March 2007 Archive
- February 2007 - April 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 February comment - Sirius-XM: A merger too far? The evidence so far suggests it should be accepted only if the senior executives have been misleading shareholders.
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.
2007-03-31: Australia's Communications Minister Helen Coonan has announced that the country's new media ownership laws are to take effect on Wednesday, April 4, much earlier than expected, a move that has already been widely anticipated with around AUD 17 billion (USD 13.75 billion) in deals already done along with preparation for further moves when the new laws ease restrictions.
The way was cleared for expansion of holdings earlier in the week when the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) released its "Register of Controlled Media Groups" (See RNW Mar 29): Coonan says the changes, which will allow foreign companies to own Australian media assets, will "encourage greater competition, and allow media companies to achieve economies of scale and scope, while maintaining the diversity of Australia's media landscape".
Although some of the largest deals have already been done, a number of media companies including Austereo and Southern Cross Broadcasting with their radio interests, are seen as potential takeover targets.
Peter Morgan of the fund manager 452 Capital said on the Australian Broadcasting Corporation's "The World Today" programme on Friday that the opportunities were likely to be once-only ones, saying, "Once a Fairfax, or a, you know, one of the free-to-air stations is bedded down, or a Southern Cross Broadcasting is bedded down, it's effectively gone. You have to then deal with the, with the new proprietor who as I said is not a mix of institutions or retail investors, it's one person that can take a longer-term view."
Media analyst Peter Cox expressed concern that prices paid could go too high, particularly as people's use of media was changing, commenting, "It's a real quandary for buyers. Do they pay the excessive prices to get a once in a lifetime opportunity to own media assets? Or do they say, well gee, perhaps they're a bit old and we should be looking for new areas in life?"
Australian media shares rose on the news and Austereo, which had been up 4.3% at one point, ended Friday up 2.76% and Southern Cross ended up 4.21%.
Previous Southern Cross:
ABC "World Today" report:
2007-03-31: Federal judge Ellen Segal Huvelle of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia has thrown out a lawsuit brought against XM Satellite Radio shareholders, saying it "failed to identify any materially misleading statements or omissions" that would justify allowing it to proceed..
The shareholders had argued that they had lost financially because, contrary to XM executives predictions that its marketing costs to acquire new subscribers would fall or stabilize, the company's marketing costs increased and when this was disclosed its shares fell almost 28.5%.
Huvelle said the plaintiffs had failed to show that the statements "lacked a reasonable basis when made" and also ruled that the projections of marketing costs were shielded from action because they were "forward-looking statements...accompanied by meaningful cautionary language".
Businesss Week/AP report:
2007-03-31: The BBC has announced a trial in conjunction with mobile phone companies Orange, Vodafone and 3 of a trial to syndicate most of its radio and TV programmes via 3G to mobile phones.
Radio stations that will be included are Radio 1, 1Xtra, Radio 2, Radio 3, Radio 4, 6 Music, BBC 7 and Asian Network but not Radio Five Live and the trial will begin in April.
BBC Director of Future Media and Technology Ashley Highfield said, "By making a range of television channels and radio networks available to 3G mobile phone subscribers, we hope to test not only the effectiveness of 3G as a means of distribution, but also how audiences respond to the BBC's linear services on their mobiles. The findings, combined with quantitative and qualitative consumer research, will inform the BBC's future mobile strategy."
The announcement was made at the Broadcast Mobile TV Congress in London and the trials will continue for up to a year and BBC Controller of Business Strategy Richard Halton said the corporation "believes that mobile content is an important part of the broadcasting landscape and is looking at ways in which mobile devices will shape services of the future for licence fee payers."
"To this end," he added, "the BBC will be undertaking extensive and unique research into consumer behaviour and experience throughout the 3G mobile syndication trial. To date we have done relatively little consumer research in this area, and it will provide us with a detailed insight into consumer behaviour."
Latest figures from the BBC show Internet users have racked up nearly 100 million page views from the corporation using mobile phones and other hi-tech equipment in January this year and that mobile usage of the BBC websites has doubled year=on=year for each of the past three years.
Similar trials of the technology are also to take place in India where Public broadcaster Prasar Bharati and world's largest mobile phone maker Nokia are all set to start a mobile TV pilot project in metro cities, although this trial will be for Doordashan TV rather than of radio signals.
Previous Prasar Bharati:
2007-03-30: Leading US investor proxy advisory service Institutional Shareholder Services has urged Clear Channel shareholders to vote against a USD 18.7 billion buyout bid for the company, saying the price offered by company's founding family and private equity firms Thomas H. Lee Partners and Bain Capital Partners only represented a "very modest premium."
Clear Channel has delayed the vote on the bid, which needs two-thirds support, to April 19 from March 21, thus entitling to a vote shareholders who purchased their holding the original record date of January 22 (See RNW Mar 15).
Opposition to the deal had been building and RBC Capital Markets analyst David Bank told Reuters there was now less than a half chance that the deal will go through.
"I think it's going to be tough to get the deal done, and this report makes its incrementally tougher," he told the agency. "I think the market had been discounting a 50 percent probability of the deal getting done, and after today I think the market's going to discount an even lower probability."
Institutional Shareholder Services, reported Reuters, commended Clear Channel for running a "shareholder friendly" auction but noted that "just because a sale process appears to be well-run, it doesn't necessarily follow (that) the ultimate outcome of that process is the best alternative for shareholders."
Also running into further opposition is the proposed Sirius-XM merger, which has now been opposed by the Alabama House of Representatives that on Thursday unanimously passed a resolution opposing it.
House Joint Resolution 144, which was introduced last week, urges the US Attorney General and Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to oppose the deal.
The resolution, which now goes to the Alabama senate for a vote, says the merger would "result in consumers, musicians, and other entertainers being subject to a single company with unlimited market power to impose anti-competitive terms, conditions and prices."
It adds that the move will "potentially restrict programming, reduce diversity, and diminish creativity; each result negatively, impacting the public interest."
RNW comment: So only 49 more states to go for NAB?
In addition the Consumer Coalition for Competition in Satellite Radio ("C3SR"), which describes itself as the only group solely dedicated to protecting the interests of the over 14 million satellite radio subscribers in the United States, has sent to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) a study it commissioned from J. Gregory Sidak of Criterion Economics, L.L.C. that opposes the merger.
The report says a merger would be anti-competitive; that most of the efficiencies propounded for it would not benefit consumers; and that the conditions proposed would not preserve consumer welfare;
C3SR says the report took into account competition from other audio products as portable players, the Internet and Terrestrial radio
Previous Clear Channel:
C3SR web site:
2007-03-30: UK Media regulator Ofcom has now confirmed that it only received two applications for the new national commercial digital multiplex it had advertised - those of Channel 4 Digital Group Limited and National Grid Wireless Limited (See RNW Mar 29).
It has also announced that it received two applications for the new Hertfordshire, Bedfordshire and Buckinghamshire local digital radio multiplex licence.
These came from MuxCo Home Counties Limited - a consortium whose shareholders are MuxCo Limited (35%); The Local Radio Company plc (20%); Adventure Radio Limited (20%); Absolute Radio International Limited (20%) and Shadow Radio Holdings Limited (5%) - and GCap Media subsidiary Now Digital Limited.
MuxCo is offering a service of nine channels plus BBC Three Counties Radio, although it would launch in April next year with only eight of them. The services are:
Chiltern FM - a Contemporary channel from GCap Media Digital Limited.
Horizon FM - another Contemporary channel from GCap Media Digital Limited.
Classic Gold - a Gold service from Classic Gold Digital Limited.
Hertbeat FM - an Adult contemporary service from Shadow Radio Holdings Limited.
Jack FM - a Variety Pop & Rock service from Absolute Radio International Limited,
Easy Radio - an Easy listening service from Easy Radio Limited.
A Dance/Chill format from a provider who wishes to remain confidential.
A News, Views & Information service with name to be confirmed from MuxCo Home Counties Limited.
Mercury Plus - a Hit music family focused service from Adventure Radio Limited.
Now Digital is proposing eight services plus BBC Three Counties Radio with a July 2008 launch. Its offerings are:
97.6 Chiltern FM - A Contemporary Chart Hits service from GCap Media Digital Limited.
96.9 Chiltern FM - a second Contemporary Chart Hits service from GCap Media Digital Limited.
Horizon Radio - a third Contemporary Chart Hits service from GCap Media Digital Limited...
Classic Gold 792 - A Classic Hits service from Classic Gold Digital Limited.
Xfm - A Modern Rock service from GCap Media Digital Limited.
Chill - a Chill out service from GCap Media Digital Limited.
Jack - An 06:00 to midnight Classic Rock and Pop service from Absolute Radio International Limited.
UCB UK - A religious service from UCB Limited
2007-03-30: Less than 48 hours after the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced a consent decree under which Univision would pay a record USD 24 million fine for listing TV soap operas as part of its children's TV programming thus resolving TV licence issues and also cleared its sale( See RNW Mar 28), Univision has been bought by Broadcasting Media Partners Inc. (BMP) in a transaction announced at the end of June last year (See RNW Jun 28, 2006)
"BMP, an investor group including Madison Dearborn Partners, Providence Equity Partners, TPG, Thomas H. Lee Partners, and Saban Capital Group, paid USD 36.25 per share in cash, a deal valued at around USD 13.7 billion in all including approximately USD 1.4 billion of debt and Univision ceased trading on the New York Stock Exchange before its opening on Thursday.
Outgoing Univision Chairman and CEO A. Jerrold Perenchio in a statement said he "would like to express my deep gratitude to all of Univision's employees for their many contributions to the Company's success and for their devotion to its mission of providing quality news, information, and entertainment to Hispanic audiences throughout the U.S."
He added, "I am enormously proud of all that Univision has accomplished since 1992 and look forward to following the next phase of its growth, which will undoubtedly be characterized by continued success under the leadership of its new owners."
BMP said it was "extremely pleased to have achieved a successful and timely closing of our acquisition of Univision" and said it looked "forward to working with the Company's newly appointed CEO, Joe Uva, and Univision's talented management team and employees to take full advantage of the enormous opportunities the Company will have in the years ahead."
Uva commented, "Univision has a rich and impressive history, and I am very excited to join the Company in partnership with its new owners, who have a proven track record of growing successful media companies. Jerry Perenchio and his management team have done an exceptional job of building Univision into the premier Spanish-language media company and the fifth largest network overall. Univision's programming quality and audience loyalty are second to none, creating unmatched opportunities for advertisers to successfully reach the U.S. Hispanic community."
As well as its TV operations, Univision has recording and online interests and is the leading Spanish-language radio group, owning or operating 69 radio stations in 16 of the top 25 U.S. Hispanic markets and 4 stations in Puerto Rico: It also has a non-voting 14.9% interest in Entravision Communications Corporation.
2007-03-30: UK media regulator Ofcom in its latest Broadcast Bulletin upheld no complaints against radio but did uphold four standards complaints against TV with details given of TV standards complaints about one item that were not upheld and of another that was considered resolved by action taken by the broadcaster. In addition two TV fairness and privacy complaints were upheld in part.
The figures compare with no radio complaints upheld but three TV standards complaints and three further fairness and privacy complaints against TV partly upheld in the previous bulletin when Ofcom also considered three further TV standards complaints resolved by action taken by the broadcasters and gave details of another TV standards complaint that was not upheld.
In addition to these the bulletin lists with no details a further 143 TV complaints involving 100 items and 17 radio complaints involving 15 items that it were out of its remit or not upheld. The totals compare with 174 TV complaints involving 131 items and 21 radio complaints involving 20 items that it were out of its remit or not upheld in its previous bulletin.
Previous Ofcom Complaints Bulletin:
2007-03-29: At least two bids have been submitted for Britain's second national commercial digital multiplex, one led by Channel 4 Radio and the other led by National Grid Wireless (NGW): UK media regulator Ofcom is to publish details of the applicants today but no other bids are expected and, if they have been made, have been kept under remarkably tight wraps with no leaks from potential content providers. .
The "4 Digital Group" bid, whose backers include Chrysalis, Emap Radio, SMG, UBC, and UTV plus non-broadcast partners including Carphone Warehouse and BT Movio, proposes ten channels whilst that of National Grid Wireless, which is offering content from various providers including the BBC and GCap Media, is proposing 12, two of which would be for Channel 4 services, a music-based general entertainment service and a talk-based station designed to appeal to "younger BBC Radio 4 listeners".
Under the Channel 4 bid, Channel 4 radio would provide three stations - "E4 Radio", an interactive music and entertainment station targeting 15 to 29 year-olds with the best of what's new in music, comedy and entertainment; "Channel 4 Radio", a speech-based station with core content of news and current affairs but also carrying comment, drama, comedy and documentary programming; and "Pure4", a music station that Channel 4 says will combine "the best that music has to offer with modern contemporary culture."
The other seven channels will be "Talk Radio", an all-speech service from UTV; Emap's "Closer" that will carry a "broad mix of current and classic chart music with lifestyle conversation aimed at women aged 30 and over"; "Sky News Radio", a joint BSkyB and Chrysalis 24-hour rolling news channel; "Sunrise Radio UK" , a "personality-led, music-dominated station serving Britain's growing appetite for Asian music and culture"; "Virgin Radio Viva" - a station for "fun-loving, fearless women between the ages of 15 and 30"; "Original" from CanWest MediaWorks - "an album-led music station aimed at 40 to 59-year-olds, mixing music with meaningful speech"; and "Radio Disney", the UK's first national radio station devoted to children.
4 Digital Group also says it will be "at the forefront of digital media, fully exploiting the latest technologies to introduce a range of on-demand radio 'podcasts' from Gaydar, Club Asia, NME, IMG, Penguin, The Financial Times, The Princes Trust, The Media Trust and Colourful and catering for a wide array of tastes and interests."
It says it will devote "unprecedented resources" to promote the take-up of digital radio and will commit GBP 4.5 million ( USD 9 million) to general marketing of digital radio in the first three years of the licence period, together with more than GBP 25 million (USD 50 million) media value to support the launch of the individual new radio stations. It adds that it has reached an agreement to work together with the BBC on the development of DAB to achieve full consumer breakthrough for the medium.
4 Digital Group chair Nathalie Schwarz said the group will "secure the future of radio", adding, "Our proposed line up of 10 distinctive new national radio stations and range of downloadable podcasts offers genuine choice and exciting content. We will serve a broad spectrum of audiences - from mainstream to niche, minority groups to children - in both speech and music. Our vision is to put radio back where it belongs - at the heart of a multi-media, multi-platform UK."
National Grid Wireless is proposing to spend GBP 14 million (USD 28 million) as "part of a cross-industry marketing partnership with the BBC and Digital One, to drive the uptake of DAB products and services in the UK" and as noted is offering 12 channels from a variety of providers set to include the BBC, Digital One, Colourful, FUN Radio, GCap, Premier Christian Radio and Somethin' Else.
The line-up it proposes is an Adult/Album station to compete for BBC Radio 2's younger listeners; Channel 4 Radio 1 - a music-based general entertainment service for the under 35's; Channel 4 Radio 2 - a talk-based service to compete for BBC Radio 4's younger listeners; 50-plus - an easy listening station to compete for older BBC Radio 2 listeners; Radio Luxembourg with new music and "active rock" for the under 30s; Premier Christian Radio; Radio Play - a "games, challenges and competitions station by Somethin' Else, the independent radio and cross-platform production company"; Asian - a mainstream service for adult Asians; FUN Radio, an under-10s station with content from a 50-50 joint venture between GCap and HIT Entertainment; Love Songs - with love songs from the past four decades for a female audience; Colourful for the black, African and Caribbean communities; and BBC Asian Network, which will "will transfer from its own digital radio multiplex at higher audio quality."
National Grid estimates the cost of building its network as up to GBP 20 million (USD 40 million) and its general manager of broadcasting Tony Moretta said their "neutral host "approach would offer a market-driven model that would not own any stations so would not be I competition with its partners but would draw on the company's experience in building and operating networks and selling their capacity.
The Channel 4 offerings that National Grid has listed have drawn adverse comment from Channel 4 according to the UK Guardian which says Channel 4 will not guarantee to provide its own-brand stations should National Grid win the franchise.
In a statement Channel 4 said the three Channel4 -branded stations it unveiled are exclusive to its own bid and added, "There have been no conversations between Channel 4 and NGW and there is no guarantee that the stations will launch if 4 Digital Group's application for the second national multiplex is unsuccessful."
"We do not recognise the descriptions of the two Channel 4 radio stations in NGW's bid - they bear little relation to any of our three proposed services and are entirely NGW's creation prepared without consulting Channel 4," it said, suggesting that NGW might not be able to deliver the formats submitted to Ofcom.
Previous Channel 4:
UK Guardian report:
2007-03-29: Bridge Ratings latest report on the state of the US satellite radio business shows a continuing slowdown in the interest in the medium for a variety of reasons but in particular now including decisions by people to hold off making a commitment until the Sirius-XM merger goes ahead - or doesn't.
Less than a fifth of those polled (19%) say they will subscribe within 60 days irrespective of the merger with 29% saying they will hold off for up to here months before making a decision and 58% - up from 55% in February - that they will wait to see if the merger happens.
Bridge also estimated that the gain to Howard Stern if the merger goes through will be less than may have been anticipated although it still argues that the 48% of Howard Stern's most loyal listeners - some 2.5 million of them - who have not subscribed to Sirius are still "the prime group to pursue for further growth as they will be less costly to acquire than the 80% of Stern's terrestrial audience who were categorized as those who "listened occasionally" or "listened frequently".
It notes that the merger seemingly opens a new opportunity for the host but cautions that this benefit won't "be as significant as one might think" because XM subscribers do not consider Stern a high priority: Of 1,000 XM subscribers polled, 88% said they would not be likely to listen to Stern's show regularly were it to become available to them as the result of a merge whilst 8% said it was "somewhat likely" and only 4% that it was "very likely." The figures it notes, applied to the 7.6 million subscribers to Sirius would mean that the current base of XM subscribers could provide an additional 912,000 listeners for Stern
In terms of likely subscriber totals Bridge says it is inclined to reduce its pre-merger announcement estimate of a total of 17 million subscribers by the end of this year but for the moment will stick with the estimate until it gets further feedback.
Previous Bridge Ratings:
2007-03-29: Australian industry body Commercial Radio Australia has given a cautious welcome to changes announced by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) to its draft licence conditions for regional commercial radio stations
In a statement, it welcomed the changes but then said, "Commercial Radio Australia has consistently stated that both the local content and local licence conditions being imposed on commercial regional radio operators are an unnecessary intrusion by Government in the day to day running of commercial enterprises."
"The original draft local presence condition was extremely restrictive and inflexible," it continued, " In discussions with the Minister, National Party MPs and ACMA, and in its formal submission, Commercial Radio Australia argued that in order to be workable the condition needed to be flexible and to recognize the reality of running commercial radio stations in regional areas. The industry requested significant changes to the draft, in particular to the drafting around the requirement to maintain existing staffing levels and studio facilities in the event of a trigger event [An event such as a change of control or transfer of a licence].
Commercial Radio Australia Chief Executive Joan Warner commented, "While it is far from ideal to have such a licence condition imposed, we are pleased the Minister, other Government MPs and ACMA have taken the industry's concerns on board. We have worked closely to make the condition as flexible as possible under the required legislation."
"The changes," said, provided "a broader definition of local presence. In addition, the industry and regional radio stations will be able to request a review of this condition at any time."
The rules were part of regulation of regional radio introduced to gain the support of National Party senators for Australia's new media laws, which had been passed but have yet to come into effect.
In particular there was concern about the use of syndicated programming and the legislation was amended to include a requirement for 12.5 minutes of local news daily, 4.5 hours of locally produced programming, and rules requiring the maintenance of staffing levels and local studio facilities if a station changed hands.
Communications Minister Helen Coonan subsequently asked the ACMA to review the rules and it has now produced a modified licence condition under which, starting from the beginning of April regional operators will have to keep records so that after a "trigger event" calculations can be made about average staffing levels and studio and other production facilities existing for three months before the event. New owners will have to retain these levels.
Coonan told The Australian newspaper, "We have tried to provide maximum flexibility in the conditions. I have a great deal of sympathy for the proprietors. I am not trying to penalise owners; anything but. I know many of them are small operators and I think they provide an absolutely vital service. There is absolutely no secret that these changes were an ask by certain National Party constituents who were of the view that, given the way the Macquarie interests had acquired a number of licences and hubbed services so that there was a loss of local content, there should be measures which should secure local services."
The new media laws are expected to be put into effect by July: they had been held up by various essential requirements including the completion by the ACMA of a "Register of Controlled Media Groups" and the release of the results of the agency's consultation on "trigger events" for regional radio - both just released - and also a report on local radio content expected by the end of June.
Previous Commercial Radio Australia:
The Australian report:
2007-03-29: Emap has closed down its digital country station 3C - "Continuous Cool Country"- whose site now carries a message saying "It has been a pleasure serving you" and then continues to suggest people check out US station Voice of Country.
The latter's web site terms it the "only 24hr Country Music station for the U.K. broadcasting entirely from Music City, Nashville, Tennessee" and promises "to play you the most up-to-date Country Music on the planet and, of course, lots of your favourites as well."
At the moment VOC is promising "streaming online and offering podcasts, daily news updates and newsletters to keep you informed" as well as "access to buy the songs (and ringtones) you really want" but is not delivering.
3C was based in Strathclyde and Clyde One has taken over the channel on terrestrial digital TV platform Freeview and DAB, although there is no indication how long it will continue.
Meanwhile GCap digital pop station "Core", which is dropping its DJs from the end of this month (See RNW Mar 16) has posted further details of its plans.
Promoting itself as being in the lead on trends - "When text messaging was the next big thing, Core was the first station to run a daily chart from your texts. When MySpace was the next big thing, Core was the first national station on there, and thousands of you have joined as our friends" the site says it thinks the "next big thing" now is "you, getting connected, having your say, and being in control of what you hear. "
To meet this perceived demand from Saturday it will become what it terms "the world's first "Access All Areas" radio station - where you choose the music, and say what you want about it, on air and online."
Amongst the plans are a service for listeners to text requests and in return get a text saying when the requested song will be played; offering "Core" facilities on "MySpace"; putting the best messages received - by a normal phone or via "Skype" on air; and offering a dial-in playlist meeting every Tuesday so listeners can help choose the music to be played.
Previous GCap Media:
3C - "Continuous Cool Country" - web site:
Core web site:
Voice of Country web site:
2007-03-28: The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has given the go-ahead for the USD 12.3 billion purchase of Univision Communications Inc. by the private equity group Broadcasting Media Partners, Inc. subject to payment as part of a Consent Decree of a record USD 24 million penalty levied on it for failing to provide sufficient programming specifically designed to serve the educational and informational needs of children
Statements were made by Chairman Kevin J. Martin and Republican Deborah Taylor-Tate and Democrats Jonathan S. Adelstein and Michael J. Copps, who partly dissented.
Martin said of the sale, "Today the Commission takes an important step in ensuring that broadcasters comply with their public interest obligations. This Order approves the transfer of Univision Communications Inc. (Univision) and resolves concerns about Univision's compliance with its obligation to serve the educational and informational needs of children."
Democrat Michael J Copps, whilst going along, dissented in part, saying he believed the Consent Decree "fails to address-indeed, it conspicuously ignores-two critical aspects of the transaction before us. To begin with, as I noted in my joint dissent with Commissioner Adelstein to the 2003 transaction that greatly expanded Univision's media empire, the Commission has never formally decided whether Spanish-language programming constitutes a separate market segment that must be analyzed in isolation from English-speaking programming. Then and now, I believe that we need to answer this threshold question before we decide important licensing questions concerning Spanish-language stations."
His fellow-democrat Jonathan S. Adelstein added that the order gave the new owners "six months after consummation of the underlying transaction to come into compliance with the newspaper/broadcast cross-ownership, the radio/television cross-ownership, and the local radio ownership rules in nine markets" and added, "While I concur in our decision to grant these temporary waivers, I am sceptical about Commission enforcement. The Commission historically has failed to enforce the terms of its temporary waivers and, as a result, parties have simply failed to take the step necessary to demonstrate a good faith effort to comply with our ownership limits. In the instant case, the Commission should make clear that we will not grant any extensions absent extraordinary circumstances. I am committed to ensuring that BMPI comes into compliance within the time period allotted by the temporary waivers."
2007-03-28: CBS Radio has named Dan Mason as President and CEO of CBS Radio as in succession to Joel Hollander.
Mason was replaced as President of Infinity Radio in 2002 by former Clear Channel Senior Regional VP John Fullam (See RNW Aug 21, 2002)
Hollander, who moved to Infinity from Westwood One in 2003 to succeed Fullam, who had stepped down at the end of April, as President and Chief Operating Officer (See RNW May 16, 2003) became chairman and President and CEO of Infinity in 2005 when John Sykes moved to a new role in Viacom at MTV Networks (See RNW Jan 15, 2005).
He retained the role when Infinity became CBS Radio but earlier this month had been reported by the New York Post as preparing the ground for an early departure because of differences with CBS Corporation President and CEO Leslie Moonves (See RNW Mar 17).
Hollander was the "roastee" at the annual John Bayliss Foundation Radio Roast last Thursday, an occasion when the Post report led to a number of jokes about his future.
Mason, who had been an adviser and consultant to Infinity/CBS Radio after he left the company, was also an advisor and consultant to other radio companies including All Comedy Radio and iBiquity and was appointed to the board of Spanish Broadcasting System in 2003. In his new role he will report to Moonves and will CBS Radio's 144 radio stations, as well as the day-to-day operations of the division.
He began his career in radio in 1975 at WZGC-FM in Atlanta and subsequently joined Westinghouse as President of Group W Radio in 1993. As Infinity president he integrated the original CBS, Group W, Infinity Radio and American Radio Systems stations.
Moonves said of the appointment, "Dan brings with him a wealth of diverse experience and a true passion for the radio business. He is a well known and respected leader within the industry and our Company, and his perspectives on how radio can thrive and grow in our highly competitive media world are very exciting. Dan has a key understanding of the huge potential of our radio operations, and we are very pleased indeed to welcome him back to CBS."
Mason himself commented in a statement, "Radio reaches more than 90% of the population of the United States, and there is no better medium to call our listeners to action and deliver results for our advertisers. The combination of our premiere content with new technology applications will enable CBS Radio to move to a new plateau. Exciting times are ahead for our industry and especially at CBS."
Mason is to take over on April 16 and speculation continues as to whether CBS, which has already sold stations in ten of its smaller markets, will put more up for sale, a possible point of contention between Hollander and Moonves.
2007-03-28: GCap Media has announced that former Capital Radio and ITV chief executive Richard Eyre is to join it from May 1 as non-Executive Deputy Chairman and chairman-designate, taking over as Non-Executive Chairman in November from Peter Cawdron, who will remain on the board as Deputy Chairman.
Eyre will step down from the board of Guardian Media Group (GMG) immediately because of possible conflicts of interest with its radio business, which includes the Real Radio and Smooth brands, but will continue as chairman of the television production company RDF and remain an advisor to Guardian News and Media's newspaper interests.
Eyre was chief executive for Capital Radio from 1991 to 1997, leaving after the company's merger with GWR to from GCap to become chief executive of ITV, a post he held until 2000.
The announcement coincided with a trading update from GCap, which forecast revenues for the year to the end of March - affected by the sale of two Century stations to GMG - to be down around 9% with like-for-like revenues down around 3% for the year but up 1% on a year earlier in the final quarter.
GCap says its advertising revenue performance has improved steadily over the last six months and it expects to be ahead of the market for the last quarter of the financial year.
Chief Executive Ralph Bernard commented of the financial performance, "Although the market remains uncertain and visibility short-term, we are encouraged that the Group has been showing an improving trend over the past six months and that we are outperforming the radio advertising market for the first time," adding, "We have a strong board and senior management team in place. Now, having stabilised the business, we intend to focus on the excellent opportunities we see in the digital world - particularly online."
Of Eyre he said, "Richard is someone I deeply respect and admire. His wide experience covering advertising, radio, television, press and digital media will be a valuable addition to the Board. I am greatly looking forward to working with him" and added, "Peter Cawdron has been an excellent Chairman and we are delighted that he has agreed to remain on the board."
Also issuing an update on Tuesday was Emap, which said its results would be in line with current expectations and re-iterated its report of last month in which it said market conditions had been weak in consumer media and radio but that its B2B continued to perform well, driven by acquisitions (See RNW Feb 9).
For the financial year it says it expects UK Consumer Magazine revenues to be down 6% (down 2% underlying); International Consumer Magazine revenues to be down 10% (6% underlying); radio to be up 15% (down 1% underlying including SRH results for full periods); TV to be up 11% (11% underlying) and the continuing group to be up 3% (down 2% underlying).
Emap says it is on track to save GBP 20 million (USD 40 million) a year in 2008/09 through our operational efficiency initiatives across the Group which are progressing to plan and also gave flesh to rumours that it may sell its radio stations in the Republic of Ireland by saying it is "considering its options" in relation to them and intends to "to provide an update on this at our final results in May."
Looking ahead Emap says it expects the "existing difficult trading conditions in consumer media markets will continue in 2007/08" but says prospects for B2B are more robust, in particular around information products and events. Radio outlook is described as weak whilst that for TV is good.
The markets reacted positively, moving GCap shares up 3.9% to 219.25 pence and those of Emap up 3.99% to 769 pence.
Previous GCap Media:
Previous Guardian Media Group:
2007-03-28: Macquarie Radio Network's Sydney 2GB has increased its lead in the ratings in the second survey of the year, results of which have just been released by Nielsen Media but DMG's Vega stations continue to struggle, remaining near the bottom in both Sydney, where Vega's share was up from 3.0 to 3.3 and it was fourth from the bottom, and Melbourne where the share was down from 3.3 to 3.1 and Vega was fifth from the bottom.
Amongst hosts Alan Jones for 2GB increased his share from 16.2 in the previous survey to 17.9 whilst talk rivals fell back - ABC 702's breakfast share, although still keeping it in second spot, was down from 12.3 to 10.7 whilst that for commercial talk rival, Southern Cross Broadcasting's 2UE was down from 7.5 to 6.9 and it fell from fourth to fifth - behind leading FM station, Austereo's 2-DAY, DMG Australia's Nova, and WSFM.
In the morning slot Jones and Ray Hadley took 2GB's share up from 13,7 to 15.7, well ahead of nearest rival 2-DAY, whose share was down from 10.8 to 9.1,and 2UE whose share was up from 6.3 to 6.7 but the station fell back a rank to ninth
On the FM front, Austereo consolidated its dominant position in Sydney and Melbourne with the breakfast shows of 2-DAY (the "Kyle and Jackie O Show") in Sydney and Fox FM (the "Matt and Jo Show) each posting a tenth consecutive survey in top rank.
Austereo chief executive officer Michael Anderson said the breakfast results in Sydney and Melbourne demonstrated that they are connecting with listeners and added, "It's a great endorsement for the shows - the ratings show that new listeners are continuing to try the shows, and staying when they like what they hear."
Anderson said the pattern of an increasing audience staying longer was repeated on the Today network in Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth and commented, "We've put a new breakfast show into Brisbane and they have put on an incredible result in only their second ratings survey. There's a real passion that goes into creating great shows like these and it's great to see that passion reflected from our listeners."
In Adelaide, Nova had a thin time with its breakfast share down to 9.6 - down from 10.6 in the previous survey and 12.8 a year ago: The result compares with breakfast increases from 19.6 to 20.1 for DMG's sister station and market leader 5AA and from 9.8 to 11.7 for Austereo's SAFM, which is to launch a revamped breakfast show on April 10.
City by city, the top three stations were (previous % share in brackets):
*Adelaide: Mix 15.6 (18.0) - Same rank; 5AA 15.0 (13.9) - Same rank; SAFM 11.8 (12.0) - same rank.
Nova with 10.8 (11.2) remained fifth, behind ABC 891 with 11.8 (11.3).
*Brisbane - Nova with 15.2 (13.6) - Same rank; Triple M with 12.2 (12.4) - same rank; 4BC with 10.7 (9.0) - up from fifth.
*97.3 FM with 10.1 (10.3) -fell from third to fourth rank and ABC 612 with 8.2 (9.2) fell from fourth to seventh.
*Melbourne - 3AW with 17.5 (17.1) - same rank; ABC 774 with 11.9 (12.2) - same rank; Fox FM with 10.6 (10.3) - same rank;
*Gold with 9.6 (8.6) was up a rank to fourth, overtaking Nova which fell to fifth with 9.5 (9.7).
*Perth - MIX 94.5FM with 20.3 (18.8) - same rank; 96FM with 11.7 (10.1) - up from sixth; ABC 720 with 11.2 (12.4) - same rank.*6PR with 9.5 (11.5) - fell from third to sixth whilst Nova with 10.0 (10.3) was up a rank to fourth, ahead of 92.9 which was down a rank to fifth with 9.9 (10.8).
*Sydney: 2GB 12.8 (11.9) - same rank; 2-DAY with 10.1 (10.4) - same rank; ABC 702 with 9.3 (9.9) - same rank.
*2UE with 6.6 (6.5) up a rank to sixth behind WSFM which remained fourth with 7.6 (8.3) and Nova, which remained fifth with 7.2 (7.0) and ahead of Triple-M, which was up a rank to seventh with 6.6 (6.4).
Previous Australian ratings:
Previous Macquarie Radio Network:
Previous Southern Cross:
2007-03-28: International satellite radio company WorldSpace on Tuesday postponed its scheduled earning teleconference, saying it is currently engaged in negotiations about potential financing "to address the Company's cash flow issues arising from the Company's projected year-end cash position and that, although the negotiations may not succeed, it thinks it "will be able to respond better to investor questions once such negotiations have concluded."
During 2006, WorldSpace had subscriber revenues of USD 7.29 million, nearly double the USD 3.69 million for 2005, with final quarter subscriber revenues up from 1.14 million to USD 1.95 million. Overall revenue for 2006 was up to USD 15.61 million from USD 11.66 million in 2005 and for the final quarter revenue was up from USD 4.43 million a year earlier to USD 5.03 million.
Despite the rise in revenues, operational losses were also up for the year - from USD 162.97 million in 2005 to USD 182.29 million in 2006 - but they were down in the final quarter - from USD 62.73 million to USD 52.2 million - whilst net loss for the year rose from USD 79.86 million to USD 128.60 million ( from USD 2.77 to USD 3.44 p34 share) and for the final quarter was virtually flat - up from USD 33.18 million to USD 33.82 million (down from 90 cents to 89 cents per basic and diluted share).
