December 2007 Archive
- November 2007 - January 2008 -
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 December comment - Ends the year with a the main issues for radio in 2007 - ownership, technological change, and regulation.
RNW November comment - As Don Imus prepares to return to air, we look at issues of getting booted, coming back, and staying on air!
RNW October comment - Asks why there should be a problem with radio ratings using electronic metering and wonders whether it is just a matter of resources - and if broadcasters and advertisers are wise to rely on one ratings supplier.
2007-12-31: To end the year - this is the last look at print comment on radio for 2007 - we are going for a combination of looking backwards and forwards.
In the looking back comments, the best headline we noted came from the New York Daily News over David Hinckley's column - "Many happy returns in 2007 N.Y. radio."
"The big news in New York radio in 2007," wrote Hinckley, "was return engagements: 'The greatest hits of all time' on WCBS-FM [RNW note- The station undr previous leadership dropped its Oldies format but is backfrom "Jack" to an updated-Oldies output - See RNW July 10] and morning man Don Imus, fired from WFAN, resurfacing on WABC."
He then went on to comment on other moves, both returns - "WABC also welcomed back veteran talk host Bob Grant, giving the station what program director Phil Boyce calls a "murderer's row" of conservative talk hosts heading into an already heated presidential election year" - and departures -"Morning departures included Whoopi Goldberg from WKTU, Sam Greenfield and Armstrong Williams from WWRL and Curtis and Kuby from WABC. The twist for the Curtis and Kuby story is that they were successful. But they held the slot into which WABC's new owners, Citadel, wanted to move Imus."
In some cases the comment was on a combination of the departing and returning - "Besides dropping the "Jack" format to make room for the return of greatest hits on 101.1 FM, CBS also dropped its "Free-FM" experiment and brought K-Rock back to 92.3 FM."
Looking forward the news did not seem so good - Hinckley commented: "Traditional AM and FM still reach more than 90% of the city. But advertising revenue is down and audiences are listening for shorter stretches of time - particularly younger audiences."
That last comment is not good news for radio finances and tallies with prognostications that US local radio revenues, which account for some four-fifths of revenues will have fallen this year and will also fall in 2008 as consumers cut back on spending with a knock-on effect on advertising although station non-traditional revenues such as online adverts are expected to continue to increase.
Then there's the question of the Sirius-XM merger which most pundits now give a better than even chance of getting regulatory approval, odds that Mark Ramsey in comment on Hear 2.0 thinks have led iBiquity to signal "the end of NAB's satellite radio merger opposition."
iBiquity in a meeting with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has according to Ramsey raised concerns that a combined company would be in a stronger position to hamper take-up of HD and as a result is urging that any approval be made conditional amongst other things on a requirement that HD Radio technology be included in all satellite radio receivers and a requirement that a merged entity would have to end all existing exclusive deals and in the future be prohibited from entering into such agreements with suppliers, retailers and automobile manufacturers.
iBiquity's argument suggests Ramsey translates, as "We can't compete against two satellite radio companies, let alone one. And for no good reason we view satellite radio as our primary competitor, not all the other techno-stuff that brings audio into new vehicles. So we're happy to support this merger as long as we get a piece of the action in the bargain.
He then continues to comment that "if the FCC were to buy this argument, it would no longer be possible for the radio industry to fight the merger, and the NAB's opposition would collapse utterly... Thus, since accidents of this sort don't happen and there's no better reason that iBiquity would visit the FCC in the quiet news days of late December, iBiquity would never approach the FCC with this option unless the wind was perceived as blowing in the direction of merger approval.
Ramsey doesn't really think the idea will go far - Ramsey comments that he has "a huge amount of difficulty imagining that the FCC would ever go for it. After all, the success that satellite radio has had with the auto industry was hard-earned. And why would the FCC want to punish them for their successes and reward HD Radio for their lack of same?"
RNW comment: Ramsey doesn't comment on whatever licensing charges iBiquity would want but our view is that since iBiquity obviously doesn't fancy working in a marketplace environment it would only be just if HD-satellite capability were mandated that made licensing charges paid to iBiquity should be capped at a miniscule amount - say USD 1 maximum per receiver for all dual satellite-HD receivers boosting the likelihood of satellite consumers also listening to HD but not forcing them through the nose for the privilege. On the basis of ten million satellite subscribers it would be a handy sum for iBiquity but would also force it to keep charges down to all manufacturers and, if HD sales remained slow, then we don't really see any great loss for consumers in Chapter 11 for iBiquity.)
After comment on the big players we then move on to a New York Times report "Radio, With a Side of Bacon" by Corey Kilgannon about Riverhead, New York station WRIV-AM - he comments of it that the WRIV is "one of the oldest stations on Long Island, and its homespun blend of local news, community announcements and oldies has been a soundtrack for a generation of locals out here for a half-century."
The station - with a power of 1,000 watts and reach of around 20 miles - survives totally on local advertising and was bought by breakfast show host Bruce Tria and his father Vincent in 1987 although Tria junior has been on air for 27 years according to Kilgannon, delivering "time, the weather and a piece of his mind. All interspersed with his favourite music: 'non-rock hits'" and the great vocalists doing standards, which he calls 'the best music ever made.'"
As to the style of the station, John Galla, who takes over from Tria at 10:00 commented, "If you've ever seen 'It's a Wonderful Life' with Jimmy Stewart, this is Bedford Falls. Some people call it corny, but that's what people want."
And the listeners? Tria commented, "Most of our listeners are 40 and older, and many people keep the station on for company - you're their companion, their friend. We survive and thrive because we're community-minded. I like being able to communicate, and I couldn't really do that at a station where I'd have to play five lite-radio songs in a row."
On then to listening suggestions and to start off with a look BBC Radio 4 in "4 at Forty", a celebration of 30 years of the station hosted by Eddie Mair with highlights of its output over those decades together with discussion by studio guests and four controllers who have headed the station.
We also suggest from Radio 4 its "News Review of the Year" from Sunday the latest edition of "Beyond Belief" - Monday's programme on "Religion in the workplace" and a discussion on how far an individual's religious beliefs should affect their work and how far employers should pay attention to employee's beliefs - an interesting discussion where in the end logic compels us towards agreement with the hard-line contribution that people shouldn't take jobs if their beliefs affect their work and that employers should not make as a general rule make special workplace arrangements, albeit we can see a case for give-and-take in practical terms where there are no reasonable objections from other employees.
The MP3 of this has not yet been posted but listen-again is available - as via a drop down menu are previous 2007 programmes.
RNW note: Thanks to double and overnight shifts and our technical problems we are a little behind in our listening and preparations so may not be able to update. Should we not, we suggest that a work through some of the titles in the Beyond Belief list will provide ample listening for a week.
Hear 2.0 - Ramsey:
New York Daily News - Hinckley:
New York Times - Kilgannon:
2007-12-31: In further consolidation of New Zealand radio, MediaWorks, which was sold by CanWest to Australian private equity fund Ironbridge Capital (See RNW Jul 21) has bought Marlborough Media, which owns South Island stations Sounds FM and Easy FM, for an undisclosed sum.
The purchase, reports the New Zealand Herald, leaves only two significant permanent stations - 1XXFM, Whakatane, and Port FM, Timaru - outside the MediaWorks-The Radio Network duopoly.
The paper quotes RadioWorks chief operating officer Susan Turner as saying the company was interested in further acquisitions if owners were interested and then adds that according to David Innes of the commercial radio body, the Radio Broadcasters Association, apart from the Christian Radio Rhema only 1XXFM - run by private radio veteran Glenn Smith - and Port Radio in Timaru - owned by magazine publisher Reg Birchfield - are the only two significant permanent commercial stations not owned by the two big players.
Innes added that The Radio Network - half owned by New Zealand Herald publisher APN News & Media with Clear Channel International owning the other half - - has been securing temporary licences to broadcast in places it did not have a licence with the expectation that it could bid for permanent licences if they brought I sufficient revenues.
Previous APN News and Media:
Previous Clear Channel:
New Zealand Herald report:
2007-12-31: Former BBC Radio 1 and Radio 5 Live presenter Kevin Greening has died in his sleep aged 44 his agent Chris North has told the corporation although he gave no details of the cause of death.
Greening was best known for co-hosting Radio 1's breakfast show with Zoë Ball on in the late 1990s and in a BBC report Trevor Dann, who as Head of BBC Music Entertainment from 1996-2000 was responsible for all the corporation's in-house pop music production including Radio 1, Radio 2, and Top of the Pops, remembered Greening as a creative talent, but someone who was shy and keen to stay out of the spotlight. He commented that the death was "extraordinary" as Greening "wasn't overweight - he was a fit guy and he was really healthy."
Dann gave Greening his break at GLR, the BBC London station, nearly two decades ago - at the time Greening had been with BBC Radio Solent and was offered a presenting post with the station or a studio manager's job with BBC World Service.
He said of Greening, "I thought he was a terrific presenter. I think he was one of the most creative of his generation, without any doubt. He loved radio - it was his life. I think he would have been a lot more famous if he had been a lot more pushy."
BBC Radio 1 Controller Andy Parfitt paying tribute to Greening said in a statement that he was "very sad and shocked to hear the news of Kevin's death and my thoughts are with his family and friends."
"Kevin was a warm and lovely person, who was widely respected in the radio industry," added Parfitt. "He combined a sharp creative mind with a rare ability to understand the needs of an entire radio station - he was a selfless team member."
BBC Radio 5 Live host Simon Mayo, who knew Greening from his Radio 1 days, told listeners to his show, "He had a very, very dry sense of humour and he was quite shy really, sometimes embarrassed about having achieved the level of fame that he did have. "
"Anyone who listened to his programmes," he continued, "could tell he was extremely bright, extremely clever. If he had a 40-second voiceover for his first record he would probably put in eight, nine, 10 little funny bits just to get the whole thing going. He was a fantastic example as to how much work should go into a programme. He was naturally gifted, and I frankly find it rather hard to believe that he's not with us any more."
As wall as working for the BBC Greening was one of the start-up hosts on Virgin Radio in 1993 and had also worked on various London stations including Xfm, Jazz FM, and Heart. His last job was as afternoon host on Jazz FM's successor Smooth Radio, owned by Guardian Media Group.
GMG Radio chief executive John Myers told the Guardian newspaper, which has the same parent, "He was a talented broadcaster and we were privileged to have him as our afternoon presenter at Smooth Radio in London. He was passionate about radio and all kinds of music and will be sadly missed, not only by his colleagues at Smooth, but by millions of listeners."
UK Guardian report:
2007-12-30: With holidays taking up most of the week for most of the regulators, last week produced very few decisions from the regulators and not radio ones in most cases - there were no radio decisions posted in Australia, Ireland, and the UK nor any significant radio postings from the US.
In Canada, however, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) on the one day it did operate posted a few decisions.
Radio-related postings (in order of province) included:
*Short-term renewal from 1 January 2008 to 31 August 2011 of licence of CHIM-FM, Timmins, and its transmitters CHIM-FM-1, North Bay; CHIM-FM-2, Iroquois Falls; CHIM-FM-3, Kirkland Lake; CHIM-FM-4. New Liskeard; CHIM-FM-6, Sault Ste Marie; CHIM-FM-7, Elliot Lake; CHIM-FM-8, Chapleau; CHIM-FM-9, Wawa; and CHIM-FM-10, Kapuskasing, Ontario, and CHIM-FM-5. Red Deer, Alberta.
The short-term renewal, says the CRTC, will allow it to assess the licensee's compliance with regulations relating to filing of annual returns and financial contributions to the development of Canadian content. It noted possible failures to comply with regulations regarding annual reports for the years 2001 through 2004 and with Canadian Talent Development requirements for 2001 through 2006.
*Approval of applications by Rogers Broadcasting Limited on behalf of itself and Larche Communications (Kitchener) Inc. for authority to exchange the assets of CICX-FM, Orillia and CIKZ-FM, Kitchener.
The CRTC added that the two have 30 days to file a revised value of the transaction for their respective acquired assets and a revised tangible benefits package that reflects the revised value of the transaction.
The exchange had been opposed by Durham Radio Inc., the licensee of CJKX-FM Ajax, CKGE-FM and CKDO-AM,. Oshawa and the Roger's acquisition of the Kitchener station was also opposed by Ms. Bettina Weissenbrunner. Durgam argues that Larche was seeking to profit from the transfer of a broadcasting licence before it had completed the initial licence term and thus fulfil the original terms on which the licence was awarded.
*Approval in part of application by Corus to acquire CIGR-FM Sherbrooke from Groupe Génération Rock inc. The CRTC imposed conditions requiring Corus to submit an acceptable tangible benefits package and details of Canadian content development proposals and denied a request for the reduction of current Canadian musical selection requirements in the station's licence.
The CRTC also posted a public notice with a deadline for submission of interventions or comments of 30 January 2008. that included the following radio-related items.
The CRTC also posted a public notice with a deadline for submission of interventions or comments of 30 January 2008 relating to an application by TFG Communications Inc. to amend the licence of English-language commercial specialty station CJEF-FM, Saint John, New Brunswick, by deleting conditions of licence requiring more than half of each broadcast week to be spoken word programming and limiting to a maximum 40% of programming each week that is hit material.
CJEF-FM is now proposing to offer a blend of Alternative Rock, Hip Hop and R&B musical selections, targeting the 18-34 year old demographic and proposes that at least half of popular music played on weekdays should be "devoted to Canadian selections played in their entirety." It also said it would accept a licence condition requiring it to devote 15% of its musical selections to local (maritime) music.
In Ireland, although it posted no radio decisions, the Broadcasting Commission of Ireland (BCI) has posted provisional dates for future rounds of its Sound & Vision Broadcasting awards scheme.
For radio Round Six opens on Jan 18 2008 and ends on February 20 with decisions expected on April 9 and Round Seven opens of June 20, 2008, and ends on July 18 with decisions expected on September 10.
Previous Licence News:
BCI web site:
CRTC web site:
2007-12-30: Long-time Pittsburgh host Bob Kopler has retired after 19 years with KDKA-AM, now owned by CBS Radio. He joined the station from the former WTAE in 1988 and after freelancing with the station for two years went full-time.
He then became the station's senior morning news anchor.
His last day was marked with tributes from co-workers and greetings from former Pittsburgh radio personalities "O'Brien and Gary".
2007-12-29: A Pennsylvania judge has dismissed a lawsuit against former Forever Broadcasting saleswoman Virginia Smith that claimed she had violated a non-compete contract: Smith had worked for the company in Altoona, where it has six stations, and told it she was taking time off to concentrate on the race to become mayor of Hollidaysburg but then took a job with locally-owned rival Altoona station WRTA-AM.
Forever had claimed that under a non-competition agreement Smith was prohibited from working for a competing station for a year and in the suit, filed against her and WRTA sought damages, claiming that after she had been taught her job she had left taking with her a list of customers and confidential company information.
Smith's attorney, Fred Gieg contended that the contract was not enforceable and said he was concerned that under the contract, Forever had all the rights and Smith was considered an at-will employee, meaning she could be let go at any time.
Blair County Judge Hiram A. Carpenter ruled that Forever could not show it had been harmed by Smith's move, commenting, according to the Altoona Mirror, "This is not a suit between CBS and NBC. It is a suit in a small local market. It should be easy for [Forever] to establish the fact of damage. ...Yet plaintiff [Forever] comes before us unable to name anyone who was approached or a single dollar that was lost."
Smith, who is in her seventies, said of the ruling, "I'm delighted. I really like where I am. It's a very good work situation."
Altoona Mirror report:
2007-12-28: Chicago WVON-AM program director Coz Carson has quit on air as he was signing off after filling in for midday host Santita Jackson on the Midway Broadcasting urban news/talk station: Robert Feder in the Chicago Sun-Times says Carson announced that he was moving to become morning co-host at Access.1 Communications Corp WWRL-AM in New York, a former black music outlet that is now an Air America Radio affiliate.
Feder quotes Carson, who had only been with the station a little over six months, as saying later, "I believe we accomplished a lot at WVON, but I was really only 30 percent into what I wanted to do here. I know WVON has a great deal of potential, and I wish them success. I am extremely excited about my new opportunity."
Midway president and CEO Melody Spann-Cooper spoke of "creative differences" and said she had not been in contact with Carson since he quit, adding, "Whether he pulled the plug or I did, it was clear that we were not going to go into '08 together, I wish him well."
Chicago Sun-Times - Feder:
2007-12-27: Fairfax Media's Sydney 2UE host Steve Price, who on January 14 takes over the morning slot formerly occupied by John Laws, has told the Sydney Daily Telegraph that he will be able to compete better with Macquarie Radio Network's 2GB rival Ray Hadley than Laws because he can concentrate on the Sydney audience whereas Laws had to take his national syndicated audience into account.
The paper quotes Price as saying, "What Ray Hadley has been very good at doing is capturing that Sydney audience and up until now he's had it to himself, pretty much. I think we can take Ray Hadley on head-to-head much easier being a Sydney-based show and I think I've got much more journalistic standing and credentials than Ray does."
Price had previously gone up against Sydney's leading breakfast host Alan Jones when Jones moved from 2UE to 2GB in 2002 and took most of his audience with him - in March that year compared to the previous ratings in the breakfast slot 2UE had dropped from a top-ranked 16.2% to 11.5% whilst Jones had increased 2GB's share from 7.1 to 10.1: By the final survey of the year Jones had gone into the lead with 15.0, well ahead of talk rival Angela Catterns of ABC 702 who had a 10.1 share and completely clear of 2UE and Price with 8.5.
In the final 2007 ratings for Sydney of the talk shows 2GB had a 14.1 to 7.6 lead over 2UE in the 05:30-09:00 slot - ABC talk station 702 had 11,5; In the morning 09:00 to Noon period 2GB led with 14.9 compared to 7.3 for 2UE and 7.2 for ABC 702; and in drive-time ABC 702 led with 10.4 compared to 8.0 for 2GB and 6.8 for 2UE
Against this background, Hadley played down the idea of any serious threat from Price, telling the paper, "He failed at breakfast, he failed at drive and he's after the trifecta. He's not as good as John Laws, and I beat John Laws. If I'd have been picking it, he's probably the bloke I'd have picked."
In other Australian radio news, radio newsreader Jim Angel, whose career of more than four decades included 24 years with Sydney station 2SM and spells at 2UE on the Alan Jones and then John Laws shows, has died aged 67.
He was poached by 2UE from 2SM and, reports The Australian, became a staple of Alan Jones' breakfast show as it rose to dominate the ratings and then moved to Laws' show before a brief stint at 2GB and then semi-retirement based in the Southern Highlands, where he continued to work in community radio.
Laws featured him - in a segment in which the host interrupting Angel's news bulletin and asked him to sing Winchester Cathedral - in his final broadcast to which Angel was listening from home.
Previous Fairfax Media;
Previous Macquarie Radio Network:
Sydney Daily Telegraph report:
The Australian report:
2007-12-27: According to a post on Reclaimthemedia, Nicola Sawaya, who in November became Executive Director of the Pacifica radio network (See RNW Oct 4) has resigned because she "found the level of internecine dysfunction at Pacifica overwhelming."
The report says Sawaya made it clear during her interviews that she wanted to do radio, not spend her days putting out office politics fires and adds that Pacifica remains in a "perilous situation."
Pacifica has said nothing officially- the latest mention of Sawaya on its website is of her hiring at the end of September - so news of the departure is unconfirmed.
2007-12-26: Sydney 2UE, now owned by Fairfax Media, has signed up Deborah Thomas, the editorial director of The Australian Women's Weekly, as the co-host its breakfast show with Mike Carlton next year.
The hiring follows the decision by Peter FitzSimons not to renew his contract (See RNW Nov 11) and completes the new line-up for the station which in the past year has also lost long-time morning host John Laws, who has just retired (See RNW Dec 2) and late-night host Stan Zemanek who died in July (See RNW Jul 17) after retiring from his radio post in December last year (See RNW Dec 27, 2006).
The morning slot will be taken by current drive-time host Steve Price whilst Laws fill-in Tim Webster becomes Afternoon host in place of John Stanley who takes over the Drive Time slot.
Previous Fairfax Media:
2007-12-25: Two gunmen riding motorcycles shot dead Filipino radio journalist Ferdinand Lintuan of DXGO Radio on Christmas Eve as his car slowed at an intersection in southern Davao city shortly after he had left the station.
Lintuan, who had criticized several officials and recently attacked the city government for alleged corruption in the development of a park according to colleagues, was the fifth journalist to be killed in the country this year.
Washington Post/AP report:
2007-12-24: This week, we could hardly not devote much of our look at print comment on radio to issues relating to US media ownership but to start with we felt a report by James Palmer in the San Francisco Chronicle on Radio Dijla would put the whole issue of ownership and reporting in perspective when it comes to broadcasters' woes.
It moved its base from Baghdad to Sulaymaniya in the more peaceful Kurdish region after gunmen, said by its owner to be linked to Al Qaeda, stormed its Baghdad offices in May and after being fought off the first night returned the following evening and burned the station to the ground (See RNW May 7, 2006).
Al Qaeda, reports Palmer, according to station manager Kareem Yousef hacked the station's Web site on Eid ul-Fitr marking the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan and posted a letter promising "to kill everyone from Radio Dijla " to which the response was of defiance: Palmer quotes Yousef as saying of the news and talk station, "We have worked to open the minds of the people and let them freely express their thoughts. It's a humanitarian job because it allows people with different backgrounds and viewpoints to try to understand one another No one will stop us. This is the price of our success." "
I know they're listening," Hadi Mehdi, 40, who hosts a series of arts and entertainment shows, said of al Qaeda in Iraq before he went on the air. "I wish I could deliver my reply to them face-to-face."
Palmer adds that most Radio Dijla employees said it wasn't any one incident that sparked the attack and the overall consensus is that al Qaeda in Iraq simply couldn't tolerate an independent station that practices balanced reporting and refuses to defy the Iraqi government and U.S. military
Its founder Ahmed Rikaby now lives in the United Kingdom after repeated death threats and said the station's perseverance has "severely damaged al Qaeda's pride. They thought they brought us to an end after the attack in Baghdad, but we've grown even bigger since."
Which, as we noted before, rather puts issues of US media commitment to fair reporting and ownership committed to anything other than the bottom line into a different perspective but does take us on to the issue that got most coverage last week and a New York Times Op-Ed by a group of Journalism school deans.
Under the heading "A License for Local Reporting" they comment on journalists being "instinctively libertarian, at least when it comes to journalism" and continue, "We like the conversation about journalism and the federal government to begin and end with a robust defence of the First Amendment. That's why journalists have not been leading participants in the debate over the Federal Communications Commission's regulation of broadcasting, even though the future of our profession and its public mission is at stake."
They then say note FCC chairman Kevin J. Martin's "journalistic justification" for easing the cross-ownership ban - that "broadcast profits would help pay for the substantial news-gathering staffs at newspapers."
They clearly do not think Martin has the full quota of annas to his rupee in his reasoning on this issue although they are not as blunt as some about the likelihood of corporations cutting into profits to cross-subsidize.
Even if it were so, however, they conclude the move is unsound, commenting, "But local television and radio stations should be doing their own news gathering, rather than merely serving as support systems for news gathering by newspapers. Besides, if Mr. Martin were really so passionate about news gathering, he wouldn't have restricted the FCC.'s action to media properties in big cities. Don't small-town news organizations need help, too?"
They also take up the issue of the change that has come through the Internet to provide more sources of information [a point particularly mentioned by Republican Commissioner Deborah Taylor Tate in her justification of the change but also made in general by those who favour deregulation], writing that "the Internet is great for opinion journalism and for broadening public access to information, though not very good yet as an economic support system for news gathering - but television and radio stations generally have smaller news staffs today than they did in the era before deregulation. That represents a real loss for American democracy."
The FCC they feel should take the matter of local reporting more seriously, writing that it "ought to treat a broadcast licensee's commitment of resources to original local reporting on public affairs as a key factor in its decisions about regulatory issues. Companies should be required to make a persuasive case that they will increase their commitment to local reporting if they get what they want - whether they aspire to own broadcast properties and newspapers in the same market; or, thanks to the onset of digital television, to turn every channel they control into several channels; or to expand their national market share in broadcasting or cable television."
Finally in regard to this they note that for "decades, holders of broadcast licenses had to make frequent, detailed arguments for their fitness to have their licenses renewed. They had to demonstrate a commitment to original reporting and to airtime for local public affairs" but that now "license renewal is so effortless it is known as 'postcard renewal'. Even the pretence that there is a connection between the grant of a broadcast license and a promise to report on one's community is all but gone."
Jerry Del Colliano in his insidemusicmedia blog was less polite about Martin and the FCC, writing under the heading "FCC Unscrewing the Pooch" - a phrase he notes means to "mess up, commit a grievous error. It's a euphemism from US military slang that uses much stronger language involving a dog" - that it is "apt" to "to apply this phrase -- which also appears in the Urban Dictionary -- to the current FCC which has begun the process of undoing some of the damage caused by consolidation."
"Greedy radio consolidators," he writes, "have been asking for trouble -- almost from the start of consolidation which was enabled by the Telecommunications Act of 1996 -- and lobbied by your favourite trade organization -- the NAB. I have no sympathy for what is about to happen because consolidators -- to borrow Wolfe's phrase -- have screwed the pooch long enough. Messed up terrestrial radio so that it would be attractive to Wall Street at the expense of its listeners on Main Street."
He goes on to comment about cross-ownership that the approval in the top 20 markets will he thinks "also become de facto cross-ownership in the smaller markets as well" but then is harsh about both broadcasters and newspapers, commenting, "Frankly, I don't care about media cross ownership. Let newspapers own TV stations and TV stations own radio. They're all dying anyway. No clue as to what to do because they can't get a handle on where the next generation lives. Onto the future."
Colliano comments on another FCC proposal a "rulemaking that could bring major changes to the radio industry" o f which he says "Almost all the owners -- not just consolidators -- are fighting it already. When the NAB and 34 state associations plus several dozen radio groups oppose re-regulation, then you can rest assured that re-regulation is exactly what the radio industry needs."
Under the rulemaking he comments stations could be required to establish permanent community advisory boards to discuss programming and might have to staff stations round the clock.
To Colliano the owners - "the ones who have driven listeners and advertisers away with voice tracking, unremarkable national syndication and bare bones programming" - need regulation.
He says they are "like Britney Spears -- unhinged and unable to get their acts together. The FCC is radio's version of Promises, the Malibu rehab center to the stars. Now the FCC is threatening to drag the owners in screaming" and adds, "You can't be against re-regulation and for radio's survival at the same time. They go together."
Later in a "preview of 2008" he comments of the problems facing the industry and adds, "One might enjoy the arrogant radio owners' comeuppance a lot more if it weren't at the expense of so many talented general managers, programmers, sales managers and air talent who never for one moment forgot their roots."
As well as comment on cross-ownership in general, there was considerable comment on one instance in particular, the waivers given to Tribune Co. that allowed its takeover by a group led by Sam Zell to go ahead and gain tax advantages.
For blogger Jay Marvin - it was "Good News and Bad News" - Good: "Because it means WGN Radio and TV as well as the Tribune will stay in Chicago with local owner Sam Zell" and Bad: "Because I'm against any relaxation of the rules on ownership and I, along with a lot of other people in radio, want the big companies broken up."
Marvin says of perceptions that he is "Just another liberal raging against capitalism ": "Wrong! I'm all for capitalism, but not monopoly capitalism with all the control of a public asset in the hands of a very few."
"Just another liberal raging against capitalism you say? Wrong! I'm all for capitalism, but not monopoly capitalism with all the control of a public asset in the hands of a very few.
"Just another liberal raging against capitalism you say? Wrong! I'm all for capitalism, but not monopoly capitalism with all the control of a public asset in the hands of a very few.
And of radio: "Is radio dead? I'd say no. Music radio is in trouble and the days of great personalities seems to be coming to an end. Can you say hello voice tracking?"
He concludes, "Good or bad news? I guess it depends on how you look at it. For Chicago it's good news. For the rest of the country I'm not so sure."
One element of the takeover provoked hostile comment, the appointment of former Clear Channel CEO Randy Michaels to take charge of the new group's Internet and broadcasting operations.
In his blog John Rook spared little criticism, writing, "Anyone who knows anything about Chicago radio realizes WGN has been on top in the ratings since before the Sears Tower or even the John Hancock building came into being.
"Enter a new billionaire owner, Sam Zell, who has given the keys to the station to Randy Michaels, who has an industry reputation of being a 'genius' programmer, but in reality has only one claim to fame in that area - creating Tampa's "Power Pig," a den of indecent programming prior to the FCC finally taking steps to return some sanity to run-a-way smut on the airwaves."
"Chicagoans may recall the short term time when Michaels entered the city in 1991 to rename an FM station "Hell." Within days the residents of Chicago sent dandy Randy packing, his offensive brand of programming didn't sit well with the folks in mid-America. Now, Sam Zell has shoved his favourite radio 'genius' into one of America's great radio stations - WGN.
"Maybe, just maybe, Randy Michaels will have matured enough to understand the old adage if it ain't broke, don't fix it.' I doubt it. Keep an eye on the #1 ratings of WGN, if they slide from the top it will be due to the antics of Randy Michaels."
On then to listening suggestions, which in view of other priorities this week we have kept somewhat shorter than usual: Apart from our Monday evening suggestion for UK listeners only (we mistakenly left a "not" out as this will not be available as Listen Again) of the Bob Dylan Christmas Theme Hour Special, we have in general opted to avoid festal suggestions, most of which contain too much saccharine for our taste.
We would however suggest a look at one piece of music that is a regular on the Christmas period menu - Handel's "Messiah", which was the topic of last Saturday's "Music Feature" on BBC Radio 4. It featured conductors Simon Halsey and Harry Christophers discussing the work, which seems to have had influence far beyond just the music and its time.
We also make exceptions for one of the reports in last weeks "on the Media" from WNYC - a look by reporters Alex Goldmark and Rachel McCarthy at classic Christmas specials such as "How The Grinch Stole Christmas", "A Charlie Brown Christmas" and "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" and also for Sunday's "Something Understood" - "Season of Gifts" in which Fergal Keane explored Christmas traditions of giving and receiving.
