December 2004 Archive
- November 2004 - January 2005-
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.
E-mail note: For obvious Virus reasons, we neither send nor accept e-mail attachments without prior notice and agreement. All messages sshould be sent plain text.
RNW December comment - We look back at at Highlights, lowlights, high life, low life, and trends of 2004.
RNW November comment - Looks, as the "buying" season approaches at What we'd like from radio in the future.
RNW October comment - Rethinks our previous timetable for competing media to bite into profitability of US terrestrial radio in light of talent moves to satellite radio and faster than anticipated take-up of broadband.
2004-12-31: And as our last story before the New Year a few predictions:
*Satellite radio to continue to make inroads in the US with a combined five million or so subscribers by the end of 2005: We'd still be cautious about their stock prices though.
*Terrestrial radio in the US. More Spanish-language stations and less of formats such as Oldies and AC formats with country also continuing a slow decline. There'll probably be more formats featuring a wider range of songs and less DJ chat - an attempt to beat the challenge from downloaded MP3s but we can't really see that those who've already moved to getting their own music will really go for someone else's less tailored version albeit it may keep some listeners who were getting tired of some of the other formats.
*UK digital radio receiver sales to hit around 2 million. iBiquity's HD IBOC system to remain marginal in the US unless stations come up with new and better uses for it than merely increasing the technical quality of current formats and receiver prices drop dramatically.
*Internet listening to bound again but become more frustrating as broadband tests streaming capabilities of a number of major broadcasters to the limit: We're already notice problems with a number of sites that used to be comparatively stable.
*More of a backlash developing in the US against the anti-indecency campaigners as more people realise the degree to which a few campaigning organisations are skewing perceptions but to little effect although by the next mid-term elections the situation could change.
2004-12-31: According to details filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Arbitron's new three-year deal with Clear Channel just announced (See RNW Dec 28) will cost the latter just above USD 63 million a year in all.
The main service for Clear Channel's radio stations comes in at USD 56.1 million a year with an extra USD 3.3 million a year for Scarborough Services and a further USD 3.7 million for services to Premiere Radio Networks.
Previous Clear Channel:
Previous Premiere Networks:
2004-12-31: Spanish Broadcasting System (SBS) and Viacom have now completed their strategic deal under which Viacom's KRZZ-FM, San Francisco, went to SBS in exchange for a Viacom 10% holding in SBS plus warrants that would allow it to take the holding up by around half as much again.
The deal also included a strategic alliance under which CBS Television, Viacom Outdoor and SBS will cross-promote each other.
SBS Chairman, President and CEO Raúl Alarcón said of the deal, "This strategic alliance creates a unique multimedia partnership focused on targeting the U.S. Hispanic population for years to come. Together with Viacom, one of the world's largest media companies, we are positioned to capture the future of this dynamic growth market through a comprehensive platform that includes some of the country's premier radio, television and outdoor properties."
2004-12-31: The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has issued a consultation document - responses have to be made by the end of January 2005 - concerning satellite radio services for the country where at the moment around 40 radio channels can be received from the West beam of WorldSpace's Asiastar satellite: The other radio satellite systems - Sirius and XM in the US and that of MBCo, which covers Japan and Korea, cannot be seen in India.
TRAI notes that although the World Space service can be received, the country has no policy or regulatory framework for satellite radio and says this "gives rise to various issues, such as level playing field between Satellite Radio service and Private FM Radio, regulation of broadcast content, license fee, receiver interoperability requirement in case of a new Satellite Radio service provider etc."
It goes on to say that "there is a need for India to establish clear regulations for satellite radio, which it is hoped will satisfy the problems voiced by the FM Radio industry as well as provide additional impetus to promote the further development of satellite radio in India, in a planned and acceptable way."
World Space only has around 50,000 customers in India and TRAI says, "If the development of satellite radio in India could be expanded so that it reached a large proportion of the population, significant benefits to Indian society and industry could accrue "
In a prescient note in view of the current tsunami tragedy it notes, "India with its large geographical size is well placed to benefit from a satellite radio system unlike smaller countries. The large size of the country makes it very difficult to provide timely advance warning to people living in remote areas for dealing with natural disasters such as cyclones and floods. Its countrywide footprint enables the satellite radio system to provide instantaneous reach to all corners of the country including remote locations, especially the hilly areas. These remote areas may be impossible to cover through terrestrial means."
WorldSpace, it adds, is already in touch with the Government of India regarding a project for fishermen that would, inter alia, bring them reliable, timely, advance weather warnings.
In terms of technology TRAI notes that the Sirius and XM systems are incompatible and that the companies have still not developed equipment that can receive both services.
It notes that since World Space is already in operation there should be consideration for any future policy whether multi-standard receivers, which can be used with several different transmission standards (or are at least compatible with the WorldSpace transmission scheme), should be mandated for potential new satellite radio operators?
Previous Indian radio:
2004-12-30: With a breakdown in normal systems hampering communications in many areas hit by the tsunami that followed Sunday's underwater earthquake off Indonesia, amateur radio operators have been assisting in many areas.
Among those involved was US Amateur Charly Harpole who when the quake struck was on Andaman Island visiting the National Institute of Amateur Radio (NIAR) VU4RBI/VU4NRO DXpedition in Port Blair. The DXpedition started transmissions from the island at the beginning of December and was scheduled to remain until the end of the month.
Other operations were suspended whilst the team rigged up their transmitter and aided in transmitting messages to ham operators on the Indian mainland to tell them that relatives on Andaman were unhurt.
Other operators on the island, where some normal communications have now been restored, also helped.
On Car Nicobar Island, which was badly hit with some reports saying that up to half the population are unaccounted for and where all buildings at the Indian Air Force Base was washed away according to IAF Chief Air Marshal S Krishnaswamy, one member of the VU4RBI/VU4NRO team established a station that for a while was one of the few means of communicating with the mainland.
Calcutta VHF Amateur Radio Society Assistant Secretary Horey Majumdar said, "The Amateur Radio station from Nicobar is perhaps playing the most vital part in what is turning out to be the world's largest disaster operation."
"Hams from Sri Lanka, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Singapore, Australia and even Israel are checking into the VU emergency nets and extending their fullest cooperation in the truest spirit of Amateur Radio."
Musa Suraatmadja, the secretary-general of the Indonesia Amateur Radio Organization (ORARI) responding to an International Amateur Radio Union (IARU) request to assist said, "So far we can still manage. Our ORARI members are amongst the first to go to the stricken areas doing emergency communication, rescue operations and other things."
In Thailand, Tony Waltham, vice president of the Radio Amateur Society of Thailand (RAST) said communication needs were being met.
"The situation is now under control, with Thai hams helping to relay information between the affected areas along the west coast in the south to government agencies--mostly on VHF and 40 meters as well as by disseminating news and information over VHF frequencies in Bangkok," he said.
Victor Goonetilleke, president of the Radio Society of Sri Lanka (RSSL), said in an e-mail, "Ham radio played an important part and will continue to do so" adding that even the country's prime minister relied on amateur radio for contacting other countries following communications cuts including satellite phone failures.
"Our control centre was inside the prime minister's official house in his operational room," he said "[This] will show how they valued our services."
Ethnic radio stations have also been aiding people in making contact as in Toronto where the Canadian Tamil Broadcasting Corporation has set up a team of ten reporters in Sri Lanka, scouring temporary shelters for survivors with relatives in Canada.
When they make contact with someone who has relatives in Canada they take details and e-mail them to the station, which puts them on the air.
Station vice-president Thenpulolyoor Krishnalingam told the Toronto Globe and Mail, "Our radio station is the only means for contact. We have reporters all over the Tamil areas."
"Most people lost everything. They have just the clothes on their backs and their names. No list of phone numbers."
As time has passed, reports the Globe, the number of calls to the station about relatives has slowed and the emphasis has switched to relief with more than CAD 200,000 (USD 165,000) raised so far.
Krishnalingam said the Tamil community in Toronto is not wealthy but members were donating money anyway and Shantah Somaskawther, who runs a children's program at the radio station, said children had left the contents of more than 400 piggy banks.
"One child brought $211 in change from his piggy bank and I asked him, 'What purpose were you collecting money for?'", she said. "'My education,'" he answered.
Toronto Globe and Mail report:
US National Association for Amateur Radio report:
2004-12-30: Storms that hit San Diego County overnight on Tuesday knocking out power to more than 50,000 homes and taking down trees also took Jefferson-Pilot 's country format KSON-AM, gospel music and Christian talk KURS-1040-AM and Cable TV Channel 19 (KBNT-LP) off the air.
KURS program director Larry "Preacherman" Thompson told the San Diego Union-Tribune he had no estimate of when the damage would be repaired and the station put back on the air.
The winds snapped off the top 200 feet ( 60 metres) of the tower, which was build in1947 and stands in a storage yard used by the San Diego Police Department to impound vehicles.
Thompson said at least 20 cars were hit by the falling piece of tower and part of the structure is still dangling.
San Diego Union-Tribune report:
2004-12-30: Chicago WLS-AM host Jay Marvin has been dropped by the Disney-ABC station where he was co-hosting the 09:00-11:00 morning show with Eileen Byrne.
Marvin, self -described on his web log as "America's favourite Commie Lib and Outsider Art Trouble Maker" - carries on his blog a brief announcement from WLS President and General Manager John F. Gallagher stating that Marvin is "no longer a member of the WLS on-air staff" and then wishing him the best and added that Byrne "will continue to host the time slot."
Marvin says he has been "getting some very nice e-mail" and then continues, "Thanks to all of you. It means a lot. So now that I don't have a gig what am I going to do? Take a vacation! That's the first thing. Then figure out where Mary and I will land. With her life is always an adventure. I'm just glad to be free."
He expanded on his reaction to Robert Feder in the Chicago Sun-Times, commenting, "They wanted to go one way, and I wanted to go another. There was no place to put me. It was a rough 2-1/2 years on that air shift. I'm glad it's over, and I'm happy to be out from under it. I wish them the best."
Gallagher denied to Feder that the decision had anything to do with politics and said the reason was that the show "hasn't produced what it was designed to achieve" but did not expand on this.
Less happy about his ousting is former ESPN Radio outlet WVMP-AM host Jay Mariotti, who told the Chicago Tribune he had been dropped because the station wants to remain in the good books of the Bulls and White Sox whose contracts with the station are being renegotiated at the moment.
The Sox deal expires after the 2005 season and the Bulls one after the 2005-06 campaign: They cost the station a combined USD 7 million plus per year and are its most important rights agreements.
Mariotti said the station had asked him to tone down criticism of the teams and added, "We agreed that if I wouldn't agree to their editorial conditions, then I should leave."
"I'm not going to compromise my integrity to do favours on the air for the White Sox and the Bulls. When they ask me to treat two teams differently than the others, that's a red flag for me, and it has been happening quite a bit over the last few months."
"I thought it was important that listeners get an even assessment of every team in town . . . I have to call it like I see it."
A spokesman for the teams said they had no prior knowledge of the decision but the paper quotes Sox broadcaster Hawk Harrelson with whom Mariotti has clashed publicly as saying, "I'm happy for the fans because he's a vicious guy. I said he wouldn't have that [radio] job long and I don't think he'll be a columnist [for the Chicago Sun-Times] much longer. He never lets the truth get in the way of a story. The city will be a lot better off without him."
Chicago Sun-Times - Feder:
Chicago Tribune report:
Marvin web site:
2004-12-30: Ireland's Communications Minister has approved a 2% increase to Euros 155 (USD 210) in the cost of the country's TV licence fee that funds state broadcaster RTÉ.
It will take effect on April 1 next year and the minister, Noel Dempsey, said he had approved the increase following an external review that showed the broadcaster had "performed strongly in the programming, financial management and commercial areas."
RTÉ's Director General, Cathal Goan, welcomed the increase, which he said would allow the broadcaster to continue to bring the best of Irish programming to its audience.
As well as its television services, RTÉ broadcasts radio services including national services Radio 1, a wide ranging full service station, pop music and talk Radio 2, and classical music Lyric FM plus Irish language Raidió na Gaeltachta.
RTÉ is financed by a mix of licence fee and advertising and other commercial income. Its 2003 annual report that divides financial information according to Integrated Business Divisions (IBDs) that include radio, TV and news, showed TV expenditure of some Euros 182 million (USD 247 million) compared to Euros 63.5 million (USD 86 million) for radio; of the radio total Euros 29.3 million (USD 40 million) came from the licence fee and the rest from advertising - Euros 32.9 million (USD 45 million) plus Euros 1.2 million (USD 1.6 million) from other commercial income.
2004-12-30: According to Radio and Records it is now official that G.Gordon Liddy's syndicated show will move from Westwood One to Radio America from February 7.
It says the show will remain in the same 10:00-13:00 ET time slot it has occupied for the past 13 years.
So far Liddy's site still lists Westwood One and Westwood One's site still lists Liddy although the host's site does have a notice "Be sure to tune in on January 3rd for the BIG ANNOUNCEMENT" that could relate to a move.
Previous Westwood One:
2004-12-29: Speculation is mounting in Scotland that Emap, which holds 27.8% of Scottish Radio Holdings (SRH), is likely to bid for the whole company early in the New Year.
The approval of the Capital-GWR merger (See RNW Dec 23) left the doors open for further consolidation and analysts suggest that Emap could find its position if it delays making a move whilst rivals forge ahead.
Until January 16 Emap would have to pay GBP 9.30 a share, the price at which it bought the stake in January this year from SMG (the former Scottish Media Group - See RNW Jan 17) but the shares are already just above this - GBP 9.315 when we last checked, thus valuing SRH at around GBP 335 million (USD 645 million) - and a significant premium would be expected above this, especially as SRH has indicated that it would fight a bid.
2004-12-29: The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has again been in disciplinary mode over tower and studio offences.
In Georgia it confirmed a USD 10,000 penalty on Cumulus, owner of a towers in Savannah, used by WBMQ-AM, for failure to clean and repaint the antenna structures to maintain good visibility.
An inspection in August 2001 had shown the paint to be badly faded and peeling and a notice of apparent violation was issued and Cumulus then said it was looking for bids to repaint the towers and anticipated the work being completed by the end of the year.
After other correspondence, in February 2002 Cumulus changed its response and said it was to replace the towers by June or July that year but at the end of July 2002 then changed this to saying operations would be moved to another location and the tower then dismantled.
2003 inspections showed the towers still unpainted and a Notice of Apparent Liability was issued.
Cumulus sought a reduction on the basis that its towers could not be repainted because the lead paint on them would cause environmental damage and its attempts to move to another location had also been hampered by environmental concerns.
It said the towers were in a salt water marsh, which has eroded them during the last 50 years and that it had only become aware of the need for repainting after the FCC inspection brought this to its notice.
It also argued that the forfeiture will not provide additional motivation to enable Cumulus to take down the tower and that the Commission is in effect telling it that it should have shut down the station and taken down the towers although this would have caused it to lose its license for being silent for more than a year.
The FCC said in effect that Cumulus had no excuse for not checking the conditions of the towers when it bought them and the station in 1998 and also dismissed arguments that Cumulus has a good history of compliance saying its records shows numerous violations by Cumulus.
It noted that further enforcement action could be taken if there is continued non-compliance and confirmed the USD 10,000 penalty.
In Texas, however, it cut a proposed USD 7,000 penalty on SM Radio, Inc., licensee of KUOL-AM, San Marcos, to USD 5,600 on the basis of a history of compliance.
The penalty was issued for failure to maintain a main studio presence within the station's community of license: SM had not denied the offences but sought reduction on grounds of inability to pay and a history of compliance but the FCC found the documentation provided on the first grounds did not support a reduction, although the past history did.
2004-12-28: Arbitron has announced the signing of a new deal with Clear Channel, its largest subscriber, which amounts to more than a fifth of its income.
The deal runs until the Fall 008 survey and as well as radio ratings for Clear Channel's stations includes agreements covering Premiere Radio Networks, KMG Consolidated Radio Sales and Clear Channel Traffic and also contracts for Arbitron-owned Scarborough and other local market consumer information services.
Arbitron president and CEO Steve Morris said they were pleased at the renewal and added, "We look forward to continuing to provide our largest customer with the information services that will help it grow its revenue and manage its radio business."
Previous Clear Channel:
2004-12-28: The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has issued forfeitures totalling USD 33,000 in three cases, two of broadcasters and one of a CB licence holder.
The largest penalty went to JMK Communications, Inc., licensee of WPWC-AM, Dumfries, Virginia, for operation at unauthorized power levels and its failure to place in the station's public inspection file the most current ownership report and a list of programs that have provided WPWC's most significant treatment of community issues.
The amount had already been reduced from an initial notice of a USD 22,000 penalty after JMK had queried a penalty relating to Emergency Alert System (EAS) equipment and argued that its set-up was consistent with rules that permit automatic operation of the EAS system by broadcast stations that use remote control.
JMK had also argued for a reduction on the basis that it exceeded its power - its licence specifies daytime 1080-watt levels at night and 540 watts at night - only for a few quarter-hour periods between 18:15 and 18:30 and that this lapse did not justify the level of penalty applied. It also said that although it admitted the latest ownership report was not in the station's public file, the file did contain the previous report, which was identical in substance to the latest report.
The FCC dismissed the arguments and confirmed the USD 14,000 penalty.
Next highest penalty was one of USD 10,000 on Citizen's Band operator Tommie Salter of Jacksonville, Florida, for using his CB radio without authorization. Following complaints of interference, FCC agents had restricted the hours during which his equipment could be used and had then advised him that he could resume normal operation as long as he complied fully with FCC rules. Subsequently after further interference complaints an inspection found that his radio was not certificated by the FFC and he was told that its use was in breach of the Commission's rules
Salter had argued that he did not intend to breach the rules and that he had not read an official notice sent to his residence and signed for by a family member. The FCC rejected the arguments and confirmed the full penalty.
The Commission also confirmed a full penalty of USD 9,000 on Citadel for failure to maintain the required staff and management presence at the main studio of KSYY-FM, Kingfisher, Oklahoma and failure to maintain all of the required material in the station's public inspection file.
Citadel had sought cancellation on the basis that the inspection relating to its public file was carried out in the morning prior to its normal business hours of noon to 9p.m., which it has now changed to 09:00 to 17:00, and also that following the inspection of its file it reviewed the file and found it did then contain the most recent ownership report. The arguments were rejected and a full penalty confirmed.
2004-12-28: Both US satellite radio companies say they have exceeded their year-end targets already: XM said it now has more then 3.1 million subscribers and Sirius has passed the million mark.
Both companies had been promoting sales in the holiday period and Sirius particularly noted success for its Sirius Sportster range that offers various sports-related enhancements.
XM highlighted its products for the holiday season that included the Delphi XM2Go MyFi, portable, hand-held receiver and the Delphi XM SKYFi2, which has pause and replay features.
XM President and CEO Hugh Panero said they were very pleased and added, "Holiday shoppers bought XM radios in record numbers, reinforcing XM's significant market leadership position in satellite radio."
For Sirius CEO Mel Karmazin said, "We predicted that we would reach one million subscribers by year-end and we did it. It's now clear that consumers are increasingly recognizing the appeal of our programming, including commercial-free music, plus news, weather, traffic, entertainment and the best sports offering in satellite radio."
The market reacted more positively to Sirius than XM: Its stock, against the background of a slight overall fall, was up 1.89% although it lost around half the gain in after-hours trading, whilst XM dropped by 0.48% during the day but recovered all the loss in after-hours trading to end with no change.
2004-12-28: US shock jock Howard Stern will be in a new uncharted situation when he returns to the airwaves next year following a break until January 3.
His broadcasts will now be covered by the consent decree Viacom agreed with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) last month (See RNW Nov 27) to settle all ongoing indecency complaints against it with the exception of the Super Bowl half time show breast baring by Janet Jackson.
That decree came into effect last week and included agreement that should a Notice of Apparent Violation (NAV) be issued against any Viacom on-air personality that person would be taken off the air and given remedial training and if a forfeiture order were subsequently issued there would be further disciplinary action that may include dismissal.
The situation has led Stern to threaten to play only music on his show (See RNW Dec 11) and to speculation that it will further spur Sirius to buy out his contract early. Should Stern be dismissed his contract with Viacom would allow them to avoid paying him until his contract ends in January 2006.
RNW comment: The cynic in us would estimate that were Stern to break the rules just enough to get an NAV but not enough to attract a massive fine, he would be in a position to move early to Sirius in a blaze of publicity. Should a deal between Viacom and Sirius have been agreed, even if not announced, at this stage then all parties would benefit. The FCC would of course find its action ineffective - and if the offence were calculated to be a mild one would not be in a position to hand out fines that would make the deal financially unattractive without looking vindictive. We look forward to January to see what actually happens.
2004-12-27: In a week curtailed by holidays, print comment on radio has been somewhat limited beyond comment on particular local programming that in most cases has already faded in the ether so we have limited ourselves to two articles commenting on the regulators. However to make up for this, thanks to on-demand services, there is some extremely worthwhile listening now around for a while (See our recommendations below).
First, however, Stephen Labaton in the New York Times on the major US broadcast-related story of the year but with a slightly different angle: In "Indecency on the Air, Evolution Atop the F.C.C., Labaton starts off by noting that before he became FCC chairman, Michael Powell said "it was time to eliminate the double standard that allowed the government to subject broadcasters, unlike their competitors in cable and satellite television, to indecency and other speech regulations."
Powell he notes " received a Freedom of Speech Award for advancing what broadcasters and civil liberties groups viewed as a courageously principled position. Now, he is being harshly criticized for significantly expanding the indecency rules."
The Media Institute, which gave Powell that award, now says that under him the commission has chilled speech in violation of the First Amendment.
Labaton quotes Bruce W. Sanford, a First Amendment expert and media lawyer at Baker & Hostetler in Washington as saying, "Chairman Powell has travelled from an enlightened position of First Amendment values for a regulatory agency that dances around the edges of content regulation quite commonly. During the course of his tenure, he's done this swing in line with popular and political sentiments to a different place, which is more restrictive."
Labaton also notes that Powell and his aides say he has been consistent and has an obligation to enforce indecency rules that enjoy broad bipartisan support, adding that if anything has it is that radio and television broadcasters have pushed the boundaries of the law in what Powell has called "the relentless race for ratings," and in the process offended large segments of the country.
Labaton himself posits an analysis that suggests an evolution of Powell's views from "unbridled libertarian who championed the abolition of restrictions and expressed little confidence in the government's ability to oversee the media" to "an aggressive enforcer who has expanded restrictions on broadcasters."
Powell's shift, writes Labaton, became apparent nearly a year ago, after the House and Senate adopted resolutions critical of an F.C.C. staff conclusion that Bono, the lead singer of U2, did not violate any indecency regulations by uttering an expletive after winning a Golden Globe Award [RNW note: Under the guidelines as then issued by the FCC, Bono clearly did not breach the rules unless the meanings of words are rewritten and we have already commented adversely on the FCC's decision to over-rule staff and hold that there was a breach.]
The article suggests the change was more political than principled and says Commission officials and friends of the chairman, along with industry lawyers, say Powell concluded that he could not carry on his fight against the indecency rules and also survive politically to carry out the rest of his agenda.
Andrew Jay Schwartzman, president of the Media Access Project, that has opposed Powell in both indecency proceedings and the commission's efforts to relax media ownership rules, said, "Michael Powell was forced to have to make a political compromise against his will and his own better judgment. He made political judgments that they would have to come down tougher to save other issues on his agenda." [RNW comment: or could it be said, when it's a matter or morality or business, it's business that generally wins in the US?].
Broadcasters, writes Labaton, are hoping the courts will eventually rule against the FCC and he quotes, Kurt A. Wimmer, a lawyer at Covington & Burling in Washington, which represents a number of broadcasters in disputes with the commission, as saying, "We'll eventually have a court correct all this. But the amount of damage between now and when a court rules is significant."
In the UK, media regulator Ofcom completes its first year of operations, in which it has been involved in 130 consultation, 22 of which are still in progress, on Wednesday and in the UK Guardian received a measured positive appraisal from Owen Gibson.
In his first paragraph he comments, " to say it has hit the ground running would be an understatement. Broadcasters have been buried under an avalanche of paperwork as consultation after consultation has hit their desks."
"The contrast with the five disparate regulators it replaced - the Independent Television Commission, Oftel, the Radio Authority, the Radiocommunications Agency and the Broadcasting Standards Commission - could not be clearer. As it is not shy to point out, it is culturally a million miles from the modus operandi of the former broadcasting regulators. The cut-glass crystal and bone china have long been packed away, replaced by plastic cups and shrink-wrapped sandwiches. Opaque resolutions passed by the great and the good in smoke-filled rooms are out. The new regulator has instead worked hard to convey an image of swift, transparent decision-making."
Gibson says Ofcom chief executive Stephen Carter puts part of Ofcom's first year rush down to getting a new body up and running and part to playing catch-up with the lack of forward-looking plans from predecessor bodies who knew they were to be closed down.
The report quotes Labour MP Chris Bryant, a member of the Commons media select committee, as saying, "They've made some enemies and that must mean they're doing some of the right things. The industries they're overseeing - telecoms, broadcasting - are prone to monopoly for a wide variety of reasons. Consequently, some of the problem historically is that people have found it very difficult to tackle those monopolies. So far, they seem to be on their mettle."
Gibson gives Ofcom high marks for its work on the transition to digital broadcasting, lower ones in its work concerning public service broadcasting and, largely in relation to the latter, quotes another Labour MP, chairman Sir Gerald Kaufman, as saying, "It [Ofcom] has a job and a remit and it seems to be looking around for other things to do that it isn't required to do. I think it should do better the job it was appointed to do and not get its fingers into all sorts of other pies."
Carter commented of the first year that it is too early to judge definitively, saying, "I'll make my judgment at the end of next year."
Gibson sums up by noting that by then the organization it will have delivered its public-service broadcasting recommendations, had a significant influence on BBC charter renewal and decided whether to break up BT, says it so far has not to make any really controversial decisions, and concludes, "And others wonder if, having tackled the BBC and BT, it will dare turn its attention to the industry's other 800lb gorilla - BskyB. With all that, and much more, in Ofcom's in tray, there'll barely be time to pause for breath after blowing out the candles."
And now for suggested listening, starting with various suggestions that look back: First for those who didn't catch it earlier in the year is BBC Radio 4 and Dylan Thomas's Under Milk Wood, the 2004 version that combined the Richard Burton First Voice broadcast from 1963 with a modern all-Welsh cast [RNW note: In an action that has its echoes in the US today, the name Llareggub was changed to Llaregyb by censors when the poem was first published in 1954 and we wonder how a community including bigamists, paedophiles, necrophiles and nymphomaniacs would fare with the FCC today].
Under Milk Wood aired on Christmas Eve so is around until Friday as also is Dylan and John, a charting of the relationship between the poet and John Arlott, best known as a cricket commentator but also a one time poetry producer for the BBC World Service's Eastern Service (A post he obtained with the aid of John Betjeman who had seen Arlott's poetic works whilst the latter was with the Hampshire police). Both are worth listening to if only for the voices of Arlott and Burton - we'd suggest for much more as well.
Also available from Radio 4 is Remembering Alistair Cooke, a tribute to the late broadcaster that was aired on Christmas Day (The Radio 4 web site still has a Cooke page linking to a number of broadcasts and transcripts of his Letters from America, although not all the audio links in them were functioning when we last checked).
Then from BBC Radio 1 is the Keeping It Peel mini site with tributes to the late John Peel including the live tribute paid to him by the station (Broken up into three segments).
Looking even further back, the final in the Unearthing Mysteries on BBC Radio 4 at 11:00 tomorrow Aubrey Manning goes to Cahokia in Illinois, the site of the biggest earthen structure in North America.
Looking ahead this week's book of the week on BBC Radio 4 features Martin Jarvis reading five seasonal stories from the Just William books by Richmal Crompton and the Afternoon Reading features Alan Bennett reading Peter And Wendy, the prose version of Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie (09:45GMT and 15:30 GMT respectively today until Friday).
Also on Radio 4 daily at 15:45 GMT is Orwell's Babies in which people born in 1984 share their experience of life so far and talk about their hopes for themselves and their world.
Moving to material of North American interest BBC Radio 4 on Thursday at 10:15 has an edition of Front Row about anti George Bush movies, documentaries, novels, plays and jokes and at 20:00 GMT in It's My Story Commander Luc Pellerier and his fellow submariners tell of events on the fire damaged Canadian submarine HMCS Chicoutimi that was bought by Canada from the Royal Navy but didn't exactly last well.
We end with a few seasonal and round-up recommendations starting with the Christmas Day US National Public Radio show, Waitwait, a look back at highlights of the show since 1999 that is well worth 45 mins or alternatively dipping and out of thanks to the benefits of digital technology that means you can go back to it part way through.
Then also from NPR and the Christmas Day Weekend Edition try the report on An English Dictionary, in Limerick Form, an attempt in the form of the Omnificent English Dictionary In Limerick Form, to re-formulate the Oxford English Dictionary.
From BBC Radio 4 there is the Now Show Christmas Special from Christmas Eve, Simon Fanshawe Gets to the Bottom of Christmas from Christmas Day and from today (09:00 GMT) Start the Week Christmas Special looking forward to 2005, also on Radio 4, as is the Best of I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue at 18:30 GMT tonight.
From BBC Radio 2 at 17:00 GMT 17:00 A Beatles' Christmas that looks at part of the Beatles legacy and focuses on the traditional Christmas records which were sent out exclusively to Beatles fan club members from 1963-1969.
Finally, until next year (in the Gregorian Calendar) don't overdo Druidic customs under the mistletoe, have happy Hanukah, a Joyeux Noël (apart from the Copts and Orthodox who can wait a while), a merry Mithra, a super Saturnalia, or worship the oak as you choose.
Previous Media Access Project:
New York Times - Labaton:
UK Guardian - Gibson:
2004-12-27: BBC Radio Devon, which managed to rope in a number of star names for an interactive radio drama broadcast in connection with a station charity appeal to raise money to build a state-of-the-art unit for the detection and treatment of prostate cancer. (See RNW Nov 20) has now passed its GBP 1 million (USD 1.9 million target).
The Chestnut appeal reached the target, originally set with a time-scale of five years, just before Christmas, two years after its launch. It is still open for further donations and morning show host Judi Spiers commented of the success, "The money has been flooding in constantly over the two years with people sending in pound coins as well as cheques of up to GBP 3,000 (USD 5750) ... I almost burst into tears last week when I received cheques and donations of over GBP 7,000 (USD 13,450) just in one day."
"The lovely thing about this campaign is that men are finally talking about their bits and getting them tested. Wives are thanking me as men are now communicating and lives are being saved as a result."
BBC Radio Devon web site:
2004-12-26: The main regulatory headline last week was another proposed large indecency fine in the US, of USD 220,000 against Entercom: Elsewhere matters were fairly routine.
In Australia, the Australian Broadcasting Authority (ABA) made only two radio announcements: one was a revision of FM plans in Launceston, Tasmania, where it now plans to convert from AM to FM both the Australian Broadcasting Corporation local service and commercial services 7LA and 7EX.