Subscriber numbers were up from 115,306 at the end of 2005 to 199,105 at the end of 2006 with the largest rise in India where it has been concentrating efforts: Subscribers there went up from 74,574 to 138,065 whilst for the rest of the world they fell from 40,732 to 37,095.
WorldSpace is potentially facing a class-action lawsuit from the Rosen Law Firm which filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York at the end of last week alleging that the company and some of its present officers and directors had violated the 1933 Securities Act by "issuing materially false and misleading statements about the Company's subscriber count" and specifically by including in the count accounts that had either expired or been "churned."
2007-03-28: This year's nominees for the Sony Radio Awards - the British radio "Oscars" - were announced on Tuesday at the CC Club in Piccadilly, London, with new awards - The Internet Programme Award and a special Broadcasters' Broadcaster Award to mark the Awards 25th anniversary.
Amongst the main awards, the "Station of the Year" nominations go to BBC Radios 1 and 2 and GCap's "Classic FM", whilst nominations for the new awards included five for "The Internet Programme Award"
In some categories the BBC is again the only nominee - including Drama - three nominations for BBC Radio 4 and three for Radio 4; the Comedy Award; and the "Feature Award".
Tim Blackmore, Chairman of the Sony Radio Academy Awards committee, said of this year, "It is testimony to the respect in which these awards are held that after 25 years of their existence this year's event attracted the all time highest number of entries. In our multi platform, multi media world, it's so good to have such solid confirmation that the creative use of audio continues to excite listeners and practitioners alike."
The awards, in 30 categories, will be presented at the 2007 Sony Radio Academy Awards Ceremony in London on April 30.
Previous Sony Awards:
Sony Awards site - links to 2007 nominees.
2007-03-27: ABC's Daytime Direction Network retained top rank but again fell back a little in Arbitron's RADAR 92 (Radio's All Dimension Audience Research) Radio Network Audience Report just released covering the period from January 5, 2006 - December 13, 2006 with Jones MediaAmerica TWC Radio Network in second rank increasing its audience to get within range of pole position.
The top five were:
1 - ABC Daytime Direction Network, which lost 307,000 listeners to end with an average audience of 6.703 million and an AQH down from 2.8.to 2.7
2 - Jones MediaAmerica TWC Radio Network, which gained 413,000 listeners to end with an average audience of 6.531 million and an unchanged AQH of 2.6.
3 - Westwood WON I Network, which gained 276,000 listeners to rise from fifth rank with an AQH up from 2.2 to 2.3.
4 - Dial-Global Complete FM Network, which lost 374,000 listeners to fall a rank and end with an average audience of 5.425 million and an AQH down from 2.3 to 2.2.
5 - ABC Prime Access, which lost 180,000 listeners and a rank to end with an average audience of 5.397 million and an unchanged AQH of 2.2.
Premiere's top ranked offering was the Premiere Morning Drive Network in seventh place, gaining 583,000.00 listeners over the former Premiere Morning Drive Network, which was in 11th rank and taking AQH up from 1.7 to 1.9: The Premiere Emerald Plus Network, which had been ninth, fell a rank to tenth behind the Westwood WON III Network which took over at ninth.
The sample size was increased from 118,000 previously to 140,000 diary keepers as part of a new sample increase initiative, with a goal of 200,000 diary keepers by December 2007. RADAR now measures 55 networks that together reach 73 percent of Persons 18+ and 74 % each of Persons 18-49 and 25-54 in the US.
Previous Citadel (Formerly Disney/ABC, America):
Previous Jones MediaAmerica:
Previous Premiere Networks:
Previous RADAR ratings (RADAR 91):
Previous Westwood One:
2007-03-27: A four-year research project into talkback radio in Australia by the Centre for Critical and Cultural Studies at the University of Queensland lists Australia's top-rated talkback host Alan Jones as an "ugly" host who tries to exploit personal power to build influence without regard to social consequences and his fellow 2GB host Ray Hadley and former colleague 2UE's John Laws amongst those in the "bad" categories of "celebrity" hosts who give the impression they know what they are talking about when in fact they don't.
Although Jones' power is disputed - less than a fifth of people in Sydney don't listen to his programme - Centre Director Professor Graeme Turner argues that the way in which Jones works creates a perception of political influence and notes that nearly two third of his comments were considered to be partisan and even more of callers airs - more than 85% were supportive with less than 5% critical.
Turner is dismissive of the qualities of radio talk hosts in general, commenting on last week's "Media Report" on the Australian Broadcasting Corporation's Radio National that with a few exceptions they operated on the basis of "'Tell me your message and I'll ask you a few questions, and we won't have an arguments, and we'll put the callers on."
This, said Turner, is "fantastic for politicians, they don't get a particularly rough ride and they go straight to the callers, and the callers might give them a rough ride, but there are lots of benefits in that too, because if they're seen to handle that well, that's a plus."
Regarding Jones he commented, "It really is quite different. I mean there's a controversy about Alan Jones, and people saying, well on the one hand you've got people saying that he's so influential he swung the result of a national election once. I don't believe that's true, but that's said. Then there are other people who say 'Well he can't be that influential because he only gets a few hundred thousand people who listen to him every day anyway, and so how influential can that group be?' And I don't believe that, either, I think that the influence of a talkback host can actually extend way beyond his audience."
"But the thing that's different about Jones, in my view, and from the research we did where we looked at his program in some detail, and analysed samples of it, he seems to actually pursue political influence as an objective. I can't think of anybody else who does that. And he spends a great deal of time telling his audience that he's influential, and he spends a great deal of time on what you'd have to call campaigns, where somebody else might run a story for 10 or 20 minutes, and then it's gone for the day, maybe come back the next day, but you know, it's kind of gone. It's more or less like news agenda. He will actually mount campaigns that can run for weeks. He'll return to those campaigns and to those issues over and over again over the course of the day."
He also noted that, when advert breaks and so on were removed, Jones talks for some three-quarters of the time during his programmes compared to around 40% for most hosts
Of his influence Turner said, "He's actually influencing the way in which people think about an issue, and that's not going to just be the people who ring up, that's the people they talk to as well. So I think that what he does, he acts as a kind of primary definer of issues for a certain section of the population, that is political influence when that happens."
Turner also noted international differences with such hosts having "negligible" influence in the UK but rather more in the U.S. and said that there was very little research on talkback, suggesting that this was because it is considered at the trashy end of media output although in reality there was a large variation from programme to programme.
ABC Radio National - Media Report site:
University of Queensland - Media International Australia (Current (February) issue - subscription required - is on the theme of talkback radio with ten articles on various topics):
2007-03-27: UK Guardian Media Group on Monday launched its new "Smooth" format network on four stations, each commencing with Barbra Streisand's "A Star is Born" as its first song.
The four stations - Glasgow, East Midlands, West Midlands and London - have been running a preview since 18:00 on Friday and a fifth station, the Northwest regional station, made the change on Friday evening.
A further station in northeast England is due to go on air later this year and the company has launched a multi-million pound advertising campaign using TV, posters, bus backs and taxis to promote the launches in the stations' individual regions: Three of them were formerly owned by SAGA which was taken over by GMG plus the London and Manchester stations that previously had a jazz format.
Previous Guardian Media Group:
2007-03-26: Most print comment on radio that we noted last week was repetitive and took previous comment on issues ahead only a little but we did spot a couple of reports on the payola settlement that CBS Radio, Citadel, Clear Channel, and Entercom are reported to have agreed, but which has not yet been formally confirmed, that put some flesh on the bones.
In one, Ben Fong-Torres' "Radio Waves" column in the San Francisco Chronicle, a little maths put one part of the reported deal - the other is the USD 12.5 million penalty - into context.
This is the separate agreement under which the companies have agreed to set aside 8,400 half-hour segments of free airtime for local and indie artists over the next three years.
The article quotes Thirsty Ear Recordings founder Peter Gordon, who led the negotiations on behalf of the American Association of Independent Music, in positive terms abut the deal- "The independent sector has a chance to have a voice once again on commercial radio. I think you're looking at the airwaves being refreshed" - but then goes on to do a little mathematics that cast a different light on it.
"On paper, it's not that great a deal," writes Fong-Torres. "The four companies -- Clear Channel, CBS Radio, Entercom and Citadel, own about 1,600 stations. If, say, 1,000 are FM and play music, then each station would have to devote a little more than four hours to indie music -- in three years."
To those figures, that to us indicate a gesture rather than real commitment, Gordon responded, "It's not necessarily over three years, and it's probably fewer than 1,000 stations that would be the right format to play independent music. We wanted it to not be just a gesture but to have a number attached to it, so that we can begin working together."
And the payola part well it's a penalty of USD 12.5 million with the largest penalty of USD 4 million to Entercom whilst Clear Channel, the largest company - and which made a profit before discontinued operations of getting on for USD 700 million last year (See RNW Feb 24 Clear4)- will pay USD 3.5 million.
Fong-Torres may be a little cynical but he may also be right in commenting, "Meantime, payola, in one form or another will go on, just as it does in virtually every business in this country and around the world."
Putting the future of indie music into another perspective was Paul F. Roberts writing in Salon: He contrasted the positive for independent music in the settlement with the likely effect of the effect of the Copyright Royalty Board (CRB) decision to increase rates for streamed music, a decision he said "drove a regulatory stake through the heart of a fast-growing and popular medium for niche and independent music: Internet radio."
After giving various details of the likely effect of the new rates, Roberts continues on to a potential response that could cost the recording industry. "Postings to in online forums like Techdirt," he wrote, "widely interpreted the CRB ruling as a call to arms to reject artists that use copyright altogether in favour of alternative online music services that trade in royalty-free music."
"Magnatune, in Berkeley, California, is one such response. Launched in April 2003, Magnatune is a cross between a music label and an online radio station. It obtains its songs by negotiating directly with musicians to license their music. The service then allows Internet users to listen to streamed versions of any songs from its catalogue for free online. Listeners who want copies of the music buy them directly from Magnatune as digital downloads, or as CDs."
CEO John Buckman said its albums for not have digital rights management controls and pricing is variable with half going directly to the artist, yielding "several thousands of dollars a year" through sales to top artists. The deals are non-exclusive, allowing artists to pursue other sources of payment and Buckman said of the CRB ruling that is "part of the major labels' death wish, and I see it as a general trend of cluelessness that does nothing but drive the music public to a new regime."
"Online licensing is a great idea," added Buckman, "but it takes a lot of traditional effort and sweat to get people interested in your music and paying you licensing money for it."
David Oxenford, a partner at Davis Wright Tremaine, which represented small webcasters in the recent negotiations with the CRB, said the purpose behind the Digital Millennium Copyright Act "was to set up a statutory royalty because Congress recognized how hard it would be for any Internet radio operation to negotiate with every copyright holder for a piece of music. Now, with the royalties, the only way to operate is to do what Congress thought they couldn't do -- go after every major independent unsigned band."
And of competitor Pandora, potentially liable to be driven out of business by the new rates, he said, "Pandora is a great service, but they're at the mercy of some spectacularly nasty, greedy and clueless people in the music industry and government. I wouldn't want to be in their shoes. With new restrictions, subject to the whims of the major labels or the government officials, an entrepreneur's needs don't factor highly in these decisions. Guess who has the most lobbyists? The major labels, not Pandora."
RNW comment: We tend to agree with the go-it-alone approach and in that sense only rather hope Sound Exchange wins the battle to require payment for over-the-air broadcast by terrestrial radio stations, historically not required in the US because of the promotional value that broadcasts provided.
Were that to happen there are quite a few larger broadcasters who might well have an interest in also setting up their own direct-deals with artists and the logic would surely be to support a co-operative venture of broadcasters and streaming organizations to form their own recording organization -after all Starbucks has managed to sign up Paul McCartney for its "Hear Music" label - with a suitable simple range of deals and cut out the big recording companies completely.
On then to listening suggestions and first BBC Radio 2 and the fifth and final part of the "In Search of the Perfect Pop Song" that airs tomorrow at 20:30 GMT.
Then drama and BBC Radio 3 with "The Wire" at 20:30 GMT next Saturday when a new series begins with "The Incomplete Recorded Works of a Dead Body" (See below) and also "The Saturday Play" from BBC Radio 4 last week - "Slavery: the Making of " a fictional creative process to see what goes on when an illustrious group of actors and a radio producer grapple with the problem of how to re-enact stories about the slave trade.
The theme of slavery was also in last week's "Friday Play" on Radio 4 - "The Dinner Party" by Winsome Pinnock whilst next week's "Saturday Play" at 13:30 GMT imagines what might have happened if the young Adolf Hitler's father had followed the village doctor's recommendation and taken him to see Sigmund Freud.
And for a final drama suggestion, next Sunday BBC Radio 3 's "Drama on 3" at 19:00 GMT is Karel Capek's "War with The Newts", a satire from the 1930s on the dangers of runaway technology, militarism, and greed dramatised by George Poles.
It's followed at 20:30 GMT by the "Sunday Feature" - "Riches from Freetown" in which Kwame Kwei Armah makes an emotional journey through Freetown, in Sierra Leone, to discover how the slave trade has influenced a generation of writers and if the memory of it is still alive in a country that has passed through colonial independence and bloody civil war.
And as a final "Slave Trade" suggestion, today at 10:00 GMT BBC Radio 4 has "Trade Roots: Arts and Culture", the first of three programmes in which Michael Buerk marks the bicentenary of the Slave Trade Act with an investigation into the links to slavery of key British institutions including The National Gallery, All Souls' College in Oxford, and the Church of England (The remaining programmes are at the same time on Tuesday and Wednesday).
Back to copyright and for a short while last Tuesday's "Book Show" from the Australian Broadcasting Corporation will still be available as an MP3: It deals with the debate about copyright - seen by some as an evil - in 19th century America where the first International Copyright Act was not passed until 1891 following pressures from authors such as Charles Dickens - who wasn't getting a dime as foreign authors had no protection in the US - and Mark Twain, who along with other American authors suffered because the works of foreign authors, carrying no copyright, were cheaper.
Also from the Book Show - daily, so MP3s are there only for a week - on Wednesday (Also on the Sunday selection from the show but that is only a stream ) we suggest "The 'Song of songs': eroticism in the Bible", a suitable cue for the next suggestion, which is last Saturday's "Vox Humana" from Radio Netherlands. This was a feature "Treasure on Earth" from Kofi Owusu of Joy FM in Accra (It's part of the international documentary series Global Perspective 2007 focusing on the theme: Belief) concerning the "Prosperity Gospel" that seems to preach that God will make you rich but first you must give generously to your church. Listening to some of the clergy it's not difficult to think of religion, especially where there is an emphasis on acceptance of authority and obedience, as a terrific cover for crooks, especially if the preacher has charisma. Maybe Sirius and XM should hire some of them to sell their merger plan to Congress?
Also from Radio Netherlands this week we'd suggest Sunday's "Amsterdam Forum", which looked at how far religion shapes America's approach to the world and features an interview by Chris Klijne of Dutch broadcaster VPRO with former US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, who has changed her former views on separation of foreign affairs and religion as outlined in her book "The Mighty and the Almighty: Reflections on America, God and World Affairs."
Not as charismatic as some of the preachers in the Vox Humana report but rather more thoughtful in the degree to which she recognized the reality of the link and problems it can cause - as in Jerusalem being "given by God" to both Jews and Moslems - as well as pros.
She's quite perceptive on President George Bush's religious utterances and the war on Iraq - and the "uni-dimensional" approach of his administration - and even more so about her suggestion of "religious advisors" for the Secretary of State to warn them of the importance of various features of and events in different religions.
Later this week the station in "Documentary" on Wednesday in "The Quest for Mechanical Man" looks at how expectation of machines has changed and in particular questions concerning robots as potentially learning-capable and able to be considered as slaves or friends including asking what people learn about themselves - and God - when building robots.
And a final selection from today in "Research File", which considers global health issues from the perspective of four people who are involved in areas that often gain little attention such as rejuvenating old treatments for neglected illnesses finding practical solutions to a range of health problems in Bangladesh; and campaigning for a more environmentally friendly healthcare industry.
And for a final health-related item back to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation with this week's "Health Report", which looked at the female organism (anti-histamines apparently dry up the vagina and prevent orgasm and there will be no female equivalent of Viagra) and "All in the Mind", which looked at how people born blind experience their "seeing mind" and are helping scientists examine the perceptions of a brain rigidly hard-wired for vision.
Then back to BBC Radio 4 and another mental experience, the timed examination which is the subject of "Turn Over Your Papers ... Now!" - an examination by John O'Farrell of the history of exams and our relationship with them.
Finally relief from the above and we suggest the various comedy shows on BBC Radio's 2 and 4 this week - including "The Green Guide to Life " at noon GMT on Saturday on Radio 2; and from Radio 4 - "Dick Gregory Live" (17:30GMT) and "Mitch Benn's Crimes against Music" (22:00 GMT) tomorrow; "Count Arthur Strong's Radio Show!" (10:30 GMT), "The Hollow Men" (17:30 GMT) and "28 Acts in 28 Minutes" (22:00 GMT) on Wednesday; plus "The Now Show" at 17:30 GMT on Friday.
Salon - Roberts:
San Francisco Chronicle - Fong-Torres:
2007-03-26: UK Channel 4's bid for a new national digital multiplex, applications for which have to be in on Wednesday, is to be centred on on-demand offerings according to the UK Sunday Telegraph, which says the move would put radio in the "same territory as pay TV where BSkyB and Virgin Media already offer their customers the technology to select and store programmes for later viewing."
The paper says on-demand content that would be shown as a selection on digital radios and some mobile phones is likely to include business news bulletins, children's shows and audio books with listeners being able to purchase and store material that could then be transferred to computers or digital music players. The bid will also include a number of live channels including an Emap offering named after its weekly celebrity gossip publication "Closer".
The technology for the download services has been developed by UBC Media, a partner in the bid, and, says the paper, it will allow a doubling to 16 of the channels that can be transmitted compared to the GCap Media/Arqiva owned Digital One national commercial multiplex.
Trials conducted last year of the service, which allows instant purchase of music tracks as they are broadcast , showed that Britons appear prepared to spend significantly more than previously anticipated on downloads to mobile phones according to UBC (See RNW Sep 8, 2006).
The paper also reports that Emap is considering a sale of its stations in Ireland, acquired when I took over Scottish Radio Holdings, with a price tag of around GBP 50 million (USD 100 million) plus. It notes that potential purchasers would include UTV, already the largest radio group in Ireland.
Previous Channel 4:
Previous Digital One:
UK Sunday Telegraph report:
2007-03-26: US comedian cum pundit Dennis Miller moves into national syndicated radio in a substantial way today with the launch of the weekday 3-hour "Dennis Miller Show" on more than 80 stations including seven of the top markets.
The show will be broadcast live from New York in its first week with inaugural guests slated to include former New York mayor and current Presidential hopeful Rudy Giuliani - whom Miller has said he will back for President in 2008 - and comedian Dana Carvey.
Amongst companies that have signed up the main one is Salem, which will air the show in nine markets including Chicago, Dallas, Detroit, Los Angeles and Philadelphia. Salem COO Joe Davis described Miller as a "self-proclaimed 9-11 conservative with an engaging style and a quick wit that our listeners will appreciate."
"He is an entertainer, he is smart, and he understands politics and current affairs," added Davis. "He fits well with our other talk personalities, and he will bring a fresh perspective and new vigour to news talk on Salem stations."
Westwood One, which is producing and syndicating the show, is also re-launching Dennis Miller's official web site to coincide with the launch of the radio show, describing it as a "fully interactive digital space offering a host of digital features to support the show, including: premium services, live streams; hands on fan interaction through listener blogs; exclusive audio content and podcasts to download; and more" and a feature that will "present advertisers and affiliates with increased opportunity over multiple platforms."
Previous Westwood One:
2007-03-26: BBC Radio 3 next Saturday launches a new season of its "The Wire" programme with "The Incomplete Recorded Works Of A Dead Body" by Ed Hime, a play set in London that explores the themes of decay, aspiration, noise and loneliness through the character of Babak, a reclusive Iranian sound artist who comes to London in search of Simone, a cellist he met in Beirut.
It is the first play for Hime, one of the new writers who took part in the "Royal Court 50" mentoring scheme set up by the Royal Court Theatre and the BBC to mark the 50th Anniversary of the English Stage Company, which is headquartered at trhe theatre..
The series showcases best contemporary writing for radio and the new season will also include "My Glass Body", written and directed by Anna Furse, drawing on her own experiences of infertility; "Eye Witness", an insight into the IRA hunger strikes in the Eighties by Tom Kelly, who came to radio drama in 2001 through the BBC's SPARKS initiative to bring in the best new talent from other media, ; and "Bully Boy", a darkly comic look at modern parenting by Oxford-born actor Toby Jones whose recent work includes the movie "Infamous" and theatre-maker Tom Morris, best known recently for his work on "Jerry Springer The Opera."
It also has two further first plays for radio - "Wes Bell" , a darkly comic love story from film writer Matthew Broughton and "I Can See You" - a story by Sarah Lee about self-loathing by a character of mixed race not black enough to be black, not white enough to be white.
2007-03-25: Last week the main regulatory news was undoubtedly from the US where the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) indulged itself in tidying up a number of matters including setting final rules for digital radio in the US; approving the Citadel purchase of 24 ABC stations subject to 11 disposals; and moving forward on new or improved non-commercial educational FMs in 76 communities as well as decisions regarding broadband and other matters: Elsewhere in comparison was fairly routine.
There were no radio announcements from Australia but in Canada the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) was involved in a steady flow of radio-related work that included the following (In order of province):
*Approval of application by Bear Creek Broadcasting Ltd. to relocate the transmitter and increase the antenna height for its Classic Rock/Classic Hits FM in Grande Prairie approved in November last year. The originally authorized transmitter site is owned by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and is old and possibly unable to withstand addition of a new antenna so Bear Creek made an agreement to use a tower owned by the Jim Pattison Broadcast Group.
*Approval of application for frequency change and power increase from 50 watts to 250 watts for new community-based campus radio station CFMH-FM, Saint John, approved in May 2000. The licensee said it made the proposals in response to interference from Newcap's new station CFRK-FM, Fredericton. The power increase would change the service status from a low-power unprotected service to a regular Class A FM service.
*Approval of application by the Fondation Radio Enfant du Canada for a new 1,000 watts day and night French-language, Type B community AM in Gatineau and Ottawa. The new station's programming will target children from 4 to 18 years of age and will be by and for young people and will reflect specific educational objectives drawn from school programmes.
*Application by Aboriginal Voices Radio Inc., licensee of CKAV-FM, Toronto, for authority to use a subsidiary communications multiplex operations (SCMO) channel to broadcast a predominantly Tamil-language radio service.
*Approval of conversion of CHUM Limited's CKPT-AM, Peterborough, .to a 5,700 watts FM that will continue to offer a "soft oldies" format. The application had been opposed by low-power, unprotected Christian music service CKKK-FM, which will have to change frequencies and Pineridge Broadcasting Inc. Comments were also made about the competitive nature of the market by Corus. In a separate public notice, the deadline for comments on which is April 27, the Commission posted an application by King's Kids Promotions Outreach Ministries Incorporated for a frequency change and power increase from 50 watts to 230 watts for CKKK..
*Approval in part of an application for a new 6,000 watts French-language pop rock commercial FM in Saguenay. The applicant now has to find an alternative frequency to the one it had proposed.
It has also approved various transfers of station owned by HUM within the group as part of corporate reorganization.
The CRTC also posted a public notice with a deadline for submission of interventions or comments of April 25 that included an application by CJNE FM Radio Inc to add a 45 watts FM transmitter at Tisdale to broadcast the programming of CJNE-FM, Nipawin, both in Saskatchewan.
In contrast to Canada, Ireland was quiet with just one radio-related announcement from the Broadcasting Commission of Ireland (BCI) - that of a public hearing, to be held tomorrow in Dublin concerning applications for a new quasi-national Christian and religious AM. Applications to be considered are from Spirit Radio and Yes Radio.
In the UK, Ofcom has confirmed that Community Audio Distribution Services (CADS) no longer need a licence and has also posted reasons behind its awards of seven new community licences earlier this month (See Licence News Mar 18).
It also posted its Public Service Broadcasting: Annual Report 2007, the first in a planned series of such reports comprising factual accounts of broadcast hours, viewing figures and audience opinions of the channels (a 764 KB 154-page PDF):We noted not a single mention of the word "radio" in the entire report.).
In the US, as already noted, the Federal Communications Commission (CC) had a tidying up session during the week in which it approved final HD Radio regulations and also approved Citadel's purchase of 24 ABC Radio stations (See RNW Mar 23).
It also issued an order evaluating some 200 applications for new or modified non-commercial educational (NCE) FM station construction permits, comprising 76 "closed" applicant groups (i.e., groups of mutually exclusive applications against which competing applications no longer may be filed), by awarding "points" to each applicant pursuant to the Commission's NCE point system.
Tentative winners or tied winners are identified and the commission will issue public notices establishing deadlines for the filing of such petitions against the various tentative selectees and also will issue a public notice announcing the dates for a fall 2007 NCE FM window.
It also proposed penalties totalling just above USD 50,000 for various breaches and late filing of licence renewal applications (See below):
Previous Licence News:
BCI web site:
CRTC web site:
FCC web site:
Ofcom web site:
2007-03-25: Boston University-owned Boston public broadcaster WBUR-FM has announced agreement to sell Rhode Island station WRNI-FM to non-profit Rhode Island Public Radio (RIPR) for USD 2 million, a deal it says will fulfil "its commitment to secure the future of public radio in the Ocean State."
RIPR is also to buy 1950 watts jazz station WAKX- FM in Narragansett from Davidson Media Carolinas Stations in a deal to be financed with a loan from The Rhode Island Foundation, thus expanding its stations' cover to nearly all of southern Rhode Island. It has not announced the purchase price but says the acquisition is expected to be completed within 60 days.
The purchases, subject to state and federal regulatory approvals, will give Rhode Island its first-ever locally owned and operated National Public Radio (NPR) network and RIPR President Eugene Mihaly said the "historic agreement ensures that Rhode Islanders will control the destiny of this important media outlet," adding, "Local NPR stations are the crown jewels of communities across the country. RIPR is thrilled to bring WRNI home."
Boston University, which has invested some USD 3.6 million in its Rhode Island public radio operation since 1998, will receive its USD 2 million over a 10-year period and will continue to provide programming and engineering support to the operator for five years.
WBUR Group General Manager Paul La Camera said of the sale, "Our goal and belief is that public radio in Rhode Island is best served by local ownership and control. This agreement creates that opportunity, and from my perspective, it provides the best of both worlds: The people of Rhode Island own and direct the future of their public radio station while allowing us to provide continuing support through what will be some formative, but exciting years."
He added that once WAKX is on the air throughout the region WBUR will also sell WXNI, 1230 AM, the Westerly-based station which currently carries WRNI programming but will no longer be needed: The proceeds of that sale will be credited towards the USD 2 million RIPR is paying for WRNI.
WRNI General Manager Joe O'Connor, who has been asked to remain in his post, said he appreciated the strong support of Boston University, The Rhode Island Foundation, and the Board of Rhode Island Public Radio and added, "I must also thank the growing number of listeners and the dedicated WRNI staff who have contributed significantly to the station since its inception. Once the purchase and approval are complete, RIPR will need to sustain this exciting community resource. I'm confident we Rhode Islanders will enthusiastically support these stations that are uniquely and now truly Rhode Island's NPR stations. "
Rhode Island Foundation president and CEO Ronald V. Gallo said the foundation had been a "staunch supporter of the effort to create a locally directed and controlled NPR station since WRNI arrived in Rhode Island" adding, "The establishment of Rhode Island Public Radio assures the development of local programs bringing fresh perspectives to the tough challenges facing our communities, and connecting Rhode Islanders from Westerly to Woonsocket. We are delighted to be a partner in this important venture."
WBUR announced that in September 2004 that it was to sell the Rhode Island stations (See RNW Sep 20, 2004), an announcement that angered donors, particularly concerned over comments by then WBUR-FM General Manager Jane Christo that although she hoped a Rhode Islanders' group will be able to buy the station and keep it going as a National Public Radio station but did not rule out a sale to a commercial broadcaster.
The announcement was followed by scrutiny of Christo's actions in her post and she resigned in October (See RNW Oct 10, 2004).
2007-03-25: The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has proposed penalties of USD 51,000 but renewed licences of a number of stations that had been involved in violations or failed to file renewal applications on time. In descending order of amount the penalties proposed are:
*USD 10,000 Notice of Apparent Liability for Forfeiture (NAL) for public file rule violations along with licence renewal to WPW Broadcasting, Inc., licensee of WLBK-AM, DeKalb, Illinois.
*USD 7,000 NALs along with licence renewal for failure to file a licence renewal on time and operating after its licence had expired to:
Big Sky Owners Association, Inc., licensee of FM Translator Station K257AE, West Fork, Montana.
Faith Bible College, Inc., licensee of WTGF-FM, Milton, Florida.
Metz, Inc., licensee of WTCL-AM, Chattahoochee, Florida.
Newman Media, Inc., licensee of WDSR-AM, Lake City, Florida.
The Master's Mission, licensee of FM Translator Station W212AB, Robbinsville, North Carolina.
*USD 1,500 NALs along with licence renewal for failure to file a licence renewal on time
Robert C. Blakes Enterprises, Inc., licensee of KKNO-AM, Gretna, Louisiana.
The Florida Institute of Technology, licensee of WFIT-FM, Melbourne, Florida.
Mississippi Valley State University, licensee of WVSD-FM, Itta Bena, Mississippi.
John P. Reynolds, licensee of FM Translator Station W266AC, Blairsville, Georgia.
The FCC also dismissed a petition from Radio 780, previous permittee of unbuilt and cancelled Station WREY-AM, Mulberry, Florida, that sought reconsideration of a decision to deny its request to toll the station's construction deadline. The permit was originally granted with a construction deadline of May 1998, subsequently extended to December 2000 and ultimately to December 5, 2004. Two days after this, Radio 780 requested additional time to construct but this had been denied.
2007-03-24: The proposed Sirius-XM merger is now bringing out a rush of adverts and comments that quote the opposing side in favour of a particular point of view.
Latest is a filing by Sirius and XM to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) that turns the Federal Communications Commission final rules for HD radio to its own service, commenting, "The FCC decision underlines that HD radio on the AM/FM bands provide a real alternative to satellite, and that the current audio entertainment market is broad, robust and competitive. The decision will raise competition to a new level by stimulating the growth in HD radio stations (now 1200), enhancing its offerings to consumers and establishing a process for free radio to offer a paid subscription service for the first time."
Meanwhile National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) president and CEO David Rehr has again written to FCC chairman Kevin J. Martin to re-iterate arguments against the merger and in particular the need for competition in the satellite radio market.
Proving the old adage that "needs must when the devil drives", Rehr writes that "competition between two satellite radio providers has served consumers well. Each provider has differentiated itself with unique programming and equipment offerings", the first remark we have seen from NAB remotely complimentary to anything about satellite radio.
He then goes on add that "the loss of competition will halt further innovations in satellite radio service and technology to the detriment of the public" and will also "reduce consumer choice."
Rehr also says that the "merged entity will control all of the spectrum now allocated for satellite radio in the United States and coordinated internationally for such use, thereby barring any meaningful competitive entry within the foreseeable future" and says that the two satellite companies do not need to merge to offer unbundled programming or reduce their fees.
And in a lawsuit against XM filed by the National Music Publishers' Association (NMPA), claiming copyright infringement through offering an "XM+MP3" service that allows subscribers to record and store individual songs.
NMPA notes that in a similar lawsuit launched against XM by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) a federal judge had rejected XM's claim that its service was immune from copyright law under the Audio Home Recording Act and is seeking the maximum USD 150,000 in statutory damages for each work where it says XM has infringed copyright and list more than 175 songs in the filing , (which along would give rise to damages of USD 26.25 million but many thousands more would , we are sure, be found were the suit to succeed) terming then a "small fraction" of the songs being distributed by XM to the service, which it says is an unlawful download service that competes with legitimate download services such as iTunes
In support of its case NMPA quotes from the XM Consumer Electronics Show 2006 Product Guide such phrases as, "the "Ultimate Music Experience" [that] "delivers new music to you everyday and lets you choose tracks to create your own custom playlists" and says that these belie XM's defence that it is functioning only as a "radio broadcaster." It also quotes user guides concerning recording "blocks" of programming that can then be searched using XM-supplied digital song identification data to find material by song title, artist, or other criteria to decide which to retain and says that this means subscribers can thus use XM's service to create their individual music libraries without listening to a radio show at all.
NMPA also notes XM's "boasts" that its subscribers can mix material recorded from XM with their own MP3s and CDs and says that in its arguments in favour of the merger with Sirius XM has emphasized that it competes in part with digital music download services.
The suit as well as damages, relating to which it offers the alternative of "at Plaintiff's election, actual damages and XM's profits derived from operating its illicit service" is seeking a permanent injunction to prevent XM from using NMPA copyrighted works in the "XM+MP3" service.
Debra Wong Yang of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP, the lead attorney on the case and the former U.S. Attorney for Los Angeles, says of XM's actions that it has "been profiting at the expense of others" and adds, "The XM + MP3 service constitutes pervasive and wilful copyright infringement to the overwhelming detriment of copyright holders, legitimate online music services and, ultimately, consumers."
NMPA lawsuit (154kb 48 page PDF):
2007-03-24: BBC Radio 2 is the latest of the Corporation's national stations to announce a rev-vamp of its line-up starting on April 16.
The new line-up sees specialist shows moved to earlier and later slots to make way for a new show co-hosted by Mark Radcliffe and with Stuart Maconie and running from 20:00 to 22:00: Radcliffe's current show airing at 22:30 for 90 minutes is subsumed into the new show.
The change sees Mike Harding's folk show and Paul Jones' rhythm and blues show - which currently air at 20:00 GMT on Wednesdays and Thursdays respectively - move forward an hour to start at 19:00 whilst Humphrey Lyttelton's Monday show will move to the later time of 22:30 GMT as will the reggae and alternative 60's shows that air on Wednesdays and Thursdays.
