 1,900 Australian aged 14 plus conducted in June this year.
In all nine-in-ten Australians believe the ABC provides a valuable service to the community, and half believe it provides a very valuable service although the former group is in slight decline amongst the over-50s and people in rural areas.
In terms of programming quality 80% of Australians reported its quality as good or very good compared to 41% saying the same of commercial television whilst for radio the figures were 60% saying ABC providing good quality programming - and 8 % saying it was poor - compared to 55% praising commercial radio and 30% feeling it is poor.
In trend terms there has been a small increase in the proportion of respondents rating ABC radio quality as "very good" with a similar small increase in respondents saying they like to listen to ABC radio; commercial radio scored well with 14-17 year olds in these categories.
In terms of news and current affairs coverage a majority of the ABC's audience felt the amount of coverage to be "about right" but there was a decline in the proportion believing there was too much cover of immigration issues and an increase in the proportions of those who thought there was not enough coverage of local politics and industrial relations and too much coverage of federal and state politics.
Commenting on the survey, ABC Managing Director Russell Balding said, "It is immensely gratifying and encouraging to see the ABC remains an appreciated and valuable part of the lives of Australians and that there was an increase in the number of Australians who believed the ABC was well managed This research provides a confirmation that audiences are continuing to enjoy the ABC and they consider that it provides quality content that is distinctively Australian while doing a good job in fulfilling its Charter obligations."
Previous ABC, Australia:
ABC Appreciation Survey (326 Kb PDF):
2003-09-09: Rumours are rife again in the US that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is about to approve the takeover of Hispanic Broadcasting Corporation (HBC) by Univision.
The USD 3.5 billion deal was announced more than a year ago (See RNW June 13, 2002) and has been passed by the US Department of Justice, subject to various conditions, but is still being opposed by various minority groups and competitors who claim it will give one organisation too much hold over the Hispanic market in the US.
There have also been objections because of the political clout that the combined organisation would wield, with a number of comments being made about support for the Republican Party by Univision chairman, President and CEO A. Jerrold Perenchio.
FCC chairman Michael K Powell had been seeking a consensus in support of allowing the deal through but it is now being suggested that the approval may come via a 3-2 party-line vote as happened with the FCC's new media regulations that are currently stayed by a Federal Court (See RNW Sept 4)
The two companies have recently increased their public relations campaign in favour of the deal, most recently with a statement challenging a proposal by the Minority Media & Telecommunications Council for a separate regulatory framework for transactions involving minority media, terming such an idea "misguided, offensive and discriminatory."
The Minority Media & Telecommunications Council is also opposing the FCC's new media ownership regulations and has filed a petition with a number of minority groups for their reconsideration; they claim in particular that the FCC failed to acknowledge most of the proposals they submitted during the review of the ownership rules and that the new rules will undermine minority representation in media ownership.
2003-09-09: XM Satellite Radio has announced that it is selling just over 11 million shares of common stock to raise around USD 150 million net.
It adds that all or a significant portion of the funds raised may be used to purchase its new spare ground satellite XM4 if it does not receive in time insurance proceeds related to power problems that have reduced the anticipated life of its current satellites.
If it does get its insurance money XM says it will use the proceeds for working capital and general corporate purposes that may include the repurchase or pre-payment of debts.
Lead investor in the transaction will be Washington D.C.-based Legg Mason and the offering is expected to close on Wednesday.
XM's rival Sirius earlier this month filed a shelf registration statement with the US Securities and Exchange Commission to allow it to sell up to USD 500 million of debt securities, common stock, preferred stock and warrants (See RNW Sept 3) although it said it had no present intention to use the facility. Sirius will hold its annual stockholders meeting on November 25.
2003-09-09: Australia's largest commercial radio broadcaster Austereo has reported net profits for the year to the end of June down 35.7% on a year earlier to AUD 36.6 million (USD 23.3 million) as it was hit by write-offs - its is concentrating on core broadcasting business -and tough competition in an uncertain advertising market; Profits from its continuing operations were down 23% to AUD 43.3 million (USD 27.6 million) from revenues that fell 9.8% to AUD242 million (USD 153 million).
The latter figures included AUD 2.4 million (USD 1.5 million) profit from the sale of Eyeshop, offset by an AUD3.0 million (USD 1.9 million) write-down in investment in Simon Richards Group.
Austereo also recently closed down its A-Live concert division after its latest Rumba festival, featuring Jon Bon Jovi, Natalie Imbruglia and Shaggy, lost AUD 3.8 million (USD 2.4 million) before interest and tax.
The company said it had maintained audience leadership despite competition from new entrants (RNW note -particularly from DMG's Nova network) and had through keeping costs down held on to a 34% margin for its radio operations, a figure it described as "Up with World's Best".
Chairman Peter Harvie said that Austereo had demonstrated the strength of its Brands and staff by maintaining solid audience demographics throughout the year.
He also noted that the hopes for an advertising improvement had not been realised, adding, "However, we believe recovery will ultimately flow-on, given the vital importance of advertising as a key marketing tool and the unique strength of radio as an advertising medium."
"Despite changes to the radio landscape, we believe Austereo's performance to date has underlined the Group's resilience, robust response and continued leadership," he concluded. "Radio has an assured and strong future within the media universe and is perhaps the most unaffected of all major media, by social and technological changes. Recent audience growth underlines this unique strength."
Outside Australia, the group reported stronger results noting that it had helped to create the most successful radio networks in Malaysia, with a 2002 calendar year audience of 8.4 million, had seen gains in its UKRD venture in recent surveys, and had also opened two new stations in the second-half in Kolkata, India. In Athens, Greece, had taken pole position in its targeted 13-24 demographic. Austereo is also assessing several new Asian markets for possible entry.
Austereo's Malaysian radio joint venture saw a 40.5% increase in contribution to Austereo to AUD 3.1 million (USD 1.97 million) with its five national FM radio stations reaching more than 8.4 million listeners a week and taking just over two-thirds of all Malaysia radio advertising revenue. In the UK, UKRD saw listening up 3.2% in the most recent UK RAJAR Survey with total revenues increasing 14% in a difficult market and in Greece its Athens radio station, Village 88, and further increased contribution to the Group with sales improving 88% on the previous period.