Also worthy of a listen from Radio 4 were Sunday's edition of "It's My Story" - "Living with Birdie", which told the story of Birdie McDonald, foster mother for more than 850 children and Monday's "Food Programme" in which Sheila Dillon looked at chocolate and chocolatiers.
Finally to end on a more jolly note we suggest comedy with BBC Radio 4's "The Now Show" - from Friday - which is available as an MP3 or stream (Last week's will be on the site until then) and from BBC Radio 2 the Saturday 13:00 to 14:00 Comedy Hour - "Vic Reeves' House Arrest" and "Tim Minchin's Loving and... ...Peaceful Yuletide Half Hour" are available from last weekend whilst this weekend has "The Green Guide to Life" followed by "Clive Anderson's End of Year......Chat Room."
Insidemusicmedia - Colliano "Unscrewing the Pooch":
New York Times Op-Ed:
John Rook blog:
San Francisco Chronicle - Palmer:
2007-12-23: Last week the main regulatory news was the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) majority vote to end the newspaper-broadcaster cross-ownership ban (See RNW Dec 19), a vote that has aroused ire amongst opponents and may yet be stymied by Congress: Elsewhere it was fairly quiet with only a few decisions.
In Australia, the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has imposed an additional licence condition on regional commercial radio broadcasters that requires them to broadcast specific levels of local content from 1 January 2008. For most licensees the requirement is for three hours a day between 5 am and 8 pm on business days, although it is lower for some: The times required include advertisements (capped at 25 per cent).
The ACMA also posted its report "Media and Communications in Australian Families 2007" that was mainly devoted to TV, computer and Internet use, in its look at listening to music and radio reported that portable MP3/4 players are now in 76% of Australian households - the average household has two players - and are used by 62% of children and young people.
Children and young people it says now spend an average 21 minutes a day listening to recorded music, up from 15 minutes in 1995 with levels of radio listening slightly down over the period from 15 minutes in 1995 to 13 minutes in 2007. Girls, it says listen more than boys to recorded music -26 minutes per day compared to 18 - with a similar but less marked gender distinction for radio listening.
The report notes a trend towards use of computers and the Internet with children's bedrooms now more likely to have TV with Internet Access and less likely to have TVs and game consoles than in 1995: 98% of households now have computers compared with 59% in 1995 and 91% now have Internet access, up from 7%.
In Canada the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) has issued a call for comments on ways to streamline the determination of the allocation of the value of the transaction in changes in the effective control of a broadcasting undertaking. Comments have to be submitted by the end of January next year.
It also posted notices on various radio-related matters including (in order of province):
*Public notice, with a deadline for submission of interventions or comments of January 22, 2008, concerning Application by Astral Media Radio Atlantic Inc. to amend the licence of CIKX-FM, Grand Falls, New Brunswick, by changing the frequency of its transmitter CIKX-FM-1, Plaster Rock, from 91.7 MHz to 88.3 MHz. Astral says its unprotected frequency would create interference to CBC's transmitter CBAF-FM-21 Bon Accord, which has recently been approved to broadcast on 91.7 MHz.
*Approval of application from International Harvesters for Christ Evangelistic Association Inc. to relocate the transmitter of English-language commercial Specialty station CJLU-FM, Halifax, and increase its antenna height. The licensee said that when it set up it two years ago it found that the building it was leasing would not allow it to vent out its 5,000 watt transmitter and consequently it was forced to use a 1,000 watt transmitter and that additionally the new site would allow it to improve its coverage to parts of Bedford and Lower Sackville where it is currently not hear well.
*Public notice, with a deadline for submission of interventions or comments of January 21, 2008, concerning application to add a 750 watts FM transmitter at Goderich, Ontario, broadcast the programming of CIYN-FM, Kincardine.
*Public notice, with a deadline for submission of interventions or comments of January 25, 2008, concerning application by Trust Communications Ministries to delete from licence of CJLF-FM, Barrie, a condition limiting commercial messages to six minutes per hour from 06:00 to 09:00 and from 16:00 to 18:00 and four minutes per hour for the rest of the broadcast day with one allowing up to eight minutes of commercial messages per hour.
The CRTC notes that monitoring has shown the station to have broadcast commercial messages exceeding those currently allowed and the applicant says it wants the amendment to enable it to satisfy unmet demand for advertising time on CJLF-FM during peak periods and to avoid any further non-compliance.
[RNW comment: In other words we broke the rules so can you change them to our benefit!]
*Approval of application by Amie du Quartier for 3.2 watts low-power, French-language talk-based format specialty FM in Saint-Jérôme that will target primarily the students of École Notre-Dame.
*Change to current licence conditions of community station Radio Boréale, Amos, that would make its offerings "varied music programming consisting of selections drawn from content category 2 (Popular music) and category 3 (Special interest music). Spoken word programming, all of which would be local, would include news and current affairs bulletins and theme programs on the environment and culture. The applicant committed to devote, in each broadcast week, not less than 50% of its news bulletins to local news, 25% thereof to regional news and 25% thereof to international news."
The CRTC also noted that the applicant proposed to offer religious programming and adds a condition of licence relation to adherence to Canada's Religious Broadcasting Policy guidelines.
*Public notice, with a deadline for submission of interventions or comments of January 25, 2008, concerning application to use frequency 105.5 MHz and a power of 30,600 watts for a new French-language commercial FM in Saguenay (zone La Baie), approved in March on the basis of a suitable alternative frequency to that then applied for being found. The commission notes that the new proposed technical parameters would increase significantly the originally proposed contours.
There were no radio decisions from Ireland although the Broadcasting Commission of Ireland (BCI) held an oral hearing concerning the two applications - from Choice Broadcasting Limited with a "4FM" bid and TV3 Television Network Limited with a "More FM" bid - for a new Classic Gold/Easy Listening/Smooth multi-city FM licence.
In the UK, Ofcom has advertised a new local digital radio multiplex licence for Surrey and northern Sussex covering an area with a 15 plus population of around 1.4 million: Applications have to be submitted by March 26, 2008, with a non refundable fee of GBP 15,000 (USD 30,000)
It has also "pre-advertised" the Kingston-Upon-Thames FM licence currently held by Radio Jackie Limited that is due to expire on 28 February 2009.
Declarations of intent to apply have to be submitted, along with a GBP 5,000 (USD 10,00) non-refundable fee by January 16, 2008: Should the only declaration submitted be from the incumbent Radio Jackie will be invited to re-apply and should there be no declarations of intent the licence will not be re-advertised.
In the US as already noted the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has voted in on a party-line, changes that would remove the complete ban on a newspaper-broadcaster cross-ownership in a market.
The FCC was involved in a number of enforcement decisions including (in descending order of proposed or imposed penalty):
*USD 10,000 Notice of Apparent Liability for forfeiture (NAL) to Drexel University, licensee of WKDU-FM, Philadelphia, for failing to retain required documentation in the station's public inspection file. The licence was renewed.
*USD 10,000 NAL to Rockland Public Schools, licensee of WRPS-FM, Rockland, Massachusetts, for failing to retain required documentation in the station's public inspection file. The licence was renewed.
*USD 10,000 NAL to Colby Sawyer College, licensee of WSCS-FM, New London, New Hampshire, for failing to retain required documentation in the station's public inspection file. The licence was renewed.
*USD 7,000 NAL to Applegate Media, Inc., licensee of KAPL-AM, Phoenix, Oregon for late filing of renewal application and operation after licence had expired. The licence was renewed.
*USD 4,000 NAL to 3 Point Media-Salt Lake City, LLC., licensee of KHTB-FM, for broadcasting a telephone conversation without first informing a party to the conversation of its intention to do so. The ruling follows an announcement by a personality at the station that he would play a prank by calling the Utah Poison Control Center to ask what would happen if pepper spray were to be swallowed and a complaint of a subsequent call to the Center in which he spoke to a specialist without identifying himself and broadcast the conversation without identifying himself or asking permission to air it.
3 Point Media had admitted an "error" in failing to inform the Poison Center of his intention to record and broadcast the call, which was made in anticipation of a station promotion in which one of the items to be given away was a can of pepper spray.
*USD 1,500 NAL to Masconomet Regional School System, licensee of WBMT-FM, Boxford, Massachusetts, for late filing of renewal application. The licence was renewed.
*USD 500 NAL to Anchor Network, licensee of low power FM Station KSEP-LP, Brookings, Oregon, for late filing of renewal application and operation after licence had expired. The licence was renewed.
*USD 500 NAL to Whidbey Island Center for the Arts, licensee of low power FM Station KWPA-LP, Coupeville, Washington, for late filing of renewal application and operation after licence had expired. The licence was renewed.
*USD 500 NAL to Susan J. Smith, licensee of FM Translator Station K265BD, Wenatchee, Washington, for late filing of renewal application and operation after licence had expired. The licence was renewed.
Previous Licence News:
ACMA web site:
BCI web site:
CRTC web site:
FCC web site:
Ofcom web site:
2007-12-23: In more UK radio host changes in the New Year, GCap Media's Xfm has hired former Capital DJ Dave Berry, who has recently been fronting various Channel 4 TV programmes, to host a new Saturday afternoon show, taking over from Graeme Smith on January 5.
The Friday night rock show on the station is to be hosted by Martin Bate, whilst Ian Camfield, who is leaving to join K-Rock in New York, will remain on air with Xfm, hosting to host a show live from New York.
At digital station GaydarRadio, comedian and TV presenter Stuart Miles will take over the "Your Choice Requests" weekday 11:00-14:00 show from January 2, taking over from Sam Vangeen, who is leaving the network.
Previous GCap Media:
2007-12-22: Emap, which earlier this month sold its Consumer Media and Emap Radio divisions to German media group Heinrich Bauer Verlag KG leaving only a Business-to-business unit (See RNW Dec 8) has now announced the sale of the remaining business to a consortium set up by the Guardian Media Group and private equity firm Apax for around GBP 1 billion ( USD 2 billion) with the buyers taking on undisclosed debts and liabilities.
The sale - to Eden Bidco, the company set up by GMG and Apax to make the bid - is conditional on a number of things including completion of the other disposals; the sale of Emap's Irish radio stations and Emap having sufficient distributable reserves to pay the Special Dividend; Overall it will mean that Emap's shareholders, who have to approve the sale, would receive around GBP 2 billion (USD 4 billion) for the company.
Alun Cathcart, executive chairman of Emap, said of the sale, "We have already achieved highly attractive valuations for our magazine and radio businesses and are delighted to announce today a further compelling opportunity for shareholders to crystallise the value of Emap's B2B business at a 57.5% premium to its current underlying market valuation. This reflects the exceptional quality of these assets."
GMG chief executive Carolyn McCall said the buyers were "delighted" to have secured a unanimous recommendation of the offer from the Emap board and added, "Emap Communications is a very strong business with a range of highly successful brands. The acquisition meets our requirements in terms of diversifying GMG's media interests, in line with our commitment to guarantee the long-term financial security of the Guardian. We look forward to working in partnership with Apax as we develop the business."
2007-12-22: CBS Radio has renewed Adam Carolla' s contract for the morning "Adam Carolla Show" that airs on KLSX-FM , Los Angeles, and other West Coast stations and also announced that his featured contributor Danny Bonaduce will leave the show to host his own afternoon show on KLSX.
Chris Oliviero, Vice President of Programming, CBS Radio, said in a CBS news release that Carolla's show "has far exceeded our expectations and proven to be a listener favourite. We are thrilled to continue our relationship with Adam, and anticipate even more success for the program in the years to come" and Carolla added, "Launching a new show is never an easy task, but I feel like the past two years have laid the cement foundation and I'm now ready to throw the house warming party. I'm looking forward to returning to work on January 2, just not at 5:30 in the morning."
Regarding Bonaduce's show, KLSX Vice President of Programming Jack Silver said Bonaduce had "brought much excitement and entertainment to The Adam Carolla Show and we expect him to bring the same enthusiasm to the afternoon time slot."
2007-12-22: The National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) is calling on the U.S. Congress to reverse this week's decision by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to allow corporate ownership of both print and broadcast media in the same city, saying the decision will further hit minority ownership of media.
Its President Barbara Ciara said in a news release that with "increasing media consolidation the number of minority owners will steadily decrease" adding that the FCC "has a responsibility to maintain its public interest obligations and in order to do so, there must be safeguards to ensure station leadership and programming is as diverse as the communities they represent."
Ernie Suggs, NABJ Vice President of Print, said of consolidation, "It becomes a major problem when you see that in a nation where 34% of the population are people of colour, minorities own less than 10 percent of media outlets. NABJ will reach beyond the press gallery to congressional members and ensure this vote is reversed and our freedom of speech is not sacrificed by higher profits."
2007-12-22: XM Satellite Radio has announced that it has reached a settlement with Warner Music Group concerning a lawsuit brought by Warner over XM's Pioneer Inno portable satellite radio that has advanced recording features.
As with a similar settlement with Universal Music Group in the week (See RNW Dec 8), the deal covers current and future receivers with recording capability but no further details were disclosed.
2007-12-21: The Tribune Co. has now gone private under a takeover by billionaire Sam Zell: He has taken over as chairman and Chief Executive of the company and installed long-time associates -- Randy Michaels and Gerry Spector in key roles according to the Chicago Tribune.
Spector, who helped build Zell's Equity Residential Properties as chief operating officer, according to the paper will have the role of head of administration with his first task being to "zero-budget" the company
Zell, it says, "made it clear that the top priority was figuring how to create a more logical structure to free up decision-making and encourage more innovation."
Michaels is to lead Tribune's online and broadcast operations. He was associated with Zell in the 1990s when Michael's was at Jacor and Zell invested USD 83 million in the company, which was then struggling.
Michaels became Jacor CEO in 1996 and spearheaded an aggressive acquisition strategy until three years later Clear Channel bought Jacor for USD 2.8 billion.
Zell then moved out of radio but Michaels stayed on, becoming head of Clear Channel's radio division and leading further expansion that took Clear Channel's holdings to more than 1,200 radio stations.
At Clear Channel Michaels introduced widespread voice-tracking and many local personalities were forced out, a fate that befell Michaels himself in 2002 (See RNW Jul 24, 2002) after he was demoted to the role of CEO of Clear Channel's New Technologies Division.
Reporting before the formal announcement on the then-expected hiring of Michaels, the Los Angeles Times which is also owned by Tribune, quoted Jeff Smulyan, chairman and chief executive of Emmis Communications, who knows both men, as saying, "I think Sam and Randy are kindred spirits. They're two very, very creative thinkers who can look at a problem differently from other men. And it's impossible to be in any form of traditional media today without thinking differently."
Elliot Evers, managing director of San Francisco broadcast property broker Media Venture Partners added of Michaels, "He'll stumble on some things and succeed on others. He's willing to take risks and do things that other people haven't."
Less friendly comment about Michaels came from the Chicago Sun-Times where Robert Feder in his column headed his column, "The man from 'Hell'" and said he "evokes memories of radio's lamest stunt ever."
The reference was to his re-naming then Capital Cities/ABC-owned contemporary-hit WYTZ-FM, which he had been hired to turn round, as "Hell".
Listeners, writes Feder, woke up one day to hear taped promos between songs that included such lines as "Go to Hell," "Oh, Hell" and "You've Gone to Hell" and a contest on the station offering prizes to listeners who could repeat the phrase "B96 sucks" [B96 was CBS-owned Top 40 competitor WBBM-FM that Michaels had denigrated in a series of announcements in Spanish] as many times as possible in less than 10 seconds.
Protests and a failure of the stunt to achieve anything, writes Feder, led to Michael's plan being ended prematurely and a "A short time later, the station wound up dropping its format and abandoning its call letters, leaving nothing behind but the foul odour of Michaels' legacy."
Chicago Tribune report:
Chicago Sun-Times - Feder:
Los Angeles Times report:
2007-12-21: GCap Media, the UK's largest radio company with almost a third share of UK commercial radio, has appointed Fru Hazlitt Managing Director GCap London as its chief executive: She has already taken up her duties and her predecessor Ralph Bernard has left the company and also stepped down from its board.
Hazlitt, who was previously with Yahoo! UK and Ireland and subsequently Virgin Radio Chief Executive, joined the board of GCap in May this year.
She said of her appointment, "I feel privileged to have been given this opportunity. I joined GCap with a strong conviction that it has a great future and the 6 months I have spent here have only reinforced this view. We have great people and both locally and nationally we have historic brand equity and a status that will enable us to win within the multiplatform environment. I look forward to presenting our plans in early 2008."
GCap Chairman Richard Eyre said of her appointment, "I am delighted to appoint Fru as GCap's new Chief Executive. She has a wealth of experience and is absolutely the right person to lead the company at such an important time for the radio industry. Her breadth of experience in radio and digital media is unparalleled as is her track record in building brands and managing content across analogue and digital media. I am very much looking forward to working with her."
Asked by the UK Guardian about her priorities, Hazlitt spoke of growing the GCap Brands across a range of media outlets including broadband, saying, "It's not so much about size, it's about brands and brand behaviour."
She also said the UK commercial radio industry should not be distracted by potential consolidation and obsessed with the BBC, saying, "We need to demonstrate more than we have to date the quality of our brands. We don't need the distraction [of consolidation]. I think we will be serving our investors better if we are building growth within our own stable The industry needs to stop distracting itself by worrying about the BBC to actually use what it has got - because there's a lot of good stuff in it - to build growth and to demonstrate leadership."
"I think the distraction has come from all this acquisition and thinking who we can acquire next," she added. "And we've missed some tricks - we've missed the fact that our audience are trying to interact with us online. The best thing about that model is that we are growing our revenues online as we are growing audiences. We have a business model that looks very exciting We have beaten the BBC for years in the past - we know how to beat the BBC and there are masses of stations that beat the BBC in their areas. We should focus on our core objectives and let the BBC focus on theirs."
Previous GCap Media:
UK Guardian report:
2007-12-21: Rogers Broadcasting, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Rogers Communications, has appointed Paul Ski, former President of CHUM's radio division as the Chief Executive Officer of its radio division.
He will take over from Gary Miles who is retiring after two decades with Rogers during which its radio division grew from two stations to an industry leading group of 51 stations.
Rogers Broadcasting President Rael Merson said of the appointment, "We are thrilled that Paul will be joining Rogers. Paul has a unique combination of talent and experience that has made him such a success in the past and which equip him so wonderfully well for the challenges that lie ahead. As the radio industry continues to evolve from a single medium into multimedia, leaders of Paul's calibre will help to assure that Rogers continues to lead the industry."
2007-12-21: In a move to enable it to tap both the DAB and DAB+ markets as well as Internet radio, Frontier Silicon has teamed up with Revo to deliver the world's first radio to combine DAB/DAB+ and Wi-Fi.
The Blik Radiostation uses Frontier Silicon's Venice 6 multi-standard module and Steve Evans, the company's VP, Sales and Marketing said, "The combination of Wi-Fi radio, DAB, DAB+, FM and network music streaming capability will be a very powerful proposition for end users. Revo has done a fantastic job in designing and releasing this highly desirable radio so quickly. We expect Blik Radiostation to have particular appeal in all countries that are rolling out DAB+ services in the near future."
Currently some 6.5 million DAB units have been sold worldwide, around four-fifths of them in the UK, which uses the first version of DAB with MP2 encoding.
The more advanced AAC coding is being used for DAB+, which is being adopted in Australia for a launch in 2009 and is also expected to be rolled out in Canada, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Kuwait Italy, Israel, Malaysia, Malta, New Zealand and. Switzerland.
Previous Frontier Silicon:
2007-12-20: Following the passage by a majority Republican vote of new US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) media ownership regulations that remove the 32-years-old absolute ban on owning a newspaper and broadcast station in the same market, Michigan Democrat Rep. John Dingell, chairman of the House Commerce Committee, has accused the of acting "arrogantly and brazenly to weaken the newspaper/broadcast cross-ownership ban" against specific opposition from members of both parties and in both houses of the US Congress.
Dingell said in a statement that he was "greatly displeased that the chairman chose to vote on this important issue a mere week after hundreds of pages of comment were submitted on his proposed rule" and added, " I question whether the Commission gave adequate, or any, consideration to the public's input."
The FCC, he said, had "squandered an opportunity to reach agreement on even more meaningful ways to provide concrete benefits to consumers in the form of more minority media ownership and attention to localism" and he promised "rigorous oversight" of the issues by the Committee.
Dingell's opposition to the vote was shared in the Senate by North Dakota Democrat Sen. Byron Dorgan, one of the leaders against consolidation and easing the cross ownership ban. Dorgan says he will follow through with his earlier promise of legislation to overturn the new roles and is examining various options including a resolution of disapproval.
2007-12-20: Guardian Media Group Radio, whose advertising account for its Smooth, Real, Century and Rock Radio stations was put up for grabs in August (See RNW Aug 29) , has agreed a two-year contract for the amount with MediaCom, which was on a shortlist that included incumbent agency Brilliant, phd and MediaEdge: CIA.
Stuart Taylor, GMG Radio commercial director said the standard of pitches "was incredibly high but we were particularly impressed by MediaCom's knowledge of our marketplaces and some of the creative ways in which they will help us build our brands."
Previous GMG Radio:
2007-12-20: The Indian Government has again deferred the bidding for 97 FM licences in the country that were not in last year's bidding for 337 licences in the second phase of Indian FM expansion and that were earlier to have been put up for bids in November.
After the November bidding was cancelled the licences were to have gone on offer on Monday this week and January 7: 27 private FM companies have been short-listed including major players such as Entertainment Network India Ltd (Radio Mirchi), South Asia FM (Sun TV), and Reliance Unicom (Big 92.7 FM) and a number of regional players.
Bids are now scheduled for Dec 29 and Jan 10 and the Indian Information and Broadcasting Ministry said the delay was "to sort out some more matters, but it is nothing very significant.''
Of the licences put on offer last year, 266 were won by 30 companies, generating some INR 15.4 billion (currently USD 391 million) in licence fees: The licences currently on offer are expected to attract bids of around INR 3.5 billion (USD 89 million):
Previous Indian Radio:
2007-12-20: Sydney 2GB host Alan Jones did not break unlawfully broadcast the name of a juvenile at a murder trial, an offence for which he was fined AUD 1,000 ( USD 860) and placed on a nine-month good behaviour bond in April, his lawyer has told a New South Wales district court judge at an appeal by Jones
The host had named the witness on his show in July 2005 when he read out an article, which named the teenager, from The Daily Telegraph and a magistrate found the reading breached the Children's Criminal Proceedings Act.
Jones, 2GB licensee, Harbour Radio (A Macquarie Radio Network subsidiary), and The Daily Telegraph's publisher, Nationwide News (A News Corporation subsidiary) - which were fined AUD 3,000 (USD 2,575) and AUD 4,000 (USD 3430) respectively - all appealed against their convictions and a report in The Telegraph says arguments were put forward on Jones' behalf relating to the meaning of "publish" and to a constitutional point relating to freedom of expression.
Judge Michael Finance, who heard the main appeal submissions in September, said he expected to hand down his decision in February.
RNW comment; This case seems on the surface one of lawyers trying to get round the law and one where, should the appeals be denied, an order for costs should be made against the appellants. There seem to be no good reasons why this witness should have been named and for a multiplicity of parties to escape blame because a name had already been published would seem to us to render the law almost worthless since it would then be potentially possible for a logger's mention of a name to justify its widespread publication.
Sydney Daily Telegraph/AAP report:
2007-12-20: The Fitch credit rating agency has said that it is to downgrade Clear Channel's debt rating to B with its bank facility equal to or one notch above the rating following announcement by Clear Channel of details of its pro forma capital structure after it goes private that amongst other things say
Earlier Clear Channel had announced the start of a cash tender offer and consent solicitation for its outstanding USD 750,000,000 principal amount of 7.65% Senior Notes due 2010 and also that its AMFM subsidiary has started a cash tender offer and consent solicitation for the outstanding USD 644,860,000 principal amount of its 8% Senior Notes due 2008.
Both offers are made in connection with its merger, which is expected to complete in the first quarter of 2008.
Previous Clear Channel:
2007-12-19: The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) at its meeting on Tuesday adopted by a Republican majority vote new rules that would end the 32-year-old absolute ban on newspaper/broadcast cross-ownership and allow a newspaper to own a broadcast station in the 20 largest markets subject to certain criteria; adopted, again by a majority vote, localism proposals with Republican Commissioner Robert M. McDowell expressing some reservations but not going as far as to dissent; and adopted, yet again by a majority vote, rules to "Promote Diversification of Broadcast Ownership" and expand "Opportunities for New Entrants and Small Businesses to Own Broadcast Outlets."
The cross-ownership vote as the most contentious and before the meeting a bipartisan group of 25 Senators including North Dakota Democrat Byron Dorgan; Mississippi Republican Trent Lott; Hawaii Democrat Daniel Inouye and Alaska Republican Ted Stevens had written to FCC Chairman Kevin J. Martin to say that if the commission went ahead with its planned vote the group would "immediately move legislation that will revoke and nullify the proposed rule."
In the dissenting comments Democrat Commissioner Michael J. Copps, was again more blunt than his colleague Jonathan S. Adelstein, referring to the decision as one that "would make George Orwell proud" and continuing, "We claim to be giving the news industry a shot in the arm-but the real effect is to reduce total newsgathering. We shed crocodile tears for the financial plight of newspapers-yet the truth is that newspaper profits are about double the S&P 500 average. We pat ourselves on the back for holding six field hearings across the United States-yet today's decision turns a deaf ear to the thousands of Americans who waited in long lines for an open mike to testify before us. We say we have closed loopholes-yet we have introduced new ones. We say we are guided by public comment-yet the majority's decision is overwhelmingly opposed by the public as demonstrated in our record and in public opinion surveys. We claim the mantle of scientific research-even as the experts say we've asked the wrong questions, used the wrong data, and reached the wrong conclusions."
Copps specifically attacked notice given of revisions, writing, "At 1:57 this morning, we received a new version of the proposed test for allowing more newspaper-broadcast combinations. I can't say that I fully appreciate the test's finer points given the lateness of the hour and the fact that there was no time afforded to parse the finer points of the new rule. But this much is clear: the new version keeps the old loopholes and includes two new one pathways to cross ownership approval. So please don't buy the line that the rule we adopt today involves fewer loopholes-it adds new ones. Finally, this morning at 11:12 a.m. as I was walking out my office door to come to this meeting, we received an e-mail containing additional changes."
Copps continued on to deride the cross-ownership ruling in business terms, commenting in terms of a merger that if the entities remained truly "independent" as required there wouldn't be the savings that were used to justify the merger and asking, "Also, since when do unprofitable businesses support themselves by merging with profitable ones-and then sink more resources into the money-losing division simply as a public service?"
He continued of this - in a sentence that many Clear Channel departing employees or departed ex-employees would agree, "If any of us were employed by a struggling company, and we suddenly learned that a Wall Street financier had obtained control, would we (1) clap our hands with joy because we expect the new owner is going to throw a bunch of cash our way and tell us to keep on doing what we'd been doing, except more lavishly or (2) start to fear for our jobs and brace for a steady diet of cost cutting? "
And of the likely result Copps potentially made himself a hostage to fortune - unless lawmakers void the changes, which are backed by the White House - by predicting that "Mergers will be approved in both the top 20 and non-top-20 markets-towns big and small-because the set of exceptions we announce today have all the firmness of a bowl of Jell-O. Regardless of our supposed commitment to "independent news judgment" the two entities' newsrooms will be almost completely combined, with round after round of job cuts in order to cut costs."
Copps also commented of the Internet that many newspapers were moving to turn its perceived threat into opportunity and add, "Far from newspapers being gobbled up by the Internet, we ought to be far more concerned with the threat of big media joining forces with big broadband providers to take the wonderful Internet we know down the same road of consolidation and control by the few that has already inflicted such heavy damage on our traditional media."
Adelstein in his dissent said of the decision, "There are no final rules - nothing concrete to foster a better relationship between broadcast licensees and the public they are licensed to serve.
Today's item literally does nothing meaningful to promote localism. It is as if we promised to deliver a book but produced only the cover."
And of the "studies" much vaunted by Martin in his comment, Adelstein said, "When the Localism Task Force was launched, we were promised "rigorous studies" and legislative recommendations. We have seen neither studies nor any recommendations to Congress. After the expenditure of over $350,000 of taxpayer funds and valuable staff resources, the Task Force - if it still exists - owes the American people and Congress completed studies and solid recommendations on which to base immediate action by the Commission and Congress."
In his comments Martin re-iterated points he had made on a number of occasions about the effort and money devoted by the FCC to considering the decision and marketplace changes since the rules were introduced and saying that the Commission had agreed to the requests made by the Democratic Commissioners but then kept moving the goal posts; "Unfortunately, my Democratic colleagues have been quick to say no to whatever was proposed but never getting to yes or even putting forward their own ideas on the substance of the issues before us," he commented.
Republican Commissioner Deborah Taylor Tate, as previously, stressed changes that had occurred in her comment, saying in part, "With the explosion of online news and information, diversity of voices no longer depends solely on the number of broadcasting companies or media outlets in a certain DMA. The Internet allows residents of even the smallest towns, with perhaps only one daily newspaper, to have access to hundreds of news outlets, twenty-four hours a day. In terms of purely local news and information, the opportunities for resource-sharing and capital investment that occur when a broadcaster purchases a newspaper, in fact often lead to more local news-not less."
He colleague Robert M. McDowell said he supported, "today's report, which provides a comprehensive overview of the issues raised by commenters, and the public at our field hearings regarding how broadcasters address the needs of their local communities" but raised concerns about instituting locally-oriented programming requirements on broadcasters, saying that the commission was heading in the wrong direction and adding, "Vigorous competition motivates broadcasters to serve their local communities. I do not believe that government needs to, or should, foist upon local stations its preferences regarding categories of programming. We risk treading on the First Amendment rights of broadcasters with unnecessary regulation. An order reflecting these conclusions will be overturned in court."