Also moving later are the station's ad-hoc music documentaries, which in future will air at 22:30 on Tuesdays and 23:00 on Wednesdays and Thursdays, and Janice Long's nightly show, which will start half-an-later at 00:30
Staying put is Bob Harris's country show that will continues to air at 19:00 GMT on Thursdays
BBC Radio 2 controller Lesley Douglas said Humphrey Lyttelton's decision to cut back on the number of shows he hosts had prompted her to take a "fresh look at the schedule" and she said of the changes, "I am delighted to be able to give both folk and rhythm & blues earlier slots, giving both vibrant genres a high profile. Mike Harding and Paul Jones brilliantly reflect their respective music scenes.
"Country music remains high on the network's agenda - with Bob Harris's regular country show complemented by Nick Barraclough's new specials which will give a platform to the breadth of country artists.
2007-03-24: The Jersey Guys (Craig Carton and Ray Rossi), who in the past have gained notoriety for comments they have made on their morning show on Millennium's WKXW-FM attacking various minorities and also about the wife of the acting New Jersey Governor who had suffered from postpartum depression, are back in the local headlines again, this time for a campaign they are running relating to illegal immigration.
Various Hispanic groups say the campaign, ostensibly a call to turn in illegal immigrants, is in fact anti-Hispanic and they are to call on sponsors of the duo's show to sever their ties to the show unless there is an apology.
The hosts, reports New Jersey.com, responded by saying on their show that they would not apologize or end the campaign, "La Cucha Gotcha", which is due to run to May 5, the Mexican "Cinco de Mayo" holiday: They also said that the campaign has led to the arrests of more than 300 illegal immigrants in the state although the site says immigration officials say that more than half the 363 arrests for illegal immigration this year took place in January whilst the campaign began in February.
"I will not apologize to any community," Carton said. "We never said you can equate illegal immigration with Hispanics" and he then added that the facts are that [most] illegal immigrants are Hispanics."
State Assemblyman Wilfredo Caraballo, (Democrat. Essex) said that the anti-Hispanic bias was clear and added, "They claim the issue is illegal immigration, but they set out to offend Hispanics because they don't think we stand up for ourselves. They say the campaign is not anti-Hispanic, but when they talk about the campaign they play Mexican music, they gave this campaign a Spanish name and they're ending it on a Mexican holiday."
New Jersey.com report:
2007-03-23: Final rules for iBiquity's in-band on-channel (IBOC) HD digital radio system have now been approved by the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC), giving the go-ahead for stations to set up FM side-channels without needing prior approval by the agency and also allowing night-time AM HD transmissions rather than only daytime transmissions as at present.
The rules apply to FM translators, booster transmitters and low-power FM stations where technically feasible as well as full-power stations and all five commissioners voted in favour and issued statements although both Democrat Commissioners dissented in part.
The move was welcomed by iBiquity Digital and the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) with iBiquity president and CEO Bob Struble saying in a statement that the decision "reinforces the Commission's support for the HD Radio system and provides automakers, broadcasters, receiver manufacturers and retailers with the certainty of formal adoption of critical HD Radio services."
"We anticipate," he added, "this action will also prompt a surge of activity from companies in each of these industries as they look to capitalize on the continuing momentum of the HD Radio rollout."
For the NAB, President and CEO David K. Rehr said in a statement, "NAB applauds Chairman Martin and his FCC colleagues for taking a significant step today in advancing the already budding HD Radio technology."
He added, "As HD Radio expands across America, we are hopeful the Commission recognizes the unique role played by local radio and the considerable public service contributions voluntarily made by stations within their communities."
In it approval announcement the FCC [in language that we consider rather too close to an iBiquity promo than a straight announcement by a regulator approving a technological development} said, "In October 2002, the FCC selected IBOC as the technology enabling AM and FM radio broadcast stations to begin digital operations. IBOC is a method of transmitting near-CD quality audio signals to radio receivers along with new data services such as station, song and artist identification, stock and news information, as well as local traffic and weather bulletins. With IBOC, a radio station is also capable of splitting its digital channel so that it may broadcast multiple streams of digital audio programming. Importantly, IBOC allows broadcasters to use their current radio spectrum to transmit AM and FM analogue signals simultaneously with new digital signals."
The FCC order does not mandate conversion to HD but does require stations that broadcast in HD to "simulcast a digital signal of at least comparable audio quality to its analogue signal"; allows FM stations to set up side-channel transmissions; allows them to transmit multiple audio and data services at their discretion; allows time brokerage of unused digital bandwidth to third parties subject to some regulatory requirements; applies "existing programming and operational statutory and regulatory requirements to all free DAB programming streams; authorizes night-time AM HD; and dismisses several petitions asking it to reconsider the adoption of iBiquity's in-band on-channel (IBOC) system as the technology for digital audio broadcasts in the Us. It also seeks comment on "appropriate limits to the amount of subscription services that may be offered by radio stations" and on whether it "should adopt any new public interest requirements for digital audio broadcasters."
In his statement on the decision FCC chairman Kevin J. Martin says it will "promote radio's transition from the analogue world to the digital one" and allow the opportunity to multicast and enable "stations to provide a greater amount and greater variety of free programming to consumers."
He also notes that digital stations will be subject to the same "public interest obligations" as analogue ones including requirements to "air programming about the significant issues facing their local communities, provide emergency alerts and make emergency information accessible to those with disabilities, and follow extensive requirements governing political advertising" and said he was pleased that the Commission's "Second Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking" sought comment on "whether we should adopt any new public interest requirements for digital audio broadcasters."
His fellow Republican Commissioners Robert M. McDowell and Deborah Taylor Tate both welcomed the move, with McDowell calling it a "historic Order for the FCC and for America" that "provides both the regulatory certainty and the flexibility that the broadcasting industry needs to expedite the transition to digital radio and to provide higher quality audio, diverse programming and innovative data services to the public on free, over-the-air stations."
McDowell mentioned a year's delay while the Commission "debated whether to foist additional regulations on this budding technology" and offered "heartfelt thanks" to broadcasters who "knew better than to wait for the government."
Among the latter he made specific mention of WAMU's broadcasts of Adult Album Alternative (AAA) programming of publicly-funded WTMD in Towson, MD, on its second digital channel and of a full-time bluegrass service on its third channel.
He also in a dig at his Democratic colleagues commented that he guessed that his "dissenting colleagues will be pleasantly surprised" by the way in which multicasts serve the public interest.
Tate welcomed the decision to "allow the market to determine the pace of the transition and the stations to determine how to use their digital bandwidth."
Adelstein in his comment spoke of the pressures on terrestrial radio from other audio platforms and said the transition to digital "will undoubtedly create many new and exciting opportunities for the radio broadcasting industry and for the listening public."
He added however that he could not fully support the approval because it is "another missed opportunity for Commission to promote diversity, another dream deferred" and added "After years of ignoring the issue, punting the question, and delaying a constructive dialogue to develop meaningful solutions, it is really disappointing that the Commission has once again failed to step up to the plate. There is no justification for the Commission's outright refusal to 'encourage digital audio broadcasters to enter into time brokerage agreements with women and minority broadcasters or new entrants.' It is not asking a lot for us to simply encourage positive action, but apparently it was too much for a majority of the Commission."
"By specifically refusing to encourage commercial radio broadcasters to enter into time brokerage agreements with 'women and minorities,''", said Adelstein, "the Commission has failed to live up to its charter to promote diversity of sources." He also criticized the second further notice saying he found it "unacceptable that, in the Second Further Notice portion of today's item, the Commission is unwilling to ask general and open questions how the 'public interest, convenience and necessity' can best be served by radio broadcasters in the digital age."
In similar vein Copps welcomed the move to digital, saying "there is a lot here to be happy about" but also said that "by adopting a blanket authorization for all digital radio, this decision confers a free pass on others [than "those making creative and local use of their spectrum dividend"]to take their spectrum, bypass local communities and run more of the canned and nationalized programming that is all too common on our consolidated analogue system today and which is, truth be told, responsible for many of broadcast radio's current problems. "
He added, "So I am disappointed that we move ahead without answering important questions about how this spectrum-spectrum that belongs to the people-will be used to benefit local communities. The item sidesteps what I believe is a fundamental responsibility of the Commission: to determine what the public interest means in the digital age."
2007-03-23: Red Zebra Broadcasting, founded last year by Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder, has named ESPN Radio General Manager Bruce Gilbert, who first went on air as a 14 year old at WNBF-AM in Binghamton, as its CEO to replace former Clear Channel executive Bennett Zier who announced his resignation on Wednesday.
Gilbert got his first programming job at 22 and before joining ESPN in 2003 was Director of Programming for Susquehanna's four stations in Dallas/Fort Worth.
Zier had said he was "considering "opportunities on a broader scale" according to the Washington Business Journal. He declined to discuss his plans further but added that although he had mixed emotions about leaving there was no friction with Snyder who he considered "a friend and a mentor" and adding that he was "proud to have been instrumental in the launch of what I believe will become a force in sports broadcasting."
The company now has five stations - three in the Washington DC area and the others in Richmond and Norfolk-Virginia Beach but the Washington Post says the Washington area stations collectively only have an audience share under 1%, around the same that they had when broadcasting Spanish oldies and regional Mexican music before Red Zebra bought them from Mega Communications (See RNW Jul 18, 2006). A later deal with Bonneville to purchase then classical station WGMS-FM - subsequently switched to a pop music format - fell through because Snyder was not willing to pay the asking price.
In a statement released by Red Zebra, which still listed Zier as CEO on its web site when we checked, Gilbert says, "Red Zebra offers an extremely unique opportunity to get back into the exciting world of local radio, where I spent 26 years before joining ESPN. While many ill-informed pundits have recently painted radio as old and dead, I know radio works and Im excited to join the Red Zebra team so that we can collectively make radio relevant to our listeners and valuable to our advertisers."
Previous Red Zebra:
Washington Business Journal report:
Washington Post report:
2007-03-23: The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has given the go-ahead for Citadel's USD 2.7 billion acquisition of 24 ABC radio stations subject to disposal of 11 stations in markets where the deal would take it above current ownership limits.
The deal was approved by all five commissioners and Democrats Jonathan S. Adelstein and Michael J. Copps, each of whom had been expressing concerns about the deal, issued statements concerning their approval.
Adelstein said he now supported the deal "because, in certain important respects, it addresses broadcast media issues about which I have been very concerned" and went on to note Citadel's agreement in principle to "settle our ongoing investigation into alleged pay-for-play practices" and its "commitment to comply with our media ownership rules and to make special efforts to increase diversity of ownership."
"One of the positive results of this merger," he continued, "is that Citadel is losing its grandfathering rights with respect to eleven stations in seven markets in which its attributable radio interests exceed our local radio ownership limits Equally important, Citadel is committed to taking positive steps to seek qualified women and minority purchasers. While the Commission has yet to recognize "socially and economically disadvantaged businesses" as regulatory classification, I am encouraged that members of the broadcasting community, such as Citadel, are aware of the lack of women and minority ownership of broadcast properties and are taking active steps to address the problem."
In his statement Copps said that although he is "always troubled by the effects on our media environment of allowing a large media conglomerate to acquire even more stations, I believe this transaction is narrowly-quite narrowly-in the public interest because ABC's and Citadel's holdings do not overlap in any local market and, most important, because Citadel must divest the 11 stations that it owns in excess of our local ownership limits."
"An important element in my approval of this item," he added, "is that Citadel does not retain ownership of the 11 stations while it searches for a buyer, but rather must transfer ownership immediately to a trust with a legal duty to sell them. Additionally, we strongly encourage the trust to seek bids from "eligible entities," as that term is defined by the Small Business Administration, including businesses often owned by women and minorities. "
2007-03-22: Radio One Inc. has reported fourth quarter results, which it stresses are unaudited and subject to change, showing net broadcast revenues and operating income for the final quarter of 2006 each down 2% on a year earlier at USD 89.2 million and USD 29.4 million; station operating income and adjusted EBITDA each down 9% to USD 39.7 million and USD 33.5 million respectively; and a net loss to common shareholders of USD 22.9 million ( 23 cents a share): The last compares to reported net profit to common shareholders of USD 9.5 million ( 10 cents per diluted share) for the final quarter of 2005 - a figure that was down 30% from 2004.
The company put the revenue fall down primarily to a "significant decline" in Los Angeles, partly offset by its performance in Baltimore, Cincinnati, Louisville and St. Louis, and also to the fall in broadcast revenue for Reach Media, primarily down to discontinuation in September last year of the Tom Joyner television show.
Radio One has also noted that the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is conducting an informal inquiry and has requested documents related to its review of stock option accounting (See RNW Mar 18) and that the NASDAQ Stock Market has written to it to say that it is not in compliance with NASDAQ Regulations because it did not file its Annual Report by the due date. Relating to the latter the company has filed for a hearing before NASDAQ's Listing Qualifications Panel (the "Panel") to review the determination and request an exception, an action that stays suspension and delisting pending a determination by the panel.
For the full year, Radio One says its net broadcast revenue was down marginally from USD 368.5 million to USD 367 million; operating income was down 14.3% to USD 122.8 million; that it made a net loss from continuing operations of USD 14.1 million compared to net income of USD 51 million in 2005 and an overall net loss of USD 4.1 million compared to net income of USD 50.5 million in 2005 with net loss applicable to common shareholders of the same amount compared to net income of USD 47.8 million for 2005 ( a net loss of 4 cents applicable to common shareholders of 4 cents per share compared to net income of 46 cents for 2005).
President and CEO Alfred C. Liggins, III, said the company's problems were all down to its Los Angeles operations, commenting, "This was another soft quarter for the radio industry and while Radio One underperformed the industry, our problems are truly isolated to one market - Los Angeles."
"Given the significant changes we implemented at our LA station late last year, "he continued, "I am confident that that market will be a growth driver for us in the not too distant future. The early research is very positive and we have a great team in place out there. Overall, I am optimistic that, in the back half of 2007, we will have an opportunity to resume our historical out-performance of the radio industry."
Previous Radio One Inc.:
2007-03-22: Sirius and XM Satellite Radio have now formally applied to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for permission to go ahead with their merger, plans for which were announced a month ago (See RNW Feb 20).
The application -for a transfer of licences but making no mention of the prohibition of a merger that was made when the two licences were originally granted in 1997 - outlines the structure of the deal as "a merger agreement under which a wholly owned subsidiary of Sirius, Vernon Merger Corporation, will be merged with and into XM, with XM being the surviving entity of this subsidiary merger. The combined company will be controlled by a new Board of Directors, selected by both Sirius and XM, and its equity ownership will be represented equally by former shareholders of XM and Sirius prior to the merger."
It then goes on to promote the benefits of the merger in terms that Sirius CEO Mel Karmazin has testified about publicly, saying it will "generate substantial, merger-specific public interest benefits" and enumerating amongst them the ability to "provide consumers programming choices on a more à la carte basis at lower prices" and to allow customers to "to block adult-themed channels and receive a price credit for those channels."
"Subscribers," it says, "could continue to use their existing radios or eventually purchase new radios capable of receiving all of the content of both services when they become available" and it says in the long term the merger will "help increase programming diversity."
It also argues that "In an audio entertainment market already brimming with choices and value for consumers, the merger of Sirius and XM would enhance the public interest by providing more of both with no adverse effect on competition" and says satellite radio's "current 14 million subscribers pales in comparison to terrestrial radio's approximate 230 million weekly listeners."
The application then quotes comments the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) - which has been lobbying furiously against the merger - to support its contention, saying, "As the National Association of Broadcasters ("NAB") explained to the Commission just two months ago, 'there can be no reasonable doubt that the current media marketplace is robustly competitive, and indeed exploding at the seams with consumer choices for both delivery mechanisms and content.'"
"As many parties have described to the Commission previously, consumers obtain audio entertainment using free "over-the-air" AM and FM radio, HD Radio, Internet radio, iPods and other MP3 players, cable providers' music offerings, mobile phones, and CD players, as well as satellite radio. The providers of these services-including terrestrial radio, which is by far the most dominant of the group-have conceded on multiple occasions that they compete directly with each other for consumers' attention"
It ends by arguing that the need to compete with other offerings will mean that the combined company would have to keep its services and pricing competitive, particularly as the "barriers to entry into this already dynamic market will remain low notwithstanding the proposed transaction, as demonstrated by the development of wireless networks and the availability of other spectrum bands."
RNW comment: A good spiel and in our view about as honest as NAB's lobbying. There are considerable technical differences as we have already reported between the systems and the fact that details comes from a NAB-commissioned survey (See RNW Mar 20) does not make the differences fade away.
We really cannot see any sensible business plan in the longer term in keeping two different satellite systems in operation nor indeed in keeping all the channels currently offered by each company going so we suspect that the ultimate result would be a small number of channels being offered by the combined company on one satellite system without the same competition for differentiated services that now exists.
We would also expect pressure - particularly from Karmazin - for more channels to take advertising and those that already do to take more advertising, with the only curb on this being where others offer similar services without adverts and that can only be the Internet services for whom a recent copyright ruling, if allowed to stand, is going to mean significant cost increases.
Without unreasonably restrictive conditions on a combined company that in our view would in any case be whittled away in the future, we think the argument in favour of the merger rests massively on trusting the integrity of executives like Karmazin against the lure of more personal wealth for them.
On that there are reasonable grounds for people to differ but in the end, despite quite a few messages in favour of the merger that arrived in response to our February comment, we still tend to think this would be a merger too far.
2007-03-22: Two US studies of music and radio have shown respectively that new songs increase the audience for country stations and that amongst rock fans, although Howard Stern's show makes some difference, growth in satellite radio subscriptions has stalled albeit there was good news in terms of the planned merger with more than twice as many subscribers felling positive about the idea than expressing concern about it.
The country music study was conducted by Arbitron, Coleman and Media Monitors and was conducted in the fall last year in what they term "the first in-depth look at specific issues of audience behaviour using Arbitron's Portable People Meter (PPM) technology."
They stress that the goal of the study was to "shed first light on the role of new music on country radio" and that it is important to stress that conclusions or insights "may not apply to library music."
In all they looked at 3,870 hours of PPM date over a seven-month period relating to Houston country station KILT-FM, narrowing the focus of the study to 47 new songs from an initial study of 1,017 titles and 265 artists. The audience size was calculated a minute before each song was played and then again one and two minutes into the song and in the last minute of the song.
They found, they say, that the audience grew on average by 8% with the exposure of a new song but not until the second and subsequent minutes of the song and noted that the changes were unique to specific dayparts.
The study also showed that established artists did better than new artists; up-tempo music did better than slower music albeit the latter gained some ground as listeners heard the song more; that male artists did better than female ones but only slightly so in the case of new artists; and that almost all songs performed better "after a period of "warming up" with it taking around 25 weeks for a song to hit "maximal performance."
The authors emphasize, however, that there are individual exceptions to the rule, suggesting that "each song needs to be evaluated on its own merits."
As to the reason for the increase, they suggest that the growth occurs as more people tune-in and that this outweighs any loss and regarding differences according to the sex of the performer suggest that this is because the format skews female and this may suggest women are driving a positive reaction to male artists.
They also warn that the study is very limited - of one of three country stations in one market and that there could be significant differences in other markets and regions.
RNW comment: Interesting as the study may be, we cannot see it was particularly significant in terms of any clear causal links: Some findings are what we would have expected -- fans of a performer we would expect to tend to want to listen to something new from that performer but probably not want the new to be too different from the old - and the patterns shown do not in our view take a station much further forward. We suspect, however, that in the future much time will be spent in analysing patterns in the hope, now that a measuring ability has been developed, that the measure will mean something.
The second study, from Jacobs Media, was conducted amongst more than 25,000 respondents from 69 rock stations across the US and showed that despite its intensive marketing, for rockers satellite radio subscriptions had not changed during 2006.
"While satellite radio continues to be a hot topic of conversation, growth for both XM and Sirius appears to have greatly slowed," Jacobs Media President Fred Jacobs said. "Our findings also show that potential interest among non-subscribers has also diminished from our survey last year."
The numbers showed that around 12% or rockers subscribe to satellite radio - one service or both - and amongst those who have not done so 9% - compared to 12% in the previous study - said they were very likely to this year with Sirius having a slight edge.
In terms of existing subscribers, 38% said they were "very satisfied" with satellite radio- down from 44% in both 2005 and 2006 with 70 very or somewhat satisfied with either or both services. Within the figures, 45% of Sirius customers described themselves as "very satisfied," compared to only 34% for XM.
54% said they will "absolutely continue to subscribe" through the year, with Sirius customers are more positive (61%).
There was some good news for terrestrial radio from the poll as most satellite subscribers still spent more time listening to terrestrial albeit 31% said they listened mostly or exclusively to satellite stations.
In terms of driving subscriptions the main factors were the music channels, commercial-free programming, and listening while travelling for both stations although a third of Sirius customers mentioned Howard Stern as a key factor in their decision and around a quarter mentioned sports but celebrities other than Stern fared much less well with only around 1% of XM and Sirius customers respectively mentioning Oprah Winfrey and Martha Stewart and only 9%th of XM subscribers mentioning Opie and Anthony.
Reasons for dissatisfaction with the service differed considerably between the two companies' subscribers: For Sirius customers the key negatives were too many channels of no interest (22%); adverts on channels where they had not been expected and audio drop-out (19% each) whilst for XM customers 32% mentioned commercials, 29% channels of no interest, and at least 10% also mentioned audio drop-outs.
Regarding the planned merger there was comparatively good news for the companies - around a third felt it would make no difference, another third that they didn't know enough to offer an opinion and more than twice as many optimistic about the idea (23%) as opposed to expressing concern (10%).
Previous Jacob's Media:
Arbitron country music study (613 KB 28 Page PDF):
Jacobs Media Survey:
2007-03-22: UK Chrysalis Group in an update ahead of the announcement of its interim results - to be announced on May 14 - says it is encouraged by first half trading "broadly in line with the Board's expectations and are confident that both our Radio and Music businesses remain well placed to outperform the sectors in which they operate in the current financial year."
Its radio division, despite a challenging first half that is likely to see revenues down 9% to the end of February, picked up in March with revenues to be up at least 2% and current trading is "particularly good, with an encouraging level of forward bookings for the remainder of the year."
"This, together with the benefits of strong audience figures from the Q4 2006 Rajar survey (particularly for Heart 106.2 in London)," says Chrysalis, "recently agreed improved share deals with the major media buying agencies and easier comparables in the second half, gives us confidence that we can meet our target of a flat revenue performance for the full year."
Regarding the possible sale of the division Chrysalis says its review that was announced last month is making good progress.
Its music division, says Chrysalis, has started to see royalty receipts from chart successes in the second half of the 2006 financial year, which included hit albums from Gnarls Barkley, The Raconteurs, Ray LaMontagne, Feeder and the Dixie Chicks, and it expects results to be weighted towards the second half of the year whilst Lasgo Chrysalis has performed in line with the Board's expectations in the first half but, it adds, "given the ongoing and well publicised deterioration of the entertainment products market" may for the second half be below targets we set at the beginning of the year.
2007-03-22: Australia's new media laws are likely to come into effect by mid-2007, according to Communications Minister Helen Coonan who says the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has now almost finished building its Register of Controlled Media Groups, an essential precursor to the introduction since the Authority will be tasked with overseeing implementation of the laws.
They were passed by the Australian government in October last year and Coonan was given authority to put them into effect any time after February 6 but the Authority still has to complete a number of reviews including one to determining what constitutes a "trigger event for regional commercial radio licensees that could require them to maintain existing levels of local presence in their licence areas.
The ACMA began a consultation on this matter last month (See RNW Feb 23) and is not due to lodge its report on the matter until the end of this month. It has also to complete another report on local radio content that is not due until the end of June.
Coonan, who said a "package of announcements" would be made shortly, said "The proclamation will be made shortly, certainly before about the middle of the year."
The Australian report:
2007-03-21: The US Senate Judiciary Committee's Subcommittee on Antitrust, Competition Policy and Consumer Rights heard from Sirius Satellite Radio CEO Mel Karmazin on Tuesday, his third appearance before a congressional committee this month to argue in favour of his company's merger with XM.
Karmazin, whose appearance comes amidst a battle of adverts between the satellite companies and National Association of Broadcasters (NAB), which placed yet another advert on Tuesday saying a merger would be a government-sanctioned monopoly, made the same arguments as previously - that satellite competes with many other audio services including "terrestrial radio, internet radio, with cell phones when hooked up to Bluetooth, and we compete with MP3 players. We provide news, our competition provides news; we provide music, our competition provides music. There is robust competition in this area."
He argued that the combined 14 million subscribers for satellite radio is only around 3.4% of national radio listeners [RNW comment: On the basis of the latest RADAR survey more like 6% - see below], and said the satellite companies faced more competition from terrestrial radio than each other and that the merger would benefit from a lowered price structure - he suggested USD 8.95 or USD 9.95 per month rather than the current USD 12.95 because of the cost benefits of a merger, accusing NAB of being against the merger because the lower price and increased choice it would bring would mean people spending more time listening to satellite and less listening to terrestrial radio.
Asked by chairman Herb Kohl, a Wisconsin Democrat, if another satellite competitor might emerge on the basis of the success of one large satellite radio company Karmazin said probably not and again raised the point of competition from other audio sources.
2007-03-21: iRadio, Ireland's new north-west regional youth station, has launched an online talent search site to find staff: In all it will employ 32 full-time staff and ten part timers, around half of them on-air personnel, and is looking for talent.
As well as adverts in local newspapers iRadio has set up a site iwanttobeontheradio.ie that starts with a house containing three cows and has a heading, "So you think you can talk the hind legs of a Donkey? Or maybe talk till the cows come home? You want to be on the radio?"
It then goes on say that in the coming weeks it will "be holding a talent search to find new presenters for our brand new station. Not only that...producers researchers, newsreaders, sports reporters or people who just like to entertain we will be travelling around the region holding auditions offering successful auditionees a place at an upcoming radio workshop. Impress at the workshop and you could end up with a full time position with the new station."
The site then offers a form for would-be staff to fill in as a first step.
iRadio will be based in Galway City and will broadcasting from the summer to counties Galway, Mayo, Longford, Roscommon, Sligo, Leitrim and Donegal.
It was awarded its licence in November last year (See RNW Nov 25, 2006) and a sister bid is one of three still in the running for a new youth service in the Midlands/North East (See RNW Feb 22).
2007-03-21: Preliminary results from Arbitron's RADAR 92 (Radio's All Dimension Audience Research) network survey, full results of which are due to be posted on Monday, show US radio as reaching 232 million listeners a week, around the same percentage of the population as shown four years ago in Radar 76, the first All-Dairy RADAR ratings (See RNW Mar 23 and Mar 20, 2003).
Arbitron says US radio reaches 95 percent of Black Non-Hispanic persons; Hispanics ages 12 and older and 18+ college graduates. As before listening is higher for the better educated and higher income households with 96 percent of adults age 25-54 with a college degree and an annual household income of $50,000 or above listening.
The sample size is now more than 140,000 - up from just fewer than 50,000 in RADAR 76 - and Arbitron is moving towards a goal of 200,000 by the end of this year. The latest survey measures 55 individual networks, up from 37 four years ago, representing some 55% of all US radio stations and reaching 89% of radio listeners.
Previous RADAR (RADAR 91):
2007-03-20: In more developments related to Internet streaming of music, US National Public Radio (NPR( has now filed a motion for a rehearing of rates increases for public radio amongst other rate increases recently introduced by the US Copyright Royalty Board (CRB); SoundExchange's executive director John Simson has said that he would not be concerned if may small webcasters were to fold and that terrestrial radio should also be paying royalties; and in Canada its Copyright Board has opted for smaller increases than performers, composers and recording companies had asked for.
NPR says its action is the first step in its attempts to reverse the CRB decision and will be followed by an appeal of the Board's decision to be filed with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit.
In a statement, NPR Vice President for Communications Andi Sporkin says the CBR "decision to dramatically raise public radio stations' rates was based on inaccurate assumptions and lack of understanding of the issues. The new rates inexplicably break with the longstanding tradition of recognizing public radio's non-commercial, non-profit role, while the procedures we're being asked to now undertake for measurement are non-existent, arbitrary and costly."
She continues, "In its decision, the Board has attempted to equate public radio with commercial radio, which we are not. Instead, public radio is driven by a public service mission on behalf of underserved and unserved audiences; in our internet music efforts, those audiences include both listeners and the music community that seeks public radio to reach those listeners. We hope the Board will reconsider."
The filing refers to "manifest errors committed by the Judges in reaching their determination" and says it reserves its rights to challenge the decision on "the grounds that it was arbitrary and capricious, an abuse of discretion and/or unsupported by sufficient evidence."
The filing notes that the proposed minimum USD 500 per station or channel would be a five-fold increase on the previous voluntary licence agreed between NPR and the recording industry and also that the CRB decision "makes the erroneous and extremely prejudicial determination that many NPR stations should be treated no differently than commercial webcasting services when they pass an arbitrary "point of convergence" with commercial webcasters - at which point they must pay royalties equal to the commercial webcasting rate on an escalating per-performance basis."
It describers the proposals as unworkable in terms of establishing a monthly aggregate tuning hour (ATH) threshold that would trigger additional payments on a per-performance basis and says a rehearing is necessary so that the Judges can reconsider and withdraw or modify their fees proposal or at a minimum stay them until NPR has exhausted the appeals process.
NPR says that even for member stations that can determine their monthly ATR they cannot generally calculate the "number of copyrighted sound recordings for which payment would be owed if a station exceeded the monthly ATH threshold" because they transmit a broad mix of programming dominate by news, public affairs and talk.
"It is simply not possible by any means presently known and available to NPR," says the filing, "to extract from NPR's program streaming data how many sound recordings were or are streamed during any relevant time period (never mind to any known number of listeners).
Even if it were possible says NPR, "the Judges should determine that these extremely burdensome and costly tasks are not ones that a licensee (particularly a non-profit public broadcaster whose mission is to serve the public interest) should be forced to take on as a prerequisite to availing itself of a statutory license."
The NPR filing is part of organized protests by many small and non-commercial webcasters, many of whom say the new fees will put them out of action, but SoundExchange, the body that collects and distributes the royalties, says that this may be necessary.
Simson rejected the idea that the exposure webcasts gave to artists meant they deserved favours in return and told the Washington Post, "The attitude that really has to change is the idea that the people playing this music on the Web are somehow doing artists a favour."
He also said terrestrial radio should pay, commenting "There's really no justification for broadcast radio not paying, and we're going to try to address that."
Regarding webasters he asked, "Is 10,000 stations the right number? "Does having so many Web stations disperse the market so much that it hurts the artist? What's the right number of stations? Is it 5,000? Is it less? Are artists better off having hundreds of listeners on lots of little stations, or thousands of listeners on larger stations?"
Simson also alleged that stations built themselves up and then sold out but artists got nothing, commenting, "The music is why people come to these stations. Web radio is growing exponentially. These little stations develop a popular URL and then flip it and sell it for big money and the artists get nothing."
The Post says that it is not just smaller webcasters who will be put out of action and quotes figures from Kurt Hanson of RAIN (Radio and Internet Newsletter) who also runs AccuRadio, an online provider of 320 streams of music.
Hanson last year paid USD 48,000 in royalties - 6% of revenues of USD 400,000 going to going to ASCAP and BMI, the umbrella groups that collect fees for composers, and 12 % to performers and record labels through SoundExchange. Under the new scheme, he says he would have to pay USD 600,000, half as much again as his total revenue, an amount that would "Literally" bankrupt AccuRadio.
Hanson points out that his stations promote music sales and also that streaming is at a level that provides reasonable listening quality but not one high enough to match owning a CD and regarding the suggestion that stations sold out for big money but artists got nothing treated it with derision in Monday issue of RAIN in which eh responded, "Huh? What's he talking about? (A) I haven't heard of any such case since the Internet bubble burst six or seven years ago. (B) Artists get royalties and airplay that helps them get new fans and sell records! "
RNW comment: Maybe the best way here would be for Simson be required by the CRB to provide chapter and verse to justify his comment with the penalty for inability to do so a cancellation of the increases -and all backdating - until SoundExchange has resubmitted all its evidence with notarised justification. They should put SoundExchange and Simson up the creek with a powerful incentive to be very accurate in future!
In Canada, the Canadian Copyright Board has been considerably less generous to the artists and recording industry - represented by the Society for Reproduction Rights of Authors, Composers and Publishers in Canada (SODRAC) and the Canadian Musical Reproduction Rights Agency (CMRRA) - (CSI).
CSI's original proposal as posted by the Copyright Board "asked for the greater of: (a) 7.5 per cent of gross revenue or 75¢ per month per subscriber for services that only offer on-demand streams; (b) 10 per cent of gross revenue or one dollar per month per subscriber for services that offer limited downloads, with or without on-demand streams; and (c) 15 per cent of gross revenue or 10¢ per permanent download of a single musical work/"
The "Objectors" filed a joint statement proposing royalties of 5.3 per cent for permanent downloads, 3.5 per cent for limited downloads and 0.5 per cent for on-demand streaming and asked that the rate base be what subscribers pay, not gross income. They also propose minimum rates of 3.85 Canadian cents for permanent downloads; and for services that allow limited downloads and on-demand streaming, they proposed a minimum of Canadian cents 21 per month per subscriber if a service does not authorize reproductions onto portable devices and Canadian cents 33 if it does.
The Copyright Board compromised and opted for a minimum fee per track for permanent download of Canadian cents 5.9; a rate for limited downloads of 5.9% of subscription revenues; and 4.6% of subscription revenues for on-demand streaming only services.
Canadian Royalty Board:
Canadian Royalty Board decision ( 58 Page 500KB PDF):
Radio and Internet Newsletter:
Washington Post report:
2007-03-20: UTV has reported a significant out-performance of the market in 2006 for both its radio and TV operations with the former performing much better.
Overall it reported group revenues up 22% to GBP 112.6 million (USD 219.1 million), reflecting the impact of its purchase of The Wireless Group - which it has renamed Radio GB - with operating profit up 6% to GBP 27.4 million (USD 53.3 million) before charging start-up losses of GBP 2.6 million (USD 5.1 million) - compared to GBP 900.000 (now USD 1.75 million) in 2005 - related its new stations in Belfast and Edinburgh.
In divisional terms, UTV's radio operating profit, before charging the start-up charges noted above, rose 52% to GBP 14.6 million (USD 28.4 million) - GBP 8.8 million (USD 17.1 million) - before start-up losses of GBP 1.7 million (USD 3.3 million) for its new Edinburgh station - of it from the UK and New Media operating profit was up 31% to GBP 1.1 million (USD 2.1 million) but TV operating profit was down 24% to GBP 11.7 million (USD 22.8 million).