Austereo says that advertising picked up in August after a weak July and reported a positive outlook for this month. However in the longer term it is likely to face yet further competition as four new metropolitan commercial FM licences - in Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and Brisbane - are to be auctioned with DMG expected to bid for all four.
Austereo already has two licences in each of these cities so cannot bid leading it to conclude that investment is essential to "reinvigorate" its Triple-M network and "enhance" its Today network. The results, says the company, could mean a modest year-on-year decline.
2003-09-09: Affiliates of Minneapolis-based US Public Radio International are to broadcast a 13-part radio series The Blues, hosted by Keb' Mo' starting on September 28.
The series is produced by Robert Santelli of Experience Music Project Radio and Ben Manilla of Ben Manilla Productions and chronicles blues music from its roots in West Africa and subsequent spread and ups and downs.
Each one-hour episode will feature new and archive interviews with blues artists, record producers and historians combined with historic and modern blues recordings and overall the series has a geographic spread that takes in Africa, the US north, south, east and west and London, England.
Previous Public Radio International:
2003-09-08: In looking at print comment about radio over the past week, we found yet again significant evidence of diversity within the UK, thanks largely to the BBC, but from the US the evidence was if anything of more targeting of the same narrow ground.
An example of this came from Chicago where, as reported by Robert Feder in his Sun-Times column, Crawford Broadcasting is to take on the mighty Clear Channel head-on for the second time. This time it is setting up a rival, "The Groove" to Clear Channel's adult urban format WVAZ-FM (V103); last time it took on Clear Channel's urban contemporary WGCI-FM.
Commenting on the move, Taft Harris, general manager of Crawford's Chicago outlets, said, "We're going to give people exactly the kind of music that they want and love. It will be a combination of what V-103 used to be with a little splash of today in a very aggressive format."
The commercial rationale is clear and may well pay dividends but we would contend that the extra choice given is rather limited and suggest that fewer channels with more diversity may well give far more overall choice.
One choice we would think worthy over the next month or so would be for those in the US with access to BBC World Service, through local retransmissions, satellite, or the Internet, is a four-part series presented by writer and broadcaster Maurice Walsh "Pipeline Politics" that takes a look at the connections between US energy needs and its foreign policy.
The first programme, "Addicted to Oil" is on September 15 and looks at the way the US, which needs some 22 billion barrels a day of oil, has chosen a strategy of diversifying its oil supplies rather than curbing its dependence on oil through development of alternatives; it notes that currently more than half the oil consumed in the US is imported with forecasts suggesting this will increase to 70% by 2020.
The next programme on September 22 considers claims from opponents of the war on Iraq that the war was fought to ensure access to the country's oil reserves and the third on September 29 queries whether there is truth in the suggestion that the US backed an attempted coup in Venezuela whilst the final programme considers the US dependence upon and attitudes about cheap gasoline.
All-in- all programming that it would be appropriate for a US broadcaster to produce but which the structure of the industry in the US makes it most unlikely to be produced by a commercial broadcaster (some of the message is almost certain to be unpalatable to powerful interests and most Americans) and not that likely from a fairly weak public broadcasting sector.
Having given a plug for BBC World Service, on to two contrasting views of the BBC's main domestic speech channel, Radio 4 with a diversion to note the channel is at the centre of the controversy still raging in the UK about the death of scientist Dr David Kelly and also if or how far the public was misled by the government in its justification of going to war.
The channel is better known, however, to quote Adam Sherwin in the UK Times, as the radio "voice of Middle England" and not all that long ago was seen as rather staid.
No longer, writes Sherwin. It is now "to recognize that many of its typically middle-aged listeners had a wild past of sex, drugs and rock'n'roll. "
Radio 4 Controller Helen Boaden told a group of programme makers that the average listener, aged 54, was a member of the "fabulous fifties" who grew up with rock and roll and the Beatles.
"They experienced a sexual and social revolution," she continued, "from experimenting with recreational drugs to joining in direct political action."
Boaden considers them much less shockable than might be thought and they can now expect more explicit content of such stalwart programming as Book at Bedtime as well as in a wide rang of programming including such as The Times's Matthew Parris debating sex and sensuality with the chef Raymond Blanc and an Arab dancer and an interview with Rosinha Sambo, "Sweden's best-known prostitute".
Formally the channel was a little more cautious. Sherwin quotes a spokesman as saying of Boaden, "She is 47 so she is too young for this generation. Her only drug was radio."
He went on to say that Radio 4 would take a "grown-up" approach to illegal substances.
"Cocaine, for example, was the drug of the upper classes in the 1930s and widespread among the bright young things surrounding Noël Coward. That is the kind of context a series on drugs could have. If a Book at Bedtime had explicit sexual content we will broadcast it if it is integral to the novel."
A different perspective on Radio 4 comes from Paul Donovan in his RadioWaves column in sister paper, The Sunday Times. He writes of the appointment of a first-ever rural affairs correspondent and comments, "I think it is true that the spirit of Radio 4, like the rest of the BBC, hates those primeval elements of blood and soil, and that it is disdainful of the way rural values prop up tribal identity rather than social inclusiveness. It shares new Labour's suspicion of the shires."
He goes on, however, to be more positive, commenting "the strengths of Radio 4's coverage far outweigh the deficiencies. Its farming programmes are influential and outstanding, and nobody has ever suggested they are biased against farmers, who are a pretty conservative lot."
"Rambling and crafts of all sorts are on Open Country (which also goes out at the crack of dawn, but at least gets a lunchtime repeat). Its wildlife output is glorious. Listen tomorrow, for example, to the emotions generated by golden eagles in Eagles, Owls and Nightingales (RNW note: 19:30GMT today ), followed by the return of Nature (on venom, 20:00GMT). "
After more comment on what is being done, Donovan ends with his own suggestion for nature lovers. "Something it has never done, but could easily, is broadcast the songs of all British birds. There are some 500 of them (even the mute swan makes noises), and almost all are preserved in the BBC's and other sound archives, their contents dating back to a nightingale in 1910."
"True, usually it is only male birds that sing, so this series would be inherently sexist. However, I doubt that Helen Boaden, the indubitably female and very sensible Radio 4 controller, would raise any objection to that."
Finally another plug, this time for a Radio 4 programme that is available online for a little longer. It was the Voices series "Tales from My African Home" and told a tale of the continent that puts most whining from privileged Westerners into context.
