January 2008 Archive
- December 2007 - February 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 January comment- Digital - What's the point? We consider digital and conclude that the best approach would be for the US to provide DAB/DRM spectrum and let the market decide whether HD dies or -preferably in our view - ends up a licence-free system thus providing incentives for development of a true worldwide analogue/digital receiver and expanding consumer choice everywhere..
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!
2008-01-31: The BBC increased its reach and share in the latest UK radio ratings covering the final quarter of last year and that show a large increase in digital listening with nearly 17% of UK listening now via a digital platform - 9.9% of listening being to DAB radio, 3.1% through digital TV and 1.9% through the Internet - and a 40% year-on-year increase in ownership of DAB radio receivers to some 22% of UK adults.
Overall listening is stable - some 89% of the UK population listen weekly - and within the total BBC radio had a reach of 33.14 million listeners a week, up from 32.81 million a year earlier with listening share up 1% year-on-year and compared to the previous quarter at 55.4%.
Within the commercial sector GCap Media's London flagship Capital FM, once the regular leader, remained stuck in third rank behind Emap/Bauer's Magic FM - Bauer is in the process of taking over Emap's radio interests - and Global Radio's Heart FM.
Magic had the largest reach with 1.97 million listeners a week but Heart had the largest share with 6.2% compared to 6.1% for Magic and 4.7% for Capital.
In the breakfast battles, Jamie Theakston and Harriet Scott took back top honours in the London commercial race with 915, 000 listeners, up 105,000 quarter-on-quarter although down 33,000 year on year whilst Johnny Vaughan at Capital was second with 864,000 listeners ( for the 06:00 to 09:00 slot), down 16,000 from the third quarter when he held the lead. Vaughan is now on air until 10:00 and GCap Media say that adding in the extra hour puts him top with 937,000 listeners. Neil Fox at Magic, who had top rank in the third quarter, slipped to third with 811,000, down 74,000 quarter-on-quarter.
Nationally the big success story was that of Keith Moyles at BBC Radio 1: He took his audience up to a record 7.31 million, narrowing the gap with Terry Wogan who retained the lead for BBC Radio 2 with 7.73 million: Over the previous year Moyles has added 490,000 listeners a week whilst Wogan has lost 250,000 and Radio One has an average weekly audience of 10.69 million, up 430,000 year-on-year whilst Radio 2's audience fell by 450,000 to 12.87 million.
The BBC in its reaction to the figures highlighted success for BBC Radio 1; Radio 5 Live, which with digital sister station BBC 5 Live Sports Extra recorded a combined reach of 6.17 million - up more than half a million on last quarter's combined total of 5.65 million; and digital services.
BBC Director of Music and Audio Jenny Abramsky singled out digital for comment, saying in a release, "It is really heartening to see digital listening continuing to grow and DAB digital radio playing a key part in that success."
Of the commercial players, Global Radio singled out its London breakfast success with both Heart FM - the London leader as already noted - and LBC 97.3 where breakfast host Nick Ferrari had record figures with reach of 642,000 listeners a week, up from 586,000 in the third quarter and 624,000 a year earlier.
It commented that Heart is "the most listened to commercial station overall in the capital and eclipses Radio 1's audience" with Executive Director Richard Parks commenting, "London is driving success for Global Radio with this outstanding set of RAJARs. The results are testament to Heart 106.2's ongoing commitment to innovative programming and feel good music which resonates with our listeners' lifestyles."
GCap highlighted the results for Classic FM, which retains the largest audience for a commercial national station with 5.591 million listeners - it did not note that this was down from 5.5844 million in the third quarter although it was up on the 5.757 million a year earlier - and also played down the success of Capital's rivals, simply noting that the station had retained its 4.7% share of listening from a year earlier and in the previous quarter and had increased its reach year-on year - up by 3.7% to 1.517 million although it was also down - not noted by GCap - 11.1% on the previous quarter when its reach was 1.707 million.
Note: Regarding comparisons to the previous quarter (and year) we note that RAJAR changed its survey specifications for the figures for the second quarter of last year so year-on-year comparisons are in some cases not exact:
*BBC Radio 1 gained 115,000.00 listeners and had a weekly audience of 10.693 million but listening share was down from 10.6% to 10.3 % (9.7% a year ago when it had 10.262 million listeners).
*BBC Radio 2 lost 189,000 listeners to drop below 13 million and end with a weekly audience of 12.824 million with listening share down from 15.8% to 15.7% (15.8% a year ago, when it had 13.269 million listeners)
*BBC Radio 3 gained 12,000 listeners to end with a weekly audience of 1.950 million and an unchanged 1.2% listening share (1.4% a year ago, when it had 2.028 million listeners).
*BBC Radio 4 gained 27,000 listeners to end with a weekly audience of 9.289 million and listening share up from 11.2% to 11.8% (11.1% a year ago when it had 9.342 million listeners).
*BBC Radio 5 Live, excluding Sports Extra, gained 591,000 listeners to end up with a weekly audience of 6.080 million, and a listening share up from 4.2% to 4.6% (4.4% a year ago when it had 5.846 million listeners).
(Including Sports Extra it gained 522,000 listeners to end with a weekly audience of 6.174 million and a listening share up from 4.4% to 4.7% (4.5% a year ago when it had 5.919 million listeners).
*BBC World Service lost 120,000 listeners to end up with a weekly audience of 1.183 million and a listening share down from 0.7% to 0.6% (0.6% a year ago when it had 1.264 million listeners).
*BBC Asian Network lost 35,000 listeners to end up with a weekly audience of 441,000 and an unchanged listening share of 0.3% (0.3% a year ago when it had 493,000 listeners).
On the commercial side for national networks:
*G-Cap's Classic FM lost 253,000 listeners to end up with a weekly audience of 5.591 million and listening share down from 4.3% to 4.2% (4.2% a year ago when it had 5.757 million listeners).
*UTV's talkSPORT gained 140,000 listeners to end up with a weekly audience of 2.452 million and a listening share up from 1.8% to 2.0% (1.8% a year ago when it had 2.239 million listeners.).
*SMG-owned Virgin (total including all AM and FM) lost 1,000 listeners to end up with a weekly audience of 2.471 million and unchanged listening share of 1.5% (1.5% a year ago when it had an audience of 2.470 million listeners).
*RNW Note:The Virgin current reach figure has been amended following a RAJAR correction.
Among digital stations - excluding Emap's Kerrang! which has a substantial analogue and digital listenership and a total weekly reach of 1.321 million including its analogue stations (down from 1.387 million quarter on quarter - (*There was a conflict here in the RAJAR figures which we noted at the time. We have amended the Kerrang! figures to the re-ossued and correected version) but including BBC Radio Five Live Sports Extra and Asian Network - the top stations in the survey had weekly audience as below (previous quarter in brackets):
1 The Hits (Emap) -1.364 million (down from 1.494 million and up from 1.135 million a year ago).
2 Smash Hits Radio (Emap) -966,000 (down from 990,000 and up from 708,000 a year ago).
3 BBC 7 -853,000 (up from 795,000 and from 672,000 a year ago).
4 BBC Five Live Sports Extra -630,000 (down from 730,000 and from 650,000 a year ago).
5 Planet Rock (GCap) -563,000 (up from 548,000 and 424,000 a year ago).
6 BBC 6 Music -493,000 (up from 485,000 and 383,000 a year ago.).
7 BBC Asian Network - 476,000 (up from 455,000 and down from 481,000 a year ago). Up from eighth.
8 BBC 1Xtra -453,000 (up from 421,000 and up from 368,000 a year ago).
9 Heat (Emap) -386,000 (down from 413,000 and up from 246,000 a year ago).
10 The Jazz (GCap) 364,000, down from 388,000 (Only rated since third quarter).
*The Jazz pushed Q (Emap) with 298,000 (down from 400,000 and from 289,000 a year ago) into 11th rank.
Previous Emap (Currently being taken over by Bauer):
Previous GCap Media:
Previous Global Radio:
Previous RAJAR ratings (Q3 2007):
2008-01-31: Reacting to the report in The Register that Germany is to effectively end DAB transmissions (See RNW Jan 30) the country's public and commercial broadcasters have issued statements confirming their commitment to the roll out of Digital Radio based on the DAB family of standards.
The report was based on recommendations for the funding of public broadcasters' digital radio transmissions by the KEF (Kommission zur Ermittlung des Finanzbedarfes), which includes some prominent supporters of the DVB Mobile TV standard and as well as recommending funding for public broadcasters of 97 million Euros ( USD 143 million) for the roll out of digital radio and mobile broadcasting in the period from 2009 to 2012 suggested consideration of digital radio systems other than DAB.
This led Stephan Ory, General Manager of APR (Arbeitsgemeinschaft Privater Rundfunk), the association of private radio broadcasters, to comment, "The KEF is not a group that is authorized to make industrial political decisions, decisions which affect not only the public broadcasters but also the commercial sector". The KEF's recommendation refers to optimized radio via DVB Mobile TV despite the fact that there are no consumer styled DVB radio receivers."
WorldDMB President Quentin Howard added, "It is no surprise to me that Germany's public and private broadcasters have rejected the suggestion that alternative technology choices for terrestrial digital radio are either practical or desirable. Germany already has transmission infrastructure in place for DAB, DAB+ and DMB, and because these all share a common technical standard there are enormous practical benefits for consumers including around four hundred digital radio models which are already being sold in other European countries, with prices from under Euros 40 (USD 60)".
The broadcasters note that the main barriers that previously hindered the success of DAB in Germany were mostly regulatory but these had largely been overcome following the Geneva 2006 spectrum planning conference with considerably more frequencies allocated for digital radio; the development of new and more efficient codecs, and the lifting of transmitting power, which previously impaired in door reception in Germany.
They also say they now have the support of the regional media
authorities, the receiver and automotive manufacturers as well as the retailers for the roll out of DAB based technology and Helmut Egenbauer, CEO Media Broadcast said the signs from the industry which we are currently receiving "are encouraging and therefore nobody has stepped on the brake for the planned re-launch of digital radio in the year 2009".
2008-01-31: Clear Channel's share price stabilized on Wednesday following two days pf falls in which it has dropped by nearly 15%. After a day in which the price fluctuated from USD 28.32 to USD 30.52, the stock ended down just 0.03% at USD 29.16, a little more than USD 10 below the USD 39.20 a deal agreed for the by-out by a private equity group led by Bain Capital Partners and Thomas H. Lee Partners.
There has been much speculation that the deal will now fall through - the current price indicates a view that there is now only about a one in three chance of it proceeding as agreed: Clear Channel said on Tuesday that it expects the deal to be completed in the first quarter of this year but nothing has been said publicly by the putative purchasers but the Wall Street Journal has reported that they have sent representatives to Clear Channel with a view to cutting expenses.
A recent memorandum from Clear Channel Radio CEO John Hogan ordered across the board cuts including an end to research and advertising and promotion spending from the start of February and a hiring freeze without "specific approval from your EVPO."
In his note Hogan wrote, "As you are undoubtedly aware, we are generating less revenue for Q1 than we budgeted and less than what actually ran last year. At the same time, our budgeted expenses for Q1 are up 4 percent...As responsible managers, we need to address the shortfall not only by continuing to find ways to increase our revenue, but also by implementing cuts on the expense side until revenue production improves."
In other Clear Channel news, the company has named Cadillac Jack as program director for WWPR-FM (Power 105.1), New York from today.
An 18-year Clear Channel veteran he retains his roles as OM of Clear Channel/Boston and PD of WJMN -FM (Jam'n 94.5) and CHR/top 40 WXKS-FM (Kiss 108) but will move to New York to takes over the Power FM duties from Helen Little who will move to middays on sister AC station WLTW-FM (Lite FM) on Tuesday next week.
Little, who joined WWPR in July 2006 will replace 24-year veteran host Valerie Smaldone, who left earlier this month.
Previous Clear Channel:
2008-01-31: BBC Radio 3 is to offer three more podcasts that will contain brief musical excerpts of up to minute in shortened versions of the programmes involved - "Building A Library"; "Composer Of The Week"; and "World Routes".
It already offers podcasts of "Arts & Ideas", "Music Matters" and "Jazz Library" and controller Roger Wright said the "new podcasts, alongside the others, will offer existing listeners a new way to enjoy much-loved programmes. We hope they will also help bring classical jazz and world music to new audiences, making music and conversation about it more accessible."
The new podcasts will launch on February 9, with "Mozart's last String Quartet" in the "Building a Library" podcast; Herbert Howells as "Composer of the Week" and a "World Routes" special from Azerbaijan in which Lucy Duran travels the entire length of Azerbaijan to record some of the country's best musicians. She meets some of the biggest Mugham performers including Alim Gasimov, who records a session with his daughter, and the so-called "guardian" of the genre Aghakhan Abdullayev.
2008-01-30: Clear Channel shares, which had fallen 7% on Monday, were down by as much again on Tuesday -they ended 7.16% down on the day at USD 29.17 and at one point were down to USD 27.77 -as investors fretted whether the changed economic climate would lead private equity buyers led by Bain Capital Partners and Thomas H. Lee Partners might pull out of their USD 20 billion deal to buy the company and pay a withdrawal penalty of USD 600 million.
At the close of business on Tuesday Clear Channel shares were USD 29.45 compared to USD 39.20 a deal agreed for the buy-out, valuing Clear Channel at USD 14.66 billion.
Reuters reported that speculation that the buyout might fall through intensified after Anthony DiNovi, co-president of Thomas H. Lee Partners on Tuesday sidestepped a question about the Clear Channel in a Dow Jones panel discussion and commented about his general predictions concerning buyout predictions - he said 2008 would be a challenging year, with the backlog of deal financing weighing on the market.
Reuters quoted one trader, who it said declined to be named, as saying that by not speaking in support of the bid DiNovi had added to investors' concerns.
Previous Clear Channel:
2008-01-30: Reporting on an Enders Analysis report on digital radio that concludes there is overcapacity of DAB (Digital Audio Broadcasting) spectrum that will be exacerbated by the planned launch of a further DAB national multiplex by Channel 4, the UK Guardian quotes its author Grant Goddard as saying the issue of DAB overcapacity needs to be "urgently resolved" by Ofcom, Digital One, Channel 4 and transmission business Arqiva and adding, "Put bluntly, can the UK commercial radio sector really support two DAB multiplexes?"
The Guardian notes that the report ends with a comment from The Local Radio Company chief executive Richard Wheatly who said to analysts, "DAB is the Betamax of Radio": it also notes earlier comments that "The exodus of stations from the DAB platform [RNW note: two national digital-only stations - Core and Oneword closed this month - See RNW Jan 12 - and various operators including SMG and GCap have also scaled down other digital operations] is starting to look like a stampede. With three of the largest radio groups having reduced their commitment to the DAB platform in recent months, their stations having been replaced by a mix of ethnic, religious and non-commercial broadcasters, the future health of the DAB platform must be under question."
The Enders report says the paper compares the current state of DAB with the decline of AM at the end of the last century with Goodard writing, "The DAB platform of 2008, particularly in London, is already starting to resemble the AM platform of 1998, suggesting that DAB might have already been written off by the sector as a means to reach the 'mass market' audiences that national advertisers desire from the medium."
Goddard termed the launch of the second national commercial digital multiplex unhelpful when the existing Digital One multiplex was struggling to fill its capacity and says that "By the end of 2007, it was evident that the 'master plan' for DAB which the radio industry had clung to since the mid-1990s was simply not going to work."
The report was at variance with comments made by UK RadioCentre chief executive. Andrew Harrison at a London Conference in which he said the commercial industry had started to "fight back" last year and said of radio, "Our industry is in rude good health - 90 per cent of the population enjoy radio for an average of nearly 24 hours a week each and commercial stations dominate listening all the way up to the over 50s."
Regarding digital radio he said that more than 17% of listening was no via digital with DAB receiver sales past six million and Ofcom estimating that within five years more than half of radio listening will be digital.
Elsewhere in Europe DAB has failed to make the same inroads and Germany is effectively ending DAB transmissions according to The Register, which on Monday reported that the KEF (Kommission zur Ermittlung des Finanzbedarfes), the independent commission responsible for the allocation of licence fees, is unwilling to pay the Euros 180 million (USD 266 million) that public radio stations wanted to keep transmissions going.
Germany was the first country in Europe to start DAB transmissions but the technology never really caught on with only a few broadcasters broadcasting in DAB and only around 200,000 receivers sold.
German broadcaster ARD has insisted that it and public station Deutschlandradio as well as private broadcasters remain committed to arranging a new launch of digital radio in 2009 and they are drafting a proposal to the KEF for submission in the middle of this year.
At the moment they are still proposing terrestrial broadcasts as the main form of radio distribution and also favour DAB as offering a good compromise of multiplex size and local coverage, particularly as more advanced audio codecs will allow more efficient use of spectrum.
RNW comment: We rather suspect the Enders Analysis report will be taken by the commercial radio industry as a springboard to try and push the government to close down analogue, thereby reducing the commercial industry's costs and giving it a larger share of the spectrum than it has with analogue.
Our view is that this should be resisted and that the government should concentrate on the interests of listeners rather than shifting massive costs of purchasing new receivers onto them.
Until commercial radio companies stop bidding for their licences and nobody else - including community and specialist broadcasters- wants to take up the spectrum, we cannot see that the overall public interest will be well served by changing the system. To us having specialist stations taking up DAB - the report comments of the launch of stations such as Polish Radio London, Rainbow Radio and BFBS Radio as if it is a sign of a problem - may indeed be a plus rather than having a multiplicity of commercial pap (pap not pop, albeit it may be the two are synonymous in some cases) music stations.
In addition if Ofcom is correct those stations that opt out of digital will be throwing away much of their audience. That is their prerogative but they should not expect to be bailed out in the future because of the results of short-term decisions made now.
The Register report:
UK Guardian report:
2008-01-30: The US HD Digital Radio Alliance has now formally moved off the fence and filed to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) opposing the merger of Sirius and XM Satellite Radio and also backing the call by HD developer iBiquity that the commission require that satellite radio receivers be equipped with the ability to also tune into HD radio should there be a merger.
The Alliance in its filing says a merger would reduce consumer choice and adds that at the moment HD Radio "cannot be considered a competitive alternative to satellite radio."
It also says that a merger would make things more difficult for HD and queries the satellite radio companies' deals with automakers, commenting that they have become entrenched whilst HD is at the early stages of adoption.
RNW comment: Why, we wonder, might the satellite companies be ahead both with listeners and automakers? Could it be because they offer content that people consider worth listening to and have worked hard on the automaker link because they perceived it as important whilst effectively sat on fat bottoms.
In a market economy iBiquity and the Alliance should be given short shrift although as we would favour increasing competition we would not object too much were the regulators to require that all sides make their technology available to the competitors without any licensing fees ever being payable, thus putting the companies in competition to attract consumers rather than relying on patents. Of course this might bankrupt iBiquity but it would keep the technology available via satellite receivers and probably rather cheaper than at present.
Previous HD Radio Alliance:
2008-01-30: UK media regulator Ofcom has upheld no radio complaints in its latest Broadcast Bulletin in which it upheld TV standards complaints against two broadcasters; considered two other TV standards case resolved through action already taken by the broadcaster; and gave details of a TV standards complaint and a TV fairness and privacy complaint that were not upheld.
It also listed without details 276 TV complaints against 183 items and 21 radio complaints against 20 items that it did not uphold or were considered out of its remit: This compares with 237 complaints against 181 TV items and 38 radio complaints against 30 items that were out of its remit or not upheld in the previous bulletin.
Previous Ofcom Complaints Bulletin:
2008-01-29: More than 8 million people a week listen to radio through the Internet with almost half as many again saying they have used the Internet to listen according to a survey conducted for UK radio ratings service RAJAR (Radio Joint Audience Research) by Ipsos-Mori during September and October last year using a sample of RAJAR respondents from the previous 9 months who had claimed to listen to the radio via the Internet, or downloaded Podcasts.
RAJAR says that since the third quarter of 2002, when it found 2.7% of respondents claimed the have listened to radio on the internet during the previous week the figures had risen to 13.5% in the third quarter of last year.
RAJAR says that of the 12 million who claimed to listen to radio via the Internet, 9.1 million said they had listened live, 7.6 million said that they used Listen Again services, and 4.3 million had downloaded a podcast of whom 1.87 million said they listened to a podcast at least once a week.
There was good news for broadcasters in that three quarters of those who said they used Listen Again services said that it had no impact on live radio listening and 13% that they now listen to more live radio whilst only 8% said they now listen less to live radio. Almost half of those who used Listen Again facilities said that this had led them to listen to programmes that they previously didn't listen to.
Of those who said they listened to podcasts the survey found that the typical podcast user subscribes to 3.16 Podcasts and spends 53.6 minutes per week listening to them with comedy and music being the two favourite genres. Some two-thirds of them used iTunes as the software of choice and almost a quarter preferred to download directly. As regards listening 80% listened on their home computer and 61% using a portable player.
The survey also found a reluctance to pay for podcasts with 58% saying they would be interested in free podcasts containing adverts but only 28% that they were interested in idea of Podcasts without adverts that had to be paid for.
As regards listening software, Windows Media Player was the most popular both for listening at home and work - some 7.83 million and 2.1 million respectively followed by iTunes for home listening - 5.19 million compared to 4.99 million for RealPlayer - and RealPlayer at work - 1.13 million compared to 750,000 for iTunes.
RAJAR research director Paul Kennedy described the survey as "very much a toe in the water" adding, "Although we already knew that Listen Again, Personalised Online Radio and Podcasting had many advocates, we knew nothing of their standing in the mainstream. This survey tells us and our subscribers, who are actively involved in these areas, more about them."
2008-01-29: Arbitron, having signed deals with all the major US radio companies to use its Portable People Meter (PPM) ratings, has now added a deal with the Philadelphia Phillies, the first Major League Baseball Team to sign for PPM Ratings.
Under the agreement, Arbitron will use is existing Philadelphia PPM panel to generate custom reports of pre-, post-, in-game and total broadcast listening estimates for the Phillies 2007, 2008 and 2009 baseball seasons.
The Philadelphia Phillies will broadcast all 162 regular season games during the 2008 baseball season on the Big Talker 1210 WPHT-AM and their Director of Corporate Partnerships Rob MacPherson commented, "Baseball has always had a magical relationship with radio, and teams use radio each season as a way to stay connected to their fan base and generate revenue." said "We at the Phillies," he added, "embrace the opportunity to bring our game to our fans on the radio each year. As a trusted and reliable source of radio audience measurement, Arbitron has always understood the unique and special relationship between the game of baseball and the radio medium. With the advent of the Portable People Meter, teams are now able to quantify their loyal audiences like never before, enabling us to better understand our fans and better serve our advertisers."
RNW heretical thought. How about serving the fans better? Never mind, they're milch cows to the teams anyway,
2008-01-29: The Broadcasting Commission of Ireland (BCI) has awarded in principle the licence for a new Classic Gold/Easy Listening/Smooth multi-city FM service to Choice Broadcasting Limited FM (trading as 4 FM).
Choice had been one of five applicants of whom it and TV3 Television Network Limited with a "More FM" bid were invited to an oral hearing in Dublin last month (See RNW Licence News Dec 16, 2007).
The franchise area covers Dublin City and County and commuter belt, Cork City and County, Galway City and County, Limerick City and County and County Clare and the final award is subject to successful contract negotiations.
2008-01-29: Eastlan Ratings is to add the Newburgh-Middletown, New York, market, to its ratings from Spring 2008, the third New York market that will use its ratings - the others are Syracuse and Utica-Rome.
Sunrise Broadcasting President Joerg Klebe commented of the move, "Eastlan Ratings provides the product that is just right for condensed markets such as the Newburgh-Middletown market that have consistently been under sampled and overcharged" and Eastlan Ratings President and CEO Mike Gould said he had heard the same from many operators.
"In today's financial environment," he added, "broadcasters must give careful consideration to the negative impact the leading audience measurement provider has on their bottom line. In many situations, they represent one of the three largest expense line items. As a former jock and PD, I don't think it makes sense to cut airshifts to pay for ratings data."
2008-01-28: Yet again this week, positives about radio in the UK and not so positive from the US where again we noted comparatively little about the medium and even less about programming that takes it seriously.
Indeed it was more a matter of the normal criticism of talk hosts than encomiums for radio that caught our eye, in particular a call in the Los Angeles Times for action against Fox News host John Gibson who, according to Mary McNamara of the Los Angeles Times "opened his radio show with hate-filled, and prepared, mockery of actor Heath Ledger's death."
She notes that he played clips of "Brokeback Mountain," played with a "background of funeral music, ending with his character's lover, Jack Twist, saying, 'I wish I knew how to quit you.'"
As reported by McNamara, Gibson chortled, "Well, he found out how to quit you" and then launched "into a show that repeatedly referenced the 28-year-old actor's death as if it were some sort of joke. Among other things, Gibson suggested, laughing the whole time, that the actor had killed himself because of the stock market downturn, the stalled John Edwards campaign or because he was just a 'weirdo' with 'a serious drug problem.'"