In advertising revenue terms, radio advertising revenue was up 6% on a like-for -like basis compared to a market decline of 5% and TV advertising revenue was down 9% compared to a 12% fall for the ITV network whilst New Media revenues were up 17%.
Overall radio revenues, boosted by acquisitions, were up 58.6% to GBP 61.7 million (USD 120.0 million) - 54% of group turnover - whilst TV revenues were down 7%.
Group profit before exceptional items and taxation, however, was down 19.1% to GBP 16.8 million USD 32.7 million) and overall, profit was down 12.4% to GBP 12.7 million (USD 24.7 million) of which GBP 12.3 million was attributable to shareholders. Diluted earnings per share adjusted for exceptional items were down 15% at 23.08 pence.
Looking ahead UTV says it has continued to "outperform the market and our peer groups in the first quarter of 2007" with advertising revenue from radio stations in Great Britain expected to be 2% up in this quarter compared to an anticipated market decline of 4% whilst in Ireland radio like-for-like revenues are forecast to be up 9% whilst TV revenues are expected t be flat compared to an ITV network fall of 9%.
Group Chief Executive John McCann noted that UTV's "strategy of developing media interests outside our TV business through the acquisition of radio assets in both GB and Ireland has resulted in our radio divisions' contributing the larger proportion of the Group's revenue and operating profit for the first time."
Chairman John B McGuckian noted that "Irish radio operations enjoyed like-for-like revenue growth of 12% while in Great Britain our like-for-like radio revenue increased by 6% compared to a market decline of 5%" and also commented on the "successful integration of the former Wireless Group so that, for the first time, total radio operating profit, even after allowing for start-up losses at our two new radio stations, exceeded that of television."
"The continuing ability of your company to assimilate new assets while improving operational performance during difficult trading conditions augurs well for the future," he added.
UTV is currently barred for six months from making further approaches to SMG following the failure of its earlier approaches and subsequent withdrawal but McCann said he still considers the proposed merger a good idea and added that he would not rule out further talks about the idea in the future.
He also said UTV was interested in a possible bid for Chrysalis's radio interests that the Chrysalis group could sell under a review of its strategic operations.
2007-03-20: Continuing its attack on the proposed Sirius-XM Merger, the US National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) has posted a study it commissioned from consulting engineering firm of Meintel, Sgrignoli & Wallace (MSW) into technical aspects of the two companies services and their ability to offer extra services.
The study concluded that the merger would not allow subscribers to have access to additional programmes beyond what they currently have without purchasing a new receiver.
MSC's study highlights significant differences between the two services - they operate with different audio coding - PAC for Sirius and AAC for XM; at different bit rates - 4.4 Mbps for Sirius and 2.048 Mbps for XM and also on different satellite e systems - Highly-inclined elliptical for Sirius and geostationary for XM.
The report also says that each company currently has to drop a service if they wish to introduce a new one and concludes that "the two satellite systems cannot be expanded to fit in more channels beyond their current level without incurring loss of audio quality."
It also notes that as a condition of their original licences, the satellite companies were required to deliver designs for interoperable receivers but has yet to make any such system commercially available.
NAB has also been taking out further advertisements to oppose the merger, emphasizing the message that the satellite companies want a government-sanctioned monopoly. To back up their case they quote from Sirius CEO Mel Karmazin who in his March 4 testimony before the House Antitrust Task Force said, "There is no monopoly or duopoly. That's the most bizarre thing I have ever heard" yet in April 2005 had told Advertising Age, "You are dealing with two companies - it would be great if there was a monopoly, but the second-best thing to a monopoly is a duopoly."
On an earthbound basis NAB has also petitioned the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to deny Sirius permission to deploy four terrestrial repeaters in Alaska and Hawaii.
The NAB argues in the submission that the FCC had said it would only allow such repeaters to improve signals not extend transmission area but the repeaters being requested are in fact being requested to extend the coverage area.
"Before Sirius' latest STA request, "it comments, "neither Sirius nor the Commission considered Alaska and Hawaii to be within Sirius' coverage area."
NAB sponsored report (9 Page 1.24 Mb PDF):
2007-03-19: This week we start our look at print comment on radio with digital technology, in the first case HD and a report in the San Diego Union-Tribune by Jonathan Sidener that indicated that a lot more will have to be done to promote it - and bring prices down - if HD radio is really to take off.
Sidener's report concentrates on San Diego but the points made are generally more widely applicable albeit, as before we note the comment "with improved sound quality for AM and FM broadcasts" may well reflect more on the engineering standards of US stations than the potential inherent in the technology.
Sidener notes the ability to add side channels and gives local examples - in particular quoting "radio enthusiast and Web master for SDRadio.net" Chris Carmichael, who has a USD 135 HD receiver in his vehicle, as saying, "When it's on target, it's beautiful There's talk of a lot of programming" and then adding that unfortunately most of it is still talk although he feels the medium "has a lot of potential" 'Build it and they will come.' "
Sidener then offers his own summary - first noting that HD Radio is an obvious nod to high-definition television, or HDTV, but in this case is simply a trademark of iBiquity Digital Corp. - and then adding that there are no plans to phase out analogue radio in the US.
"Without a wealth of programming available, however," he comments, "consumers have little incentive to buy a digital radio. Without a sea of HD Radios capable of receiving the programming, stations have little incentive to complete costly upgrades to broadcast equipment. It has become what is called "the chicken and egg dilemma."
He then notes the broadcasts by members of the HD Radio Alliance of "programming without commercials, at least until the end of the year" and adds, "But the lack of revenue for digital radio has increased broadcasters' hesitancy to invest in new content for side channels."
Having thus further reduced incentives to buy - spend the money for commercial free for only a year? - Sidener notes as a sidebar the advantage digital has in its ability to also deliver date - in this case plans by Microsoft and Clear Channel to create a nationwide data service - MSN Direct HD - to send information, such as local traffic, weather and movie times or national sports and stocks, to digital receivers.
He also got an idea from Jim Richards, Clear Channel's director of operations in San Diego, on its plans for the use of side channels, generally to use them to complement the main format: "It's not like we're going to take a country station and put rap music on the side channel," Richards said.
In San Diego examples cited were of Clear Channel's use of the side channel for adult contemporary station, 93.3 to offer Hispanic adult contemporary music and by country station US 95.7 for a channel that features new country songs that have not yet made it to the main channel's playlist.
Richards commented of HD: "It's an emerging technology. The number of listeners right now is relatively small in quantity, but it's high in quality. The first listeners are generally what we call 'the taste makers.' They're the people perceived as technology experts by friends, family and co-workers."
Sidener also comments on the technical quality - using the "comparable to CD on FM and to analogue FM on AM HD" spiel from the broadcasters and notes in particular the absence of distortion in that the digital signal rather than degrading "either receives the signal and plays it fully, or it plays nothing [RNW comment: Strictly speaking this is not true but it's close].
As to numbers he quotes Bridge Ratings as estimating sales of some 1.5 million receivers this year and some 12 million in 2010 with price a major deterrent - discounts to a USD 99 were insufficient for many of the consumers involved in the survey.
Also quoted is radio industry analyst Mark Ramsey of Hear 2.0 who expresses scepticism, suggesting that HD's features may be a solution that lacks a problem, proffering the opinion that if there was significant enough demand for different programming such as blues, classical, or world beat it would have been offered on analogue and noting that on the satellite radio services - with more than a hundred channels on offer - few people listened to unconventional programming.
"How many people are unhappy with the quality of their FM radios?" he said.
RNW comment: To which we would add that in an automobile the benefits of HD in the sense of absence of distortion are likely to be a significant plus but for a well set up quality domestic system it will not improve on a high quality analogue transmission. The obvious way forward in our view would be for the US radio industry to concentrate on getting HD receivers into automobiles - years behind satellite of course - through a gamble on a large order of receivers at a bargain price together with a retro-fitting deal. We suspect that were such receivers USD 50 - and we're sure they could be made for that kind of price, particularly if iBiquity were sensible enough to drop its charges for such a run - there could well be a large take up. It would, of course, upset receiver manufacturers because of pressure on their prices but so far they seem to have concentrated more, as has the HD Radio Alliance, on home receivers and if there is an automobile take-up it could well increase the home market. Better to sell millions at a small profit than hundred of thousands at a larger mark-up we would argue.
As for choice of programming, the Internet and satellite radio have already changed that equation irrevocably and although side channels are almost certainly a plus for marketing we doubt that the US commercial radio industry is ever going to offer much variety beyond music, sport, and talk: Of those much more variety in music is available through portable players and the Internet and the last can now offer a significant selection of other programming including more in-depth news and current affairs, drama, comedy and so on.
Which takes us on to another report from San Diego: this time another attempt to make Internet radio - audio? - more portable. The company concerned is San Diego-based start-up Slacker Inc., a new venture from the executives behind MusicMatch, Rio and iRiver America, which has been plugging its wares at the South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas.
So far, reports Jon Healey in the Los Angeles Times, Slacker is offering a website with personalized radio stations but it is also developing handheld portable players that would store hours of programming - taken from PCs, wireless networks and satellite signals - to allow "people to listen to their individualized stations without using a computer-ever."
Healey reports that Slacker is attempting to overcome the difficulties of not being able to connect to the Internet by using digital rights management (DRM) technology to "eliminate the need for a persistent Internet connection."
Its MP3 players come preloaded with songs and "a virtual DJ that arranges them into playlists that mirror the stations you've already set up through the Slacker Web site."
The way it then works- it does not allow you to browse to the material that is pre-loaded or play them on-demand - is to allow an owner to "tell the software which songs you like, hate or are indifferent about. That input adjusts the playlists that the software creates. It also tells the device which songs to add to the hidden cache the next time it connects to Slacker's computers. It can do that through built-in WiFi or, in a novel twist, an optional car-mounted mini satellite receiver. The latter sorts through the songs that Slacker's computers beam through the atmosphere every few seconds, saving the ones that fit into the user's personalized stations."
Heaney says the company has had to make some "stark trade-offs in order to keep its basic service free", imposing restrictions that "reflect the royalty demands made by major record companies and music publishers."
Thus in order to escape the typical 60 cents a song rate charges by i-Tunes, it has had to prevent material being moved or copied; to escape the charges for an on-demand service, even if copying is not possible, it has had to remove the ability to choose. It will also not allow users to load material onto their device from personal collections.
Heaney says the bottom line after accepting these restrictions is that Slacker has been able to negotiate licensing deals down to around a cent per user per hour. The basic service is paid for by commercials - also personalized since Slacker users tell the service what their personal interests are thus allowing the virtual DJ select which adverts are inserted. Users have limited control in that they can skip through songs until they get to one they like.
The premium version, for which there is a subscription charge, allows users to save songs and play them on demand-later and also mix them with personal MP3s but the Slacker songs remain locked to the device and the cache content is hidden - users only find what is there when they play a song.
"Those trade-offs may be too severe for consumers," writes Healey, "but again, the restrictions are part and parcel of the service's availability. They're the basis for the business model."
RNW comment: So a little like a less-personally-chosen i-Pod on shuffle. And like so much now often a means of narrowing rather than broadening the horizons.
And that in turn is a cue to our final selections, which offer a contrast in terms of programming available.
From Gillian Reynolds' "On Radio" column from the UK Daily Telegraph comes a combination of thoughts and reviews that is well worth a read albeit unfortunately for our listeningsuggestions it is published on Tuesdays thus meaning that most of the programmes mentioned are no longer available online by our publication time.
She began with a nod to Dorothy Byrne, head of news and current affairs at Channel 4 television, who had been quoted as saying " she listens to BBC but feels no affinity with it. 'It's as if you're walking down the street, and you enter a shop, and it's full of old people knitting,' she said. 'That's the feeling I have when I listen to it, like I'm in the wrong building.'"
To which Reynolds response was along the lines of a poke of a knitting needle into Ms Byrne: "Perhaps, dear Dorothy, you are. It could also be that you walk into the wrong rooms. There were no "old people knitting" in the place that housed last Tuesday night's File on 4 [RNW Note: This was the Mar 4 edition, details of which are online but not the audio. The most recent edition of the programme, which is online, was on Avian Flu]. Here was Stephen Grey with an inside story on drugs, dealers, informants and gang warfare that any branch of the media would prize for its strong reporting and serious analysis."
Sharpening the needle, Reynolds later commented, "Of course, Channel 4 has a digital radio service of its own to promote, which so far mostly sounds like TV programmes put through the podcasting mincer, not proper radio at all, but, hey, what do I know? I'm just sitting here knitting, or would be if only I knew how I truly wish Channel 4 Radio well and hope they can, soon, make Radio 4 shiver It would be great to have good alternative news and current affairs. So far, all Channel 4 Radio has come up with is Jon Snow in a pod. But, as the song says, if it takes forever, I will wait.
And then back to some praise for Radio 4 including "Shape Up, Sir Humphrey" [Audio of the first programme is no longer online although a transcript is but audio is there of the second programme. The final one airs on Thursday at 20:00 GMT], Anne Perkins' look at the relationship between the British government and civil service and Harry Belafonte at 80 [The March 10 Archive Hour that has now been replaced online by the March 17 edition in which Michael Nicholson recalls the night of the Argentinean invasion of the Falkland Islands in 1982 with radio archive from the Falkland Island Broadcasting Service whose station manager Patrick Watts turned up to present his weekly 60-minute music request show but ended up hosting a marathon 16-hour broadcast as islanders phoned in with their sightings of the invading army.].
As Reynolds commented of the Belafonte programme, "The day Channel 4 makes a programme as good as this is when I will not only knit Dorothy Byrne a hat but eat it, too."
Also reflecting the range of BBC Radio, Paul Donovan in the UK Sunday Times, commented on Harold Pinter, now 76, who appeared playing "Max, a man of 70 " in a production of his own play "The Homecoming", the Drama on 3, on Sunday.
The column was more about Pinter than radio as such - it began: "It is easy to mock Harold Pinter, who stars on Radio 3 tonight in his own play The Homecoming. He professes socialism, yet lives in the 15th most expensive street in Britain. He preaches morality, yet, when he got rich, he abandoned his wife, who had stayed with him when times were hard and money scarce, for an earl's daughter. His voice has more plums than an orchard. And all those pauses!
"Easy, but cheap. Pinter, now 76, will remain a big fish long after most journalistic plankton has been recycled. He writes stories, and stories last. His plays have been performed all over the world because within them is a hinterland of universally recognisable things - jealousy, lust, fear, resentment, laughter, maintaining a facade."
And of the production? " directed as it is by Thea Sharrock, who also directs the new Equus in the West End, and with an impressive cast, it can hardly fail to become one of radio's 2007 highlights."
And radio in relation to Pinter's work? "Radio, intense but unseen, has indeed provided an ideal vehicle for his often elliptical characters and the punctuated, nuanced nature of their speech. Pinter's work is uneasy and strangely emotional, in a way that defies exact analysis, but then it is often poetic, rather than straightforward. And poetry works well on radio, as Radio 4, Radio 3 and little Oneword [The UK digital commercial speech channel] demonstrate regularly - even if there is, to use one of Pinter's own words, something "uncatchable" about it."
And also but with a very different perspective, Chris Campling's Radio Head column in the UK Times on Saturday concentrated on that days "The Quiz Exchange" from BBC Radio 4.
Presented by Nicholas Parsons it looked at the popularity of quizzes in India and contained some perceptive glimpses of the culture within which the Quiz flourishes: "There is a serious side to all this frivolity, though. Quizzing is the coming thing in India, the aim being to "learn, to educate and to make many rupees". So more Golden Shot than Just a Minute, then. Either way, this all sort of makes our Nicholas something of a crease-resistant demigod over there, which is nice. It makes him feel useful and it gets him out of the house."
And yet another note: "Rather more poignantly, though, there is another reason for the proliferation of quizzing. Many of the contestants work in call centres, which means talking to British people in the middle of the subcontinental night, or rather listening while they abuse them in detail and at length. The hope is that by immersing themselves in British culture the call centre employees will be able to strike up a rapport with the psycho at the other end of the phone."
Campling goes on to imagine the conversation but for that read the full column.
So on to listening suggestions and we start with BBC Radio 4 and "The Quiz Exchange" as noted above and last week's "Point of View" from Clive James - the clues as to its subject come from mentions of "Piano lifting" and the design of the "piano lifting theatre", the "Synchronized underwater squash court"; Groundnuts, the Bristol Brabazon, Saunders Roe Princess, and Concorde; Blue Streak, Blue Steel, and Skybolt; and the Millennium Dome
Then drama with "The Homecoming" also as noted, plus next Sunday's "Drama on 3" [at 21:00 GMT], which is Jackie Kay's lyrical drama "The Lamplighters" that explores the heart of enslavement through the experiences of four women.
The latter is followed [at 22:30 GMT] by a "Words and Music" special edition curated by Kay with readings of poetry and prose interweaved with music inspired by the themes of slavery and freedom.
Earlier that evening as part of its "Abolition Evening", Radio 3 airs [at 19:30 GMT] "The Road to Abolition", a dramatised feature charting the campaign in Britain and the Caribbean to abolish the transatlantic slave trade, and then [at 20:30 GMT] "The Legacies of Abolition" in which journalist Henry Bonsu asks historians Adam Hochschild and James Walvin, and Esther Stanford, the general secretary of Rendezvous of Victory, to discuss the historical aftermath of abolition and its impact on lives today.
Bonsu, born in Britain of Ghanaian parents, also presents "Squaring the Triangle" on Radio 4 [20:00 GMT tonight] in which he visits Ghana to explore how Africans, particularly his Ashanti compatriots, took part in the trade.
Then back to drama but still on the idea of freedom, but of a very different kind, last week's "Friday Play" on BBC Radio 4 [in a change to the schedule but it is on the web site] was "Mia and Maia" by Charlotte Jones - the story of conjoined twins who long to be separate and who as they reach 21 go the US for surgery.
Moving away from the BBC, Radio Netherlands in "Documentary" on Wednesday this week has "Pride and Prejudice", a look by Chris Chambers at the lives of homosexuals over the last two centuries and also the final edition of "Dutch Horizons."
From the US, we suggest last week's "On the Media" , a strong edition that included reports on the dismissal of eight US attorneys; payola; new royalty fees for webcasters ; the Viacom lawsuit against Google for breaching its intellectual property rights; and even has Bill Gates of Microsoft commenting on his vision of the future.
Then to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation and last Saturday's "All in the Mind". This edition was "PANIC! A cultural history" in which sociologist and performance artist looks into the history of panic. Worth it just for the "public service" announcements warnign that a bomb might go off without warning!
Also from the ABC we suggest last Friday's "Late Night Live", which as part of its series on "Books That Shook The World" looked at Adam Smith's "The Wealth of Nations."
Finally back to the BBC and Radio 2 with tomorrow [at 21:30 GMT] the station has the fourth of its five-part series "In Search of the Perfect Pop Song". This programme looks at "The Third Minute: The Bridge, Third Verse and Ending."
And on Friday the station starts a three-part celebration of the life and work of Sidney Poitier, who has just turned 80.
It includes contributions from James Earl Jones, Denzel Washington, William Greaves, Lee Grant, Patricia Routledge, Lulu, George Baker, Saeed Jaffrey and author of "To Sir, with Love" ER Braithwaite.
Los Angeles Times - Heaney:
San Diego Star Tribune- Sidener:
UK Daily Telegraph - Reynolds:
UK Sunday Times - Donovan:
UK Times - Campling
2007-03-19: Following a ministerial decree from the French industry minister François Loos saying that France's transition to digital radio on a multi-standard basis, RadioScape has announced that it is extending its current multi-standard radio product line to support all digital standards required for the French market.
The move will enable development of receivers capable of supporting current AM and FM analogue transmissions as well as Digital Radio Mondiale (DRM) and various DAB-based transmissions including TMB and DAB+.
RadioScape CEO John Hall commented of the development, "This is a breakthrough moment for the French radio market. Finally, the transition to digital has begun and, as expected, both DAB and DRM standards are joint winners. We will support both the receivers market with our multi-standard module product line, as well as the broadcast market with our proven DAB broadcast systems. Given our significant experience in DAB and DRM standards we are uniquely positioned to enable the French market to go digital."
RadioScape is already shipping its RS500 module, which provides reception for DAB (Band-III & L-Band), DRM (LW, MW & SW), FM-RDS, AM (LW & MW) including AMSS, automatic alternative frequency switching (AFS), EPG (DAB), SD-CARD Recording (DAB/DRM) and playback of MP3/WMA files and its Product Manager for Receivers Andrew Dewhurst added, "The requirements of the emerging Digital Radio market in France are a perfect natural transition of existing standards support for our multi-standard product line. We can immediately assist manufacturers in the development of their receiver product plans given the significant expertise already developed with the current generation of DAB and DRM radios. Our multi-standard module family is currently being enhanced to incorporate support for additional DAB implementations, including DAB+, and will be available later in the year."
2007-03-18: Last week saw more announcements of what is ahead than significant decisions from the regulators with no radio announcements from Australia or Ireland.
In Canada, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC), announced a number of radio decisions including (In order of province):
*Approval of application by Bell ExpressVu Limited Partnership to be allowed to carry satellite subscription radio on its national, direct-to-home satellite distribution service. Interventions had included one by Rogers Cable Communications Inc. arguing that approval should be subject to the same conditions the CRTC had imposed when it gave Rogers approval to do the same, and one opposing the application from the Canadian Independent Record Production Association (CIRPA).
The latter argued in part that satellite services had been approved on the basis of a satellite distribution and that widespread cable distribution had not been anticipated when lower Canadian content regulations were placed on the satellite radio services than for terrestrial or pay audio services. It also expressed concern that the move could put some pay audio services out of business leading to loss of a significant amount of airplay for Canadian music.
The CRTC accepted the Rogers argument but rejected CIRPA's opposition and granted the application.
*Approval of application by Holy Mother World Networks of Canada for a new single-faith religious English-language specialty audio service offering programming related to the Roman Catholic faith. The service would be available for national distribution by broadcasting distribution undertakings (BDUs) on a digital basis.
*Approval of application to relocate the transmitter of CJFH-FM , Woodstock, increase its antenna height and reduce power from 50 to 37 watts.
*Denial of application My Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) for a 1,620 watts Classic Rock English-language FM in Pembroke.
*Approval of application by Les Productions du temps perdu inc. to acquire from 9063-0104 Québec inc. the assets of CJIT-FM, Lac-Mégantic.
*Approval of application by Saskatchewan Telecommunications to carry satellite radio on its cable broadcasting distribution undertakings serving a number of Saskatchewan communities.
The CRTC also posted public notices calling for applications - to be submitted by June 4 - for a commercial radio service for Owen Sound, Ontario and Kelowna, British Columbia and a further public notice, with a deadline for submission of interventions or comments of April 17, that included the following radio-related matters:
*Application from Standard Radio to extend from 27 February this year to 27 February next year the period during which it can simulcast the programming of CKXR-FM, Salmon Farm, British Columbia, on CKXR- AM station, Salmon Arm. Standard started operating the FM station in November last year but says several communities including Enderby and Sicamous are having reception problems. It is asking to maintain the AM service and is also preparing applications to add FM repeaters in the affected communities.
*Application by CKFU-FM, Fort St. John, British Columbia, to relocate its transmitter, increase the antenna height and increase power from 23 to 20,000 watts thus changing the station's status from an unprotected low-power service to a regular Class B service.
The CRTC has also ruled that episodes of CBC Radio One's " A Literary Atlas of Canada" - entitled "Whiskeyjack Blues" and "Room Available" - contained coarse language and mature subject matter and were broadcast at times when children could be listening. Moreover, in the instance where an advisory was broadcast-it said "There's some iffy stuff for kids but nothing too shocking" - this was inadequate.
In the UK, Ofcom in its latest Broadcast Bulletin upheld no complaints against radio (See RNW Mar 13) and has also awarded seven more community licences but denied a further five applications.
Granted were applications from:
Barry, Glamorgan - Bro Radio - offering a mixture of locally relevant speech and music.
Bristol - Ujima Radio -- which is offering a service particularly for the black and minority ethnic communities in the area St Paul's and Easton.
Exeter -ECFM - which is offering a range of arts and community-based programming.
Glastonbury - Glastonbury FM -- which is offering a locally-produced music and speech service for the whole community of Glastonbury, Street and surrounding areas of Somerset.
Poole, Dorset - The Bay - that is offering a "distinct community service that will have broad appeal" and Aspire FM - a station to support learners at Bournemouth and Poole College and "encourage participation in education and lifelong learning in the local community."
Swindon -Community Radio Swindon - which is offering an "accessible community service for the citizens of Swindon, including underserved and deprived communities.
The bids where no award was made came from Culm Valley FM, Cullompton, Devon; Bay FM, Exmouth, Devon; PCRFM, Plymouth, Devon; Swindon FM Community Radio, Swindon, Wiltshire; and Flame Radio, Pontypool, Torfaen.
In the US, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has posted a 13-item "Sunshine notice" of matters on its agenda for its Open Meeting on Thursday, March 22 (See RNW Mar 17).
In addition all five commissioners testified to a House sub-committee (See RNW Mar 15) and also announced that fourth of its six public hearings to be held on the issues will take place in the Tampa-St. Petersburg, Florida, area in the afternoon and evening on Monday, April 30, 2007.
The FCC also issued a number of licence renewals over objections and penalties for various breaches and issued various penalties (See below).
Previous Licence News:
CRTC web site:
FCC web site:
Ofcom web site:
2007-03-18: Radio One Inc. has revealed that the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has started an informal inquiry into is granting of stock options.
In a filing to the SEC it says the Commission's letter of informal inquiry related to its disclosure last month that it had undertaken a review of its historical stock option granting practices from May 5, 1999 (the date of our initial public offering).
Preliminary review indicated that under Accounting Principles Board Opinion No. 25, "Accounting for Stock Issued to Employees" ("APB 25") incorrect dates had been used for option grants and it anticipated that it would have to restate past financial statements to record additional non-cash stock-based compensation expenses.
Radio One says its management and audit committee believe the amounts involved will be "material to operating results" for the years 1999 through 2003 but not material for 2004 and 2005. No adjustments are expected for last year but Radio One says the review will mean it will not be able to file its 2006 annual report by its due date of March 16 and it will file the report as soon as practicable after the review is completed.
Radio One will be releasing its final quarter 2006 results on Wednesday this week.
Previous Radio One Inc.:
2007-03-18: Citing Freedom of Speech provisions in the US Constitution the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has rejected a number of objections on various grounds to licence renewals, a group of them Clear Channel stations where objectors had complained of material broadcast- and renewed the licences. In all cases it noted no serious breached of regulations or laws and ruled that the stations involved had "served the public interest, convenience, and necessity."
They included the following:
*Objection to renewal of licences for Clear Channel's KFBK-AM, Sacramento and KSTE-AM, Rancho Cordova, California, on the basis of the stations' bias - three objectors had commented that their "heavily-biased prime-time talk show programming amounts to the use of the airwaves as a relentless political pulpit, presenting only one-sided, predictable opinion on most issues, and even blatantly endorsing one political party."
In its ruling the FCC comments that "Although the Objectors may find viewpoints presented on the stations to be offensive or derogatory, it is well settled that "if there is to be free speech, it must be free for speech that we abhor and hate as well as for speech that we find tolerable or congenial." [RNW comment: The former "Fairness" doctrine of the FCC, which some would like to see restored did not, of course, prohibit free speech but it did require balance in programming.]
*Objection to the renewal of licence of Clear Channel's WABI-AM, Bangor, Maine, on the basis of its format being changed from music to talk.
*Objection to the renewal of Clear Channel's KID-AM, Idaho Falls, Idaho, on the basis of objectionable content, specifically its "Trish and Holly" programme about which one objector commented about hosts who are trying to hoist their narrow-minded, everything-bashing, psycho-conservative garbage on the airway."
*Objection to the renewal of the licence of Clear Channel's WTVN-AM, Columbus, on the basis of the "rapid qualitative decline in the programming and broadcasting" of the station. The objector said it had replaced high quality shows with "low cost, low quality replacement programs" that are "vulgar" (pointing to on-air discussions about the size of human faeces and descriptions of spoiled food) and hosted by "arrogant" radio personalities.
*Objection to the renewal of the licence of Clear Channel's WVAZ-FM, Oak Park, Illinois, on the basis that the station had broadcast defamatory remarks about the objector and her family by Tom Joyner in the "It's Your World" programme, commenting on the "the lack of ethical management and the continuous harassment that has been condoned by station management for the past [four] years."
*Objection to the renewal of the licence of Clear Channel's WISN-AM, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, on the basis of the use of the phrase "wetbacks" in a broadcast.
In Delaware, the Commission rejected a petition by Great Scott Broadcasting for reconsideration of an application to relocate the transmitter of its WKDB-FM, Laurel, and increase in the antenna height. Scott's application was dismissed three years after it was filed because it had not received documentation of Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) clearance of the tower.
Scott argued that a subsequent grant of an application for a conflicting change to the facilities of Clear Channel's WOSC-FM, Bethany Beach, Delaware, had "improperly plucked Capstar's [Clear Channel is Capstar's parent] conflicting minor modification application from the queue and granted it" thus extinguishing Scott's right to reconsideration.
The FCC said Scott's application had been dismissed two months before action was taken on the WOSC-FM application, noted that the WOSC-FM approval could have been reversed at any point until a the Commission order was final - including consideration of Scott's petition. It rejected other arguments put forward and dismissed the application.
In Indiana, the FCC denied a petition from Indiana Community Radio Corporation to designate for hearing licence renewal applications from White River Broadcasting Corporation, Inc.'s WKKG-FM, WCSI-AM, and WINN-FM in Columbus and WWWY-FM, North Vernon, and WRBI-FM, Batesville.
In Minnesota, the Commission rejected petitions to deny an application from Minnesota Christian Broadcasters, Inc. (MCBI) for a licence for a modified construction permit for its WZFJ-FM, Pequot Lakes, Minnesota.
MCBI won the permit in the FCC's FM auction 25 and one objection contended that MCBI was not financially qualified to be a licensee. The second alleged interference to the signal of the then-KBKK-FM in Pillager, Minnesota, and requested that the licence be held in abeyance and that MCBI be directed to investigate and cure all interference complaints.
The FCC in relation to the latter noted that some interference was in communities not in KBKK's 60 dBµ contour where the signal was protected and that in cases where there was blanketing interference within WZFJ's blanketing contour (around 0.6 miles/1 km from the station) MCBI had taken steps to resolve the complaints.
In Mississippi, the Commission rejected a petition from Golden Gulf Coast Broadcasting, Inc., licensee of WQYZ-FM, Ocean Springs, seeking reconsideration of the licence renewal of WJZD, Inc.'s WJZD-FM, Long Beach, which is in the same market.
Previously, between 2003 and 2004, WJZD had unsuccessfully opposed Golden Gulf's applications to assign the WQYZ-FM license and the latter now alleges that the protest were aimed at stopping the sale to anyone other than Stanley Daniels, the principal owner of WJZD. It said that it had not objected before the renewal had gone through because "Daniels' true motives were not revealed until after the renewal.
In another ruling the commission rejected a petition from WJZD to deny the assignment of WQYZ's licence from Golden Gulf Coast to Clear Channel (Capstar).
In Missouri, the FCC denied a petition by Hope Radio of Rolla, Inc. to reinstate its application for a Low Power FM (LPFM) in Rolla.
The FCC had dismissed the application as inadvertently accepted for filing after finding, following an informal objection by the National Lawyers Guild Center on Democratic Communications, that Hope was not incorporated until almost a month after it made its initial application saying it was a "not-for-profit corporation organized under the laws of the state of Missouri in January 2001."
Hope had subsequently filed a petition for reconsideration and an amendment to the application, arguing in its petition that the original dismissal was in error because it was too narrowly based, and in the amendment that it had "first operated as an unincorporated association, with the officers named in the application. The association was organized and began planning and preparing its application for the new LPFM station in November, 2000."
The FCC noted that no evidence had been made to show that activities prior to the filing satisfied unincorporated association requirements under Missouri state law and also rejected its other argument.
In New York, the FCC admonished the College of Staten Island, licensee of non-commercial educational WSIA-FM, Staten Island for failing to provide access to its public file - and upheld that part of an objection - but renewed its licence.
It refused petitions to deny renewal on the basis that the management had abandoned direct management of WSIA and that the station violated the FCC Fairness Doctrine and had also failed to provide programming related to community issues, offered no news-related programming, failed to establish a consistent music programming base for the full demographic community and violated Emergency Alert System rules.
In two cases where Low Power FM applications had been dismissed on the basis of rules concerning an applicant that was a local chapter of a national organization, the FCC reinstated the applications.
They were from Calvary Chapel of Joplin for a new LPFM station in Joplin, Missouri, and Calvary Emerald Coast, Inc. for a for new LPFM station in Destin, Florida.
In both cases the applicants had submitted applications that failed to distinguish them from other Calvary applicants which had filed very similar applications for LPFM stations, or from national Calvary Chapel radio companies such as CSN International and Calvary Chapel of Twin Falls that own numerous full-service and FM translator radio stations throughout the country.
The two aapplicants argued that they were autonomous and were not affiliated to other Calvary Chapels and that even if they were considered affiliated are exempt because they are separately incorporated and have a distinct local presence and mission.
The FCC accepted the petitions and re-instated the applications.
In both cases the National Lawyers' Guild Center on Democratic Communications had objected to the applications on the basis that "cookie cutter" exhibits were identical to dozens of other Calvary LPFM applications, evidence that the applicants were a chapters of the national Calvary Chapel organization.
RNW comment: We find it strange that a religious organization can argue both that it is not connected with another organization and then that even if it is Maybe there is a lower standard of honesty in some religious organizations than others. Our view is that the only honest approach is one or the other.
In more enforcement actions thel Commission has imposed or proposed penalties approaching a total of USD 26,500 but in one case it has set aside a previously issued Notice of Apparent Liability for Forfeiture (NAL) and has returned the licensee's renewal application to pending status: The NAL concerned was issued to Big Sky Owners Association, Inc., licensee of FM translator Station K257AE, West Fork (See RNW Feb 17).
In descending order of amount the penalties included:
USD 7,000 penalty to The Paradise Network of North Carolina, Inc., licencee of WHNC-AM, and associated tower in Henderson, North Carolina, for failing to notify the Commission upon changes in antenna structure ownership information and failure to operate at times other than those specified and made a part of its license.
USD 7,000 NAL to Richard Mann, doing business as The Antique Radio Collector, Toledo, Ohio, for marketing uncertified AM radio transmitters.