It also decided not to add a new community licence for Launceston, rejecting a request from aspirant community radio broadcaster, World Music Radio (WMR), but will review the situation in two years: In addition to the services to be converted to FM, Launceston also has two wide coverage community radio services (General and ethnic service 7LTN-FM and Launceston Christian Broadcasters' 7WAY-FM plus a community radio service for print handicapped emanating from Hobart and local coverage community services in Northern Midlands and George Town.
The second announcement was of proposed options regarding the variation of the technical operating conditions of the existing 4RBL-FM and 4BRZ FM commercial radio services at Mount Tamborine, relating to which comment has to be submitted by January 28 next year.
Rebel FM says it needs improved coverage from Mount Tamborine to give it parity with other services operating from the site: The ABA is also proposing to make FM capacity available for it at Barrington and Coomba Park/Stroud, areas identified as radio black spots for the purpose of the Commercial Radio Blackspots Program, and also in the Coomba Park/Stroud area for Rebel FM's second commercial radio service, 4BRZ-FM
In Canada the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) was involved in rather more decisions, including (in order of province):
*Approval of application to change contours of new Urban FM approved for Edmonton by decreasing the antenna height and relocating the transmitter.
*Approval of Newcap's CAD 12.55 million (USD 10.23 million) acquisition of CILR-FM, CKSA-FM, CITL-TV, and CKSA-TV, Lloydminster, from Sask-Alta Broadcasters Limited.
Alberta and British Columbia:
*Approval of corporate re-organization involving Jim Pattison Broadcast Group Ltd. and Jim Pattison Industries Ltd. and various radio and TV undertakings currently licensed to corporate entities owned by James A. Pattison
Ultimate control will not be affected by the changes that will result in Jim Pattison Industries Ltd. having a 99.99% interest and Jim Pattison Broadcast Group Ltd. an 0.01% interest in a limited partnership, which will carry on business as Jim Pattison Broadcast Group Limited Partnership, a wholly owned subsidiary of Jim Pattison Industries Ltd., which in turn is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Jim Pattison Ltd.
*Approval of new 410 watts FM transmitter to broadcast the signal of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation's national English-language network service, Radio Two, to Moberly and Blaeberry.
Newfoundland and Labrador:
*Approval of a 50 watts English-language FM Type B community radio programming undertaking in Burnt Islands.
Approval of extension until August 31, 2005, of deadline for start of operations of transitional digital radio undertakings associated with CFGO-AM Ottawa; and CJMJ-FM, Ottawa; CKQB-FM Ottawa; CKKL-FM Ottawa;
*Administrative renewal until March 31 2005 of licence for the English-language radio network for the purpose of broadcasting the baseball games of the Toronto Blue Jays originating from CJCL Toronto: The commission says it cannot rule on the renewal of the licence before the current licence expires.
*Approval of second extension, this time until August 31. 2005, of time limit to start operations of transitional digital radio undertaking associated with CFGL-FM.
The CRTC also announced a public hearing to be held in Vancouver on February 28 next year to consider various applications including:
Application to change contours of CJRY-FM, Edmonton, related to transmitter relocation and antenna height increase.
*Application for licence to operate a French-language radio network to broadcast the program "Programme de star" that would air from 10:00 to noon on Sundays on the Astral radio network Radio Rock Détente.
*Application for licence for 600 watts English-language "pop adult" music format FM commercial FM in Gibsons.
*Application for 5,000 watts 5,000 watts country music format English-language commercial FM in Kamloops.
*Application for licence for 5,000 watts predominantly newer country music English-language commercial FM in Kamloops.
*Application for a licence for a 5,000 watts new country music format English-language commercial FM in Kamloops.
*Application for licence for 1,860 watts English-language broad range music format commercial FM in Kamloops
*Application for licence for new 1.6 watts English-language community developmental FM in Nakusp.
*Application to convert CJAV-AM, Port Alberni, to a 6,000 watts broad-based music format FM.
*Two applications for licences to operate a 25,000 watts commercial ethnic AM in Vancouver
*Four applications for licences for commercial ethnic FM station in Vancouver with powers ranging from an average 1,780 watts to 4,100 watts
*Two applications for a licence for a new "Modern Global" youth-oriented music format 1,780 watts commercial FM in Vancouver.
*Application for licence for 50-watts commercial low power specialty ethnic FM in Vancouver.
*Application for licence for 700 watts soft adult contemporary/easy listening format English-language commercial FM radio programming undertaking at Perth.
*Approval of application by Cogeco Diffusion inc. to acquire assets of CFGE-FM Sherbrooke and its transmitter CFGE-FM-1 Magog, and CJEB-FM Trois-Rivières from Cogeco Radio-Télévision inc., as part of a corporate restructuring.
*Application for licence for English-language low power tourist radio FM in Perdue.
In relation to a previously announced public hearing in Gatineau, Quebec, on January 10, the CRTC announced that because issues raised require a market analysis it is removing from the agenda an application to convert CHUC-AM, Cobourg, to FM, and will reschedule this for a later hearing.
In Ireland, there were no radio licence decisions but the Broadcasting Commission of Ireland (BCI) has issued details of its sixth New Adventures in Broadcasting scheme to promote the development of new, programming in Ireland's independent sector (See below).
In the UK, Ofcom, which has now been in operation for a year, had a fairly quiet week although in approving the Capital-GWR merger it added conditions to some licences held by the group (See RNW Dec 23).
Ofcom also published guidance on its spectrum trading plans: it is to implement its spectrum liberalization under which licence holders can request a variation to certain licence conditions at the beginning of 2005.
In the US the main decision from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) was to impose another large indecency fine, this time of USD 220,00 on Entercom (See RNW Dec 23).
It also confirmed penalties of USD 18,000 and USD 5,000 penalty on an Iowa FM (See RNW Dec 24) and proposed a USD 8,000 fine, twice the standard amount for the offence, on Clear Channel's chart/pop WKQI-FM, Detroit, for airing a phone conversation without giving notice of its intention to do so to the other party involved (See RNW Dec 22).
On other matters it has asked the US Supreme Court for yet another extension of its deadline to mount a challenge to the Third Circuit Court's ruling that it has to re-examine its ownership regulations proposed in its proposed new rules issued in June 2003 (See RNW Dec 21).
Previous Licence News:
ABA web site:
BCI web site:
CRTC web site:
FCC web site:
Ofcom web site:
2004-12-26: Indian state broadcaster All India Radio (AIR) has increased its revenues in 2003-04 whilst those of its TV counterpart Doordarshan (DD) fell.
AIR revenues were up 14.7% to INR 117 crore (USD 26.8 million - 1 crore is 10 million) whilst those of DD were down 4.2% to INR 530 crore (USD 121.3 million).
Much of the comparative change has been put down to a response by AIR to a changing market that led it to cut sponsorship rates for its main channel by 40% whilst increasing spot rates on all channels by 10% whilst DD held its rates unchanged.
Previous Indian Radio:
2004-12-26: The Broadcasting Commission of Ireland (BCI) has announced details of its sixth New Adventures in Broadcasting scheme to promote the development of new, innovative and sustainable programming within the independent sector
In all Euros 120,000 (USD 162,000) will be made available for programme production under the scheme, which is divided into three strands - one for one-off programming, two for programming in a station's regular schedule and a third for the development of Irish language programming.
The first focuses on once-off programming which is innovative in the context of the station or which uses the funding creatively to improve the programme making capacity of the station; the second specifically targets a station's regular programme schedule with an emphasis is on sustainability and production of material that will have a long term place within the schedule; and the third strand aims to promote Irish language programming which is creative and innovative or may be used creatively to improve the Irish language programme-making capacity of the station.
This year the New Adventures scheme will be divided into two operational phases, the first of which will concentrate on grant application and awarding of funding with a maximum grant of Euros 7,500 (USD 10,000) per programme. Participating stations are expected to commit additional resources towards the programme, and have to apply for funding by the end of January 2005.
Stations that receive funding have to broadcast the resulting programme before August 19 next year.
The second phase of the scheme involves a competition and award process, open to all programmes that have received funding, although submission is not mandatory. To participate stations have to submit a thirty minute piece which is representative of the programme made by the end of August next year.
2004-12-25: Ulster TV (UTV) has agreed an anticipated (See RNW Sep 27) Euros 9.5 million (USD 12.9 million) deal to buy LMFM Radio, which broadcasts from Drogheda to the Louth/Meath area of the Irish Republic.
The deal already has approval in principle from the Broadcasting Commission of Ireland (BCI), which last year renewed the station's licence for a further ten years but still has to gain approval by the Irish Republic's Competition Authority.
UTV already owns stations in Cork, Dublin and Limerick and the addition of LMFM will give it an edge in offering country-wide advertising: UTV chief executive said of the purchase in a news release, "We are absolutely delighted to announce our acquisition of LMFM. This is an important strategic move for UTV, which together with our acquisitions of 96&103FM in Cork, Live95FM in Limerick and Q102 in Dublin, further strengthens our multi-media offering throughout Ireland. We look forward to working with the management team of LMFM to build upon the successful radio service they have established in the Meath/Louth region."
LMFM is the top-rated station in its area with a 27% share in the year to the end of June: Its signal covers an immediately to the north of Dublin with a population of 250,000 and in the year to August 31 had revenues of Euros 2.1 million (USD 2.8 million) and made an operating profit of Euros 500,000 (USD 677,000).
2004-12-25: Cumulus's switch this week of hip-hop WNPL-FM (Blazin 106.7), Nashville, to sports format Sports Radio 106.7 The Fan could be overloading the market with sport according to the Tennessean which heads a report on the change, "Can 2 1/2 sports talk radio stations survive in Nashville?"
The change could also mean problems for ESPN-AM 560, also a 24-hour sports station and currently an ESPN affiliate, since the paper quotes Cumulus General Manager Michael Dickey as saying his station, which is also is an affiliate of the Sporting News Radio Network, would become Nashville's only affiliate for ESPN by March 27.
ESPN-AM 560 Station Manager Jeff Kolb said he has not been told that ESPN plans to end its affiliation with his station and told the paper, ''I can't comment on hearsay As far as we understand, we have a contract in good standing with ESPN and that's it.''
Regarding extra competition, Kolb said, "Obviously, there are those out there who have seen what we're doing is successful and now they're doing it. We're fine, we'll keep moving on with what we're doing."
The paper notes that Blazin 106.7 had high ratings when it launched but had slipped to 18th in the market in the most recent ratings and quotes Dickey, whose company already owns sports and-talk WTN-FM as saying they were "big believers in sports."
Cumulus is to broadcast an extra hour of its WTN Sports Night show on the new station, starting it at 15:00 on 106.7 and then simulcasting it on both stations from 16:00 to 19:00: WTN opts in after the Dave Ramsey show.
The paper quotes Sports Night host Blake Fulton as saying the move will help the show compete with the current 1500-19:00 Sports Zone show on Citadel's talk and sport WGFX-FM (The Zone). It notes that Fulton's show has slipped in the ratings against the Citadel show, which features former SportsNight host George Plaster.
Dickey told the paper Cumulus is likely to add other local programming to the new format, commenting, ''We're looking at all local personalities - Rudy[WSMV-4 sportscaster Rudy Kalis], [former WTN Sports Insiders co-host] Bill King, you name it, we're looking at them We wanted to launch the new station and get it on before Christmas. Then we're going to build it up. We're not just throwing shows on for the sake of throwing shows on. We'll build it up and have the right people for the right shows as time goes on.''
2004-12-25: Scottish broadcaster Lesley Riddoch's two-hour lunchtime show on BBC Radio Scotland has now ended its run after an acrimonious period over a bid by the host to have it produced by her own production company (See RNW Nov 12).
She will return with a new show, whose title has yet to be announced, in April but this will only run for half the time. It will be produced by Feisty, a new company she is setting up as a joint venture with Turan Ali, the former BBC producer who set up Dundee-based production company Bona Broadcasting four years ago.
The new show will form the core of production that Feisty hopes will be a "whole raft" of radio and TV production and the company has already received its first commission, documentary about heckling in Scottish comedy clubs for Radio Scotland.
Riddoch's new show will be broadcast from a custom-built studio in Dundee, reducing her commuting time to around 20-minutes from her Fife farmhouse home instead of around three hours to and from Glasgow.
Riddoch told the Scotsman her new show will come from "a Village People" of new talent and she says it will experiment with a novel style of presentation in which all the staff, producers and researchers will be on air.
"We will be recruiting people that want to broadcast. I will not be the only person who will be on air," she said. "This company will find the next generation of broadcasters for Scotland or I will eat my hat. The people we will hire will be a type of 'Village People'. We are not looking for a whole bunch of Glasgow University graduates ... we are looking for a bunch of people that will keep us on our toes."
2004-12-24: In contrast to large rises for most of UK Capital Radio top executives announced earlier this week (See RNW Dec 22) most of Chrysalis Group's directors took home considerably less in the 2004 financial year according to the company's annual report which has just been published but the head of its radio division saw payment of a long-term incentive take his overall pay was up more than fourfold.
Chairman Chris Wright's total, which included no bonus compared to a GBP 50,000 (USD 90,000) bonus a year earlier, saw his pay fall 8.7% to GBP 316,000 (USD 583,000). Wright holds a 26% stake in Chrysalis.
Chief executive Richard Huntingford who also had no bonus this year compared to one of GBP 163,000 (USD 202,000) a year ago, ended up with GBP 395,000 (USD 708,000), down 22.2% on a year earlier.
Radio division chief executive Phil Riley saw his pay drop 19.5% to GBP 342,00 (USD 603,000) from GBP 425,000 (USD 762,000) as his bonus fell 59.5% to GBP 68,000 (USD 122,000) but had the consolation of payment of a long-term incentive of GBP 1.162 million (USD 2.08 million) that had accrued over the past eight-and-a-half years.
Chrysalis says he has put some of this into shares in the company, more than tripling stake from 154,000 shares to 520,000 shares, currently worth GBP 950,000 (USD 1.7 million).
Peter Lassman, who runs the music and books distribution business Lasgo Chrysalis, saw his total boosted by a bonus of GBP 122,000 (USD 218,000) - up 24.5% taking the grand total u- 8.7% to GBP 386,000 (USD 689,000).
The remaining executive director, finance director Nigel Butterfield received no bonus this year, compared to GBP 100.000 (USD 178,000) a year ago, leading to an overall fall of 24.6% to GBP 300,000 (USD 535,000).
2004-12-24: The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has confirmed a USD 18,000 penalty on a Florida AM for failure to maintain operational Emergency Alert System ("EAS") equipment, and failure to make available the required public file documents during regular business hours and has also confirmed a USD 5,000 penalty on an Iowa FM licensee for failure to make available a complete public inspection file during normal business hours.
The USD 18,000 penalty goes to Rama Communications, licensee of WLAA-AM, Winter Garden. Rama had not denied the offences but had argued for a reduction or cancellation on the basis that the violations were technical in nature and did not warrant such a large penalty. Regarding the EAS equipment, it said that a move had caused problems with EAS equipment on WLAA nut not on collocated and co-owned WOKB-AM that shares the equipment. The FCC was not impressed and confirmed the full penalty.
The USD 5,000 penalty goes to Moody Bible Institute of Chicago, licensee of KMDY-FM, Keokuk, Iowa. Moody had not denied the offences for which the penalty is half the base amount of USD 10,000 but sought further reduction on the basis that the problem concerning the documents was not that they weren't in the file but that the station manager for some unaccountable reason was unable to find them, that the public inspection file has now been re-organized and is complete and that it has a history of compliance.
The FCC dismissed the arguments and noted the previous issue of five Notices of Apparent Violation to Moody that were ultimately resolved in its favour but only after Moody took corrective actions. As such, it said there was not a history of compliance.
2004-12-24: The Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) has named Paul Bevan to replace Clive Robertson as its Classic FM breakfast host.
Robertson hosted his last show on December 10 (See RNW Dec 13) and Bevan takes over on January 24.
He moves from hosting mornings on 1233 ABC Newcastle where his place will be taken by Scott Levi. Bevan is a classically trained singer who has for two decades had combined working for the ABC with singing on a semi-professional basis and he said he was "thrilled to be waking up the nation with Australia's biggest classical music breakfast show."
The change is one of a number of moves at the corporation that next year will include Mark Thompson's replacement as the breakfast host on Radio National with current Europe correspondent Fran Kelly.
Thompson has worked on and off for ABC radio for nearly two decades including a six year spell hosting its current affairs programme AM until 1994 when he joined Radio National as host of both its breakfast and AM shows. He has hosted the Radio National Breakfast show for eight of the last eleven years but opted to resign when the Corporation would not meet his requests for more flexible working.
ABC's Triple J is also changing its breakfast team next month when Jay and The Doctor move from their Saturday Afternoon show to take over from Adam Spencer and Wil Anderson on January 17.
The Corporation has already changed its NewsRadio breakfast host: There John Barron took over from Russell Powell, who moved to Drive Time after ten years in the breakfast slot. He is also responsible for NewsRadio's website.
Previous ABC Australia:
2004-12-24: Houston sports host Charlie Pallilo has won his latest court battle against Infinity to stay on air at Clear Channel's newly launched Houston sports station KBME-AM (See RNW Dec 18).
State District Judge Randy Wilson refused for a third time to grant a temporary injunction requiring Pallilo to abide by a six-month "non-compete" clause in his Infinity contract.
Martin Wickliff, representing Infinity, had argued that a non-compete clause remained in place even after Pallilo's two-year contract with Infinity's KILT-AM expired in September.
Pallilo told the Houston Chronicle, "It's a fair ruling, and I'm happy with the outcome" but Infinity's Houston general manager Laura Morris said they had lost "on a technicality and not on the validity of a non-compete."
Wickliff added that Infinity would consider an appeal to the 1st or 14th Court of Appeals in Houston.
Previous Clear Channel:
Houston Chronicle report:
2004-12-23: After Clear Channel and Infinity, Entercom is now facing maximum indecency penalties from the Federal Communications Commission, which is proposing a penalty of USD 220,000 on two of its Kansas stations.
The penalty is made up of the maximums USD 27,500 for each of four broadcasts on the "Dare and Murphy Show" transmitted by KQRC-FM, Leavenworth and KFH-AM, Wichita.
The broadcasts were aired in April and May 2002 and resulted in an anonymous complaint supplied with audio tapes: Entercom in response to FCC enquiries said it did not have its own recordings but argued that even if the material was broadcast as alleged it was not indecent under FCC rules since the first broadcast complained about does not depict or describe sexual or excretory activities or organs; the second and third are not patently offensive since both segments are either open to harmless, non-sexual interpretations or are presented in a non-explicit, non-indecent manner; and the fourth is presented in an oblique manner that lacks an unmistakable sexual meaning.
The FCC, which released transcripts of the segments, disagreed in all four cases: It said the first broadcast termed "Naked Twister" that featured local strippers as contestants dwelt on descriptions of female genitalia and breasts in an explicit and graphic manner and included references to sexual activities and sexual arousal.
The second segment, which featured an interview with "pornographic film actor Dave Cummings," said the FCC, "dwells on descriptions of sexual activities, including anal intercourse, in an extremely explicit and graphic manner" including one female having intercourse with one actor whilst performing fellatio on another. It commented that the sexual references were "not made as part of a clinical discussion, but rather as a promotion for Dave Cummings' movies."
The third segment involved another porn" actor", Ron Jeremy, talking about "sexual activities and organs in an explicit and graphic manner" including his ability to "self-fellate" and also about the films of another porn actor Rocko Vincente.
On this the FCC said Entercom's "argument that the segment does not have an inescapable sexual meaning, or is not indecent based on precedent, is patently unpersuasive much of the discussion graphically describes sexual activities, such as the interviewer's comment that the porn star's sexual organ was so large that he could "self-fellate." "Given the explicitness of the conversation, Entercom's argument that the segment did not have an inescapable sexual meaning is disingenuous, to say the least. Finally, the discussion is in no way clinical, but is lewd, and we conclude that the stations aired the material to titillate, shock, and pander to the audience."
Regarding the fourth segment, it said the material, "a broadcast of a pornographic film actress being masturbated to orgasm on-air with a vibrator, dwells on descriptions of sexual activities in an extremely explicit and graphic manner While the broadcast does not use specific terms for the sexual organs involved, the specific activity depicted is obvious, and the surrounding commentary leaves little to the listener's imagination."
The FCC also gave short shrift to Entercom's argument that the popularity of the station meant it did not breach 2contemporary standards, pointing out that the primary purpose of the regulation was to protect children and noting that the criterion related to the "average broadcast listener" not that of listeners to a particular station or in a particular market.
Separate statements concurring with the decision but saying that the station could have found multiple violations and assessed a larger fine were issued by Democrat Commissioner Michael J. Copps and Republican Commissioner Kevin J. Martin.
FCC News release re proposed fine: (MS Word document).
2004-12-23: UK Authorities have waved through the Capital-GWR merger, opting to accept undertakings, primarily the sale of a Capital station in Nottingham, to allay competition concerns rather than refer the matter to the Competition Commission.
In a statement, Vincent Smith, the Director of Competition Enforcement at the Office of Fair Trading (OFT), said, 'Except in the East Midlands, the radio stations of Capital and GWR do not strongly overlap at a local level. So for national advertisers putting together a radio advertising package they are largely complementary rather than competing alternatives."
"However, the merger would result in a substantial lessening of competition in the East Midlands. The parties have offered to divest Century 106 FM to address the identified adverse competition effects."
In the East Midlands, Century's coverage area overlaps that of with GWR stations Ram in Derby, Trent in Nottingham, and Leicester Sound.
Media regulator Ofcom is also adding conditions to a number of licences held by the new company.
In Bristol and Bath, where GWR FM in Bristol and Bath FM currently provides separate weekday breakfast services for each area, a condition will be added to the licences saying these must continue.
A similar condition will be written into the licences of MFM/Buzz Wrexham and Chester FM, which also currently have separate breakfast services.
The decision was welcomed by both companies in a joint statement and GWR Executive Chairman Ralph Bernard said, "When we announced our merger we set out the benefits for listeners, advertisers and shareholders. This is a merger of two complementary businesses that will strengthen the UK radio industry and we are very pleased that OFT and Ofcom are satisfied that it can proceed."
Backing him up Capital Radio Chief Executive David Mansfield said, "We are delighted with this decision, which follows a constructive dialogue with the OFT and Ofcom. This is good for listeners and for the radio industry. We look forward to working with our new colleagues at GWR to effectively integrate our businesses and create a commercial radio champion for the digital age."
The deal surprised many analysts who had been expecting a referral to the Competition Commission with consequent delays of up to a year: They now expect the pace of radio consolidation in the UK to speed up.
The approval of the deal means that anticipated savings of some GBP 7.5 million a year for the merged group will start coming into effect earlier than had been expected.
On the stock market Capital shares ended the day up 5.88% at GBP 4.32 and GWR ended up 4.96% at GBP2.54 but overall radio stocks remained static and those of Emap, seen as the group most likely to move first in further consolidation fell 1.28% to GBP8.07 and those its anticipated target Scottish Radio Holdings (SRH) remained static at GBP 9.15 against the background of a FTSE 100 rise of just under 1%.
Emap holds 27.8% of SRH, just under the maximum allowed before it has to make a full bid, but until January 16 would have to pay GBP 9.30 a share, the price at which it bought the stake in January this year. Thereafter its bid would not be restricted although analysts assume it would have to pay a sizeable premium.
2004-12-23: Australia's commercial radio industry has welcomed the Federal Government's announcement that it is to begin the process for the introduction of digital radio.
The Minister for Communications, Senator Helen Coonan, said the Government would undertake a consultation process for the development of a policy and regulatory framework for the introduction of digital radio and Joan Warner, chief executive officer of industry body Commercial Radio Australia commented, "We are very pleased to see a focus at Ministerial level on this important issue for radio. It is heartening to see the Minister taking digital radio seriously and moving forward on the matter."
She added, "The industry has made its position clear. We are 100 per cent behind the introduction of digital technology because it will allow radio to compete more effectively in a changing and more demanding media environment, and to provide the innovation that consumers expect there are still issues to be resolved to the industry's satisfaction on spectrum access and an adequate and sensible no new entrants' period."
Commercial Radio Australia has also announced that a competition it organized to design a digital radio receiver of the future has been won by a 22-year-old University of Western Sydney (UWS) student.
Bobby Lowe's Personal Digital Sound Communicator is designed to allow it to clip onto a belt or put into a pocket for listening with headphones and it can also be attached to a docking bay to connect to home audio systems and also to the internet where it can be programmed to automatically download defined daily updates. The cocking bay also acts as a charger.
Lowe received a prize of AUD 1000 (USD 760) plus a digital radio receiver.
Previous Commercial Radio Australia:
2004-12-23: Twin Cities' public station KBEM-FM, Jazz 88, is facing the worst fiscal crisis in its 34-year history following Minnesota Department of Transportation's decision to cancel its annual USD 400,000 contract with the station to provide traffic reports according to the Minneapolis-St Paul Star Tribune.
The paper quotes KBEM's director of marketing and business development Kevin Barnes as saying the amount is half the station's operating budget and added that it would respond by looking at measures ranging from staff cuts to increasing the number of pledge drives. KBEM currently raises around USD 300,000 from two pledge drives a year.
The station is licensed to the Minneapolis school board and operates out of North High School. It provides a service of hourly news updates from area schools as well as its jazz broadcasts and also serves as a training ground for 150 students who go through North's broadcast communications program each year.
Star Tribune report:
2004-12-23: South Africa's commercial radio industry is expected to perform strongly next year according to the Country's Sunday Times, which says consumer spending is expected to remain strong and that easing of ownership restrictions, expected to be passed in Parliament's first session next year, could stimulate consolidation.
Proposals made to the government in May this year by the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa) included raising the limit on foreign ownership of commercial radio stations from 20% to 25%, and limiting a single entity to owning no more than 35% of all licensed commercial radio stations and controlling no more than two stations in overlapping licence areas.
The paper notes that consolidation of the industry took place this year following the break-up of the Nail (New Africa Investments Ltd) media empire.
Nail, one of one of South Africa's first dedicated empowerment companies, owned both newspapers and commercial radio stations Jacaranda 94.2fm, Kfm and Kaya FM.
Primedia bought an effective 92.2% interest in KFM from Nail and an additional 30.5% stake in Highveld radio, at the same time helping its empowerment partner, the Mineworkers Investment Company (MIC) to finance an increased stake, taking Primedia's stake in Highveld to 85,8%. Earlier this month it announced it would acquire Nail's direct and indirect stakes in Kaya FM and loans to P4 Radio in Cape Town and Durban.
In August Nail sold 42.5% of its shares in Jacaranda FM, held through New Africa Broadcasting (NAB), giving Kagiso Media (through Naledi Jacaranda Investment Holdings (Pty) Ltd, which holds the licence) a 60% interest in the station.
Kagiso chairman Eric Molobi said in the group's annual report that Icasa's recommendations if made law would "undoubtedly foster investment in the media industry, specifically broadcasting" and added that the Icasa paper represented, "opportunities for growth in our core area of business radio broadcasting."
Figures from Pricewaterhouse Coopers have shown that radio advertising in the country has grown strongly over the past five years, up 16.4% in 1999 and up 32.4% in 2000 followed by a 2.1% decline in 2001 before rising 19.6% in 2002 and 10.9% last year. It is projected to rise 13.9% in 2004 and by a further 28% by 2008.
South Africa Sunday Times report:
2004-12-22: The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has proposed a USD 8,000 fine, twice the standard amount for the offence, on Clear Channel's chart/pop WKQI-FM, Detroit, for airing a phone conversation without giving notice of its intention to do so to the other party involved.
The penalty related to a call to the prayer hotline for the Word of Faith International Christian Center in which a personality from the station, allegedly pretending to be a female caller, asked the volunteer who answered for a prayer.
The volunteer was suspicious that the call was a prank but complied with the request with her supervisor monitoring the call: The organisation was subsequently informed by one of its members that the personality involved personality had broadcast his expressed intention to call the prayer hotline, and subsequently aired over the station his conversation with the volunteer.
When contacted about the matter Clear Channel said the person involved no longer worked for the station and nobody had any recollection of the call. It does not keep recordings and said it had no records relating to the matter but tried to argue that, since the complaint had come from someone other than the volunteer, that person could not say whether consent had been given.
The FCC notes that Word of Faith subsequently filed an additional statement of its volunteer who received the call and said no consent was given and that the caller never identified the call as from a radio station or advised that or that the conversation was being broadcast or recorded for a future broadcast.
Previous Clear Channel:
2004-12-22: The top executives at UK Capital Radio each got pay rises of around a fifth in the year to September according to figures in the company's annual report just published.
Chief Executive David Mansfield's pay will increase by 23% to GBP 601,000 (USD 1.1 million) including a GBP 168,000 (USD 301,000) bonus - it is still below the GBP 700,000 (Now USD 1.25 million but then around USD 1.06 million) he was paid four years ago.
Operations director Paul Davies gets a 22% increase to GBP 357,000 (USD 640,000) including a bonus of GBP 93,000 (USD 166,000).
Below him in the remuneration stakes, finance director Peter Harris gets a 24% increase to GBP 321,000 (USD 575,000) this year, including a GBP 87,000 (USD 156,000) bonus; and commercial director Linda Smith gets a 19% increase to GBP 318,000 (USD 570,000) with a GBP 85,000 (USD 152,000) bonus.
The increases were set under group and personal targets and performance criteria that have not been made public. The group's shareholders will vote on the remuneration policy at the company's Annual General Meeting on January 25.
Capital is still awaiting regulatory approval of its merger with GWR and the company says the merger was one of the factors in calculating pay.
2004-12-22: Adelaide station 5DN, the oldest commercial station in South Australia, is to be replaced by a sports talk format under a deal the owners of the station, Australian Radio Network (ARN), has made to lease its licence to Melbourne-based Sports Entertainment Network (SEN).
5DN was established by the Hume family and began broadcasts from their then home on August 11, 1924. Around a third its staff including breakfast show hosts Anne Wills and Jeff "Sundo" Sunderland will be out of work after the change to SEN 1323, which is due next month.
5DN now has a classic hits cum talk and sport format and ARN says it reluctantly concluded that the station did not fit its network strategy.
2004-12-22: The 760-foot (293 Metres) high tower for Clear Channel's KFI-AM that was destroyed at the weekend when a couple in a rented Cessna crashed into it was an "infamous landmark" that could be difficult to see in some conditions and was a menace to flights approaching Fullerton Municipal Airport according to the Los Angeles Times.
The couple died in the crash but nobody else was hurt in the accident that took the station off the air for around an hour and KFI general manager Greg Ashlock told the paper that he was unaware of specific complaints from local pilots. Clear Channel has not yet decided whether to rebuild the tower, which dates from the 1940s.
Fullerton Airport manager Rod Propst told the paper of the tower, "It's in the charts, but it doesn't look as big of a deal as it is. You see it when you're about to hit it" and added local pilots have long wished the owners would add strobe lights to the tower, in addition to the flashing red bulb on the structure.