In early reactions the US National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) welcomed the easing of cross-ownership rules but expressed reservations about possible requirements for local programming.
It referred to a "modest" revision of the ownership rules - the term Martin has used - and Executive Vice President Dennis Wharton in a statement said, "We are pleased the FCC has adopted a revised newspaper/broadcast cross-ownership rule, recognizing that a 30-year-old complete ban is no longer justified. While we think the adopted changes are modest, we believe they are an important step forward in aligning broadcasting regulations with the realities of today's communications marketplace."
Regarding localism he added that the NAB would be closely reviewing the FCC proposals, terming it "a proceeding that carries grave First Amendment implications and which stems from a false notion that radio and television stations have abandoned our commitment to serving communities or have stopped offering distinctive local programming."
"From coast to coast," he said, "local broadcasters are saving lives every day with Amber Alerts, emergency weather warnings, and coverage of natural disasters. The record shows that broadcasters have an unmatched tradition of serving the public interest, and as the FCC found in the 1980s, onerous regulations can have the unintended consequence of reducing programming quality. We are confident that any truly objective localism analysis will vindicate the performance of radio and TV broadcasters, and overshadow the shrill voices of those who would regulate broadcasters back to the 1960s."
Opposing the moves, Illinois Democrat Senator Barack Obama said in a statement, "Today the FCC failed to further the important goal of promoting diversity in the media and instead chose to put big corporate interests ahead of the people's interests. Minority owned and operated newspapers and radio stations play a critical role in African American and Latino communities and help bring minority issues to the forefront of our national dialogue I am disappointed that the FCC failed to meet its obligations to diverse communities and ensure that broadcasters are doing right by the communities in which they operate. Congress will not stand by and allow the FCC to move forward with these regulatory changes, and I will urge my colleagues to push forward legislation that ensures any changes will be evaluated and modified in a transparent and inclusive process, and fully takes into account the interests of our women and minority-owned outlets, and communities."
The Media Access Project accused the FCC of caving in to the media giants and its President and CEO Andrew Jay Schwartzman said the action was "far more radical, and much more outrageous, than what Chairman Martin proposed just a few weeks ago. He has caved in to lobbying from the media giants, giving a pass to them so they can retain TV and radio stations that they were supposed to have divested months and years ago. And he is even giving Rupert Murdoch a new crack at keeping two huge TV stations in New York, despite his acquisition of the Wall Street Journal."
The decision was also criticized by the American Federation of Radio and Television Artists (AFTRA) which in a joint statement with the Communications Workers of America expressed "disappointment" at the decision and in particular "strong concern that the FCC did not require that any merged newspaper-broadcast operation maintain separate newsroom and editorial staff, an addition that would have helped to ensure an independent editorial voice in communities. They also stressed that ensuring a diverse media is more critical than ever in today's environment and raised concerns about the impact of consolidation on competition, diversity of opinion and quality jobs."
TNG-CWA President Linda Foley said more, not fewer safeguards are needed to promote media diversity and that the "The FCC's action means that fewer distinct, local media voices will be available as news sources for citizens", adding, " Particularly in markets that already are highly concentrated and these changes fail to protect the public interest."
John Clark, president of NABET-CWA, commented "Our members know what happens when one company owns more than one TV station or a major TV station and the monopoly newspaper in the same market. The owner merges operations, slashes jobs, and reduces the quantity and quality of the news," whilst Tom Carpenter, AFTRA General Counsel and Director of Legislative Affairs, said "As the ownership rules are relaxed, we will see even further consolidation and editorial control by just a few corporations This rule change is contrary to the FCC's mandate to safeguard diversity of local voices and the public interest."
RNW comment: We have given more space to the opposition to the decision than to its proponents largely because the latter repeated much ore of their earlier statements whilst those opposed came up with new or different comments.
We are still considering the implications of the changes once smart corporate lawyers aided by large budgets to bend politicians in an election period get to work but our initial reaction would be that ideally lawmakers should accept broadcasters at the word of NAB in terms of media companies already providing adequate local coverage then create sensible guidelines as what public interest requires of those using leased public airwaves, particularly in terms of local coverage and of election campaigns. Whilst we do not think these should be prescriptive in advance of what is needed we do think it would be quite reasonable to make assessment of local coverage a mandatory part of licence renewal processes with automatic revocation of licences in cases where there is a significant failure (NAB presumably would not object since they claim broadcasters are not failing in their obligations and we assume would not want to protect the odd rogue company). Since there appear to be plenty of applicants for licences we cannot see that this would do other than provide a spur for the broadcasters to fulfil their obligations and we suspect the net result would be very few licences revoked but a significant gain in terms of local coverage and commitment.
Previous Media Access Project:
2007-12-19: BBC Radio 1 has backed down in the face of criticism from listeners and the mother of singer the late Kirsty MacColl and will air the Pogues' "Fairytale of New York" uncut following an earlier decision to censor it by removing the words "slut" and "faggot" from the festive hit.
Radio One controller Andy Parfitt said the earlier decision to use only an edited version because "some members of the audience might find it offensive" was "wrong."
The track concerned includes MacColl, who was killed by a speedboat off the coast of Mexico in 2000, brandings Pogues frontman Shane MacGowan "you scumbag, you maggot, you cheap lousy faggot" and the latter terming MacColl "an old slut on junk": It had been edited on Radio 1 but BBC Radio 2 had said it would continue to air the full track.
MacColl's mother Jean, reacting to the cuts, had told BBC Radio 5 Live's Breakfast show they were "too ridiculous" and added, "These are a couple of characters - not in the first flush of youth, I would have thought. This is the way they spoke. Today we have a lot of a gratuitous vulgarity and whatever from people all over which I think is quite unnecessary. They are what they are. These are characters and they speak like that."
A spokesman for the Pogues had characterized the original decision, which the station at first said it would stick with, as "complete over-reaction" and the station received considerable criticism from listeners.
Parfitt announcing the U-turn said the original decision to edit had been made "some months ago" as part of a review of older records played on the station.
"Radio 1 does not play homophobic lyrics or condone bullying of any kind," he said and added, "It is not always easy to get this right, mindful of our responsibility to our young audience. The unedited version will be played from now on.
"While we would never condone prejudice of any kind, we know our audiences are smart enough to distinguish between maliciousness and creative freedom. In the context of this song, I do not feel that there is any negative intent behind the use of the words, hence the reversal of the decision."
2007-12-19: UTV Media has agreed to purchase Dublin station FM104 from Communicorp for Euros 52 million (USD 75 million) in a deal to be financed through a combination of new bank debt and the issue of new ordinary shares. The acquisition is conditional upon the approval of the UTV shareholders in a general meeting.
Communicorp had to sell the station to go ahead with its purchase of Emap's Irish radio stations Today FM and Donegal station Highland Radio and had been in negotiations with a number of potential buyers before UTV stepped into the bidding at the last moment (See RNW Dec 15).
UTV in its news release concerning the purchase noted that FM104 has a 26% share in Dublin listening in its key 15-34 year old age group and a 12.5% share of all adults with a weekly market reach of 31%, second only to RTÉ Radio 1.
UTV also announced arrangements for the placing of 2.74 million new five pence ordinary shares through Goodbody Stockbrokers and Numis Securities Limited. Funds raised would be used for the acquisition or, if it does not go through, for further investment opportunities or for general corporate purposes.
In terms of its business it says its directors remain positive about its UK radio business "which has experienced significant growth since the acquisition of the Wireless Group plc in June 2005" and notes that "talkSPORT continues to outperform the market as it delivers strong audience numbers and excellent demographics, while the recovery plan which has been implemented at the Group's local radio stations in G.B. is beginning to improve operational performance."
It is to launch two new stations next year, speech format talkRADIO on the second national digital multiplex and an FM in the Preston area of Lancashire, start-ups that it says will require an investment of some GBP 4 million ( USD 8 million) over the next two years but will be excellent long-term investments.
In Ireland it says radio "continues to show solid performance despite growth tapering down in the Irish economy" with second-half revenues expected to be up 6% year-on-year and that the "key urban market proposition that UTV is able to offer advertisers will be greatly enhanced by the addition of FM104, giving the Group a leading position in Ireland's capital city to complement our radio stations in Cork, Limerick, Dundalk/Drogheda and Belfast."
2007-12-19: A bill introduced in the US by California Representatives Howard Berman (Democrat) and Darrell Issa (Republican) and Senators Patrick Leahy (Vermont Democrat) and Orrin Hatch (Utah Republican) that would require terrestrial broadcasters to pay performance royalties for music recordings they air has provoked xenophobic opposition from the US National Association of Broadcasters (NAB)
The change is backed by the musicFIRST Coalition, an activist group created by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) and SoundExchange - the body that collects recording performance royalties from Internet and other digital audio suppliers, which says analogue radio ha had a "free Ride" whilst others including satellite and cable radio and Internet streams have to pay.
US terrestrial broadcasters have to pay songwriters and composers under copyright law but this dates back to 1909 when recordings were in their infancy and they were not covered until a 1972 amendment that specifically exempted broadcasters who had argues they should be exempt because of the promotional value of music broadcasts.
The legislation introduced, "The Performance Rights Act", will not go before the full House until it returns after the Christmas break and is similar to legislation covering music streams with special treatment for small, non-commercial public broadcasting stations and for religious stations and with rates for larger broadcasters to be set by the Library of Congress' Copyright Royalty Board.
It conflicts with another bill, backed by the NAB, that specifically excludes such payments and says, "Congress should not impose any new performance fee, tax, royalty, or other charge relating to the public performance of sound recordings on a local radio station for broadcasting sound recordings over-the-air, or on any business for such public performance of sound recordings."
Commenting on the Performance Rights proposals NAB Executive Vice President Dennis Wharton said in a statement, "After decades of Ebenezer Scrooge-like exploitation of countless artists, RIAA and the foreign-owned record labels are singing a new holiday jingle to offset their failing business model. NAB will aggressively oppose this brazen attempt to force America's hometown radio stations to subsidize companies that have profited enormously through the free promotion provided by radio airplay."
RNW comment: So much for the free market in NAB's eyes and also a blast of derision to Wharton for his labelling of the recording companies as "foreign-owned", a label that seems to us a deliberate and despicable ploy to gain support by blaming foreigners.
The main recording companies were, of course, largely American owned until they were sold by their owners, including broadcasters (label names included RCA, CBS and UMG, the largest and still US-based recording company) whom the NAB presumably considers unpatriotic.
2007-12-19: BBC World Service today marks the 75th anniversary of its first broadcast - to Australia as the then "Empire Service" on December 19 , 1932 ,with a global conversation on freedom of speech including a link-up of audiences from round the world including Hong Kong, Nairobi and Philadelphia.
The service now broadcasts in 33 languages and reaches some 183 million listeners a week, a far cry from the expectations of the original Empire Service as voiced by the corporation's then Director General Lord Reith who in the opening programme, which was -broadcast five times live to different countries -said of it, "Don't expect too much in the early days; for some time we shall transmit comparatively simple programs, to give the best chance of intelligible reception and provide evidence as to the type of material most suitable for the service in each zone. The programmes will neither be very interesting nor very good."
Today's broadcast debates tie in with the themes of programming the Service has been airing in its "Free to Speak" season and there will also be regional link-ups featuring panels of experts and audiences at internet cafés, local radio stations, newsrooms and other meeting places.
Sara Beck, who commissioned the season, said the idea was to "reach right around the world and use the new ways people are communicating with each other to do this."
"Connecting with people in places we don't always report from," she added, "will give us the chance to dissect the world afresh, to look at how the globe is being reshaped by technology.
We'll also explore new frameworks for freedom of expression, the effects of competition and the challenges of these new responsibilities."
2007-12-18: Jones MediaAmerica yet again retained top rank ranking in Arbitron's RADAR 95 (Radio's All Dimension Audience Research) Radio Network Audience rankings just released by Arbitron and covering the period from September 21, 2006 - September 19, 2007: The ratings included Portable People Meter (PPM) respondents from the Houston-Galveston and Philadelphia metro markets and diary respondents from all other markets with a total sample size of 200,083 respondents - exceeding Arbitron's sample size goal of 200,000 respondents for this report.
Jones' MAI Adult Power was followed by the ABC Daytime Direction Network that it finally pushed out of top spot in the RADAR 93 survey and the Dial Global Contemporary Network, which pushed the Westwood WON I Network down a rank to fourth.
Premiere's top network, the Premiere Morning Drive Network remained seventh.
The overall top five networks in the survey were:
1 - Jones MAI Adult Power, which lost 92,000 listeners to end with an average audience of 6.554 million and an AQH down from 2.7 to 2.6
2 - ABC Daytime Direction Network, which lost 95,000 listeners to end with an average audience of 6.350 million and an AQH down from 2.6 to 2.5
3 Dial-Global Contemporary Network Network, which gained 629,000 listeners and moved up from sixth to end with an average audience of 5.762 million and an AQH up from 2.0 to 2.3
4- Westwood WON I Network, which lost 157,000 listeners to end with an average audience of 5.555 million and an AQH down from 2.3 to 2.2.
5 - Dial Global Complete FM Network, which lost 29,000 listeners and fell from fourth to fifth to end with an average audience of 5.323 million and an unchanged AQH of 2.1.
*ABC Prime Access Radio Network lost 149,000 listeners and fell from fifth to sixth with an average audience of 4.995 million and an unchanged AQH of 2.0.
Previous Citadel (Formerly Disney)/ABC, America):
Previous Jones MediaAmerica:
Previous Premiere Networks:
Previous RADAR ratings (RADAR 94):
Previous Westwood One:
2007-12-18: UK Media regulator Ofcom has upheld one radio standards complaint against Manchester station Galaxy 102 FM and posted details of fairness and privacy complaints against BBC Radio Humberside that were not upheld in its latest Broadcast Bulletin in which it also gives details of three TV standards complaints upheld and a further TV standards complaint considered resolved by the actions taken by the broadcaster.
The numbers compare with one radio standards and three TV standards complaints upheld in the previous bulletin in which it also published details of a TV standards case and radio fairness and privacy one where the complaints were not upheld.
The radio complaint upheld against Galaxy 102, then owned by Chrysalis Radio, which was subsequently taken over by Global Radio, related to the broadcast of swearing in a conversation not intended for airing in the Saturday afternoon Paul Ellis Show.
The conversation included the comment " I reckon every spacker in Manchester could go to Toys R Us .meanwhile I am having to walk fucking miles with me kids in the rain " , leading to a complaint that the language was offensive.
Galaxy in its response apologized for a "technical error in the recording process which allowed the presenter to be heard making the offensive comments, albeit during a personal conversation, which was not intended for broadcast" and said it had broadcast an apology in the same show on the following Saturday, taken disciplinary action against the presenter and given technical operators' advanced training on its voice-track system.
It said it apologized the following week because of the difficulties of interrupting a pre-recorded programme but Ofcom noted that it expects licensees to monitor all output as broadcast and, if offensive material is broadcast, normally to apologise at the earliest opportunity, ideally by or at the end of the programme. In this case it also noted that the apology broadcast was very brief and did not explain to listeners why it was being made.
In the case of the radio fairness and privacy complaint not upheld, BBC Radio Humberside had been unable to reach agreement with Grimsby Town Football Club over a deal and had over a period of around five weeks commented on not being able to afford what the club wanted leading to complaints by the club chairman John Fenty that it had been treated unfairly.
Ofcom, which as posted considerable detail of comments made said the station had made clear the positions taken by the parties and it was also clear that there was a continuing dispute between the parties. It also noted concerning a complaint that the station had inaccurately said Fenty had denied an interview a player -the BBC had said its match reporter's recollection was that the press officer told the reporter that " the Chairman would have my 'guts for garters' if I was to allow him to talk to the player" that this placed the responsibility for the denial of an interview firmly with Fenty, even if he had no direct conversation with the press officer about it.
In another case where Fenty had been referred to by the presenter as a "plonker", the station had broadcast an apology along with a correction in relation to a statement that it had been denied access to a post-match news conference when the refusal was in fact to allow access to a player for an interview. It considered that this action was sufficient in this case and that there had been no unfairness to the club or its chairman.
In addition to the breaches Ofcom also listed without details 228 complaints against 139 TV items and 41 radio complaints against 23 items that it did not uphold or were considered out of its remit: This compares with 865 complaints against 171 TV items and 38 radio complaints against 25 items that were out of its remit or not upheld in the previous bulletin.
Previous Ofcom Complaints Bulletin:
2007-12-18: Emmis has announced its acquisition of Bulgarian radio network InfoRadio, its third national radio brand in the country where it already operates Radio FM+ and Radio Fresh.
No purchase price was disclosed but Emmis said the deal is complete and has gained regulatory approval.
Emmis International President Paul Fiddick said of the deal, "This acquisition demonstrates our belief in the growth of the Bulgarian economy, especially since its accession to the European Union this year. We are pleased to enlarge our footprint there with three national radio brands, and we welcome Inforadio's employees, clients, and listeners to the Emmis family."
2007-12-18: BBC Radio 3 has announced the Winter line-up for its Sunday "Drama on 3" programming that will include a broadcast premieres for Lee Hall's "The Pitman Painters", Douglas Coupland's "Girlfriend In A Coma" and Hassan Adbulrazzak's "Baghdad Wedding". The season will also include new plays by David Eldridge and Pat McCabe
The Pitman Painters, the first in the schedule, tells the story of a group of Thirties Northumbrian miners who, after starting an art appreciation society, begin to paint, gaining widespread acclaim for their work: Its radio production of the play reunites Oscar-winning playwright Lee Hall (Billy Elliot) and director Kate Rowland for their ninth radio production. It will air on December 23.
The last play scheduled - to air on February 24 next year, is adaptation by Dan Rebellato of Douglas Coupland's "Girlfriend in a Coma": It is named after a song by The Smiths and is a parable about the need to engage with life, and begins with a teenage girl slipping into a coma that lasts for 17 years.
The other plays scheduled are:
30 December: All's Well That Ends Well (repeat), by William Shakespeare.
6 January 2008: The Picture Man, by David Eldridge.
13 January 2008: Donation, by Sean Buckley.
20 January 2008: Baghdad Wedding, by Hassan Abdulrazzak.
27 January 2008: All The Colours of Love, by Pat McCabe.
3 February 2008: The Devil Was Here Yesterday, by Colin Teevan.
10 February 2008: The Trial And Death Of Socrates, by Sebastian Baczkiewicz.
17 February 2008: The Cool Bag Baby, by Katie Hims.
2007-12-18: Universal Music Group (UMG) and XM Satellite Radio have settled their dispute over XM's Pioneer Inno portable satellite receiver with recording functionality and UMG has ended its lawsuit against XM and also agreed to withdraw as a party to the complaint filed by the major record companies against XM in May, 2006.
The deal covers all XM radios with advanced recording functionality, including both those currently available as well as future product releases and XM President and CEO Nate Davis described it as "a win for everyone involved, especially for consumers."
He added, "Today's announcement underscores the fact that XM competes in an audio entertainment market in which consumers have more options than ever. We commend UMG for being the first music company to take this step forward with us and look forward to continuing our discussions with our other partners in the music industry."
2007-12-17: We start this week's look at print comment on radio with a warning about the future of much current commercial radio courtesy of Sean Hannity - who may be said to have a self-interest- as reported by Mark Ramsey of Hear 2.0.
Ramsey notes that Hannity commented at Arbitron's consultant fly-in, "Music radio is going to be in trouble. In five years when every car has an iPod connection and you can listen to anything you want, what is music radio going to do?"
To that Ramsey adds, "I have long argued (and many others have likewise taken up the cause) that what's between the records becomes more, not less, important as our sound-alike competition multiplies and new channels of distribution make their way into home, work, and car - populated by content that is not owned, produced, sold, licensed, or monetized by anyone in the radio industry."
He then goes on to say Hannity is correct in his prognostications and says that "within five years we'll see diminishing ratings on sound-alike music-oriented FM's. And radio will enter a new age of non-music programming. Not necessarily talk. But not particularly music" and says the spoils will go "those who create the experiments now."
Ramsey is, of course, commenting in terms of current commercial advertising-funded radio but the medium isn't necessarily bound to that model and, providing enough people maintain their appreciation of the value of other models, particularly public broadcasting, to see off the market fanatics and their self-interested allies in commercial broadcasting whose alliance is one of convenience since what shines through is their desire to protect their existing patch rather than see competition.
Which takes us to appreciation of radio from Gillian Reynolds in the UK Telegraph: In her radio column last week she began with the comment, "Inertia and over-reaction are the twin poles of radio listening. The first keeps us tuned to things we don't particularly want to hear but can't be bothered to turn off. The second impels us to turn things off before they start because we have already decided we hate them. The joy of radio is that we can be taken by surprise, have our mind changed."
In this case the radio concerned was BBC Radio 4 and its weekly "Points of View" and Reynolds writes of Lisa Jardine's comments, "The radio, on the other side of a shining sea of wet lino, was not close enough to be turned off. Had it been, her introduction, about Belgium and its constitutional crisis, would have ensured it. What happened next showed how wrong that would have been. She explained the historic roots of Belgium's socio-political divisions, went on to link these with our own in the UK, and then to problems of defining national identity. She mentioned a large mailbag of protest when she had said "English" where people expected "British" and argued why she was correct, historically speaking, to do so In these 12 or so minutes, she summed up and gave context to arguments on national identity that raged last week from Five Live's phone-ins to Radio 4's Any Questions?"
The comment took Reynolds on to other programming and issues of "nationalism and its manifestations" including much nationalist raving about the then-to-be-defeated boxer Ricky Hatton - Reynolds suggested the attention devoted to him was "only explicable by BBC desperation to promote its radio broadcast of the fight" - and on to "ponder some of my own prejudices."
That in turn led her to reconsider her decision to give up "Desert Island Discs" because host Kirsty Young "didn't seem right for the job" and admit after her programme with Stephen Isserlis that maybe she "was wrong."
It also led her to comment on two comedy programmes on Radio 4 that she still had "problems with - Down the Line and its new companion show Listen Against. Both make me laugh but feel guilty about laughing. Why? Because they are such fierce emanations of dislike for the Radio 4 audience. A comedy show asks us into its world. These two say: "You're barred." Perhaps I'm not the one who's prejudiced here."
On to yet another example of the value of radio this time in comment from Dan Sabbagh in the Times of London about the BBC World Service. After noting the current division into radio and TV Sabbagh comments of the former, "The "life-line" services provide radio broadcasts in Somalia - where Nigel Chapman, Director of the World Service, claims that it is effectively the national broadcaster - Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Burma. This is classic World Service territory, small groups of people transmitting information into countries where the criterion is that there is "very restricted access to information, where you can't rely on local media".
He then goes on to comment on the politics of such services, saying of the Burmese service at the current time of repression in the country, "Few would argue against the need for a BBC service at such a time - an estimated quarter of the country's 55 million tune in. However, it is hard to avoid the conclusion that the Burmese service comes close to taking sides in a way that the BBC in Britain could not. Much of the information broadcast was passed on by members of the opposition National League for Democracy. Members of the Government normally refuse to be interviewed, but they listen in, and the station was dubbed an 'assassin of the air' by the authorities as the protest was violently suppressed."
And of the abiding value of the service as at present constituted - after noting that commercial funding for its Arabic TV service is not thought possible because of the pressures that can be put on commercial partners and advertisers, Sabbagh quotes Chapman as saying, "Other international broadcasters are locked into their perspective," and pointing out that Voice of America employees, for example, are civil servants, with an explicit purpose "to project a US political view".
Of the World Service Sabbagh concludes that, "Aided by the British mindset, and taxpayers' money, the result is Britain's only truly global media operation."
So on to listening suggestions and first the World Service and the current series of programmes on the news business in its documentary archive, starting with Alan Little's "Making the News Part 1" on the concept of "objective" news; "Press For Freedom " in which Roy Greenslade considers how reporting "the truth" can be endangered by a combination of governments, corporations and Internet publishing; and Alan Little's investigation into the future of news when the old fashioned model is competing with - or being supplemented by? - The Internet.
Linked with that we suggest from BBC Radio 4 on Wednesday (11:00GMT) "New Kids on the Blog" in which Matt Frei looks at how the digital revolution is changing the face of American media.
After that from a week when our listening was somewhat constrained - we were unable to listen to many of the international podcasts we usually pick up so had to stick to terrestrial listening in the UK for most of the week - we suggest a run of programmes from Radio 4 over the past weekend and start of this week - starting with Saturday morning's "Pop in Translation" in which Mark Radcliffe looks at the foreign-language versions of their hits recorded by many pop artists in the 1960s.
Then from later on Saturday we recommend the latest "Archive Hour" - "Acoustic Attic" in which Judith Kampfner sampled American radio archives from the recordings of the Kitchen Sisters (Nikki Silva and Davia Nelson) and "Unreliable Evidence" in which lawyers involved in high-profile cases of Britons accused of committing crimes against US law discuss concerns about how easy it is for Britons to be dragged into foreign courts.
Then from Sunday we suggest the latest edition of "Something Understood" - "Fear and Compassion" in which Mark Tully considers the idea that people rediscover their compassion when they stop being afraid; "It's My Story" - "Where Are You Really From?" in which black, Irish and Catholic journalist Tim Brannigan travels to Accra in search of his father after being told that he was not adopted as first told but that his mother was his real mother and his father was a doctor from Ghana; "The Real Spooks - What We Feared" in which BBC security correspondent Gordon Corera looks into the shadowy world of Britain's security services and the radical changes that they were forced into after 9/11; and the latest edition of "Thinking Allowed" in which Laurie Taylor explores a new study of the history of hunger, from the famines of the 19th century to the Jarrow March.
From Monday on Radio 4 we suggest "Together against the Odds", one in a series on relationships that have survived: This edition tells the story of Gordon and Ellen who married three days after they met more than 40 years ago and who had a seemingly unpropitious background for a long-term union as she was brought up in care and his mother had cited more than 50 names in the divorce case against his father.
It was followed by "Britain's Blonde Bombshell", a documentary on British actress Diana Dors, a graduate of the Rank Organisation's Starlets who had a great impact in post-war Britain but lived in the shadow of Marilyn Monroe.
Through the week from the station we suggest the "Woman's Hour Drama" (10:45 GMT with a 19:45 evening repeat) that this week is "Flesh", Tilly Black's tale of a journalist who takes on an assignment to write about the booming cosmetic surgery industry and becomes seduced by its promises of rejuvenation and reinvention and the "Afternoon Reading" (15:45 GMT) that this week under the title "Scottish Shorts" showcases new writing.
We'd also suggest from the station Tuesday's "Word of Mouth" - a special edition "Belgium's Word Wars" that looks at the threat to Belgium as a nation state from the divide between the French and Dutch speaking Belgians and "Recruiting Muslim Spies" in which reporter Tazeen Ahmad finds out that the security services attempts to recruit informants are alienating many young British Muslims; and from Thursday this week's "In Our Time" in which Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the theory of the four humours.
This idea, developed by Greek physicians such as Galen and Hippocrates, suggested that the human body was a blend of yellow and black bile, phlegm and blood and despite being erroneous and increasingly at odds with observable evidence it shaped European and Arab medicine for 1,500 years. Words like "faith" and "tradition" spring to mind in this case, maybe even "gut feelings."
Then from BBC Radio 3 at the weekend we suggest Sunday's "Drama on 3 "- "The Rivals" by Richard Brinsley Sheridan. Next Sunday the programme has the first play in its winter schedule - "The Pitmen Painters" by Lee Hall". It was inspired by the book by William Feaver and tells the story of a group of miners who want the secrets of the art world explained to them but their visiting lecturer goes further and gets them painting.
The "Sunday Feature" that followed was "RAND - All Your Tomorrows Today" concerning the contributions the RAND (Research and Development) Corporation has made to the development of the world over more than six decades.
Also from Radio 3 this week we suggest "The Essay" - Monday through Thursday at 23:00 GM. This week explores the world of Horace and the influence his works still exert.
Finally from Radio 3 we suggest from next weekend "The Verb" on Saturday at 21;45 GMT, a special midwinter edition featuring a specially commissioned ghost story, poetic ruminations on ice skating and a discussion of the literary expressions of some of the harshest winter environments in the world and from Sunday in the same time slot "The Sunday Feature" -the drama-documentary "A Cloud in a Paper Bag" by biographer Richard Holmes that tells the story of the first decades of ballooning 200 years ago.
Hear 2.0 - Ramsey:
UK Telegraph - Reynolds:
UK Times -Sabbagh:
2007-12-17: UTV is to revamp its Cork 103FM station and rename it C103 in the New Year according to a report in Ireland's Sunday Post, which says the station will focus on music from the 1970's and 80s.
It adds that the move, which has gained approval from the Broadcasting Commission of Ireland (BCI), is designed to make 103, which has been mainly associated with Cork county, more distinctive from UTV's other Cork station, Cork's 96FM, which is more associated with Cork city.
The two stations have dominated ratings in the city but are now facing more competition: In the latest ratings comparative newcomer Red FM, which launched in 2002, took its listenership up 1% to 18% and market share up 0.2% to 10.3% whilst the combined Cork 96FM/103 County Sound reach figure was down 1 to 46% although its market share was up 0.3 to 52.9.
Of the two UTV stations, 96FM had a 34% reach and 39.1% share and 103FM County Sound had a 14% reach and 13.8% market share.
Sunday Post report:
2007-12-17: The US National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) has announced that CBS veteran Charles Osgood, the anchor of CBS News Sunday Morning and of CBS Radio Network's "The Osgood File", is to be presented with the NAB Distinguished Service Award.
Osgood will receive the award during the All Industry Opening Keynote at the 2008 NAB Show in Las Vegas on April 14.
Osgood joined CBS in 1971 and in his career has gained four Emmy Awards and three George Foster Peabody Awards.
The Osgood File has received the Washington Journalism Review's "Best in the Business" award five times and in 1999, Osgood received both the Radio Mercury Award and the International Radio and Television Society Foundation (IRTS) Award for significant achievement.