McNamara notes that after the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation(GLAAD) and other groups denounced Gibson's behaviour, he at first defended it as a joke, explaining that he had long made fun of the 'quit you' line and wasn't about to stop now but later, "clearly responding to increased pressure, he issued a statement during Fox News' 'The Big Story With John Gibson and Heather Nauert,' saying he was sorry if some people were offended by his remarks and also that he was sorry Ledger had died."
McNamara notes that Don Imus lost his show as a result of his "joke" about the Rutgers women's basketball team [RNW note: Albeit he got a large payoff from CBS and then ended up back on air with Citadel] but that in Gibson's case the "opening had been scripted"; that his defence - "'I have been making fun of gays for years, why should I stop just because someone died? -- is truly chilling"; and that his "' "I'm sorry if some of you found my remarks offensive' is a classic non-apology."
She concludes that her first reaction when asked to write about Gibson was to ask why he should get more attention but then took the view that this would be a cop-out and concluded, "That Gibson would choose the event of a young man's death -- a young heterosexual man, it must be said -- to exercise his "right" to homophobia is not just a matter of taste, it's an issue of policy. What is Fox News' policy about the language of hate? And more important, what is our policy?"
RNW comment: To which our response is that unfortunately there are too many rather vile Americans as otherwise there would be a complete boycott of Fox advertisers for a while until it made it clear that it regarded such comments as just as serious as showing a female body, an offence for which the FCC is proposing to fine ABC USD 1.4 million - and at least until the boycott had cost Fox around twice that since we would regard the effect on public discourse of the Gibson remarks as worse than the NYPD episode for which the fine has been proposed. To ban Gibson would be unacceptable but to decide that advertisers who back a network that allowed the initial reaction and subsequent half-apology without itself getting off the fence deserve no financial backing would seem quite reasonable. Fox, in our view, should have given Gibson the opportunity of responding to its utter condemnation - and put a real rottweiler from its staff against him to harry him properly for any lame responses.
Enough, however of the vile Americans and on to more upbeat comments about British radio starting with a UK Guardian article by music journalist and former jazz musician and record producer John L. Walters in which he praises GCap Media's national digital station theJazz.
Walters starts by commenting on the BBC's jazz output - Lyttelton and, occasionally, Courtney Pine on Radio 2, a little that "Gilles Peterson would sneak it into his Radio 1 and World Service shows" and the best shows that "were tucked away on Radio 3."
"Though jazz has enjoyed a remarkable renaissance over the past decade," he comments, "its BBC coverage has remained small. But at least those programmes exist. When you tune into regional and/or commercial radio, coverage is patchy or nonexistent. Of course, we had the false dawn of Jazz FM, broadcasting in the London and Manchester regions. In 2005, the station re-branded itself out of existence, and was profitably reinvented as Smooth FM [Jazz FM remains on the Internet]".
He then goes on to comment on the transformation of the radio landscape for jazz by the launch of theJazz without much fanfare but nevertheless gaining quick acceptance and attracting a weekly audience of some 441,000 of whom 53,000 were children under 15.
Its most successful show is, he notes, the drivetime Easy Jazz with an audience of 147,000, a figure that compares to 59,000 for Jazz On 3 late on Friday evenings, 184,000 for Jazz Record Requests and 163,00 for Jazz Line-up, both on Saturday afternoons, whilst on Monday nights "Big Band" on Radio 2 attracts some 370,000.
The BBC, he says does not appear to have reacted to the launch of theJazz and Radio 3 controller Roger Wright, he says, doesn't see it as a rival because like sister GCap station Classic FM it does something different to Radio 3.
That view appears to be shared by Radio 3 jazz staff and amongst those he quotes are Keith Loxam, producer of Radio 3's Jazz Line-Up who says he puts theJazz on for "an hour or so, and I enjoy that" but says his show is different, commenting, "When I come on for my 90 minutes a week, I try and make that action-packed. So I have the presenter playing classic albums, we have new albums and exclusive concert sets. That's where the BBC's difference comes in. As a public service broadcaster, we are providing exclusive live music for the listener. Programmes like Jazz Line-Up and Jazz on 3 are throwing down the gauntlet and saying, 'This is what we're into.' We might play the same track, but it won't be played in the same way."
Wright also contrasts his station's output with the computer-generated playlists that the Jazz airs, saying of Radio 3, "You don't get heavy rotation of standard repertoire. Way more than 50% of our output is live music ... there's no way you can operate that as a computer-generated playlist. You've got to do it with humans."
After that, sticking with the Guardian we move onto comment on BBC Radio 1 from Caroline Sullivan who says the station is moving away from "rock" to "pop" but "new pop" not the manufactured bands of a short time ago.
Sullivan quotes Radio 1 head of music George Ergatoudis as saying, "Pop has become a dirty word, and it's time for rehabilitation" and then expanding on the comment, by adding, "There's something of an increase in pop acts that I think are making really strong, quality new music. Ones doing really well for us at the moment are the Hoosiers, Scouting for Girls, the Wombats ... it depends how far you want to stretch the definition of pop, but you could argue that acts like the Kaiser Chiefs and Pigeon Detectives are making such melodic music you could call them pop."
She then quotes Paul Williams, editor of Music Week as saying of this, "If George is treating bands like the Hoosiers as pop, I can see where he's coming from." The definition narrowed in the 90s and became, in a lot of people's minds, out-and-out boy bands that appealed to teen audiences only. I think it might be swinging back to the old-fashioned, wider definition - a genre that appeals across the ages."
After jazz and pop on to drama and Gillian Reynolds' regular radio column in The Daily Telegraph. Last week she highlighted the previous Sunday's "Drama on 3" - Baghdad Wedding by Hassan Abdulrazzak and said of the playwright that he is "on the evidence of this play, someone who can translate the essence of reality into the kind of fiction that makes you grasp the truth."
"That, after all," continues Reynolds, "is what writers are for. If you want to understand the great shifts of 20th-century history, read the novels of Boris Pasternak and Philip Roth. Feel what it was like to live behind the Iron Curtain through the plays of Mrozek and Havel. Read any, or preferably lots, of the poets, playwrights and novelists of Northern Ireland to grasp the passage of the past century across the Six Counties.
"British radio continues to reflect this. Beyond the vast mainstream of music and chat, there is still a substantial hinterland where a listener can find work that continues to connect fact, as in the news, with comprehension, as through fiction."
And finally on to fact in the shape of "From our Own Correspondent" -"FOOC, pronounced "FOOK" and an article in The Independent by Alan Johnston who is to present the World Service version of the programme.
Johnston notes the pressures to serve multiple outlets when a story is breaking and "under the pressure of time, it is sometimes difficult to do more than just put across the hard facts - the bare bones of the events that are changing the world around you."
He then goes on to contrast this with FOOC -"one corner of the BBC where there is the space and time for much more."
"The programme," he writes, "asks for a straight dispatch over four clear minutes, which in our business feels like a lifetime. This is where you really get a chance to reflect and observe a little more, and try to bring alive the extraordinary place in which you find yourself. You get a chance to show the people who you meet there as more than the news stories that they inhabit - more than just refugees, or fighters, or politicians, or demonstrators. By exploring the backgrounds of their lives, their hopes and fears, their ways of seeing, and perhaps even the things they laugh at, you can make their world more vivid, more real."
After giving examples of quirky detail that can illuminate a report, he goes on to praise the programme as a "a bastion of good writing and strong storytelling that can conjure a sense of place", citing an example from Allan Little written in Kinshasa as he awaited the fall of President Mobutu of Zaire.
It's worth a read and fully illustrates a point that Johnston later cites from an admirer that week after week the programme "proves that pictures painted in words on the radio can be more vivid than pictures on television."
After that we move on to listening suggestions and suggest a dip into the BBC downloads for "From our Own Correspondent" and "Listen-Again" facility for "Drama on 3" and the Friday night and Saturday Jazz programmes from BBC Radio 3 with particular reference to last Friday's "Jazz Library" (on Lester Young) and "Jazz on 3" (with performances from Charlie Haden's Quartet West") and Saturday's "Jazz Line-Up"; "Jazz Record Requests."
For a less-scheduled listen to Jazz, "theJazz" is there day and night as is jazzfm although the latter requires registration before it lets you listen (and does seem to run some checks on the validity of the information entered as we found out with one spoof registration.).
Then for some more BBC suggestions and from BBC Radio 2 we suggest tomorrow's "Chasing Celebrity" (22:30 GMT), the second of Paul Morley's two-part series in which he looks at issues of promotion and becoming a celebrity; Wednesday's "Blagger's Guide to the Classics" (23:00 GMT); Thursday's "Alexis Korner... Rhythm and Blues Champion" in which Chris Jagger showcases the work of broadcaster and bandleader Alexis Korner, the catalyst for the British Blues explosion of the 60s; and Saturday's "John McGeoch", the story of one of the most innovative and influential guitarists of the past 30 years.
Then from BBC Radio 3 we suggest this week's "Composer of the Week" (Noon GMT with an evening repeat) - this week it's Beethoven and "Performance on 3 (19:00 GMT)" that this week features a week of Mahler symphonies by the LSO conducted by Valery Gergiev.
Also from Radio 3 we suggest Friday's "Jazz Library" (22:30 GMT) on Ella Fitzgerald and Saturday's "Jazz Line-Up" (16:00 GMT) in which Julian Joseph introduces more tracks from a recording by Empirical, winners of the first European Broadcast Union Jazz Competition held recently at the BBC Maida Vale studios.
And from BBC Radio 4 we suggest last Saturday's "Archive Hour" - "50 Years of Ban the Bomb" in which Matthew Parris assesses the impact of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament"; last Sunday's "Something Understood" - "Living Smart, Living Simple" in which Mark Tully is joined by environmental campaigner Jonathon Porritt to explore how we can live better but more simply and "The Astronauts' Wives Club" on the lives of the wives of U.S. astronauts;
The "Book of the Week" (09:45 GMT weekdays) - Joyce Tyldesley's biography "Cleopatra: Last Queen of Egypt"; Tuesday's "Inside Stories" (09:00 GMT) that this week looks at the reporting of the shooting of Brazilian Jean Charles de Menezes at Stockwell Station after he had been misidentified as a terrorist and potential bomber and "Soul Music" that this week is on Thomas Tallis's "Spem in Alium" (13:30 GMT - last week's edition "Tainted Love" is on the site until then).
After that we suggest a few podcasts cum MP3s starting with BBC Radio 4 and "The News Quiz" from last Friday, the most recent "Dollar a Day" programme from the BBC documentary archive (the third of four: the second is also still on the site) and the "Desperate Dreams" series, also from the documentary archive ( Parts one through three are on the site as we write albeit the first may disappear shortly) and last Saturday's FOOC plus last week's "Thinking Allowed" from BBC Radio 4.
From the US we suggest last week's "On the Media" for its first report "The War at Home" , an interesting dissection of reactions to a New York Times report on Iraq war veterans who have killed on their return home one military critic compares the rates of crime amongst the military with those of the US population at large whilst a co-author of the report compared rates amongst the military in the six years before the Iraq invasion and the six years after, finding an 89% increase in the later period.
The programme also looked at how the pressures of instant and continual news demands affects the coverage of the deaths of celebrities from the angle of preparations of obituaries just in case.
Then from Radio Netherlands we suggest this week's" Earthbeat" (Thursday) , which looks at the effects of China's growth on ordinary people and Saturday's "The State We're in" which amongst other items looked at the anticipated reactions to plans by a populist Dutch politician to release a film that is expected to be provocatively anti-Islam.
And finally to theAustralian Broadcasting Corporation for the grim in the form of last Saturday's "All in the Mind" on "The Neurobiology of Suicide"; the mixed in Sunday "Background Briefing" that looked at the growth in the numbers of people living alone and the benefits this has brought for the pets business - more is now spent on pets than childcare in Australia; the hopeful from Tuesday's "Law Report" that tells the story of a convicted drugs trafficker who spent six years in prison but has now been admitted as a lawyer; and the Pythons in the form of Michael Palin and Eric Idle talking about their lives, experiences and latest projects on Monday's "Late Night Live."
Los Angeles Times - McNamara:
UK Guardian - Sullivan:
UK Guardian - Walters:
UK Telegraph - Reynolds:
2008-01-28: Macquarie Bank-owned Arqiva, which already owns more than half the UK broadcasting transmission system, is offering to slash prices to gain regulatory approval for its acquisition of rival National Grid Wireless according to the UK Sunday Telegraph, which adds that the move could "provide a major fillip to Britain's troubled commercial radio industry."
The paper says the company us pledging to cut the cost of radio station transmissions by an average 15% if the merger is approved according to commercial radio sources although it adds that Arqiva refused comment.
The cuts, says the paper would apply to both BBC and commercial radio, and in addition broadcasters would be able to cancel contracts with one year's notice once capital costs had been recouped: A clause to permit this would be introduced as part of new 10 or 12 year agreements.
This break clause adds the Telegraph would make it easier to close down loss-making digital stations or AM transmissions, which have a falling audience: It says negotiations were led by industry trade body the RadioCentre and Ralph Bernard, former chief executive of GCap Media and notes that radio companies are keep to cut transmission costs - GCap spends some GBP 16 million a year on digital broadcasting - having spent heavily on local, regional and national digital licences and committing to 12-year transmission contracts with Arqiva in the hope that listeners would throw away their old analogue radio sets.
Arqiva agreed the GBP 2.5 billion (USD 4.94 billion then USD 4.95 billion - see RNW April 4, 2007) but the Competition Commission has warned it might order a sell off.
RNW comment: the commercial radio companies have also been lobbying for a switch-off of analogue radio, which would be to their benefit, but we see neither this nor granting Arqiva a monopoly as being necessarily in the wider public interest. In the absence of any other major benefits from analogue switch off, we would take the view that it should only be considered if the radio companies are prepared to put up a bond guaranteeing to swap old analogue sets for new digital ones of equivalent quality (they won't, which makes it clear that what is being asked for is effectively a tax on consumers for their benefit). Equally we are concerned that these companies that say they are all for competition change their stance when it affects their profits as in allowing cost-cutting consolidation after paying high prices for broadcasters that can only be paid for by the cuts, particularly job cuts, that they can introduce after a takeover.
If significant broadcasters are going into loss then there may be a case for reconsideration but if it is merely a matter of not making so great a profit, we see little reason to accede to such demands unless the companies can make a compelling public interest case.
Previous GCap Media:
Previous Macquarie Bank:
UK Sunday Telegraph report:
2008-01-28: Illinois public radio veteran Don Johnson has retired after nearly two decades on air with Tri States Public Radio.
The Peoria Journal-Star reports that Johnson, who moved into radio from newspapers, started with the broadcaster as anchor for "Afternoon Edition" in 1989 but for the last 13 has been its morning news man.
It quotes Johnson as saying, "Everyone kept telling me I should do radio because I just had the right voice for radio," then adding, "Then there were some others that told me I had the face for radio as well."
Peoria Journal-Star report:
2008-01-27: Last week the main regulatory news again came from the US where the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has posted proposals in relation to requiring local content from broadcasters (See RNW Jan 25) and also given the go-ahead to the sale of Clear Channel to a private equity group (See RNW Jan 25). The latter got the most publicity because it also involved the largest US radio company but the former may yet have the most effect. Elsewhere it was again a matter of routine announcements rather than large decisions.
In Australia, the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) made only one radio-related posting - a decision not to renew the licence of Cobar Community Radio's 2HOT, Cobar, New South Wales that expired on January 21, although it has issued a six-month temporary community licence.
The ACMA say that if there are other interested community organisations in the Cobar licence area who also wish to apply for a temporary community broadcasting licence the frequency would be shared.
ACMA chairman Chris Chapman commented of the issue, "While the decision not to renew is never taken lightly and is no doubt understandably disappointing for the licensee and its listeners, it was arrived at after considerable deliberation and taking into account both those objectives."
ACMA, he said, found that the licensee has not adequately identified the needs of the community and that the service provided by 2HOT does not adequately meet the needs of the Cobar licence area. The ACMA said it was also concerned about the licensee's management capacity and ability to comply with licence conditions and added that the "licensee's inability to meet legislative requirements has contributed to ACMA deciding to not renew the licence."
In Canada, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) issued a number of radio postings including (in order of province):
*Approval of application by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) to increase the power of its transmitter CBR-1-FM, Calgary, from 1,100 watts to 2,800 watts and decrease the antenna height. The CBC says this will improve reception in downtown Calgary where it had received a number of complaints, mainly about reception in apartment buildings.
*Approval of application by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation to add a 240 watts FM transmitter at Whistler to rebroadcast the programming of its national French-language network service La Première Chaîne originating from CBUF-FM, Vancouver.
*Approval of application by CJRT-FM Inc to use a subsidiary communications multiplex operations (SCMO) channel to broadcast a predominantly Hindi- and Tamil-language radio service offering music and spoken word programming, including religious programming. The new SCMO service will replace CJRT-FM's predominantly Korean-language SCMO service.
*Denial of application to add a 37 watts transmitter at Cochrane to broadcast the programming of CHIM-FM, Timmins. The CRTC noted that in a recent evaluation of CHIM-FM's licence renewal application it had found non-compliance of regulations relating to the filing of annual reports and conditions of licence requiring contributions to the Canadian Association of Broadcasters' (CAB's) former Canadian talent development (CTD) plan, as a result of which it had issued a short-term renewal. It adds that its longstanding practice is to deny licence amendments requested by licensees that are in non-compliance with their regulatory obligations or conditions of licence.
The CRTC also posted a public notice with a deadline for submission of interventions/comments of February 28 that included an application by Manitoulin Radio Communication Inc. to add a 50 watts low power FM transmitter at Sudbury, Ontario, to broadcast the programming of CFRM-FM, Little Current.
There were no radio announcements from Ireland but in the UK Ofcom made a number of postings related to digital multiplexes and community radio licences.
Regarding multiplexes it has advertised a new digital multiplex licence for Somerset that it says could cover an area with an adult population of around 480,000. Applications together with a non-refundable fee of GBP 5,000 (USD 10,000) have to be submitted by April 23.
Ofcom also announced that it had awarded the Gloucestershire digital multiplex to the MuxCo Gloucestershire consortium, made up of MuxCo and three local radio groups - UKRD, Murfin Media and Town & Country Broadcasting. It had been bidding with a service of bouquet of podcasts plus 11 services including BBC Radio Gloucestershire against a rival offer from GCap Media subsidiary Now Digital of 11 services plus BBC Radio Gloucestershire (See RNW Licence News Oct 28, 2007). The licence is the fourth won by Muxco-led consortia.
In addition Muxco is involved in a sole bid for the new Lincolnshire local digital radio multiplex licence. It's from MuxCo Lincolnshire Limited in which Lincs FM Group Ltd holds 51% and MuxCo Ltd 49% and seven services are proposed in addition to BBC Radio Lincolnshire.
Lincs FM - Full Service offer from Lincs FM Group Ltd.
Compass FM - Full Service offer from Lincs FM Group Ltd.
Country Lincs - country format offer from Lincs FM Group Ltd
Easy Radio- Easy Listening offer from Easy Radio Limited.
Shuffle -Youth format offer from MuxCo Lincolnshire Ltd.
UCB UK -Religious format offer from United Christian Broadcasters Ltd,
Traffic Radio - Traffic and travel offer from the Highways Agency.
Ofcom also announced the award of three new community licences which went to:
Tudno FM, Llandudno - a service with a particular focus on the Tudno and Mostyn wards of the town.
Radio Elwy/Point FM, Rhyl - a service for Rhyl, Prestatyn, Rhuddlan and the surrounding area.
Preston FM - a service to Preston in Lancashire.
Ofcom also posted details of its revised procedures for handling statutory sanctions in cases relating to broadcast content that came into effect on January 18. The procedures were issued following a consultation that led the regulator to change some of its draft proposals.
The new procedures reduce the number of stages at which representations can be made from three to two - one when the broadcaster is sent a preliminary draft of the sanctions paper and a second when this is revised to add a recommendation on the nature or level of sanction.
Some broadcasters had argued that a demarcation should be made between the finding of a breach and the first draft sanctions paper being sent out on the grounds that unless the breach is finalised before the sanctions paper is sent to broadcasters there may be an impression given that the issue of the sanction is being prejudged by Ofcom.
Ofcom is now to send out a sanctions paper outlining the case for a statutory sanction finding of a breach before the draft sanctions paper is sent out.
In addition following comments that it was to use fast-track procedures too broadly, Ofcom has also amended the circumstances in which it would invoke a such procedures and is also to increase the period allowed for broadcasters to respond - to ten working days for both first and second draft papers rather than five and seven working days respectively and to ten working days instead of five for fast-track cases.
In the US, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) as well as posting a report on localism together with rules to encourage provision of local content and approving the sale of Clear Channel as already noted has also been involved with a number of contested licence renewals. They included the following:
*Denied objection to nighttime power decrease for Entercom's KCTC-AM, Sacramento. Entercom had day and night transmission facilities at separate sites but had filed for a permit to relocate the nighttime transmitter to the daytime transmission site and reduce power at night from 5Kw to 500 watts to bring it into compliance with FCC technical requirements but retain the 5Kw unchanged during daytime. The objector claimed the change would greatly reduce the nighttime service, rendering worthless and to the detriment of Sacramento listeners.
The FCC, whilst recognising the service reduction pointed out that the "entire loss area is extremely well served by existing stations", denied the objection and allowed the modification.
*Granted application from Eagle's Nest Fellowship Church for a new non-commercial educational FM to serve Harrington, Delaware. A petition to deny the application had been filed by Positive Alternative Radio, Inc., which had - along with two other applicants - filed mutually exclusive applications, and in addition the FCC received a letter opposing the application from WXXY Broadcasting, Inc.
Positive Alternative Radio called for dismissal of the Eagle's Nest application on the basis that it has undergone a major change in ownership since the application was filed in 1998 and that its proposed transmitter site is unavailable whilst WXXY said the station would cause "catastrophic interference" to its co-channel NCE Station WXXY-FM, Port Republic, New Jersey.
The FCC found that the arguments of the objectors were without merit, denied the objections, and granted the licence.
New York City:
Renewal of the licence of Polnet Communications, Ltd.'s WRKL-AM, to which there had been an objection on the basis that the station does not serve its community of license in that it airs no programming on current issues or events nor does it announce emergency weather conditions. There were also objections on the ground of broadcasts being solely in Polish and that there should be some in English "devoted to the concerns of citizens in its primary coverage area."
In essence the FCC said it left it up to licensees to be responsive to the needs and interests of the communities they are licensed to serve. It denies the objection and renewed the licence.
Indiana, Michigan and Ohio:
Denied 17 petitions for reconsideration from Great Lakes Community Broadcasting, Inc. of dismissals of its applications for new non-commercial educational FM's in Newbury Township, Indiana; Pellston; Big Rapids; Hillsdale; Mackinac Island; Muskegon; Manistique; Fremont; Emmett Township, Hamlin Township; Manistique; Ensign Township; Bucks; Eckford Township; Attica Township; and Huron Township in Michigan; and Center Township in Ohio.
The FCC noted that the applications had originally been filed on paper under prior licensing procedures but then became subject to an NCE filing freeze and had not been filed electronically as required when the freeze ended. It dismissed Great Lake's attempt to rely on an alleged lack of clarity in the NCE Window Public Notice to excuse its failure to amend and refused to reconsider.
Renewal of the licence of Mercer County Community College's WWFM-FM to which there had been an objection on the grounds that the station is a "wholly amateur organization"; that everything it does "is done better by other local stations"; and that it "is guilty of gross racial insensitivity" as evidenced by the broadcast of a show about Al Jolson during Martin Luther King weekend.
The FCC said that the licensee has broad discretion "to choose, in good faith, the programming that it believes serves the needs and interests of the members of its audience" and no rules prohibited operation by "an amateur organization". It renewed the licence.
Previous Licence News:
ACMA web site:
CRTC web site:
FCC web site:
Ofcom web site:
2008-01-27: Bridgeport, Connecticut, host John LaBarca, who was fired by Cumulus's WICC-AM last month, is due back on the air at 10:00 ET today on WDJZ-AM, a mainly gospel 5000 watts daytime AM but according to the Connecticut Post it is still not clear what his show will be called. LaBarca has leased time on the station to broadcast his show.
At WICC, LaBarca was the long-time host of the morning show and Italian House Party but Cumulus is threatening to sue him if he uses the Italian House Party name or uses it in connection with any other broadcast or Internet activities - LaBarca has an Italianhouseparty web site using the name that currently offers an MP3 (158 MB) of the January 20 "IHP" programme and uses the full Italian House Party term at the top of its home page.
The Post says that LaBarca commented of the Cumulus threat, "It's David versus Goliath. It's the big corporate guy trying to squish the little guy. I am Italian House Party and Italian House Party is me and nothing they can do can take that away from me."
