April 2004 Archive
March 2004 - May 2004
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 April comment - Considers the basis on which any indecency regulation should be based: We conclude that the FCC is behaving shamefully at the moment in terms of the manner in which it lays down the rules, in which it enforces them, and is effectively changing the goal posts during the game.
RNW March comment - More US moralizing - does the country really want to step back in time? We look back at a previous time of mass moralizing in the US and UK.
RNW February comment - Straws, camels and regulators - has the US lost its marbles over a breast? We consider what regulation concerning indecency makes sense and would be legal in the US in First Amendment terms.
2004-04-30: More record results have been reported in US radio, this time by Citadel and Radio 1 Inc.
Citadel Broadcasting reported record first quarter revenues up 12.6% on a year ago at USD 86.9 million, same station revenues up 6%, station operating income up 15.4% to a record USD 29.9 million and operating loss cut nearly three- quarters, from USD 13.8 million a year earlier to USD 3.8 million.
Overall Citadel had a net loss of USD 29.5 million (USD 0.23 per basic and diluted share) compared to a net loss of USD33.8 million (USD 0.35 per basic and diluted share) a year earlier. The loss included non-cash expense of USD10.6 million due to the write-off of deferred financing costs as a result of the repayment of USD500.0 million in senior subordinated notes in February of 2004.
Chairman and CEO Farid Suleman, said Citadel's "strategy of acquiring stations in the nation's top 100 markets while simultaneously enhancing existing markets and creating regional clusters has enabled the Company to deliver double digit revenue, station operating income and free cash flow growth in what generally has been a difficult advertising environment."
He said recent acquisitions including Memphis and Springfield should enable Citadel to continue to deliver double digit free cash flow growth and said it's refinancing and cash flow left it well positioned to continue to make acquisitions."
Looking ahead, Citadel says it continues to expect mid-single digit revenue increases for 2004 and estimates station operating income for the full year 2004 to be between USD173 million and USD177 million.
Seattle-based Fisher Communications reported net broadcasting revenues up 8% on a year ago but overall revenues were almost flat at USD 30.9 million, just up from USD 30.2 million.
Revenue from its Fisher Plaza segment was down primarily due to a significant payment from a tenant in first quarter 2003 as a result of early termination of a lease.
Loss from continuing operations was USD 9.7 million (USD 1.13 per share), nearly three times the USD 2.9 million (USD 0.33 per share) a year earlier and overall net loss was USD 9.85 million compared to USD 2.95 million a year earlier. The latest quarter figures included a non-cash net loss from derivative instruments amounting to USD 5.8 million after income tax effects whereas the 2003 figures included a similar loss of only USD 154,000 and a net gain from sale of marketable securities of USD 2.3 million after income tax effects.
Maryland-Based Radio 1 Inc reported net broadcast revenue up 10% to USD 69.7 million, operating income up 21% to USD25.4 million, and station operating income up 17% to USD 34.1 million. Overall net income was up 28% on a year earlier to USD 8.8 million (USD 0.08 per diluted share).
President and CEO Alfred C. Liggins, III, described the results as "truly a great quarter for us."
"We blew away industry revenue growth and our own guidance and had strong revenue conversion to station operating profit<" he continued. "We are seeing good strength into the second quarter and are hopeful that our relatively optimistic outlook for 2004 will turn out to be accurate. Additionally, we are seeing the deal pipeline becoming more robust and are hopeful that we will be able to grow our portfolio through acquisitions over the course of the year."
Looking ahead, Radio 1 says it expects second quarter net broadcast revenue 6-8% higher than a year ago when it was USD 81 million and second quarter 2004 station operating to be in the mid-single digit range higher than the USD 37.8 million a year earlier.
Radio 1 has also announced that it has acquired WAMJ-FM in Atlanta for USD 35 million. It has been operating the station, previously owned by the New Mableton Broadcasting ownership group that is controlled by Liggins, under a Local Management Agreement since August 2001. Liggins said in the company's conference call that over time he had acquired the interests of other owners thus making the purchase possible. He commented that the acquisition "solidifies our position in the Atlanta market," adding, " Our strong cluster of four FM stations has achieved tremendous ratings growth in the past two years and our revenue potential in this very important market is significant. Consummating this acquisition locks down Radio One's ownership and provides certainty that we will continue to be a force in the Atlanta radio market for years to come."
Also during the conference call, Liggins said the company was not only working to expand its cable TV channel TV One but also considering an Internet venture. He said they would not be spending a large sum but people were now making money from the Internet and the company felt "comfortable" to move into the area.
In other business Journal Communications has declared a quarterly dividend of USD 0.065 per share payable on June 4 and also announced that it plans to commence a cash tender offer to purchase up to approximately 8 million shares of its non-publicly traded class B common stock. If fully subscribed, it says, the tender offer will represent the repurchase of 16.5% of the class B shares held by current and former employees.
Journal has also announced a filing for a follow-on offering of 6,000,000 shares of its class A common stock. In addition, the underwriters have an option to purchase up to an additional 900,000 shares of class A common stock from the Company. Net proceeds are to be used to reduce outstanding indebtedness, to fund the recently announced Green Bay television acquisition and for general corporate purposes.
Previous Radio 1 Inc.:
2004-04-30: In a row going all the way to the top in Australia, a dispute has grown up in Australia about the accuracy of claims by Sydney 2UE morning host John Laws that his former colleague on 2UE and current 2GB breakfast host Alan Jones that Jones told him in 2000 he threatened to withdraw support from PM John Howard's government unless Prof David Flint was reappointed as head of the Australian Broadcasting Authority (ABA).
The allegations have led to calls for an investigation into Howard's behaviour and the dismissal of Flint.
Opposition Communications Spokesman Lindsay Tanner, who said that the claim boiled down to an allegation that "John Howard has corruptly traded appointments to the statutory regulator in return for political support" went on to say Flint's position with the ABA is now untenable.
Laws said on his 2UE show that at a dinner party in 2000 Jones told him, "I was so determined to have David Flint re-elected that I personally went to Kirribilli House and instructed John Howard to re-elect David Flint or he would not have the support of Alan Jones in the forthcoming election."
At the time both men were being investigated in the cash-for-comment scandal that involved the talk hosts taking payments from businesses that the ABC Media Watch programme said was for favourable editorial comment. Laws also said Jones told him, "You should be careful. If it weren't for David Flint, God knows where we would be."
The Australian Prime Minister told ABC radio, "No such conversation at Kirribilli House or anywhere else took place between Mr Jones and myself."
"Indeed, I can't recollect Mr Jones ever raising Mr Flint's position with me, let alone in the threatening terms that have been suggested."
Jones has also denied the allegation, but confirmed in an interview on 2GB that he was at the dinner party but then adding, "This was in 2000 and if there's someone listening to this program who thinks they can actually recall accurately what was said in the year 2000 at a dinner party . . . than I would really challenge their integrity I don't think I have ever had a discussion with John Howard about David Flint ever, as memory tells me, ever."
Opposition Leader Mark Latham told ABC radio, "We need to get to the facts of the matter. We need an independent public inquiry."
Following the cash-for-comment enquiry rules on disclosure of payments to hosts were tightened up but there have been allegations of weakness by the regulator and the Media Watch programme, which has been focussing on the latest allegations over a Telstra deal with 2GB under which the communications company paid AUD 1.2 million (USD 880,000 ) to sponsor Jones' programme, has broadcast details of the agreement after the ABA lost a case to suppress it.
Media Watch also gave details of a letter written by Professor Flint to Jones in 1999 in which he praised the broadcaster's "extraordinary ability" to capture "the opinions of the majority on so many issues".
ABC, Australia report:
Sydney Morning Herald report:
2004-04-30: US National Public Radio (NPR) host Bob Edwards finally signs off today from Morning Edition, just short of 25 years with the show, which celebrates its anniversary in autumn.
There has been considerable protest over the replacement of Edwards, who launched the show in 1979. From Monday, the show will be hosted by Steve Inskeep and Renee Montagne until permanent replacements are named.
2004-04-30: The latest report of the BBC Complaints Unit, covering the period from January to March this year says that complaints have more than doubled since the Corporation introduced an e-mail complaint facility on its web site and in a foreword acting Director General Mark Byford that less than a third of complaints were dealt with inside target times.
It was released in conjunction with rulings by the BBC Governors' appeals committee, which ruled on cases involving seven items and upheld three appeals.
In all, the complaints unit dealt with 363 complaints concerned with 240 items in the quarter compared to 342 complaints relating to 231 items in the final quarter of 2003.
It upheld 77 complaints, 16 of them partly, in the latest quarter compared to 55, 15 of them partly, in the previous quarter.
Of the total complaints, 120 related to matters of fairness and accuracy, up from 84; they related to 78 items, up from 69.
The remaining 243 concerned matters of taste and standards, down from 252; they related to 162 items, up from 156
For The full year to the end of March, the unit dealt with 1640 complaints, compared to 794 in the full year before e-mail complaint facilities were introduced. Of the 1640 complaints, which related to 875 items, 367 were about matters of fairness and accuracy, relating to 274 items, and 1273 were about matters of taste and standard, relating to 601 items.
In the most recent quarter, 28 complaints were upheld, including fairness and accuracy complaints related to nine items were upheld, four of them involving radio, and taste and standards cases involving 19 items, two of them radio.
The radio complaints upheld were against:
*Unfair - The BBC Radio 4 Today programme over a report on a decision by Cambridge University to abandon plans for a primate research centre. Andrew Tyler from Animal Aid had outlined two key points before recording an interview but aid these had been omitted and editing had distorted his position to give the impression that his organisation was involved in extremism and violence.
In addition, since the programme makers had declined his suggestion that they interview a scientist rather than himself, he felt it unfair for his lack of scientific credentials to be challenged during the interview. As well as the complainant, five other listeners had complained on their own account and others had written in support of the complaint.
The panel ruled that clumsy editing had "created an apparent non sequitur at one point" but obscured the point being made The omitted points were said to be not directly relevant in one instance and the other to be a point that could have been included only with considerable qualification or an opportunity for it to be challenged. However the panel said that to then allow another contributor to make subsequent comment on scientific arguments without challenge and to challenge the complainant's scientific credentials was unfair.
It was noted, "Not enough was done to dissociate Animal Aid from the illegal or violent actions described in the report."
Action taken included an apology to Tyler, and a later report in which the scientist originally suggested by Mr Tyler challenged an advocate of the use of animals in medical research.
* Harmful - A complaint from three listeners who had adopted Guatemalan children over a Radio 4 PM item based on a report from Guatemala that they said gave the impression that such adoptions were illegal or discreditable and another complaint about a TV item based on the same report. It was noted that despite some legitimate concern over adoptions in Guatemala it was incorrect to say there were no adoption laws or regulation of adoption in the country. The report was held to have caused harm and the author of the original report had been spoken to about the accuracy of his research.
*Other Bias - a complaint that Sara Cox on BBC Radio 1 had endorsed support for Senator Kerry in the US presidential elections expressed by Chris Martin of Coldplay during the Grammy Awards ceremony.
The panel said in comments intended to express enthusiasm over a British success in the awards Cox had gone beyond reporting the remarks and she was reminded of the importance of maintaining due impartiality on controversial matters
*Factual inaccuracy - Making History on BBC Radio 4 in which The Chairman of the Barnes Wallis Memorial Trust complained that the programme was inaccurate in a number of respects, most significantly in crediting Sir Dennistoun Burney with the design of the R100 airship, when it had in fact been designed by Wallis.
The panel agreed that the phrasing of one comment would have given the impression that Burney designed the R100. The Commissioning Editor had discussed the issues arising from the finding with the independent production company concerned, and stressed the need for clear and accurate expression.
*Taste and standards - Bad language - two complaints over the use of the f-word in an unedited promotional version of a song played in error on BBC Radio 1's The Official Chart Show with Wes. The incident happened during a move to a disc-based system instead of using CDs
*Taste and standards - Sensitivity and portrayal - Johnny Vaughan's Fighting Talk on BBC Radio Five Live over what the complainant termed disparaging references to people with tapies (club foot) playing football causing distress to his eight-years old son who was revering from his fourth operation for the condition.
The comments from a guest said the finding, were jocularly intended rather than disparaging, but they were well beyond the bounds of acceptability.
Appeals to the governors involved seven items, four on TV and three on radio and three appeals were upheld, one involving radio.
This related to a use on BBC Radio Five Live of the word "pillaged" in relation to Israeli Policy in the Gaza strip. The complainant maintained that this reference was propaganda being used in response to Israel's legitimate self-defence against terrorism.
During a phone-in the presenter had asked, "...would [the US] try to rein in Israel if it were attacked and went off into some of the refugee camps and pillaged in the way that has been witnessed before?"
When the complaint was originally heard the word had been adjudged acceptable but not the best choice and it had been noted that it was not a direct reference to Israeli policy and that the programme had also included references to such Israeli retaliation coming about in response to a major terrorism attack by the Palestinians
The Appeals Committee noted that the formal definition of "pillage" was "to rob (a town or a village) of (booty or spoils) especially during a war and held that the BBC's reputation for accuracy depended in particular on its precise and unambiguous use of language as opposed to use in a looser sense. It regarded the use of the term "pillage" in this context as inappropriate and upheld the appeal.
RNW Comment: Although we agree with the committee in this case, we wonder what the reaction would be if comments from politicians and company spokesmen were held to similar standards. On radio it would get in the way but a rolling ticker with definitions would probably be kept very busy were the idea instituted for TV.
Previous BBC Complaints Bulletin:
2004-04-30: A chart compiled by Phonographic Performance Ltd, which collects royalties on behalf of record companies from all 600 national and local radio stations across the UK lists George Michael as the artist most played on British Radio over the past two decades.
Second was Elton John followed by Robbie Williams - who was the most played artist last year, Kylie Minogue, Bryan Adams, Madonna, Phil Collins, Cliff Richard, Mick Hucknall and Paul McCartney.
George, who picked up his award at the Radio Academy's annual music radio conference in London, said he couldn't believe the news. "I've only made six albums in 22 years so I don't know how this happened. I'm the luckiest writer on earth," he added.
Radio Academy director John Bradford described the chart as "an interesting snapshot of which artists have most shaped popular culture, as the number of radio stations both competing for our attention and playing their material has spiralled."
Previous Radio Academy:
2004-04-30: The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has cancelled one USD 10,000 penalty for tower violations but confirmed another for USD 3,000.
In the case of a Missouri antenna it accepted that rules relating to obstruction lighting were not violated and dropped the penalty but in Arkansas it confirmed a USD 3,000 penalty on B&H Broadcasting Systems, Inc., licensee of KZRB-FM, Texarkana, for failure to register its antenna structure.
B&H had responded saying that it had timely completed and submitted the tower registration paperwork to the commission but it noted that registration had been required prior to construction and that no evidence had been provided of any attempts by B&H to register the tower until three months after B&H was notified of the violation by the Dallas office. The penalty was confirmed.
2004-04-29: According to figures from BIA Financial Network smaller groups were dominant in the top ten radio station purchasers last year although Clear Channel remained top buyer with the purchase of 36 stations. Next was newly formed Qantum Communications, which bought 31 stations, then Max Media, which bought 28.
Cumulus was in fourth place with 26, followed by Cherry Creek Radio (24), Citadel (22), Multicultural (18), Nassau (13), then Pacific Radio Group and First Broadcasting, each with 12.
There were no blockbuster deals - the largest was Multicultural's USD 150 million purchase of Unica's stations, which compares with USD 3.5 billion in 2003 for Univision's purchase of Hispanic Broadcasting Corporation - and those made indicated a degree of "filling in" by companies building up clusters in markets where they already had a presence.
BIAfn vice-president Dr. Mark Fratrik commented of the dealings, "Given the sluggish advertising marketplace in 2003, we see the number of in-market sales a result of group owners concentrating on improving operating efficiencies. Group owners can increase cash flow margins in their existing markets by creating larger clusters of stations."
2004-04-29: In more first quarter results Cox Radio and Westwood One have reported figures up on a year ago but in Mexico Grupo Radio Central has gone into loss with revenues down 40.5%.
Cox reported revenues for the quarter to the end of march up 1.7% to USD 93 million but its net income was up 18.3% to USD 11.1 million (USD 0.11 per share) helped by a reduction in interest expenses from USD 9.2 million to USD 7.9 million and a USD 400,000 reduction in station operating expenses.
Cox says national revenues were up 3% but local revenues were flat and also notes strong performances from stations in Atlanta, Orlando, Tampa, Richmond and Greenville-Spartanburg but lower revenues in Miami, Houston, Jacksonville and Long Island.
President and CEO Robert F. Neil said Cox was pleased with the quarter's results, noting, "After difficult revenue comparisons in January and February, revenues began to strengthen considerably with the month of March ending up 8% over last year. Our disciplined efforts to keep expenses down enabled us to deliver station operating income growth of 6% and free cash flow growth of 20% during the quarter."
Looking ahead he continued, "As we move into the second quarter, the tone of business continues to improve and pacings are consistently positive. While we are still seeing some disparity between markets, it appears that the overall advertising environment is strengthening. This should bode well for radio."
"As a result, we expect second quarter as well as full year revenue growth to be in the mid-single digits. We feel the stage is set for a good year. We'll continue to remain focused on delivering value to our shareholders by operating our radio stations for the long term."
Westwood One reported record figures for revenues, operating income, net income and net income per share with revenues up 3% on a year ago to USD129.6 million, operating income up 6% to USD 31 million, and net income up 4% to USD 17.5 million whilst net income per diluted share was up 10% to USD 0.18 per share.
President and CEO Shane Coppola commented, "Westwood One's record first quarter operating results are indicative of the improvement we have seen, and continue to see, in the advertising marketplace we have made investments in additional programs and distribution over the last several quarters and we expect our Company to experience a benefit in revenues and operating income before depreciation and amortization."
CFO Andrew Zaref added, "Our record operating results, combined with our ability to generate significant cash flow, continue to enable us to reinvest and grow our business, while simultaneously repurchasing our common stock."
Looking ahead, Westwood One reiterated its previously issued annual guidance to deliver revenue growth of mid-single digits, resulting in double digit growth in operating income before depreciation and amortization.
In other US radio business, Emmis has announced that subsidiary Emmis Operating Company has now priced an offering of $375 million of 6-7/8% senior subordinated notes due 2012 and that in connection with the sale it also intends to enter into a new senior credit facility in an aggregate amount of approximately $1.025 billion, consisting of a senior secured term loan facility of $675 million and a senior secured revolving credit facility of $350 million.
It also says that because of higher than expected participation in Emmis Communications' tender offer for its 12-1/2% senior discount notes due 2011, the aggregate amount of borrowing capacity under the new senior credit facility and the amount of notes being offered by Emmis Operating Company are being increased from the amounts previously announced.
And in Florida International Broadcasting Corporation has announced that WTMY- IS in Sarasota has become the first affiliate for its IBC Radio Network.
The network is an all-talk radio service focused on business, news, science and paranormal content that is now broadcasting via satellite. ICBS President and CEO Daryn P. Fleming said the signing was "very big news" for it and he believed this was the "beginning for IBCRN to achieve national recognition and increased market penetration."
In Mexico, Grupo Radio Centro reported a 40.5% fall in broadcasting revenues to MXN 116.6 million (USD 10.2 million) in the quarter to the end of March mainly because of the boost 2003 received from political advertising. It trimmed its broadcasting expenses by 2.8% but nevertheless moved from an operating profit of MXN 39.2 million (USD 3.4 million) in 2003 to an operating loss of MXN26.6 million (USD 2.3 million).
Overall Grupo Rado reported a net loss of MXN 40.3 million (USD 3.5 million) compared to a profit of MXN 8.2 million (USD 721,000) a year ago.
Grupo Radio also noted that earlier this month it filed a net loss of MXN 245.8 million (USD 21.8 million) in 2003 due to an extraordinary loss of MXN 340.7 million (USD 30.2 million) in connection with the award against it by an arbitration panel of damages of USD 21 million in an action brought against it by Infored, S.A. de C.V. and Mr. Jose Gutierrez Vivo (See RNW April 22). It is currently appealing the award.
Previous Grupo Radio:
Previous Westwood One:
2004-04-29: Latest Irish radio ratings from the JNLR/MRBI survey covering October 2003 to March 2004 year show 87% of the adult population l in the country listening to radio each week, up 1% on a year earlier.
The listenership figure for any regional/local station was also up 1% - to 56% but a number of national stations saw a decline in "listened yesterday" figures - down 2% to 26% for RTÉ Radio One, down 2% to 24% for 2FM, and down 2% to 13% for Today FM. Lyric FM held on to an unchanged 3%.
Excluding Dublin and Cork, notable listenership figures were recorded by Limerick's Live 95FM with 56% - there are no figures for the previous year for the station - followed by WLR FM with 54%, up 13%, and Galway Bay FM with 52%, down 9%.
In Dublin, increases were recorded by Lite FM/Q102 - up 2% to 12%; Newstalk 106 and Spin 1038 up 3% and 1% respectively to 5%; and Country 106.8FM, which was up 1% to 3%. Leaders 98FM and FM104, however, were each down 2% to 20%.
In Cork, 96FM/County Sound has a listened yesterday figure of 49% - down 2% - and Red FM was down 1% to 17%.
Previous Irish Ratings:
JNLR web site:
2004-04-29: Phoenix radio veteran H.G. Listiak has died of natural causes in his late 50s according to the Arizona Republic that notes that Jay McCarthy, programming head of KMLE-FM, where Listiak worked on afternoon drive for 15 years with Stu Evans, had joked that Listiak was a "man of mystery" when admitting he did not know his exact age.
Listiak had been ill with strep throat and the flu and had missed a few shifts last week according to the paper.
Among his activities, Listiak delivered daily commentaries, his last being aired on Monday about the death of ex-NFL star Pat Tillman in Afghanistan. It was also posted on Listiak's personal Web site.
In all Listiak had worked in Phoenix radio for around three decades: He was on the news team at KOY-AM, before moving to KMLE.
Arizona Republic report:
Listiak web site:
2004-04-29: Following a 61% increase in turnover in the year to the end of March (See RNW April 28), the UK Guardian Media Group's radio division is planning to bid for ten new licences this year according to a report in the Guardian newspaper, which is part of the group.
The paper says GMG Radio, whose holdings include Jazz FM in London, Smooth FM - formerly a Jazz station (See RNW Dec 9, 2003)- in the north west, and the Real Radio regional stations, is also considering the launch of a classic-rock brand to bid for licences in regions such as the Solent and the north east.
GMG Radio chief executive John Myers said the unit may need a broader range of brand names to compete for the latest round of licences- 35 are to be offered by Ofcom during the next two years - and commented, "It will be a different name that will allow us to have a wider number of brands which will let us apply for licences. If there is not a gap in the market for a Jazz, Smooth or Real there might be a gap for a rock or a classic rock station."
The paper also notes that GMG's room for manoeuvre in anticipated consolidation of the British radio sector has been restricted by the GBP 593 million (then USD 965 million) deal last year to take control of Trader Media Group, owner of classified car advertiser Auto Trader (See RNW Aug 7, 2003).
2004-04-28: Progress Media's Air America "progressive" talk network, which has yet to announce new outlets in Chicago and Los Angeles to take the place of the Multicultural Broadcasting stations that dropped it in a dispute over finances, is now reported to be losing two of its senior executives.
The Chicago Tribune reports that former AOL executive Mark Walsh has stepped down as CEO and says the network has also confirmed that Dave Logan, Air America's vice president for operations and programming, has been replaced.
Walsh, one of the founders of the network remains a major shareholder and the paper says he said the parting was amicable and he will maintain a limited relationship as a senior adviser.
Chairman Evan Cohen said the departures were part of the normal growing pains of a start-up, telling the Tribune, "Businesses have an evolutionary process. If you're looking for `Shake-up at Air America Radio,' that's a creation in your own mind."
Giving credit to Walsh for building up the network so far he added," Mark didn't want to grind it out day-to-day."
There was no comment from Logan, an experienced radio professional with programming experience in Chicago, New York, and San Francisco. His head of programming role has been allocated to Liz Winstead, co-host of the midmorning show "Unfiltered, "and Air America chief counsel David Goodfriend has become acting chief operating officer.
On the affiliates front, Air America has announced a new California affiliate, KYNS-AM, which has a signal covering San Luis Obispo.
Previous Progress Media/Air America:
Chicago Tribune report:
2004-04-28: Entercom has recorded record results for its first quarter to the end of March with net revenues up 7% to USD 87 million - same station net revenues were up 6% to the same total and same station operating income was up 10% whilst same station operating expenses were up only 3% resulting in a 28% increase in net income per share to USD 0.23.
Entercom noted a number of acquisitions - of WNSA-FM in Buffalo (See RNW April 27), which will expand its Buffalo cluster and WWRX-FM in Providence, RI (See RNW Mar 24), which it is already operating with a sports talk format utilizing selected programming of WEEI-AM in Boston; it has also filed to change the call letters to WEEI.
In addition it has agreed a USD 73.5 million purchase of Indianapolis stations WZPL-FM, WTPI-FM and WXNT-AM (See RNW April 23). The first two acquisitions are expected to be completed in the second quarter and the Indianapolis purchase in the third.
Entercom says it expects second quarter same station net revenues to be up 6% on a year earlier to approximately USD 114 million with same station operating expenses up 5% to approximately USD 62.5 million, which would result in second quarter net income per share of USD 0.44 - USD 0.45 compared to USD 0.37 a year earlier.
President and CEO David J. Field said of the results, "We are very pleased with our record-breaking results as we delivered strong growth in net revenues and station operating income, and grew our net income per share and free cash flow by 28% and 40%, respectively."
"In addition, our future prospects continue to improve, driven by a number of recent positive developments, including our newly announced acquisitions in Indianapolis, Providence and Buffalo, encouraging progress with our sales and brand initiatives, and improving business conditions."
Jefferson-Pilot Communications reported what it termed "excellent results" in the first quarter with revenues up 16% and broadcast cash flow up 39% to USD 21.8 million. This together with cost controls took earnings up 49% on a year earlier to USD 10.6 million.
In other US radio business, Cox Radio has announced a five-year quarterly ratings deal with Arbitron running until 2008. Its President and CEO Robert. F. Neil said they were glad to have a long-term deal and added, "We look forward to working with Arbitron and other broadcasters as we develop innovative ways to gather information that will benefit our existing advertisers as well as bring new advertisers to the radio advertising medium."
In the UK, Guardian Media Group (GMG), in a trading update in advance of its July release of full results, says its radio operations have increased turnover 61% on a year earlier to GBP 21 million (USD 37.6 million).
GMG Chief Executive Bob Phillis described radio as an "important part" of the Group's media portfolio and said, "We are delighted with the progress made by all 5 stations during the year and I look forward to further growth and commercial success based on these solid foundations."
2004-04-28: Emmis CEO Jeff Smulyan in a Q&A session posted on its web site takes up a number of issues including that of broadcast indecency concerning which he says whatever individual opinions are of the rights and wrongs of the current movement everybody is currently "focused about indecency on radio."
"You're talking about licenses that carry a lot of value," he comments, "and we have to be responsible about what we do with our licenses. You have to be good stewards of your licenses and, whatever the rules are, you have to play by them."
"We have adopted a zero-tolerance policy, and we have worked hard with our radio people to make sure they understand that policy and work within it. The challenge comes when you're trying to appeal to the male 18-34 audience. What that audience wants is different from what the general population wants, so you try to walk a fine line. We are determined to provide the content our audiences want, but we will do that while staying within the rules."
Commenting on Chicago station WKQX-FM (Q101), he says that it is facing a competitor who launched a "direct assault on our station, and we're feeling the effects of that. But we've made a lot of changes there and we believe we're seeing the benefits."
"We've got a strong leadership team at Q101, a solid sales team and the top morning show in the city. So we've got a lot going for us. We've also got the heritage position in alternative rock, and we intend to hold onto it. We aren't going away."
Arbitron figures just released show Q-101 falling to a 22d place tie with rival rocker WZZN-FM and Erich "Mancow" Muller's "Mancow's Morning Madhouse" on falling from seventh place overall to a 17th place tie and also slumping from eighth to 13th in the 25-54 demographic.
In marked contrast to Mancow, who like Howard Stern has been cited for indecency violations and has also been attacking the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) on his show, Stern
jumped from 15th place to 9th in Chicago with a move up from sixth to third in the 25-54 demographic.
Stern has done well countrywide, with strong showings as we have already reported in New York and Los Angeles, the first and second largest markets in the US ( See RNW April 24).
As well as succeeding where he is aired, Stern also had his effects where he'd been dropped, notably in San Diego where Clear Channel's KIOZ-FM saw its drive-time ratings in March, its first month without Stern, plunge from an 8.9 share in February to 0.7 according to Reuters.
Another US host who is in hot water, this time over comments made about Muslims, on Monday defended his comments whilst at the same time half-apologising for one comment that had led to a call from the US Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) for him to be fired (See RNW April 25).
Jay Severin had said last week on his show on WTTK-FM, in response to a caller suggesting that Muslims should be befriended to help root out leaders who weren't really Muslims, "You think we should befriend them; I think we should kill them."
He had prior to this described Muslims as a fifth column in the US and commented that the "vast majority" of them were loyal not to the US but to their religion.
On his Monday show he said "To anyone who may have been offended by misunderstanding or misconstruing my remarks, I want you to know that I regret that. This is never my intention."
In a later interview with the Boston Globe he said he perhaps should have acknowledged that he wasn't talking about all Muslims when he made the comment.
He told the paper, "I have so many times offered the disclaimer that I didn't feel it necessary to utter the words, `You know, the ones who are killing us.' I appreciate that under the surgical circumstances here that I wish I kind of had I can't assume that everyone party to the conversation joined it five seconds ago."
CAIR reacted to the Boston Globe report with a renewed call for Severin's dismissal saying that it showed his "anti-Muslim remarks were even more offensive than first thought."
CAIR's Executive Director Nihad Awad said that as well as renewing its call for Severin's "termination" it would ask the Federal Communications Commission to investigate the remark.
CAIR says hundreds of concerned Muslims have contacted the station and its advertisers to ask that Severin be fired and at least one advertiser has cancelled adverts with the station.
A Canadian host has been less fortunate than Severin according to the Toronto Globe and Mail, which reports that Ottawa Team 1200 afternoon co-host Don (Dandyman) Romani, who insinuated that Toronto Maple Leafs tough guy Tie Domi beat his wife (See RNW April 10) has lost his job.
The paper cites unnamed "sources" but then adds that operations manager Chris Gordon had refused to confirm that Romani had left, saying, "I'm still having some discussions with [Romani] and things aren't 100-per-cent resolved. It wouldn't be fair to him or anyone to say anything more at this point."
Previous Erich "Mancow" Muller:
Boston Globe report:
Reuters report on Stern's ratings:
Toronto Globe and Mail report:
2004-04-28: The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has confirmed USD 10,000 penalties on two Florida pirate operators and a USD 15,000 penalty on a Georgia AM for tower and emergency alert system violations.
The USD 10,000 penalties went to Jason T. Green of Naples and Gary M. Feldman of Miami, neither of who had responded to notices of apparent violation issued in February.
The confirmed USD 15,000 penalty goes to Small Town Radio Inc., licensee of WDGR-AM, Dahlonega, Georgia, for failure to maintain operational emergency alert system equipment and failure to enclose the station's antenna tower within an effective locked fence. Small Town did not file a response to the initial notice issued in November 2002 but had subsequently petitioned for reconsideration on the basis of inability to pay.
The FCC noted that Small Town had not provided financial records to substantiate this and confirmed the full penalty.
2004-04-28: In Australia, ABC TV's Media Watch programme, which last week defeated attempts by the Australian Broadcasting Authority (ABA) to prevent it airing details of an internal report on communications company Telstra's sponsorship of Alan Jones' breakfast show on Macquarie Network's Sydney 2GB (See RNW April 20) has now aired its programme on the matter, the third edition in a row that has focussed on Jones' activities.
The programme has posted details on its web site, including a link to a PDF of Telstra's marketing plan for Alan Jones.
The ABA's final report on the matter ruled that Jones had not contravened regulations by not admitting the Telstra sponsorship (See RNW April 6).
Media Watch says the Telstra plan "sets out in black and white why Telstra would pay Macquarie Radio a fortune to sponsor the Alan Jones Show."
It cites a comment from a SWOT analysis in the Telstra the document that noted that Jones' show was the top rated breakfast show in Sydney and continued to comment on it having, "Loyal listeners who value Jones' opinion and repeat to friends and family, therefore extending the reach of the sponsorship."
The programme also notes that Jones had previously had a deal with rival Optus and that Telstra was to pay AUD 1.2 million (USD 880,000) for a year for "the title of sponsor, the ads, the live reads and Alan Jones' change of heart?"
The Swot analysis also listed: 'Weaknesses - Cynicism around live read mechanism due to cash for comment incident" and "Threats - Important to manage the announcement of the sponsorship to avoid any negative publicity."
Media Watch says things were "beautifully managed" and for months nobody raised suggestions that Telstra was more than just another advertiser despite a process in which Telstra exercised tight control, supplying at least "10 key bullet points per message on Alan Jones briefing template" that were sent to 2GB to be worked into radio scripts that were in turn sent back to Telstra for final vetting before going back to 2GB.
ABC Media Watch programme details:
Telstra marketing plan (289 kb PDF):
2004-04-28: The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) says that as of the end of March the US had a total of 26,613 licensed broadcast stations, down by 76 on the figure at the end of 2003.
Of this total 13,476 were radio licences, 87 fewer than the previous total and within the radio total there were 4781 AMs - down 13, 6224 commercial FMs - up seven, and 2471 educational FMs - down 81.
Previous FCC station numbers:
2004-04-28: Two stories of radio billboards today, one from the UK and the other from the US.
The latter was definitely deliberate: It involved Salt Lake City alternative station KXRK-FM (X96) that first put up a billboards featuring a church and a rainbow--a common symbol of the gay community -and the legend, "ALTERNATIVE LIFESTYLE? 'TIL DEATH DO US PART www.alternativeutah.com" which goes to a web site with the two billboards on it.
After several weeks the original billboards were replaced with a second design that is similar in style but the church has been replaced with "KERRY, BILL, AND GINA - MORNINGS ON X96", the question mark is missing from the LIFESTYLE but underneath is "MUSIC" "X96 RADIO FROM HELL."
KLSTV reports that some of the original billboards were defaced and quotes morning show host Bill Allred as saying the action played right into their hands as the campaign was intended to "cause some talk."
