January 2007 Archive
- December 2006 - February 2007 -
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 previous relevant story. Regarding external links see note at end of page.
RNW January comment - Considers, as the furore continues over the death of a contestant in a water drinking competition, whether there is a need for specific regulation of broadcasters and concludes that there are virtually no areas requiring broadcaster-specific laws.
RNW December comment - As the switch-off approaches for analogue TV we consider regulatory approaches for a digital age.
RNW November comment - Broad or narrow? We argue against the current narrow formats of much radio.
2007-01-31: Kingdom Radio Group has become the second UK broadcaster to hand back a licence media regulator Ofcom. after failing to find a buyer.
It had put up its River FM, based in Livingston, West Lothian, up for sale last month but failed to find a buyer and stopped broadcasts on Monday evening. The group now only has one station, Kingdom FM in Fife.
Kingdom Radio Group managing director, Kevin Brady told The Scotsman, "We very much regret having to take this decision, but we have exhausted every option open to us to save River FM. Having invested in the station for over three years it does not make economic sense for the group to continue supporting this loss-making station."
River FM was launched in September 2003 following an unopposed bid for the licence from a group whose backers included whose backers include Dominic Keane from Livingston Football Club, John Collins from Clan FM and Jimmy Young from Clan FM, and was sold to the Kingdom Group a year later.
The most recent ratings showed the station with 22,000 listeners in a market of some 135,000. It ran a news bulletin at 15:00 on Monday and then played music until it went off air at 18:00 with played Nelly Furtado's All Good Things (Come To An End) as its final song.
The paper says Ofcom may now give the West Lothian licence to a community radio station.
The first UK licence to be handed back was that of Star FM in Stroud which was owned by UKRD. It was handed back after the company had been had been refused permission to simulcast the majority of programme output from sister station Star FM in Cheltenham although it had allowed co-siting of the stations (See RNW Mar 22, 2006): UKRD later said it would hand back the licence in protest at the way smaller radio stations are regulated (See RNW Sep 23, 2006) and Ofcom has subsequently awarded a community licence in the area (See Licence News Jan 21).
Also in the UK, the Guardian newspaper, which is owned by the same parent, is reporting that GMG Radio is to re-brand the Saga stations it bought in December (See RNW Dec 19, 2006) as "Smooth Radio."
The move would increase the number of Smooth stations to six - existing stations in London and the North West (formerly Jazz stations) plus the Saga stations and a new north-east station, for which Saga had won the licence, due to be launched in Autumn (Fall) this year.
GMG Radio chief executive John Myers told the paper, "The Smooth name has worked well for us, especially in the north-west where it has gone from worst to first in two years. We are therefore rolling this out across the UK into the Saga stations while dropping the 'fm' part of the name, as it is clear that more listeners are tuning in across a number of platforms and not just on FM."
RNW comment: We assume that GMG has to gain the consent of Ofcom for its change and in view of the basis of the fairly recent bids that gained Saga its licences (for the reasons given for the award of the North East England regional licence see RNW Apr 26, 2006 2006-04.html#SagaUK2) it does seem to us that this should not be given automatically: Indeed on the basis that licences in the UK are won on the basis of a specific service offer rather than in an auction it seems to us that there may well be good reasons to refuse this particular change.
The Scotsman report:
UK Guardian report:
2007-01-31: In a case of biting the hand that pays you rather well, Chicago WGN-AM morning personality Spike O'Dell has told the Chicago Tribune, which is owned by the same parent, that he's tired of getting up at 2 a.m. each day and that he intends to leave as soon as his three-year deal is up according to Robert Feder in his column in the rival Chicago Sun Times.
Dell only signed the multimillion-dollar contract two months ago and WGN management are apparently prepared to accept the comment; Feder quotes WGN vice president and general manager Tom Langmyer as saying, "As we announced back in November, we are pleased that Spike will continue to wake up Chicago for several more years on WGN."
2007-01-31: UK media regulator Ofcom in its latest Broadcast Bulletin upheld a standards complaint against radio and two against TV; considered two TV standards cases resolved by the action already taken by the broadcaster and also gave details of one TV standards and one TV fairness and privacy not upheld.
This compares to no radio cases upheld and one resolved plus a TV standards complaint and a TV Fairness and Privacy complaint upheld in its previous bulletin in which it also considered two TV standards cases resolved and did not upheld two more of which it gave details.
The radio complaint upheld was against Anna Reaburn's phone-in programme on LBC-FM in London that included reading out live an advertisement that the complainant contended was not clearly separated from the programme as required. Ofcom had previously ruled that there had been a breach but LBC appealed the decision.
It argued that the advert, which aired after a travel bulletin and was followed by a clearly-branded LBC promotion of digital radio was clearly separated and referred to a previous case but acknowledged that this had followed a programme trail: It said its policy was to play a full station 'ident' as it returned to programming at the end of an advertising break but not when leaving editorial and entering a break.
In this case Ofcom after reviewing the original decision took the view that a short three-note sting that followed the travel bulletin would simply have indicated that the bulletin had ended and noted that leading into the bulletin the presenter had been expressing her own opinion and when she read the advert the style appeared to be very similar.
It therefore took the view that there was no clear separation and that there had been a breach, noting that normally it advised that presenter-read advertisements be placed in the middle of clear commercial breaks, to ensure their adequate separation from programming.
In addition Ofcom listed with no details a further 76 TV complaints involving 48 items and 11 radio complaints involving 11 items that it were out of its remit or not upheld. The totals compare with 295 TV complaints involving 229 items and 58 radio complaints involving 44 items that it said were out of its remit or not upheld in its previous bulletin.
Previous Ofcom Complaints Bulletin:
2007-01-30: Arbitron has now received Media Rating Council (MRC) accreditation for the Portable People Meter (PPM) radio ratings data in Houston and is to confer with its customers - broadcasters, advertisers and advertising agencies - on a schedule for rolling out the service commercially in the city. The company says it is continuing to seek accreditation for TV rating in the market.
Announcing the accreditation, Arbitron president and CEO Steve Morris said in a release, "This is the first completely new, electronic methodology for broadcast ratings since the set-top, push-button people meter was introduced in the late 1980s. It's the only personal, portable electronic meter system in the world that's ever been subjected to an MRC audit and has met the accreditation standards of the Media Rating Council for a radio ratings service."
Arbitron president, Operations, Technology and Research & Development Owen Charlebois described obtaining the accreditation in a two-year process as a "major accomplishment" and said that users of the new ratings could have confidence in its "methodology, sampling systems and survey processes."
For the MRC executive director George Ivie said it appreciated the commitment made by Arbitron to the accreditation process and added, "We broke a lot of new ground over the last two years, and Arbitron worked with us constructively during the audit and thereafter to ensure necessary audit committee learning took place. We know that supporting this large audit internally and externally has been a challenge for Arbitron."
Arbitron had agreed in March last year to a request from the MRC to wait until it received accreditation for the PPM service in Houston - originally scheduled to be the first market in its roll out of the PPM service to start in July 2006 - before discontinuing its diary system and using the PPM for radio ratings in the market. It has now rolled out the system in Philadelphia -where it is to go live on March 8 and the market where it conducted its first tests, although Clear Channel had held out from agreeing use of the system and will be excluded from the ratings unless it changes its mind. Arbitron is also to go live with PPM ratings in New York on November 15.
In Houston, Cox Radio and Radio One Inc. had held out against encoding but the latter then in August last year agreed to encode its signals there but Arbitron still has to obtain agreement to use the PPM from some three quarters of the stations in the market. Clear Channel already encodes in Houston but has not agreed to use the system.
Previous Media Rating Council:
2007-01-30: GCap Media has announced that it has renewed Capital Radio breakfast host Johnny Vaughan's contract for three years but has given no details of the deal. Vaughan, rumoured to be paid around GBP 3 million ( USD 6 million) a year took over the show and an audience of around 1.37 million a week in April 2004 from Chris Tarrant but latest figures - for the third quarter of last year - showed it down to 782,000.
Final quarter 2006 ratings are to be released on Thursday and GCap is hoping that a re-vamp of Capital and changes to its music policy will have turned found figures for the station, once the perennial ratings leader that has fallen to third rank in terms of reach with a weekly audience of 1.46 million - behind 1.71 million for leader Chrysalis's Heart FM and 1.64 million for Emap's Magic FM : It also lost the "most listened to" breakfast show battle to Heart whose team of Jamie Theakston and Harriet Scott, took a 5.7% share compared to 5.6% for Vaughan (See RNW Oct 27, 2006).
Steve Orchard, Group Operations Director of GCap Media, said in a release, "Throughout last year we made great improvements to the sound of Capital Radio, making it more London-centric and playing more credible contemporary hit music. This year we are determined to bring those listeners who have gone to other stations back home. No-one can deliver the warmth and humour that
Londoners want from their breakfast show as well as Johnny can, and we are confident that the show will thrive in 2007 with Johnny at the helm. "
The announcement comes during an interregnum at GCap, which announced earlier this month that it had appointed former SMG Radio chief executive Fru Hazlitt to the newly created post of Managing Director, GCap London, from May 1 with responsibility for Capital Radio and Choice FM (See RNW Jan 18). The news did not significantly affect GCap's stock which moved up 0.33% on Monday to end at GBP 225.5
Also in the UK, the Guardian reports that Emap is to cut some 50 jobs from its Big City local radio network.
The papers says it is expected that around 20 jobs will go in England, where stations owned include Key 103 in Manchester and Rock FM in Preston, the same number in Scotland where Emap's stations include Radios Clyde and Forth; and the remaining ten in Northern Ireland where the company's stations include Downtown Radio and Cool FM.
It quoted an Emap spokeswoman as saying that following a 30-day consultation, staff would be offered voluntary redundancy, although she could not rule out compulsory cuts and adding, "Following a period of local review, Emap local radio stations have drawn up plans aimed at safeguarding audiences and revenue streams, whilst positioning for future growth. The likely result is some localised changes and unfortunately this means that a number of roles are at risk of redundancy."
The redundancies come a month after a strategic review was launched by Emap Group Managing Director of Radio Dee Ford and the spokeswoman said, "In an increasingly competitive marketplace, each station has to be in the best possible shape, and this move is in line with Emap Plc's stated goal of increasing operational efficiencies across all of its businesses."
Previous GCap Media:
UK Guardian report:
2007-01-30: Air America Radio, currently owned by Piquant LLC, has now signed a letter of intent to sell its business in a deal expected to close in mid-February but has not released details of the deal, which is with SLG Radio LLC. that is controlled by Stephen L. Green, the founder and chairman of New York area real estate company SL Green Realty Corp.
Green has already provided funds to Democracy Allies LLC, which has been funding Air America during the bankruptcy proceeding and which will continue to fund the company as it prepares a definitive purchase agreement for submission to the Bankruptcy Court.
Air America had declared chapter 11 Bankruptcy in October last year (See RNW Oct 14 , 2006) and earlier this month the Wall Street Journal, citing as its source "people familiar with the situation" had said the it was close to agreeing a sale with a group led by the French family, owner of New York City-area WRNN-TV whose output is mainly infomercials and home shopping (See RNW Jan 23).
Air America also announced that Al Franken, its best-known host is to leave and his slot will be taken by Portland (Oregon)-based Thom Hartmann, host of "The Thom Hartmann Program" that currently airs at the same noon to 15:00 ET weekday time. Franklin's last show will air on February 14 and no reason was given for his departure but he has talked with Minnesota lawmakers of a possible run for the US Senate.
In a statement on the agreement Air America CEO Scott Elberg said they were "extremely pleased to have reached this agreement with Mr. Green, which will solidify Air America's future." He added, "When you combine Steve Green's business skills and successes -- with his brother Mark Green's history as a respected progressive policy voice, including as a frequent guest and host on our network-- Air America will be in the best hands to sustain our powerful radio voice, expand our reach and broaden the audience."
Stephen Green commented, "Because I'm a businessman who enjoys creating and growing companies, I'm purchasing a majority ownership in Air America with the intention of making it a successful business that returns a profit. To assure that AAR survives and thrives, we'll do three things. First, we'll stabilize its finances. Second, we'll build on its line-up to assure the best radio talent possible, since in the long run content is king. And third, we'll extend this special brand by partnering with other platforms beyond radio to make sure that Air America's content reaches the wide audience it deserves."
His brother Mark commented, "Having been involved on both sides of the microphone at Air America, I understand its huge potential as a voice for progressive patriotism. And with the Democratic take-over of the 110th Congress and prospects in the next presidential election, it's the perfect time for Air America 2.0. If progressive values were a stock, now is the time to buy."
Regarding Franken's departure Elberg said they were very sorry to see him leave and added, "Al's brilliance, humour, and passion put Air America on the map and we will always regard him as part of our family."
Franken responded, "I'll miss coming in and working with the best staff in radio, talking with my amazing coterie of guests, and, of course, my national audience, said Franken. "But they'll be in good hands with Thom Hartmann, a great progressive and a terrific host. And the network will be in good hands with the Green brothers: Mark, my friend for years and a committed liberal who understands the mission of Air America as well as anyone, and his brother Steve, who is very wealthy."
Previous Air America/Piquant:
2007-01-30: Clear Channel Communications has set March 21 for its shareholders to vote on its planned merger with a Private Equity Group -led by Thomas H. Lee Partners, L.P. and Bain Capital Partners, LLC but its largest shareholders is currently planning to vote against according to a report from the Associated Press carried in a number of publications.
The AP says a "person familiar with Fidelity's position" told it on Monday that mutual fund Fidelity Management & Research, which owns nearly 11% of Clear Channel, will vote against the USD 37.60 a share cash offer plus assumption of USD 8 billion of debt that values the company at USD 18.7 billion.
In its announcement, Clear Channel says the "competitive sale process was directed by the disinterested directors, each of whom possesses significant knowledge of the Company's markets, operations and prospects" and that it "maximized the competitive dynamics of a sale transaction and resulted in the highest price available" and notes that the offer represents a premium of approximately 28% over the average closing share price during the 60 trading days ended October 24, 2006, the day prior to the announcement of the Company's decision to consider strategic alternatives, and a premium of approximately 25% over the average closing share price during the one-year period prior to the announcement of the merger.
A two-thirds vote is needed for the deal to go through with a "no" being recorded in the case of shareholders who do not vote.
Previous Clear Channel:
Business week/AP report:
2007-01-30: The new Windows Vista operating system being launched today will offer XM Radio Online as part of its "digital music hub"and a free three-day trial is on offer after which the service will cost USD 7.99 per month for non-subscribers - it is free to those who already subscribe to XM.
XM senior vice president for marketing programs and operations My-Chau Nguyen said they were pleased to be extending its relationship with Microsoft, adding, "The integration of XM Radio Online further enhances the music and entertainment experience offered by Windows Vista."
2007-01-29: With one story domining print cover of radio over the past week we had to start with the "Hold Your Wee for a Wii" contest that on current information seems to have led to the death of a Sacramento mother of three although a final cause of death has not yet been released.
In the San Diego Union Tribune John Wilkens began his report by commenting that it was too soon to know whether the contest "will become radio's "Nipplegate" and quoted Radio & Records radio editor Keith Berman as saying, "It's just speculation, but there's been talk about whether this is some kind of flash point, whether it will lead to sweeping changes - kind of our Janet Jackson scenario" - a reference to the Super Bowl half-time show display of part of a Janet Jackson breast that spurred organized complaints and led to a heavy fine for CBS and a ten-fold increase in broadcast indecency penalties.
Berman said he wondered whether this latest stunt could lead to more regulation of contests or increased scrutiny by radio company lawyers, noting, "If nothing else, I'm sure people will be a lot more cautious about it."
A dissenting view came from former DJ and programme director Jerry Del Colliano, who is currently music-industry professor at the University of Southern California and reckons nothing will come of this, commenting, "Just look who got fired. It was the DJs and the staff. It's the managers who always ask for the outrageous, and as soon as there's trouble, they fire the people who gave them what they asked for. If management was serious, they would fire themselves."
Of this contest he said it defied common sense adding that this and radio promotion are often strangers nowadays.
We're seeing more and more desperation on the part of radio stations as they chase a shrinking audience," he said. "The sad part of it is, contests stopped working a long time ago. I teach the next generation at USC, and they don't care about contests."
He was critical of the mentality behind contests, saying, "When you regularly demean yourself and your audience, putting people in harm's way is the logical extension" but opposed regulation suggesting it was better for stations, prodded by listeners, to police their own content although he seemed doubtful about the attitude of listeners.
When you look at American society, it's almost like we have no shame," he said. "The most popular show on TV, 'American Idol,' is full of insults. We live in a confrontational world. We have very little respect for each other, because that's not seen as cool. Donald Trump saying 'You're fired,' that's cool. We want what we want when we want it, and if that leads to more demeaning games and contests on the radio, we shouldn't be surprised."
In "Wired" Randy Dotinga under the headline "Deregulating Radio to Death" quoted radio consultant and Emerson College journalism instructor Donna Halper as saying that earlier more restrictive FCC regimes might well have prevented this particular death,
"There was a time when radio stations had to be more responsible ... and understood they had a public-interest obligation, that they're supposed to operate their stations in the public interest," she said. "I understand regulation is a dirty word, and a lot of people feel like having the FCC all over us was so oppressive. But it prevented stuff like this from happening."
She also noted current priorities saying that the "only time the FCC rouses itself is to enforce obscenity laws" whereas in the past with an FCC review of station licences every three years and licences really being in jeopardy "I'll bet (a listener's death) would have caused the FCC to get involved immediately. It might have caused the station to get fined or at least scrutinized. Let's face it, somebody died. You would have had a lot of 'splainin' to do."
Dotinga also raise the effect on stations of consolidation, quoting radio consultant Dave Van Dyke as saying, "Most general managers and staff have been put in positions when they're handling more than they're able to handle because of consolidation. If a station company owns several radio stations in a market like Sacramento, they'll have one general manager seeing the entire cluster. He gets distracted by what's going on at three, five, seven stations."
After US radio station problems, over to the UK and a BBC Radio 5 apology over an ill-judged "joke" by soccer commentator Alan Green that upset a number of people in Liverpool.
Green told listeners that Hollywood star Sylvester Stallone, a special guest at the Everton v Reading game, would probably find his limousine had no wheels when he returned to it.
This prompted a complaint from the leader of Liverpool council Warren Bradley who told the Liverpool Daily Post, "It is immensely disappointing that a respected football commentator should display such ignorance about a city which he visits regularly. Alan Green's cheap remark perpetuates outdated myths and damages the city's reputation nationally. Perhaps an apology would be in order and Five Live would consider doing something to give a more balanced account of how the city has changed for the better in the last few years?"
A Radio Five Live spokesman apologised, saying: "Alan's comments were off the cuff and meant to be humorous. They weren't funny and we're sorry if they caused offence" leading Everton FC to drop an official complaint it had planned to make.
The station will now have to be more careful about Liverpool as it has already provoked a protest by Liverpool FC fans earlier this month by hiring former Sun newspaper editor Kelvin MacKenzie, who was in charge of the paper when it ran cover of the Hillsborough stadium disaster during the April 1989 Liverpool FC v Nottingham Forest FA Cup semi-final at which 96 people died in a human crush. The official enquiry found the cause of the disaster was overcrowding and failures by the police but MacKenzie has stood by the newspaper's reports that Liverpool fans stole from and urinated on the dead, reports dismissed by Lord Justice Taylor's official report.
The decision to hire MacKenzie led to a protest petition with 11,000 signatures being handed to the BBC and one of the organisers of a protest at this month's Liverpool FC's FA Cup tie against Arsenal told the Liverpool Daily Post, "When we read that scumbag MacKenzie had not changed his opinion after all this time, it made us irate. The hurt and suffering he has caused in this city is incalculable, and for him to go around saying such things on the guest-dinner speaking circuit is beyond belief. We felt we could not just sit back and do nothing. The BBC hired him for Christmas Day using licence payers' money, which is an outrage. We wanted to show them what the fans thought and we won't stop until we keep that man off the airwaves."
After the negative on to a generally positive story concerning a small station, "All for Peace", which is based in East Jerusalem (the Arab-dominated part of the divided city) and according to Donald Macintyre's report in the UK Independent is "talk radio with a difference" for its part of the world.
It is staffed by a group of 22 Israelis and Palestinians and, reports Macintyre, aims in its own words to provide "an unrestricted opportunity for dialogue between the citizens... of both sides" and increase "public awareness in both the Palestinian and Israeli societies to the problems of the other."
The stations was conceived at the height of the intifada in 2002, and finally went on air at the beginning of 2005: It's biggest coup today was managing to bring to air at -the same time - Noam Shalit, father of 19-year-old Cpl Gilad Shalit whose seizure triggered increased Israeli military action in Gaza, and Abu Mujahad, the spokesman for the Popular Resistance Committees, one of the three groups, including Hamas's military wing, that abducted his son.
The two spoke through host Ziad Darwish - a cousin of the Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish - who translated between Hebrew and Arabic and the exchange included Noam Shalit offering to act as guarantor for any prisoner exchange deal involving his son's release and comments from Abu Mujahad saying, "In appreciation of human emotions we say to Noam Shalit that your son is alive and healthy, and we didn't abuse him as the Israeli government does to our prisoners."
It also led to an exchange in which Mujahad was pressed about the prisoner exchange issued over his being told by Israeli officials that no target list of prisoners had been released to them and became "defensive" but saying a list was given to the Egyptians.
Macintyre says it may not be clear for a long time whether there is any positive outcome of the exchange but the "fact a PRC spokesman was prepared to talk to a station partly run by Israelis is also a testament to its increasing importance."
The station broadcasts in Arabic and Hebrew and reaches some 20,000 to 25,000 a day on the Internet, some 39% in Israel and 31% in the West Bank and Gaza, but, writes Macintyre, its "willingness to talk to everyone from the Israeli far right to the most hard-line Palestinian militant groups as well as to many more moderate voices, Israeli and Palestinian, all too easily ignored by the mainstream media is a cherished part of its independence, one that has cost it dear."
Israeli co-director, Shimon Malka, said that, in 2005, the station, which already receives about 40 per cent of its USD 600,000 annual costs from the European Commission, was delighted to receive a year's grant of USD 700,000 from USaid but then, after Hamas won last year's elections, he and his Palestinian co-director Maysa Baransi-Siniora were told bluntly the grant would be halted unless they agreed to keep Hamas off the air.
"Maysa and I flew to Washington and tried to persuade them we couldn't be real independent media if we became the voice of Fatah, or Washington or whatever" he said but even though Hamas spokesmen appear on Israeli media they were unsuccessful and All for Peace lost a third of the US money, having to pay back some cash it used to buy equipment.
They are hoping to increase advertising income to help make up the deficit - thanks in part to an advertising contract with the sympathetic Israeli cleaning materials company, Sano, they hope advertising will account for 20 percent of the station's costs this year compared with 1 per cent last year and they are also planning deals that would allow NGOs to buy airtime on the station.
Finally before listening suggestions , comment from Antonia Zerbisias in the Toronto Star about Canadian media prompted by the appointment of Konrad von Finckenstein, former head of the federal competition watchdog, to chair the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC).
Zerbisias notes that the announcement came as C. Edwin Baker, a law professor at the University of Pennsylvania and one of the foremost authorities on how media concentration hurts democracy, was delivering the Grafstein Annual Lecture at the University of Toronto on the topic "Media Ownership and Media Markets: A Democratic and Economic Evaluation."
Zerbisias translates this as, "Don't be fooled by all those TV channels and all those Internet sites and all those blogs and all those so-called choices. There are not, as the ideologues who think the airwaves should be unregulated claim, thousands of flowers blooming out there."
He quotes Baker as saying in an interview, "You have to ask, who owns those flowers. If the audiences are concentrated, it doesn't matter" and emphasizing that online audiences are more concentrated than offline audiences, with the top few blogs commanding the major share of hits and the Top 10 news sites outpacing all others."
Zerbisias then goes on to speculate where Finckenstein might stand, noting the former Competition Bureau head's comments that the current regulatory environment is not sustainable "in the evolving communications environment" but also that the Bureau had blocked Astral Media's "bid to buy 17 radio stations from Telemedia - even though the CRTC approved it - because it would have allowed Astral to dominate Quebec's radio advertising market. "
"That said," continues Zerbisias,"much has changed since then. The way things are going, we could soon be looking at an English-Canadian media landscape made up of CTVglobemedia-CHUMCanwestGlobalAllianceAtlantisTorstar and the shell of CBC" and of this quotes Baker as saying, "The key value, which I think people recognize, is that democracy means that power should be distributed among the population broadly rather than concentrated. Concentrated media is just a form of concentrated power in the public sphere - and that should be objectionable."
He then quotes Baker on some of the benefits of widely held media - More watchdogs meaning more wrongdoing is likely to be brought to light, more difficult to corrupt media or corral them to follow a particular line, fewer conflicts of interest and so on. "
With that we agree and therein lies the rub in that most people do not have the time, even if they have the inclination, to trawl through masses of information to sort out discrepancies in "facts" reported and, nowadays, neither do many media organizations with most relying tremendously on just two major international news agencies.
Even where they don't it would appear from comments by Defence analyst Bill Arkin, who was amongst those on this week's "On the Media" from WNYC, that they often miss the facts and fall for the propaganda. Fore more listen to his comments on the "surge" of US troops to Iraq. Also from the programme we'd suggest Jazz writer John McDonough report concerning the broadcast of jazz and where public stations should prioritise. His comments in terms of many jazz fans not needing radio because of the collections they have built up should provoke thought about whether music radio in other genres may have a major problem building.
After that we suggest Nursery Rhymes, or more particularly three reports on last week's "Life Matters" on the Australian Broadcasting Corporation's Radio National.
Unfortunately we picked up on this late and the first - from Monday last week - will disappear from the site shortly as MP3s are only available for seven days- but there's a little more time to get the Tuesday and Wednesday items. All three are based on the book "Heavy Words, Lightly Thrown: The Reason Behind the Rhyme" by Chris Roberts in which he looks at the origins of various well-known nursery rhymes and comes up with some very different meanings to those normally associated with some of the rhymes.
And while on different perspectives, we suggest BBC Radio 4 and the "Struggle for Saudi Arabia's Soul" from last Tuesday in which Edward Stourton looked at the stirrings of change in a deeply conservative country and how the knock-on effects from the war in Iraq and Shia-Sunni conflict has affected moves towards democracy.
Then a round-up from "Network Europe" of various taboos over the continent in last Friday's programme - it included reports from France, where talking about sex is fine but not about money and wealth; a new comedy movie "My Führer--The Truly Truest Truth About Adolf Hitler", that has sparked a national debate in Germany about breaking a taboo on laughing about Hitler; Sweden's taboos against lobbyists; Poland where the former taboo on talking about the privileges of former Communist regime bosses has been well and truly broken and from Holland about the trauma of abortions for medical defect reasons.
Sticking with the medical but returning to the ABC Radio National , we next suggest this week's Health Report, and an educational and self-help programme pioneered at Stanford University in California; it also had some fascinating detail of people managing their own health when it came to births - or rather managing elective forms of birth such as induction or caesarean operations when regulation changed - in one case to provide a financial bonus after a certain date and in another when the birth date affected inheritance taxes and more generally avoidance of dates such as February 29, April 1 and Fridays the 13th.
Also from the ABC we suggest last week's "Spirit of Things" programme "Free Yourself from Mind Control" in which Steven Hassan, who himself was once a member of the Moonies talked about the nature of cults and their behaviour.
Then back to BBC Radio 4 and "Book of the Week" that this week is Ben Macintyre's book "Agent Zigzag", the hero cum anti-hero of which is British double agent Eddie Chapman, a criminal recruited by the German Secret Service and who, as a highly prized and decorated Nazi agent is also working for Britain's MI5. Also worth a listen from the station is this week's Woman's Hour Drama, a series "Minimum Wages", a series of short plays exploring the consequences of life on the minimum wage
For longer drama we'd recommend an hour with the most recent BBC World Drama: " Sagila" by Sibusiso Mamba, based on a story by Eric Sibanda, is a murder mystery set in the African Kingdom of Swaziland
Then we suggest two programmes from BBC Radio 3 on Sunday - "Drama on 3", which was Professor Bernhardi, by Arthur Schnitzler, a new production of a play set in Vienna in 1900 in which a distinguished Jewish doctor prevents a Catholic priest from administering last rites to a dying patient thus provoking a political witch-hunt that leads to the professor's trial and imprisonment.
It was followed by the Sunday feature, "The Struggle for Language", the second of a three part series that looked at Turkish, a language that lost much of its vocabulary in a government reform that banned words of Arabic and Persian origin in favour of pure Turkish.
Moving on to music and we'd suggest from BBC Radio 2 last Saturday's "Norah Jones: Live and Exclusive" concert and from tomorrow "Get Up for James Brown" - the second and last of two programmes by Mark Lamarr on the Godfather of Soul (at 20:30 GMT). It's followed at 21:30 by the third and final programme in "Hey! Bo Diddley" in which Roger Daltrey celebrates the life and music of the rock 'n' roll legend.
And finally still with Rock but in a different context in "The Singer Not the Song" on BBC Radio 4 tomorrow at 09:30: The series looks at what defines an unforgettable voice and looks at the context in which we hear voices. This week it's The Rock voice, a much more inclusive category than in many other musical genres.
Liverpool Daily Post - Demonstration over BBC Radio Five hiring MacKenzie:
Red Issue (Manchester United FC magazine) re BBC Radio Five apology:
San Diego Union Tribune - Wilkens:
Toronto Star- Zerbisias:
UK Independent - Macintyre:
Wired - Dotinga:
2007-01-29: The US ended 2006 with a total of 27,807 licensed broadcast stations, up 435 on the year and up 153 on the total to the end of September last year according to figures just published by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).