He added that his father coined the term in the early 197o's and had filed an application with the United States Patent and Trademark Office to protect his use of the "Italian House Party" name.
Cumulus, says the Post, has written to LaBarca pointing out that it holds the state registration for the name and its General Counsel Richard Denning says Cumulus had devoted "significant resources to build brand and name recognition in 'Italian House Party' " as a mark associated with the station, adding, "We therefore request that you immediately cease using the term. It is creating confusion in the marketplace and is diluting the association of the term with WICC."
The paper notes that Cumulus submitted its application for a service mark on "Italian House Party," on Dec. 27, 2007, and 15 days later received a certificate of registration that expires on Dec. 27, 2012.
RNW comment: The crux of this issue seems to us whether LaBarca can show use pre-dating the Cumulus application that should in our view entitle him to continue to use the name and we note that a check on the domain shows that it was created in November 2000. On the basis that the domain was registered then by LaBarca our view is that Cumulus are probably trying things on and that the host should be entitled to continue to use it. Ideally if this is the case, we would like to see a law that requires a company losing such a case barred from use of the term and- in the case of three losses, forces to re-apply for each and every trademark it owns or lose the lot.
Connecticut Post report:
2008-01-26: Emap shareholders have approved by a 97.95% vote to approve the GBP 1.14 billion (then USD 2.31 billion, now USD 2.26 billion) sale of the company's consumer media and radio businesses to German media company Bauer (See RNW Dec 8, 2007), a sale that will leave only a rump business-to-business and events Emap whose GBP 1.2 billion (USD 2.38 billion) sale to Guardian Media Group (GMG) and private equity group Apax has still to be approved.
Emap on January 11 completed the GBP 124 million (USD 246 million) sale of its Irish radio business that was required to complete the Bauer sale, which in turn was required for the GMG/Apax deal to go ahead.
Emap says that if the Bauer sale is completed by early next month as intended it will pay a special dividend of GBP 4.61 to shareholders who are on its register on the record date, expected to be March 7 with the ex-dividend date expected to be March 5 and payment date Mar 19.
In an interim statement is said trading for the continuing group in the third quarter "was robust and we remain on track to deliver against our expectations for the full year."
B2B revenues in the quarter were it said up 14% year on year - up 11% underlying with magazine revenues up 5% underlying.
Consumer magazine revenues, however, were down 9% - down 10% underlying whilst radio revenues, excluding the Irish radio business, were up 6% - up 5% underlying - and Emap said it remained "encouraged" by radio trading prospects for the rest of the 2008 financial year.
Previous Guardian Media Group:
2008-01-26: Radio One Inc.'s move back from Lanham, Maryland to D.C., where it was founded, now seems certain with the signing off by Washington's Mayor Adrian Fenty on a real estate deal that provides USD 22 million to a USD 144 million deal near Howard University.
The broadcaster is not involved in the development but has agreed said it will lease space in the development for its headquarters: Fenty said that bringing the broadcaster back as a "huge priority" and termed the development a "catalytic project."
Previous Radio One Inc.:
2008-01-25: The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has cleared the sale of Clear Channel to an equity group led by Thomas H. Lee Partners and Bain Capital by a unanimous vote although both Democrat Commissioners issued statements related to concerns they have about US media consolidation. The deal still requires Department of Justice (DOJ) approval.
In its approval the FCC notes that it received two petitions to deny and two informal objections, all of which were rejected: It also notes that the transfer of control will mean an end to various grandfathered ownership interests that do not comply with the Commission's current broadcast multiple ownership rules and that applications have been filed to transfer relevant broadcast licences to a divestiture trust that is insulated from their control.
It also notes that the transfer would mean that Lee and Bain would acquire interests that in combination with their current holdings would conflict with current multiple ownership regulations and that it will require divestiture or conversion to non-attributable interest of the interests before or simultaneously with the transfer of control of Clear Channel.
The petitions to deny the transaction were in one from Mount Wilson Broadcasters and another from a Geoffrey M. Young who said he was a listener to WLAP-AM, Lexington, Kentucky but did not provide required proof, leading to this being treated as an informal objection along with two other objections.
The Mt. Wilson objection centred on claims that Clear Channel stations in the Los Angeles markets where it operates had engaged in anti-competitive practices including requiring advertisers to spend all their radio advertising budged with Clear Channel stations. Clear Channel had responded by denying that it had any such policy and that Mt. Wilson had failed to supply required specific facts to substantiate its arguments. The FCC found that the allegations failed to "establish a prima facie case that grant of the Merger Applications would be inconsistent with the public interest, convenience, and necessity."
In regard to the objections, the FCC found that Young had not raised any "substantial and material question of fact" that would justify rejection of the deal; that an objection by a Leonard R. Kahn on he basis that Clear Channel was violating the Sherman Antitrust Act by "boycotting" a digital radio transmission system he developed to compete with the iBiquity system approved by the Commission did not contain factual support for the allegations; and that an objection by Goodrich Radio, LLC, related to transfer of control of WMHG-AM, Muskegon, Michigan, also did not raise a substantial and material question of fact concerning the applicants' qualifications or the public interest merits of the Merger Applications, also noting that this transfer was contingent on the grant of an application to assign the licence from Cumulus to Clear Channel.
In his statement Democrat Commissioner Michael J. Copps termed the case a "close call" that on the one hand "could lead to a measure of de-consolidation in the radio industry" but also raised issues of the "potential impact of private equity on our ability to ensure that broadcast licensees protect, serve and sustain the public interest."
Copps said he had called repeatedly for the commission to examine this issue but nothing had happened and he commented, "Instead, we once again close our eyes and pretend that nothing has changed-as if these new entities are no different than our traditional broadcast licensees. And there are those who accuse me of living in the past!"
Copps also noted that Standard & Poor's had said that it was likely it would downgrade the company to junk status when the deal closed and added, "The American public has a vital interest in ensuring the financial stability of its broadcast licensees. The FCC, apparently, does not I hope that the market's concerns about Clear Channel's financial condition prove misplaced. The broader point, however, remains. We must ask the hard questions now, before we dig ourselves in even deeper. If I had the ability to launch an FCC inquiry by dissenting to this transaction, I would. But I do not. Given the potential for some measure of de-consolidation, I reluctantly concur."
His fellow Democrat Jonathan S. Adelstein also noted that the deal would result in less consolidation in the US radio industry but added in relation to the Mt Wilson complains that, although he agreed it had failed to establish a prima facie case that Clear Channel has engaged in specific anticompetitive sales practices he was not convinced the FCC inquiry should end there and noted that small and minority groups across the US had "complained about the dominance of major radio station groups and the use of their size and scope to increase their share of local advertising revenue."
Previous Clear Channel:
2008-01-25: The BBC has revealed that two further breaches of its editorial guidelines in relation to radio competition have been found in its continuing investigations into these matters: One involves a May 2006 Jo Whiley Show on BBC Radio 1 and the other an April 2006 Russell Brand Show broadcast by BBC 6 Music.
In the first case, a programme had been pre-recorded to allow essential engineering work to go ahead in Radio 1's studios but listeners were invited to telephone and text when in reality there was no opportunity to participate. The transmitted programme included the participation of a genuine member of the audience who had expressed interest in entering the competition the day prior to the transmission and also the name of a second "invented" participant.
In the Russell Brand case, the show was conceived as a live programme but the second edition had to be recorded and a competition winner was a member of BBC staff. Again listeners who called in or sent texts had in reality no opportunity to take part in the competition. The BBC notes that in the case of three subsequent recorded editions of the show, it had been made clear at the outset that they were pre-recorded and says an apology will be broadcast on both networks this week.
In addition the Corporation is contacting listeners who sent texts but had no opportunity to take part and will offer them compensation.
The cases were revealed in an update to the BBC Trust by Director General Mark Thompson about the progress made in the BBC action plan to deal with editorial practice but both took place before the plan commenced. They have been reported to the BBC Trust's Editorial Standards Committee and to Ofcom.
Under the action plan an Editorial Standards Board was established in July last year and has now met 18 times. It has established a comprehensive training programme for BBC staff, devised new guidance for running competitions on the BBC and reviewed editorial compliance procedures across the Corporation.
Thomson notes that all competitions were suspended by the BBC until new guidance was developed and a new code published in November last year. Competitions are being phased back in from this month following mandatory training for staff running them and there will be fewer competitions than previously.
In addition a mandatory training programme "Safeguarding Trust" in now well underway and more than 10,000 of the BBC's 17,000 programme and content staff who will have to take part have now attended sessions.
Thompson also notes that "All Divisional boards now have a Board member designated to have special responsibility for ensuring editorial compliance processes are well understood and are robust across their Division" and that in BBC Vision a full time Head of Editorial Standards and Training has been appointed with similar appointments to be made in other BBC Divisions.
In addition "Contracts for staff, freelancers and suppliers have been strengthened to emphasise the vital importance of adhering to the BBC's editorial policies and values."
2008-01-25: The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is proposing a number of "localism" requirements from broadcasters in a "Report on Broadcast Localism" and associated Notice of Proposed Rulemaking.
Statements were issued by all five Commissioners with both Democrats - Jonathan S. Adelstein and Michael J. Copps, dissenting in part and thee three Republicans - FCC chairman Kevin J. Martin, Deborah Taylor Tate, and Robert M. McDowell in support although McDowell expressed some concerns about the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking.
This tentatively concludes that broadcast licensees should convene permanent advisory boards made up of community officials and leaders to help the licensees ascertain the programming needs of the community and that the Commission should adopt processing guidelines, such as minimum percentages to ensure that stations produce a certain amount of locally-oriented programming.
The report although saying some broadcasters devote significant time to locally responsive programming" noted the concern of many who took part in its field hearings about a serious shortfall in general and says, "Specifically, the record indicates that many stations do not engage in the necessary public dialogue as to community needs and interests and that members of the public are not fully aware of the local issue-responsive programming that their local stations have aired." The FCC says its proposed rules changes will "promote both localism and diversity."
In comments Democrat Commissioner Michael J. Copps was again the most trenchant: He commenced by writing, "Today's decision would make George Orwell proud. 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. "
He continued in the same vein about the damage done by previous "media merger frenzy", the need for "major policy changes and a coordinated strategy" to fix the problems of minority and female ownership of media instead of which "we are told to be content with baby steps."
He also spoke of potential future concerns, commenting that 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."
His colleague Jonathan S. Adelstein said the new report and proposed rules "merely recites the issues of public concern, repackages previous Commission actions, and proffers yet another set of proposals. 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," he said, "literally does nothing meaningful to promote localism. It is as if we promised to deliver a book but produced only the cover. "
"I concur in part to this Report and Notice," he said, "because - in word, if not in deed -- it represents a shift from the Commission's earlier miscalculation that market forces alone will ensure broadcasters promote quality local news, local artists, and informative local political and civic affairs programming."
As to local news he said the localism hearings had taught "that there is far too little coverage of local issues voters need to know about in a way that prepares them to make educated decisions. We heard that 'breaking news' is being replaced with 'breaking gossip.' In community after community, we heard from citizens that serious coverage of local and state government has diminished. "
In contrast to the remarks critical of big media from the Democrats, those from the Republicans on the Commission were either bland or, in the case of Robert M. McDowell critical of the idea of imposing localism requirements. Regarding these he noted that in 1984 the FCC "eliminated ascertainment requirements for television and radio stations" after "a thorough examination of the broadcast market" and said that the commission was now "again heading back in time -- in the wrong direction. Vigorous competition motivates broadcasters to serve their local communities."
"I do not," McDowell wrote, "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." He added that he looked "forward to reviewing these issues carefully after receiving public comment."
The statement from FCC chairman Kevin J. Martin was in essence a summary of the process that led to the report and notice and Deboray Taylor Tate again raised the topic of the difference made by the Internet and in regard to local news cited studies that "showed that cross-ownership of broadcast and newspaper results in more local news."
She also raised concerns about imposing nationwide regulations concerning localism saying that the FCC should encourage local broadcasters to continue practices relating to the needs of their community and "require those that do not[have such practices], to start However, I also think it is important for local news outlets to establish processes that work best in their own communities, rather than being forced to implement an edict from Washington, DC."
Tate also commented on the development of low power FM that she said "promotes a community presence which can provide daily locally produced programming at costs far below those of starting a full-power broadcasting station."
2008-01-24: The BBC and its unions- the NUJ, Bectu and Unite - have reached an agreement in principle over job cuts at the corporation and threats of a strike have now receded. Further talks are to take place over the coming weeks with a ballot of union members to be held between March 10 and 27: The current industrial action ballot will be extended until 28 March.
The deal is to be put to a ballot and the BBC and Joint Unions said in a joint statement that "All the parties welcome the progress made so far on jobs, allowances and pensions and will continue to work together to achieve an acceptable final settlement."
NUJ General Secretary, Jeremy Dear, said of the agreement, "We're pleased the imminent threat of compulsory redundancies has been addressed and that all staff required to work unpredictable hours will continue to get a fair deal. These negotiations now give us a basis on which we can address further changes proposed by the BBC."
BECTU General Secretary, Gerry Morrissey added that the negotiations had been "particularly difficult given the financial constraints on the BBC and the number of areas targeted for cuts, all of which impact significantly on many staff" and continued, "After extensive talks overnight we have an agreement in principle which we hope will pave the way for a final settlement of the dispute. Talks in BBC Vision will continue up until the opening of a consultative ballot in March."
For the Corporation the Director of BBC People, Stephen Kelly, said the negotiations had been "very constructive given the complexity of the issues and the BBC's financial position. We are hopeful that the proposed agreement will settle the dispute and enable the BBC to make the necessary changes required for the benefit of our audiences."
2008-01-24: After 11 years programming Clear Channel's AC WLTW-FM (Lite FM) in New York, Jim Ryan is to leave the station to start a content consultancy: He'll also be stepping down as Clear Channel's SVP AC programming.
Ryan will remain with Clear Channel until the end of May and will work with WLTW as a programming consultant: His PD role will be taken over on May 1 by veteran AC programmer Chris Conley who currently holds the VP/AC Programming post at McVay Media.
Ryan noted that since he joined Lite FM in 1996 the station had ranked top in 38 Arbitrons as well as its top ranking in the current PPM ratings and added, "It has been an honour for me to have been a part of this brand and its phenomenal success. I look forward to taking everything I've learned in New York, as well as working with the other Clear Channel AC stations, and starting a new chapter in my career."
Paying tribute to the work of Ryan and his successor, Clear Channel-New York SVP/Programming Tom Poleman said, "Chris Conley and Jim Ryan are widely recognized as the foremost AC programmers in the world. Chris has a tremendous amount of experience and knowledge in AC research, programming and marketing that will pay great dividends in his new role. No one is better suited than Chris to take the reigns of the legendary WLTW. Together, Chris and Jim make the ultimate AC programming dream team."
In the UK, GCap Media is losing another executive with the departure of Group Programme Director Dirk Anthony. Anthony is to leave at the end of March but so far nothing has been said of his plans.
Last week GCap's operations manager Steve Orchard announced that he was to leave at the end of April after 24 years with the group (See RNW Jan 19).
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2008-01-24: Shares in the US satellite radio companies jumped on Wednesday in the wake of a headline on Briefing.com suggesting that their merger could get approval from the Department of Justice and Federal Communications Commission (FCC) as soon as Wednesday evening.
At the close Sirius was up 8.3% at USD 2.87 having touched USD 2.88 at one point and XM was up 5.8% at USD 11.20, touching USD 11.22 at one point.
No sources were given on the website and some cynics suggested that there was some ramping of the shares to make a quick profit. At the time of writing a check has shown no announcement by either government agency on the merger.
2008-01-24: Arbitron has announced yet another Portable People Meter (PPM) agreement, this time with Entercom for the latter's 64 stations in the radio markets scheduled to convert to PPM ratings by the end of 2010: 14 markets are currently in Arbitron's rollout plan - Austin, Boston, Denver, Greensboro-Winston Salem-High Point, Indianapolis, Kansas City MO, Memphis, Milwaukee, Norfolk, Portland OR, Providence, Sacramento, San Francisco, and Seattle.
Commenting on the agreement in an Arbitron release, Entercom President and CEO David Field said, "The Arbitron Portable People Meter is reporting that an average radio station reaches twice as many listeners as the diary has been telling us," said David Field, President and CEO, Entercom Communications. "If the New York Times were to discover that its readership was twice as large as everyone thought, they would likely stage a parade down Madison Avenue. Radio should not pass up any opportunity to remind advertisers that we are a reach medium, one that offers marketers the most cost effective opportunity to expose more of their consumers to their advertising messages."
2008-01-23: The US National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) has responded to last week's announcement by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) that it is to start a second phase of testing prototype television white space devices tomorrow by repeating its concerns about potential interference from the devices.
A statement from NAB Executive Vice President of Media Relations Dennis Wharton said the NAB was not "opposed to new technology" but its "paramount objective remains the delivery of interference-free digital broadcast television."
He added that "given the failing grade performance and incomplete implementation of the devices submitted in the first round of tests, we have a high degree of scepticism whether tests of these devices will demonstrate that a practical service using portable devices can be introduced without jeopardizing DTV service."
The alliance says there "is no doubt that this unused spectrum can be put to better use for consumers without interfering with TV signals."
NAB President and CEO David K. Rehr meanwhile has responded to allegations by the Wireless Innovation Alliance that it was engaged in a "public misinformation campaign" by denying this and accusing the Alliance of sending a letter "long on rhetoric and bereft of facts."
Rehr says the NAB's activities in this area have been "fact-based, using the testing and engineering data that we have developed" and adds that the Alliance "mischaracterizes the extent to which the so-called" white spaces" actually exist because portions of the spectrum concerned would be "more accurately characterized as 'Interference zones.''
RNW comment: We have a high degree of scepticism about whether Rehr has the slightest technical knowledge when it comes to this issue and also whether the NAB would give credence to anything, however well proven, that conflicts with its perceived interest.
In this case it certainly makes sense for the tests to be conducted in view of the services that the spectrum could potentially be used for including broadband Internet access.
As for not being opposed to new technology, this seems to be mainly true in connection with the financial interests of its member firms rather than an open mind about the potential benefit of the systems proposed.
There is, of course, every reason for the NAB to represent its members' interests but in doing so it is foolish if it descends into propaganda rather than accurately evaluating technical information.
The FCC, of course, has a wider general public interest remit and that interest in our view demands proper testing and evaluation of devices to ensure that benefits are not outweighed by problems caused and that all devices manufactured have to be appropriately certified before being allowed into the marketplace.
2008-01-23: More than a million DAB digital radio receivers were sold in the UK in the final quarter of last year, some 550,000 of them in December alone, according to figures from GfK released by the UK Digital Radio Development Bureau (DRDB).
Amongst the best selling models were DAB clock and portable kitchen radios, MP3/DAB personal players and Hi-Fi systems and cumulative sales of digital radio receivers in the UK are now some 6.45 million, up from 4.4 million at the end of 2006.
DRDB acting chief executive, Paul Brown said the sales over Christmas were "very encouraging" and added, "As the radio industry goes through a period of re-evaluation of its digital strategy, it is important that we not lose sight of the consumer. Both GfK and Rajar figures tell us that DAB is quickly becoming a valued medium among listeners."
The DRDB says its research based on comments from more than 14,000 DAB owners, shows 27% of owners have more than one DAB radio at home; and overall satisfaction levels have risen from 85% to 88% with nearly two-thirds of DAB receiver owners listening longer and to more stations than they did before they purchased their receivers. It is forecasting DAB receiver sales of 2.6 million this year to take the total at the end of the year to 9.1 million with sets in 30% of UK households.
2008-01-23: Emap's new Liverpool speech station City Talk -"The Voice of Liverpool" -is courting controversy before its launch with a series of adverts including the f-word (coyly separating itself from the actual "fuck" in an advert that relies on public knowledge of "fuck the government, fuck the planners" comments in a recorded trail by former Brookside actor Simon O'Brien on BBC Radio Merseyside that led to his resignation from the station.
O'Brien is to host City Talk's Saturday morning show and his comments are a key element in the marketing campaign for the new station. Other material to be displayed on taxis, buses and billboards as well as in newspaper adverts includes comments from other hosts alongside their faces including a "Racism is alive and well in Liverpool" quote from Pete Price; the suggestive "Stop moaning! Embrace '08" from morning duo Kim Hughes and Phil Easton; "Graffiti is art" from Dean Sullivan; and "Normal is just a setting on a washing machine" from Channel 5 TV host Trisha Goddard who will host a weekend show (See RNW Jan 10).
Station director Richard Maddock said of the campaign, created by Liverpool-based agency Ampersand in conjunction with the City Talk marketing team and to launch on Monday, "The statements provide insight into each presenter's opinion, style of show and most importantly engages them with the audience. The campaign is deliberately opinionated and willing to push the boundaries. It has character and really puts the presenters out there in the public domain."
Maddock added that the statements were "specifically strong and aim to be thought provoking and to evoke reaction. We are bracing ourselves for some very heated and lively debates."
Emap's Radio and Consumer Magazine businesses are in the process of being taken over by German media group Bauer (See RNW Dec 8, 2007).
RNW comment: Emap has certainly succeeded in gaining publicity for the station. It would of course gain even more were artists to decorate the whole station exterior with artistic variations of the words "racist" and "fuck" - and we trust would of course treat any such action as artistic rather than a comment on the station's likely output.
2008-01-23: US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) chairman Kevin J. Martin has named Matthew Berry as General Counsel with Ajit Pai to serve as Deputy General Counsel.
Berry, who was Counsellor to the Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Legal Policy in the U.S. Department of Justice before joining the FCC, most recently served as Deputy General Counsel and Pai was Associate General Counsel.
2008-01-22: Irish state broadcaster RTÉ has announced that it is to close its RTÉ Radio 1 Medium Wave transmission service on the 24 March, saying that it is "environmentally unsound and out of date; with poor quality reception and audio."
It will continue with its FM and LW 252 national services with the latter - and digital services - carrying additional RTÉ Radio 1 programming such as weekday sports broadcasts and religious services that are currently transmitted on the medium wave.
The medium wave service was launched in 1926 but with the advent of FM there was a move away from it and nowadays the broadcaster says that more than 90% of Radio One listening is now on FM.
RTÉ Radio Head of Operations J.P. Coakley commented of the move, "Our audience research tells us that MW listening is largely based on habit rather than necessity. Our job now is to convince MW listeners that there are other ways to listen that are as good as, if not better, than Medium Wave"
The broadcaster is to launch a public information campaign for MW listeners on Friday including announcements, an information number to call and a voucher scheme providing half price FM/LW radios for those most in need.
2008-01-22: BBC World Service has announced that Alan Johnston, the BBC reporter who was kidnapped in Gaza last year, is to present its version of "From Our Own Correspondent" starting from this Saturday: Kate Adie will remain the presenter of the BBC Radio 4 version.
Johnston has filed reports for the programme from Afghanistan, Central Asia and the Middle East, and an entire edition was given over to his story in October last year following his release.
He said of the appointment in a BBC News release, "I hope that the show might benefit from having a regular presenter, and one who has both contributed to it and been a fan for many years. The structure of the programme will stay the same however - the extraordinarily successful FOOC formula would be very hard to improve."
From Our Own Correspondent began regular broadcasts in 1955 at a time when the corporation relied mainly on international news agencies for foreign affairs coverage: It was created as a forum in which its correspondents could provide background to stories in the news and has since then developed into an outlet in which they can not only provide background but report on personal experiences that did not make the news but did offer insights into their work and interests.
2008-01-22: Clear Channel has sold its half-share share in its Clear Channel International South African outdoor advertising company to partner Independent News and Media (INM) for Euros 86.6 million (USD 125 million) in INM shares.
The deal, which will involve the issue of some 39 million new INM shares and give Clear Channel 5% of INM, will dilute the shareholdings of INM chief executive Dr Tony O'Reilly and also of Denis O'Brien, who has been building a stake in INM.
Some observers see it as a tactical deal with Clear Channel seen as friendly to Dr O'Reilly in any potential takeover battle.
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2008-01-21: This week to start our look at print comment on radio we jump straight into the oddball report but an oddball that in our view reflects well on BBC radio: It came from the Times Literary Supplement and its Classics editor Mary Beard who under the heading "Airing the Classics" commented that "BBC radio has done more than any other of the media to promote Greek and Latin over the past eighty-five years."
Beard notes that in 1960 when Sir George Barnes, the first head of the BBC Third Programme, the predecessor to BBC Radio 3, died the corporation commissioned a memorial poem from Geoffrey Grigson for a broadcast celebrating Barnes's achievements.
She continues in words that presumably limit her commercial radio listening and any TV viewing, "Grigson cleverly satirized the philistines who were already, almost half a century ago, prowling the corridors and board rooms of Broadcasting House, devising quizzes, game shows and the prototypes of "reality TV". Not so Barnes and his Third Programme, which stood for high culture on a sometimes extravagant scale."