Starting from a childhood memory of the story of Fly Gatherer and the Crocodile King there was a change when suddenly into the child's life came guns and chaos. "You can't tell stories," said the voice of the woman, now living in Leicester -home to many Asians who fled Idi Amin's Uganda - "about why you don't have anything to eat. You have to run for your life Even the mothers are not interested in storytelling because they don't have the time."
Chicago Sun-Times - Feder:
UK Sunday Times - Donovan:
UK Times - Sherwin:
2003-09-08: Capital Radio, Scottish Radio Holdings (SRH), and UTV have all now put in bids for Dublin station FM104 for which its owners Capital Radio Productions (unconnected with UK Capital Radio) want in excess of Euros 30 million (USD 27.6 million) according to the UK Sunday Times.
The paper says that a number of venture capital groups are also thought to have expressed interest in purchasing the station, which was put up for sale in the summer.
Capital Radio has no stations in Ireland but SRH owns national Irish station Today FM and UTV, which was blocked by the Broadcasting Commission of Ireland (BCI) from acquiring FM104 a year ago, owns Lite FM in Dublin as well as local stations in Cork and Limerick. FM104 was the second-ranked station in Dublin in the latest ratings with a 13% market share compared to 17% for leading station 98FM.
Today FM had a 10% national share and 8% in Dublin and could be prevented from taking over the station.
Also in Ireland, community station Radio Kilkenny and Carlow- Kildare Radio (CKR), which, following a re-drawing of franchise boundaries, lost their licences to rival bids have now announced that they are to appeal the loss of their licences to the Irish Supreme Court.
Radio Kilkenny chairman Joe Reidy said they felt the Broadcasting Commission of Ireland (BCI) "did not take into account our track record and we feel aggrieved that the process offered no appeals mechanism bar the court system, which is highly expensive", adding that they would take the matter to the European Court if necessary.
Separate appeals to the High Court by Radio Kilkenny and CKR have already been rejected (See Licence News Aug 3).
UK Sunday Times report:
2003-09-07: Last week was fairly quiet for the radio regulators although in the US, the Federal Communications Commission is again mired in problems related to its new media regulations that should have come into effect on September 4 but were stayed by a court; things were made even worse for the commission when the Senate Appropriations Committee voted to withhold funding for the Agency to increase the national TV audience share cap from 35% to 45% (See RNW Sept 6).
In Australia, the Australian Broadcasting Authority (ABA) has released details of planned changes to services in the Illawarra, South East New South Wales and Australian Capital Territory that include making capacity available for additional community and national radio services at seven locations.
The ABA is asking for comment on its proposals, which are aimed at resolving reception deficiencies and providing a full range of ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) services in various regions.
The plans involve:
Bega, New South Wales:
Reserve channel capacity for two additional national radio services to serve the Batemans Bay/Moruya area;
Change the current technical specification of the existing commercial service 2EC Bega in order to improve its coverage in outlying areas where its reception is marginal;
Allow the existing community service, 2BAR Bega, to move transmitter site from Old Bega Hospital to Dr George Mountain; and make channel capacity available for an additional community radio service in Eden.
Canberra, Australian Capital Territory:
FM frequencies 103.9 MHz and 99.9 MHz no longer to be made available for community radio purposes in Canberra
FM frequencies 103.9 MHz and 99.9 MHz be reserved for the existing Canberra national radio service, 2PB (1440 kHz), to convert to the FM band, in order to rectify its current reception deficiencies;
1440 kHz continue to be reserved for a national radio service for the foreseeable future;
Make channel capacity available for an additional FM transmitter for the existing community radio service 1RPH (1125 kHz) to serve the city of Wagga Wagga, NSW;
Give the existing Queanbeyan community radio service, 2QBN the option to change its current technical operating conditions, in order to serve the communities of Sutton and Bungendore;
Make channel capacity available for an additional FM transmitter for the existing community radio service 1WAY (91.9 MHz) to serve the area of Tuggeranong, ACT; and
Not to make available any additional open narrowcasting services in Canberra.
Cooma, New South Wales:
Change the polarisation of the 2XL and 2SKI commercial radio services in Bombala from mixed to vertical, in order to prevent interference to WIN3 Narooma television service;
Make available channel capacity for an additional transmitter for the community radio service, 2MNO Cooma, to serve the town of Bombala, NSW; and
Change the frequency of the existing Bombala open narrowcasting service in order to avoid potential interference from the proposed Illawarra high power national service.
Goulburn, New South Wales:
Reserve channel capacity for an additional national radio service to serve the city of Goulburn;
Vary the nominal transmitter site of the 2GN and 2SNO's transmitters to Eurodux Road, Brushy Hill in Braidwood; and
Make channel capacity available for an additional community radio service to serve the town of Braidwood, NSW.
Nowra, New South Wales:
Vary the existing technical specification of commercial radio service 2ST Nowra in order to rectify signal deficiencies in the north of its licence area and to make available an additional FM transmitter for 2ST to serve the south east section of its licence area; and
Make channel capacity available for an additional community radio service to serve the town of Sanctuary Point, NSW.
Wollongong, New South Wales:
Reserve channel capacity for one additional national radio service to serve the Illawarra area; and
The existing SBS service, 2EA, move to an alternative channel in order to be able to transmit with a maximum ERP of 2 kW.
In Canada, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) has approved a new 24,000 watts English-language FM in Portage la Prairie Manitoba; it is to be primarily music-driven and offer an eclectic music format featuring a variety of popular music drawn from subcategories pop, rock and dance, country and easy listening and would also feature some folk music.
The CRTC also approved contour changes for two other stations. In order of province they were:
For CJOK-FM-1 Tar Island following relocation of the transmitter CJOK-FM-1 to a location approximately 7 kilometres southeast of the existing site, and of an increase of the effective antenna height above average terrain (EHAAT) from 56 metres to 59 metres. The current transmitter location does not adequately cover the current open-pit mining operation.
For CFHA-FM Saint John, following the relocation of the transmitter for CFHA-FM to a location approximately 3 kilometres south of the existing site, and of an increase of the effective antenna height above average terrain (EHAAT) from 35 metres to 61 metres. The current transmitter location creates interference problems with radio station CFMH-FM University of New Brunswick - Saint John.
There was nothing of radio note from the UK or Ireland but in the US, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), as we have noted, is again mired in controversy over its proposed new media regulations announced in June; the court ruling has already forced the Agency to freeze yet again commercial radio licence transfers or amendments.