Within the figures, the number of licensed radio stations at the end of the year was 13,837, up 177 on the year and up 44 in the third quarter with AM station numbers of 4,754, down three year on year and up three quarter-on-quarter. Commercial FM numbers were up 35 year-on-year and up 14 quarter on quarter to 6,266; educational FM numbers rose 55 year-on-year and up 27 quarter-on-quarter to 2,817 while the number of FM translators and boosters was up 136 year-on-year and up 44 quarter-on-quarter to 4,131 and licensed low power total was up 96 year-on-year and 25 quarter-on-quarter to 771.
Previous FCC station numbers:
2007-01-28: Last week the main stories for the regulators related to politics and personnel, the likelihood that in the US the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will face much closer scrutiny now that the Democrats control both Houses of Congress (See RNW Jan 27) and the appointment of a new chairperson for the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) (See RNW Jan 27). Apart from that there was a steady flow of routine decisions.
In Australia, the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has ruled that one community station breached the Community Radio Broadcasting Codes of Practice concerning the handling of complaints and asked another to develop a revised policy and procedure for internal conflict resolution.
The breach was committed by Great Lakes Area FM Community Radio Ltd, licensee 2GLA Forster, New South Wales, in its handling of a complaint about comments made in its "Easy Listening" programme broadcast on 29 May 2006.
The ACMA said it considered the complainant's letter "set out his concern that outlined mechanisms to facilitate internal conflict resolution in sufficient detail for the licensee to consider, investigate and make every reasonable effort to resolve the complaint", which concerned reporting of a council decision to ban the advertising of cars for sale on the side of busy road, without requiring that he supply information that the ACMA considered irrelevant to the substantive complaint: It also noted that 2GLA had failed to include the required copy of the Code in its response to the complaint.
It did not uphold the substantive complaints that it broadcast material which "may simulate news or events in such a way as to mislead or alarm listeners" or that it did not "clearly distinguish factual material from commentary and analysis".
The licensee has said it has changed the way it handles complaints to ensure that its board is aware of all complaints received and can review how they are addressed and the ACMA said this addressed the compliance issues raised.
The request to develop a policy for internal conflict resolution was made to 2HHH FM Ltd, licensee of 2HHH in Hornsby, Sydney; following an earlier finding that 2HHH had breached the Code by not having in place a written policy and procedure. 2HHH has been given a deadline of April 2 to provide a copy of its revised policy to the ACMA.
In Canada, as already noted the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) now has a new chairperson to replace Charles Dalfen who stepped down at the end of last year. It was also involved in a number of decisions relating to radio including, in order of province:
*Approval of use of 48,000 watts FM on frequency 101.5 MHz for new CHUM English-language Hot AC commercial FM in Calgary approved in August last year subject to CHUM finding a suitable alternative frequency to the one it originally applied for.
*Approval of application by Vista Radio Ltd. for a licence to operate an English-language Adult Rock / Classic Hits commercial FM in Greenwood, British Columbia, with re-broadcasting facilities at Christina Lake and at Rock Creek. The CRTC notes that this approval regularizes an authority granted in 2004 to cease operation of CKFG-AM, Grand Forks, and originate programming from CKGF-2-FM, Greenwood for it, CKGF-1-FM, Christina Lake, and CKGF-3-FM, Rock Creek. The new service will replace the non-operational CKGF undertaking - with a 40 watts FM station - and add the re-broadcasting facilities at Rock Creek (130 watts) and Christina Lake (88 watts).
*Approval of transmitter relocation for San Lorenzo Latin American Community Centre's Type B community station CHHA, Toronto (*RNW note: This has been corrected. The CRTC originally posted the call signs as CHAA but issued an erratum in June): The station had been asked to cease broadcasts from its current site by the end of November last year because of interference problems.
*Approval of application by Pineridge Broadcasting Inc. to extend to 11 November 2007 the period of time during which the licensee is permitted to simulcast the programming of CHUC-FM on CHUC-AM, Cobourg.
When the conversion from AM to FM was approved a three month simulcast period was specified and the FM station has been operating since August 11 last year but has generated intermodulation products that fall within the NAV/COM band. Attempts to remedy this have failed to correct the problem and Pineridge has also submitted a separate application for a technical amendment proposing a change to the authorized contours of the station that would serve to correct the reception difficulties but requests the extension to enable it to resolve the problems.
*Approval of application by the Association d'Églises baptistes reformées du Québec for a 13 watts low power French-language religious specialty FM radio station in Québec.
The CRTC also gave details of a public hearing to be held on March 26 in Gatineau to consider various applications for which the deadline for submission of interventions or comments is March 1.
They include the following radio applications:
*Application by Rogers Broadcasting Limited for a licence to operate a national pay audio programming undertaking - Rogers Pay Audio - that will consist of a minimum of 30 audio channels, in a wide variety of music formats.
This application was first scheduled to be heard at a public hearing on 30 October 2006 but was withdrawn by the Commission upon receipt of interventions. At this hearing the CRTC will consider the interventions already received, accepted and as well as other interventions received in the context of this hearing.
*Application by CAB-K Broadcasting Limited for a licence to operate a 12,000 watts pop/rock English-language commercial FM in Olds.
*Application by Chase and District Community Radio Society to acquire the assets of English-language developmental community station CFCH-FM, Chase, from Chase and District Lions Community Club.
Applications for a licence to serve Sudbury a number of which are technically mutually exclusive.
*Application by Joco Communications Inc. for a 1,350 watts oldies format English-language commercial FM
*Application by William Wrightsell, on behalf of a corporation to be incorporated, to be known as Nickelstar Broadcasting, for a licence to operate a1,500 watts Adult Contemporary and Older Adult Contemporary Standards English-language commercial FM.
The two above applications are mutually exclusive as they each propose to use frequency 94.5 MHz.
*Application by Newcap Inc. for a licence to operate a 50,000 watts Contemporary Hit English-language commercial FM.
*Application by Connelly Communications Corporation for a licence to operate a 66,000 watts Hot AC English-language commercial FM.
The two above applications are mutually exclusive as they each propose to use frequency 101.1 MHz
*Application by Larche Communications Inc. for a licence to operate a 50,000 watts country music English-language commercial FM on frequency 91.7 MHz.
*Application by The Haliburton Broadcasting Group Inc., on behalf of a corporation to be incorporated, for a licence to operate a 50,000 watts easy listening English-language commercial FM on frequency 88.5 MHz.
*Application by CJRN 710 Inc. to renew the licence of CKEY-FM, Fort Erie, and its transmitter CKEY-FM-1, St. Catharines: The applicant was issued a one-year short term renewal in 2005 because of concerns related to compliance with a licence condition and dissatisfaction with the level of local service provided by CJRN to the Fort Erie market it is licensed to serve.
The commission says that following further monitoring of the station, most recently in February to March 2006, it "remains concerned that CKEY-FM may be operating in a continued breach of condition of licence number 9 due to the level of local Fort Erie oriented programming broadcast on CKEY-FM during the weeks monitored and intends to inquire into this matter at the hearing and expects the licensee to show cause at this hearing why a mandatory order should not be issued requiring the licensee to provide a sufficient level of local Fort Erie oriented programming.
It also issued a public notice, with a deadline submission of interventions/comments of March 2 that included an Ontario application to increase the antenna height and raise the power of CKCB-FM, Collingwood, from 350 watts to 4,000 watts.
The CRTC also corrected details it published earlier of approval of a new transmitter at St Edward on Prince Edward Island to rebroadcast the programming of CBCT-FM Charlottetown: it had said this was the CBC's national English-language network service, Radio Two instead of its Radio One (See Licence News Jan 14) .
In Ireland, the Broadcasting Commission of Ireland (BCI) has renewed in principle the licence of Limerick's Live 95FM and has also narrowed down the shortlist for a new quasi-national Christian and Religious AM licence, for which there had been five applicants, to Spirit Radio Ltd. and Yes Radio Limited (See RNW Jan 23).
In the UK, Ofcom has been busy with further consultations, its Market Impact Assessment (MIA) of the BBC executive's new on-demand proposals, including the BBC iPlayer, and has also posted reasons for a number of recent licence awards.
These include the award of the Aberdeen FM licence to Aberdeen FM Limited, which is 95%-owned by CanWest Media Works (See RNW Jan 12). It said that this demonstrated the ability of the applicant company to maintain its proposed service even though its financial forecasts were slightly ambitious when compared with the performance of existing services of a similar size.
The Radio Licensing Committee also noted the high level of initial funding for the station and also said the application demonstrated an understanding of the Aberdeen market, in particular identified a gap in the current local commercial radio provision for ABC1 listeners which its proposed service is intended to fill and also noted that the proposed target audience of the service is likely to increase its appeal to potential advertisers.
It also commented of the award of two new community licences, the first in Ofcom's second round of community radio licensing, to Stroud FM in Stroud, Gloucestershire, and to 10Radio, whose service will cover Wiveliscombe and surrounding area in Somerset, each of which will be allowed to seek up to half its income from advertising or sponsorship.
In the case of Stroud FM the committee said the applicant brought a considerable amount of external broadcasting experience to its proposals for a service which would have a clearly defined local focus, supported by a motivated management team whilst it described 10Radio's application as a coherent and realistic set of proposals from a group that has honed its plans through the operation of two temporary restricted service licences.
Ofcom also issued a clarification of its advertisement of a second national digital commercial multiplex in December last year, noting that despite reference to the "development of digital sound broadcasting in the United Kingdom other than by satellite" these related to representations from third parties concerning the applications rather than requiring the applicants to make proposals on the general promotion of digital audio broadcasting (DAB). It also noted that it would expect that calculation of weighting based on "indoor coverage" in an applicant's proposal would only come into effect it applicants were ranked differently by the indoor then the outdoor criteria.
A number of other points were also clarified, in particular the basis of weighting of the two technical plans required, one to incorporate the requirement to protect from interference analogue television transmissions in some neighbouring countries, while the second should reflect the position in which such protection is no longer required.
Regarding the BBC's proposed on-demand services, related to which it posted a 168 page 2.2 MB PDF, the main reservations expressed related to TV, in particular the proposed catch-up TV over cable service that would include series stacking - the ability to store and view an entire series of programmes within seven days of the broadcast of the last programme in that series. This would it said make the service a more direct substitute for commercial services and it recommended that unless the PVA (Public Value Assessment) or PVT (Public Value Test ) identify compelling reasons for doing otherwise, the scope of series stacking should be substantially reduced.
Ofcom said it believed the "BBC should take a proactive and forward-looking approach to reflect likely changes in audience behaviour and expectations" but that it was important "that the BBC's involvement in the market for on-demand services should contribute positively to the development of the market as a whole" and said it was "appropriate to acknowledge that, unchecked, the BBC's power in nascent markets could harm the stimulus of competition necessary to ensure quality content for the long-term."
In terms of audio Ofcom commented that the BBC's "proposed non-DRM audio download service has the potential to make a strong positive contribution to the growth of the UK market for audio downloads, by enabling consumers to store and access a wide range of non-music content on portable devices " It added however that for some content "the proposed service could have a significant negative effect on investment in competing on-demand services, and related markets" and recommended that "unless the PVA or PVT provide strong reasons for doing otherwise, recordings of book readings should be excluded from the proposed BBC service."
Regarding classical music, the regulator said that "BBC recordings of popular and established classical works could have a negative impact on commercial sales, whereas recordings of new or less mainstream material could help to stimulate consumer interest and expand the market" and added that it believed "BBC management should be requested to specify much more tightly the range of classical content they propose to make available, taking account of the prospective impact on commercial services."
It also comments, "If the BBC wishes to extend the scope of the proposed services to include non-BBC content, specially commissioned content or full-track commercial music, Ofcom should carry out a further MIA as such extensions could have important implications for the way in which the services would impact on the market."
In a related move, Ofcom also posted a 57 page 2.4 MB PDF discussion paper, "A new approach to Public Service Content in the digital media age", responses to which have to be submitted by March 23.
In the US the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), as already notes is likely to come under closer scrutiny now the Democrats have majorities in both houses and the first such scrutiny is expected on Thursday at a Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee hearing (See RNW Jan 27).
The FCC is also to investigate the Entercom KDND-FM "Hold your wee for a Wii" water drinking contest, a woman participant in which subsequently died with the reason thought to be water intoxication (See RNW Jan 25)
The FCC also issued a number of penalties (See below) and posted confirmation of the winning bidders for its Auction 68 of nine FM permits (See RNW Jan 19) Down payments are now required by February 8, and final payments by February 26.
Previous Licence News:
ACMA web site:
BCI web site:
CRTC web site:
FCC web site:
Ofcom web site:
Ofcom Market Impact Assessment - BBC on-demand proposals- 168 Page 2.2 MB PDF:
Ofcom - A new approach to Public Service Content in the digital media age - 57 Page 2.4 MB PDF:
2007-01-28: France's Socialist presidential candidate Segolene Royal has been embarrassed by radio comedian Gérald Dahan who says he fooled her into believing he was Quebec premiere Jean Charest.
Royal arrived late for a public debate last week, announcing that she had just been speaking with the prime minister of Quebec, and that he sent his greetings to the assembly but later the 33-years-old comedian revealed that he had impersonated Charest and had, after convincing at least five of her advisers about his fake identity, spokne to her for 11 minutes during which he got her to make unguarded comments about independence for Corsica.
The comments came after a diplomatic row over comments by Royal backing independence from Canada for Quebec and Dahan in his conversation as Charest said "It's as though we over here said Corsica must be independent" to which she replied "The French people wouldn't be opposed to the idea, by the way."
The mock Charest responded "Perhaps" to which Royal said, "Don't repeat that, though - it would cause another incident in France. It's a secret."
Dahan, who is well-known for fooling French celebrities - most famously in 2003 for a conversation with then Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin when he pretended to be then Health Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy and said he had be caught by police in the Bois de Boulogne with a prostitute, said he had never hear Charest's voice but adopted a Québecois accent, commenting, "I don't know Quebec's prime minister at all, and neither does she, apparently."
In this case, a spokesman for Charest said the premier had not spoken with Royal and confirmed she had fallen victim to a hoax.
The UK Times notes that under French law Ms Royal could start criminal proceedings against Mr Dahan for breach of privacy, an offence that carries a maximum sentence of one year in prison and a fine of Euros 45,000 (USD 58,100) but says her supporters appear to want to treat the incident as a joke.
UK Times report:
2007-01-28: The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has issued or proposed penalties totalling more than USD 70,000 for various breaches of regulations including one where cancellation had been sought because the offence followed on from the loss of facilities on the World Trade Center when the building was destroyed on 9/11.
In this case it upheld a USD 12,000 penalty issued to Statcom Communications Corporation of Staten Island, New York for operation of two trunked radio systems at an unauthorized location and operation on an unauthorized frequency. Statcom had explained that it had modified its licence several times after losing its World Trade Center location but overlooked modifying its license for one site and also argued that it could not afford the penalty because its lost investment that was not entirely reimbursed through recovery grants, and also now had greatly reduced revenues.
The FCC in confirming the penalty noted that the unauthorized operation had taken place more than a year after 9/11 and that Statcom had filed its appeal 13 days after the 30-day period allowed: Statcom said this was because it could not retrieve its Federal income tax records from storage in sufficient time to meet the 30-day deadline - and that it was prevented by law from waiving or extending this period except where the delay had resulted from a Commission failure to give a party timely notice of the action for which reconsideration is sought.
Other penalties (in descending amount order) included:
USD 10,000 on Elroy Simpson of Brooklyn, New York, relating to operation of an unlicensed FM station. Simpson had not filed a response to a Notice of Apparent Violation (NAL) in this amount.
USD 10,000 on Kacy R. Rankine of West Orange, New Jersey, relating to operation of an unlicensed FM station. Rankine had not filed a response to a Notice of Apparent Violation (NAL) in this amount.
NAL for USD 10,000 to Citicasters Licenses, L.P., licensee of KPLV-FM, Las Vegas, Nevada, for failing to retain all required documentation in the KPLV-FM public inspection file. The failure came to light in connection with a licence renewal application that has now been granted.
NAL for USD 10,000 to CC Licenses, L.L.C., licensee of WUMX-FM, Rome, New York, for failing to retain all required documentation in the WUMX-FM public inspection file. The failure came to light in connection with a licence renewal application that has now been granted. The penalty was reduced from a base amount of USD 10,000 on the basis of the station's overall record.
USD 8,000 on A Radio Company, Inc., licensee of WEGA-AM, Vega Baja, Puerto Rico, for failure to make available a complete public inspection file. A Radio had not filed a response to an NAL in this amount.
USD 4,000 on Unique Broadcasting, L.L.C., Licensee of Expired Station KKJW-FM, Stanton, Texas, for engaging in unauthorized operations of its station after its license expired. Unique had not filed a response to an NAL in this amount.
NAL for USD 4,000 to CC Licenses, L.L.C., licensee of WRNY-AM, Rome, New York, for failing to retain all required documentation in the WRNY-AM public inspection file. The failure came to light in connection with a licence renewal application that has now been granted. The penalty was reduced from a base amount of USD 10,000 on the basis of the station's overall record.
NAL for USD 4,000 to CC Licenses, L.L.C., licensee of WUTQ-AM, Utica, New York, for failing to retain all required documentation in the WUTQ-AM public inspection file. The failure came to light in connection with a licence renewal application that has now been granted. The penalty was reduced from a base amount of USD 10,000 on the basis of the station's overall record.
NAL for USD 4,000 to CC Licenses, L.L.C., licensee of WADR-AM, Remsen, New York, for failing to retain all required documentation in the WADR-AM public inspection file. The failure came to light in connection with a licence renewal application that has now been granted. The penalty was reduced from a base amount of USD 10,000 on the basis of the station's overall record.
NAL for USD 4,000 to CC Licenses, L.L.C., licensee of WSUS-FM, Franklin New Jersey, for failing to retain all required documentation in the WSUS-FM public inspection file. The failure came to light in connection with a licence renewal application that has now been granted. The penalty was reduced from a base amount of USD 10,000 on the basis of the station's overall record.
NAL for USD 4,000 to CC Licenses, L.L.C., licensee of WHCY-FM, Blairstown, New York, for failing to retain all required documentation in the WHCY-FM public inspection file. The failure came to light in connection with a licence renewal application that has now been granted. The penalty was reduced from a base amount of USD 10,000 on the basis of the station's overall record.
USD 1,500 on Robert A. Spiry of Tacoma, Washington, relating to operation of CB transmitters that were not certified by the FCC and produced interference from excessively high powered transmissions. The penalty was reduced from USD 10,000 on the basis of inability to pay.
USD 600 on Everald Oliver Brown of Orlando, Florida, relating to operation of an unlicensed FM station. The penalty was reduced from USD 10,000 on the basis of inability to pay.
USD 500 on Oreste Abreu of Gurabo, Puerto Rico, relating to operation of an unlicensed FM station. The penalty was reduced from USD 10,000 on the basis of inability to pay.
2007-01-28: According to Bridge Ratings nearly a fifth of all new mobile phones purchased in the third quarter of last year were music-enabled but, although many of these subscribers report loading music on to their phones via their PC, only a small number have downloaded music over the air from a wireless carrier music store.
Bridge says that the number of subscribers with music enabled phones in the period was up five-fold on a year earlier but during this period only 8.5% of the 23.5 million subscribers in the US with music-enabled phones reported music purchases over the air.
The report notes that not all major US carriers offer such downloads and that Sprint and Verizon Wireless, who introduced their services in October 2005 and January 2006 respectively, accounted for the majority of downloaders. It adds that of more than USD 3.5 billion of carrier advertising dollars that was spent in 2006, USD 234.3 million or 6.7 percent, promoted music phones and music download services.
Previous Bridge Ratings:
2007-01-27: Examining the effect the change of control in the US Congress is likely to have on the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) the Washington Post says that as Democrats "prepare to give the Federal Communications Commission its toughest scrutiny in years, a rivalry between the powerful agency's two most prominent Republicans is raising questions about its readiness to handle barbed questions and stiff challenges."
The reference is to differences between chairman Kevin J. Martin and fellow Republican Commissioner Robert M. McDowell who, says the paper, "have clashed on at least three significant issues in the past several months, creating what some see as a rift that could be ripe for exploitation."
The first opportunity for the newly-empowered Democrats to take up issues with the Republican-controlled FCC comes on Thursday with a hearing of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee and the Post says senators are vowing to press the commissioners on "matters such as media-ownership diversity, Internet access, broadcast decency standards and delays in resolving various issues."
It quotes North Dakota Democrat Sen. Byron Dorgan as saying, "They've effectively emasculated any public-interest standards that existed [for broadcasters] "and adding that the new Democratic majority will force the FCC to "beat a path to Capitol Hill to respond."
Another Democrat, Massachusetts representative Edward J. Markey, a senior House Commerce Committee member, said he plans "comprehensive hearings on net neutrality" later this year.
Regarding the Martin-McDowell differences, the paper says the two have played down their differences in public and quotes McDowell as saying, "The chairman and I have been friends for more than a decade. We have a strong and durable relationship. . . . We will still have some differences, but we work together."
Washington Post report:
2007-01-27: BBC Radio 3 and 4 are to team up over a 60=part series on BBC Radio 4 about western classical music with 15-minute broadcasts on Radio 4 to be followed by an hour-long "Discovering Music" show on Radio 3 that will feature music associated with the Radio 4 programme according to the UK Guardian.
The paper says Radio 4 controller Mark Damazer has commissioned Today presenter James Naughtie to front his station's series that will air in the 15:45 local time weekday slot from June to September running in six-week blocks before and after the 2007 Proms season that Radio 3 will air.
The paper says the commission is part of Damazer's plans for large-scale projects and notes that the cited the history of Britain series, This Sceptred Isle, as a model.
"I see these shows as being on a similar scale as the big factual television series such as those fronted by Simon Schama and Niall Ferguson," Said Damazer.
Radio 3 controller Roger Wright said he was excited by the joint venture, commenting, "We have cleared the 4pm afternoon slot with our new schedule and this allows us flexibility for this kind of thing. Jim will tell the story and we will provide the context for the music. It will also be the first time we have devoted 60 hours to western classical music on Radio 3."
UK Guardian report:
2007-01-27: The Canadian Government has appointed German-born former judge and former head of the country's Competition Commission Konrad von Finckenstein as Chairperson of the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC).
He takes over from acting chairperson Michel Arpin who stood in after Charles Dalfen decided to step down at the end of last year (See RNW Jan 10).
Announcing the appointment, Beverley J. Oda, Minister of Canadian Heritage and Status of Women, said von Finckenstein's "credentials will bring strong leadership to the CRTC I am confident that his experience will greatly benefit the Commission."
Von Finckenstein, who has holds political science and law degrees from Carleton and Queen's universities, was called to the bar in 1971; joined Canada's Justice Department in 1973 as a legal adviser in its Toronto regional office; was Commissioner of Competition at the Competition Bureau from 1997 to 2003; and was appointed a Judge of the Canadian Federal Court in 2003.
61-years-old von Finckenstein takes up his post at a time when Canada's government has been pushing the agency to, in the words of Industry Minister Maxime Bernier, be guided more by "market forces."
The Toronto Globe and Mail reporting on the appointment said von Finckenstein developed a reputation of being outspoken and tough while at the competition bureau, and has spoken against media consolidation. It notes that he once urged the CRTC to protect the diversity of voices in print when dealing with media ownership, saying "you can't have a functioning democratic system which works at its optimum unless you have diversity of voices" and in 2002, because of concerns about control of advertising markets he forced Astral Media to sell off several Quebec radio stations acquired in a deal with Telemedia that the CRTC had approved (See RNW Sept 4, 2002).
Toronto Globe and Mail report:
2007-01-26: Sacramento attorney Roger Dreyer has now filed a wrongful death civil lawsuit on behalf of her widower, William, and three children over the death of Sacramento woman Jennifer Strange after she took part in a "Hold your Wee for a Wii" water drinking contest staged by Entercom's KDND-FM (The End).
The suit, filed in the California Superior Court, names Entercom; Entercom Sacramento, which owns the station; Entercom Sacramento general manager John Geary; Station manager Steve Weed; promotion director Robin Pechota; morning show producer Liz Diaz; and morning show on-air personalities Adam Cox, Steve Maney, Patricia Sweet and Matt Carter.
The suit says the DJs admitted during the broadcast that they should have done more research once participants, including Strange, "began to report medical symptoms," and adds, "Such conduct was despicable and so vile, base or contemptible that it would be looked down upon and despised by reasonable people."
It also says Strange had not signed any "release of liability contractually relieving any Defendants of their duty of care in organizing and running the contest" and that, "At all times, it was foreseeable to Defendants and each of them that the contestants were at risk for serious illness and/or death as the result of consuming extensive amounts of water in a relatively short period of time. At all relevant times preceding the contest, Defendants were aware that consumption of water to such an extent could result in physical injury or death."
It also notes that on-air staff made joking and sarcastic comments about the dangers of "water poisoning" when the contestants were in a break room and could not hear the broadcast and also notes that they rebuffed warnings from a caller who warned of the possibility of illness or death.
Noting that the defendants had failed to consult health authorities or to secure "any medical professional or para-professional services during the contest, even after the contestants begin feeling ill" the lawsuit says the defendants' negligence "caused the death of Jennifer Strange."
The family are suing for lost wages, the loss of Strange's comfort and car, funeral and other expenses plus punitive damages and Dreyer told the Sacramento Bee, "Ultimately her children [Keegan, 10, Ryland, 3 and Jorie, 11 months] are going to find out how she died, and its important they have a clear understanding that it was corporate malfeasance trying to take advantage of individuals, not as a result of being stupid, not as a result of poor judgment. Because that's what some people are going to claim."
This is a corporate mentality of exploiting human beings to make money," Dreyer said. "I think their conduct is reprehensible."
Entercom says it will not comment on the lawsuit but Entercom Sacramento spokesman Charles Sipkins said it reiterated "deepest sympathies and condolences to the Strange family."
Sacramento Bee report:
2007-01-26: Tony O'Reilly's Independent News & Media backed by private equity firms Providence Equity Partners and the Carlyle Group has, as expected (See RNW Jan 2), made a further bid for Australian regional newspaper and radio company APN News & Media but its offer in the words of the Sydney Morning Herald is a "low-ball bid" that "faces an uphill battle."
The bid of AUD 6.05 per share - valuing APN at AUD 2.8 billion (USD 2.17 billion) - is below the pre-bid closing price of AUD 6.15 and no much higher than INM's AUD 6.02 bid that was on the table in November last year but was never tendered formally.
The Herald quotes a note to clients from Deutsche Bank media analyst Andrew Anagnostellis who says that "The revised bid for APN at $6.05 per share is unusual in that it is pitched at a discount to the prevailing share price and is essentially unchanged from a previously rejected offer" and says ABN Amro media analyst Fraser McLeish took the view that an offer of AUD 6.30 to AUD 6.40 could be necessary for the bid to succeed.
INM already holds 41% of APN, thus virtually ruling out rival offers and if independent directors, who are to consider the offer, recommend it will need a 75% vote in favour from minority shareholders.
The UK Independent, which is owned by INM, says the original offer was reportedly dropped "because Providence balked at the demand for a higher price from some large minority APN shareholders" but adds that Providence is reported to be back on board. It notes that the offer represents a multiple of 12.9 times APN's expected 2006 earnings, a figure higher than offered in other recent Australian media deals that have been prompted by the relaxation of media ownership rules that has been approved by the Australian government.
Sydney Morning Herald report:
UK Independent report:
2007-01-26: The European Space Agency (ESA) has demonstrated at the Noordwijk Space Expo in the Netherlands a prototype satellite receiver for automobiles that can receive signals in the KU frequency band widely used by communications satellites through a specially-designed mobile antenna.
The agency says the system works in a similar manner to a dish receiver for TV channels but rather than a "dish" on the car roof uses a specially designed mobile antenna, flattened so that it can be built almost invisibly into the bodywork.
ESA says the system can deliver not only radio services but multimedia to drivers over a large area using existing satellite infrastructure and thus not requiring new satellite launches or widespread deployment of terrestrial repeaters: It uses a technique of caching to eliminate the effects of interruption to the satellite signal in which audio content is transmitted as files that are stored in a local cache in the vehicle and then assembled to create the programming, thus eliminating interruptions as long as material is in the cache.
The system also allows users to customise the service to they can stop, rewind and restart programmes from the cached content, which can contain, audio, video or data information.
Amongst the organizations taking part in the development, which is led by SES Astra, are automaker BMW, broadcaster Deutsche Welle and the Fraunhofer Institute and antenna are being developed in separate projects are two groups - one led by IMST that is developing the flat, fully-electronic, steerable antenna and includes Adelsy, EPFL, Eurospace and Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft and another group, led by JAST, which is developing a hybrid antenna and includes RUAG, Micro Beam, LEMA-EPFL and SES Global.
The receiver includes a small monitor for multimedia data services in the form of web-like pages of news, stock reports, weather and travel information, as well as short video clips and further development is being carried out to allow addition of updated maps and advanced traffic information.
Europe currently has no satellite radio services equivalent to those of US companies Sirius and XM although international satellite radio company WorldSpace earlier this month took a step towards the launch of a service in Italy through an agreement between is subsidiary WorldSpace Italia, S.p.A., and Telecom Italia for the latter to design and deploy a terrestrial repeater network throughout Italy for use with the service.
In May last year WorldSpace Italia gained approval from the Italian Ministry of Communications to launch a subscription-based satellite radio service in Italy (See RNW May 9, 2006) and its CEO Luca Panerai said of the latest agreement that it was a "critical step toward commencement of our satellite radio service in Italy."
"When completed," he added, "the complementary repeater network will enable us to provide subscribers with country-wide access to a wide variety of unique content. We are pleased that Italy will be the first country in Europe to receive satellite radio services and we are honoured to work with a strong partner such as Telecom Italia for deploying the critical terrestrial backbone of our network."