The excerpt of the poem in the TLS read:
"Ear-counting colleagues jeered at Barnes's Folly
And your ridiculous elitist squandering of lolly
Better dispensed to purchase nastier names
And set up series of more babyish parlour games.
"George will hire the Greek Ambassador to read, in Greek,
All Aeschylus, in 99 instalments, week by week."
Beard goes on to detail some of the Greek drama carried by BBC radio and praise the Radio 3 -Open University series "Greek and Latin Voices" in which a single classical author is discussed each week, in four fifteen-minute talks, by four different speakers.
Already featured have been Homer and Horace (last month), Thucydides a fortnight ago and Augustine last week (Monday's editions is on the site until tonight) with Euripides and Tacitus next month to be followed by Sappho, Juvenal, Cicero, Plato, Virgil and Herodotus.
Beard goes on to discuss other programmes aired and comments on duds as well as successes before concluding that the secret of the success was largely "by letting producers follow their instincts, and their enthusiasms, and letting them take risk."
She also noted that many of the producers had "classical degrees, although not often very good ones - and this may, paradoxically, be part of the secret of their success (as well as an indictment of the university system which graded them). In fact, so far as I can see, the strongest diagnostic for a brilliant career in upmarket BBC radio before the 1970s was a Third Class degree from Oxford."
And aside from Radio3 she also mentions appearances on BBC Radio 4's "In our Time" - partly due to the commitment of Melvyn Bragg - and "Woman's Hour" - where "at least one producer on the programme (Victoria Brignell) did a Classics degree" and presenters including Martha Kearney who read Classics at Oxford, also had an interest.
Contrast that as a story about radio with most of those coming out of the US - not so much reviews of programming that can inspire a deeper delving into a subject as reports on oafish comments or celebrities tangled in with rows when the oaf or celebrity goes too far.
Last week the main cover in this regard related to Bob Grant and the withdrawal by Radio and Records of a lifetime achievement award to the host (See RNW Jan 18).
According to Paul Farhi in the Washington Post the award was withdrawn after "long-time Grant nemesis" Scott Pellegrino "sent e-mails to about 70 of its employees and various executives of its parent company, the Nielsen Co." that highlighted "some of Grant's more unsavoury comments over the years, including a series of racially insensitive statements that culminated in his firing by a New York station more than a decade ago."
The e-mails says Farhi "appear to have sparked a backlash against Grant within the company -- a reaction that parallels the revolt within NBC and CBS Radio last year that led to Don Imus's firing for comments about the Rutgers women's basketball team (Imus was recently hired by WABC, the same station that fired Grant in 1996 and rehired him in August of last year.)"
Pellegrino said of Grant, "There's no question in my mind that Bob Grant is a racist. . . . He's famous for one thing: hating blacks. It should be on his gravestone "whilst Grant commented that Pellegrino was a "a kook [and] a psychopath" and said of the complaints that they were "a couple of statements [taken] out of context" and added that there were some things he may have wished he hadn't said on air but "I have nothing to regret. I'm an equal-opportunity harpooner. I enjoy it. I'll admit it, I enjoy it. If people want something bland, Lord knows, there's plenty of that around."
Grant was defended, reports Farhi, by Sean Hannity whose syndicated programme originates at WABC and by Rush Limbaugh.
Offering a different perspective to Hannity and Limbaugh, who have an obvious self-interest in this case, Jerry Del Colliano in his insidemusicmedia blog wrote that he has known "Grant from his Philly talker days and I've always liked him as a person. I never let his views affect me for one minute on that" and although expressing sympathy with those who consider Grant a racist commented of the magazine's statement "What corporate gobbledygook."
He suggested that the mishandling might be coming from the corporate owner VNU-Nielsen but then went on to hit hard at talk radio commenting of it, "I know it is still a very viable part of a dying radio business but it is buffoonery of the first order. The most successful are big blowhards that remind me of those bigger than life hot air balloons that barely make it through the Macy's parade in Manhattan. Too often -- not always -- these shows pander to the lowest common denominator -- the mentally challenged who believe every conspiracy, look for every opportunity to wave the flag and exhibit hatred toward people. They lie."
He continued on to describe it as "embarrassing" but then wrote of the hosts concerned, "We need to fight for their right to make asses of themselves" and later took the logic further, commenting, "To dishonour a radio icon who some may think of as a racist is to indict the stations, owners and executives of those who have employed him for decades and continue to give him a microphone in the world's greatest city -- not to mention dishonouring the many Bob Grant listeners who kept him on the air."
After that we wonder how far Del Colliano would defend Michael Savage, the subject of a commentary by Nathaniel Shockey of the Michigan-based syndicate the North Star Writers Group.
Shockey began by saying of Savage that "the occasionally loud, usually offensive radio personality, who is deliberately ignored by every major media outlet in America, is the sort of person you'd be better off knowing about."
Of Savage's style, Shockey comments, "He is fiercely critical of practically everyone and everything outside his radio booth (including his producer when he messes anything up). Bill O'Reilly is "the leprechaun," Sean Hannity is "Pawn Vanity" and Rush Limbaugh is "Hush Bimbo." He has a love/hate relationship with President Bush, usually leaning towards hate. But compared to his utter loathing for anything and everything he deems liberal, his feelings towards Bush could almost be described as lukewarm."
Shockey then details the comments that got him fired by MSNBC, writing that he "respectfully told one of his callers, 'Oh, so you're one of those sodomites. You should only get AIDS and die, you pig; how's that?. . . Go eat a sausage, and choke on it. Get trichinosis. OK, got another nice caller here who's busy because he didn't have a nice night in the bathhouse who's angry at me today? Put another sodomite on . . . I don't care about these bums; they mean nothing to me. They're all sausages.'"
So equally respectfully we wonder where the combined decency level of Savage's eight to ten million listeners a week would rate on any scale and what Shockey's real views are - he seems to write mainly on sports but certainly doesn't come over as particularly broad-minded - one of the meanings of the word liberal before the politicised perversion overwhelmed that meaning in the US albeit it is with a sense of delight that we note that in a number of countries "Liberal" parties are still the equivalent of the Republicans.
On then to listening suggestions and first for those who would rather dip into talk about classics than listen to loudmouths, we note that last week's BBC Radio 3 programmes on Augustine are on the site for a week after first transmission.
Also from Radio 3 we again suggest the "Essay" (23:00 GMT Monday through Thursday) - this week on the theme "In Search of Contentment" with contributions from drummer-turned sheep farmer-turned writer Chris Stewart; Scottish novelist and columnist AL Kennedy; magazine editor Tom Hogkinson; and author and documentary-maker Saira Shah.
Also from BBC Radio 3 we suggest last Sunday's "Drama on 3" - "Baghdad Wedding" by Hassan Abdulrazzak and "The Sunday Feature" - "Missing Moscow" in which Prof Ricky Burdett visits the city to investigate claims that its architectural treasures, including important early Modernist buildings, are being destroyed or ignored in the rush to modernise.
Sticking with Radio 3 but moving on to classical music, we note that this week's "Composer on 3" (Noon with a 20:45 GMT repeat) is Vincent d'Indy and also suggest "Performance on 3" on Thursday, a world premier of Judith Weir's "Concrete" and also including her "Moon and Star" and Michael Finnissy's "Red Earth".
For the jazz fan, Friday has "Jazz Library" (22:30 GMT) in which Alyn Shipton talks to Dave Gelly, author of a new biography of Lester Young, to select the key recordings by this distinctive and influential saxophonist and after that in "Jazz on 3" Jez Nelson presents highlights from one of the major gigs of the 2007 London Jazz Festival, given by bassist Charlie Haden's Quartet West.
And a final suggestion from Radio 3 with a story that obviously could make a good theme for a combination of CSI and Cold Case - "Between The Ears" on Saturday (22:30 GMT): This week "Behind God's Back" reconstructs the story of Nagyrev in the in the Tiszazug region of Hungary where in the 1930's 34 peasant women and one man were indicted for the murders by arsenic poisoning of some 50 men, most the husbands of some of the accused.
Then to more crime but in this case that of the US criminal system in general against the many innocents who have been convicted of crimes - told in "The Divine Detective" on BBC Radio 4 on Monday.
In it Tom Mangold visits Newark, New Jersey, where he meets a Presbyterian minister and self-ordained seeker of justice Jim McCloskey, who has been responsible for freeing dozens of innocent people from US prisons. The most telling comment we noted was that none were rich: Justice in the US it would appear is somewhat dependant on the wherewithal to get proper legal representation and after conviction the system in many states allows appeals only on very limited grounds, whatever the initial injustice.
Before that "Woman's Hour" included an interview with Carolyn Jessop, who fled from her polygamous marriage with a member of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.
For different interviews and comparison the childbrides website carried MP3s of earlier interviews with her by Sandra Haros for KTAR-FM, Phoenix (9MB 128KBPS- just under 10 minutes) and Terry Ward for Phoenix public station KJZZ-FM (5MB 64 KBPS - just above 10 minutes).
Also from From Monday we suggest the "Afternoon Play" -"Unexpected Vonnegut: Who Am I This Time" (14:15 GMT), an adaptation of a short story by Vonnegut
Moving stations we suggest from BBC Radio 2 this week we head first for "Chasing Celebrity", the first of a two-part series on the topic by Paul Morley that the station is airing at 22:30 GMT. His programme looks in particular at reality TV and the way media build up celebrities.
Then on Wednesday we go got the classics - well sort of - with the recommendation of the first of a new four-part "Blagger's Guide to the Classics" by music and comedy writer David Quantick. This one is on the world of classical music.
Then we go for another four-part series on the station with Friday's (19:00GMT) first part of a Woody Guthrie documentary, "The Dust Bowl Balladeer." It includes contributions from Bruce Springsteen, Donovan and Bob Geldof .
On Saturday (20:00 GMT) we suggest, "Bay City Babylon", the story of the Bay City Rollers told by Mark Lamarr including comments from band members Les McKeown, Alan Longmuir and Stuart 'Woody' Wood plus manager Tam Paton and songwriter Bill Martin.
After that some MP3 downloads from Radio Netherlands and the Australian Broadcasting Corporation starting with the former and last Thursday's "Earth File", which looked in the first half of the programme at the treatment of animals - in this case chickens in Holland, animal welfare investigators in New Zealand and a sea turtle rescue centre in Florida.
Also from Wednesday this week on the station we go for the latest "Radio Books" - "Forgotten Songs" in which Dutch/Iranian writer Kader Abdolah recites some Persian poetry and songs (new programme)
Then to the ABC and from Radio National another programme relating to the treatment of animals from Saturday's "All in the Mind", which looks at the work of animal experimentation ethics committees. Also from Radio National we suggest Sunday's "Background Briefing" - "Your money dot con" that looked at the secrecy surrounding internet theft because of fear of the implications if confidence in the system is lost.
And to finish the download suggestions back the BBC and the most recent "Interview" - of US homeland security chief Michael Chertoff by Matt Frei plus last week's "News Quiz" from the BBC Radio 4 Friday evening comedy slot.
Then back to Radio 4 and from weekdays we suggest the "Afternoon Reading", a series of new short stories (15:30 GMT) and the following "Backstreet Business" (15:45 GMT) series on small businesses that range from a company producing survival equipment to others producing conjuring tricks and musical instruments.
From Tuesday we again suggest "Woman's Hour", this time for its report on Simone de Beauvoir; the "Stanley Baxter Playhouse- Flying Down to Greenock" and Tuesday's "Afternoon Play" - "The Scarlet Pimpernel of the Vatican", a drama exploring the friendship that developed between Nazi war criminal Herbert Kappler and Vatican priest Monsignor Hugh O'Flaherty, a play that should probably be compulsory listening for the current US President and former British Prime Minister plus all members of their cabinets along with those in charge of Guantanamo Bay facilities. Also from Tuesday we suggest the latest "Soul Music", which was on the Motown song "Tainted Love", written by Ed Cobb.
From Wednesday we again for the "Afternoon Play" - this time "In a Bamboo Grove", Judith Adams's dramatisation of the famous short story by Japanese author Ryunosuke Akutagawa concerning the killing of a samurai and rape of his wife and different accounts of the events involved.
From Thursday we suggest "Freedom Song" (11:30), the story of a solo recital in April 1939 at the Lincoln Memorial by African-American contralto Marian Anderson: As a black she had been barred from Constitution Hall, the largest indoor location in Washington DC. In the afternoon we suggest "Costing the Earth" (15:00GMT) that considers the potential for new supermarket food labels that will reveal how much carbon was emitted during an item's manufacture
And to end with we suggest three BBC Radio 4 programmes from Friday- in the morning (11:00GMT) "The Funny Thing About Muslims" in which practising Muslim, writer and broadcaster Sarfraz Manzoor, talks to comics, comedy writers and scholars about what makes Muslims laugh - and in the evening the "News Quiz" (18:30 GMT ) and the "Friday Play" (21:00 GMT) - the second part of "Bloody Sunday: Scenes from the Saville Inquiry", a reconstruction of the hearings about the events of Sunday January 30, 1972, focusing on the testimony of soldiers and a former member of the Official IRA (the first part is on the web site until then).
Jerry Del Colliano re Bob Grant:
North Star Writers Group - Shockey:
UK Times -Beard:
Washington Post - Farhi:
2008-01-21: BBC Radio 1 has announced that Annie Mac is to host its weekend afternoon shows whilst Sara Cox in on maternity leave having her second child. The shows will be the first daytime ones for Mac who will begin her stint on February 23 and will be in the slot until Cox returns in September. She will also continue to host her Friday evening (21:00- 23:00) show, "Annie Mac's Mash Up" but is to step down from the Sunday evening (19:00 to 22:00) "Switch", which is targeted at a 12-16-years-old audience across radio, TV and online.
The Radio 1 "Switch" features specialist music, gossip, and music news plus live tracks from the BBC Two TV music show "Sound": It will now be fronted by Nick Grimshaw, who has been a contributor since the show began in October last year and who co-hosts "Sound" with Mac.
Radio 1 head of programmes Ben Cooper said in a BBC news release that he was "very pleased that Annie is going to look after the show while Sara is away. She's a great broadcaster and I know she'll do a brilliant job. Nick has proven himself as part of the Radio 1 family and it's very exciting that he'll be hosting his own show during this period."
Mac commented, "I am delighted to look after Sara's show for her when she's having baby number two. I think Sara is an exceptional presenter, and I just hope I do her show justice for her when she's away. I know that Switch is in safe hands with my mate Grimmy looking after it. He's so funny on the radio and is properly passionate about new music. He'll do a super job."
Grimshaw said he was "excited about taking over the show solo, although I will lose my radio wife Mac," adding, "I guess it's more of a separation than a divorce though. Just I'm keeping the kids and she's got the house. I've wanted to do a Radio 1 show since I was about 12 after realising I was musically talentless; it's kind of the next best thing. Switch is one of the most exciting shows on the station so it's an honour to be hosting it."
2008-01-21: US radio revenues in December last year were down 5% on a year earlier following a November decline of 6% according to the US Radio Advertising Bureau (RAB).
Within the figures RAB says local revenues were down 4%, national revenues were down 5%, and combined local and national revenues were down 6%. The only positive was again non spot revenues, which were up 12%.
Previous RAB and RAB figures (Nov 2007):
2008-01-20: Last week the main regulator news came from Canada where the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) made moves towards imposing caps and media cross-ownership restrictions (See RNW Jan 16): There was also a release by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) of a summary of complaints made in the first half of last year, yet again showing most to be about broadcast indecency or obscenity albeit with large rises and falls indicating to us a concerted e-mail campaign by an organization as opposed to general outrage (See RNW Jan 17).
Elsewhere it was more a matter of routine announcements.
In Australia, the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) posted just one radio notice, a proposal to vary technical specifications for Lithgow commercial radio services 2LT and 2ICE at Katoomba to improve reception of the services in the Blue Mountains area of New South Wales.
The proposals are for the 2LT translator service in Katoomba to convert from AM to a 1kw FM and also to increase the power for the 2ICE translator service in Katoomba, to 1kW. The ACMA is seeking comment on its proposals by February 15.
In Canada, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) as already noted is moving to restrict media cross-ownership: It also made a few radio postings including the following:
*Public notice asking for comments, with a deadline for initial comments of February 14 and for reply comments of February 29, on its proposal to publicly disclose aggregated financial data for large ownership groups of over-the-air television and radio broadcasters. At the moment broadcasters' annual returns and historical financial statements are treated as confidential and the CRTC says that at the time the practice was instituted there was a greater variety of locally-based owners and it was thought disclosure might affect the ability to compete. Subsequent consolidation it considers has created a relatively small number of large multi-station ownership groups and the Commission takes the preliminary view that such disclosure - which in general has been opposed by the groups so far written to - could serve the public interest. The CRTC also notes that Astral Media in its response said that if there were to be disclosure, it should do so for everyone including the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC).
*Public notice, with a deadline for submission of interventions or comments of February 20 including the following radio matters:
*Application by Northern Native Broadcasting to add a 34 watts FM transmitter at Williams Lake to broadcast the programming of CFNR-FM, Terrace.
*Application by United Christian Broadcasters Canada to add a 50 watts FM transmitter at Kingston, Ontario to broadcast the programming of CKJJ-FM, Belleville.
*Application by Harvard Broadcasting Inc. to change the frequency of CFWD-FM, Saskatoon, from 92.3 MHz to 96.3 MHz and reduce its power from 100,000 watts to 96,000 watts. It notes that the change would be pre-emptive action to avoid potential 3rd adjacency interference in Saskatoon and also that the current location might not meet the new 3rd adjacent channel rules.
The CRTC also posted the following radio decisions relating to Ontario:
*Approval of application by Apsley Community Chapel for a licence for a 50 watts English-language, low-power Christian music specialty commercial FM in Apsley.
*Approval of use of frequency 103.9 MHz for 200watts FM transmitter in Sarnia that will broad cast the programming of CHOK-AM: The CRTC had approved the transmitter in July last year but required Blackburn to find an alternative frequency to the one it had proposed.
*Denial of application by Rogers Broadcasting Limited for a licence for a 10,000 watts Rock format English-language commercial FM in Parry Sound. In denying the application the CRTC noted that Haliburton Broadcasting Group Inc., which operates the single FM - CKLP-FM - in the market contended that a new station would have undue negative impact on CKLP-FM, even if the proposed station were to achieve only 33% of its projected revenues and that the station had a profit before interest and tax (PBIT) margin between 2003 and 2005 that was lower than the average for Canada although there was evidence of a better performance in 2006.
It also noted that through its three North Bay stations (CKFX-FM, CKAT-AM and CHUR-FM), Rogers currently captures almost 41% of tuning by listeners over 12 years of age in the Parry Sound commercial radio market.
The CRTC took the view that the market cannot currently sustain a new station.
*Revocation at request of the licensee, The Greater Toronto Airports Authority, of the licence of English-language commercial station CFBN-AM, Toronto.
There were no radio decisions as such in Ireland but the Broadcasting Commission of Ireland (BCI) in connection with the sixth funding round of its Broadcasting Funding Scheme "Sound & Vision" has advertised for applications from programme makers for funding for new radio programmes dealing with the themes of Irish culture, heritage and experience. In the five previous rounds a total of Euros 3.7 million (USD 5.4 million) has been allocated to support 291 new radio programmes.
In the UK, Ofcom has posted its 100th Broadcasting Bulletin in which it upheld one radio complaint and partly upheld another (See RNW Jan 15). It has also been active regarding community licences and local FM renewals.
Regarding the latter it announced that only incumbent Radio Jackie had applied for its Kingston-upon-Thames FM licence and that accordingly Radio Jackie has been asked to re-apply under Ofcom fast -track procedures. It also pre-advertised the Wigan FM licence, currently held by Wish FM and that is due to expire at the end of March, 2009. Declarations of intent to apply, together with a GBP 10,000 (USD 20,000) non-refundable fee had to be submitted by February 7 this year.
As regards community licences, Ofcom announced the receipt of 31 applications for licences in the West Midlands, East Midland, and Lincolnshire.
The applications came from:
Amber Sound FM - (Amber Valley, Derbyshire.
Ambur Radio -Walsall.
Ashby Radio -Ashby de la Zouch.
Boundary Sound - Newark-on-Trent.
Corby Radio - Corby.
Cross Rhythms Coventry -Coventry.
Demon FM -Leicester.
EAVA FM -Leicester.
Erewash Sound -Erewash, Derbyshire.
Gravity FM -Grantham.
Hermitage FM - Coalville, Leicestershire.
The Hillz - Coventry.
Inspiration FM -Northampton.
Kohinoor FM - Leicester.
Mansfield Community Radio -Mansfield.
Moorlands Radio -Biddulph, Staffordshire.
OKay FM - Rugeley and The Haywoods, Staffordshire,
Panj Pani Radio -Leicester).
Peace Community Radio -Leicester.
Raaj FM -Sandwell, West Midlands.
Radio Lindum - Lincoln City Radio-Lincoln.
SACDA Radio -Sandwell, West Midlands.
Saddlers FM -Walsall.
South Holland Radio -South Holland, Lincolnshire.
The Sunflower FM -Oadby and Wigston, Leicestershire.
Switch Radio -Castle Vale, Birmingham.
Takeover Radio - Sutton-in-Ashfield, Nottinghamshire.
TCR fm -Tamworth.
Tulip Radio - South Holland, Lincolnshire.
The Voice of North Lincolnshire -Scunthorpe.
WCB FM - Walsall.
Ofcom also received one further application in the Birmingham area and is currently considering whether this application is valid under the published guidelines.
In the US, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) as already noted has posted a summary of complaints received n the first half of last year (See RNW Jan 17). It also posted details of the 214 applicants found to be qualified to bid in the upcoming auction of 700 MHz Band licenses, an auction of potential interest to broadcasters since applicants include Google and the spectrum could significantly expand broadband and thus other sources of audio and vision for their current audiences.
On the enforcement front, the FCC was again active, with various penalties affirmed or proposed including the following relating to radio (In descending amount order):
*Issued USD 17,000 forfeiture to Nicolas Paula for operating a pirate FM in the Bronx, New York.
Paula had not responded to a Notice of Apparent Liability to Forfeiture (NAL) for this amount so the penalty was affirmed.
*Agreed USD 10,000 consent decree with Fiesta Radio, Inc. relating to renewal of the licence of KSUN-AM, Phoenix, Arizona. The decree resolves compliance issues relating to public inspection file rules raised in the renewal application. Barring other issues, the licence will be promptly renewed following payment of the amount.
*Issued USD 8,800 forfeiture to Claro Communications, LTD., licensee of KBRN-AM, Boerne, Texas, for failure to maintain a main studio and operation of its station at a power level exceeding that specified in its license. The FCC had initially issued an USD 11,000 NAL and Claro argued for a reduction on the basis amongst other things that while the station was in the midst of moving its main studio, its sole principal was diagnosed with cancer and underwent treatment, thus preventing him from identifying a permanent main studio location and managing the move.
The FCC did not accept this or other arguments for reduction from the base level penalties for the offences but reduced the penalty to USD 8,800 on the basis of a prior history of compliance.
*Issued USD 7,000 NAL to Widener University, licensee of WDNR-FM, Chester, Pennsylvania for failure to file renewal application on time and unauthorized operation after licence had expired. The licence was renewed.
*Issued USD 500 NAL to WDAC Radio Company, licensee of FM Translator Station W280CP, Wagontown, Pennsylvania, for failure to file renewal application on time and unauthorized operation after licence had expired. The licence was renewed.
*Issued USD 500 NAL to WDAC Radio Company, licensee of FM Translator Station W280CQ, Shillington, Pennsylvania, for failure to file renewal application on time and unauthorized operation after licence had expired. The licence was renewed.
*Issued USD 500 NAL to Louis J. Maierhofer, licensee of FM Translator Station W276AS, Martinsburg, Pennsylvania, for failure to file renewal application on time and unauthorized operation after licence had expired. The licence was renewed.
*Issued USD 350 NAL to Timber Ridge Ministries, Inc., licensee of FM Translator Station W215AA, Millersburg, Pennsylvania, for failure to file renewal application on time and unauthorized operation after licence had expired. The licence was renewed.
In Arizona, the Commission denied four petitions from Eagle Broadcasting Group, former licensee of former broadcast station KVEZ-FM, Parker, concerning staff decisions that the station's license and all associated authorizations expired as a matter of law as of December 21, 2003, due to the station's failure to broadcast for one year.
In California, the FCC denied a request from JNE Investments, Inc. reconsider an earlier staff ruling that JNE was not entitled to additional time to build new station KSDG-AM, Julian.
In Georgia, the Commission dismissed a Contingent Application for Review filed by Davis Broadcasting Inc., of Columbus, in relation to the agency's granting of a request by Cusseta Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) to dismiss its above-captioned application for a new FM broadcast station at Cusseta, Georgia. The Cusseta application was mutually exclusive with an application by Signature Broadcasting, Inc. for the new FM but before the matter was decided the applications were frozen.