He was dismissive of criticism from gay groups and concern expressed that the billboards "trivialised" what was a serious issue in Utah and were polarizing opinions, commenting, "I am at a loss at how this could really be this divisive. Bad taste, maybe; sure, I'll cop to that."
The second billboard was near the UK Guardian's offices and featured some changes to posters promoting Capital FM's new breakfast show.
In place of new host Johnny Vaughan and "Wake up London, Johnny's Come to Capital" was a cut out of Osama bin Laden and "Wake up London, Osama's in Capital".
The paper reports that some people wondered if Capital had been behind the changes but the company denied any knowledge of the matter.
The paper notes other instances of alterations to posters in the UK and USA and says that a possible clue to whoever was behind the changes was the initials "Dr D" in the top right hand corner of the billboard. It is asking anyone who can identify Dr D to e-mail the paper.
UK Guardian report:
2004-04-27: US religious broadcaster Salem has beaten expectations with a profit of USD 1.2 million (USD 0.08 per diluted share) for the first quarter up to the end of March compared to a loss of USD 6.1 million (USD 0.26 per share) on revenues up 11.5% to USD 43.2 million.
Operating income was more than double the figure of a year ago at USD 8 million, compared to USD 3.2 million in Q1, 2003, when the figure was down USD 2.2 million because of the denial of a tower relocation and a coverage license upgrade, and station operating income was up 26.2% to USD 15.6 million.
On a same station basis, net broadcasting revenue increased 10.0% to USD 42.6 million and station operating income increased 27.3% to USD 15.7 million for the quarter.
For the second quarter Salem is projecting net broadcasting revenue between USD47.0 million and USD47.5 million, station operating income between USD17.5 million and USD18.0 million, and net income between USD0.11 per diluted share and USD0.13 per diluted share.
President and CEO Edward G. Atsinger III, who said the figures showed the company "off to a great start in 2004", commented that the "better than expected first quarter results were driven by improvements in our developing radio properties and reflect the high growth nature of our station group in an improving advertising environment.
" We are especially pleased with our ability to leverage our 10.0% same station revenue performance into an impressive 27.3% same station operating income growth."
"In addition to our impressive financial performance in the first quarter, we positioned ourselves for future growth with a number of initiatives that will benefit shareholders over the long-term. For example, we improved our presence in the nation's largest markets, strengthening our presence in Atlanta and Honolulu, while entering the Detroit market. As a result, we have a presence in 23 of the top 25 markets, including all of the top 10 markets."
"We also recently introduced news/talk stations in Dallas, Philadelphia and Baltimore, and launched a new three-hour national morning program, Bill Bennett's "Morning in America(TM)," in over 70 markets across the country. Finally, we are continuing to make progress in our contemporary Christian music stations, as listenership, revenues and cash flow are all increasing."
Salem has also announced that it intends to offer for sale 3,100,000 shares of Class A common stock - owned by the founders of the Company and its principal stockholders, Edward G. Atsinger III and Stuart W. Epperson.
In addition, the Company and the selling stockholders expect to grant the underwriters an over-allotment option to purchase up to an additional 175,000 shares from the Company and 225,000 shares from the selling stockholders.
It says it intends to use the net proceeds from this offering - which ended Monday down a little over 1% at USD 32.73, making the basic allocation worth just over USD 101 million - for working capital and general corporate purposes, which may include the redemption of up to approximately $52.5 million principal amount of the outstanding 9% senior subordinated notes.
2004-04-27: Johannesburg-born British DJ Brendan Kearney has left BBC Radio Cleveland where he was early breakfast show -- 0500 to 0700 - host following an admission that he had looked at nude picture on his office computer according to the Newcastle Sunday Sun newspaper.
The paper quotes him as saying he had left "by mutual consent" and admitting that he was using the computer for purposes it was not intended for but adding that it was a fuss over "nothing" since the sites he "visited are freely available and can be accessed by anyone, even from a public library." He denied that he had downloaded, distributed or paid for any images.
Kearney, whose family home is in Stockport, Greater Manchester, said he had been living in digs at the time and would access the sites when bored after finishing his show at 07:00
"You think, `Oh, what's this?' and you just click on it," he told the paper. "You click off it and it's gone. As the boss said to me, `If you'd done it at home, there would've been no problem' He did say to me that you just can't do that sort of thing at the BBC. It's very strict."
The BBC told the paper it would not comment on the reasons for Kearney leaving but confirmed the departure, adding that he was a freelance. Adrian Allen has replaced him on the show .Previous BBC:
BBC Radio Cleveland web site:
Sunday Sun report:
2004-04-27: According to Buffalo Business First, Entercom has won the bidding for sports-talk station WNSA-FM, which was auctioned by Adelphia Communications Corp. under the guidance of the US bankruptcy court. The purchase is subject to formal approval by the court and the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC).
The paper says Entercom upped its bid to USD 10.5 million to fight off competition from Citadel; Entercom had originally bit USD 9 million but this was topped by a USD 9.35 million bid from Citadel (See RNW April 23). The paper notes that the final price is nearly double that paid for the station by Adelphia four years ago.
Buffalo Business First report:
2004-04-26: For this week's look at print comment on radio, we've a mix of negative and positive, the latter about satellite rather than free-to-air radio in the US.
It came in two articles, one in the Cleveland Plain Dealer by John Petkovic headed, "The signals are pretty clear: Satellite radio is lifting off."
It begins by citing the case of XM subscriber Samantha Fryberger whom it terms, "no gadget geek. And that's what makes her radio's biggest nightmare."
Her reasons for the move: "I was working in Akron and making the commute from Lakewood," says Fryberger. "It drove me crazy having to listen to the same old garbage for two hours a day."
Expanding on the problems of free-to-air, Kit Spring, who follows the radio industry for Stifel Nicolaus, an investment house in St. Louis, commented, "Corporate consolidation has increasingly made radio cookie cutter. The formats are the same, and there are more commercials. It's fostered a sense, even among casual listeners, that radio is bland."
That says Petkovic has driven the next level of user to satellite radio. When sat-rad debuted in 2001, it relied on gadget geeks the same early devotees of cell phones, high-speed Internet, premium-channel cable TV and MP3s. Then came truckers. Then stock traders. News junkies. Music buffs. Sports fans.
"When you add it up, satellite radio exceeded 1 million users faster than any other technological device, except the DVD," says Spring. "And when you factor in unheard-of satisfaction rates up to 98 percent it's a matter of time before it becomes huge."
Petkovic also says the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) could yet be satellite's biggest friend if its current clamp-down leads to big names like Howard Stern moving to satellite which, as a subscription service, isn't subject to FCC regulation and would be likely to claim First Amendment rights to head off any attempts to regulate its content.
Spring estimates that satellite radio will have 25 million subscribers by the end of the decade and the report suggests this could build either through a "crucial mass" move of a name such as Howard Stern or through the building of a large number of niche services as suggested by XM vice president Chance Patterson who commented, "Look at reggae, blues, alt- country. There aren't enough fans to start such stations in a local market. But there are millions of fans nation ally. Once you get them listening, they don't leave."
In the Detroit Free Press, satellite also got a strong write-up from Mike Wendland, who said he had become "thoroughly hooked" by it. Receivers, writes Wendland, are now simple to install in a vehicle and move into the home and both services provide excellent technical quality. He then continues, "it's the sheer variety of music that these satellite systems offer that has so delighted me If music is important to you, get one of them. The USD10 a month is well spent. Satellite radio is the best thing to happen to radio since FM."
Moving on to the negative, Barry Willis in Stereophile suggests that satellite is "getting to" broadcasters and comments, "Once upon a time, business competitors relied on the quality of their products and service to hang onto their shares of the market. That's the myth, at least. Increasingly, it seems they rely on regulatory and judicial intervention to stay afloat."
He then notes pressure from the US National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) to get the FCC to bar traffic and weather services from the satellite services, commenting that the" move is clear evidence that traditional broadcasters are beginning to feel the heat from satellite services."
The area where U.S. broadcasters are currently feeling most heat is, of course, related to the sudden burst of anti-indecency action in the country and although general press comment seems on an unscientific sampling to now be running more against the FCC than for it, not everyone seems to agree, and not everyone is in favour of Howard Stern's campaigning and comments over being targeted.
Amongst the latter is former Hot 97 morning host Star (Troi Torain), now working on Clear Channel's WPHH -FM in Hartford who was quoted in the New York Daily News as saying Stern should stop "whining and crying like a little baby" in his battle with the FCC.
David Hinckley quotes him as saying, "I'd rather see him take two in the back of the head and go out like a man. When John Gotti was sentenced to life in prison, he didn't even flinch. This guy asks people he's made fun of to help him. I call him Coward Stern."
The report suggests that the host may be headed back to New York and quotes him as saying since he can't "control the government or the FCC I do radio to suit the times - and it's compelling radio if the opportunity came to return to New York, Hot 97 would not be competing with me. It would be surrendering." "
RNW comment: We wonder whether the standard questions "Who benefits?" and "Why now?" could give some useful context to these particular remarks from someone who may still be smarting after being dumped by Emmis from Hot 97 - he was making similar comments last year (See RNW June 17, 2003). A pity the Vicar of Bray is long dead: He and Star might get on.
To finish with, we move towards the political and from Paul Donovan's Radio Waves column in the UK Sunday Times, a reminder that radio isn't just light entertainment everywhere in the world.
Donovan commented on China's first phone-in radio show, Words on the Night Breeze, that began on Radio Nanjing in 1989, hosted by Xinran Hue, who became a key figure in Chinese broadcasting and is now living in England and married to the son of novelist Mary Wesley.
The stories she heard during a radio show - including tales of "forced marriage, gang rape, incest, neglect, an old man who kept his 12-year-old wife chained to the wall and so on" formed the basis of a book "'The Good Women of China" which itself is the basis of the drama on BBC Radio 4's Woman's Hour from today (Programme airs from 1000-1100 GMT and the drama itself is repeated at 18:45-19:00 GMT).
Donovan quotes Xinran on her experiences: "In western democracies, there are so many opportunities for people to tell their stories. We were the first radio show in China to allow personal opinions to be heard. The media had been a mouthpiece of the Party since 1949. I was trying to open a window so people could express themselves."
"The Woman's Hour selections," comments Donovan in comparison to some of those that aired through her show, "are less painful, ranging from family upheaval to earthquakes and a grief-stricken widow who tried to throw herself into the river until she realized she had a five-year-old son to look after."
Finally and a facet of the US that would surprise many British listeners, accustomed to moderately robust questioning of their political leaders and with an image of America as a land of free speech.
It comes courtesy of National Public Radio (NPR) ombudsman Jeffrey A. Dvorkin who commented on e-mails critical of NPR reporter Don Gonyea who on April 13 asked the US President if he felt he had "failed in any way? You don't have many of these press conferences, where you engage in this kind of exchange. Have you failed in any way to really make the case to the American public?"
To a British audience this was a soft ball that they would have expected any A or B- rank politician to handle almost effortlessly but to some US listeners the questioning was an example of "rudeness and disrespect" to the President, although others felt he was let off lightly.
Dvorkin, who quotes the whole exchange, comes to a conclusion that upholds America's reputation: "I thought Gonyea's question was well within the bounds of fair journalistic practice. Some listeners (and some conservative journalists) seem to think that the president is not to be questioned, especially in public and especially in wartime. But political accountability is also a longstanding American journalistic tradition."
"Gonyea's question was entirely in keeping with that tradition. The Washington press corps has been accused of stenography in its relations with the Bush administration. That impression has begun to dissipate as the media assumes its more natural attitude of independence and scepticism. Gonyea was respectful, and in my opinion not needlessly deferential."
After which, the first recommendation for listening - which is exclusively BBC this week as we didn't pick anything particularly strong from NPR and other organizations do not have a strong on-demand archive service - has to be the Classic Serial which was Yevgeni Zamyatin's We, a tale of conformity and the totalitarian state where dissent was death. Some Americans might favour the idea if the death squads were from the right wing (and America's new man in Iraq John Negroponte has an unsavoury reputation in terms of connections with such activities - see the Derochos web site ) - but most we're confident would find them repellent. Both the first and second of the two episodes of We are available on the BBC Radio 4 Listen Again pages.
And still with the political, Analysis - Fear and Voting - on Radio 4 on Thursday and Sunday (again still available - is worth a listen for anyone who wants to consider the efficacy of current US tactics and policies - roundly dismissed by Conservative former British Minister Douglas Hurd, who was involved in dealing with IRA bombings when in office, as likely to create terrorists.
For drama, there is also the Xinran series we have already referred to and still with Radio 4, for a heart tugging story try "She's Alright, My Mum Is", again on the Listen again page, which on Thursday looked at the stories of three young people who spend their lives caring for parents who can't look after themselves.
For those with an oddball interest in music, BBC Radio 4's "Fabulous Flops" series, which begins tomorrow (10:30 GMT), looks at the worst of British musicals.
If the musical interests are more for the successful, try BBC Radio 2 on Wednesday when Mark Lamarr at 20:00 GMT starts an eight-part series "A Beginner's Guide to Reggae." This is followed at 21:00GMT by the fifth of six "Freedom Sounds" on the musical liberation of South Africa.
And finally for music of a different kind, try BBC Radio 3 at 11:00 GMT this week for the Composer of the Week - the story of Tasmania-born Peter Sculthorpe, one of Australia's most distinguished musicians, who celebrates his 75th birthday this week, and whose compositions include "Advance Australia Fair."
Previous Torain (Star):
Cleveland Plain Dealer - Petkovic:
Detroit Free Press - Wendland:
New York Daily News - Hinckley:
NPR - Dvorkin:
Stereophile - Willis:
UK Sunday Times - Donovan:
2004-04-26: Capital Radio's London new music station Xfm has teamed up with Infinity's New York WXRK-FM (K-Rock) to launch a co-hosted show from the end of this month.
Import-Export, to be hosted by Ian Camfield of Xfm and Danni of K-Rock will feature the "Top Five Most Wanted tracks" as well as music reviews and new releases. It will not air simultaneously on the two stations because of time zones and Xfm hopes that it may be taken up by KROQ-FM in Los Angeles.
2004-04-26: Radio 1 Inc. is to move from its downtown Baltimore offices in St Paul Street, which it has already put up for sale for around USD 1 million, to Woodlawn in Baltimore County according to the Baltimore Business Journal.
With it will go around 125 employees in what the paper terms a "big blow" to the central business district.
It says that Baltimore Development Corporation executives had worked for about a year to find suitable premises to include office and studio space that was reasonably priced and had accessible parking and the development corporation's president M.J. "Jay'' Brodie said he saw the move not as part of a trend but as "very much as an individual situation."
Brodie added that Baltimore city had offered the company incentives to stay, including a parking package and a tenant improvement loan deal
Radio 1 left its former headquarters in Washington D.C. for Prince George's County in 1997 and the District is trying to get it to return.
Previous Radio 1 Inc.:
Baltimore Business Journal report:
2004-04-25: Yet again this week the main licence decision came from Australia where the Australian Broadcasting Association auctioned the new Brisbane commercial FM licence for AUD 80 million (USD 58 million) (See RNW April 23)
Elsewhere it was a matter of more routine decisions.
In Canada, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) has been involved in a number of radio decisions, including, in order of province:
*Denial of application by Standard Radio to convert CHOR-AM, Summerland, to a 5000 watts FM. The application had resulted in 148 supporting interventions and five against including those from The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC), which was concerned that the applicant's use of the requested channel would compromise the CBC's ability to use a channel in Enderby to provide its English-language Radio Two service, from Great Valleys Radio Ltd., the licensee of CIGV-FM Penticton, which opposed the application on the grounds that the proposed contours would encompass Penticton and its surrounding area, thereby creating a fourth station in that small market, from Jim Pattison Industries Ltd., the licensee of CKOV and CKLZ-FM Kelowna, which contended that the Kelowna market was already saturated and the proposal would result in the proposed undertaking covering the central and north end of the Okanagan Valley, thereby reaching approximately 30,000 to 35,000 people in Kelowna's Westside area, and from Silk FM Broadcasting Ltd., the licensee of CILK-FM Kelowna, for essentially the same reason as Pattison.
Standard responded that it would commit to not actively solicit advertising in Penticton and in Kelowna but the CRTC said it felt that any FM station designed to replace CHOR should have a coverage area that more closely duplicates that of CHOR's current signal and denied the application.
* Approval of application for new 50 watts low-power English-language tourist information FM in St. Stephen.
Approval of request to change the contours of CHSR-FM, Fredericton, by increasing the power from 50 watts to 250 watts and increasing the antenna height from 28.5 metres to 48 metres. This will change the station from a low-power unprotected service to a regular Class A1 FM service.
*Approval of Radio communautaire de Radisson's acquisition of the assets of the Type A community radio programming undertaking CIAU-FM Radisson.
*Approval of application for a 1.8 watts low-power English-language tourist information FM in Truro.
Approval of request by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation for a second extension - until April 30, 2005 - of the time limit to commence the operation of the new transmitter at Windsor, authorized for CJBC-FM, Toronto.
*Approval of application by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation for a second extension - to April 30, 2005 - to the deadline to commence operation of a new transmitter at Saskatoon for CKSB-FM, Winnipeg.
Ireland was fairly quiet with the only radio activity from the Broadcasting Commission of Ireland (BCI) being the signing of an agreement for the new Carlow-Kilkenny (See RNW April 23). In the UK, there were no radio announcements.
In the US the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has been involved in a number of enforcement actions relating to technical breaches and has also rescheduled an auction of 290 FM construction permits and ruled that Cumulus can continue to operate a Texas FM but admonished it over its actions, particularly for prematurely taking control of the station.
The auction - number 37 - was originally scheduled for February 2001, since when procedures for the selection of bids for non-commercial educational reserved channels has been changed, but was postponed.
It will now be held on November 3 and the FCC is proposing to auction all the permits in a single-stage, simultaneous multiple-round auction.
The case involving Cumulus relates to KOLI-FM, Electra, Texas, for which a non-commercial Educational FM CP was granted to High I-Q Radio, Inc. in 1996. High subsequently agreed in 1997 with High a memorandum under which, for payment of USD 10,000 to High's then-president Larry Hickerson it would not sell the permit to anyone other than Cumulus for 14 days and then that Cumulus would acquire equipment to operate the station and lease it to High which, for USD 27,600, would give Cumulus a one-year option to acquire the station's assets for USD 238,400 on final grant of an assignment application.
In addition Cumulus was to programme the station as soon as it commenced operations under a time brokerage agreement and would pay High its expenses plus USD 500 a month.
Cumulus' Chairman, Richard Weening then made arrangements for provision of engineering services for the construction - with invoices to be sent to Cumulus although he said Hickerson, who planned to do a live morning show, was the client.
High subsequently filed to extend the KOLI permit, which was granted but before the extension had been approved High and Cumulus executed an option agreement, a time brokerage agreement ("TBA"), a loan agreement, and a lease agreement, not advising the commission of any of them although they were filed with the commission in February 1998 (the first two) and June 1998.
KOLI began operations in January 1998 as a non-commercial educational station and shortly after this High submitted an application saying that it was to operate KOLI as a commercial station; KOLI began airing commercials on February 4, 1998, and two days later Apex Broadcasting, L.L.C., which was a Cumulus competitor in the Wichita Falls market, filed a petition for emergency relief seeking revocation of High's program test authority and arguing that KOLI-FM was not authorized to operate as a commercial station and that High had violated the Commission's public file rules.
In April Cumulus and High filed for consent to assign the KOLI licence and in May that year Apex filed an informal objection to High's licence application because it had begun operations as a commercial station when licensed as a non-commercial one.
The FCC in September denied the Apex objection but cautioned High and C Cumulus for improperly commencing commercial operation and also admonished High over violating the station's public file rule but withheld action on the licence and assignment applications pending further information on the roles of High and Cumulus.
Apex applied for review in October, arguing that KOLI's commercial operation could not have been the result of an honest mistake. The FCC disagreed, although it accepted that commercial operations had begun on a non-commercial licence; it has held that the violation was not sufficient to revoke the licence, and denied Apex's review, but admonished High and Cumulus.
In so doing, it noted that Hickerson is now dead and that deadlines when it could impose financial penalties have now passed.
In a separate statement Democrat Commissioners Jonathan S. Adelstein and Michael J. Copps say the "case is replete with violations of Commission rules, including the unauthorized commencement of commercial operations for a noncommercial permittee; an unauthorized transfer of control of the station; and failure to file required documents with the Commission. We concur in these findings."
They note that each would normally result in a fine or further enforcement action but the delay prohibits fines because of the statute of limitations and conclude, "ultimately, Cumulus, the entity that prematurely assumed control of the station, walks away with a minor warning, all necessary FCC authorizations and a clean slate. Because we are not convinced that this case raises no major questions for further inquiry, we dissent in part."
Republican Commissioner Kevin J. Martin while concurring with the ruling also raised concern, writing, "I agree with the findings made in this Order, including the unauthorized commercial operation and the premature transfer of control. I am concerned, however, that the Commission's delay in action has rendered us powerless to issue a fine. We need to act in a more timely fashion so that the statute of limitations does not eviscerate our ability to enforce our rules."
RNW comment: This case seems to be a sad case of slow action by the regulator and, whatever they may conclude, action that should raise concern about either the honesty or competence of Cumulus.
In other enforcement actions, the FCC has issued a notice of apparent violation to the tune of USD 4,000 to WXDJ-FM, North Miami, Florida, over a prank in which hosts Joe Ferrero and Enrique Santos spoke to Cuban President Fidel Castro whilst pretending to be Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.
The call, ruled the FCC, broke its regulations on broadcasting telephone conversations without prior notice that they intended to air the conversation.
It has also revoked the amateur licence held by Roger Thomas Scaggs, who has been convicted of murder for beating his wife to death with a galvanized lead pipe and also stabbing her several times in their home.
Previous Licence News:
ABA web site:
BCI web site:
CRTC web site:
FCC web site:
2004-04-25: The US Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) In its first "Hate Hurts America" action alert (See RNW April 18) has called for the dismissal of talk host Jay Severin on Greater Boston Radio's WTTK-FM, Boston, who it says said, "Let's kill all Muslims" during his show on Thursday.
According to CAIR it received a complaint about Jay Severin's Thursday show and when it spoke to WTTK General Manager Matt Mills he said that in a discussion about how Severin claims Muslims want to take over America, even if it takes centuries, Severin said, "I've got an idea, let's kill all Muslims."
According to CAIR Mills said he would speak to Severin to "make sure it doesn't happen again," and also admitted that if Severin had said the same thing about African-Americans that he would no longer be on the air.
In an e-mail Mills then said, "I have spoken to Jay Severin and he knows we take this seriously and do not condone offensive remarks toward any religious groups and he will be apologizing on his show Monday afternoon. He did not intend to offend anyone."
CAIR Chairman Omar Ahmad said: "We believe a mere reprimand and apology is insufficient and demand that he be taken off the air as he would be if he had attacked any other religious or ethnic group."
RNW comment: Were not quite sure how Severin could think that a suggestion to kill every member of any group wouldn't be offensive but after due thought tend to think that reprimands or dismissals are probably counter-productive. Far more sensible for Severin or any other host would be a convention in such cases holding a series - say 15 mins a day every day for a week - of show segments in which the host, under pain of dismissal, had to put the case for various issues that the offended individual or organization felt important. At the very least it ought to spark some deeper thought.
For once, we might even accept Federal Communications Commission instituting such a rule since it would not be preventing free speech but extending it by insisting on proper discussion of issues in cases of particularly objectionable bigotry.
2004-04-24: Following a 1% rise in February, March US radio advertising was up 10% on a year ago in March according to the US Radio Advertising Bureau (RAB), which says that indicators "point to this positive growth trend continuing into second quarter and picking up momentum as the year rolls out."
For March local revenues were up 11% and national ones up 5% to take the combined total to 10% while for the year so far combined revenues were up 4%, local revenues were up 5% and national revenues were up 1%.
RAB's Sales Index, which equated pre-dot com 1998 to a base of 100, the combined March figure was 138.8, the local sales index was 138.7 and the national sales index was 139.4: Year to date indices were 140.1, 139.1 and 141.6 respectively.
RAB President and CEO Gary Fries commented, "We are seeing the beginning of Radio's recovery with the March revenue result."
"Advertisers are starting to place buys earlier in the cycle, which will help boost the national business, and local continues its forward momentum. Radio is well positioned for accelerated growth as the year unfolds."
Previous RAB ( figures for February):
2004-04-24: The week has ended well for Howard Stern, with his numbers up - as opposed to his number being up - and Viacom President and COO Mel Karmazin repeating his willingness to take on the FCC during the conference call for Viacom's first quarter results.
In New York, Stern topped the morning drive ratings in the Winter figures with a 7.2 share for persons 12 plus and took his share in the 25-54 demographic up from 5.9 to 10.0: His results helped Infinity's modern rock WXRK-FM move from 13th to 10th place overall for the 12 plus audience.
Stern was also doing well on the other side of the US with a 5.4 share in the Los Angeles 12 plus audience and a 7.0 share in 25-54 and a tie in the top spot with a 9.6 share for 18-34, sharing the spot with Kevin and Bean.
At Viacom, Mel Karmazin told investors that Viacom was concerned at government involvement in controlling speech and added that it considered the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) to be on a "very slippery" slop in using its power to influence programme content.
In the end, as a licensee, he said they had to follow the rules and were changing programming and instituting delay systems to protect itself but would also aggressively "take the FCC to court if the opportunity presents itself, because we believe what they are doing is not appropriate."
Karmazin cited FCC rules that say indecent material is considered to involve "sexual or excretory matter," and said Bono's "Fucking brilliant" comment at the Golden Globes was neither of these. He added that at least when "there were seven dirty words that constituted indecency, we knew what the rules were."
True to his words, Viacom is contesting a March FCC notice of apparent liability for USD 27,500 sent to WKRK-FM, Detroit, for material aired on the Stern Show last year (See RNW Mar 20).
It has filed a response arguing that in proposing it the FCC is chipping away First Amendment rights and arguing that the commission has "abruptly and systematically altered almost every aspect of indecency enforcement in ways that dramatically undermine the lawfulness of the overall scheme.''
2004-04-24: Both Montreal-headquartered Astral Media and Toronto-based Corus have reported strong figures, for their financial second quarters to the end of February.
Astral reported net earnings from continuing operations up 16% to CAD 17.4 million (USD 12.8 million - CAD 0.31 per share) - CAD 16.1 million (USD 11.9 million after a CAD 1.2-million (USD 891,000) loss on discontinued operations, including Quebec stations it has had to divest - for the second quarter and up 23% to CAD 38.2 million (USD 28 million - CAD 0.69 per share) for the half-year on revenues up 5% to CAD 118.4 million (USD 87 million) and 10% to CAD 246.5 million (USD 181 million) respectively.
EBITDA for the first six months was up 18% to CAD 67.6 million (USD 49.7 million) and up 10% to CAD 31.0 million (USD 22.8 million) in the second quarter.
In divisional terms TV revenues for the quarter and half year were up 7.6% to CAD 90.5 million (USD 66.5 million) and 8.4% to CAD 183.6 million (USD 134.9 million), radio revenues were down 1.9% to CAD 21.2 million (USD 15.6 million) and up 23% to CAD 47 million (USD 34.5 million) and outdoor revenues were down 4.6% to CAD 6.6 million (USD 4.9 million) and down 5.7% to CAD 15.9 million (USD 11.7 million).
Astral President and CEO Ian Greenberg said they were pleased with the "double-digit growth in net earnings and EBITDA that we delivered this quarter" adding, "The strong contribution of our Television business, both in terms of advertising and subscriber revenues, was significant to our growth in the second quarter. As we have seen in the past, our well balanced revenue mix helps alleviate the seasonal fluctuations of advertising revenues."
Corus reported profits in the quarter to the end of February up 18% to CAD 8.3 million (USD 6.1 million - CAD 0.19 per share) on revenues up 5% to CAD 155 million (USD 113.9 million) but profits for the half year were down 8.1% to CAD 14 million (USD 10.3 million - CAD 0.33 per share).
The second quarter rise was down mainly to improved TV performance - revenues were up 5% to
CAD 75.2 million (USD 55.2 million) and Content division revenues up 18% to CAD 34.3 million (USD 25.2 million) while radio revenues fell 2.2% to CAD 47.8 million (USD 35.1 million) although cost controls helped increase radio division profits by 9% to CAD 7.7 million (USD 5.7 million).
For the half year, TV revenues were up 8% to CAD 169.4 million (USD 124.4 million), content revenues were up 26% to CAD 65 million (USD 47.8 million) and radio revenues were up 0.4% to CAD 108.6 million (USD 79.8 million).
Corus Entertainment Executive Chair Heather Shaw said they were " pleased with the solid earnings growth delivered by all three operating divisions in the first half of this fiscal year."
"The Company has responded well to specific business challenges and has managed the balance of our asset portfolio to ensure continued growth in shareholder value."
Corus' Board of Directors has approved the Company's second semi-annual dividend for holders of its Class A and Class B shares of CAD 0.02 and CAD 0.025 respectively: Payment is due on June 30.
2004-04-23: Viacom has reported record first quarter revenues of USD 6.8 billion, up 12% on a year earlier, operating income up 20% to a record USD 1.2 billion, and net earnings up 60% to USD USD711 million (USD 0.41 per diluted share) including the recognition of a tax benefit of USD141 million, net of minority interest, or USD.08 per diluted share, from the resolution of the Company's federal income tax audit for the years 1997 through May 4, 2000.
It puts most of the gains down to a 21% increase in overall advertising revenues to USD 3.2 billion and a 21% growth in its cable networks.
In divisional terms, cable network revenues were up most (21%) AT USD 1.4 billion, followed by TV - up 18% to USD 2.27 billion and then outdoor and entertainments, each up 7% to USD 403 million and USD 851 million respectively: Radio revenues were up 3% to USD 455 million and video was down 1% to USD 1.5 billion.
Radio operating income was up 5% to USD199 million reflecting a 3% increase in advertising revenues driven by local advertising spending. The Company's top 10 radio markets, paced by New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Boston, grew revenues 6%.
Commenting on the results Chairman and CEO Sumner Redstone said they "put the Company on a fast track for another record year in 2004."
"We are off to a great start with growth in every important metric," he added. "We generated impressive revenue gains across all of our core businesses."
Regarding Viacom's planned divestiture of its Blockbuster video business he said this would "further refine our focus on the core assets that hold the greatest promise for our future."
President and COO Mel Karmazin said the results highlighted "Viacom's ability to grow revenues, pick up market share and maximize our leading positions in the fastest growing advertiser-supported media businesses."
"Equally important," he continued, "we demonstrated our superior capability to leverage this growth into strong bottom-line results, while continuing to expand our margins."
Looking ahead, Viacom is sticking by its previous full year forecasts of revenue growth of 5% to 7%, operating income growth of 12% to 14% and earnings per share growth of 13% to 15%. It notes that its operating income and EPS guidance excludes the 2003 non-cash charge related to Blockbuster and the 2004 tax benefit from the resolution of the Company's federal income tax audit.
2004-04-23: Entercom has announced a USD 73.5 million deal to purchase three Indianapolis stations - WZPL-FM, WTPI-FM, and WXNT-AM, from Indianapolis-based MyStar Communications Corp. It says it expects to start operating the stations under a time-brokerage agreement in mid-June and President and CEO David J. Field said the stations had a "proud history and we aim to build upon their success by delivering compelling programming to our listeners and excellent results to our advertisers."
"Indianapolis is a terrific market and we look forward to making a positive contribution to the community," he added.
In another US radio deal. Citadel has announced agreement on a USD 22 million purchase of WMAS-AM and FM. Springfield, Massachusetts, from with Lappin Communications, Inc.
Citadel chairman and CEO Farid Suleman said the acquisition was "consistent with the Company's strategy of acquiring radio stations in the Nation's top 100 markets."
"These stations are leading stations in Springfield and will enhance the Company's position in the New England region [where Citadel has 21 stations]," he added.
In Buffalo, Entercom and Citadel may be in a bidding war for Adelphia Communications' sports format WNSA-FM according to a Wednesday report in Buffalo Business First, which says that Citadel has submitted a bid of USD 9.35 million, topping a prior offer of USD 9 million from Entercom.
Adelphia, which is due in a hearing in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Manhattan on April 26, had accepted the Entercom offer pending approval by the bankruptcy court and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).
The report says that should Citadel take over the station, which holds the rights to Buffalo Sabres broadcasts, it would give it a foothold in the sports market to add to music stations in the area that include WGRF-FM, WHTT-FM and WEDG-FM.
For Entercom it suggests that a likely move would be to switch the Sabres games to its sports station WGR-AM and possibly then switch WNSA to a rock format to compete with Citadel.
It is not clear if a subsequent decision by Adelphia's board to explore a possible sale of the company will scuttle the deal. It said in a statement that it is to determine if a sale would deliver greater value to stakeholders than a re-organization and disposals.
Adelphia, the fifth-largest cable TV operator in the U.S., filed its original proposed reorganization plan in February: it was put into bankruptcy two years ago following a financial scandal involving the Rigas family.
Company founder John Rigas, two sons, Timothy and Michael, and another ex-company executive are standing trial in federal court for looting the company.
Citadel and Entercom are also facing off in Pennsylvania where Citadel has ended simulcasts on WSJR-FM, Wilkes Barre, of its active rock WBSX-FM and switched to a country format. Entercom is simulcasting country on its WGGI-FM and WGGY-FM.
Buffalo First report:
2004-04-23: DMG, which last week won the new Sydney commercial licence with a bid of AUD 106 million (USD 78 million- See RNW April 16) , has, as expected now taken the new Brisbane licence for which it is paying AUD 80 million (USD 58 million).
It was keen on the Brisbane licence as it has no outlet in the city for its Nova network: It says the new station will be launched later this year or early in 2005 and notes that Brisbane is Australia's fastest growing city, adding, "This, together with the network benefits we expect to gain, leads us to expect a good return on this investment. We expect the station to move into profit in its second year on
DMG Radio Australia chief executive Paul Thompson said the licence completed the national Nova network, adding, " We not only bring in the Brisbane licence we bring in the national network and that probably makes it ... more valuable to us."
He also said the station would stick to Nova's practice of "playing no more than two commercials in a row".
The bid was at the lower end of advance estimates - Goldman Sachs JBWere estimated a range between AUD80 and AUD100 million but Australian Broadcasting Authority (ABA) chairman Professor David Flint said it was "very pleased" with the result, adding, "When this new service goes to air, it will add to the diversity of radio services for listeners in the Brisbane market."