ESA web site - has links to information on satellite plans:
2007-01-25: Bridge Ratings in its latest update of its "Digital Media Growth Projections" provides cold comfort for terrestrial radio and is only a little warmer as regards satellite radio.
It says that while initial estimates showed solid growth for satellite radio for 2006, the reality proved less impressive than prognosticators originally thought with total actual subscribers reaching 13.5 million through 2006 compared to original estimates from Sirius and XM of nearly 15 million: Looking further ahead it is now projecting nearly 18 million subscribers for XM by 2020 with Sirius fairly close behind.
In audience terms it is predicting a weekly audience for XM in 2020 of 17.94 million, up from 4.3 million in 2005 whilst Sirius is predicted to reach 17.26 million from a 2005 figure of two million.
In contrast to this increase, Bridge has terrestrial analogue radio as losing audience albeit slightly - down from 283.1 million in 2005 to 258.6 million in 2020 with HD failing to have a large impact - Bridge predicts its weekly audience as increasing to only 35.7 million.
Growing most according to Bridge will be Internet radio with a weekly audience going up from 45 million in 2005 to 197 million in 2020 as wireless internet penetration goes up from 5.7 million to 120 million. Bridge comments, "As Internet radio use accelerates both in and out of home, how will satellite radio's profitability model survive?"
Mobile phone audio streaming is seen as rising from a blank start in 2005 to 109 million a week.
Bridge cautions that its polls cannot foresee technological and sociological changes but says traditional analogue radio may sustain its popularity amongst older listeners and also noted that the increase in the US population will mask some of its losses - penetration will, says Bridge, be down from 94% to 77% but set against this will be a rise in the population to an estimated 336 million.
Previous Bridge Ratings:
2007-01-25: Royce International Broadcasting, which in 1995 finally lost a nine-year battle to get the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to overturn the sale of its KWOD-FM, Sacramento to Entercom (See RNW Aug 24, 2005) has taken advantage of Entercom's woes in the city following the death of a woman after she took part in a Entercom's KDND "Hold Your Wee for a Wii" water-drinking contest to file a petition with the Commission to halt the sale of 16 CBS stations to Entercom for USD 262 million that was announced last year (See RNW Aug 22, 2006).
The petition - filed by Washington lawyer attorney Arthur Belendiuk - terms Entercom "a highly-leveraged criminal enterprise that cannot be relied on to serve the public interest" and says it is "responsible for the tragic death of Jennifer Strange" which happened as the result of a "a stupid radio stunt designed to raise the ratings and revenues of Entercom's KDND-FM in Sacramento, California until it went horribly wrong."
The petition then says, "The Commission has a policy that requires licensees to conduct contests with due regard for the public interest... There is no evidence in the record to show that Entercom cares about anything other than generating revenues, by whatever means. It certainly did not care about the public it was licensed to serve when it solicited and accepted illegal bribes from record companies [referring to the recent payola investigation]. Nor did it care about the public interest or the Commission's rules when it repeatedly broadcast indecent material at a time when children were likely to be in the audience... As this last tragedy demonstrates, it is willing to do anything for money, including recklessly endangering the lives of the public it has been licensed to serve."
The FCC is to investigate the incident following a letter sent to chairman Kevin J. Martin by Sacramento attorney Roger Dreyer, who is representing Strange's family in a civil lawsuit against KDND and who called in the letter for the revocation of KDND's licence: The Sacramento Bee quotes from the letter which said in part, "We believe action of this nature is required by the FCC to send a very clear and unambiguous message to radio station ownership across this country that this type of irresponsible conduct that degrades, humiliates and endangers citizens will not be tolerated."
The Bee adds that Martin has instructed the FCC's enforcement bureau to investigate the matter and quotes FCC spokeswoman Tamara Lipper as saying Martin "was troubled by the information presented in the letter and wants to commission to ascertain the facts."
The paper notes that the DJs were aware of the danger of drinking too much water and that it was only five days after the incident that it fired ten staff responsible for its "Morning Rave" broadcast. It says Entercom Sacramento spokesman Charles Sipkins said only that the station would cooperate with the FCC.
Sacramento Bee report:
2007-01-25: UK commercial radio is likely to benefit from a decision by media regulator Ofcom to restrict advertising on TV directed at children but not apply a TV ban on junk food advertising to radio according to Andrew Harrison, chief executive of the commercial radio industry body the RadioCentre.
The UK Guardian reporting on the RadioActive conference in London quoted Harrison as saying, "We understand that Ofcom will not be applying to radio the same rules it has applied to TV as regards the advertising of HFSS [high in fat, sugar and salt] foods Radio will need to comply with new content rules but, reflecting the differences between TV and radio, we won't be restricted as to when we can advertise certain types of food."
Harrison also commented on UK radio revenues - down 5% on a year earlier in 2006 - but said his three-year plan would deliver "growing revenues and audience year-on-year" and also confirmed that UK commercial radio had now signed a deal on download rights with the artist royalties collection body PPL that would allow limited use of music in podcasts (See RNW Jan 5).
Regarding the BBC's ratings lead Harrison said that this was only because of a large lead amongst over 65s and said, "Despite the press stories, commercial radio in the UK is in good shape - we dominate listening all the way up to pensionable age."
He was also upbeat about the medium's future, commenting, "Radio is uniquely relevant in the digital age. It's at the heart of convergence: the only medium with the potential for consumption at home and on the move from all devices - TVs, online, MP3 players, phone, in-car ... and it's the only medium that can be enjoyed while also looking at other media."
Regarding portable players he said these were not a threat, commenting, "Radio and the iPod work together. Radio is all about where you discover new songs, new artists; the iPod is where you recover those favourite tunes to listen again. And, in a more emotional sense, radio is what you listen to when you want to engage, to be part of a live programme. The iPod is what you listen to when you want to escape, to zone out with your headphones on."
Harrison's comments came as commercial radio operators in London launched a two-month "Picture Slideshow Trial" on digital radio. Those taking part include London's DAB (Digital Audio Broadcasting) multiplex operators, GCap Media, Emap Digital, and Switch Digital (UTV) plus Virgin Radio and Chrysalis Radio and the trial has been developed in partnership with iRiver, which is set to introduce a DAB-based portable radio with a high-quality screen later this year.
iRiver users tuning into Capital Radio, Heart, Magic or Virgin Xtreme will be able to receive displays of station logos, artist pictures and information and single and album art - as well as advertising from several leading brands and a demonstration of the visual "enhancements" to the radio signal is also available online.
James Cridland, Digital Media Director at Virgin Radio, commented, "Commercial radio is already broadcasting more than 50 radio stations to London on DAB and adding this exciting functionality makes digital radio even more appealing for listeners. It also opens fresh, potentially lucrative, channels to the consumer for radio advertisers."
Harrison said, "We are very excited about the innovative opportunities for radio that new technology presents. As well as enhancing the experience of our listeners with images to support the programmes they already love, Slideshow means new dynamics for advertisers by adding logos and pictures and more detailed information to radio commercials, and that's a very powerful proposition."
RNW comment: So the reaction of commercial radio when there is a regulatory move to limit advertising to children on health grounds is to see it as an opportunity for profit - and to hell with the public good - because the regulator has not made the same rules for radio as it has for TV.
In such circumstances we can only hope that Ofcom will keep a keen ear on what radio does and should it abuse the freedom it has set some tough restrictions in place very speedily and if they're tougher than those for TV so be it.
We note, incidentally, that in the US, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has set up a talk force on "Media and Childhood Obesity" that will meet throughout this year to consider what steps can be taken to combat increasing childhood obesity in the US. The task force, which has a large list of participants, will hold its first meeting on February 14 and it will be interesting to note the difference that will presumably arise between the medical bodies represented and the food manufacturers and media representatives.
Online DAB "Slideshow" demonstration:
UK Guardian report:
2007-01-25: BBC Radio 4 listeners have complained in droves about the station's priorities in relation to the row over allegedly racist comments made on the TV Big Brother show with particular reference to a World Tonight programme that led on the story.
The comments have stung programme editor Alistair Burnett into responding on the BBC's Editors blog - he notes that "We have received more complaints over this than anything we have done since we led the programme with England's win (a distant memory for England fans now) in the Ashes [Cricket trophy for Australia v England Test matches]- another decision many listeners called just plain wrong."
Burnett goes on to partially defend the decision, commenting that "it seemed one of those occasions when many people who don't normally watch this kind of programme were commenting on it - including politicians who were very critical of Channel 4 which like the BBC has a public service remit - and that, in the view of many on the team, made it a story worthy of coverage by a programme like ours."
He then asks "Did we get the coverage right?" and responds "I'm not so sure we did. The listener who said we did too much on the mechanics of the programme may have a point. We had started out with the intention of talking to an academic who had studied reality TV and could deconstruct it for us and explain why it has the popular appeal it has and how much influence what the audience see has on them as individuals - for instance, does it legitimise racist attitudes. Unfortunately, there are only a few people who have done this kind of work in any depth and none of them were available."
Burnett also discusses priorities and the factors considered in making the decision to lead with the Big Brother story on the same day that Prime Ministerial adviser Ruth Turner was arrested (held only briefly) in connection with the loans for peerages investigation, commenting, "There was not consensus among the team on this and we will take on board listeners' complaints and will carry on discussing whether we got this one right for our programme and our audience."
Responses posted by listeners to the comments are mainly critical, some accusing the corporation of burying the story of the arrest, others saying it led on the Big Brother story for ratings reasons, and one accusing the corporation of plumping for an opportunity to show a competitor with a public service remit in a critical light at the time when it was pushing for a licence fee increase.
BBC - "Editors blog":
2007-01-24: Arbitron has begun introducing its Portable People Meter (PPM) in New York City area households and says it is recruiting a panel of 3,720 to carry the PPM in New York City with a further 1,440 for Nassau-Suffolk county and 925 for Middlesex-Somerset-Union.
Electronic measurement of the New York City market is planned to start for a two-month demonstration period in September with electronic ratings planned to replace current diaries in all three markets with the December 2007 survey to be released on the last day of the year subject to completion of an audit report by the Media Rating Council (MRC) and a review of the audit report findings with the MRC radio committee.
So far Arbitron has agreed PPM deals with five broadcasters who own 13 stations in New York City and take in more than half its advertising revenues - Buckley Broadcasting, CBS Radio, Emmis, Spanish Broadcasting and The New York Times. It also has agreements with national advertising agencies that place more than 90% of national advertising dollars spent in New York City.
Previous Media Rating Council:
2007-01-24: CanWest has told prospective buyers of its Australasian media interests that it will sell its New Zealand and Australian Network Ten TV interests separately according to the New Zealand Herald, which says it understands memoranda specifying separate sales have been sent to them.
The move will it says ease concerns about the New Zealand broadcasting assets coming under the control of Network Ten although a TV source told it "It is no guarantee that they don't end up in common ownership and it makes sense if you are trying to get as much as possible out of a sale."
CanWest is being advised on a potential sale by investment bank Citigroup but it refused comment.
The Herald says likely prospective buyers include private equity groups and media companies with Kerry Stokes' Seven Network in Australia through to be interested in TV3, New Zealand, whilst Fairfax is likely to be enthusiastic about CanWest radio assets as a way of attracting advertising revenue in Auckland, where it is under-represented in newspapers compared with APN News & Media, publisher of the New Zealand Herald.
APN owns the other half of New Zealand's commercial radio sector, The Radio Network, in a 50:50 joint venture with Clear Channel Communications and is reported to be looking at buying Clear's stake.
New Zealand Herald report:
2007-01-24: Israeli broadcaster Gabi Gazit has denied accusations that he took a commercial by the Efrat anti-abortion organization off the air on his show on Israeli public radio at the weekend, telling his listeners on Monday that he had proof "on tape" that he did not interrupt the commercial.
According to earlier reports Gazit stopped the commercial part way through and said, "An abortion is not a game, and abortions - abortion matters are not broadcast in commercial breaks, that's what I think. With all due respect to the Efrat organization, not in this way."
Efrat's Chairman Dr. Eli Shussheim has complained about Gazit to the IBA (Israel Broadcasting Authority) and says it will consult advisors concerning possible legal action.
Gazit has also been attacked by the Israel Media Watch watchdog organization whose director told Arutz-7, "What happened is only another proof that Gabi Gazit is not worthy of holding a public microphone... Gazit holds the record for being the subject of the most complaints to the Israel Broadcast Authority for all times, and IBA Public Complaints Commissioner Amos Goren has called, time after time, for a fundamental review of his program."
Israel Media Watch has filed a suit demanding to know why the IBA renewed his contract even though eh has been the subject of many complaints and "is a serial violator of the IBA's Nakdi document of journalistic ethics."
Arutz - original report:
Arutz re Gazit denial:
2007-01-24: Journal Broadcast Group has announced that it has agreed to sell one of its Omaha stations, KOMJ-AM, "Magic 1490," to Cochise Broadcasting LLC. for an undisclosed amount.
Doug Kiel, president of Journal Communications Inc. and vice chairman and CEO of the Journal Broadcast Group, noted that on completion the group will still own and operate five radio stations in the Omaha market and added, "The sale of KOMJ enables Journal Broadcast Group to complete the purchase of KMTV-TV, Channel 3, from Emmis Communications."
Previous Journal Communications:
2007-01-23: In two HD Radio announcements the HD Digital Radio Alliance has named the next 17 markets that will see HD multicasts launched and Clear Channel says it is adding HD multicasts in 15 more markets, taking the number of its stations that air HD multicasts up to 320 in 81 markets - it already has more than 330 stations offering primary HD broadcasts.
The HD Digital Radio Alliance says that the markets being added will take HD to a total of 85 markets, all in the top 100 US markets, reaching more than 80% of the US population. The rollout is the fourth wave of HD launches and all should be on air by the end of this month with the multicasts adding a number of new formats in the round including Jazz & Blues, Standards and Slow Jams and Dance,
HD Digital Radio Alliance president and CEO Peter Ferrara said in a news release of the addition that it meant "there are now more than 600 new radio stations on the air with HD2 programming that is unique, diverse and local to each market. That is a huge benefit and value for the consumer that buys an HD Radio."
The markets being added, all in the lower half of the top 100 - ranging from 66th to 85th rank - are Grand Rapids, Michigan; Fresno, California; Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania; Allentown, Pennsylvania; Knoxville, Tennessee; Omaha, Nebraska; Akron, Ohio; Wilmington, Delaware; Sarasota, Florida; Monterey-Salinas-Santa Cruz, California; Syracuse, New York; Harrisburg, Pennsylvania; Stockton, California; Bakersfield, California; Baton Rouge, Louisiana; Toledo, Ohio; and Little Rock, Arkansas.
Clear Channel stations being added are in Akron; Allentown; Bakersfield; Baton Rouge; Fresno; Grand Rapids; Harrisburg; Little Rock; Monterey; Omaha; Sarasota; Stockton; Syracuse; Toledo; and Wilmington.
Clear Channel has also announced that its Pride, gay lifestyle programming has become the first format from its Format Lab, which was launched in April last year, to break through onto terrestrial FM. The programming is now airing in Denver, Hartford, Las Vegas, Tucson and West Palm Beach as a 2-hour weekly signature show "Pride with Ryan & Caroline."
The Lab's Bluegrass Americana format was picked up by WTCR-AM in West Virginia last year.
Previous Clear Channel:
Previous HD Digital Radio Alliance:
2007-01-23: Washington public broadcaster WETA-FM has returned its format to classical music following the demise of classical on Bonneville International's WGMS-FM, which had been broadcasting classical music for just over six decades: it went on air in on December 29, 1946 under the call letters WQQW as an AM station and as an FM on September 18, 1948. The call letters were changed to WGMS- "Washington's Good Music Station" - in 1951.
WGMS signed off at 15:00 on Monday with announcer Chip Brienza on air to be replaced with George 104 which bills itself as music of "the 70s, 80s and whatever we want." WETA switched its format back to classical from the news/talk format it introduced two years ago at 20:00.
The Washington Post reports that WGMS is donating its library of 15,000 discs to WETA, and the WGMS web site will direct listeners to WETA (It did redirect to WETA when we tried but the WETA site appeared to be down as the redirect produced an error message so we were unable to check for the programme schedule.)
The paper adds that Bonneville is giving away the WGMS call letters and that subject to approval from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) WETA's Hagerstown repeater station, WETH-FM, will be renamed WGMS-FM although WETA itself will retain its current call letters. WGMS program director Jim Allison is moving to the same role at WETA, replacing current PD Maxie Jackson and ten WGMS employees are being laid off.
The paper also notes that the change means the end for WETA's only local programmes - "The Intersection," a daily hour of talk on D.C. area issues, and "Out and About," an arts talk weekly show: Other programming came from syndicated sources such as National Public Radio (NPR) and the BBC and most of it was also being aired by WAMU-FM.
The Post says Bonneville will gain by being able to use the frequencies -- it moved WGMS from 103.5 FM to 103.9 and 104.1 last year to make room for WTWP-FM - for programming targeted at a younger audience whilst classical music fans benefit from a more powerful signal and absence of commercials. WETA had approached Bonneville following reports that it was negotiating a sale of WGMS to Washington Redskins owner Daniel Snyder whose Red Zebra Broadcasting is building a network of sports stations but that deal broke down over the price.
Washington Post report:
2007-01-23: The Broadcasting Commission of Ireland (BCI) has renewed in principle the licence of Limerick's Live 95FM following a public hearing at which it heard from the UTV-owned station and a second applicant, Limerick's Heart FM: It has also called Spirit Radio Ltd. and Yes Radio Limited, two of five applicants for a new quasi-national Christian and Religious AM licence, to a public oral hearing in Dublin on March 26th.
Limerick's Live 95FM has held its licence since 1967 and is the top-rated station in the market where last year it achieved a record market share of 53.7%. UTV acquired the station in June 2002 and its 10-year licence renewal is subject to satisfactory contract negotiations with the BCI.
Station chief executive David Tighe said he was "delighted" at the renewal and added, "It was a long and complex process but we were confident that our track record - exemplified in numerous ways in our submission to the BCI - highlighted the good work we do, in the many walks of Limerick life. We would also like to thank our listeners and advertisers, who have inundated the radio station with good wishes throughout the process - and with messages of congratulations since the result became known."
2007-01-23: According to the Wall Street Journal, which cites as its source "people familiar with the situation", a group led by the French family, owner of New York City-area WRNN-TV whose output is mainly infomercials and home shopping, is on the verge of signing a deal to buy the assets of Air America Radio owner Piquant LLC, which has been in Chapter 11 bankruptcy since October last year.
The Journal says that if the deal does go through Richard French, a former New York State Democratic Party official who is the son of WRNN owner Dick French, is likely to get his own show on Air America at prime time. French already hosts a nightly "Richard French Live" programme n WRNN.
The Journal does not give details of any deal but notes that in its bankruptcy filing Piquant had assets of USD 7.8 million and short-term liabilities of USD 19.8 million including RealNetworks Inc. Chief Executive Rob Glaser, who is the company's largest secured creditor with USD 9.8 million in claims, Citibank, with USD 2.5 million in unsecured debt, and Clear Channel, with USD 558,333 in unsecured claims.
Previous Air America/Piquant:
Wall Street Journal report:
2007-01-22: With the topic of Jennifer Strange's death after taking part in Sacramento KDND-FM's "Hold your wee for a Wii" getting so much coverage worldwide, where else to start this week's look at print comment in print but in California.
Understandable the topic has received considerable coverage in the state, particularly in view of previous incidents involving "water intoxication (hyponatremia)" that have been recorded.
Writing in the San Francisco Chronicle C.W. Nevius suggest that this incident is going to run and run, writing, " this may not get resolved with a radio network issuing an apology and offering cash to make everything go away."
Nevius then quotes Roger Dreyer, the Sacramento attorney who is handling a wrongful death lawsuit for Strange's husband and three children as saying, "There isn't going to be a settlement. There's going to be a venting in a public forum. That's what we want, and that's what the family wants."
Nevius comments, "One must assume, however, that it is not what the large corporations that own most of the radio stations in this country want. The water-drinking stunt isn't out of the ordinary. In fact, local station KSAN 107.7 has done it more than once -- although with supervision and planning" and quotes Talkers Magazine editor Michael Harrison as saying, "There have to be network executives who are thinking, there but for the grace of God go I. This is one of the most important stories to come along. This is big."
Harrison's view was backed up by Tom Taylor, editor of Inside Radio who said, "This is a story that is going to be reverberating for a long time. Everybody's paying attention to this. And it's clear from talking to station managers that they've already pulled back on the stunt-boy stuff."
Nevius says that the shadow of Strange's death is already there at other stations and quotes Lamont of Cumulus's "the Bone" morning show as saying, "We do a lot of on-the-edge things but in the last few years, we've gotten away from making the listeners do the stunts. But we had a meeting on Thursday, and this (incident with Strange) came up. Someone said we're probably going to get letters from corporate headquarters on this."
Nevius then speculates on that might be said in any such latter and comments, "Saying what? Try not to let the contestants die? And why, because it might be bad for ratings? What if it improved ratings? "
And of readers' e-mails on the incident, many said "they'd been uncomfortable with the encouragement of juvenile behaviour in the media for some time."
Harrison commented "As a culture, we have to do some soul-searching. It brings up the issue of taste and what is appropriate" and Dreyer says the family's lawsuit has such thoughts in mind, commenting, "This gives us a forum to affect change on a national level. To really do something about this garbage."
And of course, America being America, the real pressure will come, as Dreyer comments, from "punitive damages The reality is that the only thing large corporations understand is financial punishment."
In similar vein, Jim Boren in the Fresno Bee comments on stunts and reality TV - he's no fan - and writes of radio, "Someone in charge must think that contests, stunts and hoaxes drive ratings because many contemporary music stations have some variation. Do people wake up in the morning and decide that they want to be on the radio so badly that they'll do anything the DJ says? Apparently so, and mostly it turns out to be sophomoric fun. I don't get it, but that probably says more about my age than my sense of humour."
And of water drinking? "Even if the Sacramento contest hadn't become a tragedy, does it sound like good radio? Everyone sitting around drinking a bunch of water until they can't stand it doesn't strike me as something that would keep me glued to the radio."
After US stunts to a more serious idea but one that's just as daft in its way as noted by Chris Campling in his "Radio head" column in the Times of London. This was the idea of helping listeners know where the ball was in a soccer game by splitting the pitch into squares that could be referred to.
Campling notes that when in 1927 the BBC covered its first soccer game "The Radio Times published a diagram of the pitch, which was split into squares so that the commentator could let listeners know where the ball was."
He then mentions two programmes at the weekend that commemorate the event - the BBC Radio 4 "Archive Hour" broadcast on Saturday that was a documentary about the evolution of commentary on radio whilst on Sunday BBC Radio Five Live posted an interactive grid on its web site to link with its live commentary.
Campling is not a fan of the grid idea writing, "What was it that made the Cholmondeley- Warners of the Jazz Age think that telling listeners where the ball was on the pitch added to the visceral thrill of listening to football? Surely the actual commentary - "Matthews gets the ball," say, "and advances up the wing, feinting past three players, oh lovely work, and sending in a pinpoint cross" - would have been undermined by the leaden punctuation of "Square 8, square 9, square 10, square 16"? And anyway, who wants to know where the ball is, rather than who is doing what with it?"
On a totally different note, Tammy La Gorce in the New York Times commented on the dwindling band of "Night Talkers" on radio, commenting of the overnight hosts, "Flip a radio dial in the New York suburbs, AM or FM, and a smooth-talking D.J. is as likely to rumble through your speakers at 3 a.m. as at noon. But with few exceptions, the late-night host who aims to soothe listeners with light-music favourites or stimulate them with titillating talk is - quite unlike Mr. Cray [Floyd Cray, host of the religious rap program "Gospel Vibrations" that airs from 01:15-06:00 on Saturdays on WFDU-FM] - a mirage. "
She then quotes Nashville-based radio analyst Robert Unmacht: "There's so much automation in overnight radio now, it's getting to be rare that you'll find a live show, even in a market as big as New York. And it's not always easy to tell, because they voice-track."
Unmacht continues, "It's a shame how little credence they give that time slot, because it's traditionally been a training ground for great D.J.'s, the radio legends. Historically, it's the time of night when radio magic happens. It's a combination of entertainment, information and companionship, and when it's done right it can be brilliant. But with automation, which we started seeing in the late '80s, they're taking the companionship out of the mix. In such a large market as New York, it's the equivalent of Wal-Mart leaving its back shelves empty because they're too far back. It makes sense to use every bit of real estate you've got."
La Gorce then notes that of some 275 stations "in Connecticut, New Jersey, Westchester and Long Island, perhaps fewer than 20 staff the overnight shift with live hosts. Of those, fewer than five are high-wattage commercial stations with broad interstate reaches."
She adds that the reason smaller stations keep live hosts is a combination of their freedom from dependence on ratings that dictate playlists and personalities combined with the fact that "jocks at smaller stations often work free and tend to stick around for years."
And hosts at the commercial stations where they exist? She quotes Jesse Gosselin, a host at Cox's WPLR-FM (99.1) in Milford, Connecticut, on the constraints placed on him - from the four breaks an hour when he has to give the temperature and remind listeners that they are listening to WPLR to the playlists: Gosselin commented of a request from a regular listener, "Oh, he knows better than that. He wants me to play 'Rock Lobster' by the B-52s, but he knows I can't. I'm required to play exactly what's on this list, in the exact order."
And to end with before listening suggestions, the other running radio story from the US, the issue of a possible merger of XM and Sirius, topic of comment by Joe Nocera in the New York Times.
Nocera after various comments on the issue and reactions to statements by Federal Communications Commission (FCC) chairman Kevin J. Martin about the regulator's view on such a merger, moves the discussion onto slightly different ground to that we saw elsewhere.
"It is impossible<" he writes, "to know whether the commission would ultimately approve a merger that would allow the satellite radio duopoly to become a monopoly. Normally, any right-thinking person would instinctively be opposed to such a move - don't we have antitrust laws to prevent mergers that would give companies monopoly power? But the situation with satellite radio raises a question that is becoming more and more important these days: when it comes to new and emerging technologies, what exactly constitutes competition?"
Nocera then comments on the direct competition between Sirius and XM but then writes of that competition, "But it is not quite as terrific as it sounds. For one thing, what if you are a fan of both baseball and football? What kind of choice is it to have to decide between them? Or what if you like both Howard Stern and Oprah? (Well, O.K., that's not a good example.) It is hard to think of another technology that forces subscribers to make that kind of choice."
Later he quotes former FCC chairman Reed Hundt who says that when the commission passed its rule preventing any merger, it wasn't clear that satellite radio would compete with local terrestrial radio but now it is clear that they do in fact compete. That competition says Nocera has kept the satellite radio prices in check as has other forms of competition specifically the iPod and he quotes Hundt as saying, "You can buy an iPod and download music and then plug it into your car. How is that different from satellite radio? I think we did the right thing to begin with. You wouldn't want to change it if it weren't for the fact that it is so obvious that you can get content in so many different ways. That wasn't really true then."
Nocera concludes by saying "satellite radio is far more likely to be successful if the two companies aren't spending themselves into oblivion, and if one satellite radio company has developed enough financial strength to compete successfully against the greatest business model destroyer ever created: the Internet."
RNW comment: To which we respond "Trabant" - the two-stroke car that was all most East Germans could buy before reunification of Germany. Now they might have to choose between Mercedes and BMW or many others. What kind of choice is that? From which it should be clear that we think Nocera is rather confused about the idea of a free market.
Which takes us on to our first suggested listening, the latest edition of "In Business" in which Peter Day looked at the economic rise of Communist Vietnam. Maybe the Comrades have some lessons on the market for many Americans?
Then referring back to the Campling column, we suggest another Radio 4 programme, the latest "Archive Hour" - "Back to Square One - 80 Years of Football on the Radio" in which Barry Davies considers the evolution of commentary and the changing relationship between broadcasting and football."
In similar vein in terms of radio development, we also suggest from BBC Radio 4 last Thursday, "Radio Ha Ha", a two-hour special hosted by Steve Punt considering the comedy industry and comparing the merits of radio and television comedy.
And continuing with Radio 4 from last Saturday we suggest two programmes preceding the Archive hour - the "Music Feature" , which was "Second Fiddle" - looking at the world of the session musician and profile, which took as its subject "Barack Obama."
The station is currently marking its "Memory Experience" - last year it conducted a survey on what Britons remembered, receiving some 10,000 responses - with a number of programmes including two programmes on Wednesday - "The Memory Experience " at 09:00 GMT that discusses the findings of the survey and at 11:00 GMT "The Memory Experience -In My Pram, I Remember" that discusses recollections before the age of two, "pre-verbal" memories that many scientists argue are not possible.
Other programmes includes "The Saturday Play" - "Something Wrong about the Mouth by David Edgar", which led off a week of dramas to accompany the Memory Experience" and also the "Afternoon Plays" at 14:15 GMT plus the Women's Hour Dramas - in "Woman's Hour" that runs from 10:00 GMT (and with a repeat at 19:45 GMT) plus the "Me and My Memory" programmes in the 15:45 GMT weekday slot.
Next BBC Radio 2 tomorrow and two evening programmes -" Get Up for James Brown" at 20:30 GMT, the first of two programmes in which Mark Lamarr looks at the life and times of the James Brown and "Hey! Bo Diddley" at 21:30 GMT - the second of three programmes in which Roger Daltry celebrates the life and music of Bo Diddley: The first programme is on the site until then.
Then for something completely different we suggest "Vox Humana" from Radio Netherlands that last Saturday was "Indian Courtesans: Concubines, Never Queens", a look at the bajis of India, some of whom were superb artists, others paid mistresses, and who were hard hit by the puritan morality of the Victorians in the days of Britain's Indian Empire.