Subsequently the sole shareholder of CBC granted Allen Woodall, the sole shareholder of Solar Broadcasting Company, Inc., the then-licensee of Stations WDAK-AM, Columbus, Georgia, and WSTH-FM, Alexander City, Alabama, an option to purchase its stock and also entered into an agreement with regard to the proposed Cusseta station, should it be granted the permit, granting Cumulus Licensing Corp. an option to purchase the assets of the station.
Later Solar entered into an agreement to sell its two stations to Cumulus, conditioned upon the dismissal of CBC's Cusseta application and to comply with this condition, Woodall exercised his option to purchase the CBC stock, and then caused CBC to file the Request for Dismissal.
Davis opposed Solar's application to assign the two licenses to Cumulus, based in part on its contention that Woodall had become an unlawful real party in interest to the CBC Cusseta application, and that Woodall and CBC had "abused Congressional and Commission settlement processes and policies."
The FCC dismissed the Davis application and upheld its staff's earlier decisions.
In Montana, the Commission denied an application by Bee Broadcasting Inc. for review of various decisions dismissing its objections to Anderson Radio Broadcasting, Inc.'s move of the frequency involved from Wallace, Idaho, to Bigfork, Montana.
In New Mexico, the commission denied an application by A-O Broadcasting Corporation, which had been authorized to construct an FM broadcast station at Cloudcroft, to review a staff decision which affirmed an earlier decision that the station's license and all associated authorizations expired as a matter of law due to the station's failure to broadcast for one year.
In New York State, the FCC denied an application by Cram Communications, LLC, permittee of unbuilt broadcast station WVOA-AM, DeWitt, to review a commission decision to reject an application to toll" the station's construction period.
Previous Licence News:
ACMA web site:
BCI web site:
CRTC web site:
FCC web site:
Ofcom web site:
2008-01-19: GCap Media has announced that its Operations Director Steve Orchard is to leave the company from the end of April after 24 years with the group and has stepped down from its board. Suggestions are that he was disappointed when his bid to succeed Ralph Bernard as chief executive failed and the post went to Fru Hazlitt.
In a news release Orchard commented, "I have built strong and enduring relationships with my colleagues over very many years and I am immensely proud of our achievements during my stewardship as Group Operations Director. This has been a marvellous journey and I'm looking forward to new challenges outside GCap."
GCap Media chairman Richard Eyre commented, "Steve is highly respected in the industry for developing and inspiring some of its finest talent. His creativity has played a central role in the building of GWR and GCap over a period of 24 years. We wish him every success for the future."
In other UK radio executive moves, Global Radio has made LBC operations and compliance manager Rob Hooker redundant as part of a continuing management restructuring. Last year Global announced five other executive redundancies including LBC managing director David Lloyd and the managing directors of Heart and Galaxy and promoted Don Thomson to the post of chief operations officer and Mark Evans to the post of chief financial officer (See RNW Sep 14, 2007).
Since then it has appointed Jonathan Richards, who will take on many of the tasks currently handled by Hooker, as programming director and also appointed former Magic FM marketing director Nicola Thomson to the new role of director of marketing.
Global also announced the creation of a new role of London stations director but has not yet made an appointment to the post.
Previous GCap Media:
Previous Global Radio:
2008-01-19: CBS Radio has announced that long-time WXRK-FM (K-Rock) Vice-President and General Manager Tom Chiusano is to step down at the end of the month after 23 years with the station.
Chiusano, who had joined the then Infinity Broadcasting as GM of its WIVY-AM, Jacksonville, Florida, will continue to work with the station and CBS as a consultant: He said in a release, "I've had an unbelievable run with CBS Radio, having worked with the biggest and best names in the business. And as proud as I am of the legacy I will leave behind, I'm equally enthusiastic about what the future holds."
CBS Radio President and CEO Dan Mason paid tribute to Chiusano, commenting, "It's not every day you get to work alongside someone of Tom's integrity, intelligence, and understanding. For many in this organization, myself included, we've been fortunate to have learned from and been a friend of Tom for more than two decades. He's taught us all how to successfully face challenges and break new ground with a genuine passion and distinctive style all his own. I look forward to his continued counsel and insight and wish him nothing but the best."
During his time at K-Rock, became well known for wrangles with Howard Stern before the host moved to satellite radio, primarily over what was and was not allowable by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and for use of the dump button to keep Stern within bounds. The host called him "Tom Cheap-asano" for his pains.
2008-01-18: Supporters of Bob Grant and fellow conservative talk hosts have criticized trade magazine Radio and Records for its decision to withdraw a Lifetime Achievement Award to the host after it reconsidered his "body of work."
The publication did not expand on its decision beyond the initial statement in which it also referred to "to the diversity of our community" and said it did not "want the presentation of an award to Mr. Grant to imply our endorsement of past comments by him that contradict our values and the respect we have for all members of our community."
The New York Daily News quoted Grant as saying that he was "saddened ... that a kook using an e-mail can cause major companies to fold like a cheap camera" and adding, "It hurts me, but I think it also hurts everybody, because is this what America has become? Is this Salem in 1692, where someone accuses you of being a witch and you're presumed guilty?"
WABC program director Phil Boyce, who in 1996 fired Grant after he commented after a plane crash in which Commerce Secretary Ron Brown was killed but before that was confirmed, "My hunch is [Brown] is the one survivor. I just have that hunch. Maybe it's because at heart I'm a pessimist" and re-hired him last year (See RNW Aug 24, 2007), said the decision was "shocking, saddening and disappointing. ... Could anyone deny Bob deserved this award?"
Grant had also come under fire over the years for other attacks on public officials - he had a practice of attaching derogatory nicknames to them - and had also been accused of racism.
Boyce said some of his radio colleagues had suggested a boycott of this year's R&R Convention.
RNW Comment: The main point at issue here it seems to us is whether the award - like Time Magazine's "Man of the Year" Award to Vladimir Putin last year and in the 30's and 40's to Hitler (once) and Stalin (Twice) - is an ethically neutral one marking the effects an individual has had for good or evil or is one that is seen as in some way an endorsement of the individual.
Whichever way Radio and Records had jumped it risked laying itself open to criticism: our decision would have been to have let the award remain but to have announced at the time rather than that it was "proud to salute" Grant that the award was made to mark his influence but distance itself from some of his remarks, giving a few examples.
In so doing it could also have noted that the success, like that of many Conservative hosts, came in part from Grant's appeal to misogynist, racist, and ignorant bigots.
In all probability, this would have attracted even more criticism than it has now, but at least the decision would have brought into the open some of the unpleasant nature of both hosts and audience.
New York Daily News report:
2008-01-18: Macquarie Media Group, which has just taken over Southern Cross Broadcasting in a deal that involved a subsequent sale of Southern Cross's metropolitan radio stations to Fairfax Media, is to re-badge its Macquarie Regional Radioworks operation as Macquarie Southern Cross Media according to The Australian.
The paper says the name change will reflect the November completion of the purchase of Southern Cross (See RNW Oct 22, 2007) and is expected to be completed by mid-February at which time the Macquarie Regional Radioworks name will go into limbo.
Fairfax has already had to drop Southern Cross name from the radio stations it bought.
The paper adds that Macquarie is already moving to integrate its radio and television sales teams in major markets around the country, giving rise to speculation that it is planning to offer advertising packages on both radio and TV in regional centres where it owns both. It also says local managers may be put in charge of both radio and TV operations in regional markets.
Previous Macquarie Media:
The Australian report:
2008-01-18: Westwood One's new President and CEO Thomas Beusse, who was appointed earlier this month (See RNW Jan 10) has announced that afternoon host Wendy Williams, formerly syndicated by Superadio, will join its ranks on February 4.
Her four-hour "Wendy Williams Experience" show originates from WBLS-FM in New York and the move means she will be heard in Los Angeles for the first time - on KDAY-FM.
Beusse commented in a release, "It's with great enthusiasm that I make this, my first announcement as CEO of this great company. It is our mission to attract the best talent, create extraordinary content and deliver it at the highest standards. Wendy Williams is a household name in New York as she will undoubtedly be in Los Angeles and beyond."
Williams said that going on air in Los Angeles would be "part of a dream come true" and WBLS General Manager Deon Levingston said that she was a "tremendous talent" who would "do exceptionally well in Los Angeles."
Previous Westwood One:
2008-01-18: In more UK radio changes by GCap Media James Cannon, who currently hosts the Capital Radio Sunday morning slot is to co-host the 06:00- 10:00 breakfast show on classic hits network Gold Radio - formed from the merger of Capital Gold and Classic Gold last year, with Erica North. He will retain his Capital Radio slot.
Current Gold Radio breakfast host David Jensen will move to a 10:00 to 13:00 slot.
Previous GCap Media:
2008-01-17: Australian metropolitan commercial radio stations saw their advertising revenue in the 2007 calendar year rise by 7.5 % on a year earlier to AUD 644.5 million (USD 564.7 million) according to figures from industry body Commercial Radio Australia (CRA).
CRA said the latest PricewaterhouseCoopers Radio Revenue Performance figures showed Perth as the strongest market- up 20% year-on-year to AUD 78.1 million (USD 68.4 million) - followed by Brisbane (Up 10% to AUD 101.2 million - USD 88.7 million); Adelaide - up 6.8% to AUD 60.4 million - USD 52.9 million) Melbourne (Up 6.5% to AUD 181.3 million - USD 158.9 million); and Sydney (Up 3.4% to AUD 223.4 million - USD 195.7 million).
Its CEO Joan Warner noted that the strong Perth figures reflected a "very strong state economy" and added, "The industry has performed well in 2007 and surpassed forecast growth predictions - helped by the Federal election and a strong economy in the west. This is a good result and highlights a strong performance in 2007 compared to the previous year when radio revenue grew only 1.4 per cent."
She went on to warn against complacency and commented that the radio industry "must continue to be innovative and lead the way in developing new opportunities for attracting advertising revenue The link between radio and online presents significant opportunities for commercial radio stations this year as does the launch of digital radio early next year."
In audience terms Australian commercial radio had an average weekly cumulative audience of 8, 74 million, up from 8.66 million from 2006, with radio remaining the dominant breakfast-time medium with 6.7 million listening each week, up from 6.6 million a year earlier.
Previous Commercial Radio Australia:
2008-01-17: Cox Radio has announced that it has exercised its option to buy five radio stations serving the Athens, Georgia market for USD 60 million, USD 12 million of which has already been paid towards the option.
The stations are all owned by affiliated companies controlled by Paul Stone: Southern Broadcasting of Athens, Inc.; Southern Broadcasting of Pensacola, Inc.; and New Broadcast Investment Properties, Inc. and Stone said of the deal, "Cox Radio is an extraordinarily good employer and is known for running its radio stations with a long-term focus. Of all the possible purchasers of our stations, I'm thrilled to be able to tell my staff that the buyer is Cox Radio. I'm very comfortable seeing our family of stations move to Cox Radio's care."
Cox Radio president and CEO Robert F. Neil added, "This strong and very profitable group of stations allows us to enhance our service in the Southeast and specifically in the State of Georgia. The location of these stations in the fast growing I-85 corridor between Atlanta and Greenville is a great strategic fit for Cox Radio due to our existing presence in both of those markets. I'm excited about the opportunity to add these stations to the Cox Radio portfolio."
Previous Cox Radio:
2008-01-17: Figures just released by the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) show a large increase in radio and TV broadcasting complaints in the first quarter of last year following a massive decrease in the final quarter of 2006. There was a massive fall back in the second quarter.
In all the Commission listed 151,008 broadcasting complaints in the first quarter, 149,457 pf them relating to broadcast indecency or obscenity - the next highest number was of 1,157 general criticism of programming followed by 375 on other programming issues: The figures compare with totals of 163,134 in the third quarter and 33,327 in the final quarter of 2006, 30,962 of which were related to broadcast indecency or obscenity. Of this last sub total 29,821 were received in October, 835 in November and 306 in December.
The comparative figures for the first quarter of 2007 were 148,281 in January, 1,000 in February, and 176 in March.
In the second quarter of 2007, broadcasting complaints again fell back massively to a quarterly total of 5,675, of which 4,368 related to indecency or obscenity - 4,055 of them in April, 212 in May, and 101 in June. In this quarter there were 723 complaints in the general criticism category and 523 relating to other programming issues.
RNW comment: As we have noted in the past, the raw figures have little meaning in an age where a mass e-mail campaign by an organization can quickly produce a flood of e-mails since, like junk e-mail there is little effort or cost attached to such complaints. Unfortunately the FCC does not post a breakdown that would allow meaning to be put on the figures such as the number that broadly follow the format of an organized e-mail campaign together with details of the organization that has organized the campaign.
Previous FCC complaints figures (Final quarter 2006):
2008-01-16: The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) has announced proposals for new policies to ensure a "continuing diversity of voices in Canadian broadcasting" including caps and cross ownership restrictions.
The proposed caps on the ownership of broadcasting licences that would bar any entity from controlling more than 45 per cent of the total television audience share as a result of a transaction and also reject transactions that would result in one entity effectively controlling the delivery of programming - including by satellite or cable delivery - in an single market.
Regarding media cross-ownerhsip the CRTC noted that in "almost all western countries, with the exception of New Zealand, there are limitations" and proposes to llow one person or entity to control only two types of media - local radio station, local TV station or local newspaper, in any market.
CRTC chairman Konrad von Finckenstein said in a release that with the new policies, the commission had "developed a clear approach to guide us in assessing future transactions in the broadcasting industry", adding, "It is an approach that will preserve the plurality of editorial voices and the diversity of programming available to Canadians, both locally and nationally, while allowing for a strong and competitive industry."
The CRTC said that following a review the system currently provided a suitable rang of news and information programming and reaffirmed its existing common ownership policies governing the number of conventional television and radio stations a person may control in the same market.
The Commission has also conditionally approved the Journalistic Independence Code proposed by the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council (CBSC): It has directed the CBSC to include a minimum number of journalists on the panels that study complaints and to formalize the process used to select panel members.
In addition to these measures the CRTC is to evaluate the contribution to diversity of voices made by public broadcasts in proceedings focusing on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and provincial educational broadcasters and will also undertake a comprehensive review of its policies relating to community broadcasters in the near future.
Previous von Finckenstein:
2008-01-16: Premiere Radio Networks has announced that Coast to Coast AM host George Noory, who took over the hosting of the show from Art Bell in January 2003 has renewed his long-term contract for the show although it gives no details of the new contract.
The show is said to be the most listened to overnight radio program in North America and Noory said in a release he was "excited to continue my relationship with Premiere, and want to thank the network for its full confidence as we push Coast to Coast AM to even greater heights."
Previous Premiere Networks:
2008-01-16: Former BBC Radio 1 DJ Andy Kershaw, who most recently worked for the BBC hosting a World Music programme on BBC Radio 3, has been jailed for three months for breaking a restraining order that barred him from approaching his former partner Juliette Banner, with whom he has two children, and her new partner.
Kershaw, who lives on the Isle of Man, breached the order - made by the same court- in the island's capital, Peel, in November last year, and in passing sentence said the DJ seemed "hell-bent" on destroying himself. He also admitted being drunk and disorderly outside Peel police station and swearing at officers.
The court was told that a dispute over the children was at the root of the problem. Kershaw had been given a three-month suspended sentence in October at the same court for harassing Banner and Moyle said he felt he had no option but to impose a custodial sentence.
Kershaw currently has no contract with the BBC and his show last aired in spring last year. He had hosted it since 2001 and Radio 3 said that no decision had been made about Kershaw's future although it considered the current situation a private matter.
BBC News report:
2008-01-15: Montreal-headquartered Astral Media, Canada's largest radio broadcaster as the result of its acquisition of Standard Radio (See RNW Nov 1, 2007), has reported first quarter revenues and profits well up in what it termed "an excellent start in Fiscal 2008."
Revenues were up 20% on a year ago to CAD 198.7 million (USD 195.3 million) with EBITDA up 24% to CAD 65.6 million (USD 64.5 million) and consolidated net earnings up 15% over last year to CAD 37.5 million (USD 36.9 million).
Within the figures TV revenues were up 7% to CAD 129.5 million ( USD 127.3 million); radio revenues, boosted by the Standard acquisition were up 58% to CAD 17.2 million ( USD 16.9 million) and Outdoor revenues were up 52% to CAD 7.3 million ( USD 7.2 million).
Astral noted that its Québec radio stations had 2% "organic growth" and that the outdoor revenues were boosted by the Toronto Street Furniture Program and a strong performance in the Québec market.
President and Chief Executive Officer Ian Greenberg commented of the performance: "We are very pleased with the Company's results for the first quarter of Fiscal 2008, which are another illustration of Astral Media's ability to sustain growth both organically and through strategic acquisitions. We are delighted once again by the fact that all our business units contributed in a significant manner to an excellent start in Fiscal 2008. Astral Media's unique asset mix and its new
pan-Canadian footprint allows for this kind of performance.''
Greenberg added that Astral was open to more acquisitions that had the right fit "regardless of size" saying "Our balance sheet is well within the means of being able to do another large acquisition should one arise."
Greenberg said that the struggling Quebec television network TQS was not on his takeover list: TQS is majority-owned by Cogeco Inc. and minority-owned by CTVglobemedia Inc. and Corus Entertainment, which also reported solid first quarter results (See RNW Jan 1) has also said it is not interested in TQS, which has filed for bankruptcy and could close down.
2008-01-15: UK media regulator Ofcom has upheld one radio standards complaint and partly upheld a radio fairness and privacy complaint in its latest- and 100th - Broadcast Bulletin in which it also upheld five TV standards complaints and considered a further TV standards case resolved through action already taken by the broadcaster.
The radio standards case involved Bristol Radio Ramadan and a complaint by a listener concerning broadcasts on October 11 and 12 last year. Radio Ramadan was asked for recordings of the relevant programming but said that it was unable to provide copies of the material broadcast, due to a technical failure of their recording equipment. Accordingly Ofcom, whilst being unable to investigate, ruled that there had been a breach of licence conditions that would be held on record.
The fairness and privacy complaint involved GMG Radio's Real Radio in Central Scotland and a news report concerning a coach crash near Heathrow Airport that was followed by the withdrawal for checks of vehicles of the same type.
A driver employed by the coach company told the station that the same type of vehicle was being operated a Glasgow-Edinburgh service and the company had decided not to withdraw the vehicles concerned for checks. Real Radio's first report - two days after the accident - carried the interview without reaction from the coach company and a further three reports added that the coach company had not commented when asked .
The coach company said that the allegation was untrue and that all vehicles of the same type had in fact been taken off the road for detailed examination the day after the accident and that Real Radio had been informed of this through its solicitors on the same afternoon as the broadcast.
Real Radio responded that it had had carried the report sin the public interest and clearly attributed the comments to the driver: It added that it had contacted the company and tried to offer an opportunity to respond but all that was received form the company for five days was a decision not to respond. It also said that the response that was said to have been raced to it was in fact sent to a firm of solicitors who had represented Real Radio in a different matter and the first time the station knew of the complaint was when it received a follow-up letter.
Ofcom it its ruling noted that the coach company's board had been attending a board meeting to discuss the accident on the day of the reports and that a call 20 minutes before the first broadcast did not allow "an appropriate and timely opportunity to respond."
For the later bulletins, however, it held that Real Radio was justified in including the report and noted that it was the company's decision to send a response to solicitors previously used by the station rather than communicate directly. It upheld the complaint only in regard to the first broadcast.
In addition to the breaches Ofcom also gave details of three TV complaints not upheld and listed without details 237 complaints against 181 TV items and 38 radio complaints against 30 items that it did not uphold or were considered out of its remit: This compares with 865 complaints - high because of 388 complaints against one programme,135 against another, and 111 against a third.- against 171 TV items and 41 radio complaints against 23 items that were out of its remit or not upheld in the previous bulletin.
Previous Ofcom Complaints Bulletin:
2008-01-15: This week we start our look at print comment on radio out of the mainstream courtesy of a Los Angeles Times report by Ann M. Simmons on ham radio in Iraq: It faced severe restrictions and intrusive surveillance under Saddam Hussein and apparently is still under significant suspicion today with fears that it could be used by insurgents.
Simmons quotes ham operator Abdul Kari Hade, who runs an electronics repair shop as saying of his motivation to use ham radio - he had been operating since 1978 and has the call sign YI1AK - rather than the Internet or cell phone to contact his friends, "With ham radio, you can meet people around the world. It's also a hobby you can do on your own. And once you have your own equipment, it's free."
"More important," continues Simmons, "at a time when most movie theaters and nightclubs are closed because of security concerns, 'hamming' is a form of entertainment that can be pursued at home."
That, she adds, wasn't the case under Saddam when ham radio enthusiasts had to report to government-sanctioned clubs, where minders listened in on their conversations but since his ouster they have faced suspicion from both U.S. troops and the Iraqi government that their transmissions are a tool of the insurgency.
"Saddam would hang you if you were found with a transmitter at home," recalled Hadi. "They thought you were a spy if you had an antenna."
Hadi said that since the invasion fewer than 50 of 150 or so ham radio enthusiasts who operated primarily in Baghdad have returned to their stations, commenting, "Some have travelled outside Iraq; others are afraid to use their wireless. They think they will face problems from the American soldiers or the Iraqi police. I am trying to tell everyone that the situation is better now."
Another ham operator, Imad Yusef Dahi - call sign YI1EYT - commented, "It's a beautiful hobby. You can communicate with people from all over the world. And you can talk as long as you want, for free."
And another, Azhar - call sign YI1FLY - did not want to give his last name and was concerned about getting into trouble, commented, "It's a great feeling when you're using equipment that you've put together yourself."
Hadi had experience of that trouble: He was arrested by the US military and his equipment confiscated although he had a licence for it. After a week in jail while an investigation was conducted he was freed "with an apology" but then it took him ore than a month to get his equipment back and he says he suspects someone wanting "to take revenge" had fingered him as a possible militant, and had accused him of using the radio equipment for criminal purposes.
Last year Iraqi authorities suspended ham radio activity for eight months citing security concerns, a situation that the ham radio operators recall was worse than under Hussein who rarely took them off the air.
After that on to more mainstream comment and this week we have adopted to go with UK comment, mainly because it took the medium more seriously and positively than the comment we saw from the US.
First Gillian Reynolds from the UK Daily Telegraph and in her column last week she put big brother TV - the medium not the programme - firmly in its place, commencing by writing, "It takes two weeks of watching Christmas television to make a person wonder why, old movies apart, anyone bothers with it."
After mentioning a few programmes on British TV, criticizing TV news - "ghastly self-congratulatory presenters in horrible sets, mouthing platitudes to on-the-spot reporters with nothing new to add to what they said the last time" - she commented favourably on its radio sibling.
"Even when radio news comes wrapped in other stuff, as with music on Jeremy Vine's Radio 2 show or chat on Radio Five Live's Drive," commented Reynolds, "it seems to make a more direct connection between what is happening in the world and how it affects us."
"As to celebrating the past," she continued, "radio wins hands down. On television, BBC4's Dance Britannia, Pop Britannia and Thunderbirds Night all dealt with things I remember, but were told as if the past is intrinsically absurd. By contrast, God, Pirates and Ovaltineys (Radio 4, Sat) told its story in historical depth but with wit and warmth. This Archive Hour by Sean Street had breadth, depth and respect for its subject, the commercial radio rivals to the BBC in the late 1920s and throughout the '30s. One, Captain Leonard Plugge, was a formidable challenger to the BBC's John Reith, setting up his rival IBC, making "friendly" programmes that drew the audience away from the sterner Reithian schedule."
After Reynolds encomiums on to one of an individual performer from Rachel Cooke in The Observer: Writing under the heading "The rise and rise of little voice" she commented favourably on Fi Glover's "Saturday Live" on BBC Radio 4. It's in the Saturday morning slot once held by the late John Peel's "Home Truths".
The article goes into considerable detail on what Cooke considers to be Glover's strengths and he background so we have just opted for part of the first two paragraphs. It concerns an interview with a middle aged man who spend 24 hours stuck on a motorway in blizzard conditions "with only a piece of cheese for company (he was on the Atkins Diet at the time). This was a horrible ordeal, and not only because he lacked both Branston Pickle and a box of Jacob's Cream Crackers. Taking a leak was especially difficult and humiliating, thanks to blizzard conditions that Ernest Shackleton himself might have found challenging. His interviewer asks - not unsympathetically - if it wasn't possible that he might have found a way of, well, going in the car, but Mick insists that after trying to do so once, he thought it preferable to risk frostbite to his nether regions. At which point, his interviewer, who is all but purring with delight, says (or words to this effect): 'What a shame! Because there aren't many times as an adult when you can let yourself go, are there, Mick?'"