The FCC is also likely to soon be in the news again over the Sex in St Patrick's Cathedral stunt that led to the firing of WNEW-FM hosts Opie and Anthony more than a year ago (See RNW Aug 24, 2002).
Current rumours suggest the FCC staff to be considering a fine within the existing range for a single offence of up to USD 27,500 but this is likely to be considered too low by Democrat Commissioner Michael J Copps, who has been vociferous in his comments about lax enforcement of US indecency regulations.
Previous Licence News:
ABA web site :
CRTC web site:
FCC web site :
2003-09-07: The July agreement between University of Southern California's classical station KUSC-FM and Clear Channel under which the latter was to take over the station's efforts to attract sponsors (See RNW July 8) has run into opposition from Los Angeles commercial classical station KMZT-FM, owned by Mt. Wilson FM Broadcasters.
Mt Wilson's President Saul Levine has filed a petition to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) asking it to treat marketing agreements between commercial and public radio stations as if they were joint sales agreements; this would mean that Clear Channel would have to divest a station in Los Angeles since KUSC would take it over the permitted limits.
Levine had previously told R&R that Clear Channel had made the agreement to put pressure on his company to sell KMZT plus Adult Standards simulcast KSUR-FM, Los Angeles and XSUR-FM, San Diego. He further argued that if the deal were allowed to just go through, Clear Channel, which already has more than 1200 stations in the US could end up with additional "cognizable interests" in more than 1,000 US public radio stations.
RNW comment: We are really at a loss here as to whether Levine is becoming hypersensitive about Clear Channel, whose move could have been made simply for public relations reasons since the financial benefits would be small, or whether he is indeed right about the motivation of Clear Channel. We opt at the moment towards the first reading; the latter would in our view indicate underhand business tactics that ought, were regulation in the public interest, to allow every single one of Clear Channel's licences to be challenged by potential applicants on the basis that it is ethically challenged to the degree that it is unfit to hold any licence.
Previous Clear Channel:
2003-09-06: The US Federal Communications Commission's proposed new media regulations that were due to come into effect two days ago - until they were stayed by a Federal court (See RNW Sept 4) - received another setback on Thursday when the US Senate Appropriations Committee voted to keep the 35% share of the national audience cap for TV station ownership.
Following the court decision the FCC has re-imposed a freeze on the filing of commercial station licence transfer applications or amendments using its forms 301, 314 or 315; it says it will soon issue a Public Notice concerning the filing of new applications together with guidance on the processing of applications that are currently pending.
Applications proposing pro forma assignments and transfers (FCC Form 316) for commercial and non- commercial/ educational stations will continue to be processed in the normal course.
The Senate move was made through a voice vote by the Committee to add an amendment to the tacked on to the USD 38.4 billion annual spending bill for the FCC, and the Commerce, State and Justice departments that would bar the FCC from spending any money to allow TV companies to reach more than 35% of the national audience.
Some Senators had voiced support for reverses to other proposed changes including one that allows cross-ownership of TV stations and newspapers in the same market but were dissuaded from pressing the issue by Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Ted Stevens (Republican -Alaska), who noted that the language matches that of a measure approved in the House and thus increases the chances that the amendment will survive when the bills are reconciled.
The full Senate is expected to vote on the bill later this month and the White House has said it opposes the move to re-instate the 35% TV ownership cap and will try to "have it fixed".
Before that vote, Sen. Byron L. Dorgan (Democrat , North Dakota) says he intends to introduce a resolution of disapproval that if passed would rescind all the FCC's proposed rules and if that is voted down to introduce jointly with Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (Republican, Texas), an amendment that would restore the ban preventing cross-ownership of newspapers and television stations in the same city.
Supporters of the relaxed rules say they will continue their fight for the FCC's proposed changes and are trying to get sufficient signatures in the House to show that a presidential veto could not be over-ruled.
In other moves opposing the FCC regulations, the Consumer Federation of America and the Consumers Union have petitioned the FCC to reconsider its rules, saying the agency had followed a process in drawing up the regulations that relied on a "a partial, selective and faulty reading of the evidentiary record and applied faulty analytic reasoning that is inconsistent with generally accepted principles of antitrust and economic analysis."
The groups took a specific swipe at the "diversity index", developed by the agency with backing from its chairman Michael K Powell to measure the influence exerted by a media outlet in a market. They said the measure was "pulled from thin air" at the last minute without opportunity for public comment and produces results at are "absurd on their face."
2003-09-06: In a report on UK digital radio, the UK Guardian singles out the development of networks as a major factor in giving advertisers more choice in how they use the medium; it notes that, although licences are only for local digital multiplexes, Capital-owned London station Xfm recently advertised itself as a national broadcaster using the slogan "Xfm is everywhere".
Not quite in fact, but Xfm is on 18 multiplexes in addition to its London analogue broadcasts and can be picked up by 60% of the UK population.
Xfm's managing director, Graham Bryce, told the paper that the brand was the key to success, adding, "It's a new model championed in multichannel TV, where we have a plethora of newer stations that are more targeted than traditional stations."
Linda Grant, managing director of Capital's commercial division, said she believes the digital revolution's gathering pace marks a watershed for the industry.
"It's crunch time - it's at that point where all of a sudden we have got that critical mass and audience we have been hoping for and investing millions of pounds in," she says.
Although sales of digital radio receivers has been booming since prices came down, the expansion of the medium has been largely through digital TV platforms and according to ratings organisation RAJAR (Radio Joint Audience Research), 19.7% of the adult British population, or 9.5 million people, listen to radio through digital television.
Tim Bleakley, the advertising sales director at Emap, which will shortly have seven channels on the national Freeview (non-subscription) digital TV platform (See RNW Sept 5), commented, "There's a shift in commercial radio and it's come via the TV set, rather than radio. The killer distribution platform is TV."
"Radio is changing and going to change over the next five years from the traditional delivery model that's regional to one that's national." says Bleakley.
According to Priscilla Rogan, the head of press and radio at Media Planning Group, "Brand advertising will not be replacing regional advertising but complementing it," she says. "It will attract a different sort of advertiser - people who don't want to spend money on 50 stations across the country."
More at risk, however, according to some analysts is the eight-channel national digital multiplex, Digital One.