One more major metropolitan licence, that for Melbourne, is due to be auctioned this year and DMG says it intends to bid for this.
2004-04-23: The Broadcasting Commission of Ireland (BCI) has now signed a ten-year agreement with CK Broadcasting Limited (KCLR 96FM) for the new franchise area of Counties Kilkenny and Carlow.
KCLR will go on air on May 6 with a service of a wide range of music, plus news, current affairs and sport for both counties.
2004-04-23: The BBC Radio 4 Today breakfast show, which was at the centre of the row over a broadcast that suggested the British government had "sexed-up" intelligence about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction prior to the war on the country is to strengthen its commitment to breaking exclusive stories.
It has advertised internally two jobs for journalists to help research exclusive stories and the UK Guardian comments that this "would seem to suggest that Today editor Kevin Marsh supports chairman designate Michael Grade's view that it would be 'nonsense' and 'self-defeating' for the corporation to abandon seeking exclusive stories in the wake of the Hutton report [into the death of scientist Dr David Kelly who was the source for the broadcast].
Marsh is one of the six BBC News executives involved in a controversial internal investigation being led by BBC Acting Director-General Mark Byford into the BBC reporting of the story.
UK Guardian report:
2004-04-22: Sirius Satellite Radio says it now has more than 351,000 subscribers - some 90,000 more than in the previous quarter - and took a 41% share of satellite receiver retail sales in February but it was back in loss for the first quarter of the year although it notes that its revenues were up 88% from the previous quarter whilst fixed costs remained flat.
For the quarter to the end of March, Sirius says it had revenues of USD 9.3 million, more than five times that of a year earlier, but its operational loss was also up - from USD 99.1 million a year before to USD 119.5 million.
Overall it had a net loss applicable to common stockholders of USD 146.4 million (12 cents a share) in the quarter compared to net income of USD 51.9 million (16 cents a share) in 2003 when its figures were boosted by a USD 256.5 gain in connection with the elimination of some 91% of its debt.
President and CEO Joseph P. Clayton said that on the hells of an excellent holiday season Sirius had a "very strong " first quarter for retail, doubling its share since the introduction of its Plug & Play products last June.
"With 94% reporting strong satisfaction, our customers are telling us that SIRIUS is a service they can't live without," he added. "These high satisfaction ratings coupled with our increased awareness and availability bode very well for SIRIUS' future."
Sirius announced several new distribution and programming agreements in the quarter and has now announced that selected Wal-Mart stores will soon offer the Jensen/SIRIUS portable "Plug & Play" satellite radio with a car installation kit for just under USD 150 with a boombox accessory available for just under USD 100.
Sirius also says its balance sheet is the strongest in the industry and it has more than USD 700 million in cash.
Its rival XM this week has announced that it has successfully completed a USD200 million offering of Senior Secured Floating Rate Notes due 2009: The interest rate will be 6.65% for the initial quarterly period and will then be LIBOR (London Inter Bank Offering Rate) plus5.5%.
2004-04-22: Toronto-headquartered Rogers Communications Inc has reported first quarter operating revenues up 13.4% to CAD 1.265 billion (USD 930 million) and operating profits up 23.4% to CAD 382 million (USD 281 million) but overall it reported a loss of CAD 64.8 million (USD 47.7 million or CAD 0.33 per share) compared to a profit of CAD 23.8 million (USD 17.5 million or CAD 0.06 per share). It attributed the fall into loss to an increase of CAD 161 million (USD 118.5 million) in various expenses, principally a loss on foreign exchange on U.S. dollar-denominated debt compared to a substantial gain in 2003 and a loss on repayment of long-term debt in the current quarter.
Rogers noted that in the seasonally lowest quarter of the year, revenue at its Media division increased 9.7% year-over-year with 14.1% growth at Radio, 23.2% growth at Television and 10.6% growth at The Shopping Channel while publishing revenues remained flat.
President and CEO Ted Rogers said, "The solid financial and operating results of the first quarter were an excellent start to the year and were relatively balanced across all of the operating companies."
"Continued sharpening of our sales and marketing focus combined with ongoing operational enhancements, new product deployments and a disciplined approach to our markets is the plan for 2004 and we are well on track to again delivering double-digit growth in both revenues and operating profit."
Also in Canada, CanWest Global Communications Corp. in its financial results for the three months ended February 29, 2004, the second quarter of its 2004 fiscal year, reported consolidated revenues down from CAD 501 million (USD 368 million) a year earlier to CAD 494 million (UD 363 million).
Canwest's New Zealand radio operations had a 47% increase in EBITDA to CAD 8 million (USD 5.9 million) but overall the company went from just under CAD 10 million (USD 7.3 million- CAD 0.01 per share) in the black to CAD 211 million (USD 155 million or CAD 1.19) in the red: It noted that excluding the loss from discontinued operations and other non-cash charges described above, the net loss in the current period would have been CAD 2 million (USD 1.5 million) and net earnings on the same basis a year earlier would have been CAD 13 million (USD 9.6 million), including a gain of CAD 21 million (USD 15.4 million )on the sale of the Ontario smaller market newspapers.
President and CEO Leonard Asper said the results demonstrated "the value of CanWest's diversification strategy and particularly our holdings in Australia and New Zealand broadcasting assets, which offset the disappointing results from Canadian conventional television."
"Our Canadian newspaper assets also recorded significant revenue and EBITDA gains compared to last year."
Previous Ted Rogers:
2004-04-22: According to a report in the San Antonio Business Journal, Clear Channel may have to pay the US Internal Revenues Service USD 25.1 million in connection with the sale of four stations that it had to divest to gain clearance of its 1999 takeover of Jacor Communication Inc.
The stations involved - WHPT-FM, WFJO-FM and WRBQ-FM in Tampa, Florida, and WNCX-FM, Cleveland - went to CBS Radio Inc., which bought WRBQ and WNCX for USD 92.5 million, and Cox Radio Inc., which paid USD 35 million for WFJO-FM and swapped its Syracuse, New York, stations WYYY-FM, WWHT-FM, WHEN-AM and WSYR-AM for WHPT-FM.
Clear Channel, says the report, is fighting an IRS ruling that there was a USD 121.8 million taxable capital gain as a result of the deal: It says it the proceeds from the sales were placed in "a qualified intermediary trust" -- which used the money to buy replacement stations for Clear Channel two months after the sale, - well within the time constraints to qualify as a tax-free station exchange.
Clear Channel is also appealing IRS orders to pay USD 19.7 million in additional 1998 taxes after the agency denied or reduced deductions for stock options, royalty payments, license fees and losses.
Previous Clear Channel:
San Antonio Business Journal report:
2004-04-22: Mexican Radio company, Grupo Radio Centro, has filed with the Mexican Banking and Securities Commission a loss of MXN 245.8 million (USD 21.8 million) in 2003 due to an extraordinary loss of MXN 340.7 million (USD 30.2 million) in connection with the award against it by an arbitration panel of damages of USD 21 million in an action brought against it by Infored, S.A. de C.V. and Mr. Jose Gutierrez Vivo (See RNW Mar 6):
It had reported its 2003 results, which showed net income of MXN 60.4 million (USD 5.5 million) before the award was made (See RNW Feb 29).
Grupo Radio says that it plans to challenge the award in the courts and pending this will seek a stay of the enforcement of the damage award.
Previous Grupo Radio:
2004-04-22: Progress Media's Air America Radio has announced that it has now reached a settlement with Multicultural Broadcasting over broadcasts on WTND-AM, Chicago.
It was thrown off WTND then reinstated following court action and will now be on the station until April 30. It will not be returning to Multicultural's KBSA-AM in Los Angeles, from which it was also dropped; it has not released details of its settlement but says it is "in discussions to broadcast Air America Radio on strong signal stations in Chicago and Los Angeles" and will have an announcement on the developments soon.
As well as its internet service and channels on Sirius and XM satellite radio, Air America is currently being aired on six stations, including WTND, and has also announced agreements with eight more.
In New York, the largest US market, it is on WLIB-AM but the Multicultural stations were its only outlets in the second and third markets in the US.
Previous Progress Media-Air America:
2004-04-21: US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) chairman Michael K. Powell in his interview with Sam Donaldson at the NAB Convention Chairman's Breakfast has argued that the question of what is indecent has to be left open to interpretation rather than being a matter for specific regulations.
He argued that the government should not "write a 'red book' of what you can and cannot say" and said that looser rules allowed the Commission to consider "context, meaning, tone and other mitigating factors" when considering indecency complaints.
He also insisted that the agency was not bowing to pressure, saying it was rather being "responsive" to public concerns.
RNW comment: We feel strongly that Powell is weaselling on this particular issue and intend to take up the matter of the current climate in the US in this month's comment, due out soon.
2004-04-21: Arbitron has reported revenues in the quarter to the end of March up 7.3 % on a year earlier USD 76.6 million and net income up 12.3% to USD 18.1 million: Earnings before interest and taxes (EBIT) were up 6.7% to USD 31.9 million and expenses rose more - up 7.7% to USD 43.4 million with a 32.8% decline in interest expenses to USD 3.6 million helping keep up the bottom line.
The interest expenses reduction was put down to a reduction in the company's long-term debt, which was reduced in the first quarter of this year from USD 105 million to USD 85 million.
President and CEO Stephen Morris said Arbitron had again met its revenue and profitability goals in the quarter, continuing, "Our core radio ratings business remains strong, and we continued our investments in new services that have long-term growth potential for our company and for our customers. In particular, we acquired Marketing Resources Plus, a leading provider of media buying software systems to local and regional advertising agencies for broadcast and print media."
He also said the company's Portable People Meter has been making steady progress in all its development areas - market research applications, international ratings and U.S. local market ratings.
In other US results, Journal Communications has reported net earnings for the quarter to March 28 up 26.0% to USD 15.7 million on operating revenue up operating revenue 1.5% to USD 192.7 million.
Broadcasting operating revenue for the quarter was up 7.4% to $34.6 million, and Broadcasting operating earnings were up 70.1% to USD 6.5 million, helped by a number of factors including strong television political advertising and an increase in local advertising at most of its television and radio markets.
Within the division radio operating revenue was up 5.7% to USD 16.7 million and radio operating earnings were up 63.2% to USD 3.1 million whilst TV operating revenue was up 9.1% to USD 17.9 million and TV operating earnings were up 78.9% to USD 3.4 million.
For March itself broadcast group operating revenues were up 11.9% to USD 14.9 million and radio operating revenues were up 8.8% to USD 7.2 million whilst TV operating revenues were up 15.6% to USD 7.7 million.
Previous Journal Communications:
2004-04-21: India's broadcasting regulator has launched a consultation concerning changes that could revive the ailing private FM industry in the country: They include possible changes in the free structure away from a fixed annual fee to a revenue percentage and possibly lifting restrictions on content, transmitter siting and foreign investment.
The paper - the Consultation Paper On Licensing Issues Relating to 2nd Phase Of Private FM Radio Broadcasting - issued by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) in a is seeking views from the industry on a issues including possible removal of the bar on news on private FMs and how it should handle the migration of licences to the final system that is agreed (See RNW April 12).
In a preface to the document it notes that although it auctioned 108 frequencies in 40 cities in 2000 services have started only in 14 cities and most of the broadcasters are finding their projects "commercially unviable primarily due to very high amount of license fee, which they have to pay for the Government" and that the industry has reported heavy losses.
Figures compiled by the industry for 2002-03 showed that in the best case amongst stations on air in areas outside Delhi and Mumbai (Bombay) the licence fee was a fifth above its revenues and in the worst group nearly ten times the revenues.
Against this background India's Working Group on Information and Broadcasting Sector for the Formulation of the Tenth Five Year Plan concluded that treating FM radio as a revenue source for the government was counter productive because it hindered their growth and it emphasised the need to increase FM cover of India to double the current 30% of the population by the end of the plan.
The Radio Broadcast Policy Committee set up under Dr. Amit Mitra, Secretary General of the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce International (FICCI) has recommended that licences be changed to a system of a one-off fee plus a percentage of revenues and also that licensees be permitted to defer payment of fees until a final system is agreed.
The TRAI is also asking about the impact of restrictions, such as the barring of news on private channels, on FM advertising revenues which are around 2% of the Indian advertising total, half of which goes to state broadcaster All India Radio.
The restrictions, which do not apply to TV, which has a much smaller reach, were imposed partly on technical grounds because FM was preferred for music services and AM already covers nearly all of India, and also because of security concerns in sensitive areas prone to communal and/ or caste tensions.
Other restrictions include a ban on networking without specific permission for special events, restrictions on holding multiple licences in any metropolitan area, thus restricting development of specialised formats, an insistence that licensees use co-located transmitters, and restrictions on foreign investment.
For the second phase, TRAI is considering changes in the licence regime to possibly allow commercial licences with no defined format for service requirements, specialised licences for particular formats, commercial licences that include particular conditions such as requirements to broadcast local news content, and non-commercial licenses.
TRAI asks if any conditions should be applied to licences and if so which ones; it also asks whether it should continue the current system of allocating licences only for city areas or also consider national, provincial and rural ones in addition and if so which should be introduced.
In terms of licence duration, TRAI lists details applying in other countries and asks if the current ten-year period should be retained or changed and if so on what basis particularly as concerns renewals and a proposal to allow an automatic five-year extension if a licensee has performed satisfactorily.
As regards encouraging the wider introduction of FM, TRAI asks about rollout obligations and whether these should be included in licence conditions and also whether for some niches there should be a fund to support rollout and promotion on non-commercial services.
On the question of licence awards it distinguished between areas where there is no spectrum scarcity and those where spectrum is scarce, suggesting that for the former criteria could be set and licences awarded on a first-come-first-served basis but for other areas it asks for comments on the merits of awards using lotteries, a beauty contest system, and auctions.
Among systems discussed it notes the suggestion of an entry fee and revenue percentage, saying that the relevant revenues would have to be defined carefully. It also raises the question of ownership caps and cross media ownership.
Relating to content, TRAI notes that currently all stations have to adhere to the AIR programme code that deals with such matters as criticism of friendly countries, attacks on religion or communities, incitement to violence or law breaking, advocating violent change to the country's constitution and obscene or defamatory material; it then asks if this should be continued, different codes be introduced or constraints relate to general laws rather than broadcast codes.
TRAI also asks about technical details such as whether it should continue its current mandating of co-sited transmitters, separation between signals to avoid interference, as well as seeking comment on other matters such as allowing news cover, networking, penalties should a company not start operations when a licence has been awarded and foreign investment.
Previous Indian Radio:
TRAI consultation document (195 Kb 65 page PDF):
2004-04-21: To link with the new London Capital FM breakfast show as Johnny Vaughan took over from Chris Tarrant, BBC Online has polled a number of UK radio industry figures about what they think makes a great radio Breakfast show, coming up with a wide range of responses with little in common.
Ande MacPherson, programme director at Manchester's Century FM said there were five things needed and doing all well was where the "real talent" came in - he said the show had to be fun, intelligent but not high-brow, informative and live in the world, and have bite-size news and information - everything from hard news to what I will encounter on my way to work.
"It has to have a social context - even if it's just a joke I can use during the day," he added, " and it has to be real."
Radio Academy director Jon Bradford's response was on the individual DJ level: He commented, "My ultimate breakfast show host is Kenny Everett, but that requires a hotline to the celestial studio. He broke all of the rules and made people rethink what radio was all about. He had a completely off-the-wall sense of humour. What he did had a debt to things like The Goons, but his show was completely unversed and unscripted."
And from a non-professional, London Evening Standard media reporter Andre Paine commented, "It seems like the breakfast shows are trying to go for the huge appeal of the older names like Tony Blackburn and Noel Edmonds.
"Tony Blackburn had that easy charm. It really was classic radio broadcasting - he came across like a cool uncle. That what Tarrant had as well, an all-pervasive appeal. "
BBC Online report:
2004-04-20: The 2004 National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) convention in Las Vegas has heard NAB President and CEO Eddie Fritts in his opening address comment on the "fundamental" value of free to air broadcasting and attack directly or indirectly competitors such as satellite radio, the cable companies, and the internet.
Speaking of free to air broadcasts compared to subscription services -- USD75 a month or more for TV entertainment, USD10 a month for their radio, and USD50 a month for their high-speed Internet service - - Fritts commented, "Sometimes we lose sight of the fundamentals in the pursuit of the flashy and the fleeting. I think something similar has happened to broadcasting, at least on the part of some public policymakers."
"If broadcasting were a developing technology, the government would enthusiastically encourage its spread. Look how Congress is loath to regulate the Internet or to do anything that might stifle its growth. I think the Internet is terrific, but what has the Internet done for community service? How many kidnapped kids have been saved by a website? [ a reference to the broadcast Amber Alert system]"
Fritts also spoke of digital radio - "an exciting and necessary advance" - but then went on, "What concerns our radio colleagues, of course, is satellite radio's obvious violation of FCC rules."
"You've read that XM and Sirius are now cream-skimming certain broadcast markets by providing local weather and traffic reports. We believe this directly contradicts FCC rules, under which satellite was licensed as a national service."
"Clearly, XM and Sirius face serious financial problems, plus other pressures. A quarter of their customers are switching off the service every year. Also, the life expectancy of XM satellites has fallen from 17 to less than 7 years. That's why every morning when I get up, I look out the window to make sure an XM satellite is not plummeting toward my roof. So you can see why XM and Sirius are skirting the FCC rules."
"That must not happen. I urge all radio broadcasters to contact their Members of Congress in support of HR 4026, which orders the FCC to investigate the XM and Sirius violations."
RNW comment: Apart from the earlier self-congratulatory and self-interest comments Fritts here goes into the self-contradictory. If the satellite companies are in "obvious violation of FCC rules" they aren't just "skirting" them and the FCC needs to be asked to enforce the rules not investigate.
Equally if so many customers are switching off satellite, then terrestrial has little to fear. Unless Fritts is again confused - Maybe 20 years as NAB president is just too much for a brain to take in.
Fritts also took up the question of broadcast "indecency",, commenting of the Janet Jackson incident during the Super Bowl, saying, "Let me now turn from the indefensible to the indecent... and say a few words about a topic that just won't go away."
"To be sure, this year's Super Bowl halftime show was an unfortunate event. But if a similar incident had happened on any of the hundreds of cable or satellite channels, it would have been greeted with a collective shrug by the American public and by public policymakers. Why?... Because "wardrobe malfunctions" are part of the cable and satellite landscape Monday through Friday, 24/7."
"Some would say that what happened at the Super Bowl was cable television standards being foist on an American public expecting broadcast standards. Others would say that what is malfunctioning now in Washington is a regulatory framework that treats broadcast programming different than that of cable and satellite. I'm not suggesting that broadcasters do not continue to have a special compact with the government. The government licenses spectrum to broadcasters, and broadcasters in turn serve the community. And it's my belief that the vast majority of Americans believe that social compact is alive and flourishing."
RNW comment: Again Fritts is either not that bright, not that well informed or is dissimulating. The reason cable and subscription services are treated differently is to do with choice - you don't tune into them by accident since you have to pay - and the First Amendment, which has led the courts to rule that different rules apply.
But don't hold your breath to find NAB defending the First Amendment here - You're more likely, we suspect, to find it callign for regulation of cable and satellite.
The convention also saw an emphasis on digital radio and iBiquity announced that Univision's KEMR-FM, San Jose, has become the 100th station in the US to start broadcasts using its HD in-band-on-channel digital technology.
It also said it has a list of more than 300 licensed stations that have initiated or soon will initiate HD Radio broadcasts throughout the US including 15 of Entercom's stations
iBiquity president and CEO Robert Struble commented, "With the ongoing success that stations are enjoying in their transition to HD Radio broadcasting, we're now delighted to welcome the millions of radio listeners across the nation to the party. With radio serving first and foremost as a cherished local medium, stations' ability to promote the introduction of HD Radio broadcasts directly to listeners within their community coupled with the growing retail availability of HD Radio receivers paves the way for radio's newest golden era."
iBiquity HD stations web site:
2004-04-20: The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and a coalition of major media companies including Beasley, Citadel, Entercom, Radio One and Viacom has asked the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to reconsider its ruling that the rock star Bono's use of the phrase "fucking brilliant" during a live telecast of the 2003 Golden Globe Awards was "indecent and profane."
Commenting on the petition, ACLU senior staff attorney Chris Hansen said, "The FCC is now setting itself up as a national censorship board, seeking to impose its version of morality on the American public. What's worse, for the first time in television history, the FCC is declaring that tape delays of live broadcasts are necessary to protect us from so-called indecency and blasphemy."
Hansen added that the FCC's definitions were "so hopelessly vague that no broadcaster can conscientiously apply the rules. As a result, broadcasters will self-censor, and we will lose both creative, challenging content and spontaneity." NBC, which aired the Golden Globes, is expected to file its own petition.
The ACLU is also opposing the Broadcast Decency Enforcement Act of 2004 which would massively increase the penalties for broadcast indecency for both licensees and artists and which is still making its way through the legislative process.
Not all broadcasters are going along with the action including, for the moment at least, Clear Channel, which has dumped the Howard Stern Show from its stations as well as firing hosts Bubba the Love Sponge and The Regular Guys as part of its "Responsible Broadcasting Initiative," and Cumulus, whose chairman and CEO Lewis Dickey told the Atlanta Business Chronicle that the FCC reaction was "long overdue" adding, "The decency standard has been overlooked a long time."
Cumulus has never been fined for indecency offences and Dickey commented, "We don't think that kind of programming has any place in our company. We don't need that kind of programming to generate ratings."
RNW comment: As we have already noted, under the definitions of its rules the FCC itself had published, the Bono incident did not breach its rules. Nor in our view did the Sex in St Patrick's Cathedral broadcast that led to the ending of the Opie and Anthony Show.
We can only hope that there is enough spine in the broadcasters to push this matter the courts and enough in the latter for the FCC to be sent packing with some harsh words.
ACLU news release:
Atlanta Business Chronicle report:
2004-04-20: Capital FM's new breakfast host Johnny Vaughan made a slightly halting start on Capital Radio's flagship London station on Monday when he took over from long time host Chris Tarrant.
In the first ten minutes he had corrected himself for referring to a song as "Sugababes and The Hole in the Head" rather than just "Hole in the Head" after kicking off the show with Jam's Start!
Most of the tracks played were significantly newer - from such artists as Beyoncé and Black Eyed Peas and as the show continued Vaughan appeared to become more confident and sparked well in exchanges with co-host Becky Jago although some of the phone-in competitions seemed a little rough at the edges.
Success for the show is crucial for capital - the flagship station amounts for around two-fifths of the group's revenues and the breakfast show is considered vital to its success- and Capital's chief executive David Mansfield told the UK Guardian, "It is a new chapter for 95.8FM. It's the anchor show of this radio station in London. A successful breakfast show means a successful radio station. I am a great believer in seizing the moment and that's a moment for the people to be extremely confident about the future."
Mansfield admitted to the paper that the station was slow to make changes - it was overtaken briefly by competitor Chrysalis's Heart FM as London's most listened-to radio outfit last year (See RNW Oct 24, 2003)- saying, "Perhaps we were slow in recognising that we needed to change and things needed to move on. Sometimes you have to make quite dramatic people changes in order to bring in fresh thinking and that's what the company has done."
Capital is now back at the top in the ratings and Mansfield expressed confidence in Vaughan, telling the paper, "Johnny Vaughan's creativity is such that a lot of the ideas that he comes up with, and a lot of the features that he will run, will be appropriate not just in his show but throughout the day and throughout the Capital group. He is a hugely prolific creative talent. He just generates ideas and I think that's something perhaps we have lacked over the past few years."
Also in UK radio, UBC Media has issued an upbeat update in advance of the June release of final figures for the year to the end of March.
It says its ambitious plans remain on track and notes particular success for its AA Roadwatch traffic and travel news and other network programming, saying that advertising revenues from them are expected to have more than doubled year on year.
UBC also says its investment in digital radio is beginning to bear fruit with receiver sales ahead of its expectations and UBC also gaining significant audiences for its digital services on the Sky and Freeview digital TV platforms.
It also notes that recent sales of digital radio software from its radio services division, Unique Interactive, will ensure that this division shows good growth in turnover and profitability.
On the analogue services it says its Classic Gold Digital network of stations, available on both AM and digital radio, continues to perform strongly.
UBC says that for the first time it is to report revenues from its digital services, although these will not make a significant contribution to the group until the 2004-05 financial year. Other divisions says UBC are trading in line with its expectations.
UK Guardian report:
2004-04-20: US religious-oriented broadcaster Salem Communications says it expects first quarter net revenues of USD 43 million compared to previous guidance of USD 41.7 to USD 42.2 million with same station net broadcasting revenues set to be up around 10% year-on-year.
The results are to be released next week and Salem President and CEO Edward G. Atsinger III said Salem continued, "to achieve revenue growth well above industry averages, particularly at our developing contemporary Christian music stations."
"This," he continued, "will result in Salem delivering strong first quarter performance that exceeds our guidance. We are also encouraged by the fact that April 2004 is currently pacing in the low double digits."
Salem has also announced that its annual FISH FEST this year is to be held on July 25 with artists appearing to include Christian recording artists Steven Curtis Chapman, Delirious, Jars of Clay, Crystal Lewis and Jeremy Camp.
2004-04-20: The Australian Broadcasting Authority (ABA) has asked the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) TV show Media Watch to "respect the confidentiality" of what it terms "an internal working document relating its inquiries into the sponsorship of Alan Jones breakfast show on Macquarie Network's Sydney station 2GB.
The ABA earlier this month ruled that the show did not breach its disclosure rules (See RNW April 6) and says it has become aware that the programme has obtained a copy of the document that is says is "an initial draft report on the investigation" and was prepared by a "relatively junior officer of the ABA."
It adds that the document has not been before the ABA's board and differs substantially from the draft that was ultimately put before the board but that it "confidential third party information that has not been provided to relevant parties for comment, as required by law."
Media Watch has in the past broken a number of stories relating to cash-for-comment in Australia.
Previous ABC, Australia:
2004-04-19: This week we have opted to devote most of our look at print comment on radio to Howard Stern, who would seem likely to be at the centre of more indecency fines soon and who may yet, many fear and others anticipate, end up off the airwaves.
First however a look at a different kind of talk radio, the political and some perspectives from the US on Air America and the role it may or may not fill.
In the Dallas-Fort Worth Star Telegram Robert Philpot compared what he termed, "talk-radio loudmouths Rush Limbaugh and Al Franken" adding, "I've spent a decent chunk of time the past week listening to Franken and Limbaugh, at the behest of editors who must be punishing me for some crime."
On the two hosts style, as opposed to content, he described Limbaugh as "quick and confident, and he can pick up his train of thought if he goes on a tangent. Blustery, but with some humour."
Franken's delivery by comparison wrote Philpot "still needs work, and despite promises to lure listeners with humour, not bluster, so far it's been more blustery than funny Co-host Katherine Lanpher, an experienced broadcaster, helps the flow but too often acts as a laugh track for Franken."
For US public radio, considered many as an "example of the liberal media" to use the description of National Public Radio ombudsman Jeffrey Dvorkin, there is the question of whether another "liberal" network could be competition. Dvorkin contends that in comparison to Air America "NPR that sounds a lot more conservative -- and a lot more sedate" and adds that the former "advocacy radio in that it doesn't let the literal truth get in the way of a good punch line" and unlike NPR "has no features or reports."
"Will Air America be a short-lived election year phenomenon, or will it draw listeners away from NPR?" asks Dvorkin. "Some listeners say NPR has become more cautious in recent years. NPR would do well to pay close attention to Air America's fortunes to see if monolithic and conservative commercial radio has begun to run its course."
"A greater worry for NPR might not be from Air America but from an attitude of complacency that ignores what else is interesting and valuable to Americans."
"At least in one other respect, Air America seems very savvy, and ironically it's in the realm of marketing. Their programs were launched at the beginning of the spring 2004 ratings season. NPR may know in August whether Air America has found its audience and whether it used to belong to NPR."
In the Chicago Tribune it was Limbaugh was also getting a hard ride in a column by Leonard Pitts who wrote of him as, "a major reason I'd rather hammer a spike through my ears than subject them to talk radio."
"Not because I disagree with his politics," continued Pitts, "though I doubt he and I could reach consensus on what day of the week it was. What makes Limbaugh an irritant on the order of gum boils, though, is not his opinions, but his stridence. He is a bumper sticker without the subtlety."
But then he went on " there is the new Air America radio network, which, some people hope, will give liberals the same platform for diatribe conservative broadcasters have enjoyed for years you still have to wonder if, in the long run, the quality of public discourse is really improved just because somebody is hollering at us from the other direction for a change. Noise is still noise, whatever its origin."
On to Howard Stern and a column by Roger Ebert in the Chicago Sun-Times headed "Stern belongs on radio just as much as Rush."
"Like millions of Americans," writes Ebert. "I listen to Howard Stern on the radio in the mornings. I think he is smart, quick and funny. Sometimes he is ''offensive,'' but to be quite frank, I am not ''offended,'' because what he says falls within the realm of words and subjects that, as an adult, I have long been familiar with even without the tutelage of Stern."
After noting that he does not listen to Limbaugh - he has cheapened political discourse in this country with his canned slogans and cheap shots. Once you call a feminist a ''feminazi,'' what else is there to say about feminism? " he comments, "What offends me is that the right wing, secure in its own right to offend, now wants to punish Stern to the point where he may be forced off the air."
"The big difference, of course, is that Stern's offenses usually have to do with sex and language, while Limbaugh's have to do with politics. Stern offends the puritan right, which doesn't seem to respect the American tradition of freedom of expression."
After commenting on the ability to choose, to turn off, and suggesting that the "entire nation cannot be held hostage so that everything on the radio is suitable for 9-year-olds" Ebert draws comparisons between Stern - "he expresses humanistic values opposes hypocrisy talks honestly" - and Limbaugh and then continues, "I support Limbaugh's right to be on the radio. I feel it is fully equal to Stern's. I find it strange that so many Americans describe themselves as patriotic when their values are anti-democratic and totalitarian."
"We are all familiar with Voltaire's great cry:'''I may disagree with what you say, but I shall defend, to the death, your right to say it.'' Ideas like his helped form the emerging American republic."
"Today, the Federal Communications Commission operates under an alternative slogan: ''Since a minority that is very important to this administration disagrees with what you say, shut up.'''
In similar vein, WBAP- AM host Mark Davis writing in the Dallas-Fort Worth Star-Telegram notes the demise of the Victoria's Secrets TV show after ratings fell but then goes on to add that after "my recent column decrying the sad logic of fining and harassing the Howard Stern show off the air, I received tons of nasty e-mails containing claims so uniformly vapid that they seemed to come from the same set of index cards:
" *Mark, I can't believe you support vulgarity. I don't. I support freedom. Freedom means that people will sometimes do things we don't like."
"*We need government to step in when we don't regulate ourselves well enough. Oh? So when people misuse freedom, we reflexively take it away?"
To which he responds, "Well, guns are a messy problem these days. Shall we toss that Second Amendment along with the First? The reflex desire to punt liberties that become tricky to manage is an abrogation of the personal responsibility that we conservatives properly rail about "
And more pertinently:
"* The Constitution was not created to protect obscenity. Read this carefully: It most certainly, inarguably, undeniably was."
"Safe, unoffensive speech requires no protection. The shocking, envelope-pushing, outrageous strains of thought are the ones that must be protected."
And for a final comment, "Media Schlock Jock" by Eric Mink in the St Louis Post-Dispatch starts, "Sleep soundly, America. Chairman Michael Powell and his fellow guardians of the airwaves at the Federal Communications Commission are hard at work protecting the nation's children from poo-poo jokes and raunchy sex talk on radio shows."
On the FCC chairman he comments, "Powell's hypocrisy is blindingly obvious. Before Feb. 1, the chairman's two-word mantra was "the marketplace." Whatever the problem - media concentration, innovation, consumer service, competing claims to bandwidth, new telecommunications technologies, economic viability, price-gouging - the marketplace was the solution. "
And on what is likely to happen: "It would be heartening to find a broadcaster with the courage to truly take on the government over this phony indecency crusade. But most broadcasters - certainly all those with pockets deep enough to challenge the government on principle - are part of those media behemoths who need government approval to grow even bigger and more powerful."
"Which means Michael Powell picked a fight against opponents he knew wouldn't fight back. What a brave soul."
RNW comment: So far, to give him his due Mel Karmazin has stuck by Stern but the real question is how many millions he will be allowed to spend to continue doing so.
It would be good to see a broadcaster challenge the rulings on principle - even if only on the basis that the FCC has effectively made its penalties effectively change the law retroactively by imposing now severe penalties for shows that were aired way before the current rush to condemn indecency began.
We rather hope that the FCC oversteps the mark by levying a very large fine for the Janet Jackson's breast incident - clearly as we have said before not one that breached the rules set out by the FCC - and that this is fought up to the courts. It would be good to see the Supreme Court slap the FCC around hard over Jackson, a crass incident in our view but not a rule breach, and if they don't the justices concerned deserve contempt.
And now some programmes worth a listen. To begin with try a brief bite - we don't think it's worth more - of the National Rifle Association radio show - see story below - to make up your own mind.
Then for some relief, BBC Radio 2's "Just Keep On Rocking!" that aired on Saturday but is still on the web site - hosted by Suzy Quattro it's a look at the impact over a half-century of Rock Around the Clock by Bill Haley and the Comets, originally a hastily recorded B-side; amongst those commenting are the BBC's new chairman Michael Grade, Bill Wyman of the Rolling Stones and Cliff Richard as well as members of the original Comets.
Going further back in time, the BBC Radio 4 archive hour "And Grandma in the Back Seat" looks at the history of motoring in the UK - how many people know, for instance, that the Automobile Association's patrolmen weren't being rude when they didn't salute - it was a legal way of warning, when the speed limit was 20 miles an hour, that there was a problem such as a speed trap ahead.
Also in reminiscing mood due at 10:30 GMT tomorrow is "Oh I Say! Leslie Phillips At 80", a look at the career of the eponymous actor whose first big break came in the Navy Lark radio comedy.
And if you want a more sentimental biography then back to Radio 2 on Friday at 18:00 GMT for "Sentimental Journey: The Life Of Doris Day" the first in a four-part series marking the star's 80th birthday.
For drama try radio 4 again and the Classic Serial, Yevgeny Zamyatin's 1921 Soviet novel "We" that began on Sunday (still available on the listen again part of the site) and ends next week: a tale of the tyranny of rational totalitarianism but not that different from other kinds.