"Very few Radio 4 presenters," comments Cooke, "could utter a line like this and get away with it - or at least not at 9am on a Saturday morning. Nor would they be up to teasing such a strangely riveting interview about bad weather on a motorway out of a man with - sorry, Mick - one of the most boring voices I've ever heard (imagine the same subject being discussed on, say, Radio 4's daily consumer programme, You and Yours: yes, the very idea makes you claw wildly at your hair, doesn't it?). But then, the presenter in question is Fi Glover, one of the best - if not the best - broadcasters of her generation, which means that not only has she licence to be naughty, but also that she can make the dullest subject spring powerfully to life, in the manner of a tatty charity shop jacket that suddenly finds itself being modelled by Kate Moss."
And finally a celebration of a radio series by a politician whose defeat was greeted with widespread rejoicing but who has re-invented his career very successfully outside politics.
The politician in question is Michael Portillo and the series is "The Things We Forgot to Remember" on BBC Radio 4. Commenting on his latest programme Nicholas Lezard in the UK Independent begins by reference to Portillo's past "As I can never forget his political history, I am never going to be entirely happy with the notion of Michael Portillo on the radio" but then says, "But I have to admit he did a pretty good job in this week's The Things We Forgot to Remember, which looked at the causes and the effects of the Bengal famine of 1943.[RNW Note: Regrettably this is not currently on the web site: The programme airs on Monday's and the most recent was on the Battle of Trafalgar].
Lezard also comments favourably, albeit with some reservations, on another Radio 4 programme, last week's "Longing for Silence" [Wednesday 21:00 GMT and on the site until then] in which Kate Cook explored the possibility of a cure for the chronic tinnitus from which has suffered for a quarter of a decade - apparently some one in twelve Britons suffer from tinnitus: In summary was that it "was treated with a minimum of aural gimmickry" but "was also left curiously unresolved."
On then to listening suggestions and we start with the programmes mentioned above, all from BBC Radio 4 as noted.
Glover's programme last week for those interested included discussion with guest and film critic Barry Norman about his branded pickled onions - he comments, albeit not seriously, that Paul Newman had better look out; with a woman teacher and soccer youth trainer - a discussion that excoriates pushy parents who don't let their children enjoy playing soccer; and a discussion with Nick Yarris, himself freed after 23 years on death row for a crime he did not commit and of which he was found not guilty through DNA evidence that he pushed for against the opposition of the legal authorities, about the death penalty and the problems facing Scot Kenny Ritchie, just released from death row in the US after doing a deal with the authorities in connection with a fire that killed a two-years old girl and for which he was sentenced to death 20 years ago. [RNW Note: Nick Yarris's web site gives details of his case, details that make it difficult to have that much respect for the US legal system, not that similar cases cannot be found in most if not all countries; the interview teases out details on how he dealt and is currently dealing with his life after release- he now had a baby daughter and lives in the UK]. It also included discussion with John McCarthy, a former hostage in the Lebanon and now a Radio 4 host, about his experiences of being held in captivity.
In other suggestions from BBC Radio 4 this week we include Monday's "The Saving of Fordhall Farm" concerning an initiative to buy the farm and save it from development; and "The Advance of the Giant Crabs" - the story of the introduction of the Kamchatka crabs into the Barents Sea at Stalin's behest and the potentially ecological damage their spread could cause; the (15:30 GMT)"Afternoon Readings" that this week are specially commissioned stories by local authors inspired by paintings of the East Anglian landscape; and the following (15:45GMT) slot on "Fungi: The Fifth Kingdom"; plus the "Book of the Week" - "I found my Horn" - in which Nicholas Boulton reads from Jasper Rees's account of resuming his horn-playing after 22 years.
Fungi also feature in this week's "Material World "on Thursday, a programme that looks at the pressure on agricultural production from fungi and viruses.
On then to music and sticking with Radio 4 for a moment we suggest today's "Soul Music" at 13:30 GMT, which is on Sibelius's "Finlandia."
Then from BBC Radio 2, we suggest "Louie and the G-Man" at 22:30 GMT tonight in which Steve Van Zandt tells how the song survived the wrath of the FBI to become one of the most performed, recorded and influential tracks of all time.
Tomorrow night at 23:00 GMT the station airs the third and final part of its documentary series on Johnny Halliday and on Friday the final part of its series profiling 1930s singer Al Bowlly.
Then to BBC Radio 3 and another week when we suggest its "Essay" (Monday to Thursday), again on "Greek and Latin Voices" and this week with four contributors taking about Saint Augustine - including Dr Rowan Williams, the present Archbishop of Canterbury, reflecting on Augustine's influence on Christianity (Tonight's edition).
We also suggest some podcasts/MP3s starting with the BBC World Service "Debt Threat" series (lookng at the threats raised by the sub-prime mortgage crisis and how countries like China are buyng up resources for the future whilst the US looks on - Parts 1 and 2 are currently in the BBC documentary archives ) and also from that archive the "Looted Art" and "Desperate Dreams" series on art looted by the Nazis that was shipped bacjk to Russia after the Second World War and the Africans who set out to emigrate to Europe (Part One of each currently on the site).
We also suggest last Thursday and Friday's "Life Matters" from the Australian Broadcasting Corporation - both with a sexual theme and including items on "Muslim Sex Education" (Thursday) and "The Sex Supply" (Friday).
Sex was also the main topic on this week's "Curious Orange" on Radio Netherlands: It included items on the closures of brothels in Amsterdam's red-light district, a religious TV host who promotes celibacy amongst teenagers - and also how the Duth break regulations.
Tuesday's "The State We're In" was also worth a listen, proviging stories on how Kenyan stability ended and also stories of business ethics.
Los Angeles Times -Simmons:
UK Independent -Lezard:
UK Observer- Cooke:
UK Telegraph - Reynolds:
2008-01-14: The 2008 Australian radio ratings season starts today with significant changes in the Sydney talk market where 2UE, now owned by Fairfax Media, has new hosts in its breakfast and morning slots.
In the breakfast slot, Mike Carlton will now be teamed with former ABC NewsRadio presenter Sandy Aloisi after plans to hire Deborah Thomas of The Australian Women's Weekly fell through (See RNW Jan 2): Thomas, having turned down 2UE, is currently hosting ABC 702's morning show.
According to the Sydney Sunday Telegraph, Nine Network presenter Ken Sutcliffe also turned down an offer and an offer was then made to Aloisi, a former 2UE program director, who left the station in 2006 after 14 years to work for ABC NewsRadio.
The show will be renamed the "Mike and Sandy" show and the paper quotes Aloisi as saying she would bring a journalistic edge to the station but adding, "It's an opportunity to express an opinion. Until now, at the ABC, I haven't really expressed any opinions; we played it straight down the line.''
Macquarie Radio Network's 2GB with Alan Jones in the breakfast slot and part of the morning time, dominated the ratings at the end of last year and had almost double 2UE's audience at the end of last year with a 14.1 share compared to 7.6 for 2UE, albeit ABC 702's Adam Spencer was much closer to Jones with 11.5 (See RNW Dec 9, 2007).
The battle may be even tougher in the mornings where Ray Hadley for 2GB had a 14.9 share, outstripping Jones for the first time, 2UE had a 7.3 share and ABC 702 had a 7.2 share with the last ratings with Virginia Trioli as host.
2UE's former drivetime host Steve Price moves into the morning slot today and is claiming that he will be tougher competition because he can concentrate on Sydney and not be concerned about the regional syndication that Jones has to service (See RNW Dec 27, 2007).
In the Sydney FM market Austereo's 2-Day team of Kyle and Jackie O ended 2007 in the top rank with an 11.8 share but their competition may become tougher: DMG's Nova, which ended 2007 with an 8.5 share but is beefing up the Merrick and Rosso (Merrick Watts and Tim Ross) team with the addition of Kate Ritchie, formerly on Home and Away. There will also be changed competition from Australian Radio Network (ARN) station Mix 106.5, which is replacing Sammy Power and Subby Valentine - who ended 2007 with a 5.9 share - with Sonia Kruger and Todd McKenney from Dancing With The Stars.
Previous ABC, Australia:
Previous Fairfax Media:
Previous Kyle and Jackie O:
Previous Macquarie Radio Network:
Sydney Sunday Telegraph report:
2008-01-14: Following last week's bound in GCap Media's shares - they ended last week at 195.25 pence having closed the previous week at 121 pence with the rise put down to news of a Global Radio offer of 190 pence a share, which was made on December 17 last year when GCap's stock ranged between 127 pence and 123 pence - expectations are of a further offer from Global and possibly rival bids.
The likelihood of the latter has, however, been reduced by the global credit squeeze that has followed US sub-prime mortgage problems that have put pressures on bank lending.
The UK Sunday Times comments that Global Radio chairman Charles Allen, who was formerly chief executive of Granada TV and then of ITV, "is too experienced a dealmaker to lay out his best price first" and that he will be back.
It quotes GCap Media's chairman Richard Eyre, another former chief executive of ITV and also of Capital Radio, as sating of the offer, which was not put to shareholders, "The board took the view that with a first offer, in the context of our share price over a period of time rather than on that specific date, that trotting off to shareholders and saying 'What would you like us to do?' was an entirely inappropriate response I think if we had gone to shareholders with 190p it would be signalling that we thought it was a sensible offer and it was the starting point for discussions - and we really didn't think that was the case."
Eyre added that averaged over three months the price offered was a premium of 21% but averaged over six months it was only 1.5% but the paper says he admits that GCap is vulnerable, commenting, "We are in a hiatus between the resignation of the previous chief executive [Ralph Bernard] and the arrival of a new one [Fru Hazlitt]. The market now waits to hear her strategic thoughts."
Regarding Allen, the paper says his issue is when to make the move and notes that Allen, then with Granada under Gerry Robinson, made a bid for Forte's hotel empire when Rocco Forte was on a grouse shoot. It adds that the commercial-radio industry has the hallmarks of the television sector Allen knows so well, being fragmented, under regional ownership, under a stringent regulatory regime and with advertising revenues under pressure and that when he lost the bidding for Emap's radio operations to German media company Bauer, GCap was the obvious next target.
Allen, says the paper, is operating from a position of strength with backing from Irish entrepreneur Michael Tabor and horseracing tycoons JP McManus and John Magnier, who have deep pockets, at a time when because of GCap's profitability the amount that can be borrowed against it is limited, thus "leaving few candidates to join an auction this time."
The paper says Patrick Yau at Ingenious Securities estimated that Global could squeeze out GBP 15 million (USD 30 million) of costs by combining GCap with its Heart and Galaxy stations, bought for GBP 170 million (USD 340 million) from Chrysalis, reversing the decision to limit adverts to no more than two in a row to preserve premium prices, and stripping money from the company's digital radio budget and costs.
Other potential buyers suggested by the paper are Bauer, the European radio and TV group RTL and Denis O'Brien's Communicorp but it quotes Eyre as saying, "I don't need a white knight. I don't consider that our role is one of defence at all costs."
Although Eyre is expressing confidence the paper says that was not the case with a rival radio boss (unnamed) who commented, "Fru is going to have to come up with something unbelievably dramatic to give shareholders the belief that they should stick with her for a year."
Previous GCap Media:
Previous Global Radio:
UK Sunday Times report:
2008-01-13: Last week was marked by the announcement in the US that a House Committee is launching a formal investigation into Federal Communications Commission (FCC) "regulatory procedures and practices" and has told the agency to preserve documents and e-mails (See RNW Jan 10) but otherwise there were no major announcements from the regulators.
In Australia, the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) is to allocate two new community licences for Perth - one for the Perth metropolitan area and surrounding districts that goes to Peedac Pty Ltd and the other for Perth City and the inner and middle ring suburbs of Perth to Capital Community Radio Inc.
Peedac's proposed service will serve Perth's Indigenous community and those interested in indigenous culture and issues while Capital Community Radio's proposed service will serve the seniors community and both licences will be allocated on January 22 with services having to start within twelve months.
Acting ACMA Chair Lyn Maddock said of the decision that there was "currently no broadcasting service in Perth catering to the needs of Perth's Indigenous community, one of the largest in Australia" whilst the Capital Community Radio mix of music and information for the senior demographic would fulfil "an unmet need for a dedicated seniors service."
Perth already has eleven community services, six long term Perth-wide services and five sub-metro services including the 6NR news and current affairs, education, information and music targeted at a mature aged audience.
In Canada the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) has a quiet week as far as radio was concerned, posting only one notice concerning an application by Vista Radio Ltd. to use 99.7 MHz with an effective radiated power of 6,000 watts for its English-language commercial FM in Campbell River, British Columbia, which was approved last August as a replacement for CFWB-AM. Comments or interventions have to be submitted by February 12.
In Ireland it was similarly quiet as regards radio with the Broadcasting Commission of Ireland (BCI) involved in just one radio matter, the signing of a contract with i Radio for a regional youth radio service for the north-west of Ireland (See RNW Jan 8) and in the UK there were no radio decisions from Ofcom, although it did announce board changes (See RNW Jan 8).
In the US as already noted the House Energy and Commerce Committee has now launched a formal investigation into the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) but otherwise there were no major developments although the Commission announced that it was to hold an Open Meeting on January 17 that will focus on presentations by senior agency officials regarding implementations of the agency's strategic plan and a comprehensive review of FCC policies and procedures.
There were a few enforcement actions including the following penalties:
*USD 13,000 forfeiture to International Broadcasting Corporation (IBC) for failure to paint antenna structure in Canovanas, Puerto Rico, to maintain good visibility, and failure to notify the Commission of a change in antenna structure ownership.
IBC had responded to a Notice of Apparent Liability for Forfeiture (NAL) for this amount by requesting reduction or cancellation of the proposed forfeiture based on its inability to pay but on the basis of documentation provided the FCC confirmed the full penalty.
*USD 7,000 forfeiture to West Helena Broadcasters, Inc., licensee of station KCLT-FM, West Helena, Arkansas, for failure to have an operational Emergency Alert System and failure to maintain and make available a complete public inspection file.
The FCC had originally issued an NAL of USD 18,000 but then received a response requesting a reduction or cancellation of the proposed forfeiture based on its inability to pay. On the basis of documentation provided it reduced the penalty to USD 7,000.
In addition for formal commission action, FCC chairman Kevin J. Martin, in an address to the 11th Annual Wall Street Project Economic Summit in New York defended to members of the Rainbow Push Coalition the Commission's Progress in terms of actions benefiting minorities.
Martin commented amongst other things on the growth of broadband Internet amongst African Americans; action to keep cable subscription rates down; and also action to £ expand opportunities for entry into media and media programming as well as entry into other communications services" for minorities.
Here he cited the creation of Low Power FM as action to address "address these issues in the radio market" and November 2007 rule changes "designed to better promote entry and ensure local responsiveness without harming the interests of full-power FM stations or other Commission licensees" and also the recent adoption of an order "that will facilitate the use of leased access channels" and putting in place "a number of the actions that have been requested of us by the Minority in Media and Telecom Council, among others."
RNW comment: A much more simple and effective action in our view would have been, since HD was adopted very much in accordance with the lobbying of the National Association of Broadcasters, to have made it a condition of licence renewal that all licensees with gross revenues above a certain amount had to broadcast on HD including provision of additional HD channels with all channels except one, which the broadcaster could use, had to be provided on a cost recovery basis for allocation by the FCC for new services.
This would have benefited almost everyboyd -increasing interest in HD and increasing minority ownership of broadcasters and the range of programming albeit it would also have provided some extra competition for incumbent broadcasters.
Previous Licence News:
ACMA web site:
BCI web site:
CRTC web site:
FCC web site:
Ofcom web site:
2008-01-13: West Bengal police have closed down six private pirate stations operating on frequencies allocated to state broadcaster Praser Bharati according to The Indian Express.
The paper says they hade been operating in the area in the Sagar police station district and were traced using information from amateur radio operators.
Four people it adds were arrested, all in their early 20s.
Previous Indian Radio:
Previous Prasar Bharati:
Indian Express report:
2008-01-12: Cumulus, which on Friday announced third quarter revenues marginally up but operating income marginally down, has dropped a number of long-time staff at its alternative format of its 99X (WNNX-FM) and is planning move the more popular top 40 Q100 (WWWQ-FM) onto the former's more powerful 100,000 watts 99.7 frequency: Cumulus is to create a new station on the 100.5 frequency that was used by Q100 but has not given details.
According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution staff dropped included program director and morning co-host Leslie Fram, her colleague Rob Jenners and midday host Steve Craig: Fram and Craig had been with the station since it launched in October 1992.
The 99X website does not give details of plans but under Jocks lists A "New Morning X" show with Producer Mark and DJs Tim Andrews and Sebas. It also continues to list current afternoon host Axel Lowe as well as hosts in other timeslots.
The paper says Q100's morning "Bert Show" will be simulcast on both frequencies for a week from January 21 before the format switch is made according to a letter sent to advertisers by Cumulus Atlanta market manager Gary Lewis.
The letter says 99X will return to its "roots as a true alternative music source" and will continue on the 99.7FM HD2 channel and on the Internet and that various events associated with the station including Big Day Out, Mistletoe Jam, and the Unplugged in the Park concert series, and Live X will also continue.
In its third quarter results, Cumulus reported revenues up 0.3% to USD 84.2 million but station operating expenses up 0.7% to USD 52.2 million and station operating income down 0.4% to USD 31.9 million. Overall net loss was up from USD 69.8 million to USD 70.5 million with per share loss up from USD 1.62 to 1.63.
Cumulus noted that it is currently involved in a buy-out deal with an investment group led by Lewis W. Dickey, Jr., the Company's Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer, and an affiliate of Merrill Lynch Global Private Equity and thus did not host a teleconference or webcast to discuss the third quarter 2007 results.
It also noted that connection with its impairment evaluation of intangible assets, which was completed in the third quarter due to the potential merger transaction, it recorded an impairment charge of USD 81.3 million in order to reduce the carrying value of certain broadcast licenses and goodwill to their respective fair values.
RNW comment: On the surface this move is related to a slip in the ratings for 99X - Arbitron's top line shows WWWQ edging up in share from a 2.3 share in Fall 2006 to a 15th ranked 2.5 in Summer 2007 and WNNX slipping back from 1.8 to 1.7 and 21st rank over the same period - but the results also indicate that cutting costs may have been just as important and over recent months Cumulus has dropped a number of staff country.
Atlanta Journal-Constitution report:
2008-01-12: A trial of UK Forces radio service BFBS has replaced GCap Media's digital hits station Core, which together with UBC-owned Oneword closed down at midnight on Friday.
Both stations were broadcast on the UK Digital One national digital multiplex and on the Internet and other digital platforms and have closed down completely (See RNW Jan 10).
The BFBS service that takes over the Core channel is a music entertainment station that is transmitted in many parts of the world including Afghanistan, Brunei, Canada, The Falklands and the Middle East including Iraq, to provide entertainment and information for the British Armed Forces. It is already available in the UK on Sky Digital Channel 0211 and the addition of a national digital broadcast is on a trial basis, with its longer term future dependant on analysis to find out the impact the stations makes.
BFBS Controller Charles Foster said its overseas services remained the main priority for the service but added that "the majority of servicemen and women now have their home base in the United Kingdom, even if they are on regular deployment to operational areas. Our new DAB digital radio service means they'll always be able to keep in touch with family and friends back in the UK wherever they are in the world."
Digital One chief executive Quentin Howard said over the changes, "It's always very sad to see any station close down. Oneword and Core have both been highly valued by their listeners and have created some great and innovative radio. But the level of competition from the BBC and other digital commercial stations is intense and the market context has changed in unexpected ways since these two stations launched." Welcoming BFBS, he added, "We are delighted to be helping to connect British Forces personnel, their families and other listeners across the country who may share past and present links with the Forces. If this trial proves popular and successful we would hope to be able to make the service permanent."
In the short term the Oneword channel will broadcast birdsong from 06:00 to midnight, using audio originally recorded for the test transmission of Classic FM prior to its launch in 1992. It was used again three years ago for the station "D1_temp".
Digital One say the transmission could end at any time without notice and also note that the recording is not commercially available.
In other UK digital radio news, the UK Guardian reports that Digital One has begun negotiations with Ofcom about the renewal of its licence, which is due to expire in just under four years' time and suggests that the station will want to push for favourable terms for the new deal that has to be offered under the terms of the original licence, which was awarded in 1998.
At that time is was the only national commercial digital multiplex but subsequently, against opposition from GCap Media, which is the majority shareholder in Digital One and threatened to take the matter to court (See RNW Jul 6, 2005) , UK media regulator Ofcom awarded a second digital multiplex to a consortium led by Channel 4 (See RNW Jul 6, 2007) .
In addition to the competition from the new channel, the licence will be awarded in a climate where a number of operators have pulled back from digital investment with Global Radio scrapping plans to launch Sky News Radio in a joint venture with Sky News on the Channel 4 multiplex (See RNW Oct 20, 2007); SMG-owned Virgin Radio cutting back and dropping its plans to launch Virgin Radio Viva on the multiplex (See RNW Nov 21, 2007); and Digital One losing GCap Media's Life channel (See RNW Dec 10, 2007) as well as the two stations that have just closed.
Howard told the paper of the negotiations, "We would like the process to be as quick and transparent as possible so that we are planning not just for the next four years but the next 16 years, We absolutely believe in the future of radio being digital and we are absolutely committed to the long-term future of digital radio."
In London, Rainbow Radio, the UK's only dedicated radio station aimed at the Ghanaian and West African communities, has announced that it will begin transmitting on the Greater London III DAB digital multiplex on Monday. The service is currently available on the Internet and the Sky 0207 digital channel.
Its Chief Executive Mac Amoah said of the addition, "It's fantastic that Rainbow Radio will now be available on DAB digital radio right across the Greater London area. With music from hi-life to reggae, gospel and speech, from current affairs to politics and sports, we're now able to offer our listeners even more choice in accessing our programming. Rainbow Radio continues to be an important contributor to the diverse West African cultures and with the addition of DAB broadcasting allows both the young and old to maintain links with their community".
Previous Channel 4:
Previous Digital One:
Previous GCap Media:
Previous Global Radio:
Previous Sky News Radio:
UK Guardian report:
2008-01-12: The BBC is to move an additional 120 or so posts from London to its media centre in Salford Quays, taking the total to be relocated to around 1,620. In addition some 800 staff currently working at the BBC in Manchester will also be moving to Salford.
The jobs involved are in the BBC Future Media & Technology (FM&T) division, and in BBC News - including journalists working in BBC Radio 5 Live as well as some network news correspondents.
The FM&T staff to be based in Salford will include the central Future Media team which leads the development of the BBC's offering across the internet, digital TV and mobiles, and also the Media Research & Innovation team: In all more than 500 FM&T staff who will be based in Salford by 2011.
Overall five BBC London-based departments are to be moved - BBC Children's (including CBBC and CBeebies); BBC Formal Learning; BBC Future Media & Technology (including Research & Development); BBC Radio 5 Live (including 5 Live Sports Extra); and BBC Sport: Their total expenditure on production is around GBP 225 million (USD 450 million a year) with an additional GBP 275 million (USD 550 million) a year being spent by them on commissioned projects.
Making the announcement at the launch of the BBC Connect And Create Partnership at Huddersfield University BBC Chief Operating Officer Caroline Thomson said the move was "part of the BBC's drive to become less London-centric and more deeply rooted in the whole of the UK" and added that "with a stronger BBC presence, there will be even greater potential for Manchester, Salford and the whole of the North of England to become a world class centre of media innovation and technology for the 21st Century."
The Director of FM&T, Ashley Highfield, said he considered the move is a chance to reinvent Future Media and how the BBC goes about creating it, saying it was "the boldest move we can make in helping to shift the centre of gravity of the BBC".
2008-01-11: The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is reported to have approved the sale of Clear Channel to a private equity group led by Bain Capital and Thomas H. Lee partners with the last hold-out, Democrat commissioner Michael J. Copps said by Bear Stearns media analyst Victor Miller to have on Wednesday agreed to approve the deal . The other four commissioners were already said to have agreed to approve the deal.
So far there has been no formal word from the Commission - the latest posting on the site when we checked just before 2300 GMT was of an Open Commission Meeting to be held next Thursday.
Earlier this week there was speculation that the buyers may yet pull out of the deal or renegotiate the terms because of a fall in radio stock values (See RNW Jan 9) and a Dow Jones report says that the buyers have still to assemble about USD22 billion worth of debt, which includes Clear Channel's existing debt, to finance the deal.
The report adds that they have hired a syndicate of six banks to sell USD 19.5 billion of loans and USD 2.6 billion of bonds and quotes Chris Donnelly of Standard & Poor's Leveraged Commentary and Data as saying the banks have not yet sold the debt.
Previous Clear Channel:
CNN Money/Dow Jones report:
2008-01-11: Capital Radio has now formally confirmed that Denise Van Outen is to co-host the station's breakfast show with Johnny Vaughan as already reported (See RNW Jan 10).