Emap finance director, Gary Hughes, commented that building up the presence of national brands with big city licences is cheaper than being on the national multiplex. "Digital One has got to get its signal not just to big cities but to small towns and eventually even Shetland," he said. "With national digital brands like Kiss, Smash Hits and Kerrang, you build up population coverage with as few masts as possible. The cost of getting the signal out is really low."
More positive about the national franchise was GWR chairman Ralph Bernard whose company owns three of the stations on the platform -- Classic FM, Core and Planet Rock.
He thinks radio advertising will increase its share of total advertising from around the current 6.5% to 10% and adds, "Where will that increase come from? The increases will come from the national marketplace rather than local advertising and so it's our contention that those companies with the greatest exposure to national advertising will benefit disproportionately well. The cake is not going to be sliced up more thinly, it's going to be a much bigger cake."
There is also some concern about the effects on existing operations: Simon Cole, the chief executive of UBC, which owns 80% of the Classic Gold Digital network, said, "There's a threat to any existing radio brand from the digital environment - the threat of market share falling because the competition increases. National services will have a great deal of punch, but they won't be alone. But this is not about either or, it's going to be both."
UK Guardian report:
2003-09-06: Big City Radio has now officially announced agreement to sell its last remaining station, WYXX-FM, Morris, Illinois, to Grundy County Broadcasters, Inc. for USD 426,000 cash. Proceeds from the sale, which is subject to conditions including initial approval by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), will go to the company's debtors.
Big City has been divesting itself of its stations since it defaulted on payment of principal and interest on its 11.25% senior discount notes due 2005 and the final sale follows a recent adoption by the company's board of a plan for complete liquidation and dissolution (See RNW Aug 26).
Previous Big City:
2003-09-05: The court decision to stay implementation of new US media regulations (See RNW Sept 4 ) is likely to lead to further postponement of the Federal Communications Commission decision on the Univision takeover of Hispanic Broadcasting Corporation according to the Los Angeles Times.
The paper says an FCC member and the lawyer for rival Spanish language broadcaster Spanish Broadcasting System. agreed that a further delay was likely.
The FCC itself has responded to the court order with "disappointment" but says it "will continue to vigorously defend them and look forward to a decision by the court on the merits."
Los Angeles Times report:
2003-09-05: UK Emap is to launch Mojo as its seventh national digital radio service as its Mojo Magazine, which runs a mix of rock, soul, punk and reggae, celebrates its 10th anniversary; the service will be on the Freeview digital terrestrial TV platform from the middle of this month.
Commenting on the move, Emap Performance chief executive Tim Schoonmaker said: "Mojo Radio will be the destination of choice for the music lover who wants radio that reflects where music has come from and where it is going. Mojo radio will provide the soundtrack for the fan of music that has mattered since the invention of teenagers.
Emap is the largest commercial digital radio provider in the UK and already has six national services - Kiss, Kerrang!, Smash Hits, Q, Magic and The Hits.
It was among the first digital broadcasters to subscribe to RAJAR's quarterly audience ratings for digital radio and has added significantly to the analogue audience for Kiss through digital platforms; its digital stations Kerrang and Smash Hits have a combined weekly audience of more than 1.6 million in the latest ratings (See RNW Aug 2).
2003-09-05: XM Satellite radio has launched sales, marketing and programming programmes it tries to reach its one million subscribers goal.
The initiative includes a sweepstake to give away a Cadillac SRX and Pontiac GTO, each with a lifetime XM subscription; All XM subscribers will be automatically entered for the draw and there will also be other prized of home systems and boomboxes.
The company is also introducing a Refer-a-Friend Program with rewards of a value of around USD 400 for those subscribers who sign up friends or family the rewards can be taken as reduced subscriptions fees, XM hardware, or gift cards.
It has also sent two staff members on a 14-day trip across the US during which they will broadcast from each state (See RNW Aug 29).
Its rival Sirius, has unveiled two more home systems; one is a home receiver from Kenwood that will allow consumers to play the Sirius signal over home audio systems and the other a three-zone receiver from Antex Electronics that consolidates multiple tuners into a single component allowing listeners in different rooms to play Sirius streams simultaneously.
2003-09-05: Montreal CKOI- FM pranksters Sébastien Trudel and Marc-Antoine Audette, who last month managed to persuade Formula 1 racing chief Bernie Ecclestone that he was speaking to Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chrétien (See RNW Aug 17 ), have managed to fool another leading light of the sports world.
The latest victim was baseball commissioner Bud Selig who held a 12-minute telephone conversation with Audette under the impression he was speaking to the Prime Minister.
In the material aired by CKOI, Selig described the saving of the Montreal Expos as "mission impossible" and blamed former minority partners for creating the team's problems.
2003-09-05: The latest Arbitron Internet Broadcast Ratings just released show listening generally up on the previous week, which was affected by power failures in the US and Canada but apart from that the top of the ranks were fairly static with AOL continuing its dominance.
For the week to August 24, Arbitron'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 (*Non Commercial) - TTSL 600,741 (595,527); CP - 183,916 (177,668). Same rank with higher listening and reach.
2: AOL Top Country (Internet-only) Country format (Commercial) - TTSL 286,516 (279,116); CP - 116,149 (114,410). Same rank with higher listening and reach.
3: Smooth Jazz format AOL Smooth Jazz (Commercial) - TTSL - 261,035 (252,335); CP - 59,244 (58,346). Up from fourth with higher listening and reach.
4: AOL Top Pop (Internet-only) Top 40 (Commercial) - TTSL 252,514 (246,839); CP - 157,970 (156,872), Up from fifth with higher listening and reach.
5: Hot Adult Contemporary Virgin AM & FM (Commercial) - TTSL 240,566 (260,776); CP - 51,886 (50,539). Down from third with lower listening but reach was up.
The top five networks for the week to August 24 (Previous week's figures in brackets) were:
1: AOL Radio@ Network (Commercial) - TTSL - 6,163,846 (5,945,898); CP - 1,580,048 (1,571,746). Same rank with higher listening and reach.
2: LAUNCH TTSL (Non commercial) - 3,259,794 (3,220,546); CP - 709,719 (679,562). Same rank with higher listening and reach.
3: MUSICMATCH Inc. (*Non Commercial) TTSL - 1,737,222 (1,739,554); CP - 399,282 (383,684). Same rank with lower listening but higher reach.