And from the US - well the news, particularly after speaking to various Arabic acquaintances and friends at the weekend, makes the output even of National Public Radio seem as if it comes from a country called cloud-cuckoo land. We hope we're wrong but their unprecedented level of fear and desperation about US policy - never mind Palestinian officials openly speaking of Israeli PM Sharon as a war criminal and US President Bush and UK Prime Minister Tony Blair as accomplices - indicate that there won't be any easy exit from Iraq and that were there to be democracy in the Middle East virtually all governments in the area would be hostile to the US. Just imagine yourself as a Palestinian, humiliated daily by people who're stealing your land and who have killed a child or other innocent relative or friend yours with a rocket or bombing raid targeting somebody else and then listen with those ears to the Weekend Edition reports.
We'd suggest that the optimism in them will turn out to be pure guff.
Chicago Sun-Times - Ebert:
Chicago Tribune - Pitts:
Dallas-Fort Worth Star-Telegram - Davis:
Dallas-Fort Worth Star-Telegram - Philpot:
NPR - Dvorkin:
St Louis Post-Dispatch - Mink:
2004-04-19: Latest Australian radio advertising figures from PricewaterhouseCoopers show metropolitan commercial radio advertising in the first quarter of this year was up 16.3% on a year earlier to AUD 118.4 million (USD 88million) and for March itself were up 14.5% to AUD 43.4 million (USD 32 million).
The largest rise in March came in Brisbane where revenues were up 32% followed by Melbourne with 18%; Sydney, the largest market, had a 10.9% rise.
Figures for the whole of 2003 from the Commercial Economic Advisory Service of Australia (CEASA) showed advertising revenue for metropolitan radio (including both national and non-national advertiser categories) up 6.2% to AUD 484.8 million (USD 360 million) whilst regional radio revenues were up 4.6% to AUD 238.5 million (USD 177 million).
The Australian radio industry is involved in a promotional campaign to promote radio advertising and Joan Warner, CEO of industry body Commercial Radio Australia, commented, "While we are pleased about the growth in revenues, the industry has a long battle ahead of it to lift radio's overall share of total advertising expenditure, which remains at around eight per cent."
Previous Commercial Radio Australia:
2004-04-19: Nearly half a million digital radio receivers have now been sold in the United Kingdom according to the latest figures from GfK running to the end of February; they show sales more than doubling year on year.
GfK says sales since Christmas 2003, which set a new record, have been maintained thanks to a much wider range of products available and falling prices - receivers are now available in the UK from around GBP 60 (USD 108) - as more manufacturers including such as Hitachi, Philips, Samsung, Sharp and Sony have moved into the market alongside smaller manufacturers.
In addition a number of auto manufacturers are beginning to offer digital receivers in 2004 models.
UK Digital Radio Development Bureau (DRDB) chief executive Chief Executive Ian Dickens says everyone is benefiting from digital.
"Consumers like this technology - they like the wider station choice and they like how easy it is to use, and they're proving it by continuing to buy in record numbers," he commented. "Manufacturers and retailers like this technology - they like a revitalised audio market and they like making good margins on radio for the first time in years. And broadcasters like this technology - they like being able to extend their existing radio brands and they like bringing new formats to market."
In other digital audio developments, a new Electronic Programme Guide (EPG) data service is to be field tested in the UK and Canada using an open EPG standard developed by the WorldDAB EPG Task Force, chaired by Unique Interactive.
Taking part will be public and private broadcasters, network operators, chipset and receiver manufacturers from the UK, Canada, Sweden and Germany who will provide prototype receivers will test the specification in a real life environment.
A second trial will follow later this year and by the end of 2004 the EPG specification document will be completed, paving the way for broadcasters around the world to launch standard EPG services on new DAB home receivers.
The service is seen as good news for listeners unable to find printed programme information on available digital audio services and would enable a listener to search listings, find details of specific programmes, and then use the EPG to either select a programme or set up a reminder up to a week in advance so as to provide an alert before the show airs.
In the UK EPG services can already provide information on programmes on BBC national digital stations plus those of commercial broadcasters Capital Radio and Chrysalis on local digital multiplexes.
EPG services can already by accessed via a PC based DAB receiver and free EPG software can be downloaded from dabbar. Already several broadcasters have signed up to an EPG Management service operated by Unique Interactive.
Data from the Capital and Chrysalis Radio Groups provides listings for more than 30 commercial radio stations on DAB multiplexes around the UK. The BBC also operates an EPG service for its national digital multiplex.
Previous UK DRDB:
UK EPG web site for downloads:
2004-04-19: iBiquity is showcasing a range of HD Radio broadcasts from KXNT-AM and KSTJ-FM with commercial receivers from twelve manufacturers, including models that demonstrate new features, including the integration of real-time traffic data transmitted via these broadcasts with navigation systems during this year NAB convention being held in Las Vegas until Thursday.
It is also running a number of sessions to aid stations with their conversion to digital radio and will be participating today in conjunction with broadcast manufacturing partners Broadcast Electronics, Harris and Nautel in the Digital Marketplace reception, which is designed to provide broadcasters with an informal opportunity to meet with a variety of organizations supporting the commercial introduction of HD Radio technology.
iBiquity president and CEO Robert Struble said that HD radio was now a reality as new receivers came onto the market and stations successfully completed their conversion, adding, "Both audiences and broadcasters agree that HD Radio fundamentally changes the listening experience through the introduction to the radio airwaves of the digitally based programming that is increasingly defining the future of the media and entertainment industries. As the stakes and the opportunities for radio broadcasters have never been greater, we are excited by the chance to provide them with both the technologies and best practices required to succeed in this new era of radio broadcasting."
2004-04-19: The US National Rifle Association (NRA) has created an NRA news company that is streaming a daily talk show on the internet and also planning to purchase a radio station and try to arrange a TV deal to promote its message about the right to own guns.
The NRA is already streaming its show in audio and video: it's hosted by Cam Edwards, formerly of "Oklahoma's First News" on KTOK-AM, Oklahoma.
The NRA says it is setting up the company to make it a legitimate news-packaging organization and thus allow it to exercise its First Amendment rights. The move follows a US Supreme Court decision to uphold campaign-spending laws that outlaw using corporate and union funds for adverts targeting congressional and presidential candidates close to elections.
It is currently scheduling daily news briefs, then a show preview and a 1400-1700 E.T. live show.
RNW comment: The weekend show that we looked at would in many eyes not qualify it as a legitimate news organization. Its content was closer to that of the news carried by the former Soviet Union and still on broadcasters in states such as Zimbabwe and some middle east countries, which have a strict pro-leader and government agenda.
Apart from a fig leaf nod at the head saying that the NRA had not yet decided which candidate it would endorse but it would probably be President Bush - later Kerry was attacked as being consistently for more gun regulation - the output was fairly pure propaganda and in the half-hour or so during which we listened neither fair nor balanced. It provided no substantiation of facts to back up comments made, for example those on The Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Act, more commonly known, for its sponsors as the "Pittman-Robertson Act" and which with various wild life organisations would be likely to take issue. Overall a show that only confirmed bigots could take seriously.
Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Act web site:
Fund for Animals on Pittman-Robertson Act (165kb PDF):
NRA News site (requires registration and links to media of show):
2004-04-18: Australia provided the main licence story last week with DMG winning the new Sydney licence with an AUD 106 million (USD 78 million - see RNW April 16) bid with other areas' activities at a more routine level.
In Australia as well as the Sydney auction the Australian Broadcasting Authority (ABA) has also proposed to make new FM capacity available in Queensland for Ravenshoe commercial service 4AMM and in Tasmania for the Scottsdale commercial radio service 7RGS in Weldborough.
Both proposals are made under ABA under the Commercial Radio Blackspots Program, an Australian Government initiative that will provide AUD 5 million (USD 3.7 million) over three years to deliver new or improved commercial radio services to regional and remote communities where it has not been commercially viable for licensees to provide coverage.
Also in Queensland, the ABA has decided to make FM capacity available for a new community service for Yarraman.
The Yarraman and District Historical Society Inc (YDHS) has been broadcasting to the town under a temporary community licence since July 2002 and has expressed interest in a permanent licence.
In Canada the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) has been involved in a number of radio decisions. In order of province they include:
*Approval of two 105 watt FM transmitters for Slocan Valley T.V. Society, Passmore, to distribute, in non-encrypted mode, the signals of CISN-FM Edmonton, Alberta, and CFMI-FM New Westminster, British Columbia.
*Approval of Very low-power 3.6 watts religious FM in Abbotsford.
*Approval of application for a new 40,000 watts FM in Kenora to replace Fawcett Broadcasting Limited's CJRL-AM, the only local commercial station in the area but the CRTC noted an opposing intervention from Norwesto Communications Ltd. concerned about the impact on its application for a new commercial FM station in Vermilion Bay with rebroadcasting transmitters in Kenora and Dryden that would change the market status. The Hot AC format of CJRL will be maintained.
*The commission also approved Norwesto's proposal for a Hot AC 1,600 watts commercial English-language FM in Vermilion Bay with an 1800 watts rebroadcasting transmitter in Dryden and a 1700 watts rebroadcasting transmitter in Kenora. Fawcett had objected to this application but Norwesto said although its format would offer some mainstream adult contemporary artists, current and recent dance and contemporary hit music would predominate and it would target a younger adult audience than Fawcett's more mainstream adult contemporary format. .
*Approval of new English-language 1,660 watts adult-contemporary/middle of the road music format FM in Renfrew. There were 37 interventions relating to the application, 32 in support and five against plus a comment by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation over a suggestion by the applicants that the technical status of CBCN-FM, North Bay, be downgraded from Class C to Class C1: The CBC was against the change, which was suggested to avoid possible interference should the CBC ever increase the power of its North Bay transmitter.
Opposition to the planned station included that from other broadcasters or potential broadcasters Aboriginal Voices Radio, concerned about possible interference should it upgrade its Ottawa FM; La Radio du Pontiac inc., which operates CHIP-FM, a Type A community FM serving Fort Coulonge, Quebec, to the northeast of Renfrew; Valley Heritage, a prospective applicant for a licence to operate an English-language FM Type B community radio programming undertaking at Renfrew.
*Approval of new 1650-watts French-language FM Type B community radio programming undertaking in Acton Vale.
In Saskatchewan, the commission rejected an application from Dyracom Communications Inc. for a low-power 50 watts Hard Rock FM in Estevan.
The Commission received an opposing intervention from the Canadian Association of Broadcasters (the CAB), Golden West Broadcasting Ltd., the licensee of Estevan's only radio stations, CJSL-AM and CHSN-FM, and Rawlco Radio Ltd., which is the licensee or holds indirect control of 12 radio stations serving medium and small sized markets in Saskatchewan.
The commission took the view in rejecting the application that the new station would, if approved, exert an undue negative commercial impact upon the operations of the incumbent broadcaster and its abilities to discharge its programming obligations and commitments.
There were no radio decisions in Ireland or the UK although their Ofcom has issued new guidance on making complaints.
In the US, where if leaks are correct Infinity can expect a large fine soon in connection with the edition of the Howard Stern Show that cost Clear Channel USD 495,000 (See RNW April 9) and which on a pro-rata basis would amount to around three times as much, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) had an indecency-free week, concentrating on more technical matters.
They included calling for more comment on its rules for digital audio broadcasts (See RNW April 16) and also dealing with a submission from the National Association of Broadcasters that it consider re-opening its proceedings that authorized satellite radio and also firmly prohibiting any local services from the satellite companies (See RNW April 16).
On the enforcement from the Commission levied penalties totaling USD 64,500 for various technical offences including USD 10,000 each penalties on two Florida pirate operators (See RNW April 16) and also admonished a Georgia non-commercial licensee for carrying advertisements (See RNW April 15).
Previous Licence News:
ABA web site:
CRTC web site:
FCC web site:
Ofcom web site:
2004-04-18: Capital FM's new breakfast host Johnny Vaughan, who is taking over from long-time host Chris Tarrant, moves into his new seat tomorrow and in advance of the move has been garnering publicity for the new show, which will be up against tough competition from Chrysalis's Heart FM which for a while toppled it as the most listened to station in the London ratings.
Heart is upping the competition with a GBP 1 million (USD 1.8 million) TV campaign that also launches tomorrow for its Jono and Harriet at Breakfast show (Jonathan Coleman and Harriet Scott).
The campaign will run for six weeks and is emphasising what Chrysalis Radio marketing director and Heart FM managing director Steve Parkinson calls "promoting the unique chemistry between Jono and Harriet."
Capital is spending even more - around GBP 1.8 million (USD 3.2 million) -promoting the Johnny Vaughan Breakfast Show for its flagship London station: TV is again at the centre of the campaign but it is also to feature outdoor including advertising on bus rears and the underground.
Capital has also done a deal with London free commute paper Metro that on Monday will carry a four-page wraparound on some 50,000 copies of its print run, normally around 460,000. The wraparound will be distributed at rail and Underground stations in London residential areas so as to target Capital's primary audience.
To maximise the impact of its Vaughan promotion, Capital is holding off promotion of the Christian O'Connell breakfast show on Xfm and other rivals including Virgin and BBC Radio 1 appear to have decided to allow Capital and Heart to slug things out for the moment.
Vaughan, the former Big Breakfast TV presenter who is rumoured to be collecting GBP 3 million (USD 5.4 million) a year for the Capital FM show, is new to breakfast radio but has worked on BBC GLR and recently hosted a Saturday morning quiz show on BBC Radio 5 Live.
He takes over after a period of uncertainty over the Capital Breakfast Show - his predecessor and TV Who Wants to be a Millionaire? Host Chris Tarrant had been expected to leave for some time and Capital FM managing director Keith Pringle told the UK Guardian he wanted Vaughan to start a year ago.
Vaughan agreed it would have been better to have taken over earlier and told the paper, "Chris was waiting for a successor whom he felt could do the job. I've loved Chris since Tiswas. There are parallels between what he did and what I'm doing in moving from a successful morning show to an evening show that did less well, and then moving to mainstream radio and TV."
"I'm really excited," he added. We've been doing proper three-hour shows and it has all the good bits of TV with none of the hassle. "Guests are more relaxed, they're not worried about what to do with their hands; it's just you and a microphone."
UK Guardian report:
2004-04-18: The US Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) has launched a campaign "Hate Hurts America" to counter what it terms anti-Muslim hate on radio talk shows.
Citing a number of examples, CAIR says "the increasing attacks on Islam by conservative talk show hosts nationwide are not only offensive to Muslims and other people of conscience, but also harm the United States by creating a downward spiral of interfaith mistrust and hostility."
One example it gives were comments on Disney-ABC's Washington D.C. station WMAL-AM by Michael Graham that CAIR termed an implicit call for violence against Moslems: "I don't wanna say we should kill 'em all [Muslims], but unless there's reform [within Islam], there aren't a lot of other solutions that work in the ground struggle for survival."
Graham, says CAIR, claims he was only referring to Islamists but adds that the context indicated otherwise.
It also quotes another Graham comment displaying ignorance of geography when speaking of an Ethiopian-born U.S. citizen who was barred from being a security guard from a floor in a hotel during a recent stay there by a senior Israeli official, probably Israeli Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz: "Oh, you're a Muslim, oh, you're an Arab Muslim, oh, you have a gun around Jewish people, whoa ... given the belief system, yes, red flags do go way up. Would you hire an Arab-Muslim group for a friend's daughter's Bat Mitzvah, I wouldn't, if you would you're a dope, that's not bigotry, that completely reasonable smart discrimination."
RNW comment: CAIR's news release, although carrying ther link, omits mention of the details of the Israeli visit. We can see why the request was made but would, in the context, ask if Jewish, Hindu, or indeed some Christian guards would have received the same request during a visit by an Arab minister. More particularly would Graham have reacted in the same way in such a case?
CAIR Communications Coordinator Rabiah Ahmed noting a number of recent incidents including four arson attacks on Muslim businesses in San Antonio, Texas, racist graffiti at a Lubbock, Texas, mosque and an assault on a Muslim woman in Florida, commented, "We believe that hate-filled rhetoric not only leads to attacks on and discrimination against American Muslims, but also harms our nation by fostering a climate of intolerance and bigotry."
As part of the campaign CAIR will issue step-by- step instructions on how to monitor local and syndicated radio programs, report anti-Moslem hate, file FCC complaints, and contact advertisers to register their concerns.
Washington Post report on hotel barring:
2004-04-18: Ornithologists have criticized the BBC over an episode of its Dr Finlay dramatizations based on the stories of A.J, Cronin that features a nightingale singing some 400 miles (640 km) north of its normal habitat.
They said "The Day Before the Wedding" story that featured the doctor hearing a nightingale singing as he staggered home on his stag night misrepresented the habitat of the bird, which is now normally found only in south east England.
Dr Malcolm Ogilvie, secretary of the British Birds Rare Breeding Birds Panel, who is based in Islay, Argyllshire, told the UK Independent that even in the 1920s when the stories were set it would have been found only as far north as Humberside although he did admit that in 1973 a male had wandered too far north on its migration and turned up in Islay.
"It niggles birdwatchers when they hear nightingale song being used inappropriately on soundtracks - either in totally the wrong setting or the wrong time of year," said Dr Ogilvie.
"Broadcasters wanting to feature nocturnal birdsong away from south-east England should use a blackbird recording - they can often be heard after dark, are fine singers and occur throughout Britain."
UK Independent report:
2004-04-18: Although it has now dropped its weekly and monthly Internet ratings - the last weekly ratings running up to March 28 were issued last week and there will be no release for the month of March (see RNW April 15) - Arbitron has now issued a retrospective report on internet radio that shows an average audience increase for its "top five Internet Broadcasters" showing an average audience increase of nearly a third in the period from June last year to February this year.
Arbitron's top five - the list does not include organisations that chose not to subscribe or a number of other services that the Arbitron MeasureCast system was unable to measure - were AOL's Radio@Network, Yahoo!'s LAUNCHcast, Live365, Musicmatch and Virgin Radio: They had a monthly cumulative audience - counted as those who listened for five minutes or more to a stream - of just above eight million in June 2003 and of just above 10.6 million in February this year.
Arbitron has for the first time converted the figures to the traditional average quarter hour (AQH) measurement - the average number listening for at least five minutes in a given 15-minute interval: This shows for weekday listening between 6 a.m. and 7 p.m. Pacific time an AQH of 159,547 in June 2003 that had risen by February to 207, 440.
For the top network, AOL's Radio@Network, the AQH rose 17% in the period, from 67, 698 to 78, 910 with the Cume up 24% from 3,515,790 to 4,346,765
Second-ranked network, Yahoo's LAUNCHcast, showed a larger increase with AQH up 52% from 48,377 to 73,694 and Cume up 92% from 1,450,801 to 2,783,733.
Lower down Live365 saw its AQH rise 14% from 24,913 to 28,487 with Cume up 3% from 1,567,685 to 1,610,689 and Arbitron's top non-commercial network Musicmatch saw its AQH go up 48% from 14,957 to 22,168 and Cume up 28% from 1,275,972 to 1,631,018.
British-based Virgin, the only non-US company in the top five had a 16% AQH increase from 3,602 to 4,181 with Cume up 13% from 224,545 to 272,245.
Previous (final) Arbitron Internet Broadcast Ratings:
2004-04-17: Progress Media's Air America network went back on the air in Chicago shortly before 3p.m. on Friday after a New York State Supreme Court justice had ruled on Thursday that, subject to it posting a USD 165,000 bond, it should be restored on WNTD-AM by Multicultural Radio Broadcasting Inc.
Multicultural's Santa Monica-based KBLA-AM, which also dropped the network, is still broadcasting Spanish language programming.
Air America was originally dropped on both stations in a dispute over payments - Multicultural said that it was owed USD 1 million by Air America, which said that it was in dispute over the contract in Los Angeles but fully paid up in Chicago.
Air America had leased time on both stations before its March 31 launch but found that during the time it had booked before it went to air Multicultural had resold the time to a Spanish-language broadcaster. It says that this is why it stopped the payment to KBLA and that Multicultural's suggestion that it bounced a "cheque" misrepresented the situation and suggested it was short of funding when in fact the action was not about shortage of funds but about not being "shaken down."
A posting on its web site concerning the dispute (See RNW April 15) had been removed on Friday and its latest announcement is currently of a new affiliate, WCHL-AM, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, which is to start broadcasting Air America shows from Monday.
In California Air America is still being broadcast on KCAA-AM, Riverside, and is due to air soon on KWN-AM, San Jose, KVTO-AM, Berkeley, and KSQR-AM, Sacramento.
Previous Progress Media/Air America:
2004-04-17: The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has moved forward on digital audio transmissions with proceedings asking for comment on changes if any should be made to its technical rules for in-band, on-channel (IBOC) digital radio broadcasting and also what kinds of services should be offered.
In particular it mentions suggestions of high definition service, a multiplexed service, a data casting service, or a combination of all of these possibilities and also on whether a radio station should be permitted to offer subscription services.
Another matter is asking for comment on is a proposal made by the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) that would allow digital AM stations to operate during night hours with any interference caused being handled on a case-by-case basis.
In its Further Notice of Proposed Rule Making the FCC also looks at questions of concern to noncommercial stations and low power FM stations and comment is sought under its Notice of Inquiry concerning digital audio content control and international issues.
Comment is also sought on how the FCC's existing public interest, programming, and operational rules should be applied to DAB and on appropriate policies the FCC may adopt to encourage broadcasters to convert from an analog-only radio service to a hybrid analog/digital radio service, and eventually, to an all-digital radio service.
Separate statements were issued concerning DAB by three Commissioners including FCC chairman Michael K. Powell, who wrote of digital radio bringing "exciting new services and choices to the American people."
"As the digital audio conversion continues," he continued, "consumers will have the ability to hear surround sound, CD-quality music over the air and will have access to new radio services, such as multi-casting, data services and subscription based services."
"These new services and capabilities will provide more opportunities to promote localism and diversity on our nation's airwaves and will give broadcasters a greater ability to compete with emerging satellite and Internet radio services."
In his statement, Democrat Commissioner Michael J. Copps like Powell said he was "enthused" about the potential of digital radio but then went on beyond welcoming generalities to specifically welcome comment on "ways that the availability of additional audio streams can further diversity goals for minorities and other underserved segments of the community" and also to "to protect existing sub carrier services such as radio reading services for the blind and visually impaired."
He then noted questions raised concerning "public interest obligations of broadcasters" and continued, "All that being said, I would have preferred an even broader discussion of the public interest in this item rather than deferring some important issues to future proceedings."
Copps cited raising in the context of digital TV but not for DAB the issue "how broadcasters can identify community needs and enhance disclosure to their communities of how they are meeting their obligations" and added that for TV good progress had been made concerning technicalities but public interest issues had been allowed to languish.
Multicasting, said Copps, raised issues of ownership rules and as well as offering enhanced diversity and promotion of localism could also lead to risks in terms of such things s competition in a market.
Copps fellow Democrat Jonathan S. Adelstein also spoke of DAB in terms of such goals as offering more programming choices, new capabilities such as interactive and data services, and said he was "particularly pleased that we are seeking comment on how this technology can further our diversity goals and provide greater access for minorities, people with disabilities, or underserved segments of our local communities."
The Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) has also moved forward on digital audio broadcasting with an announcement that it is to award grants totalling more than USD 5 million to help 76 public stations, a third of them serving rural and minority audiences, purchase digital transmission equipment.
The funds come from some USD 150 million provided to CPB over the last four years to assist public radio and TV stations convert from analogue to digital. More decisions are to be announced next month concerning additional grants from the 2003 fiscal year budget.
The stations involved in the current announcement are in Alaska, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota. Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, Tennessee, Texas, and Wisconsin.
CPB is also earmarking funding for fiscal year 2004 to assist more stations.
2004-04-17: Infinity Baltimore Hot AC station WWMX-FM, Mix 106.5, has been criticised by the National Abortion Rights Action League (NARAL) for dropping a commercial for the group's April 25 March for Women's Lives.
Station program director Steve Monz told the Washington Post he decided to pull the ad for the Washington march on April 7, the third day it had run, after many listeners had called to complain but NARAL deputy communications director Evelyn C. Becker said it was a political matter.
"The right wing stands up for their position so much that they can cow a radio station into this kind of action," she said." [The pulling of the ad] reaffirms for us the need to march to send a message that we're not going to let our fundamental rights be taken away."
The spot, which includes the words "rape" and "abortion" is still being carried on other stations but Motz, whose station has dropped other adverts and which he said routinely drops condom ads from national programming, said, "We've really conditioned our audience to know we're a safe haven on the radio. We're family-friendly, kid-safe. . . Our barometer is, if our listeners have to explain to their kids what an item is, and they're uncomfortable with that, we're uncomfortable with that."
He added that the station, which targets women 25-54, , has stopped running ads that refer to menopause and is about to air an ad for Playtex tampons with the understanding that it will be dropped if listeners complain.
Washington Post report:
2004-04-17: Although most recent publicity has been about indecency penalties, the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has remained active in enforcement actions for other offences and has levied penalties totalling USD 64, 500.
The largest single penalty was in Florida where it has confirmed a USD 25,000 penalty on Blountstown Communications, Inc., licensee of WPHK-FM and WYBT-AM, Blountstown, for emergency alert system violations, failing to enclose the base of the antenna system within an effective locked fence and failing to make available a complete public file.
It has also given Blountstown, which has not replied to the original notice of apparent violation, 30 days to respond with details of actions it has taken to correct the violations and ensure that they do not recur.
Also in Florida it has imposed USD 10,000 penalties on each of two Florida pirate station operators: William Davon Upson of Orlando and Billy Thomas Alsbrooks of Altamonte Springs were issued with a notice of apparent violation last year but did not respond.
In Massachusetts, the FCC has denied an application by Astro Broadcasting System for review of its decision to renew Discussion Radio Inc.'s licence for WDIS-AM, Norfolk, and re-instate its call sign despite an "untimely" renewal application.
It has however issued a Notice of Apparent Violation to Discussion Radio for its failure to timely file a license renewal application, for unauthorized operation, as well as for violation of the Commission's rule regarding the contents of a licensee's public inspection file.
FCC staff had written to Discussion Radio in April 1999 cancelling its licence because it had not filed a renewal application that was due by December 1, 1997, and its licence had expired on April 1, 1998.
Discussion had then filed a response saying it had not filed a response because it had not received FCC correspondence that on a check was found to have been sent to the station's previous owner. It submitted a renewal application, which was opposed by Astro, which alleged that there had been misrepresentation by Discussion and that Commission correspondence to DRI was not sent to the previous owner as DRI contended, but rather to a law office address, in a different municipality, of a DRI principal.
The FCC took the view that there had not been deliberate misrepresentation and the licence should be renewed but that penalties totalling USD 16,500 should be levied. This was made up of a USD 10,000 penalty for the public file violation - an FCC inspection found the files in disorder - plus USD 6,500 for the other offences. The Commission noted that there is a base penalty of USD 3,000 for failure to file a required form and of USD 10,000 for operating without a licence - the level normally imposed for pirate operations - but halved each penalty because of the circumstances.
In Georgia, Brown Broadcasting System Inc. is being fined USD 3,000 for failure to register an antenna structure in Jefferson. Brown has not responded to a notice of apparent violation.
2004-04-16: DMG Radio Australia has won the new Sydney commercial FM licence with a bid of AUD 106 million (USD 78 million), beating a rival bid from the joint venture between British billionaire Richard Branson's Virgin Group and the Macquarie Radio Network, the only other party bidding.
Australian Broadcasting Authority (ABA) chairman Professor David Flint, who has termed the issue of this licence plus commercial FMs for Brisbane later this month and Melbourne in August as "the last lap of the analogue planning process for metropolitan radio in Australia" said they were "very pleased" with the result."
"It indicates how commercially valuable the FM band is. The level of bidding demonstrates a real depth of interest in the market and shows that the radio frequency spectrum is a public asset of great worth," he added.
DMG chief executive Paul Thompson said the company's first priority was the launch of its Nova station in Adelaide, probably in the second half of this, after which it would turn its full attention to Sydney.
DMG says the new Sydney station will use the infrastructure of DMG's existing Nova station in Sydney station; it expects the new station to make a small loss in its first year of operation, to move into profit in its second year, and then to generate a healthy return on its investment.
In the UK, Peter Williams, finance director of parent DMGT, denied that they had overpaid and termed the bid a "sensible" price.
DMG will be bidding for the other two licences and is expected to be particularly keen on getting a licence in Brisbane where it has no station for its Nova network.
2004-04-16: Emmis Communications has reported a 9% increase in radio revenues, an 8% increase overall in net revenues and a 5% increase in pro forma net revenues compared to a year ago in its fourth fiscal quarter to the end of February
For the quarter it had net revenue of USD 136.9 million with an overall net loss available to shareholders tripled at USD 23.7 million (43 cents a share) compared to USD 7.4 million (USD 0.14 per share) a year earlier; this figure included a loss from discontinued operations of USD 10.4 million and a non-cash impairment loss resulting from the company's annual SFAS 142 review of USD 12.4 million
For the full year, Emmis net revenues were up 5% to USD 591.9 million - radio revenues were up 9.8% to USD 279.8 million - with an overall net loss cut from USD 173.5 million (USD 3.27 per share) to USD 6.7 million (USD 0.12 per share).
Emmis chairman and CEO Jeff Smulyan said it had been a "tremendous year" for the company, adding, "Despite a challenging advertising environment, our radio stations outperformed our markets by 2% in our fiscal year, while in our television markets that are measured, we outperformed for the calendar year by 4%. The employees of Emmis deserve the credit for making the extraordinary happen."
Emmis has also announced that subsidiary Emmis Operating Company is to offer USD 350 million in senior subordinated notes and also to enter into a new senior credit facility in an aggregate amount of approximately $1 billion, consisting of a term loan facility of $650 million and a revolving loan facility of $350 million.
It says it will use the net proceeds from the proposed offering and borrowings under the new senior credit facility to repay all indebtedness under the existing credit facility of Emmis Operating Company, to repurchase or redeem all of the outstanding senior subordinated notes of Emmis Operating Company and to repurchase all or a portion of the senior discount notes of Emmis Communications.
Emmis has also commenced a tender offer and consent solicitation for USD 286 million at maturity of 12-1/2% Senior Discount Notes due 2011 and Emmis Operating Company has commenced a tender offer and consent solicitation for any and all of its USD 300 million principal amount of 8-1/8% Senior Subordinated Notes due 2009. The total consideration (including the consent payment described below) in connection with the offers is $1,000 per $1,000 principal amount at maturity for the Senior Discount Notes and $1,043.13 per $1,000 principal amount plus accrued but unpaid interest for the Senior Subordinated Notes.
Tribune Company has reported operating revenues for the first quarter of this year up 3% to USD 1.332 billion but operating profits were down 1% to USD 273.3 million as expenses went up faster than revenues and net income was down 15% to USD 120.7 million.
In divisional terms publishing revenues were up 3% to USD 1 billion but publishing operating profit, hit by higher newsprint prices, was down 3% to USD 235 million whilst Broadcasting and Entertainment revenues were up 4% to USD 329 million and its operating profit was up 7% to USD 97 million. It says it expects consolidated revenues for 2004 to grow about 6 percent.
2004-04-16: The US National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) has petitioned the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to re-open its original proceedings that authorized satellite radio and examine their impact on "local broadcasting" and is particularly asking for a prohibition on any kind of locally oriented programming including traffic and weather services.
It is also yet again asking for more formal prohibition of the satellite companies offering local programming using their terrestrial repeaters, something both Sirius and XM have repeatedly said they will not be doing.
In a 26-page filing NAB terms the provision of traffic and weather services a "foray into local content" that is "directly contrary to the SDARS - Satellite delivered audio radio services - licensees' repeated and express promises that satellite radio service would be limited to delivering national programming to serve the unserved and underserved."
It goes on to add that "'Localized'pay service, implemented in stark contrast to both the promised 'rules of the road,' is inherently contrary to the goal of 'fair and efficient' distribution of local broadcast services and says that it would duplicate such services to their detriment.
NAB also delves into a possible future of the satellite companies using technology such as store-and-forwards and Global Positioning Satellites to create and deliver local content, including advertisements, tailored to the listener's location - and asks that this be prohibited.
It argues that the services were originally authorized on the basis that they would develop complementary programming to existing local broadcasts and target niche audiences that the latter did not serve and also that initially discussion was in terms of around 30 services, not the 100 that now exist.
"XM and Sirius," it says, "have devoted their bandwidth to variations on traditional, mainstream programming. Further, instead of opting to utilize compression technology to serve these communities, SDARS licensees will now downgrade the audio quality of even these music channels in order to replicate traffic and weather formats of terrestrial broadcasters."
"Once more, XM and Sirius fail to deliver the countervailing public interest benefits they promised NAB strongly encourages the Commission to declare that XM and Sirius are evading the basic policy foundation upon which satellite radio service was allocated."
RNW comment: We'd have much more time for NAB's arguments were it not for the development of technologies such as voice-tracking by radio giants such as Clear Channel, the growth of syndicated services, and the closing or trimming down of many newsrooms in radio stations, sometimes as part of general cuts, sometimes linked with a purchase and subsequent format change.
As it is, the sympathy is much more limited and also in our view NAB is going to have to wake up some time to the growth of other technologies that will also alter the broadcasting environment including that Internet broadband that is growing to homes now but could well be a wireless delivery system to automobiles in future.
Either NAB believes in the free market or it doesn't. If the former it should shut up: If the latter it would seem to us a significant benefit that some proper discussion be entered into about the public service elements to be required of all broadcast media and indeed maybe all commercial media in terms of the quid-pro-quo for operating commercially in a country whether its income be from advertising, sales or subscriptions.
That discussion we suggest could be very costly for US broadcasters who in our view have overpaid significantly for licences because of their scarcity and then have to maximise returns, thus relegating the public interest down the scale of priorities and also frequently changing formats to the detriment of general public information and minority interests.
As it is NAB has a half case because many of its members have destroyed the rest. We would suggest that if the FCC is to re-examine satellite it should so it as part of a complete review in the same terms of all broadcasting including such considerations as licence re-advertisement as opposed to automatic renewal but possibly with a public interest exemption in the same way that the UK encouraged investment in digital radio by allowing automatic renewal of valuable analogue licences for those stations providing a service on the relevant local digital service but allowing competitive bids for the licences in other cases.