2007-12-16: Last week the most important actions from the regulators came from Australia and the US with the former inviting applications for the digital multiplexes in each state capital city (See RNW Dec 12) and the latter hearing Federal Communications Commission (FCC) chairman Kevin J. Martin push ahead on media ownership and put the issue on the agenda for the Commission's meeting on December 18 (Tuesday) against calls from the Democrat Commissioners to delay and allow prior consideration of the effects of media consolidation and so on (See RNW Dec 13 and Dec 14).
Elsewhere there was a steady flow of radio related activity including the award of a new digital multiplex licence in the UK and in Ireland the posting of details of a hearing to be held on Monday to consider two applications for a new Classic Gold/Easy Listening/Smooth multi-city service.
In Australia, as noted the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has invites applications for multiplex transmitter licences, limiting them in this round to existing commercial broadcasters whilst public broadcasters the ABC and SBS may apply at any time for a category 3 digital radio multiplex transmitter licence following the creation of a joint company to operate the multiplex transmitter.
The ACMA also posed one more radio decision, a ruling that South Eastern Radio Association Inc, licensee of community station 3SER, breached the Broadcasting Services Act 1992 by broadcasting advertisements in failing to include appropriate acknowledgements of financial support in relation to announcements made during a live broadcast of an Australian Rules football match between the VFL and the WAFL held in Melbourne on 26 May 2007. Under the Act, sponsorship announcements on community radio, which do not carry tags, are considered advertisements.
To redress the breach, the licensee has suspended all 'outside' broadcasts indefinitely and has undertaken to complete rigorous training of staff regarding compliance with the Broadcasting Services Act 1992 and 3SER's outside broadcasting procedures and also said its new management will conduct a thorough appraisal of station policies and procedures and revamp its entire presenter training program. The ACMA considered this sufficient and is taking no further action.
In Canada, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) has called for comments by January 14 next year on ways to streamline the determination of the allocation of the value of the transaction in changes in the effective control of a broadcasting undertaking and has posted details of possible approaches it is suggesting.
It has also ruled following complaints about comments made by Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) radio host Joël Le Bigot that these did not breach rules relating to the broadcast of abusive language but that some comments related to a Jewish hockey layer and the wearing of the veil by Moslem women did not meet the high standards required by Canadian regulations.
It was also involved in routine matters, making various radio related postings including the following (In order of province):
*Renewal until 31 August 2014 of licence of CIQX-FM, Calgary, and also deletion of the conditions of licence related to its operation within the Specialty FM format requiring it to devote 70% or more of its total weekly music programming to jazz and blues and 35% or more of its weekday Special Interest Music musical selections to Canadian music.
CIQX-FM's licence was initially issued to Telemedia Radio Inc., which was acquired by Standard Radio Inc. and then subsequently by a Newcap subsidiary, the present licensee, who had cited significant financial loss and poor ratings as the principal reasons for the request
Other incumbent Calgary licensees - Standard, CTVglobemedia Inc., Rogers Broadcasting Limited, and Harvard Broadcasting Inc. - had jointly opposed the application, querying the appropriateness of allowing an undertaking licensed as a Specialty FM station to abandon its format, in particular given that this format was a factor in attributing the licence and also raising concern about the financial impact on their stations.
*Denial of application by Maritime Broadcasting System Limited (MBS) to operate its new English-language FM in Windsor, Nova Scotia, at 92.9 MHz with a power of 23,800 watts.
Maritime had also requested an exception to the Commission's Common ownership policy on the basis that the proposed technical parameters, if approved, would see MBS exceed the limit of two FM stations in the same language in each of the Halifax and Kentville markets.
The application was opposed by Newcap, which expects to launch a new FM in Kentville that was approved earlier this year, by March next year. MBS has agreed to accept licence condition prohibiting it from soliciting advertising in the Kentville market.
The CRTC noted that the proposed parameters - for a class C1 frequency - cover a considerably greater area than that currently covered by Maritime's CFAB-AM, Windsor; added that a Class B class B frequency would be sufficient to provide service to Windsor; and said it considered that the MBS proposal does not represent the best use of the frequency, which would be better used by a station serving Halifax. It also commented in refusing the application that the current financial profile of the AM station does not suggest an economic imperative sufficient to grant an exception to the Common ownership policy.
*Approval of application from the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) to add a 19,900 watts FM transmitter at Yarmouth to rebroadcast its Radio 2 national, English-language network service originating from CBH-FM, Halifax.
*Revocation of licence of CHAR-FM, Alert, which was requested by the Commanding Officer of the Canadian Forces Station (CFS), Alert. The station ceased operations in February last year.
In Ireland, the Broadcasting Commission of Ireland (BCI) has, as already noted, announced details of an oral hearing to be held in Dublin tomorrow concerning applications for a new Classic Gold/Easy Listening/Smooth multi-city FM licence.
Two applicants will be at the hearing - Choice Broadcasting Limited with a "4FM" bid and TV3 Television Network Limited with a "More FM" bid.
In the UK, Ofcom has awarded the North Yorkshire digital multiplex licence to sole applicant Muxco North Yorkshire Limited (See RNW Dec 14) and has also announced how announced how the spectrum that will be freed-up through digital television switchover will be awarded for new uses for the benefit of citizens and consumers in the UK: So far there are no firm plans for a switch-off of analogue radio, although commercial players who stand to benefit from this have been pushing for a date.
In the US, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has, as already noted, put the issue of media ownership on the agenda for its meeting on Tuesday, a move criticized by the Democrats on the Commission. It also adopted new rules to "promote the operation and expansion of the low power FM", this time arousing dissent from the two Republican Commissioners (See RNW Dec 12).
On the enforcement front the Commission proposed or confirmed a number of penalties including the following (In descending amount order):
*Adopted a consent decree involving total payments of USD 23,000 with Philip E. Kuhlman and Ellen N. Kuhlman, licensees of Station WYAC-FM, Christiansted, Virgin Islands, and The Rain Broadcasting, Inc. that is to be followed by transfer of the station to The Rain.
The FCC dismissed complaints about the programming of the station because it allowed a delegate to the Virgin Islands Constitutional Convention to host a program on the Station the day before the election and that The Rain has used the Station for "political reasons" without offering equal airtime to those holding opposing views and "to lodge personal attacks on sitting senators"
In the decree the Kuhlman's, who will make a USD 15,000 payment, acknowledge that they may not have maintained control of the station's finances as required and that the level of their day-to-day involvement in supervision of the station may not have met FCC main studio staffing regulations.
The Rain, which is to pay USD 8,000, acknowledges that it willingly exercised control of the station and took no action to assure compliance with the FCC's main studio staffing requirements.
*Issued USD 12,000 Notice of Apparent Liability for forfeiture (NAL) to Multicultural Radio Broadcasting Licensee, LLC, licensee of KAZN-AM, Pasadena, California, for failing to "fully and accurately disclose the material terms of contest[s] . . . and conduct the contest[s] substantially as announced or advertised."
The FCC noted complaints received concerning the "Sunny Plaza Contest," was a raffle held in conjunction with the grand opening of a local mall in the Summer of 2001; the "Golden Nugget Contest", a call-in program in which listeners called in and were asked a question; and if they answered correctly, they were awarded a gift certificate for a three-day and two-night stay at the Golden Nugget Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada; and the "Station Anniversary Contest" that was held during a Station event to celebrate the one-year anniversary of one of the Station's radio programmes.
Complaints alleged that in the first case Station's Sales Manager, Ruby Kuen, one of the hosts, manipulated the prize drawings so that the top four contest prizes were awarded to the four Station employees who were present at the event, which included Ms. Kuen herself. It was also alleged that she knowingly selected employees and friends to win the Golden Nugget Contest prizes and that in the case of the Station Anniversary Contest give TV sets were advertised as prizes but only one was awarded.
The FCC denied the first complaint and noted that Multicultural was hired only to broadcast the event and did not conduct the competition; found that there appeared to be manipulation in the Golden Nugget case; and in the case of the Station Anniversary contest noted a response that only two TVs were awarded because the sponsor only donated two TVs, not the five that were promised.
The FCC said that it was increasing the proposed penalty from USD 4,000 to USD 12,000 on the basis that conduct with respect to the Golden Nugget Contest was particularly egregious, in that multiple prizes were awarded to and received by Station employees or their family members or friends.
*Issued USD 11,000 forfeiture against Community Broadcast Group, Inc., licensee of KZEY-AM, Tyler, Texas, for failure to operate the station in accordance with the station authorization and to make available a complete public inspection file. The FCC dismissed a petition for reconsideration of the penalty as untimely and also noted that even if had not been no grounds had been provided upon which to reconsider.
*Adopted Consent Decree involving USD 10,000 payment with Capitol Broadcasting Association, Inc., licensee of non-commercial educational Station KMFA-FM, Austin, Texas, concerning breach of public file regulations. In the decree it is noted that any proceedings in relation to the compliance issues involved would be costly and time-consuming and the parties agreed a compliance plan concerning the logging and filing of broadcasts of public affairs and public service programming. The action was taken in respect to issues associated with the renewal of the station's licence.
*Issued USD 1,450 forfeiture to Marckenson Bazile of Tampa, Florida, for operation of a pirate station in the Port St. Lucie, Florida area. Bazile had requested reduction or cancellation of a USD 10,000 NAL for operation of the station, which he admitted, and the FCC reduced the penalty on financial hardship grounds.
*Issued USD 500 NAL to The Alamo Navajo School Board, Inc., licensee of KABR-AM, Alamo Community, New Mexico, for late failure of renewal application and unauthorized operation after the licence had expired. The licence was renewed.
*Issued USD 500 NAL to Lane County School District 4J, licensee of FM Translator Station K211BP, Florence, Oregon for late failure of renewal application and unauthorized operation after the licence had expired. The licence was renewed.
In California, the commission renewed the licences of Multicultural Radio Broadcasting Licensee, LLC's KAZN-AM, Pasadena, and KAHZ-AM, Pomona, and of Polyethnic Broadcasting Licensee, LLC's KMRB-AM, San Gabriel, and denied three separate objections, one challenging the renewal of all three licences and two more that of KMRB.
In North Carolina, the commission has approved a settlement filed by Liberty Productions, Saga Communications of North Carolina, LLC, Ashville Radio Partners, LLC (ARP) and Willsyr Communications, Limited Partnership, relating to the licensing and sale of Station WOXL-FM, Biltmore Forest, North Carolina.
Issues had arisen in relation to the issue of a construction permit for an FM at Biltmore Forest after an initial decision that had disqualified - using primary comparative criterion that were subsequently invalidated by the courts - Liberty's application and awarded the permit to Orion Communications. The FCC subsequently opted to resolve frozen hearing proceedings using competitive bidding and the permit was won by Liberty.
Various petitions were made seeking reconsideration of the licence grant and when Liberty and Saga filed an application to assign the permit to the latter petitions were filed to deny the assignment.
The FCC in accepting the agreement noted that its rules, designed to curb process abuse whereby petitions are filed to extract monetary consideration at the expense of broadcast licensees, prohibit payments in excess of a petitioner's "legitimate and prudent expenses." In this case it said these conditions were fulfilled and it approved the settlement together with the withdrawal by the estate of David T. Murray, who had been owner of the limited partnership interest in Liberty, of a filing concerning the sale of the station that had been made by Murray before his death.
In Washington State, the commission denied a petition filed by Radio Palouse, Inc. (RPI) calling for it to reconsider an early ruling that granted applications for consent to assign the licences of KZZL-FM, Pullman, and WRAO-FM, KMAX, and KCLX-AM, Colfax, from Palouse Country, Inc. to Inland Northwest Broadcasting, LLC , over RPI's objection.
The FCC noted that in making the initial ruling it had concluded that the stations, which are not in an Arbitron-rated market, were in three separate radio markets and, in each market, the transaction satisfied the numerical limits of the Commission's local radio ownership rule. RPI argued that the Commission should instead consider them in a radio market of its design - the "Moscow-Pullman-Colfax" market" of nine stations licensed to Pullman and Colfax, Washington and Moscow, Idaho.
Previous Licence News:
ACMA web site:
BCI web site:
CRTC web site:
FCC web site:
Ofcom web site:
2007-12-16: The Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) has raised concernabout the closure of two southern African radio stations by actions of their country's governments: In Zambia the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting Services (MIBS) has barred Mongo town community station Radio Lyambai from airing phone-in programmes pending the completion of an investigation and in Lesotho People's Choice FM has been taken off air because only technicians from the communications ministry are allowed to fix its faulty transmitters.
MISA Lesotho says that this is part of a contract between PC FM and the Lesotho Broadcasting Services but the contract also requires maintenance to be carried out within 24-hours of a reported problem and that in this case it has been told technicians were ordered not to fix the problem.
It says that a PC FM manager was told "Our boss said no one should work on the PC transmitter problem" but that the Minister of Communications, Science and Technology, Mothetjoa Metsing, has subsequently claimed he was unaware of the technical difficulties.
It notes that the shutdown comes at a time when opposition leaders have called for a national strike aimed at forcing the government to level the ground for talks regarding the allocation of seats in the national assembly.
In Zambia, MISA says the MIBS director of press and planning Juliana Mwila sent a letter to Radio Lyambai saying the station was under investigation for allegedly having failed to handle calls professionally, which resulted in the station "becoming a platform for confrontation, controversies and a channel of insults and misinformation" and called on the station to disseminate information in a balanced manner and to behave ethically.
Station manager Tabb Lubinda has appealed for a dialogue with the station to allow it to clear itself before action was taken and Henry Kabwe, chairperson of MISA-Zambia, urged the MIBS to rescind the decision to ban live call-in programmes, calling the decision "authoritarian, an assault on media freedom and freedom of expression, and contrary to democratic norms."
"The effect of the ban is to prevent Radio Lyambai listeners from expressing their views on critical social, economic and developmental issues in Western Province. It is, therefore, an unforgivable attack on the Zambian Constitution's guarantee of freedom of expression," Kabwe said, adding that the Ministry should proceed with plans to establish a proposed Independent Broadcasting Authority (IBA).
He added, "We believe that a properly constituted IBA would be well placed to regulate the broadcasting industry professionally, impartially and free from accusations of political influence. However, as long as the ministry remains the regulator, there will be suspicion of bias and heavy-handedness in the way decisions affecting the broadcasting sector are made."
MISA web site:
MISA re Lesotho problems:
MISA re Zambia ban:
2007-12-15: UTV is now said to be in exclusive talks about the purchase of for Dublin radio station FM104, which Communicorp, founded in 1989 by Irish Entrepreneur Denis O'Brien, has to divest before it can take control of Emap's national franchise Today FM and Donegal station Highland Radio in a deal approved in October (See RNW Oct 10).
Last week the Irish Independent reported that UTV had joined the bidding following speculation was that only Dermot Hanrahan's Vienna Group and UPC parent Liberty Media, two potential purchasers who were invited to meet FM104's management, were the only ones left in the race. It subsequently emerged that UTV was invited to a later meeting and the Vienna Group is now said to have pulled out. There has been no word on interest from TV3 owners Doughty Hanson, who have not been formally eliminated from the bidding but have not met FM104's management.
Communicorp was barred from the purchase of FM104 because it already controls 98FM and Spin 103.8 in Dublin.
Any sale would need regulatory approval from Ireland's Competition Authority and the paper said this meant it would be February at the earliest before a deal is likely to go through and speculates on a price of the high end of initial expectations of Euros 40-50 million (USD 58-72 million) although it adds that O'Brien would need to achieve Euros 63 million (USD 91 million) to maintain the 14 times earnings ratio that he paid for the three Emap stations.
This month Emap announced agreement to sell its Consumer Media and Emap Radio divisions to German media group Heinrich Bauer Verlag KG with the radio deal contingent on completion of the sale of Emap's Irish stations or their return to the remaining Emap company if the deal falls through (See RNW Dec 8).
Irish Independent report:
2007-12-15: Cumulus has switched its "SupertalkFM96.5" (WFTK-FM) to rock with the former 96Rock frequency back with heavy metal from noon Friday as "Cincinnati's pure rock".
The Cincinnati Enquirer notes that the frequency had competed with Clear Channel's WEBN-FM as 96 Rock in the early 1980s but was then flipped to "young country" WYGY-FM for most of the 1990s, and the country "Star" until September last year when it was moved to Supertalk with a line-up including Glenn Beck, Dave Ramsey, Bill O'Reilly, and Erich "Mancow" Muller's syndicated "Mancow's Morning Madhouse."
The paper adds that Richard Skinner and Tom Gamble, the "Two Angry Guys" who replaced Mancow will be retained and return as morning show hosts from January 2.
Previous Clear Channel:
Cincinnati Enquirer report:
2007-12-14: 2007-12-14: US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) chairman Kevin J. Martin has defended his approach to changing US media ownership regulations to the US Senate Commerce, Science & Transportation Committee, commenting in a written statement that the issue "is the most contentious and potentially divisive issue to come before the Commission" and adding "It certainly was in 2003 and many of the same concerns about consolidation and its impact on diversity and local news coverage are being voiced today. And it is no wonder. The decisions we will make about our ownership rules are as critical as they are difficult. The media touches almost every aspect of our lives. We are dependent upon it for our news, our information and our entertainment."
He noted that almost all the FCC's 2003 proposed changes were overturned by Congress or the courts with the notable exception which was that the court specifically held that the "the absolute ban on newspaper/broadcast cross-ownership was no longer necessary."
Martin said that it was against this background that the FCC undertook re-consideration of the rules and in view of complaints about inadequate public hearings, studies and opportunity for comment and public input the previous time the FCC this time committed itself to "conducting this proceeding in a manner that was more open and allowed for more public participation."
Martin said he believes this had been done, noted that nearly USD 700,000 was spent on ten independent studies, and that he had, although not required to do s, taken "the unusual step of publishing the actual text of the one rule I thought we should amend " the one proposing to allow restricted newspaper-broadcaster cross ownership.
Martin said that "In contrast to the FCC's actions 4 years ago, we would not loosen any other ownership rule. We would not permit companies to own any more radio or television stations either in a single market or nationally. Indeed this proposed rule change is notably more conservative in approach than the remanded newspaper/broadcast cross-ownership rule that the Commission adopted in 2003."
He also commented on action to create new independent voices, and specifically commented on changes to facilitate the launch of low-power FMs and his proposals "to adopt rules that are designed to promote diversity by increasing and expanding broadcast ownership opportunities for small businesses, including minority and women-owned businesses."
The issues of media ownership were also raised by Democrat Commissioner Jonathan S. Adelstein in his comments in which he noted that perhaps "no issue on the Commission's agenda has more far-reaching consequences for the future of our democracy than the media ownership rules. Free over-the-air broadcasting licenses are scarce, and broadcasters have an enormous impact on the free exchange of ideas. Despite the growth of other media delivery systems, broadcasting, in combination with newspapers, are still the most pervasive of all platforms."
Adelstein said it was "clear the public grasps the gravity of our ownership rules" but then went on to criticize Martin's proposals saying, "The Commission's current course, if unchecked, could cause lasting harm to American media for future generations. Without major changes, the pending proposal before us will decidedly hurt competition, diversity and localism. Independent voices will be silenced; women and people of colour, who already own tragically few media outlets, will find them even further out of reach; and the public will not receive any quantifiable measure of more local news, information or decent family programming."
As in previous statements, Adelstein's fellow Democrat Michael J. Copps was critical along the same lines but more blunt, starting off by saying that the "oversight hearing could not be timelier. The Commission's priorities are dangerously out-of-whack, and we urgently need this Committee's help to save us from ourselves. We have a proposal before us at the Commission to open the door to newspaper-broadcast combinations in every market in the country and the drive is on to rush this to a vote next week. Meanwhile we have given short shrift to pressing problems like the sad state of minority ownership of U.S. media properties and the obvious decline of localism in our broadcast programming. We have also neglected the DTV transition, and have not done nearly enough to prepare consumers and broadcast stations for the rapidly approaching deadline. "
Concerning media ownership he said of the fine print: "The proposal would actually apply the same test in every market in the country. That's right-any station can merge with any newspaper in any market in the country. The only difference is that in the top 20 markets you start with a presumption that you meet the test, while in the other markets you don't The four factors proposed by the Chairman are so riddled with holes that they are essentially meaningless."
He then went on to comment that this was "not the only example of media regulation that seems like a chapter out of Alice in Wonderland" in relation to the Tribune Co waivers decision and to support Adelstein's call for an independent panel to review the proposals put to the FCC.
On consolidation he commented that it, "made it infinitely tougher for women and minorities to own stations, so why would we give the green light to more consolidation before coming up with programs to give women and minorities a chance to compete? "Consolidation has made it infinitely tougher for women and minorities to own stations, so why would we give the green light to more consolidation before coming up with programs to give women and minorities a chance to compete?
The Republican commissioners also stuck to their previous lines with Deborah Taylor Tate commenting, "Never before has so much competition existed for the eyes and ears of American consumers of news and information, wherever, whenever, and however, over any device they may choose. This competition is cross-platform, and it includes newspapers and broadcasters, of course, but also cable, satellite and wireline networks and, increasingly, mobile networks" and adding, "We must structure our media ownership rules to account for the needs not just of our generation, but of the next generation. The "I-Generation," as they are often called, lives in an online, YouTube world, with access to local, national, and international news sources we could only have dreamed of at their ages. "
Regarding minorities and women she commented, "Let there be no doubt that women - many of whom are African-American - are indeed succeeding in this industry. Look for example at Cathy Hughes, founder and chairperson of Radio One/TV One, Inc., the largest African-American-owned and operated broadcast company in the United States, or Susan Davenport Austin, Vice President and Treasurer of Sheridan Broadcasting Corporation, which manages the only African-American-owned national radio network. And then there is Caroline Beasley, Executive Vice President and CFO of Beasley Broadcast Group, Inc., the 18th largest radio broadcasting company in the country, and Susan Patrick, co-owner Legend Communications, who has been in the media brokerage business for more than 20 years. "
RNW comment: We suspect that this woman if it helped her argument would say one goose made a flock.
Her colleague Robert M. McDowell called media ownership the "highest profile" issue before us and also referred to the plethora of media now available and argued in favour of deregulation, commenting, "New media platforms do not live under the same regulations as traditional media. As a result, it should not be any wonder that most of the new investment, energy and ideas are flowing into these newer and less-regulated platforms."
2007-12-14: Citadel Broadcasting has joined the ranks of US groups selling radio stations with an announcement that it has retained Credit Suisse Securities (USA) LLC and Deutsche Bank Securities Inc. to serve as its financial advisors for divesting stations over and above those it has to sell as a result of its acquisition of ABC Radio.
Citadel does not give much detail but says it expects to generate between USD 75 to 175 million in gross sale proceeds over the next 12 to 24 months from sales including the ABC divestitures.
Citadel notes that it currently has "165 FM and 58 AM stations in the nation's leading markets, in addition to the ABC Radio Network business."
2007-12-14: UK media regulator Ofcom has awarded the North Yorkshire digital multiplex licence to sole applicant Muxco North Yorkshire Limited owned 60% by The Local Radio Company plc (TLRC) and 40% by Muxco Limited.
The bid comprised six services plus "a wide selection of podcasts provided by a range of companies" and the signal says Ofcom could achieve coverage of an area with an adult (15 plus) population of around 695,000.
The services offered are:
Local Full Service - from TLRC's Minster FM.
Local Full Service - from TLRC's Stray FM.
Local Full Service - from TLRC's Yorkshire Coast Radio.
Local Full Service - from Laser Broadcasting Limited's Fresh Radio.
Easy Listening - from Easy Radio Limited's Easy Radio.
Traffic and Travel - from the Highways Agency's Traffic Radio.
All services apart from Yorkshire Coast Radio, which will begin broadcasting within two years of the launch of the multiplex, are to be launched by the end of June 2009.
2007-12-13: The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has put the issue of media ownership on the agenda for its December 18th meeting a move that has led to criticism by the two Democrat commissioners who called the move "a huge mistake".
In a joint statement Commissioners Jonathan S. Adelstein and Michael J. Copps say they are " deeply disappointed that the announced agenda for the December 18 open meeting includes media ownership" and say the "FCC should have heeded the calls of Congress and the American people to conduct a credible process on an issue of this importance to our very democracy."
"That," they add, "means providing a meaningful opportunity for public input, rather than the callous disregard exhibited thus far - most recently, the Chairman circulated a draft decision on his proposal two weeks before public comment was even due! And it means taking meaningful action on minority and female ownership and broadcast localism, rather than the mish-mash of half-baked ideas currently before us."
The two say they have been involved in internal discussions on the issue and wish they had got better results concluding that they now hope "that either we can turn this around internally, or that Congress can save the FCC from itself."
The US National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) has meanwhile filed comment to the FCC backing proposals by its chairman Kevin J. Martin to remove newspaper-broadcaster cross ownership bans in the top US markets (See RNW Nov 14 ) saying it supports "supports amendment of the outdated prohibition on newspaper/broadcast cross-ownership, which has not been revised since its adoption in 1975."
It adds that "Any claims that the proposed modest changes to the newspaper cross-ownership ban would harm the public interest are untenable" and also backs Martin's timetable, commenting that "the Commission commenced its re-examination of the newspaper/broadcast cross-ownership ban in 1996, so there can be no basis for suggesting that the agency is rushing to judgment on this issue or that another decade of delay is necessary. There is also no credible evidence in the record that cross-ownership harms the public interest."
Martin himself has responded to Michigan Democrat and House Commerce Committee chairman John Dingell - who earlier this month had express "grave concerns about the lack of time to review comments on the proposed rule" (See RNW Dec 6) - concerning FCC procedures, in particular relating to publication of the text of proposed new rules sufficiently in advance of Commission meetings by saying in an open letter he agreed with Dingell that the Commission should conduct its affairs fairly, openly, and transparently to serve the public interest" but then adding that "The APA (Administrative Procedure Act)does not require that we publish the exact text of a proposed rule, and in fact, it has not been standard practice" to do so."
Dingell in his letter had commented "Given several events and proceedings over the past year, I am rapidly losing confidence that the commission has been conducting its affairs in an appropriate manner" and noted concern that the FCC had not made the full text of proposed rules available to the public before it voted on them, and that Martin had also often had not given other commissioners details of proposals until it was too late for them to fully analyze them (See RNW Dec 5).
Martin also brushed off a question about providing other commissioners with all the relevant data and information on which a proposal is based by saying that he already did this.
2007-12-13: Jeana Leslie and Siobhan Miller , third year students on the BA Scottish Music course at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama in Glasgow, have won the 10th BBC Radio 2 Young Folk Award, highlights of which were broadcast on Wednesday evenings Mike Harding Show on the station.
The prize for the winners includes a session for the show and slots at three of the UK's most important festivals - Cambridge Folk Festival, Fairport's Cropredy Convention and Towersey Village Festival.
In all six acts went through to the finals in London and the winners received their award from singer, songwriter and musician Seth Lakeman, who collected two awards himself at this year's award ceremony.
2007-12-12: The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has now adopted new rules to "promote the operation and expansion of the low power FM" saying that in doing so it plans "to ensure that we maximize the value of LPFM service without harming the interests of full-power FM stations or other Commission licensees."
It then notes that it had previously proposed to abandon third-adjacent channel protection and "adopted complaint and license modification procedures to address unexpected third-channel interference problems caused by LPFM stations" until Congress [following heavy lobbying by the National Association of Broadcasters] insisted on keeping the protection.
The order it has now adopted says the FCC "includes changes to strengthen and promote the long-term viability of the LPFM service, and the localism and diversity goals."
It specifically notes changes to allow the transfer of LFPM licenses subject to significant limitations; Reinstate the Commission's rule that all LPFM authorization holders be local to the community and limit ownership to one station per licensee; Clarifies that repetitious, automated programming does not meet the local origination requirement; Encourages voluntary time-sharing agreements between applicants; Limits the responsibility of LPFM stations to resolve interference caused to subsequently authorized full-service stations; and establishes a procedural framework for considering short-spacing waivers and a going-forward displacement policy for LPFM stations.
The FCC has also issued a Notice of Proposed Rule-Making in which it seeks comment on technical rules that could potentially expand LPFM licensing opportunities; tentatively concludes that full service stations must provide technical and financial assistance to LPFM stations when implementation of a full service station facility proposal would cause interference to an LPFM station; says it intends to address the issues in a final note within six months and plans that the next filing window for a non-tabled aural licensed service will be for LPFM; and recommends to Congress that it remove the requirement that LPFM stations protect full-power stations operating on third adjacent channels.
So far the NAB has not posed comment although we would expect it to do state its opposition to various changes proposed, particularly the last recommendation.
All the commissioners issued statements, with the two Republicans dissenting in part. Chairman Kevin J. Martin noted that LPFM "provides a lower cost opportunity for additional new voices to get into the local radio market "and added, "In order to ensure that the American people have the benefit of a competitive and diverse media marketplace that serves their local communities, we need to create more opportunities for different, new and independent voices to be heard. We need to address the concern that there are too few local outlets available to minorities and new entrants."
Democrats Jonathan S. Adelstein and Michael J. Copps welcomed the move with Adelstein commenting on the success of and demand for LOFM stations and adding, "In this Order, we appropriately strike the balance of providing LPFM stations with some regulatory flexibility, while preserving the local integrity of the service. "
He added that he was concerned about the impact that the filing of more than 13,000 FM translator applications in 20053 could have in precluding the development of LPFM and noted, "Some have argued that these translators could potentially foreclose opportunities for LPFM in the top 50 media markets."
Copps in his comment referred to LPFM as a "breath of fresh air" against a background of media consolidation that he said had left the US with "homogenized content, national play lists, outsourced news, a dumbed-down civic dialogue, and shameful levels of minority and female ownership. "
He said the proposals made "good progress in putting LPFM on a firmer foundation" and in particular welcomed "the decisions on ownership and eligibility that will ensure that LPFM retains its local character" but emphasized that LPFM should not be seen as a complete substitute for full power services or "ever be lulled into a mind-set that says, 'Well, let low power cover that stuff and let the full power stations continue on their happy way.'"