Ashlock said the tower, which it bought from Cox Enterprises four years ago, had all the lighting required by the FAA and Federal Communications Commission.
Previous Clear Channel:
Los Angeles Times report:
2004-12-21: US radio revenues in November were up 4% on a year ago according to figures just released by the US Radio Advertising Bureau (RAB) which notes national advertising up 7% on a year earlier and local sales up 2%: Overall spot figures were up by 3% and non-spot Radio revenue grew 7%. .
RAB's Sales Index, which equates pre-dot com base year 1998 to 100, was a combined 126.6 for November whilst the local sales index was 126.4 and the national ad sales index was 126.7.
Year to date combined spot and non-spot revenues are now up 3% on a year ago made up of flat national figures and a 2% increase in local advertising.
RAB President and CEO Gary Fries said, "We are seeing the predicted year-end stabilization of Radio revenue, as well as indicators for increased activity as we move forward into 2005."
"As the industry embraces new technologies and initiatives, and continues its forward growth momentum in the local marketplace and on the national platform, we expect the Radio business will remain solid and holds significant potential for growth."
Previous RAB & RAB monthly figures (Oct 2004):
2004-12-21: ABC Daytime network held on to its top rank in the Arbitron RADAR 83 (Radio's All Dimension Audience Research) Radio Network Audience Report just released covering the period September 18, 2003 - September 22, 2004 but it again lost audience whilst second and third placed Westwood CBS News Primetime Network and Jones MediaAmerica TWC Radio Network each increased theirs.
Other ratings lower down have been affected by Premiere's reconfiguration of its networks and subsequent inclusion of new networks - Diamond, Diamond Plus, Emerald, Emerald Plus, Morning Drive, Pearl, Pearl Plus, Sapphire, Sapphire Plus and Urban One in the survey. American Urban Networks has also added its STRZ Weekend Entertainment network.
In the top five places, ABC Daytime Network, still in the top slot, lost a further 213,000 listeners a week to end up with a weekly audience of 7.108 million, down from 7.321 million in the RADAR 82 survey and 9.45 million in the RADAR 79 survey; its AQH rating fell from 4.0 to 3.7 to 3.3 to 3.0 to 2.9 over the five ratings.
Second-ranked Westwood CBS News Primetime Network, added 7,000 listeners and ended up with the same 2.5 AQH.
In third place Jones MediaAmerica TWC Radio Network continued a winning streak and added 87,000 listeners and took its AQH up from 2.2 to 2.3.
In fourth rank was Premiere Morn Drive Network with 5.237 million listeners and an AQH of 2.2: This was 287000 more than the former Premier Morning Drive AM network which had an AQH of 2.0 and was ranked sixth.
ABC Morning News Radio Network xb was pushed from fourth into fifth spot as it lost 95,000 listeners and its AQH fell from 2.2 to 2.1.
ABC however had a success story a little further down the ranks as its ABC News/Talk Radio Network jumped from 31st to 7th rank with AQH more than doubling from 0.8 to 1.9 as it added 2,656,000 listeners to reach a total of 4.7 million.
Again as in the past, radio did better among upper-income adults with 79% (unchanged) of adults living in households earning USD 75,000 a year or more are in the network audience each week.
Overall it reached 77% of the 12-34 demographic, 79% of the 35-49 one and 74% of the 50 plus.
Previous Disney/ABC, America:
Previous Jones MediaAmerica:
Previous RADAR & RADAR ratings (RADAR 82):
Previous Premiere Networks:
Previous Westwood One:
2004-12-21: Irish state broadcaster RTÉ may soon be looking for delay equipment after a caller to its Liveline show managed to broadcast the suggestion that Monica Leech, PR advisor to and former election manager for Martin Cullen, Ireland's former minister for the environment, heritage and local government, might have been "'sucking his cock" to earn her pay.
The caller identified himself to host Joe Duffy as from Cork and a member of the Progressive Democrats named "Norman".
The show had been debating Leech's pay and links to the Fianna Fail party - she sat on a panel that awarded a contract to market the country's e-voting system to a consortium with connections to the party and her company has a two-year communications consultancy contract running until February next year.
According to the Irish Independent, Norman first said, "Well, I think Martin Cullen has done a good job. And Monica Leech, for all we know, is not being overpaid at all" and then when asked to keep defending his case continued, "We really don't know what she's been doing anyway. Maybe she's been doing other things for him besides constituency work - maybe she's "sucking his cock."
Duffy cut the call at this point and broadcast an apology on his next show last Friday.
RTÉ said in a statement it "would like to once again disassociate itself from the comments" and apologise for the offence caused" and said the "The caller in question misrepresented himself to the programme and proceeded to make vulgar comments that understandably caused offence to many listeners."
Liveline does not employ a delay system although it says it monitors all calls and has procedures to weed out bogus callers. The Irish Prime Minister will decide this week whether to proceed with a Government-sponsored inquiry into the awarding of the contract to Leech.
2004-12-21: The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has asked the US Supreme Further Court for a further extension to its deadline to challenge the Third Circuit Court's ruling that it has to re-examine its ownership regulations proposed in its proposed new rules issued in June 2003.
Earlier this month the Supreme Court extended its previous December 2deadline to January 3 (See RNW Dec 2).
The FCC has not said it will definitely contest the ruling but is asking until the end of January to make up its mind.
2004-12-20: We start this week's look at print comment on radio with two reports on radio technology, one looking backwards and the other looking forwards, both from the UK Telegraph.
Looking back was Andrew English in a report on the Vintage Wireless Company whose proprietor Alan Marchant restores old radio sets. Even though a traditionalist who was initially hostile to the idea of Digital Audio Broadcasting (DAB) he has now accepted that it is inevitable according to English and is even looking at the possibility of retro-fitting DAB to his restored car radio sets.
He already fits more modern parts into old analogue sets but comments of modifying them to receive DAB, "Fitting the DAB electronics into an existing radio would be fine. The problem would be fitting a separate display to show the station they're tuned into. We've looked at displaying just the station number as a light behind the glass tuning screen, or possibly having a separate, period-style display."
That problem exists with modernising old receivers already, he says, and says of these conversions, "You've got to have FM, but there's always a debate about which station has to be sacrificed. Most people lose Long Wave, but cricket fans and people who tour a lot on the continent prefer to lose Medium Wave."
He is also hopeful that analogue will be retained for a long while, commenting, "People have got lots of radios, they're cheap and the cost of replacement would be huge. It's a far bigger thing than replacing all the television sets with digital ones."
The article also notes that in one way at least analogue in the UK remains ahead of DAB- its time signals are ahead as the processing required for digital delays the signal by anything from half a second to around a second - and that valves still have an advantage over modern semiconductors that has led to continued use in military hardware - their immunity to the effects of electromagnetic pulse blasts.
The article is also noteworthy (see link below) for a selection, complete with illustrations, of Marchant's five favourite car radios and his reasons for favouring them: The sets chosen were made between the 1930s and 1960s and originally priced between GBP 30 and GBP 100 (Now USD to USD 55 to 180) with fully restored prices now running from GBP 300 to GBP 1,500 (USD 550 to 2700).
Looking forward, Marsha Dunstan considered whether, as purchases of digital receivers for home and portable use boom, Britons should yet buy them for automobiles where they typically cost GBP 125 to 300 (USD 225 to 550) compared to a bottom end price of around GBP 50 (USD 90) for a home receiver.
Her answer - not yet but yes when coverage of Britain is good, when receivers are much more simple to operate and when the price goes down considerably. She concludes on an upbeat note saying she has "moved a DAB car radio from that forbidden budget zone of "unjustifiable indulgence" into that of "affordable luxury".
In Korea, as reported by Kim Tae-gyu in the Korea Times, the convergence of cell phones and broadcasting technology is to take a step forward next month when TU Media starts a trial service of satellite digital multimedia broadcasts.
The trial, expected to be of tens of thousands of a new phone, will be free but when the service goes commercial, which is expected to be in May, there will be an initial charge of KRW 20,000 (USD 19) and a monthly chare of KRW 13,000 (USD 12).
The phone, as well as being able to receive CD-quality audio, data, and video (on a 2 inch (5 cm) screen) will also have a built-in 2-megapixel camera. The battery is expected to handle around two and a half hours of use with video. Terminals are also planned for automobiles by the company and other phone companies and manufacturers who are expected to put their offerings on the market later in the year.
And after the technology, a couple of reports relating to content before out suggested listening: The first report is courtesy of Nicola Fell of Voice of America and concerns a radio show broadcast from a mental hospital with patients being the principal participants.
What Fell terms the "talk therapy" show is broadcast by Radio La Colifata, which in Buenos Aires slang means 'Crazy Radio', and originates from the Borda Hospital: It bills itself the first radio show in the world to broadcast live from a mental hospital and has been running for some 14 years, airing for six hours on Saturdays.
Its originator is Alfredo Olivera, a psychologist at the hospital, who, when friends at a community radio station asked to interview him about conditions at the hospital, came up with the idea of interviewing the patients instead.
"I started without any money, without the support of the institution or technical resources," he said. "I simply used a small Dictaphone. I invited some patients to sit around a table and speak about whatever they wanted. The only thing they had to do was, if they wanted to talk, they had to have the Dictaphone in their hand, and when they were finished, pass to another. This, as a concept, already had an element of therapy - the right to speak, and giving the right to another."
Cassettes of those interviews were transmitted on small community stations and attracted so many calls from listeners that they were soon picked up by network radio shows, and eventually, the hospital was equipped with facilities for live broadcasts.
The station is now re-broadcast by local stations across Argentina to an estimated 12 million listeners: It features patients, who give only their first names so as to preserve anonymity (No Dr. Phil here) and their relatives and the content of what is said is used in subsequent sessions with the psychologist.
One of the patients involved, now an outpatient, said of the broadcasts they don't just help patients but also play an important educational role in Argentina where a mentally ill member of the family is often considered shameful.
"It demystifies what the public thinks about mental illness, which many families hide, or are afraid of," he says. "For me, no, I see it the opposite. In my district, everyone congratulates me. I thought they would say, 'Hey look at the crazy guy,' but it is the opposite. They embrace me, and congratulate me for what I do. That makes me feel great. That shows that the people are beginning to understand."
Compared to some US radio hosts, particularly those of the bigoted ranting ranks, that patient seemed to us a model of good judgment and mental health.
Bets known conservative US talk host is of course Rush Limbaugh, who as quoted by Richard Roeper in the Chicago Sun-Times, lacked both the humility and sense of some of the patients.
Talking about the Rumsfeld -armour for US vehicles in Iraq story he said as quoted by Roeper, "Now, I'm not telling you that I'm clairvoyant or anything of the sort. I just thought there was something about the story, just my instincts, I didn't go with this story yesterday because there's something about this that just struck me as odd . . ."
Roeper, accurately, in our view comments of that, "Your instincts are lousy, pal."
He notes," It's true an embedded reporter for the Chattanooga Times Free Press talked with Army Spc. Thomas Wilson before the Q-and-A session and urged Wilson to ask the tough question. That should have been disclosed immediately."
But, as he then goes on, "But Limbaugh didn't know about that on day one. Nobody did. So he ignored a huge story: a worldwide broadcast of a soldier asking a question that flummoxed the Secretary of Defense. Not to mention that soldiers are DIGGING FOR SCRAP METAL TO ARMOR UP THEIR VEHICLES."
"So Limbaugh had his suspicions. Why didn't he talk about the episode and express his misgivings? It wouldn't have anything to do with Limbaugh's blind biases, would it?"
Indeed so. We'd hesitate to say Limbaugh was being dishonest but his 20-20 hindsight was a damned lot better than his foresight or judgment on this occasion.
And then an assessment of the state of US terrestrial radio, at least that in the Bay Area, from Ben Fong-Torres in his Radio Waves column in the San Francisco Chronicle.
He starts his column, "What's up with radio in the Bay Area? Is it worse than ever, or is it as entertaining, useful and valid as it's ever been? It depends on who's talking."
Then after commenting that many listeners believe US terrestrial broadcasts have become bland and noting the other options such as video games, Internet music sights and digital players, he goes on to note, "But there are others who believe that radio still matters, that it's still creative and that, among the various forms of broadcast media, it's still unbeatable for communicating quickly and intimately, for spreading news and information as well as entertainment and advertising messages."
"Unfortunately, " he adds before going on to quote a number of local radio executives about the state of their industry, " for radio, the believers are mostly people who work in the industry."
Amongst those quoted:
Tony Salvadore, senior vice president and market manager for Susquehanna Broadcasting, which has four stations in the market: "Every station in this market is living with 1999 and 2000. The salad days of radio, the dot-com era The last three years have been difficult."
Jack Swanson, program director of the markets top-ranked station, KGO-AM and its sister station KSFO-AM: "It's not just the Bay Area. Around the country we've seen a relatively flat economy since 9/11. Radio always reflects the overall economy."
"The future is iPods and MP3s. It's certainly a problem for the music stations. With news- talk, I'm more optimistic. In terms of age composition, talk radio's no older than it was 25 years ago. At age 35, people seem to shift from music to information."
Swanson was also less than confident about digital being a simple answer, commenting, "You remember AM stereo and quad FM? Radio needs only to consistently deliver unique programming to succeed. It's the software, dummy. It's the talent."
And most upbeat of those quoted, Steve DiNardo, general manager of Live 105 (KITS-FM) and Alice (KLLC-FM): "The fundamentals are that there are still millions of people listening, and there are very few better ways to connect a local advertiser with a local audience that's appropriate for his or her product or service. Radio still feels very relevant to me and to the communities that we're serving."
DiNardo notes that his 15-years-old son spends a lot of time with his I-Pod but adds, "He hasn't given up terrestrial radio, because of the kind of new music it provides, the one-on- one interaction it provides, that kind of thing. The magic of radio is that it's a content provider that's hard for anyone to duplicate."
And of the future and HD radio," "We're very excited about that," says DiNardo. "That's going to quell the notion that radio has become obsolete."
And the programmes we'd recommend this week start with a number related to Christmas but not the kind of material on US Christmas formats: First we'd suggest two programmes from BBC Radio 4 looking at "Christmas Royals", one with a good and one with a bad reputation:
In Let's Hear It for the King of Judaea Terry Jones looked at King Herod's terrible reputation, and considered whether it is really deserved and in Who Was Wenceslas... And Who Decided He Was Good? to be broadcast today at 15:45 (with a repeated next Saturday) Mark Whitaker reveals truths behind the reputation of the 10th century King of Bohemia.
Then on Christmas Eve in Mary, Mary on BBC Radio 2 (22:00 GMT) Fiona Shaw examines the history and importance of Mary, the mother of Christ.
It's preceded at 21:00 GMT by Jakefest: a Tribute to Jake Thackray presented by Victor Lewis Smith a friend of the Yorkshire-born folk singer and entertainer who died on Christmas Eve 2002.
The week also sees other anniversaries including the 50th anniversary of the worlds first successful organ transplant, carried out in Boston when Ronald Herrick donated a kidney to his dying twin, Richard.
The transplant formed the core of Ockham's Razor on ABC National on Sunday (now on the web site) in which medical historian Dr Jim Leavesley told in 15 minutes the story of organ transplants and the longer (1 hour) Archive Hour on BBC Radio 4 on Sunday in which Dr Graham Easton traced the successes and failures of five decades of organ transplantation.
Moving on to fiction and from BBC Radio 4 we start with a Christmas theme in Angelic Hosts, specially commissioned stories about angels in the Afternoon Readings starting today and running to Thursday at 15:30 GMT whilst the Woman's Hour Drama this week (10:45 GMT and 19:45GMT) is Lorna Doone and the afternoon play on Christmas Eve (14:15 GMT) is Agatha Christie's The Adventure of the Christmas Pudding.
And for those who haven't heard it, at 20:00 GMT on Christmas Eve the channel is repeating this year's reworking of the 1963 version of Under Milk Wood by Dylan Thomas featuring Richard Burton as First Voice to keep Burton but replace other actors with an all-Welsh cast including Sian Phillips as Second voice.
For non-Christmas music, Franz Ferdinand fans should try Lamacq Live tonight on BBC Radio 1 (21:00 GMT to 01:00 GMT) and then for those who want Christmas music BBC Radio 4 on Christmas Eve at 15:00 GMT features A Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols from the Chapel of King's College, Cambridge.
It is repeated at 14:00 GMT on Christmas Day on BBC Radio 3, which that later that day at 19:45 GMT has An American Christmas featuring classic and contemporary prose and poetry from some of America's best-loved writers.
And to end with a laugh, BBC Radio 2 on Thursday at 22:00 GMT has It's Been a Bad Week from Steve Punt and Hugh Dennis and BBC Radio 4 at 18:15 GMT on Christmas Eve has the same duo for 45 minutes in the Now Show Christmas Special.
ABC Australia-Ockham's Razor site:
Chicago Sun-Times - Roeper:
Korean Times - Kim Tae-gyu:
UK Telegraph - Dunstan:
UK Telegraph - English:
Voice of America - Fell:
2004-12-20: India now has its first direct-to-home broadcast satellite, DD Plus Direct that provides a free service of 32 television and 12 radio channels.
The service, inaugurated by Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, includes 19 TV channels from state broadcaster Doordarshan, 13 private TV and 12 special radio channels from All India Radio (AIR).
Information and Broadcasting Minister S. Jaipal Reddy said of DD Plus, This is the only free-to-air direct-to-home service in the world. It covers the whole country but for Andaman and Nicobar Islands."
The service comes from Prasar Bharati, the autonomous institution set up by India's parliament to oversee the functioning of the country's state radio and TV broadcasters and to regulate the country's broadcast media.
Also in India, the Indian government has said it is considering proposals to allow news and current affairs broadcasts on private FMs but has not indicated when it will make any decision.
Reddy told the Lok Sabha (the lower chamber of India's bicameral parliament) in a written reply to a question that the Amal Mitra committee had recommended lifting the bar on such broadcasts and that the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) had also recommended that the restriction be reviewed and the restrictions lifted once the security implications of such a move had been addressed.
"The matter is under examination and no time frame can be indicated for final decision," he added.
The second phase of private FM in India is due soon and according to the Financial Press the Bank of Baroda bid for advising the government on its rollout has been ruled out leaving just the State Bank of India and the Punjab National Bank in contention.
The paper says that as well as the financial bids from SBI Caps and PNB Gilts the decision will also depend on the serviced offered and adds that the reason the government chose the merchant banker route was the problems it encountered from the first phase that prompted a series of legal actions.
It quoted an industry source as saying the appointed bank will be expected to evaluate the applications, business plans, and profitability of projects and potential FM operators.
Previous Indian radio:
Previous Prasar Bharati:
Financial Press report:
2004-12-20: A record number of US stations have switched to Christmas formats this year with more than 230 stations having made the move.
Some dozen markets have three stations with the format and many more have two with the reason for the switch according to the Zanesville Times being that listeners like the music, and advertisers like the shopping habits of those who already are in the mood. It quotes Tom Zarecki of New York-based Media Monitors as saying of the reason, "The answer is, it works."
Zanesville has one station using the format, Christian format 92.7 JOY FM which has moved to it for the first time and its station manager Bill Arnett said they'd response had generally been favourable.
"Initially, we did have some of our regular listeners would have preferred we had a mix of our regular music and Christmas music," he said. "We've had a lot of comments about it ... and the majority have been positive."
Zanesville Times report:
2004-12-19: Last week was notable as much for reports on past performance of and future prospects for radio from the regulators as much as for licence decisions with the Federal Communications Commission refusing to set up indecency rules for the US satellite radio broadcasters: The most important licence announcement came from the UK with the awards of two new commercial FM licences.
In Australia, the Australian Broadcasting Authority (ABA) announced the results of its auction of 13 new open narrowcasting licences that fetched AUD 178,000 (USD 146,000- See RNW Dec 17).
The ABA also announced that it has allocated a new community radio licence in Gilgandra, New South Wales to Warrumbungles Community Broadcasting Association Inc (WCBAI), the sole applicant, which is already broadcasting on the frequency under a temporary licence.
It has also announced that in the Upper Murray River area in New South Wales and Victoria, it is proposing to extend and combine the licence areas of the Corryong and Walwa/Jingellic community radio services into a single licence area that would include the towns of Corryong, Tintaldra, Tumbarumba and Walwa/Jingellic.
It says the action is being made following submissions from High Country Christian Broadcasters, which has a temporary community licence for Corryong and Radio Upper Murray, and which has a temporary community licence for Walwa/Jingellic, in response to its draft variation to the Albury radio licence area plan released last month.
In addition it is proposing to make additional FM capacity available for commercial service 2MW-AM, Murwillumbah, New South Wales, to rectify reception problems and, also in New South Wales, to make additional FM capacity available in the Bathurst area to improve the reception of 2BS-AM, Bathurst, at Sofala, Burraga and Blayney and for an additional Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) service in Bathurst City.
In Canada, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC), issued the fifth edition of its Broadcasting Policy Monitoring Report that showed listening down but commercial radio revenues up in 2003 (See RNW Dec 15).
It was also involved in a number lf licensing decision that included (in order of province):
*Approved request for transmitter relocation and antenna height increase allied with a power increase from 50 watts to 1,700 watts for old-time country and country gospel music CIHS-FM Wetaskiwin. The change will move the station from an unprotected low power statues to a protected one and CIHS said it was losing money it needed to power increase to attract advertisers. The application was opposed by the Canadian Association of Broadcasters (CAB) but the CRTC held that the 50 plus audience for CIHS meant it would not compete with existing country format commercial station, CKJR-FM, Wetaskiwin.
*Denied request by unprotected low power Christian station CJLT-FM, Medicine Hat, to change frequency and increase its power from 48 watts to 2,300 watts.
*Approved addition of 50 watts day and night time AM transmitter in Elkford for CJPR-FM, Blairmore.
*Approved use by CKWR-FM Kitchener, of a subsidiary communications multiplex operations (SCMO) channel to broadcast a predominantly Spanish-language radio service.
*Approved frequency change for low-power VF8007 Acton Vale: The change for the 0.6 watts unprotected service is required because the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation has commenced operation a transmitter of CBM-FM Montréal on the frequency VF007 was using.
*Approved a request for French-language ethnic radio X-band station CJWI-AM, Montréal, to broadcast limited amounts of programming in languages other than French, English or an Aboriginal language.
Ireland was fairly quiet but the Broadcasting Commission of Ireland (BCI) has announced a temporary tightening of media ownership regulations in advance of a review of its current Ownership and Control policy (See RNW Dec 18);It also announced that it has now signed a five-year agreement with Rosfm Radio Limited to provide a community radio service for Roscommon Town and its environs.
In the UK, Ofcom has announced the award of the new Blackburn and Edinburgh licences to Blackburn Broadcasting Company Ltd.'s Bee FM and The Wireless Group's Dunedin FM respectively (See RNW Dec 17).
It also announced that it is to investigate a soccer rights deal with the BBC as possibly breaching competition regulations (See RNW Dec 18) and released its "Radio - Preparing for the future" report that proposes lighter regulation for commercial FM and puts forward proposals for development of digital audio broadcasting but says it can see no reason to switch off analogue broadcasts as at present it can see no "persuasive case for digital switch-over in radio. (See RNW Dec 16)"
It also released its latest Broadcasting Complaints Bulletin (See RNW Dec 14).
In the US, the most significant announcement from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) was, as noted, its refusal to set up indecency regulations for the satellite radio broadcasters (See RNW Dec 16).
It also confirmed a fine on Florida AM and refused low-power FM application a waiver in Texas (See RNW Dec 17).
Previous Licence News:
ABA web site:
BCI web site:
CRTC web site:
FCC web site:
Ofcom web site:
2004-12-19: Minnesota Public Radio (MPR) has now announced details of the programming it is to put on its new FM station that takes over from former classical format stations WCAL-FM/KMSE-FM, which it has bought from St. Olaf College.
In its PR-speak: " The new station 89.3 FM-will present a diverse mix of music for listeners who have grown up in the digital generation", by which it presumably means younger listeners.
MPR senior vice president for cultural programming and initiatives Sarah Lutman said of the station, "Radio is both widely available and the perfect portable technology to support our lively music scene today. Our staff will be hanging out in clubs, searching the Internet, reading the music magazines and streaming music from around the globe to find the best music for you. We're going to take the work out of finding music, and put the fun back in. "
She also said the station would use the strength of MPR's newsroom to provide, "News updates, appearances by local newsmakers, and features like film and book reviews [that] will make the station the single best place to find out what is happening musically, and in the community at large."
Steve Nelson, 32, currently MPR's production manager has been appointed program director for the station and commented, "Welcome to the anti-format," said Steve Nelson, the new program director for 89.3 FM. "Music listeners don't categorize themselves into narrow niches and stay there. They listen to more kinds of music than ever before. And much of what they want is not currently available on radio in the Twin Cities."
The new station will use the call letters KCMP and MPR says it will feature musical artists ranging from local favourites such as Mason Jennings, The Replacements, Olympic Hopefuls and The Jayhawks to modern icons such as The Postal Service, Lucinda Williams, Alejandro Escovedo, Joni Mitchell, U2 and the Arcade Fire while artists such as Chet Baker, Johnny Cash and Ella Fitzgerald will creep in periodically [RNW comment this is presumably a sop to the older audience and with the emphasis on local artists a feature to differentiate the station from being too much like an adult album alternative format.].
2004-12-19: Chrysalis-owned LBC is being re-vamped in a move that is seeing a number of veterans depart as the station tries to move its audience towards a younger demographic. The station has lost audience over the past year and in the latest ratings its audience had fallen behind that of rival talk station BBC London.
Leaving the station are former BBC TV newsreader Angela Rippon, who has been LBC Arts Correspondent since Chrysalis bought it; former Classic FM breakfast host Henry Kelly, who was LBC drive time host, and whose show is to be hosted by Daisy Sampson, the political reporter; and Brian Hayes, whose Friday to Sunday late show is to be hosted by Iain Lee, of RI:SE and The 11 O'Clock Show.
Rippon's weekend show will be replaced with a "best off" show culled from breakfast host Nick Ferrari's previous week's shows.
Remaining with the station but being moved to an earlier slot are Clive Bull, whose show moves from 22:00-01:00 to a 20:00 to midnight timing and Steve Allen, who moves to host the early morning 05:00 to 07:00 breakfast show to replace Sandy Warr who will remain at LBC but whose new role has not been announced.
Also moving slots is Peter Deeley who is to host the weekday overnight show: His weekend overnight show goes to Marcus Churchill.
2004-12-19: New-York headquartered Sirius Satellite Radio has announced that it is to establish studios in Los Angeles early next year. They are to be in the Swinghouse studio facility in Hollywood.
Sirius already has studios in Houston, Texas; Nashville and Memphis, Tennessee; and Daytona Beach, Florida, as well as New York and Sirius Programming EVP Jay Clark commented, "Along with New York and Nashville, Los Angeles is a world-class talent Mecca," said Clark. "This moves SIRIUS another step forward in developing the greatest national audio entertainment platform available."
Sirius says shows likely to be come from the new facility will include the Los Angeles-based talk show The Young Turks and shows hosted by celebrity athletes Tony Hawk, Kelly Slater, Kerri Walsh and Bode Miller, and Viva La Bam creator and star Bam Margera.
2004-12-18: UK media regulator Ofcom has announced that it is to investigate a deal by the Football Association (FA) in which national rights to the broadcast of FA Challenge Cup matches were sold as a single package to the BBC.
The Wireless Group had alleged that the agreement is in breach of either the Article 81 of the European Treaty, which relates to competition, or the UK Competition Act: It has claimed in a complaint to Ofcom that:
*the agreements between the FA and individual clubs are anti-competitive in that they prevent individual clubs from offering for sale on a national basis the radio rights to matches in which they participate;
*as the only supplier of broadcast rights, the FA is able artificially to fix prices and create a high barrier to market entry;
*by offering for sale only four matches per round the FA is restricting supply;
*the exclusive sale of national broadcast rights to the BBC prevents competition in radio broadcasting markets for four years; and
*the agreement regarding the sale of rights with the BBC has the effect of unnecessarily tying the purchase of the rights to unrelated individual matches to one another.
Under agreements controlling the competition, the FA holds exclusive rights to sell broadcasting rights to all the games: It is currently selling local radio rights via the clubs to local stations, both BBC and commercial, but for the national rights it invited bids for various rights packages or a global bid for all rights.
The BBC won the global rights that are the subject of the complaint by the Wireless Group and Ofcom says on the basis of a preliminary examination of the complaint and subsequent discussions, it has concluded that there are reasonable grounds to suppose that there could have been a breach and it believes that it should launch a formal investigation.
Wireless Group Chief Executive Kelvin MacKenzie earlier also attacked the BBC over UK Premier League rights where he alleged that the BBC overpaid vastly for the rights - offering GBP 39 million compared to his company's GBP 2.6 million offer. He launched a bilious attack on the BBC and BBC Radio Five Live Controller Bob Shennan over the rights (See RNW Sep 28). The Premier League denied that the deal was anti-competitive (See RNW Sept 14) and the Wireless Group said it was going to take this matter to the EU.
RNW note: The issue of sports rights is a thorny one in Europe and in August it was reported that the European Commission had ruled that when the Premier League's current three-year GBP 1 billion (USD 1.9 billion) television deal that gives Sky exclusive live rights ends in 2007, the Commission will ensure that at least one other broadcaster will also be able to screen live matches, a ruling that it is estimated could reduce the value of the rights by 10% to 12.5%.
As we commented in relation to the Premier League case, the issue here seems to us primarily one relating to the sporting bodies rather than the broadcasters, who make bids on the basis of rights offered.
As always the lawyers seem to have thrown a metaphorical kitchen sink and cutlery into their complaints portfolio - the final complaint for example seems a little rich in describing games in a particular competition as unrelated but we suspect there'd be quite a few paupers amongst lawyers were there a bar on abuse of normal meanings of language. There does, however, seem to be logic in the argument that where there is a sole supplier that supplier can artificially inflate prices - an argument it would seem logical to us should also apply in relation the holders of many patents from Microsoft to drugs companies. Perhaps MacKenzie should really take on the big issue and try and get patents and copyright heavily restricted!
Previous Wireless Group:
2004-12-18: A number of US radio hosts have been signing off this week, mostly quietly but much more noisily in the case of Citadel-owned Classic Hits KQOB-FM (BOB-96.9 FM) co-host (with Ron Benton) Lisa Mirick, of the breakfast " Lisa and Ron Show".
According to a police report on an incident at the start of the week, Mirick broadcast extended segment filled with cursing and criticisms of her colleagues and employer. The report also said station employees had said she appeared "intoxicate" at the time and one employee said that prior to the incident, Mirick went into the audio booth and said she was going to "unload on the world" and quit her job.
Police have said they will not be filing any charges and Citadel Operations Manager Chris Baker told the Oklahoman that Mirick was still employed by the station and added that they were "waiting for the dust to settle to assess our options.".
The station web site is still listing the show and Benton on the show the following day said the "door is open for getting this worked out."
He denied that he had attempted to get Mirick fired as she had alleged during her tirade in which she termed him a "snake" and commented, " when she showed up at the studio, she said she was going to expose me as the no good S.O.B. that I am. I split for obvious reasons and left the building."