The GCap Media station's web site in announcing the move notes that the duo were first together a decade ago on the TV "Big Breakfast" show and carries links to clips to allow visitors to "re-live the flirty chemistry they had tongues across the country wagging."
Van Outen is to debut on the show on February 4.
Previous GCap Media:
Previous Van Outen:
Capital Radio web site:
2008-01-11: CBS Radio, which last week dropped the alternative format on its WOCL-FM, Orlando, has now flipped the station to classic hits "Sunny 105.9 - Orlando's Greatest Hits", opening the new format with KC & The Sunshine Band's "That's The Way I Like It". Since it dropped the former format it had been airing a "History of Rock N' Roll" (See RNW Jan 5).
The former O-Rock web site redirects to the new station site.
Sunny 1059 web site:
2008-01-11: The US International Broadcasting Bureau is to modernize its Voice of America facility in Washington DC with a new system designed by Virginia-based Communications Engineering Inc. and that will use
Harris Broadcast Communications will provide master control, routing and quality control systems -- including 12 channels of master control playback controlled by a Harris automation system, extensive ingest and record list control.
Previous Voice of America:
2008-01-10: Two UK digital stations are to close this week, the Oneword speech station now owned by UBC Media and GCap Media's Hits station The Core.
A note on the latter's web site says it will end transmissions tomorrow to make way "for a new national station on DAB from this Saturday" and Oneword on its site says it will "longer be broadcasting from Saturday 12th January."
Previous GCap Media:
Previous UBC Media:
2008-01-10: The US House Energy and Commerce Committee has now launched a formal investigation into the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) "regulatory procedures and practices" and has told the agency to preserve documents and e-mails.
To emphasise its point it specifically says that historical records should not be "destroyed, modified, altered, deleted, removed, relocated, or otherwise negligently or intentionally handled so as to make them inaccessible to the committee."
The letter, signed by Committee chairman and Michigan Democrat Rep. John Dingell and Texas Republican Rep. Joe Barton said they expected to "issue a comprehensive document request in the near future."
There has been criticism of the Commission, with particular relationship to its media ownership rules that were brought to a vote by chairman Kevin J. Martin last month (See RNW Dec 19, 2007) - and passed by a partisan majority - and also in relation to the way items were taken to a vote and suggestions of calculated leaks to selected lobbyists.
2008-01-10: Following declaration of first quarter revenues up 3% on a year ago at CAD 214.8 million (USD 212.7 million), consolidated profit up 4% at CAD 83.4 million (USD 82.6 million) and net income up 7% at CAD 39.4 million (USD 39.0 million - up from 87cents basic/85 cents per diluted share to 94 cents basic/91 cents per diluted share), Corus Entertainment has announced approval of a proposed two-for-one stock split for its issued and outstanding Class A Participating Shares and Class B Non-Voting Participating Shares, effective as of the close of business on February 1, 2008.
Corus had also announced a 20% dividend increase for Class A and B shareholders that Executive Chair Heather Shaw noted would give a yield of approximately 2.5% on the current share price.
Shareholders on record as of their date will retain their existing certificates and be provided with additional share certificates to which they are entitles as a result of the split. Corus also
Within the Corus results, TV revenues, led by specialty advertising growth of 2% and subscriber revenue growth of 4%. were up 3% to CAD 126.1 million (USD 124.9 million) with profit up 4% to CAD 62.9 million (USD 62.3 million), and radio revenues were up 5% to CAD 79.5 million (USD 78.7 million ) with profit up 8% to CAD 25.5 million (USD 25.3 million). Content revenues by contrast were down 19% to CAD 9.6 million (USD 9.5 million) and profit halved to CAD 500,000 (USD 495,000).
President and CEO John Cassaday commented of the results, "We executed well on our operating strategies and delivered solid increases in revenues and segment profit. In Q1, we invested in programming and marketing to continue our growth momentum. These solid results were in line with our expectations and our continued confidence in our business has enabled us to once again substantially increase our dividend. We are also pleased to have announced our intention to extend our share buyback program."
In the US, Emmis reported third quarter net revenue up marginally from USD 91.2 million to USD 91.7 million but its diluted net loss per common share from continuing operations more than doubled - from nine cents to 22 cents whilst operating income fell from USD 17.6 million to USD 2. 0 million, primarily because of a one-off termination fee, paid by Katz Communications, related to a switch in national representation to them from Interep (See RNW Oct 2, 2007).
Station operating income was down from USD 30.2 million to USD 26.2 million and overall net income was USD 104,000, down from 23.2 million for the quarter: For the year to date net income is down from USD 12.4 million to USD 3. 2 million.
Within the figures radio net revenues for the quarter were down 3% to USD 66.6 million but publishing reported net revenues, including figures from acquisitions, were up 11% to |USD 27.2 million with pro-forma publishing revenues up 5%.
Looking ahead Emmis says it expects its final quarter radio net revenues to the end of February to be in line with the previous year's figures but adds that its radio operating expenses are expected to increase in low single digits.
Chairman and CEO Jeff Smulyan said of the performance, "Along with everyone in the radio business, we face unprecedented challenges, particularly in our largest radio markets. However, in the third quarter we closed the gap between our performance and that of our markets. Excluding KMVN in Los Angeles, we actually outperformed our markets. Coupled with a continued strong showing in our international stations and publishing operations, I'm hopeful about the new year."
2008-01-10: In a number of UK radio host moves, London-born TV host Trisha Goddard, who has previously worked on radio in Australia, where she was primarily a TV presenter, has signed up to host a weekly show on Emap's new Liverpool talk station City Talk, which is due to launch later this month: Emap is currently in the process of a sale to German media group Heinrich Bauer and a shareholders' meeting has been scheduled for a week tomorrow approve the transaction..
She told the UK Press Association that she would not be touching her pay for the work but would put it straight towards her charity work. She did not say how much was to be paid for the show.
The PA noted that she has two favourite charities, Norwich Mind and Home-Start Norwich, but indicated that the first of those causes would benefit, quoting her as saying, "The reason that I'm going into radio at this stage is very bluntly the money and not the money for me; there are several jobs that I do for money which go to support either Norwich Mind mental health charity or Home-Start in Norwich. I have certain gigs if you like that pay for a position, or with Home-Start family therapy every week, and so I needed an extra job to fund Norwich Mind."
Goddard had been involved in charity work when in Australia - her first two husbands were Australian - and became chairperson of the Australian Government's National Community Advisory Group on Mental Health.
In a rather more highly-paid move, Denise Van Outen is reported to in the final stages of negotiations with GCap Media flagship Capital Radio to co-host the station's breakfast show with Johnny Vaughan with whom she had previously worked on TV. According to the UK Daily Mail she has negotiated a six-figure deal.
Capital Radio is also reported to in for other changes following an announcement that Craig Doyle has now left following the broadcast of his final show last Saturday. He had joined the station in 2005 and amongst other roles had filled in for Vaughan. The UK Guardian said that he was leaving to present on ITV Sport and could no longer commit himself to a regular radio show schedule.
At Global Radio's LBC 97.3 FM, Paul Ross has been dropped from the drivetime show with the 1300-1600 slot being taken over by an early afternoon show from Loose Women panellist Jeni Barnett and the later 1600-1900 time going to a new show hosted by James Hartigan and Petrie Hosken who are due to debut next Monday.
In addition, James Max, who currently hosts the station's Saturday show "The Fine Things In Life" and the Sunday business and property show "Business Matters", will host early breakfast shows on Friday - from 05:00-07:00 and Saturday - from 06:00-08:00.
Previous GCap Media:
Previous Global Radio:
2008-01-10: Westwood One has announced that it has appointed Thomas Beusse, recently the President of Time4 Media, a former division of Time Inc., as President and CEO to succeed Peter Kosann.
Chairman Norman J. Pattiz described Beusse as "an experienced media executive with a strong track record of revenue growth and effective leadership at companies ranging from Fortune 500 to start-up organizations" and added, "A creative and strategic thinker, Tom is the ideal executive to lead Westwood One as the Company continues to evolve as a top provider of content to the broadcast industry and beyond."
Previous Westwood One:
2008-01-09: Expressions of doubt over the USD 19.5bn leveraged buy-out of Clear Channel Communications proliferated on Tuesday following a Financial Times report that suggested the deal could fall through in the wake of the collapse of an agreement by General Electric and Blackstone to buy PHH, a mortgage and vehicle leasing company.
The FT says that the Clear Channel stock price of USD 35.06 on Monday - it fell further to end Tuesday at USD 34.01 - compared to the buy out price of USD 39.20 agreed in May 2007 suggests that investors are betting against Thomas H. Lee and Bain Capital going ahead with the deal on those original terms.
The paper says that a pull-out is by no means certain quoting "one person familiar with the thinking of the buying group" as saying of concerns about the overall economy in relation to the buy-out, "It is susceptible to recession but that was built into the plan. There is no good reason to walk."
It adds that the purchase is expected to receive Federal Communications Commission (FCC) approval as early as the end of this week and that bankers familiar with the transaction say the buyers are unlikely to do anything before regulators sign off on the deal, if only to keep their options open.
Should the buyers decide to walk away they would potentially be liable for a USD 500 million break-up fee but that is only around 2.5% of the transaction total and US radio shares have fallen by more than that since the deal was agreed.
Previous Clear Channel:
Financial Times report:
2008-01-09: GCap Media shares bounded again on Tuesday as investors saw hopes of increased bidding for the company: Its stock ended the day up 16.5% at 205 pence but at one stage they reached 215.75 pence, up 22.5% on Monday's closing price of 176 pence.
Speculation according to the UK Guardian was that Global Radio, which had already lost bidding for Emap's radio division and whose 190 pence a share bid for GCap was rejected (See RNW Jan 7) needs an acquisition to fulfil its ambitions to lead consolidation in UK commercial radio.
The paper quoted Dresdner analyst Richard Menzies-Gow as saying, "Global have to do the deal. The reason they bought Chrysalis was to consolidate."
The paper adds that the attitude of three major shareholders - Daily Mail & General Trust (DMGT), Schroders and Fidelity - will be crucial to a decision as to whether any Global bid succeeds and says they may be prepared to reject a further approach if they feel the business is undervalued.
When GCap was formed through a merger of Capital Radio and GWR it was valued at more then GBP 700 million (currently USD 1.4 billion) but its market capitalization fell to below GBP 200 million (USD 400 million) before word came out of Global's bid.
Menzies-Gow noted that most fund managers in a new year look at returns quarter by quarter and said that the shareholders "might go for a 60% or 70% return on the [share price at the] start of the year even though many of them got in above that price" but added that DMGT and some other investors "may not mind a long recovery story."
There has been no formal statement about the Global offer from GCap whose new chief executive Fru Hazlitt is due to unveil her strategy for the company later this month.
Previous GCap Media:
Previous Global Radio:
UK Guardian report:
2008-01-09: In what will be seen as a boost for iBiquity's HD radio, market research and consulting company Parks Associates is predicting that by 2012 some 39 million Americans will subscribe to satellite radio and that some 30 million will have purchased HD radio receivers.
The company says there is a split in listening habits for satellite and HD radio listeners with Research analyst Chris Roden commenting, "A majority of satellite radio owners like the portability of the service. Therefore, most satellite radio subscribers use the service in their vehicle. Conversely, HD radio owners view the product as similar to other consumer electronic devices such as DVD players and home networks. These consumers are more likely to listen to the service at home."
RNW comment: This estimate is significantly higher than others we have seen for HD take-up and, although the totals pale in comparison to the number of analogue receivers in the US do suggest a potential future for HD if receiver prices come down enough, the technology is market well, and most significantly, if there is anything sufficiently worth listening to on HD channels to provide incentives for a purchase.
Parks Associates news release:
2008-01-09: The US National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) has written to the Federal Communications Commission supporting planned rule changes that would allow AM licensees to use FM translators, a change that it says would be a "means to enhance AM radio service for the benefit of listeners, and enable AM radio stations to better compete in the ever-changing media marketplace."
The use of translators continues NAB would "provide listeners improved AM programming, fill-in coverage holes, so they can better serve their local communities, and in turn help ensure the continued viability of the AM radio service."
RNW comment: NAB is uncharacteristically restrained in its filing as regards potential interference, saying that proposed boundaries guarantee that AM stations will only deploy FM translators as fill-ins and not to extend their coverage area and adding, "NAB has no interest in raising interference or competitive issues beyond these borders."
It also says that it does not anticipate any significant impact of a rule change in diminishing spectrum available for new LPFM services.
These statements would seem to us to be significantly at variance with NAB's position when the issue was one of allowing low-power FMs that it saw as competing for audiences with the services of its members yet the technical constraints have not changed. In other words what is bad when it could hurt NAB members is fine when NAB members benefit, even if the situation in terms of interference and spectrum availability is exactly the same.
The position is understandable from an industry lobbying body if put straightforwardly but when it was couched in technical terms that suddenly no longer apply on non technical grounds it is difficult to take any NAB arguments seriously. Ethically and intellectually bankrupt are terms that seem applicable to NAB but at least in this case the change in position could signal a weakening of opposition to LPFM that can only be welcomed in our view.
2008-01-08: The heads of five of the world's largest international broadcasters - BBC World Service, Deutsche Welle, Radio France Internationale, Radio Netherlands Worldwide and the Voice of America - have issued a joint call denouncing what they term growing trends towards media restrictions and attacks on journalists in many of the countries to which they broadcast.
Although they say their experiences are different they have a common concern about the "grave and rising threats to the right to gather information and communicate it across national borders."
They note that a "growing number of countries - in Eurasia, Africa, South and East Asia, and Latin America - have restricted or blocked coverage of events of significant public interest" and add that "Journalists - including many working for our organisations - have been detained, arrested, expelled, kidnapped or killed."
The five also take up the issue of clampdowns on rebroadcasts of their services, saying, "Particularly disturbing are new efforts by some governments, through the licensing and regulatory process, to restrict or forbid local rebroadcasts of our programs on radio and television through local partnerships. And more states are deliberately interfering with broadcast signals or are attempting to block or censor the internet."
Jan Hoek, Director-General of Radio Netherlands Worldwide, who currently chairs the group of five broadcasters, said in a release, "Our most important objective is to inform people without access to diverse media sources and viewpoints, who lack reliable and independent information. In a progressively polarised environment where the media in many countries are encountering fierce curbs on their freedom to publish, we need to stand together to meet the needs of those millions of audiences worldwide who have come to depend on us as a vital source of trustworthy information."
Previous Deutsche Welle:
Previous Voice of America:
2008-01-08: iBiquity Digital Corporation has, as widely anticipated, launched a series of HD receivers incorporating Apple iTunes Tagging technology at the 2008 International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas,
On public show for the first time will be receivers from Alpine Electronics of America, JBL, JVC, Polk Audio and Sony and iBiquity notes that Las Vegas' Clear Channel stations KPLV and WKNR are currently offering tagging information.
The system allows listeners to "tag" a song they hear on HD radio stations to an iPod following which, when the iPod is next synchronized on i-Tunes the selected songs will be displayed on a list for purchase.
IBiquity which describes the feature as "revolutionary" notes that the main US radio broadcasters including CBS Radio, Clear Channel, Cumulus, Cox, Entercom, and Greater Media are to introduce tagging in their HD broadcasts.
The company's President and CEO Robert Struble said in a statement, "In one short year, the number of HD Radio units available has more than tripled, the number of HD Radio stations has shot up by over 400, and national retailers have come on board in droves. HD Radio is now mainstream, and with new advanced features like iTunes tagging, offers the most advanced listening experience for the digital lifestyle."
RNW comment: Many including ourselves would query the use of mainstream for HD so far and to describe such a development as revolutionary is so far over the top as to make us dismiss iBiquity's PR guff as worthy of the NAB.
We tend to share the views of Jerry Del Colliano (See our weekly look at comment on radio below) and in general see little evidence in the US that there is much about HD that makes it worth considering. For choice and downloading the Internet provides much more and will potentially be able to supplant HD as far as downloading is concerned with instant downloads once wireless broadband develops further. In the meantime there's no reason that such a facility cannot be introduced into satellite radio with an instant purchase facility meaning that apart from saving some USD 150 a year there's almost no point to HD for people travelling any distance in the US
We also note that Frontier Silicon announced at CES that its Venice 6 multi-standard receiver module, which already supports DAB/DAB+/FM and Wi-Fi, will now support the Sirius service.
As time goes on we think there could be a market for a truly world multi-standard receiver and that the sensible thing for US radio companies, if they want HD to really be taken up, would be to put together a deal to buy out iBiquity, scrap all licensing fees, and make details available to manufacturers to add HD to their chips.
We doubt it will happen and also whether, even with the advertising and marketing campaign planned by the HD Digital Radio Alliance, whether there are enough gullible Americans for HD to take off before development of wireless broadband renders it - and probably much of US music radio - mostly irrelevant for Americans under about fifty.
Provide an even playing field in terms of copyright fees for Internet, satellite, HD and analogue radio and we tend to think the same could happen to music radio in general in the current cost-cutting climate in radio as the product is already widely criticized.
2008-01-08: The Broadcasting Commission of Ireland (BCI) on Monday signed a contract with i Radio Limited for a regional youth radio service for the north-west of Ireland.
The service will target 15-34 year olds in the counties of Galway, Mayo, Longford, Roscommon, Sligo, Leitrim and Donegal and will broadcast 24/7: Its musical output will be predominantly contemporary hits but it will also place emphasis on new music and broadcast more specialist genres such as alternative rock and RnB/urban sounds.
The service is the third regional youth radio service to be licensed in Ireland and is scheduled to launch on January 23: The licence, for which there were five applications, was provisionally awarded to i-Radio in November 2006 (See RNW Licence News, Nov 19, 2006).
2008-01-08: UK media regulator Ofcom has announced that Colette Bowe and Tim Gardam have joined its Board as Non-Executive Directors from 1 January 2008 for three-year terms and that, as planned, Sara Nathan, a founding member of the Ofcom board has stepped down it on 31 December 2007after two terms.
Colette Bowe, who has been the Chairman of Ofcom's Consumer Panel since its inception in 2003; had previously announced her intention to step down from this role and has now done so. She was previously in a number of public sector posts including a spell at the Independent Broadcasting Authority, the Securities and Investment Board and as Chief Executive of the Personal Investment Authority.
Gardam, a former senior BBC executive and also Director of Programmes at Channel Four, has been the Principal of St Anne's College, Oxford since 2004.
2008-01-07: For our first look at print comment on radio this year, we have gone for a combination of articles from the UK and US, the former more positive than the latter about the medium albeit we think the first comment - from Mark Ramsey of Hear 2.0 is perhaps a little over-confident about UK radio.
In it, Ramsey starts off by writing, "From a technological and strategic standpoint (at least), radio in the UK is way ahead of our industry here in the US. The choices have been historically fewer, the investment in them (both financial and TLC) is greater, the brands are bigger, and the willingness to take risks hasn't withered in inverse proportion to the size of the industry."
He then continues on to note the comparative lead in the UK in terms of digital radio and also "the realization that radio is not "radio," it's really a 'multiplatform' experience, to use James Cridland's word" and in further praise comments, "Check out this video posted by Cridland from a UK conference called "Radio at the Edge": There's more compelling narrative about radio's potential future in this short video than in all the efforts of the NAB and the HD Radio Alliance combined:
*RNW note: Cridland is a, former Virgin Radio Digital Media Director who is now Head of Future Media & Technology, BBC Audio & Music Interactive: He runs his own blog at JamesCridland.net.
After he had chaired the "Radio at the Edge" conference, Cridland posted the following list of features and services already up and running in the UK:
- Now-playing info: live now on almost all DAB radio stations. (5m+ sets in the UK)
- Buy the songs you hear - Cliq live now on seven commercial radio brands
- BBC Radio 1's TV visualisation: a prototype; a simpler version is live now on the Radio 1 website
- Listen-again: live now on all BBC and some commercial station websites
- Rewind live radio: available on a number of DAB sets now
- Record radio: available on a number of DAB sets now
- Radio electronic programme guide: live now on many stations; available on a number of DAB sets now
- Watch live sessions: live now on most major radio station websites
- Podcasts: live now on most major radio station websites
- DAB Digital Radio iPod plug-in: two different makes in store now
- Downloadable videos: from some commercial radio stations
- Texting radio stations: live now on all stations
- Picture-messaging radio stations: live now on many stations
Compared to the above the offerings on HD radio in the US are hardly cutting edge - and indeed we'd note neither are the features on UK or US cell phones compared to those already on offer in Korea and Japan - and one of the latest rumoured developments in the US got a pretty derisive snort from Jerry Del Colliano in his blog. The blog picked up rumoured introductions of a tie-up between Apple and iBiqiity's HD radio and, irrespective of any truth the matter, put the boot fairly convincingly into the suggestion.
"If Jobs, at the MacWorld Convention in a few weeks, unveils HD on-board boom boxes with iPod docking stations," commented Del Colliano, "it will wind up meaning nothing to the radio industry."
He continued, "These docks would allow iTunes tagging so the next time a listener takes his or her iPod and connects to the iTunes store, they can buy the songs that were tagged. Wait one minute. What are these consumers going to tag? There's little HD programming which is why HD also stands for High Disappointment radio. The stations won't program it. The listeners won't buy HD capable radios. Advertisers have better things to do."
And as for the future, Del Colliano who'd begun his blog by commenting, "I always get a kick out of it when someone asks 'what would Jesus do?'" and answering "when it comes to HD Radio and Apple together -- I think even Jesus would pray. Pray a lot."
He concluded: "Jesus would probably spring for satellite radio while he waits for the Internet royalty issues to be worked out. But the next generation -- maybe because they're a long way from the pearly gates -- thinks Internet radio is heaven on earth. No kidding, the radio industry sets itself up for a black eye every time -- embarrassing itself. Let's count some of the many ways:"
He then goes on to enumerate, including digs at various radio initiatives included "Less is More -- oops, nothing more than telegraphing to radio advertisers and agencies everywhere that there is a problem with radio and their commercials will get lost in all the clutter" and then goes on, "Does anyone in their heart of hearts really believe that tagging music on a boom box for purchase on iTunes at a later date is the same as connecting online or on a mobile device and downloading music immediately?"
And as for HD itself, scepticism: "HD radio is a farce. It isn't high definition. It's an excuse to add inferior sub-channels that arguably interfere with some stations on the AM band. The last thing the industry needs is more channels."
And his conclusion about HD? He terms it "a technology whose time will never come Listeners have proven they don't want it. Radio companies have proven for many years they won't invest in it and yet the radio industry props up this embarrassment in every meaningless way it can "
Amongst the comments in response on his blog was one from "vod" who said in part, "After the news, I will go to the BBC radio website and listen to replays of shows with music I enjoy. This with podcasting is the current state of radio. I don't need American radio to listen to music. I can get the type of radio I want (1-2 hour programs of American music I enjoy presented by knowledgeable hosts) from all over the world, except the US."
Which takes us to our final comment, from the UK Independent and Nicholas Lezard about the BBC's "Listen-Again" feature and its iPlayer: Lezard recalls an anecdote from Paul Merton about taping BBC Radio 4's "Just a Minute" and then listening to it later in his bed-sit.
"These days," writes Lezard, "you don't need to do this: you have the Listen Again feature (assuming you have broadband), which gives you seven days to hear whatever you want, whenever you want. And some shows hang on considerably longer."
He then continues, "The effect this has had on our listening habits is incalculable. It is, in a way, too early to tell yet. My job would be a lot harder without it, for one thing. But I also suspect that what it does is consolidate the BBC's audience share."
The BBC in particular he stresses, noting, "Of the other intelligent radio stations, only Resonance FM allows you to hear its programmes again. (You can still hear, as of time of writing, its 27 December broadcast of Christopher Smart's extraordinary poem "Jubilate Agno".)"
Which of course explains why so much of our listening suggestions are from the BBC and other public broadcasters and also to an extent why we suggest only a limited amount of music programming: Comparatively little is offered by commercial broadcasters as on-demand - as opposed to live - streams and even less when it comes to downloadable MP3s, albeit in fairness to all concerned it should be noted that copyright holders will not permit downloads containing all or most of a song, thus prohibiting MP3 downloads of most musical programmes.
More is offered in terms of talk programming by commercial stations round the world but far too much of it for our taste is of phone-ins and abrasive programming that simply in our view doesn't retain interest a few days later: A reason in the case of the BBC why we comparatively rarely go for Radio Five Live suggestions since we find most of the station's output is fine at the time but not when stale.
So as so often - and more of recent times when other demands have prevented us listening to as much Internet radio and downloads as we'd like, we start our listening suggestions with the BBC, a station we can listen to whilst on the move and, later, if a particular programme seems of sufficient interest to listen to with full attention, pick up later when not having to worry about traffic or being interrupted by driving demands.
From the weekend, we suggest an hour and a half of comedy beginning with "The Now Show" (A 12:30 repeat of the programme first broadcast in the BBC Radio 4 Friday evening comedy slot and available as an MP3 or stream) plus from BBC Radio 2 "The Green Guide to Life" (The last in the current series with comedy clips concerning "kids") and "That Was Then This Is Now".