NAB petition to FCC concerning satellite radio (72 Kb PDF):
2004-04-16: The BBC is to stream on the internet the output of all its 40 local radio station, adding to a service that already broadcasts the output of all its national channels as well as BBC London, which is already streamed, and BBC Radio Scotland, Radio Nan Gaidheal, Radio Wales, Radio Cymru and Radio Ulster, which are streamed and are also available on the Freeview digital TV and digital satellite platforms.
Commenting on the move Controller BBC English Regions Andy Griffee said that as more and more people were listening on the internet, particularly in offices, the move would greatly increase choice and "also provide us with the opportunity to create new programme formats and content spanning different local stations."
The service will be phased in later this year on the BBC's Where I Live sites.
The BBC has also launched its 2004 Frank Gillard Awards, named after the founder of the corporation's local radio services and aimed to celebrate excellence and achievement at the stations. There are 14 categories this year - Breakfast Programme, Programme Presenter, Coverage of a News Story, Interactive Programme, Reporter, Sports Coverage, Social Action Campaign, Radio Feature, Outside Broadcast, Diversity, Radio Promotion, Religious Programming - a new category just added, Station of the Year, and Outstanding Contribution to BBC Local Radio.
The deadline for entries is July 1 and the awards will be made on October 14.
BBC Where I live site:
2004-04-15: Progress Media's fledgling US "progressive" talk network Air America has been taken off air on stations in Chicago (WNTD-AM) and Los Angeles (KBLA-FM) by MultiCultural Radio Broadcasting and the network has already started a law suit against Multicultural.
The network was being aired on the stations under a time-brokerage arrangement.
A statement on the Air America web site from Air America chairman Evan Cohen noted that the network was still available on satellite radio and the Internet and continued, "MultiCultural Radio Broadcasting's conduct in this matter has been disgraceful. To shut off a broadcast that listeners rely on without warning and in the middle of discussions is the height of irresponsibility and a slap in the face of the media industry."
"In addition, it is a clear violation of their contractual obligations, and we are seeking legal remedies against them in court."
The suit says that the lease agreement under which KBLA-AM broadcasts Air America directs that any dispute go to an arbitrator and that in taking the network off the air, Air America breached its agreements. It says that the action will "immediately cause irreparable harm" because of lost listeners and advertising revenue and is seeking a temporary restraining order and injunction to force Multicultural to return it to the airwaves.
According to a Chicago Tribune report, Multicultural owner Arthur Liu said Air America had bounced a cheque. "It's a default. They have paid only a very small portion of what they owe us," Liu told the paper, adding that the same had happened in Los Angeles.
"They've been saying, 'We're going to get you the money' for the past two months," Liu said, referring to a security deposit that he said Air America was supposed to have prepaid in advance of its launch. "They're not honouring our agreement."
The move came a day after Air America had announced additional affiliates in six new markets - Sacramento, Portland, Maine, Colorado Springs, Colorado, West Palm Beach and Key West, Florida, Plattsburgh, New York, and Burlington, Vermont, taking its total to 16; this is now back to 14 now that Chicago and Los Angeles have gone off air.
Previous Progress Media/ Air America:
Chicago Tribune report:
2004-04-15: Arbitron's "Radio Today 2004" just released paints an upbeat picture of US radio, saying that it "continues to be one of the most popular and pervasive forms of media among Americans."
"The information it provides," says Arbitron, "will help demonstrate to advertisers that radio is the ideal medium for reaching across all segments of the American population anytime or anyplace."
The report notes that US radio reaches around 94% of Americans aged 12 and above each week with average listening amounting to some 20 hours a week, figures that it notes "have remained relatively steady across recent surveys, despite a growing number of consumer media options."
It notes a steady increase in the number of FM stations in the US, up from 4,190 in 1980 to 5,665 in 1990 and 8,298 in 2000 since when it has risen to 831 in Spring 2003. Am numbers have also risen but comparatively slowly, from 4,558 in 1980 to 4,966 in 1990, 5,009 in 2000 and 5,067 in Spring 2003.
Although it is upbeat about the demographics of listening, noting that for men listening peaks at 95.8% in the 35-44 group, a group that spends most time listening - 22 hours 45 minutes a week - and for women in the 25-34 demographic with 96.6% a week, it also notes that teenagers listen least - 11 hours 45 minutes for males and 15 hours for females.
Those least likely to listen are the oldest demographic -- 85.9% of women and 87.3% of men aged 65 plus.
In terms of day part, weekday listening rises steeply from 5a.m. to a peak AQH of nearly 25 at 7 a.m. - the weekend rise is later and hits a peak AQH of 15 at 1p.m. after which listening drops steadily until an AQH low of around 2 at 3 a.m. - then drops back to hover around an AQH of 20 until 4p.m. when it falls steeply, reaching a low of an AQH around 2 from 3 .m. to 4 a.m.
Unsurprisingly most listening during the main part of weekdays took place away from home, 59% at 7 a.m., and then more than 70% until around 5p.m. whereas at weekends there is much more home listening - half or more until around 3 p.m. Again unsurprisingly the 65 plus demographic and women listen more at home but males are more likely to listen away from home, particularly those in the 25-54 demographic.
In demographic terms, there are again listening habits that might reasonably be expected - teenagers, for example, are most likely to tune in at weekends and after school in the week, and most nighttime listeners are in younger demographics.
The same is true of formats where teenagers s tend to listen to CHR and Urban formats, but as they get older show more interest in alternative music.
Adults 25-34 says the report retain their interest in alternative formats but are open to a wide variety of music including Rock, Spanish, CHR and Urban formats.
Above 35 rock becomes a favourite format with formats such as New AC, Smooth Jazz and Oldies becoming increasingly popular. News/Talk also picks up in this demographic.
Above 65 popular formats are Adult Standards, Classical and News/Talk/Information formats.
There are also significant variations with age and social group - AC for example is particularly popular in New England and amongst those will a college education whilst adult standards stations are most popular with the 65 plus demographic.
Also varying are places where listening is most common - at home for adult standards - and buying habits - they're least likely to buy new furniture.
Amongst the sexes there are also significant divides - more than two-thirs of rock format listeners are men as are nearly two-thirds of Alternative format listeners and the proportion is nearly as high for News/Talk/Information formats whilst nearly two thirds of the listeners to religious formats are women as are 56% or urban format listeners.
There are still more country form at stations than any other kind - 1759, followed by news/talk/information at 1,385 and then rock with 872. The formats with the least stations are new AC/Smooth Jazz with 74, Classical with 299, and Alternative with 335.
Arbitron Radio 2004 report - 2.1 Mb PDF:
2004-04-15: The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has admonished a Georgia non-commercial licensee for broadcasting advertisements but stopped short of imposing a fine.
Complaint were made that American Family Association's WAEF-FM, Cordele, and WBJY-FM, Americus, had both aired advertising.
The FCC found that underwriting announcements made on behalf of Dr. Joel M. Johnson and Owens Sporting Goods had each exceeded permissible bounds.
AFA had admitted that the announcements made on Dr Johnson's behalf departed from its own internal underwriting guidelines and the Commission's requirements but argued that the announcement made over WBJY (FM) on behalf of Owens Sporting Goods of Albany was a "free sample," and uncompensated, although it admitted that its message did not comply with either its own or Commission underwriting guidelines.
A further announcement on WJBY-FM encouraging listeners to attend a concert was held not to have been in breach of FCC rules.
2004-04-15: The final Arbitron Internet Broadcast Ratings that are to be issued by the company using the MeasureCast system it took over in November 2002 (See RNW Nov 8, 2002) show saw the University of Washington's eclectic music station KEXP make it into the top five stations - and to number six network - as AOL's Smooth Jazz and Top Pop went down below five but at the very top MUSICMATCH and AOL retained top station and network spots; there were no change in rankings for the top five networks but listening was down although in AOL's case this was put down to server problems.
Although it is dropping weekly and monthly ratings Arbitron's Internet Broadcast Division remains active and will continue to produce Internet studies.
For the week to March 28, 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 1,031,601 (1,023,622); CP - 328,376 (328,195). Same rank with lower listening but slightly higher reach.
2: Hot Adult Contemporary Virgin AM & FM (Commercial) - TTSL 357,199 (348,415); CP - 63,237 (62,958). Same rank with higher listening and reach.
3: MUSICMATCH Top Hits (Non Commercial) -TTSL 222,617 (223,737); CP 95,072 (96,576). Up from fourth despite lower listening and reach.
4: Eclectic Music KEXP (non-commercial) -TTSL 214,220 (153,098); CP 26,692 (23,581). Up from eighth with higher listening and reach.
5: Soft rock AOL Lite Rock (Commercial) - TTSL 206,976 (214,280); CP - 35,458 (41,123) Up from seventh despite lower listening and reach.
* AOL Top Pop (Commercial) fell from fourth to sixth with TTSL 220,792 (253,434); CP 111,586 (135,168) and Smooth Jazz AOL Smooth Jazz(Commercial) fell from fifth to TTSL 196,596 (222,081); CP - 38,553 (49,685).
The top five networks for the week to March 28 (Previous week's figures in brackets) were:
1: AOL Radio@ Network (Commercial) - TTSL - 4,728,485 (5,613,277); CP - 932,155 (1,332,907). Same rank with lower listening and reach.
2: LAUNCH (Commercial) TTSL - 4,181,374 (4,695,551); CP - 1,046,150 (1,331,511). Same rank with lower listening and reach.
3: MUSICMATCH Inc. (*Non Commercial) TTSL - 2,463,776 (2,477,391); CP - 575,370 (577,759). Same rank with lower listening and reach.
4: The Assertion Network (Sales Network) TTSL - 865,614 (924,641); CP - 91,130 (107,610) - Same rank with lower listening and reach
5: Virgin Radio (Commercial) TTSL - 615,636 (573,367); CP - 87,508 (85,661) - 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 2,991,110, up from 2,900,477 and StreamGuys with TTS 616,522L, up from 606,833.
Previous Arbitron Internet Broadcast ratings:
2004-04-14: The current US campaign against broadcast indecency has provided a major boost to business for companies making delay devices that enable broadcasters to cut-off potentially problematical comments before they make the air.
According to the Miami Herald, both Symetrix, of Washington, and Eventide of New Jersey, the two main manufacturers of audio delay devices say they now have a 30-day backlog.
Symetrix sales coordinator Paul Roberts told the paper, "We've had a year's worth of orders in a month. We've had to dramatically increase production of this product."
Ray Maxwell, Eventide's vice president of sales and marketing said his company was now catching up on the backlog. Eventide is working to extend its maximum delay to 40 seconds so as to cut out a lengthier segment of material potentially liable to cause a breach of regulations and Clear Channel is working on its own system that would allow delays of up to five minutes in some field situations.
The digital delay machines cost from USD 2,200 to USD 3,4000 and allow delays of up to 20 seconds with a standard delay of 7.5 seconds and had been used mainly by talk stations but are now in demand for almost all stations as a precautionary measure for any shows that could carry a live element.
Previous Clear Channel:
Miami Herald report:
2004-04-14: Clear Channel's Atlanta WKLS-FM -- Rock 96 -- has now replaced its Regular Guys(Larry Wachs and Eric Von Haessler ) morning show with a makeshift morning show and the duo themselves have split up. The show had been top rated amongst males 18-49 in the Atlanta ratings with a 10% share, significantly higher than the station managed for any other weekday times.
The station, which initially suspended Wachs and Von Haessler after a stunt in which an interview with a porn star Devinn Lane that was to have been played backwards to mock the FCC's current anti-indecency crusade ended up also being aired in normal mode during a Honda advert (See RNW Mar 20), had filled in with Best of Shows.
It cancelled the show last week (See RNW April 11) and has now filled the slot using station veterans Tim Rhodes and Southside Steve who have worked in supporting roles on the morning show - Rhodes handled the noon show and also did morning sports whilst Southside was "Southern Man" on the morning show.
The Regular Guys team as well as being ousted has now broken up: On his personal web site blog former stand-up comedian Von Haessler says he "made the decision a couple of weeks ago that I was only going to return to the show through the end of my contract if Clear Channel decided to keep us on."
"Now that they have made their decision it forces me to accelerate my own plans. I have done my last radio show as a Regular Guy and will be pursuing options in and out of radio that are more in line with the things that we do here at the site. My first thought is that that will probably involve AM-talk radio, but you never know where you're going to end up. My second thought is that I would like to stay in Atlanta, but again... you never know."
He then goes on to say there are no differences with his co-host, writing, "It's important that anyone who cares about all of this needs to understand that I'm not making this move based on any perceived animosity toward my partner. My partnership with Larry has been the most successful business enterprise that I've ever been a part of. I respect him and I respect his talent, and I'm proud of the show that we did together. This decision is about my burning desire to run my own business while forging a bit of a different career path."
Wachs on The Regular Guys site home page, which is headed "Atlanta Morning Radio Held Hostage" has simply posted a message "See Ya Soon!" and a set of photographs.
Previous Clear Channel:
Previous Regular Guys:
Regular Guys web site:
Von Haessler web site:
2004-04-14: The BBC has dipped its toes into the idea of putting MP3s of programmes on its web site, starting with this year's Reith Lectures, which are being broadcast on Wednesdays at 19:00 GMT.
The BBC Radio 4 web site, as well as offering a stream of the lectures it to offer them in MP3 format and the site already carries the first of the five lectures being delivered by Nobel-prize winning poet and playwright Wole Soyinka as an MP3 option - some 19.5 Mb of 64 Kbps audio.
The BBC is asking for comment on the innovation that head of BBC Radio online Chris Kimber admits that the move may prove controversial because of copyright issues.
The Corporation is considering if MP3s may be the best way to move or whether it should consider other options such as time-limited free downloads, probably for a week as is done with the Listen-again feature on the site, with payment being required for a permanent copy.
2004-04-14: The US Radio Hall of Fame nominees for 2004 just announced offer some significant choices for those voting - basically anyone who wishes to pay USD 15 and join - particularly in the network or syndicated active hosts section where the competition is between Bob Brinker, host of Money Talk, ABC Radio's financial advice program, Bob Edwards, veteran anchor of National Public Radio's Morning Edition, Dr. Laura Schlessinger, Premiere Radio Networks' relationship advisor and syndicated Infinity host Howard Stern. Voting runs up to August 1 and the winners will be inducted on November 6.
The organisation said they were "A competitive and controversial field of nominees" and Radio Hall of Fame President, Bruce DuMont added, "Radio speaks with many voices and reaches many audiences because of its diverse talent spectrum. Our 2004 nominees represent that diverse talent spectrum."
As well as the active host category, the other nominations are (as described by the Hall):
Network or Syndicated Pioneer:
Gang Busters, law enforcement reality series created by Phillips Lord and hosted by Col. H. Norman Schwarzkopf
The Great Gildersleeve, comedy series that starred Harold Peary and Willard Waterman along with a strong cast
The Phil Harris/Alice Faye Show, Playing themselves, the real-life husband and wife comedy team starred as a zany egotistical bandleader and his glamorous film star wife.
Walter Winchell (deceased), one of radio's most influential commentators in the '30s and '40s, he pioneered modern celebrity journalism initially for CBS and eventually ABC
Local Or Regional - Active:
Marty Brennaman, the "voice of the Cincinnati Reds" on WLW/Cincinnati since 1974
Bob Grant, the controversial talk show pioneer of WOR/New York
Dick Purtan, the veteran morning voice on Oldies 104.3 WOMC/Detroit
Preston Westmoreland, the long-time afternoon personality on KTAR/Phoenix
Local Or Regional Pioneer:
Dan Ingram, a rock radio pioneer on WABC/New York and eventually on WCBS-FM
Larry Lujack, the edgy rock jock who shook up WLS/Chicago and now WRLL
Rick Shaw, Florida's "Dean of Rock & Roll" for 40 years on WQAM and WMXJ/Miami
Jean Shepherd (deceased), radio humorist and master storyteller on WOR/New York
Previous Museum of Broadcast Communications:
Museum web site:
2004-04-13: US shock jock Howard Stern has again gone on the attack over Federal Communications Commission (FCC) indecency fines but also said that his show had a "limited shelf life" on terrestrial airwaves.
On the show he attacked the Bush administration for not focussing on more important issues such as Iraq but cracking down on shows such as his. " they're doing a very good job of taking this show off the air so you'll have to pay for it, because it'll be on satellite radio," he commented.
Stern, who has already posted transcripts of an Oprah Winfrey Show in March this year that he says was more in breach of the rules than his July 2001 show for which the FCC is proposing a fine, also said that he would be posting more examples of transcripts from around 50 other shows such as Mancow (Erich "Mancow" Muller) from Chicago and Dave, Shelley & Chainsaw from San Diego and get them fined too.
He said that Infinity and Viacom President and COO Mel Karmazin were 100% behind him and were going to fight but then added " no company can stand up to this kind of government pressure. We will be off the air. I'm pretty smart about this stuff."
Stern's site already contains various stories concerning the current indecency campaign including a letter from Clear Channel to the FCC defending the show for which it was recently fined USD 495,000 after which it said it was dropping the Stern show permanently.
Also carried is a link to the Los Angeles Times story on the case being brought against Clear Channel by Denver concert promoter, Nobody in Particular Presents (See RNW April 11).
Previous Clear Channel:
2004-04-13: According to a report in Time Magazine's April 19 Newsstand issue that is now online, Internet and satellite radio is beginning to chip away at the dominance of AM/FM terrestrial broadcasts as their audience increases and that of the terrestrial broadcasters in the US slips back.
According to the article, compared with a 14% fall in US listening to terrestrial broadcasts in the past decade online listening is growing at a rate of more than 40% a year and now reaches some 19 million listeners a week whilst total satellite subscriptions for Sirius and XM combined total around 2 million.
The report puts the online listening growth down in part to the growth of broadband that allows people to "and tune in for content that's unavailable or in short supply on commercial stations, from blues to folk to Al Franken's new liberal Air America network, which is broadcast in just a few markets on the AM/FM dial but was streamed 2 million times in its first week, according to its exclusive webcaster, RealNetworks.
It says so far the growth isn't hurting the radio empires such as Clear Channel, which points to its ratings as the answer to critics of its policies from homogenized song lists to voice-tracking that removes local flavour.
There may however be a future threat as the article notes that some 13% of Americans aged 12-24 now listen to online radio on a weekly basis, more than double the number three years ago according to Edison Media Research/Arbitron.
The article also suggests that a move of a major figure such as Howard Stern from terrestrial to satellite radio could provide a significant boost to satellite and cites analyst April Horace of Janco Partners in Denver as predicting that within five years 16 million Americans will be listening to satellite radio.
RNW comment: Elementary maths dictates that the growth rate of online listening will have to ease off fairly soon but if we assume an average 20% growth rate over the next five years for online listening and that satellite then has the 16 million forecast above, we end up with a weekly reach approaching 60 million, more than a quarter of the 228 million listeners a week that terrestrial radio currently enjoys according to Arbitron and, if half of those were lost to terrestrial nearly a third.
Extending the trend for a decade and assuming satellite peaks at around 40 million and terrestrial loses the same half that the others gain the latter would be perilously close to terrestrial but by then economics would have closed many terrestrial stations and there could be a vicious circle for terrestrial broadcasters as closures drive more listeners to the other options and the money going into the satellite and online services boosts their strength.
None of this seems inevitable to us since figures from elsewhere indicate that radio listening is increasing in some countries, notably the UK and Australia in the English-speaking world.
It may however spell economic doom for the current US radio model where advertising loads seem to be a significant turn-off factor for many people: We would note that in Australia DMG's new Nova network deliberately limited advertising load as part of its strategy for taking audience from market leader Austereo.
The other factor we would note is the UK policy of using policy on digital to increase the range of services available rather than allowing it to merely improve audio quality and provide some add-ons for existing AM and FM stations.
We conclude that we doubt the wisdom of holding terrestrial US radio stocks as a long-term investment, but satellite could yet be worth a punt.
Time Magazine article:
2004-04-13: Entercom says it expects first quarter net earnings this year to be above its forecast at some USD 87 million with around a 6% increase in same station net revenues.
President and CEO David J. Field said Entercom had seen "meaningful acceleration of business activity enabling us to deliver this strong first quarter performance that exceeds our earlier guidance" and added, "We are particularly pleased with these results in light of the tough comparison we faced with a very strong revenue performance in the first quarter of last year."
Entercom is to release its results on April 27.
In other US media business, the New York Times Company has announced March advertising revenues up 8.6% and total Company revenues up 5.8% compared with the results for the March last year
For the first quarter of this year the group reported net income down from USD 68.8 million in 2003 to USD 58.4 million on revenues up 2.3% to USD 801.9 million.
In divisional terms, newspaper revenues were up 1.3% in the quarter to USD 744.8 million but operating profit was down 16.4% to USD 104.9 million, broadcast revenues were up 8.8% to USD 35.1 million with operating profit up 29.9% to USD 6.4 million, primarily due to increased political advertising, and New York Times Digital revenues were up 31.1% to USD 25.7 million with operating profit more than doubled at USD 8.4 million compared to USD 3.2 million in the first quarter of 2003.
2004-04-13: The World Dab Forum has extended its reach with the announcement that software giant Microsoft, which is already involved in trials to use DAB (Digital Audio Broadcasting) in conjunction with its Window Media 9 series, has become a member of the international consortium focussed on developing DAB.
The trials are being conducted in London and Cambridge, U.K., in conjunction with Capital Radio, which is providing content, and NTL Broadcast, RadioScape, and PURE Digital and Imagination Technologies, which are providing infrastructure and system integration and enable Windows Media Audio 9 Professional (WMA 9 Pro) to deliver 5.1 channel surround sound.
This is made possible by the high-compression efficiency of the Windows system that allows 5-1 channel surround sound to be provided at bit rates as low as 128 Kbps. PURE digital has developed software that allows its digital tuner to receive the audio as data from a DAB broadcast and then send compressed audio over a USB connection to a PC, which then feeds it into Media Player to decode and output using a standard 6 channel sound card.
The audio being used features Capital FM DJ James Cannon playing a variety of tracks, mixed with Capital FM jingles and Capital's director of technology Peter Willison commented, "Creating the program was very much going back to basics. For example, when mixing jingles in surround sound you have to be careful not to make them too over the top. The result sounds fantastic-you have to hear it to appreciate it."
In other digital radio developments, China Radio International and China Radio National have both endorsed the Digital Radio Mondiale (DRM) system. DRM held its annual General Assembly in Hangzhou at the invitation of China's SARFT (State Administration of Radio, Film & Television) and the assembly heard Chinese Vice Minister Zhang Haitao say that the country was committed to the introduction of digital radio.
He added that China, which had successfully carried out large-scale DRM tests, is "in the procedure to select DRM for its use on medium-wave/AM and short-wave"
The DRM system was demonstrated to delegates by local radio station Zhejiang Radio & TV Group using a new digital DRM transmitter for short-wave from Thales Broadcast & Multimedia and an existing, 10-year old Harris DX 10 medium-wave/AM radio transmitter, which was converted to DRM by Harris Corporation's Broadcast Communications Division.
In Greece, Athens station Kiss FM, which streams its signal on the Internet and is also on the Hotbird 3 satellite platform, is introducing DAB to the country in collaboration with the Olympic Municipality of Amaroussion, where three-quarters of the Athletic Olympic installations are hosted.
The broadcast will provide music and news services in at least 11 different languages simultaneously for the Athens 2004 Olympics in August.
Previous Digital Radio Mondiale:
Kiss, Athens, web site (links to stream in Windows Media format):
2004-04-12: We start our look at print comment on media this week with yet another consideration of the implications of the current anti-indecency phase of US regulation.
It came from a Reuters report that quoted analysts as suggesting that if the effect of the increase in fines meant programmes becoming "boring" listeners might turn off and advertisers pull the plug.
"If regulation arose that stifled popular programming, then there would be economic repercussions. Long term, it could be problematic," said Gordon Hodge, financial analyst with Thomas Weisel Partners told the agency.
Others thought the impact probably wouldn't be great and David Bank, analyst at RBC Capital Markets, commented, "I think the indecency debate provided a lot of negative noise for an industry that was pretty sluggish, but I don't think it impacted the advertising landscape as much as investor psychology."
On however to other things and again a further bite at another topic, this time the continuing opposition to US National Public Radio's decision to drop Bob Edwards as host of Morning Edition.
The protests it would seem are not abating but if anything increasing and NPR ombudsman Jeffrey Dvorkin reported last week that he had now received 27,000 e-mails, most of which were didn't trust NPR to make the correct choice.
As well as criticising NPR over the decision itself some criticise the timing, others the manner in which it was handled, and yet others the way in which NPR itself has covered the story.
"Bob Edwards' departure was front-page news on a lot of newspapers. Editorials were written and letters-to-the editor were published," said one letter. "Only NPR's On The Media has reported this story. The story has gone noticeably unreported on NPR's newsmagazines. The closest NPR has come are the messages from NPR management on the NPR Web site. This is in my opinion, an important story and a mistake for NPR not to report it."
And taking up the point on media reporting on itself or areas where there is a vested interest: "NPR, like other media organizations occasionally IS the news. The BBC was capable of some tough reporting on itself through the Hutton Inquiry. ABC has not done as good a job as it should have in reporting the financial problems with its parent company, Disney."
Dvorkin also takes up his role as ombudsman, commenting that in this instance it "cannot be to support listeners on each topic about which they feel deeply, even one as close to home as this" but then adding, "I can make sure that NPR is aware of the depth of feeling around the issues."
The NPR executive held responsible for the decision, Jay Kernis, Senior Vice President for Programming, was also on the NPR web site commenting about the decision and at least admitting, "We didn't do a good job of explaining something so important" before going on to a frequently asked questions section - as well as being involved in an online web chat about the matter.
In essence he defended the move as part of changes made at NPR to "to improve and deepen our coverage of the critical stories of the day" that included the opening of NPR West in Los Angeles, a number of new hosts, more foreign bureaux and new programmes such as the Tavis Smiley Show and Day to Day.
And as to their being any chance the decision will be reversed? The simple answer is "no." The Kernis answer: "The changes we are making are part of a multi-year effort to expand our reach, to enhance our diversity, to tell stories from your community and abroad, and to be able to react to the immediacy of news across the day. We have worked hard to make this happen and believe that you are already hearing the benefits of these ideas. We are deeply aware that this is a listener-supported network and we are grateful for all the expressions of love and support for Bob. But in the end, this is about our broad commitment to delivering the kind of high-quality in-depth coverage that makes our reporting remarkable. We do not plan to deviate from that commitment."
RNW comment: Kernis brings to mind a remark by the Yorkshire author Phyllis Bentley to the effect that if the English would use three times as many words and the Americans a third as many, they would understand each other better. It seemed an exaggeration before Kernis.
For an outside perspective on the row, an article by Marc Fisher in the Washington Post seemed to us probably the most perceptive. He cited "many inside the network" as saying managers had concluded "Edwards was too studio-bound, too much the announcer rather than the reporter" and went on to quote an NPR executive (said to have declined to be named because he will still be working with Edwards) as saying, the host "didn't have the pace and the engagement with reporters in the field that we are looking for."
Fisher also quoted a number of executives from public radio stations whose views ranged from considering the decision inexplicable in view of the programme's success to others who considered the move would sharpen up the output, that it was intended to increase appeal to younger listeners - considered by some to be ageist and others mistaken because listener demographics show Morning Edition having a younger median age of listeners compared to many other NPR shows.
Which at this stage seems a good cue to switch to some programming from NPR that is available online and thus can allow those who are not regular listeners to make up their own minds.
As a good example of Edwards' style, we'd suggest today's Morning Edition (streamed on the NPR web site), which is advertised as to include a report, part of the Radio Expeditions project, that looks at the involvement of a "huge network of African rulers and merchants" in the abduction of some 12 million Africans destined to be shipped out from the continent as slaves.
And for a couple of short bursts of Edwards with the quirky item, the segments of Morning Edition Returns on April 9 - how a Croatian woman who didn't want to tell her boyfriend that her parents disapproved of their plans to vacation together in Germany cancelled the trip by phoning a fake al Qaeda bomb threat that closed Düsseldorf for hours - and April 8 on a member of the British Junior Gymnastics Team visiting Slovenia this week, who survived a fall from the window of his fourth-floor hotel room by bracing himself in mid-air, doing a somersault, and landing safely, albeit with a broken ankle.
For a different flavour of NPR we suggest the Tavis Smiley Show that last week ran amongst other items a series from Tuesday (April 6) concerning what the show terms "a compelling story about rape, race and discrimination in the town of Springfield, Ill. Renatta Frazier was an African-American cop whose inaction was blamed for the rape of a young white woman and discovered she was part of a police department cover-up."
The main argument we'd have with the description is the use of language - bigotry or prejudice not discrimination would be a much more accurate way to describe what happened - and we'd suggest those writing the descriptions should listen to an item on the Friday (April 9) show in which, to use a more accurate description that is on the web site, "Author-historian Janus Adams focuses on what message we should tell our children when it comes to the realities of racial bigotry"
RNW comment: Listening to Adams, we rather felt that rather than jailing Rush Limbaugh should he be found guilty of any criminal offences in connection with his drug taking he should be barred from the air on any day until he'd listened to it (and also the interview on the same show with Illinois Times reporter Dusty Rhodes who uncovered the story and commented how simple it was to check some of the facts that nailed some of the lies being spread) and then written a short commentary to air at the head of the show concerning bigotry that had to be penned from a minority viewpoint. Not censorship Rush, but we suspect that would be the end of the show, especially if there were pressure to back up prejudices with factual substantiation.
Still with the use of language, we'd recommend BBC Radio 4's Word of Mouth, which airs Fridays with a Sunday repeat. Last week's edition, now on the listen again part of the web site, deals with the language of rock and roll - the term itself came into widespread use through DJ Alan Freed, at the time working at WJW-AM, Cleveland, and later at WINS in New York - and among other things the way in which wars come to be named.
It's worth a listen if only for the slang meanings for "rock" - necking - and "roll" - activities that could come into the FCC's former banned words category - as well as the mentions of the etymology of tutti frutti, the slang variety not the ice cream.
Equally the discussion of the way the word war is becoming meaningless as commonly used is worth thinking about as it becomes a generic term for taking action against in much the same way as fascist became a generic term of abuse without any relation to its political meanings, thus in our view demeaning the language.
And that is as good a cue as any for a couple more mentions of programming available on the Internet. First from the UK Guardian radio review on Friday is a comment on FCUK-FM, the station launched by French Connection at the start of this month. The station is an "ad brand" notes Elisabeth Mahoney, and the launch date could make it look "like a joke".
"It's not a joke," she comments. "Instead, it's a deadly serious challenge to mainstream music radio, especially the plethora of identikit new digital stations playing the same chart-led tunes in the same old formats. Listen to FCUK FM and you'll sense immediately how different it is: musically innovative, surprising, hip and funny."
And the other programme, again Radio 4 and from Friday The Good Friday broadcast of The Cross.
Sue Arnold's radio review in the Guardian's sister Sunday paper, The Observer, summed it up quite well in context.
"Ever since my first visit to Iona eight years ago," she wrote, "I have worn a silver crucifix around my neck - less, I confess, for religious than for aesthetic reasons. Its beautiful, elongated, El Greco proportions frequently invite admiring comments. Now, having heard Michael Symmons Roberts's thought-provoking Good Friday programme The Cross, I feel slightly ashamed of treating what is fundamentally a symbol of faith as a mere fashion accessory. "
"One interviewee remarked laconically that non-believers who wear a crucifix might just as well wear a replica of a gibbet or an electric chair, for without Christian faith, 2,000 years ago the cross signified nothing more than an instrument of execution. "
"Of the many Easter programmes across the network - musical, poetical and philosophical - I liked this mixture of quiet faith and quirky fact."
." Liz Hurley and J-Lo wear them. Judy Finnigan is deeply, not to say permanently attached to the Tiffany one her husband gave her. And lapsed Catholic Madonna appears to prefer crucifixes to poles as a terpsichorean prop in her videos. Those crusaders must be spinning in their tombs."
NPR - Dvorkin:
NPR - Kernis:
Reuters - possible threat to radio profits:
UK Guardian - Mahoney:
UK Observer - Arnold:
Washington Post - Fisher:
2004-04-12: The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has recommended that FM licensees in the country should be allowed to defer payment of their licence fees until final decisions are made concerning them.
The recommendation comes against a background in which a committee set up by the government and headed by Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) Secretary General Dr. Amit Mitra has concluded that fixed annual licence fees should be replaced by a one-time entry fee with an annual revenue sharing arrangement- recommended at a rate of 4% of a station's gross revenue.
The Committee also found that India's F.M. broadcast industry appears to be unviable under phase-I licensing regime and recommended a re-structuring and migration of the licences to the new terms and conditions.
In February representatives of five private FM broadcasters met India's Deputy Prime Minister to ask for deferment of the annual fee until a decision had been taken on the implementation of the Mitra recommendations.
The third licence fee for Mumbai (Bombay) is due this month but Delhi, Calcutta and Chennai, licensees have not paid the license fee for the 2nd year due in August 2003 and are requesting the Government to charge the license fee from the date of actual operation. If their request is approved the fees will now also be due this month.
TRAI says that licensees should be given the option of deferring payments until the final decisions are made with any deferred payments being subject to additional interest charges from their original due date.
India auctioned a total of 108 FM frequencies and so far has issued 37 licences with 24 stations operational including two given operational status pending actual broadcasts.
Previous Indian Radio:
2004-04-12: The Sydney digital radio consortium has announced that Colmar Brunton, one of Australia's largest research consultancies, is to provide strategic research services for the project, which has been broadcasting test transmissions of signals of 12 Sydney stations since December last year.
The initial phase of the 18-month tests during which problems of interference with analogue and digital television and FM radio signals from the same tower in Willoughby have been overcome is now over and the tests are moving into a consumer phase in which industry body Commercial Radio Australia is setting up consumer panels from various groups, members of which will be given a receiver, to provide feedback.
Colmar Brunton, through its specialist Media Solutions team, will track awareness of, and attitudes to, digital radio using its omnibus study, which covers 30,000 Australians each week, and is to work with work with the Sydney radio consortium to develop key questions to go out to its NSW panel in two separate waves over the next 12 - 18 months.
Commercial Radio Australia CEO Joan Warner said they were very pleased with the arrangement and added, "The quantitative research into Australian attitudes to digital radio that we obtain through Colmar Brunton, combined with information through our soon to be launched consumer display centres, and the qualitative data gained through our structured listener panels, will provide valuable insights into how the industry should approach the introduction and rollout of this new technology."
"General awareness of digital radio is currently low among the general listening public but Australians are well-known for being early adopters of new technology, and we expect interest and demand to grow as people become aware of its benefits."