After that start other moves were much more calm. Another Citadel host, Larry Ahrens who had been at its KBOB-AM, Albuquerque, for almost 25 years stepped down on Thursday after negotiations on a new contract had broken down.
Ahrens was quoted as saying he was disappointed and a Citadel spokesman said the parting was amicable.
In Houston, Paul Berlin signed off from his morning show at Clear Channel's KBME-AM after 54 years on air in the city. KBME is moving from adult pop to a sports format from Monday.
Berlin moved to Houston in 1950 aged 19 after two years on air in Memphis where he had been fired from an overnight job after falling asleep on air according to the Houston Chronicle.
Berlin, now 74, told the paper, "I put on a (recording). Fourteen minutes, 30 seconds, this thing would play. I thought I'll knock out 14 minutes sleep. I put that on at 6 (a.m.) Sunday. At 7:50 a preacher would come in and preach. He woke me up. I felt like I was in the Twilight Zone. I look at the record going round and round, and I know I'm in a lot of trouble. From 6:14 to 8 a.m. it was dead air."
The station manager who fired him, however, helped him get a job at KNUZ-AM in Houston he was soon doing a morning and afternoon show, ranked Nos. 1 and 2 in the ratings and he stuck with Houston despite other offers.
Commenting on the messages he had received since the format change was announced, Berlin told the paper, "Somebody they identify with is leaving and for a reason they don't think is justifiable. What they don't understand, it's all about big business, about the bottom line. Advertisers want the pizza and Pepsi crowd, because they can twist their minds."
Also out of a job in Houston are veterans Jim Carola and Pat Hernandez who were laid off by Infinity-owned KILT-FM as part of planned cutbacks in the station's news operation.
Carola, who is 63, said he and Hernandez were told the station is to drop afternoon newscasts in an effort to improve its standing in the competitive Houston radio market.
"The ratings have not been good, and we were the last, as far as I know, full-service news department at a music station in Houston," he told the Houston Chronicle.
Carola joined KILT in 1964, when he was a junior at the University of Houston, and became news director in 1970. He was public-address announcer for Super Bowl VIII at Rice Stadium and filled the same role at Oilers games for 28 years, missing only one game in 1987 after an appendectomy. He is PA announcer for Texans games at Reliant Stadium.
The KBME switch to sports has also led to a court battle in Houston. Infinity is going to court on Tuesday to ask for an injunction prohibiting Charlie Pallillo, who formerly worked for KILT, from working for Clear Channel until May next year.
Pallillo's contract with KILT had expired on August 31 before he agreed to join KMBE but the station claims that despite this its non-compete clause with him remains binding.
The paper says District Judge Randy Wilson has twice denied Infinity's requests for a temporary restraining order that would keep Pallilo from working for Clear Channel's KBME, which launches at midnight Sunday with its new all-sports format, or KTRH (740 AM), for whom he has worked since Nov. 22.
Pallilo's attorney, Brian Zimmerman, said in court documents that the no-compete is unenforceable, over broad and unreasonable" under Texas law.
RNW comment: Non-compete clauses always concern us since, except for the top star names, the broadcaster always has a significant edge. We feel the best option where states do not forbid such clauses would to be at least add a clause that allows a judge where such clauses are subsequently ruled out to have the option of declaring the broadcaster in such cases an unfit employer to enforce any such agreements it has, thereby tempering any inclination to go to court and providing an effective check if the broadcaster pushes things too far.
Houston Chronicle report re Berlin:
Houston Chronicle report re Carola/Hernandez:
Houston Chronicle re Pallilo:
Intruderalert report and blog re Mirick:
KOBTV, Albuquerque report re Ahrens:
2004-12-18: Infinity Broadcasting, which has been saying for some time that it was likely to sell some of its smaller stations, has now started the disposal process with the sale of two Baltimore AMs.
Gospel WBGR-AM and Christian Talk & Teaching WBMD-AM are going to religious broadcaster Family Stations Inc. for USD 7.5 million.
The sale leaves Infinity with four FMs and an AM in Baltimore.
2004-12-18: The BBC is claiming a significant success for its experimental launch of an MP3 download service for the Radio 4 "In our Time" programme that, allied with a "podcasting" service allowing the programme's automatic delivery to computers when posted on the Radio 4 web site resulted in 70,000 downloads in a month.
This compared with around 50,000 downloads over ten weeks for the Corporation's first trial of such downloads earlier this year with the Reith lectures.
Overall says the BBC, 6.5 million unique users visited BBC its radio websites in November, compared to 5,867,362 in October and 3,975,089 a year ago with BBC Radio 1's Chris Moyles breakfast show overtaking the usually top-ranked Radio 4 farming soap The Archers as the most popular show for online listening.
The BBC attributes this in part, the BBC says, to interviews with Destiny's Child and (Sir) Elton John [the last of which was notable for and widely publicised in relation to swearing by the singer (See RNW Nov 9)].
Moyles' Show was listened to 395,299 times in the month with The Archers following behind in second place with 363,376 and Radio 1's The Official Chart Show in third rank with 210,037. Radio 1 took seven of the top ten slots, Radio 2 took one and Radio 4 took two.
In all the BBC says it received 7,097,178 listening requests during November with on-demand listening running to 4,141,315 hours and live listening to 6,164,511 hours: The figures a year earlier were 5,747,441 for requests (5,747,441 for October this year) and 1,911,399 hours (4,063,378 hours for October) and 4,595,586 hours (6,095,204 hours for October) for listening.
The figures for October were most notable for one million 'on demand' listens to Radio 4's Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy.
In its terrestrial services, the BBC has announced that for the first time BBC Radio 3 is to clear its schedules for six days starting on June 5 next year to devote its output to broadcasting the entire works of a composer: The "Beethoven Experience" broadcasts will range from symphonies to his settings of Scottish, Irish and Welsh folk songs and regular presenters will guide listeners through Beethoven's music, with additional contributions from artists led by Alfred Brendel, Sir Roger Norrington and violinist Peter Cropper of the Lindsay Quartet.
In addition actor John Hurt will read the composer's letters and John Suchet will read extracts from his trilogy on Beethoven's life - The Last Master.
As well as recorded works the week will feature live performances including performances from the Lindsay Quartet and a Beethoven cycle from the BBC Philharmonic and Gianandrea Noseda plus a special performance of Wellington's Victory that will be presented "in an unusual, although appropriate, location."
BBC Radio 3 controller Roger Wright said of the planned week, "This innovative approach to programming that Radio 3 can uniquely deliver builds on the award-winning success of our special evenings and seasons such those dedicated to Berlioz, Walton, Janacek and Dallapiccola."
"Our listeners have huge loyalty, curiosity (and stamina!) and want to be taken further in their search for knowledge," he added.
Wright said the BBC would follow up with other events including a broadcast of the complete works of Webern in one day marking the 60th anniversary of his death and exploring the complete works of J S Bach at the end of 2005.
2004-12-18: The Broadcasting Commission of Ireland (BCI) is to tighten up its ownership restrictions on an interim basis in advance of a review of its current Ownership and Control policy that is to start in March next year.
It says it is taking the action to prevent further consolidation of broadcasting in the Republic until the new policy is brought in.
The current rules permit one investor to own 15% of the total number of commercial sound broadcasting services licensed before triggering regulatory action and then require an applicant to justify a holding up to 25%. More than 25% is regarded as "unacceptable."
The new rule reduces to 17.9% the percentage above 15% when an applicant would have to justify a holding and says more than 17.9% - the current largest holding - would be unacceptable, save in exceptional circumstances.
2004-12-17: A UK High Court judge has thrown out a case against radio ratings company RAJAR (Radio Joint Audience Research) by the Wireless Group (TWG) alleging that it had abused its dominant position by not switching to electronic methods of audience measurement.
Mr Justice Lloyd in a ruling that the group has said it would not appeal [RNW comment: In fact the ruling virtually closed the door on any appeal] said the "court must allow undertakings to take business decisions on normal commercial bases and in a normal way".
The allegations made about RAJAR's decision not to proceed to use electronic measurement after initial testing of two meters, he concluded, "simply do not correspond with the facts which are not disputed, and do not address an essential part of the question which the Defendant had to face, namely, if it was to favour an audiometer system, which of two should it choose."
He added, " when the true nature of the decision is considered, in the context of facts which appear to be undisputed and indisputable , I find it impossible to see how that decision could be said to be an abuse of a dominant position, as lacking objective justification."
He ordered the Wireless Group to pay RAJAR's costs, some GBP 400,000 (USD 738,000) , of which GBP 225,000 ( USD 403,000) is to be paid by January 6:In all, with its own costs, the case is estimated to have cost the Wireless Group around three quarters of a million pounds (USD 1.35 million).
Following the ruling RAJAR managing director Sally de la Bedoyere said the organisation had been "vindicated and we are delighted. We have always strongly refuted TWG's accusation and considered this case to be without foundation, as well as an utter waste of time and resources. Today RAJAR has been proved right. It is good news for the radio industry and RAJAR, which has had to endure wholly unwarranted allegations against it over the past few years."
RAJAR is jointly owned by the BBC and British commercial radio companies and in a joint statement Jenny Abramsky, director, BBC Radio and Music and Paul Brown, chief executive, Commercial Radio Companies Association (CRCA) said, "We are delighted this case has been rejected. RAJAR represents, skilfully and honestly, the interests of more than 300 UK radio stations. That their time and resources have been sidetracked by legal challenge in this way has been unfair to other subscribers. The whole industry must now move forward without delay in order to meet the timetable to a new research contract published by RAJAR in September 2004."
Wireless Group chairman and chief executive Kelvin MacKenzie was unrepentant about his action and threatened further legal action should RAJAR fail to introduce electronic measurement system by thee target date it has set of 2007 for the introduction of a new measurement system.
"If they fail to do so, I will have no hesitation in starting fresh legal action," he told the UK Guardian. "RAJAR's declared commitment to meters means that the argument to retain diaries is over."
He also claimed, but gave no evidence to back up the claim, that his group's legal pressure had pushed RAJAR into releasing "roadmap" for change in September last year.
RNW comment: As indicated by our comments so far, we have taken the position that has ultimately prevailed from the beginning of this case and thought the case against RAJAR to be ludicrously weak. Our only regret is that the system was not able to render a judgement to stun MacKenzie into silence for a while - particularly since this news came on the same day that his group got a bonus of millions through winning the new Edinburgh FM licence - see below.
Previous de la Bedoyere:
Previous Wireless Group:
RAJAR news release:
UK Guardian report:
2004-12-17: The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has confirmed a penalty of USD 7,000 imposed on WCVC, Inc., licensee of WCVC-AM, Tallahassee, Florida, for failure to effectively fence its antenna structure.
WCVC admitted that part of the fence around its antenna structure was down but argued that it did not wilfully violate the Rules and sought cancellation of the proposed forfeiture.
The FCC has also refused to waive its rules and permit late changes to an application by Angelo State University (ASU), San Antonio, Texas for a low-power FM licence.
The application in June 2001 proposed a transmitter site 9.8 kilometres (five miles) from that of a first-adjacent channel full-power FM station KMDX-FM and the rules require eight times this separation.
ASU subsequently requested in June 2002 a channel change to avoid the spacing conflict but to be considered this required a waiver of rules as it was a major change and the request was outside the filing window for the licence.
The Commission found that ASU had failed to provide sufficient reasons to justify a waiver but in a concurring statement Democrat Commissioners Jonathan S. Adelstein and Michael J. Copps whilst agreeing that the rules justified the decision said, " our action today prevents the University from contributing to localism, diversity and competition on the airwaves in the San Angelo community."
They suggested that "To promote the broadest use of the spectrum, we should consider granting additional flexibility or opening another filing window for the many schools and other non-commercial entities that, like Angelo State University, want to offer new low power FM radio services wherever possible."
2004-12-17: UK media regulator Ofcom has awarded the new commercial FM licence for Edinburgh to The Wireless Group's bid which faced competition from 11 other bids (See RNW Sep 25) and that for Blackburn in Lancashire to Blackburn Broadcasting Company Ltd.'s bid against competition from three other bids (Also RNW Sep 25).
The Edinburgh licence goes to Dunedin FM, a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Wireless Group, and is to be a speech-based station: It's frequency is subject to international agreement on radio spectrum usage and Ofcom notes that the exact coverage area will depend on the location of the transmission site and other technical characteristics.
The Blackburn licence went to Bee FM: Its owner Blackburn Broadcasting Company Ltd. is owned by Two Boroughs Radio Ltd (32.5%) and The Radio Business Ltd (32.5%), with the balance of the shares held by eight individuals.
The Bee will provide a full service radio station for Blackburn, Darwen, Accrington and surrounding areas with a high profile and significant resources given to local news and information.
Previous Wireless Group:
2004-12-17: The Australian Broadcasting Authority's auction-style offering of 13 new open narrowcasting licences has raised a total of AUD 178,000 (USD 146,000) with the highest single bid being of AUD 44,000 (USD 36,000) for a licence in Darwin East from Gumnut Nominees Pty Ltd.
United Christian Broadcasters took the most licences - eight at a total cost of AUD 79,000 (USD 65,000) including the second highest bid of AUD 24,000 (USD 20,000) for a licence in Albany, Western Australia and 3UZ Pty Ltd spent AUD 38,000 (USD 31,000) to win three licences.
2004-12-17: Four English teenagers have each been jailed for ten years for killing Birmingham, UK, DJ Tushar Makwana. The Sony award winning Heart FM host chased burglars who had kicked in the door of his home to steal the keys to his car and tried to open the door of their getaway car as it drove away but was thrown to the ground and suffered serious head injuries (See RNW Feb 13).
Brett Frewin and Matthew Jeffrey, each aged 17, and Michael McGuire and Ashley Cooksey who are 18 all pleaded not guilty to the DJ's manslaughter but were found guilty of the charge and other charges laid against them: Frewin pleaded guilty to two charges of burglary; Jeffrey pleaded guilty to robbery and two counts of burglary; McGuire pleaded not guilty to one charge of burglary and another of robbery and Cooksey pleaded not guilty to two counts of burglary.
They each received ten-year sentences for manslaughter and seven years, to run concurrently, for the other charges.
Jailing the teenagers, all from Castle Vale, Judge Mr Justice Hunt told them: "But for you a good and brave man would be alive today."
He said it had not been determined who was at the wheel of the car, although he thought it had been Cooksey. He told the four he accepted Jeffrey had shown remorse but said McGuire showed "no regret" and had "smiled and joked" in the dock whilst Frewin had a "long history of offences." He suggested Cooksey had stepped "out of his league" after it had been claimed he was an " apprentice" to the others.
The four will be on licence for a further 4 years and were told they won't be released until two-thirds of their sentences have been completed and if they re-offend within the 14 years they will go back to prison for the remainder of their sentences.
The 37-years old DJ had three children aged from two to seven and speaking after the verdict his widow Deepika said, "I applaud the jury's verdicts. Justice has been seen to be done and I hope this sends a message to the people who commit these types of offences Tushar was a brave man protecting his home and family. He was loved by all who knew him. I would like to thank all those who have shown their support."
Birmingham Post report:
Heart FM report:
2004-12-17: Toronto-based CHUM is to concentrate its efforts on integrating acquisitions already made rather than chasing new targets although it will make "selective" acquisitions if opportunities arise according to its chief executive Jay Switzer.
He also re-iterated to the company's Annual General Meeting the view already made public (See RNW Nov 7) that, although the company saw a business opportunity in subscription radio, its plan for a Canadian terrestrial system (CHUM Subscription Radio Canada - CSRC) in conjunction with Astral Media that would "offer a truly Canadian alternative" to US-based satellite services would not be viable should both satellite bids that have been made in conjunction with Sirius and XM also be granted licences.
CHUM's main acquisitions over the past year have been of TV station owner Craig Media and of Seacoast Communication Group's two radio stations in British Columbia (See RNW Jan 27): It also won a new licence for an urban-format in FM Edmonton in partnership with Milestone Media (See RNW Apr 6).
Switzer told the meeting that the year had been "extraordinary" for CHUM, which was "poised for consistent sustained growth " and had delivered strong performance and growth in both radio and TV.
2004-12-16: UK media regulator Ofcom has followed the BBC (See RNW Dec 14) in saying that analogue radio should not be switched off in the near future in a document "Radio - Preparing for the future" just released that also proposes lighter formal regulation of commercial radio but requiring local stations "to maintain a file stating the extent to which they have complied with their respective format and localness requirements."
On digital radio it says this "offers significant benefits to both broadcasters and listeners, including greater choice, enhanced services such as on-screen programme information, ease of use and reduced audio interference" but it says that, unlike the case for TV where "one of the main drivers of digital switch-over is that it allows for the analogue spectrum to be freed-up for other valuable uses" this is not currently the situation for digital radio.
It adds that there are "no significantly profitable uses foreseen for released FM or AM spectrum, other than more broadcasting, so the benefit of switch-off of the analogue signal is relatively low Costs of digital switchover, on the other hand, would be significant, given the early stage of development of the market; consumers would need to buy new digital receivers to replace their analogue receivers and multiplex operators would most likely need to build out transmitter coverage more broadly. In addition, there is currently no route for smaller commercial analogue stations or community stations to broadcast in digital."
It concludes, "[Therefore,] we do not believe that there is at present a persuasive case for digital switch-over in radio."
As regards regulation, although it is proposing a more market-driven approach, Ofcom says that although there may be less grounds for regulatory intervention as digital take-up progresses and more services are available to all listeners "even then, we believe that the market alone would not deliver all that citizens and consumers expect of radio."
In the 165-page document, which is partly one of consultation on various aspects of radio: These include:
*Its proposals to use formats as the primary tool of regulation for analogue commercial local radio.
*Allowing a licensee to base its studio outside its measured coverage area but, except for exceptional circumstances, inside its licensed area.
*To allow stations to network as they wish, outside of the requirements regarding locally made programming specified in their format.
* To remove all specific limits on the use of automation. although Ofcom says that if this proved to be detrimental to the overall quality of radio services, it might reconsider whether specific limits on automation should be reintroduced.
* To consider the case for allowing any group of stations to operate news hubs in any way which makes operational sense for them subject to ensuring the provision by local radio stations of a high quality news service, including local and national news to the extent required by each station's format.
*To introduce a system of self-reporting by stations, to ensure that they can demonstrate how they have met their commitments. This would consist of a format and localness file available to the public both on the station's website and as a hard copy upon request at a station's studios. Ofcom says it would still investigate stations, following complaints by listeners and competitors and also carry out spot-checks on stations to ensure they are complying with the terms of their licence and are following the localness guidelines.
Its proposals in terms of advancing digital radio, says Ofcom, will be technology neutral but it will seek international agreement to allow transmitters to be built in border and coastal areas and to allocate a further three blocks of VHF Band III spectrum to fill-in the gaps in local digital radio
coverage. Together with existing unused spectrum, it says, this would allow for all parts of the country to be covered by at least one local digital radio multiplex, to provide local services.
Ofcom says it is not economic for all smaller stations to broadcast on DAB digital radio, even with
more spectrum, and proposes to work with the industry to find ways for those smaller commercial and community stations that wish to broadcast on digital platforms, which may not be terrestrial DAB, to do so. It notes in this regard that spectrum for digital radio is limited on digital terrestrial TV platforms.
Ofcom has not ended plans for the allocation of analogue frequencies and it has now identified ten additional medium wave frequencies, each of which could be re-used in more than one area) which have development potential for new community radio or local / regional commercial services. Alongside its current community licensing process it s inviting those who wish to make a case for new commercial AM licences, or existing AM licensees who wish to improve their coverage, to sent it letters of intent so it can "make an equitable allocation of
frequencies between the two sectors."
Ofcom "Radio - Preparing for the future" (RNW note: This is a 2.16MB 165 Page PDF. As well as the proposals being made, it carries a wealth of documentation on the history of British radio and current information about stations and their coverage).
2004-12-16: In good news for the satellite broadcasters in general and Howard Stern in particular, the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has refused the petition from Saul Levine of Mount Wilson Broadcasters (See RNW Nov 29) to amend US satellite radio regulations to include a similar "indecency" provision to that in effect for terrestrial broadcasters.
In a letter to Levine, FCC Media Bureau chief Kenneth Ferree notes that both the services are provided on a subscription basis, that under "existing case law, the Commission does not impose regulations regarding indecency on services lacking the indiscriminate access to children that characterizes broadcasting" and continues, "The Commission has previously ruled that "subscription-based services do not call into play the issue of indecency Your petition does not provide a basis to revisit that determination."
"Based on these precedents and pursuant to Section 1.407 of the Commission's rules, we decline to grant your rulemaking request."
RNW note: This decision seemed to us inevitable and even if the FCC had decided otherwise we think the courts would have thrown out any such indecency provisions for subscription services.
2004-12-16: Commercial radio in Australia increased its listening in 2004 by 0.6% with the demographic showing strongest growth being the 25-29 group for which the growth in average audience was nearly 3%.
Analysis of ratings for the year by Nielsen Media Research for the nation's five capital cities surveyed throughout the year - Adelaide, Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth, and Sydney - shows that listening to commercial radio by the 10-plus audience in Australia last year averages 18 hours 58 minutes a week and that the medium reached 82 per cent of them in an average week with most listening at home (48%) then in automobiles and work (25% each) with the remaining 2% divided across other listening. Commercial radio's average quarter hour (AQH) over the year was 1.24 million.
Revenues shown in the Pricewaterhouse Coopers Radio Revenue Performance figures were up 12 per cent on a year ago for the five main metropolitan markets in November to AUD 56.7 million (USD 43.3 million) with five months year to date figures up 13.5% to a AUD 253 million (USD 193.3 million).
Commenting on the figures, Commercial Radio Australia chief executive Joan Warner said, "The radio industry has recorded one of its strongest years on record for advertising revenue highlighting the success of the industry's $40 million marketing campaign and other initiatives aimed at boosting awareness about radio's effectiveness The industry's job for 2005 is to build on this success and ensure continued growth for radio in what will be a very competitive media environment."
Previous Commercial Radio Australia:
2004-12-16: Salem has launched its news/talk format on KNTH-AM in Houston and moved its Christian Talk and Teaching station KKHT to FM. The switch follows a swap of two of its stations for four from Univision that allows Salem to move its syndicated News/Talk format into both Chicago and Houston (See RNW Oct 5).
In other US radio business, the New York Times Company has named Tom Bartunek, currently general manager of its classical music radio station, WQXR-FM, which is being integrated into the company's news services division, to the newly created position of president of New York Times Radio. He will retain his current role and in his new role will also be in charge of WQEW-AM, the company's Radio Disney station.
2004-12-15: The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) in the fifth edition of its Broadcasting Policy Monitoring Report just released says commercial radio in the country had revenues of CAD 1.189 billion (USD 962 million) in 2003, up 8% on a year earlier, but notes a decline in overall listening.
This fell to 19.5 hours a week compared to 20.2 hours a year earlier and 20.5 hours in 1999 - with a much steeper decline in the 12.17 demographic where fell to only 8.5 hours a week from 9.4 hours a year earlier and 11.3 hours in 1999.
There were 1,139 licensed terrestrial radio services, 853 of them English language, 260 French language, and 26 in other languages.
In the commercial sector there were 199 AM stations of which 172 were English, 18 French and nine other language plus 386 FMs of which 298 were English, 80 French, and eight other languages as well as 37 network licences - 26 English and 11 French and 58 digital transitional licences of which 42 were English, nine French and seven other languages.
There were also 81 Community stations - 32 of them English, 48 French and one other language; plus 49 campus stations - 43 English and six French; 46 Native stations - 40 English and six French; 56 religious stations - 31 English and 25 French; and 124 other stations in categories such as tourist and environmental services - 107 English, 16 French and one other language.
The 1139 total also includes 85 Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) analogue and network licences - 52 English and 33 French and 18 CBC digital licences, nine each in French and English.
On top of the above 16 services are delivered by Audio Broadcasting Distribution Undertakings (BDUs), five in English including two pay-audio services, and 11 in other languages
The report also includes figures to illustrate the diversity of media ownership and services available: For the three largest markets - Montréal, Toronto and Vancouver - the combined total of owners in 1991 was 63 and had fallen by 2003 to 59 (19 to 23 in Montréal; 29 to 21 in Toronto; and an unchanged 15 in each year for Vancouver): Services available in the same period rose from 123 to 162 (35 to 50 in Montréal; 49 to 68 in Toronto; 39 to 44 in Vancouver).
There was also an increase in available broadcast services in three mid-sized markets that were examined, those of Halifax, Québec and Winnipeg.
The largest groups have seen an increase in their share of listening from 53% to 64% in the five years from 1998 to 2003 but at the very top Corus saw its share drop from 17% to 16% from 2001 to 2003, second-placed Standard took its share up from 7% to 12% during the same period, and third-ranked Rogers took its share up from 8% to 10%.
In revenue terms over the same period, Corus's revenue share fell from 19% to 18%, Standard's share rose from 9% to 14% and Rogers' share was up from 12% to 13%.
From 2002 to 2003 English-language FM revenues rose 935 and for the same period AM revenues rose 2.6% giving a combined 7.4% rise whilst French FMs increased their revenues 12% and French AM revenues were up 0.8% to give a combined rise of 10.4%. In the same period total revenues for ethnic radio increased 4.3% from 2002 to 2003.
The report also notes increases in profit margins before Interest and Taxes during the period from 15.9% to 19.3% - from 24.3% to 25.8% for FMs and from a negative 6.6% to a positive 0.6% for AMs.
In format terms, the most popular English-language commercial formats were Adult Contemporary with a 17.1% share from 137 stations; Classic/Mainstream Rock with a 14.1% share from 57 stations; Country with a 12.9% share from 93 stations; News/Talk with an 11.2% share from 28 stations and Hot Adult Contemporary with an 8.2% share from 28 stations.
The top French-language commercial formats were Adult Contemporary with a 29.6% share from 36 stations; Mainstream Top 40 /CHR with a 23.7% share from 14 stations; News/Talk with a 10.8% share from 9 stations; Classical/Fine Arts with a 6.6% share from 14 stations and then each with a 3.8% share Classic/Mainstream Rock (9 stations) and Modern / Alternative Rock (2 stations).
CRTC report (730 KB, 140 page PDF):
2004-12-15: Devices using radio frequency for automobile audio use have been running into problems on both sides of the Atlantic with the iTrip, a small wireless transmitter for the I-Pod that allows its songs to be received on any nearby radio breaking European regulations because it uses the licensed FM band and a Canadian device being developed as an emergency signalling service running foul of the US National Association of Broadcasters (NAB).
The iTrip, made by Griffin Technology, is legal in the US and many parts of he world and is easy to obtain in Europe via sources such as E-Bay although the Apple iTunes site in the US refuses to ship it to Europe.
In the UK, anyone one using it could potentially face jail as well as a large fine for creating what is considered a "pirate" station in law, although the regulator Ofcom says it is unlikely to be harsh on individuals who had purchases the device although it would be tough on anyone selling it.
In the US, the device at issue is a system that allows emergency vehicles to alert cars via radio receivers when an emergency vehicle needs to get by Alert Devices International Corporation is one of three companies developing such systems and it has asked the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to rescind its request to sell the device while it re-designs and re-tests it in Canada.
The NAB is objecting to the device because it blocks a radio signal to transmit the alert and says in a filing to the FCC that the device's "purported purpose to alert motorists of approaching emergency and public safety vehicles, is a laudable goal, but it is far from clear that its proposal is the best means of achieving that goal."
NAB also objects that ADI has not publicly released its technical specifications for the device and adds that it is unable to alert drivers not tuned into AM/FM radio and there is no record to support the idea that motorists would safely pull over when they heard the alert.
2004-12-15: Clear Channel's New York WWPR-FM (Power 105) has re-jigged its line-up ahead of the arrival of former Emmis WQHT-FM (Hot 97) morning team Star (Troi Torain) and Buc Wild to take its morning slot on January 17. The team were taken off-air by Emmis in March 2003 but prevented from moving to another station in New York in a non-compete clause in their contract (See RNW Oct 1).
Former morning host Ed Lover is now hosting afternoons solo - his morning partner Monie Love is moving to "another radio market where she may head up her own morning show" according to Program Director Michael Saunders who has also put Cherry Martinez in the 6-10 p.m. shift and weekend personality Malikha Mallette into overnights.
WWPR was fourth in the summer ratings in the 18-34 New York demographic with a 7.7% share compared to 10.3% for top-ranked WQHT and Clear Channel has spent heavily in an attempt to take over the hip-hop market in the city.
When at Emmis Star and Buc kept ahead of lover and they haven't officially been named as the new morning team: WWPR is labelling the new morning line-up "The Most Powerful Switch in New York History" but Saunders told the New York Daily News of Star and Buc, " it's not exactly a secret" they're coming Star has already shown he has incredible appeal in the New York market."
Of Lover, who has been with the station since it switched to Hip-Hop in 2002, he commented, "We're delighted to keep Ed. He's a significant part of this plan. When you think of New York hip-hop, you think of Ed Lover."
Previous Clear Channel:
New York Daily News report:
2004-12-14: The BBC in its "vision for the future of DAB digital radio" has said that although it wholeheartedly backs the technology, the British government should not be considering switching off analogue transmissions in the near future and also slaps down the suggestion that current DAB technology should be replaced by newer systems.
It dismisses other digital delivery such as satellite and terrestrial TV platforms and the internet as complementary to digital audio broadcasting (DAB), commenting, "Only DAB digital radio is a robust broadcast technology that is effective in mobile, portable or static environments, capable of cheap, mass production and of integration into a variety of devices. DAB replicates radio's analogue strengths while extending them through digital technology.
At the same time, it says about the suggestion of a digital switchover date, "The BBC believes that it would be undesirable and impractical to set a date now."
"Despite our commitment to DAB digital radio as the replacement technology for analogue radio, we contend that the conditions, namely accessibility, affordability and take-up, are not yet in place for switchover. Therefore, to set a date when the path to switchover lacks definition could unsettle the market and risk causing consumer concern."
"However, we do recognise the value of a switchover date so the BBC recommends that government review the situation again in three years to allow the entire industry time to address the issues impeding switchover. This second review could therefore be conducted with a view to setting a switchover date supported by a set of realistic targets."
It recommends that the review consider "the affordability, accessibility and take-up of DAB digital radio and aim to reconcile the differing needs of all stakeholders, including UK citizens" and that in advance of it a "joint industry plan for the digital migration of the entire UK radio sector should be agreed."
"This plan," it says, "should ensure that, before switchover, analogue provision is matched and no participant in the radio sector is left behind. Any such joint industry plan should include the consideration of spectrum, coverage, receivers and consumers as well as the role of long wave in a national emergency."
The BBC also recommends that the British government promote a pan-European approach to DAB and says it would encourage UK commercial radio to redouble its efforts to persuade its continental counterparts of the benefits of DAB, alongside the BBC's activities and combine this with liaison with trade partners in the consumer electronics and automotive industries.