Later in the evening we picked up listening with "The Archive Hour" that last Saturday was "God, Pirates and Ovaltineys" in which Sean Street investigates the battle between the BBC and commercial radio. It includes historic recordings from both the BBC and the International Broadcasting Company from pre-war to post-war (Second World War that is) times.
From earlier in the day we suggest two programmes that we picked up by listening again - "Songs Everlasting" (05:45 GMT, a time when we were busy on an overnight shift) that last week featured Bryn Terfel exploring "Myfanwy", one of the best known of all Welsh love songs and "The Music Feature" - "To Sing Like Bing" in which Alan Shipton concluded a look at the work of Bing Crosby (15:30 GMT, a time when we were sleeping before the next overnight shift - it is on the site until tomorrow when this week's feature - at 13:30 GMT - tells the story of the song "New York, New York").
From Sunday we suggest from BBC Radio 4 "Just a Minute", a special edition marking 40 years of the programme; from BBC Radio 3 "Drama on 3" - "The Picture Man" by David Eldridge that told of the disastrous consequences that ensued when the main character Neil decides to intervene in incidents by taking pictures on his mobile phone and from BBC Radio 4 "Off the Page" that last week was a discussion on fatherhood.
Looking at this week's schedules we suggest three music features from BBC Radio 2 - from Tuesday at 22:30 GMT - "Turn Your Radio On: Ray Stevens", a light-hearted look at the work of Ray Stevens by comic Don Maclean; from Wednesday at 23:00 GMT "Johnny", the second of a three-part series looking at French pop star Johnny Halliday (The first part is on the site until then); and from Friday at 19:00 GMT "Al Bowlly... Britain's First Pop Star", the third of a four part series on Bowlly, who had great success with recordings of "Pennies from Heaven", "The Very Thought of You" and "Goodnight Sweetheart". This edition highlights his work as a solo singer and a move to the US and the previous programme looking at Al and the dance band leader with whom he worked is on the site until Friday.
Also during this week we suggest from BBC Radio 3 this week's "The Essay" - 23:00 GMT Monday through Thursday and that this week is "Greek and Latin Voices" on the work of Thucydides.
On Friday at 22:30 GMT Radio 3 has 22:30 "Jazz Library" that this week looks at the work of Anthony Braxton followed by "Jazz on 3" featuring a gig by the improvising quartet Mujician.
Back to BBC Radio 4 and the "Book of the Week" this week (09:45 GMT daily) features readings from Peter Constantine's new translation of Niccolo Machiavelli's "The Prince" and from Monday night a run of three programmes - "The Bengal Famine" in which Michael Portillo looks at the 1943 famine that cost by conservative estimates one and a half million lives; "Crossing Continents" in which Julian Pettifer reports on the extraordinary popularity of online games in South Korea and the social problems they can cause; and "The New Guinea Singing Dog" - now on the verge of extinction in the wild.
On Thursday from Radio 4 we suggest (at 11:30 GMT) "Doonesburyland", a look at the work of cartoonist Gary Trudeau, creator of the Doonesbury strip.
Finally we suggest a look at the most recent week's broadcasts of "Late Night Live" on the Australian Broadcasting Corporation's Radio National - repeats of some of the highlights of last year including items on the poetry of Brian Turner, whose time with the US military included a year in Iraq; British author Alan Bennett (These will be on the site until Wednesday) ; and Australian military historian Robert O'Neill (From Monday this week); and from the BBC documentary archive podcasts/MP3s of "Debt threat" - two parts looking at how the credit crunch is spreading from the sub-prime mortgage market and attempts to prevent the development of a full recession.
Del Colliano blog:
James Cridland blog:
Hear 2.0 - Ramsey
UK Independent - Lezard:
2008-01-07: Shares in GCap Media, the UK's largest radio operator, bounded by nearly 50% to 180.25 pence on opening today as details emerged of a 190 pence per share bid from Global Radio that was rejected by the company (See RNW Jan 5). They later fell back a little to close at 176 pence, up 45.5% on Friday's close.
The bid valued GCap at GBP 313 million (USD 617 million), representing a premium of more than 50% of GCap's valuation at the time - GCap's shares had fallen from a high of 266.5 pence towards the end of May last year to a low of 120 pence at the end of last year: They were 120.75 pence at closing last Friday.
Global issued a statement confirming its approach on Sunday following reports of its rejection, saying that the bid "was conditional on limited due diligence and the recommendation of the board."
Global, whose CEO Ashley Tabor, a former pop music promoter, is the son of Monaco-based multi-millionaire Michael Tabor, has not hidden its ambitions to lead UK radio consolidation but last year lost out in the bidding for Emap's radio business that, together with its consumer magazines division, was sold to German media group Heinrich Bauer (See RNW Dec 8, 2007).
GCap was expected to issue a statement regarding the bid today but had posted nothing on its web site when we last checked - the site still carried a welcome from former chief executive Ralph Bernard rather than Fru Hazlitt who succeeded him last month (See RNW Dec 21, 2007).
Hazlitt is due to outline her plans for the business later this month.
Previous GCap Media:
Previous Global Radio:
2008-01-06: The holiday period yet again last week meant that there were few announcements from the regulators and no radio related announcements at all from Australia, Ireland and the UK.
In Canada the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) announced no radio decisions but did post a public notice, with a deadline for responses of March 4, calling for comments on its policy relating to the broadcast of hits by commercial FM radio stations and also on the charts used to determine hits for both commercial FM stations and campus stations.
Currently the policies require amongst other things that English language commercial FMs keep hits down to less than half of all music aired each broadcast week whilst for English-language campus stations the limit is 10% for community based stations and 30% for instructional stations.
The definition of a hit differs for stations serving Montréal and Gatineau-Ottawa and other English language commercial FMs. It is more stringent in the former group markets in order to protect French-language commercial FM stations in those markets and also more restrictive for campus stations to support their mandate to provide programming that is an alternative to that provided by commercial stations.
The CRTC notes developments since the rules came into effect including consolidation because of eased ownership restrictions, the lack of progress made by digital stations and the introduction of satellite radio and also the development of other means of accessing music such as the Internet.
It also notes a significant decline in PBIT margin (profit before income and taxes as a percentage of total revenue) for oldies AM stations since 1996 when PBIT for 21 oldies stations amongst 248 English language AMs was 14% compared to minus 10% for all English-language AMs but ten years later the 19 oldies stations remaining had a margin of minus 21% whilst the margin for the total 155 English-language AMs was plus 8%.
It also notes that many AM oldies station have obtained licence amendments that permit the broadcast of a minimum level of 30% Canadian musical selections instead of the 35% minimum level required of most stations by regulation and is asking for comment on whether FM stations should be permitted to operate the Oldies format, which gives no exposure to emerging Canadian artists and a lower level requirement for Canadian music.
Regarding charts, the Commission is proposing to Nielsen BDS Country Spins Chart and the Billboard Canadian Hot 100 Chart to the list of charts used to determine hits and asks if there other charts that should be added, or others that would be more appropriate?
As already noted there were no radio related postings in Ireland or the UK and in the US, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) issued no major statement but did dismiss one application for licence renewal and granted another.
The application dismissed came from Full Armor Ministries, Inc. (FAMI), former licensee of DWEEP-AM, Virginia, Minnesota, whose licence expired in April 2005. No renewal application was made and in June 2006 the Commission informed the licensee that the station's licence had expired and authority to operate it had been terminated. The call letters were deleted from the Commission's data base.
Full Armour filed a petition for reconsideration and a renewal application on Jul 31, 2006 saying that its transmitter had failed in November 2002 and it did not have the resources to get back on air.
In May 2003 it entered an agreement to sell its property, equipment and licence to the city of Virginia, Minnesota, but at that time a freeze on assignment applications was in place: It filed the assignment application when the freeze was lifted but said it did not realise that it had also been required to file a licence renewal application.
It and the city noted that it was the only licence assigned to the City and argued that it would be if reinstated an important source of local news and information for its residents.
The FCC noted that the station had been silent since November 2002 and accordingly its licence had been automatically cancelled: It also noted that WUSZ-FM is licensed to Virginia, Minnesota, and found that FAMI had not demonstrated circumstances that warranted reinstatement of the licence.
In Pennsylvania, the FCC denied a petition that had been filed by Lloyd B. Roach to deny the licence renewals for WCOJ-AM, Coatesville; WCDL-AM and WLNP-FM, Carbondale; WNAK-AM, Nanticoke; and WHYL-AM, Carlisle.
Roach had alleged violation of Commission's rules concerning tower safety and maintenance of the WNAK-AM- and WHYL-AM- towers and also city-of-licence requirements relating to WCDL-AM and WLNP-FM- by not maintaining "properly manned and supervised space" in the City of Carbondale and by not having the capability of transmitting from the city of license "on demand."
The licensees had responded by saying the petition was "completely baseless" and the commission found that Roach had failed to substantiate the allegations.
Roach had also alleged that the licensees had misrepresented the facts concerning the transfer by him as WCOJ Radio Company, Inc. of the licence of WCOJ-AM to Route 81, under which he claimed he was to receive an 18.9% equity interest but had not done so.
The licensees responded that since no transfer of control was involved it did not have to make a transfer filing to the FCC and also said that Roach exercised a "put" option to sell his equity interest. This they said was something they had warned him would not be advantageous to him under a predetermined contractual formula for computing the sale of his equity interests but Roach had not responded and the value of the shares, which they said was carried out by an appraiser chosen by Roach, was nil.
Roach also claimed violation of EEO rules and in these cases the FCC found the allegations had also not been substantiated. It renewed the licences.
Previous Licence News:
2008-01-06: A strike ballot amongst BBC staff that was due to have been taken on Wednesday has been extended for two weeks to allow new negotiations to take place to resolve a dispute over some 1,800 planned job cuts, pensions and cuts to terms and conditions.
The unions - Bectu, the National Union of Journalists and Unite - say they remain hopeful of a solution and National Union of Journalists General Secretary, Jeremy Dear commented in a statement, "We welcome the fact there are new negotiations and will work hard to try to reach an agreement but we remain prepared to take action should it become necessary."
NUJ Broadcasting Organiser, Paul McLaughlin was also positive about a potential settlement, commenting, "This dispute will be solved through dialogue, we enter the talks with a strong resolve and a positive outlook."
The corporation and joint unions have now issued a statement saying that negotiations will take place from January 9 to 23 and during that period no statements are to be made by either side - by the unions concerning plans for industrial action or by the BBC in relation to compulsory redundancies.
2008-01-05: GCap Media, the UK's largest radio operation, has rejected a takeover approach from Global Radio according to the London Times, which says a plan is understood to have been put to the GCap Board soon after Global was outbid by German media company Bauer for Emap's radio assets (See RNW Dec 8, 2007).
The paper says GCap decided not to tell shareholders of the discussions because it thought the offer undervalued it but adds that the approach confirmed Global's interest in the acquisition and could lead to further discussions.
It also says Global was thought to have been keen to take advantage of GCap's circumstances - its share price is down by more than 40% over the past year and it was in the middle of a management handover from long-time executive Ralph Bernard to incoming Chief Executive Fru Hazlitt (See RNW Dec 21, 2007).
Previous GCap Media:
Previous Global Radio:
2008-01-05: Alan "Brother Wease" Levin, Rochester WCMF-FM morning drive host for 23 years, has been taken off air by Entercom, which bought the station from CBS Radio as part of a USD 262 million four-market 15 station deal (See RNW Aug 22, 2007), until a new contract is negotiated and has also apparently had his knuckles rapped over a text he sent to fans according to the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle.
The paper says that the host, who offers a text service to subscribers through his peepwease.com website, had sent a message saying, "SITTIN HOME SWEATIN OUT NEGOTIATIONS ... You guys will know from now on every move ... stay tuned ... this text is all I gots baby!" but then a day later said he had made an error in texting about the negotiations and that he would be ending the texts.
Entercom said in a statement, "The company and Brother Wease are currently in discussions regarding a renewal of his employment agreement. We expect to reach a new agreement and have Wease back on the air as soon as possible."
Its spokeswoman Emily DiTomo said Wease's morning crew, which includes Tom Mule and Sally Carpenter, has been broadcasting without him since Wednesday and will continue to do so until the negotiations are over.
In the Boston area, the Boston Globe has reported that a deal announced last year between Entercom and Nassau Broadcasting under which they would jointly operate classical music station WRCB-FM (See RNW Aug 18, 2007) has hit a snag that is likely to keep the station going with the format through its 60th year.
The deal had spared rumours that the format would be replaced with a sports one but Nassau President and CEO Louis F. Mercatanti Jr. denied this had ever been planned going on to comment of the deal, "The transaction hit an impasse" and adding, "If the right opportunity [for an investment partner] came up that made sense, we'd look at it. But we're content with the status quo."
Boston Globe report:
Rochester Democrat and Chronicle report:
2008-01-05: In yet more signs of malaise for US radio, the US Radio Advertising Bureau has reported that US Radio revenues in November were down 6% on a year ago with the only bright spot again being non-traditional revenues.
Within the figures local revenues were down 5%; national revenues were down 15%; and combined local and national figures were down 7% but non-spot revenues were up 14%.
2008-01-05: UK digital commercial speech station Oneword has taken its stream off the site although it is continuing to broadcast a "best of" service on digital multiplexes and the Sky and Freeview digital TV and radio platforms.
It has been wholly owned by UBC Media since Channel 4 pulled out towards the end of last year and returned its 51% stake in the station - bought in 2005 for GBP 1 million (Now USD 2 million but USD 1.93 million when it was first reported that Channel 4 was to take its holding - See RNW Mar 8, 2005) for GBP 1 (USD 2).
The site currently carries an "Update" noting reports of the "uncertain" future of the station and adding that the company is carrying out a strategic review that should be resolved this year and adding, "We have currently taken down the functionality of this site and the programme pages We will continue to broadcast on digital radio, Sky and on Freeview and will update you with news here when we can."
Staff at the station have been offered voluntary redundancy but UBC chief executive Simon Cole told the UK Guardian the station had not been closed down, pointing to the "best of" broadcasts: He added that the current business model for the station - the paper says it is estimated to be losing GBP 1 million (currently USD 2 million) a year - was unsustainable and said, "It is clear that as it currently stands it can't be sustained as a business. UBC does not want to continue losing money investing in something which has no prospect of making money. Therefore we are exploring all the options available to us in an open dialogue with [national digital radio multiplex operator] Digital One who are being very supportive. The options I would say range from closing the radio station through to finding a new way of using the licence and everything in between."
Cole concluded, Having spent the last two weeks in detailed discussion with other parties, solutions may emerge which will mean that the radio station continues. But if we do not quickly find a solution we will have no alternative to lose it but that decision has definitely not been taken."
Previous Channel 4:
Oneword Radio site:
UK Guardian report:
2008-01-05: In another format flip, CBS Radio has dropped the alternative format from its Orlando station WOCL-FM (O-Rock) and is saying on the web site "A great new radio station is heading to Orlando".
The site continues to offer a stream to "hear the station evolve" and has been airing a recorded "History of Rock N' Roll" that seems to indicate that it may turn to a classic hits format.
All the air staff seem to have been dropped.
2008-01-04: Sirius satellite radio has announced that it ended 2007 with 8.32 million subscribers, a 38% increase on the figure of six million at the end of 2006.
Commenting on the figures CEO Mel Karmazin noted that the company's additions in the year were "the highest in the history of satellite radio" and added, "Our full year monthly subscriber self-pay churn rate was 1.6% and all-in churn was 2.2%, consistent with the low end of our guidance. Based upon preliminary financial data, we expect to report significantly greater positive free cash flow in the fourth quarter of 2007 than the company reported in the fourth quarter of 2006."
Sirius plans to release its 2007 results and 2008 forecasts next month.
2008-01-04: Nassau Broadcasting Partners, L.P. has announced a multi-year local marketing agreement with 1050 ESPN New York under which its Flemington, New Jersey, station WCHR 1040 AM will simulcast the latter's ESPN service from WEPN-AM.
The deal will extend ESPN's cover substantially - it will be able to reach around six million people with coverage including Hunterdon, Mercer, Montgomery, Northampton, Somerset and Warren counties in New Jersey and all or part of Bucks, Philadelphia and Burlington counties in Pennsylvania.
1050 ESPN New York's President/General Manager Tim McCarthy commented of the agreement that it allowed the station "to provide our extensive sports programming to a substantially wider audience throughout significant portions of New Jersey and in the northern Philadelphia suburbs. We saw an opportunity for an improvement in our signal coverage and found a great new partner to work with."
In other US radio business Bonneville has agreed a USD 1.2 million sale of Classic Country (Country Legends 1430) WIL-AM, St. Louis, to Illinois-based Entertainment Media Trust.
Bonneville also owns Country station WIL-FM and will retain the WIL-AM call letters.
2008-01-03: XM Satellite Radio is to take in-house the programming of its "Power Channel", currently supplied by Radio One Inc which next week is to end its agreement with the satellite operator.
The decision is said to be financial rather than any dissatisfaction with the programming, which includes The Joe Madison Show, The Al Sharpton Show, and The Warren Ballentine Show.
Radio One says it made no money on the deal and has been facing a significant decline in earnings - down more than 40% in the third quarter of last year.
XM in a statement said it would be "announcing a variety of new programs on The Power in January" and added that it was "committed to providing XM's subscribers with outstanding African-American Talk programming on The Power."
Previous Radio One Inc.:
2008-01-03: In continuing opposition to new media ownership rules adopted by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) last month by a majority vote (See RNW Dec 19, 2007), UNITY: Journalists of Color, Inc., accuses the Commission of ignoring a crisis in minority ownership of media and is calling for a support for a campaign urging Congress to reject the new rules.
UNITY, which represents some 10,000 journalists from the Asian American Journalists Association, the National Association of Black Journalists, the National Association of Hispanic Journalists and the Native American Journalists Association, wants members to write to their lawmakers, and newspapers and spread the anti-big media message in other ways.
Its President Karen Lincoln Michel commented in a news release, "Our message is urgent. Achieving diversity of ownership must be a primary goal. As the news industry continues to face dramatic change, protecting and advancing diversity should be a key consideration in executive decisions to reshape the future of American media."
UNITY Executive Director Onica N. Makwakwa added that "as the nation's demographics shift towards more people of colour, we have a responsibility to the future generations to fight back and demand media ownership that reflects our nation's diversity."
2008-01-03: International satellite radio operator WorldSpace has announced that it has secured a financing facility for up to USD 40 million of subordinated financing from Yenura, a company controlled by its chairman and CEO, Noah Samara.
Yenura is a special purpose entity established by Samara and Salah Idris to invest in WorldSpace: Samara holds all of its voting shares and Idris, through ownership of non-voting shares, has the major financial interest.
WorldSpace has also announced a waiver of certain pre-payment obligations owed to the holders of its existing debt: Under these obligations entered into in June last year WorldSpace agreed to up to USD 45 million of its first lien debt with any new debt or equity capital it raised but now the secured note holders have agreed to accept a pre-payment of USD 10 million from the USD 40 million of financing raised and waive their rights to the remaining USD 30 million.
WorldSpace says the financing facility will support its preparations for the launch of its European mobile service in the Italian market and business development activities in selected markets, while the Company continues to seek to secure additional financing from a variety of sources.
2008-01-02: In yet more US radio cutbacks but this time by a local owner, Ann Arbor WAAM-AM morning host Lucy Ann Lance has been dropped along with the station's operation manager and producer of her show, Drew Priebe.
According to the Ann Arbor News the duo were told the slot would be filled with a syndicated show but station General Manager David Drolshagen said no decision had been made as of Monday afternoon.
The station was owned by First Broadcasting whose CEO Gary Lawrence said it had been transferred to First Broadcasting founder Ron Unkefer as part of a retirement agreement and that First Broadcasting was no longer involved. The paper said that Unkefer did not return its calls or messages.
The paper said that according to Lance and Priebe the station was left with one local reporter, news director Dan Martin, plus Drolshagen and Production Director Alan Black.
It also quoted Michigan radio analyst and Radio Guide publisher Art Vuolo as saying Lance was a victim of cost cutting and adding, "Radio stations in general have been letting go of anybody that draws a high salary. She got screwed because she was making money. ... It's happening all over the country."
Vuolo added of the effect on the station's output, "You can't cover Washtenaw County effectively with one person. It absolutely sucks the county has no local radio station. God forbid a tornado comes and you will need local coverage, and you are not going to have it."
He added that the station was up for sale and Unkefer was trying to reduce costs.
Drolshagen, said the paper, said he and his colleagues would work together to cover local news which will be aired in the morning and afternoon but not the evenings although something could be worked out to cover local news in the evening in the event of a breaking story. He added that the decision to drop Lance was "strictly economics".
RNW comment: This report seems to us to encapsulate the failings in US radio regulation. Unless the station is in financial difficulties - as opposed to the owner wanting to get a higher price - the public are short-changed by decisions such as this and a healthy response would be some licence conditions requiring local cover allied with the fear of loss of licence if they are not met - a situation that applies in a number of countries.
Ann Arbor News report:
2008-01-02: According to The Australian, Fairfax Media's Sydney 2UE is on the lookout again for a co-host for Mike Carlton on its breakfast show after Deborah Thomas, who was last month reported to have signed up for the slot (See RNW Dec 26, 2007) withdrew her from negotiations.
The paper, which says Thomas could not be contacted, says it believes her current employer PBL Media were unaware of her plans until they read them in the paper and adds that her manager John Fordham ended negotiations after Thomas, who is editorial director of The Australian Women's Weekly, had held discussions with her employers.
It adds that Fairfax had understood PBL would give the go-ahead and says Thomas is to be replaced as editor-in-chief of the magazine but that her duties will be increased despite this.
Also in Australia, the Sydney Morning Herald reports that a trade name dispute has forced Christian FM radio station, Heart 103.2 FM to change its name following action by Macquarie Regional Radio , which operates four regional Heart FM stations for which it had secured the trade name in 2004.
The Sydney-based Christian station had called itself "FM 103.2 - The Heart of Sydney" in 2002 but re-launched itself as "Heart 103.2 FM" in September prompting action by Macquarie, which had first applied for the Heart trademark in 2001
Previous Fairfax Media:
Previous Macquarie Media/Regional Radio:
The Australian report:
Sydney Morning Herald report:
2008-01-01: Radio France according to the Wall Street Journal is seeking an easing of regulations under a 1951 law that restrict it to taking adverts from state-run companies and have caused it financial problems as the country has privatized a number of companies including Air France and phone company France Télécom
The latest major company due to be privatized is Gaz de France, a key advertiser, and the Journal says Radio France has now asked the government to allow it to accept advertising from non-state companies, adding that draft rules prepared by the country's Culture Ministry would still prohibit adverts from supermarket chains and alcoholic beverage manufacturers.
The Journal notes that advertising from state-run companies provides around 8% of Radio France's Euros 590 million ( USD 868 million) annual costs but that the loss of Gaz de France would leave a hole of some Euros 2 million ( USD 2.92 million). 4% of the annual advertising revenues Radio France needs - the remaining nine-tenths of its budget comes from a tax on TV set ownership: It quotes Radio France Chief Operating Officer Martin Ajdari as saying it needs "to have a wider choice" of potential advertisers.
Adjani, it adds, doesn't want to run more commercial breaks - its mainstream station, France Inter, carries about 20 minutes of ad breaks a day compared to around seven minutes an hour on the commercial RTL group radio stations - but to have a greater choice rather than being forced to solicit adverts from a small group of companies and non-profit associations, such as a pension company for civil servants or a goat-cheese lobby group.
The paper also quotes Radio France reporter Hubert Huertas as saying its listener are "allergic" to advertising and adding that it needs to preserve its "distinctive sound" and raising comparisons with state broadcaster France 2 which is allowed to air as much advertising as commercial rival
The Journal notes that Radio France's problems are shared by a number of public-service Television Française and TF1.
"The result is that France 2 is struggling to differentiate its programs from those of TF1 and is mired in a deep identity crisis," says Huertas. "It is a slippery slope in which we do not want to get caught."
Radio France is one of many public broadcasters under pressure in trying to retain a distinctly public-service remit: In the UK there have been calls for part of the funding that the BBC gets from its licensing fee to be available for public service broadcasting by commercial networks and from commercial radio interests to privatize of the BBC Radio One pop-music station or limit the activities of it and sister station BBC Radio 2, which have cut into commercial audiences.
Wall Street Journal report (Subscription required):
2008-01-01: British police investigating the death of former BBC and UK commercial stations DJ Kevin Greening have arrested - and later released on bail - a man on suspicion of supplying Class A drugs at the home where Greening died in his sleep (See RNW Dec 31).
A police spokesman said the man arrested was in his 50's and has been bailed until March.
A post-mortem had not produced firm conclusions as to the cause of death and results of further tests are awaited.
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