4: The Adsertion Network (Sales Network) TTSL - 1,086,192 (1,142,127); CP - 126,827 (129,855) - Same rank with lower listening and reach.
5: Virgin Radio (Commercial) TTSL - 417,489 (466,787); CP - 70,714 (70,503) - Up from sixth with lower listening but higher reach.
*The previous week's fifth ranked network, Warp Radio (Sales Network), was not ranked. A week earlier it had TTSL - 755,896; CP - 126,296
Arbitron does not now rank Content Delivery Networks (CDN) alongside other networks but does report on them; for the week the top Content Delivery Networks were Live365 with TTSL, 2,348,731 up from 2,288,089 and StreamGuys with TTSL 457,519, up from 437,887.
Previous Arbitron Internet Broadcast Weekly Ratings:
2003-09-04: The new media regulations announced by the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in June and due to come into force today have been stayed by a federal judicial panel in Philadelphia.
The three judges were hearing a petition from the Prometheus Radio Project, which wants a judicial review and said that if a stay were refused a massive consolidation could take place before the review (See RNW Aug 30 ).
No deadline was given for a ruling by the court, which said that because of "magnitude of this matter and the public's interest in reaching the proper resolution, a stay is warranted pending thorough and efficient judicial review."
2003-09-04:Two BBC radio 4 veterans Brian Perkins and Peter Donaldson will be leaving the Corporation's staff this month although they are not expected to disappear completely from British airwaves.
Donaldson is leaving his role as the channel's chief announcer and is to be replaced by two senior announcers but he is to continue to read the news on the channel. A former actor with the Royal Shakespeare Company, Donaldson has been with the channel for 30 years and chief announcer for 15; he began his radio career as an announcer with the British Forces Broadcasting Service in Cyprus.
Perkins, a New Zealander, is retiring at 60 but expects to remain on air as a freelance. He achieved cult status after being portrayed as a Mafia chief in the BBC Radio 4 impressions show Dead Ringers.
2003-09-04: California-based Radiovisa, which is headed by Premiere Radio Networks founder and former chairman and CEO Stephen Lehman, is to enter radio with a USD37.5 million purchase of Anaheim station KPLS-AM from Catholic Radio Network.
It plans to make the station the flagship for its Spanish News/Talk programming
Previous Catholic Radio Network.
2003-09-04: The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has slapped down a call for it to reconsider its approval of three deals that left Cumulus Broadcasting seven stations in Alabama and Florida.
The call was first made in 999 by Lyn Communications, which at the time owned WQUA-FM, in Citronella, Alabama and has claimed that Cumulus - which had agreed to purchase WGOK-AM, Mobile, WBLZ-FM, Mobile, WYOK-FM, Atmore, Alabama, WLDT-AM and FM and WSTH-FM, Alexander City, Alabama, and WCOA-AM & WJLQ-FM, Pensacola. Florida - broke FCC rules when in an unrelated deal it bought WSTH-FM. Alexander City, Alabama and WDAK-AM, Columbus, Georgia.
Lyn asked that Cumulus be barred from buying the seven Mobile area stations but the FCC refused to consider the submission by Lyn, noting that a petition by David Broadcasting to prohibit the sale of the two stations ha already been dealt with and dismissed.
2003-09-03: UK Wireless Group says its operations have gone into the black in the half-year to the end of June, ahead of expectations, but it still made a loss after one-off costs and goodwill were taken into account.
The group reported an underlying profit of GBP 600,000 (USD 940,000) in the half-year to the end of June compared to a loss of GBP 1.7 million (USD 2.67 million) for the same period a year earlier.
Flagship station talkSPORT also moved into the black with operating profits of GBP 900, 000 )USD 1.14 million) compared to losses of GBP 300,000 (USD 471,000) a year earlier although its revenues at GBP 5.5 million (USD 8.6 million) were down 8.3% on a year earlier, when it got a boost from World Cup soccer.
The group's 13 local station reported revenues up 11% to GBP 9.2 million ( USD 14.4 million) with their operating profits up 63% to GBP 2.6 million (USD 4.1million); total group revenues were up 4% to GBP 14.8 million ( USD 23.2 million) but overall the group lost GBP 6.5 million before taxes compared to losses of GBP 8.9 million (USD 14.0 million) for the same period a year earlier.
Group chairman and chief executive Kelvin MacKenzie, commented that the company's view was "that the worst of the bad times are behind us."
" Importantly, the group has used the last three years to quietly restructure and, particularly as a result of effective cost control, we are now in a position to see any improvement in revenue directly fall through to further improved operating profits," he added.
MacKenzie has also repeated his threat to take legal action against the UK radio ratings organisation RAJAR (Radio Audience Joint Research) over its methods of measuring listeners.
He said he had barristers lined up to sue RAJAR whose system produces significantly lower ratings for talkSPORT than the figures from GfK's radiocontrol meter system (See RNW Aug 29).
He criticised RAJAR, which is still evaluating the radiocontrol meter and Arbitron's Portable People Meter (PPM), over the use of diaries, saying it could not guarantee their accuracy.
RNW comment: We can only hope that MacKenzie gets the same treatment from the UK courts as Fox News did in the US, where a judge dismissed fairly contemptuously as "wholly without merit, both factually and legally " its recent attempt to block humorist Al Franken's book, whose title mocks Fox's "fair and balanced" slogan.
Indeed we'd personally have gone further and banned Fox from using the slogan as an affront to the language and in MacKenzie's case feel he should be declared a vexatious litigant and denied access to the courts on this matter; there is no secrecy about the way RAJAR collects its figures and it is up to those who wish to use them to decide how they wish to proceed, just as it is for US radio companies to make their own decisions about Arbitron's PPM system as compared to its diaries.
Previous Wireless Group:
2003-09-03: Montreal-headquartered Astral Media has announced a CAD 12 million (USD 8.55 million) deal to sell eight radio stations in Quebec to private investors following the rejection in July by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) of an agreement to sell them to a subsidiary of Quebecor Inc. (See RNW July 4).
Astral had previously been told by the Canada's competition bureau that it had to divest itself of the stations, which were acquired as part of a CAD 255 (USD 164 million) million deal to acquire 19 radio stations from Télémédia (See RNW Sept 4, 2002).