On spectrum it is recommending that government release up to five blocks of Band III spectrum for DAB digital radio for use by the entire radio industry so as to allow complete migration of all radio sectors including the BBC, all commercial services and community services with enhancement of the audio quality of BBC and commercial services and data enhancements for them.
Noting the current strength of radio in the UK with listening rivalling TV viewing and exceeding time spent on the internet it says, "Radio's core strengths - its secondary nature enabling people to pursue other activities while listening, its portability, its intimacy - have helped it to withstand the coming of age of television and the internet and to continue to hold its place in public affection."
It adds that most UK households have "between four and five analogue radios of differing size, functionality and price" but says radio has "no room to grow in analogue."
"For radio to be the only medium with its ambition capped by technological constraints," comments the BBC, "would be to diminish its appeal to the production and presentation community that nurtures creativity within it; ultimately, this would reduce radio's standing with its audiences."
The submission also takes had-on suggestions made, notably in Berlin, that the current DAB system would be better replaced by later technology: "It might be assumed,"comments the BBC, "that some of the recent advances in audio compression technologies, which are enhancing internet delivery, could also enhance DAB, although this would not be compatible with existing receivers."
"Such technologies do hold the promise of even greater spectrum efficiency but it should be noted that the value of spectrum is not solely derived from maximising its theoretical capacity for content delivery. It is also derived from the use actually made of the content it carries and the commercial and public value placed upon this content by its users. Therefore, it would be misguided, in our view, to damage DAB's momentum and the growing value of the services it offers purely in pursuit of notional spectrum efficiency, which could only be attained by starting radio's digital journey all over again."
"DAB is already a mature technology, which fully meets the core requirements of a broadcasting system and remains highly spectrum efficient in this fuller sense of the term. Therefore, the BBC believes the Eureka 147 DAB standard remains entirely suited to the delivery of radio in the 21st century. While supporting any backwardly compatible improvements that technology might yield in the future, the BBC believes that radical, incompatible changes would neither serve the interests of listeners, nor meet the aims of those who, like the BBC, seek to use spectrum efficiently."
The BBC notes that the take-up of DAB in the UK has been tied in to both the provision of extra services - it says "wider choice [is] consistently cited by digital radio owners as the main reason for buying sets - and major falls in price from a situation where sets were around GBP 500 (USD 900) to GBP 2,000 (USD 3,600) and few were sold to a situation where they are the best selling receivers by value and that are currently nearly 50 manufacturers producing more than 100 models for the UK market with prices starting at GBP 50 (USD 90).
"There are DAB digital radios in every product segment," it says, "from personal stereos and micro systems to clock radios and "boomboxes". The only exception is the mobile phone market, where FM radio chips integrated into the latest handsets are becoming widespread but where DAB chips in mobile phones and handheld computers are still at the prototyping stage."
It sounds an optimistic note on developments as manufacturers offer receivers that can pause or rewind live radio, store it as MP3s for later listening or transfer to a computer, and offer data services and says the technology is well placed to make further strides with the next big boost expected to come when auto manufacturers offer DAB as an option with a new vehicle since, although there are improvements in conversions, replacing existing car radios with DAB sets is often made awkward by the navigation systems installed in many of the latest models.
It also comments on the benefits of additional data services that can be provided - its mentions its local and national regional LiveText supplied by Unique Interactive and consisting of news headlines, sports results, weather and travel news- and of an electronic programme guide (EPG) for radio.
"The EPG is, in our opinion," says the BBC, "likely to become central to the way in which services are accessed in future. An EPG could become as valuable to digital radio listeners as it is to digital television viewers and, together with enlarged storage capacity in receivers, enable the automatic capture of content The BBC is particularly interested in this functionality as it will extend the value of public service content by enabling more people to access it than are able to at the time of transmission alone."
RNW comment: This submission as well as its primary UK evaluation is also interesting in its comment as to why DAB has not been as successful in Europe as in the UK and also in its comments on the US policy of using iBiquity's HD in-band-on-channel system that does not allow for the same additional services and Japan's policy of Japan basing all digital broadcasting on a common ISDB83 standard capable of delivering radio, television and data to fixed and mobile receivers (Pages 27 and 28 of its submission). The full document is worth downloading for anyone interested in the subject.
BBC submission (52 page, 610 KB PDF):
2004-12-14: Both of the US satellite radio companies, Sirius and XM, will join the NASDAQ-100 index, which is comprised of the 100 largest non-financial stocks listed on the exchange, from next Monday, a move welcomed by each company.
Sirius CEO Mel Karmazin commented, "The addition of SIRIUS to the NASDAQ-100 underscores the confidence afforded to us by our institutional and retail investors. It's also a testament to the efforts of our dedicated employees who have created the finest satellite radio product. Our goals are to further expand our relationships with our auto partners, widen our availability at retail, advance our consumer technology, and continue to develop compelling programming."
Singing from a similar hymnbook, XM President and CEO Hugh Panero commented, "We are honoured to be included in the NASDAQ-100 and listed among the leading technology companies in the world. This is a significant milestone for our company and a testament to the extraordinary work of our people who have made XM the market leader in satellite radio."
In other satellite radio moves this month, Sirius is to add two more hosts, Hollywood actor, executive, and producer Robert Evans, and Leslie Gold (The Radio Chick).
Gold, probably as well known for her breasts as her radio work - she was featured on a New York billboard unclad from the waist up, with a man's hands covering her breasts and was also known for tossing a bra onstage at Kathie Lee Gifford during a taping of The Late Show with David Letterman- was formerly with WNEW-FM and WAXQ-FM in New York. Less well known is her success in gaining an MBA at Harvard and then growing a window-treatment company into a multi-million dollar enterprise that she sold for a healthy profit before moving into radio.
Her 10am-2pm ET show is to debut on Sirius's Talk Central channel on Jan. 10 next year whilst Evans is to anchor a weekly "In Bed with Robert Evans" show that is due to debut with a special on St Valentine's Day and will contain his thoughts on life, Hollywood and women in ways he says are not likely to be broadcast on The Disney Channel.
Both Sirius and XM have also announced further developments in their relationships with automobile companies: GM, an XM shareholder, says it has now signed up its one millionth XM customer and Toyota has said it is to offer Sirius both as a post-production and dealer-installed option in nine models from February next year and also that it is to offer XM as a dealer-installed option in additional vehicles - it already offers them in ten - and will offer XM as a factory-installed option from 2006.
XM is also to supply satellite delivered data services for Toyota, Lexus and Scion vehicles.
2004-12-14: The UK media regulator Ofcom upheld one fairness complaint against radio and one standards complaint against TV with two other TV cases considered resolved in its latest programming complaints bulletin: This compares to one radio case upheld and three considered resolved with four TV cases upheld and one considered resolved in its previous bulletin.
In addition it listed with no details listed 226 TV complaints relating to 183 items and 20 radio cases relating to 20 items that were held to be not in breach or out of remit: This compares to 208 TV complaints involving 157 items and 11 radio cases involving 11 items in the same category in its previous bulletin.
The radio complaint upheld was against GWR's 2CR-FM, Bournemouth, and The Graham Mack Breakfast Programme: The complainant felt he had been treated unfairly when he called to complain about the use of the term "rat's arse" and the presenter not only failed to address his complaint but recorded the call and later broadcast it as a "live" exchange without his permission.
Because he could hear a record playing in the background, he had believed he was off air when he repeated the words he had considered offensive.
The station argued that the number called was the on-air line, not the station reception and, although it accepted that Taylor had not realised his call would be put to air, argued that to call the on-air line implied consent to broadcast of the call.
Ofcom held that insufficient warning was given during the station's "on-hold" announcements that a call might be subsequently put on air and that both the use of the call in the circumstances and the berating of the caller for the complain rather than addressing it were unfair.
Previous Ofcom Complaints Bulletin:
2004-12-14: The inaugural winners of new Australian radio advertising awards, The Siren Awards, have now been announced. Overall winner and winner of the Radio Campaign category for its Victoria Bitter campaign was a team from George Patterson Bates (Melbourne) whilst the Radio Single award went to 141 Worldwide (Sydney) for its Lost Chicken Helpline for Malibu.
Head judge, Jonathon Kneebone from Glue Society said good radio commercials were hard to ignore and an audience instinctively knew when something was worth listening to. "The winning commercial was the idea that was the most sure of itself. It engages you within a second. It takes you on a ride and it leaves you feeling like it was time well spent, " he said.
"Just as good radio presenters have a confidence that makes you want to lap up every moment when they are on air, so too with radio advertising. You instantly latch on to the confident stuff."
2004-12-13: Although there are still more reports appearing in print about the problems of terrestrial radio than about anything it may be doing to fight back against competitors such as satellite radio, internet audio, and downloaded songs, last week saw articles beginning to appear on terrestrial beginning to fight back.
In Denver, Michael Booth in the Denver Post under the headline "Denver radio stations launch battle to win back listeners" listed a cut in advertising and a return to streaming as tools in the fight.
"Local and national executives," writes Booth, "endorsed a brutal late-fall report by Paragon Media Strategies in Lakewood that tracked 'precipitous declines' in time-spent-listening, a key radio measure" - down 15% over the past decade according to the report.
Joel Burke, program director at KYGO's country 98.5 FM, told the paper he worries about the drop in listening in the 12-24 demographic, saying, "That's the big Achilles' heel right now," Burke said. "With all the options, radio is not that cool, hip thing."
Burke also referred to the risks of turning into a "dinosaur" medium, commenting that overloading AMs with adverts in the 70s "opened the door for this new thing - called FM."
His station, he said, is to return to streaming its signal after spending time sorting out artist royalty issues, advertising models and other challenges.
More internet may boost some stations although comments from George Bundy, who offers Internet radio services and portals through BRS Media in San Francisco, indicated it might be a little late.
"The fat cats in earth radio are just beginning to wake up to the fact they are losing people to other mediums," said Bundy. His favorite example is Christmas music where he said people don't know where to find the service on local radio yet once they find it on the internet, they listen to Christmas-only streams for "hours and hours." [RNW comment: As with satellite radio, there would seem to us to be a danger here for terrestrial radio in that once people have made a move away from a service they are much more difficult to regain than they would have been to retain.]
One of the ways in which terrestrial radio might combat satellite is via an improvement in technical quality through the use of digital transmissions and in one US city, significant progress has been made: In Detroit 14 stations are already using iBiquity's HD system according to a report in the Detroit News by Nick Bunkley.
Bunkley gets straight to the point, writing, "Give old-fashioned radio credit for hanging on as the digital revolution brought us CDs, DVDs, iPods and HDTV. But with consumers filling their vehicles with new entertainment options and flocking to satellite radio for commercial-free programming, southeast Michigan radio stations are quickly realizing they have to adapt in order to survive well into the future."
The problem HD has is that, as with digital radio in other areas of the world for most of its existence, few people have heard of it and even fewer can receive it: "I think there's about six people in Detroit that can listen to it -- me being one of them," said Ken Wallace, chief engineer for the three Detroit stations owned by Radio One Inc.
The advantage it has, apart from technical benefits and the potential ability to feed two signals where a station now has one, is that conversion is not very expensive - around USD 100,000 and a few hours work.
Art Timko, general manager of WEMU-FM in Ypsilanti, which became the first Michigan public station to go digital, said they could not afford not to go digital.
"Satellite radio is a real competitor. It's becoming better known and maturing," Timko said. "We've got to be able to offer those same kinds of services. It's just starting out, but it's got a very bright future ahead of it."
The news gives some useful figures on costs: Currently, it reports, a digital receiver costs around USD 800, a figure that could halve as more models are introduced.
There are no fees, of course, but the report points out that even for USD 400 it would be possible to instead purchase a satellite receiver and three year's subscriptions.
That of course, is a route that so far around three million Americans have opted for and continuing feedback in reports from the US suggest that terrestrial radio should be seriously concerned.
Reports on satellite services appeared mainly in the larger US papers at first but now they are frequently in the smaller ones and they are nearly universally favourable, creating a climate in which satellite radio is reported to be almost as popular as a gift item as the I-Pod and its MP3 player competitors.
A fairly typical report we noted, from Charles Emerick in the Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier in Iowa started off by quoting one local satellite radio subscriber, Aaron Ticknor, who dumped commercial radio more than a year ago.
"With radio there's a lot of repetition," Ticknor said. "I can only listen to the radio so much. I need some variety when I'm listening, and satellite radio goes a lot deeper. That's what I like more than anything. And the new songs I hear on the radio now when I'm working, I heard on satellite radio months ago. It's a lot more updated," he added.
He's not alone and the paper quotes a supervisor at Best Buy in Waterloo as commenting of satellite receivers, "It's very popular. Last year we had a hard time keeping them in stock. We had to bulk up our stock in order to keep up with the demand this year."
From Jim Coloff, general manager of locally owned Mix 96-KCVM, came an assessment of where satellite could hit terrestrial broadcasters. "I think it certainly is competition to stations that don't focus on the local community," he commented.
"One problem corporate radios have, I feel, is that they have lost touch with the community. They no longer focus on community events and schools. If all you're looking for is music to listen to, then why not listen to satellite programming?"
He added that some who experimented with satellite radio, mainly those who received it as an incentive with an automobile purchased, quickly terminated the service because it was what they thought it was."
Expressing less concern was Tim Mathews, general manager of The Radio Group, which operates four local stations.
He commented, "I think it's still a novelty item Sirius only has about 800,000 subscribers and XM has a couple of million. I really wouldn't call that a threat to anything, not to commercial radio. And it's not that their product isn't any good, it just hasn't received acceptance."
The problem for terrestrial radio in North America also extends across the border into Canada if William Burrill in the Toronto Star is even partly accurate.
He cites a report from The Bridge Ratings Research Company that showed a rapid switch away from radio.
In the first quarter of this year, 12-to-24-year-olds spent 68 quarter-hours listening to traditional radio and 50 quarter-hours using new media such as MP3 players, Internet radio and the like, it said.
By the second quarter, that ratio was 66-51, and the third quarter 62 quarter-hours traditional radio and 55 new media. The tipping point seems to be September: 56 quarter-hours listening to traditional radio, and 63 quarter-hours using new media. And if that's not enough, the same survey indicates that the 25-to-59 and 35-to-64 age brackets are heading in the same direction.
The report elicited some derision amongst terrestrial radio executives with David Farough, program director for Classic Rock Radio Q-107 FM saying it was "Another anti-radio research study likely commissioned by the print media," and adding, "Let's not forget, 10 years ago there were not as many media choices as there are today, so naturally radio tuning was higher then. It's human nature: when you give people choices, they tend to take them ... at least for a while. Believe me, the kids I talk to on a regular basis (high schools, broadcast schools, etc.) assure me that radio is alive and well."
Burrill doesn't share his view, writing, "Some believe the teen drain is largely due to the large number of channels available through satellite radio. They believe youth are throwing their loyalty and their listening time behind the programming on fixed services such as DMX or Galaxie."
"Many others, this columnist included, believe there are a number of factors that have turned radio into a teen no-man's land. You can start with the iPod and the much less hyped Sony Mps music piracy systems, which can hold up to 10,000 songs."
He backed up his view with a comment from Marc Weisblott, editor of betterlivingcentre.ca, commented, "There are just too many opportunities to express oneself and find cultural identifiers online - music downloads, instant messaging, blogs and journals, but, contrary to the original theory, Internet radio is not much of a teen thing ... those kids never had the chance to connect with radio in the first place so why would they seek out a better version of it? "
"The real opportunity is reaching out to those disaffected grown-ups who haven't found a surrogate for the kind of radio that abandoned them ... that's what satellite radio in the States is trying to be all about and if anyone here knows what they're doing (which they don't), they'd be investing in the bandwidth to create programming and content that connected with the people who once listened to stations like CHUM-FM, CFNY and Q107 to interface with new music and culture."
With all the positive reports abounding about satellite radio, an obvious question arises for some people and the response to it by Matt Krantz in USA Today seems a sound cautionary note.
Asked if this was a good time to invest in satellite radio he responds, "All this interest in satellite radio really reminds me of the early days of the dot-com boom. The names are different, XM Satellite and Sirius, but it's the same old story. Again they're companies that have never made a dime in profit that have big plans and high-tech stories. Since the products are sold in malls and on TV, consumers get really hot on them and are dying to invest."
"So far, investors who have piled into these stocks have done quite well. Shares of both XM and Sirius have gained considerably this year as investors see the number of subscribers increase and the signing of high-profile talent such as Howard Stern. And certainly, as with the dot-coms, these stocks could do well long before any troubles crop up. Optimists may think that satellite radio stocks could be like eBay, which also lost money in the very beginning only to turn into a profit machine."
"The trouble is," he concludes, "since both companies lose money, it's difficult to value them when companies lose money, investors must take a leap of faith. It's no longer an investment, but speculation. And that's OK, if you understand the risks. So, if you think these companies can turn a profit, they might be worth a bet. But if the investment doesn't pan out, you shouldn't be too surprised given the risks."
And a final line on radio business from the Big Picture in a blog in which the question was posed, "What is Radio Selling?" It noted that the response is frequently "advertising" and then went on, "That answer, however, is wrong You are the product. What Radio sells is you. At least, you, as a member of a larger aggregated audience. Sure, it's packaged, demographically dissected, cross-marketed and sold -- but it's still what Radio sells. You may think of yourself as a consumer when you listen to radio, trading your time in exchange for music, news, weather, talk, etc. But that's a false if common misunderstanding. Radio costs you nothing (except time). Advertisers are the actual consumers."
It then went on to say of US radio: "Consider the modus operandi of all consolidators: Purchase assets, eliminate redundant administrative functions, achieve economies of scale. Clear Channel did this - and more -- by firing local program managers, DJs, eliminating formats, and tightening playlists - all of which ultimately reduced the amount of varied music on the radio."
"In effect, they lowered the overall quality and breadth of what they were playing. Equate this to a hamburger chain introducing meat extender. It will certainly lower costs, and increase profits - but only short term. Over time, the patrons of the restaurant simply will stop coming. Revenue slides, repeat customers go away, so the business tanks."
Enough, however of the technology and the finances, what about the content: That's a cue this week to contrast Boston host David Brudnoy whose death we reported earlier in the week (See RNW Dec 11), with some of the much bigger names in radio.
Facing imminent death and a situation of severe pain, Brudnoy elicited respect as a civilized human being.
In contrast, we noted last week that Don Imus received another award. In AlterNet's P.U.-litzer Prizes For 2004 he was named Media Bigot Of The Year for comments on his show the day after Yasser Arafat died.
To quote the citation, "Imus said of Palestinians: 'They're eating dirt and that fat pig wife of his is living in Paris.' After an Imus colleague referred to Palestinians as 'stinking animals' and said 'they ought to drop the bomb right there, kill 'em all right now,' Imus responded: 'Well, the problem is we have (NBC reporter) Andrea (Mitchell) there; we don't want anything to happen to her.' In February, when a civilian Iranian airliner crashed, killing 43 people, Imus reacted: "When I hear stories like that, I think 'Who cares?'" So much for showing the Islamic world we don't see all Muslims as enemies.'
We also took the effort to examine the partisan response of Rush Limbaugh to the questioning of US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld about inadequate armour on US vehicles in Iraq. We don't have and are sure neither does Limbaugh, and sound statistical information on the degree to which the problem initially existed or how much emphasis has been put on remedial measures except that it would appear orders for armouring vehicles are now apparently being stepped up, which would suggest that more could have been done had there been the will.
What we can't accept as honorable if the concern is about the lives of US soldiers is to move the emphasis as Limbaugh has done towards the fact that an embedded reporter suggested the question to the soldier. Nor, we are sure would it have been a tactic used by Brudnoy. Two hosts, who it would seem, must be very valuable to Osama bin Laden but also a cue to our first listening recommendation of the week, which is from the Tavis Smiley Show on Friday on US National Public Radio - Smiley, of course, leaves on Wednesday having chosen not to renew his contract (See RNW Nov 30). In a report on the armour issue LeRoy Woodson, editor of MilitaryWeek.com, had no doubt that there was "unfortunately, considerable substance" to the soldiers complaints, saying the Pentagon had been very slow to adapt to the insurgent's tactics and pointed out that the situation had been very well known for some time among the military unites in the theatre.
Although he accepted that there was not enough production capability in the US he added that details of suitable South African vehicles with the suggestion that the US military could look outside the US for solutions, could also put shuttered US vehicle production lines to military production of such vehicles under licence and added that "every day, every week" people were being lost to trucks being hit.
What sounded like an honest and informed response but it wasn't good news for the US administration.
Nor we suggest would be The Barrier, Sunday's Background Briefing on the Australian Broadcasting Corporation's national network. It's a documentary produced by Eric Beauchemin on Israel's 700 km security fence being built mainly in occupied territory in what is said by the Israeli government to be an attempt to keep out suicide bombers but which has aroused opposition to its route not just from Palestinians but former members of the country's own security forces: The voices of Israel's who make a reasoned case that its route, particularly through traditionally Arab East Jerusalem, can be no long term solution contrast sharply with the voices of settlers whose case is purely that this all the land involved is part of Israel.
A world away and in what might be thought of as the quiet world of British canals there's also conflict as is illustrated this morning (11:00 GMT) on BBC Radio 4 in Tales from the Towpath in which David Akinsanya takes a trip up the Grand Union Canal that runs from the River Thames up to Braunston where it splits into branches that proceed on to join the Birmingham canal network and to the River Soar which in turn links it into the Trent and canals leading further north.
Also on BBC Radio 4 at 15:45 GMT each afternoon this week is Silver Screen Crackers, described as a "festive look at music in the movies" and which features a range that runs from Holiday Inn, the first screen appearance of White Christmas from Bing Crosby to the Muppet Christmas Carol and Mary Poppins.
On a much more serious note Radio 4 tomorrow at 20:00 airs an example of how initiatives with the very best of motives can sometimes go tragically wrong when in Perfectly Poisoned Jane Franchi reports on the sinking of wells to provide clean water for millions of people in West Bengal and Bangladesh. It was assumed that underground water from the Himalayas would be clean and potable but it turned out to be contaminated with arsenic.
And in other health story on Thursday (16:30 GMT) Material World on Radio 4 looks at a revival of the use of maggots to clean wounds - the technique was common until the mid-1940's, died out largely because of the development of antibiotics, and is now being brought back because bacteria have developed resistance to antibiotics.
For drama, we suggest BBC Radio 3 and the Drama on 3 from last Sunday, a production of The Provoked Wife By John Vanburgh (running 100 minutes) and for those who want Christmas music beyond the repeated light and short segments of Christmas formats we suggest BBC Radio 3 next Sunday when from 13:00 GMT to 2000 GMT it airs Christmas across Europe, the annual international celebration from the European Broadcasting Union, with Christmas music from across Europe and North America, starting in Latvia and then moving through Sweden and the Czech Republic before crossing the Atlantic to Canada and then returning to Bulgaria, Belgium, and ending in Germany ( 1 hour from each nation).
Finally to lighten the week, we'd go for comedy at the end with the Now Show (18:30 GMT) from Radio 4 on Friday and BBC Radio 2 on Saturday when, in The Smith Lectures, Professor Arthur Smith welcomes you to the Arthur Smith Memorial Christmas Lecture for Speccy Kids Who Read Books. He guarantees to include all your favourite Christmas clichés.
Big Picture - radio blog:
Denver Post - Booth:
Detroit News - Bunkley:
Toronto Star - Burrill:
USA Today - Krantz:
Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier - Emerick:
2004-12-13: Veteran West Midlands broadcaster Les Ross, who was fired by Saga FM last week, has now agreed to join BBC WM. starting in the New Year according to the Birmingham Evening Mail.
Ross, fired after an Evening Mail report in which he told the paper on Wednesday that he was to quit Saga after he had been offered only a one-year contract at half his existing rate although he had more than doubled the ratings on his Saga breakfast show.
A winner of three Sony Gold Awards, Ross among the ten inductees into the UK Radio Academy's Hall of Fame at the start of the month along with BBC WM's Ed Doolan, the first BBC Local Radio presenter to be inducted into The Radio Academy's Hall of Fame.
He told the paper, "If I had been happy and felt that I had support, I might have stayed for half the money. But I wasn't happy and I feel that if you pay peanuts you get monkeys."
He went on to attack the station, saying, "I don't think the station knows what its target audience is. I can't play the Rolling Stones for example, yet if you go to a Stones' gig these days, the crowd is just a sea of white hair."
He was taken off his show the next day and fired: Saga managing director Phil Dixon told the Mail Ross's audience had in fact gone up only by 31% in his two years with the station, in line with the station's overall growth, and added, "We are disappointed that Les chose to speak to the media about this and clearly we couldn't leave him on air after this breach of our rules."
Dixon said Ross would be replaced with Roger Day until January 4 when Mike Wyer takes over.
Ross began his radio career on BBC Radio Birmingham in 1970, moved to Radio Tees four years later and then returned home to join BRMB in 1976, staying there for 26 years before moving to Saga on a two-year contract running to Christmas Eve this year.
BBC WM manager Keith Beech said: "I am really pleased because I've been keen to get him for years. We shook hands on the deal after your story broke in the Evening Mail and we just need to sort out the paper work - I'd like to think he'll be with us for at least a couple of years."
"Les will start work for us early in the New Year but I've got to work out exactly what he is going to do. He will begin on a weekly show, but will be doing a lot more speech than he has in the past."
Birmingham Evening Mail report:
2004-12-13: Clear Channel in Cincinnati, where it is to switch oldies WSAI-AM to a progressive talk format next month, has confirmed that TV host Jerry Springer is to host a morning weekday show on the station.
The Cincinnati Post, which says the station's call signs are likely to be changed to WCLY, notes that Springer has signed a one-year contract for the show which will also be offered for national syndication by Clear Channel, which, through its syndication arm, Premiere Networks.
The paper opines that Springer could be using the show as part of a campaign to be governor of Ohio and the host admits he is considering a run in 2006, saying, "It's possible. I'm not ruling anything out right now."
Springer reckons his part experience has prepared him well for the show, commenting, "I think I really come prepared for the job. Everything I have done relates to talk radio. I've had the subject matter with politics, I've been a broadcaster and I've dealt with news. I've been an entertainer. This is all good equipment to bring to the job. Whether I can be good at it, I don't know. I'm going to try very hard."
Previous Clear Channel:
Previous Premiere Networks:
Cincinnati Post report:
2004-12-13: The Australian Broadcasting Corporation is not renewing the contract of its Classic FM breakfast host Clive Robertson after three years in the post: It gave him the news just after his show ended on Friday and before the office Christmas Party.
The ABC's national head of music, Kate Dundas, told the Sydney Morning Herald it was a mutual decision and described Robertson as a "restless soul who wanted to move on" but the paper says friends of the 57-year-old broadcaster told it that while Robertson was relieved to be leaving Classic FM, he had expected to be offered an alternative role within the ABC.
Robertson was born in Katoomba in the Blue Mountains in New South Wales and later went to high school in Perth, Western Australia, after his family moved there began his radio career in Albany in Western Australia in 1967. After various broadcasting jobs in the state he moved to Sydney in 1972 and worked with various radio and TV station including a spell with 2GB as drive time then breakfast host between 1992 and 1998, before taking his Classic FM contract.
His ratings on the show have been good but his idiosyncratic style was controversial with some listeners although his brand of humour won him a cult following through much of his career.
The son of a lay-preacher he once told the Australian Salvation Army's War Cry magazine in an comment about his faith, "'God's very funny. His is a very Monty Python, intellectual sort of humour. Imagine if someone asks, 'Are we worth much?' and God answers, 'Oh yes, look at the sparrows. I look after you; you're worth lots of sparrows.' I just think that's a wonderful sense of humour."
He added an evaluation of his own talents, "I'm not a fan of mine, but thank goodness God's willing to forgive all that and he and I have a great time, although I do annoy him a lot, but I think he can overcome that."
His opinions were pithy but not necessarily pleasing -- on the ABC - "took some photos of the staff sleeping yesterday-lovely shots"; on journalists-"dumb; shouldn't be allowed to reproduce" and women - "attractive, but sometimes very annoying", the last a view that could have been applied to the host himself in some people's view.
Previous ABC Australia:
Sydney Morning Herald report:
2004-12-12: There was a steady flow of announcement regarding radio from the regulators last week but no single outstanding issue or decision.
In Australia, the Australian Broadcasting Authority (ABA) has allocated new community licences in Coonamble and Coonabarabran, New South Wales, and has also announced a further auction of narrowcasting licences but withdrawn from auction three AM licences because of recent developments in digital radio policy.
The Coonamble licence was allocated to Coonamble Community Radio Inc (CCRI) and the Coonabarabran licence to Warrumbungle Regional Radio Inc (WRRI), both of which are already broadcasting on the allocated frequencies under temporary licences. They were the only applicants.
The narrowcasting licence auction is to be held on December 16 and will involve 13 transmitter licences to provide high powered open narrowcasting services in New South Wales, the Northern Territory, Queensland, Victoria and Western Australia.
Another 16 open narrowcasting licences each attracted interest from only one applicant and will be issued on payment of the reserve price of AUD 4,000 (USD 3,000) and a further 36 licences attracted no applications.
In Canada, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC), had a quiet week with only a few radio decisions. In order of province they were:
Approval of a 50 watts low-power transmitter in Yarmouth for CJLS-FM's to correct signal deficiencies caused by rough terrain surrounding the Tusket Falls transmitter site.
Approval of renewal to 31 August 2012 of the licence of CHAR-FM, Alert.
Approval of deletion of transmitter CFNO-FM-6, Dubreuilville, previously used as a relay, from the licence of CFNO-FM Marathon.
The CRTC also issued a public notice concerning a number of applications relating to which comments have to be submitted by January 14 next year.
In order of province they included:
Application for a fourth extension of the time limit to commence the operation for a new Native-language type B FM native radio programming undertaking at Calgary.
An application for a fifth extension of the time limit to implement the English-language type B FM native radio programming undertaking at Opaskwayak Cree Nation near The Pas
Application to amend the licence conditions relating to Canadian talent development in the licence of Winnipeg youth-oriented contemporary Christian music CFEQ-FM.
An application for a 15.9 watts FM transmitter at Port Daniel to broadcast the programming of CFMV-FM Chandler in order to serve the population of the region of the MRC du Rocher Percé which extends from Percé to Port Daniel.
In Ireland, the Broadcasting Commission of Ireland (BCI) has announced decisions relating to community licences for the cities of Cork and Galway.
In the case of Cork City, it is to call Cork New Life Media Ltd. (Life FM) and has decided to call the group to an oral hearing in the first quarter of next year but in Galway it considered neither of the two applications it received was of a sufficient standard to deserve a licence or further consideration.
The BCI has also now submitted to the Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources its Broadcasting (Funding) Scheme that is designed to support new television and radio programmes and is funded through an amount equal to 5% of the television licence fee.
The document outlines the structure of the scheme, funding regulations and application and assessment criteria and BCI Chief Executive, Michael O'Keeffe said, "The funds available offer tremendous potential for the broadcasting of new television and radio programmes in the areas of Irish culture, heritage, experience, the Irish language and adult literacy."