The programme was a precursor to a number of programmes about India this week including today's "Research File" which is an India special and Wednesday's "Documentary" which is "The World at Your Fingertips", a look at the plight of more than half a million people in India who are deaf and blind and what is being done to help them.
Then we suggest the Australian Broadcasting Corporation and Sunday's "Background Briefing" - "Bird flu: risks, laws and rights" whose content is clear from the title. Also from the ABC we'd suggest the latest "Night Air", which continues the theme we mentioned last week of "Figures in a Soundscape and Other Worlds."
Finally back to the BBC and Drama with Sunday's "Drama on 3" on BBC Radio 3 which was "Japanese Gothic Tales", featuring three tales by Izumi Kyoka, dramatised by Georgia Pritchett - "The Holy Man of Mount Koya"; "A Tale of Three who were Blind"; and "One Day in Spring". It was followed in "The Sunday Feature" with "The Struggle for Language", the first of three programmes. This one looked at "The New German".
Fresno Bee - Boren:
New York Times - Nocera:
San Francisco Chronicle - Nevius:
UK Sunday Times - Donovan:
UK Times - Campling:
27-01-21: Perhaps the most significant regulatory statement last week came from the US in the form of two straightforward answers to questions given by Federal Communications Commission (FCC) chairman (FCC) Kevin J. Martin that sent satellite radio stocks plunging and then recovering somewhat - the first when he pointed out that current FCC rules would prohibit a merger and the second when e commented that FCC rules could be changed: Otherwise it was very much a matter of routine work by the regulators.
There were no announcements from Australia or Ireland and only a few from Canada where the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) posted only a few radio decisions. In order of province they were:
*Approval of application by CKUA Radio Foundation to change the frequency of its transmitter CKUA-FM-6, Red Deer, from 101.3 MHz to 107.7 MHz: The change is related to approval in August last year of a new English-language commercial FM in Calgary for CHUM Ltd. subject to it finding a suitable frequency. CHUM says the best frequency for its purpose is 101.5 MHZ but this would cause interference to the Red Deer transmitter and it had therefore asked CKUA if it would be prepared to change the frequency of this transmitter.
*Approval of application Bute Inlet Development Corporation (BIDC) for a 540 watts English- and Aboriginal-language Native Type B FM in Campbell River.
Newfoundland and Labrador:
*Approval of application by Windsor Pentecostal Church for 50-watts non-commercial, low-power, English-language FM to provide religious programming in Grand Falls/Windsor.
*Approval of addition of low-power transmitters at Brockville and Cobourg for Christian music CKJJ-FM, Belleville.
The CRTC also posted a public notice, with a deadline for submission of interventions or comments of February 20 concerning an application for a power increase from 1,030 watts to 6,300 watts and antenna height increase for CHUC-FM Cobourg, Ontario, and advised that CHUM Limited had withdrawn its to convert CKLC-AM, Kingston, Ontario, to FM and that this will be rescheduled at a later date.
Another public notice -with a deadline for interventions or comments of February 23 -that was mainly concerned with TV applications, also lists an application by Saskatchewan Telecommunications (SaskTel) to amend the licence of its Class 1 cable broadcasting distribution undertaking (BDU) serving various locations to allow it to distribute the audio programming service of any licensed satellite subscription radio undertaking on a digital basis.
In the UK, Ofcom was concerned with community and restricted service licences last week: It is proposing to ease restrictions on Restricted Service Licences (See RNW Jan 17) and has also announced the award of two more community radio licences - to 10 Radio for a service to Wiveliscombe, Somerset and to Stroud FM for a service to Stroud in Gloucestershire.
Also regarding community licences it has published details of applications it has received for 24 services for Scotland and Northern Ireland. The nine Northern Ireland applications include three for the military.
Ofcom also published its latest Broadcasting Bulletin in which it upheld no complaints against radio (See RNW Jan 16).
In the US, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) had a fairly quiet week in which its latest FM auction 68 - selling nine FM construction permits that remained unsold in its previous auctions 37 and 62 - raised just over USD 3.25 million (See RNW Jan 19)
In one licensing decision it renewed the licence of KROM-FM, San Antonio, Texas, and rejected a call for denial of the renewal by a Joe Ray Blalack who alleged that the station "conspired to obstruct the efforts of the Immigration Services in their efforts to apprehend illegal aliens who have violated the immigration laws of the United States, as reported in the San Antonio Express-News."
Blalack contended that a programme that featured people calling in to report sightings of immigration agents in the San Antonio area was contrary to the public interest and also asserted that a forfeiture of USD 28,000 assessed against the station for its broadcast of a telephone conversion between an air personality and another employee of the radio station demonstrates a "consistent and total disregard of the public interest."
Licensee Tichenor License Corporation responded that the immigration broadcast occurred long before it obtained the KROM licence and the FCC agreed. It also said that the penalty imposed for the phone call violation, which was broadcast on seven stations, "constituted an adequate penalty for the infraction." Accordingly it renewed the licence.
Previous Licence News:
CRTC web site:
FCC web site:
Ofcom web site:
2007-01-21: The water-drinking radio stunt by Entercom's KDND-FM in Sacramento that has been widely held to be the cause of the dearth of a woman contestant - although no formal cause of death has yet been announced - seems likely to costs the station dear according to reports in the Sacramento Bee of advertisers withdrawing as well as the station facing a lawsuit from the woman's family and possible criminal prosecution (See RNW Jan 19).
The paper says that some sponsors have already left the station and quoted Gregory Glass, president of Glass McClure Advertising in Sacramento, as saying he pulled his clients off the station "out of respect for the family."
Glass also expressed concerns about the station's long-term future - it has fired ten people including all the hosts on the morning show involved - and commented, "We think they're going to have to completely remake themselves."
A spokesman for KDND owner Entercom would not comment about the loss of sponsors although he did add that the station had "a close working relationship with all of our advertisers and are working closely with them through this tragedy" and also said the company was "focused on filling the time slot" - an afternoon DJ is currently hosting the morning slot.
Entercom has hired Sacramento public relations firm Runyon Saltzman Einhorn to help manage the fallout from the matter but it refused to comment about the work it is doing for Entercom.
Regarding a lawsuit by the woman's family Sacramento attorney Roger Dreyer accused the "Morning Rave" staff of pushing an irresponsible, ill-advised contest and also said that as well as the station employees responsible for the competition companies associated with the contest's prizes -- Nintendo and promoters for the Justin Timberlake concert -- might be named if they had a role in the promotion.
Dreyer also said the family does want to see that dangerous radio stunts are curbed, commenting, "One of the motivating factors for Jennifer's family contacting me is they don't want to see it happen again."
Elsewhere in California other examples of problems of "water intoxication" have been reported including a similar incident in Victorville in August when local Dave Gross won a prize at Clear Channel's Y-102 after drinking the equivalent of nearly eight 24-ounce bottles of water.
Gross, became ill with water intoxication and ended up spending a day in hospital and missing two weeks of work.
When he became ill his wife called their health group which advised them to go to hospital immediately and Gross commented, "I was monitored all day and they took a lot of blood. I'm a landscaper and am used to drinking a lot of Gatorade. I think my body was able to deal with it."
Gross said that like the KDND contestants he signed a waiver but in his case he doesn't remember any type of disclaimer stating there were health risks involved.
He is now trying to get a copy of the waiver to see if he might be successful in bringing a lawsuit against Clear Channel and said he has made repeated calls to Clear Channel, to their local and corporate office in Texas, and no one is calling back. "Everyone is keeping it hush hush now," Gross said. "They are afraid of being sued."
Previous Clear Channel:
Sacramento Bee report:
Victorville Daily Press report:
2007-01-21: Long-time Philadelphia black station WHAT-AM, which closed down its former format earlier this month following its sale in November last year by Inner City Broadcasting (See RNW Jan 14) has now become What "Skin Radio", a station that according to its web site is "committed to broadcasting local Philadelphia original bands and musical artists" and is also "looking for local Philadelphia area poets" to broadcast their work on air.
Its home page has a link to an MP3 playlist for audio and a declaration saying:
"Our soul is music ...
Our passion is creativity...
Our desire is to serve...
The radio station is just skin.
We Will Be Different"
The switch was made on Friday evening and new owner Tom Kelly told the Philadelphia Daily News that the station would be "produced by young non-radio folks given lots of creative freedom" adding that he plans "lots of musical diversity and experimentation with the medium."
Philadelphia Daily News report:
What/Skin Radio web site:
2007-01-20: Clear Channel Communication's November 2006 deal to sell itself to private equity groups Thomas H. Lee Partners LP and Bain Capital Partners LLC for USD 37.6 per share (See RNW Nov 17, 2006) will be opposed by the company's largest shareholder, Fidelity Investments, according to the Bloomberg Agency which quotes an unnamed "person with knowledge of the decision."
Fidelity held 11% of Clear Channel at the end of September and wants a higher price according to the Bloomberg source: Clear Channel stock ended Friday at 36.50 thus meaning the buyout offer is still offering a small premium but neither Clear Channel nor Fidelity would comment on the report.
Filings by Clear Channel show that it needs a two-thirds majority for the deal to proceed and Fred Moran, an analyst at Boca Raton, Florida-based Stanford Group, said that if "the shareholders push for too much, it could put the deal in jeopardy."
Following the agreement Clear Channel put 448 stations in smaller markets up for sale and says it has reached agreement on sales of 76 stations in 17 markets. In a note to market managers Clear Channel Radio CEO John Hogan says "the decision to sell your stations was not made quickly or easily, nor was it a reflection on the efforts and work of you and your team."
The markets involved are (In order of state)
Alabama - Gadsden (2 stations):
Arkansas - Jonesboro (4 stations):
California (7 stations):
Idaho - Pocatello (5 stations) and Twin Falls (3 stations):
Iowa - Burlington (4 stations):
Minnesota - Duluth 4 stations);
Montana - Billings (5 stations). Bozeman (6 stations); Missoula (6 stations), and Shelby (2 stations);
Nebraska - Lincoln (4 stations):
New Hampshire - Lebanon (6 stations):
Wyoming - Fargo, North Dakota (7 stations); Laramie (2 stations), Cheyenne (3 stations), and Casper (6 stations).
The Wyoming sale is the latest to be announced and is among a number of sales to Blue Point Media LLC, which was specifically founded by Chicago businessman Chris Devine and his partner Bruce Busily to buy stations from Clear Channel - Blue Point has also bought stations in California - Arkansas, Idaho, Iowa, Minnesota, Montana, and Nebraska.
Previous Clear Channel:
2007-01-20: Stock in US satellite radio companies Sirius and XM, which plunged on Wednesday after Federal Communications Commission (FCC) chairman Kevin J. Martin reminded reporters that the agency's rules prohibited a merger (See RNW Jan 18) and rose on Thursday when he said a request by the companies to change the rules could be considered fell back on Friday.
XM, whose stock fell most fall on Wednesday to end that day at USD 15.45 were up to USD 16.45 at the close on Thursday but down to 15:48 at closing time on Friday.
Sirius, whose stock was down to USD 3.86 on Wednesday picked up on Thursday to end at USD 4.05 but then slipped back to USD 3.96 on Friday.
XM may also have been affected by the decision of U.S. District Judge Deborah A. Batts to allow a lawsuit against it brought by various recording and music distribution companies including Atlantic Recording Corp., BMG Music and Capitol Records Inc to go to trial.
The suit concerns XM receivers that allow customers to record songs off its broadcasts, something it likens to a radio-cassette recorder and says is permitted under the Audio Home Recording Act (AHRA) that allows people to record music off the radio for their own use.
The recording companies argue that XM is acting as both a broadcaster and distributor of music but is only paying to broadcast copyright material and that its service competes directly with other distribution services like Rhapsody, Napster and iTunes.
Judge Batts appeared to side with the recording companies, noting that 3M's system allows recording of an entire song and also allows users to review digital playlists of all songs broadcast on a channel during a period so they can select which songs to store for future replay.
"It is manifestly apparent that the use of a radio-cassette player to record songs played over free radio does not threaten the market for copyrighted works as does the use of a recorder which stores songs from private radio broadcasts on a subscription fee basis" she is reported as commenting.
Steven Marks, EVP and General Counsel for the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), said in a statement it was pleased "that the court has rejected XM's attempts to use the Audio Home Recording Act (AHRA) as a legal loophole for distributing sound recordings to its subscribers. The AHRA was never intended to allow a service offering distributions of music to due paying creators what they are due."
He added that "With convergence from every direction it is essential that al services operate on a level playing field where fair competition can thrive. We hope this case paves the way for resolving this case in the marketplace."
XM responded in a statement that it was confident that it would prevail, commenting, "At this stage of the proceedings, the court's ruling is required to be based on the false characterizations set forth in the plaintiffs' complaint. The real facts strongly support our view that the lawsuit is barred by the Audio Home Recording Act. We look forward to making our case in court.''
RNW comment: In both cases it seems to us that the issue is one of the best balance between public and private interests and on that basis we come to conclusions favouring a prohibition of a merger between Sirius and XM and in favour of the satellite broadcasters when it comes to recording devices.
In the case of a merger we see no benefit to the public in allowing one monopoly service and no good reason for changing the existing licence conditions that would bar a merger.
In the case of recordings, we can see the practical point being made, particularly if a service allows searching of playlists plus recording of pre-selected material, which goes go a stage further than a cassette recording technology can allow.
We see no difference in principle, however, in allowing the recording of a broadcast from terrestrial broadcasts be they analogue or digital or from satellite broadcast onto a digital device for later replay.
The blogs we have seen on this overwhelmingly see the RIAA as attacking the right of individuals to record - but not distribute - material off-air for later playback and note the RIAA's opposition to pretty well any technological development that it cannot control and use to increase profits.
There is also the issue of technical quality and we noted on blog in particular from Wires in which Morgan Feldon comments, "Even though I am a fan of XM, how can their signal be referred to as "high-quality digital streams". XM has 4 MHz. Divide by 170 channels and you get 23.5kbps. Now that's over generalizing since talk channels use less, but still, the quality is nowhere near your garden variety 64kbps mp3 and a joke compared to the 192kbps mp3s most people are trading online."
Those comments reflect the argument we have long made for recording companies to sell CDs on the basis of superior technical quality and as our January 2006 Comment made clear, the quality of digital audio broadcasts would appear to be not only not as good as that of CDs but in fact in many cases not as good as that of a high quality analogue set-up albeit indicating that a bit of a confidence trick is being perpetrated in the marketing of digital as being superior quality although we would accept that in general it is not so susceptible to interference and may well be better than a poor quality analogue transmission.
Wired blog cum report on Blatts' decision:
2007-01-20: Australian metropolitan radio advertising revenues last year were up 1.4% on 2005 at AUD 599.6 million (USD 473.2 million) according to figures from PricewaterhouseCoopers released by industry body Commercial Radio Australia.
The figures show considerable variation in performance with Perth the strongest market in 2006, up nearly 7 per cent in the 12 months ending December to AUD 65 million (USD 51.3 million), followed by Brisbane and Adelaide, which grew by 6 per cent to AUD 91.8 million (USD 72.5 million) and AUD 56.6 million (USD 44.7 million) respectively, and Melbourne which grew 5% to AUD 170.2 million (USD 134.3 million. Sydney was the exception as its revenues fell 5% to AUS 216 million (USD 170.5 million).
Commercial Radio Australia chief executive Joan Warner commented, "While there was good growth in Perth and Brisbane, the overall result was weighed down by the Sydney market, which continues to be adversely affected by the weaker New South Wales economy" and added, "Commercial radio audiences remain strong and the industry continues to increase revenue streams through innovative online and podcasting activities. "
The figures show more than over 8.6 million Australians tuning in to commercial radio in metropolitan areas, representing an audience reach of 77 percent. Listening averaged w hours 33 minutes a day, 17hours 57 minutes a week on average.
Previous Commercial Radio Australia:
2007-01-19: Entercom's KDND-FM (The End) in Sacramento is now under investigation by the Sacramento County Sheriff's department over possible homicide charges in connection with the death of 28-year-old mother of three Jennifer Lea Strange, tentatively put down to "water intoxication (hyponatremia)" after her participation in the station's "Hold your wee for a Wii" contest .
In addition the station is being hit with a lawsuit from the family through Dreyer, Babich, Buccola & Callaham, Northern California's premier Plaintiffs' personal injury law firm.
The station has already closed down the morning show involved and fires ten people and details that have come out -the Sacramento Bee has now posted audio from the show on its site - show Strange complaining on the show of symptoms that are typical of hyponatremia, comments that led a nurse listening to the programme to ask a colleague to phone the station and warn them of the dangers..
It also shows that the hosts were aware of possible dangers because they made reference to a 2005 California case in which 21-years-old Matthew Carrington died after drinking too much water during a fraternity initiation ritual.
On of the DJs said they were "aware" of the case and another played down the risk to the station itself commenting, "They signed releases, so we're not responsible. We're OK."
Another then responded, "And if they get to the point where they have to throw up, then they're going to throw up, and they're out of the contest before they die, so that's good, right?"
County Sheriff John McGinness - who had c0me under criticism over an initial decision not to take action over the incident - has assigned two homicide detectives to investigate the case and was quoted by the Bee as saying, "It's the right thing to do. When I hear myself say there's no criminality here, it sounds as though it's minimizing or not giving due import to the loss of life that occurred as a result of this. So I want to be sure we don't leave any question unresolved."
He stressed that the cause of Strange's death has not yet been finally determined and a spokeswoman for District Attorney Jan Scully said the office will review the results of the investigation and file criminal charges if applicable.
McGinness said the contestant's knowledge of her own risk -- as well as the radio staff's intent and mindset -- will be taken into account in the probe and that detectives will be asking for the waivers that contestants signed. "Was this simply a sophomoric prank that went too far and should be resolved in the civil arena?" he asked.
Sacramento Bee report:
2007-01-19: Bonneville International and Entercom have announced a station swap in which the former's three FMs in San Francisco - KOIT-FM, KDFC-FM, and KMAX-FM - are exchanged for Entercom's four Cincinnati stations - WUBE-FM, WKRQ-FM, WYGY-FM, and WSWD-FM - plus three stations in Seattle - KBSG-FM, KIRO-AM, and KTTH-AM.
After the deal, Entercom will retain four FMs in Seattle - rock format KMTT-FM (The Mountain), KNDD-FM (The End), and KISW-FM plus country format KKWF-FM (The Wolf): Entercom President and CEO David J. Field said the company was "very pleased to announce the acquisition of this terrific group of stations in San Francisco, one of America's greatest markets."
He added, "This is a bittersweet event for us as we will be parting with so many wonderful members of the Entercom team in Seattle and Cincinnati, some of whom we have worked with for more than a decade. However, the opportunity to enter the fourth largest market with a station group led by KOIT, one of America's strongest radio brands, was incredibly compelling. In addition, we will remain a powerful force in Seattle radio with a robust line-up of four leading FM brands."
The companies expect to begin operation of their future stations under a time brokerage agreement during the first quarter of this year with the closing of the deal expected later.
In another station swap, this time in Hawaii, Pacific Radio Group gains a construction permit for a new FM in Kahului plus USD 520,000 from Kahului in exchange for the latter's KLHI-FM, licensed for Lahaina, Maui, but with permission to change its community of license to Waianae.
The Honolulu Star Bulletin reports that George Hochman and his mainland partners, Bill Poorman and Bill Mays, based in Indiana, would prefer to move the station.
It adds that the parties will retain their current call letters and that KHLI will retain its alternative rock format when it moves to the 92.5 FM frequency authorized for the new station.
It quotes Pacific Radio Group President Chuck Bergson as saying, " the idea was for us to enhance an asset and in this particular situation and deal: it allows us to eliminate a new (competing) frequency that would have been coming into the market."
The Hochman group will house its new FM station with KORL-AM and George Hochman commented of the deal, "For him [Bergson] it's just a frequency change. For me, it's creating an Oahu radio station. I mean, you don't get too many opportunities to do that."
The paper notes that Poorman and Mays won the Kahului construction permit as Shirk-Mays LLC, with a USD 518,000 bid during the Federal Communications Commission's FM Auction No. 62 in January last year.
RNW comment: We're not too sure how the public interest as opposed to private profit gains in this particular deal although we're sure the parties concerned could come up with many spurious reasons.
Also in Hawaii, Maui-based Visionary Related Entertainment LLC has won the bidding for a construction permit for the last available commercial FM frequency on Maui with the highest bid in Federal Communications Commission (FCC) auction 68 (See below). The permit takes the group's total number of stations in the state to 17.
Honolulu Star Bulletin report:
2007-01-19: Bridge Ratings says that its latest study of US awareness of HD radio shows the percentage of Americans saying they had heard of digital radio has risen to 72% - it was highest at 75% for those 25-54 and lowest at 69% for those 12-24 - from 62% in June last year.
Bridge however adds a caveat that "Despite the increase in awareness, knowledge of what the medium is has actually fallen from our original 2006 study. 15% of the total sample were able to tell us at least that HD Radio was a radio technology that "improves sound quality, offers additional digital interactivity and required a special radio." In June last year the percentage with that level of knowledge about HD Radio was 19%.
Previous Bridge Ratings:
2007-01-19: The BBC has expressed disappointment at the licence fee increase that it has been given by the British Government - of 3% over each of the next two years and then 2% for the next three years followed by a final year rise of up to 2%: The rise is substantially less than the Corporation had requested- it wanted a rise 1.8% above the retail price index but the government says it has given the corporation a figure in line with the Consumer Prices Index.
The BBC Trust said in a statement that it is "pleased that, with the announcement of the licence fee settlement, the whole Charter Review process is now effectively complete" and commented of the amount that it was "a challenging settlement" although it noted that the announcement gave the BBC "certainty as to the level of its income over six years."
BBC Director-General Mark Thompson gave a stronger reaction expressing "real disappointment" over the level although he also noted that "it was a privilege to receive and gave certainty in planning to create the best possible content and services for all audiences."
The level of settlement is expected to lead to the loss of another 2,.000 or so posts at the corporation and Thompson said of the impact, .it leaves a gap of around GBP 2 billion (USD 3.95 billon) over the next six years between what we believed we needed to deliver our vision and what will actually be available."
2007-01-19: The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Auction 68 of nine FM construction permits that remained unsold in its previous auctions 37 and 62 has closed having raised a gross total of USD 3.663 million - USD 3.262 million net.
The winnings bids ranged from a top bid of USD 1.109 million from Visionary Related Entertainment, LLC for an FM in Kihei, Hawaii - the only bid above USD 1 million - to USD 43,000 from Steven R. Bartholomew for a station in Outlook, Montana.
Other bids were of USD 892,000 for a station in Parowan, Utah; of USD 728,000 for a station in Tecopa, California; of USD 376,000 for a station in Meyersdale, Pennsylvania; of USD 173,000 for a station in Perry, Florida; of USD 150,000 for a station in Ocracoke, North Carolina; of USD 131,000 for a station in Cedar Key, Florida; and of USD 61,000 for a station in Covelo, California.
2007-01-18: Shares in Sirius and XM fell on Wednesday after US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) chairman Kevin J Martin has told reporters that its rules would forbid a merger: Sirius ended the day 6.99% down at USD 3.86 whilst XM -generally seen as the target for a bid - was down 9.86% at USD 15.45 having at one point fallen to USD 15.36,
Martin asked about the agency's views on a potential merger referred to the rules passed for satellite radio in 1987 and commented that the rules would prohibit "one entity owning both of those licenses."
RNW comment: About the only thing can be said here is that some very optimistic - or foolish, depending on your viewpoint - investors have lost money by taking seriously a suggestion that never should have got off the ground. They deserve to have lost and should Sirius CEO Mel Karmazin have sold shares since pushing the suggestion openly it would not be unreasonable for the Securities and Exchange Commission to look into the timing of comments and sales.
2007-01-18: GCap Media has formally confirmed that it has appointed former SMG Radio chief executive Fru Hazlitt to the newly created post of Managing Director, GCap London, from May 1.
Hazlitt, who will take responsibility for Capital Radio and Choice FM plus GCap Media's national commercial sales and online operations, will also join the GCap board. She will report directly to GCap chief executive Ralph Bernard.
Hazlitt has two decades of sales and marketing experience in media with spells at the Guardian Media Group and Capital Radio, where she was sales director from 1996 to 1999, as well as SMG prior to which appointment she was European Sales Director and Director for Sales and Marketing responsible for Yahoo! and then Managing Director of Yahoo! UK & Ireland for two years. She is a non-executive board director of Betfair and Woolworths Group plc and a member of the Government's Digital Inclusion Panel.
Rumours of the appointment had suggested she would be in charge of all GCap's London stations but in the event GCap's Group Operations Director Steve Orchard will retain responsibility for Xfm as part of his remit that puts him in charge of all national brands including Classic FM, Xfm and Gold, and the One Network - the 42 stations outside London- and also content across the whole GCap portfolio.
Commenting on Hazlitt's appointment, Bernard said, "Fru's unrivalled radio, commercial and online experience will prove tremendous assets to the Group. She is committed to returning Capital Radio to the number one position in London, developing the London portfolio and maximising the commercial potential of our strong brands both through traditional radio advertising and online."
Hazlitt responded, "I have worked across all media but have developed a genuine passion for radio and strongly believe that GCap can lead the way in the development of its future. I am delighted to have been given this great opportunity and am really looking forward to the challenge."
Also in British radio, Guardian Media Group (GMG) Radio has announced the promotion of Terry Underhill, previously programme director at its Real Radio Yorkshire, to the new post of group head of music in which role he will oversee the use of music across the group's 11 stations including those it has acquired from Saga (See RNW Dec 19, 2006).
Group programme director John Simons was quoted by the UK Guardian - owned by the same parent- as saying of the appointment, "We've now reached such a size that we needed someone of stature in the industry to oversee our music and liaise with the record companies on a full-time basis. Nobody is better qualified and knows our radio stations better than Terry."
Underhill commented that GMG's stations "all target the over-25s market who love music and still have a healthy appetite for new music" adding, "They buy and download songs every day and go to live music events and they also loves the classics we play."
UK Guardian re GMG appointment:
2007-01-18: The US National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) in its submission to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) concerning its 2006 Quadrennial Regulatory Review that includes a review of broadcast ownership rules has urged the commission to allow further consolidation, arguing that fears of undue consolidation are unfounded and that the current rules are creating financial problems for many stations.
The NAB says that "First Amendment principles are fully consistent with relaxation of the local ownership rules, which presently single out broadcasters from among the numerous competitors in today's media marketplace for substantial speech burdens" and that following irrevocable technological and competitive developments "the intense competition that exists in this multi-source environment has rendered the current broadcast ownership restrictions not just obsolete but affirmatively harmful to the public interest."
The NAB then says that "the overwhelming weight of the record evidence now shows that the local ownership regulations are simply not necessary to promote the Commission's traditional goals of competition, diversity, and localism. Modern-day competition has fragmented audiences and eroded the advertising revenue that is critical to free, over-the-air broadcasting. Because current ownership limits inhibit broadcasters' ability to respond to changing market forces by creating more efficient ownership structures, many stations (especially those in smaller markets) are today facing grave economic difficulties."
"The evidence also establishes that concerns of 'undue consolidation' are unfounded; the "information" industry is by all objective standards unconcentrated, relative to other American businesses, and the broadcast sector of that industry is actually the least concentrated of the sectors."
"Permitting more flexible ownership arrangements," says the NAB, "would enable struggling broadcasters to offer competitive advertising packages and to take advantage of cost-saving efficiencies and economies of scale to better position themselves in the modern marketplace, thereby supporting increasingly costly high quality local news and public affairs programming and, ultimately, the public interest. In addition, the record makes clear, as the FCC previously found, that common ownership enhances localism and does not necessarily harm diversity (and indeed may even enhance certain types of diversity)."
"In fact," adds the NAB, "the failure to relax the broadcast ownership rules could result in decreased local news and other important local services as stations on the brink of economic survival are forced to curtail such costly programming in order to remain on the air. In light of overwhelming evidence that competition has dramatically transformed the media marketplace, and basic principles of administrative law require that the Commission take prompt and final action to bring the broadcast ownership rules into the 21st century."
The NAB then says "the Commission must: (1) reject the invitation of some commenters to reduce the current ownership levels in local radio markets and instead continue the relaxation of such limits; (2) reform the television duopoly rule to allow more freely the formation of duopolies in markets of all sizes; and (3) repeal the restrictions on cross-ownership of radio stations, television stations, and newspapers.
RNW comment: If we accept that the marketplace is a suitable mechanism to obtain the best result for the public interest, the fact that all recent radio licence offerings have attracted competing bids for almost all the licences on offer, most of the NAB submission -115 pages of it ( a PDF) - could probably be safely consigned to the waste bin: Actually much of it is propaganda verbiage that could probably go there anyway with its main value to us being one of pointing towards the areas in which research could be profitably be conducted to evaluate the services that should be provided in view of the value of licences, the likely effects of specific ownership changes, and the safeguards needed to maximise public gain from the issue of licences.
In particular if we further accept that competing bids mean that bidders would be prepared to offer further public services to gain licences it would seem that the FCC could and should consider the implications of introducing a practice of adding requirements in terms of local news coverage to all licences in tandem with some kind of local news levy - on all forms of media distribution that depends on its licensing system thus covering broadcasters and internet providers. Broadcast licensees who could then show that they were not profitable enough to provide the required service could then apply for subventions from the levy to so as to meet the requirements.
As for larger licensees, where they do not meet the set standards but cannot justify a subvention it would seem quote reasonable to have a mandatory system of warnings together with mandatory and automatic licence revocation should they not bring their offerings up to standard.
Such a system in our view might well achieve a number of desirable ends primarily the improving of service to the public but also to the public benefit hoist organizations like NAB who profess free market principles with their own petard and thus give many such groups a strong motive to provide public service, properly research the facts to support their case, and be careful about their propaganda. NAB's fees, of course, would not count in allowable expenses that a station could cite in its financial submission to justify a subvention since, as a station can well survive without NAB, they are hardly essential in a free market however desirable a station might consider them.