Mann was said to have purchased the transmitters in kit form from a third party, assembled them in his residence, and sold them.
USD 4,000 penalty to Ace Broadcasting, Inc., licensee of expired station WQST-AM, Forest, Mississippi, for unauthorized operation of its station after its license expired.
USD 4,000 penalty to Charles E. Vance III doing business as Cb Candy Electronics for offering for sale non-certified Citizens Band ("CB") transceivers and external RF power amplifiers in Ontario, California.
USD 1,500 NALs (along with licence renewal) for failure to file a licence renewal on time to:
Knox College, licensee of WVKC-FM, Galesburg, Illino.
Charles E. Jones, Jr., licensee of WVFG-FM, Uniontown, Alabama.
Bhagwan Dadlani, licensee FM Translator Station W300AN, Montgomery, Alabama.
2007-03-17: All is not well within CBS according to the New York Post which reports that CBS Radio Chairman and CEO Joel Hollander is quietly laying the groundwork to step down before his contract expires at the end of this year because of differences with CBS Corporation CEO Les Moonves who in turn is at odds with chairman Sumner Redstone - the main shareholder in both CBS and Viacom - over Moonves' pay package.
The paper, citing "sources familiar with the situation", says that Hollander is said to be tired of the continual battles with Moonves over the radio unit's direction and quoted one source as saying," Hollander's a radio guy, and CBS doesn't understand radio nor do they like radio."
The report says that the two were in conflict over the way to react when Howard Stern announced that he was to move to Sirius Satellite Radio with Hollander wanting to take the host off the air while Moonves decided to keep him on because of the financial contribution from his show: Stern repeatedly plugged his move on his show and Moonves eventually sued the host for misuse of airtime.
One source said of the situation, "It's hard to move forward in what are challenging times for radio when bad decisions are being made. Joel's view is that if he can't do a great job then he's not going to do any job."
Moonves meanwhile is reported to be objecting to plans by Redstone, who owns some 12% of CBS and Viacom and has voting control over the two companies, to restructure the former's pay package to tie it more to share price performance and less to a straight salary and bonus, a move that Redstone has already made regarding his own package.
Moonves, says the report, earns about USD 20 million per year in salary, stock and bonuses and has a long-term contract: It adds that the CBS performance since it split from Viacom has been such that basing more of his package on the share price could work in his favour.
The Post says that CBS and all those involved could not be reached or declined to comment.
New York Post on Hollander:
New York Post on Moonves:
2007-03-17: Tribune-owned WGN-AM, Chicago, has confirmed plans for a change in line-up later this spring according to Robert Feder who in the Chicago Sun-Times reports that afternoon host John Williams is due to move to a 13:00 to 16:000 slot and midday host Steve Cochran to afternoons.
Williams, says the report, would also take over Cochran's Saturday morning slot: It quotes WGN vice president and general manager Tom Langmyer as saying, "After listening closely to our audience, we're excited to announce a new afternoon line-up that best showcases our talent. We are committed to delivering the best possible news and conversation from friends Chicagoans know and trust."
Feder notes that Williams had hosted the midday slot for two years before he moved to afternoons after the death of morning host Bob Collins whose slot was taken over by Spike O'Dell.
Chicago Sun-Times - Feder column:
2007-03-17: US National Public Radio (NPR) says that the Fall 2006 Arbitron ratings just released show it reaching a new record weekly audience of 26.5 million - a 2% year-on-year increase and a 4% increase on the Spring 2006 figures.
The increase contrasts with a 4% decline in AQH ratings for at home listening and flat ratings for listening at work and in automobiles for the 25-54 demographic according to JP Morgan analysts John Blackledge and Aaron Chew who noted that radio's AQH for this demographic has dropped in 25 of the past 29 books and was up only once in six years.
NPR notes that not only has listening to its programming increased but so has that for public radio stations overall with 30.9 million listeners a week listening to NPR member stations, which programme their own local programming, the same percentage increase as t NPR's programming.
It adds that the improvement of 3% in listeners to public news/talk over the past three years contrasts with a 7% decline for listening to commercial news/talk radio and singles out improvements for its daily midday news magazine "Day to Day" - up 11% year-on-year to 1.82 million listeners a week - and its weekly comedy news quiz show "Wait Wait Don't Tell Me" - up 16% year-on-year to 2.3 million listeners a week.
"Morning Edition" it adds remains the most listened to morning program on radio, up 1% year-on-year to 13.2 million listeners weekly, whilst "All Things Considered" retained its 11.5 million listeners a week.
2007-03-17: The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has posted a 13-item "Sunshine notice" of matters on its agenda for its Open Meeting on Thursday, March 22: They include a final authorization for digital radio that was on the FCC's agenda for a meeting in July 2006 but was withdrawn. It is expected that the regulations will cover both night-time operation of AM HD radio and multicasting - using the frequency to deliver a number of signals, something that currently requires Special Temporary Authorization (STA).
Also on the agenda is the Citadel Broadcasting Corporation's USD 2.7 billion acquisition of 24 ABC radio stations a deal that does not include five ESPN radio stations owned by Disney or its Radio Disney operations.
2007-03-16: Australian commercial radio broadcasters have announced that they are to adopt the new DAB+ standard that uses the much more spectrum-efficient AAC (Advanced Audio Codec) encoding rather than the MP2 used in original DAB broadcasts.
Commenting on the announcement, Joan Warner, CEO of industry body Commercial Radio Australia said they had been "very active in supporting the international development of DAB+ because it means Australia will be able to adopt the latest, most spectrum efficient technology in the world for the roll out of our digital radio services."
Regarding the way broadcasters might use the additional capacity they will gain from their allocated bandwidth she added, " each broadcaster will now have the ability to deliver either superior audio quality, split their signal to offer two or three audio channels, or broadcast a combination of better than FM quality sound plus lots of associated data such as text or images. Whichever way stations choose to implement digital radio, the result will be a better service for listeners and advertisers."
A number of other countries that are currently conducting digital radio trials including China, India, Malta, the Netherlands, and New Zealand may also opt to use DAB+ and Warner said some leading manufacturers had said they expected to start shipping DAB+ radios later this year: Australia currently has a launch date of January 1, 2009, for digital radio services in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide, Perth and Hobart.
DAB+ was formally made an official, international standard earlier this week and the DAB+ additional audio codec was published by the European Communication Standards Institute ETSI.
Quentin Howard, President of WorldDMB said it was good news that ETSI had approved DAB+, which will allow current DAB digital radio stations (which use MP II coding) to be broadcast along with the additional DAB+. Receivers are currently in development that will be able to decode both audio types of audio encoding.
In other digital audio developments, GCap Media this week said it is to be the first broadcaster to offer what it terms "a genuine DAB multi-media advertising experience to clients" - broadcasting radio commercials accompanied by synchronised messages (known as 'DABverts') which appear on the DAB radio screen whilst the ad is playing.
The service will be available across GCap's entire portfolio of radio stations, including Classic FM, Capital Radio, Xfm, Planet Rock and The One Network from next Monday (19th March).
GCap has been conducting trials over the past few months and Andy Wood, GCap's Group Head of Commercial Programming, said, "Adding a visual element to radio campaigns allows brands to provide further information or reinforce their creative message."
GCap noted that recent Radio Advertising Bureau research has shown the nearly 70% of DAB listeners have used the text display to find out more information about what they are currently hearing, and over 40% have subsequently used that information in a call to action.
On the technological side, RadioScape is extending its Software Defined Radio (SDR) approach to use for Mobile TV using ADI's Blackfin Processor.
Radioscape says new, high performance, low power processors will enable RadioScape to integrate the DAB baseband decoder and the audio video decoder onto a single platform, providing a clear saving in costs and also on space and power compared to the conventional approach today of having these on two separate chips.
Radioscape says its initial Mobile TV (MTV) solutions will provide DAB/T-DMB and DAB-IP reception as well as DAB radio and its SDR approach means that it can add additional standards as appropriate to meet market demands and create multi-standard MTV solutions.
"Using our tightly integrated solution of DAB radio and MTV in mobile phone handsets or Personal Multimedia Players will enable many features and applications to be created in software that will further enhance the user experience," said Les Sabel, RadioScape's VP of Technology. "These include music downloads, Electronic Programme Guide, picture downloads, broadcast websites, interactive voting and games, and other user specified feeds such as sport, news, traffic, and weather. Our Software Defined Radio approach also allows service providers to deliver value-added applications to existing customers though software updates in the field."
Previous Commercial Radio Australia:
2007-03-16: US National Public Radio (NPR) is to file a petition today for reconsideration of the US Copyright Royalty Board (CRB) decision earlier this month to greatly increase the royalty payments for streaming songs online, rates that will apply back to 2006 and that many organizations say could put them out of business.
The new rates - each for one listener listening to a song - are USD .0008 per-play for 2006 (retroactively), USD .0011 for 2007, USD .0014 in 2008, USD .0018 in 2009 and USD .0019 for 2010 - rates that Kurt Hanson in Radio and Internet Newsletter (RAIN) calculated could cost AOL alone some USD 20 million for 2006 and in the case of Pandora, which he estimated has similar sized audience, could "exceed the total proceeds of all their recent rounds of venture capital plus all their sales revenues to date.
NPR's VP of Communications Andi Sporkin said of the CRB rates, "This is a stunning, damaging decision for public radio and its commitment to music discovery and education, which has been part of our tradition for more than half a century."
"Public radio's agreements on royalties with all such organizations, including the RIAA," she continued, "have always taken into account our public service mission and non-profit status. These new rates, at least 20 times more than what stations have paid in the past, treat us as if we were commercial radio - although by its nature, public radio cannot increase revenue from more listeners or more content, the factors that set this new rate. Also, we are being required to pay an internet royalty fee that is vastly more expensive than what we pay for over-the-air use of music, although for a fraction of the over-the-air audience."
"This decision," she concluded, "penalizes public radio stations for fulfilling their mandate, it penalizes emerging and non-mainstream musical artists who have always relied on public radio for visibility and ultimately it penalizes the American public, whose local station memberships and taxes will be necessary to cover the millions of dollars that will now be required as payment. On behalf of the public radio system, NPR will pursue all possible action to reverse this decision, which threatens to severely reduce local stations' public service and limit the reach of the entire music community. NPR will begin on Friday, March 16 by filing a petition for reconsideration with the CRB panel, the first step in this process. We ask that the online royalties be returned to their historic arrangement and that public radio can continue to provide its vital service to music discovery."
RNW comment: A number of sites have been set up to oppose the rate rises - termed by SoundExchange, the body that collects the fees, "a fair and reasonable decision" - including SavetheStreams, set up by Kurt Hanson of RAIN and saveourinternetradio.
Our feeling is that SoundExchange is going for what it can get and that its phrases about artists being "unable to continue contributing to the music world" without these payments are more fine-sounding propaganda than a realistic assessment of what would benefit artists, particularly those out of the mainstream to the maximum extent.
Our initial reaction is that sites concerned should as far as possible re-locate their operations outside the US, thus paying any royalties elsewhere and hitting SoundExchange where it hurt.
In addition we suggest that co-operative action by streaming organizations could enable them to set up an alternative scheme directly with artists who would agree workable rates for which n return they would get maximum collective promotion online.
Already a number of classical orchestras are moving to producing their own recordings since the recording companies do not find classical profitable enough and it seems to us the model could potentially work well with a (non-US based) co-operative body to which webcasters subscribe setting up a sales and distribution network for such artists.
With the kind of money SoundExchange is now trying to get in back payments, never mind future ones, such an experiment must be affordable, might well make for a lively Internet radio scene and give a significant boost to concert appearances by artists thereby promoted and potentially increase the incomes of all but the most popular groups.
As for the recording companies and SoundExchange, if the move succeeded they would be dented but the countervailing benefit of a long-term alternative would be well worth it: From the same long-term perspective, if the idea worked it should be kept going and any attempts to get in on the act by the recording companies and SoundExchange met with a simple response: "We don't see any point in talking to you and will only consider use your material if you charge us the same as terrestrial radio in the US (Nil as it happens on the basis that terrestrial radio promotes sales, an argument that would logically apply to the kind of organization we are proposing).
The idea certainly seems as potentially practicable as open-source software, which may yet dent Microsoft significantly.
CRB Rates decision (0.98Mb, 115 page PDF):
2007-03-16: Canadian radio revenues in the first half of fiscal 2007 are up 6.8% over a year ago - 4.9% in the first quarter and 8.3% in the second - according to national sales firm Canadian Broadcast Sales, which represents some 60% of private Canadian stations.
Its president Patrick Grierson said forward bookings in the second half of the year "are tracking nine per cent ahead of last year. We are already seeing inventory challenges in some markets and are expecting more in the back half of the year based on the current level of demand. Despite this continued support for radio, many advertisers aren't taking advantage of the cost and availability benefits of earlier execution."
In demographic terms, the "Adults 25-54" demographic with a 40.9% share - down from 44.4% a year earlier - continues to far outpace other demos: it is followed by "Adults 18-49" (15.6%); "Women 25-54" (14%); "Adults 25-49" (4.4%); and "Men 18-34" (4.2%).
Grierson said of the changes, "We are seeing dollars being reallocated to more targeted demos such as Women 25-54. The ability to reach specific audiences is one of the clear benefits radio has over other media and it's gratifying to see advertisers and agencies recognize this based on how money is being spent. Another segment benefiting from this approach is the 50+ baby boomer categories."
The top five national advertising categories took CAD 16.1 million (USD 13.7 million) - 55.4% of all spending led by Retail with 22.8%; Telecommunications with 10%; Financial with 7.3%; Automotive/Auto Aftermarket with 7%; and Restaurant/Fast Food 6.3%.
Government spending dropped out of the top five, mainly because of the absence of a federal election this year: Last year elections spending was almost CAD 1.4 million (USD 1.2 million)
Broadcaster Magazine report:
2007-03-16: GCap Media's digital pop station Core, which has been faring poorly in the ratings with a weekly reach of only 97,000 and a share below 0.1%, is to drop all its DJs and become a non-stop music service at the end of this month according to thenoise.co.uk web site.
The noise says staff were told this morning that the presenter-led shows will be dropped at the end of the month and quoted a GCap spokeswoman as saying, "We've reviewed our processes. We're not quite sure what the outcome will be."
The station was launched by the GWR Group -which merged with Capital Radio into GCap -on the Digital One national multiplex in November 1999 as a music-only station - along with four other launch stations Planet Rock, Classic FM, Talk Radio (now TalkSPORT) and Virgin Radio. Planet Rock, GCap's classic rock station by comparison had a weekly audience of 286,000 and a share of 0.1% in the latest ratings whilst Emap's The Hits had 833,000 and an 0.3% share.
Currently the Core plays music only overnight and has daytime shows hosted by Allen Lake from 07:00 to 11:00; Sophie Bruce (11:00 to 15:00); Rebecca Eames (15:00 to 18;00); and Philippa Collins (18:00 to 22:00). It is driven by texted requests and thenoise says it is not clear whether listeners will still be able to text the station and request songs.
Previous GCap Media:
Core web site (Has 128kbps stream):
Thenoise.co.uk web site:
2007-03-15: Federal Communications Commission (FCC chairman Kevin J Martin has been told that he can expect to be a "frequent visitor" to the panel's hearings by Massachusetts Democrat Edward Markey who chairs the House Energy and Commerce subcommittee on telecommunications with another Democrat, Rep. John Dingell from Wisconsin suggesting there could be monthly oversight hearings by the panel.
Martin and his four fellow commissioners appeared before the sub-committee on Wednesday and they heard criticism of the agency by California Democrat Anna Eshoo who said she continued to hear complaints that "the Commission is unresponsive, insular, and even capricious at times."
Before the hearing all five had released written statements. That of Martin (an 8-page PDF on the FCC web site) concentrated on the "rapid and unprecedented change" in telecommunications that he said had finally led companies and consumers to "the promised land of convergence."
Martin also brought up briefly issues of public safety and media ownership, suggesting in connection with the latter that new entrants could be allowed to lease a portion of a broadcaster's existing spectrum as a way of making it easier to get into the industry.
His fellow Republican Robert M. McDowell also concentrated on telecommunications with a mention of media ownership, concluding by saying, "America's communications future has never looked more promising. Consumers have never been more empowered or savvy. The marketplace is teeming with more brilliant entrepreneurial ideas than ever before. And the FCC is striving to create an environment where private enterprise can meet ever-more-sophisticated consumer demand as quickly as possible. In doing so, we are promoting consumer freedom."
The remaining Republican Commissioner Deborah Taylor Tate also dealt with the same topics, noting, "While I believe in general that the marketplace can best address many of the economic issues we face at the FCC, I am pleased that we continue to ensure that the critical needs of consumers are also addressed. "
Democrat Commissioners Jonathan S. Adelstein and Michael J. Copps also went for the same ground although their emphasis was more slewed towards consumer interests with Adelstein commenting that " to make the media landscape look and sound like America, we need to open our airwaves to community-based and minority voices, and improve minority and women ownership. The success of our review rests upon the degree to which the American people believe that their voices have been heard. Accordingly, transparency - relative to public hearings, Commission studies, and the public release of the specific rules before they are finalized - is essential.
Copps gave comparatively greater emphasis to broadcasting warning that "the public-spirited part of the enterprise is being squeezed out."
"Too often the programs we receive," he said, "are homogenized, creativity-killing, and often gratuitously violent. Perhaps, even worse, the dearth of political and community coverage threatens our democratic dialogue and the independent viewpoints we depend upon to help us make good decisions for the future of our country. Localism, diversity and competition are not abstract constructions; they are the essential ingredients for keeping our nation's media-and our nation-healthy, vibrant and growing. "
Copps also commented on "a noticeable shift-a growing impatience with things as they are." "Whether this is motivated by examples of new programming lows, the further consolidation of news rooms and music play lists, or a new spirit of change abroad in the land, I don't know for sure," he said. "But I do know this-whatever the reason, millions of people are no longer content just to defeat bad new media consolidation rules. There is a thirst-one that I share-for us to revisit the bad old rules that got us into this predicament in the first place. What many people want, and I wholeheartedly agree, is to bring back some basic public interest standards-a responsibility to serve the common good-to the broadcast media and to bring the spirit of public interest to other media as well. "
In connection with media ownership, the Commission has announced that the fourth of its six public hearings to be held on the issues will take place in the Tampa-St. Petersburg, Florida, area in the afternoon and evening on Monday, April 30, 2007.
2007-03-15: Sirius and XM have put into the public record through a filing to the SEC (Securities and Exchange Commission) their view that satellite radio would continue in business even if their merger is rejected.
The filing puts on the record a response by Sirius CFO David Frear to a March 6 editorial in the Boston Herald that Frear says "overlooks the enormous changes already experienced in the audio entertainment industry."
After noting that analogue AM/FM is still the radio industry behemoth but the "competitive landscape has dramatically changed and consumers now have great choice beyond traditional free radio, including HD radio, iPods, Internet radio, and cell phones" Frear ends, "Contrary to what your editorial suggests, we don't believe either of the satellite radio companies will "wither and die" if the merger of Sirius and XM is not approved. We do believe that as the merger review process proceeds, we'll demonstrate that consumers are better off with more choice in audio entertainment at better prices."
The planned merger has again been attacked by the US National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) whose President and CEO David K. Rehr in a letter to Michigan Democrat Rep John Conyers, the Anti-Trust Task Force Chairman.
The letter is in the form of answers to six questions [RNW comment- some of which seem more suited to a six-year-old than a presumably reasonably knowledgeable lawmaker] and it covers ground already staked out by the NAB.
"A combined XM-Sirius," writes Rehr, "will be able to offer money-losing products like a low-cost a la carte package of channels, or charge predatory advertising rates, and offset the lost revenue with the monopoly rents it can charge for its national, mobile radio services. The impact of these and similar monopolistic activities would be devastating for local broadcasters."
Rehr also argues that whilst satellite competes with terrestrial radio because satellite listeners are thereby not listening to terrestrial and thus reducing advertising revenues, terrestrial does not compete with satellite because the "basic characteristics of satellite radio are unique" in offering a pre-packaged bundle whereas "Local radio broadcasters do not offer a large bundle of programming, nor can they cross-subsidize hundreds of niche programs to reach specific audiences."
Rehr says that other devices such as iPods to not compete enough to "impact the satellite radio market" and in particular notes that "the new rate scheme recently approved by the U.S. Copyright Royalty Board will make Internet streaming too expensive for many, if not most, radio stations to provide."
Regarding Sirius CEO Mel Karmazin's comments, Frear writes, "Karmazin's view of the market does not hold water when taken to its logical conclusion" and also attacks the satellite companies themselves, saying they "are not credible candidates for merger, not deserving of a government bailout for their bad business decisions, and definitely not trustworthy stewards of monopoly control over the market for national, mobile, digital radio service."
RNW comment: Regarding Rehr's comments about the logical conclusion of Karmazin's market view (or should we say argument as we suspect his view would be different were he still in charge of CBS Radio) we suggest that if NAB's comments over the years were taken to their logical conclusion, the only sensible thing for any broadcaster to do would be to stop subscribing on the basis of harm done. As it is the only honest thing to do might be to leave NAB but shorter term self-interest at least militates against this. In our view Rehr is right in the sense that his letter is really one to attract the attention of an ignorant public rather than a knowledgeable regulator or lawmaker but wrong when subjected to knowledgeable non-partisan assessment.
2007-03-15: Air America Radio has appointed radio veteran and former WOR-AM programme director David Bernstein to the newly-created post of VP of Programming.
Bernstein has more recently headed his own firm, Bernstein Talent, which is dedicated to the development and training of broadcast media personalities, and also teaches a course in radio broadcasting at Fairleigh Dickinson University in Madison, New Jersey. He will retain his roles at both.
Previous Air America Radio:
2007-03-15: Clear Channel, whose takeover by a private equity consortium has been attracting criticism from a number of major shareholders as we have already reported, has delayed until April 19 its planned special meeting of shareholders in relation to the deal.
The meeting had been scheduled for March 21 and Clear Channel says the decision to postpone it was unanimously recommended by is "disinterested" directors - management and other interested directors, it says, recused themselves from the vote - who re-iterated their recommendation to vote for the deal.
They also voted to make March 23 the date of record as to who its shareholders are , saying that the "disinterested directors, in view of "the substantial trading volume in Clear Channel shares" since the original record date was set meant that the original list no longer reflected the company's "stockholder base" and added, "The move will allow shareholders who have purchased shares since the original record date and who currently have economic stakes in the company to participate in the vote."
Previous Clear Channel:
2007-03-14: The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) has announced that it is to launch a review of issues relating to ensuring a diversity of voices on Canada's airwaves.
Details of the scope of the review are to be announced soon and a public hearing is to be held in the fall this year.
Konrad von Finckenstein, Chairman of the CRTC commented of the move, "The current wave of consolidation in the Canadian broadcasting industry, and the possibility of more major transactions in the future, raises important questions relating to the diversity of voices in Canada. Holding a public hearing in the fall will allow us to give these issues the thorough and in-depth study they deserve. This exercise will result in clearly articulated policy guidelines that will further the evolution of the Canadian broadcasting system from that point forward."
The CRTC has also announced that it has decided to withdraw any review of its common ownership policy from the public hearing on the CTVglobemedia Inc. /CHUM Limited transaction, which is scheduled to begin on April 30, 2007. It added that transactions recently announced by CanWest MediaWorks Inc. and Alliance Atlantis Communications Inc., and Astral Media Inc. and Standard Radio Inc., as well as the CTVglobemedia Inc./CHUM Limited transaction and any divestiture agreements emanating from it, will be assessed in light of the Commission's existing regulations and policies.
Previous von Finckenstein:
2007-03-14: Spanish Broadcasting System, Inc. has announced final quarter net revenues in 2006 down 5% on a year earlier at USD 42.7 million with radio net revenue down 9% to USD 46.9 million. It put the radio decrease down primarily to promotional events and revenues related to its previously sold Los Angeles stations KZAB-FM and KZBA-FM.
Operating income for the period was down 46% to USD 5.9 million and Income before Income Taxes and Discontinued Operations was down from USD 4 million in 2005 to USD 900,000. Overall net income went
For the full year 2006, SBS reported revenues up 4% to USD 176.9 million; radio net revenue up 1% to USD172.1 million; Operating income up 75% to UD 84.2 million; and Income before Income Taxes and Discontinued Operations of USD 61 million compared to a loss in 2005 of USD 18.2 million. It noted that the 2006 figures included a gain of USD 50.8 million from the sale of KZAB-FM and KZBA-FM and a decrease in Interest Expense, net, of USD 15.4 million
Chairman and CEO Raúl Alarcón commented of the performance, "During 2006, we continued to build our brands and strengthen our Hispanic multi-media platform. Despite solid audience shares, our fourth quarter radio revenues were below our expectations due to a soft advertising environment in some of our larger markets, primarily New York and Los Angeles."
"As in prior periods of market volatility, "he added, "we are confronting short-term market challenges with a long-term emphasis on consistently delivering Hispanic listeners to our advertisers. We are encouraged with Arbitron's fall ratings book, which showed solid audience share gains in our key markets. Furthermore, Mega TV in Miami, while still in an early stage of development, continues to build a dynamic audience base in South Florida."
"Our Internet properties<" he said, "have also garnered an impressive user base, and we remain focused on monetizing our attractive user demographics. Overall, we are pleased with the progress we are making in positioning our assets to excel in a dynamic media marketplace. We believe the investments we are making in our business today will lead to enhanced value for our shareholders."
In other US broadcasting business news, Lieberman Broadcasting Inc. has withdrawn its USD 150 million initial public offering (IPO) and CBS Corporation has announced that the remuneration of Executive Chairman Sumner Redstone is in future to be tied more to shareholder returns and less to salary and bonuses, a change that mirrors his recently-revised employment package with Viacom Inc. of which he is also executive chairman.
Under the new deal, Redstone's salary will be reduced from USD 1.75 million to USD 1 million and deferred compensation, which is currently USD 1.3 million, will be eliminated. His target cash bonus under CBS's short-term incentive plan will be reduced from USD 6.1 million to USD3.5 million per year and he will receive an annual award of stock options having a grant-date value of USD3 million and an annual award of performance share units (PSU's) with a target value of USD 3 million.
2007-03-14: Another of BBC Radio 2.s longest-running shows is to go off the air for a period next month when "Best of Jazz", which has been presented for nearly four decades by Jazz trumpeter Humphrey Lyttleton, takes its first break since it first went on air in October 1967.
Earlier this year the station ended the Sunday evening programme "Your Hundred Best Tunes" that had been on air for 48 years and last year it dropped its annual national big band competition that had aired for 31.
Lyttelton said in a BBC news release that the decision was "solely my own" and continued, "I've presented The Best Of Jazz for almost 40 years continuously, at a rate of around 50 a year, choosing and scripting some 20,000 items and I now want to have a bit more time for other things, my own still active and flourishing band, high among them."
The programme will return as a 13-week series twice a year and Lyttelton added, "If this announcement has summoned the word 'retirement' to your minds, dismiss it at once. I shall be back in July with a three month series of similar programmes, but this time it will be as a short distance, rather than a marathon, runner."
In other BBC changes, pianist and musicologist Sarah Walker and James Jolly, Editor-in-Chief of Gramophone magazine, are to present a new weekday morning programme on BBC Radio 3 from April 2, the same day that Best of Jazz ends its current run.
"Classical Collection", which will air in the 10:00 to noon currently occupied by "CD Masters" will, says the BBC, offer an in-depth guide to both contemporary and historic recordings of classical music, focussing mainly upon the core repertoire.
Radio 3 controller Roger Wright said of the programme, "We aim to encourage and guide our listeners through the wealth of recorded music. Sarah and James are authoritative voices whose knowledge will continue to build BBC Radio 3's reputation as the trusted guide to classical music."
Jonathan Swain, who will present CD Masters until the new show goes on air, will remain at Radio 3 presenting "Through The Night". His predecessor at CD Masters Rob Cowan now hosts the station's breakfast show.
Also at the BBC , Radio Five Live is to pick up Xfm drivetime presenter Richard Bacon from the GCap station to which he moved from the same slot on sister station GCap's Capital Radio in August last year.
Bacon will leave Xfm at the end of the month when his current contract expires and will host a 10-part Sunday evening current affairs panel show, "Fighting Talk: Any Other Business" on Five Live from the start of next month. Like the Saturday "Fighting Talk" programme, which as been airing on the station since 2003, the show will be made by World's End Productions.
Also in the UK, the Guardian is reporting that Chrysalis Radio Sales will handle the entire national sales contract for the six-strong Smooth Radio network, owned by Guardian Media Group Radio, which launches later this month.
Chrysalis already handled airtime sales for Smooth in London and north-west England and for GMG's Real Radio network whilst GCap Media handles GMG Radio's Century stations.
GMG is re-branding its existing Smooth stations and the Saga stations it bought as "Smooth" with a target audience aged 40-60, a similar demographic to that targeted by BBC Radio 2.
Chrysalis Radio commercial director, Don Thomson, told the paper, "The integration of these stations into Guardian Media Group Radio's Smooth Radio network is a fantastic opportunity for commercial radio to seriously challenge Radio 2 and obtain a significant slice of the spend from brands who wish to reach this older demographic."
Previous GCap Media:
Previous Guardian Media Group:
UK Guardian report:
2007-03-14: Digital civil liberties group the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) is claiming success in getting the US Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) to revoke a Clear Channel patent covering the creation of digital recordings of live concerts that the EFF terms a "bogus patent" that it says Clear Channel used to claim "a monopoly on all-in-one technologies that produce post-concert digital recordings and threatened to sue those who made such recordings."
The EFF says the patent, owned by" Instant Live" that is now owned by "Live Nation", locked musical acts into using Clear Channel technology and blocked innovations by others but its investigation found that a company called Telex had developed similar technology more than a year before Clear Channel filed its patent request.
The patent was one of EFF's "Top Ten Most Wanted culprits" in its Patent Busting Project that seeks to document the threats to public and consumer interests from what it terms "bogus software patents".
EFF staff attorney Jason Schultz says they are "good examples of what's wrong with the current patent system", adding, "We're glad that the Patent Office was willing to help artists and innovators out from under its shadow."
EFF in conjunction with patent attorney Theodore C. McCullough and with the help of Lori President and Ashley Bollinger, students at the Glushko-Samuelson Intellectual Property Clinic at American University's Washington College of Law had asked the PTO to revoke the patent.
McCullough commented, "The patent system plays a critical role in business and the economy. Everyone loses if we allow overreaching patent claims to restrict the tremendous benefits of new software and technology development."
Previous Clear Channel:
EFF web site:
2007-03-13: Salem has reported fourth quarter 2006 revenues up 10.9% to USD 59.8 million but operating income was down 17.5% to USD 10.1 million and net income was down 0.9% to USD 3.3 million albeit net income per diluted share was up from 13cents to 14 cents per share as the number of shares fell from an average 25,433,317 in the final quarter of 2005 to 23,852,840 diluted weighted average shares for the final quarter of last year.
For the full year, Salem revenue was up 8.6% to USD 227.8 million; operating income was up 30.1% to USD 57.9 million; and net income was up 50% to USD 19.0 million (From 49 cents per diluted share to 78 cents per diluted share).
In divisional terms, net broadcasting revenue for the final quarter was up 5.5% to USD 53.7 million and same station net broadcasting revenue was up 4.8% to USD 52.5 million but station operating income was down 1.4% to USD 19.6 million and same station operating income was down 2.7% to USD 19.6 million. Non-broadcast media revenues by comparison were up 10.27% to USD 6.0 million with non-broadcast operating income up 3.6% to USD 400,000.
For the full year, net broadcasting revenue was up 4.8% to USD 208.4 million with station operating income down 0l1% to USD 77.3 million and same station net broadcasting revenue was up 2.4% to USD 200.6 million and same station operating income was down 0.6% to USD 77.4 million. Non broadcast media revenues for the year were up 79.5% to USD 19.4 million with non-broadcast operating income up 32.9% to USD 1.2 million.
The full year results include a USD 18.6 million gain of which USD 11.6 million came from the disposal and exchange of assets in the Sacramento, Cleveland and Dallas markets, partly counterbalances by a USD 3.6 million loss from the early redemption of senior subordinated notes and a USD 4.3 million non-cash compensation charge.
President and CEO Edward G. Atsinger III said of the performance that the revenue growth in the final quarter was "due to the strong performance of our non-broadcast media business, continued development of our News Talk stations and our consistent block programming business."
"Our Internet and publishing businesses," he added, "posted USD 6.0 million in revenue, more than doubling their revenue from the prior year. Radio broadcasting grew revenue by 5.5% to USD 53.7 million, led by a 19.6% increase in revenue from News Talk stations and by a 9.3% increase in revenue from block programming on our Christian Teaching and Talk stations. This revenue growth was offset by increased investment in marketing, promotion and local programming talent at certain of our News Talk stations, which reduced our station operating income for the quarter. We consider these investments an important step in driving our less developed radio stations to long-term profitability."
For the first quarter of this year Salem is projecting total revenue between USD 55.5 million and USD 56.0 million compared to first quarter 2006 revenue of USD 52.0 million and net income per diluted share to be approximately zero.
Salem has also announced that it expects same station national block programming revenues to increase by approximately 5% this year and adds that in line with recent years, more than 90% of Salem's national block programming business was successfully renewed.
2007-03-13: Sirius Satellite Radio says it has renewed an exclusive long-term agreement with National Public Radio (NPR) for the latter to continue programming for it two 24/7 public radio channels featuring a variety of shows from NPR, other public radio producers and NPR Member stations from across the country.
NPR Now (Sirius channel 134) and NPR Talk (Sirius channel 135) include a wide range of NPR shows including talks shows Talk of the Nation, News & Notes, Fresh Air, The Diane Rehm Show, Day to Day, Marketplace, On the Media, Radio Times, Justice Talking, Latino USA and Forum and Sirius is also to carry exclusively on satellite the new morning news and information channel for those aged 25-44 that NPR is scheduled to launch in September.
Entertainment shows on the channels include A Prairie Home Companion, Car Talk, Wait Wait ... Don't Tell Me!, Chef's Table and Travel with Rick Steves and arts, culture and music programming includes From the Top, Jazz Profiles and Soundprint.
2007-03-13: UK media regulator Ofcom in its latest Broadcast Bulletin upheld no complaints against radio but did uphold three standards complaints against TV with three further fairness and privacy complaints against TV partly upheld and considered three further TV standards complaints resolved by action taken by the broadcasters. It also gave details of another TV standards complaint that was not upheld.