"The BCI is delighted to be involved in this venture and we look forward to receiving approval from the Minister to proceed with the first scheme."
Staff are to be recruited to administer the scheme and the BCI hopes to activate the first round of applications by the end of the first quarter of next year
In the UK, Ofcom has announced the receipt of 11 applications for a new Belfast FM and eight for a new FM for Cornwall (See RNW Dec 11) and also the receipt of 192 applications for new community radio licences (See RNW Dec 7).
It also agreed to format changes for three stations including a change from a country music format to Asian music and talk for Easy 1035 AM (See RNW Dec 10).
In other activities it published its Advanced Radio Amateur Examination Syllabus for Examinations held after 1 March 200 (a 30-page 380 kb PDF) and gave notice of its proposal to exempt automotive short-range radar users at 79 GHz.
This last move is part of a Europe-wide move on the harmonization of radio spectrum in the 79 GHz range for the use of automotive short-range radar equipment.
In the US, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) was involved in a number of enforcement actions including issuing another USD 41,500 of penalties at the end of the week (See RNW Dec 11), reducing from USD 7,000 to USD 1,000 the penalty on a Missouri FM for failure to maintain a presence at its main studio (See RNW Dec 9), the confirmation of a USD 10,000 penalty on a Florida pirate and of USD 20,000 on a on-commercial station for taking adverts (See RNW Dec 8) and issuing a USD 16,000 penalty on an Indiana AM for various tower offences (See RNW Dec 7).
The week also saw Jonathan Adelstein sworn in for second term as US Federal Communications Commissioner (Also Dec 9). Adelstein was also the only commission to attend a forum on US media regulation held at Hamline University in Minneapolis that, like other forums before, saw local media activists express opposition to media consolidation in the US.
Adelstein told the meeting that he and fellow Democrat commissioner Michael J Copps felt like "lone voices in the wilderness" in their opposition to consolidation against the voices of bid media companies and the three Republicans on the commission.
Previous Licence News:
ABA web site:
BCI web site:
CRTC web site:
FCC web site:
Ofcom web site:
2004-12-12: BBC World Service is now broadcasting its English-language service 24-hours a day in Kabul, the Afghan capital, on a new FM station.
Other FM stations there already broadcast BBC programmes in Pashto, Persian and Uzbek and there are also BBC services on medium and short wave across the country as well as on FM in Fairzabad, Gandez, Heart, Jalalabad, Jalal os Saraj, Khost, Konduz, Maimana, Mazar, Pole-Khomi, Saloquan, Sheberghan and Taloqan.
2004-12-12: Indian regulator, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has now put forward to the country's government its recommendations for licensing community stations.
It says such stations should be kept under Indian ownership and control, that any legal entity, including religious bodies engaged in socio-economic developmental activities and which would use the station to promote socio- economic development of the Community, should be allowed to hold licences but not any banned organizations or members of such organizations..
As regards the licensing process, it is suggested that licences be issue for a five-year period with applications directly with the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting, which would refer the applications to the Ministry of Home Affairs, which should give its recommendations and clearances within three months from the closing date for filing applications.
Previous Indian Radio:
2004-12-11: US shock jock Howard Stern on Friday said on his show that he wasn't aiming to get out of his contract with Infinity early to move to Sirius satellite radio but threatened to turn himself into a simple player of records.
His comments came following a meeting in which company lawyers spelled out to him his personal responsibility should his show violate Federal Communications Commission (FCC) indecency rules in future.
Stern, who complained on the show that the company was unwilling to define the rules for him, continued, "I don't understand how I can do The Howard Stern Show under these parameters, where I'm taking the risk and these guys are asking me to take the bullet."
Stern said that he was now faced with a "terrible dilemma" with subjects such as sex and race being barred and said he for the first time in his career he didn't know what to do, before suggesting he might just play music.
The meeting followed last month's USD 3.5 million settlement between Viacom and the FCC that included agreement by Viacom that in future cases where notices of apparent violation were issued, employees involved were to be suspended, remedial training given to them, and should there be a subsequent forfeiture order further disciplinary action up and to including dismissal would be taken.
RNW comment: The first reaction we have here is that Stern is indeed placed between a rock and a hard place and from his point of view he might well be best placed to simply play things straight, not worry about losing his audience for terrestrial radio and do his best to plug his future plans.
His concern would be the effect this might have on his fans before he moves to Sirius and his judgment has to be whether they will stay loyal to him and place the blame on Infinity or desert him thus making for problems when does move to Sirius: We see no reason why he should concern himself much about the costs to Viacom.
The second point is that the consent decree inherently seems to us unjust in that it agrees that action should be taken against an individual when a Notice of Apparent Violation is issued rather than when an offence is shown to have occurred.
Inherently, it seems to us that the contract Stern made may already have been voided by Viacom's consent and we wonder whether some lawyers will be getting paid well for getting the host away to satellite soon.
In the meantime, since an early departure would cost Viacom heavily, we suspect that it would rather continue to pay Stern and accept losses than see him take its audience over to Sirius: After all there is a partial precedent in the fact that it paid Opie and Anthony until the end of their contract.
2004-12-11: Long-time Boston radio host David Brudnoy has died aged 64 of cancer, only a day after he had told veteran news anchor Gary LaPierre in an interview at his bedside at Massachusetts General Hospital, that cancer had spread into his liver and kidneys - and that he was ready to die.
The 18-minute interview, which had formed the centrepiece of host Peter Meade called "The Last David Brudnoy Show'' and in which Brudnoy, although speaking with a weak voice, continued to show his sense of humour and innate decency - asked what "stuff" he'd like to take with him he cracked "the Tibetan book of the dead." - has been posted on its web site by WBZ-AM for whom he had worked since 1986: The show, to which Brudnoy was listening, included calls of tribute from many Massachusetts political figures including Sen. Edward Kennedy and Gov. Mitt Romney.
Brudnoy, who had lived with AIDS for more than a decade, announced in September last year that he was suffering from merkel cell carcinoma, a form of rare but treatable skin cancer.
He left his show in November to fight the cancer, and then, apparently recovered, returned in March this year, interviewing on his first night back Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry, Gov. Mitt Romney and former Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura.
In the interview with LaPierre he said, "I'm not starving myself. I am not asking my doctors to do anything illegal I wish I could but they won't. I will make it through. My head is completely accepting of this. I am absolutely ready.''
Paying tribute to his station he thanked," WBC for extraordinary help that kept me going .. I've had ten great years
Brudnoy, who grew up in Minneapolis, taught briefly before auditioning for WGBH TV in Boston and then gaining a post at WHDH-AM (later to become WEEI-AM) before moving to WRKO-AM in 1981 and then joining WBZ in 1986.
In 1994, he became a national figure when he slipped into a coma for nine days having developed full-blown aids. After recovering he returned to the airwaves 10 weeks later to tell his listeners what had happened to him.
In a tribute on the station web site, WBZ Radio and Ch. 56 News analyst Jon Keller who was one of David's first producers and closest friends commented, "I think the thing that's always going to stay with me, is the sheer courage of the man. I mean who ever thought that perhaps the most prominent symbol of courage here in Boston, would come from a gay, Jewish, egghead from Minnesota."
WBZ web site (Has links to audio of Brudnoy's interview and short tribute).
2004-12-11: UK media regulator Ofcom has now published a list of the applicants for new FM licences for Belfast and Cornwall, the deadline for which was Wednesday.
In both cases there were more applicants than forecast with the final total being 11 applications for the Belfast licence and eight for Cornwall. There was a marked emphasis on appealing to an older rather than youth audience.
The Belfast applications came from:
Belfast's 105 FM - A station aimed at the 30-55 year demographic with speech, news and sports plus classic hits.
Belfast Citylife 105.1 FM - A Belfast-focused lifestyle speech, music and information station primarily targeting listeners aged 45 and over.
Delicious FM - a speech-led local station for Belfast and the surrounding areas, locally produced with live presentation 24 hours a day and a strong commitment to news, information, debate and listener participation backed with adult contemporary music from musically credible artists.
Innovate - An up-beat contemporary music station for the 15 to 34 demographic.
Kerrang! - A Classic Rock station aimed primarily at the 35-54 demographic.
lagan. FM - a local service for adults (aged 40+) based upon a broad mix of soft rock and contemporary easy listening music, spoken word entertainment, discussion and listener interaction, news and information.
Live 105 - A full-service radio station playing a broad variety of popular music from the past 40 years, and featuring significant, relevant, engaging speech content during daytime aimed at listeners aged 35+
Radio Belfast - A Music and Information Station with an emphasis on local news and issues for the 35+ age group.
105.1 Smooth FM - an easy-listening music, 24-hour news and lifestyle orientated speech and information station for mature adults.
U105 - A personality-led station aimed primarily at the over 45 age group providing topical speech, and music from the Gold era to the present day.
Z-Rock - A station serving 35 plus rock music enthusiasts "who want a serious alternative to the diet of predominately pop music radio currently available to them."
The eight applications for the Cornwall licence were from:
Atlantic FM - A full service station for Cornwall.
CKFM - a music-based adult-melodic station serving Cornwall only, targeted mainly but not exclusively at mature listeners aged 40-59.
Cornwall's 105 to 107 Itchy FM - a local radio station for Cornwall 's under 35 audience, playing popular youth targeted music predominantly from the last 10 years, plus specialist programming providing a credible, alternative with news, lifestyle, issues and events.
Extreme Radio - A service targeted at young people of urban dance, R&B, and rock with news, information and entertainment
Kernow FM - An independent, locally produced and dedicated Cornwall service for those in the 35 plus age group featuring classic tracks from the last 5 decades, combined with comprehensive local news and information.
St. Piran FM - a locally focused music led Cornish station targeted at adults aged 35+ with a blend of classic adult contemporary music with regular, high-quality local news coverage, comprehensive traffic and travel reports.
SouWest FM - A distinctive new radio station for Cornwall, with a mix of good conversation, useful information and quality music designed mainly for the enjoyment of listeners aged 45 and over.
Time FM - A full local service of classic and contemporary music, news, information and features aimed at and relevant to people in the County of Cornwall over 40 years old, in particular those aged 45-64.
In both cases, Ofcom is inviting public comment on the local needs of listeners in this area and the type of service required.
Ofcom has also announced that David Edmonds, one of the six Non-Executive Members of its board and previously Director General of Telecommunications at Oftel is to step down early to pursue public and commercial sector interests. His three-year term was due to end in September next year.
2004-12-11: The BBC is trying to capitalise on the success of its recent adaptation of The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy with another science fiction comedy that is to be broadcast in the New Year starting January 6.
Nebulous, written by Graham Duff and features Mark Gatiss as Professor Nebulous, the eco-conscious scientist and director of K.E.N.T - the Key Environmental Non-judgemental Taskforce - in a 2099 post-apocalyptic England.
The organisation is determined to get the earth's distorted eco-system back on track but is fighting against woeful under funding - it has to subsidize its worth by running a launderette - and the ineptitude of its team - the overenthusiastic and under-qualified Paula Breeze; man of action Rory Lawson; and tactical equipment specialist Harry Hayes, who uses a wheelchair.
Nebulous is the first production for Radio 4 from Baby Cow, the independent comedy production company started by Steve Coogan and his writing partner, Henry Normal: It is better known for its TV work, which includes the cult success Nighty Night and The Mighty Boosh that, after a pilot show on BBC 3 TV, starts a series on BBC 2 TV next week.
Coogan commented of the radio production, "Nebulous is such a vast comic world... it can only be contained on radio. With this kind of budget".
2004-12-11: In another run of enforcement actions the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has levied fines or issued Notices of Apparent Liability (NALs) totalling USD 41,500a gainst a number of broadcasters for various tower related and technical offences.
The penalties included USD 10,000 forfeitures each against Radio One Inc., Infinity and Telemundo for violation of maximum radio frequency ("RF") radiation exposure limit rules.
These penalties related to facilities used by Infinity's KRTH-FM, Radio One's KKBT-FM, and Telemundo's KWHY-TV at the Mount Wilson telecommunications and antenna farm site on Mt. Wilson in the San Gabriel Mountains, northeast of Los Angeles.
Tests had shown permissible levels being exceeded by at least 50% in areas accessible to the public and further tests isolated the problem to the three stations: NALs were issued in October last year but all the broadcasters had sought reduction or cancellation on various grounds.
Infinity argued that it was not made aware that FCC agents believed KRTH to be one of the stations exceeding permissible limits, that it had no legal right to control the area where limits were exceeded and that penalties should be apportioned according to "each station's percentage violation to the overall power density at the problematic location."
The other broadcasters argued on the basis of insufficient evidence of their contribution to the excess but the FCC rejected their arguments and confirmed the full penalty in each case.
In Florida, the Commission issued a USD 7,000 forfeiture against Metropolitan Radio Group, Inc., licensee WBRD-AM, Palmetto, for failure to maintain an effective locked fence around the base of its AM antenna towers. No response had been filed to its NAL issued in March this year.
In Texas, it has issued an NAL for USD 3,000 to Power Radio Corporation, licensee of Low Power FM station KXPW-LP, Georgetown, failure to file a modification of license application on FCC Form 319 within ten days of replacing its authorized antenna.
In Virginia it reduced from USD 8,000 to USD 1,500 its penalty on WBLB, Inc., licensee WBLB-AM, Pulaski, for violation of the Emergency Alert System ("EAS") requirements. WBLB did not deny the breaches but sought cancellation or reduction of the assessed forfeiture based on its corrective actions, overall history of compliance and inability to pay.
The FCC decided that its past history justified a reduction of the penalty to USD 6,500 and a further reduction to USD 1,500 on financial hardship grounds.
2004-12-10: Progressive US talk network Air America radio (owned by Piquant LLC), which has just announced that it has secured USD 13 million in new financing, around two-thirds of its target amount, and signed hosts Al Franken and Randi Rhodes for further 2-year and three-year deals respectively, is finally adding an affiliate in the US capital.
It will launch on January 20 on Clear Channel's WRC-AM, which is switching from its syndicated sports talk programming to liberal talk with a combination of Air America programming and other programming.
This will include Don Imus, who will be simulcast onk WRC and talk/CNN News WTNT-AM, and Stephanie Miller and Ed Schultz, who are syndicated by Jones Radio Networks.
Clear Channel is also to switch Cincinnati oldies station WSAI-AM to a similar progressive talk format, dropping long-time host Dusty Rhodes, who now anchors the morning show and has been with the station since the 1960s.
Air America, which ran into early financial difficulties and later changed its policy of wanting stations to air its full line-up to signing affiliates for its shows, now boasts 40 affiliates on its web site, with affiliates in 11 of the top twenty markets although it is still without affiliates in two of the largest US markets, Chicago and Los Angeles, where deals with Multicultural Broadcasting fell apart acrimoniously in a dispute over payments.
It has done well in initial ratings in New York and Portland, Oregon, and is expected to show up well in Arbitron's fall ratings to be released next month.
Commenting on his decision to sing up again, Franken referred to the financial woes and said, "The original CEO said we had enough money not to make money for three years, and it turned out it was actually three weeks. Now we're just loaded with new money from investors and we're kicking [butt]."
He added that he originally signed only a one-year deal because he didn't know if he'd like it and added, "It turned out I love it. I love the three hours on the air. I'm proud of the show. I like the mix of humour and seriousness and sometimes emotion."
Air America also announced that Rob Glaser, the chairman and CEO of RealNetworks, will take over as chairman of the board of Air America, and that Doug Kreeger, who has served as acting chief executive since May, is stepping down. No replacement has been named.
Previous Piquant/Air America:
Air America web site:
2004-12-10: Rock star Bono, Sarah Ferguson, the Duchess of York, businessman Sir Richard Branson, film director Anthony Minghella and Baroness O'Neill of Bengarve, the former professor of philosophy and the Principal of Newnham College, Cambridge, are to guest edit the BBC Radio 4 Today breakfast show for the final week of this year.
The move follows a similar experiment last year when the programme ran a week of celebrity guest editors who included author Monica Ali singer Thom Yorke of Radiohead and academic Professor Stephen Hawking (See RNW Dec 24, 2003).
Most of the guest editors are expected to put an emphasis on causes close to them with Bono commenting, "I want to start the countdown to next year, when Britain can change the world for the poorest people on the planet" and the Duchess adding, "Today is the most important news programme in Britain so I couldn't resist the chance to use it to highlight serious issues like the terribly debilitating Motor Neurone disease."
Today editor Kevin Marsh said last year's experiment drew such interest from well-known listeners that the BBC thought it "would try it again, with a great range of new guest editors."
The show is also following up another experiment made last year when it called on votes for a "Listeners Law" with a 'Listeners' Lord' vote in which listeners suggest a man or woman they think should be nominated for a peerage by the House of Lords Appointments Commission.
Last year's vote (See RNW Jan 3) ran into controversy when the winning suggestion was a proposal to allow property and home owners to do to do anything up to and including killing an intruder to protect the property, a proposal that has re-surfaced in British politics again at the moment with an Opposition Conservative Party MP proposing a similar change to existing British law that allows "reasonable force" to be used against intruders.
2004-12-10: Chicago veteran broadcaster Bruce Wolf is to sit-in with Roe Conn on Disney's WLS-AM afternoon show for a week from Monday in what Robert Feder of the Chicago Sun-Times says is being called an on-air audition by insiders.
Conn has been hosting the show solo since former co-host Garry Meier was taken off the air ahead of the ending of his contract: Meier eventually failed to agree a new deal with the station (see RNW May 28).
Feder notes that Wolf is following a path he previously trod in 1994 when, after Meier split with his long-time partner Steve Dahl, he was drafted to co-host the morning show with Dahl at sports-talk WMVP-AM. Dahl quit the station two years later and moved to comedy/talk WCKG-FM as solo afternoon host.
Also in Chicago, Feder reports that Newsweb Corporation is to begin offering zoned advertising on its three "Nine FM" simulcast outlets -- WRZA-FM, WKIE-FM and WDEK-FM in the New Year.
Newsweb will use technology from Canadian company OMT/Mediatouch and will be able to offer advertisements on the channels individually or in combinations of stations.
2004-12-10: UK media regulator Ofcom has approved format changes to three stations, one an unprecedented change that will allow London country music AM Easy 1035, now owned by Sunrise Radio, to switch to Kismat Asian Talk Radio (KATR), a change that in the past would have required an application for a new licence.
Sunrise Radio, which took over the station, then Mean Country last year (See RNW Jul 24, 2003) and turned it into Easy, requested permission for the format change in September (See RNW Sept 11).
Ofcom's consultation on the change attracted 135 responses objecting to the change with many saying it would reduce the variety of services available. A reduction in variety is one of three criteria that have to be considered when assessing such changes under the 2003 Communications Act, which says the change should not do this, does not affect competition, and can show significant demand for the change.
Among the objections posted by Ofcom was one by the Club Asia station, which expressed concern that the change could affect its commercial viability.
Sunrise had 70 letters of support: Its submission said the station, which has had five owners in its decade on air, has never made a profit and now has run up cumulative losses of around GBP 6-7 million (USD 11-13 million). Latest ratings showed its audience had slipped to 40,000 listeners a week and Sunrise noted that digital broadcasts in London will still include a country station.
It says its format will broaden choice since it would differ from the other Asian services in the capital, Sunrise Radio and Club Asia, by catering for the older Asian listener.
Ofcom said the proposal amounted to a "substantial change" to the service as defined in the Act and in approving the decision noted that its predecessor, the Radio Authority, had said requests for change to AM Formats would be looked at sympathetically to help revitalize the wavelength and there was a pattern of success of AM station with Asian Formats.
It noted that the Easy format was being retained on a digital channel and said the format of KATR would be drafted to clearly reflect differences between it and the other stations and make it clear that it will be targeted at a 35 plus audience, will be at least half speech led, and "have a primary emphasis on Ghazals and Qawaalis, Asian Gold and Hits, Folk and Religious in its music output, which also clearly positions the station away from Sunrise Radio and Club Asia."
The other format changes allowed were less drastic: In one, the Wireless Group's talkSPORT is to be allowed to "split "its transmissions for a number of soccer game broadcasts on its north-west and West Midlands transmitters, a change that it was considered would not substantially alter the service. talkSPORT already has permission to split its evening broadcasts for London and Scotland.
In the other Emap's Kerrang! In the West Midlands is to be allowed to reduce the speech content of its breakfast show from a currently required minimum of three-quarters to a minimum two-thirds.
Previous Wireless Group:
2004-12-10: Minnesota Public Radio's USD 10.5 million purchase of St Olaf College's public stations WCAL-FM and KMSE-FM is almost certain to end up costing it more following a narrow vote by the St Paul City Council to reject an MPR request to borrow around USD 12 million in conduit bonds to fund the deal.
Under the proposal the city would have issued the bond but NPR would have been responsible for paying them, thus meaning it would pay a lower interest rate than normal bonds because the municipal bonds are tax-exempt.
MPR bought the stations in November using short-term loan financing but had already said the availability of the municipal bonds was not essential to its deal although conventional financing would cost more (See RNW Nov 21).
Mike McNabb, an attorney for SaveWCAL.org, a group of St. Olaf alumni and classical-music fans who opposed the sale, told the council that approving the conduit bonds would be an illegal use of the city's authority under state law, arguing that the sale would not prevent economic blight or chronic unemployment, the thresholds for approving financing.
The city, notes the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, routinely acts as a conduit agency to help schools, hospitals and other non-profit organizations get better financing deals for projects that serve a "public need" and at the same meeting agreed to approve about USD 10 million in conduit bonds to help expand MPR's corporate headquarters in downtown St. Paul.
Minneapolis Star-Tribune report:
2004-12-09: Univision has announced that at the end of the year McHenry T. Tichenor, Jr. is to step down as President of Univision Radio, the post he took last year when Univision acquired Hispanic Broadcasting where he had been President and CEO (see RNW Sep 24, 2003).
A statement from the company says Tichenor will continue to serve as a member of Univision Communications' Board of Directors and will be a consultant to the Company and will be pursuing "other interests outside of the Spanish-language broadcast business."
Tichenor in his statement commented, "I am pleased that the integration of Hispanic Broadcasting into Univision has been so successful, and that our cross-platform marketing efforts across television, radio, cable and online are progressing ahead of schedule."
"My 25-year career in broadcasting has proved very gratifying, starting with my father and grandfather in a family business, through our decision to specialize in Spanish radio, the merger of Tichenor Media System and Heftel Broadcasting, and, most recently, the acquisition of HBC by Univision. In that time, it has been my privilege to work with many of the most talented and dedicated people in our industry, including my colleagues at Univision. I am bullish on the company's prospects and look forward to continuing to contribute to its success as a consultant and a member of its Board of Directors."
A search for a successor is to start immediately and in the meantime Gary Stone will continue running the day to day operations of Univision Radio in his current role as Chief Operating Officer.
2004-12-09: The Florida Supreme Court has granted a one-month extension until January 20 for Rush Limbaugh to file his arguments alleging that state prosecutors illegally seized his medical records during their investigation into whether the host was involved in doctor shopping - illegally seeking multiple prescriptions - to obtain pain killers.
The court specifically said that no further extensions would be granted. The host, who has argued that the investigation is politically motivated, has on previous occasions immediately posted news of any developments in the case that he felt favoured his arguments but has so far posted no comment on the extension.
Florida Supreme Court order (50 KB PDF):
2004-12-09: At least nine radio groups are reported to have submitted bids to the UK media regulator Ofcom for the new Belfast FM licence for which entries had to be in yesterday with most bids coming from various consortia. They were:
GWR in conjunction with Irish concert promoter Jim Aiken and former Dublin FM104 chief executive Dermot Hanrahan:
Q Radio Network:
SMG in conjunction with local media groups Irish News and Alpha News:
The Wireless Group in conjunction with Independent News & Media, owner of the Belfast Telegraph:
Also being offered with a closing date yesterday is a new smaller FM licence for Cornwall with bidders including GWR.
Ofcom has also advertised a new local FM commercial radio licence to cover the city of Norwich and surrounding area with a 15 plus population of around 240,000. Applications have to be in by March 9 next year.
Ofcom is expected to post details off the bids in the next few days.
2004-12-09: Arbitron is claiming initial success for its programme that was developed to recruit consumers for the Houston market trial of its Portable People Meter and says that its recruitment has been substantially more successful than for its earlier trials of the PPM in Philadelphia in 2002.
It says it achieved at 52.7 household sample performance indicator (SPI) and other response rate measures in line with the results that Arbitron and Nielsen Media Research achieved during the successful research and development program for PPM response rates that was fielded in 2003 and 2004 and adds that the preliminary sample proportionality measures for the installed PPM households are also well in line in terms of race and ethnicity. Household fault rates to date have been well under 10 percent and are consistent by race and ethnicity.
Arbitron vice president, Research Standards and Practices Bob Patchen said the company was demonstrating that on its own it could recruit a high-quality, representative panel of consumers for a PPM ratings service and added, "Our recruiting success has also been consistent across all ethnic and racial groups. We are confident that the completed PPM panel will reflect the diversity of Houston marketplace, which is approximately 28 percent Hispanic and 18 percent Black."
Arbitron expects to have fully recruited its Houston panel in July next year and will then begin delivering station level ratings results for the outlets that will be encoding for the trial.
2004-12-09: Democrat Federal Communications Commissioner Jonathan S. Adelstein has now been sworn in for a new five-year term running to the end of June 2008.
The oath was administered by South Dakota Senator and Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle at a private ceremony in the U.S. Capitol.
Adelstein commented afterwards, "It was particularly touching to be sworn in with the same bipartisan spirit that led to my confirmation by the U.S. Senate. It was a special honour to have Senator Daschle swear me in, after all the effort he undertook to make it possible. His leadership and guidance have always been a real inspiration."
The FCC has also announced another enforcement action in the form of a USD 1,000 fine on Twenty-One Sound Communications , licensee of KKAC-FM, Vandalia, Missouri, for failure to maintain a presence at its main studio. It had initially issued a forfeiture of USD 7,000 but reduced this on the basis of inability to pay although it rejected an argument for reduction on a basis of a history of past compliance, which it said was not so.
2004-12-08: In moves criticized by BBC unions who say they are prepared to take industrial action over any compulsory job cuts, the corporation's Director General Mark Thompson has now outlined plans for the corporation that he says are targeted to save an annual GBP 320 million (USD 623 million), which will be redirected into making programmes: "Paying for all this" to use a phrase from a BBC News report will be BBC staff with some 2,900 jobs to be cut from the Corporation's 27,000 staff initially with more to follow that could take the total above 5,000.
As well as the job cuts, it is planned to move some 1,800 posts and a number of departments including children's TV and Radio, BBC Sport; Five Live and Five Live Sports Extra; New Media and R&D to Manchester and also increase the amount of programming that is tendered to outside independent producers.
The move to Manchester is not to take place for at least five years and there will also be other regional initiatives.
Regarding outside commissions and calls for them to account for half of BBC output, Thompson commented, "There is a legitimate case for giving greater and fairer access to independents but I passionately believe a 50% quota would be a grave mistake."
"In-house production is one of the great glories of the BBC. It is a critical mass of talent and training which is important to the whole of the UK's creative industries."
"As broadcasting fragments it's all the more important that the BBC maintains a strong and confident in-house production capacity."
Radio moves include the extension of the 10% voluntary independent quota to include Sport, radio in the Nations and the new digital radio channels and a review of commissioning on Radio 4.
Responding to suggestions that the move came under political pressure as the BBC fights to retain its charter, Thompson denies this and said the ideas were the BBC's own and there had been no government pressure.
The BBC's PM programme on BBC Radio 4 headlines the changes as "less is more" and Thompson told it what was announced was a "historic shift" of spending from non-programme areas into programmes and said it was very important to recognise that the moves announced were his and the BBC's views of the Corporation's future for the next ten years and the "best interests of those who pay for the BBC."
Rumours of the job cuts, widely reported in advance as likely to be up to 6000, have been circulating for some time and lat the start of last month the National Union of Journalists members in the BBC voted unanimously to demand urgent talks with BBC managers over rumours of large-scale redundancies and said the NUJ would NUJ will resist any cuts in local, regional or national news and current affairs and any plans for redundancies by all means at the union's disposal, including a ballot for strike action."
Following the announcement both the NUJ and the other BBC unions BECTU (The Broadcasting Entertainment Cinematograph and Theatre Union) and Amicus re-iterated the threat.
BECTU's Assistant General Secretary Gerry Morrissey said, "Many staff want to know why these savage cuts are necessary when all the areas affected have already made significant savings, and in the case of Resources and Broadcast, turned in a healthy cash profit. We are committed to fighting against compulsory redundancies, regardless of where they fall, and plan to begin negotiations with the BBC later this week."
Regarding cuts planned in back office areas where Thompson said nearly half would be affected, Morrissey commented, "Staff in these departments are crucial to the smooth running of the BBC and even if they don't actually make the programmes, they certainly make them happen. We're especially worried that as many as half the staff in key sections like health and safety and training may face the axe".
Outside the BBC, the proposals received support from the opposition Conservative Party whose
Shadow culture secretary John Whittingdale told BBC Radio Five Live that the changes did not go far enough and criticized the Corporation for retaining much of its commercial arm, BBC Worldwide, and said that the BBC did not need to remain a magazine publisher. The Conservatives are also critical of licence funding, calling it a poll tax and saying it needed to be reconsidered as technological change made this practicable.
Reactions from other political parties were less harsh with a government spokesman saying there was no doubt the BBC had to become leaner and fitter and the Liberal Democrats terming the announcement a brutally honest manifesto for a 21st-Century BBC".
2004-12-08: US National Public Radio (NPR) has announced that Renee Montagne and Steve Inskeep have been appointed permanent hosts of Morning Edition, where they have been interim hosts since May this year when Bob Edwards was moved off the show: He made it clear he was not happy with the move (See RNW Mar 25) and subsequently moved to host a show on XM satellite radio that launched in October (See RNW Oct 2).
Inskeep will continue to be based in Washington and Montagne in Culver City, California.
Commenting on the permanent appointment, NPR's senior vice president for programming Jay Kernis said, "Morning Edition listeners have responded enthusiastically to Renee and Steve. They've noticed the subtle changes. But they've also noticed that Morning Edition is still the great show it's always been."
"We've retained the best aspects of the show - the thoughtful, in-depth reporting and 'driveway moments' that made it a huge success. Renee and Steve sound great on the air. They are exceptional at reporting, interviewing and hosting and they are already making mornings very special."
Another NPR host, Tavis Smiley, who is not renewing his contract and is due to host his last show on December 16 (see RNW Nov 30) is critical of the of the network's attempts to reach minority listeners in a question and answer article to appear in the December 13 issue of Time Magazine.
He told the magazine, "We had agreed on the destination we were to arrive at, but somewhere along the line NPR wavered in the journey. Our show is the most multiracial in NPR's entire history, it has the youngest demographic of any show in NPR's history, so progress was being made. My concern was the pace the network was moving at-- it wasn't fast enough."
Smiley denied that he had left NPR with the intention of moving to satellite radio to increase his remuneration, saying he had no deals signed or on the table and adding, "wanted to return to NPR. I love NPR. But I had to ask myself: Are we doing all we can to bring new audiences to public radio? And I don't think that we are."