NAB submission (115 page PDF):
2007-01-18: The Canadian Association of Broadcasters (CAB) has announced details of nominees in nine categories of the Annual Canadian Radio Music Awards (CRMA) that are to be presented on March 10 at a gala luncheon in Toronto as part of Rogers Wireless Canadian Music Week celebrations.
Amongst those nominated - - the winners are determined by votes from music directors, program directors and on-air personalities apart from for two additional new awards - The FACTOR Breakthrough Award for top airplay for a new FACTOR supported artist; and The Chart Topper Award for top overall airplay plus the CRMA Fans' Choice Award that is determined by online votes from radio listeners (and for which this year the nominees are Daniel Powter, Mobile, Nelly Furtado, Nickelback and Theory of a Deadman) - - are Addictiv, Eva Avila, Gregory Charles, Mobile, The New Pornographers, and Joel Plaskett.
CAB President and CEO Glenn O'Farrell said the organization was "delighted to see the outstanding new talent that has emerged over the past year", adding, "Canada's private radio broadcasters congratulate the nominees on their success, and look forward to providing musical acts with continued support."
Gary Slaight, President and CEO of Standard Broadcasting Corporation and one of the founders of the awards, added, "The CRMA nominees for 2007 illustrate the wealth of promising Canadian musical talent, and the commitment of private radio broadcasters to support and promote Canada's next wave of up-and-coming music stars. This event provides us with a great opportunity to celebrate the essential and enduring connection between Canada's music artists and Canadian private radio."
2007-01-17: Entercom's KDND-FM (The End) in Sacramento is reported to have fired ten people, including all members of its "Morning Rave" programme - DJs Trish, Maney and Lukas and morning personalities Carter and Fester - following the death of a contestant in a water drinking contest (See RNW Jan 15).
The station web site for a while on Monday redirected to a statement on the death from Vice-President & General Manager John Geary that announced the indefinite suspension of the show: It read:
"All of you are probably aware of the tragic death of a contestant, Jennifer Strange, following her participation in a contest on the Morning Rave last Friday.
"First and foremost, our thoughts and sympathies go out to Jennifer's family and loved ones.
"I also want to assure you that the circumstances regarding this matter are being examined as thoroughly as possible. We are doing everything we can to deal with this difficult situation in a manner that is both respectful and responsible. In the interim, the Morning Rave is off the air indefinitely."
The redirect has now gone and the site does not mention the matter or the morning team although there are some messages of support for the show continuing on Lukas's "My Space" page (no mentions on the pages of Maney and Trish).
The Sacramento Bee reports that 28-years old Jennifer Lea Strange, who wanted to win the Nintendo Wii system for her children but was runner-up in the "Hold Your Wee for a Wii" competition, drank nearly two gallons of water over three hours according to another contestant who drank one fewer bottle.
The Bee quotes another competitor, Jennifer Winsor, as saying she had drunk eight 8-ounce bottles of water and nine 16-ounce bottles of water before she gave up and went to the bathroom and strange drank a tenth larger bottle: Winsor said Strange said she felt ill on air but another contestant, Victoria Myers, who had become ill, said Strange just sounded terrible.
Myers said she was on the floor pale with chattering teeth and the four remaining contestants had become concerned and asked it she was OK but she had gone on air and moments later DJ Trish told her a caller said Myers had sounded like she was going to die.
Judith Linder, a nurse practitioner, said she heard the Morning Rave show when she was driving into work and found it troubling. She and two co-workers called the radio station on a speaker phone, and their comments that water intoxication can be dangerous were part of the broadcast during which a DJ asked them why they didn't join the contest. Linder said they replied: We don't want to die" and added, "I was thinking, 'Who else could I call?' Endangering someone's health should be against the law."
The paper adds that a KDND station spokesman refused a request for a recording of the show
RNW comment: This would appear to be a case where Entercom may well be facing a significant lawsuit and it won't be helped by the fact that Strange's youngest child was 11 months old - the others were aged three and ten- promptng both sympathy and higher costs in bringing up the children.
The initial statement was an exception to the usual practice of US radio stations which seems to be to bury heads in the sand and say as little as possible and we wonder whether it was put out as part of legal advice.
We would also consider that Entercom is likely to find it difficult to avoid taking responsibility as presumably station management had cleared the competition - and if they hadn't they ought to have. In addition if warning calls were broadcast this would weaken any defence that the station could not have foreseen risks to competitors.
KDND web site:
Lucas "My Space" page:
Sacramento Bee report:
2007-01-17: UK media regulator Ofcom is proposing to ease restrictions and allow more types of use of restricted term licences, currently issued on a short-term basis - normally for up to a 28 days although the period runs up 32 days for Ramadan and Eid services - for specific events, projects and trials as in preparation for a community licence bid or a longer-term basis of up to five years for a specific site such as a university, hospital, military barracks or a shopping centre and normally only on AM.
Following consultation that showed support for reducing restrictions the shorter term licences currently available for big sporting events will also be made available for non-sporting events such as conferences.
In addition Audio Distribution Systems (ADS) licences, currently being trialled on an experimental basis for very short-range services and licensed for operation in non-broadcast spectrum will be introduced on a permanent basis at the end of June this year when the three-year trial ends.
Users will have to secure their own access to spectrum to use these licences but one Broadcasting Act licence - to be issued for a five-year period - will cover any number of the ADS licences, which will be issued for periods up to a year and the Broadcasting licence will permit rather than require the services to be broadcast. Charges, which will be calculated on a cost-recovery basis, are to be announced before the permanent scheme is launched.
Regulations on long-term restricted service licenses will also be eased with licences to be run between one and five years and be available for commercial and non-commercial organizations.
Ofcom notes that because it wishes to allow new local commercial and community radio services a reasonable opportunity to establish themselves it will not normally issue short-term RSLs in the station's area for a four month period - a month before launch and three months after it.
Ofcom has also advertised a new DAB (digital audio broadcasting) multiplex licence to cover Derbyshire and parts of Staffordshire for which applications have to be made by April 16 together with a non-refundable fee of GBP 5,000 (USD 9,800).
Ofcom estimates that the area covered by the licence would have a population of just under 850,000 adults (15 plus).
2007-01-17: Iowa Public Radio has dropped the syndicated National Public Radio (NPR) "'Diane Rehm Show" from the 09:00-10:00 slot as part of the new public radio network's re-jigged output launched at the start of the year according to the Des Moines Register.
The paper says that the show, which replaced local programming at WOI-AM in Ames and WSUI-AM in Iowa City and the syndicated "On Point "talk show - hosted by Torn Ashbrook - from Boston at KUNI-FM in Cedar Falls, was unpopular with listeners.
It quotes director of programming Todd Mundt as saying that the show generated a considerable number of complaints with KUNI listeners unhappy at the change and those at the other stations not liking it.
The three stations - operated by Iowa State University, the University of Iowa and the University of Northern Iowa -merged last year to create Iowa Public Radio which from the start of the year had replaced previous programming that was handled separately, including in some cases airing the same shows at different times, with a new schedule in which most syndicates shows are simulcast on all three stations.
Mundt said listeners said they "didn't feel the (Rehm) shows were as interesting or as thought-provoking as 'On Point' was" but added that the stations will continue to air the full two hours of Rehm's show from 21:00 on weeknights.
Des Moines Register report:
2007-01-17: BBC Radio Five Live has announced that rugby player Mark Dawson, who was a member of the squad that took England to victory in the 2003 World Cup and is England's most capped scrum half as well as being a former team captain, is to join the BBC Radio Five Live rugby commentary team from the start of the Six Nations tournament on February 3 when Italy play France and England play Scotland.
Dawson will be England summariser and a regular member of the station team for the summer tour to South Africa and the 2007 Rugby World Cup.
Ian Robertson will continue to head the commentary team, which will also include former Wales captain Rob Jones, who will summarise for the Welsh matches; Gavin Hastings and Bryan Redpath who will provide analysis on the Scottish team; and former Irish fullback Hugo MacNeill who will comment on Ireland.
2007-01-16: The US National Conference for Media Reform held in Memphis, Tennessee, at the weekend was told by Ohio Democrat and presidential contender Representative Dennis Kucinich that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will face intense scrutiny by two committees that are to hold hearings on its work.
Kucinich chairs the Domestic Policy Subcommittee of the House Government Perform Committee, one of the committees involved; The other is the Energy and Commerce Committee that is chaired by Michigan Democrat John Dingell and Ars Technica reports that both committees will consider issues of media consolidation and net neutrality - ensuring that all sites on the Internet get the same service rather than allowing carriers to favour one over another.
Kucinich said that the media had "become the servant of a very narrow corporate agenda."
The meeting, attended by some 2,000 to 3,500, also saw the public launch of a new consumer advocacy group dedicated to ensuring continued competition in the digital satellite radio industry.
The "Consumer Coalition for Competition in Satellite Radio" ("C3SR") has been started by a group of law students at Washington University in D.C. in response to continuing suggestions of a merger between Sirius and XM satellite radio and one of the founders - Chris Reale - said, "If the only two companies operating in the satellite radio industry are permitted to combine, consumers not only will lose their choice, but they will be totally at the mercy of a monopoly provider."
He added, "Hopefully, when, and if, Sirius and XM announce a merger agreement and pursue regulatory approvals, we will have enough support and momentum to ensure that existing subscribers don't get the shaft."
Amongst those attending the meeting were the two Democrats on the FCC - Jonathan S. Adelstein and Michael J. Copps both of whom expressed concern over media consolidation.
Adelstein in his speech said it was time to "go on the offensive" regarding media ownership and network neutrality and said he hoped, now the Democrats were in control, the time was right to pass legislation requiring network neutrality and restricting media ownership.
Copps criticized broadcasters, commenting that there was "too much baloney passed of as news" and too little local and regional music and too little quality entertainment.
Another attendee, Massachusetts Democrat Ed Markey, said he plans to introduce a neutrality bill in the House soon.
Ars Technica report on conference:
2007-01-16: According to the UK Times, former SMG/ Virgin Radio chief executive Fru Hazlitt is in talks with GCap Media and also with Sir Richard Branson's Virgin Group about taking an unidentified role.
In the case of GCap the paper says that, as already reported by The Daily Telegraph (See RNW Jan 11) she would become managing director of GCap London and also have a seat on the GCap board. It adds that should she get the post she would be one of only three executives on the board and be well placed to succeed GCap chief executive Ralph Bernard should he eventually step aside as chief executive.
As regards the Branson talks it gives no details of what role she might be offered.
UK Times report:
2007-01-16: Radio in New Zealand gets a significant positive in an assessment in the New Zealand Sunday Star Times of potential deals in the industry.
CanWest, one of the big two radio operators in New Zealand through Radioworks - the other is TRN, has hired investment bank Citigroup to consider the future of its Australasian assets and, reports the paper, is seen as a likely seller this year.
The Star Times goes on to say that although "most commentary has focused on the future of CanWest's TV assets - TV3 and C4 - but the smart money will be paying close attention to good, old fashioned radio."
In New Zealand, it notes, over the past decade TV's share of total advertising expenditures has fallen from 36% to 30% and that of newspapers from 40% to 37% whilst Internet, outdoor and magazines have increased their share. Radio has done better than TV and held on to its 12% share, thus growing by around 7% per annum over the period and the paper says that "As a percentage of revenue in 2005, the latest year for which comparable figures are available, both radio networks made more money than their TV counterparts."
Radioworks it says earned NZD 16.9 million (USD 11.8 million) on revenues of NZD 107.9 million (USD 75 million) whilst TRN made NZD 13.8 million (USD 9.6 million) from broadcasting revenues of NZD 138 million (USD 96 million) : In contrast Radioworks sister TV Works, which owns TV3 and C4, made NZD 8.2 million (USD 5.7 million) from revenues of NZD 142 million (USD 98.7 million) and TVNZ made only NZD 6.3 million (USD 4.4 million) on revenues of NZD 436.7 million(USD 303.7 million).
Radio it says also is a more stable business and it quotes Brent Impey, chief executive of CanWest's NZ subsidiary MediaWorks, as saying small advertisers are the backbone of radio and adding, "That means in economic boom times you don't get the same growth as TV, but when times are tougher radio does better. TV has its up years and down years but radio is steady - only one year since 1977 has radio gone down."
NZ Sunday Star Times report:
2007-01-16: UK media regulator Ofcom in its first Broadcast Bulletin of the year upheld no radio complaints and considered one resolved and also upheld two TV complaints - one standards complaint and another fairness and privacy one in addition to which it considered a further two TV standards complaint resolved and did not uphold two more of which it listed details.
The radio complaint considered resolved involved listener competitions in the "Cash Call" programme on GCap's 'One Network' stations: A listener heard the first programme on three different stations and expressed concern that he heard no local station references and so was unable to tell whether the competition was being run nationally or locally. GCap in response had detailed local references made in the programme but admitted that due to an oversight by the production company there were no aired references to the show being networked. It ensured that subsequent programmes were referred to as being broadcast "across the UK" and instigated a policy of matching each aired local reference with a corresponding reference to the programme being broadcast "across the UK."
Ofcom considered the action sufficient to resolve the complaint.
In addition Ofcom listed with no details a further 295 TV complaints involving 229 items and 58 radio complaints involving 44 items that it were out of its remit or not upheld. The totals compare with 111 TV complaints involving 92 items and two radio complaints involving two items that it said were out of its remit or not upheld in its previous bulletin.
Previous Ofcom Complaints Bulletin:
2007-01-15: This week we start our look at print comment on radio with the two Radio Waves columns in the UK Sunday Times, one by Paul Donovan in which he ruminated about radio station slogans and the other by Gerry McCarthy on Irish radio, which was concerned with the broadcasting of errors.
Donovan first if only because he is more entertaining on this occasion: His suggestions for slogans for BBC stations vary from the straightforward "Two's company" for Radio 2 to the punning "Four-tifies the mind" for Radio 4, "Haughty but nice" for BBC Radio 3 and the rather long-winded but maybe accurate motto for BBC 6 Music as being "the BBC Station for People Who Don't Like the BBC, and the Rock Station for People Who Don't Like Rock."
That last is a precursor to praise for 6-Music, of which Donovan comments, "Whether it be new releases from the likes of Findlay Brown, Amy Winehouse or Kings of Leon, the rich array of archive concerts or the revival of John Peel's almost mythic Perfumed Garden shows from the 1960s, its output sometimes has a charm, melody and beauty that can come as a considerable surprise, and is presented in demotic, casual, fluent style by people who clearly know their stuff."
He later adds, "This week, its line-up is strengthened yet more. Today [Sunday], at 3pm, Stephen Merchant, co-author of The Office and Extras, with Ricky Gervais, Britain's key podcast pioneer, begins a new music series on the station. Tomorrow(Monday), at 10pm, Shaun Keaveny (ex-Xfm) takes over the Dream Ticket slot, reserved for archive sessions, classic recordings and gig reviews, where, on one night alone last week, you could hear David Bowie, Iggy Pop, Roxy Music and T.Rex. The two new boys join a station where Russell Brand made his mark, Bob Dylan has his Friday-night show and Jon Holmes, on Saturdays, hosts The Old Gray Whistle Test, on which 'a homosexual pensioner whistles a song from the playlist before we invite listeners to ring in and try to identify it'."
Colleague Gerry McCarthy as noted takes up issues of broadcast errors, starting his column, "Mistakes are out there, waiting to be made. The media drive to break a story can sometimes brush past the human implications of getting it wrong."
In this case what it had wrong was "Tommie Gorman's premature revelation of the death of David Ervine, leader of the Progressive Unionist party, was a stark and poignant example of this, which his later explanation on Morning Ireland (RTE R1, Mon) did not entirely clarify."
The truth? "Ervine had been rushed to Belfast's Royal Victoria hospital on Saturday. The following evening, half an hour before RTE's nine o'clock news bulletin, Gorman received two calls from what he later said were reliable sources saying Ervine had died. The story was broadcast, though the politician was alive."
On Monday morning Gorman apologised for the error and took full responsibility and Ervine died on Monday afternoon: McCarthy comments of the events that Gorman's "mistake opened a window on processes that are usually hidden: the demand for up-to-the-minute stories, the pressure on reporters to deliver under severe time constraints, and the often opaque relationships that exist between journalists and their sources" and he concludes in terms of lessons to be learned that if "if shadowy sources cannot be trusted on matters of life and death, when can they be trusted? In the majority of the stories covered by Gorman, his sources are political players, all with axes to grind. One of his strengths is his ability to handle such spinning, interpreting events himself as he reports facts... But that brief glimpse of chaos, with unnamed sources spinning a rumour right onto the RTE news, offers a different view."
Next the Los Angeles Times and another "mistake" at least in the view of columnist Meghan Daum:
The mistake in her view was made by CBS when at the start of the year it replaced "a handful of supporting cast members" on "The Adam Carolla Show" with Danny Bonaduce.
Daum, who had before that praised Carolla for his delivery of "some of the most sophisticated comedy monologues I've ever heard on 'Loveline,' a late-night call-in sex advice show for teens that he co-hosted with Dr. Drew Pinsky" and also commented favourably on his show after he took over from Howard Stern on some CBS stations, continued, "I've never seen a worse case of mediocrity usurping talent. Whereas Carolla is nimble and witty, Bonaduce is a lame, one-note blowhard whose hard-living past belies a worldview that is utterly generic. He constantly interrupts Carolla with his self-absorbed, clueless badinage, more or less demoting Carolla to sidekick on his own show. To tune in now is to hear not a radio program but a hijacking. "
After further comment she concludes, "Stern took millions of listeners with him to satellite radio. Carolla, who is more nuanced and complex than Stern, is hard to label ("American Genius" resonates only with the already converted) and hard to market. That means he needs time to find his audience, and vice versa. Now, thanks to myopic executives who overturned their wise decision to hire him with the baffling decision to drown him out, neither Carolla nor his audience stands a chance. That's hard on his fans, and I suspect even harder on him. We can turn off the radio. He has to go to work."
Also from the Los Angeles Times we noted a report by Agustin Gurza on Los Angeles' top-rated morning DJ Piolin - in real life Eddie Sotelo who was born in a town near Guadalajara in Mexico - whose show is syndicated by Univision to "16 major markets, including San Francisco, Houston and Phoenix, with plans to move into 10 more this year, including New York, Miami and Chicago. [RNW note: In fact New York was added last week when Univision switched WZAA-FM to a Mexicano Regiero format including "Piolín por la Mañana" ("Tweetybird in the Morning") and with other new markets the show is now in 24 markets.]
Gurza describes the show as "pure madcap entertainment. The program is boisterous, irreverent and chaotic, more squawk show than talk show. The host is a mash-up of Oprah, Jerry Springer and Cantinflas At the controls, Piolín goes loco, dancing in place to music and hopping in glee at a prank. He is in constant motion, taking calls and orchestrating the vocal participation of a whole village of odd characters - Casimiro Buenavista Miralejos, the town drunk; Chela Prieto, the single mom; and Don Poncho, the wealthy macho who considers all women inferior."
The host himself in an interview suggested that audience participation was the key to the show's success comparing it to a "soap opera. There are people in distress. There are good guys and bad guys, winners and losers. And the audience is either cheering or booing. The difference from the tube is that radio listeners can be interactive."
"That's the nice thing about the show: The listener becomes a part of it. It's the stuff of daily life. You have the drama and you get angry or you get happy when the guy gets the girl, so to speak. The listeners are driving along and they want to jump in and participate. They say, 'Hey, I didn't like that joke and I'm going to call and give him a piece of my mind.' "
Finally some hosts who got three hours of propaganda time as we heard it on ABC Radio's KSFO-AM to respond to attacks on them in the internet and in particular from blogger Spocko whose site Spocko's Brain was taken down by his original ISP - although it is now back following a cease and desist order from ABC Radio over his use of audio clips from the stations as part of a campaign against it (See RNW Jan 6).
[RNW note: All three hours have been posted as a stream by the station and, just to make sure the "so-called Mainstream Media" -"so-called" was a phrase used in a derisory manner repeatedly on the show - report was reasonably accurate we had it on whilst doing other things.
The hosts concerned - morning co-host Lee Rodgers, Melanie Morgan, and Officer Vic'' - made much ado about inviting those against them on the air but spent nearly all the time inveighing against the blogs - the first hour was all the hosts - and took rather more calls from supporters than those opposed. Internet activist Mike Stark, who was the main "opposition" caller put to air, did not use abuse against the hosts but was himself called a "creep" and "Gutless nothing". The hosts also made much of the fact that the KSFO audience is better educated and higher-paid than the average, a comment that made us fearful of the general state of the US assuming the same pattern is true elsewhere in the country].
The San Francisco Chronicle report by Joe Garofoli was in our view if anything fairly kind to hosts and was a fairly straightforward account - some of the blogs were less kind and also more abusive.
We do suggest a quick dip into the audio stream is worth while as an assessment of the nature of the station and the hosts (The three hours are posted as separate streams and the first five-six minutes are news and silence where adverts normally air but you can then move around the stream to dip in and out).
Were we an advertiser we'd be worrying about association with the show as well - and were wishing after a few exchanges that a call would get through from someone to try and nail them as to whether they would regard it as reasonable for an advertiser to opt not to associate themselves with a particular viewpoint in view of reports that nearly 100 ABC advertisers insist that their commercials be blacked out on Air America Radio affiliates (See Media Matters for America report). But then maybe we're too naïve in expecting that anyone might make such a call or get on air if they were making such a point. In addition we aren't in favour of stomping anyone to death as at least one of the hosts unapologetically is, making us think more of an unpleasant insurgent than a decent American.
Now listening suggestions and as above we suggest at least a dip into KSFO-AM's three hours of its hosts defending themselves if only for an assessment if you live outside the US of the nature of the station.
Then in view of the Donovan comments we began with we suggest a dip into BBC 6 Music - only those in the UK will be able to listen to the Dylan Theme Hour and, if it is handled by the station in the same manner as was done by Radio 2 for its earlier Dylan broadcasts, only on replay online not as a live stream.
On then to specific programmes beginning with suggestions form last week in the form of Sir Derek Jacobi's reading of the first of eight parts of "I Claudius" from BBC Radio 2 on Friday night - the next part is at 21:15 GMT this Friday and "Inside the Cavern" from BBC Radio 4 on Saturday, a tribute to The Cavern Club 50 years after it opened as a jazz club that was later to become home of The Beatles.
Also from Saturday on Radio 4, "World in Your Ear" looked at the world of Indian Radio and "Profile", which took as its subject Lt General David Petraeus who has just been appointed as the most senior American military commander in Iraq.
And from Sunday, Radio 4 had "Baghdad Billions" in which Mark Gregory investigated what happened to the 50 billion dollars invested in rebuilding Iraq since the fall of Saddam Hussein and uncovered a story of corruption and mismanagement..
Sticking with Radio 4 and this morning we suggest an hour of listening from 11:00 GMT with "Peugeot: Coventry's Last Car" that looks at the closure of the last car plant in a city that was once a vital part of the UK automobile industry : It is followed at 11:30 GMT by the comedy "Clare in the Community."
For tomorrow night we suggest BBC Radio 2 and two shows - Music at the Movies at 20:30 GMT- the second part of Barry Norman's look at the role music plays in movies (The first part is on the site until then) and the following programme "Hey! Bo Diddley", the first of three programmes in which Roger Daltrey celebrates the life and music of the rock 'n' roll legend.
From BBC Radio 3, we suggest next Saturday's Jazz File - the final part of a three part "Swing City" on jazz in Kansas City (18:00GMT) and "Opera on 3" that follows it - a performance of Lully's Amadis, recorded live at the 2006 Vendee Festival in France.
Back to Radio 4 and all week at 15:45 the slot has "Shark Hunt" in which Richard Peirce sets out from the Cornish port of Looe in order to catch some British sharks - in conjunction with the World Wild Life Fund who are sponsoring a catch and release tagging scheme, designed to help save our British sharks from extinction. British Waters contain 33 species of shark and the journey covers ports as far north as Scotland.
In the preceding 15:30 GMT slot on weekdays this week is "Great Short Stories" - five of them culled from a list of some 75 that a hundred reading groups across Britain selected from work of the past 150 years or so. First up is Edgar Allan Poe's "The Pit and the Pendulum" and the other authors are Rosamund Lehmann, Rudyard Kipling, Raymond Carver and Helen Simpson. Readers are David Horovitch, Teresa Gallagher, Patricia Hodge, William Hope and Suzanne Hamilton.
Then to Australia and the Australian Broadcasting Corporation's Night Air that for the last three Sundays has been featuring "Figures in a Soundscape and other worlds" , a selection from the eponymous series of original sound compositions celebrating radio. All have interesting use of sound and we preferred first two works in the programme from January 7 that features three Sydney composers' works, the first of which "Squeak" was produced from sounds made by balloons and was, says the composer, intended to create the spirit of a room full of balloons; the second "Grand Exit" of sounds between an apartment door and a car; and the third "Guys" created from tracks of saxophone.
All programmes together with details of the works included are on the Night Air web site until this weekend.
Finally this week the US and On the Media which last week was heavily skewed towards technology and the internet including reports on Apple, networking technology Psiphon that allows users to get round government censors, the online environment in Syria and political blogs.
Los Angeles Times - Daum:
Los Angeles Times - Gurza:
San Francisco Chronicle - Garofoli:
UK Sunday Times - Donovan:
UK Sunday Times - McCarthy:
2007-01-15: Clear Channel has agreed a deal valued at around USD 1.73 million - earlier reports had suggested that it was asking around USD 22 million - to sell its seven Santa Barbara stations to California broadcaster Point Broadcasting Co., which is to start operating them through two subsidiaries from tomorrow according to the Ventura County Star.
Point Broadcasting operates six stations serving Ventura County through subsidiary Gold Coast Broadcasting; six stations in the Lancaster-Palmdale area through subsidiary High Desert Broadcasting LLC and also has interests in stations in Fresno County, Kern County, and the Mojave Desert.
The Santa Barbara deal will involve subsidiary Rincon Broadcasting LLC, owned by Point's president and principal owner and Malibu resident John Hearn and Los Angeles broadcaster and former Clear Channel Los Angeles manager Roy Laughlin operating six stations - the top ranked trio of market leader soft-rock KDSL-FM, second-ranked regional Mexican KSPE-FM, and classic rock KTYD-FM plus alternative rock KIST-FM, news-talk KTMS-AM, and Spanish music KBKO-AM.
The seventh station, progressive talk KIST-AM will temporarily be operated by another subsidiary, Santa Barbara Community Broadcasting Co., because current Federal Communications Commission (FCC) rules limit a company to operating six stations in markets of Santa Barbara's size: Clear Channel had acquired the stations under previous rules that were less restrictive.
Hearn said in a statement, "This acquisition represents a wonderful opportunity for us to expand into new markets along the Central Coast of California. We are committed to providing the best in local news, entertainment and public service to Santa Barbara County, and we are excited to be in a position to serve its wonderful communities."
Point's CFO and business development director Miles Sexton said his company had been trying to get a foothold in Santa Barbara for years and began negotiations with Clear Channel in August.
"We kept probing to see if there was some opportunity and finally turned up one," he said, adding that Clear Channel asked about buying Point's Ventura County stations several years ago."
As far as the future of the stations is concerned Sexton said once the sale closed KIST-AM or one of the other stations would be sold.
Sexton said of the three market leaders, "These are venerable heritage stations that have been performing very well up there for a number of years" adding, "Clear Channel has some other stations that still have quite a bit of upside. That's where we see the opportunity for us, to maintain the success of the really strong ones and work on growing the ones that still have some upside potential."
Sexton added that the Santa Barbara and Ventura stations would be managed separately and commented, "We strongly believe that radio is really intended to be a local medium to serve the local community. So, we're not going to try and create mega-stations to serve multiple markets. The Santa Barbara stations are there to serve Santa Barbara, and the Ventura stations serve Ventura County."
Clear Channel was also involved in a joint sales agreement with the non-profit Santa Barbara Foundation, operator of classical format KDB-FM, but nothing was said of what will happen in relation to this agreement once Clear Channel has left the market.
Previous Clear Channel:
Ventura County Star report:
2007-01-15: Preliminary autopsy reports have shown that a California mother of three died from water intoxication hours after competing in a radio station contest to see which contestant could drink the most water without urinating according to the Sacramento Bee
Jennifer Lea Strange was found dead by a family member in her Rancho Cordova home and her mother and husband said she had taken part in a "Hold Your Wee for a Wii" competition run by Entercom's KDND-FM ("The End") in which the prize was a Nintendo Wii game system.
The Bee says Strange had told co-workers she was going to take part in the contest before going to work to win the game for her children but then called her supervisor to say she was going home in terrible pain.
A friend and co-worker said that Strange has no idea of health risks but Sacramento County Assistant Coroner Ed Smith said she had drunk an "excessive" amount of water and "some of her organs displayed signs of abnormal water infusion" and a statement from the Coroner's office said initial findings were "consistent with a water intoxication death."
Smith said the condition occurs when sodium levels in the blood fall to too low a level and throws the body's electrolytic balance off, a condition that can lead to cardiac arrest or swelling of the brain.
Entercom Sacramento vice president and marketing manager John Geary said station staff were stunned when they heard of the death and said they were waiting for "information that will help explain how this tragic event occurred."
Sacramento Bee report:
2007-01-14: Last week saw the main issues for the regulators coming from the US where the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is rumoured to be about to make a settlement over payola that is sparking concern that it could be too weak to be effective. Elsewhere there were no radio announcements from Australia or Ireland, but a steady flow of activity in Canada and the UK.
In Canada, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) has designated Michel Arpin as Acting Chairperson until a successor is named for Charles Dalfen who announced last year that he would not seek a further term when his term ran out at the end of the year (See RNW Jan 10).
It also posted a number of radio decisions including (in order of Province):
*Revocation at the licensee's request of national radio programming network undertaking of L'Alliance des radios communautaires du Canada inc. (l'ARC du Canada), which says it has it ceased to broadcast its radio programs by satellite and that the member stations of l'ARC du Canada now have access to its programs via the Internet.
*Denial of application by Vista Radio for a 663 watts English-language country music commercial FM to replace CFWB-AM, Campbell River. The application was opposed by the Jim Pattison Broadcast Group Limited Partnership, licensee of various stations including CKLR-FM, Courtenay, a regional station licensed to serve the Comox-Strathcona regional district, which includes Campbell River.
Pattison did not oppose a conversion to FM but argued that the proposed parameters would significantly expand CFWB's existing coverage beyond its existing licensed service area. It suggested that Vista could convert CFWB to the FM band utilizing a local transmitter site and a lower power FM transmitter, an alternative that would be cost effective and would maintain CFWB's currently licensed contours.
Pattison also noted that Vista had filed an application to convert CHQB- AM, Powell River, British Columbia, to FM and contended that approval of both applications would result in an overlapping of the respective contours of CFWB and CHQB on the FM band as well as those of Vista's existing FM station CFCP-FM Courtenay, which would be contrary to the common ownership policy.
The CRTC denied the application but noted "CFWB's precarious financial situation and encourages the applicant to file another application proposing technical parameters that would allow the proposed FM station to fulfil CFWB's mandate, as originally licensed, to serve Campbell River."
* Approval of application by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) for a new 69,500 watts FM to replace CBA-AM, Moncton, the last remaining AM in the market: The new station will continue to continue to broadcast programming received from its national Radio One network as well as approximately 15 hours in each broadcast week of local programming originating in Moncton.
The CRTC noted that it had received an intervention opposing the change from a New Brunswick resident who maintained that the signal was subject to less interference and is more reliable for listeners who are travelling and from two US residents who commented that many people in northern New England who enjoy listening to CBC radio would no longer be able to receive the signal.
Prince Edward Island:
*Approval of application by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) to add a 910 watts FM transmitter at St. Edward to rebroadcast the programming of the CBC's national English-language network service, Radio Two origination from CBCT-FM, Charlottetown.
The CRTC has also posted a public notice, with a deadline for comment or interventions of February 13 that includes the following radio applications:
British Columbia/ Yukon Territory:
*Application by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) to add a 413 watts FM transmitter at Dawson City, Yukon Territory, to broadcast the programming of its Radio Two service originating from CBU-FM, Vancouver.
*Application by Aboriginal Voices Radio Inc. to use a Subsidiary Communications Multiplex Operations (SCMO) channel to broadcast predominantly Tamil-language programming from CKAV-FM, Toronto.
*Application for frequency change for Low-power English-language tourist information service in Ottawa approved in June 2005. The application follows approval of conversion of CJRC-AM, Gatineau, Quebec, to FM using the frequency currently licensed for the Ottawa transmissions.
In the UK, Ofcom has awarded CanWest its third FM licence - in Aberdeen (See RNW Jan 12): It also posted its latest list of "Change of Control Reviews" - reviews it has to carry out concerning the likely effect of the change on a service.
The latest list includes three major deals - the acquisition by Emap plc of Scottish Radio Holdings plc and of The Wireless Group by UTV - and the merger of Capital Radio plc and GWR Group plc plus the following smaller deals.
The acquisition of Bridge FM, Radio, Carmarthenshire/Scarlet FM and Radio Pembrokeshire by Town and Country
The acquisition of BCR, Classic Hits, Quay 102.4 and Sunshine 855 by Laser Broadcasting
The acquisition of Kestrel FM, Kick FM and Radio Norwich by Tindle Radio
The acquisition of 96.3 QFM, 105.4 Century FM and Century FM by GMG
The acquisition of 106.7 The Rocket
The acquisition of CTR by KMFM
The acquisition of Mansfield 103.2 by Murfin Media Ltd
The acquisition of Passion 107.9 by Absolute Radio International
The acquisition of Rugby FM by CN Group
The acquisition operated by Forever Broadcasting plc
The acquisition of licences operated by Tainside Ltd (Choice FM) by Capital Radio plc
The acquisition of Time FM (Thamesmead) and Fusion 107.3 (Lewisham) by London Media Company Ltd
The acquisition of SouthCity FM by Southampton Leisure Holdings plc
The acquisition of Radio Ceredigion by Tindle Newspapers Ltd
The acquisition operated by Radio Investments Ltd
The acquisition of Star 106.6 by the London Media Company Ltd
The acquisition of 2BR FM by The Local Radio Company plc
The acquisition of Telford FM by MNA Broadcasting Ltd.
The acquisition of Delta FM by Tindle Newspapers Ltd.
The acquisition of Dune FM by The Local Radio Company plc
The acquisition operated by GWR Group plc
The acquisition operated by Saga Ltd. (Management Buy-Out)
The acquisition of Spirit FM by The Local Radio Company plc
The acquisition of KCR FM by The Local Radio Company plc
The acquisition of Mercury FM (St Albans & Watford) by Adventure Radio Ltd.
The acquisition of Your Radio (Dumbarton) and Your Radio (Helensburgh) by Clyde and Forth Press Ltd.
The acquisition operated by The Wireless Group plc
Overview of SRH Section 355 Reviews
The acquisition of Hertbeat FM by Shadow Radio Holdings Ltd.
The acquisition of Bath FM by The Local Radio Company plc
The acquisition of Century 106 (East Midlands) by Chrysalis Radio Ltd
The acquisition of Juice FM (Liverpool) by UTV Radio (GB) Ltd
The acquisition of FM107 The Edge by Perth FM Ltd.
The acquisition of Reading 107 by Madejski Communications Ltd
Ofcom has also published more consultation documents including one on business radio where it is proposing to replace the existing 21 different licences for different types of business with just five in 3 generic licence classes according to the degree of technical planning and coordination involved in making assignments. The proposed licence products were Area Defined, Technically Assigned and 3 Light Licensing products.
In the US, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has, as noted, raised concerns that it may be about to settle payola issues on too lenient a basis (See RNW Jan 13) and it also renewed a number of licences where applications were filed late but imposed penalties at the same time (See RNW Jan 13).
The FCC has also announced that it is to hold an Open Meeting next Wednesday focussing on presentations by senior agency officials regarding implementations of the agency's strategic plan and a comprehensive review of FCC policies and procedures.
There will be four panels, one featuring the Managing Director and the Chief of the Consumer & Governmental Affairs Bureau; a second the Chiefs of the Enforcement Bureau and Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau; a third the Chiefs of the Wireless Telecommunications Bureau, Office of Engineering and Technology, and the International Bureau; and the fourth the Chiefs of the Media Bureau, and Wireline Competition Bureau.
Previous Licence News:
CRTC web site:
FCC web site:
Ofcom web site:
2007-01-14: Philadelphia's "VOICE of the African-American Community" WHAT-AM has fired all its staff and is word is now awaited on its future following its sale by Inner City Broadcasting to Havertown-based Marconi Broadcasting Co. for USD 5 million in November last year.
The Philadelphia Daily News reports that the staff were called to a staff meeting as Daily News columnist Elmer Smith's afternoon show was to begin and told by management that they were no longer needed. They were told they could return the following say for their severance cheques and were welcome to apply for jobs with Marconi.
Smith said that after the sale, "we all saw this coming. It's the nature of the business."
Marconi CEO Tom Kelly - who also owns Kelly Music Research, which helps stations decide what to play by surveying listeners told the paper he couldn't comment whether the new format would be talk or music [RNW note - it was streaming blues music when we checked its site and the news says it is airing the American Blues Network's feed that it usually airs overnight] - but said of its future, "We do plan to keep it very local. We're going to serve Philadelphia, not use satellite feeds from other markets."
He declined to say whether long-serving morning personality Mary Mason, who started her broadcast career at the station as a gospel music host in 1958 and whose web site says her "Mornings With Mary" show began in 1970, or any of the other hosts would be offered work.
Station general manager Christopher Squire said his staff were "some of the most talented people working in radio today" and added, "We're a small radio station with incredible impact in the community. Our impact was not measurable by the numbers. WHAT got results."
Squire, who is vice president of operations for Inner City and also keeps an office in New York, noted that he was "going to be leaving here next week anyway because I'm having prostate cancer surgery."
J. Whyatt Mondesire, president of the Philadelphia chapter of the NAACP, said was upset by the declining number of black-owned stations nationwide and commented that he treasured WHAT "even when they attacked me or my ex-boss [former U.S. Rep. Bill Gray]," adding, "Nothing important to African-Americans in Philadelphia happened without getting an airing from that station. It will be sorely missed. It's a vital part of our communication."
U.S. Rep. and mayoral candidate Chaka Fattah said, "Philadelphia needs to have a rich diverse talk community. WHAT for a long time, and particularly Mary Mason, has been a must-listen-to for politicians of every stripe in Philadelphia."
WHAT first went on air in 1925 and two decades later was amongst the first in the nation to hire black on-air personalities.
Tom Taylor, editor of industry newsletter Inside Radio, said that although WHAT was ranked 29th out of 30 local stations in overall listenership in the most recent ratings book "the numbers don't always tell you everything It wasn't big, but it was a loyal audience. Mary had a long-time fan base. The station served a role in the African-American community as a distinctive voice."
Previous Inner City Broadcasting:
Philadelphia Daily News report:
WHAT web site:
2007-01-14: Satellite and Internet radio will have to restrict listeners' ability to record individual songs should a copyright bill - the Platform Equality and Remedies for Rights Holders in Music Act (Perform Act) - that has been re-introduced by Senators Dianne Feinstein (California Democrat.), Lindsey Graham (South Carolina Republican), Joseph Biden (Delaware Democrat.) and Lamar Alexander (Tennessee Republican) become law.
The proposal was first raised in spring last year and the Senators say the idea is "designed to provide equity and parity among the "new" platforms that provide "radio-like" services - cable, satellite, and Internet. Currently, different rates standards are paid by these different companies, different conditions are applied to their performances, and the content protections have been outdated by on-going technological advances."
Feinstein in a statement said the Act "would require satellite, cable and Internet broadcasters to pay fair market value for the performance of digital music. Additionally, the bill would require the use of readily available and cost-effective technology to prevent music theft New radio services are allowing users to do more than simply listen to music. What was once a passive listening experience has turned into a forum where users can record, manipulate, collect and create personalized music libraries. As the modes of distribution change and the technologies change, so must our laws change."
The Electronic Freedom Foundation (EFF), which fought the proposal last time round, is again appealing to people to lobby their representatives against the proposals and comments that the "major record labels are already up to their old tricks" and refers to the plan as a "backdoor assault on your right to record off the radio."
In particular it says that requirement to adopt "digital rights management (DRM) restrictions or lose the statutory license for broadcasting music" would force Internet stations to move away from current streaming and MP3 formats to "DRM-laden, proprietary formats" that would hobble the ability to record programming and listen to it later.
RNW comment: As posted by Feinstein the plans seem reasonable but the support of the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) and its history in relation to technological advances should in our view lead anyone to think and think again about the implications of allowing it too much control over anything.
In addition the Senators undermine their argument by saying it will not apply to "Over the Air Broadcasting" - in other words the effect will be to inhibit newer technologies and preserve the patch for existing radio and recording companies, whatever fancy words may be used by them and the RIAA.
Discussion is certainly in our view in order about the best balance of protection for creators and consumers but the way forward is not to allow the lead to be taken by powerful and rich existing organization (or politicians they have bought to whatever degree).
History shows that artists will create without massive riches and the technology is now there to allow distribution without the existing corporate infrastructure so we think the best move would be a complete review of copyright (which runs far too long in our view and as applied inhibits creative development in ways that had they applied in the past would have stopped the creation of much great literature, art and music) with the intention of giving a reasonable return to artists and writers and reasonable access to the public.
The existing recording companies in view of the technology are much less needed and we think it would be in the public benefit if their influence were curbed.
Feinstein news release:
2007-01-13: Following reports that the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) as close to a settlement with various radio companies over payola allegations, Wisconsin Democrat Senator Russ Feingold has sent an open letter to FCC chairman Kevin J. Martin expressing concern about a possible weak agreement that he says would "do little to deter future payola violations or ensure that radio stations are meeting their public interest obligations."
According to "sources" quoted by the Hollywood Reporter, the commissioners are considering a settlement that would allow the radio companies to escape admissions of wrongdoing but require them to set aside a certain amount of airtime for "independently produced" music and also agree a code of conduct and an education programme to ensure that staff did not violate the code.
Feingold in his letter as well as noting the perils of a weak deal adds that one that allows self-policing by "the companies with no FCC or public accountability clearly would put too much trust in companies that former [State of New York] Attorney General [Eliot] Spitzer has already shown to have violated payola rules."
Feingold says he is interested in "the health of the radio industry and concerned about detrimental practices such as payola" and urges the commission to set n place "strong binding settlements that ensure future compliance with the law and reassure consumers they will have access to small, independent and local labels and artists via the public airwaves."
He also notes that consent decrees of the type that the Commission is reported to be considering usually run for five years and in this case urges one that "lasts this long or longer."
Media Week/Hollywood Reporter report:
2007-01-13: XM Canada operator Canadian Satellite Radio Holdings, says it had 147,000 subscribers at the end of its first fiscal quarter 2007 - running to the end of November - with chairman and CEO John I. Bitove adding that the company was "off to a promising second year of operations" adding that XM Canada now "now controls an 80 per cent share of the factory installed satellite radios in 2007."
For the quarter the company says its revenue was up 12% over the previous quarter at CAD 3.8 million (USD 3.25 million) - comparisons with a year ago are not relevant as it has then been operating for only nine days with only CAD 46,000 (USD 39,000) in income - and overall had a net loss of CAD 23.9 million (USD 20.4 million ) compared to CAD 14.6 million (USD 12.5 million) a year earlier whilst its "adjusted operating loss" -which excludes such items as amortization and stock-based compensation - was CAD 12.8 million (USD 11.0 million) for the quarter.
CSR said its Subscriber Acquisition Costs (SAC) were down from CAD 59 (USD 51) in the previous quarter to CAD 46 (USD 39), primarily because of subscriptions from people who had received trials from automakers but the Cost per Gross addition (CPGA) was up from CAD 241 (USD 206) to CAD 311(USD 266), primarily because of increased media spending at the end of the quarter "in preparation for a significant advertising presence for the holiday selling season."
Bitove said of the performance, "We have travelled a great distance in our short time and XM Canada is now positioned as Canada's premium digital audio entertainment and information company that is expanding rapidly across a number of platforms."
He added, "We have the best network, best coverage, best sales distribution, best radios and best programming. We will continue to aggressively pursue and win market share through our pioneering initiatives and we are well on our way to achieving our goal of one million subscribers by 2010. We are also on track to achieve our goal of realizing an operating profit of CAD 100 million (USD 85.5 million) by 2012."
As well as its automaker deals, XM Canada has announced an exclusive deal with Air Canada to programme "all audio content on both the existing legacy in-flight entertainment system and the new touch-screen, seatback entertainment systems being installed on all Air Canada aircraft."
Previous XM Canada/CSR:
2007-01-13: The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has renewed a number of radio licences but proposed or imposed penalties totalling USD 16,100 for late filing and continued operation without a licence.
In Georgia the Commission is proposing a USD 7,000 penalty on Burgess Broadcasting Company, Inc., licensee of WGAA-AM, Cedartown, which should have filed a renewal application by December 1, 2003, but had not done so when in March 2005 FCC staff informed the licensee that its licence had expired and that its call letters had been deleted from the FC data base. Burgess then filed for renewal and also filed a request for special temporary authorization ("STA") to continue operations pending consideration of the renewal application. The STA was granted but expired in October 2005 and Burgess failed to file for further authority to continue operation until September last year.
The commission noted that the base penalties were USD 3,000 for failure to file a renewal application on time and USD 10,000 for unauthorized operation but reduced the latter penalty to a proposed USD 4,000 and also renewed the licence and re-instated the station call sign.
In Kentucky it is proposing a penalty of USD 7,000 on WBCE, Inc., licensee of WBCE-AM, Wickliffe, which had only filed a renewal application nearly seven months after its licence expired. The station had been acquired through a loan on which the bank had foreclosed and Jim Baggett, President of WBCE, Inc. was under the impression that, due to the foreclosure, it was not possible to obtain a grant of license renewal. Subsequently WBCE's assets were sold at auction and new owner David Courtney, of Paducah, Kentucky, is filing for assignment of the licence to him. Again the commission noted that the base penalties were USD 3,000 for failure to file a renewal application on time and USD 10,000 for unauthorized operation but reduced the latter penalty to a proposed USD 4,000 and also renewed the licence.
In North Carolina the FCC has issued a penalty of USD 2,100 to A&L Broadcasting, Inc., licensee of WSQL-AM, Brevard, for failure to file a renewal application on time and unauthorized operation after the licence had expired. In this case the licensee had requested an STA three weeks after the licence expired and this was granted and a penalty of USD 6,000 proposed. Burgess had sought cancellation of the penalty on the basis that the violations occurred as the result of an "innocent mistake" because it had assumed the eight-year license period began in 1997, when it acquired the station and also on the basis of inability to pay. On the basis of documentation supplied, the FCC reduced the proposed penalty to USD 2,100.
2007-01-12: Arbitron has now started rating the Philadelphia market using its electronic Portable People Meter: It released its last diary ratings for the market on Thursday and its senior vice president, Rating Services Jay Guyther commented of the switch to electronic metering, "We have truly ended an era with the delivery of the Radio Market Report for the Fall Survey."
Guyther added that the arrival of the PPM service ended Arbitrends for Philadelphia, noting, "Instead of Winter Phase 1 and 2 Arbitrends reports, subscribing stations will receive monthly PPM-based audience estimates using the installed PPM sample, which is planned to be 2,040 persons, age 6 and older."
Arbitron says its Fall 2006 diary-based ratings report is being designated the "currency" in the market until the release of the March 2007 PPM ratings report and adds that the January 2007 and February 2007 PPM radio ratings reports are to be released as demonstration data.
All major owners in the market except Clear Channel had announced that they would be encoding their signals but as we publish Clear Channel still appears to be holding out: Neither it nor Arbitron have announced that it has opted to use the PPM in Philadelphia, a move that could well spell the end to any competitor to Arbitron for electronic metering.
Clear Channel last called for proposals from Arbitron and other companies for an electronic system and the Media Audit-Ipsos Smartphone system could potentially still be in contention.
RNW comment: It may be that Clear Channel is going to the wire as a negotiating tactic to push down Arbitron's charges but if all potential competitors to the PPM are put out of competition it will give Arbitron not only a monopoly but a continuing lock on the business. On that basis alone we rather hope that the Media Audit-Ipsos - and possibly Eurisko whose system along with the PPM and Smartphone was evaluated in the UK by RAJAR - can keep going long enough to get some customers. If nothing else it would make for some interesting comparisons were TMA/Ipsos to get a Philadelphia contract with Clear Channel since its system does not depend solely on encoding but can also use audio matching.
Previous Clear Channel:
2007-01-12: UK media regulator Ofcom has awarded CanWest its third FM licence in the UK: It announced that the company's Original FM Adult Alternative bid had won the Aberdeen FM licence against competition from three other bidders (See RNW Oct 7, 2006) having already awarded licences to the company for Original FM in Southampton, which launched at the start of October last year, and Original FM in Bristol, which is to be launched soon.
CanWest also has radio interests in New Zealand and Turkey and President and CEO Leonard Asper says it "will continue to apply for additional radio licences in the UK, which will hopefully further expand our presence in that market."
CanWest on Wednesday announced a deal in partnership with GS Capital Partners, a private equity affiliate of Goldman, Sachs & Co. to buy Canadian specialty-TV group Alliance Atlantis Communications for CAD 2.3 billion (USD 1.96 billion), a move that has sparked speculation that it may dispose of other assets including its New Zealand operations: there it owns 70% per cent of CanWest MediaWorks - operator of TV3, C4 and some half of New Zealand's radio stations, including More FM and RadioLive.
The company announced last year that it was looking at its options in Australia in view of the changes in media ownership law to come into effect this year. It has a 56.4% interest in The Ten Group Pty Limited, operator of the Ten TV network.
In its first quarter 2007 results - running to the end of November last year - just announced CanWest reported net earnings more than doubled on a year earlier at CAD 66 million (USD 56 million) compared to CAD 30 million (USD 25.6 million) a year earlier (Up from CAD 0.17 to CAD 0.37 per share) on revenues up 1% to CAD 860 million (USD 733 million).
2007-01-12: Montreal-headquartered Astral Media has followed Corus (See RNW Jan 11) with an announcement of substantial increases in profits in the fiscal 2007 first quarter to the end of November last year.
Net earnings were up 9% on a year earlier to CAD 32.6 million (USD 27.8 million) excluding a year-ago non-cash charge of CAD 14.8 million (Now USD 12.6 million) related to a higher Quebec tax rate: Without this the figures show net earnings more than doubled from CAD 15.2 million (USD 12.95 million -earnings per basic share were up from CAD 0.55 -CAD 0.28 after the charge -to CAD 0.62 per share).
Revenues were up 7% to CAD 165.1 million (USD 140.7 million) and as for Corus TV led the way with its revenues up 9.5% to CAD 120.8 million (USD 102.9 million) whilst radio revenues were up 2% to CAD 31.1 million (USD 26.5 million) and outdoor revenues were marginally down - from CAD 13.81 million (USD 11.77 million) to CAD 13.16 million (USD 11.2 million).
TV EBITDA was up from CAD 38.59 million (USD 32.88 million) to CAD 43.09 million (USD 37.40 million), radio EBITDA was up from CAD 10.11 million (USD 8.61 million) to CAD 10.54 million (USD 8.98 million) and outdoor EBITDA was marginally down from CAD5.05 million (USD 4.30 million) to CAD 5.01 million (USD 4.27 million).
President and CEO Ian Greenberg said Astral was "very pleased with the Company's results for the first quarter of Fiscal 2007, with growth in both subscriber and advertising revenues".
"Our Television group," he added, "recorded particularly strong growth for the quarter with subscriber-related revenues up 8% and advertising revenues increasing by 14%. These increases in our Television results generally reflect the overall strong performance of our networks, as well as the impact of acquiring an additional 10% holding in TELETOON."
Regarding other divisions he commented, "In our Radio group, advertising revenues were up by 3% in Québec, while those of our Outdoor Advertising group were slightly lower."
In the company's conference call Greenberg said it intended to continue its policy to expand organically or through acquisitions.
2007-01-12: Former BBC Director General Greg Dyke, who resigned In January 2004 following release of the Hutton Report into the death of weapons inspector Dr David Kelly that was highly critical of the corporation - leading to demonstrations in his support by many staff (See RNW Jan 30, 2004), subsequently wrote to the BBC Board to ask for his job back according to minutes of two board meetings - in January and February 2004 - just released under the Freedom of Information Act following a two-year battle led by the Guardian newspaper and campaigner Heather Brooke.
The paper reports that the BBC Trust, - which took over from the governors in January, decided not to appeal against the decision of the information tribunal, which ordered the minutes to be released.
The minutes of the first meeting note that then chairman Gavyn Davies began the meeting by "summarizing Lord Hutton's criticisms of the BBC."
It adds that "He believed the Report was unfair but that we had to accept the referee's verdict. Gavyn explained that he had seen no alternative but to resign as Chairman - this was the decent thing to do" and later says "Gavyn recommended that it was reasonable for the Chairman to go without the rest of the Board also resigning."
Later in the meeting the minutes record, "Greg Dyke said that Lord Hutton's report was the most one-sided report of its kind that he had ever seen. It gave the benefit of the doubt to everyone in Government and to no one in the BBC. The BBC's legal team had also advised that Lord Hutton had misinterpreted media law on the use of sources (the Reynolds case). Greg explained that he had tried to persuade the Chairman not to resign, and that he was now in a difficult position going forward. During the brief a discussion which followed, there was recognition that Gavyn's resignation was very big loss but probably necessary. There was agreement that collective or selective further resignations by Governors would significantly damage the BBC."
They also say that Dyke said through the Secretary he would only continue as Director-General with the full confidence of the Board and then summarize pros and cons of his remaining that were discussed after he had left the meeting.
Amongst the comments made the minutes note that "In resigning, Gavyn had made Greg's position unsustainable. Gavyn had effectively accepted responsibility for the failure of governance, yet Lord
Hutton was more critical of BBC management's processes and decisions. Ergo it followed that a like action was required at the top of BBC management" and they say that acting chairman Richard Ryder "concluded the discussion by saying he judged that the overall view of the Board was that Greg's offer of resignation should be accepted."
Later say the minutes after further discussions and a meeting with Dyke, board member Simon Milner returned and "reported that Greg had withdrawn his offer to resign and instead had invited the Board to dismiss him or maintain him in post."
They continue, "After a brief discussion, the Board agreed that it would be impossible to sustain Greg as DG in these circumstances since the Board's authority would be destroyed. The mood of the Board was to dismiss Greg as DG if necessary, but that it would be in the BBC's, the Board's and Greg's interests if he were to resign."
The minutes of the second meeting, which was mainly concerned with the appointment of a new Director-General" include discussion on a letter from Dyke in which eh said "I believe I have been mistreated and I want to be reinstated" and also "alleged that a strategy had been agreed between Gavyn Davies, Pauline Neville-Jones (another BBC governor) and Greg Dyke on the evening of 27 February that Gavyn Davies would resign, and that Greg Dyke would receive the support of Pauline in a subsequent vote of confidence by the Board."
Regarding this the minutes say in relation to a meeting she had with Davies and Dyke that "With hindsight, Pauline suggested that Gavyn and Greg may have reached an agreement of their own, and by describing it to her and not being contradicted, they had implicitly assumed that she concurred with it."
They later note," In spite of the wide range of initial views, the Governors were unanimous in the view that reversing their decision and therefore reinstating Greg Dyke as DG was simply untenable."
BBC Board of Governors January 2004 minutes PDF:
BBC Board of Governors February 2004 minutes PDF:
UK Guardian report:
2007-01-11: Corus Entertainment has reported first quarter profit for 2007 up 17% to CA 36.7 million (USD 31.3 million) - from CAD 0.73 to CAD 0.87 per share) on revenues up 7.1% to CAD 209.2 million (USD 178.2 million).
Corus said its combined radio and TV segment profit was up 13% on a year ago with TV leading the way: its profit was up 15% to CAD 60.5 million (USD 51.5 million) on revenues up 10% to CAD 122.6 million (USD 104.5 million) whilst radio profit was up 8% to CAD 23.6 million (USD 20.1 million) on revenues up 4% to CAD 75.6 million (USD 64.4 million).
Corus Content revenues were down 19% to CAD 11.7 million (USD 9.9 million) but it made a profit of CAD 1 million (USD 852,000) compared to breaking even a year ago.
Executive chair Heather Shaw commented, "During the first three months of this fiscal year, our team has executed well on our strategic initiatives. We will continue to focus on operational excellence to ensure we deliver strong results to our shareholders."
2007-01-11: US shock jock Howard Stern has received a bonus currently valued at around USD 83 million for his part in the success of Sirius Satellite Radio in his first year with the company. The bonus is in addition to Stern's contractual five-year USD 500 million deal with Sirius to supply his Howard 100 and Howard 101 channels to the company.
In an announcement Sirius said that it had exceeded subscriber number estimated made before Stern by more than 2 million and based on this Stern's companies have received 22,058,824 million shares of common stock.
Stern's One Twelve, Inc. and Chipombe LLC, owned by his agent Don Buchwald have filed with SEC (Securities And Exchange Commission) to sell stock periodically - including the bonus they are listed as holding 39,308,824 shares, valued at approximately USD 156.5 million on the basis of Wednesdays closing price of USD 3.98 for Sirius
Commenting on the bonus, Sirius CEO Mel Karmazin said, "The decision to bring Howard Stern to Sirius required a very significant commitment and we are very pleased that our investment has dramatically paid off. Sirius has significantly outperformed earlier subscriber expectations, now generating over USD 300 million more revenue than Wall Street expected at the time Howard agreed to join us. Our exceptional programming, product offerings, and brand have led Sirius to set a satellite radio record in 2006 with 2.7 million net subscriber additions."
Stern marked his first anniversary with the company on Tuesday by following his live show with a repeat broadcast of his debut show on January 9 last year and this weekend Stern will re-broadcast that show and his second show plus the "Best of the 2006 Top Ten Countdown Special".
2007-01-11: GCap Media, which was reported to have failed last year in a bid to lure hire Birmingham City football club managing director Karren Brady to take a similar role at Capital Radio (See RNW Dec 10, 2006), has now approached SMG Radio's departing Chief Executive about running its entire London operations - flagship Capital Radio plus Xfm and Choice FM - according to the UK Daily Telegraph.
Hazlitt resigned this week (See RNW Jan 9) and the paper says she left SMG after her bid to become company chief executive had been frustrated by the merger approach from UTV.
The paper says it is believed GCap chief executive Ralph Bernard has been talking to Ms Hazlitt about the opportunity for several weeks and adds that the offer would include a seat on the GCap board.
It quoted analyst Lorna Tilbian of Numis Securities as saying of an offer to Hazlitt, a former Capital Radio sales director and subsequently managing director of Yahoo! UK & Ireland, "With her background at Yahoo! and Virgin, she's probably just what GCap need at Capital."
The Telegraph also says that Hazlitt is also believed to have been approached by at least one private equity group but that Emap, which is seeking a boss for its Kiss FM station, had played down rumours that it was in talks with Hazlitt. She, it says, did not return calls and GCap declined comment.
UK Telegraph report:
2007-01-11: Westwood One has announced that comedian Dennis Miller, a five-time Emmy Award and four-time Writers' Guild award winner, has signed up with it for a daily three-hour talk show to debut in March.