In addition to these the bulletin lists with no details a further 174 TV complaints involving 131 items and 21 radio complaints involving 20 items that it were out of its remit or not upheld. The totals compare with 16 TV complaints involving 11 items and one radio complaints involving one item that it were out of its remit or not upheld in its previous bulletin.
Previous Ofcom Complaints Bulletin:
2007-03-13: BBC digital station 6 Music, which is marking its fifth anniversary, has announced that Shaun Keaveny is to move from his current evening slot to host the breakfast show from Monday April 2. He takes over from Phill Jupitus who commented, "After five years of getting up at the opposite end of my usual working day, the past half decade of wrongly credited tracks, poorly prepared interviews and borderline profanity has been an unbridled joy.
BBC Radio 2 and 6 Music Controller Lesley Douglas said in a BBC release, "Phill Jupitus is, of course, a hard act to follow. Phill's commitment and passion has been key in building 6 Music's audience and reputation. I will miss his laid back humour in the morning - but I look forward to welcoming him back to 6 Music at some point in the future when he has caught up on his sleep!"
Of Keaveney she said "his irreverence, humour and love of music will make him the perfect new breakfast show presenter as we move 6 Music into its sixth year. He is one of those rare broadcasting talents who is appointment listening."
Keaveny said, "It's difficult to express how excited I am about taking the 6 Music breakfast chair without resorting to colourful Anglo-Saxon language. To get the opportunity to wake up the digital-listening nation with the best old and new music in the world and my shoddy gags is the cherry atop a huge, inedible cake."
Other changes at the station include the hiring of George Lamb to present "The Dream Ticket"; a move from Saturday night to Saturday afternoon for indie DJ duo The Queens of Noize (Mairead Nash and Tabitha Denholm); a new Friday night show for DJ, musician and film maker Don Letts; and a new Sunday evening show for Guy Garvey, lead singer of Manchester based band Elbow.
2007-03-12: This week we again return to the topic of the Sirius-XM merger in our look at print comment on the media but from a different perspective courtesy of the San Francisco Chronicle and William J. Drummond, a former NPR correspondent who teaches at the School of Journalism at UC Berkeley in the San Francisco Chronicle, we start off with the views of UC Berkeley undergraduates - members of his seminar - whom he asked about the likelihood of their choosing satellite radio as a source of music and whether it was worth the price.
"For the last five years," writes Drummond, "XM and Sirius have been competing for leadership in an industry that has barely pulled together a total audience of 13.6 million listeners. Compared to the audience for conventional radio (estimated at 282 million listeners a week, or 77 percent of the U.S. population), satellite radio is anaemic. Meanwhile, Apple's iPod and other MP3 players are being sold at a rate of more than 30 million per year."
He goes on to say the responses of his students indicate that a merger would not help the combined company gain greater penetration with the cost a major factor. There is also the question of what they choose to listen to with one student writing, "Accustomed to clutching my iPod almost everywhere I go, I have always had my favourite songs and artists in one hand-held technological gadget, minus the commercials, interruptions, as well as the occasional songs I do not want to listen to, but I cannot skip when listening to the radio."
Drummond continues, "Herein lies the cultural underpinning of today's college generation: They are impatient; they want it right now, and they want it for cheap."
RNW comment: A little maths on the basis of i-tunes pricing indicates to us that either the students concerned are not particularly concerned about only having a very limited choice -- a satellite subscription will get them fewer than 160 - or are not paying for the material they put into their portable players. It could be some are listening to Internet audio but this would also provide material they could not skip - a sign of a narrow mind in the making in any case we would suggest - and if copyright fee increases currently being put forward do go through the sources for this will be considerable more limited in future. Overall the comments do not fill us with admiration for the intellectual rigour or arithmetical capabilities of those at the UC Berkeley School of Journalism
In similar vein, Evan L. Hanlon and Kimberly E. Gittleson - respectively the president and rock director of WHRB, the Harvard College station - writing in the Harvard Crimson, also play down the success of satellite, noting that neither satellite radio company has yet made a profit and writing, "Other than a few confused luxury car owners, consumers have basically ignored the industry. Yet despite falling stocks, investors continue to have hope in the industry, refusing to acknowledge all signs to the contrary."
They continue, "While Wall Street may not have realized it, it's perfectly obvious why satellite radio is not making money: no one wants to pay for radio, especially radio with generic programming.
Since the FCC only regulates the content on "free-to-air" radio, listeners have the illusion that satellite radio, with Howard Stern as its icon, is more edgy than local radio. But other than the notoriously vulgar Stern, the bulk of satellite radio's content is as bland and commercialized as the music in the Gap. "
"Satellite service," they comment, "is embraced as the future of radio because it is new technology, and new technology seems like the only way to save old-fashioned broadcast radio. But in placing itself in direct competition with broadcast radio, satellite radio only offers to reinvent the wheel, and does so poorly."
Commenting that in many cases satellite offers the same programming that listeners can get on regular radio stations, most notably on the nine stations owned by Clear Channel (are the duo pitching for a job?) they write, "What new technology should add to radio is not just a commercial-free listening experience, but a way to give listeners more innovative programming options. Ideas such as HD radio, which offers multiple programs on one channel and works on the same frequencies allocated to FM and AM stations, give local stations the ability to experiment with programming without risking bankruptcy or a significant drop in listeners. This versatility offers listeners an opportunity to decide whether or not the new programming is worth listening to."
We could go on but our response again is to worry about the intellectual capability required to get into Harvard. The phrases may read well at a cursory glance "Local programming, local personalities, local bands-radio is a medium that needs to be devoted to the communities in which they exist, not to Howard Stern's deranged antics. Historically, radio has been successful because of its ability to attract listeners and keep them tuning in for special broadcasts and new music" but to anyone who looks at the medium in a wider context than US radio of recent years will find the article shallow and find in it little constructive.
"The radio industry," they write, "needs to be focused on technologies that can bring radio back to what it does best in terms of live music and new ideas. Leave talk about satellite to the lawyers and the dealmakers; even after 100 years, traditional radio is still the future of broadcasting." So what exactly do they mean and what exactly are the technologies involved.
As a counter we suggest Lee Abrams' blog as generally worth a read and, even with the plugs for XM, where he is SVP and chief programming officer, rather more perceptive.
We'd also suggest Melisa Ruggieri's assessment in the Richmond Times-Dispatch of what the merger may mean albeit she likes Stern, which presumably wouldn't go down well with the Harvard duo and also a North Dakota view from Kelly Hagen in the Bismarck Tribune. Hagen opposes the merger on competition grounds but those responding to his comments are nearly all in favour for various reasons.
Next listening suggestions and the BBC to begin with, commencing with BBC Radio 2 and tomorrow at 20:30 GMT when it airs "In Search of the Perfect Pop Song", the final part of a three part series. Then BBC Radio 4 and again the most recent "Point of View " from Clive James (Fridays with a Sunday repeat) plus the most recent "Archive Hour" - "Harry Belafonte at 80" in which Stephen Evans talks to the signer about his music and politics: Next Saturday (at 20:00 GMT) the programme features reporter Michael Nicholson recalling the 1982 invasion of the Falklands complete with archive from the Falkland Island Broadcasting Service whose station manager fond his one-hour music request show turning into a 16-hour marathon broadcast as islands phoned in sightings of the invading Argentine Army.
Also from the station this week we suggest "Iraq online" at 11:00 GMT on Wednesday with BBC Defence Correspondent Paul Wood investigating the phenomenon of war blogging ; "Cut Price Classics" on Thursday at 11:30 GMT - a look at the recordings of classical music put out by cheap and cheerful such as Fidelio, Saga and Egmont; and also from Thursday "Analysis" at 20:30 - a look by Philip Stephens at the place of the US in the world.
The US is also the subject of this week's series of "The Essay" on BBC Radio 3 - 23:00 GMT Monday through Thursday. This week's essays are "States of Mind" in which (in that order) crime writer P.D. James; British-Pakistani writer Kamran Nazeer; writer, reviewer and columnist Will Self; and composer Errollyn Wallen explore their intellectual, physical and cultural discovery of America.
Next drama and the "Afternoon Play" from today - "Rondo" - one of a series of what the station is terming "Drama-documentaries taking musical form as their starting point." This week's music was Saint-Saens's Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso for violin explored by musicologist David Huckvale and interwoven with Louise Ramsden's drama about a sandwich bar proprietor Stella, who, although jilted by her fiancé, is determined to fulfil her wedding day commitment.
Next Monday the music in "Variations" is Beethoven's of Variations at the end of his Sonata in E, Op 109 and the drama comes from Tim Jackson.
For our final suggestions from BBC Radio 4 we suggest comedy and "The Now Show", which airs in the 18:30 slot on Fridays and is available on the site as an MP3 as well as an on-demand stream.
And still with the BBC and turning back to Radio 3, for Jazz enthusiasts next Saturday's "Jazz File" at 17:00 GMT starts a three-part series "The Shape of Jazz Today" in which British jazz critic and author Stuart Nicholson explores jazz as a global phenomenon that has spread its wings from its American roots.
Finally from Radio 3, "Night Waves" at 21:45 GMT on Thursday this week has Harold Pinter talking about his play "The Homecoming", a new production of which is this week's "Drama on 3" next Sunday at 20:00 GMT, and this week's edition of "The Verb" that on Friday (21:45GMT) looks at Hebrew poetry from medieval Spain.
That choice links us to our next suggestion, the March 4 edition of "Spirit of Things" from the Australian Broadcasting Corporation -"Spiritual Classics II: Hasidic Tales" that featured discussion of the talks of the founder of Hasidism discussed by Jonathan Sacks, the Chief Rabbi of the UK; Zalman Schachter Shalomi, the founder of the Jewish renewal movement; and storyteller Donna Jacobs Sife.(The MP3 wil lbe on the site for another fornight).
To end with we suggest Radio Netherlands and last Saturday's "Vox Humana" in which Radio-Television Hong Kong producer Erin Bowland looked at the culture of Hong Kong, the industrious former British colony where it would seen that hard work comes bottom in the list of five factors - the others are Fate, Luck, Feng Shui and Good Deeds - that govern someone's success.
Lee Abrams blog:
Bismarck Tribune - Hagen:
Harvard Crimson - Hanlon and Gittleson:
Richmond Times-Dispatch - Ruggieri:
San Francisco Chronicle - Drummond:
2007-03-12: The row over premium-rate phone line "scams" that has led UK regulatory body for the premium rate telecommunications industry ICSTIS to ask all those involved to review of their current and forthcoming participation TV programming to ensure there is no consumer harm looks as if it may spill over into commercial radio in the UK.
Comments noting that commercial radio also runs such lines have been made by industry figures including Professor of Television Journalism and former Independent Television News Chief Executive and Editor-in-Chief Stewart Purvis.
Following his remarks the UK Mail on Sunday says SMG-owned Virgin Radio has admitted charging its listeners for record requests that they stand little or no chance of hearing on air."
The station, notes the report, is one of many that encourages listeners to text requests, adding that a text to Virgin costs 25 pence (around 50 cents) some ten pence (20 cents) of which goes to the station and the rest to the mobile phone operator.
The paper says a reader complained that he texted a request to the Saturday show fronted by Suggs (Graham McPherson) from the pop group "Madness" only to see the singer appearing live on TV a few minutes later and adds that it is not made clear when inviting people to send their requests that the show of often pre-recorded.
Virgin, says the paper, refused to say how many messages it had received during the show involved, which it admitted was pre-recorded, and insisted its share of the text money merely covered operating expenses but did not make a profit.
It quoted a Virgin spokeswoman said Suggs was very busy and added, " on this occasion the show was pre-recorded but all the texts we get go into an email inbox which will be used at some point - it's not that those requests will go to waste."
ICSTIS said it would look into the Virgin text-messaging scheme, commenting, "You can't portray something as live if it's not. We would have to hear a transcript of the show to see what words were used."
RNW comment: Apart from noting that there should be accurate information available of what such calls will achieve and cost, the issue of whether this is a scam should be fairly easy to establish by requiring -as a condition of being allowed to run premium rate lines - all broadcasters to keep and post on their web sites records of the numbers of calls received, costs involved, and the amount that goes to the broadcaster. If that is done then we see no real need for significant regulatory action - ISCTIS is proposing to introduce a licensing regime for all premium rate service providers operating participation TV services within three months - apart from two rules. First is that the broadcasters should keep a record, something that with electronic messaging can be automated, of the calls involved and second that should a complaint then be upheld the regulator can order the broadcaster to write to every callers within the relevant period together with a refund. We specify write because the hassle of having to first electronically get a response and then having to send out refunds should be enough to deter all but the most stupidly greedy or incompetent -and they deserve all they get.
Previous SMG (Virgin owner):
*RNW Note - we could not find this story on the Mail website when we last checked.
2007-03-11: Last week was a very quiet one for the regulators although in both Australia and the US, issues of media mergers that will ultimately involve them were on the agenda, particularly the planned Sirius-XM merger in the US.
In Australia, where changes to cross-media ownership laws were announced in October but the government has not yet announced when they will take effect, there were no radio announcements as such but the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has announced in relation to any mergers that it and the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) are to ask parties involved in a media merger to agree that confidential information provided to one agency may be shared with the other.
Both agencies may investigate a merger separately and they say there is some overlap so sharing information would help ensure consistent decisions.
In Canada, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC), has announced that its total broadcasting regulatory costs for the 2007-2008 fiscal year are CAD 26.449 million (USD 23.5 million). After taking into account the annual adjustment amount of CAD 1.648 million (USD 1.46 million) for fiscal year 2005-2006, the net billing for Part 1 licence fees for fiscal year 2007-2008 thus amounts to CAD 28.1 million (USD 24.9 million).
The CRTC has also announced a number of decisions including approval of an application by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) to add a 413 watts transmitter at Dawson City, Yukon Territory, to the licence of CBU-FM Vancouver, British Columbia, to broadcast the programming of the CBC Radio Two service originating from CBU-FM Vancouver.
It also published a list of non-commercial radio programming undertakings whose licences are due to expire on 31 August 2007 and that it intends to renew for a full seven year term, subject to any interventions.
The list includes two Campus Instructional stations, 14 Community-based campus stations and 32 Community Type A stations.
There were no radio announcements from Ireland or the UK although Ofcom did publish a 34-page Memorandum of Understanding between it and the BBC Trust about their relationship and the areas of interaction between the two bodies.
In the US, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) as already noted is involved in the process of evaluating the proposed Sirius-XM merger: it also issued a number of penalties (See below) and suspended its notice of changes for those AM stations who operate with a Presunrise Service Authorization ("PSRA") and/or a Postsunset Service Authorization ("PSSA") relating to this weekend's time change in the US following the decision to commence summer time earlier from this year (See RNW Mar 2).
Announcing the suspension the agency gave as its reason "an unanticipated computer problem that produced erroneous power levels on certain of these recalculated authorizations" saying it was suspending "use of its recalculated PSRAs and PSSAs until the Bureau corrects the computer errors and calculates the correct power levels."
"After the problem has been corrected," says the FCC, " the Bureau will recalculate and publish permissible PSRA and PSSA operating parameters for all eligible AM stations and will issue a Public Notice advising when this process has been completed."
Previous Licence News:
ACMA web site:
CRTC web site:
FCC web site:
Ofcom web site:
2007-03-11: Analysts polled by Bloomberg think Clear Channel Communications Inc. shareholders are likely to reject the proposed USD 18.7 billion takeover of the company by private equity firms Thomas H. Lee Partners LP and Bain Capital Partners LLP in a vote due on March 20.
Clear Channel shares ended last week at USD 35.39, below the USD 37.60 being offered by the firms and Jonathan Jacoby, an analyst at Banc of America Securities in New York said there was "a high probability the buyout offer is rejected by shareholders."
James Goss, an analyst at Barrington Research in Chicago who owns shares in Clear Channel, backed up Jacoby, commenting, "It's not a sure thing if major holders are vocally opposed. At the very least it will be close.''
A two-thirds vote is required for the deal to go through and already Clear Channel's largest shareholder Fidelity Investments, which owns 9.7% of the company, has said it plans to vote against on the grounds that the price doesn't reflect gains made by the company's outdoor advertising unit.
The Mays family, which includes Chairman and co-founder Lowry Mays and his sons, Clear Channel CEO Mark Mays and CFO Randall Mays, own 6%. The latter two have endorsed the bid and would remain in their roles should it be voted through.
Previous Clear Channel:
2007-03-11: In more enforcement actions the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has imposed or proposed penalties approaching a total of just under USD 90,000, again most for failing to file renewal applications on time and in some cases continuing operation without a licence.
In descending order of amount the penalties included:
USD 14,000 Notice of Apparent Liability to Forfeiture (NAL) (along with licence renewal) for failure to file a licence renewal on time and operating without a licence to Down Home Broadcasting, licensee of WCOX-AM, and WYVC-FM, Camden, Alabama.
USD 10,000 NAL to Gaston College, licensee of non-commercial Educational Station WSGE-FM, Dallas, North Carolina, which a complainant alleged had prohibited him from viewing the Station's public inspection file on two separate visits made to the Station's main studio. The licensee did not in general dispute the allegations but characterized the Complainant's behaviour during the first visit as "hostile," and asked the Bureau to view the Complaint in the context of its past dealings with the Complainant's employer, Columbia Bible College that it said had been engaged in a "pattern of harassment and intimidation" by pursuing FCC proceedings against it: It also said Columbia Bible College's actions, through the Complainant, are motivated by its prior unsuccessful efforts to acquire the station and is attempting to misuse the Commission's processes to force Gaston College to sell the station. It also argued that it failed to comply because of a misunderstanding about the whereabouts of the file, which was in the process of being updated.
The FCC in issuing the NAL commented that to condone this last excuse "would render the public inspection process meaningless."
Issued penalty of USD 9,600, reduced from USD 14,000 to Frank R. Truatt, licensee of WTBQ-AM, Warwick, New York, for failure to maintain fully operational EAS equipment, failing to conduct the annual transmitter equipment performance measurements, and failing to maintain a radio issues/programs list in the station's public inspection file. Truatt had not denied the breached but had petitioned for a reduction on the basis that the EAS equipment was partially repaired prior to the FCC's inspection, a history of compliance, steps to avoid repetition and financial hardship.
The FCC accepted only two of the arguments, reducing the penalty by USD 1,600 because of the partial repair and by a further USD 2,800 on the basis of past compliance.
USD 7,000 Notices of Apparent Liability to Forfeiture (NALs) (along with licence renewal) for failure to file a licence renewal on time and operating without a licence to:
Best Media, Inc., licensee FM Translator Station W206BL (formerly W207BJ), Mount Prospect, Illinois.
Del Matthew Reynolds, licensee of FM Translator Station W247AC, Green Bay, Wisconsin.
Gateway Technical College, licensee of WGTD-FM, Kenosha, Wisconsin.
Greenville College Educational Broadcasting Foundation, Inc., licensee of WGRN-FM, Greenville, Illinois.
Hawkins Broadcasting Company, licensee WWHN-AM, Joliet, Illinois.
Illinois Valley Radio, licensee of WDUK-FM, Havana, Illinois.
Trustees, Carroll College, licensee of WCCX-FM, Waukesha, Wisconsin.
USD 4,000 NAL to RCK 1 Group, LLC. licensee of WKKX-AM, Wheeling, West Virginia, for broadcasting a live telephone conversation without the caller's permission. The station had responded to a letter of inquiry by saying that its personality David Blomquist, who in a show called Individuals randomly selected from a telephone directory with the opportunity to answer trivia questions to win prizes, had on this occasion spoken first to the complainant's wife and told her that she was "live on the radio" and asked "could I speak with [Complainant]?" Complainant then picked up the phone, and that Mr. Blomquist said "Good morning. You're live on the radio with the BloomDaddy Experience," to which the Complainant promptly hung up the phone. The FCC noted that its rules require parties to be informed before a call is broadcast or recorded for broadcast and by its own testimony the licensee admitted the breach. It proposed a base penalty of USD 4,000
2007-03-10: Australian metropolitan commercial radio revenues in February were up 7% on a year ago to AUD 44.2 million (USD 34.51 million) according to PriceWaterhouseCoopers Radio Revenue Performance figures just released.
Commercial Radio Australia chief executive Joan Warner said of the performance that all five markets involved had grown with Adelaide and Perth leading.
In Sydney, the largest market, revenues were up 4.8% in February but for the first eight months of the current fiscal year is down 3.1% on a year ago: Overall ad revenue for the five markers involved is up 1.8% over the eight months to AUD 404.7 million (USD 216 million) and Warner commented, "Some cautious optimism is returning to the market after a tough few months, and news that the Australian economy is still healthy and the New South Wales economy has avoided a recession should provide a boost to consumer confidence."
She added, "Online is grabbing a lot of attention at the moment, but advertisers are realising just how cluttered the Internet is and how valuable a mass media like radio can be in directing audiences through the billions of pages on the world wide web." ."
Previous Commercial Radio Australia:
2007-03-10: European broadcasting group SBS Broadcasting S.àr.l., now controlled by funds advised by private equity firms, Permira and Kohlberg Kravis Roberts (KKR), has announced strong 2006 results with net revenues up 14% on a year earlier to Euros 1.003 billion (USD 1.32 billion) with recurring EBITDA up 43% year-on-year to Euros 207 million (USD 271.5 million).
SBS has four main segments - commercial television accounting for 70% of net revenues, Pay TV (15%); Radio (8 %; and Print (7%) - and puts the increase down primarily to its TV performance. Acting CEO Patrick Tillieux said 2006 had "been a record year for the group across virtually all financial metrics. Our diverse mix of European operations and our innovative management team have enabled us to successfully identify and capitalize on the growth opportunities within our multi-channel offering. Our commercial television and radio operations achieved solid results as we continue to deliver on our targeted audiences, while our premium Pay TV business in the Nordic region has established itself as the market leader with more than 900,000 subscriptions."
Previous SBS Broadcasting S.àr.l:
2007-03-10: A number of appointments and departures are now well under way in connection with the March 26 re-branding of Guardian Media Group (GMG) Radio's Smooth and the Saga stations i now owns- all to become Smooth Radio.
In London, former BBC Radio 1 DJ Mark Goodier is to host the morning show - airing from 10:00 to 13:00 - on London Smooth Radio, taking over from Kevin Greening, also a one time Radio 1 J, who will move to a weekday afternoon slot.
Goodier, who is managing director of production and talent company Wise Buddah, is best known for presenting chart shows including the UK Official Top 40 show on BBC Radio 1 for a decade until he left the station in 2002 and subsequently the Emap-produced Smash Hits Chart, which ran until March last year; The Real Top 40 shows that GMG's Real Radio network began in April last year with tailored versions for the broadcast areas involved and the Classical Chart for Classic FM,
Drivetime goes to former Virgin Radio DJ Martin Collins and the breakfast slot on the station will be hosted by Graham Dene, who moves from Emap's Magic FM where he hosted the drivetime show (See RNW Feb 22).
In Scotland Saga's Glasgow station sees breakfast host Art Sutter move to weekends whilst afternoon host Angus Simpson is leaving the station.
Previous Guardian Media Group:
2007-03-09: First figures for BBC online use this year show that in January BBC radio web sites averaged some 2.7 million unique user agents a week, an 8% year-on-year increase and that overall listening online was up by 26.5% to 21.69 million hours for the month. The increase was proportionately greater for live listening - up 38.4% to 14.58 million hours than to on-demand listening, which rose 23% to 13.53 million hours.
The figures compare with a total for visitors to all US Internet radio stations in a new JP Morgan study that gives a year-on-year growth of 22% for January to a total of 53.3 million with a 1.6% per month compound rise over the year. Amongst the major US radio companies, Clear Channel was in a clear lead amongst US terrestrial stations that stream their signals offline with almost twice as many visitors as CBS Radio, which was second but visitors to its sites were down 5% whilst those to CBS were up 4%. Overall the two account for some 23% of the total.
Within the BBC figures its "pop music" station BBC Radio 1 leads with nearly a million visitors a week followed by BBC Radio 4 with close to 600,000.
Month-on-month figures for BBC online listening showed overall January listening up nearly 18% within which live listening was up 25% and on-demand listening rose by 5.2%.
Station rankings - Total listening hours - live plus on-demand and percentage change compared to December 2006 then to January 2006 - were:
Radio 1 - 6,137,806; +21.3%; + 26.9%.
Radio 2 - 4,696,852; +23.2%; + 36.0%.
Radio 4 - 3,761,396; + 19.1%; + 23.8%.
Radio 5 Live - 1,920,134; +22.4%; 55.5%.
BBC 7 - 1,606,522; +7.5%; + 4.8%
Radio 3 - 1,006,977; +9.4%; +21.3%.
6 Music - 801,921; +15.7%; +26.9%.
1Xtra - 474,751; +1.45%; -16.5%.
Asian Network - 143,763; +7.82%; -33.6%.
5 Live Sports Extra - 258,135; -45.9%; + 358.7%.
The top five on-demand programmes were:
1 - "The Archers" on Radio 4 with 988,722 listens - 14,274 down on December.
2 - "Chris Moyles" on Radio 1 with 547,077 listens - up 44.312.
3 - "The Afternoon Play" on Radio 4 with 328,988 listens - up 56,467 and up from fourth.
4 - "The News Quiz" with on Radio 4 with 218,042 listens (Not on air in December).
5 -" I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue" on BBC 7 with 215,355 listens, up 72,791 and rising from 9th rank.
*The "Essential Mix" on Radio 1 fell from fifth to seventh with 196,925 listens, down 29,548. It was behind Zane Lowe on Radio 1, in sixth rank with 204,704 listens, up 101,845 and up from 16th.
Amongst daily podcasts cum MP3s the top five were:
1- BBC News "Radio Newspod" with 1,024,148 listens, up 316,128
2 - World Service "World News Bulletin" with 471,749 listens, up 167,897 and up from third.
3 - Radio 4 "Today 8.10 Interview" with 450,675 listens, up 146,823 but down from second.
4 - Radio 1 "Scott Mills Daily" with 373,578 listens, up 69,772.
5 - World Service "The World Today Select" with 349,475 listens, up 84,026.
Amongst weekly podcasts cum MP3s the top five were:
1 - Radio 4 - "In our Time" with 597,046 listens, up 566482 and rising from 17th but it was off-air for most of September.
2 - Radio 1 - The "Best of Moyles" with 551,167 listens, down 22,900 and down from top rank.
3 - Radio 4 "From our own Correspondent" with 280,991 listens, up 22457 but down from second rank.
4 - Radio Five Live "Mark Kermode's Film Reviews" with 166,032 listens, up 703 and down from third.
5 - 6 Music "Russell Brand" with 149,848 listens, up 9,408 but down from fourth.
* World Service "Digital Planet" with 122,934 listens, up 23,767, fell from fifth to sixth rank.
Amongst weekly podcasts cum MP3s the top five were:
1 - Radio 1 - The "Best of Moyles" with 739,545 listens, up 149026.
2 - Radio 4 - "In Business" with 330,055 listens. Not in December figures.
3 - Radio 2 - "Russell Brand" with 302,577 listens, up 77612 and up from ninth.
4 - Radio 4 "From our own Correspondent" with 289,704 listens, up 94237 and up from fifth. Not
5- Radio 4 - "In our Time" with 258,381 listens, up 7,651 but down from second.
2007-03-09: Arbitron has now formally confirmed that Clear Channel has signed a "multi-year agreement" for its Portable People Meter (PPM) ratings service in Philadelphia and that it will encode its six stations involved - WDAS-AM; WDAS-FM; WIOQ-FM; WISX-FM; WUBA-FM and WUSL-FM - with the start of the March PPM survey period that runs from March 8.
The news had already come out through an e-mail from Clear Channel to its advertisers (See RNW Mar 3).
Previous Clear Channel:
2007-03-09: Westwood One has announced 2006 revenues down 11.4% to USD 494 million, a fall it put down primarily to market conditions, reduced demand for its products and services and increased competition: For the final quarter revenues were down 11.7% to USD 129.8 million.
Westwood said national advertisement revenues for the year were down 7.8% whilst local/regional revenues were down 14.6% whilst for the final quarter national revenues were down 15% and local/regional ones were down 9.4%.
Operating expenses were USD 930 million, USD 515.9 million of which was a non-cash impairment charge without which they would have increased by USD 200,000 to USD 414.1 million whilst for the quarter they were down by 4.6% excluding the impairment.
Overall reported net loss for the year was USD 469.5 million (USD 5.46 per basic and diluted share) compared to 2005 net income of USD 77.9 million (86 cents per basic and 85 cents per diluted share) whilst for the quarter the net loss was USD 488.6 million (USD 5.68 per basic and diluted Common share) compared to net income a year earlier of USD 22.5 million (26 cents per basic and 25 cents per diluted share).
Excluding the impact of the impairment, Westwood One's net income for the year would have been down from the USD 77.9 million to USD 33/7 million (39 cents per basic and diluted share) whilst for the final quarter it would have down from the USD 22.5 million to USD 14.6 million (17 cents per basic and diluted share).
For the first quarter of this year, the company says it expects low double digit decreases in revenues and low single digit decreases in operating expenses, resulting in double-digit declines in operating income before depreciation and amortization.
Previous Westwood One:
2007-03-08: Following concerns raised by Federal Communications Commission (FCC) chairman Kevin J Martin, about the impression given by testimony from Sirius CEO Mel Karmazin to a House committee last week concerning the price for services subscribers would pay following a merger, Karmazin has attempted further clarification at a second meeting of the House Subcommittee on Telecommunications and the Internet.
The committee began with around an hour of comments from members about various broadcasting issues including media ownership, an "audio flag", and HD radio, but concentrated on the merger.
It heard from both Karmazin and Greater Media President and CEO Peter Smyth who was testifying on behalf of the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB), which opposes the merger.
The NAB has again been running adverts critical of the proposed merger in political publications and Smyth stuck mainly to the script that was outlined by them. They showed a board with the legend "No one wins in their monopoly" and at the end the message, "The only two existing satellite radio companies have announced a merger-a pairing prohibited by FCC rules. This attempt at a government-sanctioned monopoly would be a government bailout for two satellite radio giants that have repeatedly thumbed their nose at FCC regulations. Nobody wants to play games with companies that don't follow the rules. Congress should oppose this attempt at a government bailout. No satellite radio monopoly."
The board itself had Sirius and XM counters on it and red panels containing the words, "Give FCC wrong location of Towers" & "Land in Jail" on one and "Devices violate FCC Rules" & "Go back two spaces" on the other plus a grey background panel saying, "FCC Rules prohibit satellite merger. Consumer wins."
Smyth in line with this said there were only two satellite services -each offering a national service of similar programming, accused the two companies of having a "track record of misrepresenting their intentions, not following the rules that have been established, and failing to correct their past transgressions" in relation to which he brought up issues of ground repeaters and tower locations, and of interference to terrestrial reception from some devices.
Commenting that consumers would lose if a merger were allowed, Smyth said, "Subscription prices will rise, because there will be no competition to restrain monopoly rates. Jobs will be eliminated. Innovation will suffer. Neither listeners nor advertisers will benefit. Put simply - private corporate interests will benefit, but the public will suffer."
He also noted that the FCC had said in 1997 there would be no satellite monopoly and that neither Sirius nor XM by their own admission were "failing companies."
Karmazin did not contest the last comment, saying he believed both Sirius and XM could survive without a merger but rejected the idea that the satellite companies were competing just against each other and that a merger would create a monopoly.
Terrestrial radio he said did compete with satellite, citing nationally syndicated programming as an example. Regarding what subscribers would pay Karmazin said the joint company might offer a lower price than now for fewer options but the technology did not allow a la carte options. He noted that to get both services today would mean paying for both services and thus prices would have come down if subscribers were paying for one service and getting content from both services.
[RNW comment: Karmazin is more a salesman than a clarifier in our view and it seems to us that without a receiver that can get both services - something Karmazin does not make market sense - subscribers will have to receive less than the combined two services now offer.]
The hearing also heard of the problems being faced by Internet Radio, particularly in view of proposals by the Copyright Royalty Board decision concerning higher rates that many webcasters say could put them out of business - and remove them as competition. Robert Kimball of RealNetworks said there was serious legal bias against Internet radio, called for equal rules and rates for terrestrial, satellite and Internet radio, and said he merger should be "put on hold" until Congress created a "level playing field."
The hearing was held against a background of the prior comments by Martin following Karmazin's testimony last week and in conversations Martin is reported to have said that subscribers may be surprised to find that they will have to pay more than the current Sirius and XM monthly rate of US D12.95 should they want, as an example, to receive all the Major League Baseball that XM currently airs and the professional football that Sirius airs.
Karmazin is reported by the New York Times as denying that his testimony was misleading and clarifying by saying that those subscribers who kept their existing deals would face no increase and that listeners who wanted the best of both services would pay less than the combined rate of USD 25.90.
Karmazin had testified, "This merger will give people more choice than they have before and lower prices and, very importantly, less confusion. Our vision of the way it works is that if you are an XM subscriber, you have the Major League Baseball, you have whatever number of channels available to you now. But what we contemplate is that we would take some other content, and again we have to work with our content partners. But the hope would be that we would get NASCAR to agree to be on XM as well. We'll get the N.F.L. to agree to be on XM as well."
The people to whom Martin spoke, says the paper, one for the deal and another opposed, said they understood the comments to reflect scepticism about the deal and its being sold as more beneficial to consumers than it might turn out to be.
Martin had emphasized that he e was not questioning Karmazin's motives or candour but felt details had not been made clear and that there was a "need for greater clarity" over what was being proposed for fees and programming.
"The commission will need to determine the benefits to consumers of this deal, and in doing that, we will need to carefully look at what price will be frozen and what consumers will be getting for that price," Martin said, adding "When they talk about freezing rates and lowering rates, are they talking about it in terms of the current rate of USD 12.95 for each service, or are they referring to the combined rate of USD 25.90?"
Also expressing scepticism was Gene Kimmelman, vice president for federal affairs at Consumers Union, which opposes the merger. He commented, "It's a sleight of hand going on here," said Gene Kimmelman, vice president for federal affairs at Consumers Union, which opposes the merger. "They highlight the price freeze for the old package. They're leaving the consumer with the impression of a price freeze. They say you will get the best of both services. But they never tell you what the rate will be for that.
"Regardless of what Mr. Karmazin intended he has left many consumers with the impression they will receive a combined package of Sirius and XM channels for $12.95, when in reality the price will probably be much higher."