Republican Deborah Taylor Tate in her comment said she supported much of what was in the further NPRM but wanted more comment "before taking some of these broad and expansive actions regarding the status and protections of both LPFM and primary or licensed full-power stations".
She dissented concerning the "ten application limit on translators, from the finding regarding second-adjacent channel waivers, and from the portion of this Order that places Low Power FM in a superior position to full power.
Her colleague Robert M McDowell also commented on the value of LPFM but dissented in terms of proposed rules that would enhance LPFM against full-power stations and the limit on FM translator applications.
RNW comment: At a glance both Tate and McDowell, who have been vociferous about the amount of work done regarding media ownership and thus argued for proceeding on this benefit, seem to adopt the opposite tack here when it comes to looking at investigations done. Perhaps they should simply be put down as creatures of the NAB.
The same comment could perhaps be applied in reverse to the two Democrats although in their case we would argue that they can come up with much more justification in terms of the effect on LPFM of NAB lobbying concerning interference against technical evidence that does not appear to support them.
2007-12-12: Australian digital radio has moved into its next stage with a call by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) for applications for licences to operate digital radio multiplexes in each state capital city - two multiplexes each in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane and one multiplex each in Adelaide, Hobart and Perth.
The ACMA says the licences will be "foundation category 1" licences meaning that only existing radio broadcasters can apply: The licences can carry commercial and community radio services plus datacasting services. In addition, the ACMA notes that public broadcasters the ABC and SBS may apply at any time for a category 3 digital radio multiplex transmitter licence - which would cover their national services - following the creation of a joint company to operate the multiplex transmitter.
The decision to restrict the commercial multiplexes rules out Broadcast Australia, which is owned by Macquarie Bank's Communications Infrastructure Group, and had been considered a frontrunner for licences.
Applications for the licences have to be made by May 9 next year and ACMA Chairman Chris Chapman described the call for them as "an important step toward the commencement of digital radio services in January 2009."
2007-12-12: The UK Sunday 16:00 to 19:00 alternative network chart show, The A List, is to be closed down on December 23 following a decision to drop it by the groups who broadcast the show including Global Radio, which took over its production from independent producer UBC when three production units were created for commercial network programming. It was one of three networked commercial radio chart shows- the others are hit40uk and Fresh 40.
In all the A-list was taken by some 60 stations: It was initially launched two years ago with DJs Mel Sykes and Heart presenter Nick Snaith and, after Sykes left he was replaced by Gail Porter. She left in October this year after the how had failed to find a sponsor. So far the A list has not posted advice of its impending demise on its web site.
Amongst its affiliates was Global's Heart network, which is to fill the slot with a new show from Drivetime host Emma Boughton (Emma B), who has signed a new two-year contract with Global.
GMG Radio, which also carried the show on its Real Radio and Century FM stations, has so far not made a formal announcement of its replacement although rumours are that it will air its existing album chart, presented by Gary Davies.
In another UK drivetime slot, GCap Media's Xfm has hired former Radio City and Metro Radio presenter Rick Shaw from Emap's Kerrang! to host its drivetime show from January 7 next year. Shaw will replace Ian Camfield, who is leaving to host the drivetime show at K-Rock in New York.
Previous Boughton (Emma B):
Previous GCap Media:
Previous Global Radio:
Previous GMG Radio:
2007-12-12: Commercial radio listening in Australia remained strong in 2007 according to an analysis of annual ratings data released by industry body Commercial Radio Australia that showed commercial radio reaching an average cumulative audience of 8.74 million - or 77 percent of all people - each week during 2007: The figure is a 79,000 increase over 2006. Average listening to commercial radio was 17 hours and 17 minutes per week and the breakfast audience was 6.7 million, up from 6.6 million in 2006.
In demographic terms, commercial radio's highest penetration was among those aged 10 - 17 where it reached nearly 82% of the age group in 2007and it also reached just over 80% of both those aged 25-39 and those aged 18-24.
In terms of location of listening, the home accounted for 45% of commercial radio listening; 28% took place in an automobile; 25% at work; and 2% elsewhere with the greatest time spent listening at home amongst those 10-17 and over 55, who each spent more than half of their time listening while there.
Around Australia people in Adelaide spent most time listening to commercial radio - 2hr 37 minutes a day followed by Melbourne (2 hours, 33 mins), Perth (2 hours, 27 mins), Sydney (2 hours and 23 mins) and Brisbane (2 hours 23 mins).
Joan Warner, chief executive officer of peak industry body Commercial Radio Australia, said the ability to listen to radio via PCs, mobile phones and podcasts, was helping to attract a new generation of audiences and commented, "The baby boomers grew up with radio and remain very loyal, but it's great to see Gen X and Y, who have so many entertainment options to choose from, are also tuning in to radio."
Previous Commercial Radio Australia:
2007-12-11: "Bubba the Love Sponge" (Todd Clem) has both renewed his contract with Sirius Satellite Radio for the "The Bubba the Love Sponge Show" on its Howard 101 Channel and also a return to terrestrial radio from which he was dropped in February 2004 by Clear Channel after his show attracted a record penalty of USD 715,000 from the Federal Communications Commission (See RNW Feb 25, 2004).
The terrestrial radio deal according to tampabay.com sees Bubba take over morning drive on Cox Radio's WHPT-FM (The Bone) in Tampa and WFYV- FM in Jacksonville: It adds that the combined deals - Clem hosts the 15:00 to 19:00 ET show on Sirius from Tampa - will net his production company more than USD 3 million a year.
Current Bone morning drive host Mike "Cowherd" Calta, a former producer for Bubba, will move to afternoon drive on January 7. After his dismissal by Clear Channel, Bubba was out of work but in September 2005 Howard Stern announced that he would be appearing on his show when it began on Sirius in January 2006 and then hired him (See RNW Jan 10, 2006).
Satellite radio is not subject to FCC indecency rules but tampabay said Bubba commented of his terrestrial deal, "I gotta stay away from the sex stuff, basically. I don't want to get fired again. If I get fired again on regular radio, I'm a one-trick Willie...and I know I'm coming back with a huge target on my back."
It also quoted Jay O'Connor, regional vice president and Tampa market manager for Cox Radio, who is a friend of Clem's as saying he thought "Bubba is more concerned about this than I am."
Cox said O'Connor has a strict indecency policy that prohibits graphic talk about sex acts, among other things and Clem's show will operate with a 10-second delay, with pre-taped skits screened by executives and advance notice required for any controversial bits.
He added in relation to any further FCC fine, "Depending on the nature of the utterance, that probably means we would discontinue the program. The stakes are high. And Bubba knows the stakes. He's said to me 'I know I can't afford another mistake.'"
Previous Bubba the Love Sponge (Todd Clem):
Previous Cox Radio:
2007-12-11: Fairfax Media has abandoned an AUD 40 million (USD 35 million) sale of regional radio licences to Macquarie Regional Radio according to the Sydney Morning Herald, which is also owned by Fairfax.
The deal had been negotiated when the two companies teamed up for the AUD 1.35 billion (USD 1.,2 billion) purchase and dismemberment of Southern Cross Broadcasting (See RNW Oct 22)and the paper says the two companies would not give details behind the decision beyond saying the sale had been "conditional on a number of issues including regulatory approval" and that while Macquarie Media had made progress on those conditions, they had "agreed not to continue working to complete the acquisition".
The paper notes that when he Southern Cross acquisition and Macquarie-Fairfax regional radio deal was given approval by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission it required Macquarie to sell 12 stations in Queensland, South Australia and Tasmania - five of those from the Fairfax stable - to preserve advertising competition in their regional markets: Macquarie had already agreed to divest itself of 12 of its 87 regional radio stations across Australia, as well as digital TV channels in Darwin and Tasmania, to get clearance to purchase Southern Cross's regional TV stations.
Fairfax's chief executive, David Kirk said of the decision not to go ahead with the sale, "We are pleased to retain these licences. The stations are trading strongly and we are satisfied with their performance."
The paper adds that Fairfax is to operate the stations separately from its metropolitan network and also notes that it is not intending to bid for any of the 12 regional stations that Macquarie has to divest and will have to sell its Ipswich station, River 94.9, to appease competition concerns.
Previous Fairfax Media:
Previous Macquarie Bank/Macquarie Media:
Sydney Morning Herald report:
2007-12-11: In further retrenchment in UK digital radio, Global Radio has dropped live DJs from its digital rock station "The Arrow", which is acquired when it took over Chrysalis Radio.
Three staff members including two on-air DJs are facing redundancy and freelancers have been told their services may no longer be required.
The station has fewer than 150,000 listeners a week and a number of attempts by Chrysalis to win an FM licence with the format have failed: Global says it will keep the station on air without live DJs.
In October Global and Sky scrapped a joint venture, agreed by Chrysalis before it was taken over, to turn LBC 1152 into a 24 hour Sky News branded station (See RNW Oct 20). They also scrapped a plan for a Sky News Radio service on the Channel 4 national digital multiplex.
GCap Media, which has been at the forefront of investment in digital radio in the UK has also cut back on digital expenditure and is to end investment in its "Core" and "Life" stations whilst SMG-owned Virgin Radio has dropped its plans to launch a new digital service on the Channel 4 multiplex and said it is to axe digital station Virgin Radio Groove (See RNW Dec 10 and Nov 21)
Previous Global Radio:
2007-12-11: XM Satellite Radio has announced that it has been told by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) that its Enforcement Division has now completed the investigation it began in August last year into various activities and that no enforcement action is to be recommended.
XM revealed the investigation, which began the previous month in September last year saying it been asked by the SEC for documents relating to its subscriber targets and various details to do with subscriber acquisition costs and other details relating to its third and fourth quarters in 2005 (See RNW Sep 7, 2006).
2007-12-10: This week for our look at print comment on radio, we start with a report from Tim Albone in the UK Sunday Times on John Butt, Muslim chaplain at Cambridge University (England) who was born in Trinidad, brought up in Surrey, and after public school became a hippy before he converted to Islam and who is now directing a ream of 35 reporters from a base in Peshawar from where he directs a radio programme "Across the Border" that is broadcast over a network of independent stations to listeners in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Butt, now 57, but a Moslem for 20 years, reports the paper, uses the voices of ordinary men and women to fight the ignorance that extremists exploit when preaching violence in the name of God.
Butt told the paper, "Islamic traditions of hospitality, tolerance, generosity . . . By highlighting such things we try to show that militancy and extremism have no place in true Islamic tradition."
Regarding the broadcasts he says , "We would like it to be a Radio 5 for the region, a mixture of vox pops, song, drama and reports" and the says one survey showed that 59% of listeners in Afghanistan's eastern province of Nangarhar tune in.
Butt, who left England as a hippie in 1969, converted to Islam in Afghanistan and Pakistan during Ramadan in 1970 subsequently became a mullah as the Muslim chaplain at Cambridge University: He is the only Westerner to have graduated from the prestigious Darul Uloom Deoband madrasah in India and after graduation became a journalist, eventually working for the BBC and starting a radio soap opera in Afghanistan, loosely based on The Archers, which made him a household name.
He is fluent in Pashtu and began the Pak/Afghan Cross-border Radio Training and Production (Pact) project, which produces Across the Border, in 2004.
Initial funding ran out eight months ago but the project continued and one of its staff, 27-year-old producer Shoaib Zada, who had worked without pay, commented of his motives: "If I don't have any money, that's my problem, but if this radio programme stops it is everyone's problem."
Butt says the paper says everything in the broadcasts conforms to Islam and to local traditions and of his own life - he returns to Cambridge two or three weeks every term - "My life in Cambridge is quite sedate and my life here in Peshawar quite turbulent. Strangely enough, the peace and spiritual fulfilment, for which I came to the East, is now more accessible in Cambridge. Here in the East it is all struggle."
Worlds away from Butt's programming we turn next to New York and comment in Newsday by Ron Kuby, displaced as a host on WABC when it hired Don Imus and the "Curtis and Kuby" was folded.
Kuby says of his former show that it was "unique for having one host from the left and another from the right - a left-wing civil rights lawyer (me) pitted against the right-wing, red-beret and satin-jacket-clad founder of the Guardian Angels, Curtis Sliwa."
"We were two passionate guys reading the morning paper aloud and arguing over the stories," he writes. "In our audio home, neighbours - our callers - would drop by to throw in their two cents. I would appeal to listeners' minds and Curtis to their guts. We learned how to disagree without being disagreeable. We were a family, not a political party. We provided analysis rather than caricatures."
He then comments on the success of the show in countering the "traditional wisdom in broadcasting that a left-wing host could not appeal to a conservative audience, except as a stooge to be vanquished by the right-wing counterpuncher" and says from the start he "decided not to mimic from the left the nasty, contentless name-calling of right-wing talkers."
Over the eight years the show was on air he comments that his personal live became public with listeners learning that he did many of the same things they did and "did not live on Planet Liberal, a strange world existing in the conservative imagination where Santa Claus is hunted for sport (but never with a gun), Bush is Hitler, girls are encouraged to have sex and must have abortions, and the only religion that is tolerated is radical Islam because, after all, they are trying to kill us."
The show he notes was successful, winning awards and regularly out-rating Imus, but it was doomed by two forces - the money saving to be had from syndicating shows and firing local staff and "stationality", the concept of offering "the same views through different voices all day, making listeners feel safely cocooned in their biases. Debates run the gamut from A to B, featuring discourse along the lines of "Hillary Clinton, Threat or Menace?"
That concept he argues "runs counter to the essence of discourse and debate" adding that "Programming radio stations along ideological lines, whether right or left, insults the intelligence of the listeners, deprives people of what they need to hear and retards the development of critical thinking . In a country where demonizing the opposition is the staple of public discourse, from street corners to the presidential campaign, talk radio increasingly strives to appeal to the very worst in us."
The question that then arises from Kuby's comments is we suggest what the displaced audience who appreciated him can do about it, the same problem increasingly facing people in many markets where local hosts are dropped, currently the fate of quite a lot of former or departing Clear Channel employees.
In the Los Angeles Times, Steven Carney notes Clear Channel's cost-cutting that has included dumping two long-time hosts on adult-contemporary KOST-FM - Kim Amidon, who with Mark Wallengren co-hosted the morning show for nearly 22 years and Mike Sakellarides, who held down the midday time slot for 25 years."
Carney quotes (former) listener Charlene Wire, who said she had listened to the "Mark & Kim Morning Show" since it was launched, as saying "It's supposed to be a family radio station, and then they go and knock off the family? It just doesn't make sense
Amidon told the paper, "It's really cracking open the golden egg. It's all about the bottom line right now. I know it's in every business. I know it's a sign of the economy. I know Clear Channel is doing this nationwide, but I just think they should be a little more careful with their long-term relationships with their listeners."
Although there were protests Greg Ashlock, president of Clear Channel's Los Angeles station cluster said that these were anticipated and added, "I don't think, after 22 years, I would have expected for anybody not to be upset and uncomfortable. I don't think there's anything I can say that's going to make them happy right now, but for the future they can expect the same kind of family-friendly safe haven, with the same kind of levity and the same kind of music."
KOST has lengthened the morning show and started the afternoon show two hours earlier and Ashlock said it would hire a new co-host for Wallengren sometime after the New Year. He said it won't just be a younger, less-expensive version of Amidon despite accusations to that effect. "What we're going to be looking for is chemistry," he said. "It's going to have to be somebody Mark is comfortable with. There's not a pay scale or [demographic] or anything this person is going to have to fit."
Wire gave her view of the changes by commenting, "I'm not going to give them my business. Things they're selling, I'm not interested. I'm sorry. But you have to have a voice to make a point with a corporation. It would be awesome if enough people turned them off and they said, 'Oops, we made a mistake.' "She added that if Amidon turned up on a rival she would listen to her.
Sakellarides took a different tack saying he hopes listeners don't abandon the station citing as reasons friends he still has there and some benefits the station gave him such as access to save the contents of the blog he kept on the KOST website.
"I haven't seen too many radio departures that have been ideal," he said. "In the radio world, this is as good as it gets."
RNW comment: We rather hope the Los Angeles Times will follow up on the replacement for Amidon - specifically if it can find out how much less the pay is - we just don't believe Ashlock's platitudes in view of the widespread habit of PR misinformation - aka lying to many ordinary people - whenever there is a problem that they think will go away. In the longer term we suspect that were there to be a massive switch-off the future would be better for radio company employees but at the same time know it almost certainly won't happen.
Neither we suspect will there be any action taken over a potential problem concerning HD radio that was included in a report on HD in the Winston-Salem Journal by Tim Clodfelter, namely potential interference from HD AM with analogue AM signals.
Clodfelter begins with positive comments about digital in terms of audio clarity and assessments of factors that will lead to its take-up but then quotes Greg Smith, a radio buff from Maryland, who started a blog called "HD Radio Farce" concerning distortion to analogue AM stations from HD and also Florida blogger Paul V. Zecchino who wrote, "I'd gladly support HD Radio, but for the fact (that it) jams other stations," and added that HD promoters "heatedly deny their system interferes, while at other times they plainly state HD's jamming will 'thin the herd' of useless radio stations - in their opinion."
Clodfelter unfortunately does not get any quotes concerning this from iBiquity or the Federal Communications Commission, particularly the issue of high-power AMs with HD causing interference to smaller AMs and how far this is within the smaller station's local market or outside its primary area where a weak signal can currently be heard by anyone who sets up suitable equipment. If it is the latter, the situation becomes complex but if tit's the former, we trust the National Association of Broadcasters, in view of its comments about potential interference form low-power FM will be leading the call for licence revocation for some large stations unless they drop HD. And no we wouldn't bet on it at almost any odds.
Finally to some comments about local output and radio from the UK Telegraph's radio correspondent Gillian Reynolds. The local she refers to however, isn't that of the radio, but of the power of radio as she puts it to "champion regional roots and promote local produce."
Reynolds makes the comments under the headline, "Two shows that rewrote the menu" in relation to two BBC Radio 4 programmes, "Farming Today" and "The Food Programme."
He comments were made in relation to the BBC's eighth annual Food and Farming Awards and she comments that "Radio 4 still shows its regional roots, hints of its old Home Service past, in its food and farming output."
" Every weekday on Farming Today," she continues, " you'll hear stories about parts of the country and segments of society largely left untouched by Today and The World at One" and then says that the Food Programme "has championed the best of British produce, challenging the assumption that eating well is the prerogative of the rich.."
Together she says they have "gradually brought about a real difference in what we are offered in shops and restaurants."
On now to listening suggestions and time constraints mean a short list this week although we would suggest a quick dip into the available podcasts offered by the Australian, British and Canadian Broadcasting Corporations plus National Public Radio in the US should offer a fair variety of listening, even in a few cases including music, albeit not from the main recording companies.
After the above we suggest Radio 4 for "Farming Today" and "The Food Programme" and also BBC World Service for the most recent edition of "Culture Shock" , an edition on the topic of the freedom to choose and its implications in terms of applying the consumer approach to choice to other areas of life such as the sex of a child, relations with a partner or even conducting politics via an online version of the Athenian democracy where all eligible citizens could participate (albeit this comprised only adult male citizens who had completed their military training thus ruling out the majority of Athens' population - women, slaves, resident foreigners, ruled out the majority).
Also from the BBC we suggest from the Documentary Archive podcasts the station's "Making News: Part 1"; "Seeing Iraq, Thinking Vietnam Part 1"; the latest World Service "Interview" programme - the interviewee was Bob Woodward; and from Radio 4 again this week's "Start the Week", specifically in relation to discussion about intelligence.
From Radio Netherlands we suggest last week's "Earthbeat" on bio fuels and from the Australian Broadcasting Corporation the December 3 issue of "Health Report" win which it is suggested that insulin levels may well be responsibility for much of the obesity in the West because it blocks perception of leptin thus fooling the brain into telling people they need to eat more.
RNW note: On the basis of the past few days we do not expect to get time to update listening suggestions this week.
HD Radiofarce web site:
Los Angeles Times - Carney:
Newsday - Kuby:
UK Sunday Times - Albone:
UK Telegraph - Reynolds:
Winston-Salem Journal - Clodfelter:
2007-12-10: US radio reaches 233 million listeners a week according to preliminary findings from Arbitron's RADAR 95 survey, numbers slightly up from the 230 million plus it announced for RADAR 91 a year ago: The company adds that 95% of adults age 18-49 with a college degree and an annual household income of USD 50,000 or above, tune into radio over the course of a week with RADAR Network affiliates (more than half of all radio stations) reaching 86% of this demographic.
The company says a 94% of Black non-Hispanics (84%) and 95% of Hispanics aged 12 and over listen to radio weekly
Arbitron adds that the affiliates also reach 85 percent of adults 25-54 in households with a college degree and an annual household income of USD 75,000 or above and also emphasizes success in reaching the 12-17 demographic where it says the affiliates reach 84% compared to 82% of the 12 plus demographic.
Sample size for the survey has been increased to more than 200,000, up from more than 118,000 for RADAR 91.
Arbitron has also announced the results of the Arbitron Radio Advisory Council elections for the term starting on January 1 during which Chuck DuCoty , COO, NRG Media, will serve as chairman; Lisa Decker, SVP, Regional Manager CBS Radio, will serve as vice-chairwoman; and Steve Sinicropi, vice president and general manager Cox Radio, will serve as immediate past chairman.
Arbitron says the following members were elected:
Two-Time standard - Tom Skinner, VP &GM, Redwood Empire Stereocasters (KZST-FM) Santa Rosa, California.
Continuous markets 50+ - Thomas Mandel, President & GM, Rubber City Radio Group (WAKR-AM) Akron, Ohio.
Youth Format - Dan Austin, VP & GM, Pamal Broadcasting (WKLI-FM/WROW-AM) Albany, New York.
In addition there will be two run-offs for which ballots have to be returned by December 14. These are for:
Hispanic - Jeffery Liberman, President, Entravision (KXPK-FM/KJMN-FM/KMXA-AM) Denver, Colorado and Tony Perlongo, GM, Univision Communications (KSOL-FM/KBRG-FM/KVVZ-FM) San Francisco, California.
Condensed Markets - Dale Miller, President, Virginia West Radio Corporation (WVAQ-FM) Morgantown, West Virginia and Mike Haile, General Manager, The News Gazette (WDWS-AM) Champaign, Illinois.
Previous RADAR (RADAR 94):
2007-12-10: New Zealand's take-up of digital radio could be held back by a conflict over which technology to use according to stuff.co.nz, which says that the state-owned transmission company Kordia been testing Eureka DAB whilst the Radio Broadcasting Association, whose members include New Zealand's two largest commercial broadcasters, The Radio Network and RadioWorks, have begun its own trials of iBiquity's HD radio system.
It comments that financial self-interest rather than a matter of technological merit appears at the heart of the conflict since HD, which uses existing licensed analogue frequencies, would make it more difficult for newcomers and thus protect the value of existing licences.
Kordia's business manager Aaron Olphert says it hopes to launch a DAB+ - the more advanced Eureka 147 DAD version that is being adopted by Australia, and argues that DAB+ radios are likely to be cheaper and more widely available than HD radios, which would need to be adapted for New Zealand and require a royalty payment.
Stuff notes that in Australia new broadcasters will not gain access to DAB+ spectrum for five years, effectively placing a moratorium on new competition and adds that Olphert would not comment on whether he believed the HD trials were designed to put pressure on the Government here to negotiate a similar outcome whilst The Radio Network's director of engineering, Norm Collison, who is leading the HD trials for the Radio Broadcasters Association, denies that is the association's goal.
Collison added however, that DAB+ was to become the standard for digital radio in New Zealand, commercial broadcasters would "unashamedly" seek government funding, access to spectrum, and a moratorium on new digital competition.
In the UK, commercial broadcasters were given an incentive to broadcast on DAB by being given automatic renewal of their analogue licences if they provided a service on the relevant digital multiplex but the UK Sunday Times says that investors, to use its headline, are "turned off by returns on digital radio" and notes decisions by Channel 4 to wash its hands of Oneword, the commercial speech and drama station it co-owns with UBC; of Virgin Radio parent SMG to slash its digital output; and of GCap Media to put "stations Life and Core into run-off."
The paper notes that after a slow start in which it took five years to sell a million receivers, digital radio - the UK uses Eureka DAB- has taken off with two million sales this year but despite this the commercial groups are wary of spending and advertisers have yet to take digital-only channels seriously.
As a result there are gaps on Digital One, the national digital multiplex majority-owned by GCap and income is set to be spread even thinner when the second national multiplex is launched next year by Channel 4.
It quotes UBC Chief executive Simon Cole as saying, "The digital-radio industry is at a fork in the road. There are two routes it can take. If it gets it wrong it could end up down a muddy path in a dead end."
He argues that radio groups need to turn listeners into customers, earning more revenues than simply firing advertising to them, and gives as an example the song download service from UBC's Cliq technology.
Also potentially on the horizon is further development of mobile Internet radio using wireless services, a development that may have been a significant factor the decision by Broadcast Australia, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Macquarie Communications Infrastructure Group, to buy Hostworks Group Limited, Australia's leading provider of managed services for on-line media and entertainment companies as well as for management and hosting of a broad range of critical applications.
Amongst Hostworks' customers are the Australian broadcasters ABC and SBS and the company claims that it hosts more than 15% of all internet pages viewed and traded-through by 10 million Australians each month.
Broadcast Australia provides end-to-end transmission services for analogue and digital both radio and television broadcasters and its Managing Director, Graeme Barclay, said of the deal, "We are pleased to have entered into an agreement to acquire Hostworks, which enhances Broadcast Australia's core business of being a trusted provider connecting content owners to customers across multiple platforms."
Previous Channel 4:
Previous GCap Media;
UK Sunday Times report:
2007-12-10: According to the UK Sunday Times some of Emap's shareholders may stage a revolt against the sale of its radio and magazine divisions to German media group Bauer (See RNW Dec 8) after it failed to find a buyer for its business-to-business operations.
The papers says they are considering a vote against the sale at Emap's extraordinary meeting in January and quotes an unnamed investor as saying, "If they think this has been successful, then we have a different view...This has got to be approved. If we start talking to all the other shareholders we have got to think about whether we vote this thing down."
The current Emap proposal would retain the B2B division as a standalone business but that would not necessarily rule out a future takeover.
Chrysalis, another UK group that disposed of its radio business, has also put itself on offer according to the New York Post, which says that it is talking to a number of parties about a possible deal and adds that its sources say any sale is expected to comprise the entire company - not only its music-publishing business - Chrysalis now has a music publishing division, the Echo record label and Lasgo book, CD and DVD distribution business - with chairman Chris Wright, who owns 26% of the business, hoping to see initial bids start coming in later this month.
The paper says Chrysalis is hoping for up to USD 300 million - compared to USD 400 million analysts had estimated earlier this year - but US-based publishers said a more realistic number is half that.
Chrysalis at the end of last week gained approval by the High Court of its plans for the return of capital to shareholders through a scheme of arrangement.
It is to return some GBP 96.5 million (USD 196 million), amounting to 57.5 pence per ordinary share with the scheme becoming effective today and cheques or crediting of accounts to take place soon.
Chrysalis Holdco, the new group holding company, has posted a prospectus for the new ordinary shares.
New York Post report:
UK Sunday Times report:
2007-12-09: Last week the main regulator news again concerned media ownership regulation in the US with Federal Communications Commission (FCC) chairman Kevin J. Martin finding himself under attack from politicians over his schedule for introducing changes and the limited waivers granted to Tribune Co. that needed them to gain tax breaks that would allow its sale to go ahead (See RNW Dec 6 and Dec 5) followed by Tribune going to court to challenge the refusal of permanent cross-ownership waivers for the places they own (See RNW Dec 7): Elsewhere things were quiet in Canada and the UK as regards radio whilst there were no radio announcements from Australia or Ireland.
In Canada the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) at its meeting in Gatineau on Wednesday decided to postpone discussions on applications for several FM licence applications in Ottawa/Gatineau but the commission has posted a number of decisions including the following (In order of province).
*Approval of application by Newcap Radio Manitoba Inc to relocate the transmitter of CHNK-FM, Winnipeg, increase its antenna height to 176.1 metres, and increase its power from 1,300 watts to 60,200 watts.
*Denial of application from the Ernest Turcotte Evangelistic Association for a 50 watts English-language specialty Christian music low-power FM radio programming undertaking in Timmins.
The CRTC noted that this was the applicant's second attempt to establish a station in Timmins and that it had earlier denied an application to acquire the assets of CKTT-FM, Timmins, and a proposal to modify the service offered by the station from that of a tourist information service to a commercial specialty FM service offering religious programming. It added that that it was not satisfied that the applicant had clear and adequately developed plans for providing balanced religious programming.
It also noted that the Timmins market is already served by CHIM-FM, Timmins, a religious spoken word and music service and that the applicant did not discuss how its proposed station would differ from CHIM-FM.
*Approval of application from Amherst Island Radio Broadcasting Inc., which is currently the licensee of low-power developmental community station CJAI-FM, for a 250 watts English-language Type B community FM at Stella, Ontario on the frequency 92.1 MHz and denial of concurrent application for the same service using 93.7 MHz: The CRTC noted that K-Rock 1057 Inc. has been granted a licence for a service in Kingston using 93.5 MHz, which was technically mutually exclusive with 93.7.
The application was opposed by the Kingston Collegiate and Vocational Institute Educational Radio Station Inc., the licensee of a low-power community station CKVI-FM on the first adjacent channel to 92.1 MHz.
*Approval of application by Radio Boréale for a licence for a 5,376 watts French-language Type B community FM at Amos.
*Approval of application from Utilities Consumers' Group Society for a 50-watts low-power, English-language Type B community FM in Whitehorse.
In the UK it was more a matter of reports than decisions although buried in one of them - a late posted note on the Ofcom Radio Licensing Committee meeting in October - was a note that the committee had discussed a request by 4 Digital Group Limited to postpone the launch of the Channel 4 Radio digital service from January 2009 to April 2009 and that it had agreed that this was within the terms under which the national radio multiplex licence had been offered, and thus did not require Ofcom's approval. No reason has been posted by Channel 4 for the request.