The stations are seven AMs - CJRC - AM (Hull/Gatineau), CKAC - AM (Montreal), CHRC - AM (Quebec City), CKRS - AM (Saguenay), CHLT - AM (Sherbrooke), CHLN - AM (Trois Rivières), CKTS - AM (Sherbrooke- plus CFOM-FM in Quebec City; the buyers are investor Gaetan Morin and Sylvain Chamberland, president and general manager of CKAC-AM and the Radiomedia network.
Commenting on the agreement, Ian Greenberg, chief executive of Astral Media, said in a statement, "We are very pleased with the efficiency with which we were able to identify a new buyer for these stations. We are particularly pleased that there will be continuity in the management of these stations with the participation of Sylvain Chamberland in the transaction, who has been at the helm of CKAC for the past year and a half."
2003-09-03: Sirius has filed a shelf registration statement with the US Securities and Exchange Commission to allow it to sell up to USD 500 million of debt securities, common stock, preferred stock and warrants although it says it has no "no present intention to issue securities" under the statement.
The satellite radio company says that at the end of June it had approximately USD 560 million in cash equivalents and marketable securities, an amount it projects as exceeding the amount needed to reach cash flow breakeven.
Sirius' Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer David Frear said of the move, "Shelf registrations are a great tool for allowing SIRIUS to opportunistically enter the debt and equity markets in the future for transactions that enhance stockholder value, such as acquisitions, debt issuances to fund stock buyback programs and other expansions of our business plan."
Rival XM has now added another model to the range of automobiles offering its radio as a dealer-installed option. It is the Lexus LS430, the first Lexus to be offered with the option.
2003-09-02: The Australian Broadcasting Corporation has now formally told Stephen Crittenden, host of The Religion Report on Radio National, that it has upheld a finding of serious misconduct against him in connection with a newspaper article on militant Islam that he wrote for the Sydney Morning Herald.
Crittenden had been suspended (on full pay) after a dispute about his getting permission for the article (See RNW Aug 27).
Crittenden is being supported by the Community and Public Sector Union's ABC division, which said it was unhappy about the decision, a limited back down by the Corporation, and is reported to be taking legal advice.
ABC editorial staff had called for a public apology to Crittenden, his reinstatement and for charges against him to be dropped.
Previous ABC, Australia:
2003-09-02: A quarter of a century after it aired the original Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, BBC Radio 4 is to air a new series of adaptations of Douglas Adams' work, expected to begin with The Restaurant at the End of the Universe, the second of the five-strong series, some time next year.
Adams, who died two years ago, said he got the original idea for the work when hitchhiking around Europe in 1971 with a copy of A Hitchhiker's Guide to Europe, adding that he was lying in a field a little drunk when it occurred to him that somebody should write a Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (See RNW May 13, 2001).
The new adaptation is to be made by independent radio production company Above The Title.
2003-09-01: According to the Sydney Morning Herald, Jeff Chatfield, the largest shareholder in and former managing director of Data & Commerce, has given up his fight to regain control of the company, which owns Melbourne AM stations talk format 3AK and Easy listening 3MP.
The paper says that at the end of last week Chatfield said he would sell his 17% in the station, now run by Melbourne retailer Ron Hall, to the first acceptable bidder for the entire holding.
The station was at the center of a boardroom battle in April when Chatfield fired Hall through a news release only to find himself then dismissed after a boardroom coup led by Hall.
Each side of the battle blames the other for the station's woes - its share price has fallen amid poor ratings and high staff turnover.
Sydney Morning Herald report:
2003-09-01: This week, our look at print comment on radio is pegged even more to the British papers than normal for a number of reaons.
They were partly because the British broadsheets devote more attention to comment on the medium as such than is generally seen in US papers, partly because the ever-continuing assault on the British Broadcasting Corporation by those like Rupert Murdoch who have a vested financial interest in weakening it indicates to us that showing the Corporation's breadth through some of the reviews is well worth while, and partly because most BBC programmes reviewed can be listened to world-wide on the Internet for a week after the original broadcast.
To start of with, however, we cross the Atlantic and half of America, to Chicago where Robert Feder in the Chicago Sun-Times picks up on the main determinant of what gets to stay on air in the US - the ratings- albeit Clear Channel Radio President and CEO John Hogan has said that the radio giant is switching emphasis to the bottom line rather than the ratings (See RNW Aug 28).
Feder's comments came in response to Arbitron's first-ever recall of its radio ratings in Chicago and Feder comments, "Depending on your point of view, this is either an Extremely Big Deal or of no real consequence whatsoever."
On the big-deal side, he included Bonneville International Corp., which in a review of diaries in the survey found one woman indicating she listened to rival Infinity's rock station WXRT-FM for 12-hours a day.
Further checking showed that the woman had set her radio alarm to the station but had switched it off as soon as it rang; she had meant to record one minute a day listening.
Arbitron issued a notice that it was revising its spring report, warning that ratings for WXRT "may be significantly affected" later changing "significantly" to "slightly," but only after Bonneville exploited the mistake by casting doubt on WXRT's performance among key advertising agencies.
The move to us is of the same level as many "radio stunts" practiced - or should it be perpetrated - around the world but the incident garnered three revealing comments for Feder.
Arbitron's Thom Mocarsky emphasized that WXRT "did not engage in any misconduct" and added, "Radio is a very competitive business, and stations will grasp at every advantage."
Infinity played things down with spokesman Dana McClintock saying, "Others may try to make this into an issue, but since Arbitron operates with a built-in margin of error, a change of 2 percent or less is really a non event."
And from a less-involved source, John Gehron, regional vice president of Clear Channel Communications' Chicago operations, said, "It just shows how vulnerable we all are in the way that our medium is measured."
That issue is live in the UK as well, of course, and there Wireless Group chief executive Kelvin MacKenzie has been a leading light in pushing alternative meter ratings that happen to give his flagship station a significant boost (See RNW Aug 29).
The prime motive for ratings at all for MacKenzie and US commercial stations is about finances rather than programme quality which is another reason to value the wider remit allowed to creative talent with different motives by a public broadcaster like the BBC as well as the knock-on effects this has on the commercial radio sector.
So with no further ado, some of the UK programming that attracted positive comment over the past week - and that just happened to all relate to BBC programmes. This could be a reflection on the reviewers or it could be more of a reflection on the range of output on the BBC as opposed to the narrowness of commercial radio's range.