NPR itself had wished Smiley well last month and in a joint statement with the African American Consortium added, "Tavis is a remarkable talent and holds an important place in public radio history. We applaud Tavis for his energy and drive, which contributed greatly to the success of this historic show. NPR and the African American Public Radio Consortium - a nationwide group of public radio stations that serve African-Americans - intend to continue this program with a new host and to expand and build upon its successes."
Time Magazine interview:
2004-12-08: Austereo has announced that that Judith Lucy and her team are to launch a new national drive time show on its Today network starting on January 17 next year and that at the same time it will move Kyle and Jackie O to take over their 2 Day-FM breakfast slot.
Austereo CEO Michael Anderson said of the changes, "Every now and again you are able to make some significant changes that work for everyone and this is one of those occasions. Judith, Peter Helliar and Kaz Cooke get a national audience in a drive show and get to sleep-in and Kyle and Jackie O are looking forward to moving to Sydney Breakfast."
"We have significantly increased our focus on consumer research this year," he added, "and have used it in our planning for 2005. When we sat back and had a good look at what had worked and why it was working it became clear to us that we had the perfect shows in imperfect parts of the day. So we are fixing it. Judith and her team's great talents and very special brand of humour are a natural for the afternoon. And it makes sense."
In addition, he noted, "The research showed us the chemistry between Kyle and Jackie O was a great fit for breakfast."
Austereo has also announced that its Triple M network is to expand its Australian Football League (AFL) broadcast in next year's home-and-away season, by adding Sydney Swans' and Brisbane Lions' matches to its existing coverage of Melbourne and Adelaide games.
It will also expand its football call team, which includes AFL legends Jason Dunstall and Sam Newman, The Cage's James Brayshaw, Steve Quartermain and Brian Taylor, to include experts and personalities from Sydney and Brisbane.
AFL chief executive Andrew Demetriou welcomed the move, saying, "It's great for the national game to be on the national network."
2004-12-08: UK Emap has announced that former Secretary of State for Northern Ireland Mo Mowlem is to head its bid for the new Belfast FM licence, applications for which have to be in by today.
Other groups that have already announced their interest include GWR, which is in a consortium with Irish concert promoter Jim Aiken and former Dublin FM104 chief executive Dermot Hanrahan and SMG, the former Scottish Media Group although Capital Radio and Chrysalis have said they will not be making a bid.
Emap is bidding with its rock -based Kerrang! format but says a different mix will be on offer in Belfast to that from that on the West Midland regional FM Kerrang! 105.2, which was launched in June this year.
Kerrang! Radio programme director Andrew Jeffries said, the station would have "a unique Belfast essence whilst benefiting from the Kerrang! brand powerhouse and the full commitment and investment from Emap."
As well as Mowlem, who is to chair Kerrang! Belfast, other board members announced include John Reid, executive vice-president of marketing for Warner Music International (WMI), and Belfast-born Barry McIlheney, currently editor-in-chief of Emap Consumer Media and a former member of the Belfast punk act Shock Treatment, who released two singles on the Good Vibrations label and supported a number of classic acts of the time, among them U2, The Undertones, and The Skids.
2004-12-08: The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has denied a petition for reconsideration and confirmed a USD 10,000 penalty on a Florida pirate station operator.
Rony Richard Louis of Orlando had not responded to a Notice of Apparent Liability (NAL) issued in March this year but following an affirmation order had sought to have the penalty reconsidered.
The FCC noted that he had admitted operating the unlicensed station in November last year when he received a warning but denied operating it at the time of a second inspection in January this year.
In confirming the penalty the Commission commented, "While Mr. Louis appears to deny that he was responsible for the operation of the unlicensed station at the time of the second inspection, the circumstances belie his denial. In any event, the admitted violation at the time of the first inspection is sufficient alone to justify the forfeiture."
The FCC has also issued an NAL for a forfeiture of USD 20,000 to Christian Voice of Central Ohio, Inc., licensee of formerly non-commercial educational station WCVZ-FM, South Zanesville, Ohio.
The case arose from a complaint filed with the commission in September 2003, alleging that then non-commercial station broadcast prohibited underwriting announcements during the month of August 2003: In April this year after the complaint had been filed but before the Enforcement Bureau had inquired into this matter, Christian Voice sought to modify its station's non-commercial educational license so that it could operate as a commercial facility.
At issue are eleven underwriting announcements that Christian Voice admits that its station broadcast, not only during the month of August 2003 as alleged in the complaint, but throughout the period October 2002 through December 2003. Christian Voice also acknowledges that it received remuneration for airing the messages on behalf of the station's underwriters, all of which are for-profit entities, and that ten of those messages were repeated approximately 3,149 times.
The Commission commented that it had "carefully reviewed the record in this case, and find that each of the eleven announcements at issue exceeds the bounds of what is permissible."
2004-12-07: UK Media regulator Ofcom has received 192 applications from groups wanting small-scale community radio licences that it is to introduce (See RNW Jun 17).
Of the applications 161 are from England, 17 from Scotland and seven each from Wales and Northern Ireland.
The area that has produced most applications is London with 34: It is followed by South-East England , which saw 23 applications, Yorkshire and Humberside with 20, North West England with 18 and the East Midlands with 17.
Ofcom has also announced in its response to a consultation on its Draft Statement of Charging Principles that it is proposing to retain revenues as the basis of its calculation of licence feeds and administrative charges for the television, radio and networks and services sector.
Although it says it sees merit in other methods it believes the revenue link "Most closely matches" the criteria set out for assessing fees -- fairness, cost-reflectiveness, reliability, simplicity, being easily verified, adaptable to markets, and relevant to activities that flow from the licence.
It is however proposing "a modest degree of progression, so that smaller operators and new entrants pay a lower proportion of their revenues than larger established operators."
In the radio sector it notes that fees for new licence applications do not currently cover the costs of granting new licences and proposes to "rebalance" this by increasing application fees but also by reducing ongoing fees to better reflect the actual costs of applications.
It is also proposing a change in the definition of Relevant Turnover and set a progressive tariff with no charge, in the interests of simplicity, when annual fees would be GBP 100 (USD 180) or less.
Any comments on its proposals have to be made by January 17 next year.
2004-12-07: Latest Australian radio ratings, the last for the year, show news and talk stations doing well compared to music formats with a consequent benefit to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC), which in Sydney moved up into third rank with particular success in the breakfast slot where Angela Catterns of ABC 702 took her share in second place up 0.9 per cent to 12.2 per cent whilst top-rated Alan Jones for Macquarie Broadcasting's 2GB slipped back 0.9% to 14.0%.
ABC 702 station manager Roger Summerill noted that the station as had its most successful year since 1966 and commented that it was "an outstanding result for the station."
In the Sydney breakfast slot Alan Jones as noted kept top spot for 2GB with 14.9 (15.5) followed by Angela Catterns for ABC 702 with 12.2 (11.3) and DMG'S Nova retained third slot with 10.5 (10.8) whilst Mike Carlton at Southern Cross Broadcasting's 2UE pulled up slightly, from 9.0 to 9.4.
In the morning slot, 2GB's Ray Hadley held on to top rank but his share dropped from 12.6 top 12.2, and John Laws in second spot fell from 11.5 to 11.0. Nova in third place was down slightly, from 10.6 to 10.5.
Afternoon drive saw Richard Glover for ABC move up into top rank from fourth, followed with a tie at 10.2 by Nova and Austereo's Triple M, the leader last time with 11.0 compared to Nova's third-rated 10.4. 2-DAY, which had been second with 10.6, dropped to fifth with 9.4, behind fourth-placed 2UE up from fifth with 9.5 (9.3).
City by city, the top three stations were (previous % share in brackets):
*Adelaide: Mix 18.5 (19.7) - same rank; SAFM -14.8 (15.0) - same rank; ABC 891 with 13.2 (12.6) - Up from fourth. *Nova in its first ratings for the market entered in sixth rank with a 7.9 share.
*5AA with 11.5(14.7) fell from third to fourth.
*Brisbane - Triple M with 13.8 (15.5) - up from second; B105FM 13.5(16.0) - down from first; NEW 97.3 FM with 12.2 (12.3) - same rank.
*Melbourne - 3AW with 13.2 (14.8)- same rank; ABC 774 with 12.1 (11.6) - same rank; Nova with 10.5 10.7) - Same rank;
*Perth - MIX 94.5FM 20.0 (20.5) - Same rank; ABC 720 with 12.9 (11.4) - up from third;96FM with 12.4(11.8) - down from second;
* All New 92.9 in fourth lost share, from 11.3 to 9.4;
* Sydney: 2GB 10.8 (11.8) - same rank; Nova with 10.2 (10.1) - same rank; ABC 702 with 9.9 (8.4) - up from fourth equal
2UE with 9.4 (9.8) - was down from third to fourth and Triple M fell from fourth equal with 8.4 to sixth with 8.0 and one-time leader 2DAY lost share again and fell two ranks to eighth with 7.3 (8.2).
Austereo said the ratings were an "accurate reflection" of a year that CEO Michael Anderson described as one "of strategic and tactical change as the two Austereo networks, Today and Triple M respond to the extraordinary change in their competitive environments."
"We had some strong results in Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth, saw consolidation of many of the new shows and teams around the country and where some of our initiatives could be improved upon we have reworked them or replaced them getting ready for 2005," he said.
"We aren't standing still anywhere in the country. As more and more competition for the hearts and minds of listeners hits the airwaves, people are spoilt for choice."
Previous ABC, Australia:
Previous Australian ratings:
Previous Southern Cross:
2004-12-07: Genex Communications, whose CHOI-FM in Quebec City was refused a licence renewal because of abusive broadcasts (See RNW Jul 14) - is amongst 15 applicants for up to three new FM licences for the Ottawa-Gatineau currently going under consideration.
CHOI is currently still on air under a compromise that postponed the licence renewal decision until a hearing in the Federal Court of Canada rules on an appeal against the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) decision not to renew the licence (See RNW Aug 27):
2004-12-07: Arbitron, which in March dumped its previous Internet service that was based on MeasureCast technology that relied on totals for all programme streams has now returned to the Internet ratings business with its comScore Arbitron Online Radio Ratings that is based on a subset of approximately 200,000 U.S. participants within the comScore global consumer panel.
comScore passively and continuously captures the online behaviour of these panellists, including online radio listening and overall listening is estimated from this.
The first ratings, for three charter subscribers -- America Online's AOL® Radio Network; Yahoo!®'s LAUNCHcast; and Microsoft's MSN Radio and Windowsmedia.com - indicated an estimated 4.1 million in the 12 and older demographic listened to these networks on an "average" week in October.
The survey also indicated that during an average quarter hour (AQH, defined in this context as "the average number of persons listening to a particular station for at least five minutes during a 15-minute period.") in the weekday 0600-1900 weekday period there were 334,800 listeners to the three networks whilst for Monday through Sunday from 0600 to 2400 it dropped to 231,000: Yahoo led with 194,100 weekdays and 128,900 followed by AOL with 107,900 and 81,700 respectively with Microsoft in third place with 32,700 and 20,400 respectively.
The Cume ("the total number of different persons who tune to a radio station during the course of a daypart for at least five minutes) for the three networks was 2,202,800 for the Monday through Friday times and 4,067,400 Monday through Sunday times.
Individual estimates, which Arbitron cautions should not be added to gain a total because of people who listen to more than one network, showed the same rankings with Yahoo having an estimated 1,073,600 Monday through Friday and 1,928,900 Monday through Sunday followed by AOL (876,600; 1,783,900 ) and Microsoft (300,900; 20,400 ).
In contrast with these figures the last ratings issued under its previous system - ranked in terms of total time spent listening listed AOL in the top rank with a TTSL of 4,728,485 and cume of 932,155 and Yahoo second with a TTSL of 4,181,374 and cume of 1,046,150 (See RNW April 15 2004-04.html#Netratings3).
Arbitron, which recently announced that it is to enhance its service in New York and Los Angeles with surveys of Chinese speaking audiences (See RNW Dec 1) and also that with the December release of its network radio service-RADAR 83-subscribers will be able to go beyond the national data currently offered and also access radio network information for the Top 10 U.S. local markets, has also announced that it has compiled detailed ethnic commuter profiles utilizing Census 2000 and Arbitron data to provide information to the radio industry about ethnic commuters' travel time, time of departure and method of getting to work.
The company has posted a tool on its web site that allows downloads of profiles for general, Hispanic, Black, Asian and non-Hispanic White demographic segments on its web site.
Arbitron commuter information web site:
2004-12-07: The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has issued a USD 16,000 penalty on an Indiana AM for failure to register its antenna, failure to notify the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) of a known light outage and failure to exhibit required red obstruction lighting.
WLTH Radio, Inc., licensee of WLTH-AM, Gary, did not contest the fast that the tower was unregistered and unlit but contended that it was less than 200 feet above ground level and thus not subject to FCC lighting and registration requirements and also claimed that it had notified the FAA of the lighting outage on March 5, 2003, the day the FCC agent informed the station of a complaint about the lighting outage.
The FCC noted that WLTH in a supplementary response in September this year reported that a survey it conducted showed the height to be 202.97 feet and also contended that outage was caused by hunters shooting out the lights: The commission said the record was that on March 12, 2003, the station engineer told the agent that he had not notified the FAA of the lighting outage and that FAA records showed it to have been notified on March 12 about the outage.
The full penalty was confirmed.
The FCC also imposed a USD 10,000 penalty on a South Carolina tower owner for failure to continuously exhibit all red obstruction lighting on the tower from sunset to sunrise and failure to register it: It had initially also proposed an additional USD 3,000 penalty on the basis of copies that were sent to it of copies of multiple applications for an ASR number for the antenna structure, and a copy of a July 25, 2000, FAA notification of receipt of a Notice of Proposed Construction.
2004-12-06: The past week has seen much comment in print on satellite radio, pretty well all of it positive, so this week we are concentrating mainly on the issue but to begin with take a slight detour into another potentially significant threat to some terrestrial listening.
This is the internet and in his weekly column on Irish radio in the UK Sunday Times Gerry McCarthy commenting on the "net effect" writes, "The graveyard shift is starting to get restless. Until recently, late-night programmes were the haunt of night owls and insomniacs. Presenters tended to eccentricity and audiences were limited. But the internet has changed that. Midnight in Ireland is prime time in America and several late-night shows here have a growing audience there."
He notes the success of Lyric FM's The Blue of the Night, of which he says, "Under Sean Rocks it broke out of the expat ghetto and acquired an audience with few Irish connections, attracted by its eclectic music and soothing tones" and also of Late Date on RTÈ Radio 1, which he says is "coping with them less smoothly."
He has a go at both the programme's hosts noting an incident in which Carrion Chambers received a message from an Irish expat in Wisconsin.
"The fact that he had gone to the trouble of mentioning his Irish status and loneliness might suggest he was listening for a specific reason and should have acted as a hint to play some Irish music," comments McCarthy. "If the listeners ask for nostalgia it can't hurt to give it to them."
"But Chambers blithely dedicated the next song to him, a piece of Anglo-pop by Cliff Richard. She went on to describe it as "a lovely record" with "a lovely picture of Cliff on the sleeve". Internet radio may be growing, but it doesn't yet come with pictures. You could almost feel the wince from Wisconsin."
And of the other host: "Val Joyce, meanwhile, Late Date's alternate host, grows ever more unpredictable and has turned into a kind of technophobic gremlin. His machinery seizes up on a nightly basis: there are long pauses, sighs and the sound of records starting and stopping mid song. Frequently the wrong tune emerges and Joyce sounds bewildered by the buttons in front of him."
"It is hard to know what listeners overseas make of this. Joyce's oddball routines have certainly gained him a cult following, but his act - if it is an act - is predicated on the assumption we are all in this together, sharing saints' birthdays and malfunctioning equipment in the small hours in Ireland."
"Internet radio," concluded McCarthy, "is not about to take over: for one thing, it is still largely tied to computers and fixed phone lines. But this is changing. In a few years we might all be listening online Radio has grown up with a precise body clock based on the deep assumption that broadcaster and audience are in the same time zone. If this assumption breaks down, programmes will need to find a new circadian rhythm."
One of the ways in which people may be listening to internet radio, although McCarthy makes nothing of it, is the mobile phone and in the US XM CEO Hugh Panero indicated in a Reuters report by Sue Zeidler that he expected significant listening to satellite radio by the same route within the next five years.
"Obviously, our core base is people who listen to radio in the home and car and now in the mobile market, and I think that as other distribution points present themselves, whether it be cellphones, or other mobile devices, we obviously can have a place in that," Panero told Reuters.
He noted that XM had held discussions with other service providers and hardware manufacturers and that these groups had a natural interest in providing content to get people to buy their services.
"We're a natural place that people want to go to explore how we can do things together. Then you get a lot of engineers together and as long as they're all motivated and in the same room, magic can happen. And that's what I think will happen over the next five years," he said.
Panero also featured prominently in a report on satellite radio by Annys Shin in the Washington Post that looked not only at the competitive situation in the field but also at some of Panero's own background and experience.
He was a pioneer in pay-per-view TV as well as in subscription radio, something he had faith in when few others did.
He was also credited with one crucial decision that has led to XM's massive subscription lead over Sirius, that of moving technology in house whereas Sirius contracted out development of its microchips. That key decision meant that despite being behind on the launch of its satellites, XM was a year ahead of Sirius, whose chips were not ready on schedule, when it came to selling its service
Panero, says the report, was also responsible for the company's name: He joined what was then start-up American Mobile Radio Corp. when Request TV, where he was chief executive, was merged with Viewers Choice and he lost the battle to become CEO of the new company.
One of his first tasks was to come up with a catchier name and XM chairman Gary M. Parsons commented, "I would have never thought of that. That's why we hired him."
Panero and Parsons were also responsible for the company's crucial relationships with General Motors Corp. and Honda Motor Co., which became investors in XM, owning 5 and 8 percent stakes, respectively.
They now offer XM as a standard, factory-installed feature in more than 100 models of cars and trucks and together installed XM receivers in 1.2 million vehicles in their 2004 model year.
XM is also chasing other distribution channels including airlines and internet streaming and this year signed a deal with Starbucks Coffee Co. to create XM's Hear Music channel, which features adult contemporary music that evokes the Starbucks lifestyle and will eventually be piped into Starbucks stores. In addition, Microsoft recently imbedded XM in its new Media Center.
"In this kind of business, what you did today is forgotten quickly," Panero said. "We have to find new and innovative ways to reach people."
Rival Sirius, which has not yet caught up on the technological front is now headed by former Viacom President and COO Mel Karmazin, who also lost out in a battle to head his former company.
Before he made the move he was not so positive about satellite's future and Panero commented, "A short time ago, [Karmazin] was telling anyone who would listen that satellite radio would never amount to anything. All I can say is [Karmazin's appointment] an interesting confirmation of the validity of satellite radio. We set the groundwork for people realizing this is the new platform for entertainment. I'm glad we could provide Mr. Karmazin with gainful employment."
Even before Karmazin moved over it had staked much of its fortune on content, particularly building up its sports cover, and it has now added Howard Stern, a long-time protégé of Karmazin's.
It too has links with major automobile manufacturers including BMW, Daimler-Chrysler, and Ford, but they are not shareholders and so far have appeared less committed to its service than GM and Honda have been to XM.
It recapitalized last year, reducing its long-term debt and boosting its cash position, a big factor in enabling it to go for the big deals but is has a long haul. It spends much more to acquire a subscriber - around USD 229 - than XM, which spends USD 67 and only has a third as many subscribers - around 800,000 to 2.5 million so far.
However Sirius says it is closing the gap and analysts say that the market for satellite radio could reach 25 to 30 million, enough to support both companies.
Although Stern was expensive, too expensive considered XM at around USD 100 million a year for five years, he has certainly increased Sirius's public profile as well as costing its bottom line as has its USD 200 million NFL (National Football League) deals: So for XM has its USD650 million, 10-year contract to carry Major League Baseball games
The crucial question for analysts is whether for Sirius, which is so far behind, the high costs could take the company down if the deals don't pull in subscribers. Karmazin has been seen as a big plus in terms of keeping costs down, big-name talent on board, and aggressive pursuit of revenue.
His appointment increased the value of Sirius stock by around a third and if a tenth of Stern's weekly 20 million listeners follow him and take the Sirius service that deal will pay for itself handsomely.
In addition Karmazin is also expected to pull in additional income through a combination of advertising deals - mainly for talk channels but not to the extent of creating the ad clutter that exists on terrestrial broadcasters - and sponsorships for music channels where advertisers would not want to be associated with interrupting the flow of music but would like to be seen as supporting a service that pleases the subscribers.
RNW comment: Were there to be a major downturn in the US economy soon, and at the rate the US has been outspending its earnings we're pretty sure it will come some time, both satellite companies could be in big trouble. However if the situation remains buoyant for long enough to take satellite radio to break-even or cut its losses to a sustainable level we think there's a strong chance of both companies surviving.
We happen to think they'd both do better in the long term were they to co-operate to the degree that a single receiver could handle both their signals but in the short term don't see this as a significant factor.
If they do survive, we see the real long-term battle to be one of content but again would see some benefits in co-operation as well as competition in this area if combined service receivers were available since we suspect that were there a combined package at a moderate discount- say 20 USD a month rather than the 23 to take each service separately - the balance would be an overall increase in income.
However on now to content and material that is available on the internet without charge. As always because of that restriction and the fact that we opt to recommend programming that we are fairly sure will be available, the recommendations tend towards public broadcasters if only because of their much more extensive on-demand service and wider range - a great argument if one is ever needed to keep public service broadcasting reasonably funded.
They also offer much longer and more comprehensive programming as well as with out first recommendation this week, BBC Radio 3's Drama on 3 on Sunday, a new production of Edward Albee's Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? that ran 2 hours 45 minute and featured Juliet Stephenson as Martha, Alex Jennings as George, Anastasia Hille as Honey and William Hope as Nick.
For drama with more of a seasonal flavour, the Classic Serial on Sunday was Dickens' The Pickwick Papers, the first of four one-hour programmes.
And for timely drama and documentary, the Friday Play last week on the channel was a drama-documentary, told in the form of a poem and a drama, on the Bhopal tragedy in India on December 3 1984 when a leak of poisonous methyl isocyanate gas from the Union Carbide pesticide plant killed some 3,500 immediately, and has in all killed some 15,000 as well as causing illness of varying severity to some 500,000.
Tonight the station follows up with a plain documentary An Accident Waiting to Happen? In which the BBC's then correspondent in India Mark Tully examines new evidence about safety lapses that may have contributed to the disaster and asks how much responsibility should be taken by senior executives at the company's US headquarters.
Union Carbide paid USD 470 million in compensation under a settlement with India's government but much of it is still tied up in Indian bureaucracy, most of the victims have received little or no compensation and the state government that took over legal responsibility for the site in 1998 has done little to clean it up.
Compared to this, the cover from US National Public Radio, commendably much more than that of mainstream commercial media, ran a comparatively scant 5 minutes although at least it brought to the attention of US listeners the abysmal quality of the efforts made to deal with the problems subsequently and ought to give some food for thought as to what could happen elsewhere in other plants.
RNW comment: Bearing in mind the scale of the disaster (a larger ultimate death toll than that of the infamous chemical attack by Saddam Hussein's forces on Halabja where some 12,000 Kurds from a population of around 70,000 were killed in 1988) the amounts paid pale into insignificance compared to what would have been at stake had the accident happened in the US - see Union Carbide's own chronology for details.
Tomorrow File on 4 (20:00 GMT) looks at the issues surrounding British military deaths in Iraq, some two-thirds of which were caused not by enemy action, but by 'friendly fire', faulty equipment, poor training and other organisational factors.
For those interested in dramatic technique as well as drama, Radio 4 on Sunday aired the second of its three-part series RADA 100 years on, looking at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art and BBC Radio 2 tomorrow (20:30 GMT) airs Judi at 70, a celebration of the life of Dame Judi Dench who has been a star of the English stage for almost half a century.
It's followed by A Love Supreme the first of four programmes programming the great saxophonist John Coltrane.
For music, starting tonight at 21:30 GMT on BBC 6 Music and running until Thursday at the same time comes in the "6 Music Plays it Again" slot four days of Liverpool - A New Wave, featuring material chosen by Nicky Wire of Manic Street Preachers.
For comedy-documentary we go back to BBC Radio 4 and the Archive Hour that on Saturday evening (Still on the web site) in Clydebuilt Comics hosted by Nicholas Parsons, himself a former Clydeside apprentice, looked at how the humour of the Clydeside shipyards launched the careers of some of Scotland's comic talent. For non-Scots some of the accents are a little difficult to grasp on fist hearing, but the ability to listen twice helps with this.
Also on Radio 4 at 18:30 on Wednesday is Double Trouble, the first of five in the series, that this week looks at Bud Flanagan and Chesney Allen and for comedy itself we'd again recommend the Now Show (Friday, Radio 4, 18:30 GMT).
And finally for something that should last: It's A Bible for our Time, an illustrated handwritten bible for the 21st Century which is being created using a mix of ancient and modern techniques that should give it a life of a thousand years. The story of its genesis and creation is told on BBC Radio 4 at 11:30 GMT on Thursday.
UK Sunday Times - McCarthy:
Reuters - Zeidler:
Washington Post - Shin:
2004-12-06: Milwaukee radio host Mike McGee has been taken off the air by WNOV-AM owner Jerrel Jones following his use of the "F-word" in reference to lawmakers who criticized a central city social service agency that funded his show (See RNW Dec 4).
Jones, who had had the licence for 35 years, told the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel he would not risk his licence and that if he puts McGee back on the air he would install a delay device so any offensive words blurted by McGee or callers could be bleeped. He also said he wanted to change the "Word Warriors" show so that sponsors paid the station rather than McGee. He said he would review tapes of McGee's show before deciding whether to put the show back on air and is to make on on-air apology today in addition to offering an apology through the newspaper.
Jones insists he suspended the show but McGee, who when called by the paper did not apologize, said he had "voluntarily suspended" the show for the sake of the radio station, and commented of his criticisms. "It was offensive and it was meant to be offensive, based on (legislators') stupid actions related to OIC (Opportunities Industrialization Center of Greater Milwaukee)."
He also repeated allegations that the criticism of the OIC, whose staff and clientele are predominantly African-American, was racially motivated, saying, "White people hate black people, and they hate black leaders more than anything. That's what it comes down to."
Although Jones has taken the show off for now, he did offer some understanding comments about the action, saying to the paper auditors were wrong in concluding the shows offered little specifically relevant to the Center's clients and adding, "It's a quasi public service. There's not a dime in this kind of thing."
He added that McGee's remark was prompted by righteous indignation over the state action against OIC, saying, "He just got hot about it; he just felt it was so unfair what happened."
He also said McGee's sometimes strong language - including this week's obscenity and referring to blacks as "niggers" - was more acceptable to his largely African-American audience than to a broader audience.
RNW Comment: We don't think McGee is doing himself much of a service in this case but as background would note that last month in a column largely centred on McGee's show, Eugene Kane in the Journal-Sentinel noted the support the host had garnered from his listeners. He concluded: "As for McGee, if he loses his program because of a lack of financial support, it's a great loss for Milwaukee. It would mean one of the voices that truly cares about the plight of black people would be silenced, while the ones who don't continue to be heard.
Journal-Sentinel report on suspension:
Journal Sentinel - Kane column:
2004-12-06: The Australian Broadcasting Corporation has won all the 2004 radio awards - for news reporting, current affairs, and feature, documentary or broadcast special- in the country's premier journalism awards, the Walkleys.
The radio reporting award went to Peter Cave for his report of an incident in which he, his diver/translator and cameraman were putting on body armour at a location in western Baghdad when they were confronted by masked gunmen who were holding American Thomas Hamill hostage: The resulting exclusive got major cover round the world when Hamill later escaped.
Cave has previously won two Walkleys for his coverage of the Tiananmen Square massacre and the fall of the Berlin Wall.
The judges commented of this year's award: "This was a courageous news scoop. It had all the elements of current affairs as well as breaking news, and a great use of natural sound. Cave kept his cool and the tape running as he confronted and reported on an extremely dangerous situation to the extent that he was thinking about his narratives as they drove along the highway. An exceptional, gutsy, piece of news reporting."
The current affairs award went to Rafael Epstein and Nick McKenzie of the Corporation's AM and PM programmes for an investigation into police corruption that made national headlines in Australia. The judges commented that "McKenzie and Epstein asked complex questions about fundamental weaknesses in the oversight and accountability controls in Victoria's police force - notably the folly of the Ombudsman's oversight being reliant on police investigators. Despite significant pressure, they told their story well and had a major impact on public debate."
The third award for Feature, documentary or broadcast special went to a Radio National team of Phillip Adams, Chris Bullock, Mary Louise O'Callaghan and Paul Gough for their "Solomon Islands Series" that in the words of the judges, "took the listener on a journey to the Solomons, not only breaking the news, but also creating a result - a change in the policy."
Previous ABC Australia:
Walkley Awards web site:
2004-12-05: Last week was very quiet for most of the regulators with no major decisions and few minor ones.
There was nothing from Australia or Ireland and in Canada the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) was mainly involved in TV decisions with a few radio ones thrown in: In order of province they included:
*Withdrawal by Aboriginal Voices Radio Inc. (AVR) to add an AM transmitter at Abbotsford to broadcast the programming of the Aboriginal-language radio station at Vancouver.
Administrative approval from 1 December 20041 to 30 June 2005 of a number of licence renewals that the commission will not be able to rule on until the current licences expire.
They were for:
*CKYK-FM Alma and its transmitter CKYK-FM-1 Alma
*CIEU-FM Carleton and its transmitter CIEU-FM-1 Paspéiac
*CFIN-FM Lac Etchemin and its transmitters CFIN-FM-1 Armagh, CFIN-FM-2 Saint-Malachie, CFIN-FM-3 Saint-Anselme, and CFIN-FM-4 Saint-Jean de l'Ile d'Orléans
Approval of new 100,000 watts English-language FM in North Battleford. It is to carry a format aimed at a younger audience including rock and rock-oriented music, as well as youth-oriented news, sports and information programming.
Approval of new 45,000 watts FM at Meadow Lake to replace CJNS-AM: The Commission denied a request to simulcast the programming on CJNS for six months and only approved three months of simulcasting.
In the UK Ofcom was mainly involved with TV, announcing details of its digital plans for existing analogue TV channels. It also gave more details of its plans to allow spectrum trading and in its latest complains bulletin upheld one complaint against radio (See RNW Nov 30).
In the US controversy continues over indecency and media regulations with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) being allowed an extra month to ask the US Supreme Curt to consider the issue of the latter (See RNW Dec 2).
Also on that issue, Democrat Commissioners Michael J. Copps and Jonathan S. Adelstein have announced the agenda for a forum on media concentration to be held on Thursday at Hamline University, St. Paul, Minnesota.
The hearing will be organized into panels on "Local News and Information," and "Media Diversity and after the panels members of the general public will be able to make comments.