Commercial Radio Australia has also announced that entries have been opened for this year's Australian Commercial Radio Awards. The 16th annual awards event is to be held in the Gold Coast in October this year and as well as long-standing awards, including inductions into the Australian Radio Hall of Fame, will this year feature a new award for Best Sales Person.
Previous Commercial Radio Australia:
2004-04-11: Yet again the major regulatory story of the week was a large US indecency fine, this time of just under half-a-million dollars imposed on Clear Channel for a Howard Stern Show from a year ago; more penalties are expected to come for Infinity, which makes the show, and possibly for other stations that carried it.
In Australia, the Australian Broadcasting Authority (ABA) has said that Sydney 2GB breakfast Alan Jones' programme did not breach its disclosure rules though its sponsorship by Telstra Corporation through an agreement with the parent company of the licensee, but it is nevertheless looking at tightening up the rules (See RNW April 6).
The ABA has also released a discussion paper concerning use of available FM frequencies in the Launceston market in Tasmania.
The market currently only has commercial AMs and the ABA wants to introduce commercial FMs where practicable. In Launceston frequency has become available through the move of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation television service, formerly on VHF channel 3 in North East Tasmania, to UHF.
The ABA says it has identified two FM frequencies suitable for commercial FM with a power up to 10kw as well s capacity that would be suitable for an additional FM community radio service.
In Canada, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC), has approved a number of radio applications. In order of province they were:
Approval of application to change contours of CBX-FM Edmonton by decreasing the antenna height from 228.8 metres to 193 metres.
Approval of 2,330 watts transmitter for CJFX-FM Antigonish at Inverness subject to a suitable frequency being proposed.
Approval of change in contours of CFGE-FM-1 Magog by relocating its transmitter, decreasing the antenna height from 597 metres to 578 metres and increasing the effective radiated power of the transmitter from 360 watts to 364 watts.
Approval of change in contours of CJEB-FM Trois-Rivières by decreasing the average effective radiated power from 43,050 watts to 34,033 watts and by increasing the antenna height from 327.4 metres to 344.9 metres.
The Commission has also given notice of a public hearing to be held on June 7 in Gatineau, Quebec, to consider a number of radio licence applications with an intervention deadline of May 13.
In order of province the applications are for:
Application by Sun Radio to renew the licence of CIEZ-FM, Halifax; Sun is equally owned by Newcap and CHUM which each own and operate two stations in the Halifax/Dartmouth market - CFRQ-FM and CFDR-AM, for Newcap and CJCH-AM and CIOO-FM for CHUM - for which licence renewals are also sought.
Application to change the frequency, increase the antenna height and increase from 17,000 watts to 30,000 watts the power of CKMB-FM Barrie.
Application for a new 25,500 watts English-language Christian music service commercial specialty FM in the City of Kawartha Lakes.
Application to add an FM transmitter in Oshawa to broadcast the programming of CKDO-AM, Oshawa, to improve signal, particularly with respect to nighttime deficiencies.
Application to renew the licence of Newcap's CHNO-FM Sudbury and Rogers' CJMX-FM, CJRQ-FM and CIGM-AM. The Commission notes that last year it dealt with a complaint concerning a Local Sales Agreement between Newcap and Rogers and that it will further examine this in the context of the renewals.
Application to renew the licence of CKEY-FM Fort Erie and its transmitter CKEY-FM-1 St. Catharines.
Application for a new 1,670 watts commercial English-language FM in Kincardine with transmitters in Goderich and Port Elgin.
Application for a new 5,660 watts Adult Classic Hit English-language commercial FM in Port Elgin.
Application for a new 14,000 watts "Heritage" Country Music and Easy Listening music format not-for-profit Type B community FM in Renfrew.
Application for renewal of licence of CJLB-FM, Thunder Bay.
Application for renewal of licence of CKPR-AM and CJSD-FM Thunder Bay.
Application for a new English-language FM community-based 134 watts campus FM in Thunder Bay at Lakehead University.
Application from Bayview Avenue Non-Profit Student Radio for an English and French-language FM community-based campus 1-watt FM in Toronto.
Application from Humber College Institute Of Technology And Advance Learning for a new 5-watts English-language FM developmental campus instructional FM in Toronto
Application for a new 21,200 watts Classic Rock/New Rock hybrid music format English-language commercial FM in Wingham.
Prince Edward Island:
Application for renewal of licence of Newcap's CHTN-AM, and Maritime Broadcasting's CFCY-AM and CHLQ-FM, Charlottetown. Currently the stations are involved in a Local Management Agreement (LMA) between the two but during the next licence term this would become a Sales Agreement only.
Application by Radio Nord to acquire the assets of CHLX-FM Ottawa/Gatineau. In connection with an intra-corporate reorganization.
Application by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation to acquire the assets of the radio programming undertaking CHLM-FM Rouyn-Noranda and its transmitter CHLM-FM-1 Amos/Val D'Or, which currently rebroadcasts the CBC's regional and network programming.
Application to convert the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation's CBDN-FM Dawson to AM.
Ireland was quiet for radio decisions although the Broadcasting Commission of Ireland (BCI) did announce the award of this year's Réalt DJ competition winner (See RNW April 9) and in the UK, Ofcom has similarly been quiet on the radio front although it did release details of the last complaints bulletin from the Broadcasting Standards Commission, one of the bodies whose duties it took over (See RNW April 10).
In the US the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has been involved in a number of indecency enforcement actions including the levying of a USD 495,000 penalty on Clear Channel in connection with its broadcasts of the Howard Stern Show (See RNW April 9) and also confirming a USD 14,000 penalty on Emmis in connection with Mancow's Morning Madness (Also RNW April 9).
As well as the indecency actions it also issued a number of penalties for other breaches including ones relating to public record files on a Tennessee FM (Also RNW April 9) and an Honolulu AM (See RNW April 8) and others relating to public record files and emergency alert system tests on a Kansas FM (See RNW April 7)
Previous Licence News:
ABA web site:
BCI web site:
CRTC web site:
FCC web site:
Ofcom web site:
2004-04-11: A U.S. Federal judge has now set August 2 for hearings on allegations by Denver independent promoter Nobody in Particular Presents that Clear Channel had attempted to create a monopoly in violation of state and federal antitrust laws.
Judge Edward W. Nottingham earlier this month threw out claims that Clear Channel had created a monopoly with its Denver stations but said there was sufficient evidence to support claims that it had attempted to create one (See RNW April 5).
A report in the Los Angeles Times says that in his 125-page ruling Judge Nottingham cited excerpts from several depositions and e-mails that allegedly show that Clear Channel executives tied airplay on Clear Channel stations to artists' appearances at Clear Channel concerts.
Amongst examples cited are testimony in a deposition from an executive with Roadrunner Records that Clear Channel Denver executive Michael O'Connor threatened in 2000 to take the label's acts off the air when he learned they were touring with Nobody in Particular.
Another Roadrunner executive then e-mailed managers for artists involved in the flap, the judge said in his decision, and advised them to avoid using Nobody in Particular Presents or risk losing airplay.
In another deposition, a manager for rock singer Lennon testified that her label, Arista Records, demanded that she cancel a concert booked with Nobody in Particular Presents to avoid losing airplay on one of Clear Channel's Denver stations, KBPI-FM.
Airplay data submitted by the plaintiff indicate that Clear Channel stations had reduced the airtime given to songs by another Arista rock act, Adema, after the band signed a concert deal with the same concert promoter.
In yet another instance an executive with Elektra Records asked O'Connor why one of the label's rock acts, Vast, had seen the number of plays, or "spins," dropped to six a week from 23 and was asked if the band planned to book a Christmas show with Clear Channel's live-event unit.
When subsequently the booking was confirmed the number of plays per week rose to 20 according to the ruling.
Jesse Morreale, a co-owner of Nobody in Particular Presents, told the Times the evidence illustrated Clear Channel's "predatory behaviour, the way they've used their control over the content of the radio stations to injure us as a competitor. Despite their denial of the behaviour, it's great that the evidence is out there so people can see it wasn't us crying wolf."
The Times also notes that the allegations raise the question of possible "payola" violations since Federal law prohibits broadcasters from accepting money or anything of value - including a rock concert - in exchange for airplay, unless that payment is disclosed to listeners.
It also notes that in Washington, the Justice Department has said that it is investigating allegations that Clear Channel violated antitrust laws by slashing airplay for artists that didn't sign on with Clear Channel's concert unit and says a second "ongoing" probe focuses on Clear Channel's dominance of the San Diego radio market.
Clear Channel's executive vice president for law and government affairs Andrew Levin commented that the ruling was only "the beginning of a long process of finding the truth."
"That's what a trial is for," he said. "You're only seeing part of the picture and there are material facts in dispute. We look forward to our day in court when we will clearly demonstrate that these allegations are unfounded."
RNW comment: We would agree with Levin on the obvious function of a trial in the last part but also suggest that the corollary should the case be upheld is that Clear Channel is unfit to hold licences. In our view, should this be the case, the logical response would be to rescind all of Clear Channel's licences, something that just won't happen: Indeed we doubt any will be.
Our views are that the Mays family are from the same old-style mould as John D. Rockefeller whose Standard Oil monopoly was eventually broken up after being appealed up the U.S. Supreme Court in 1911. Clear Channel, in our view, irrespective of the outcome of this particular case, should at least be similarly broken-up and be forced to dispose of its concert promotions business: Indeed in our view it should never have been allowed to acquire its SFX promotions arm whilst holding the radio station licences.
Previous Clear Channel:
Los Angeles Times report:
2004-04-11: Two BBC local radio stations are taking to the water for broadcasts this weekend, one to the seas and the other to the canals.
At sea is BBC Radio Essex, which from today is broadcasting pirate BBC Essex for a week from the former lightship vessel LV18 half a mile out to sea, off the coast of Harwich for a week to mark the anniversary of pirate radio in the UK.
It began on Good Friday in 1964 from Radio Caroline broadcasting as its first song the Rolling Stones' Not Fade Away. Caroline at its peak had an audience of some 8 million, far greater than the anticipated audience for pirate BBC Essex which will be playing songs from the pirates' heyday, 1964-1967, on two FM frequencies plus an AM and the Internet.
Radio Caroline itself, which is now on the Internet and the Sky satellite platform, is marking the anniversary with a series of special programmes that included including a Saturday night party.
Today's programming will include reminiscences about the old Caroline days on John Patrick's programme from 12:00 to 14:00 GMT: It will include a phone talk with Caroline's programme director from the 60's, Tom Lodge, who is now based in California.
The other BBC waterborne broadcasts are from BBC WM, which will be broadcasting from the canals of Birmingham and the West Midlands - more than 180 miles of canals were built in the area and there are still some 32 miles of canals within Birmingham city limits compared to 28 miles in Venice.
The broadcasts will be made commencing on Monday, from a BBC branded narrow boat as part of the station's Mad About Music week and managing editor Keith Beech said that as well as being able to "hook up with the people living and working on the [canal] network" the broadcasts will "also give listeners a taste of life on the waterways with a series of special programmes made on location."
Previous Radio Caroline:
2004-04-11: The US clamp-down on indecency has claimed two more scalps as Clear Channel has fired the Regular Guys - Larry Wachs and Eric Von Haessler - following a skit aired on March 19 meant to mock the FCC campaign against indecency that involved playing backwards tape of a porn star meant to mock the FCC campaign against indecency. The plan was to tape porn star Devinn Lane talking dirty.
The hosts left a microphone on and some of the content was broadcast during a commercial leading to a suspension of the hosts while an enquiry was carried out (See RNW Mar 20).
The firing, announced by Clear Channel regional Vice-President Pat McDonnell, was said to have been decided under the company's new zero-tolerance policy.
"In line with our zero-tolerance policy and after conducting a thorough investigation of a March 19 broadcast on WKLS-FM, we have decided we will no longer broadcast the 'The Regular Guys'", he said in a statement.
The duo themselves did not comment but their agent Robert Eatman told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, "This is total government interference pressuring companies to take actions they wouldn't otherwise take."
Previous Clear Channel:
Previous Regular Guys:
Atlanta Journal-Constitution report:
2004-04-11: American University's Washington D.C. public radio station WAMU-FM, which had a deficit of USD 2.3 million in its fiscal year to the end of April 2003 according to audited reports (See RNW Nov 22, 2003) has announced that it has received a gift of USD 250,000 , the largest in the station's 43-year history.
The bequest came from the estate of the late Ellen Wadley Roper, a long time Washington, D.C. journalist and communications professional.
A native of Little Rock, Arkansas, Mrs. Roper began a career in media and communications in Washington, D.C. after the Second World War. It included spells with WTOP-AM, CBS News, the American Red Cross, and Wilson-Wadley Enterprises, a public relations firm she founded.
She met her husband, James E. Roper, who died in 1998, in 1958, while both were working for the Washington bureau of CBS News.
David Taylor, Acting Executive Director of WAMU, described the gift as a "tremendous boost for WAMU" that would "have a great impact on the station."
2004-04-10: After Clear Channel, Infinity and maybe all stations that carry the Howard Stern Show appear to be in the firing line from the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) whose USD 495,000 penalty on Clear Channel, announced late on Wednesday, for a show a year ago led to the latter dropping the Stern Show permanently (See RNW April 9).
A line in the notice advising Clear Channel of the penalty says, "The Commission is aware that the 'Howard Stern Show' originates and is broadcast over stations owned by Infinity Broadcasting Corporation. We instruct the Enforcement Bureau to initiate an investigation into Infinity's broadcast of the April 9, 2003."
The text leaves open the question of whether the 17 stations from other companies that carry Stern are also likely to be penalised: Infinity carries the show on 18 stations, which would make a pro-rata penalty some 1.49 USD million for Infinity and of some USD 2.9 million if all the stations were penalised.
Stern reacted to the Clear Channel penalty on his web site by commenting that the decision was not a "surprise" and continuing, "This is a follow up to the McCarthy type 'witch hunt' of the administration and the activities of this group of presidential appointees in the FCC, led by 'Colin Powell Jr.' and his band of players. They and others (a senator from Kansas City to a congresswoman from New Mexico) are expressing and imposing their opinions and rights to tell us all who and what we may listen to and watch and how we should think about our lives."
"So this is not a surprise. It is pretty shocking that governmental interference into our rights and free speech takes place in the U.S. It's hard to reconcile this with the 'land of the free' and the 'home of the brave'.
There was also opposition to the ruling from the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA) whose national director of news and broadcasting Tom Carpenter told the Chicago Tribune that Clear Channel's decision to drop Stern illustrated the dangers of allowing one company to control much of the media.
"This is likely to set a terrible precedent," said Carpenter. "There are likely to be some very serious repercussions for artists to be heard or seen when one company can determine the decency standards for so many listeners in so many parts of the country."
The Tribune is also featuring an online poll about the matter, described by it as "not scientific" that after around 3,2000 responses showed a 70-30 split in favour of those saying that Stern should not be fined.
From the other side of the argument L. Brent Bozell III, president of the advocacy group Parents Television Council, which is still running a campaign against Viacom over the Super Bowl and Janet Jackson's breast incident, told the Associated Press, "When you talk about real fines and the real possibility of license revocation, you do get their [broadcasters] attention."
Putting the matter into a free speech context, Paul Levinson, chairman of the department of communications and media studies at Fordham University, told the AP that the "the most depressing and tragic aspect to this" was that "The media, rather than standing up for the First Amendment, are giving into the people who want to trample all over it."
Previous Clear Channel:
Chicago Tribune report:
San Francisco Chronicle/AP report:
2004-04-10: Ottawa radio host Don (Dandyman) Romani has been suspended indefinitely by CHUM's The Team 1200 in the wake of on-air comments about Toronto Maple Leafs enforcer Tie Domi that suggested Domi hits his wife.
The NHL player has not made public comment about the remarks, for which Romani apologised at the start of his show on Wednesday, saying, "I want to apologize to Mr. Domi and his family and I am very sorry for my comments, which were, to say the least, very distasteful .It was intended to be humorous and in fun and it was neither. It was a mistake."
He also pledged to make donations to two shelters for abused women.
The remarks involved were made on Tuesday during discussion with co-host Tim (Buzz) Kilpatrick of a newspaper article on Domi's wife Leanne.
According to the Toronto Star Romani commented, "One would suspect that she could take a good punch" and then, after Kilpatrick protested went on "I'll bet you his idea of aerobics is to bang her around a bit once a week."
Kilpatrick then said Romani should not be "talking like that" to which Romani responded, "Well, look it," Romani persisted. "You think a man that would go after (former Ottawa Senator) Magnus Arvedson wouldn't go after a woman? Same thing."
Domi himself according to the Star called the comments "disturbing" but then referred questions to his agent, Pat Morris, and Toronto general manager John Ferguson Jr.
Morris, who said that the remarks were "defamatory", said that legal action was possible.
"One option, certainly, is to pursue it with vigour," he said. "Another option is to accept an apology and dig deeper into how or what type of donations he made and talk to the individual."
Station owner CHUM issued a statement saying, "The Team 1200 regrets comments made by Host Don Romani regarding Tie Domi and a member of his family. Mr. Romani regrets making inappropriate comments and has publicly apologized to Mr. Domi and his family."
"Mr. Romani has been suspended indefinitely from his duties on the Team 1200 pending further review."
Toronto Star report:
2004-04-10: Sirius satellite radio ended the week with its stock up to USD 3.84 from USD 3.6, boosted by a number of announcements of new agreements for factory installation of its receivers in a the 2005 year line-up of Chrysler, Jeep, and Dodge vehicles and also from this month as a factory installed option and a dealer-installed accessory on the BMW 2004 7 Series Sedans. The receivers are already available on select 2004 BMW 3 Series, 5 Series, M3, X3, and X5 models.
At its peak in the week it was priced at around USD 4.1 but dropped back nearly 5% on the last day of trading on Thursday.
XM, which has had less news, although it did unveil a new satellite traffic information deal with NAVTEQ for a new XM NavTraffic satellite traffic information service that enables a vehicle's on-board navigation system to display current traffic information for a driver's chosen route, did less well. Its stock, which hit a peak of around USD 30.9 on Monday, ended the week at USD 29.60.
2004-04-10: In a joint letter to US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) chairman Michael K. Powell, advocacy group Public Knowledge and the US Consumers Union have opposed the idea of a "Digital Radio Broadcast Flag", the radio equivalent of a digital TV broadcast flag that would limit home recording and other capabilities for digital TV signals.
The letter was written on the basis that the FCC was due to issue a notice on April 8 indicating its "intention to consider conducting a rulemaking on copy-protection policies for Digital Audio Radio Service."
The letter says it understands the FCC Notice of Proposed Rulemaking would centre "on proposals advocated by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) that, while nominally concerned with distribution over the Internet, in fact will seek broader restrictions on digital copying and storage of content. In essence, we understand, the RIAA is seeking a 'radio equivalent of the broadcast flag' designed to prevent consumer recording of broadcasts."
"Public Knowledge and Consumers Union," it continues, "urge that the Commission avoid a rush to judgment in this matter, and that the Commission consider the question of mandatory content protection for digital radio in a Notice of Inquiry rather than in an NPRM, if at all."
The letter says not enough groundwork has been done on the matter, that there is no call from Congress for urgent action, no spectrum implications and "literally no evidence at all associating digital radio broadcasting with peer-to-peer file-sharing of music or other content."
Mike Godwin, senior technology counsel for Public Knowledge, who has said the "content" companies want to get rid of analogue because they cannot control it, "There is no reason for the FCC to create a broadcast flag for radio. The record companies have done nothing to establish that digital radio is a potential threat to record sales or a potential source of content for Internet file-sharers."
Last month the two bodies said the content industries and their allies were attempting to use the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) proceedings on the broadcast flag and on setting new rules for "plug and play" devices to assert widespread control over digital and analogue media and continued, "We have concluded from reading the full range of submissions in the broadcast-flag and plug-and-play proceedings that full regulatory control over all the ways consumers use content is precisely what certain content holders want."
"Had such controls been in effect in 1976, when the video cassette recorder (VCR) was invented, 'devices such as the VCR, the TiVo personal-video recorded, and Windows-based 'media PCs' would have been drastically hindered on their way to market - if allowed at all."
They argued that content companies were attempting to "roll back the impact of the Supreme Court's decision" in 1984 that allowed the VCR to be used to record television programming for later viewing.
The battle over digital radio is just part of a wider one between bodies like the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) and Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) and electronics companies over the ways in which electronic devices can record and transmit digital signals.
The computer industry is betting heavily on media related development to boost sales but the "content" companies want devices built into digital signals to either prohibit the moving of signals from one device to others or degrade their quality so as to prohibit high quality copies.
The MPAA argues that they could not afford to put expensive content such s movies on high quality signals such as HDTV if it can be easily copied; among the features they have proposed is a "selectable output control" that would allow them to turn off output to an "unsafe" device that could include previously acceptable recording media should a copy-protection scheme be hacked.
RNW comment: In our view the logical answer to the recording industry and studios is quite simple - they need to be told they cannot have it all their own way.
When VCRs came out the studios wanted to stop the development but it subsequently led the way to a major part of their income. As far s movies are concerned lawmakers should tell the studios to show movies in the cinema only if they aren't prepared to allow home recording devices to continue to function.
If the industries can come up with workable copy prevention systems for audio CDs and DVDs and are prepared to label their products accordingly, that is their right but we see no reason why they should be given rights to invade the privacy of individuals to protect their profits: We think they are exaggerating the threat but if not we'd prefer retaining privacy and individuals' control over devices in their homes to having any Hollywood home movies.
Public Knowledge news release:
2004-04-10: In the final bulletin from the UK Broadcasting Standards Commission (BSC), published by its successor body Ofcom, six fairness or privacy TV complaints have been upheld or partially upheld but no radio related cases were upheld.
Upheld was one case of unwarranted invasion of privacy, and partially upheld were another privacy case where a man who had been drinking was held to have been unnecessarily identified but not treated unfairly, and a third case where a documentary on Mrs Violette Szabó, who was executed after her capture by the German Army in 1944 and was awarded a posthumous George Cross, was held to have given disproportionate emphasis to the testimony of one contributor that diminished her memory and reputation.
One radio case involving BRMB was taken no further since the broadcaster had offered an on-air apology; In addition Ofcom notes that the broadcasters were directed to publish details of the Commission's findings in a number of earlier cases including those involving broadcasts of Good Morning Ulster on BBC Radio Ulster, Good Morning Scotland on BBC Radio Scotland, and Today on BBC Radio 4, all on 14 May 2003.
Of standards case, one TV cases was upheld and two upheld in part whilst the broadcasters actions were considered adequate in a fourth case.
2004-04-09: Clear Channel, which in February suspended the show (See RNW Feb 27) has now dropped the Howard Stern Show permanently in the wake of a USD 495,000 fine proposed on it by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for an April 9 edition of the show last year.
Announcing the decision, Clear Channel Radio President and CEO John Hogan said Stern's show "has created a great liability for us and other broadcasters who air it. The Congress and the FCC are even beginning to look at revoking station licenses. That's a risk we're just not willing to take."
"We had hoped to return Mr. Stern's show to the air free from indecent content," Hogan added.
"Unfortunately, the FCC's latest action, combined with deafening silence from the Stern show on their future plans to comply with the law, leave us no choice but to abandon the program for good."
In proposing the maximum USD 495,000 penalty - USD 27,500 for each of eighteen total apparent indecency violations - the FCC commented that it "proposed imposition of a forfeiture for the maximum statutory amount because of parent Clear Channel's recent history of airing indecent programming."
The show segments concerned, a transcript of which the FCC has posted on its web site, involve discussions about oral and anal sex and "a discussion of 'Sphincterine,' a purported personal hygiene product."
Separate statements were issued by both Democrat Commissioners welcoming the decision with Michael J. Copps commenting, "I have long advocated that the Commission use all of the tools it has to tackle indecency on the public's airwaves. Today's decision is a step forward towards imposing meaningful fines. For the first time, the Commission assesses a fine against more than a single utterance, rather than counting an entire program as one utterance. In addition, the Commission makes clear that its indecency enforcement will address not only the station that is the subject of a complaint, but also any other station that aired the same programming."
His fellow commissioner Jonathan S. Adelstein noted, "Since I arrived at the Commission, we have greatly stepped up our enforcement against indecent broadcasts. I expect that stepped-up actions like those we take today will convince broadcasters that they cannot ignore their responsibility to serve the public interest and to avoid the broadcast of indecent material over the public airwaves."
The FCC also confirmed a USD 14,000 penalty on Emmis for a March 2000 edition of the Mancow Morning Madness Show in which there was telephone conversation between a porn star and the on-air staff discussing amongst other things the practice of "fisting," which the porn star reportedly described as a procedure by which a female is sexually gratified by having an entire hand inserted into her vagina.
On more technical matters the FCC has reduced from USD 10,000 to USD 9,000 a penalty on Dick Broadcasting Company, Inc. of Tennessee, relating to the failure of WKZL-FM, Winston-Salem, North Carolina, to keep full public files.
The matter had come to light during a licence renewal when Dick explained that it had accidentally purged Quarterly Programs and Issues Reports from 1996 to 2000 from the file. The penalty was reduced because the company had brought the matter to light and the renewal was granted, the FCC commenting "we find that station WKZL(FM) served the public interest, convenience, and necessity during the subject license term."
Previous Clear Channel:
Previous Erich "Mancow" Muller:
FCC Notice of Apparent Violation to Clear Channel (including transcript - 204 Kb Word document)
2004-04-09: The nominations for the Sony Awards, the UK radio equivalent of the Oscars, have pitted two BBC hosts and three from the commercial sector against each other in the competition for the DJ of the Year award that has been reinstated following a 15-year hiatus.
Self-proclaimed BBC Radio 1 saviour and breakfast host Chris Moyles will be slugging things out against BBC 2 rival Jonathan Ross, who won two Sony's last year; Bam Bam of Emap's Kiss 100; Christian O'Connell of Capital's Xfm; and Jo and Twiggy of Nottingham station Trent FM.
Moyles predecessor in the breakfast slot has faced the ignominy of being denied a nomination in the breakfast award for which nominees are Christian O'Connell's Breakfast Show; Foxy and Tom @ Breakfast on Emap's Humberside Viking FM; JK & Joel @ Breakfast on Emap's Manchester Key 103; Today In Norfolk on BBC Radio Norfolk; and Wake Up To Wogan on BBC Radio 2.
There was no nomination either for Capital FM's former breakfast host Chris Tarrant although there are suggestions he could be in line for the Sony Gold Award, which will not be announced until this year's ceremony on May 12.
The nominees for Music Broadcaster of the Year are David Rodigan of Kiss 100; Iain Burnside of BBC Radio 3 and World Service; Mark Goodier for work for Wise Buddah, Classic FM, Emap, BBC World Service, BBC Radio 2 and Jazz FM; Natalie Wheen of Classic FM; and Zane Lowe of BBC Radio 1.
The Daily Music Show award nominees are Drivetime on Classic FM; Lunchtime with Ace and Invisible on BBC 1Xtra; Robin Banks on Kiss 100; Sam Heywood in the Afternoon on Viking FM; and The Chris Moyles Show on BBC Radio 1.
The BBC is bound to win one award - the nominees for National Station are BBC Radio 2, BBC Radio 4, and BBC Radio Five Live.
Amongst other nominees are BBC Radio 4's Today and PM, BBC Radio 5's Drive and 5 Live Goes To Parliament, and Viking FM for the News Output award; and BBC1Xtra, Oneword Radio and PrimeTime Radio for the Digital Station Award.
BBC Radio 4 gets four nominees as news journalist of the year - Angus Stickler, Hugh Sykes, Jon Manel and Shari Vahl and also a nomination for Speech Broadcaster of the Year for Melvyn Bragg who will be competing against BBC Radio 5 Live's Ian Robertson.
In the news story category, nominees are Jeremy Bowen for his Radio 5 Live report on the capture of Saddam Hussein and Mike Thomson for his reports from Ethiopia for BBC Radio 4's Today programme.
Sony awards web site:
2004-04-09: The Broadcasting Commission of Ireland (BCI) has announced that Caitriona Ní Chatháin from Ennis has won the Réalt DJ competition, which the Commission organises in conjunction with Foras na Gaeilge to "actively encourage and promote the use of the Irish language on radio."
The competition focused on six local commercial stations for 2003/2004 and through the BCI's Irish language co-ordinator, Lisa Ní Choisdealbha, worked with the stations in promoting the competition in schools and colleges.
The winning entry was a regional final entry into the competition from Clare FM and as part of her prize Caitriona will co-present Pop 4 this Saturday and will have a weekly slot on the new Irish language chart show, to be broadcast on many local radio stations throughout the country.
She has already presented a guest slot on Clare FM's Irish programme An Clár Gaeilge, which is presented every Saturday by the station's Eagarthóir Gaeilge Emer Connolly.
Her fellow regional finalist Anita Ní Fhionnacháin from Clare will also guest on the station's Irish language programme.
Commenting on the announcement BCI Chief Executive Michael O'Keeffe said, "I would like to congratulate the overall winner Caitriona Ní Chatháin and all the regional finalists in this competition. I would also like to pay tribute to the radio stations who were involved with this venture. Through their enthusiasm and commitment they have contributed to a vibrant approach to the use of Irish on the airwaves.
2004-04-09: According to RealNetworks more than 2 million streams were delivered for the Progress Media's Air America "progressive" talk network during its first week with a peak of 50,000 concurrent streams at one time on the network's launch day at the end of last month (See RNW April 1).
Commenting on the Internet success Air America Radio chairman Evan Cohen said, "We're extremely pleased that the Air America Radio launch is the single largest non-news stream in Real Broadcast Network history. Over two million streams within the first week of our launch is a testament to the quality of Air America Radio programming and reach of the Real 10 platform."
Commenting on the current state of Air America, Baltimore Sun columnist David Folkenflik wrote this week, "One week in, the newcomers have succeeded in making the microphones work - an improvement over their first few days on the air.
Later he cited continuing scepticism about the network's chances of success, quoting among others satirist Harry Shearer, host of the caustic left-of-centre Le Show on public radio in Southern California.
Shearer commented, "My overwhelming reaction is that they're making motivational tapes for the [Democratic] base - if it could only hear them. [RNW comment - the network is only available on a handful of terrestrial stations plus the satellite radio channels, which may account in part for its Internet success] It sounds relentlessly partisan, much more than ideological."
He added that he was also sceptical on relying on semi-celebrities rather than seasoned radio people, commenting, Although [Air America] has gone for more entertainment value than previous attempts at lib talk, they still haven't gone, aside from Randi [Rhodes], for people with arguable radio chops. I think that's a mistake."
Air America CEO Mark Walsh notes Folkenflik said recently, "We're not in the regime-change business. We're dumb if we stick with the [ideological] stance at the expense of being a viable business."
The hosts, however, Folkenflik added seem focused on the need to drive President Bush from office and see themselves as offsetting conservative talk stations but Michael Harrison, publisher of the industry publication Talkers, says those stations are already offset by public radio and so-called "urban talk" stations.
Air America has however set bait that some of the conservative hosts have risen to, including Bill O'Reilly who commented to Fox News at the start of the week, "Never in the history of the American press has one tiny enterprise gotten so much free publicity. The reason, of course, is that the elites want liberal bomb throwers to embarrass and defame people with whom they disagree. It's like hiring hit men and women."
RNW comment: Which makes O'Reilly sound much less intelligent than he is judging by some of his work, albeit the comment may be more a reflection of his blinkers in our view. Personalising and simplifying the story as Air America the lone voice on the radio left is the easy way out and the US media don't seem to have that much restraint when it comes to taking the easy route and forgetting awkward complications - just think of the cover the Raelian sect got over the cloned baby story.
Previous Air America/Progress Media:
Baltimore Post report:
2004-04-08: Conservative talk host Rush Limbaugh's lawyer Roy Black has argued to the 4th District Court of Appeals in Florida that Palm Beach prosecutors infringed his client's rights when they seized his medical records from a doctor's office and that they violated Florida law regarding obtaining medical records in their actions.
Black, who is backed by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) on grounds of the privacy of doctor-patient relationships, says the prosecutors should have given notice that they were going after the records, thus giving the host a chance to object, rather than employing seizure via a warrant.
For the prosecutors Palm Beach County Assistant State Attorney Jim Martz said giving notice would have limited their capability to investigate allegations that Limbaugh illegally "doctor shopped" to obtain pain pills by using several doctors to receive duplicate prescriptions.
The court has not said when it will make its ruling on whether the records can be used in evidence.
Limbaugh's web site carries video of the hearing and post hearing comments by Black in which he says that the proceedings were important for his client and for all citizens of the state in relation to privacy of records.
It also carries a transcript of his radio show comments in which he says the state admitted in one of its briefs that it said it needed to see his records because they "don't know what to charge, if anything -- which is a tantamount admission that they were fishing."
"They claim they had probable cause, but they didn't know what to charge me with. After all of that you've heard about all of these so-called charges and leaks and so forth, they admit in their own brief they have no clue what to charge unless they can see all of my medical records."
In a rather contrary viewpoint, a Palm Beach Post editorial draws attention to the arrest, following comments made by Limbaugh's ex-housekeeper and her husband to the prosecutors, of Louis Beshara and his wife.
The pair, owners of a pharmacy near Fort Worth, was arrested on drug trafficking charges involving 450,000 painkillers.
"To make their case, prosecutors obtained a search warrant for the Besharas' home," says the paper. "They found 73,000 pills, $806,000 in cash and records of transactions. The Besharas challenged the legality of the search warrant. In January, a judge ruled that it had been valid."
"Given Mr. Limbaugh's reaction to searching the offices of four physicians, imagine the reaction if prosecutors had searched his house. The law recognizes that one's home is the closest thing to a sanctuary, yet the law recognizes that authorities may search it if a judge believes there is reason to believe that investigators may find evidence of a crime."
It points out that two separate judges were involved in issuing the search warrant and allowing the medical records to be viewed and continues, "So one hopes that whatever the court's ruling, the judges will not put evidence of illegal acts beyond the reach of law enforcement."
"The Beshara case is relevant in other ways. It shows that, contrary to Mr. Limbaugh's and Mr. Black's claim, prosecutors have not made the host their priority. As a result, Mr. Limbaugh cannot credibly claim that he is being harassed because he is a Republican who now broadcasts from a county that usually votes Democratic. Mr. Black whooped last month that there had been no criminal investigation of another painkiller addict, ex-Palm Beach County Judge Robert Schwartz, who left the bench last year. But there also was no allegation of criminal activity by Mr. Schwartz to obtain drugs. With Mr. Limbaugh, there is."