The show will feature Miller himself with his take on the day's topics plus high=profile special guests and also calls from listeners.
Miller said of the deal in a news release, "This seems like a great fit for me since I grew up in Pittsburgh where broadcast radio was born. I always knew I would try radio and right now seems like the perfect time. In a world where the stakes are high, the medium is a nice blend of the comfortable and the provocative. I look forward to working with Westwood One and soon being able to finally say aloud the words, 'I'm up against a hard break'."
Westwood One CEO Peter Kosann said the deal was "is an absolute home run Dennis Miller fits our programming criteria in spades -- unique, foreground, compelling, hip. Everyone in this country knows Dennis. Anyone with ears will be interested in hearing what he has to say. Westwood One will move mountains to support Dennis' program."
Westwood One said it was also to re-launch Dennis Miller's official website as a fully interactive digital space offering a host of digital features to support The Dennis Miller Show, including: premium services, live streams; hands on fan interaction through listener blogs; exclusive audio content and podcasts to download.
Previous Westwood One:
2007-01-11: BBC Radio 1 has announced that it is to turn its Friday early breakfast slot, which runs from 04:00 to 07:00, into a "breeding ground for new and emerging talent" starting this week.
Existing and future signings as DJs will front the show on a rotational basis whilst previous Friday early breakfast hosts Fearne Cotton and Reggie Yates will now concentrate on their weekend breakfast show to which they were promoted to in September: The first host on the new Friday breakfast show, which ha an audience of around two million, will be Radio 1 Sunday Surgery host Letitia.
Radio 1 Head of Programmes Ben Cooper said of the change, "The early slots have always been a place that DJs could develop their broadcasting skills and have the freedom to experiment. We've seen major stars like Chris Moyles and Scott Mills emerge from these shows and now we have a place dedicated to developing the stars of the future."
Also at the BBC, Radio 2 has announced that Alan Titchmarsh, best known as a gardener- he has written nearly 40 gardening books but also six novels, is to host a Sunday evening music show "Alan Titchmarsh With Melodies For You" starting at the end of March.
He has already done work for the station and said he was "delighted to have a regular spot" and would be "playing a mix of popular and classical music that I love, and hope that my listeners will enjoy it too. I'm aware of the special nature of Sunday nights on Radio 2, and hope I can add to that "
Titchmarsh's Show is part of Sunday afternoon and evening schedule changes that will see the end of Radio 2's "Your 100 Best Tunes", which has been broadcast from 1959. It was presented for more than four decades by its creator, the late Alan Keith, who remained host until he died in March 2003, aged 94. Radio 2 says it is discussing future programme ideas with the show's current presenter Richard Baker.
BBC Radio 2 Controller Lesley Douglas commented, "I'm really pleased that Alan has agreed to present a regular show on Sunday evenings. Alan is passionate about music and I know that his broad taste will be the perfect mix for Sunday evenings. He has already proved to be a hit with listeners with his Bank Holiday specials, and over the years in various programmes."
She added of the current programme host "Sheridan Morley has done a great job on Melodies for You over the last couple of years, and I look forward to hearing his new ventures on the network in the coming months."
2007-01-10: Emmis third quarter revenues - to the end of November last year - were down 6.9% on a year earlier at USD 91.2 million - put down primarily to declines in New York and Los Angeles - and its diluted net loss per common share was up nine-fold from one cent to nine cents.
Emmis reported net income of USD 3.1 million for the quarter compared to USD 200 million a year earlier and USD 124 million for the first nine months of 2006 compared to USD 219 million for the same period in 2005 whilst operating income was down from USD 24.4 million to USD 17.5 million for the quarter and from USD 71.2 million to USD 55.5 million for the nine months with revenues for nine months down from USD 295 million to USD 281 million.
The company noted that in the quarter it recorded a charge of USD 10.0 million related to debt extinguishment and refinancing activity.
Radio figures from the company showed reported revenues for the quarter down 9.2% to USD 66.7 million and for the nine months down 6.5% to USD 214.63 million with pro-forma figures of revenues for the quarter down 9.7% and down 7.4% for the nine months to the same totals.
Chairman and CEO Jeff Smulyan commented in a company release, "While we have been disappointed with the continued softness in our New York and Los Angeles markets, we are beginning to see signs that the worst is behind us. I'm confident that programming and management actions taken in recent months are beginning to deliver and point to better results in 2007."
At the Emmis conference call he ruled out sales of radio stations - it put up all its 16 TV stations for sale and so far has sold 14 of them.
Despite the performance the market, which had already taken them into account, marked Emmis stock up and its shares ended Tuesday up 4.95% at USD8.69
2007-01-10: UBC Media, which distributes a "Sky News Radio" package from satellite broadcaster BSKYB, has agreed a deal with UTV according to the UK Daily Telegraph.
The paper says the deal will involve the supply of the service to UTV's analogue local stations as well as the national talkSPORT franchise - which was already taking the Sky package - and its digital stations with around 3.6 million listeners in all.
It adds that UBC, which pays Sky for its news clips, makes its income by selling adverts in commercial time allocated by stations in return for the news service for which there is no additional charge.
UBC has also agreed a deal to supply the service to CN Radio Group's nine local channels and the paper says the deals are a significant setback for GCap Media's commercial radio news supplier IRN.
UK Telegraph report:
2007-01-10: US host Howard Stern, who moved to Sirius Satellite Radio a year ago, has told the New York Times that he will never go back to terrestrial radio, emphasizing his determination by commenting, "I swear to you on a stack of Bibles. Load me with truth serum. I would never go back to terrestrial radio. This is it for me. This is where I will end my broadcast career."
Giving a flavour of his current show, Jacques Steinberg writes that Sirius subscribers have over the past year "been treated to uncensored aural experiences like a standing bit in which he persuades a porn star or centrefold model (typically naked, sometimes in tandem) to climb onto a vibrating, mechanical contraption known as the Sybian. He (and they) then provide play-by-play commentary on their apparently escalating enjoyment - all over the roar of a motor as loud as a leaf blower's."
He notes that those who wish for a visual as well as aural experience can get it via Stern's on-demand TV channel but that Stern is, even so, censoring himself, saying, "There are times now when I'm the guy saying, 'That went too far,' which is a new role."
As an example of this he recalled a regular staff meeting on a recent Thursday in which one cast member had made the following request: that Stern, as both the microphones and cameras rolled, knock him out with chloroform, strip him naked and replace his clothes and commented of this, "I said, 'I'm not sure chloroform is legal. I don't know if it kills you. Wait a second, I'm not going there.' "
Stern also rejected comparisons with soft-core porn saying, I'm not trying to tell you to come to satellite to hear a girl sit on the Sybian. I'm telling you to come because the show is funny" and as an example of this "relished how he had persuaded a guest known only as "Rappin' Granny" - she was approaching 90, he said - to mount the Sybian, fully clothed and with her cane, to describe how it felt."
Overall he described his Sirius Show as "free-form, free-flowing, one big party We're talking about the stuff you can't talk about. The show on terrestrial radio in the last 10 years had been so watered down Now it's only great because of the freedom."
New York Times report:
2007-01-10: The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) has designated Michel Arpin as Acting Chairperson until a successor is named for Charles Dalfen who announced last year that he would not seek a further term when his term ran out at the end of the year (See RNW Nov 1, 2006).
Arpin has been Vice-Chairperson, Broadcasting for the CRTC since August 2005. Before joining the regulator, he worked in the Canadian broadcasting industry, most notably as Senior Regulatory and Governmental Affairs Advisor for the Astral Broadcasting Group, and as Vice-President, Planning and Corporate Secretary for Radiomutuel Inc. and he was also Vice-Chair and Chair of the Canadian Association of Broadcasters.
2007-01-09: Clear Channel has announced an agreement - on undisclosed terms - with Microsoft to develop MSN Direct HD, a nationwide data delivery service using HD Radio technology, providing personalized and localized content to a variety of HD Radio receivers.
The service will be an extension of Microsoft's existing MSN Direct service, which currently transmits a variety of information including traffic, weather, movie times, sports, and stocks to Smart Watches, weather stations, GPS navigation devices and small home appliances and field tests are to be conducted with the support of HD's developer, iBiquity Digital Corporation.
iBiquity has also announced that BMW is to offer a factory-installed digital HD Radio receiver as an option across its entire 2007 product line.
The announcements came at the International Consumer Electronics Show 2007 (CES) in Las Vegas that also saw the launch of various new radio equipment including XM Satellite Radio's debut of a number of products from the handheld Bushnell ONIX 400 Weather Tracker - a handheld device that combines XM's radio channels and weather information with GPS navigation, and the Delphi SKYFi3 receiver that incorporates Delphi's new Premium Sound system and also has removable memory for MP3 audio.
Pioneer also launched a new range of automobile audio, video and navigation products including models that allow connection between a Bluetooth-enabled cell phone and an iPod video unit as well as connection via USB connectors and auxiliary inputs. Pioneer also offers tuners for XM and Sirius that can be used will all new Pioneer automobile stereos and the facility to add amplifiers, subwoofers and additional speakers to enhance the audio.
Previous Clear Channel:
2007-01-09: SMG radio chief executive Fru Hazlitt has resigned and been replaced in the role by the company's Virgin Radio Programme Director Paul Jackson: SMG says Hazlitt will step down immediately and Jackson, who held the role in an acting capacity for much of 2005 before Hazlitt joined SMG from Yahoo! UK and Ireland, where she was Managing Director, will take over.
The reason behind the resignation was not given, although there had been suggestions she had hoped to get the Chief Executive's post left vacant when Andrew Flanagan left (See RNW Jul 19, 2006) but in a release issued by SMG Hazlitt said, "I've had a fantastic time at Virgin Radio and I feel privileged to have been able to work with such a talented group of people, but I have other things in my life that I want to achieve and it's time for me to move on. I wish Paul and the whole team all the success they deserve."
SMG Acting Chief Executive Donald Emslie commented, "I'm sorry to see Fru go. She's been an inspirational leader for Virgin Radio and her knowledge of the radio and online world has taken the station to the next level. This has provided Paul Jackson with a very strong platform from which to continue to develop the station" adding, "Paul is amongst the best radio professionals in the industry. He's been a great asset for Virgin Radio and I look forward to working with him and seeing his plans for the station put into action."
Jackson, who became Virgin Radio's Programme Director in 2001 following a spell as Regional Programme Director for Capital Radio, has been responsible for a revamp at the station that included hiring presenters such as Christian O'Connell and Suggs
He said, "After six years in the programme director's chair, I believe I know what the Virgin Radio listeners want and we're bursting with new ideas. We've got the best music, the best presenters and a fantastic team here and we're approaching one of the most exciting times in the history of commercial radio with developments in digital and online. I'm going to work very hard to make sure that Virgin Radio continues to be first with the big ideas."
SMG, which has been disposing of assets to reduce its debt burden, is currently in talks with UTV over a possible merger. It had rejected a nil premium merger made by UTV at a time when its valuation was higher leading to UTV withdrawing its offer but since then UTV's stock has risen and that of SMG has fallen, making UTV the higher-valued company (See RNW Dec 12, 2006).
In another UK radio appointment, GCap-owned Classic FM has promoted manager Darren Henley to the role of managing director with a remit to oversee all the station's editorial and business including its publications and CDs. Henley will also have the same role for the company's new national digital Jazz station, theJazz, that it announced last year (See RNW Nov 29, 2006) and launched on Christmas Day.
2007-01-09: Entercom's Boston talk station WRKO-AM is intending to go ahead with plans to sign Thomas Finneran, former Speaker of the Massachusetts House of Representatives, to host its morning drive show despite his guilty plea last week to obstruction of justice charges according to the Boston Herald.
Finneran's plea was part of a bargain under which federal prosecutors' dropped perjury charges against him thus allowing him to escape a prison sentence - the prosecutors and Finneran's lawyer recommended 18 months unsupervised probation and a USD 25,000 fine whilst Finneran agreed not to run for any elected political position for five years from his sentencing.
The paper notes that Finneran has done fill in work for WRKO and says he would be expected to take over Scott Allen Miller's current slot: It adds that it was told that Entercom's regional chief Julie Kahn "has a great deal of respect for Tom Finneran and thinks he would be terrific on the radio and would look forward to working with him on WRKO."
The Herald notes that should Finneran be hired he would join a "long list of high-profile personalities that leveraged their chequered pasts into talk radio jobs" and cites the examples of Watergate conspirator G. Gordon Liddy who served nearly five years in jail; Oliver North, infamous for his role in the Iran-Contra scandal; former WRKO-AM and current WCRN-AM host Peter Blute who was thrown out of his position as head of Massport after being caught taking a booze cruise at taxpayers' expense; and former San Diego Mayor Roger Hedgecock who once faced numerous felony charges and now has a high-rated show on KOGO-AM.
It quotes Michael C. Keith, a professor at Boston College and the author of several books on the radio industry as saying, "This has become a pattern in recent years (Talk radio) seems to be where these people can go to after getting in trouble."
Keith added, "I think these people are looking for some sort of a venue to help them, in a sense, gain back some of their lost lustre. Also these people have generated a huge amount of press and bring a lot of that audience with them."
Tom Taylor, editor of industry newsletter Inside Radio, commented of such appointments, "The fact that they have had some scrapes may even make them more interesting."
Boston Herald report:
2007-01-08: For a total change this week, we start our look at print comment on radio in India whose radio industry was featured in the UK Times last week in a report by Ashling O'Connor.
O'Connor provided a round-up of Indian private FM radio at the end of his report but in the body concentrated on BIG 92.7FM, which is owned by Anil Ambani's Reliance ADA, one of the biggest conglomerates in India, with a side mention of the links between Sir Richard Branson's Virgin and HT Media, the owner of the Hindustan Times newspaper, whose Delhi Virgin station - Fever 104FM - launched in October last year and is to be followed by stations in Mumbai (Bombay -this month), Bangalore and Kolkata (Calcutta).
BIG, says the report, is currently launching new stations at a rate of one or two a week, having launched in Delhi in September, and is to spend around USD 90 million launched stations in 45 cities over its first six months.
O'Connor notes that in India, private TV had developed more than radio so far, with observers suggesting that the government wanted to keep a grip on it because it is the primary medium for India's rural masses.
Commercial TV has developed primarily in urban areas and BIG COO Tarun Katial commented, "The Government realised there was an opportunity for FM, the only medium that is truly free to air, as most television comes through cable. It has the ability to touch people's lives without them (the Government) having to fund it."
The first launch five years ago of commercial FM in India, as we have reported over the years, ran into trouble because of the amounts operators had to pay in licence fees but the for the second round of spectrum auctions the system was switched to a one-off initial bid plus an annual payment of a 4% share of revenues. In all Indian radio revenues are expected to be around USD 90 million next year with the total set to double to triple over the next four years.
Also now competing in India is satellite operator WorldSpace, which is concentrating its efforts as we have reported, on the country.
A report on WorldSpace by Pankaj Jaiswal in the Hindustan Times, whose owner as noted above is also involved in commercial FM radio, might not have pleased all his bosses as it commented of terrestrial radio, "AM is virtually obsolete. FM, increasingly, is beginning to get on the nerves of people, what with so many advertisements, an overdose of RJ babble and 'cut' songs."
Jaiswal notes the 40 channels on offer on WorldSpace in India and the lure of an absence of commercials, quoting WorldSpace Uttar Pradesh Area Manager Abhijeet Kumar Barua as saying, "There is but negligible RJ work and absolutely no advertisements. The radio jockey comes in for only 30 seconds after every three songs. In this 30-second time he speaks only about the songs-names of the lyricist, composer, music director, singer, etc. or gives some other interesting info about the songs. A song is totally 'uncut'."
Like the US satellite radio services, WorldSpace is funded primarily by subscriptions that in its case come in at INR 1000 (USD 23) for six months, significantly less than the fees for Sirius and XM (RNW note: Albeit probably unsustainable in commercial terms in the longer run).
After India, a note from the New York Post's Page Six of the return to the gossip pages of former New York DJ Star (Troi Torain) of the "Star and Buc Wild" show whose unpleasant activities we recall included abuse of a woman worker at an India call centre (See RNW Feb 18, 2005) and who was eventually fired by Clear Channel in May last year (See RNW May 12 ,2006) after an outburst in which he threatened to sexually molest the 4-years-old daughter of a rival deejay and said he wanted to urinate and ejaculate on the girl.
The heading in the paper "RADIO JERK VILE IN PRINT, TOO" sums up the tenor of the report that says in an autobiography Torain rips "civil rights icons Jesse Jackson and Martin Luther King Jr. as big phonies", and attacks others including Madonna - a "poor man's version of Marilyn Monroe" with a "worn body" - and Bill Maher - "a low-budget racist camouflaged as a comedian" as well as speculating on the physical attributes of various female performers including Lil' Kim of whom he writes, "Looks great in the morning, probably gives great sex, and is a great friend, but be prepared for mood swings and back talk."
Our feeling is that the fewer copies his book sells the better, that if Lil Kim is indeed a great friend she has poor taste in friends, and that there is something seriously wrong amongst any group that could have made him a success in the first place.
Finally before listening suggestions a complete contrast to Torain in the form of BBC Radio 4 Today show presenter John Humphrys who last week marked 20 years with the programme, the longest spell for any of its presenters and was the subject of Paul Donovan's "Radio Waves" column in the UK Sunday Times.
Like Torain, Humphrys has upset a fair number of people in his time - Donovan quotes broadcaster John Timpson as terming him "insufferably pompous", politician Peter Mandelson as saying he is "virulently anti- European" and former Conservative Minister Jonathan Aitken - before he was jailed - as accusing Humphrys of "poisoning the well of democratic debate".
Humphrys stands out on the programme in that he left school at 15 and comes from a working class background unlike his colleagues who are all middle class and university educated.
Donovan says of this: "So he is the least well educated, formally, of them all - but the fastest on his feet. In the official biography provided by the BBC, he is "renowned as a tough and tenacious interviewer"; in Professor Sean Street's new Historical Dictionary of British Radio, he is "known for his powerful and stringent interrogation of interviewees".
Whatever his background Humphrys is the most prominent of the presenters on the programme and Donovan comments that he was unable to contact the presenter - who is on vacation and "living up to his reputation as a slightly grumpy, but eminently sensible, old man, 'does not have a mobile phone and is not picking up e-mails' says Radio 4."
Donovan continues, "But I know he is diligent, persistent and loves to work (as do so many who need not). So it comes as no surprise to hear he is signing a contract for another year on the programme, during which time Britain will get another prime minister (the fourth he will be able to interrogate)."
After further comments on Humphrys' on-air performance Donovan sums up some of Humphrys' range and conclude by writing, "Away from Today, where, clearly, he finds it extremely hard not to interrupt, he is a better listener than many give credit for. That is manifest quite clearly in Radio 4's On the Ropes, which he has presented since 1989, and in which he talks to those who have fallen from grace. Behind the peppery exterior, there is even a kindness, which some see in the way he talks to those on BBC2's Mastermind (which he is also understood to be signing a new contract for). Humphrys will be 64 in August, but Radio 4 will benefit from him for a while yet."
On to listening suggestions and it's a fair bet that for any who want to listen to Humphrys he will feature in many of the Today Show interview podcasts that BBC Radio 4 posts.
Also from Radio 4 a couple of programmes that we picked up on late but are still on the site for the moment.
One is the afternoon play from last Monday (which means it will only be there until lunchtime today) a drama-documentary insight into the workings of the post war Labour Governments of Clement Attlee in which Journalist and broadcaster Charles Wheeler, together with a star cast, helps re-create the mood of those often highly divided Cabinet meetings, using the original notebooks of the then cabinet secretary Norman Brook.
It's particularly of interest as it deals amongst other things with the setting up of Britain's National Health Service - a response to the inadequacies of the private health system that had hitherto existed and a topic of current debate in the US - and also the decision by Britain to build it's own atom bomb after the US administration decision to keep the technology to itself after the Second World War.
Then from Tuesday last week from Radio 4 we found "The Advance of the Giant Crabs" a fascinating account on the Kamchatka crabs, introduced into the Arctic waters of the Barents Sea at Stalin's behest and now heading west along the northern Norwegian coast. The biggest weigh up to 12 kilos with a pincer span of 5 feet.
After the BBC and an oddity another from Radio Netherlands whose Research File today (posted as an MP3 after the programme) looks at harnessing the body's defence mechanisms to fight infections and the use of tattoo needles not for decoration but as a way of delivering vaccines.
And sticking with the theme of infections, last Sunday's "Background Briefing" on the Australian Broadcasting Corporation's Radio National looked at the practice of prevention through quarantine - something it would appear was much more thorough in the past than it is now leading the programme to consider the potential threat to the country's food and environment from easing strict standards and also ask why there was so little debate on the issue.
Returning to the BBC we next opt for "Jazz File" from BBC Radio 3 that last week started airing a series "Swing City" presented by Miles Kington on the jazz style emanating from Kansas City. The second part is on this week's Jazz File on Saturday at 18:00 GMT.
Also from BBC Radio 3 this week we suggest "Performance on 3" on Friday at 19:30 GMT that begins the channel's special Gubaidulina Weekend begins with the world premiere of Sofia Gubaidulina's complete Triptych Nadeyka, live from the Barbican.
Including intermissions and the programmes in them it is due to run until 22:45 GMT and on Saturday, for those who have the time, the station airs Tan Dun's "The First Emperor" live from the New York Metropolitan Opera running from 18:30 GMT through to 20:00GMT when it is followed in "Drama on 3" by a Peter Straughan's dark comedy "Regime Change", inspired by Shakespeare's Julius Caesar and produced in collaboration with the Royal Shakespeare Company.
And finally back to BBC Radio 4 and an oddball tonight in "Diz for Prez", described by the BBC as "The untold story of the crucial 1964 US election, a fight between Barry Goldwater, Lyndon B Johnson - and jazz trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie" - who believed in civil rights, withdrawing from Vietnam and recognising communist China. He also wanted to make Miles Davis the head of the CIA.
Hindustan Times - Jaiswal:
New York Post - Page Six:
UK Sunday Times - Donovan:
UK Times - O'Connor:
2007-01-08: Top-rated Quad Cities morning hosts Greg Dwyer and Bill Michaels will be moving to Cedar Rapids, Iowa, for six months following a five-year deal to return to Cumulus's WXLP-FM, Moline (Illinois), from Clear Channel's KCQQ-FM, Davenport their home for the past 12 years.
Quad Cities online reports that the move is because of a non-compete clause in their contract but that while they are broadcasting from Cumulus's KRNA-FM in Cedar Rapids their show will be streamed on the Internet at the duo's 2dorks.com site.
Cumulus Market manager Jack Swart said the pair had signed a five-year deal on New Year's Eve and that news person Beth Davis will move with them. He did not say what would happen to the current morning hosts at the Cumulus stations' involved - the morning team at KRNA is currently Lou Waters and Scott Steele - but did say that that WXLP team of Dave LeVora and Darren Pitra "are in our future plans. They are very important to this company."
Dwyer and Michaels have been off the air on vacation since December 22 and Dwyer commented, "To say this was an 11th hour deal would be putting it lightly. We left for vacation on the 22nd fully expecting to return to our old jobs."
Previous Clear Channel:
Quad Cities online report:
2007-01-07: The New Year break, plus the funeral of President Ford in the US, meant that all the regulators were only operating for a short period last week and this was reflected in the announcements made.
In Australia, the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) made no radio announcements but it was in consultative mode with a call for comment on extending its current digital datacasting trial being conducted in Sydney by Broadcast Australia.
ACMA says that it will extend the "DIGITAL FORTY FOUR "trial, which was launched in 2003, until the end of March, but is considering whether it should be continued until the channels are allocated to their designated long-term use.
The frequency is using one of two unassigned digital TV channels that are part of two national digital TV licences due to be allocated in the second half of the year and is carrying broadcast digital TV signals: The two licences will be offered for a price-based (i.e. auction) allocation and the ACMA raises the issue of potential use of it for such services as datacasting and narrowcasting plus services such as mobile TV.
Regrettably in our view it is not currently listing its potential use for digital radio channels.
In Canada, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) had a fairly quiet week, posting only one radio decisions - the denial of an application by Rawlco Radio Ltd., 587681 Saskatchewan Ltd., and Dekkerco Holdings Limited, partners in Northwestern Radio Partnership for a broadcasting licence for a new 100,000 watts commercial English-language FM in North Battleford, Saskatchewan, to replace country music CJNB- AM.
Northwestern Radio already owns and operates North Battleford station CJCQ-FM and in November 2004 was authorized to operate a second commercial FM there, although this is not yet in operation: It had argued that the cost of a new AM transmitter would be prohibitive and much more than converting the station to FM.
The application was opposed by the licensee of CKLM-FM, Lloydminster, which said that to grant it would take Northwestern above the commission's ownership policy and the CRTC notes that were it to grant the application, it would breach that policy, which limits companies in a market with less than eight commercial English-language stations to three stations in total with a maximum of two in any one frequency band. It found that no compelling reasons had been advanced for it to breach the policy and rejected the application.
In other action the CRTC noted the withdrawal of items from public hearings, one relating to renewal of the licence of Astral Media Radio inc.'s French-language radio network Réseau RockDétente. Under changed rules the operation is now exempt from regulation.
In Ireland there were also no radio decisions but the Broadcasting Commission of Ireland (BCI) did announce the receipt of 136 radio applications for the third round of its Sound and Vision Broadcasting Funding scheme.
In all applications are for a total allocation of Euros 3.2 million (USD 4.2 million) with 62 from the commercial sector, 60 from community stations, eight from special interest stations and six from public service broadcasters. In language terms, 114 were for English language projects and 11 each for Irish language and bilingual ones.
In genre terms 102 applications were for documentaries, 11 for dramas, five for children's programmes, three each for adult literacy, entertainment and factual programming and nine remaining in the "others" category.
In the UK, Ofcom had a quiet week as regards radio but it has invited applications for community radio licences in the counties of Cumbria, Durham, North Yorkshire and Northumberland, including the former counties of Tyne and Wear and Cleveland.
Applications, together with a non-refundable fee of GBP 600 (USD 1,160), have to be submitted by March 27.
In the US, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) was working only from Wednesday because of the funeral of President Ford. As well as routine announcements its Enforcement Bureau has issued a USD 8,000 penalty to a Texas AM for failure to ensure the operational readiness of its Emergency Alert System ("EAS").
The Russell Company had requested cancellation of the penalty relating to breaches at KWRD-AM, Henderson, on the basis that its violation was inadvertent although it did not dispute repeated violation.
An FCC inspection at the station in June 2006 had found no Russell staff present but a broker, who was operating the station for most of the week under a time brokerage agreement, said the EAS had not been operational for "quite awhile", amplified as meaning more than three months and the FCC agent noted a red fault light illuminated on the EAS encoder/decoder and that the most recent entry saying it was OK was dated June 23, 2005.
The commission said Russell had not presented any facts to warrant cancellation or reduction and confirmed the full penalty.
Previous Licence News:
ACMA web site:
BCI web site:
CRTC web site:
FCC web site:
Ofcom web site:
2007-01-07: Guardian Media Group (GMG) Radio's Manchester station Century FM is launching a new-look schedule tomorrow including changes in its breakfast show, which will see former Xfm Manchester host Adam Cole replacing Darren Proctor and working alongside current co-host Paul Salt and Di Cannell plus new addition Sarah Graham and Clive Warren, formerly with BBC Radio 1, taking over the drive time show from Tony Wrighton who has been dropped.
Warren had already made a number of guest appearances for the station and Cole, who began his career in Manchester at the now-disappeared Sunset 102 has been with Century since 2005.
Century and its sister station in Gateshead were bought from GCap by GMG Radio from in October last year in a GBP 60 million (then USD 112 million) deal (See RNW Oct 19, 2006).
2007-01-07: Greater Media President and CEO Peter Smyth in his latest "From the Corner Office" posting on the company's web site, warns of the challenges faced by radio, like all businesses, to "remake ourselves in light of the interactive technology that has woven itself into our world."
He notes that over the past three years more than USD 100 million in radio advertising has gone from the company's markets, commenting, "These dollars, which were once used to fund ad messages to broad audiences, are being redeployed to the internet in more personal, one-to-one marketing efforts. Advertisers are rethinking their approach to media marketing and are questioning their media mix."
Interactive advertising he notes if growing at 25% a year whilst "radio revenues have been flat to negative for the past three years" and he continues, "In the near future, the interactive world will be a larger, yet more diverse advertising medium than radio."
Smyth then asks, "What are we as an organization going to do to respond to this trend, and how do we intend to grow our business by satisfying our customer's needs?"
He then comments on radio's strength as a "local business", saying, "We have made our mark by reflecting the tastes, values and needs of our local communities. And we've made our revenues by making people aware of the local businesses and services in their city" and from this suggests that radio has a strong role to play through links with web sites.
Radio says Smyth is "uniquely positioned to forge an integrated alliance between these two worlds and move our listeners to action Radio advertising is more welcome and less cluttered to its users than television, cable or the Internet. We have credibility that we can share and the trust of our listeners to provide advertising that is relevant to their lifestyle."
For his company the goal he says is "is to be not just a radio company, but to become an audio entertainment company for our listeners that provides marketing solutions (not just ads) delivered locally for our clients" and to this end it has founded an Interactive unit that he hopes will help Greater Media through the fusion of radio and the internet to move "out of the shrinking spot ad commodity world and back to where we can do our best work: partnering with our clients to solve their business problems and needs.."
Previous Greater Media:
2007-01-06: A week before Arbitron is to go live with a demonstration run using its Portable People Meter (PPM) in Philadelphia it has announced that Radio One Inc., which with Clear Channel had been holding out against encoding its signals in the market, has agreed to encode both in Philadelphia and Los Angeles.