New York Times report:
2007-03-08: Australian commercial radio has a four-to-one lead over commercial TV at breakfast time in metropolitan Australia according to an analysis released by industry body Commercial Radio Australia that says on average up to a fifth of Australians - around 2.24 million per quarter hour - listen to commercial radio whilst only some 623,000 watch breakfast commercial TV.
The analysis of figures from Nielsen Media radio surveys and OzTAM TV surveys for last year shows the lead in the period from 06:00 to 09:00 and Commercial Radio Australia CEO Joan Warner said the numbers highlighted radio effectiveness in reaching Australians at the start of the day. Other analysis, she noted, showed radio retaining its lead until the early evening.
Overall more than 6.6 million people tuned into metropolitan commercial radio each week during breakfast in 2006 and in demographic terms the medium was strongest amongst those above 55, a quarter of whom listened compared to 7% watching breakfast commercial TV. Listening deceased as groups got younger - up to 21% for those 41-54; up to 20% for those 25-39; up to 17% for those 18-24; and up to 14% for those 10-17.
Warner noted that despite competition from new entertainment sources, Australian commercial radio attracted a metropolitan audience of more than 8.6 million a week during 2006, an 80% reach, with average listening of 17 hours and 57 minutes each week and commented, "Radio remains a crucial medium for all Australians and commercial radio remains the most important sector of the radio industry for eight out of ten people throughout Australia. Radio stays with people throughout the day, keeps people up to date and is a very portable medium."
Previous Commercial Radio Australia:
2007-03-08: The Country Music Association (CMA) has announced its 2007 CMA Awards nominees, snubbing the Dixie Chicks who fail to get a single nomination despite having a best seller with "Taking The Long Way" that won all the five Grammy for which it was nominated.
The Chicks, who won ten country music awards prior to the 2003 comments by lead singer Natalie Maines saying she was ashamed that President Bush was from her home state of Texas (See RNW Mar 22, 2003), have received no nominations since then and have been kept of the airwaves by many mainstream country stations since then.
The nominations are almost exclusively for music for die-hard country fans with George Strait getting the most nominations: He has eight including nominations as Entertainer of the Year; top male vocalist; as artist and producer in the album of the year category for "It Just Comes Natural"; single and song of the year for "Give It Away"; and video of the year for "Seashores of Old Mexico."
Next most nominated are Brooks & Dunn with nominations for Entertainer of the Year; top vocal duo, video of the year (for "Hillbilly Deluxe"; vocal event for "Building Bridges" with Vince Gill and Sheryl Crow; plus nominations for Dunn and sidekick Kix Brooks as the artists and co-producers of "Hillbilly Deluxe", which is nominated for album of the year. Dunn is also nominated for vocal event of the year for "I Don't Want To", a collaboration with newcomer Ashley Monroe.
Other top nominees for the awards, to be announced at this year's ACM Awards show on May 15, include Rascal Flatts, Carrie Underwood, Big & Rich, Vince Gill, Josh Turner and Gretchen Wilson.
2007-03-07: Although no official announcement has yet been made by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), its USD 12.5 million consent agreement with CBS Radio, Citadel, Clear Channel, and Entercom to settle payola allegations that we reported on yesterday (See RNW Mar 6), does now seem to be a done deal.
From the FCC, Democrat Commissioner Jonathan S. Adelstein, who has been vociferous in his opposition to the practice, told the Washington Post, "This is the largest collective fine in the history of American broadcasting. It wipes payola off the radio dial," he said, and gives lesser-known musicians a chance to reach a wider audience." He added that he said he expected a majority of the commissioners to approve the settlement this week.
Clear Channel, which would have to pay USD 3.5 million, issued a statement by EVP Andrew Levin in which he said the company had "devoted tremendous resources" to preventing payola at its stations and added, "While no violations were found, we are pleased to announce that Clear Channel has agreed to settle this longstanding payola investigation with the FCC. We believe it is time to close the door on this ongoing inquiry and move forward."
So far we have seen no statements from the other radio companies involved but the Future of Music Coalition (FMC) responded with a release terming the reported settlement, "an important step toward opening up commercial radio to music released by independent labels and local bands."
FMC executive director Jenny Toomey added, "Payola has existed since the days of piano rolls and sheet music. What was once an aberration became standard industry practice when radio was consolidated in the last ten years. We're encouraged to see the FCC and the broadcast industry work together to eliminate a practice which undermines the meritocracy that should be the public airwaves."
She continued, "We also appreciate the efforts of the large broadcasting chains to negotiate in good faith with the independents to find an enforceable, middle-ground framework that will hopefully lead to more opportunities for independent music to reach commercial airwaves. While it is yet to be seen whether this agreement truly leads to a significant increase in airtime for local and independent music, we are cautiously optimistic that adoption of the 'Rules of Engagement' sends a strong signal to programmers and disc jockeys that commercial radio can indeed welcome music from thousands of other artists and bands that are loved by critics and fans that dominate non-commercial radio right now, but are virtually absent from commercial stations,"
FMC Policy Director Michael Bracy added, "For seven years, FMC has worked to document and combat the practice of payola. We have urged the FCC to work with artists and labels to build a basic framework for how the local independent music community can interact with the commercial radio industry. We've also demanded a credible oversight plan that ensures the negotiated framework can be enforced in a way that will lead to true reform. We're glad to see that the FCC has brokered an agreement that attempts to address these problems."
AFTRA (The American Federation of Radio and Television Artists) also welcomed the tentative settlement, saying in a release that it was a "great victory" for its members and particularly noting the separate proposal to set aside 8,400 half-hour blocks of air time for music from independents.
AFTRA general counsel and director of legislative affairs Thomas R. Carpenter commented, "When adopted by the full commission, this proposed settlement will be a great victory for AFTRA members. We have consistently argued that, in addition to monetary fines, meaningful remedies for the insidious practice of payola must include requirements for the minimum airplay of independent artists."
Carpenter also noted the problems of independents in getting on air, adding, "Payola makes this situation worse by making an already narrow playlist accessible only to those who pay to be played. Essentially, the lethal combination of shrinking playlists and the rampant practice of payola keeps independent artists off of the air. Even though independent artists represent about 40% of music sales, independent artists get less than 10% of the airplay on commercial radio."
Previous Clear Channel:
Previous Future of Music Coalition:
Washington Post report:
2007-03-07: UK Commercial radio body the RadioCentre, which incorporates the UK Radio Advertising Bureau (RAB), has unveiled a range of moves to attract advertisers to the medium, which it says is a natural fit with online advertising. It also announced the appointment of Simon Redican, currently media account director of the Times solutions team, as the Bureau's managing director, a post he is expected to take up in late May.
RadioCentre CEO Andrew Harrison in an address to advertisers said that the re-launched RAB was officially launching a new logo and mission statement - "activating radio in the digital age" - and, noting the changes in the marketplace over the past 15 years that meant RAB needed a new look, said the bureau needed to tackle the challenges of radio in a digital age, putting forward the term "Radio 3.0".
The Radio 3.0 concept said RAB summarises radio's role in the digital age and how the medium has evolved to its in its third generation starting as a static medium listened to in the home, then becoming portable and an accompaniment whilst doing other things whilst in the digital age it sits uniquely at the heart of convergence.
RAB says studies show radio and portable player use were developing as "complementary technologies, fulfilling different needs" and the new RAB would use the research to assist "media planners to understand radio audiences in the most effective way".
RAB chairman Martina King said radio was "the natural complement to new media like the iPod and online" and added, "Commercial Radio still delivers the big UK audiences that a series of fragmented and global social networking sites can only dream about. These are the stories that need re-telling clearly and powerfully to rebuild momentum for the business and what we have talked about today."
The RadioCentre also announced the formation of a new quarterly think-tank, to be overseen by King, which will include as its members Morag Blazey, the chief executive of PHD and head of radio at IPA; Derek Morris, former chairman of the RAB and chairman of ZenithOptimedia; Jon Wilkins, founder of Naked; and GCap London managing director Fru Hazlitt.
2007-03-07: Progressive talk network Air America Radio has announced the completion of its sale to Green Family Media, controlled by New York Realtor Stephen Green, who becomes Chairman of the Board.
His brother Mark will become president and, says Air America, will run the company with Scott Elberg, who is to remain with the company as Chief Operating Officer. Elberg, who had been vice president became Air America CEO when it declared chapter 11 bankruptcy in October last year.
In a release posted on Air America's web site, Elberg comments, "We're obviously thrilled and relieved that the Green family will now take control of Air America and help take it to a new level. We look forward to expanding our audience and continuing to give a voice to the progressive movement in this country."
New chairman Stephen Green said, "Air America is a great idea and iconic name, but it's also been an underperforming asset with unrealized potential. We intend to stabilize its structure, programming and balance sheet - and then to turn it around by next year. I'm a businessman used to making money and Air America will be no exception."
His brother, new president Mark Green added, "We plan on a two-step turnaround to make this great brand Air America 2.0. First, we'll make sure our programming stays informative, sharp and entertaining - so that it's appealing to a growing audience and advertisers alike. Second, we'll be thinking outside the radio box by creatively distributing great content across many platforms in the next years, including the web, video, mobile and broadband. We intend to become a must-hear content site for all people interested in truth, justice and the Air American way."
Previous Air America Radio (Then owned by Piquant):
2007-03-07: London "radio art" station Resonance FM has gained national publicity in UK tabloid "The Sun" over an exchange of e-mails in which its "station boss Richard Thomas" responded to a would-be contributor with an e-mail commencing, "Are you mentally deficient?"
26-years old Muthamma Prasad, who the paper reports has a Masters degree in Broadcast Journalism, told the paper, "This is a local radio station for Londoners but I felt like I was auditioning for X Factor - and, like many contestants, I was reduced to tears by it."His reply was beyond belief, especially as this guy gets public money from the Arts council and should be encouraging everyone to get involved."
She had e-mailed Thomas saying, "I have an idea for a show, if you have a clear spot" and going on to say she had "worked in radio before and know how most things work. I'm a little bit rusty not having done this for about 3 years but I am interested in getting back into it."
She then continued, without giving any details of her proposal, to say she was hoping to go to the station to talk about it and had tried calling and asking him about a time they could meet but specifying that she worked "during the day from 0800-1700 so I'm afraid I'll only be able to make it across in the evenings or the weekend."
Thomas, who told the paper, "I have a very stressful job and was in a bad mood that day. I now accept I overreacted and accept my language was not appropriate. I am sorry", responded with an e-mail that began, "Are you mentally deficient? First of all you tell me you have an idea for a show yet fail to tell me what that idea is; then you claim to have 3 years broadcast experience but fail to be specific about this; you then have the audacity to attempt organise a meeting with me at your convenience and not my convenience, I find this ill mannered in the extreme. Do you seriously expect me to work beyond my normal working day or week so you can pitch your idea to me?"
He continued, "I'm sorry if you work regular office hours but so do I and it would not be convenient to meet you after 5pm and certainly not on the weekend... I am not interested in your idea at all especially since if your social etiquette is anything to go by only a cretin would want you anywhere near a microphone and the mass media. Please do not contact me again via e-mail or telephone."
She then added fuel to the fire with an email that read, "I feel I must apologise for emailing you with my idea. I was under the impression Resonance FM was a small media outlet attempting to do its best in a competitive market and always on the look out for new ideas. I was also under the impression that, as an organisation funded by public money, you had at least a moral, and probably a legal, obligation to reach out to the community, and that you wanted to carry on the ideals of the London Musicians' Collective Clearly, Resonance FM is one of the big players of the international radio scene, a massive, privately funded behemoth, with tens of millions of listeners across four continents, bestriding music like the Colossus itself. That would explain why you, clearly at the head of this mammoth organisation and obviously well renumerated for your extensive and unique work, are so flooded with emails from such luminaries as Helen Mirren and perhaps the Queen herself that you have no time to reply to those of us who have worked hard for our qualifications and would like to take the first step on the ladder "
After this she went on with comments in similar vein and he responded, "Muthamma, this is precisely the reason I don't want to work with you...
all my complaints about your poor etiquette stand... whether this is BBC Radio1, a decrepid indie or a below average pub is meaningless, within your e-mail you pretty much made clear that you wanted to meet me at your convenience this is not how things work, that is utterly impolite...can you reverse the scenario in your mind? I am always keen to engage as widely as possible with the public and facilitate any interesting ideas, however, I expect to be approached politely. For instance, you could have asked me if it were convenient to meet you? "
Thomas concluded by saying, "I'm thinking of producing a show on sociopaths maybe you could contribute. All the best, Richard."
RNW note and comment: We have not edited spelling errors out of the e-mails and in this case put in Prasad's age as we might have had more sympathy had the message been from a 17-years-old without educational qualifications.
As to the exchanges, although we think Thomas was hardly diplomatic in his comments, we would split our assessment in this case as a small black mark against him in that the initial response- however understandable the impatience- would have been better had it simply asked for details , and, unless she was having a very, very, bad day herself, a major one against whatever institution took Prasad to a Master's Degree without any grounding in the realities of the world.
As for her employment prospects - apart from wondering where she had worked in radio, which is not mentioned in the reports or e-mails - without a major attitude change on her part we would go along with Thomas in our assessment of her likely benefit to any broadcaster. We certainly don't believe receiving money from the Arts Council means that Thomas should take on anyone whatever their attitudes and hers it seems to us could be very destructive in a broadcaster. The intelligent response on receiving the reply would have been to take a very deep breath, write down an initial response to get it out of the way but hold on to it, and then a day later go back with a response of the nature "Yes I was a bit of a cretin wasn't I but I actually do have a reasonable idea which is Is there a suitable time I could phone you during the day to talk about it?"
Without knowing Thomas, we rather suspect this would have received a rather more encouraging response.
Resonance FM, which was founded by the London Musicians' Collective, is, we would note, an inventive station and well worth a listen to (It offers a number of podcasts/downloads as well as streaming its signal).
Resonance FM web site:
UK Sun report (Has link to full e-mails):
2007-03-07: CBS Radio stations in Baltimore, Chicago, Detroit, Las Vegas, New York, San Diego, San Francisco, and Washington have this week had to find fill-in shows to take the place of the syndicated Penn Jillette Show that the eponymous Emmy award winning comedian, magician, and author announced on his show last Friday was ending.
In announcing the cessation Jillette said the reason was "just because I can't do more than an hour" - a short slot that meant many stations were not interested in the show, one of a number launched by CBS when Howard Stern moved to Sirius Satellite Radio.
Jillette and partner "Teller" of "Penn & Teller" appear nightly at the Rio Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas where they have a multi-year deal and Jillette also hosts the NBC game show "Identity," that returns to the air on Friday next week, added, You have to understand I am a show biz wimp, so I don't even know what hard work is."
2007-03-06: According to an Associated Press report Clear Channel, CBS Radio, Entercom and Citadel Broadcasting have agreed an anti-payola settlement with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) under which they would pay USD 12.5 million and have also agreed a separate deal to provide 8,400 half-hour segments of free airtime for independent record labels and local artists.
The report, citing as its source FCC officials who spoke on condition of anonymity because final language has not been approved by the full commission, says that the monetary settlement pas part of a consent decree between the commission and the companies reached at the same time as a separate deal designed to lead to more airtime for smaller record companies and their lesser-known artists as well as local musicians.
The officials said the American Association of Independent Music (AIM) group of independent record labels, has received a commitment for the free airtime from the four broadcasters who have also negotiated with the independent labels "rules of engagement" concerning dealings between radio programmers and recording companies.
The report says that under the consent decree, which would end the FCC investigation into Payola practices, the broadcasters would admit no wrongdoing but as well as the payment would agree to closer scrutiny of dealings with the recording companies including limits on -and keeping record of - gifts supplied by the recording companies, hiring independent compliance officers and a "payola hot line" for employees to report breaches.
Regarding the deal with the independent companies it quotes Peter Gordon, the president of Thirsty Ear Recordings who has been leading negotiations on behalf of the independents, as saying. "It's absolutely the most historic agreement that the independent community has had with radio. Without a doubt, nothing else comes close."
The FCC has also recently been reported as reaching a USD 24 million settlements with Univision concerning children's TV broadcast obligations and if both deals go through the radio penalty will be the second largest the commission has issued. Individual company payments says the AP will be USD 4 million for Entercom, USD 3.5 million for Clear Channel, USD 3 million for CBS and USD 2 million for Citadel.
The payola issue was brought to the boil by actions of New York attorney general Eliot Spitzer that has already led to settlements by the four major recording companies - Sony BMG Music Entertainment, Warner Music Group, Universal Music Group and EMI Group (See RNW Jun 16, 2006, which has links to reports on earlier settlements with Universal in May, 2006; Warner Music in November 2005; and Sony-BMG in July 2005) - and by Entercom (USD 4.25 million See RNW Dec 28, 2006); and CBS Radio (USD 2 million See RNW Oct 20, 2006). Spitzer's office issued subpoenas against nine radio companies - Clear Channel Communications, CBS Radio (the former Infinity), Citadel Broadcasting, Cox Radio, Cumulus, ABC Inc, Emmis, Entercom, and Pamal Broadcasting but has said nothing official on future action.
Previous Clear Channel:
San Francisco Chronicle/AP report:
2007-03-06: Australia's Seven Network and James Packer's Publishing and Broadcasting (PBL) along with its private equity partners are reported as being at the top of the list of bidders for CanWest MediaWorks, according to the New Zealand Dominion Post.
CanWest Global is exploring options for its Australasian interests including a sale (See RNW Jan 24). It holds 70% of CanWest Mediaworks which operates TV3 and C4 TV in New Zealand plus RadioWorks, which operates eight radio stations: Its adviser Citigroup, called for indicative bids by last week.
The paper says that regarding the RadioWorks business Dominion Post publisher Fairfax Media was viewed as a possible bidder but chief executive David Kirk said last month Fairfax had not requested or received any information memorandums distributed to potential buyers of CanWest assets.
Another potential buyer is Austereo but its chief executive Michael Anderson told the Australian Financial Review that although it had considered a bid for RadioWorks it had not asked for an information memorandum. The Post adds that one factor to deter Austereo was CanWest MediaWorks' estimate it has to pay the Government NZD 40 million (USD 27 million) to renew radio licences in 2011 for a 20-year period.
Dominion Post report:
2007-03-06: SMG, whose former board was replaced in a coup last week (See RNW Mar 1) has announced the appointment of two new directors to its board - James Mathieson, Executive Chairman of Brewin Dolphin Holdings PLC and a former Non-Executive Director of Scottish Radio Holdings until its sale to Emap; and Lord Waheed Alli, chairman of Chorion and a co-founder and former managing director of Planet 24 and former managing director at Carlton Television.
Alli was also part of a GBP 100 million (then USD 190 million) bid by private equity firm 3i to buy Virgin Radio from SMG in 2005 (See RNW Feb 28, 2005).
SMG also said that following the boardroom changes it has decided to postpone the announcement of SMG's preliminary results for 2006 to 12 April in order to provide sufficient opportunity for it to review the Group's strategy and future options."
2007-03-06: According to a report in the Wall Street Journal, former US Attorney General John Ashcroft, who in May 2005 founded Washington, D.C.-based lobbying company the Ashcroft Group, LLC, and last week wrote to current attorney-general Alberto Gonzales asking him to reject the Sirius-XM merger, had previously approached XM about representing its interests in relation to the proposal.
The Journal quoted XM spokesman Nathaniel Brown as saying that after the merger was announced Ashcroft's firm "contacted us about hiring him to assist us. We declined. Apparently the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) opted to pay him to parrot their views."
NAB EVP Dennis Wharton told the Journal, "NAB approached former Attorney General Ashcroft to review the proposed XM-Sirius merger and offer his honest opinion as an antitrust expert. We are not aware of any alleged previous discussions between Mr. Ashcroft and officials at either satellite radio company."
For Ashcroft's firm spokeswoman Juleanna Glover Weiss was quoted as saying, "We are often in contact with opposing interests on almost every major antitrust issue when the news first breaks. Working for the National Association of Broadcasters was a clear call for Ashcroft -- there are simply no substitutes in the marketplace for the product XM and Sirius sell."
Ashcroft in his letter to Gonzalez had adopted the NAB position that the merger should be judged on the basis of a narrow market, not the broader basis- including terrestrial radio and other sources of audio - argued for by the satellite companies, writing in part, "A close examination of the market reveals that Sirius and XM are the only two companies providing their product, which is nationwide mobile multi-channel audio content."
RNW comment: If nothing else the NAB and Ashcroft seem to us suitable company for each other with similar attitudes to the truth. Ironically in his description Ashcroft can't even get his act together properly - surely "nationwide mobile multi-channel audio content" is precisely what is being offered by some cell-phone providers.
RNW Note: Wall Street Journal is subscription only for most reports:
2007-03-05: The big radio story in the US last week continued to be the Sirius-XM merger but little new came up at a House sub-committee hearing where various parties re-iterated previous comments (See RNW Mar 1).
We have had various feedback to our comment (Insert link) last month coming down against the merger, again mostly re-iteration of points we have already considered but two points made bear mention.
Before those a line from the Sirius SEC filing to give a context in which to look at them: "This merger of SIRIUS and XM is all about offering consumers more choice and value - a greater range of programming, the best content on radio, and the best devices and technology from both platforms."
We have emphasized the "all" since nowhere in the filing is there a mention of money or profit being in any way connected with the plan - and if you believe that then
So onto the comments, having made clear our feeling about how far one can trust the salesmen.
One was from an existing Sirius subscriber and Howard Stern fan who would welcome being able to get the Dylan Radio Theme Hour Show, which is on XM, and presumably will be able to do so with a combined service. The other was from a Dylan fan who expressed scepticism as to whether this show would have been created at all had there not been two companies each striving to make themselves stand out and attract subscribers.
The points inherent - of a perceived benefit to one subscriber and of a perceived potential loss to all - seemed to us cogently made and also serve as a cue to this week's Radio Waves column in the UK Sunday Times, our first article this week.
Roland White begins his column by writing, "We've had a lifelong love affair, radio and I, but I can't help feeling that the passion has gone off the boil and that we've started to settle for comfortable companionship. Radio just doesn't spring those little surprises any more. Our life together has become predictable and, dare I say it, just a little dull."
After commenting on the lack of attention to the medium compared to that given to TV in the UK tabloids, White goes on, "Radio has become like comforting, creamy Horlicks, and most of the time, I rather like it that way. But where's the dynamism? The innovation? I can't help wondering if part of the problem lies in the way radio is regulated. You'd think that all a radio regulator had to do was stop stations bumping into one another on the airwaves, then pick broadcasters who could stay on the air for the duration of the licence. But, no, they can't resist a bit of social engineering."
He then goes on to comment on community radio in the UK - from the political viewpoint, commenting of a government report ". It is full of the usual pompous stuff you'd expect about "social inclusion" and "social gain", but it also contained the following chilling phrase: "The sector offers huge potential for helping to deliver messages from the centre at the very local level." Just what we need: more opportunities for Patricia Hewitt to tell us to wrap up warm" - and then from the viewpoint of potential.
On this he comments, "Even so, I think community radio still offers the chance of genuine innovation. This is real pioneer stuff, where outsiders can bring new ideas. I have it on good authority - well, from Mark Russell of the Rocket Radio shop, in Letchworth - that you can set up a makeshift station for as little as £200. I even found the basics - a 5W transmitter and an antenna - for £37.98 on eBay. You should be aware that this sort of budget is unlikely to impress Ofcom - even though it's socially inclusive - but you can see we're talking Skoda FM here, rather than Radio Bentley."
"It is with such stations that innovation starts. We can trace much of the style of modern music radio to Radio Caroline, a pirate ship. You'll find the same spirit at the considerably less fashionable Angel Radio, which is run from a shop selling nostalgia goods, in Havant, Hampshire. Its founders, Tony and Lorna Smith, made their first broadcasts from a Reliant Robin parked outside B&Q, on a transmitter bought second-hand from a bus company.
They were twice raided by inspectors from the Department of Trade and Industry, but now run a service tailored to old people. You may not think that is especially innovative and pioneering, but older people are a neglected area in radio, especially now that you're banned from listening to Radio 2 unless you've just come home from a nightclub."
RNW comment: We think there is a valuable point made here, both in terms of community radio and Internet radio, where innovation is possible without the same risks.
Sticking with comment on UK radio, but this time the biggest player, we move on to Gillian Reynolds comments in the UK Daily Telegraph about the changes made at BBC Radio 3.
"I am a Radio 4 person," she began. ". I listen to at least six other radio stations every day, but Radio 4 is the one I come back to when I come home, switching on the radio before I take off my coat. At least, that's what I thought until I noticed how often Radio 3 was what then came out, and if not 3 then Five Live or Classic FM or Heart or Radio 2. Once it was even talkSPORT."
After commenting on getting into habits of listening, and changing them - "Radio 4's Home Truths did it for me, sending me off round the airwaves on Saturday mornings, looking for any company other than John Peel's gallery of suburban bores. Eventually, I settled on Radio 3 and CD Review, and, for a decade or more, its lacerating candours ("A little too much brilliance in the upper register there, I fear") have held me" she notes that she finds herself listening more to Radio 3.
The reasons? "Radio 3's new programme grid is tighter, with everything starting and finishing precisely to schedule, as on all other radio networks. This can happen only when live performances, which don't always start or end on time, are removed."
Reynolds does not comment on the desirability of losing life in general terms but does note that much programming in the new schedule is now "arranged to interlink" and specifically notes, "Now that the nightly concerts have no interval, what used to be interval talks appear in a Monday-to-Thursday 11pm slot as The Essay. Last week, these were all devoted to some aspect of Auden. Next week's are all by Tom Paulin and will relate to Blake, Blake being the subject of Peter Ackroyd's first radio play next Sunday with Blake, and writers influenced by him, being at the heart of that night's Words and Music sequence, too."
And overall? "By far the most noticeable change is of the Radio 3 tone. We have "shows" now, not programmes. Their presenters chat to us. Rob Cowan, who does the new breakfast show, chats warmly; Petroc Trelawny, who presents in the evening, chats loftily. Both learned their chatty ways on Classic FM. This does not mean that Radio 3 has become as chatty as Classic FM, and, if the music seems rather more interchangeable than it used to be, remember a) that Cowan would never have got that Stan Kenton version of Wagner's Valkyries on to Classic FM, and b) that at least he hasn't yet had to include, as Jane Jones must on Classic's "easier" breakfast show, endorsements for All Bran, "the easier way to put fibre into your diet".
Over next to classical music in the US, a dying format, and comment from Mike Boehm in the Los Angeles Times following a decision to switch K-Mozart to AM to allow country music onto the frequency - now KKGO, "Go Country 105".
Boehm notes the problems a classical format faces "K-Mozart had an average hourly daytime audience of more than 30,000, according to owner Saul Levine - but, with an average age of 60, these listeners were the wrong ones, at least for advertisers who want to reach younger consumers."
Owner Saul Levine, he says, had seen revenues fall from USD 8 million in the late 1990s to USD 4.8 million last year - a break even but this year with more advertisers leaving, a potential USD 1 million loss.
The move may benefit other classical stations however - non profit KUSC-FM and Cal State Northridge's KCSN-FM have both been approached by groups that had "counted on K-Mozart to raise their profile via ads or with concert broadcasts."
For them a move to AM was the kiss of death and Boehm quotes Los Angeles Philharmonic Executive Director Deborah Borda as saying, "The station has no real relevance for us on AM."
The orchestra has broken off talks about airing some of its concerts on K-Mozart and other groups are ending live performances on the station or considering doing so because of audio quality problems with an AM signal.
Which takes us onto suggested listening and first a suggestion that BBC Radio 3 is online and for classical fans not only has a reasonable online service (for those with broadband who route it into a suitable quality amplifier and speakers) but no adverts.
As an introduction to the station that seems particularly apposite in the context, we'd suggest last Saturday's "Music Matters", in which Tom Service asked what the future holds for classical and looked back at the predictions of William Sterndale Bennett, showing something of the hopes and fears of the Victorian musical world. He was also joined by guitarists John Williams (classical) and John Etheridge (jazz) talking about their collaboration.
Then from Sunday on the station we'd suggest the latest "Performing Britten ", featuring among others Dame Janet Baker commenting on "The Rape of Lucretia" and the latest "Drama on 3" - "The Fiery World", a specially commissioned dramatisation by Peter Ackroyd of the life of William Blake.
Next Sunday the "Drama on 3" is "Crossing the Bar", featuring various of Alfred Lord Tennyson's sea narratives and for those who want more on Blake "The Essay" - as already noted (at 23:00 GMT from tonight until Thursday) features "Paulin on Blake" in which, on the 250th anniversary of Blake's birth, Tom Paulin presents a series of spoken essays exploring Blake's life and works.
With a different kind of music in mind we then suggest BBC Radio 2 tomorrow (21:30 GMT) and the second of a five-part series "In Search of the Perfect Pop Song." This week songwriter Guy Chambers looks at the introduction and first minute of the song with contributions from singer songwriters Beverly Knight and Dave McCabe, American writer Desmond Child, and managers Louis Walsh and Simon Napier-Bell (The first in the series is still online until then).
Then on Wednesday night from the station we suggest the third and final part of "The Lionel Bart Story" (22:00GMT), looking at Bart's career after the success of Oliver, including the flop Twang!
And on Friday in the third of his four-part "Desmond Carrington: After Seven" series, Desmond Carrington looks at the career of George Formby complete with banjolele and slightly risque songs.
Finally from Radio 2 we suggest next Saturday at 20:00 and a repeat "The Who: BBC Electric Proms", the premiere of The Who's new mini opera "Wire and Glass", which was performed live at the Roundhouse, London, in October last year.
Moving up a channel to BBC Radio 4 we suggest the most recent edition of "A Point of View" in which Clive James reflected on Yob English as opposed to Queen's or BBC English and "The Great Libraries" series about poet's works that this week is about The Bodleian Library, Oxford- unfortunately the first on Wordsworth's library at Dove Cottage is no longer on the site -
And then changing continents, we suggest Ockham's Razor from the Australian Broadcasting Corporation and last week's edition in which historian Tony Barta from La Trobe University in Melbourne, who in the previous week's programme (still online) looked at the history of white colonialists in terms of the slaughter of indigenous populations, draws a line from Charles Darwin to Adolf Hitler, who argued that a superior population had the right to displace an inferior one.
Also from the ABC we suggest "The Spirit of Things" with a trio of its latest programmes - all available as MP3s - "The Lost Treasure of Solomon's Temple" featuring archaeologist Sean Kingsley who has written a book on the fate of the sacred objects that resided in the Temple of Jerusalem before it was destroyed in 70 AD; "The Return of Magic" in which Christine Wicker talks to energy vampires and hoodoo masters across the USA; and most recently "Spiritual Classics II: Hasidic Tales" discussed by guests, Jonathan Sacks, the Chief Rabbi of the UK ; Zalman Schachter Shalomi founder of the Jewish Renewal movement; and story-teller Donna Jacobs Sife.
Los Angeles Times - Boehm:
UK Telegraph - Reynolds:
UK Sunday Times -White:
2007-03-05: GCap Media has now agreed a deal, previously reported as under negotiation (See RNW Feb 22) with former Emap Kiss FM breakfast host Bam Bam (Real name Peter Poulton) to host a new weekday evening show on Capital Radio starting a week today. The show will run from 19:00 to 22:00 and has yet to be named.
GCap is also reported by Radio Today to have signed former Capital Radio DJ Steve Penk to host the breakfast show on its Fox FM in Oxford, also from next Monday.
The show is currently hosted by Adam Ball, who is still listed on the web site, but Radio Today quotes Fox FM's Programme Controller Jon O'Neill as saying: "This is a real coup for Fox to attract a presenter of Steve's calibre. Steve is a seasoned broadcaster who brings a wealth of talent and experience to the radio station. I am thrilled that Steve has chosen to join the team at Fox."
On the programming front, GCap has hired Chrysalis head of programmes Pete Simmons as its programme director for content and digital with a remit to head the group's digital radio team that is in charge of GCap's digital radio brands and also ensure that material produced by all parts of GCap is shared throughout the group.
Simmons will report to GCap's Group Director of Programmes Dirk Anthony who said in a statement, "We are very much looking forward to having Pete on board. His vast programming knowledge and experience will help create greater value from the rich content GCap generates every day."
Also on the move in the UK according to Radio Today is former Virgin breakfast host Daryl Denham who it reports is to host Guardian Media Group's Real Radio Yorkshire's weekday (19:00 to 22:00) evening show from tonight although the station web site is still listing The Real 80's Anthems (19:00 to 20:00) and Umberto's Real Jukebox (20:00 to 22:00).
Denham, who was most recently at rival Hallam FM, owned by Emap, worked with Real Radio programme director Tony McKenzie when Denham was hosting the breakfast show at Hallam and McKenzie is quoted as saying, Daryl has always been on my list of favourite presenters. He is well known and loved throughout Yorkshire and a great addition to our team."
Previous GCap Media:
Previous Guardian Media Group:
Previous Poulton (Bam Bam):
Radio Today web site:
2007-03-04: In another quiet week in which the main regulatory issues were the Sirius-XM proposed merger in the US and the issue of a Canadian emergency alert system, most regulators have been involved only in routine and enforcement activities.
In Australia the only radio decision from the Australian Communications and Media Authority was a ruling that in the way it repeatedly played a recording without context Sydney 2GB had breached Australian industry codes by presenting "material in a misleading manner" (See RNW Mar 1).
In Canada, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC), hadspublished details of its approach for setting up emergency alert services in the country - The CANALERT project - following a consultation that had received varying responses including three proposals for systems, one of which - from Pelmorex - would override broadcasters' transmissions and objection from a number of broadcasters to the idea of a mandatory system that would override their own controls.
The CRTC noted that those involved in emergency management generally favoured a mandatory approach under which alerts had to be broadcast whilst BDU operators opposed a mandatory system carrying third-party information and broadcasters opposed a mandatory system under which they ceded control over their signals.
The CRTC said it accepted that "Pelmorex's proposal for a mandatory system that requires access to the network infrastructure of every large BDU in the country, the use of proprietary technology and an increase in the monthly charge is unduly intrusive" and said it was also concerned "that a mandatory system could discourage others from providing and developing alternative technologies for the provision of alerts."
It concluded that a voluntary approach was currently the best option but noted the conflicting requirements of alert providers, who felt that the need to obtain agreement before broadcasting an emergency alert "makes it impossible to issue timely warnings in the event of an urgent crisis" whilst broadcasters were concerned that they could lose effective control of their undertakings were they to accept a national emergency warning system that "could be put to an ever-expanding menu of potential uses."