Palm Beach Post editorial:
Rush Limbaugh web site:
2004-04-08: The UK National Union of Journalists (NUJ) and two former BBC World Service producers, dismissed in 2003 after they contested 17 employment tribunals and were said by the corporation to have cost it nearly GBP 1 million (then USD 1.5 million) (See RNW Feb 21, 2003) has announced that a settlement has now been reached with the corporation regarding their complaints against it.
The cases, involving complaints of race and sex discrimination had been described by an industrial tribunal as ranging from the "frivolous to the ridiculous."
The BBC agreed that in taking action against Palestinian Adli Hawwari and Iraqi-born Dr Abdul Hadi Jiad it had not followed its normal procedures; it and the union have agreed to continue to work together in relation to staff, their rights and agreed procedures.
Hawwari, who had been with the BBC from 1987, had brought 12 cases against it and Jiad, who joined the corporation in 1991, had brought five.
An announcement by the union said "Mr. Hawwari and Dr Jiad are pleased that a just settlement has been reached" and they have withdrawn their outstanding claims and have now decided to pursue other career options outside the BBC.
All parties have agreed there will be no further comment.
2004-04-08: Clear Channel has appointed Jessica Marventano, former chief telecommunications aide to the Commerce Committee and Washington, D.C., Senior Director/Policy Counsel for Comcast, as its SVP/Government Affairs, its chief lobbyist.
She replaces Andrew Levin who is relocation to San Antonio to be the company's Executive Vice President for Law and Government Affairs and chief legal officer (See RNW Feb 18) and till take up her post on April 15.
Clear Channel has also paid its dues to Covington City that last month launched a lawsuit seeking net profit taxes it said had not been paid since 1999.
According to the Kentucky Post Clear Channel mailed a cheque of USD196,902.80 to the city made up, according to City Finance Director Bob Due of USD129,640 in back taxes, USD32,410 in penalties, and USD34,852.80 in interest.
"What happened with Clear Channel is a good prelude to enforcement because we're going to make every effort to contact the taxpayer and have them voluntarily comply, but if we can't we're going to use whatever methods we have available to us to ensure compliance," Due said.
Previous Clear Channel:
2004-04-08: US radio rep firms Interep and Katz Media have co-operated to develop RadioInvoices.com, an e-business website that will provide a one-stop radio invoice delivery system.
The system is to launch at the end of June and will allow each company to upload radio invoices to a secure facility that will be accessed by registered agency personnel.
Interep Marketing Division President Marc Guild noted that each company had been developing their own system but it was clear "the industry has been demanding a single standard for our medium."
Katz Media CEO Stu Olds termed to co-operative development "is a monumental step for the entire radio industry."
"By joining forces, we're demonstrating our commitment to an industry-wide focus on using technology to improve the efficiency of the medium," he added.
2004-04-08: Hollywood actor Brad Pitt is to make his BBC radio debut next month narrating a music documentary Lost Boy - In Search Of Nick Drake, the story of the English guitarist and singer-songwriter and brother of actress Gabrielle Drake who died from an overdose of anti-depressants in 1974 at the age of 26.
Virtually unknown at that time and with only three albums released - by Island Records, Drake's work is now more popular than it was during his lifetime and a new album of his work 'Made To Love Magic' is scheduled to be released on May 24. This will be comprised of remixes and rarities including "Tow the Line", the last song he recorded before his death. The song will be broadcast for the first time in the documentary.
BBC Radio 2 approached Pitt about the project when it learned he was a fan and he has already recorded the commentary for the documentary, which is to be aired on May 22 at 20:00 GMT.
He said of the work, "I was introduced to Nick Drake's music about five years ago, and am a huge admirer of his records. When Radio 2 approached me to get involved in this project, I was delighted to be asked and pleased that I was able to fit it into my schedule."
Lesley Douglas, Controller BBC Radio 2 & 6 Music said she was "thrilled to welcome Brad Pitt to Radio 2 to present what promises to be a unique and un-missable profile of the life and music of Nick Drake."
"Drake is regularly cited as an influence by some of Radio 2's core artists, including REM, Paul Weller and Badly Drawn Boy," she added, "and to have a genuine fan like Brad Pitt to present the programme will make it a compelling listen."
2004-04-08: The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has confirmed an USD8, 000 fine on Trade Center Management Inc., licensee of KHRA-AM, Honolulu, Hawaii, for failure to maintain its public inspection file at its main studio.
The company had appealed on the bases that, based on the advice of an engineer, it believed it was required to maintain a "technical" file at its transmitter site and added that most of the documents required to be kept in the public inspection file were in a cabinet at the main studio, that it has now remedied the situation, and that it has a good record of compliance.
The FCC in accordance with standard policy that licensees are responsible for ensuring they obey the rules decided to uphold the full penalty.
2004-04-07: A case that may be central to Rush Limbaugh's future will be hear in Florida today when the 4th District Court of Appeal in West Palm Beach hears arguments concerning whether the host's medical records can be used by prosecutors.
The records were seized by investigators using search warrants that had been approved by two judges and were then sealed after which the 0prosecutors informed Limbaugh of the seizure. They were not opened until another judge had approved the action but then were sealed again after action by the Limbaugh camp.
His attorney Roy Black is arguing that the prosecutors should have used subpoenas to obtain the records and argues that a state law mandating this approach should have been followed. Under this procedure the patient has the chance to object in front of a judge before records can be seized.
Limbaugh has had support in his argument from the American Civil Liberties Union that says the state attorney's procedure is a threat to the privacy of all patients.
Prosecutor and Assistant State Attorney James Martz, has argued that the speedy seizure of the records was necessary because of fears that records might be altered or destroyed if there is advance notice through a subpoena.
Limbaugh who has openly used his radio show and web site to attack the prosecutors and claim that the case is a political witch hunt against him, has said he will appeal "to the highest court in the land" should he lose today.
Over the past few days, however, he had been uncharacteristically quiet: The last posting on his site of comments by Black dates back to March 29: Before then Black has been assiduous in making the rounds of media outlets to push the Limbaugh case but he has now declined further comment, citing today's hearing as a reason.
2004-04-07: BIA Financial Network, Inc. (BIAfn) is forecasting US radio station sales in 2004 to rise "modestly" from 925 in 2003; it says the total value of transactions will be in the range USD 3-5 billion compared to USD 2.4 billion in 2003 and USD 5.4 billion in 2002.
BIAfn notes that the 2002 figure, when only 769 stations were sold, was boosted by Univision's purchase of Hispanic Broadcasting and that 2003 saw no "blockbuster deals".
It says that in 2004 much of the transaction activity will be in unrated markets.
BIAfn Vice President Mark Fratrik PhD commented, "Even with lacklustre sales in the early part of 2003, we did see renewed interest and activity in the later part of the year This increased activity, along with a healthy economy, a recovering advertising marketplace and continued low interest rates, suggests that radio station trading should increase throughout 2004 and that values of radio stations should also increase at a reasonable rate."
2004-04-07: UK UBC Media has added CN Group's six stations in England and Northern Ireland to its Entertainment News service that is funded by advertising sold within the programmes by UBC, bringing the total number of stations taking the service to 80 with a potential audience topping seven million.
UBC Chief Executive Simon Cole said that the building of audience for both its Entertainment News and AA Roadwatch services over the past 18 months had positioned it to benefit strongly from the current recovery in UK advertising.
YBC has also appointed its Group Editorial Director Tim Blackmore as a non-executive director. He has relinquished day-to-day executive responsibilities but will continue as chairman of Classic Gold Digital Ltd and Oneword Radio Ltd as well as acting as editorial director for UBC Media.
2004-04-07: The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has confirmed a USD 3,500 penalty on a Kansas FM for failure to conduct weekly emergency alarm system tests and to include "issues/programs" lists in the station's public file.
Petracom of Joplin, L.L.C., licensee of KCAR-FM, Galena, Kansas, had asked for cancellation of the penalty on the grounds that the violations resulted from an employee error - it said the station manager had regularly certified to Petracom that the station was in compliance with all Commission rules, remedial measures taken, an inability to pay, and a history of overall compliance.
The FCC dismissed the first two arguments, said insufficient information had been provided for it to reduce the penalty on the grounds of ability to pay, and noted an EAS violation by a sister station in deciding to uphold the full penalty.
2004-04-07: The latest Arbitron Internet Broadcast Ratings again show few changes at the top of the ranks with MUSICMATCH retaining top station spot and AOL top network rank with only a little shuffling in the top five stations
For the week to March 21, 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 1,023,622 (1,036,957); CP - 328,195 (328,370). Same rank with lower listening and reach.
2: Hot Adult Contemporary Virgin AM & FM (Commercial) - TTSL 348,415 (367,685); CP - 62,958 (68,978). Same rank with lower listening and reach.
3: Country format AOL Top Country (Commercial) -TTSL 231,591 (271,404); CP 84,807(104,359). Same rank with lower listening and reach.
4: MUSICMATCH Top Hits (non-commercial) -TTSL 223,737 (223,971); CP 96,576 (98,500). Up from seventh despite slightly lower listening and reach.
5: Smooth Jazz AOL Smooth Jazz (Commercial) - TTSL 222,081 (252,448); CP - 49,685 (53,291) Down from fourth with lower listening and reach.
* AOL Top Pop (Commercial) fell from fourth to sixth with TTSL 220,792 (253,434); CP 111,586 (135,168).
The top five networks for the week to March 21 (Previous week's figures in brackets) were:
1: AOL Radio@ Network (Commercial) - TTSL - 5,613,277 (6,414,522); CP - 1,332,907 (1,559,413). Same rank with lower listening and reach.
2: LAUNCH (Commercial) TTSL - 4,695,551 (4,538,092); CP - 1,331,511 (1,073,957). Same rank with higher listening and reach.
3: MUSICMATCH Inc. (*Non Commercial) TTSL - 2,477,391 (2,534,467); CP - 577,759 (579,325). Same rank with lower listening and reach.
4: The Adsertion Network (Sales Network) TTSL - 924,641 (864,505); CP - 107,610 (95,491) - Same rank with higher listening and reach
5: Virgin Radio (Commercial) TTSL - 573,367 (616,830); CP - 85,661 (93,414) - Same rank with lower 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 2,900,477, down from 2,925,088 and StreamGuys with TTSL 606,833, down from 626,482.
Previous Arbitron Internet Broadcast ratings:
2004-04-06: Four new radio licences for Edmonton in Alberta have been awarded by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC): They are for three new commercial music-based FMs and a Native Type B FM radio station.
In all there were nine applications for the four licences with the only non-commercial application from Aboriginal Voices Radio Inc. (AVR) for a primarily English-language station directed to the Aboriginal community. This was competing for a frequency with an application from Rawlco but was not considered in competition on marketing grounds.
The new commercial licences went to:
*An urban format station for CHUM Limited and Milestone Media Broadcasting Ltd., partners in a partnership to be established.
*A modern rock format station for O.K. Radio Group Ltd.
*A smooth jazz format station for Rawlco subject to it proposing a suitable frequency in a further filing since the frequency originally proposed has been given to AVR.
The losing applications were from:
Rogers Broadcasting Limited for a modern rock format; CKMW Radio Ltd., on behalf of a corporation to be incorporated for an Urban/Dance music Format; Harvard Broadcasting Inc. with a mix of Modern Rock and Urban and Urban/Dance formats; and Edmonton Radio Ltd. and Global Communications Limited, each proposing an easy listening format.
2004-04-06: According to Broadcasting and Cable, which quotes no formal sources, Infinity is to be fined a six-figure sum next week for indecency violations by the Howard Stern Show with more fines to come.
The magazine says that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is "putting finishing touches on a proposed sanction that, for the first time, will fine a station for each indecent "utterance" during a single program" rather than issuing a single fine for an offending programme.
The report says its "sources" did not know which of Stern's shows is to be penalized because complaints about a number of his shows are currently being reviewed.
It does not indicate how old the complaints are but it usually takes the FCC many months, if not years, to respond to complaints.
In 1995, following a number of rulings against Stern's show, Infinity settled by paying a record USD 1.7 million in penalties. Broadcasting and Cable does not say whether any penalties would be levied against all stations that carry his show irrespective of specific complaints against them, as well as being levied "per incident" but if they are they would be likely to apply to both the 35 Infinity stations that carry Stern and also against the six Clear Channel stations that recently dropped it following a February 24 interview with the boy friend of Paris Hilton whose sexual activities with him had been widely viewable from the Internet.
Stern has received some support from Boston where rock station and Stern outlet WBCN-FM set up a its "Howard Stern 1st Amendment Line " using RadioVoodoo and Upoc Networks technologies to set up a phone and text message-based poll of its listeners.
Some 8,000 listeners responded over a fortnight with 93% saying they considered Stern's fight against proposed new indecency regulations would affect the US election and 72% saying they would vote differently because of the issue.
RNW comment: As always, we're rather sceptical of such polls since they represent a self-selected fraction of the general populace but the percentages rather surprised us.
Although making no comment about the Broadcasting and Cable report, the FCC has confirmed two penalties, one of USD 7000 on a Texas AM for failure to maintain a main studio in its community of license and the other of USD 12,000, reduced from USD 20,000 originally proposed, on a Florida AM for failure to light its antenna structure, to notify the Commission of a change in the antenna structure's ownership information, and to enclose the antenna structure within an effective locked fence.
The USD 7,000 penalty goes to SM Radio, Inc., licensee of KUOL-AM, San Marcos, which has not filed a response to a Notice of Apparent Violation issued in December last year. SM has also been given a month to say what action it has taken to remedy the situation end ensure there will be no future violations.
The USD 12,000 penalty is levied on Westshore Broadcasting, Inc., licensee of WOCA-AM, Ocala: Westshore had responded to the notice by admitting that its lights had failed but saying that it had promptly informed the Federal Aviation Authority and told them it had not been repaired because Westshore's service company refused to climb the tower due to its poor structural integrity. It said it was "working in good faith to correct the outage and bring the facility into compliance" and that it had not been aware of the fencing and registration violations. It also asked for a reduction or cancellation on financial hardship grounds.
The FCC, while not accepting that there was justification for the tower being unlit for nine months, found that Westshore's actions in arranging for a new antenna structure demonstrate good faith and reduced the forfeiture for the lighting violation from USD 10,000 to USD 5,000. We find, thus, that the total forfeiture amount should be reduced from $20,000 to $15,000.In addition after examining the financial data submitted to it to justify the hardship claim, it reduced the penalty by another USD 3,000 to end up with a total of USD 12,000.
Previous Clear Channel:
Broadcasting and Cable web site (Subscription required):
2004-04-06: Research carried out in the UK for the MXR digital radio consortium shows that in homes with digital radio some two thirds of listeners say they listen for nearly 12 hours a week longer than before they went digital.
The survey showed 68% saying they listened more now they have digital radio and 62% said they watched TV less; in homes where listening was via digital TV platforms nearly a quarter of listening was through the TV rather than analogue sets.
More than four-fifths of those polled said they were listening to one or more new stations since getting a digital receiver and nearly two-fifths said they had changed their favourite station.
94% said they were satisfied with reception quality, 96% that they were satisfied with the variety of stations and 98% that they were satisfied with the ease of tuning.
MXR Marketing Director Diane Wray commented, "This first study, to my knowledge, into digital listening behaviour and in particular DAB confirms our gut feeling that the combination of new station choice, easy tuning, digital sound quality and pioneering digital functionality provides an unbeatable radio experience."
RNW note: In the UK, the government has gone for an option of separate frequencies for digital as opposed to the US choice of using part of the analogue signal. In addition, unlike Canada, where digital stations simulcast analogue station signals, it has encouraged new channels but has also given an incentive to analogue channels to provide services on digital multiplexes through a system allowing automatic renewal of analogue licences where they are doing so.
In essence, although there have been some complaints of stations cramming too many signals into a multiplex with a knock-on effect on technical quality, it has gone for a compromise mix of more and better.
2004-04-06: The Australian Broadcasting Authority (ABA) has ruled that Sydney 2GB breakfast programme hosted by Alan Jones did not breach its disclosure rules though its sponsorship by communications company, the Telstra Corporation, through an agreement with the parent company of the licensee, Macquarie Radio Network Pty Ltd.
It is nevertheless to review its rules and comments that "extra safeguards may be required in the codes to cover a situation where a controversial issue of public importance is being dealt with and where a major advertiser or sponsor of the licensee has a particular interest in that issue."
"Such an amendment might, for example, require that within that program reasonable efforts are made or reasonable opportunities are given to present significant viewpoints."
It also says it considers that there may be merit in reviewing the existing regulatory measures aimed at promoting fairness in news and current affairs coverage with the intention of considering existing measures aimed at achieving a clear distinction between editorial comment and advertising material (including live reads), and to assess whether and how commercial arrangements may impact on other program material. The ABA is to raise these matters with Commercial Radio Australia.
In its ruling, the ABA says, "In this case there were no hidden sponsorship arrangements - the agreement was between Telstra and MRN, and Mr Jones was not required to make on-air disclosures of the sponsorship agreement when he mentioned Telstra."
Later, however, it notes "prior to the commercial agreement Alan Jones made a number of on-air statements critical of Telstra, especially with respect to its fees and charges From 17 July 2002 onwards, however, the material provided to the ABA records Mr Jones making predominantly positive commentary, supporting Telstra's service standards, public image and credibility. It may be noted that Mr Jones' views on the privatisation of Telstra also seem to have changed over time.
The ABA dismissed all the complaints made by the Communications Law Centre (CLC) against the programme including allegations of breaches of its Disclosure Standard, Advertising Standard, and codes on political matters.
2004-04-06: Sirius, which was somewhat upstaged by satellite radio rival XM when Air America launched last week (See RNW April 1), has now added the network to its line-up which will now include three full-time political talk channels.
It already had the first "liberal" radio channel in SIRIUS LEFT whose output is being boosted by the additions including Fox News Channel personality Alan Colmes, Ed Schultz from Chicago, New Yorker Lynn Samuels, San Francisco radio legend Alex Bennett and SIRIUS originals The Young Turks.
On the conservative side of the spectrum the SIRIUS RIGHT channel has also been boosted with additions including Michael Savage, Laura Ingraham and Tony Snow.
Sirius Executive Vice President of Programming Jay Clark described the new line-up as "the Tiffany of conservative and liberal talk radio" and added, "These hosts are intelligent, humorous and sharp-tongued. They don't hold back on their opinions, and they know how to bring the best out of their callers. While we are not in the business of telling people where to stand, we make it our business to ensure every viewpoint is represented."
Schultz, who is syndicated by Jones Radio Networks, said, "I've always been the lone lefty - and the No. 1 program - on right-leaning stations. To be 'all-left' is all right with me. I'm sure we'll have a lot of listeners from SIRIUS RIGHT click over to hear what Big Eddie has to say."
Snow commented, "I'm certainly going to be making my political views known, and from time to time I'll get into fights with people, but the idea here is to have fun with it."
Sirius has also announced the appointment of Tola Murphy-Baran as Senior Vice President, Marketing: She will be responsible for subscriber acquisition and retention, direct and online marketing and all sports marketing and promotion, and will report directly to Executive Vice President, Marketing, Mary Pat Ryan.
2004-04-05: With the launch of Air America, the moving of Bob Edwards out of his Morning Edition role and the death of Alistair Cooke over the past week, it seemed to us that we should concentrate on talk radio in our look at print cover of radio during the period.
First the launch, which got widespread print cover, with most of it friendly but expressing reservations about the likely success of Al Franken's Air America flagship show with other shows from the network generally getting scant attention.
Expressing the doubts more succinctly and sharply than most, Howard Reich in the Chicago Tribune, began his review, "If talk radio in America has become scorched-earth political warfare, Al Franken has joined the battle armed with a squirt gun."
Franken, he commented may have been brilliant in the pages of his books but his debut signalled, "that the man has no clue why Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity rule the air waves."
Reich then referred to the "lackadaisical pace of Franken's chit-chat with co-host Katherine Lanpher", and contrasted them with "Limbaugh, Hannity, O'Reilly and the like."
"Whether you love or loathe the politics of those angry white men, there's no mistaking their ardour for the most minuscule details of public policy," wrote Reich "The sheer zeal they bring to the battlefield makes the listener believe--if only momentarily--that the fate of the world hangs on these issues."
"No such urgency could be detected in "The O'Franken Factor," which was titled to spoof 'The O'Reilly Factor' on Fox News Channel but didn't approach the fireworks of its namesake."
Reich then contrasted Franken's performance, not to his benefit, with that of Randi Rhodes on her later show in which, he said, "The tempo picked up dramatically Air America Radio had at least one host who understood that the medium is hot, not cool, fiery not dispassionate."
" As the broadcast day unfolded, however, it became sadly clear that Rhodes was the only personality on the upstart network who knew what she was doing."
In the UK Independent Andrew Gumbel commented on some of the other weaknesses of Air America, writing: "Here in Los Angeles, one of a handful of major cities receiving the Air America signal on distinctly out-of-the-way stations, we got a dying blast of Mexican mariachi music, then an abortive programme announcement, then a lot of awkward silence followed by a few bars of the Beatles singing, 'I Wanna Hold Your Hand'".
"When Al Franken's noontime show finally aired, we were accidentally given the second hour first. The first hour came on third. There was, of course, the option of listening on the Internet, but the server kept crashing because of listener overload."
Gumbel was kinder about the content though, albeit still commenting, "The show itself also had a few problems finding the right pacing and tone."
"Interviews with Bob Kerrey, the former senator now grilling Bush administration officials about their failings ahead of 11 September, and Michael Moore, the author and documentary maker, sometimes sounded too earnest for talk radio, and sometimes too flippant for the serious subject-matter at hand. On the plus side, Al Gore called into the show, as did G Gordon Liddy, the one-time Watergate burglar who is now a radio host in his own right, and a handful of other political and media celebrities."
In the San Francisco Chronicle, Pop Culture Critic James Sullivan commented on the qualities of the show but also in passing noted a crucial element that will relate to its success, the question of its business prospects.
He quoted not Franken but Randi Rhodes on this. "I got news for you, it doesn't fail," she said of "liberal radio". "It's a lie on top of all the other lies. I've been making a ton of money doing this for a really long time" adding that advertisers would come to the network because there is an audience for it.
In contrast to the comment on Franken's performance in the case of Bob Edwards at NPR, the doubts expressed were not about the host but about the organization.
As Ed Schultz in Chicagoed commented, "Millions of listeners now think NPR means "no possible reason." They can't think of any reason why the brain trust at NPR has bounced "Morning Edition" host anchorman Bob Edwards from the job he created in 1979. "
And continuing in unsparing mode, " The inferior management has offered a weak, offensive and poorly composed excuse for ending the morning news career of America's most familiar national morning radio voice My outrage over what's happening to Bob Edwards comes from years of listening to him and realizing through my own experience how hard he has worked to "be there" for his listeners every morning. He's won all the awards and accolades. The only thing lacking is the appreciation of the fools that run NPR."
The NPR management got a chance to put their view in a column by Peter Johnson we noted in USA Today.
It noted that despite some 22,000 complaints NPR was going ahead with the move and then quoted Mark Handley of New Hampshire Public Radio as saying for the past 18 years he didn't think he'd been "to a public radio conference where there hasn't been talk in the halls about improving Morning Edition" and then continuing to comment that NPR wasn't "terribly good " at spin.
And the man "credited with the decision? It said that Jay Kernis, the NPR executive who made the call, created Morning Edition and first appointed Edwards in the '70s. He says he expected negative listener reaction to the departure.
Kernis said he expected negative listener reaction and then said, "But there are times when you need to be a leader and to understand what the best picture of our future is and where we want to go. And after 25 years, you realize the show needs to grow."
And from NPR itself "An Open Letter to Bob Edwards" from its ombudsman, Jeffrey A. Dvorkin contains mainly praise for the host who he says conducts, "a newscast that is serious, comprehensive and credible -- leavened with adult humour and irony."
"Apparently the geniuses at NPR," he continues, " believe people are looking for something else in a news program. Some people may be, but those people don't listen to NPR
"The official explanation from NPR left many listeners wondering what is meant precisely when it is decided to "freshen up" a program. Even those who said that perhaps some change might just be good for you and for Morning Edition wrote with a spirit of real love and support."
" It may be cold comfort to you and to the listeners, but managing change in journalism -- especially in public radio -- is one of the most daunting tasks imaginable. But I won't be extending too much sympathy to NPR management. Virtually all of the e-mails take management to task for this and for what listeners perceive to be the official and somewhat lame explanation."
"Whether the change will be good for you, for Morning Edition and, most importantly, for the listeners won't be known for some time. But it is an astonishingly good program, thanks in no small way to you and to the staff that puts it together every night."
We suspect that had the BBC dropped Alistair Cooke's Letter from America, certainly a possibility at one stage, an even greater storm of protest would have hit whoever delivered the message. As it was he remained in harness almost until the last and then garnered encomiums from commentators round the world.
In the New York Times, Frank J Prial tuck pretty thoroughly to the encomiums, describing Cooke as "a peerless observer of the American scene for more than 70 years" and, of the Letters, "His observations were not only insightful but also gracefully written and often gently witty."
He did however also add an excerpt from an interview with the New York Times early in March this year in which Cooke reminisced about Letter from America:
"I would pick my topic on Monday and spend the day researching it," he said. "On Tuesday I'd type two or two and a half pages, all my arthritis would allow me. I'd type the rest, another three pages, on Wednesday, 1,700 words total - 13 minutes 30 seconds air time."
"Then I'd beat the hell out of it, getting rid of all the adverbs, all the adjectives, all the hackneyed words. Do you know what Mark Twain said about the perfect word? The difference between a perfect word and a near-perfect word is like the difference between lightning and a lightning bug."
Some did however contain elements of reservation as in the comment by Anne Applebaum in the Washington Post: "Cooke's version of America was not exactly inaccurate, but it was not a gritty, true-crime version of America either. Cooke preferred to speak of the quirky and the charming, and to dwell upon the more admirable enthusiasms of the natives."
"Only Cooke could write of Marilyn Monroe as "this orphan of the rootless City of the Angels," and make her suicide sound almost picturesque. Only Cooke could speak of the first president Bush as a "heroic warrior king," as he did in his final broadcast, last February."
"In many ways, Cooke was a positive force, striving, as he did, to show the two countries the other's best possible face. But I can't help wondering whether Cooke, for all his geniality, ultimately did both countries a peculiar sort of disservice as well. Many of the stereotypes Americans still maintain about Europe in general and Britain in particular -- the class warfare, the domination of aristocrats, the economic backwardness -- derive from Cooke and his ilk, yet are remote from modern reality."
After which the obvious first suggestion for listening ha to be Remembering Alistair Cooke, an hour-long programme that is still on the BBC Radio 4 Listen-Again site. As well as the programme the adjoining link to the web site goes to a page with a number of pieces of audio including Cooke's first and last Letters.
Still with the US and radio 4, the Friday Play on the channel last week - still on the web site - was Monica and Linda, which was put together using telephone transcripts of the comments made by Monica Lewinsky when she confided to Linda Tripp about her relationship with then President Bill Clinton. An interesting revelation and if the excerpts chosen were even halfway fair Tripp is an appalling human in comparison to Lewinsky.
Moving continents and channels, BBC Radio 2 this week on Wednesday at 21:00 GMT airs the second in its six-part series Freedom Sounds on the musical liberation of South Africa in which trumpeter Hugh Masekela discusses the choices for musicians under apartheid rule... those who stayed in South Africa and those who went into exile.
The first instalment last week is still on the Radio 2 web site and for a brief review we quote Kate Kellaway in the UK Observer's radio column: "This series got off to a choppy start and tried to include too much. But there was space to include a number by Miriam Makeba (aka 'Mama Africa'), a piercing lament for Sophia Town. In South African music, a lament is seldom a dirge. And however bitter her subject, Makeba's voice is always a celebration."
Just before that on Wednesday at 19:00 GMT, BBC Radio 4 runs the first of the five 2004 Reith Lectures, named after the BBC's founding father (Lord) John Reith.
This year's lectures by Nigerian Nobel prize winning poet and playwright Wole Soyinka argues that we are living in a new "climate of fear" and examines the challenge this presents to democracy.
Again a brief review, this time from Paul Donovan in his UK Sunday Times Radio Waves column: " after 10 minutes or so, many, I fear, will be tempted to switch off. Not because they will disagree with his denunciation of the climate of fear spread by terrorism, but because they will have lost track of what he is talking about."
"The trouble with Reith lectures is that they are written by academics (69-year-old Soyinka still holds university posts in Nigeria and America) who are used to composing learned papers full of sentences laden with polysyllabic words, subordinate clauses, abstruse jargon and unnecessary adjectives. The lectures stem from the tradition of the printed page. They seem designed to be read, rather than listened to."
"But don't switch off. Hidden in the verbal thickets are sharp insights and powerful phrases, and Sue Lawley elicits smart questions at the end."
And from the US, well with Bob Edwards due to move on at the end of the month it's worth a listen to Morning Edition (The April 2 programme for those who want to pick a particular show off the web site is worth a dip into) and Air America, assuming it sorts out streaming problems that gave us problems when it launched, albeit this may have been simply because of the number of people listening - some 45,000 simultaneously at its peak with around half a million during the first 24 hours.
Chicagoed - Schultz:
Chicago Tribune - Reich:
New York Times -Prial:
NPR - Dvorkin:
San Francisco Chronicle - Sullivan:
Washington Post - Applebaum:
UK Independent - Gumbel:
UK Observer - Kellaway:
UK Sunday Times - Donovan:
USA Today Johnson:
Air America web site:
2004-04-05: According to a report in the UK Independent the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has now received some 700 complaints about the Oprah Winfrey Show and is investigating complaints that it may have breached broadcast indecency regulations.
Most of the complaints are attributed to comments made on his radio show by Infinity host Howard Stern who on his show last month was prevented from airing a segment from the Oprah Winfrey Show that he complained was far more indecent than material for which he had been fined (See RNW Columnists Mar 22).
Stern has posted transcripts of his show and her show on his web site together with details of how to complain to the FCC as well as reminders of other shows about which he suggests complaints should be made including those of Ryan Seacrest, Eliot in the Morning and The Regular Guys on Clear Channel and American Idol on Fox TV
He heads the "transcript page" with a quote from Richard Roeper of the Chicago Sun-Times: "This is how insane things have become: One morning last week, the general manager for the flagship station of Howard Stern's radio show told Stern not to play an excerpt from ''Oprah'' because the salacious content could result in a massive fine from the FCC. Again: Oprah was deemed too racy and risky for Stern"
Stern also played an April Fool's joke last week when the start of his show on the day was replaced with Tom Chiusano, General Manager of his home station WXRK-FM, New York, read a statement saying," "Viacom can no longer bear the weight of the government pressure and its affects on our corporation," he said, adding, "While we're sorry to end the Howard Stern Show, we promise quality programming in the future."
This was followed by the promise of a show "all the fun without the filth" with two other DJs plating around an hour of "innocuous" banter and music before Stern and sidekick Robin Quivers came on air and revealed it was a hoax.
As the Independent comments, "It was a stunt with a serious message, however, as the pressure from regulators on broadcasters gets more intense with every passing day. On Wednesday, the FCC separately announced that it was also zeroing in on America's crop of day-time soap operas to determine whether they also were getting a little too steamy."
RNW comment: Reading the two transcripts (link below) it is difficult not to agree with Stern's comments on Winfrey and we have sympathy with his attempts to hoist the FCC and politicians on their own petard.
Stern web site - Oprah and Stern show transcripts:
UK Independent report:
2004-04-05: Independent promoter Nobody In Particular Presents (NIPP) has had partial success in its case against Clear Channel alleging that its Denver radio stations, which have refused advertisements from the promoter, constitute a monopoly in the concert business (See RNW Aug 9, 2001) .
NIPP says that Clear Channel's radio stations in Denver play songs by artists whose concerts are handled by Clear Channel's concert promotion arm, SFX, but do not play songs by bands that give concerts that it promotes.
US District Judge Edward Nottingham found that the stations did not constitute a monopoly but that NIPP had made strong arguments that it attempted to create one; this is sufficient to allow the case to proceed. April 30 has been scheduled for a final pre-trial conference.
Previous Clear Channel:
Forbes/ Reuters report:
2004-04-05: XM Satellite Radio has filed for another shelf holding to permit it to sell up to USD 500 million in debt securities, stocks, rights and warrants. It says the proceeds will be used for working capital, general operations and corporate purposes plus investing and financing activities.
Earlier this month rival Sirius announced that it had closed the sale of USD 50 million of 2.5% convertible notes, due 2009 (See RNW April 2).
2004-04-04: Last week was again fairly quiet for the regulators with no radio decisions announced in Canada and a low level of activity elsewhere.
In Australia, the Australian Broadcasting Authority had a fairly quiet week but it has announced plans to make additional FM capacity available for the DMG Regional Radio 's Mackay commercial radio services 4MKY in Glenden and 4MMK in Nebo and Clairview/St Lawrence, Queensland, to resolve reception deficiencies.
The ABA is proposing to make available an FM frequency for an additional national service for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC).
It is similarly proposing to make additional FM capacity available for DMG Regional Radio's 4HIT Emerald commercial radio service in Blackwater and Middlemount, Queensland, and to make two additional FM frequencies available to the ABC for two future national radio services and to change the operating conditions of the Moranbah and Woorabinda community radio services to extend their licence areas.
In Ireland the only radio decisions from the Broadcasting Commission of Ireland (BCI) were the announcement of the provisional award of two community licences and also the launch of a Community Radio Support Scheme (See RNW April 3).
In the UK, Ofcom announced no radio decisions but it did issue details of the basis on which it is to levy charges to licensees in its first year and has also Ofcom confirmed its commitment to a rolling 5 per cent per annum reduction in its costs over the next two years. The reductions will relate to a baseline of GBP 144 million (USD 266 million), which is around 27% more than the costs of its predecessor bodies.
Ofcom is writing separately to broadcasting licensees to request them to provide calendar 2003 turnover data to Ofcom within 28 days under the terms of their licences, in order that their individual licence fees can be set. The fees themselves are split into two parts for radio licences,
Of the baseline, says Ofcom, GBP 95 million (USD 174 million) is grant-in-aid from the Department of Trade and Industry for the costs of spectrum management; the costs of the spectrum efficiency scheme; other grant funding; spectrum licence application fees and the BBC's contribution to the relevant Ofcom activities. The remaining GBP 49 million (USD 90 million) will come from telecommunications operators and broadcasting licensees, which represents a rise of 10.3 per cent over 2003/04.