So far there's no word of whether Clear Channel, which has been pushing for competitive bidding for an electronic radio audience measurement system, will sign on and there has been widespread speculation that its action may be part of price negotiations with Arbitron over a ratings deal.
Earlier this week more pressure was put on the two companies with a call by the the Arbitron Advertiser/Agency Advisory Council for all stations in markets where the PPM is to be rolled out to encode their signals (See RNW Jan 4).
Previous Clear Channel:
Previous Radio One Inc:
2007-01-06: XM Satellite Radio says that it, like its competitor Sirius (See RNW Jan 3) achieves a positive cash flow from operations during the final quarter of 2006, which it ended with 7.6 million subscribers compared to 6 million for Sirius.
Its growth in subscribers was lower in 2006 - Sirius said it added 2.7 million whilst XM added just fewer than 1.7 million to end 2006 with just above 7.625 million subscribers, 442,000 of whom were added in the fourth quarter. The XM figures compare with its forecasts of between 7.7 million and 8.2 million by the end of the year (See RNW Oct 5, 2006).
CEO Hugh Panero commented of the results, "XM completed another year of significant subscriber growth, despite retail softness, and did so with continued cost controls, achieving positive cash flow from operations during the fourth quarter."
XM has also announced that it is to introduce the first personal weather tracking system for GPS navigation in a concept vehicle at the 2007 International Consumer Electronics Show (CES), which opens on Monday in Las Vegas. The system it says, "tracks specific, real-time weather conditions between your current location and your final destination" and gives information tailored to the route being taken.
The system was developed in conjunction with Baron Services, which through its WxWorx division offers professional weather services for airplanes, boats, and emergency responders.
XM's vice president, advanced applications Rod Mackenzie said of the system that the company was "offering the first system that alerts consumers to real-time weather threats on the road ahead. You're not just getting the temperature and the forecast for a city. You get the weather that will impact your specific journey, and this information is constantly being updated. It's a major breakthrough in providing consumers with comprehensive, personalized weather information."
Also in the US satellite radio world, Delphi Corp. says it has now sold its 13- millionth satellite radio receiver: It claims three-quarters if satellite radio listeners use its equipment, which includes models such as the SKYFi, MyFi and ROADY family of portable satellite radio receivers.
2007-01-06: Blogger "Spocko", whose "Spocko's Brain"site has been taken down by his Internet Service Provider (ISP) 1&1 Internet following legal threats from Disney's ABC Radio over his use of audio from its KSFO-AM, San Francisco, as part of his campaign against a show on the station, is reported by Media Post to have contacted the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) over his case.
The EFF in November last year claimed success in two similar cases where it said companies were abusing copyright to censor criticism.
In one case Landmark Education withdrew a subpoena it had served for the identity of an anonymous user of Google Video claiming that a French documentary posted by the user that was critical of it and included hidden camera cover from inside a French Landmark Forum infringed Landmark's copyrights.
In the other the corporate owners of the children's television character Barney the Purple Dinosaur agreed to withdraw their legal threats against a website publisher who parodied the character and to compensate him for fees expended in defending himself.
In the "Spocko" case, Media Post reports that the conflict stemmed from his criticism of the show that included posting audio of KSFO hosts so that visitors could listen for themselves. Spocko also began writing to advertisers condemning their support of the station and said some had subsequently pulled out including Netflix, MasterCard, Bank of America, and Visa have pulled their with others including Federal Express, AT&T and Kaiser Permanente considering whether they should also withdraw advertising.
ABC had sent a cease-and-desist letter to Spocko and his ISP claiming his use of the audio clips, which he claimed were fair use of the material, violated KSFO copyright and the ISP opted not to pursue the case and took "Spocko's Brain" down. When we last checked the URL was still out and we also noted an absence of cached material on Google.
RNW comment: This case seems to us on the surface to be one in which the only commercial implications for Disney are not to do with copyright but the problems they have defending particularly virulent right-wing hosts. It raises a number of questions that need to be thought about, particularly the abuse by the rich and powerful of the legal system to silence criticism and our view is that in would be in the public interest for the issue to go up to US Supreme Court for a ruling setting a reasonable balance between defence of free speech and of copyright.
2007-01-05: US Radio revenues in November just released by the US Radio Advertising Bureau (RAB) were up 3% on a year earlier with a 1% fall in local advertising outweighed by a 16% increase in national revenues and 13% increase for non-spot revenues.
For the year to date, grand total revenues are flat as are combined local and national spot revenues within which national figures are up 4% and local ones down 1% whilst non-spot revenues are up 10%.
For November RAB's Sales Indexes, which equate pre-dot.com boom base year 1998 to 100, were 126.8 for local; 139.3 for national; and 129.9 for total combined local and national with year-to-date indices respectively 137.8; 146.6; and 139.8.
Previous RAB figures:
2007-01-05: US National Public Radio (NPR) has announced that it is to launch a new morning news and information service targeted at a 25-44 demographic that will compete with its own Morning Edition, the top rated morning show in the US with some 13 million listeners a week.
The new "concept", to use NPR's words, will begin in March and will be "be introduced publicly through a digital media 'open piloting' process NPR recently launched to test-drive show and segment ideas and solicit listener feedback" and NPR says a two-hour "morning drive time radio show, the core of the content service, will roll out on selected stations in September through their broadcast radio stations, their digital HD Radio multicast channels and their websites."
NPR CEO Ken Stern said in a news release of the provision of two services, "Morning Edition is a tremendous success and a daily priority for millions of Americans, but one size doesn't fit all when it comes to news and information. The 25-to-44 age group is underserved by the media and seeking smart, thoughtful content relevant to their lives. With more than 7 million of them already embracing public radio and the public service it offers, this is a logical opportunity for NPR."
Previous Ken Stern:
2007-01-05: UK commercial radio companies are close to agreeing a deal with music rights organizations that would allow a very limited use of music in podcasts according to the UK Guardian.
Citing minutes of the first board meeting in October last year meeting of industry body the RadioCentre - which it reported yesterday were leaked to it and contained details of plans to cooperate with the BBC on the ending of analogue radio transmissions (See RNW Jan 4) - the paper reports of a one-year deal with PPL, which collects royalties on behalf of artists and record labels, that would allow stations to podcast up to 30 seconds of music tracks and cost around GBP 100,000 (USD 200,000) between them on top of which the stations will also have to agree a deal with the Mechanical Copyright Protection Society and the Performing Right Society that handle composers' and songwriters' rights, thus taking the total to around GBP 210,000 ( USD 420,000).
The paper adds that at the time of the negotiations the RadioCentre still wanted to remove a proposed seven-day time limit on the podcast music rights.
Currently says the report, British radio stations pay between 8% and 12% of their overall revenues in licence fees.
RNW comment: The deal would seem to us pretty sweet for the recording companies who through it will only provide short snatches of music and thus effectively will get paid to promote their own material.
UK Guardian report:
2007-01-05: Salem's conservative talk format WTTT-AM, Boston, is to start airing The Media Line's "MidEast Sunday" programme starting this weekend at 11:50 local time, a decision that the Boston Herald to ask the station's senior operations manager Jimmi Carter how he thought it would play with the station's normal audience.
Carter said that if he understood the station's daily audience's preferences, "I believe they'll receive it pretty well because it's got information" and said the station thinks "it's a great complement to what we do Monday through Friday" adding that it is about "not the Jewish aspect, not the Palestinian aspect, not the Syrian aspect, but the Middle East as a whole."
The programme's style is described by Media Line founder Felice Friedson -one of the programme's co-hosts -as a mixture of Meet the Press, National Public Radio and a little bit of BBC and she added that the organization receives most of its financial support from foundations and is careful not to accept money from governments or political groups that would try to steer its content in any one direction.
RNW note: The show is available as a stream online on the Media Line web site for those who care to listen: It is markedly American in style 9the element of BBC is not large) and we don't think it is up to the standard of the BBC or NPR and, although it does carry comment from a fairly wide range of people, would not think that it - or other material on the site will be particularly objectionable to most US conservatives. There is certainly no sign of any particularly radical comment in it at the moment.
Boston Herald report:
2007-01-04: The Arbitron Advertiser/Agency Advisory Council has called on all stations in markets where the Arbitron Portable People Meter (PPM) is to be rolled out this year - Philadelphia, New York, and Houston - to encode their signals noting that the new service "will be providing the ratings information used to make decisions in the buying and selling process of radio airtime and promotions."
The move, presumably intended to put pressure on hold-outs Clear Channel and Radio One Inc. to encode their Philadelphia signals before the PPM is introduced, makes an indirect reference to the stations holding out by noting, that while it "believes that all radio stations in each of these markets should encode their signals for PPM measurement whether the station elects to subscribe to the service is a decision that is clearly theirs."
It adds that it believes, "it is imperative for each station to encode, especially since there is no cost to the station for encoding. This will give advertisers, marketers, agencies, and stations, the ability to understand and better evaluate radio in the new world of electronic measurement. We encourage all broadcasters in each upcoming PPM market to step forward and embrace the future and electronic measurement by beginning to encode immediately."
If the two companies do not encode their signals next week they risk not being included in ratings.
In another PPM announcement, Arbitron says Nassau Broadcasting has agreed a PPM deal for its Boston classical station WCRB-FM.
Previous Clear Channel:
Previous Radio One Inc.:
2007-01-04: UK commercial radio groups want to build up what is termed a "frosty friendship" with the BBC in connection with the switch-off of analogue radio in the UK according to the UK Guardian which quotes "a confidential document leaked to MediaGuardian.co.uk."
The paper says that a meeting between representatives of the corporation and commercial radio companies concluded that an analogue switch-off between 2010 and 2015 was feasible, much earlier than previous estimates setting a switch off as late as 2030.
The paper says minutes of a meeting of industry body the RadioCentre reported, "Discussions with the BBC on October 4 suggested that an analogue switch-off in 2010-2015 was feasible Creating the right environment for radio to grow involved influencing audience measurement, legislation, regulation and copyright agreements. The relationship with the BBC was a central part of that strategy."
It then went on, "The BBC dinner on October 4 has already helped build the 'frosty friendship' that was appropriate."
The paper adds that a RadioCentre three-year plan shows that commercial radio companies want to take their listening share- 43.6% in the latest UK radio ratings (See RNW Oct 27, 2006) - up to 46% by 2009 with a long-term aim to get at least a half share. Radio industry revenues are forecast to reach GBP 750 million (USD 1.46 billion) by 2009 with the medium taking a 7% share of display advertising.
The minutes say the RadioCentre is to concentrate on pushing digital listening "since that was the future and the area where we can compete most successfully versus the BBC" and also that "The music industry was probably the area where we had most work to do in order to foster credibility and mutual respect."
The paper says the RadioCentre has told it the documents it had seen may be drafts rather than a final report and quoted RadioCentre chief executive, Andrew Harrison as saying, "Converging all of UK radio - both the BBC and commercial - is a clear aspiration for both organisations. I can't speak on behalf of the BBC, but we need to agree with the government and the regulator a plan to facilitate switchover for all broadcasters big and small. Once those plans are in place we can talk about a switch-off date" and also reiterated aspirations for commercial radio to take a half share of listening, noting that it currently exceeded this with demographics under 45 and digital listening.
RNW comment: Of course commercial companies overall would like analogue radio turned off since that way they greatly increase their share of spectrum. And some would gain more than others leading to a motive to "leak" to a newspaper.
However, bearing in mind the hundreds of millions of radio receivers that would be made redundant by a switch-off, despite being perfectly serviceable, we can see no strong reason to rush this for the benefit of a few shareholders to the detriment of millions of households.
Perhaps Ofcom should tell the companies they would be prepared to move earlier only if the companies will provide free equivalent replacement receivers to all those who ask for them (this would include analogue/digital portables for those who have current analogue world receivers for travel purposes) - and delay any switch off for at least five years should they raise the matter publicly again. We suspect there couldn't be a better way of both demonstrating their narrow self-interest and also shutting them up.
UK Guardian report:
2007-01-04: Radio One Inc. has announced completion of its USD 30 million sale of its Boston station WKAF-FM (formerly WILD-FM) to Entercom following regulatory approval (See RNW Licence News Dec 31, 2006) and also a USD 270,000 deal to purchase the assets of- and assume certain liabilities of - Giant Magazine.
Current Giant Editor-In-Chief, Smokey Fontaine, has been named Giant CEO with an ownership stake in the magazine, while retaining day-to-day editorial oversight of the lifestyle and entertainment magazine that has recently been revamped as an urban-themed periodical.
Radio One has also formally announced its re-branding of Los Angeles KBBT-FM (The Beat) to KRBV-FM, "V100, the Best Variety of R&B" that we reported last month (See RNW Dec 30, 2006).
CEO Alfred C. Liggins III commented of the company's Los Angeles change, "With these and other changes we have made in the past few months, we are confident that we have done everything in our power to enhance the performance of our LA radio station. Through the operational leadership of Steve Candullo and the programming leadership of Barry Mayo, we have positioned V100 for significant improvement in what has been a challenging market for us for several years. We are excited by our programming line-up and thank the listeners and advertisers of Los Angeles for being so supportive of us through this transitional period. We are optimistic that 2007 can be a new day for Radio One in the great city of LA!"
Previous Radio One Inc.:
2007-01-04: UK Channel 4 Radio is claiming a "first" with a deal announced with wireless LAN network provider The Cloud to target its audience via a WiFi network.
The new service was launched on Wednesday to coincide with the Channel 4 TV "Celebrity Big Brother" programming and will allow - free of charge for a two-month trial period - downloads of 4Radio podcasts, including Celebrity Big Brother
4Radio says the deal will allow it to provide a virtual "breakfast show on the go", using The Cloud's network of 7,500 public WiFi hotspots , to those with a Sony PSP or other suitable portable devices whenever they are in range of a hotspot.
Channel 4 Radio director Nathalie Schwarz commented of the deal, "Radio has the potential to be the most powerful and influential medium in broadcasting, but to achieve this in a digital world it needs to start innovating and fast. Making 4Radio's content available on demand, on the go through The Cloud's WiFi network enables us to target listeners who want bold and mischievous radio programming but don't have time to tune in before they leave the house. We are providing it at their convenience - to fit in with our listeners' busy lifestyles.
Previous Channel 4:
2007-01-03: Sirius satellite radio says it ended the year with just above six million subscribers and - "based on preliminary financial data" -achieved its first ever quarter of positive free cash flow in the fourth quarter of 2006.
US markets were closed on Tuesday for the funeral of former President Ford and so will not react until today.
Sirius says the final quarter with "with approximately 6,024,000 subscribers, an 82% increase over the company's 2005 ending subscriber base of 3,316,560" and added 2.7 million net subscribers in 2006. It is scheduled to release its full 2006 results next month.
2007-01-03: Following months of speculation that CBS Radio was yet again to change the format of WNEW-FM, New York, once the premier rock station in the US and later the home of Opie and Anthony (Gregg Hughes and Anthony Cumia) until they were fired in 2002 over the "Sex in St Patrick's scandal, the station is now Fresh 102.7 FM, "Today's Soft Music"
After the Opie and Anthony firing the station's ratings plunged - Arbitron gave it an 0.7 share and it was ranked 29 out of 40 stations in the New York market: CBS Radio (then Infinity) in 2003 switched it to a supposedly female friendly format "Blink "that kept the call letters but fared even worse in the ratings.
After a spell of Christmas music over the 2003 holiday period it was switched the day after Christmas to an AC format "Mix" with a focus on dance hits that was formalized in early 2005 with a move to a Rhythmic AC format.
Yet again this failed to gain ratings - the station had a share of 1.6 in the Fall ratings - and last month a number of air staff were dropped in advance of the anticipated format change.
The station, which began its new life on Tuesday morning, is currently operating without DJs but its web site is up under the new name and offering a stream online. CBS in a statement said the station is now focussing on women 30-40 years old with an emphasis on songs of the last decade.
The new format will compete with New York market leader Clear Channel's AC WLTW-FM (Lite FM) and CBS says its audience research has shown that listeners are looking for a station with a current AC format.
Previous Clear Channel:
Fresh102.7 web site:
2007-01-03: The BBC Radio 4 breakfast "Today " programme has again found itself in controversy over its Christmas Poll that this year was a vote on the law that Britons would most like to remove from the statute book:
Listeners voted for the repeal of the ban on fox hunting and the vote was influenced by the Countryside Alliance, which has campaigned against the 2004 Hunting Act and which on its web site called on members to vote to kill the hunting ban in the poll, in which six laws had been listed for "repeal votes".
The vote to repeal the Hunting Act received 52.8% of the votes cast - the next highest number went to a call to repeal the European Communities Act that got 29.7% - and Countryside Alliance Chief Executive Simon Hart said on the organization's web site that the current British government would not admit its "gross error" in allowing the law to be passed but "winning this vote will add to the growing momentum for a future Parliament to scrap it."
Regarding allegations of rigging the poll, he commented, "Of course, the Alliance has been encouraging its supporters to take part in the vote. It would be strange if we did not support the repeal of the Hunting Act. Claims of vote rigging are, however, nothing but sour grapes. The vote was limited to one vote per person and over half of them voted to scrap the Hunting Act".
Prior to the vote the League Against Cruel Sports had said the BBC was "failing in its duty to prevent the manipulation of this vote by a group well renowned for ignoring the democratic processes of this country" and asked its members to write to the BBC with their concerns "about the Today Programme being used as a lobbying vehicle for the pro-hunters."
Also at the BBC, Radio 2 listeners have named Queen as the greatest British band of all time in a "Great British Battle of the Bands competition" in which they were invited to judge bands on song-writing, lyrics, live performances, originality and showmanship.
More than 20,000 votes were received and Queen topped the list from five finalists: The others were the Beatles, who were second placed and just 400 votes behind Queen, then Oasis, The Rolling Stones, and Take That.
2007-01-02: 2007 sees satellite radio about to start off the year coming out of a negative phase in which stock in both Sirius and XM fell slightly on the last trading day of the 2006 whilst that of international operator WorldSpace fell even more, by 3.1% to USD 3.50
WorldSpace was the worst performing significant radio stock in 2006 with its closing price less than a quarter of its peak value for 2006 of USD 14.70 - it ended 2005 at USD 14.51, well below the high of USD 26.00 it briefly reached when it went public in August - albeit nearly double the 2006 low of USD 1.90.
WorldSpace SVP investor relations Deirdre Skolfield in a statement told the Washington Post of the stock's performance last year that it had also been a best performing stock at one stage and the volatility was "unexpected "given we're building out a complete new broadcast medium in the developing countries of India, China and Africa." Skolfield also noted that the company faced the same challenges as XM and Sirius Satellite Radio and that both of their stocks were down this year", adding , "There are great opportunities in this business- and great challenges."
Sirius which ended 2005 at USD 6.70 and during 2006 ranged between USD 3.50 - 6.82, was down 0.28% on the final day of 2006 to end the year at USD 3.54
XM, which ended 2005 at USD 27.28 and whose stock during 2006 ranged from USD 9.63 - 30.46, ended the final day down 0.48% at USD 14.45.
*Trading this year will start on Wednesday as the markets are closed today for President Gerald Ford's funeral.
Speculation still continues about a merger between Sirius and XM, promoted by Sirius CEO Mel Karmazin in a number of statements and the topic was raised in the New York Times again on Monday in an article that was generally positive about the two companies.
Sanford C. Bernstein senior cable analyst Craig Moffett said of the perceptions, "There is a tendency to view satellite radio as if the glass is half empty, and that it is a failure or disappointment. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth. Satellite radio is growing faster than any consumer product except for the iPod."
Stating the obvious about any monopolistic position, Sirius CFO David Frear told the paper, "When you have two companies in the same industry, we have a similar cost structure. Clearly, a merger makes sense from an investor's point of view to reduce costs, and to have a better return."
The Times notes that the vast majority of programming on each station is similar, commenting, "Sirius and XM each claim that their music channels are more compelling than the competition's, but most casual listeners would be hard-pressed to tell the difference."
It also quoted Richard Doherty, an analyst with the research firm Envisioneering Group as saying of public perceptions, "The services mirror each other tremendously. More people know that one service has Howard Stern than know which one has him."
RNW comment: In this particular situation, as we have commented before, our view is that it is the job of the Federal Communications Commission to represent the public interest not the private gain of Mel Karmazin and other investors. We see no current likelihood of either company collapsing and if anything, rather than allowing a merger, our view is that the FCC should insist in that public interest that both companies develop receivers that can take both services, allowing true competition in terms of the product, not how it is delivered.
New York Times report:
2007-01-02: Australian publishing, radio and outdoor media group APN (Australian Provincial Newspapers) is likely to face another bid from Independent News and Media (INM) according to The Australian.
INM headed by Tony 0'Reilly withdrew from an earlier bid late in December after announcing in October that it was in discussions with US private equity firm Providence over an offer for 59% of APN - it already owns 41%.
The paper says that subsequently Dr O'Reilly is understood to have opened negotiations with a second, unnamed, private equity firm: INM said in a statement at the end of last month that it, "in conjunction with APN, continues to examine the many opportunities in the Australian market with a view to maximising value for all INM shareholders."
Should a bid succeed APN will become the third company in the past quarter to have been bought as part of a private equity coalition - the others were James Packer's Publishing and Broadcasting Ltd. whose media assets were spun off in an AUD 4.5 billion (USD 3.5 billion) deal into a separate company, that will be jointly owned by PBL and private equity group CVC Asia Pacific and the merger of Fairfax Media and John B.Fairfax's Rural Press. In addition various media companies have been building up strategic interests in advance of the coming into effect of new Australian media ownership laws that will allow foreign investors to buy Australian media companies and also ease restrictions on the holdings a single proprietor is allowed in a market (See RNW Nov 19).
The Australian report:
2007-01-01: This week to start the New Year we thought we would emphasise in our last look at 2006 comment on radio, various articles that look at non or scarcely commercial radio starting with the Los Angeles Times and "Radio Paradise", the subject of a report by Patrick Day.
"Radio Paradise" is an Internet station run by Bill and Rebecca Goldsmith and from the report it would seem that is what might be termed scarcely commercial being more a matter of Bill Goldsmith doing what he wants and managing to collect enough to keep him going than a venture likely to make him a fortune.
The station is run from the couple's home in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains and features what Day terms "mostly an uninterrupted stream of music reflecting Goldsmith's broad tastes."
Goldsmith worked on radio for three decades after starting his career in 1971 and Day comments, "As he watched corporations wreak havoc with the freedom radio once enjoyed, he conceived Radio Paradise as his ideal station - one where he played only music he liked and without commercials cluttering up the mix. When he moved with his wife to Paradise, California, in 1999, he decided to act on his dream, launching the Internet-only station in February 2000."
In business terms Goldsmith says of his station, "We're not non-commercial, we're anti-commercial" and the couple have turned down all offers of advertising, taking the view that they ruin the listening and aren't very effective.
As a society "we've gotten pretty numb to advertising," Rebecca Goldsmith says. "Most of it is insulting anyway."
To pay their way the couples made the site listener-supported, inviting people to contribute whatever they thin appropriate to keep the operation going. Day notes that life is made harder for them by the terms of the "Digital Millennium Copyright Act" that means they have to pay much higher royalties than a terrestrial broadcaster but Bill Goldsmith says "enough people enjoy the station that we can make a living."
Another former terrestrial radio employee who has turned to the Internet, albeit not with broadcasts, is former Tampa Bay DJ Olivia Fox who was dropped by Clear Channel's WBTP-FM.
Her show, co-hosted with Mike Johnson, as Rodney Thrash reports in the St Petersburg Times, reached the no 2 spot in the ratings for the 18-34 and 25-54 demographics.
Despite this she was fired - not long after she had hosted a segment "Things That Will Get You Fired" on the show on September 25.
Fox said Clear Channel executives came out with the standard line about "a different direction" and within hours her details were off the web site and promotions were running for the nationally syndicated "Steve Harvey Morning Show".
Listeners started a petition for her return to no effect and Thrash says that Dan DiLoreto, a regional vice president and market manager for Clear Channel in Tampa said the decision was "ratings-driven" and added, "When we have an opportunity to put something on the air that is going to be more popular and more successful we have a fiduciary obligation to our audience to do that."
Fox, says Thrash, did well, but Clear Channel figured Harvey - who in eight markets is No. 1 among women 25-54 and in nine markets is No. 1 among African-Americans - could do better.
He however then goes on to express scepticism about this explanation noting that "Across the country this year, Clear Channel has slashed popular local programming in favour of cheaper, nationally syndicated shows hosted by celebrities with name recognition."
He then goes on to quote another fired DJ, Reggie Davis, who was dumped a few weeks later as saying the decision was in fact about the corporate bottom line and adding, "It wasn't a result of Olivia not being talented enough or Olivia not doing her job."
Fox has turned to the Internet in the hopes of resurrecting her career and the report says her OliviaFox.com, which currently notes that she is still unemployed - it has various features but no audio, received 300,000 hits from around the world in the first month after her dismissal.
After Internet stations, community radio, another form of the medium that is not going to make any fortunes for individuals, and community radio in Brattleboro where as Bob Audette reports in the Brattleboro Reformer, "Radio free brattleboro may be just a memory, but community radio is still alive and kicking with the debut of WVEW."
The VEW is for Vermont Earth Works, the educational non-profit serving the communities of southern Vermont and one of its co-founders Debra Forrett said they had built the station "on the radio free brattleboro tradition," a view backed up by Jim Maxwell, an attorney who represented radio free brattleboro who said the new station has the "very same ethos that radio free brattleboro lived by."
Maxwell is one of the new station's hosts and says of his "Art Talk" show, "This is a way for individuals to communicate what is going on the street. The Art Talk program is intended to make known to the community how vibrant and interesting the arts and crafts are in the Brattleboro area."
Rich Zucker, a member of the station's steering committee, said those on the station have free rein, commenting, "Each DJ, or program host, is responsible for their own show. Program hosts have no restrictions," besides those implemented by the FCC, such as profanity.
Larry Bloch, another member of the steering committee, said in similar vein, "Community radio is empowering. Especially for youth. It gives them the opportunity to get comfortable speaking their mind to a large audience."
And the money side? Bloch says the station will cost around USD 25,000 a year to run, somewhat less than all but the lowest paid host in a larger market.
Finally before listening suggestions, thoughts from Paul Donovan in his final "Radio Waves" column of 2006 in the UK Sunday Times:
After comments on the year for radio in the UK he writes, "Two of radio's traditional attributes - that it is portable and that it is personal - may stem from the wireless age, but, ironically, are magnified by the digital one. Millions now download whole programmes, or parts of them, and play them on their iPods at a time or in a place to suit them. The podcast of Melvyn Bragg's "In Our Time" is downloaded nearly 600,000 times per month. (Some now listen to radio mainly on computers, either live or via the BBC's Listen Again facility.) A crucial part of radio's enduring appeal is that it has embraced new technology, which has extended its range but preserved its essence. The two go hand in hand. "
Indeed so and after that what better place to start our listening suggestions than a look back at a hundred years of radio as aired by BBC Radio 2 on Saturday. "From Broadcast to Podcast" paid tribute to the pioneering work of Reginald Fessenden, whose first broadcast was made on Christmas Eve 1906 and includes archival material from the early 20th century up to the present day.
Next up and from Radio Netherlands last week - available until tomorrow morning as an MP3 - we suggest "Euro Quest", the last programme ever. In it Jonathan Groub looked back on hosting it for 11 years: Worth a listen if only for the yodelling T-shirt!
Also ended on Radio Netherlands is "A Good Life", whose final edition on Friday looked back at the role of music in reconciling antagonists, reviving traditions, and building local capacities and drew on some of Ginger da Silva's favourite stories from past editions.
Returning to BBC Radio 2 our next suggestion is from Sunday and "The Beatles: Love", a documentary about the new Beatles album that features new versions - working from (with one exception) original recordings of the group's songs reworked by the original producer (Sir) George Martin and his son Giles. As well as them those commenting on the album include Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, Olivia Harrison, and Yoko Ono.
Then totally different documentary and BBC Radio 4's "Boys, Badges and Baden-Powell" from Saturday, the first of a two-part look by Arthur Smith at 100 years of the scouting movement and its creator, Robert Baden-Powell.
And also from Radio 4 on Sunday, we suggest "The End Is Nigh... Again" in which Clive Anderson looked at grim prophecies about the end of the world.
Staying with BBC Radio 4 and Saturday and the "Saturday Play" last Saturday was "The Real Thing", Tom Stoppard's award-winning drama that premiered in 1982: This version marked a radio debut for Trevor Nunn who directed the production.
For more drama, we suggest the current BBC Radio 4 "Classic Serial" - Robert Forrest's dramatisation of Leo Tolstoy's last major work "Resurrection" that began on Sunday and continues next Sunday plus, also from Sunday, BBC Radio 3 and "Drama on 3" that last week was "The History Boys" by Alan Bennett and next Sunday will be "King Lear" with Corin Redgrave in the title role.
For comedy there's a good mix on BBC Radios 2 and 4, including "Jackie Mason Live" on BBC Radio 2 plus from Radio 4 "The News Quiz of the Year 2006" (on the site already) and "Best of The Now Show 2006"(ditto).
*A note here for those who tried the link to the heavily promoted Bob Dylan Theme Hours - from XM and available only to UK listeners - all the links worked except for the one to the two-hour Christmas themed show where the audio says it is unavailable for rights reasons and we have not yet had an answer as to whether this was a technical foul-up or indeed a rights problem that arose
And to end a look forward from the Australian Broadcasting Corporation's "Media Report" from Thursday- a repeat of a show aired in August but still the worth the time to listen: Its topic was the new generation of mobile phones, a multi-media platform that may yet have more effect on people's habits than the i-Pod as it comes to offer games, TV, audio and much more.
Brattleboro Reformer - Audette:
Los Angeles Times - Day:
St Petersburg Times - Thrash:
UK Sunday Times - Donovan:
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