And of course, the BBC also makes things available for replay online (and is also considering adding TV archive online - see RNW Aug 26 - although we expect a massive action to fight this from commercial concerns).
First from the UK Guardian, Elisabeth Mahoney on Closet Culture, a BBC Radio 2 documentary about how gay culture has influenced music and fashion.
"Boy George's smart, sometimes funny, and highly persuasive account," she wrote, "ade its point well: pop would have been significantly poorer without the influence of gay managers, and stars such as Bowie, willing to tinker with gender and sexuality in their songs. As one contributor put it: "Imagine what would have happened if Brian Epstein hadn't fancied the backside off John Lennon."
Her review on the same day also took in the Classic Serial on BBC Radio 4; it's a dramatization of Liber Amoris, essayist William Hazlitt's account of unrequited love.
In the Guardian's Sunday sister paper, The Observer, Sue Arnold reviewed programmed from four BBC networks with a range spanning from Radio 4's The Red Planet - about Mars - through John Peel on Radio 1, Group Therapy on Radio 2 and the phone-in Call Spooney Free on Radio Five Live.
Of the first, she commented that presenter Heather Couper "who has the voice of a dreaming poet, is an unlikely astronaut, but then again maybe space travelers should be poets. That way they can persuade us that what they're doing serves a real purpose other than first-across-the-line one-upmanship."
On Peel she noted that he was "sounding exactly as he does on Radio 4, which was disconcerting. I couldn't work out whether Gorky's Zygotic Mynci was a real or satirical band. Weird names for pop groups is exactly the sort of subject contributors to Home Truths have feeding frenzies about, prompting long, boring diaries about teenage kids with rock star aspirations."
On Mark Radcliffe's Group Therapy series about the makings of a successful rock band, the suggestion came, "Shouldn't it be on Radio 1, home of wannabe rock stars? Maybe not. Radcliffe is too bright for Radio 1, as his brief breakfast show career on that network proved."
And the phone-in? She picked this up just as," two female sex therapists were fielding questions from callers about Viagra. Colin from Edinburgh said his wife, who works in a nursing home, gives it to the old male patients to stop them rolling out of bed. Only joking. Another man from Hull said the only thing that turns him on is when his girlfriend puts her foot in his face. 'Wonderful,' breathed one therapist. 'Women's feet are so incredibly sensitive.' Unlike men's faces I suppose.
Over the Irish Channel, Gerry McCarthy in his Sunday Times radio column, again stuck to the state broadcaster, this time RTÉ - Radio Television Éirann - and made an opening comment that some might say is a portent of probable failure for any "liberal (American usage)" radio talk network in the US, although presumably not applicable to much bland US TV."
"Like genius and madness, " wrote McCarthy, "there's a fine line between character and eccentricity. Blandness does not make for good radio: better to have some kind of definable personality, even if you run the risk of alienating some of your listeners."
He went on to comment of Marty Whelan, recently sitting in for John Creedon in the afternoon entertainment slot, that his "broadcasting persona, all throaty chuckles and middle-of-the-road attempted witticisms, has calcified around him like a crust of the washing powder he advertised for years."
McCarthy then went onto contrast Whelan with reporter Philip Boucher-Hayes, writing, "Whelan, like other purveyors of light entertainment, has an excuse: it is their job to have a readily identifiable, cartoonish persona. Even the most seemingly banal and annoying have their fans."
"It's another story when a news reporter irritates listeners: it gets in the way of the story Philip Boucher-Hayes has a truly extraordinary capacity to get up noses: this column's mailbag bulges with invective about him."
" It is almost entirely a matter of tone. He sounds supercilious, smirking, superior; his double-barreled name combines with his urbane middle-class tones to give an impression of arrogantly, jowly, posh disdain."
"It may be utterly unfair to make such inferences about his character: he may be the most modest and humble of men. But somehow, listening to that aural smirk, one doubts it. That pompous "Jesus Christ" exclamation when he was bombed in Iraq (by the invasion forces) said as much about Boucher-Hayes as it did about Iraq."
Still with the Sunday Times, Roland White filling in on the RadioWaves column, also referred to the diversity of items on radio but with a different perception, commenting, "Do you sometimes wonder whether the people who write radio listings are making them up?"
"Here's a selection from last week's Radio 4 schedule: a phone-in on the thyroid gland; a five-part documentary on car parks; some members of the Gladstone fan club discuss what the grand old man of Victorian politics would have made of Tony Blair."
"Do you sometimes wonder whether the people who write radio listings are making them up? Here's a selection from last week's Radio 4 schedule: a phone-in on the thyroid gland; a five-part documentary on car parks; some members of the Gladstone fan club discuss what the grand old man of Victorian politics would have made of Tony Blair.
Can you imagine any of that on television? BBC2 might do the car parks, but not over five episodes. And how about Jerry Springer on Gladstone, with fights breaking out in the audience over the old man's part in the death of General Gordon. No, it's not going to happen, is it? For me, this is what makes our radio so fascinating. I'm afraid I missed Thursday's debate and so cannot tell you whether most callers were for or against the thyroid, but I have enjoyed an equally unlikely programme, a phone-in on vegetables. One of the most fiercely debated items on Veg Talk was whether parsley should be curled or straight. Perhaps Lord Hutton might look into this one when he has a moment."
White did add that TV had advantages for some areas - he mentioned cookery and sports - and went on to comment," For example, if television and radio had been invented together, would tennis still be covered on the radio? I've spent many happy hours listening to Wimbledon, but can't escape the feeling that it's like watching it on Ceefax. We can follow the psychological battle, but miss out on the beauty of the stroke play and the on-court athleticism."
"Radio beats television in straight sets, though, when it comes to thought and debate, whether it be about Gladstone or the thyroid."
Finally over to sister paper The Times and Ian John's column that highlighted a show that in his view is coming "back where it belongs" this week. The show is "Dead Ringers, which returns to BBC Radio 4 on Friday after an outing on TV.
"On television," he wrote, "the series proved that the voices were pretty good, but the resemblances were more than a little curate's-egg. And besides, radio fans would have missed its skewed takes on Charlotte Green, Brian Perkins and The Archers that turned the programme into an alternative version of Radio 4 itself."
Chicago Sun-Times - Feder:
UK Guardian - Mahoney:
UK Observer - Arnold:
UK Sunday Times - McCarthy:
UK Sunday Times - White:
UK Times - Johns:
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