Ofcom also notes that the costs of the restructuring the five old regulators and establishing Ofcom were met from a loan from the DTI with repayment apportioned in proportion to the amount of expenditure incurred by the legacy regulators in each regulatory sector. For broadcasting licensees and telecommunications operators in the 2004/05 year the share of repayment is GBP 5.7 million (USD 10.4 million).
In the US, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has confirmed a USD 4,000 penalty on a Tennessee AM for night power offences (See RNW April 2); It has also extended until April 15 the deadline for the filing of renewal ownership reports for stations Indiana, Kentucky, and Tennessee.
Previous Licence News:
ABA web site:
BCI web site:
FCC web site:
Ofcom web site:
2004-04-04: Latest unofficial UK radio ratings by GfK Media show BBC Radio 1 overall losing 200,000 listeners a week in the period from January 1 - February 22 compared to the October to December 31 period but that breakfast host Chris Moyles has added some 250,000 listeners a week to reach 2.93 million.
When Moyles moved into the slot at the start of this year (See RNW Jan 6) he bragged that he would be the saviour of the station.
GfK's figures place Radio 1 in an unchanged third place among national radio channels in the UK, behind leader BBC radio 4 and second-placed Radio 2 whose breakfast host added some 300,000 listeners a week.
Top rated commercial national channel according to GfK is talkSPORT in fifth place, behind BBC radio channels 1,2,4,and 5 Live.
Also gaining according to the GfK figures are Chrysalis's Heart FM, which GfK lists as only just behind Capital FM in London with a reach 2.442 million listeners a week compared to 2.449 million but which edges ahead again as most listened-to station with 7.3 million hours compared to Capital's 7.2 million.
Virgin's breakfast team of Pete and Geoff can also celebrate as the survey shows their audience in the 16-34 demographic up to 490,000 a week, 35% above the average for the previous six months. This runs counter to official RAJAR figures about which Virgin has already lodged its concerns (See RNW Mar 11).
Overall the weekly reach figures for the main UK networks from GFK for the period from November 3rd, 2003 - February 22nd, 2004 (with in brackets GfK prior period, running from October 13th, 2003, to January 11th, 2004, and then RAJAR figures to the end of December) in rank order were:
BBC Radio 4 -million 16.77 (16.36 million; 9.51 million): Weekly reach of 37%, up from 36
BBC Radio 2 -15.34 million (15.23 million; 13.15 million): Unchanged 34%.
BBC Radio 1 -11.19 million (11.37 million; 9.85 million): Unchanged 25%.
BBC Radio Five Live -9.04 million (9.39 million; 6.13 million): Down from 21% to 20%.
BBC Radio 3 -3.39 million (3.27 million; 2.19 million): Up from 7% to 8%.
talkSPORT - 6.21 million (6.32 million; 1.87 million): Unchanged 14%.
Classic FM -5.59 million (5.73 million; 6.46 million): Down from 13% to 12%
Virgin - 3.37 million (3.46 million; 2.57 million): Unchanged 8%.
GfK figures for commercial stations in the London area showed that for the period from June 16th to December 14th (in brackets previous figures from July 14th to January 11th) the five most popular stations were:
Capital FM - 2.449 million (2.497 million). Unchanged 24%.
Heart FM - 2.442 million (2.401 million). Up from 23% to 24%.
Magic FM- 1.812 million (1.878 million). Unchanged 18%.
TalkSPORT - 1.547 million (1.615 million). Down from 16% to 15%,
Kiss 100 FM 0 1.427 million (1.491 million). Down from 15% to 14%.
RNW note: The previous ratings below are for the period to December 14: We did not list at the time the figures for the prior period to Jan 11 in the details above that covered the holiday period, the release for which omitted London BBC figures that had previously been listed.
Previous GfK ratings:
Previous RAJAR ratings:
2004-04-04: The former agent of sidelined Chicago WLS-AM afternoon co-host Garry Meier says that his then-client rejected a 10-year USD 12 million offer from the station in September last year.
Todd Musburger, who is a prominent Chicago lawyer, says that he was told by Meier to end negotiations after securing the offer and two weeks later Meier and his wife, Cynthia Fircak, fired him.
Musburger is claiming USD 92,750 from the host for 200 hours of work he says he put in to secure the offer.
Meier, who still has a contract until June, was taken off the air by the station in January (See RNW Jan 13) and co-host Roe Conn has since then been handling the show solo.
Meier and Cynthia Fircak have been handling negotiations with the station since Musburger was fired.
2004-04-03: Michael Grade, former UK Channel 4 TV chief executive and current chairman of Camelot, the lottery operator, and non-executive chairman of Pinewood Shepperton film studios has been appointed chairman of the BBC to succeed Gavyn Davies who resigned along with director-general Greg Dyke after the publication of the Hutton Report over the death of scientist Dr David Kelly.
Grade takes up the post on May 17.
Kelly had been revealed as the source of a BBC Radio 4 Today report that said the British government had "sexed up" its Iraq weapons dossier to justify the government's war plans and led to a political row over the integrity of the British Prime Minister Tony Blair and his communications chief Alastair Campbell.
The appointment was made by Tessa Jowell, the Culture, Media and Sport Secretary, and was welcomed by all UK political parties.
Jowell commented, "Michael is the right man at the right time. He has a passion for broadcasting, especially public service broadcasting."
"He knows it inside out. And he has the energy to lead the BBC from the front, defending its independence and integrity from all comers."
Grade, who is 61, is the son of the theatrical agent Leslie Grade, and his uncles were the impresarios Lew (later Lord) Grade, who ran ATV, and Bernard (later Lord) Delfont.
He began his media career on the Daily Mirror newspaper, later joining London TV station LWT before moving to the BBC where he was Controller, BBC One and then Director of programmes, BBC Television.
After this he became chief executive of Channel 4 TV, where some papers dubbed him a "pornographer" because of shows that it aired. After he left Channel 4 he became Chief executive of First Leisure, before taking his current posts.
Grade is to leave the Camelot post - and also board positions with Television Corp and SMG - but stay on as non-executive chairman at Pinewood and Shepperton studios after the flotation of the company, which he announced yesterday. He will also remain chairman of the Hemscott Group
Grade owns 4% of the company, which is expected to be valued at GBP130-140 million (USD 240- 260 million). His BBC salary for the four-day a week post will be GBP 81,000 pounds (USD 149,000) a year
Opposition to his appointment came from mediawatch-uk, the organisation that grew from the Viewers and Listeners Association founded by the late Mary Whitehouse who called him "Michael Degrade".
Mediawatch-uk director John Beyer in a statement said, "I believe that Michael Grade is the wrong man for this most important role... His background and current business interests have been entirely in the media industry and his track record shows that public concerns about broadcasting standards have been pushed aside."
"Given all that is known about Mr Grade - and he did not get the title 'Pornographer in Chief' for nothing - I find this appointment all the more incredible."
Beyer then added, "It will be in the appointments he makes to the key management positions that will really matter."
Grade himself in a statement issued through the BBC said he remained remain committed to the licence fee as the best means of funding the BBC for the foreseeable future, felt the regulatory role of the Board of Governors to be in urgent need of clarification, if not repair with greater separation in future between the executive and governors and on editorial independence said this was "paramount in maintaining the support of the viewers and listeners."
"Without it, there is no point to the BBC," he said.
He also commented that suggestions that the BBC should reflect not drive the news agenda were "nonsense."
Regarding the post of Director-General, he said that the appointment was clearly his first task.
Currently two BBC insiders, Acting Director-General Mark Byford and Director of radio Jenny Abramsky are to be interviewed for the post in addition to at least one outsider, rumoured to be former BBC director of news and current affairs and current executive director of the Royal Opera House, Tony Hall. Hall was an applicant for the job when it went to Greg Dyke.
2004-04-03: The American Federation of TV and Radio Artists (AFTRA) has sent some 1500 letters opposing the Broadcast Decency Enforcement Act to the US Senate and says that the response to it over the Act's clause that would allow fining individual artists for indecent broadcasts shows the serious concern about the matter.
AFTRA has posted a standard letter on its web site opposing the proposal and saying among other things that the Act's "standards are vague and its penalties are both excessive and misdirected."
"We are seriously concerned," it continues, "that this legislation represents an unconstitutional threat to the First Amendment and would have an immediate and significant chilling effect on artistic freedom. As evidenced by recent events, the definition of indecency is an amorphous, moving target."
It then notes that the legislation increases an existing potential fine on an individual performer from USD 11,000 to USD 500,000 for an initial offence without any need for a warning or regard to ability to pay and further notes that the amount is almost double the USD 275,000 penalty that can be imposed on a licensee and that the penalty could be imposed on an individual for taped material that the licensee had decided to broadcast.
The latter concludes, "we believe this bill requires serious reconsideration before it provides an acceptable solution to the issue of indecent material on the public airwaves. We ask you to resist the urge to act expeditiously and instead take the time to act thoughtfully."
AFTRA web site:
2004-04-03: The Broadcasting Commission of Ireland (BCI) has awarded, subject to successful contract negotiations, five-year community radio licences for the areas of West Dublin and Lucan to Dublin West Access Radio and Liffey Sound FM respectively.
It has also launched a Euro 125,000 (USD 152,000) Community Radio Support Scheme that will provide funding to community radio in Ireland over the next 18 months.
The scheme was developed in consultation with community broadcasters through The Community Radio Forum of Ireland (CRAOL); activities encompass station evaluation and development and the support and development of CRAOL in the areas of networking, training and ethos promotion.
2004-04-03: Salem Communications has fired its program director, operations coordinator and midday personality at Chicago contemporary Christian "Fish" station WZFS-FM as part of a cost-cutting exercise according to Robert Feder in the Chicago Sun-Times.
Feder quotes Dave Santrella, vice president and general manager of Salem stations in Chicago and Milwaukee as saying, "This was a belt-tightening move to get our station more in line with the model of other Salem radio stations across the country."
Santrella added that under the new set-up Smilin' Tom Fridley, afternoon host at "The Fish," is to double as program director, and Roger Plummer, morning ministry host at WYLL-AM, is to double in the operations coordinator role that had been held by Brian Jones while the Fish's promotion director and evening host Diane Sosa takes over the midday slot left vacant by Amy Davis's dismissal.
Feder also notes that no replacement has yet been hired for Johnny Stone, who left "The Fish" as morning personality in August last year.
Nationally on Monday Salem launches a new morning show, Bill Bennett's Morning in America hosted by the former U.S. Secretary of Education on its news/talk stations; it's also being picked up by other broadcasters including Entercom and Salem and will debut on 66 stations in all.
The first days show has a guest list that includes conservative talk host Rush Limbaugh, Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, Pittsburgh Steelers coach Bill Cowher, former NY governor Mario Cuomo, conservative political commentator and talk host Laura Ingraham, Fox TV and "Wheel of Fortune " host Pat Sajak, Bennett's brother and D.C. lawyer Bob Bennett, NBC's Tim Russert, singer Naomi Judd and columnist George Will.
Bennett's show will come from Washington, D.C., and he says it will be a "fast-paced, eye opening national morning show with news, headline-making guests from the worlds of politics, media, sports and entertainment" that will "open up a dialogue with listeners from coast to coast every morning."
Chicago Sun-Times - Feder column.
2004-04-02: Following its Washington D.C. summit on responsible programming (See RNW April 1), the US National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) has now formally announced plans to form a Task Force on Responsible Programming.
The decision was announced by NAB's Executive Committee after a special meeting on Thursday and the Task Force will be charged with reviewing various options including possible implementation of a NAB Code of Conduct.
NAB president and CEO Eddie Fritts said broadcasters were "committed to a plan of voluntary action to deal with the issue of responsible programming" and added, "Given the serious First Amendment concerns surrounding issues related to program content, it is our strong belief that voluntary industry initiatives are far preferable to government regulation."
NAB Joint Board Chairman Phil Lombardo commented, "Broadcasters have a long history of being responsive to local communities that we serve."
"We believe the Task Force on Responsible Programming will develop a game plan for the industry that will continue that proud tradition."
Speaking at the Summit, which was held behind closed doors with reporters excluded, FCC chairman Michael Powell had encouraged broadcasters to adopt a new voluntary indecency code.
He had criticized broadcasters over material they aired saying that the Commission was seeing increasing complaints from the public because "increasingly it seems the media is not playing close to the line, but is outright leaping past the line and in fact daring the audience and daring the government to do anything about it. Some of the transcripts I have been forced to read reveal content that is pure trash, plain and simple, and few, other than staunch libertarians, could possibly stand up and defend it publicly."
He had then commended a voluntary code, saying, "In this vein, I want to strongly encourage you to develop and adopt a new voluntary code to guide your actions in the same spirit you have in years past. I believe you can create such best practices and guidelines, consistent with the law. It would be in your interest to do so."
Powell had responded to complaints that the current FCC regulations were unclear by saying broadcasters should beware asking for a list of do's and don'ts from the government, a view that contradicted that of Democrat Commissioner Michael J. Copps who called for "tough new code... not some bland statement of general principles but something explicit."
2004-04-02: XM Satellite Radio has announced that it now has more than 1.68 million subscribers, having increased subscriptions by more than 320,000 in the first quarter of this year, more than double the 136,000 it added in the first quarter of 2003.
President and CEO Hugh Panero commented, "XM has started 2004 on a very strong note. Consumers have clearly embraced XM's 2004 programming line-up featuring 100% commercial-free music and the new XM Instant Traffic & Weather service for major markets nationwide."
"This strong performance firmly positions the company for its 2004 goal of more than 2.8 million subscribers by year's end."
XM, which on Wednesday launched political talk channel America Left on its Channel 167 that carries the Air America network, has also announced that from April 5 it will launch another political talk channel, America Right on its Channel 166.
The channel, formerly Buzz XM, will feature conservative talk hosts including Bill Bennett, Laura Ingraham, Michael Reagan and Michael Savage.
Rival Sirius has announced that it has closed the sale of USD 50 million of 2.5% convertible notes, due 2009.
Morgan Stanley Inc took the notes by exercising an option granted in connection with Sirius's offering of USD 250 million of the notes. Each USD 1,000 in notes can be converted at the holder's option into 226.7574 shares of Sirius' common stock, an effective price of USD4.41 per share.
Sirius says it plans to use the net proceeds for general corporate purposes.
2004-04-02: UK commercial radio is continuing to increase its share of advertising according to latest figures from the Advertising Association, which notes that during 2003 its share of total display advertising revenues was up to 6.9% from 6.6% in 2002 whilst the market itself grew only 1.1%.
Radio had a 6.8% year-on-year revenue increase compared to an increase of only 1% for TV and falls of 1.2% for newspapers and 1.8% for magazines.
UK radio has now been growing its share steadily for more than a decade - it only had a 2.8% share in 1992 - and Michael O'Brien, Client Services Director at the UK Radio Advertising Bureau commented that the "growth shows no sign of abating" and added, We are particularly pleased that radio has performed very well during the advertising downturn. With advertising budgets under pressure, advertisers have turned to radio for its proven cost effectiveness at driving sales and brand awareness."
Previous UK Radio Advertising Bureau:
2004-04-02: Australian commercial radio is targeting the youth market in its latest advert that is being aired as part of an AUD 20 million (USD 15 million) campaign aimed at highlighting the effectiveness of radio as a medium for advertisers and marketers.
The 45-second advert, that started airing on April 1 on all commercial stations shows two teenage girls commenting on the importance of radio in their lives.
Commercial Radio Australia CEO Joan Warner said, "Commercial radio continues to gain in popularity among younger listeners who are spending more time listening to radio - a trend that has been evident over the past five years. Today's young people love radio because it complements a faster-paced lifestyle and it is also the most interactive and portable medium." "Younger audiences, particularly the under-25s, have access to new technology and mobile phones, and they have taken very quickly to interacting with their favourite radio stations and DJs via email and SMS to request songs, have their say or enter competitions. "The youth market provides a great opportunity to increase radio's share of advertisers' current radio spend as well as bring new advertisers into radio
Recent research in Australia showed that listening to radio by young people in the country had increased by around an hour a week for 18-24 olds and by nearly one-and-a-half hours a week for 10-17 year-olds between 1999 and 2003 (See RNW Feb 26).
Previous Commercial Radio Australia:
2004-04-02: The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has confirmed a USD 4,000 fine on a Tennessee AM for failure to observe power regulations.
Horne Radio LLC, licensee of WMTN-AM, Morristown, had failed to reduce power after sunset in June and July 2002 and subsequently the station's general manager told the FCC that he was aware of WMTN's overpower operation during July 2002, that WMTN's transmitter control system was inoperative and that the operator on duty had failed to lower the station's power at sunset.
Horne had asked for cancellation or reduction on the basis that it had done all it could to remedy the situation, including replacing the general manager, and on the grounds of financial hardship.
The FCC dismissed the arguments and confirmed the penalty.
2004-04-02: UK Capital Radio shares, which hit a low on Wednesday of around 475 pence amid nervousness about its impending update pulled back on Thursday after the company said it expected revenues, which for October to December last year were up 5% year-on-year, to increase by 3% on a year ago in the six months to the end of March and ended at 488.50 pence.
Today is the last breakfast show after 17-years on London flagship Capital FM for host Chris Tarrant and Capital says it is "encouraged at the prospect of Johnny Vaughan taking over the breakfast show" but that this won't affect its revenues significantly until its new financial year.
Vaughan takes over in a fortnight and Capital chief executive David Mansfield said advertisers had given a "very big thumbs-up" to him. The first ratings that include his figures will not be out until the end of July.
"Our revenue performance continues to be enhanced by the Group's portfolio of stations across the UK and we are achieving particularly strong growth from Xfm, the Century FM Network and the recently acquired Choice FM," said Capital in a statement.
In Birmingham, Capital's BRMB station has now paid "substantial" compensation to two of four people injured when they sat on dry ice during a station "Coolest Seats in Town " stunt (See RNW Aug 26 2001): The station was later fined GBP 15,000 (USD 23,400) last year for health and safety offences (See RNW Jan 25, 2001) at which time it made interim payments to three people and agreed a GBP 8,000 (USD 12,500) settlement with another woman who had been less severely injured.
The amount to be paid to the last of the four injured is still to be agreed. One of those who has settled, 28-year-old receptionist Helen Terry, has permanent scarring on her buttocks and legs.
Also in the UK, former TV newsreader John Suchet who last week left Independent Television News after 32 years, is to join his TV newreader, Classic FM host, and former colleague Katie Derham at GWR's Classic FM where the duo will present a 26-part Saturday evening series "Composer's Notes".
The series will explore how financially successful famous composers were and whether they died rich or as paupers.
2004-04-01: US "liberal" talk radio got a double-boost on Wednesday when Progress Media's new network Air America went on air and then radio giant Clear Channel Communications announced that it was to air it on one of its stations and was also to syndicate a show hosted by the Rev. Jesse Jackson.
Air America's first show on air was hosted by comedian and author Al Franken who started off by saying, "Broadcasting from an underground bunker 3,500 feet below Dick Cheney's bunker, Air America radio is on the air. I'm Al Franken, and welcome to the O'Franken Factor."
"Today is both an ending and a beginning. An end to the right-wing dominance of talk-radio, a beginning of a battle for truth, a battle for justice, indeed, for America itself - not to be. ... grandiose."
"Some people have asked me, why the name, the O'Franken factor. Well, one reason and one reason only: To annoy and bait Bill O'Reilly. Bill, if you're listening right now, and I know you are, please listen closely. In the United States of America, satire is protected speech, even if the object of the satire doesn't get it. Any way, this isn't about Bill O'Reilly, or even about Rush Limbaugh - which reminds me, we're planning to do this show drug-free. We don't know if it's ever been done before, but we're going to try."
Franken's show is co-hosted with Katherine Lanpher, former Minnesota Public Radio host, and one of the first calls to it came from right-wing radio host C. Gordon Liddy.
The network is currently being aired on six stations, including Clear Channel's KPOJ-AM, Portland, Oregon, as well as on XM satellite radio and streamed live on the Air America web site.
Clear Channel has left open the question of whether it will pick up Air America for other markets and paid more attention to its announcement that on Sunday it will launch "Keep Hope Alive", the first live radio show for the Rev Jesse Jackson although he has hosted a CNN talk show and syndicated TV show.
The show will originate from Clear Channels WGCI-AM in Chicago and will initially be on other Clear Channel stations in Detroit, New York, Norfolk, Virginia, Philadelphia and San Francisco.
It is focus on issues of cultural, political and religious significance with guest appearances by community and world leaders and a live call-in segment.
Clear Channel radio President and CEO John Hogan described Jackson as "one of the most important and relevant voices of our day" and continued, "We have high hopes for Keep Hope Alive With Rev.Jesse Jackson and are honoured to be working with one of America's foremost civil rights, religious and political leaders."
Previous Clear Channel:
Previous Progress Media/Air America:
Air America web site:
2004-04-01: The US National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) Summit On Responsible Programming on Wednesday heard more politicians and activists on the warpath about "indecency" on the US airwaves including Federal Communications Commissioner Michael J. Copps, who has been crusading on the matter since before he took office.
He told the meeting according to a statement issued later (RNW comment: The summit was closed to reporters because apparently NAB considered those attending so fearful to make their points in public that it might inhibit their comments) that "millions of Americans have made it convincingly clear that they no longer will tolerate media's race to the bottom when it comes to indecency on the people's airwaves."
Action, said Copps, was being demanded and he told broadcasters present that the issue of "goes right to the heart of your public interest responsibility to the communities you serve and to the Commission's obligation to enforce the law."
Copps said that the Janet Jackson Super Bowl incident did not start the concern, but perhaps it galvanized action in Washington D.C. and said the "race to the bottom " had been fuelled by a decision from some to "push the envelope too far" and spoke of the "unforgiving expectations of the marketplace" in driving media behaviour. He also said that the FCC "abdicated its enforcement responsibilities and thereby created a climate wherein indecency could flourish."
Kansas Republican Senator Sam Brownback told the meeting that media was different to other businesses because it was a "culture creator" and said it should adhere to established decency regulations.
Jumping further on the bandwagon, Brownback again attacked the Howard Stern Show, and has written to Infinity President and COO Mel Karmazin challenging him to defend Stern's show and a conversation that was aired on it with Paris Hilton's ex-boyfriend regarding the boyfriend's sexual exploits.
So far NAB has not posted any version of events on its web site.
2004-04-01: DMG's Nova held on to the top slot in Sydney in the latest Australian ratings from the AC Nielsen McNair survey with Austereo's 2-DAY remaining in second place: Overall in Australia Austereo is holding on as top FM network but it is coming under pressure from Nova, whose stations held their ground outside Sydney, and from Australian Radio Network (ARN) , co-owned by APN News & Media and Clear Channel International, which saw share increases for its MIX stations.
Austereo's Triple M network lost share everywhere except Sydney.
On the AM band, Southern Cross has the top-rating talk stations in Melbourne with 3AW in top rank and Brisbane with 4BC in fifth place but in Sydney its 2UE flagship is still stuck in seventh place although it increased its share over the last ratings whereas rival 2GB, owned by Macquarie Radio Network, lost share but retained third rank.
In the Sydney talk battles, Alan Jones for 2GB held on to top rank with a 13.5 share, down from 15.3, whilst 2UE remained in fifth rank but Mike Carlton increased its share from 7.0 to 8.
In the morning battle John Laws for 2UE lost share, from 8.5 to 8.0 and was down a rank to fifth, well behind 2GB, still in second place behind Nova but with 2GB's Ray Hadley's share up from 10.2 to 10.7.
To rub salt into the wounds, ABC 702's Sally Loane was tied with the once dominant Laws, who in November last year signed a new seven-year contract.
The only bright spot for 2UE was afternoon drive where Steve Price took his share up from 6.2 to 7.2 and overtook Phil Clark on 2GB as his share fell from 7.1 to 5.9: ABC 702's Richard Glover remained top talk host with a 9.5 share.
On the FM band in Sydney, Nova held on to top in day parts.
In a typically dead-pan comment on its web site after noting that it had now led for two surveys in a row, Nova 969 (Sydney) General Manager Mandi Wicks commented, "We are now preparing for the worst - considering Nova's core promise is never more than two in a row!" The station also performed strongly in all its key demographics, leading for the first time in the 10-17 group with 29.4% and also leading in 18-24 with 33.5% and 25-39 with 18.7%: It did less well with older listeners noting that in 55 plus it was "dead last".
Although Nova got the headlines, Austereo CEO Michael Anderson was again bullish about his group's performance, saying, "We are ahead of where we expected to be so naturally we are very happy with the gains we have made in Survey 2. "
"Our strategy is working. Last Survey we stated that the implementation phase of our aggressive new long term strategy was right on track and this survey proves it. No one network has ever before made these sorts of comprehensive programming changes across the country and we have achieved it in two networks at the same time. We are already starting to see the benefits through the survey results.
"We will be a year ahead of most of the new stations created by the latest round of licence auctions and our programming will be the freshest of the existing product available. "It has been a brave strategy, well executed by committed and talented people across the country. Austereo's people have really delivered."
City by city, the top three stations were (previous % share in brackets):
*Adelaide: SAFM - same rank with 21 (20.4); Mix 17.1 (16.6) - same rank; 5AA - 15.3 (14.1) - same rank;
*Brisbane - B105FM - same rank with 19.9 (18.4); NEW 97.3 FM with 14.2 (13.6) - up from third; Triple M with 13.1 (14.0) - down from second.
*Melbourne - 3AW with 14.2 (14.2); Fox FM with 12.2 (11.0) - up from third; ABC 774 with 10.9 (10.7) up from fourth; *Gold with 10.5 (11.5) - fell from third to fourth; Nova retained sixth spot with 8.2 (8.3).
*Perth - MIX 94.5FM same rank with 21.3 (21.9); ABC 720 with 11 (11.1) - Up from third; All New 92.9 with 10.9 (11.6)- down from second; *Nova retained fourth rank with 10.3 (9.5).
* Sydney - Nova with 12 (11.8) - up from fourth; 2-Day with 10.7 (10.4) - same rank; 2GB 9.9 (10.3) - same rank;
*ABC 702 9.4 (9.1) - retained fourth and 2UE increased share - from 7.0 to 7.3 but remained seventh.
Previous Australian ratings:
Previous Southern Cross:
The Australian - report on Sport 927 case:
2004-04-01: The UK Wireless Group has reported an operating profit in 2003 for the first time although overall it was still in the red.
For the year to December 31, it said it made an operating profit of GBP 2.3 million (USD 4.2 million) on revenues up 14.4% to GBP 32.6 million (USD 60.2 million) spearheaded by a rise in local station revenues of almost 30% and second-half improvements for its national TalkSport station which ended the year in profit to the tune of GBP 1 million (USD 1.85 million) compared to losses of nearly triple that a year earlier.
Overall the group lost GBP 10.7 million (USD 19.7 million) compared to GBP 20.3 million (then USD 36.2 million) a year earlier.
Chairman and chief executive Kelvin MacKenzie forecast revenues up by around a fifth in the first quarter of this year and said the group had "continued the improvement in our operating performance that I highlighted at the interim results and have established commercial speech radio as a profitable operation."
He also took advantage of the results presentation to launch yet another attack on UK official ratings organisations RAJAR (Radio Joint Industry Research), which he is suing for GBP 66 million (USD 120 million) on the basis that its diary-based system under-estimates his audience and thus costs him money in advertising revenue.
"RAJAR's insistence on persisting with a diary-based system, reliant on respondents' memory, deprives the industry of an accurate reflection of the true radio audience in the UK," he said.
"Despite advanced electronic alternatives being available, RAJAR has neither implemented nor given any clear indication of when it will implement a more accurate system. In our view RAJAR continues to drag its feet and to misrepresent the true audience figures of our group and that of others."
The Wireless Group has backed an alternative radio metering system from GfK that gives it a much greater audience and that two advertising buying agencies says produces more accurate results (See RNW March 31) but it has not disclosed how much the contract is costing it.
Previous Wireless Group:
2004-04-01: Montreal-based Astral Media and Toronto-based Corus Entertainment have announced agreement to exchange a number of radio stations in Quebec.
Under the agreement Astral's seven AMs in the province, including the Radiomedia network, plus CFOM-FM in Quebec City will become part of Corus's radio division and in return five Corus FM's will go to Astral.
The stations involved are CFVM-FM, Amqui; CJDM-FM, Drummondville; CJOI-FM and CIKI-FM, Rimouski; and CFZZ-FM, St. Jean-sur-Richelieu.
Going to Corus are CKRS - AM, Chicoutimi; CJRC - AM, Hull/Gatineau; CKAC - AM, Montreal; CHRC - AM and CFOM - FM, Quebec City; CHLT - AM and CKTS - AM repeater station, Sherbrooke; and CHLN - AM, Trois Rivieres.
The stations that Astral is swapping were among 19 in Quebec and New Brunswick that Astral Media bought from Télémédia Communications Inc. for CAD255 (then USD164 million) in a deal agreed in 2001 but held up when Canada's Competition Bureau; it finally approved the deal subject to divestitures in 2002 (See RNW Sept 4, 2002).
Subsequently a deal to sell them to Quebecor Media subsidiary TVA Group was also blocked for fear of over-concentration of French-language media (see RNW July 4, 2003) and a subsequent deal to sell them to a private group also fell through (See RNW Feb 14).
Although not confirmed by either party the collapse of the CAD 12 million (USD 9 million) deal was thought to be related to the decision by top talk-show host Paul Arcand to leave CKAC-AM, Quebec's leading AM station.
If the regulators approve this latest deal is approved, Astral will have 21 radio stations in Quebec while Corus will own 20. Astral is expected to convert its new stations into one of its rock formats and Corus to continue specializing in news-talk.
Astral Media Radio President Jacques Parisien commented, "We are very pleased with this agreement. Not only do we feel confident that our AM assets and CFOM will be in good hands going forward, but we are also excited about the opportunity to open up new markets for our Radio group."
"This proposed transaction enables Astral Media to reach other regions in the province of Quebec with our existing Energie, RADIO RockDetente and Boom networks. We have had a successful history of working with Corus Entertainment in our Television group, which has certainly helped to set the stage for this agreement and we feel it will be a win-win situation for all parties involved."
For Corus, Pierre Arcand, President of its radio operations in Quebec, said the deal was a great strategic opportunity."
"This secures Corus' position as the leader in radio news and information programming in the province, and entry into the Quebec City market has been a goal of Corus Radio for some time," he said. "This transaction extends our reach and our commitment to Quebec. We're confident that our five regional stations will continue to be strong performers under Astral's management and we look forward to welcoming the Radiomedia stations and CFOM to the Corus family."
2004-04-01: Cumulus has announced that it is to buy a second Houston station; it will spend USD 32.2 million, all but a cash payment of USD 1 million will be either in cash or Cumulus shares at the option of Cumulus on buying New Wavo Communication Group's country KVST-FM, licensed to La Porte, Texas.
Cumulus already owns urban AC KRWP-FM in Houston and chairman and CEO Lew Dickey said when completed the two-station cluster would "create significant value for our shareholders, as it will significantly improve our competitive position and increase our strategic options."
2004-04-01: A new music cum style station with a name to shock launches in the UK today with a title that might not pass muster in the USA: It's FCUK-FM, which will be broadcasting from the window of the French Connection's FCUK store in Regent Street, London.
It will be available on the Sky Digital platform, in some 70 FCUK stores around the UK and on the fcuk web site, which is already streaming the station.
The French Connection has made a name for itself with advertising campaigns heavy with double meaning some of which, like the "fcukinkybugger" poster campaign, led to regulatory action such as an insistence of pre-vetting future campaigns.
The content and scheduling is being contracted to independent radio production company Somethin' Else with sound design house Delicious Digital, which handled the jingles and theme music for the BBC digital channel 6 Music, in charge of the station sound whilst Exposure Digital is designing and building the station site and online player.
The station is being deliberately designed to differ from existing stations with the slogan "None Of The Hits, None Of The Time". It will eschew chart and pop music in favour of such genres as Indie, Rock and R'n'B, and no "time-related" shows since it is intended to broadcast 24-hours a day and be available worldwide.
Features already announced include Dead DJs, where soundalikes of such music stars as Jim Morrison, Freddie Mercury play their favourite tracks, and Winner Stays On, in which listeners will turn DJ and compete to stay on air longest.
FCUK has not committed itself to the project long-term but is saying it will see how it goes after a few months.
FCUK web site - links to FCUK radio:
2004-04-01: 2004-04-01: As the Arbitron Internet Broadcast Ratings entered its final stretch before it is closed, the latest release shows MUSICMATCH retaining top station spot and AOL top network rank with only a little shuffling in the top five stations
For the week to March 15, 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 1,036,957 (1,025,612); CP - 328,370 (324,143). Same rank with higher listening and reach.
2: Hot Adult Contemporary Virgin AM & FM (Commercial) - TTSL 367,685 (375,120); CP - 68,978 (73,146). Same rank with lower listening and reach.
3: Country format AOL Top Country (Commercial) -TTSL 271,404 (260,092); CP 104,359 (104,546). Same rank with higher listening and reach.
4: AOL Top Pop (Commercial) -TTSL 253,434 (238,842); CP 135,168 (53,598). Up from fifth with higher listening and reach.
5: Smooth Jazz AOL Smooth Jazz (Commercial) - TTSL 252,448 (243,183); CP - 53,291 (53,598) Down from fourth despite higher listening although reach was down.
The top five networks for the week to March 15 (Previous week's figures in brackets) were:
1: AOL Radio@ Network (Commercial) - TTSL - 6,414,522 (6,001,034); CP - 1,559,413 (1,495,474). Same rank with higher listening and reach.
2: LAUNCH (Commercial) TTSL - 4,538,092 (4,761,826); CP - 1,073,957 (1,063,599). Same rank with lower listening but higher reach.
3: MUSICMATCH Inc. (*Non Commercial) TTSL - 2,534,467 (2,508,816); CP - 579,325 (577,379). Same rank with higher listening and reach.
4: The Adsertion Network (Sales Network) TTSL - 864,505 (899,635); CP - 95,491 (104,592) - Same rank with lower listening and reach.
5: Virgin Radio (Commercial) TTSL - 616,830 (618,823); CP - 93,414 (96,847) - Same rank with lower 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 2,925,088, down from 2,955,042 and StreamGuys with TTSL 626,482, up from 612,159.
Previous Arbitron Internet Broadcast ratings:
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March 2004 - May 2004
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