Ofcom also posted the latest version of its "Simplification Plan- Reducing regulation and minimising administrative burdens."
The 47 page 195 Kb PDF sets out what Ofcom has done to reduce regulation since publishing its last Simplification Plan in December 2006, and outlines further initiatives to be taken over the coming year.
The previous report, Ofcom notes, focused on the areas where the cost savings would be most significant such as spectrum liberalisation of Citizens' Band Radio, Amateur Radio, Ships' Radio and Business Radio concerning which Ofcom estimates that its changes will them allow stakeholders to reduce their administrative burden by GBP 780,000 (USD 1.58 million) and achieve total cost savings of GBP 3.48 Million (USD 7.1 million).
Included in the "new and on-going simplification initiatives" listed are changes to radio licensing currently subject to consultations that include new standardised guidelines for locally made programmes on commercial radio; simplified format requirements; simplified ownership rules while protecting plurality; and revisiting the licence length and funding restrictions for community radio.
Ofcom notes that some of the proposals could require legislative amendments but says that overall the proposals could potentially allow stakeholders to save as much as GBP 11.7 (USD 22.7 million) in costs to their businesses which result from regulation.
Overall including telecommunications, Ofcom estimates that "two of our main initiatives currently underway will bring about policy benefits to citizens and consumers of GBP 7.15 billion (USD 14.5 billion).
In the US, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) as noted has again been mired in issues of ownership regulation and granted temporary rather than the requested permanent waivers to cross-ownership regulations to Tribune Com. for relevant markets except Chicago, with the company subsequently going to court to challenge the ruling to grant only temporary waivers.
That decision seems in some ways to vindicate comments made by Democrat Commissioner after the waivers were granted: The Republican commissioners - Deborah T. Tate and Robert McDowell - issued bland statements welcoming their majority vote decision but not taking up any issues of a wider context or effect on precedents whilst the two Democrats - Jonathan S. Adelstein and Michael J. Copps - issued statements of dissent.
Copps, as he had done before, went in hardest and again used the tactic of an imaginary newspaper headline to summarize his view: "FCC Majority Uses Legal Subterfuge to Push for Total Elimination of Cross-Ownership Ban."
He continued, "I have to admit, part of me admires the clever legal manoeuvring. If the majority simply granted a two-year waiver to Tribune - which would have been the straightforward thing to do - Tribune would have been unable to go to court because a party cannot file an appeal if their waiver request is granted. So what does this Order do? It denies the waiver request but offers an automatic (and unprecedented) waiver extension as soon as Tribune runs to the courthouse door, lasting for two years or until the litigation concludes - whichever is longer. Presto! Tribune gets at least a two-year waiver plus the ability to go to court immediately and see if they can get the entire rule thrown out. And most important, Tribune is not required to seek a hearing before the very court which expressly retained jurisdiction when it remanded the general newspaper-broadcast cross-ownership ban. Instead, Tribune can end run the Third Circuit and petition for review before what it may hope is a more sympathetic court."
He then launched an attack on FCC chairman Kevin J. Martin, commenting, "The more I think about this approach, however, the more troubled I become. Publicly, the Chairman claims to want only a 'modest' relaxation of the cross-ownership ban. Privately, he enlists Tribune as an accomplice to try and get the ban overturned in court. If the Chairman wants to eliminate the ban, he should stand up and say so. It's time to end the charade."
He also noted that there was no necessity to grant a permanent waiver in Chicago, commenting, "None of these properties are in distress, and the fact that Chicago is a large market does not distinguish this case from scores of other combinations that exist now or could be formed in the future. Nor is a permanent waiver justified by the "long-term symbiotic relationship" among the properties. When these and other combinations were grandfathered, the Commission made clear that when they were voluntarily sold, it had to be to separate buyers."
RNW comment: We are loth to attribute motives but if Copps has any evidence that in any private conversation Martin has colluded with Tribune or expressed views on adopting a tactic to enable the company to gain temporary waivers with a nil-cost opportunity to overturn the rule - which Martin would clearly like to end - then Martin is deeply dishonourable. Whatever the case, we he Caesar's wife, he/she would not be above suspicion.
Adelstein also dissented but did not attribute any motivation although he also commented on a "ploy" of denying the requested waivers as a "feat of rare regulatory contortionism" and said the order was "a regulatory hostage taking -- a desperate manoeuvre to use the Tribune transaction as a human shield, while the Commission marches down the treacherous path toward greater media consolidation."
During the week, President Bush also announced his intention to nominate Adelstein for a further term as Commissioner.
Also last week the Office of the Inspector General issued its semi-annual report and audit of the FCC's activities in the six months to the end of September, a 40 page (and, thanks to illustrations rather than content) 7.5 Mb PDF.
In enforcement activity the FCC has again issued a number of penalties and proposed penalties mostly for late filing of licence renewal applications. In descending order of amount we noted the following radio-related penalties:
*USD 14,000 Notice of Apparent Liability for Forfeiture (NAL) to Stein Broadcasting Co., Inc., licensee of KXOX-AM and KXOX-FM, Sweetwater, Texas. for failing to file renewal application on time and unauthorized operation after expiry of the licence. The renewal was granted.
*USD 7,000 NALs to Santa Cruz Educational Broadcasting Foundation, licensee of KFER-FM, Santa Cruz, California, for failing to file renewal application on time and unauthorized operation after expiry of the licence. The renewal was granted.
*USD 7,000 NAL to
* St. Luke Foundation, licensee of WSLX-FM, New Canaan, Connecticut, for failing to file renewal application on time and unauthorized operation after expiry of the licence. The renewal was granted.
*Trinity Church Of The Nazarene, licensee of KRQZ-FM, Lompoc, California, for failing to file renewal application on time and unauthorized operation after expiry of the licence. The renewal was granted.
*USD 500 NALs to
* William Woods University, licensee of Low Power FM KWWU-LP, Fulton, Missouri, for failing to file renewal application on time. The renewal was granted.
*Lewiston Christian Radio Association, licensee of Low KPLL-LP, Lewiston, Idaho, for failing to file renewal application on time. The renewal was granted.
*Puffin Public Broadcasting, Inc, licensee of FM Translator Station K201AO, Seward, Alaska, for failing to file renewal application on time. The renewal was granted.
*Kane County Special Service District 1,licensee of FM translator Station K269DQ, Orderville, Utah, for failing to file renewal application on time. The renewal was granted.
*KSOP, Inc ,licensee of FM translator Station K224BR, Park City, Utah, for failing to file renewal application on time. The renewal was granted.
*USD 250 NALs to
* Mountain Christian Fellowship, licensee of Low Power FM KMSJ-LP, Mt. Shasta, California, for failing to file renewal application on time. The renewal was granted.
*Good News Translator Association, licensee of FM translator Station W220CR, Gouverneur, New York, for failing to file renewal application on time. The renewal was granted.
Previous Licence News:
CRTC web site:
FCC web site:
Ofcom web site:
2007-12-09: The final Australian ratings for this year, covering the period from September 16 to November 24 show the leaders - DMG's FiveAA in Adelaide; DMG's Nova in Brisbane; Fairfax Media's 3AW in Melbourne; Austereo's Mix 94.5 in Perth and Macquarie Radio Network's 2GB in Sydney - remaining at the top in their markets with no major swings below.
The ratings are the last for two Sydney hosts - John Laws who has retired following a 55-year career (See RNW Dec 2) and Virginia Trioli who left ABC 702 on Friday to concentrate on TV work (See RNW Nov 11) after six years. Laws share was down 0.2 to 7.3 whilst that of Trioli was up from 7.2. In contrast Sally Loane, whom she replaced (See RNW Aug 8, 2005), had final ratings of 9.0
In the Sydney breakfast ratings Alan Jones at 2GB increased share from 13.4 to 14.1 whilst second placed 2DAY was up from 11.6 to 11.8. Of its talk rivals, ABC 702 was up from 10.7 to 11.5 and 2UE up from 7.4 to 7.6. In the mornings, as already noted 2UE in John Laws' final survey was down from 7.5 to 7.3 but remained sixth and failed to close the gap on 2GB, which was up from 13.4 to 14.9. Trioli at ABC 702 was seventh but took share up from 6.7 to 7.2.
In company terms, Macquarie Radio Network and 2GB had a good year as did Austereo with its Today network performing strongly and ABC but the results were more mixed for DMG whose new Vega stations still remain near the bottom of the rankings and Fairfax Media, which took over Southern Cross Broadcasting's metropolitan stations in an asset swap after Macquarie Media Group bought Southern Cross. In Melbourne 3AW held on to top rank but in Sydney 2UE is failing to close on 2GB.
Commenting on its performance Austereo called Today's performance "stellar" and noted an average 11.3% share for the year for 2-DAY in Sydney and 11.7% for Fox in Melbourne, saying the final survey result "cements the dominant position of the two hit music stations in the nation's biggest and most competitive radio markets."
It also highlighted its breakfast team's performance in both cities - in Sydney the Kyle and Jackie O Show finished the year with an average audience share of 11.6% per cent, more than two points clear of its nearest FM rival, while in Melbourne, the Matt and Jo Show had an average 10.7 per cent share.
In both cities, the Hamish and Andy Show was the number one drive show, with an average 14% share in Sydney and 17.7% in Melbourne.
Austereo chief executive officer Michael Anderson said the 2007 result positioned Austereo for continued growth adding, "Austereo now has the consistent number one FM station in Sydney, Melbourne and Perth, with stations showing solid growth throughout the year in Brisbane and Adelaide. Austereo now has the only two stations in the country with a cumulative audience of more than one million listeners each, with Sydney's 2Day FM topping the million mark for the first time in five-and-a-half years. This year has consolidated the Today network's success, and we've got strong plans in place for further improvement next year."
Regarding its Triple-M network he said, "As the year finishes, we've got the Triple M network set for a very competitive 2008. We have all our shows locked in for both the Today and Triple M networks, with a new breakfast show on Triple M in Melbourne with Peter Helliar and Myf Warhurst, a new show in Adelaide with the highest-rating breakfast show in the city coming across to Triple M and exciting new hosts joining the established breakfast teams on Triple M in Sydney and Brisbane. We will continue with our proven strategy of having two clearly differentiated networks, with Triple M having a solid and extremely loyal base of listeners from which to build on in 2008."
DMG in its comment highlighted a complaint it made in November about Kyle Sandiland's on-air comments on November 9 in which he accused rivals Merrick and Rosso on DMG's Nova of copying his show and asked listeners to tell their mates to listen to him.
"With only two weeks left in the radio ratings, lock yourself into your favourite station and tell people, get friends that do not listen to this radio station to have a try, because sometimes people have the wrong impression of what we do over here,'' he said, thus breaching the code of ethics in Commercial Radio Australia's 2007 Audience Survey Guidelines that say, "Members should not make direct or oblique on-air reference to, or in any way directly attempt to encourage the audience to respond in a particular manner to a survey that is being conducted in the licence area in which the station operates, either immediately before or during the period of the survey.''.
This led to a formal complaint from DMG and its news release DMG Radio Australia Executive chairman Paul Thompson noted that only Sydney Nova had lost share in the final survey and commented, "While it's pleasing to have achieved audience increases in Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth, it is quite widely known that we wrote to Nielsen Media Research following the Kyle and Jackie O show broadcast on 2DAY FM on Friday, 9th November expressing our concern that Sydney Survey 8 had been damaged by that broadcast. Nothing that has happened today has altered our opinion."
City by city, the top three stations were (previous % share in brackets):
*Adelaide: 5AA with 17.5 (18.6) - same rank; Mix with 14.6 (16.0) same rank;
SAFM with 12.1 (10.5) - up from fourth.
*Nova with 11.9 (11.7) fell from third to fourth and ABC 891 in fifth lost share from 9.1 to 8.5
*Brisbane - Nova with 15.6 (15.4) - same rank; ABC 612 with 11.4 (9.2) - up from sixth; 97.3 FM with 10.4 (10.8) - same rank;
* B105 with 9.9 (11.5) was down from second to fifth; Triple M with 10.2 (9.3) was up from fifth, overtaking 4BC.which fell from fourth to sixth with 9.4 (10.1).
*Melbourne - 3AW with 15.6 (15.6) - same rank; Fox FM with 12.6 (11.1) - up from third; ABC 774 with 11.1 (11.2) - down from second;
*Nova with 9.8 (9.3) remained fourth, but Gold FM went up a rank to fifth with 7.8(7.0), swapping ranks with Triple M with 6.2, down from 8.4.
Perth - MIX 94.5FM with 14.2(16.2) - same rank; 92.9 with 13.3 (12.3) - same rank; ABC 720 with 11.9 (11.6) - same rank;
*96FM with 10.9 (11.3) - remained fourth ahead of sixth-placed Nova with 10.7 (10.2).
Sydney: 2GB 11.7 (11.1) - same rank; 2-DAY with 10.0 (10.4) - same rank; ABC 702 with 9.4 (8.6) - up from fourth.
* Nova with 8.2 (9.2) went down a rank to fourth ahead of Mix 106.5 which with 7.8 (7.1) was up from seventh to fifth and 2UE remained sixth with 7.4 (7.6).
Previous ABC Australia:
Previous Australian ratings:
Previous Fairfax Media:
Previous Kyle and Jackie O:
Previous Macquarie Bank/Macquarie Media:
Previous Macquarie Radio Network:
2007-12-09: UK media regulator Ofcom has upheld one radio standards complaint in its latest Broadcast Bulletin in which it also fined Connection Makers Ltd., which broadcasts Babeworld TV, GBP 25,000 (USD 50,000) for broadcasting sexually explicit material and failure to separate advertising from programme content by promoting a premium rate telephone service and upheld two other TV standards complaints and published details of another TV standards case that was not upheld but where the programme attracted 752 complaints.
It upheld no fairness and privacy complaints but did publish details of a radio fairness and privacy complaint that was not upheld: The figures compare with one radio and four TV standards complaints upheld in the previous bulletin in which Ofcom also upheld in part a TV fairness and privacy complaint and gave details of three TV standards and one TV Fairness and Privacy complaint.
The radio complaint upheld involved a complaint against Jon Gaunt's show on UTV's talkSPORT in which a short promotional trailer included a female voice saying " and here is the news, mother-crushers !!!!".
The complainant had heard the word as "mother-fuckers" but argued that even if this was not the phrase broadcast it sounded so similar that it caused the same degree of offence.
talkSPORT told Ofcom it had received a separate complaint about the same trailer after its broadcast on 16 October 2007 - five days after the broadcast that elicited the complaint to Ofcom. It said that to err on the side of safety, the programme controller instructed that the trailer be removed from the schedules immediately until it was fully checked and that subsequently it had been remade without the inclusion of the word: It also noted that the word "mother-crushers" was used in a TV version of Beverly Hills Cop to replace "motherfuckers" so as make it acceptable for television and argued that the replacement term was humorous, because the replacement word was nonsensical, rather than offensive.
Ofcom did not accept this argument and upheld the complaint.
The radio fairness and privacy complaint that was not upheld involved Yorkshire station Sunrise Radio and a news bulletin in which an item was about a court injunction granted in favour of Sunrise Radio in relation to a dispute with a company owned by Mr Kaisar Nisar.
The order froze Nisar's assets and he had claimed that his privacy was infringed because his name and home address were broadcast. Ofcom noted that these had been disclosed in open court, that Nisar used different addresses including his home address for various businesses, and thus his privacy had not been breached.
In addition to the breaches Ofcom also listed without details 865 complaints against 171 TV items and 41 radio complaints against 23 items that it did not uphold or were considered out of its remit: This compares with 191 complaints against 135 TV items and 35 radio complaints against 31 items that were out of its remit or not upheld in the previous bulletin. The TV figures were high because of 388 complaints against one programme, 135 against another, and 111 against a third.
Previous Ofcom Complaints Bulletin:
2007-12-08: UK Emap has announced agreement to sell its Consumer Media and Emap Radio divisions to German media group Heinrich Bauer Verlag KG ("Bauer"), which publishes "Take a Break and "Bella", for GBP 1.14 billion (USD 2.31 billion) in cash, but has not sold its business-to-business operations that were also up for sale as part of a review of its structure and assets.
The total price is made up of GBP 718 million (USD 1.46 billion) for Emap Consumer Media and GBP 422 million (USD 857 million) for Emap Radio.
Bauer already has radio operations in Poland where it took over Broker FM, owner of the leading national radio network RMF FM at the end of 2006. RMF FM is a national radio network with a 22.3% daily share and the undisputed market leader in Poland.
The Emap radio sale, which includes the Kiss and Magic stations, is conditional on completion of the sale of Emap's Irish Radio business announced in July 2007 or, if the sale is not completed, the transfer of this business to Emap. The Emap Consumer Media sale is conditional on competition clearance in Germany and Austria.
If the disposals are approved by shareholders at a General Meeting next month and the Irish radio sale is completed, Emap will become a business media (B2B) company.
Emap says that its board believes after considering sale of the B2B business, its best "value for shareholders will be achieved through continuing to operate this focused business on a standalone basis and, accordingly, the Board has terminated all discussions with parties interested in Emap Communications."
Emap Executive Chairman Alun Cathcart said of the sale, "We are pleased to have achieved a successful outcome in the review of Emap's Group structure. The price achieved for Emap Consumer Media and Emap Radio fully reflects the value of the two divisions. Emap will now be a focused B2B company with strong market positions, strong cash flow and a proven management team and track record in delivering value and growth."
Emap says Derek Carter, currently Chief Executive of Emap Communications, will become Chief Executive of Emap; Ian Griffiths will remain Group Finance Director and also become Deputy Chief Executive; and will revert to Non-Executive Chairman after the completion of the disposals and will work with the new management team of Emap until a new Non-Executive Chairman has been appointed.
When Emap first put itself up for sale its B2B business was expected to be the most saleable part of the group but the Financial Times reported before the announcement that it understood none of the bids for it reached the GBP 1.3 billion (USD 2.64 billion) that chairman Alun Cathcart wanted.
The radio group was understood to have attracted bids from Global Radio and a consortium of Vitruvian Partners and Veronis Suhler Stevenson of some GBP 400-420 million (USD 800-840 million) but the late offer from Bauer out of the running. They were both thought to have been bidding with the intention of making other acquisitions and there are suggestions that they could bid for other groups including GCap Media, the UK's largest radio company, whose shares rose just under 0.75% to 138 pence on Friday whilst those of UTV were down 0.6% to 250 pence compared to an overall UK market rise of 1%.
Global Radio CEO Ashley Tabor said of the deal, "Emap's strategic decision to proceed with a single bid for radio and consumer mags together, is understandable if disappointing for radio specific bidders in the process."
Emap said that at the end of March this year Emap Radio had gross assets of approximately GBP 571 million (currently USD 1.16 billion) with revenues for the year to then of GBP 143 million (currently UD 290.5 million) and operating profits of GBP 18 million (currently USD 36.6 million).
Emap Radio is the UK's second largest commercial radio operator with 38 local stations and one of the largest digital radio networks in the UK: It has three main groupings -the Big City Network (the largest local network covering the north of the UK); London Midlands and South (including as Magic and Kiss); and National (digital only stations).
Previous Global Radio:
2007-12-08: The ridiculing by two DJs of a woman who was severely burned as a two-years old child is costing Galaxy Communications and two of its former DJs USD 1 million in a settlement reached following a hearing in an Albany Court.
The comments were made on the former "JR in the Morning" program on WRCZ-FM in February last year when host J.R. Gach and sidekick Shawn Bolts called the woman as "Susie Burns" and labelled her family's restaurant the "genetic mutant diner" during the broadcast.
The Albany Times Union reported that Athena Andrikopoulos said in an interview in her family's business, the Redwood Diner in Rotterdam, "The money didn't mean anything to me. They used my scars as a joke just to get ratings. What they got in the end is a girl who is emotionally scarred."
Galaxy CEO Ed Levine says the paper did offer an apology this week but Andrikopoulos wouldn't accept it. It quoted Levine as telling the court, "I deeply regret the entire situation. I am happy we are able to resolve it."
The paper says Andrikopoulos was recovering from a recent surgery, working as a hostess, when Bolts patronized the restaurant on Valentine's Day 2006. The next morning, the shock jock told Gach about his dining experience, launching a lengthy dialogue in which Bolts said, according to a transcript of the broadcast filed with the court, "It's really funny, dude" and hen added that he had encountered the "twin sister" of a burn victim they both apparently knew.
"Some burn victim? Some chick all burned up?" Gach asked.
"It's not that I'm -- I'm trying to pick on her," Bolts answered, adding, "It was Burn-neese, right?"
Bolts later said he went "just for laughs," prompting Gach to say, "What, do they got mutants in there? Is it like the -- the genetic mutant restaurant?"
Later in the broadcast they kept coming back to the topic of the diner and at one point Bolts commented, "You know we're going to get in trouble now, man," to which Gach answered, "Man, come for the freaks and don't stay for the food." They ended the broadcast playing the Talking Heads tune, "Burning Down the House."
The paper says that the DJs did not specifically identify the business on air, terming it the "Wormwood Diner" but they did mention its Hamburg Street location and according to the lawsuit also encouraged people to visit the diner to view "Susie Burns" -- and threatened to photograph her with a cell phone camera and post it on the Internet.
The paper adds that Bolts was present during the trial and Gach was believed to be in Florida
Albany Times Union report:
2007-12-08: In another case of cost-cutting by Sydney 2UE talk station's new owners Fairfax Media, The Australian reports that former Melbourne shock jock Steve Price, once described by the station's former morning show host John Laws, who has just retired (See RNW Dec 2) as a "risible dwarf" is likely to take over the slot.
The paper says that insiders say it is still possible Price will work in a pair it is increasingly likely he will take over the show on his own from next February and adds that "the likely change to Price indicates the days of the multimillion-dollar a year announcer for the morning shift have passed."
It notes that in an interview with Fairfax's radio boss, Graham Mott, last month he told it of plans for a new morning host, "It won't be a John Laws as such, and it shouldn't be. This is a fresh start ... whereby we won't be exposed financially."
The paper adds that a primary concern for Fairfax has been an annual salary bill of more than AUD 8 million (USD 7 million) for on-air talent, a figure blown out by the figure of up to AUD 6 million (USD 5.3 million) Laws was making in salary and endorsements: Price, it adds, has been on a salary of AUD 1-1.2 million (USD 880, 00 to 1.05 million) but that figure is likely to be cut.
2UE was reported earlier this week to have agreed a new contract with breakfast host Mike Carlton with his salary cut by around a third (See RNW Dec 5).
RNW note: Australia's last radio ratings for the year are now out with all the leaders holding on to their top slots - FiveAAA in Adelaide, Nova in Brisbane;, 3AW in Melbourne; Mix 94.5 in Perth and 2GB in Sydney. We will post our usual longer analysis of the figures tomorrow.
Previous Fairfax Media:
The Australian report:
2007-12-08: San Francisco KGO-AM talk show host Bernie Ward, a former Catholic priest, has been indicted on federal child pornography charges although specific details of the allegations have been sealed.
Ward, who hosts a nightly show and the Godtalk show on Sundayson the Citadel station, was said on the KGO web site to have been indicted on two counts of child pornography using the Internet: His attorney Doron Weinberg told the San Francisco Chronicle the charges are based on incidents that occurred more than four years ago and were part of research for a book.
As everybody knows, Bernie, for over 20 years, has been a progressive, opposed to insensitive authority - he has been a champion of charities, nonprofits for the homeless," said Weinberg.
He added that Ward was doing research for a book he was doing on hypocrisy in America and downloaded "a few images" of child pornography that Weinberg said, "it came to the attention of the government in late 2004."
"They investigated and they never found any involvement in child pornography other than this period that he accessed these images," Weinberg said. "The government knows that Bernie was doing this for an investigation he was doing for a book. But the government believes he violated the letter of the law and they have gone ahead and prosecuted him."
KGO posted a comment from Operations Director Jack Swanson saying, "Bernie Ward has been a valued, long-time employee of KGO Radio. We were just recently made aware of these serious charges and are surprised and concerned by their nature. As the matter is currently pending in federal court, we will have no additional comment at this time. A substitute host will do the 10pm - 1am, Monday - Friday broadcast and the Sunday morning Godtalk broadcast."
KGO web site re Ward:
San Francisco Chronicle report:
2007-12-07: Montreal-headquartered Astral Media, which is Canada's largest radio broadcaster with 81 stations nationwide following its takeover of Standard Radio, says it is to push for higher ratings in cities where it added stations through the purchase.
The company's annual meeting was told by President and CEO Ian Greenberg that its platform for organic growth was stronger than ever.
"We are very much present in the four fastest-growing media categories in Canada: specialty and pay TV, radio, outdoor advertising and interactive media. All our business units are recording strong performance quarter after quarter and are contributing healthy results achieved primarily through organic growth," he said, adding, "Astral Media will create additional opportunities for organic growth and profit by being innovative with technology while remaining focused on value."
Greenberg said that Astral's first priority in its ratings push was Toronto where a 1% ratings gain is worth CAD/USD 2-3 million a year with Vancouver as a second priority.
He also commented that Astral would be in the market should a suitable acquisition arise.
Astral also announced that it was to increase its annual dividend from 40 cents to 50 cents (Canadian) per share and Greenberg commented, Astral Media has now more than tripled its dividend payment to shareholders since Fiscal 2004, a clear demonstration of our commitment and of the confidence we have in our ability to create more value and continue to grow this Company."
2007-12-07: GCap Media's Capital Radio is dropping DJ Bam Bam (Peter Poulton), who joined it in March (See RNW Mar 5) from his evening (19:00 to 22:00) slot and replacing him with current drivetime DJ and chart show presenter Lucio under a number of changes being introduced by managing director Paul Jackson for the station's 2008 schedule.
Also out is Dave Berry who loses his Saturday afternoon show.
Lucio will continue to host the networked Sunday afternoon Hit 40 UK show.
Former Virgin Radio DJ Greg Burns, who joined Capital last month, will take over the drivetime slot and also host a Sunday afternoon show whilst current weekend afternoon host Margherita Taylor will move to a weekday 10:00 to 13:00 slot and also host a Saturday 11:00 to 14:00 show.
Jackson said that "unfortunately" there was no place for Bam Bam in the stations revamped 2008 schedule, adding that he thought Lucio's lifestyle show will be better for our audience. Regarding Berry he said the show was too "specialist"
Bam Bam was formerly with Emap's London dance station Kiss FM as breakfast host but was dropped in April last year (See RNW Apr 29, 2006): Subsequently the station was fined a record GBP 175,000 (then USD 323,000) for comments made by Poulton - GBP 75,000 (then USD 138,000) of it relating to an upheld fairness and privacy complaint over a wind-up call and GBP 100,000 (then (USD 184,000) for eight breaches of standards codes (See RNW Jun 21, 2006).
Previous GCap Media:
Previous Poulton (Bam Bam):
2007-12-07: Tribune Co, has, as widely expected, gone to court to appeal the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) refusal of indefinite waivers of cross-ownership rules for locations where it owns a newspaper and broadcaster except for Chicago where a permanent waiver was granted (See RNW Dec 1) .
The appeal was filed on Monday with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia circuit and disclosed on Thursday when Tribune also said that it plans to use USD 500 million of cash it has available to cut the borrowings it needs to make to close its sale to a buyout led by real estate magnate and investor Sam Zell.
Tribune says this means it will only need a bridging load of USD 1.6 billion. It also said it was on track to close the deal by the end of the year, which it needs to do to retain various tax advantages. Tribune shares ended Thursday up nearly 8% at USD 32.
There was little downside for Tribune in the appeal, which means that it retains the waivers granted and possibly even extends them if it loses whilst a win could mean an end to the cross-ownership ban
Previous Tribune Company:
2007-12-06: Arbitron, which has come under criticism about the reporting of listening to black and Hispanic stations in its Portable People Meter (PPM) ratings and as a result opted to delay the commercialization of the PPM in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco and Dallas (See RNW Nov 27) has now made a number of changes in response to recommendations from the Arbitron Radio Advisory Council, specifically with regard to sampling
It is now to direct its attention to the 18-54 demographic - a key one for radio advertisers -with a target of 80% of persons within the demographic rather than 90% of those 6 plus.
Arbitron chairman, president and CEO Steve Morris said that meeting sample targets was integral to the company's effort to gain confidence in the PPM and that it felt the Advisory Council's recommendation that it "narrow the guardrails of our current PPM sample guarantee to Persons 18-54" was "appropriate next step in our efforts to enhance the quality of our PPM services."
Arbitron has offered rebates if it does not meet a number of targets and Morris said of the new targets, that the company was confident it could "meet these targets on the schedule provided in the new sample guarantee program."
Arbitron is to put the new sample sizes into effect in Houston and Philadelphia, where the PPM is already currency, for the December '07 PPM ratings, which will be delivered on December 31 and is also planning to improve sampling of the 18-34 demographic, African-Americans and Hispanics and is also planning a follow-up with the council on plans to make the PPM sample cover the 12 plus demographic.
Arbitron is also to plan for the inclusion of cell-phone only households in diary and PPM ratings next year and has appointed one of its sales VPs Tom O'Sullivan as "Diary Czar" to oversee diary-related issues.
The issue of the accuracy of the Portable People Meter came up at a House hearing on media ownership on Wednesday with Jim Winston, Executive Director and General Counsel for the National Association of Black Owned Broadcasters (NABOB), telling the House Subcommittee on Telecommunications and the Internet speaking of a "critical flaw" that had "resulted in a clear bias against the reporting of minority audiences."
NABOB has already criticised the PPM over pre-release ratings in New York (See RNW Nov 11) and Winston re-iterated the criticism that the results had shown declines in listening to Black and Hispanic stations of such a magnitude that they might be put out of business if the PPM we introduced nationally on the same basis that had been used in New York.