In view of this it is proposing a partial amendment of regulations so as to define an emergency alert message as a "a warning to the public announcing an imminent or unfolding danger to life", removing references to threats to property.
Licensees would then be allowed to alter programming services in their area to broadcast such emergency alerts but the programming service would have to consent to broadcast of other alerts.
The Commission said that it expects all BDUs to voluntary carry warnings distributed and broadcast by the CBC or Pelmorex or develop an alert system of their own.
The CRTC was also involved in a number of routine decisions including (in order of province):
*Approval of frequency change to for low-power tourist information service CIIO-FM, Ottawa, to 99.7 MHz following approval of the conversion of CJRC-AM to FM using the frequency that had been allocated to CIIO-FM. The decision had been subject of an intervention by Christian Hit Radio Inc. that noted that it had submitted an application to use 99.7 MHz for a 2.5KW station and felt that this frequency should not be allocated for low-power use, adding that were a class B1 application be approved later another frequency change would be required.
The CRTC also posted a public notice regarding an April 30 meeting relating to various applications for which comments or interventions have to be submitted by April 5. Radio related applications include:
Application by CTVglobemedia Inc. (formerly Bell Globemedia Inc.) to take control of CHUM. (RNW Note: This was a CAD 1.4 billion (USD 1.2 billion) bid made in July last year - See RNW Jul 14, 2006 and accepted by shareholders in September - See RNW Sep 14, 2006).
The CRTC indicates that it will wish to consider the benefits package offered in connection with this takeover; whether it is now an appropriate time to review its Common Ownership Policy; and the impact of the proposed consolidation.
*Application by Hornby Community Radio Society for a licence for a 5 watts English-language developmental community FM on Hornby Island.
*Application by Astral Media Radio Inc. to renew the licence of English -language commercial station CKTY-FM, Truro.
*Application by Astral Media Radio Inc. to renew the licence of English -language commercial station CJCJ-FM, Woodstock.
* Application by Lee David Weston, on behalf of a corporation to be incorporated (OBCI), for a licence to operate a community-based English-language digital service in Toronto.
*Application by Astral Media Radio Inc. to renew the licence of French-language station CHRD-FM, Drummondville.
*Application by Astral Media Radio Inc. to renew the licence of French-language commercial station CJDM-FM, Drummondville.
*Application by Astral Media Radio Inc. to renew the licence of French-language station CHIK-FM, Quebec.
*Application by Astral Media Radio Inc. to renew the licence of French-language commercial station CITE-FM, Montréal.
*Application by Astral Media Radio Inc. to renew the licence of French-language commercial station CKMF-FM, Montréal
*Application by Astral Media Radio Inc. to renew the licence of French-language commercial station CIKI-FM, Rimouski and its transmitter CIKI-FM-2, Sainte-Marguerite (previously Sainte-Marguerite-Marie).
*Application by Astral Media Radio Inc. to renew the licence of French-language commercial station CJOI-FM, Rimouski.
*Application by Astral Media Radio Inc. to renew the licence of French-language commercial station CFEI-FM, Saint-Hyacinthe.
* Application by Astral Media Radio Inc. to renew the licence of French-language commercial station CFZZ-FM, Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu (previously Saint-Jean-Iberville).
*Application by Astral Media Radio Inc. to renew the licence of French-language commercial station CKSM-AM, Shawinigan.
*Application by Astral Media Radio Inc. to renew the licence of French-language commercial radio station CHEY-FM, Trois-Rivières
*Application by Astral Media Radio Inc. to renew the licence of French-language commercial station CIGB-FM, Trois-Rivières.
*Application by Canadian Hellenic Cable Radio Ltd. for a licence for a 300 watts French-language commercial specialty FM (ethnic radio) station in Montréal.
*Application by Gospel Media Communications, for a licence for a 5,800 watts day-time and night time French-language commercial Christian music AM radio programming undertaking in Montréal.
*Application by Radio Humsafar Inc. for a licence for a 1,000 watts daytime and night-time commercial (ethnic radio) AM undertaking in Montréal.
*Application by International Harvesters for Christ Evangelistic Association Inc. for a 320 watts French-language (51%) and English-language (49%) FM commercial specialty (religious) radio FM in Montréal.
*Application by René Ferron, on behalf of a corporation to be incorporated (OBCI), for a licence for a new specialty music - primarily World Beat and International - 1,200 watts FM in Montréal.
*Application by Neeti P. Ray, on behalf of a corporation to be incorporated for a 324 watts commercial specialty FM (ethnic radio) station in Montréal.
* Application by Yves Sauvé, on behalf of a corporation to be incorporated, for a licence for a 2,570 watts French-language FM Oldies commercial FM in Vaudreuil-Dorion.
*Application by S. S. TV Inc. for a licence for a 10,000 watts day-time and night-time commercial (ethnic radio) AM undertaking in Montréal.
There were no radio announcements from the UK or Ireland but in the US the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) as already noted is involved in consideration of the proposed Sirius-XM merger. It was also involved in a number of enforcement actions (Details see below).
The FCC has also advised of changes for releavant AM stations with differing night-time power when the US alters its switch to Summer Daylight saving from next Sunday (See RNW Mar 2).
Previous Licence News:
ACMA web site:
CRTC web site:
FCC web site:
2007-03-04: In more enforcement actions the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has imposed or proposed penalties approaching a total of just below USD 175,000, again most in number if not highest in penalties, for failing to file renewal applications on time and in some cases continuing operation without a licence.
In descending order of amount the penalties included:
Confirmation of penalty of USD 16,800 proposed on 127, Inc., licensee of KLFJ-AM., Springfield, Missouri for failure to maintain a main studio, operating overpower during night-time hours, and failure to make available for inspection the station's public inspection file.
At first the breaches were not contested and an NAL for USD 21,000 was issued but then reduced to USD 16,800 on the basis of a history of compliance (See RNW Sep 7, 2006)
127, Inc. had then filed a petition requesting further reduction or cancellation of the forfeiture, claiming that the public file had been made available and that it had relied on contractors to ensure compliance but this petition was rejected and the penalty confirmed.
Confirmation of penalty of USD 15,000 to Rama Communications, Inc., licensee of station WTIR-AM, Cocoa Beach, Florida, for failure to maintain operational EAS equipment and failure to maintain effective locked fences or enclosures. Rama had requested reduction on the basis of its remedial good faith efforts to comply with the Rules but in accordance with its usual practice the FCC did not accept this justified a reduction.
USD 14,000 Notice of Apparent Liability to Forfeiture (NAL) (along with licence renewal) for failure to file a licence renewal on time and operating without a licence to:
NAL for USD 8,000 to WMGO Broadcasting Corp., Inc., licensee of WMGO-AM, Canton, Mississippi, for recording a telephone conversation for broadcast, and later broadcasting that telephone conversation, without first informing the party.
The licensee had at first responded to a Letter of Inquiry by saying its host had been unsuccessful in contacting the Complainant, "so there was no need and no opportunity to inform him, in person, of [the Station's] intentions to record and/or broadcast" the conversation and added that consequently, there were "no transcripts or recordings to provide" to the Commission.
The complainant subsequently provided a recording and after authenticating it the licensee said that because the Complainant had participated in previous telephone interviews that were recorded and subsequently broadcast by the Station, it "can only surmise that [the Complainant] has always been aware of the taping for broadcast."
The FCC ruled there had been a breach and because the material had been broadcast several times proposed to double the USD 4,000 bases forfeiture to USD 8,000.
RNW Note: In what is presumably an error it in fact ends up by issuing an NAL for USD 1,5000 in the posted details.
Confirmed USD 8,000 penalty imposed on Farmworkers Educational Radio Network, Inc., licensee of KCEC-FM, Wellton, Arizona, for failure to ensure the operational readiness of KCEC-FM's emergency alert system ("EAS") equipment. Farmworkers had petitioned for reduction or cancellation on various grounds including a claim that the maximum penalty should not have been imposed for what was "clearly a mistake" and a history of compliance but the FCC rejected all the arguments, noting that the penalty was the base level not the maximum and a recent penalty against another Farmworkers' station. It confirmed the amount.
USD 7,000 NALs (along with licence renewal) for failure to file a licence renewal on time and operating without a licence to:
Piedmont Radio Co., licensee of WPID-AM, Piedmont, Alabama.
The University Of Georgia., licensee of WUOG-FM, Athens, Georgia.
Stocks Broadcasting, Inc., licensee of WFHK-AM, Pell City, Alabama.
Radio Station WSNT, Inc., licensee of WSNT-AM, Sandersville, Georgia.
Powerhouse of Deliverance Church, Inc., licensee of WGML-AM, Hinesville, Georgia.
Adrian College, licensee of WVAC-FM, Adrian, Michigan.
Grace Baptist Church, licensee of WBLW-FM, Gaylord, Michigan.
Raven Ridge Ministries, Inc., licensee of FM Translator Station W221AR, Coshocton, Ohio.
Elenbaas Media, Inc., licensee of KMZK--AM, Billings, Montana.
Media Associates, Inc., licensee of KBJM-AM, Lemmon, South Dakota.
Gallatin Valley Witness, Inc., licensee of KGVW-AM, Belgrade, Montana.
Schweitzer Media, Inc., licensee of KNDC-AM, Hettinger, North Dakota.
Thompson Falls TV District, licensee of FM Translator Station K280BE, Thompson Falls, Montana.
Big Sky Owners Association, Inc., licensee FM Translator Station K257AE, West Fork, Montana.
USD 4,000 penalty on WADV Radio, Inc., licensee of WADV-AM, Lebanon, Pennsylvania, confirmed for operating its station at a power of more than 5 watts during night-time hours.
WADV had requested cancellation or reduction based on its inability to pay and a history of compliance plus remedial efforts it has taken to prevent future violations but the FCC noted documentation provided did not sustain a case of inability to pay and that WADV previously has received three Notices of Violation, two of which included violations for over-powered operation.
NAL for USD 4,000 to Entercom for violation of rules regarding to full and accurate disclosure of competition rules in relation to a "Guess What is in the Santa Sack" competition run by KDGS-FM, Andover, Kansas.
Entercom had failed to pay a woman a USSD 1,000 prize and said after an initial internal investigation that it thought it had conducted the contest properly but after receiving a Letter of Inquiry (LOI) from the FCC conducted a second investigation as a result of which it found it had failed to award the complainant the cash prize she should have won and failed to broadcast over the air the material terms of the Contest. It had subsequently paid the amount and blamed the initial failure on an employee error. The FCC confirmed the penalty, the base amount for an offence for which the maximum is USD 32,500.
NAL for USD 4,000 to Access 1 New Jersey License Company, LLC., licensee of WTKU-FM, Ocean City, New Jersey, for substantially altering material terms of a contest. The complainant said the station had announced that the eighth caller on the line who could guess a "4 digit code" would receive a USD 275 prize, he had called and been told he was seventh and then called on a second line, making him eighth, but had been told he was still considered only the seventh caller and had been eliminated for use of multiple phone lines although were no contest rules prohibiting the use of multiple phone lines by callers. The FCC upheld the complaint and proposed the base penalty of USD 4,000
NAL for USD 4,000 to CBS Radio for failure to announce the material terms of a contest and neglecting to conduct the contest in accordance with its material terms. The proposed penalty relates to a competitive eating contest entitled "Wing Off" run by WIP-AM, Philadelphia that led to a complainant that he had won but the prize was then revoked due to Contest conditions that the station neither announced nor advertised.
CBS had disqualified the winner after finding out that he belonged to a competitive eating association, the Association of Independent Competitive Eaters ("AICE"), a rival of another competitive eating association historically associated with Wing Bowl 13, the Independent Federation of Competitive Eating ("IFOCE").
CBS contends that the Complainant should have known that members of associations in rivalry with IFOCE could not compete in the Contest because the Station previously disqualified a participant from Wing Bowl 12 for the same reason and adds that the published Contest rules provide the Station discretion to disqualify a contestant based on "subjective criteria" and also that the Contest rules specify that the contest is open to station listeners, and that the winner does not live within reach of the Station's broadcast so he could not be a listener.
The FCC dismissed the arguments saying that CBS in admitting the previous disqualification suggests that the eligibility requirements were not self-evident to contestants and noting that none of the correspondence with the complainant had mentioned issues of residence.
RNW note: In its documentation the Commission notes that the base penalty for this breach is USD 4,000 but then, presumably in error, goes on to issue an NAL for USD 3,000.
Issued NAL for USD 4,000 to Saga Communications for failure by WAQY-FM, Springfield, Massachusetts, to conduct a contest substantially as announced.
The complainant had won the "Grand Prize Giveaway" in a contest involving the musical group Aerosmith but said that although he had told he would receive all the prized involved by July 22, 2005, but did not win the monetary portion until August 18, 2005, and despite numerous queries made of the station's staff, he was still awaiting delivery of the memorabilia portion as of December 31, 2005. Saga had responded by saying the delay relating to the monetary payment was "within the zone of reasonableness" and regarding the memorabilia admitted a station problem and said it had as a result supplied additional prizes. The FCC concluded that there had not been timely delivery of the memorabilia and proposed a base level forfeiture of USD 4,000.
Confirmed USD 2,500 penalty, reduced on grounds of inability to pay from USD 11,000 on amateur station licensee Daniel Granda, of Whittier, California, for failure to respond to official Commission correspondence and his intentional interference to amateur radio communications. Granda had failed to respond to an NAL for USD 11,000 but after it was affirmed petitioned for a reduction on financial hardship grounds although he did not deny the breaches.
USD 1,500 NALs (along with licence renewal) for failure to file a licence renewal on time to:
Barnesville Broadcasting, Inc., licensee of WBAF-AM, Barnesville, Georgia.
Little Miami Local Schools, licensee of WLMH-FM, Morrow, Ohio.
Melodynamic Broadcasting Corporation., licensee of WCER-AM, Canton, Ohio.
Oberlin College Student Network, Inc., licensee of WOBC-FM, Oberlin, Ohio.
Rolla Chinese Christian Association, licensee of Low Power FM KJTR-LP, Rolla, Missouri.
USD 500 penalty, reduced from USD 10,000, confirmed on the basis of inability to pay penalty to Jose A. Molliendo for operating pirate FM in Victorville, California.
2007-03-04: Australian Macquarie Media Group (MMG) has reported a 5.4% revenue increase on a year ago to AUD 80.8 million ( USD 63.2 million ) for its Macquarie Regional Radioworks (MRR), which controls some 85 radio licences, with EBITDA up 9.2% to AUD 30.5 million (USD 23.9 million) for the six months to the end of 2006.
Overall Macquarie Bank-backed MMG ( which also includes Taiwan Broadband Communications; a 13.8% strategic interest in Southern Cross Broadcasting that was acquired in November last year, and American Consolidated Media, whose acquisition was not completed until February 8 this year) reported net profit up six-fold to AUD 38.3 million (USD 30.0 million), partly because of the introduction of new accounting standard.
MMG managing director Alex Harvey said the revenue growth for MRR was "very pleasing and well in excess of the average rate of sales growth in the Australian radio sector."
He said that MRR had "delivered strong revenue growth and margin expansion in challenging market conditions" adding, "We continue to benefit from operating economies of scale across our large radio network. The ability to offer an advertising platform covering 45 markets across regional Australia, combined with the success of regional-focused national programming has resulted in continued excellent growth in national sales revenue, increasing 8.1% over the prior period. This builds on a strong base of local sales, which grew at 4% over the prior period, driven by a focus on local sales initiatives and quality local programming."
MMG has also announced that Macquarie Bank executive director Max Moore-Wilton has been appointed to the post of executive chairman following the resignation of Tim Hughes, which came as a surprise.
Previous Macquarie Media Group/Macquarie Regional Radioworks :
2007-03-03: Clear Channel, which had been holding out over a PPM ratings agreement with Arbitron, has now told its advertisers that is has signed a three-year agreement to use the Portable People Meter (PPM) in Philadelphia, will begin encoding for the market, and has subscribed to Arbitron's audience data service. Arbitron announced this week that it was switching to PPM rating in the market after the Winter 2007 Survey (See RNW Mar 1)
In an e-mail to advertisers telling them of the move, Clear Channel Radio president John Hogan kept the door open for other options. Saying that the company was , "continuing our important work with the RFP Evaluation Team (alongside advertisers, media buying agencies and other broadcasters) in evaluating all potential electronic audience-measurement options" and adding, "As you may know, we are also co-funding a Houston test for the Media Audit/Ipsos with several other broadcasters."
"Our commitment to accurate, timely electronic audience measurement at a reasonable cost remains complete," said Hogan. "We have fully supported all companies pursuing electronic audience measurement for radio because we continue to believe that radio deserves the highest-quality rating engine - matching or exceeding what's available to television and other media. Radio is by far the most effective medium - on both a reach and frequency basis - for advertisers and we are committed to having a world-class electronic audience measurement capability that proves it."
In an unconnected move, Clear Channel, which has put 448 of its radio stations up for sale through Kalil and Co., has revealed in a note to potential buyers that it has made its first sales.
This is of its stations in the Tupelo and Meridian, Mississippi markets, which are being bought by URBan Communications, a minority controlled and operated company led by Kevin Wagner.
No details of the price being paid have so far been revealed. Clear Channel has six stations in Tupelo and five in Meridian whilst URBan has 13 stations in Alexandria and Florence-Muscle Shoals in Louisiana; Columbus/Starkville, Mississippi; and Toledo, Ohio.
Previous Clear Channel:
2007-03-03: An Open Letter by XM Satellite Radio chairman Gary Parsons, CEO Hugh Panero, and COO Nate Davis re-affirming its customer commitment promotes the companies' line that the Sirius -XM merger will be "able to provide consumers with even better programming and more choices" but implicitly suggests that the combined company will be cutting back on its programming.
The letter, which is on the XM web site, says, "Following the merger, XM expects that the existing radios will be able to receive a mix of programming from both services" and adds, "XM's programming, including Major League Baseball, Oprah & Friends, Bob Dylan, Opie & Anthony and commercial-free music channels will not be interrupted by the merger. In the future, we will be able to offer the best of both companies' programming."
RNW note: The letter does not comment on the implicit corollary that, since the companies will not be adding extra capacity, some existing channels will have to be killed off by each service to allow this to happen nor has either company yet given any clues in public as to the process by which they will decide which channels are to be closed down.The specific mention of Opie and Anthony may be significant in view of suggestions their future could be at risk after the merger, should it be allowed.
2007-03-03: BBC World Service has confirmed it is to cut ten of the 37 posts at its Chinese Service and concentrate on news from the autumn (fall), reducing its lifestyle and music programming and cutting out two hours of repeats that the service currently broadcasts.
The Corporation says the move, news of which came out last month (See RNW Jan 15) will enhance its news cover of Chinese affairs and appoint a China editor working for the World Service and the corporation's domestic news outlets.
The radio service, which is frequently blocked by the Chinese Government as it its bbcchinese.com web site, has an audience of just under half a million a week for the Mandarin language service and some 850,000 when the audience for its English language services are added. As well as the general web site, the Corporation also operates an English language teaching site bbcchina.com.cn
RNW note: The Chinese sites are on redirects but will come up by going to bbcchinese.com and bbcchina.com
2007-03-03: Regent Communications has reported final quarter 2006 revenues up 30.7% on a year earlier to USD 25.6 million with station operating expenses up 20.4% to USD15.9 million and a net loss more than doubled - from USD 10.7 million to USD 29.5 million ( From 26 cents a share loss to 77 cents).
Same station net broadcast revenue for the fourth quarter of 2006 was up 5.5% to USD 19.5 with same station operating income up 7.1% to USD 6.9 million.
For the full year 2006 Regent reported revenues up 7.9% on a year earlier to USD 85 million in the for 2006 but station operating expenses increased 8.9% to USD 57.0 million and Regent reported a net loss of USD 26.6 million, up from USD 6.6 million a year earlier ( Up from 15 cents to 67 cents a share).
President and CEO Bill Stakelin said 2006 "represented a historic period for Regent Communications" adding, "We aggressively moved forward with our strategic plan to realign our portfolio of radio stations, enhance our digital presence, and invest in our brands to strengthen our operating position in each of our markets and improve our growth potential." As a result of our concerted M&A initiatives during 2006," he said, "our asset portfolio is now better positioned to drive cash flow growth and create long-term value for shareholders. Entering 2007, we are focused primarily on integrating our newest stations and capitalizing on opportunities to maximize both operating efficiencies and sales opportunities across our platform. We are confident that we will begin to realize tangible gains in 2007 and beyond."
During 2006, Regent bought back 3.6 million shares for about USD 17.2 million under a USD 20 million programme authorized 18 months ago but no purchases were in the third quarter.
Looking ahead it is projecting first quarter revenues this year of around USD 21.7 to 22 million with station operating income from USD 5.4 to 5.6 million with an overall loss of around four cents a share. Regent's shares closed unchanged on Friday at USD 2.97.
2007-03-02: In further US radio results both Citadel - which is involved in taking over ABC's radio stations - and Cumulus - which took over those of Susquehanna - have reported increased final quarter revenues but also net losses: In Citadel's case charges including the cost of a payola settlement put it into loss whilst Cumulus, already in loss, reduced the loss.
Citadel Broadcasting Corporation reported record revenues for the final quarter of 2006 - up 5.3% on a year earlier to USD 114.0 million with station operating income up 6.8% to a record USD 49 million but UD 2.5 million of expenses in connection with an FCC's investigation of "sponsorship identification practices" [RNW comment- for which the more widely used term could be payola], non-cash stock based compensation and a non-cash asset impairment of USD 24.3 million on a pre-tax basis took the company into a net loss of USD 1.08 million compared to net income of USD 15.85 million a year earlier ( from 13 cents per diluted share income to a loss of 1 cent).
For the full year, revenues were up 3.1% to USD 432.9 million with station operating income up 4.3% to USD 190.28 million but net income also went into a loss - from a positive USD 69.76 million for 2005 to a los of USD 48.01 million ( From 55 cents per diluted share to a loss of 43 cents per diluted share).
Chairman and CEO Farid Suleman noted that the revenue growth came in the majority of its markets with more than a third reporting double-digit year-on-year revenue growth. He also noted the continuing share repurchase programme under which the company has published more than25 million shares since 2005 - 46% of its public float - for USD 331.4 million and that during 2006 Citadel had returned approximately USD 141.6 million to shareholders through a combination of dividend payments, totalling 72 cents per share, and the repurchase of approximately 5.2 million shares.
Cumulus Media reported final quarter 2006 revenues up 5.9% year-on-year to USD 87.76 million with station operating expenses down 1.4% - to USD 53.48 million - with pro-forma revenues, excluding October to December 2005 results for stations contributed to Cumulus Media Partners as part of the purchase of Susquehanna's radio stations, showing revenues up 9.4% to USD 87.8 million.
Cumulus also recorded an impairment charge - of USD 63.4 million in connection with its annual evaluation of intangible assets - with the result that it reported an operating loss of USD 51.34 million, which compares to a 2005 operating loss of USD 246.25 million and a net loss of USD 51.41 million, compared to a loss of USD 218.35 million a year earlier (from a loss of 3.45 per diluted share in 2005 to a loss of USD 1.21 per share).
For the full year, Cumulus revenues were up 2.0% to USD 334.32 million and net loss went down from USD 213.37 million to USD 44.59 million ( from a loss of USD 3.19 to a loss of 88 cents per diluted share). Pro forma revenues for the year, excluding stations contributed to Cumulus Media Partners, were up 4.1% to USD 334.3 million.
Regarding Cumulus Media Partners , Cumulus recorded net revenues of USD 1.0 million for the quarter and USD 2.6 million for the year in management fees with equity losses of USD 1.7 million and USD 5.2 million respectively.
2007-03-02: US Radio revenues for January released by the US Radio Advertising Bureau (RAB) show overall revenues up 2% on a year ago with local revenues up 3%, national revenues down 3% and non-spot revenues up 13%. Local and national revenues combined were up 2%.
Previous RAB figures:
2007-03-02: Following enactment of the US Energy Policy Act of 2005, Daylight Saving Time, which starts summer time earlier - it will now begin on the second Sunday in March (March 11 this year) - and ends it later in the year - the first Sunday in November - the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is advising all AM station owners who operate with a Presunrise Service Authorization ("PSRA") and/or a Postsunset Service Authorization ("PSSA") that their authorizations will need appropriate modification.
It is withdrawing all PSRAs and PSSAs issued prior to February 1 this year and has recalculated the permissible presunrise and postsunset operating powers for all eligible AM stations, information that has been put in each station's electronic correspondence folder.
Details of procedures to be followed to print authorizations, which should be posted with the station's main licence, have been put online by the Commission.
2007-03-02: The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has ruled that Macquarie Radio Network's Sydney 2GB "presented material in a misleading manner by giving improper emphasis to the material and by editing that material out of context."
The ruling follows a number of complaints by the Baulkham Hills Shire Council relating to host Ray Hadley's repeated broadcast on his "Mornings with Ray Hadley" programme of an excerpt of a Council 'question time recording' in which the Mayor of Baulkham Hills Shire Council is heard addressing a fellow councillor.
The recording included the Mayor saying, "I'm standing, and when I stand, you sit and you shut up" and the council alleged that Hadley had used it to portray the council as a "screaming Council' and had also alleged financial mismanagement.
2GB licensee Harbour Radio Pty Ltd had responded by saying it was "not aware of any inaccurate presentation of factual material, or of any 'substantial errors of fact'" and suggested the reference had been made because Hadley had made allegations of financial mismanagement and abuse of employees by the council.
The ACMA held that expressions of opinion by Hadley about mismanagement and the use of the recording did not beach codes and also rejected a plethora of other complaints that included complaints about the right to use the tape, not giving the Mayor notice of intention to broadcast the recording - which was available free of charge to members of the public- and about failure to distinguish the reporting of factual material from commentary and analysis.
It held however that by "repeatedly editing" the question time recording into later broadcasts "without also presenting information about the circumstances in which the Mayor's statement was made, the licensee presented the Mayor's statement in a misleading manner."
Previous Macquarie Radio Network:
2007-03-01: A hearing in Washington DC of the newly created House Antitrust Task Force, chaired by Michigan Democrat Rep. John Conyers, on Wednesday heard from Sirius Chief Executive Mel Karmazin, National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) president and CEO David Rehr; and Consumer Federation of America research director Mark Cooper among others concerning the proposed Sirius-XM satellite radio merger.
In his testimony to the "Competition and the Future of Digital Music" hearing, Karmazin re-iterated his previous comments that a merged company would form a monopoly since it would be competing with terrestrial and Internet radio and audio on mobile devices and said that the two companies would agree to concessions, including pricing restrictions, to get the deal through.
"We are absolutely convinced this merger will be in the best interest of consumers," said Karmazin. "This merger will give consumers more choice at a lower price and more importantly, less confusion."
He added however that the argument was not one for a failed company and said both Sirius and XM would go on were the merger rejected.
The deal was opposed strongly by Rehr who referred to the idea of a combined company as a "government-sanctioned monopoly" and said the idea should be should be dead on arrival" when it arrived at the Department of Justice (DOJ) and Federal Communications Commission (FCC).
Rehr said that such a monopoly "would undermine audio content competition, not enhance it" and added that the two satellite companies that "have a pattern and practice of violating the terms of their FCC licenses cannot be trusted with monopoly power." He also noted that the two companies were, "by their own admission", not failing.
Of consumer groups attending the hearing, Mark Cooper, president of the Consumer Federation of America, opposed the merger and defended the market as providing the best solution saying the argument that things were better for consumers with a "benevolent" monopoly rather than competition was absurd and adding, "It is competition that is the driver of innovation in this economy, and competition is the best form of protection for consumers."
On the other side, Gigi Sohn, president and co-founder of Washington D.C.-based advocacy group Public Knowledge, said competition between XM and Sirius has left both companies financially weakened and that a merger could benefit consumers provided safeguards were in place in terms of à la carte selection of programming and price controls.
Conyers said the most critical issue was one of the precedent that would be set were the government to define all sources of audio entertainment as the relevant market for satellite radio.
The NAB had preceded the hearing with lobbying against the merger, taking full-page adverts headed "Looks like the cards are stacked against them" in a number of Washington trade publications lobbying against the merger. The adverts include with playing cards with the names "Sirius" and "XM" on them and bearing text opposed to the merger.
The cards each contain a quote from a February 23 report in "The Washington Post" with the XM card saying, "The antitrust laws were designed to foster competition, not to foreclose it by bailing out competitors."
The Sirius card says, "There are plenty of reasons for the government to block a merger, which would create a monopoly." In red, at the top of the ad, the copy reads "Looks like the cards are stacked against them."
The adverts end, "XM and Sirius have announced a merger -- Congress should oppose this attempt at a government-sanctioned monopoly."
RNW comment: We find Karmazin arguments rather insulting of Americans' intelligence in terms of them being confused about the incompatible technology - after all there are diesel, petrol (gasoline), LPG and hybrid automobiles on US roads - and, as per our February comment, unconvincing in terms of what the market is. In this case we think the competitive market argument is so strong compared to the wider market argument of Karmazin that, much as it pains us to agree with the NAB, they are correct that this plan should be dead on arrival with the DOJ and FCC.
Arbitron figures showing that satellite only has a 3.4% share of radio listening (See RNW Feb 28) have been advanced by XM chairman Gary Parsons as in favour of allowing the merger. We disagree! In our view, if the satellite companies provide a product that is wanted by the market at the right price, it they mean a tremendous untapped market is still out there.
And as for Karmazin's willingness to agree to price controls in the sort term, that strikes us as completely the wrong approach as he made clear in comments about the limits to which they could increase subscriptions without losing customers. The market can take care of that and pricing policy should be based on the market not government determined.
2007-03-01: A major investor in SMG has engineered a boardroom coup in which the chairman and non-executive directors have been ousted and the company has now ended merger talks with UTV.
The first announcement relating to the changes came in mid afternoon when SMG announced that "in view of board changes" and "as a result of differing views over the level of SMG's pension liabilities, the discussions between SMG and UTV in connection with the proposed merger" had been terminated.
UTV in a later statement noted the ending of discussions and added, "In the process of conducting due diligence on SMG, UTV had identified certain concerns, including SMG's pension deficit. UTV made these concerns known to SMG and made it clear to SMG that UTV wished to either review the terms of its original proposal or to withdraw its proposal." It also kept its options open about making a takeover bid, something that is prohibited within six months by the City Code on Takeovers and Mergers with certain exceptions.
SMG in its statement added that following the end of talks with UTV "and in response to a request from Hanover Investors Management LLP [a London-based specialist turnaround investment firm] who has the support of a group of shareholders, Chris Masters has agreed to step down as Chairman and the Board has appointed Richard Findlay, the former Chief Executive of Scottish Radio Holdings, as the new Chairman of SMG with immediate effect. In addition, David Dunn, Steve Maine, Martyn Smith, MT Rainey and Tim Gardam have resigned with immediate effect."
The next announcement gave details of the new board and executive team with former Channel 4 commercial director Rob Woodward becoming chief executive, George Watt becoming Finance Director, and Donald Emslie, the Chief Executive of SMG's Television business who has been acting chief executive since former chief executive Andrew Flanagan left last July (See RNW Jul 19 2006) becoming Executive Director.
Non-executive directors are Findlay; David Shearer, a non-executive director of HBOS plc,- as Senior Independent Director; and Matthew Peacock, the founding partner of Hanover, and Vasa Babic, a partner in Hanover who was a consultant for Channel 4 when Woodward was there, as Non-executive Directors.
Peacock said of the changes, "Hanover has assembled an impressive new management team with the expertise required to lead the successful turnaround of SMG. We believe that the business has been fundamentally undervalued and has a promising independent future under the right leadership."
Hanover says it has a track record of leading turnaround situations. Its investments have included 4imprint, a promotional products firm, Elementis, a specialty chemicals business, and Renold, a precision engineering business and Peacock told the UK Guardian he thought a merger "merger would have handed 50% of the upside to UTV shareholders" and added, "This is quite a strong franchise that has simply lacked leadership and management over the last six months or so. The market has substantially undervalued these assets by looking at the short-term operating performance. We believe this is an opportunity for a revival of fortunes at SMG."
UK Guardian report:
2007-03-01: A survey by Bridge Ratings of purchasers of or potential subscribers to satellite radio shows that most are against the merger and that if it did take place 80% of current subscribers, 87% of consumers as a whole and 95% of potential subscribers expect subscription rates to rise. A small majority -70%; 72%; and 74% respectively - think hardware prices would also rise.
They also perceive that there are likely to be more commercials on music channels - 845; 86% and 90%; that the choice offered is likely to go down - 80%; 82% and 76% respectively - and by a smaller majority - 63%; 65% and 68% - that programming quality will go down.
The survey also shows that the uncertainty about the merger is likely to lead to a short-term problem for the companies with 55% saying they would not wait to see what happens, and an additional 21% that they would wait up to three months before deciding. Only 24% said they would subscribe within 60 says anyway.
Bridge says that in view of this it is "inclined to reduce our pre-merger-announcement (PMA) subscriber numbers for full-year 2007" and then adds that "For the moment, we will hold with our estimate of 17 million by the end of 2007 until additional consumer feedback is accumulated over the next few weeks."
Regarding Howard Stern, seen by Bridge as a prime draw for Sirius, it says that already more than half (52%) of his 2.5 million most loyal listeners have already subscribed and that XM listeners do not see him as a major benefit so the upside for his show "just won't be as significant as one might think."
Previous Bridge Ratings:
2007-03-01: Arbitron has announced that it is to commercialize its portable People Meter (PM) ratings system in Houston with the new service being phased in April 5 and only PPM ratings being used from the start of June.
The last diary-based ratings report for the market will be the Winter 2007 (January 11 - April 4) report on May 4 and Arbitron says April 2007 (April 5 - May 2) and May 2007 (May 6 - May 30) PPM radio ratings reports are to be released as "pre-currency" data, to those stations and agencies that have signed a PPMTM license agreement.
It adds that access to "free" PPM demonstration data will be discontinued after the release of the March 2007 (March 8 - April 4) report.
The move follows Media Rating Council (MRC) accreditation of the PPM in the market and Owen Charlebois, president, Operations, Technology and Research & Development, for Arbitron said users of the new PPM information "monthly data based on average quarter hour radio ratings-can have confidence that the radio methodology, sampling systems and survey processes that are the foundation of the PPM service have been independently and thoroughly audited and have met the standards of the MRC
Previous Media Rating Council:
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