The FCC has also given details of penalty payments that will be due in connection with its recent FM Auction 37 (See RNW Dec 3) and also approved the Clear Channel purchase of an additional North Dakota licence in a majority vote over the objections of the two Democrats (Also RNW Dec 3).
In connection with its forthcoming AM Auction 84, it has ruled out a number of applications for failure to file on time using the correct form.
On the enforcement front there were no penalties on broadcasters although penalties of USD 10,000 each were issued to two tower owners for obstruction lighting offences.
Previous Licence News:
CRTC web site:
FCC web site:
Ofcom web site:
2004-12-05: The Conservative Christian web site laptoplobbyist has posted on its site an audio file of the voicemail that led to Philadelphia freelance Rachel Buchman leaving the city's public radio station WHYY-FM.
In it Buchman, who left a WHYY number as her number and her name continued, "I wanted to tell you that you're evil, horrible people. You're awful people. You represent horrible ideas. God hates you and he wants to kill your children. You should all burn in hell. Bye."
Following publication by the site of the content she resigned from the station, offered apologies "to anyone who I may have personally offended" and said she had lost her temper.
"It was a personal matter that was turned into a public issue," she told the Philadelphia Inquirer. "Rather than call my journalistic integrity into question, I decided to resign for personal reasons."
She said she finally grew frustrated at the group's frequent emails advocating conservative causes, and that one opposing gay rights was the last straw.
The station in a statement said it was not their policy to discuss personnel issues and said the exchange between Buchman and the Web site "was a personal matter related to e-mails she received at home and did not directly involve WHYY."
Laptoplobbylist executive director Chris Carmouche, told the paper he'd had no personal dealings with Buchman before and learned of her WHYY tie when he returned her call.
He later e-mailed his 150,000 members a transcript of the message and a link to an audio clip of it, saying he did so "to put some perspective on the term 'media bias.' In many cases, we're finding it to be too soft of a term to describe the journalistic activism and outright hatred that some of the younger journalists are exhibiting these days."
The site says that it has "received tons of requests for the voicemail we received from Rachel Buchman. Therefore, we are linking to an MP3 file of the voicemail that has stirred this literal hornet's nest of controversy."
Michael Smerconish, the conservative breakfast host of WPHT-AM, which broadcast the MP3, in an op-ed in the paper went onto the attack on the basis that, "The fact that someone on the payroll of NPR would think that the operators of a conservative Web site "represent horrible ideas" is the most offensive, but least surprising, aspect of the brouhaha. NPR has long been a hotbed of liberal activism."
He also went on to add an attack on the basis that her salary and that of her colleagues was paid by, "People like me who voluntarily write checks to support public radio, but more importantly, ALL Americans, through taxpayer support Those days should end. How many of us want our tax dollars to keep funding NPR's Rachels? Or any other ideologue?"
RNW comment: The comments are indefensible, leaving the phone number certainly indicates someone who had lost something of judgment as well as her "temper" and we think the resignation was unavoidable.
At the same time crowing about it and attacking NPR seems to use to lack both taste and a sense of perspective. The individual concerned has almost certainly wrecked her career and her employer would certainly not have approved of the remarks.
Laptoplobbyist web site:
Philadelphia Inquirer report:
2004-12-04: US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) chairman Michael K. Powell says that new US media regulations may not be established for up to seven years according to a Reuters report.
It says that Powell in a speech to the Practicing Law Institute's annual telecommunications policy and regulation conference held in Washington, DC, commented of the regulatory issue, "I think, sadly, it's going take a good five to seven years to get it untangled and settled again I don't mean any one proceeding, I just mean a reestablishment of both a framework and a national consensus about what it ought to be."
Commenting on the FCC's attempt to put new rules in place - the rules were passed by a majority Republican vote and proposed in June last year - he said, "I think the regret is not that the rules weren't put in place, but only that I think it's now created a fairly chaotic and confused media environment at a time that I think is going to be really troubling to the industry and consumers."
The new regulations proposed by the Commission are now held up in court proceedings and the Commission currently has until January next year to decide whether to ask the US Supreme Court to consider the matter (See RNW Dec 2).
Powell has also taken up another thorny issue for the Commission in an Op-Ed in the New York Times headed, "Don't Expect the Government to Be a V-Chip."
In it he comments on the "high pitch" in which the issue of indecency regulation is being considered and goes on, "It is no surprise that those who make a handsome living by selling saucy fare rant the loudest - it drives up the ratings. The news media further fan the flames, obsessed with "culture war" stories that slot Americans into blue-state and red-state camps."
Overheated words, however, obscure what should be an important debate over two American values that are, at times, in tension."
Powell then deals with the conflicts at issue, writing, "As one deeply suspicious of government involvement in the regulation of content, I understand and often agree with those who stand up for the cherished value of free speech. But as a parent, I respect the desire of the American people for a minimum level of decency on the public airwaves - particularly where their children are concerned."
He then deals with the FCC rules as laid down, the need to make a judgment in content - a reason he says why they cannot be too proscriptive - and notes, "But we are not the federal Bureau of Indecency. We do not watch or listen to programs hoping to catch purveyors of dirty broadcasts. Instead, we rely on public complaints to point out potentially indecent shows."
Taking up the issue of complaints he writes, "In recent years, complaints about television and radio broadcasts have skyrocketed, and the F.C.C. has stepped up its enforcement in response. Advocacy groups do generate many complaints, as our critics note, but that's not unusual in today's Internet world.
"We are very familiar with organized protests when it comes to media issues, but that fact does not minimize the merits of the groups' concerns. Under the law, we must independently evaluate whether a program violates the standard, no matter whether the program in question generates a single complaint or thousands."
RNW comment: No indeed! But if as one analysis showed, most of the complaints are obviously spurred by a particular lobbying group and are identical or near identical, this should be taken into account. We would suggest that at the very least the FCC should have a standard reply e-mail to any such complaints e-mailed in saying something on the lines of, "Your complaint is identical or near identical to many others we have received. We would appreciate it if you could be more specific in your comments and let us have your personal views.
If no response were received, the complaints would count as one "master lobby complaint" but when people can be bothered to send an individual response, it gets added to the total number. The FCC should have to post statistical details of all programmes complained about with these categories in, which would show up the degree of concern somewhat better than now!
Powell also comments that fines, the normal response in an indecency case had become trivial, points out a prohibition on advance banning - censorship - of a programme, and the different rules for broadcast material and that on cable or the internet because terrestrial broadcasters use "a public resource, the airwaves."
"Yes, it is strange that First Amendment protections are weaker or stronger depending on what channel you are watching, but under current Supreme Court precedent that's the way it is. And I believe that any effort to extend regulation of content to other media would be contrary to the Constitution."
He concludes by writing," We take all these limitations seriously and believe we have acted in a balanced manner. If one slices through the rhetoric, you'll find that most opponents of the agency's strong enforcement efforts believe that the government simply should not impose any decency standard at all. Berating citizens who believe in values and reasonable limits is insulting and polarizing and distracts from the legitimate issues of this policy debate. Critics of the law should instead focus their efforts on changing the law, if that's what they want. Until then, the American people have a right to expect that the F.C.C. will continue to fulfil its duty of upholding the law, while being fully cognizant of the delicate First Amendment balance that must be struck."
RNW comment: Powell is certainly "playing to the gallery" in some of these comments and we consider him to be blinkered, playing dumb or being disingenuous. In particular, the difference between regulation of material on public airwaves and that you have to subscribe to doesn't seem strange at all to us. There is an obvious difference between choosing to consume something and being put in a situation where you cannot avoid it - smoking in private of your own volition and breathing in smoke in a public place would be another example." However we think he is likely to be correct about the likely reaction of the courts in terms of the US constitution.
New York Times - Powell:
2004-12-04: UK Capital Radio has announced that Welsh radio host Zoe Hanson, who currently works on its Red Dragon station in south Wales, is to take over from Becky Jago as the new sidekick for Johnny Vaughan on his Capital FM breakfast show.
Capital announced in October that it was not to renew the contract of Jago, who had joined the show when it was hosted by Chris Tarrant (See RNW Oct 24).
Hanson, who is 30, has co-hosted Red Dragon's breakfast show for four years: Her profile on the show's section of the station web site says of her "Little Miss Naughty! Need we say more?"
Her own page would seem to indicate that Capital may be targeting the hair product and drink advertisers: "In her spare time, Zoe loves nothing more than getting her hair done (she changes the colour and style at least once a month) and going out drinking with her mates. Nothing wrong with that once in a while but she does confess that the latter "usually ends up in a mess."
It does not mention previous jobs with GWR in Bath and Bristol but notes that her career has included dressing up as the Duracell Bunny at The Motor Show, repping at Butlin's [the holiday camp company] and driving an ice cream van back to the UK from Ibiza!
Commenting on the appointment Capital FM managing director Keith Pringle told the UK Guardian Hanson had been chosen because she had the "right chemistry" and added "We wanted someone who has a big personality to stand up to Johnny's. It was important to find someone on his wavelength - he goes from subject to subject very quickly and needs someone to keep up, who can lob up lines for him to smash down... "We wanted someone who was a real supporter of women, who can put the female side. In a team with a lot of blokes, the girl really has to stand up and be counted."
Hanson said she was a huge Vaughan fan and had landed her "dream job" and Vaughan returned the compliment, saying: "She's an absolute diamond."
Red Dragon web site:
UK Guardian report:
2004-12-04: Yet another Wisconsin radio host seems likely to end up in hot water following recent controversial broadcasts by Madison WTDY-AM host John "Sly" Sylvester, who attacked Condoleezza Rice and Colin Powell (See RNW Nov 25) and Milwaukee WISN-AM host Mark Belling who used the epithet "wetback" in a comment claiming that Hispanics were likely to vote illegally (See RNW Nov 9).
The latest is Milwaukee WNOV-AM host Mike McGee who according to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel used an "obscenity a version of the F-word" [RNW comment - as the term was apparently used to indicate stupidity, we assume the common four-letter word had wit added to it] on air during an attack on state lawmakers who had criticized a central city social service agency that has funded his show.
The paper says the comments were made during the host's "Word Warrior " programme in which he said the Opportunities Industrialization Center of Greater Milwaukee had been unfairly criticized in a state audit and by legislators at a hearing Wednesday.
The agency has provided about USD176, 000 since 1997 in Wisconsin Works welfare reform money to sponsor McGee's Thursday show but its new leaders have said they will end their support for the show, in response the audit. In a review of around 85 of McGee's shows it found little content specific to the W-2 program though many of the shows' topics would be likely to be of interest to poor W-2 clients.
Jerrel Jones, WNOV's owner, who has already said the programme could be taken off air unless the W2 funding can be made up, said he hadn't hear the show but added of the "obscenity", "If he was using it, it'll never be used again."
McGee said criticism of the W-2 funding of his show was an attempt to get him off the air and added that race bias by state officials was evident in the decision to turn over a portion of the agency's W-2 contract to YW Works, which he termed a "white" agency.
The audit found several hundred thousand dollars of questionable or improper W-2 spending by the agency, including about USD 300,000 in kickbacks funnelled to then-state Sen. Gary R. George and the state Department of Workforce Development has ordered the agency to repay nearly USD 445,000, including a portion of the money that went to McGee.
Green Bay Republican Sen. Robert Cowles told the paper the language was an empty substitute for a response to the criticism of the agency and added of the Opportunities Industrialization Center, "This is an organization that hasn't been accountable. It's been a gravy train."
2004-12-03: US radio advertising revenues reported by the US Radio Advertising Bureau (RAB) in October were up 1% on a year ago as a 6% jump in national revenues more than made up for a 1% fall in local ones: in addition, non-spot revenue for the month was up 11%
Year to date revenues are now up 3% on a year ago made up of a 1% fall in national figures that was outweighed by a 2% increase in local advertising.
RAB's Sales Index, which equates pre-dot com base year 1998 to 100 was a combined 124.3 for October with the local index at 117.8 and the national one 135.3.
For the year to date, non-spot revenues were also up 11% and combined revenues were up 2% with local revenues up 3% but national revenues down 2%: The corresponding indices were 139.4, 138.6 and 142.4.
RAB President and CEO Gary Fries said the "national sector's return to healthy figures will help Radio finish the year with modest, but positive, results. Local has sustained the medium through a turbulent year. As we move into 2005, all indicators point to continued stability in all segments of the Radio business."
Previous RAB & RAB monthly figures (Sep 2004):
2004-12-03: In a sign that some radio station owners are taking new technologies seriously, Harvey Wells, Newsweb vice-president and radio group manager and the man who is behind Chicago's new Nine FM and formerly ran WXRT-FM as well as creating the Score sports-talk franchise as head of Infinity's Chicago radio stations has told the Chicago Tribune his competition isn't other stations but the woman who has downloaded more songs on her iPod than the average music station has on its playlist; the guy who bought a car with a satellite radio.
"When you spend that kind of money to hear the 700 songs you picked, or USD12.99 a month for 100 radio channels, it's an entirely new paradigm," said Wells. "We have to do something to reconnect with listeners."
Newsweb Corporation, which has just closed its acquisition of three frequencies from Spanish Broadcasting System (See RNW Dec 2) has been airing the format since June on its WRZA-FM frequency and has now added it to the WKIE-FM and WDEK-FM frequencies it acquired from SBS along with WKIF-FM.
Wells noted that this wasn't like the free-form radio of the 70s: "We don't say, 'We play everything.' We say, 'We play anything,' " he said.
The three signals pose some problems because listeners travelling around Chicago may have to retune but the station is trying to capitalise on this with the boast, "We play so much music, we need three buttons."
Adam Jacobson, radio editor for Radio & Records told the Tribune, "That will certainly be a challenge in and of itself. Very rarely have you seen stations that broadcast on different frequencies become a success. But it can be done. There's a couple Mexican stations out here in Los Angeles like that and they're competing head-to-head with the big boys."
Musical direction for the format has been entrusted to Sky Daniels, former WLUP-FM programme director and a successful businessman who was heard on WLUP by Wells after he had been invited to fill in a "20th anniversary stint."
He was offered a blank canvas and launched the station with 9,999 songs in a row, aiming for the 25- to 54-year-old demographic.
"I figured, `They listened to me when they were 16? They're 38 now. Perfect,'" he told the Tribune, adding of the response from listeners, "What I didn't think of was that a 25-year-old has never heard a broad-based radio station. For them, it was like, `You guys are nuts. What are you doing?' The younger demos' response is what made me go, `Hey, wait a minute. There's more here than I even bargained for.'"
Among his hires are Chicago radio veterans Johnny Mars and Mitch Michaels: Mars commented, "I don't believe people like one type of music. Depending on their moods, they like diverse music. Even casual listeners -- if we can give them some things that they know, they'll be more willing to put up with a song or two they don't."
Also in Chicago, Emmis has now taken over the running of WLUP-FM from Bonneville International under a previously announced swap in which Bonneville gained three Phoenix stations (See RNW Oct 5). Emmis is running the station under a time brokerage arrangement until the deal gets regulatory approval and is completed.
Marv Nyren, formerly Emmis Radio Regional Vice President/Market Manager of Emmis-Phoenix, has begun his duties as Regional Vice President/Market Manager of Emmis-Chicago.
Chicago Tribune report:
2004-12-03: UK Daily Mail & General Trust (DMGT) reported a 15% rise in pre-tax profits to GBP 125 million (USD 240 million) on turnover up 9% to GBP 1.11 billion (USD 4.06 billion) in its financial year to October 3 but has warned of an uncertain advertising market although it notes an encouraging start to the new financial year.
It also commented, "Continuing US dollar weakness will also reduce the sterling value of the Group's growing US profits."
Within DGMT's divisions broadcasting reported turnover up 5% to GBP 122 million (USD 234.5 million) but operating profit was down 5% to GBP 19.4 million (USD 37.3 million) as TV turnover went down 3% to GBP 75 million (USD 144million) and TV and operating profit went down 15% to GBP 15.6 million (USD 30 million).
Radio, however, performed strongly with turnover up 21% to GBP 47 million (USD 90 million) with operating profit up 90% to GBP 3.8 million (USD 7.3 million).
During the year it spent GBP 106 million (USD 203.8 million) on acquiring Australian FM licences and launched its Nova station in Adelaide plus stations on the Sunshine Coast and Central Coast. It says its Sydney Nova station now has margins above 30%.
It also disposed of its DMG regional radio holdings for GBP 77 Million (USD 148 million - see RNW Sept 3):
2004-12-03: The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has approved, with dissent from the two Democrats on the Commission, Clear Channel's acquisition of a construction permit for KDAM-FM, Hope, North Dakota, from Michael Radio Group.
The Commission's media bureau had in May 2001 denied an application from Monterey Licenses, L.L.C., which owns stations in the Fargo Market, to refuse the application on the basis that Clear Channel already controlled six of the 14 stations in the market and 53.2% of its advertising revenue.
Monterey had used an Arbitron market basis to calculate the stations owned by Clear Channel and the FCC says in its ruling, "The staff correctly rejected Monterey's contention that the KDAM-FM acquisition violates the numerical limits contained in the Commission's local radio ownership rule" under the definitions then in force that were based on contours.
It adds that it also disagrees with Monterey's claim that the transaction raised antitrust concerns warranting denial or deferral of action, saying that as an unbuilt station the new capacity would add new choices in the market for listeners and advertisers and notes that since the grant of the assignment Clear Channel's advertising revenue share in the market had fallen from 53.6% to 50.1% despite the addition of the new station.
Dissenting from the decision, Commissioners Michael J Copps and Jonathan S. Adelstein in a statement noted that Clear Channel already controlled over half the advertising in the market and with the next largest owner the control was 90%.
"Given this extreme level of market concentration, " they wrote, "we cannot support grant of this transfer absent additional information on the public interest benefits of the transaction. Yet, here, the majority has not even considered the public interest benefits or harms. We are troubled by the trend toward greater and greater consolidation of the media, particularly in smaller radio markets, and this Commission's acceptance of such levels of concentration with hardly any analysis."
The FCC has also published details of all bidders in its recently completed FM Auction 37 that shows penalties to be paid by bidders who had withdrawn high bids: Under the auction rules they are liable for either the difference between the bid that was withdrawn and the subsequent winning bid or, if the permit was not ultimately taken, a fee of 3% of the withdrawn bid.
The total in withdrawal penalties came to USD 1,559,186 and College Creek Broadcasting, which cumulatively was the highest bidder in the auction is liable for USD 844,950 of this: it ended up with 38 high bids totalling USD 35,556,000 (See RNW Nov 24); Second-placed Bigglesworth Broadcasting, which had ten high bids is facing a penalty of USD 26,813; third-placed Kemp Communications with two high bids is facing a penalty of USD 118,082; fourth-placed Cumulus Licensing LLC, which ended up with seven high bids is liable to USD 115,020 in fees and fifth-placed Radioactive, LLC with 21 high bids has no penalty.
Previous Clear Channel:
2004-12-02: The staff at Boston business station WBIX-AM have now been dismissed after a court-appointed receiver put the station in the hands of former owner Alex Langer, who has already started operating it under a local marketing agreement with a paid and talk format.
Businessman Chris Egan, who backed out of a deal to buy the station from Brad Bleidt, who had bought it using his money belonging to clients of his financial services company and then attempted suicide, had kept the station's business format running until the end of November under an agreement with receiver David Vicinanzo.
Langer told the Boston Herald he'd had numerous expressions of interest in purchasing WBIX or partnering with it and the paper says sources close to him estimate its value at more than USD 10 million.
Langer is owed more than USD 7 million towards the purchase of the station and has a secured claim on it: Vicinanzo said the agreement with Langer would facilitate the eventual sale of the station "at the most favourable price'' for the benefit of those allegedly defrauded by Bleidt.
Langer said in a written statement, "By taking immediate steps to make WBIX profitable, the station's value will be substantially increased. That, in turn, can be used to compensate those who have suffered financial losses.''
The Herald reports that around 16 WBIX workers who'd remained on at the station despite uncertainty about its future were told on Tuesday that they were out of a job and adds that Langer plans to hire back between four and six operational workers to run the station while he and Vicinanzo look for a buyer or a business partnership that could leave Langer with a stake.
In other US radio business news, Spanish Broadcasting System (SBS) has closed the previously announced sale of its suburban Chicago radio stations WDEK-FM, WKIE-FM and WKIF-FM to Newsweb Corporation for USD 28 million in cash.
Boston Herald report:
2004-12-02: The BBC is likely to be funded through a licence-fee system for the next decade following release of a paper on an independent review of the Corporation's activities conducted by a group chaired by Labour peer Lord (Terry) Burns.
The paper will be presented tomorrow at the last of a series of "informed seminars" in which key issues relating to the Corporation have been debated in front of invited audiences: The findings will feed into a Green Paper to be published early next year and followed in due course by a White Paper.
The review says that, although the situation may change once analogue TV is switched off and it is possible to charge for access, "the balance of the debate lies in favour of the licence fee for the time being."
In the longer term the paper suggests that this may change, writing, "Our view is that for the longer term, i.e. beyond the next Charter, the choice will be between maintaining the present type of licence fee and moving to a more mixed form of funding the BBC."
It warns, however that "Any move away from the licence fee is likely to involve a move to subscription If the subscription is voluntary some people will choose not to pay and there will be less money going to the BBC unless alternative sources of funding are found."
Possible options suggested are subscription, government grants and advertising, but for radio it concludes that public funding will have to continue:" We are conscious that these arguments do not apply to radio where conditional access is not available and there is no experience of paying for radio services. Whatever form of funding develops for television it is likely to continue to be necessary to have a stream of public funding for BBC radio."
The report notes concerns raised about how far BBC radio channels intrude into areas they serve, commenting, "There was general agreement that BBC radio has been successful in establishing a distinctive presence with most of its services that were often complementary to the commercial sector, notably Radio 3 and 4. But in some cases the commercial sector argued for a clearer remit for BBC radio services, such as Radio 1 and 2, and a consultative process in the event of a desire to change the remit."
The BBC Board of Governors welcomed the paper, commenting, "It is a thoughtful document informed by the panel's substantial work to date and we look forward to debating the issues it raises at the Governance Seminar on Friday."
Burns paper (25 page - 125 KB PDF):
2004-12-02: A former nanny for US radio host Don Imus is suing the host, NBC, and Westwood One over her dismissal by the host and comments he made on the Imus in the Morning show calling her a "terrorist" and saying he had been forced to "disarm" her when she took a cap gun and pocket-knife with her on a trip to the host's New Mexico ranch during Thanksgiving last year.
The complaint, posted on the internet by the Smoking Gun, was filed by lawyers Benedict P. Morelli and Associates, who represented conservative host Bill O'Reilly's former producer Andrea Mackris who in October settled a sexual harassment case against him (See RNW Oct 30).
The nanny, Nichole Mallette, says in the lawsuit that she was hired as a full-time nanny to their five-years-old son by the host and his wife, Deirdre, a month before the trip and boy "boasted" to her that he kept cap guns at the ranch and was allowed to play with them under supervision: She promised to take her paper-cap gun so they could play "cowboys" and once there she wore the 1.5 inch (3.8 cm) sheathed in a leather harness on her belt when she and the boy went hiking.
She says that after this she was awakened at around midnight on Thanksgiving by Deirdre Imus who "hysterically " questioned her about the knife and paper cap-gun: She explained the circumstances and was told Deirdre Imus would speak to her again in the morning but then was woken by pounding at her bedroom door around 1A.M. and when she opened the door was "angrily confronted" by the Imus's, who demanded to see the gun and knife, and then told "Pack your things. You're terminated" and that she would be taken to the airport at 4A.M.
At around this time, the plaintiff, who had before the trip told Imus she had misplaced her wallet and identification details so would not be able to use commercial flights, reminded Imus of this and "tearfully begged" to be allowed to return with the family on their chartered flight the next day but was told "that's your problem" and subsequently taken from the ranch in a taxi.
Since she would not be able to travel Mallette says she asked the driver to take her to a motel but was denied a room at two motels because she did not have identification and subsequently called the home of the ranch chefs and was taken in.
She says that in his "Imus in the Morning" broadcast, the host "falsely informed his audience that he had been forced to disarm his nanny the previous night" and referred to her as a dangerous and armed criminal" and a "terrorist."
She then remained with the chefs until around December 3rd, desperate to ascertain how to leave New Mexico with limited means, no form of legal identification, and having been publicly branded an outlaw" and then caught a ride to Santa Fe from where she took a bus to her grandmother's home in New Mexico, being able to fly back to New York only around a month later when she had identification documentation.
Mallette is suing the host and the broadcasters for compensatory and punitive damages but had not put a figure on them, saying they should be determined at trial and is also suing the host for wrongful termination of her contract.
Previous Westwood One:
Smoking Gun - lawsuit details (18 pages):
2004-12-02: The US Supreme Court has set a deadline of January 3 next year for the filing of any appeals against the ruling in June this year by the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia that ruled out proposed numerical ownership limits in the Federal Communications Commission's new media ownership regulations proposed in June 2003.
It approved a 30-day extension of the previous December 2 deadline following a November 22 request from the FCC; although the FCC has not yet announced that it is to challenge the ruling, the request suggested that it was likely to do so and if it does not it will have to rewrite its rules.
Also asking for an extension were the US Justice Department and a number of media companies that support introduction of the proposed new FCC rules that would ease cross-ownership rules and also limitations on ownership in a market in most cases.
They include Fox, NBC and Viacom and the Supreme Court is considered more likely to hear an appeal when the request comes from the government.
2004-12-01: Arbitron is to survey radio listening habits of Chinese Americans in New York and Los Angeles using bilingual English-Chinese diaries for the first time under a study commissioned by MultiCultural Radio Broadcasting.
The study will be conducted during the (January 6-March 30, 2005) Winter 2005 Arbitron survey period among Chinese-speaking consumers, age 12 and older, and each survey will have in-tab samples of 500 Chinese-speaking individuals.
Multicultural CEO Arthur Liu commented, "The Chinese-American community represents a significant up-and-coming niche market for advertisers," adding that in a similar manner to the "Hispanic market 20 years ago, the Asian population in this country is growing at an extraordinary rate with unparalleled education and income levels."
"For the first time, " he said, "broadcasters and advertisers will be able to quantify the size, composition and listening habits of the Chinese-language audience through this study."
There are three Chinese-language radio stations in the Los Angeles area and one in the New York metropolitan area and some 407,800 Chinese-Americans age 12+ living in the Los Angeles area, representing 3.8 percent of Los Angeles' total population, and 564,500 Chinese-Americans age 12+ in New York, representing 3.7 percent of New York's total population.
Arbitron currently tracks the consumer, lifestyle and media habits of all Asian Americans through its Scarborough Research joint venture with VNU, Inc.
Arbitron New Ventures President Pierre Bouvard commented, "The advertising community has been asking for more information on Asian marketing and Asian media measurement. This study presents a unique opportunity to help the advertising community better understand the media habits of Chinese-Americans and ultimately better target these consumers."
2004-12-01: The Local Radio Company, which was founded by former Jazz FM chief executive Richard Wheatly who left after it was taken over by the Guardian Media Group (See RNW Jun 20, 2002), is to announce a GBP 1.7 million (USD 3.25 million) acquisition of the 53% of Spirit FM that it does not own according to the UK Guardian.
Spirit broadcasts to the Chichester and Bognor Regis area on the south coast of England and the station would be the group's 25th and the third acquisition since it made its stock exchange debut in May and acquisition of Radio Investments Limited, the local radio group whose 22 stations included Minster FM in York and Sun FM in Sunderland (See RNW May 13). In June it took full control of Yorkshire-based Two Boroughs Radio.
Wheatly, reports the paper, believes that major acquisitions made possible by the passage of the UK Communications Act, could mean the predators have to spin off some of the local stations they acquire or decide they want to concentrate efforts on larger stations, thus setting up opportunities for his group.
"I think it will give us more and more opportunities going forward as the big groups tidy up their portfolios. We are well capitalised and we have shareholders who supported us on that basis when we floated," he told the paper. "Underneath the surge for national and regional brands, the Centuries and Big Cities, there are huge opportunities for real local commercial radio."
"The big brands are an emotional presentation to the listener coupled with largely formatted music, partly designed to gain loyalty. It's a lifestyle representation of a radio station: if you are like this, you would want this product."
Wheatly says his group's station emphasise their "localness" and are like a local on-air newspaper and ads, "There is a real opportunity to build a counter-cyclical business when everybody is rushing off and doing regional and national brands. When everybody is pushing format radio, the real opportunity is to do something uniquely different."
The Local Radio Company is expected to increase its advertising revenues by around 12% and record a small profit of GBP 290,000 (USD 534,000) this year compared to a pro forma loss of GBP 800,000 (USD 1. 5 million) a year ago.
Previous Local Radio Company:
UK Guardian report:
2004-12-01: Around a third of Canadians would be interested in subscribing to satellite radio should it be available in Canada according to a poll carried out by Decima Research.
Decima surveyed around a thousand adults and found only a fifth were aware that Canada might get satellite radio but when told about it around a third said they would be very interested or somewhat interested in subscribing. There was greater interest amongst young people and in western Canada.
It's not clear if Canada, as the US currently does, will have more relaxed regulation of satellite radio than terrestrial but complaints that have been made against MSNBC in the country indicate the satellite companies could have some problems.
According to the Toronto Star some two dozen Canadians have logged complaints against an Imus in the Morning show, simulcast by MSNBC, in which the syndicated radio host suggested during Yasser Arafat's funeral that a bomb should be dropped on Palestinians to "kill 'em all."
In the exchange, which is being investigated both by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC), an exchange between Imus, his sports anchor Sid Rosenberg and their producer Bernard McGuirk, was aired underneath pictures of crowd's mourning Arafat's death.
The comments drew a complaint in America from CAIR (the Council on American-Islamic Relations) and MSNBC apologises, saying, "The views expressed on the program are not those of MSNBC. "Having said that, it was unfortunate that these remarks were telecast on MSNBC. We sincerely apologize to anyone who was offended by these remarks."
The Star notes that if the reports are found to be in breach of Canadian laws - it says that advocating the death of an ethnic group would appear to be so - then somebody, either from the cable and satellite companies who carry the channel, or Rogers and Shaw Cable, who jointly hold the licence for MSNBC Canada, could face a prison sentence of up to five years.
The Star, CAIR and Media Matters web sites all carry transcripts of the Imus exchange, part of which follows:
DON IMUS, host: They're [Palestinians] eating dirt and that fat pig wife [Suha Arafat] of his is living in Paris.
ROSENBERG: They're all brainwashed, though. That's what it is. And they're stupid to begin with, but they're brainwashed now. Stinking animals. They ought to drop the bomb right there, kill 'em all right now.
BERNARD MCGUIRK, producer: You can just imagine standing there.
ROSENBERG: Oh, the stench.
IMUS: Well, the problem is that we have Andrea [Mitchell, NBC News chief foreign affairs correspondent] there. We don't want anything to happen to her.
ROSENBERG: Oh, she's got to get out. Just warn Andrea, get out, and then drop the bomb, kill everybody.
CAIR web site:
Decima Web site:
Media Matters - Imus transcript:
Toronto Star report:
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