2007-12-06: The UK Local Radio Company (TLRC) has moved into operating profit for the first time and is looking to expand through acquisitions although it is still loss-making: In the year to the end of September it made an operating profit of GBP 153,000 (USD 310,000) compared to a GBP 1.8 million (Now USD 3.65 million but UISD 3.54 million then) loss a year ago. Pre-tax loss was down from GBP 21 million (currently USD 42.6 million) a year ago to GBP 9 million (USD 18.3 million) on turnover down 5% to GBP 19 million (USD 38.6 million).
TLRC has cut its costs by 5% and says that its October and November revenues and bottom line are ahead of last year. Although it warned of an uncertain outlook- UK radio advertising is up in the second half of the year but there are general economic concerns TLRC said it is "confident and determined that the improvement in our performance will continue" and adds that it is to commit itself to an acquisition strategy to take advantages of local radio opportunities.
Executive chairman Richard Wheatly commented that the board was "aware of a number of ongoing market developments and is committed to its strategy to grow revenues through acquisitions which demonstrate clear value."
The group currently owns 27 stations and as well as acquisitions is looking to develop new revenues from its local radio online operations.
Wheatley said the first full year operating profit had resulted from a combination of increases in its audiences, sales commission - its First Radio Sales arm hit a record of more than GBP 2 million (USD 4.1 million) - and revenues and added, "This excellent result gives us renewed confidence in the potential for the local radio market Whilst the outlook remains uncertain, we are confident and determined that the improvement in our performance will continue."
2007-12-06: The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has come under political scrutiny in both the US Senate and House this week with the Senate Commerce Committee unanimously passing bipartisan legislation that would delay for at least six months a proposal from FCC chairman Kevin J. Martin to ease the newspaper-broadcaster cross-ownership ban and the House subcommittee on the Internet and Telecommunications taking him up to task about the plans.
The Senate vote came first - on a bill put forward by North Dakota Democrat Sen. Byron Dorgan and Mississippi Republican Trent Lott - but it has almost no chance of passing through Congress before the December 18 deadline Martin has tentatively set for a vote on the plan and is more of a message that he should delay the vote than an act that will stop it.
In the House Martin defended his plans, which some lawmakers say circumvented proper procedures, on the basis that it set high hurdles for allowing consolidation in smaller markets and refused to back down on the December deadline.
Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Rep John Dingell (Michigan Democrat) said he still had "grave concerns about the lack of time to review comments on the proposed rule" and added that his initial reaction was "not positive" about any proposal that would permit greater media concentration but Michigan Republic Rep Fred Upton took a contrary view saying "We must seize this opportunity to modernize the regulations governing ownership to enable all forms of media to have a fair chance of competing for the attention of our fellow Americans."
Democrat Commissioner Michael J. Copps reiterated before the committee his concerns that the changes would create a loophole that would allow the commission to approve cross ownership in markets beyond the top twenty proposed by Martin and added that the FCC was "FCC is lurching dangerously off course, and I fear that at this point only Congressional oversight can put us back on track."
His fellow Democrat Jonathan S. Adelstein also expressed concern over media ownership and said of waivers" "The waiver standards are like a wet noodle that a majority of Commissioners would be able to move and reshape at will. Even under the current stronger standards of a blanket prohibition on cross-ownership, the Commission has been lax in permitting waivers."
He suggested the FCC should follow the follow the process outlined in the Media Ownership Act of 2007 including a separate proceeding on localism -with 90 days allowed for public comment - before considering media ownership.
In his testimony Martin defended his deadline and said the FCC had undertaken a "lengthy, spirited, and careful reconsideration of our media ownership rules" and his proposals on ownership regulation, localism and low-power FM takent together would "serve the public interest, providing for competition, localism, and diversity in the media."
"My proposed change to the newspaper/broadcast cross ownership rule<" he added, "addresses the needs of the newspaper industry and helps preserve their local news gathering, while at the same time preserving our commitment to localism, diversity, and competition."
Republican Commissioner Deborah T. Tate brought up issues of "the negative impact media can have, from extreme violence to exceedingly coarse language" but as regards ownership defended the research done by the commission, saying, "Over my 20-plus years of public service - at all levels of government - I cannot remember a single time that an agency expended this much institutional energy and investment on an issue, or was this open and thorough regarding a matter of public interest."
Her fellow Republican Robert M McDowell also defended the FCC regarding media ownership research and asked of minority and female ownership what the FCC could "do to promote ownership among people of color and women?"
" Many positive and constructive ideas before the Commission," he commented, "may be hobbled by Supreme Court prohibitions against race-specific help on one side, and a lack of statutory authority for doing much more on the other side. Like it or not, whatever the FCC or Congress does must withstand constitutional muster. So let's focus on the possible -- and the legally sustainable. "
2007-12-06: Nearly two-thirds of Canadian voters think the country's media should be kept under domestic companies' control according to a poll commissioned by the Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Television and Radio Artists (ACTRA), the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada (CEP), and Friends of Canadian Broadcasting.
The poll was conducted in November in Harris/Decima's national omnibus survey and was commissioned as part of a campaign "Keep It Canadian" that supports current laws which restrict foreign ownership of Canadian broadcast and telephone industries. Results are based on a sample of 2,052 Canadians and showed 66% saying they believe broadcasting and communications are too important to national security and cultural sovereignty to allow foreign control of Canadian companies in this sector
Speaking in Calgary at the release off the report, Ian Morrison, spokesperson for Friends of Canadian Broadcasting, said, "Powerful lobbyists for the cable industry are at work right now, quietly trying to persuade the federal government to allow Americans to buy them out. If they succeed, there's nothing to stop foreign companies from taking control of Canadian media and telecommunications too."
He was backed up CEP Vice President - Media Peter Murdoch who commented in relation to poll results showing that 62% of Canadians are more likely to vote for candidates who oppose giving control of Canadian media to foreign interests: "At a time when the country could be thrown into an election at any moment, the poll contains a strong message to politicians who may favour opening Canada's media to foreign ownership. There is no political upside for any party to support the sell-off of our media."
Regarding Canadian culture 82% said they agreed that it is important that the Canadian government work to maintain and build a culture and identity distinct from the United States and
ACTRA National Executive Director Stephen Waddell commented, "Most Canadians want action from Ottawa to build a culture and identity distinct from the United States, whose television and movies dominate the Canadian cultural landscape."
The poll was commissioned at a time when the issue of foreign ownership of media is in play and the federal government has established a panel to review the policy that limits the share a foreign company can hold in a Canadian media or telecommunication company to 46.7%. Australia and Britain have already changed their laws to allow foreign control of media companies.
The group that commissioned the poll is also concerned about the proposed purchase of specialty TV broadcaster Alliance Atlantis by CanWest Global because most of the financing for the deal comes from the United States.
Friends of Canada website- has links to survey (100 KB PDF)
2007-12-06: BBC Radio Nottingham has apologized on air after presenter Frances Finn commenting on a report about the release of teacher Gillian Gibbons - jailed in Sudan after children in her class at a Khartoum school voted to name a teddy bear "Mohammed" sparking a complaint that this insulted the Prophet and calls for her death - joked on air that Gibbons had a dog bearing the same name.
The comment sparked a complaint and a BBC spokesperson said that Finn in her morning show had commented, "Gillian Gibbons' son is at the airport and is pleased to see her and I am sure her dog, Muhammad, is very pleased to see her as well", a remark it said had not been intended to cause offence but termed "ill-judged and entirely inappropriate", adding ". The BBC would like to apologise for the offence the remark will have caused to listeners."
A report on the matter on the ThisisNottingham web site elicited various comments that were in general were opposed to the apology with one person commenting, rather appositely in our view, "Well, I don't know what Frances said, but thought you all might like to know that in the Grantham paper last week there was a bear called Wesley. Now as a staunch Methodist, I..........."
2007-12-05: US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) chairman Kevin J. Martin has been accused of a "possible abuse of power" by two House lawmakers who have announced that they are to investigate the commission.
In a letter to Martin, Michigan Democrat Rep. John D. Dingell, chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee, says "Given several events and proceedings over the past year, I am rapidly losing confidence that the commission has been conducting its affairs in an appropriate manner.": He noted concern that the FCC had not made the full text of proposed rules available to the public before it voted on them, and that Martin had also often had not given other commissioners details of proposals until it was too late for them to fully analyze them.
Dingell has summoned Martin and the four other Commissioners - two Democrat and two Republican, to an oversight hearing to be held today and they are also to appear before a senate committee next week.
Another Michigan Democrat, Rep. Bart Stupak, who heads the Energy and Commerce subcommittee that will conduct the investigation, said he had "received several complaints from the public and professionals within the communications industry about how Chairman Martin is conducting business at the FCC" and added, "It is one thing to be an aggressive leader, but many of the allegations indicate possible abuse of power and an attempt to intentionally keep fellow commissioners in the dark."
So far we have not seen any response from anyone at the FCC.
2007-12-05: The Australian Broadcasting Corporation has named Sydney Morning Herald journalist Deborah Cameron as the replacement for Virginia Trioli in the morning slot on ABC 702, Sydney. Trioli, a former ABC Melbourne host, announced last month that she was to leave 702 after six years with the station, to concentrate on TV work (See RNW Nov 11). Trioli had replaced Sally Loane, another former Sydney Morning Herald staffer.
Cameron, who has worked in New York, Indonesia and Tokyo as well as Australia, began her career with the Warrnambool Standard in Western Victoria followed by a spell at The Canberra Times.
She moved to the Sydney Morning Herald 20 years ago and has been a regular guest on ABC Radio but this is her first radio post.
Jeremy Millar, Manager ABC Local Radio New South Wales said of the appointment, "We are delighted that Deborah is joining our team. Attracting a journalist with Deborah's credentials and experience is extremely exciting, as the Mornings program is well known for its strong coverage of news and current affairs. Our listeners have long come to expect a smart and stimulating debate on the issues that shape Sydney and beyond, and I have no doubts that Deborah will quickly prove a valuable voice in our line-up."
Cameron said that as a journalist and foreign correspondent she had covered a wide rang of stories, adding, "It is always great when people get talking about themselves and what they think. 702 ABC Sydney is one of the leaders in the Sydney radio market. I can't wait to get started and look forward to connecting with the people of Sydney."
The Sydney Morning Herald quoted her as saying, "I haven't worked in radio before and that's the thing I find most exciting. It's a great time for change in Australia. There's a lot of shifting going on in Sydney radio. We've got a whole new cast of characters everywhere and I think if you get the chance you should change with it " It's a job for a journalist, and that's what I am. The key is to bring people in who are interesting and who will make great guests and to think every morning, 'What do Sydney people want to know today?' "
The Herald also reported that Sydney 2UE breakfast presenter Mike Carlton has agreed to re-sign with the station despite a hefty pay cut from his new Fairfax Media bosses: The station was owned by Southern Cross Broadcasting, which was taken over by Macquarie Bank in a deal that was followed with a further deal and asset swap in which Fairfax Media, who own the Herald, ended up with 2UE.
The paper says it is thought Carlton's deal was cut by about a third from around AUD 1.4 million (USD 1.22 million) a year to around AUD 1 million (USD 870,000) a year.
Crikey.com has different figures: It says Carlton had been paid around AUD 1.3 million (USD 1.13 million) a year under his old contract but under a new restructured deal he will get AUD 800.000 (USD 700.000) with his staff being moved onto the station's payroll, which would allow them to be rostered across shifts.
Crikey adds that Fairfax had Carlton over a barrel as he has nowhere else to go in Sydney talk radio and says Sydney radio sources reckon Carlton would have taken much less, but Fairfax offered him the deal because he's a columnist with the Sydney Morning Herald and has mates on the paper.
Previous ABC Australia:
Previous Fairfax Media:
Previous Macquarie Bank/Macquarie Media:
Sydney Morning Herald report:
2007-12-05: The US Copyright Royalty Board (CRB) has now set out the royalty rate that Sirius and XM will have to pay for the six years from the start of this year to the end of 2012 of 6% of gross revenues for this year and next with subsequent increased of 0.5% each year to end with 8% for 2012.
The "gross revenues" will betaken to include subscription revenues and advertising revenues from channels that use music only incidentally but not revenues from equipment sales and current and future data services.
XM chairman Gary Parsons said the ruling brought to an end a year-long proceeding with the recording companies and provided certainty, adding that "the music performance fees set by the CRB are in the range projected by many financial analysts who cover this industry. XM remains strongly committed to providing consumers the very best in both music and non-music programming, to compensating artists for their creative work, and to providing our shareholders a fair return on the multi-billion dollar investment in this new audio entertainment platform."
He noted that XM's existing 2007 financial guidance does not include the effect of the decision on 2007 rates.
So far we have seen no comment from Sirius, although it has made an 8-K filing concerning the rates.
SoundExchange, the body that collects the royalties involve and distributes payments to artists said that although the decision represented a large increase it was still below the true value of the music and noted that in its decision the CRB said that the value of music to the satellite services should start at a benchmark of 13% of total subscriber revenue, but had cut this back because of a federal law that says that any new royalty rate must avoid creating an overly "disruptive" impact.
SoundExchange Executive Director John Simson said "This result once again highlights the inequity of a rate standard that forces creators of music to subsidize certain music services with below market rates We are glad that the decision affirmed the importance of music to XM and Sirius, but disappointed that the rate standard led to a lack of full and fair compensation because of the business circumstances created by XM and Sirius."
The body's General Counsel Michael Huppe added that the CRB whilst not agreeing to the rates SoundExchange wanted ha recognized that music did have a value, adding, "Though the final rate is below the actual value that music provides to these services, it nonetheless represents a significant increase over the royalties previously paid by satellite radio. As a result of this decision, recording artists and record labels are finally on the right track towards fair compensation."
Initially the satellite companies wanted an increase of around 1% and the recording companies around 8% for this year. Both sides have 15 days to move for a rehearing of the decision.
RNW note: Most significant in this decision are the revenue streams not included - and it would seem to us that many of them, such as hardware sales should never have been considered..
We'd go furtherindeed as a way of making future negotiations on whatever adjustments will be made should the Sirius XM-merger go through smoothly - and adopt a policy in advance under which the percentage of revenues that are accrued to satellite by the services not directly linked to music such as hardware sales but that the recording companies wanted included would be calculted,, tripled or quadrupled, and then the relevant percentage deducted from the amount decided.
2007-12-05: UBC Media has now formally launched its CLIQ music download service that enables them to purchase music they head playing on a radio station at the touch of a button. In all the service was available at its launch on 21 UK commercial radio stations that reach more than 12 million listeners a day: They include stations owned by Emap, Guardian Media Group and Global Radio including Century, Galaxy, Heart, Real Radio and Smooth stations.
Initially the service will work on mobile phones but from next summer it will become available in digital radio produced by Pure. UBC says the application and the first song will be available free by texting to a number and that it will work on 85% of existing mobile handsets.
It describes the impulse purchase of music is the first application of the technology and has in partnership with mobile banking specialists Mi-Pay created a secure platform that allows radio stations to create listener pre-pay accounts.
The cost per song will be GBP 1.25 (USD 2.50) and the service will be promoted using airtime campaigns on stations, a retail campaign in conjunction with The Carphone Warehouse that is to start early next year, and a viral marketing campaign, including a Cliq Facebook application.
UBC also disclosed in its interim results that it has now invested nearly GBP 1.5 million (USD 3.1 million) in Cliq over the past two years - GBP 909,000 (USD 1.87 million) this year and GBP 552,000 (USD 1.14 million) in 2006, of which around GBP 470,000 (USD 968, 00) was capitalized.
UBC says group turnover for the half year to the end of September was up 9.7% at GBP 7.57 million (USD 15.6 million) with operating profit before its investment in Cliq up 20.9% at GBP 434,000 (USD 894,000).
Overall UBC made a loss in the period of GBP 3,000 (USD 6,200) compared to a profit of GBP 277,000 (USD 571,000) a year earlier with profit after taxation of GBP 351,000 ( USD 723,000) compared to a loss a year ago of GBP 233,000 ( USD 480,000).
In divisional terms revenues from commercial radio in UBC's networked programming business was up 13.1% at GBP 5.44 million (USD 11.2 million) and revenues from other production in its digital content business was up 17.5% at GBP 1.68 million (USD 3.5 million).
During the period, UBC noted that it completed the sale of its Classic Gold Digital network for GBP 3.95 million (USD 8.1million) in cash, proceeds from which are being invested in Cliq.
CEO Simon Cole commented, "UBC has delivered on its pledge to become a company focused on services to the radio industry rather than licence ownership. In this period, we have managed sustained growth in our core programme supply businesses both to the BBC and the commercial network, whilst preparing for the most important product launch in the Company's history. I am thrilled today to be unveiling our Cliq application which, with the support of the major UK radio groups, will begin the important process of turning radio listeners into customers."
In other UK music cum radio news, NME has said that it is to launch its radio station in the middle of next year. NME has teamed up with Xfm founder Sammy Jacob, who is now managing director of multimedia music company DX Media, to launch the station for which parent company IPC will build a radio studio at its headquarters in the Blue Fin building on London's South Bank.
The station will broadcast on various digital platforms and will also be on the NME.com website and its development follows the launch last month of digital channel NMETV.
2007-12-04: UK Channel 4 has announced that BBC Radio Five Live controller Bob Shennan is to join it as Director of Radio and that Nathalie Schwarz, the current holder of the post, has been promoted to join the Channel 4 Board as New Business and Corporate Development Director.
In his new role Shennan will head the Channel 4 Radio division and will have responsibility for programming and performance of the new national digital radio stations - E4 Radio, Channel 4 Radio and Pure4 - that will launch from 2008 onwards on the new national digital multiplex licence that was won by a consortium headed by the channel.
Shennan will report directly to Channel 4 chief executive Andy Duncan and will be on its executive management team: He will work with Schwarz and also with Director of Television and Content, Kevin Lygo, on developing editorial and commissioning policy for the new stations.
Duncan commented of the appointment, "Bob has helped make Five Live one of the UK's most popular and admired networks. It's a coup to attract someone of his profile and experience - his appointment is a boost to our plans as we move from a successful bid stage towards delivery."
Shennan, whose defection is the second blow in a month for Radio Five - last month UTV announced that Radio Five's managing editor, Moz Dee is joining to join it as programme director at talkSPORT (See RNW Nov 13), added, "I believe Channel 4's entry into UK radio is the most significant and exciting development in the market for a long time and I'm looking forward to leading it."
He had been in his current role since August 2000 prior to which he held a number of senior roles in BBC Sport including that of Head of BBC Sport, from 1998 to 2000. In the post he oversaw the launch of sister network, Five Live Sports Extra and since 2004 has also had managerial responsibility for the BBC Asian Network and has seen Radio Five Live reach a record audience of seven million a week.
BBC Radio 1 controller Andy Parfitt will take over Shennan's roles on an acting basis until a replacement is appointed. The Corporation's director of audio, Jenny Abramsky, said in an e-mail to staff that the move was a "wonderful opportunity" for Shennan and added, "It will be good to have a familiar face, and someone who is deeply committed to radio as a whole, leading one of the biggest developments for radio in the UK for many years."
Schwarz takes over from Rod Henwood who announced last week his decision to step down and in her new role will retain a strategic involvement in the channel's developing radio ambitions and will continue to represent Channel 4's radio interests within the industry.
She oversaw the successful Channel 4-led bid for the second national commercial DAB multiplex and will chair the 4 Digital Group consortium, which will manage the new DAB multiplex, and manage relations with shareholder partners, as well as sitting on industry bodies including the Digital Radio Working Group.
Previous Channel 4:
2007-12-04: The Broadcasting Commission of Ireland (BCI) has announced the award of a total of just below Euros 707,000 (USD 1,04 million) for radio programming in the fifth round of its Broadcasting Funding Scheme "Sound & Vision" that has invested some Euros 3.7 million (USD 5.4 million) in radio projects since it was launched.
This year the BCI received 117 radio applications and awarded funding to 60 of them with the majority of both applications and awards being for documentaries - 71% of the proposals that were funded. Most of the funding will go to commercial and community stations although some has gone to public service and special interest broadcasters.
As well as documentary, genres that will receive funding include factual, entertainment, children's programming, drama and sport and the amounts awarded range from Euros 3,500 (USD 5,130) to Maeve O'Sullivan of Newstalk for the factual "Ladies who Sing" to Euros 33,000 (USD 48,400) to Near FM for its "Music Specials" music documentary programming: Near FM also received the second highest award of Euros 30,000 ( USD 44,000) for its drama "Malachi's Madrigals" whilst the third highest amount of Euros 25,000 (USD 36,600) went to Francesca Lalor of Newstalk for the documentary "Why We Write." Below them were three awards of Euros 20,000 (USD 29,300) after which a further 31 awards were for Euros 10,000 (USD 14,700) or above.
BCI chief executive Michael O'Keeffe said the investment "emphasises the positive impact the Sound & Vision Scheme is having on the production of high quality radio programmes for Irish audiences. The quality of the submissions received continues to increase from round to round and the emerging programmes bring great additionality to the schedules of the participating stations."
2007-12-04: Madness frontman Suggs, who in January this year launched his first daily radio show -"Afternoon Tea with Suggs" - on SMG's Virgin Radio has now left the station and is to be replaced by the current drivetime show host Neil Francis whose slot will be taken over by weekend host Nick Jackson.
Suggs is to tour extensively with his group next year and Virgin, for whom he had also hosted the presented Virgin's Party Classics show on Friday and Saturday nights said it would welcome him back.
SMG is currently planning to spin off or sell Virgin radio.
Previous SMG/Virgin Radio:
2007-12-04: This week we had anticipated considerable comment on the return of Don Imus to the airwaves, his departure and potential return having engendered much coverage.
As it panned out, there was plenty of news coverage but a virtual absence of comment and not a single piece we saw that contrasted his show with the other programming on WABC although a few mentioned that he had displaced Curtis Sliwa and Ron Kuby.
There was also a marked shortfall of detail on what Imus actually said albeit the New York Post did carry a link in its report to some transcripts, thereby showing up some of its more highbrow competitors.
Of the articles we did see, Marc Fisher's blog in the Washington Post said the show was "far a little rough around the edges, but otherwise shows few signs of damage" after Imus's eight-month banishment and also notes that many of his sponsors were back including Subaru, NetJets, Bigelow Tea and Optimum internet service (Fisher did not mention the Hackensack University Medical Centre, the first advertiser with the show and one that made a great point of welcoming Imus back).
Fisher also noted the return of many guests including Senators John McCain and Christopher Dodd and commented on the return of sidekick Charles McCord "egging Imus into dangerous waters", this a reference to the pardon for the British teacher jailed in Sudan for allowing schoolchildren to name a teddy bear Mohammed (Fisher incorrectly says a student - it was a class vote - and has the country as Libya) that led to "chatter about how she should have chosen 'Tickle Me Habib.'"
Fisher goes on to say that "Imus's redemption was enabled by his long track record as a ratings and revenue machine, his satisfied advertisers and loyal stable of high-profile on-air guests, and the widespread sense in the radio industry that the incident that got him sacked was a quirk, something of an aberration. It also helped that ABC Radio was bought by a company, Citadel, that was looking to puts its own stamp on the stations it has recently acquired."
He also notes that many stations that broadcast the show are holding back to see "whether advertisers (and guests) rejoin the program" and adds, "Even at the show's flagship station, WABC in New York, some executives argued that keeping the current and successful locally-oriented morning show, starring former Guardian Angels street vigilante Curtis Sliwa, made a lot more sense than taking on the controversial but generally low-rated Imus program."
Overall Fisher's verdict was that "In the opening hours, Imus and the rest of the cast seemed a bit stilted and hesitant, with little of the rolling comfort, confidence and cool that has marked the deejay for more than four decades on the air."
Imus wasn't the only US host to attract comment over the past few days with Howard Stern getting exposure in the UK because of the broadcast by BBC Radio 4 of "The Best DJ You've Never Heard in Your Life" about Howard Stern, who, of course, is not on air in the UK albeit Sirius does offer subscriptions to an Internet stream.
In his Sunday Times "Radio Waves" column Paul Donovan makes it clear he is not an unstinting Stern fan - he began by calling him "the richest and filthiest man in the history of radio" and commented later, "The adjective 'best' we can ascribe to the BBC's quirky sense of humour, since Stern is the archetypal shock jock, whose shows are notorious for obscenity, phone sex, on-air defecation, audible flatulence and other unpleasantness."
Donovan like Fisher didn't check his facts properly saying that Stern was dumped by his then employers (The first reader response posted corrected this error) but went on to make a point about satellite radio that potential investors in WorldSpace - which is pushing a service in Italy - should take onboard.
Asking whether satellite radio could take off in the UK, Donovan comments, "There are at least two points worth making. First, there is no novelty in Britain as regards commercial-free radio: the BBC has been doing this for 80 years, and you have to go far back to find a time when it did not have the majority of radio listening in Britain. Second, satellite radio is ideally suited to areas of vast distances and sparse population, which is why it has taken hold in the USA and parts of Africa and Asia. Europe has relatively small distances and a dense population, which is why it is more suited to FM and AM and their digital updatings in DAB and DRM respectively."
Also with US hosts, we noted a profile by Doug Robinson in the Deseret Morning News of Glenn Beck that if completely true indicates a superhuman capability - "Besides hosting a daily three-hour radio talk show, the 43-year-old Beck also hosts, writes and produces a daily one-hour TV show, "writes" and records books (two of them at the moment) and a blog, serves as editor and chief of Fusion Magazine, and writes and produces comedy stage shows and fully orchestrated Christmas shows, including one that will come to Salt Lake City Saturday, in addition to making hundreds of speeches around the country each year."
A little in our view like saying Princess Diana's sons organized the concert in her memory at the Wembley stadium: We wonder how much of Beck is Beck and how much minions but the next paragraph does ring true, "Beck himself has become an industry, all of it based on sharing his opinion of the world with the world. It's talk, talk, talk, talk. His radio and TV discussions, delivered with a style that is alternately bombastic, self-deprecating, caustic, silly and humorous, cover everything from politics, "American Idol," parenting and political correctness (a favourite target) to Islamic extremism, selecting a video with his wife on a Friday night, the upcoming season of "24," adoption and anything else you can imagine."
The article is rather too accepting of the PR for our liking but is nevertheless revealing as in the contrast between his current busy state and that "at the height of his DJ career" when "he was drinking a gallon of Jack Daniels a week 'and most people had no idea,' he recalls. 'One reason I drank like that is I couldn't slow down enough to play with my kids. I had to be doing something. After two minutes I was losing my mind.'"
The article then gives Beck's version of his conversion on the road to Damascus, the subsequent loss because of it of his then marriage and career, the turning point when a further meeting with his now-wife Tania stopped him turning back to alcohol, and eventual success with his talk show and conversion to becoming a Mormon.
We somehow lost touch with the article when the awe in the presence of celebrity tone from Robinson became Beck's tone in comments about a meeting with President Bush: "He is clear and focused, and there are no hems and haws. I would not want to sit across the table from him as an enemy. He said a few things that were breathtaking, and my immediate response was, 'Why are you not saying this?' and he explained. I can't quote him. All I can say is that he has Abraham Lincoln-honourable reasons ... he has chosen not to say certain things. But (the Iraq war) is going much better than people think."
Which leads us to ask which people, what does "much better" mean and on what scale and for whom and why does this incredible president not feel capable of allowing interviews by people who might be hostile since Beck's comments should indicate that he would have no problem in dealing with questions.
Maybe it's a question of faith - and maybe Beck, despite all his comments about reason and questioning with boldness just has too much of the faith and not enough of the questioning.
To conclude with, we go for a column by David Rossie in the Greater Binghamton, New York, Press & Sun-Bulletin: Headed "Welcome, fair readers, to the Misinformation Age" it includes an attack on the media that would presumably in part delight and in part infuriate most of the successful US talk hosts.
They would probably agree with, "It was bad enough when someone would tell you, by way of confirming a belief, "It must be true, 'cause I seen it in the newspaper."
But then Rossie continues, "Today, God save us all, you hear the same refrain phrased this way: 'It must be true, 'cause I heard it from Rush Limbaugh.' Or Bill O'Reilly. Or Sean Hannity. Or Brent Bozell. Or from a dozen or so other far-right fabulists via radio, television and, yes, newspapers."
In fairness to all the hosts named it should be noted that Rossie then concentrates his fire on Bill O'Reilly citing a number of examples of distortion or misinformation from the host but also attacking American media in general - and of course came under attack in responses that would appear to be predominantly from readers taking the line of attack rather than factual correction. Which would take us back to talk radio but leads us to listening suggestions.
For those interested in Imus we note that WABC streams its output including Imus's show and that an Internet search produces a list of stations that stream most of the US hosts
For talk of a different kind, we next suggest BBC Radio 4's "Start the Week"- this week's edition on Monday included former US Assistant Secretary of State James Rubin talking about US foreign policy since 9/11and the same station's "Broadcasting House" on Sunday Mornings, which has a more general discussion than Start the week ; MoreOrLess on Mondays - a programme that looks at how numbers and statistics have been used or abused in various stories over the recent past - the look as what a dollar a day actually amounts to for the Indian poor in this week's programme was quite revealing!; and also "In our Time" that last Thursday discussed The Fibonacci Sequence of numbers and that this week will discuss mutation, examining why there is no evolution without mutation and how and why mutation occurs in the body.
We'd also suggest BBC World Service's "Business Daily" for last Friday's "Zero Carbon Home" programme and also its "Documentary Archive" for the two "Seeing Iraq: Thinking Vietnam" programmes currently on the site. All of these suggestions are available as podcasts/MP3 downloads.
Also available as an MP3 is last Thursday's "Crossing Continents" on the story of an Iranian girl Leila who was sold into prostitution when aged nine and who at 18 was sentenced to death by a judge: Her life was saved by a civil rights lawyer: The judge, as far as we know, is still at liberty and able to walk the streets without being shunned by all.
This week's edition on Thursday (11:00 GMT) features Lucy Ash reporting from Angola, which recently became China's largest supplier of oil and biggest African trading partner and where critics claim that Chinese money has helped worsen Angola's notorious corruption.
Moving away from downloads we next go to drama and BBC World Service which on Saturday aired a new play by Sir Arnold Wesker to mark its 75th anniversary: "The Rocking Horse" of the title is seen in the window of a house by two women and a teenage black boy who meet by chance on a bus whilst inside the house an elderly couple grieve for the loss of their only son. The stream starts with an interview with Wesker on how the play developed and he interwove the stories. Allow an hour and a half for the interview and drama combined.
Then more drama and BBC Radio 3 from last Saturday when, in "The Wire", "Gulf" by Mark Kotting portrayed a family in meltdown and Sunday's "Drama on 3" - "Soldiers in the Sun" by Michael Symmons Roberts - a drama documentary looking at the psychological consequences of war.
Next Sunday the slot (20:00 GMT) features "The Homecoming" by Harold Pinter.
Moving on to music and we note that the "Composer of the Week" on the channel (Noon weekdays with an evening repeat) this week is Mozart and then from BBC Radio 2 we suggest from last Saturday "Thriller - Michael Jackson's Masterpiece."
We also note that the weekly podcast "BBC Black" this week includes comedian Felix Dexter considering the recording.
Next Saturday in the same time slot - 20:00 GMT - Radio 2 features the Kaiser Chiefs in Concert.
Then back to Radio 4 and first from Tuesday (13:30 GMT) the music feature "The Trumpet Shall Sound" in which Jazz musician and composer Julian Joseph explores the lives and careers of black classical musicians in Britain, from royal trumpeters in the 16th century to the composer Samuel Coleridge-Taylor, who died in 1912 at the age of just 37.
Earlier on Tuesday (11:30 GMT) the station aired "Russia's Lone Rangers" in which Lucy Ash explores the history of the Red Westerns, action films made in the former Soviet Union during the Brezhnev era. One movie - "White Sun of the Desert", based on the experiences of a soldier who fought in Central Asia during the Civil War, gained its release after it was shown to Brezhnev because the Hollywood western he wanted to see could not be found - remains popular to this day.
Later (20:00 GMT) 20:00 in "The Real Spooks -Trench Warfare" BBC security correspondent Gordon Corera looked into the shadowy world of Britain's security services, forced into radical change after 9/11.
RNW note: We hope to further update tomorrow when we have had time to go on our notes on some of the other downlaoded programmes we regularly listen to.
Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin - Rossie:
Deseret Morning News - Robinson:
New York Post - Imus transcripts:
UK Sunday Times - Donovan:
Washington Post - Fisher:
2007-12-03: US October radio revenues were down 2% on a year earlier for October and third quarter radio revenues were down 5% on a year at USD 5.468 billion ago with year to date revenues down 2% at USD 15.903 billion according to the latest figures from the US Radio Advertising Bureau (RAB) that show both national and local revenues down.
For October local revenues were down 2%; national ones were down 7%; and combined local and national figures were down 3%. Non spot was again the bright spot with revenues up 9% year-=on-year.
For the third quarter and first nine months the figures show local revenues down 5% for the quarter to USD 3.653 billion and down 2% for the nine months to USD 10.753 billion; national revenues were down 8% for the quarter to USD 1.127 billion and down 4% for the nine months at USD 3.2 billion with combined local and national figures down 6% for the quarter at USD 4.780 billion and down 3% for the nine months at USD 13.953 billion.
In contrast both network and non-spot revenues were up , the former by 9% for the quarter at USD 293 million and by 5% for the nine months at USD 844 million, and the latter by 7% for the quarter at USD 395 million and 10% for the nine months at USD 1.106 billion.
RAB says that according to TNS Media Intelligence Report data, Network Radio was driven by heavy investment from retail and automotive whilst for local and national combined there was healthy growth from Communications/Cell/Pub Utilities - up nearly 17% for the nine months to USD 1.386 billion and 9% for the quarter to USD 440 million and Concerts/Theaters/Movies - up nearly 21% for the nine months at USD 686 million and 11% for the quarter at USD 273 million.
In network radio, the top five retail advertisers - Home Depot, Auto Zone, Wal-Mart, Radio Shack and Office Depot - all increased their spending significantly for the nine months: Home Depot by just below 53%; Auto Zone by just above 27%; Wal-Mart by just below 127%; Radio Shack by nearly 48% and Office Depot by nearly 158%.
RAB notes that the greatest increase in network radio spending for the period came from the US Army, which more than tripled its expenditure.
RAB President and Chief Executive Officer Jeff Haley commented, "Major advertisers that continued or increased their investment in Radio represent some of the leading brands in the U.S., supporting the wisdom that the savviest marketers advertise no matter what the economic climate - and that they rely on Radio to keep their brands front and centre with the American consumer."
Previous RAB (September figures):
RAB second quarter figures:
2007-12-03: Former CBS Radio host Don Imus, fired following his "nappy-headed hos" comments about the Rutgers University Women's Basketball Team, was back on air today on Citadel's WABC-AM in New York where his show is to run from 06:00 to 10:00 weekdays, displacing the top-rated "Curtis and Kuby" show hosted by Curtis Sliwa and Ron Kuby.
The new "Imus in the Morning" show is also being aired on cable channel RFD-TV, primarily known for providing farming reports and country music to rural America.
Sliwa now hosts the hour preceding Imus and five minutes before the return in a chat with Kuby - who is being dropped by the station - took the opportunity to chide Imus for comments he had made to Barbara Walters on ABC's 20/20 in which they quoted him as saying that most radio "programmes are so ratings driven; people are so cowardly and terrified [they] don't talk about the pharmaceutical industry, are not brave enough to talk about autism, soldiers' rights, kids with cancer; sudden infant death syndrome , sickle cell anaemia "
Regarding this they responded that this was not being "cowardly", just not "Mostly what we talk about" and suggested that Imus show a little humility, adding of the ratings issue, "It behoves Imus not to take shots at the rest of us because that is this industry; you strive for ratings."
When it came to his show, Imus took around 20 minutes before getting into comments on the comments - in an exchange with producer Bernard McGuirk, who was also on the show - that led to his firing. Imus has retained others from his former show but also added black comedians Karith Foster and Tony Powell and said his usual talking points would be boosted by "an ongoing discussion about race relations."
Regarding the comments that led to his dismissal, Imus spoke of a four-hour meeting with the team after his dismissal, saying that after commenting that he was "a good person who said a bad thing" he realised how irrelevant this was as the remark should not have been made.
He also said his dismissal before the meeting was "very fortunate" because it had made things easier since it was not a matter of him trying to save his job - and noting that they had forgiven him but said they would never forget.
Imus said he also would "never forget" and also that he would "never say anything in my lifetime that will make any of these young women at Rutgers regret or feel foolish that they accepted my apology and forgave me. And no one else will say anything on my programme that will make anyone think that I didn't deserve a second chance."
Imus also said that he had explained the nature of his show to the team then added, to cheers from the audience in Manhattan Town Hall from which he was broadcasting - those there had paid USD 100 for tickets with proceeds going to his charity [The Imus Ranch in New Mexico that provides breaks to children suffering from cancer] that the show would not change.
"It was a great radio programme, he said, adding that it was on a "better station" and to validate his comments about not changing, "Dick Cheney is still a war criminal. Hilary Clinton is still Satan. And I'm going on the radio"
WABC-AM web site (WABC streams the show):
2007-12-03: BBC Radio 2 is to air a two-hour David Beckham programme at 15:00 GMT on Christmas Day following the broadcast of the Queen's Christmas Message.
The two-hour " David Beckham's Line Of Enquiry" will also feature Kate Thornton who leads the audience as they choose both elements of the musical setting, and the questions they've always wanted to ask.: She commented of the programme and her role, "David signing up to do this is a real coup. I am merely the ref, and yes, I do know the offside rule! We're delighted David has agreed to open himself up and take listeners' questions, so if they have something they want to ask him they can get in touch and get involved."
Listeners are being asked to submit questions by e-mail, phone and postcard until this Friday and the programme is to be pre-recorded just before Christmas.
2007-12-02: Last week, the main regulatory news again came from the US and again related to ownership and the proposed Sirius-XM merger plus proposals that should boost low-power FM: Elsewhere things were pretty quiet.
In Australia the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has posted no radio decisions but did put out its latest draft " Sponsorship Guidelines for Community Broadcasting Services": They include such matters as what constitutes advertising in this context and is prohibited and what is allowable; details governing sponsorship and sponsorship announcements; the definition of the difference between programming and advertising in Australia's Broadcasting Act; rules concerning promotions; and dealing with complaints.
In Canada, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) posted only a few radio decisions including the following (In order of province)
*Approval of application to convert oldies CJCH-AM, Halifax, to a 100,000 watts FM. The Commission noted that in this case there was an ownership issue in the market since CTV currently owns CJCH-AM and CIOO-FM, Halifax and also a 50% voting interest in Metro Radio Group Inc., licensee of CKUL-FM, Halifax (formerly CIEZ-FM, Halifax). Newcap Inc. holds the remaining 50% voting interest in Metro1 and manages and controls the station under a management agreement between the shareholders.
CTV said that it was prepared to divest its voting interest in Metro and accordingly the application was approved subject to a requirement that CTV divests itself of the voting interest by March 31 next year.
*Denial of application by Cochrane Polar Bear Radio Club, Cochrane, for a licence for a 5 watts English-language, developmental community FM radio programming undertaking in Cochrane. Its planned programming had been a mix of New Country, Old Country, 30's and 50's Hit Parade music by new and local talent not generally broadcast by commercial stations plus public service announcements and community events bulletins.
In refusing the application the Commission commented that the applicant had failed to provide complete plans related to the station's programming and the training of volunteers and that it expects applicants to offer precise plans that are reflective of the Community radio policy.
*Denial of application for a 1,700 watts rebroadcasting transmitter at Peterborough to carry the programming of Burlingham Communications Inc.'s CIWV-FM, Hamilton/Burlington: This New Adult Contemporary/Smooth Jazz FM station was licensed in 2000 and Burlingham argued that it should evolve into a regional service since there is no other station in Ontario playing comparable music.
The application was opposed by CTVglobemedia Inc., Corus Entertainment Inc., CKOL Radio, Acadia Broadcasting Limited, Evanov Communications Inc. and the Madoc and District Chamber of Commerce, to whose interventions the applicant did not respond.
The commission noted that the musical format offered by was not a condition of licence of CIWV-FM and that Peterborough is some 200 kilometres from Hamilton/Burlington and there would virtually no local content on offer. It said that on this basis the frequency could be better used and rejected the application.
For similar reasons it also rejected Burlingham's application for a 4,800 watts transmitter at Ottawa, which is some 500 kilometres from Hamilton/Burlington. This application had been opposed by CTVglobemedia Inc., Corus Entertainment Inc., Evanov Communications Inc., Rogers Broadcasting Limited, Astral Media Radio Inc. and Christian Hit Radio Inc.
There were no radio announcements from Ireland but in the UK, Ofcom has advertised or re-advertised a number of licences, and posted its latest content sampling report in which it issued a "Yellow Card" to one station, and also other notices relating to allowing walkie-talkie equipment to be used without needing a licence, digital dividend research and broadcasters' returns regarding equal opportunity in employment.
The licence adverts included the re-advertising of the Plymouth FM licence that was awarded last year to a consortium led by Macquarie Bank but then not taken up and also published its planned timetable for the re-advertisement of local analogue commercial radio licences (See RNW Nov 30).
It also advertised a new digital multiplex licence to cover Mid and West Wales that will serve an area with an adult population of around 400,000 adults (15+). As well as commercial stations the multiplex will also carry BBC Radio Wales and BBC Radio Cymru. Applications have to be submitted by February 20 next year.
The "Yellow Card" was issued to South Hampshire AC station Ocean FM, which was found to be fulfilling its remit as related to local news and information but not its licence condition requiring it to play predominantly current Adult Contemporary tracks and those from the previous 12 months.
Two other stations in the same sampling report were found to be operating within format: They were Lancashire station "The Bee", a music and information full service station for Blackburn, Darwen, Accrington and surrounding areas and High Wycombe station Mix 107.4, which had previously been issued a "Yellow Card" in relation to its failure broadcast adequate specialist
Asian and Afro-Caribbean programming, as required by its Format (See RNW Licence News Jul 29).
In the US as already noted the main stories from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) concerned the easing of restrictions on low-power FM (See RNW Nov 29); a decision to delete planned discussion of issues of minority ownership from its agenda (See RNW Nov 28); and the approval of waivers that will allow the sale of Tribune Co. to go ahead: The latter was done by granting a permanent waiver to allow continued ownership of a newspaper, radio and TV station in the Chicago market but rejecting an application for a permanent waiver of cross-ownership rules in Hartford, Los Angeles, Miami, and New York where a term waiver was allowed, a move that was criticised by the two Democrats on the commission (See RNW Dec 1). The rumour mill also suggested that the Commission may well soon end up as the arbiter on the Sirius-XM merger with stock in the satellite companies rising sharply after an analyst said in a note that Department of Justice approval of the merger was imminent (See RNW Dec 1).
The FCC also issued or proposed a number of penalties including the following radio related ones (In descending order of amount):
*USD 14,000 Notice of Apparent Liability for Forfeiture (NAL) to Box Broadcasting Corporation, licensee of KBEL-AM and FM, Idabel, Oklahoma, for failing to file renewal applications on time for and operation after the licences had expired. The licence was renewed.
*USD 7,000 Notice of Apparent Liability for Forfeiture (NAL) to MM & K of Alva, Inc., licensee of KALV-AM, Alva, Oklahoma, for failing to file renewal application on time for and operation after the licences had expired. The licence was renewed.
*USD 7,000 Notice of Apparent Liability for Forfeiture (NAL) to Postville Chamber of Commerce, licensee of KPVL-FM, Postville, Oklahoma, for failing to file renewal application on time for and operation after the licences had expired. The licence was renewed.
*USD 7,000 penalty to Richard Mann, doing business as The Antique Radio Collector, Toledo, Ohio, for marketing uncertified AM radio transmitters. Mann had argued in response to an NAL that what was being sold was just an assembly service for kits from a third party not the assembled transmitters but the FCC rejected this argument and affirmed the penalty.
*USD 1,500 NAL to Monmouth University, licensee of WMCX-FM, West Long Branch, New Jersey, for failing file renewal applications on time for and operation after the licences had expired. The licence was renewed.
*USD 500 NAL to The Christian Church of Anthony Kansas, Inc., licensee of Low Power FM Station KCCA-LP, Anthony, Kansas, for failing file renewal application on time for and operation after the licence had expired. The licence was renewed.
*USD 500 NAL to Aliyat Communications, licensee of Low Power FM Station KCER-LP, Cisco, Texas, for failing file renewal application on time for and operation after the licence had expired. The licence was renewed.
*USD 500 NAL to Western Translators, Inc. licensee of Translator Station K224AY, Imperial, Nebraska, for failing file renewal application on time for and operation after the licence had expired. The licence was renewed.
*USD 500 NAL to Western Translators, Inc. licensee of Translator Station K221CU, Chappell, Nebraska, for failing file renewal application on time for and operation after the licence had expired. The licence was renewed.
*USD 500 NAL to Western Translators, Inc. licensee of Translator Station K221CJ, North Platte, Nebraska, for failing file renewal application on time for and operation after the licence had expired. The licence was renewed.
*USD 500 NAL to KSBJ Educational Foundation, licensee of Translator Station K259AB, Sugar Land, Texas, for failing file renewal application on time for and operation after the licence had expired. The licence was renewed.
In New Mexico, the Commission granted a waiver of its regulations concerning ownership of stations in a market to allow King Broadcasting Company, Inc. to sell KBIM-AM and FM, Roswell, to Noalmark Broadcasting Corporation: Noalmark has interests in five stations in adjacent Lea County - KIXN-FM, KPER-FM, and KZOR-FM, Hobbs; KYKK-AM, Humble City; and KPZA-FM, Jal, and had filed for a waiver to allow it to buy KBIM-FM.
In granting the waiver, the Commission noted that none of the stations are in an Arbitron Metro Survey Area and that accordingly its current assessment of whether a deal complies with local radio ownership rules is to use contour overlap methodology. In this case the contours show two separate markets where there is overlap and in one of them there was no need for a waiver but in the other a waiver was required.
Noalmark in support of its application says the common overlap area "proposed to be created by the acquisition of KBIM-FM effectively has no listeners, as it consists of an area of 20 square kilometres with a population of one, according to the 2000 U.S. Census." The FCC accepted the arguments related to this and granted the waiver.
The FCC also gave the go-ahead for Clear Channel's USD 1.3 billion sale of 35 TV stations to Newport Television, a private-equity group controlled by Providence Equity Partners subject to bringing it into compliance with ownership regulationes in nine markets.
This will mean divestitures within six months in California markets Bakersfield; San Francisco-Oakland-San Jose; Santa Barbara-Santa Maria-San Luis Obispo; Fresno-Visalia; and Monterey-Salinas plus San Antonio, Texas, and Salt Lake City, Utah.
Providence also has holdings in Univision and Freedom Communications Holdings, Inc. that meant the purchase would have breached market limits on TV station ownership or newspaper-broadcaster cross ownership prohibitions. It was refused permission to acquire another station in Albany, New York, because there it has not yet come into compliance with conditions imposed on the sale of Univision.
Previous Licence News:
ACMA web site:
CRTC web site:
FCC web site:
Ofcom web site:
2007-12-02: John "Golden Tonsils" Laws has finally retired from Sydney 2UE after a broadcast career spanning 55 years, bidding farewell to his audience by saying "Thank you for listening and I hope you can all be kind to each other."
Laws, who started in 1953 at 3BO in Bendigo was for years Sydney's top-rated morning host at 2UE, following Alan Jones in the breakfast slot but after Jones left for 2GB had slipped down the ratings.
When he left the station he was given a standing ovation by staff and presented with his golden microphone" - one of two gold-plated Sennheisers presented to him by station management, the first to mark 40 years on air and the second a half-century on air: The latter was stolen in July last year.
Laws had opened his final programme with his routine of decades standing, "Hello world, I'm John Laws. What's on your mind Australia? Give us a call." When he went on air just after the 09:00 local time news and then continued much as normal although there were a number of calls from well wishers including New South Wales Premier Morris Iemma who said Laws career was "an astonishing contribution and a hell of an achievement You're a legend and an institution "and his son Sam who said, "I love you dad. I'm losing it here. Just wanted to say that"
Laws indulged himself with a dig at the regulators in reference to the 1999 cash-for-comment scandal, commenting "I'm not going to say Toyota are sponsors of mine. If you don't know it by now you're stupid" and saying of the regulator, the Australian Communications and Media Authority -ACMA - "it sounds like a skin disease."
In an article in the Sydney Daily Telegraph before his final broadcast he began, "THIS is a very difficult time - and to put pen to paper is somewhat like writing one's own obituary. With the exception of my wife and family, the most important thing in my life is about to come to an end. It was a difficult decision to make, and it may well have been unwise."
He then later said he had "have always endeavoured to be fair and, to my knowledge, I have never gone out of my way to deliberately hurt anyone. I can only trust I have succeeded."
He ended the comment, "If I have been able to give you even a small percentage of the happiness that you have given me, then it will all have been worth it. What will I do without you? I have spent almost 55 years walking a tightrope with no safety net. It's time to get off. Full stop!"
Sydney Daily Telegraph - Laws farewell:
Sydney 2UE - links to final programme audio:
2007-12-01: The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has now approved by a majority vote against the opposition of the two Democrat Commissioners the USD 8.2 billion Tribune Co. deal that to quote the report in the Los Angeles Times, one of the newspapers owned by Tribune, means the company "soon should complete its transformation from a public company into one owned by employees and run by a billionaire investor with no newspaper experience but a maverick's knack for exploiting overlooked opportunities."
Approval of the deal was urgent for Chicago financier Sam Zell since he and the company need to meet a December 31 deadline to close and create the corporate structure required to gain tax breaks central to making the transaction work.
Both Democrats on the commission as well as dissenting in effect accused FCC chairman Kevin J. Martin of sharp practice in the way waivers were granted to allow Tribune to permanently own newspaper, TV and radio interests in Chicago and for a limited period newspaper and broadcasting interests in New York, Los Angeles, Miami, and Hartford, Connecticut, all of which would fall foul of current cross-ownership prohibitions and that would have required divestitures on a change of ownership had no waivers been granted.
What has been done in this case in the sale of Tribune to a group headed by Zell and including The Tribune Employee Stock Ownership Plan is to refuse its request for permanent waivers in all markets but allow a permanent waiver in Chicago: Concerning this the FCC notes "the combination of the Chicago Tribune, WGN-AM, and WGN-TV dates back decades, long before the existence of the NBCO (Newspaper-broadcaster cross ownership) rule, and was grandfathered when the rule was originally adopted."
It adds, "In light of the large and diverse nature of the market and the uniquely long-term symbiotic relationship between the broadcast stations and the newspaper, the Order concludes that a permanent waiver of the rule is warranted."
Regarding the other markets the FCC notes that it is due to vote on a change to the rules and also that the applicants could challenge its denial of unlimited waivers in court. On this basis it has given two-year waivers if it adopts a new rule before the New Year and otherwise waivers of the longer of two years or, in case of litigation six months after the conclusion or abandonment of that litigation.
Both the Democrat Commissioners - Michael J. Copps and Jonathan S. Adelstein - issued dissenting statements with Copps beginning by saying that were the Order a newspaper its headline would read, "FCC Majority Uses Legal Subterfuge to Push for Total Elimination of Cross-Ownership Ban."
He then continues by saying "part of me admires the clever legal manoeuvring. If the majority simply granted a two-year waiver to Tribune - which would have been the straightforward thing to do - Tribune would have been unable to go to court because a party cannot file an appeal if their waiver request is granted. So what does this Order do? It denies the waiver request but offers an automatic (and unprecedented) waiver extension as soon as Tribune runs to the courthouse door, lasting for two years or until the litigation concludes - whichever is longer. Presto! Tribune gets at least a two-year waiver plus the ability to go to court immediately and see if they can get the entire rule thrown out. And most important, Tribune is not required to seek a hearing before the very court which expressly retained jurisdiction when it remanded the general newspaper-broadcast cross-ownership ban. Instead, Tribune can end run the Third Circuit and petition for review before what it may hope is a more sympathetic court. "
He then accuses FCC chairman Kevin J. Martin of dirty tricks, writing, "Publicly, the Chairman claims to want only a "modest" relaxation of the cross-ownership ban. Privately, he enlists Tribune as an accomplice to try and get the ban overturned in court. If the Chairman wants to eliminate the ban, he should stand up and say so. It's time to end the charade."
Copps finally takes up the issue of the Chicago waiver, writing, "Although I object to the entire Order, I note that the permanent cross-ownership waiver in Chicago has absolutely no basis in the record or Commission precedent. None of these properties are in distress, and the fact that Chicago is a large market does not distinguish this case from scores of other combinations that exist now or could be formed in the future. Nor is a permanent waiver justified by the "long-term symbiotic relationship" among the properties. When these and other combinations were grandfathered, the Commission made clear that when they were voluntarily sold, it had to be to separate buyers."
Adelstein writes of the order as a "regulatory hostage taking -- a desperate manoeuvre to use the Tribune transaction as a human shield, while the Commission marches down the treacherous path toward greater media consolidation. Notwithstanding congressional rebuke and widespread public opposition, this Commission is determined to use any conceivable ploy to achieve its misguided goals. "He concludes by saying the order "employs certain novel, ill-advised and back-breaking legal gymnastics that will surely leave observers with their heads spinning."
The two Republicans in their statements do not address the issue of precedents and the granting of a permanent waiver before new FCC rules are instituted.
Deborah Taylor Tate writes of the FCC role "make sound policy decisions that will encourage continued investment in local news and information, the cornerstones of our democracy, as we move into the digital age" and says it is a "good day for the 20,000 employees whose jobs depend on the outcome of this transaction", adding, "Long before there was a Federal Communications Commission, this company was taking advantage of the efficiencies of cross-ownership. In light of their historic business model, they were grandfathered under the FCC's 1975 ban on newspaper-broadcast cross-ownership. Their multi-platform, resource-sharing approach led to many of the innovations we see in today's newsrooms. "
Commissioner Robert M. McDowell says he is "pleased that today's Order gives Tribune's new owners the opportunity to keep their combined newspaper-broadcast properties" and continues, "Approving this transaction allows the new owners to breathe new life into Tribune's newspapers and broadcast properties. Tribune's readers, viewers and listeners will benefit from its strengthened and more efficient newsgathering operations. Allowing for continued cross-ownership of the company's newspapers and broadcast stations furthers the Commission's statutory duty to promote competition, diversity and localism by invigorating a voice that might otherwise fade. Our Order today also allows Tribune to compete against a growing chorus of new media voices in the information, opinion and entertainment market place that do not live, and would not have developed, under a multi-platform cross-ownership ban."
Reacting to the order, Dennis J. FitzSimons, Tribune's chairman and chief executive, said in a statement, "We appreciate today's action by the FCC, which allows our transaction to move forward. We look forward to implementing the new ownership structure that will enable us to focus all of our energy and resources on Tribune's future."
Others were much less pleased with the approval and Charles Benton, chairman of the Benton Foundation, an Evanston-based public-interest group, said in a statement posted on the group's website, "The season of giving began early this year when FCC Chairman Kevin Martin gave a gift worth hundreds of million of dollars to billionaire Sam Zell and the Tribune Company. For the public, however, the decision is the equivalent of three lumps of coal."
Benton went on to say the public would be hit in at least three ways by the sale - jeopardizing the company's delivery of quality news and information because of the pressures that would arise from the USD 13 billion of debt that the deal will bring to the company, in relation to which he says that shortly after announcing the sale, Tribune announced 250 job cuts in Chicago and Los Angeles; through the lost tax revenues that will arise from the corporate restructuring integral to the deal, and because the new Tribune will have no employee representation on its board of directors.
Benton says the waiver requests were "waivers are based entirely on a claim that the waivers are needed to minimize burdens on Tribune. Its motive for seeking these waivers is entirely self-serving. Tribune rejected bona fide offers to sell itself because it preferred a particular tax favoured restructuring that maximized benefits for its existing shareholders."
Benton was quoted in part in the Chicago Tribune report, which also quoted Andrew Jay Schwartzman, president of the Media Access Project, a public-interest group opposed to media consolidation. Schwartzman said the order was "expected" but "outrageous" and added in a statement, "Tribune was given more than it requested in a decision which is deceptively packaged to make it seem more reasonable than it really is."
RNW comment: Irrespective of the merits in this particular case, the dissenters in our view have a significant point in claiming that this decision pre-empts the FCC in terms of its vote on future ownership rules.
It may be "cleverly done" but it is also a dangerous manoeuvre in terms of the situation when the power balance on the FC C changes as it inevitable will do one day.
Previous Media Access Project:
Benton Foundation comment:
Chicago Tribune report:
FCC web site - currently has links to order and statements:
Los Angeles Times report:
2007-12-01: XM Satellite Radio shares were up 13.5% to USD 15.60 and those of rival Sirius rose 8.8% to USD 3.83 following rumour that approval of their merger plans by the Department of Justice (DOJ) was imminent.
The suggestion that approval of the merger was close came in a note from Bear Stearns analyst Robert Peck who cited conversations with contacts in Washington and said the approval could come Friday (it doesn't appear to have) or Monday.
The Washington Post reported that Peck believes higher ranking officials at the agency will allow the merger to go through, overruling junior staffers who recommended blocking the merger.
If DOJ approval is gained, the merger will still require approval from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), which would have to overturn an original condition of the two company's licences that forbade a merger.
Washington Post report:
2007-12 -01: Entravision has agreed a USD 24 million deal to purchase Spanish-language WNUE-FM serving the Orlando, Florida, market from Mega Communications.
It is to start operating the station, which it terms a strategic acquisition that will its presence in one of the nation's fastest growing Hispanic , from today under a local marketing agreement.
Entravision currently operates two TV stations, one a Univision and the other a Telefutura affiliate, in Orlando and its chairman and CEO Walter F. Ulloa said Entravision was "very excited about further strengthening our Orlando cluster and increasing our leadership position in this fast growing market."
He added: "Given our existing media operations in Orlando, we are confident that we can operate WNUE-FM more cost efficiently, while maximizing cross-promotion opportunities for advertisers."
2007-12-01: Nearly eight years after he left Emmis's WLUP-FM to join XM Satellite Radio as one of its original programmers, Eddie Webb is to return to Chicago and Emmis as his former role of afternoon personality on the station.
According to Robert Feder in the Chicago Sun-Times, Webb had led the ratings for men 25-54 in his former stint at the station. He is due to take over on Monday January 7, replacing Pete McMurray, who has been WLUP's primary fill-in since the station decided in June not to renew Zakk Tyler's contract. McMurray's last show will be the preceding Friday.
Webb moved to Chicago from Phoenix in 1998, leaving KUPD-FM to join WRCX-FM and then when that switched to Motown from rock moved to the Loop. At XM he had programmed hard rock and after leaving XM he has worked in Boston and most recently in Las Vegas.
Feder quoted Webb as saying, he has "always wanted to be back in Chicago. It really is the greatest city on the planet. And to be back on the Loop, shucks, any other situation would suck."
Emmis had wanted Danny Bonaduce for the slot but its plans to hire him collapsed when he signed for another year as Adam Carolla's morning co-host on CBS Radio's KLSX-FM in Los Angeles.
Feder noted that in a recent TV interview Bonaduce had said concerns about child custody issues in his current divorce proceedings meant he had to stay in California.
Chicago Sun Times - Feder column:
Links note: As far as possible we provide site links to the previous related story. Should these links not work, please advise us so we can sort out the problem.
Regarding external links, we give links where we can but an ever-increasing number of newspapers and stations either require registration or only keep items available for a limited period or move them to a pay-per-use archive (typically after 7 or 14 days in the USA).
Thus some links become outdated or sources you would have to pay for or subscribe to access. See links page for notes regarding various sites we think of value
Back to top :
- November 2007 - January 2008 -
Radionewsweb.com, 38 Creswick Road, Acton, London W3 9HF, UK: