March 2008 Archive
- February 2008 - April 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 March comment - "The satellite radio Merger - What Now?" considers what conditions the FCC might impose to approve.
RNW February comment - Performance Royalties - Principle, Practice and Fairness - considers the call for performance royalties to apply to US terrestrial radio. In principle it must, in practice nobody gains from putting radio out of business and in fairness the currently proposed charges are too high.
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.
2008-03-31: GCap Media, currently the UK's largest radio group, has accepted a GBP 375 million (USD 744 million - 225 pence per share) takeover bid from Global Radio, the privately held company backed by tycoons JP McManus and John Magnier.
The agreement - the bid is formally from Global's subsidiary Global Radio Acquisitions Ltd - was announced at 18:05 BST, a little over an hour after the takeover panel had extended today's 1700 BST deadline for a bid by another 24 hours and represents an 86% premium on the value of GCap shares on January 4, the day before Global announced that it had approached the GCap board; of 18% on the 190 pence per share Global first offered; and of 12% on the average closing price of 201 pence for GCap in the year to January 4.
It later raised this to 202 pence and after both these bids were rejected increased the bid to a conditional 225 pence per share. The Takeover Panel, which had initially put a March 5 "put up or shut up" deadline on Global's approach later extended the dealing to 17:00 BST (16:00 GMT) today and then by another 24 hours.
In a statement Global Radio chairman Charles Allen said they were "delighted that the Board of GCap has unanimously agreed to recommend our acquisition of GCap" and continued, "We believe that this is a very strong business with brands and assets that are highly complementary to those of the Global Radio Group. We are excited by the opportunity to build on GCap's position as the leading commercial radio player and are committed to providing the best platform for both our advertisers and listeners."
Global says it believes the combination will "bring significant benefits to radio listeners and
Advertisers" and notes that it directors believe the assets and brands of the two groups to be "highly complementary."
"Through brands such as Classic FM, Heart, Galaxy, Capital and LBC, " it said, "the enlarged group will be able to offer an attractive national proposition to advertisers, providing significant reach in the most sought after demographics across both analogue and digital platforms."
It added that the "enlarged group will be able to compete more effectively with the BBC which today dominates the UK radio landscape. Moreover, the combination of the two groups will create a leading commercial radio operator in the UK, well positioned to capitalise on future growth opportunities in the radio sector. The combined group will have an increased ability to hire and retain the industry's best talent and obtain access to music industry content. This in turn should have a positive effect on listener numbers across both analogue and digital platforms."
GCap said in the regulatory news release that they considered the terms to be "fair and reasonable" and accordingly intended "unanimously to recommend that GCap Shareholders vote in favour." The directors have pledges themselves to accept the offer for all their shares - Chief Executive Fru Hazlitt owns 194,650, giving her a total of GBP 438,000 (USD 869,000) for her holding.
The takeover is to be implemented through a court-sanctioned scheme of arrangement with details to be send to GCap shareholders as soon as reasonably practicable.
Before the deal was announced GCap had posted a trading update in which it noted the (then continuing) talks with Global and said that on a like-for-like basis it expected total revenues for the year to the end of March to be up by 4% year-on-year and also up 4% for the final quarter.
Within this it said like-for-like radio advertising revenues were expected to be up 3% year-on-year and online revenues to be up 38% thanks to a rise of 48% in unique users.
It also confirmed, following recent media speculation, that it received a letter from UK media regulator Ofcom last Friday saying the regulator is continuing to pursue its investigation into alleged breaches of the Broadcasting Code in connection with the "Secret Sound" phone-in competition run on the One Network in January and February 2007.
Its shares had fallen 2.4 % to close at 196.50 pence - valuing the company at GBP 323.9 million (USD 642.6 million) before the announcement.
Global Radio, which had openly said it wanted to be one of the big players in UK radio, made its first move into the UK market with a purchase of Chrysalis radio in June last year for GBP 170 million (Then USD 340 million - See RNW Jun 26, 2007). It was later pipped to the post by Bauer in the bidding for Emap's radio holdings (See RNW Dec 8, 2007).
Previous GCap Media:
Previous Global Radio:
2008-03-31: Interep has announced that it is to go private through a "consensual balance sheet restructuring to be implemented through a Chapter 11 plan of reorganization" agreed by its largest bondholders - funds managed by Oaktree Capital Management, L.P. and Silver Point Capital, L.P.
In the filing with the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York Interep says the deal will allow it to eliminate all its cash-pay indebtedness - Oaktree and Silver Point held nearly all of the bonds that were to be paid at the end of June.
In all nearly USD 100 million of debt will be converted to USD 40 million of no cash interest debt and Oaktree and Silver Point have also agreed to provide Interep with a new USD 25 million credit facility.
Interep says its customers will not be affected by the move and commitments will be honoured and its CEO and vice-chairman David Kennedy added in a release, "The strategic decision Interep has chosen to take today establishes a solid financial footing for the company going forward. With the agreement of the key bondholders, the company now has a plan that will reduce debt, provide the financial resources to grow, and put any uncertainty about Interep's future behind us."
"Today's announcement," he said, "marks an exciting new chapter for Interep, one that I'm confident will demonstrate how a well-capitalized and truly independent rep firm will be able to achieve the best possible results for everyone it serves."
The announcement came as Interep lost more clients with an announcement by Citadel that it is to put all its rep work with Katz Media: As of today 22 stations in nine markets that it acquired from ABC and that were represented by Interep will move to Katz, where they will deal with Eastman Radio, Christal Radio and Katz Radio.
The move means that Katz now handles all of Citadel's 223 stations: Its CEO Stu Olds commented of the deal that Katz "couldn't be more excited to have this opportunity to strengthen our long-term relationship" and added, "We have made great strides together and we fully expect to have an even-more productive partnership in the years ahead."
Katz Radio Group President Mark Gray added, "Citadel owns a spectacular array of stations in many of the nation's top markets. We firmly believe that our talented sales force will be able to maximize the potential of Citadel's stations by providing the highest levels of customer service and developing innovative ways to increase revenue streams."
Citadel CEO Farid Suleman commented that they were pleased to expand the alliance with Katz and added, "The Company expects to benefit from increased revenue opportunities including new group deals resulting from the relationship."
Previous Katz Media:
2008-03-30: Last week was yet another one in which the main regulatory issue garnering coverage is one awaiting a decision, in this case from the Federal Communications Commission, which ahs yet to rule on the Sirius -XM Satellite radio merger, which has been given the go-ahead by the Department of Justice (See RNW Mar 25).: Elsewhere there was a steady flow of radio-related postings.
In Australia, the Australian Communications and Media Authority has announced a number of variations to the licence area plan for radio in Innisfail in Queensland that adds capacity for two new transmitters - for commercial services 4ZKZ in Tully and 4KZ in Babinda - and also changes the transmitter site for United Christian Broadcasters' high power open narrowcasting service at Tully.
In addition, at the request of licensee, Coastal Broadcasters Pty Ltd., it removed capacity for three transmitters for commercial services at Bramston Beach, Hinchinbrook and Murray Falls, and allowed a minor variation was also made to the nominal transmitter site location for two national radio services, 4ABCRR and 4ABCRN, to improve quality and reach of reception.
The ACMA also announced that Australia's Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, Senator Stephen Conroy, is to deliver a keynote address at the agency's RadComms 08conference on the management of the radiofrequency spectrum that is to be held in Melbourne from Wednesday 30 April to Friday 2 May.
ACMA chairman Chris Chapman, who will also address the conference noted that government use of spectrum would be the "key focus" of the conference and said that to inform this discussion, ACMA plans to release in mid-April a review it has commissioned on government spectrum holdings and also proposes to release its draft Spectrum Management Principles and Five-year Spectrum Outlook before the conference.
In Canada, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) has a steady week as regards radio-related work. Postings included
*Approval of application to add a 750 watts FM transmitter at Goderich to broadcast the output of CIYN-FM, Kincardine.
The CRTC noted that it had approved a similar application in 2005 but the licensee had said that because of a dispute with the owners of the tower it was unable to commence the operation of the transmitter before the deadline expired. It also noted opposition to the application from Bayshore Broadcasting Corporation, the licensee of CHWC-FM, Goderich, which pointed out that Blackburn Radio Inc., licensee of CIBU-FM Wingham, had been given authority to operate a transmitter in Bluewater to serve Southern Huron County, which includes Goderich.
Bayshore argued that the area was now more than adequately served by other broadcasters and that the need for the transmitter to provide local programming to Goderich, which had been a factor when approval was given for a transmitter in 2005, had been overtaken by events, and that the proposed transmitter would not make the best use of frequency spectrum in Southern Ontario.
The Commission also posted a public notice, with a deadline of April 30 for the submission of comments or interventions that included the following radio-related applications.
*Application by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) to replace its existing CBDS-AM transmitter at Pukatawagan, which broadcasts its Radio One service, with a 200 watts FM transmitter. The CBC said the Mathias Colomb Cree National Chief and Council had advised the CBC that the CBDS site is contaminated and they will proceed to decontaminate it by June this year. The AM licence is to be deleted.
*Application to relocate the transmitter, increase the antenna height, and decrease from 43,000 watts to 10,600 watts the power of English-language commercial station CICX-FM, Orillia.
*Application to change the frequency of French-language commercial station CHLT-FM, Sherbrooke, from 102.1 MHz to 107.7 MHz, relocate the transmitter, increase the antenna height, and increase the power from 5,800 watts to 24,000 watts.
In Ireland, the Broadcasting Commission of Ireland (BCI) has now advertised for applications for a classic rock FM licence to serve Dublin City and County and the commuter belt. Applications have to be submitted by May 23.
In the UK, Ofcom has awarded six new community radio licences. These went to:
Bolton FM - a station aiming to be an inclusive and accessible station, providing training and broadcasting opportunities for members of all communities and encouraging their active participation.
Gravity FM - a service of local news, information, discussion and debate, together with a wide ranging music policy.
Lindum Radio - a service for the mature adult population of the City of Lincoln.
Peace FM - a station for the African Caribbean community of Manchester covering Moss Side and surrounding districts of central Manchester.
North Manchester FM - a station serving north Manchester that says it will be a catalyst for improving the quality of life in the area with new skills, boosted community pride and more effective relationships between residents and the agencies that serve them
Newark on Trent:
Boundary Sound - community radio service for Newark and the surrounding villages in North Nottinghamshire.
In the US as noted the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will now be the arbiter of any conditions to be imposed on a merged US satellite radio industry following a go-ahead from the Department of Justice.
Apart from that it had a fairly quiet week as regards radio although in New York State it announced a consent decree involving payment of USD 20,000 with Bilbat Radio Inc., licensee of WHHO-AM and WKPQ-FM, Hornell, in relation to public file shortcomings.
In addition to the penalty of USD 10,000 per station, Bilbat also agreed to implement a compliance plan to ensure it met Public File Rules that would include audits of the stations' public files for three years. The licences were renewed.
In Kansas the FCC dismissed a complaint against Cowley County Broadcasting, Inc., licensee of KSOKAM, Arkansas City, and KSOK-FM, Winfield, which alleged numerous rule violations and urged a field inspection. Complainant Bill Westlund had said that the stations were possibly violating Equal Employment Opportunity rules but did not provide specific details and this complaint was dismissed. Other allegations relating to Emergency Alert System and tower lighting, said the commission, will be considered by its appropriate offices.
In Texas it admonished Entravision's stations KFRQ-FM, Harlingen; KNVO-FM, Port Isabel; KVLY-FM, Edinburg; and KKPS-FM, Brownsville, for violating the Commission's Equal Employment Opportunity Rules.
Also in Texas it similarly admonished Cumulus stations KGEE-FM, Pecos; KODM-FM and KRIL-AM, Odessa; KNFM-FM and KZBT-FM and KMND-AM, Midland; and KBAT-FM, Monahans; for violating EEO rules.
Previous Licence News:
ACMA web site:
BCI web site:
CRTC web site:
FCC web site:
Ofcom web site:
2008-03-30: BBC Radio 4's Today breakfast programme has garnered coverage in almost every English national newspaper on Saturday following an incident on Friday when newsreader Charlotte Green, normally known for her composure and diction, broke down into giggles whilst reading an obituary.
She had just finished reading an item in the 08:00 GMT news bulletin (Online on the web site - just after 2 hours 9 minutes into the programme) about the discovery of what is claimed to be the first recording of a human voice - a rendition of the song "Au Clair de la Lune" said to have been made on April 9, 1860 as a "phonautograph" by Édouard-Léon Scott de Martinville: The technique produces a recording of sound waves on paper and was not intended to be played as sound but through scans and computer manipulation it has been turned into sound - and gone on to an item about the death of Oscar-winning screenwriter Abby Mann.
According to reports, an assistant editor whispered to her that it "sounded like a bee buzzing in a bottle", prompting the giggles that she was unable to suppress. It is the second time - the previous one was in 1997 during an item about Papua New Guinea's chief of staff, Jack Tuat - pronounced Twat- that Green has "corpsed" - an acting term for being unable to suppress laughter.
In this case presenter Edward Stourton apologised later in the programme (around 2 hrs 51 minutes into the programme as part of an introduction to an item concerning the recording itself), saying: "There were two bits of radio history being made there, and one of them I'm sure you will recognise was Charlotte Green" and going on to say no offence had been intended to Mann's family. Green herself after the programme offered a personal apology to the family.
She commented of the incident, "I was expecting it to sound at least a little like Au Clair de la Lune, just through a crackly gramophone. Instead it was just bizarre. Someone in the studio remarked it sounded like a bee trapped in a jar and I just lost it."
The incident prompted many comments on websites, some condemning the crack-up but most were sympathetic and the UK Times, which also added some other examples of "corpsing" as did many other papers, quoted her as saying, "I was completely ambushed by the giggles. People have been very sweet and everyone has been saying how much it has cheered up their Friday morning."
The comments posted with the Times article came from round the world and were overwhelmingly on Green's side.
UK Times report:
2008-03-29: Clear Channel has now publicly acknowledged that the buyout of the company by private equity investors led by Bain Capital Partners, LLC and Thomas H. Lee Partners, L.P. may collapse and has also deferred payment of its first quarter dividend because of the uncertainty.
The acknowledgement came in an 8K filing to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in which Clear Channel notes that it had previously announces that it expected the buyout to close by the end of this month but that at a March 27 meeting the would-be-buyers had said they "would not be able to consummate the merger at that time due to the failure of the Banks to provide the required financing in accordance with the Banks' binding commitments."
Clear Channel said the banks failed to send representatives to the meeting and continued, "The Company continues to be ready, willing and able to consummate the Merger under the merger agreement, which remains in effect. The Company is unable, however, to estimate a closing date at this time and cautions the markets that a closing may not occur."
In relation to the dividend, the company said in a statement that it has determined to defer consideration of a first quarter dividend after receiving a request to do so from Bain Capital and Thomas H. Lee Partners.
Clear Channel and the private equity groups have gone to court to force the banks to continue to finance the deal and a Texas judge has issued a temporary restraining order preventing the banks from pulling out of the deal (See RNW Mar 28). The banks involved - Citigroup, Deutsche Bank, Morgan Stanley, Credit Suisse, the Royal Bank of Scotland and Wachovia - in response filed a notice to have the case moved from the Bexar County District Court to the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas.
They argue that the federal courts are the proper venue for a deal of this size and also argue that that the case should be tried under New York law since Bain and Lee Partners signed a binding agreement to have legal disputes related to the merger settled in New York courts.
The banks also note that the suit against them was filed by Clear Channel, which is headquartered in Texas, and CC Media Holdings, which is incorporated in Delaware but has New York as its principal place of business, and argue that the latter was improperly included as a plaintiff so as to "defeat the diversity of citizenship" of the parties that would push the case into federal court.
In addition that say that since CC Media is an affiliate of the buyers, who launched their legal action in the New York Courts (See RNW Mar 27), it should have been associated with the New York action and that its involvement in the Texas action was only set up so that Clear Channel could engage in "forum shopping" for its case.
Clear Channel has also announced that it is to defer consideration of its first quarter dividend at the request of Bain Capital and Thomas H. Lee Partners, a request made in light of the delayed closure of the buyout.
In yet another deferment, the company has also announced that is has yet again extended the Offer Expiration Date and Consent Payment Deadline in Tender Offers and Consent Solicitations for Senior Notes. The notes -for Clear Channel's its outstanding 7.65% Senior Notes due 2010 and subsidiary AMFM Operating Inc.'s outstanding 8% Senior Notes due 2008 - have now been priced (See RNW Mar 27) but the deadlines, already extended have now been put back from 08:00 EDT on March 27 to the same time on April 4 and Clear Channel notes they could be extended further.
Previous Clear Channel:
2008-03-29: Mrs. Ruxandra Obreja, Controller Business Development, BBC World Service has been unanimously elected as new Chair of the Digital Radio Mondiale (DRM) Consortium and DRM Association.
She succeeds Peter Senger, who has retired from both DRM and his position as Deutsche Welle's Director DRM after ten years as chairman.
Obreja said of the work of DRM, "DRM is on the threshold of a new era. Thanks to the brilliant work of our technical colleagues over the past ten years, the DRM standard is now mature. The challenge for all of us is to ensure that in the next few years the DRM standard is taken up on a mass scale. I see this as both the biggest challenge for the consortium and me personally."
2008-03-29: It now seems certain that GCap Media's national digital jazz station theJazz will close at the end of this month although sister station Planet Rock, whose closure was announced at the same time under re-structuring plans by chief executive Fru Hazlitt last month (See RNW Feb 11) has been given another month's grace whilst takeover talks continue with Global Radio.
A notice on the station's website thanks listeners for their support and notes that sister station Classic FM is now broadcasting jazz between midnight and 2am, seven days a week in a show hosted on weekdays by Helen Mayhew and at the weekend by Tim Lihoreau.
It also notes that Margherita Taylor has also moved to Classic FM where she presents the new three-hour Smooth Classics At Six programme.
For those who want more jazz it says that it has added a rolling jazz music stream to myclassicfm.com.
Previous GCap Media:
The Jazz web site announcement:
2008-03-28: Clear Channel has won the first round of its legal skirmish with the banks financing the private equity partners behind the US 19.5 billion deal to purchase the company with a Texas judge issuing a temporary restraining order preventing the banks from pulling out of the deal.
The markets reacted positively pushing Clear Channel shares up nearly 10% to USD 29.60 at closing on Thursday, still almost USD 10 below the USD 39.20 being offered by the group led by Bain Capital and Thomas H. Lee Partners, suggesting enough cool heads recognise that the order is temporary and that the deal may well still collapse.
Clear Channel unsurprisingly praised the order by Bexar County District Court Judge John D. Gabriel saying in a statement that he "carefully considered the claims made in our lawsuit, and clearly recognized the importance of the Banks' agreement and duty to provide debt financing to the Merger of the Company with CC Media Holdings, Inc. He found in favour of Clear Channel's claim that irreparable harm would result if the Banks were not immediately enjoined from tortuously interfering with the Merger Agreement."
In his order Gabriel ordered the banks not to interfere with or thwart consummation of the Merger Agreement" by refusing to fund it, insisting on terms inconsistent with their Commitment letter, or refusing to act in good faith in the drafting of definitive loan documents.
Clear Channel concluded by saying, "We are pleased that the Banks and the Purchasers will now be able to move quickly to complete the loan documents and fund the Merger."
The banks are expected to contest the ruling, particularly in view of commitments to other leveraged buyouts in a market that has fallen.
RNW comment: In view of the other market turmoil and backing to banks, a ruling like this could have major consequences and it seems to us the implications - should there be other similar - rulings compared to what is in the greater scale of things an unimportant company are such that the ruling may yet be a significant point in tipping the US into recession.
It is only a temporary restraining order but legal decisions of this kind can have major unintended consequences - an example from the UK was the effect on the pensions industry of a ruling on Equitable Life's guarantees that put the company out of business for the benefits of a comparatively few individuals with severe knock-on effects on all other Equitable Life pension investors and the whole industry.
Previous Clear Channel:
2008-03-28: Legendary Chicago WGN-AM host Wally Phillips has died aged 82 following a five-year battle against Alzheimer's disease.
Phillips was with WGN for 42 years and in 1997, his 50th year in radio, was inducted into the National Association of Broadcasters Hall of Fame.
Born in Portsmouth, Ohio, He began his career in 1947 at WJEF-AM in Grand Rapids, Michigan and worked at three Cincinnati stations joining leaving WLW-AM to move to Chicago and WGN in 1956.
He was the station's morning host from January 1965 until July 1986 - and top rated in the slot from 1968 - before moving on to an afternoon slot. He retired from WGN in 1998 but in the following year came out of retirement to host a weekly two-hour program on WAIT-AM.
The Chicago Tribune - owned by the same parent - described him as "an individual with a personality as unique and unforgettable as his voice, though both were gentle and calming, in a way that made him, to many, feel like a member of the family."
It added, "He set a moderate but steady pace of news, interviews, commentary and regular applications of wit that seemed to come out of nowhere, that listeners sometimes didn't realize was funny until it was past."
It also recalls that in Cincinnati one station fired him for inserting a phoney item into a news broadcast and quoted from an interview published in the paper in 1976: In it he said, "I wrote, 'All members of infantry company so-and-so report immediately to your draft board,' and I described an insurrection in some phoney country... Hell, they even had the FBI all over the station,"
Chicago Tribune report:
WGN web site:
2008-03-27: Bain Capital and Thomas H. Lee Partners, the two private equity firms who have offered USD 39.20 a share to buy Clear Channel, and the company have now sued the bank consortium backing the deal, accusing them of reneging on their commitment to finance.
The New York Times says the suits were launched in New York State by private equity firms Bain Capital and Thomas H. Lee Partners and in Bexar County, Texas, by Clear Channel.
The Texas suit accuses the banks of interfering with the closing of the takeover in what is known as a tortuous interference claim and the New York ones of breach of contract for reneging on their commitment to finance the deal.
Clear Channel and the buy out partners argue that the banks have sought to change the terms of their lending commitments and in particular proposed to change a six-year financing package into a three-year bridge financing loan, something they say "no responsible purchaser could ever accept."
The banks named are Citigroup, Deutsche Bank, Morgan Stanley, Credit Suisse, the Royal Bank of Scotland and Wachovia and a Citigroup spokeswoman, speaking on behalf of the bank consortium said in a statement: "The bank group presented the sponsors with credit agreements fully consistent and compliant with the commitment letter.
In other Clear Channel news, the company has now priced the previously announced tender offer for its outstanding 7.65% Senior Notes due 2010 and Clear Channel's subsidiary AMFM Operating Inc.'s outstanding 8% Senior Notes due 2008.
The tender offer yield and total consideration, excluding accrued and unpaid interest but including the consent payment, per USD 1,000 principal amount of Clear Channel Notes are 5.277% and USD 1,054.13, respectively whilst for the AMFM notes the figures are 2.163% and USD 1, 034.10 respectively. The offer deadline was 08:00 New York time today but Clear Channel warned that this could be put back.
Previous Clear Channel:
New York Times report:
2008-03-27:The UK Takeover Panel on Wednesday afternoon announced that it had extended by five days until 17:00 BST on Monday the deadline for Global Radio to say whether it is to go ahead with its GBP 371 million ( USD 754 million) takeover offer for GCap Media, currently the UK's largest radio group..
The deadline had already been extended from March 5 to 17:00 GMT on Wednesday and was further extended at GCap's request. In an announcement the company said that negotiations "regarding a possible recommended offer on the terms described in Global's announcement dated 4th March 2008 are progressing and a further announcement will be made in due course (and in any event by not later than 5.00pm on 31st March 2008).
Previous GCap Media:
Previous Global Radio:
2008-03-27: US Internet advertising has now overtaken that of radio according to TNS Media Intelligence, which says that in 2007 total advertising was up only 0.2% over 2006 at USD 148.99 billion but Internet advertising was up by 15.9% to USD 11.31 billion whilst the total for radio was down 3.5% to USD 10.69 billion.
Within the radio total, TNS said local radio was down 2.7% to USD 7.19 billion; national spot radio was down 7.1% to USD 2.50 billion and network radio was down 0.2% to USD 1.00 billion.
Apart from the Internet, the gains were in cable TV - up 6.5% to USD 17.84 billion; Spanish language TV - up 1.3% to USD 4.39 billion; Magazine media - up 5.5% to USD 30.33 billion thanks to increases in Consumer magazines ( up 7%)l Sunday Magazines ( up 7.2%) and Spanish language magazines ( up 10.4%) whilst B-B-B Magazines were down 4.2% and local magazines were down 4%; Outdoor - up 4.9% to USD 4.02 billion; and Free Standing Inserts - up 1.8% to USD 1.86 billion.
Amongst other falls were network TV (Down 1.7% to USD 64.42 billion; Spot TV (Down 10.2% to USD 15.59 billion); and newspaper media (Overall down 5.6% to USD 26.36 billion).
In share terms the rankings were National TV (32.0%); Magazines (20.4%); Newspapers (17.7%); Local TV (13.3%); Internet (7.6%); Radio (7.2%); and all other 3.9%.
The TNS figures do not break down how much of the Internet advertising gain went to broadcaster and newspaper websites and thus ameliorates their fall in traditional revenues nor do they measure online video advertising.
2008-03-27: Ugandan radio station Radio Pacis has been able to launch services on a second FM frequency thanks to its win in the BBC Africa Radio Awards in 2007 according to the BBC World Service.
The Arua-based Catholic radio station won the New Station of the Year category and was awarded USD 5000 to buy equipment
Radio Pacis Director Father Tonino Pasolini said of the win, "We would like to thank BBC World Service for honouring Radio Pacis and making possible the launch of our new frequency. Winning the BBC New Station of the Year trophy and the prize money has changed all our lives. Also helped with other donations, we have been able to build a studio and buy the necessary equipment to support the launch of our new 94.5 FM frequency, which means we can reach even more people than before." and
Station manager Sherry Meyer added that the new frequency would enable them to offer programming in another local language taking the total up to four.
2008-03-27: Cleveland host Shane "Rover" French, who last month left CBS Radio amidst speculation that he had another deal in the works, is to return on April 1 on Clear Channel's WMMS-FM with a four-year deal.
The station web site is running a "countdown" to his return and has posted an MP3 (18 MB) of the announcement of his return.
This notes that there has been a lot of speculation but the return is true now that he is out of his contract with CBS.
Cleveland Scene Weekly says that the host told it he was offered a better deal by WMMS when his CBS contract expired.
"[WMMS has] a better signal that reaches further," said French. "They really have a lot of resources available at Clear Channel - a lot of billboards, ties with a concert-promoting division - that help the show. I think [old boss] CBS had become a little complacent. And I was able to secure more money for everyone on the show."
French had been on air for CBS Radio's WKRK-FM from 2003 until last month and in 2006 was re-located to Chicago as a potential replacement for Howard Stern. He failed to get the ratings and returned to Cleveland six months later.
WMMS program director Bo Matthews told the paper, "He's the biggest radio show in town. I think Rover's show is distinctly Cleveland, because he is real. [Morning Glory] is like reality TV on the radio."
Previous Clear Channel:
Previous Shane "Rover" French:
Cleveland Scene Weekly report:
WMMS web site:
2008-03-26: In the latest Australian radio ratings, covering the period February 10 - March 15, the leaders retained their rankings with talk stations 2GB, 3AW and FiveAA holding on to top rank in Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide whilst DMG's NOVA held on to top spot in Brisbane and ARN's MIX 94.5 did the same in Perth.
In the second ratings since Fairfax Media's 2UE in Sydney introduced its new line-up following the retirement of its veteran morning host John Laws, there was no good news for the company: In the breakfast slot there was bad news for its team of Mike Carlton and former ABC NewsRadio presenter Sandy Aloisi whose "Mike and Sandy" show dropped share from 6.8 to 5.9 and fell from fifth to seventh rank whereas leader Alan Jones at Macquarie Radio Networks 2GB -even though losing a greater share - down from 19.1 to 16.5 - retained first rank.
It was a similar tale in the morning slot where Steve Price at 2UE went down from 5.2 to 5.1 in ninth rank. He is up against Jones - for the first part of the period - and Ray Hadley whose top-ranking share was down 17.8 to 15.3.
For the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) new 702 morning host Deborah Cameron in fourth place took her share up from 7.9 to 8.0.
In Sydney, Austereo highlighted the success of its 2-DAY breakfast team of Kyle Sandilands and Jackie O who, aided by publicity stunts - Sandlilands now divides his time between Sydney and Los Angeles and one stunt involved in fooling Los Angeles paparazzi into thinking the 2-DAY team were Britney Spears - took their second-ranked share up from 10.9 to 12.3 to maintain their FM lead whilst Nova rivals Merrick and Rosso together with newcomer Kate Riche retained fourth rank but went down from 8.2 to 7.5. For ARN the the new MIX breakfast show, boosted by Sonia Kruger's exclusives (she co-hosts with Todd McKenney)- with Madonna and Kylie Minogue, went from 4.4 to 4.7 although they remained ninth.
Austereo chief executive Michael Anderson said of the company's performance, "We've put the time, effort and patience into our shows, allowing them to build a very strong base which will allow them to leverage their success."
At drive time ABC 702's Richard Glover fell back from 15.6 to 13.6 and second rank with 2-DAY's Hamish and Andy moving up to top rank from second as they took their share up from 11.2 to 13.6.
City by city, the top stations were (previous % share in brackets):
*Adelaide: 5AA with 15.4 (13.6 OR WAS IT 5) - same rank; Nova with 13.1 (11.8) - up from fourth; Mix with 12.7 (12.7) down from second;
*SAFM with 12.0 (11.2) was up from fifth to fourth and ABC 891 with 11.2 (12.5) was down from third to fifth.
*Brisbane - Nova with 14.1 (14.6) - same rank; Triple M with 12.0 (11.8) - same rank; B105 with 11.3 (10.9) - same rank.
*ABC 612 with 8.3 (10.7) fell from fourth to sixth.
*Melbourne - 3AW with 15.3 (15.0) - same rank; Fox FM with 12.9 (12.5) - up from second; ABC 774 with 11.6 (12.8) - down from second;
*Nova with 9.9 (10.3) remained fourth; Gold FM remained fifth with 8.6 (8.2), and Triple M with 6.0 (6.6) remained in sixth rank.
*Perth - MIX 94.5FM with 17.6 (17.3) - same rank; ABC 720 with 13.2 (13.0) - same rank; 92.9 with 11.9 (12.9) - same rank;
*6PR with 100 - should have been 10.0 last time - 10.4 (10.0) held on to fourth, remaining ahead of Nova in fifth rank with 9.6 (9.8) and 96FM with 9.0 (8.9) in sixth.
*Sydney: 2GB 12.7 (14.3) - same rank; 2-DAY with 11.0 (9.8) - Up from third; ABC 702 with 9.8 (10.5) - down from second;
*Nova with 7.9 (8.5) remained fourth ahead of Triple M, which was up to fifth from eighth with 6.9 (6.2) and WSM which fell from fifth to sixth with 6.8 (7.0), and Mix 106.5 -down a rank to seventh with 6.4 (6.4), and 2UE -down a rank to eighth with 6.2 (6.3).
Previous Australian Ratings:
RNW note: We will update links later
2008-03-26: Following a Wall Street Journal report that said the USD 19 billion private equity deal to purchase Clear Channel had effectively been dumped by the banks that had agreed to finance the deal, the company's shares plunged in after-hours trading on Tuesday.
They had ended the trading day down 5.49% at USD 35.26, itself well below the USD 39.20 price that the consortium led by Bain Capital and Thomas H. Lee and Partners had agreed to pay but then started dropping precipitously: When we last checked at 17:30 ET they had dropped nearly 22% to USD 25.60.
The Journal had said that the banks behind the deal - Citigroup, Morgan Stanley, Deutsche Bank, Credit Suisse, RBS and Wachovia - had cold feet and had failed to resolve differences with the private equity firms.
Previous Clear Channel:
2008-03-26: Jones MediaAmerica yet again retained top rank ranking in the RADAR 96 (Radio's All Dimension Audience Research) Radio Network Audience rankings just released by Arbitron and covering the period from January 11, 2007 - December 12, 2007: The ratings included Portable People Meter (PPM) and diary respondents and the total sample size was 225,000 respondents- up from 200,083 respondents for RADAR 95. By December this year Arbitron plans to increase the sample size to 300,000 respondents
In the rankings Jones' MAI Adult Power was followed by the ABC Daytime Direction Network and the Dial Global Contemporary Network.
The top five networks in the survey were:
1 - Jones MAI Adult Power, which gained 127,000 listeners to end with an average audience of 6.681 million and an average rating unchanged at 2.6%
2 - ABC Daytime Direction Network, which gained 109,000 listeners to end with an average audience of 6.459 million and an average rating unchanged at 2.5%
3 Dial-Global Contemporary Network, which gained 47,000 listeners and moved up from sixth to end with an average audience of 5,809 million and an AQH up from 2.0% to 2.3%
4 - Dial Global Complete FM Network, which gained 255,000 listeners and rose from fifth to fourth to end with an average audience of 5.578 million and an average rating up from 2.1% to 2.2%
5- Westwood WON I Network, which lost 60,000 listeners and a fell a rank to end with an average audience of 5.495 million and an average rating unchanged at 2.2%.
*Premiere Networks highest ranked offering is the Premiere Morning Drive Network in eighth rank with an average audience of 4.292 million and an average rating of 1.7%.
Previous Citadel (Formerly Disney)/ABC, America:
Previous Jones MediaAmerica:
Previous Premiere Networks:
Previous RADAR ratings (RADAR 95):
Previous Westwood One:
2008-03-25: The US Department of Justice (DOJ) has given the go-ahead for the Sirius - XM Satellite radio merger, saying that it has concluded that the evidence "does not demonstrate that the proposed merger of XM and Sirius is likely to substantially lessen competition, and that the transaction therefore is not likely to harm consumers."
It adds that its Antitrust Division "reached this conclusion because the evidence did not show that the merger would enable the parties to profitably increase prices to satellite radio customers for several reasons, including: a lack of competition between the parties in important segments even without the merger; the competitive alternative services available to consumers; technological change that is expected to make those alternatives increasingly attractive over time; and efficiencies likely to flow from the transaction that could benefit consumers."
Regarding competition the two companies had argued that they competed in the wider audio market and the DOJ has accepted this as well as noting that already because of their exclusive deals with auto manufacturers and incompatible equipment there was unlikely to be significant competition in this part of the market- it notes that subscribers rarely switch between the two services - and that in the retail channel, where there was competition for subscribers they faced competition from other sources of audio entertainment.
The ruling leaves the two companies waiting on the word of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), which also has to give a go-ahead and which would have to void original terms of the companies' licences that prohibited a merger.
The ruling was immediately assailed by the US National Association of Broadcasters (NAB), which has been lobbying heavily against the merger, and which issued a statement from Executive Vice President Dennis Wharton saying, "We are astonished that the Justice Department would propose granting a monopoly to two companies that systematically broke FCC rules for more than a decade" and adding, "To hinge approval of this monopoly on XM and Sirius's refusal to deliver on a promise of interoperable radios is nothing short of breathtaking."
A number of politicians also criticized the go-ahead with North Dakota Democrat Senator Byron Dorgan describing it as "another disappointing example of this administration's blatant disregard for the public interest with regard to media ownership" and adding, "There seems to be no limit to the mergers this administration will approve. These two companies were issued licenses a decade ago to provide competing national satellite radio service. Their license approval included a clause that prohibits them from merging into one company. Now the Justice Department has decided the contract they signed can't stand in the way of consolidation. That doesn't make any sense to me."
Another Democrat, Massachusetts Rep Edward J. Markey, who is chairman of the House Subcommittee on Telecommunications and the Internet, commenting in a statement that contradicted the NAB's faux astonishment, "The Bush administration has apparently never seen a telecommunications merger it doesn't like. Its decision to approve the XM-Sirius merger without conditions is therefore unsurprising."
Markey went on to urge the FCC, if it opts to approve the merger to make if conditional on appropriate actions "to ensure consumer welfare with respect to long-term service plans and pricing as well as equipment compatibility and pricing. "
There was also a call for the imposition of conditions from the Washington D.C.-based advocacy group Public Knowledge whose president and co-founder Gigi B. Sohn said in a statement, "Public Knowledge has maintained that the merger, if it passed antitrust scrutiny, should be approved with a number of conditions. With the Justice Department decision sanctioning them merger, the next move is up to the Federal Communications Commission. We hope the Commission will act accordingly to impose conditions that serve the interests of consumers."
Conditions suggested by Public Knowledge are that the merged company should offer some pricing choice, such as a la carte or tiered programming; should make 5% of its channel capacity available to non-commercial educational and informational programming over which it has no editorial control; should agree not to raise prices for its combined programming package for three years; and should make the technical specifications of its equipment open to allow manufacturers to develop devices.
Sohn added that it has also specifically asked the FCC to refrain from imposing conditions prohibiting local programming and content protection such as the audio broadcast flag."
The satellite companies had claimed a wide range of supporters in their lobbying efforts and following the DOJ announcement, XM put out another release detailing various organizations and individuals that had come out in favour of the merger together with quotations from some of them.
North of the border, XM Canada, which has just announced that it has exceeded 400,000 subscribers, put out a release saying the merger would have no impact on XM Canada's offerings.
Its President and CEO Michael Moskowitz commented, "We have a strong business model in Canada and are committed to an aggressive growth strategy aimed at increasing our subscriber base and delivering outstanding programming right across the country" and added, "We are excited about XM Canada's prospects as 60 per cent of all new vehicles made by Canada's automotive manufacturers are equipped with XM satellite radios, we now have exclusive NHL satellite radio broadcast rights and we now have 400,000 subscribers. We will diligently review any opportunity that arises from this decision and evaluate the impact on our economic positioning and the benefit derived for our customers and shareholders."
Previous XM Canada:
2008-03-25: Irish state broadcaster RTÉ on Monday bade farewell to its medium wave Radio 1 service with a special 90-minute "Medium Wave Goodbye" programme hosted by Brendan Balfe and comprised of his a personal choice of moments from the Irish airwaves.
The broadcaster was launched on medium wave as 2RN, later known as Radio Athlone and Radió Éireann and finally as RTÉ Radio 1.
RTÉ says the service is being replaced by FM transmissions, which were launched in 1966, and is also on the internet and the LW 252 long-wave service and cable and satellite TV platforms as well as on DAB digital audio in some pilot area but is has been criticized for the switch-off with complaints about poor reception of the FM service in some areas, particularly in Northern Ireland.
Earlier this month it said that Radio 1 was to swap frequencies with its music service Lyric FM, which plays mainly classical music and jazz, on the Clermont Cairn transmitter near Dundalk, Co Louth, and advised people in Belfast, Armagh and Down, and in parts of the Republic of Ireland, particularly Louth and Monaghan, to retune to RTÉ Radio 1 on FM 87.8.
It added that RTÉ will shortly apply for a new frequency for RTÉ Lyric FM in this part of the north-east but that as an interim measure the service would be available on FM 95.2.
Despite these assurances, the broadcaster came under heavy criticism over the end of the medium wave service and the Emigrant Online reported that poor reception was a problem in some parts of Belfast and also in the Glens of Antrim, according to Sinn Féin councillor Oliver McMullan
The Emigrant Advice Network had been leading a campaign to delay the phasing out of the Medium Wave, arguing that an alternative should be in place before removing the last remaining link with home for many elderly Irish in Britain.
Emigrant Online report:
2008-03-25: Radio One, Inc. has agreed a USD137.5 million sale of its sole Los Angeles station -urban AC KRBV-FM - to Bonneville International for around USD 137.5 million.
The deal is expected to close in the second quarter but the companies expect to begin a Time Brokerage Agreement in the near future
Bonneville left the Los Angeles market in 2000 when it swapped country format KZLA -AM (now Rhythmic AC KVMN) for four stations in St. Louis in a deal with Emmis Communications, which traded WKKX-FM, which it already owned plus three stations being acquired from Sinclair - WIL-FM, WVRV-FM and WRTH-AM - for KZLA-FM (See RNW Jun 24, 2000) and its President and CEO Bruce Reese said in a statement, "We are very pleased to get back into Los Angeles again, and we look forward to bringing the Bonneville brand to that vibrant market, with our commitment to quality, values-oriented programming and a long history of community service."
For Radio One, its President and CEO Alfred C. Liggins, III, said the transaction was attractive as it "frees-up capital and management resources which can be re-deployed to execute our long-term strategy," adding, "We expect to use the proceeds from this transaction to reduce our leverage, accelerate our internet strategy and re-commence a limited buy-back of our securities."
Radio One also announced that its Board of Directors has authorized a stock repurchase program, running until the end of 2009, for up to USD 150 million of Radio One's Class A and Class D common stock
Previous Radio One Inc:
2008-03-24: This week indecency again as the US Supreme Court agrees to consider the issue of "fleeting" comments; the future of radio; and from the UK, pronunciation.
Regarding the last we appreciated Roland White's introductory paragraph in the UK Sunday Times Radio Waves column: "If you are about 150, you will be familiar with Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. This couple were once very big in films. They danced a little, but perhaps most famously could not decide how to pronounce the word "neither". Was it nee-ther or ny-ther? It's a good job they made it in Hollywood, because the BBC won't stand for that sort of dithering."
He goes on to note that Radio Five's Drive recently tackled the issue of radio pronunciation, inspired by letters to The Times and many text messages to the programme and went on to give a number of examples .." a "decayed" rather than a "deck aid". There was even some debate about the correct way to pronounce proNUNciation. Or proNOUNcia-tion. Mischievous is another difficult one. Is it misCHIEVous or MISchie-vous? Or it is mis-C H E E V Y - o u s , which John Wells, professor of phonetics at University College, London, says is getting such a grip that nearly a third of young people say it this way."
He then goes on to give advice: "On this evidence, I have some advice for texters and letter writers. You are wasting your time. If you doubt me, just look at the way all sentences have now turned into questions? That was an Australian thing, right? And no matter how irritating you find it? It's, like, never going to go away? Well, the same is true of pronunciation."
And on the way the BBC Pronunciation Unit decides such matters - "They first consult the latest editions of specialist pronouncing dictionaries (published by Longman, Oxford and Cambridge)" and according to the unit's coordinator, Catherine Sangster, "Where more than one acceptable pronunciation exists - words like controversy or schedule - we advise broadcasters and programme-makers that both pronunciations are permissible. But we will also advise which is more traditional, or might be perceived as an Americanism, to allow them to consider their audience."
RNW comment: To us the main issue is clarity of meaning and in some cases sloppy pronunciation together with distractions can cause significant misunderstanding. That to us is not a good thing - but then when asked about how we are, the old fashion "Well" ( an adverb) remains correct to us, not the modern abomination "good" ( an adjective) that carries connotations that certainly don't fit in with the users' knowledge of English grammar!
On then to other speech that causes problems and the issue of indecency - not to go before the US Supreme Court after the New York-based United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit slapped down the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) over its decision to change its rules over fleeting expletives after Bono's "fucking brilliant"comment at the 2003 Golden Globe awards.
In that case the Commission's enforcement bureau initially ruled, to the chagrin of the Parents' Television Council, which had spearheaded a campaign to complain, that the comments did not violate its commenting that the word "may be crude and offensive, but, in the context presented here, did not describe sexual or excretory organs or activities."
It subsequently reversed the decision and later ruled against the broadcasters in the case of comments made by Cher and Nicole Richie during two Billboard Music Awards programmes.
The Supreme Court decision to hear an FCC appeal attracted fairly wide coverage and editorial comment including an editorial in the Los Angeles Times that said the "rules to shield kids from bad language are senseless when circumventing them is child's play" commented that the "court's decision could determine how much live programming remains on free over-the-air radio and TV."
It noted that the first penalties for indecent broadcasting issued by the FCC came in 1975 - over George Carlin's famous "Seven Words" monologue (Shit, Piss, Fuck, Cunt, Cocksucker, Motherfucker and Tits) but there was an "an exemption when the offending words weren't used deliberately or repeatedly."
The current rules remove the exemption and have forced broadcasters to institute delay systems to bleep out utterances that could lead to heavy fines and the paper comments that "The added cost and risk imposed by the rule may be enough to push all live events past 10 p.m. or into the realm of paid TV and subscription radio."
It also points out that technology has made the rules somewhat ineffective - they do not apply between 22:00 and 06:00 and time-shifting and online on-demand services mean circumvention of the rules is easy and that the rules do not apply to subscription services.
On the East Coast, the New York Times in its editorial said the "federal appeals court wisely struck down the F.C.C.'s harsh rules, which have done serious damage to free speech" and added, "We hope the Supreme Court does not authorize the F.C.C. to return to its censorial policies."
Commenting on the appeals court ruling if said this "carefully dissected the F.C.C.'s analysis, which it rightly found to be "divorced from reality." The court also noted that the commission's rules most likely violated the First Amendment."
"The F.C.C.'s rationale for its fleeting expletives policy is indeed thin," continued the paper. "It claimed it was only trying to reflect community standards. But there is scant evidence that the public is up in arms about an occasional coarse word. The words the commission finds so offensive, and so in need of punishment, are the sort commonly heard in PG-rated movies and walking down the street."
The editorial also noted that the "stakes in this case are much higher than whether awards shows can air a few bad words" and continued, "The F.C.C. has used its new policy to turn itself into a roving censorship board. Among other outrageous decisions, it hit KCSM, a small public-television station in San Mateo, California, with a USD 15,000 fine for broadcasting "The Blues," a PBS documentary about the musical form that, given the subject matter, understandably contains fleeting expletives."
It then noted other examples - a Second World War documentary "The War" that was distributed by PBS in two versions, one scrubbed of expletives, something the Times terms "a troubling whitewashing of the nature of war" and the cancellation by another station of an historical documentary "Marie Antoinette" because it reared it would be punished for broadcasting the show's sexually suggestive pencil drawings.
It concludes by saying that it is "worrisome" that the Supreme Court agreed to review the Second Circuit's decision and concludes, "The best thing they could do for freedom of speech and artistic expression is to affirm the appeals court's thoughtful ruling."
RNW comment: We agree with the paper in its concern because we cannot see the current court hearing such a case with the intent of a public condemnation of some of the absurdities of small-minded would-be censors, albeit it would be gratifying if they did roast some of those concerned bodies publicly.
We would hope, however, that the court would not make moves towards censoring of subscription services - we note that there have been suggestions that the satellite radio services should be subject to the same restrictions as terrestrial broadcasters which means that any ruling it may come up with is likely to have little effect other than to favour the business of subscription services. Then there's the internet are on-demand services to be subject to the same rules? If so, how can they be enforced, particularly when it comes to programming from other countries? If not, yet again, there is again effectively bias against domestic broadcasters.
Which takes us on to a final report that in part relates to the issue: the part relates to comments from a UK Observer report by James Robinson on BBC Radio 1 controller Andy Parfitt about perceptions and realities when it comes to the "myth of the teched-up teenager".
"There's an idea," commented Parfitt, "that every 17-year-old has got a wireless laptop in their bedroom and a very fancy phone, they're always on the web and they have Sky Plus on a flat screen TV. Actually, a lot of 15- to 17-year-olds are on pay-as-you-go phones with 80 tunes on them, iPods they got at Christmas but are now broken, and a second-hand TV from downstairs."
In other words, it would seem, the well-off may be able to choose different options and in the US context circumvent censors but the hard-up will have to take what they can get.
On to listening suggestions and this week, appropriately for the time of year, we begin with religion, starting off with a BBC Radio 4 "Analysis" programme "Revealing Religion" in which Andrew Brown explored how believers and sceptics see the role of religion in thought and action: To our ears and brain the sceptics have the best of the argument
Then to BBC Radio 2, which on Tuesday in "Blood and Fire: Roots, Reggae and Rastafari" airs Don Letts' look at the facts behind the religious movement that helped Jamaica to recover a lost identity after years of British colonial rule and enforced slavery
And for yet another look at religious topics we suggest the Australian Broadcasting Corporation's "Religion Report" from last week - its topics were the attacks on Iraqi Christians; the part played by Buddhist monks in the politics of Burma and Tibet; and the importance and effect of the Christian vote in Australian Federal politics where it appears that this played a decisive role in Kevin Rudd's defeat of John Howard.
Also from the ABC we suggest the last two weeks of "Spirit of Things" - the first "Islam: From Heretics to Believers" in which Riaz Hassan, who has surveyed seven Moslem-majority countries argues that intellectual commitment and activism is a pre-requisite for major change in the Moslem world, and Edip Yuksel, founder of the Islamic Reform Organization talks about the organization's promotion of a modern and feminist reading of the Koran and the rejection of much that Moslems regard as sacred.
In a change of emphasis last Sunday's programme, "An Orthodox Easter Pilgrimage" looked at a coming together of the Greek, Antiochian and Coptic Orthodox churches and Anglican, Catholic and Uniting Church representatives in an event "The Pilgrimage of Resurrection."
Back to BBC Radio 2 and on Saturday the station in "Classic Albums Replayed" featured "Stars", by Simply Red and on Monday it has a live broadcast of "REM at the Royal Albert Hall" (20:30 GMT) -earlier in the evening (18:00 GMT) "The Record Producers" features a profile of one of the most successful British production and song-writing teams of the late Eighties and early Nineties - Stock, Aitken & Waterman.
Then Jazz - from BBC Radio 2 on Wednesday (23:00 GMT) when Clare Teal presents the first part of a two-programme a retrospective on the life and work of jazz pianist Oscar Peterson; BBC Radio 3 on Friday when "Jazz Library" features the work of Dizzy Gillespie plus "Jazz on 3" (23:30 GMT) which features a gig by the Ingebrigt Haker Flaten Quintet from the Seven Arts Club in Leeds; and BBC Radio 4 and "Ken Clarke's Jazz Greats". In his most recent programme the former Chancellor looked at the life of West Coast alto saxophonist Art Pepper and in his next (Wednesday 13:30 GMT) he profiles bebop pianist Bud Powell.
Still with Radio 4 but changing the music we suggest from Saturday "The Archive Hour" -"Wunderkind!" in which Mark Lawson celebrates the centenary of conductor Herbert von Karajan plus the current "Border Blaster" series presented by Nick Barraclough: Last Saturday the first programme "In Search of the Wolf" focussed on Wolfman Jack a focus continued next Saturday when he takes the story up to the point when the Wolfman appeared in the cult movie American Graffiti
Los Angeles Times - Editorial:
New York Times -Editorial:
UK Observer - Robinson:
UK Sunday Times - White:
2008-03-24: According to the UK Sunday Times, GCap Media now expects to be taken over on Wednesday by Global Radio in an agreed GBP 371 million (USD 742 million) deal - GCap extended its deadline for Global to put up and shut up until then following Global's latest offer and said it would "work together with Global to determine whether it will be able to make a recommendable offer" (See RNW Mar 6).
The deal will make Global the dominant UK commercial radio group but the paper says it is expected to sell off stations in London and the Midlands because of competition concerns: It adds that a combination of the two companies would have a 47% share of UK radio advertising that is likely to attract the attention of the Office of Fair Trading and the Competition Commission.
The paper also says that chief executive Fru Hazlitt is expected to leave when the takeover is complete together with a pay-off amounting to around GBP 1 million (USD 2 million) after only three months in the role: The amount is says is made up of a year's salary and bonus in lieu of notice as well as gains on her GCap shares, which have risen some 60% since she was appointed in December last year (See RNW Dec 21, 2007).
Previous GCap Media:
Previous Global Radio:
UK Sunday Times report:
2008-03-23: Last week the main regulatory news came from the US in terms of a spectrum auction, albeit not of radio but mobile communications spectrum that fetched a US record 19.5 billion (Some GBP 9.7 billion - which compares to around GBP 22.5 billion - then USD 36 billion raised for 3G spectrum in the UK and around GBP 30 billion -then USD 45.9 billion -for 3G spectrum in Germany in 2000): In radio terms things were much quieter - and there is still no announcement from the US concerning the Sirius-XM merger.
In Australia, the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) posted only two radio-related decisions - a ruling that Perth community service 6NR breached licence conditions by broadcasting advertisements and aired more than 5 minutes per hour of sponsorship announcements and the other a proposal to expand radio services in the Maryborough and Kyneton areas of Victoria.
In the first case Curtin University of Technology, the licensee, has now ended its practice of broadcasting sponsors live to air and now pre-records all interviews with sponsors, thus allowing it to accurately time-limit sponsorship announcements and also to ensure that the appropriate 'tag' is placed at the end of each sponsorship announcement. The ACMA considered the action taken was sufficient and took no further action itself.
In Victoria, the ACMA is proposing to make a new community radio service available for the Maryborough area of Victoria and to extend the licence area of community station 3CH Kyneton.
It notes that in Maryborough Strengthening Goldfields Community Radio (SGCR) has been operating on a temporary community broadcasting licence and has now has expressed interest in obtaining a permanent community licence.
The ACMA is also proposing, following a request from the station, to move the transmitter of community radio service 3CH Kyneton to a new site at Mt Macedon and extend the licence area to encompass the entire Macedon Ranges Shire, to include the townships of Woodend, Macedon, Romsey and Gisborne.
In Canada, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) again posted only a few radio-related notices, one the approval of an application to use 99.7 MHz instead of the 106.1 MHz originally proposed by Vista Radio Ltd. to operate its new English-language commercial FM radio programming undertaking in Campbell River, British Columbia. The station will also have increased power - 6,000 watts instead of the 663 watts originally proposed.
The other was a denial of an application by Golden West Broadcasting Ltd. for a new 27,000 watts country music English-language commercial FM in Winkler/Morden, Manitoba.
Golden West is the sole commercial radio operator in the market where it currently owns and operates CKMW-AM and CJEL-FM in Winkler/Morden as well as CFAM-AM in nearby Altona, thus meaning that approval of a new station would take it above allowable market limits.
There were again no radio announcements from Ireland but in the UK Ofcom awarded the new Mid Wales multiplex to Muxco Wales (See RNW Mar 19) and also announced two senior appointments - of Jonathan Thompson, currently Channel Four's Director of Strategy and Research, as its new Director of Strategy and of Campbell Cowie, at present Time Warner (Europe) Executive Director of Public Policy, to be a Policy Director in the Strategy and Market Developments team.
In the US, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) as already noted still has to post its decision regarding the Sirius-XM merger and has also been involved in a spectrum auction that raised USD 19.5 billion.
It also released latest licensed broadcasting station numbers, covering 2007 (See RNW Mar 19).
In addition it was involved in a few enforcement actions and contested licence decisions relating to radio. They included the following:
Alabama and Mississippi:
Rejected petition for reconsideration filed by Blakeney Communications, Inc. relating to licence of CCBL Broadcasting Licenses, Inc.'s WRKH-FM, Mobile, Alabama. Blakeney had filed an application for modification of license to upgrade its WBBN-FM, Taylorsville, Mississippi, and a petition for dismissal of the WRKH-FM application
Denied application by Cumulus Licensing Corp. for review of USD 10,000 forfeiture order imposed for failure to paint two antenna structures near Savannah. Cumulus had admitted I knew the towers needed painting but claims that it did not know at that time that the towers could not be brought into compliance with the tower painting rules: Three tower painting companies determined that the towers were unsafe to climb and me of them reported that the towers should be condemned. The FCC dismissed this argument and also, on the basis of previous tower violations by Cumulus, an argument for reduction on the basis of a history of compliance.
Denied petition for reconsideration filed by Rivers, L.P. and for a waiver relating to proposed amendment of its AM Auction 84 application for a new AM broadcast station at Jackson, Mississippi.
Terminated waiver permitting Triad Broadcasting Company, LLC and Monterey Licenses, LLC to continue a Joint Sales Agreement involving KEGK-FM, Wahpeton, North Dakota, licensed to Guderian Broadcasting, Inc. but denied request by Radio Fargo-Moorhead, Inc. to conduct an investigation to determine whether Triad's JSA of WEGK was a de facto time brokerage agreement.
*Awarded construction permit for new low power FM in the Providence, Rhode Island, area to Casa de Oracion Getsemani, Zion Bible Institute and Ephese French SDA Church, who had agreed a time-share. It rejected applications from Brown Student Radio and Providence Community Radio and also rejected various objections to the licence award.
*Issued USD 1,500 Notice of Apparent Liability for Forfeiture (NAL) to Southern Rhode Island Public Radio Broadcasting, Inc., licensee of WKIV-FM, Westerly, for failure to file renewal application on time. It renewed the licence.
Previous Licence News:
ACMA web site:
CRTC web site:
FCC web site:
Ofcom web site:
2008-03-22: Members of the SaveWCAL campaign group, which opposed the sale of the public radio station by St. Olaf College, are claiming an important victory not just for themselves but also for other donors to public radio in a Special Master report submitted on March 7, 2008 to the Rice County (Minnesota) District Court that it says recognizes that donors to the station created a charitable trust throughout more than 80 years of support to it.
SaveWCAL has argued that this is the case since October 2004 when it unsuccessfully asked the Minnesota Attorney General to intervene in the sale of the trust's assets: It notes that in his report Special Master Judge Gary J. Meyer (ret.), comments of the Attorney General's view: "The Attorney General notes that St. Olaf has not formally petitioned the court regarding the proceeds of the sale of WCAL assets to MPR. But St. Olaf takes the position that none of the proceeds of the sale are subject to any restriction and that St. Olaf is entitled to use the proceeds for any purpose it desires. Thus, it is unlikely that St. Olaf would ever bring a petition asking for direction from the court regarding these funds. Although the Attorney General clearly could have, and perhaps should have, brought a petition to the court, they have not done so. Instead, the court is left with the current petition, which, in the interests of justice, must be expanded to include additional funds not specified in the petition."
The report also finds that the assets involved are far greater than put forward by the college to the court: It had claimed that it held USD 1.36 million in the WCAL endowment and that it should have unrestricted access to approximately USD 860,000 of that amount with approximately USD500,000 restricted to "Core WCAL Activities " whereas the Special Master has found that the WCAL charitable trust has assets in excess of USD 5 million, the use of all of which should be restricted to "Core WCAL Activities."
This figure does not include the value of the licence itself but SaveWCAL President Ruth Sylte says the licence itself would have been lost long ago but for the support of WCAL donor, specifically noting that in 1924 the station was only saved by donors after the college announced that it did not have the funds to operate the station.
It also does not include the trust status of the building in which WCAL was housed that was built, not with funds from St. Olaf College, but solely from the donations of WCAL listeners.
The parties involved are now awaiting instructions from Rice County District Court Judge Gerald Wolf regarding how the hearing on the St. Olaf Petition and Amended Petition will proceed but Sylte said the Special Master report itself was an important victory for supporters of and donors to WCAL and added, "It is a very good day for supporters of public radio and thousands of SaveWCAL supporters! The report confirms that listener donations and support do matter."
WCAL, which was the first listener-supported radio station in the U.S. and a founding member of National Public Radio, ceased broadcasting in November 2004 following its sale to Minnesota Public Radio (MPR)for a reported US D10.5 million (See RNW Nov 21, 2004)
Previous Minnesota Public Radio:
SaveWCAL web site:
2008-03-22: Jonathan Spence, the Sterling Professor of History at Yale University, is to deliver this year's BBC Radio 4 Reith Lectures, now in their 60th year: They were launched in 1948 by the philosopher Bertrand Russell and are named after the BBC's first Director-General John Reith.
Prof. Spence, who was born in England, teaches Chinese history at Yale and says he is terming his lectures "Chinese Vistas in order to suggest the long view that we need to have when we think about China today."
"China's current options," he adds, "for both good and ill, are intricately enmeshed with her past experiences," saying that in the first lecture "we will reflect on China's most enduring thinker, Confucius, and see how his message has survived countless negative assaults, and why he is being recycled by the Chinese Communist leadership today."
The second lecture will deal with China's relations with Great Britain; the third with "the two centuries in which the United States gradually moved from being a dominant beacon of freedom and democracy for China, to a more demanding global rival during World War II and after." And the final lecture with "how China has slowly shaped its sense of Chinese bodies to answer different needs, from languorous courtship and formalised martial arts down to the demanding arenas of team sports and the ultimate Olympic challenges which she will host this August."
The four lectures will be broadcast weekly on BBC Radio 4 commencing June 3 and also on the World Service as well as being available on the Radio 4 web site.
2008-03-21: International satellite radio operator WorldSpace has warned that it needs additional capital to keep operating as it reported a fall in subscribers in the final quarter of the year, reflecting it says the cessation of current marketing efforts in Europe ahead of the company's efforts to commence mobile service there beginning with Italy in 2009 and also the continued reduced marketing in India while the Company awaits regulatory approval for its mobile system.
Overall WorldSpace said it ended the quarter with 174,166 subscribers worldwide, 3,478 down on the previous quarter with subscriber numbers in India down 1,827 to 163,075 although they were up 1,065 year-on-year.
Revenues were down from approximately USD 5 million a year earlier to approximately USD 3.8 million in the quarter of which some USD 2.0 million came from subscriptions in each quarter: Net loss for the quarter was USD 46.0 million compared to USD 33.8 million a year earlier (From 89 cents to USD 1.10 per share).
For the year net revenues were some USD 13.8 million, down from USD 15.6 million in 2006 with net loss for the year of USD up from USD 128.6 million to USD 169.5 million (From USD 3.44 to USD 4.22 per share).
WorldSpace said it expects to file its financial statements for the year ended December 31, 2007, with the Securities and Exchange Commission on or before March 31, 2008 adding that it anticipates that its independent registered public accounting firm, Grant Thornton LLP, will include an explanatory paragraph in their audit opinion that expresses doubt about the Company's ability to continue as a going concern based on its current financial resources.
There was some good news for the company from Europe where it has received approval from Switzerland s Office Federal de la Communication (OFCOM) to operate terrestrial repeaters that will work in conjunction with its existing satellite network to provide Swiss consumers with a subscription-based satellite radio service.
WorldSpace noted that after the quarter closed it had secured a facility for up to USD 40 million of subordinated financing, from Yenura Pte. Ltd., a company controlled by its chairman and CEO Noah Samara (See RNW Jan 3) and that about half of this has been drawn by the Company to date.
The facility supports WorldSpace's preparations for the launch of its European mobile service in the Italian market and business development activities in selected markets and Samara commented. "We continue to make progress in Italy towards the first European launch of mobile satellite radio service contemplated for the end of this year or early next year. We appreciate the support of our partners who are working closely with us to make this launch successful. We believe the Italian market, and indeed the broader European market, represents a remarkable business opportunity for a robust mobile service. We remain confident that WorldSpace, along with our partners -- Class Editori, Fiat, Telecom Italia, Delphi, Fraunhofer ISS and others -- can effectively implement our strategy, once we secure the financial resources required to support it."
2008-03-21: Clear Channel, which had already extended until 14:00 EDT on Thursday the deadline for pricing of its outstanding 7.65% senior notes due 2010 as well as its AMFM Operating Inc. unit's outstanding senior notes due 2008 but warned that it might extend this deadline and the offer expiration and consent payment deadlines, announced late on Thursday that it was indeed extending them all.
The new pricing deadline is now 14:00 EDT on March 25th and the other two deadlines are extended from 08:00 EDT on Math 24 to 08:00 EDT on March 27, again with the caveat that they could be further extended.
Previous Clear Channel:
2008-03-21: BBC Radio Devon has chosen an unusual way of marking its 25th year on air - it is inviting listeners to reveal their favourite walks in the county as past of a "25 Walks For 25 Years anniversary project."
Reporter Jo Bishop, who walked 460 miles around the entire Devon border in 2003 for the Chestnut Appeal and raised GBP 17,000 (USD 34,000) for prostate cancer, is coordinating the project and c9mmented, Devon has a wealth of possibilities and I'm sure our listeners know where some of the gems are. All we need them to do is send us the details and then we'll feature the top 25 on air."
She and her dog Bella will walk some of the suggested routes with the nominees themselves and highlights of the walks will be featured on Pippa Quelch's Saturday Breakfast Show from 22 March to 6 September: Guides to all the 25 best walks will be posted on the station website.
BBC Radio Devon web site:
2008-03-20: After two days of fluctuations that had seen its price fall as low as USD 31.22 and touch USD 36.00, Clear Channel stock ended Wednesday at USD 32.60, again suggesting that the market is not confidents its takeover by a private equity group led by Bain Capital and Thomas H. Lee Partners will go to completion at the agreed USD 39.20 price or even at all because of recent credit market problems..
In another move linked to the deal, Clear Channel has extended by two days until 14:00 EDT today the date on which the pricing for its outstanding 7.65% senior notes due 2010 as well as its AMFM Operating Inc. unit's outstanding senior notes due 2008 will be set. It also extended by two days - to 08:00 EDT on March 24, the consent payment deadline to 08:00 EDT and says both deadlines could be extended further.
Clear Channel noted that as of March 18 when it announced the extension approximately 87 percent of the AMFM Notes have been validly tendered and not withdrawn and approximately 98 percent of the CCU Notes have been validly tendered and not withdrawn.
In other US radio business, Westwood One has announced the closing of the sale of 7.14 million shares for USD 12.5 million (USD 1.75 per share) to Gores Radio Holdings Ltd., the second part of an investment announced last month (See RNW Feb 25): It closed on a similar purchase of shares earlier this month when it announced the completion of its agreement with CBS Radio (See RNW Mar 4). Gores now holds 14.3 million shares in Westwood One. Gores is to invest up to USD 100 million in Westwood.
The price compares to a range of USD 1.82 to USD 2.00 reported by Westwood One Chairman Norman J. Pattiz in a filing related to his purchase of 84,000 shares in the company (The shares have traded between USD 1.80 and USD 2.00 so far this week).
Previous Clear Channel:
Previous Westwood One:
2008-03-20: Xfm has announced that MTV presenter and former Key 103 and Galaxy 102 DJ Jo Good is to host its afternoon show from next Tuesday following a decision by parent GCap Media to re-introduce daytime DJs to the station.
The return of DJs was announced earlier this month and the station has already said Alex Zane will host breakfast, current drive time host Rick Shaw will move to an 09:00 to 13:00 morning slot and Dave Berry will take over the weekday drive time show (See RNW Mar 7).
DJs were dropped in May last year in a switch to an Xu format featuring music chosen by listeners (See RNW May 18, 2007).
In other UK radio news Andrea Vidler, managing director of Magic FM in London, has been made chief marketing officers for its parent Bauer Consumer Media. She will take up the new role alter this month and will oversee all its magazine, radio, online, mobile and TV marketing. Bauer is to make an announcement regarding management of Magic shortly.
Vidler already handles digital radio activities for its magazine brands Heat, Q (both already on air) and Closer (to be launched later this year on the new Channel 4 digital multiplex.
She told the UK Guardian that Bauer was in the "exceptional position of having some of the world's strongest specialist media and entertainment brands" and added, "This is an extraordinary opportunity to unleash the creative energy within the business by putting marketing truly at the heart of everything we do - integral to the profit and loss of a brand and not a parallel service."
Previous GCap Media:
UK Guardian report:
2008-03-20: Entries can now be made for this year's Australian Commercial Radio Awards (ACRAs), which will be presented on October 11 at the Conrad Jupiters resort on Broadbeach Island on the Gold Coast of Queensland. Entries for the year's Awards close on Friday May 2.
In all awards will be made in 32 categories including one new category this year - Best Multimedia Execution, which has been introduced to recognise innovative multimedia campaigns which involve listeners, using a website and podcasts, mobile phones or other multimedia applications.
The awards are organized by Commercial Radio Australia whose CEO Joan Warner commented of them, "The diversity of winners over the past few years highlights the depth of radio in Australia - and this year will be no exception with a myriad of talent on commercial radio throughout the country."
Previous Commercial Radio Australia:
2008-03-19: US radio reaches more than 235 million listeners per week according to preliminary figures from its RADAR 96 network report just released by Arbitron, a figure more than seven times the 33 million a week who listen online according to another study just released by Arbitron and Edison Media.
Arbitron adds that 95% of adults age 18-49 with a college degree and an annual household income of USD 50,000 or above, tune into radio over the course of a week and that RADAR Network affiliates -more than half all US radio stations - reach 84 percent of this coveted demo and also 84% of adults 25-54 in households with a college degree and an annual household income of USD 75,000 or above.
It also stresses success for network radio in reaching younger listeners, saying this reaches 84% of listeners aged 18-34, 2% above the figure for the 12 plus audience.
In terms of ethnic listening, Arbitron says the medium reaches 95 percent of Black Non-Hispanics and 96 percent of Hispanics age 25-54 over the course of a week.
Regarding online listening the Arbitron-Edison Media "Infinite Dial 2008: Radio's Digital Platforms" report showed this up four million from a year ago and also that there was a strong connection between online radio listening and social networking sites.
It notes that whilst 14% of all Americans 12 or above have a profile on a social networking site, this rises to 63% of online radio listeners and that a third of online radio listeners with a social network profile visit their social networking site nearly every day or several times per day
Previous Edison Media:
Previous RADAR (RADAR 95):
2008-03-19: UK media regulator Ofcom has awarded the new Digital Audio Broadcasting (DAB) radio multiplex licence for Mid and West Wales to Muxco Wales, the only bidder.
Muxco Wales is 70% owned by Town & Country Broadcasting Ltd and 30% by Muxco Limited and is proposing three local digital sound programme services, in addition to BBC Radio Wales and BBC Radio Cymru (See RNW Feb 22).
2008-03-19: The US ended 2007 with a total of 29,593 licensed broadcast stations, up 1,786 year-on-year and up 134 since the end of September according to figures just published by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).
Within the figures, the number of licensed radio stations at the end of the year was 13,977, up 140 on the year and up 38 in the final quarter of which AM station numbers were 4776, up 22 year-on-year and up 25 in the final quarter.
Commercial FM numbers were up 43 year-on-year and 19 on the previous quarter whilst educational FM numbers rose to 2892, up 75 year-on-year and 19 over the quarter and in addition the number of FM translators and boosters rose to 5904, up 1,773 year-on-year and 286 over the quarter.
The number of licensed low-power FM stations was 831 up 60 year-on-year and up 16 over the quarter.
FCC figures to end of September 2007:
FCC figures to end of 2006:
2008-03-18: Overall US radio revenues in February were down 2% year-on-year following a 6% fall in January according to the US Radio Advertising Bureau (RAB)..
As in January the bright spot was provided by non-spot revenues, which were up 17% (up 11% in January): All other figures were in negative territory - local revenues were down 4% having fallen 5% in January; national revenues were down 1% having fallen 13% in January; and combined national and local revenues, which had fallen 7% in January, were down 4%.
Previous RAB and RAB figures (Full year 2007):
2008-03-18: The US National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) has welcomed the decision of the U.S. Supreme Court to hear an appeal relating to Federal Communications Commission (FCC) penalties for the "fleeting" use of expletives on air.
The appeal was launched by the Commission after a June 2007 ruling by the Second U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upholding an appeal by Fox TV over an FCC ruling that single expletives used by Cher and Nicole Richie during broadcasts of the 2002 and 2003 Billboard Music Awards were indecent.
No fine was imposed because the incidents occurred before the FCC changes its policy to make such incidents trigger indecency proceedings but Fox had appealed against the ruling and the Court ruled that the change was "arbitrary and capricious" and that the Commission had failed to "articulate a reasoned basis for this change in policy." The court also said the policy change could breach the First Amendment and remanded the matter back to the FCC.
The Commission, backed by the Solicitor-General's office, responded with an appeal to the Supreme Court and its decision to accept the case was welcomed by FCC chairman Kevin J. Martin, who said he was "glad" about the decision and Commissioners Michael J. Copps (Democrat) and Deborah Taylor Tate, who each issued statements in which they each spoke of protecting children.
For the NAB, Executive Vice President Dennis Wharton said, "NAB is pleased the Supreme Court has agreed to review this case, and that Justices will provide badly-needed clarity to both broadcasters and policymakers on this critically-important First Amendment case. We're confident that whatever the outcome of this case, local radio and television stations will be mindful of broadcasting's long history of providing programming that will reflect and respect the audiences that we serve."
2008-03-18: GCap Media has joined the ranks of media organizations moving into social network sites to enhance its presence with advertisers with the announcement of a GBP 450,000 (USD 900,000) majority stake in social networking website company welovelocal.com Limited from Duncan and Max Jennings.
In addition to the initial payment it will make further staged payments of GBP 150,000 (USD 300,000) and GCap chief Executive Fru Hazlitt commented of the deal, "This is a great opportunity for GCap. welovelocal.com is a business in its infancy but is already showing excellent audience growth. We will be able to accelerate this growth in a way that reinforces our connection to our local communities. We will integrate its listings and reviews into our Capital 95.8 and One Network sites, enhance and support the on-air experience across these stations and develop welovelocal.com into the leading user generated reviews site in the UK. This will allow us to build commercially attractive online communities of interest, to exploit our local presence and access new classified revenue streams."
welovelocal.com helps people find the best businesses in their area by reading reviews and sharing their own recommendations and co-founder Duncan Jennings commented, "This is the first deal of its kind to really leverage an established media company's audience in order to grow a market leading user-generated community website. welovelocal.com has grown enormously in the few short months since our nationwide launch. We now have the opportunity to build on this early success and hit a critical mass of local business reviews through collaborating with GCap's millions of listeners. This will set us apart from our competitors and significantly increase our advertisers' exposure."
Previous GCap Media:
2008-03-17: This week we concentrate on talk radio with comment from the UK on the infiltration of more entertainment into the BBC Radio 4 speech channel and from the US on and by talk hosts and also comment on what the writer regards as an unwelcome intrusion of an entertainment canon into Christian stations.
Taking the last first, the comment came from Dr. Vic Eliason, a former president of Midwest National Religious Broadcasters (NRB), host of the syndicated radio show "Crosstalk" and founder and Executive Director of the VCY America Radio Network amongst other things.
Reacting negatively to the "Night of Comedy" at the NRB Convention in Nashville, Tennessee, Eliason delivered a message of gloom that he did not regard the comedy as leavening, commenting: "As Christian broadcasters we are facing a culture and nation that is increasingly hostile to biblical truth. We are looking at the possible resurrection of the Fairness Doctrine that would have a devastating impact on many of our ministries.[RNW comment: Canadian religious broadcasters seem to successfully cope with this but maybe it's a less bigoted society and more intelligent nation than the US?] We are facing one of the most important elections in our nation's history that will have huge consequences in all areas of life. We face terrorism worries, economic tremors and a steady encroachment on our civil liberties."
He continued, "The moral squalor in our land is ever worsening as evidenced by the multi-billion dollar porn industry that flows into our nation's homes to the harm of our children. Nearly 50 million pre-born Americans have lost their lives in the womb, and the numbers continue to mount. In the extremely limited time we have here in Nashville, it is tragically significant that Christian broadcasters are spending Monday evening laughing their sides off at three comedians at the Night of Comedy, and following that up with Monday Night Madness an hour later for a meet and greet with the air-brushed celebrities of the music industry."
Eliason, who seems to favour the puritan tradition, commented of Christian broadcasting stations in the US, "When I began in Christian broadcasting years ago, there was a seriousness, a gravity among those whose driving passion was to air an unadulterated Gospel message. Ministry was the focus. We now have an 'Industry' focus that results in Disney and Fox consultants coming in to tell us how to present the Gospel."
And of this he asked, "A Disney exec is going to be telling us about, 'The Power of a Story'. We need the creators of Cinderella to tell us how to present the story of the living Christ? What ever happened to the power of the Holy Spirit?" and later added, "Unlike what many religious broadcasters are airing today, Jesus is not a life-enhancement product What a powerful thing it would be if all of those broadcasters who are still committed to getting the true Gospel out to the masses through media would kneel and seek God at a mass prayer meeting in the Delta Ballroom. We could confess corporately that all of our slick media techniques, all of the money that is now the motivation in so much of religious broadcasting, and all the man-made strategies are ultimately worthless in changing hearts without the power of God in our ministries. What we are needing as Christian broadcasters at this hour is repentance and a return to the core purpose for our vast media assets---to unapologetically preach Christ crucified, the only hope of the world."
In a totally different context, Robert Sandall in last Sunday's "RadioWaves" column in the UK Sunday Times started his column with details of a plug by Van Morrison on BBC Radio 4 for his new album, of which he writes that "judging by the way the interview was trailed days in advance, Radio 4 bosses did not regard this unrevealing, 10-minute puff as a makeweight item."
He then went on, "On the contrary, it lies at the heart of a push across the network to give more prominence to entertainment, and in particular pop. Audience research suggests that Radio 4 listeners now tune in regularly to music networks, notably Radio 2."
After that came the nub of his argument, that the moves are about the future rather than the present, writing, "Radio 4 insists that its content is aimed at "those who share a mind-set . . . rather than a demographic", but it also knows the world of talk radio is changing. The over40s who make up 85% of Radio 4's audience are less likely to acquire the habit as an inevitable part of the ageing process. This is partly because the BBC itself encouraged them to pay less attention to it in their youth. When Radio 1 launched in 1967, many of Radio 4's listeners of today - average age 55 - would have been teenagers caught up in the 1960s pop explosion. Yet they did not lose interest after finding the happening tunes on Radio 1 not to their taste any more."
Sandall goes on to comment about variable results in the Radio 4pop-themed output that controller Mark Damazer has boosted over the past four years and suggests that the station is at its best "when it tackles the subject more obliquely, telling stories that illuminate the contexts in which pop music is made and listened to" and cites as examples the series "You Probably Think This Song Is About You", another hosted by Jarvis Cocker of Pulp on the importance of art colleges as breeding grounds for pop performer, and the forthcoming "The Music Group", which returns on April 9th and features a trio of "name" guests talking about a single that means a lot to them.
After comment on what might be seen as out-of-place content on to what could be seen as out of context comment from Dennis Prager's TownHall.com column, a column we chose because it seems o us to illustrate on of the features of the vast majority of US talk - building an argument that appeals to prejudices and may well be logically constructed but rarely looks for facts that might disprove a thesis - faith rather than science in other words.
Prager writing under the title "Why are women depressed?" starts on the basis that women suffer "depression at twice the rate of men" and that "Apparently, more women are clinically depressed than ever before" and then from this argues that "Assuming that any new phenomenon -- in this case, much higher rates of depression among women -- suggests a new cause, the major new cause can only be the consequences of feminism."
A Google search for "male & female depression rates" taking a whole 0.35 seconds produced some 1.93 million results and. within the top ten, one item from medscape "Higher Rates of Depression in Women" stood out as likely to have some factual basis. Whilst noting there was much higher reporting of depression amongst women, it clearly detailed the sample =and its limitations -from which it was drawing a tentative conclusion that one reason was one of bias in diagnosed - it is not that women themselves exaggerate their depression but rather, others are more likely to report a woman as depressed, even if she herself does not report herself as so.
The report would certainly suggest male patronising as more likely to bias the reporting than feminism, whatever Prager's arguments and he does make an argument that is fairly logical albeit without any examination of the basis from which he is arguing, an argument that depends very largely on cultural assumptions.
Which takes us on to comment about US talk hosts and the current report on the state of US media from the Project for Excellence in Journalism: In its content analysis for radio this comments of talk hosts that "One clear finding of this examination is that the major personalities in the medium tend to seize on a few major news events each week and amplify them for their own purposes. Many weeks, the top stories in the media generally are roughly twice as big in the talk radio universe Generally, those events are then run through an ideological filter and used to create a narrative about good guys and bad guys, winners and losers. That process is fairly similar among both liberal and conservative hosts. It is, at its core, a medium of three P's-personality, persuasion and polarization."
It also notes talk radio's fixation with elections and politics during 2007, with the second biggest topic the media themselves - "In almost half the weeks in 2007, the lead story in talk radio got about twice as much play as the No. 1 story in the media over all; minimal coverage of foreign events that did not involve the US and many other topics - "Combined coverage of the legal system, business, transportation, education and science and technology filled only 2% of the talk radio newshole"; and an absence of a "tabloid" agenda - crime and celebrity news too up only around 5% of talk radio's time.
The report also notes that " Radio news headlines (from CBS and ABC) were in many ways a solid supplement to the narrow and selective talk news agenda" although it continued, "The brief hourly headline reports lacked depth but offered a broad and evenly balanced menu of topics."
And of the general practice of hosts: "The most striking characteristic of talk radio is its tendency for hosts to seize on the news and amplify those events. The hosts might suggest they are analyzing them, or offering a deeper level of clarity and truthfulness. Critics might suggest the hosts are not so much reporting the news as exploiting it" and "In a year in which we have concluded that the media agenda in general was narrow, talk radio focused on an even smaller slice of that pie."
Which takes us on to listening suggestions and also in explains the remarkably low level of suggestions we make of US radio output because to put it bluntly, major nation it may be but its radio output if woeful compared to that of many smaller nations in terms of content and also range...little drama, little comedy, almost no long analysis...we could go on but instead will make two suggestions relating to a 40-years-old piece of history that we think most Americans should be aware of but few are - the mass murder and rape at My Lai in 1968, a shameful episode largely covered up by the US military (whose investigators at an early stage included a Major Powell, destined to progress in the army and beyond as Secretary of State -details easily found online, but he was hardly aggressive in pursuing the truth).
In relation to this we make two suggestions, one last week's "On the Media" from WNYC - its lead was one giving Seymour Hersh's account of his reporting on the story (The site also has the hoe 35 minute interview available as a stream) - and the other last week's "Archive Hour" from BBC Radio 4 - "The My Lai Tapes" presented by Robert Hodierne and telling the story of the Pentagon enquiry conducted by Lt General William Peers, including, as does the Hersh version, some chilling details, almost none of it with the exception of some honourable solders - who tended to suffer for their honesty -reflecting other than very badly on the US. Both programmes should probably be compulsory lessons in US schools together with programmes on Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo Bay, and the habit of the current president to break the law allied with the gutlessness of both the Senate and Congress in upholding it.
Also from Radio 4 at the weekend, we suggest "Analysis - What Are We Fighting For?" in which Edward Stourton talks to those doing the fighting as well as the commanders and politicians back home who have to make decisions about military deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan.
Sticking with Radio 4 we then suggest Tuesday and "1968: Day by Day - The Year of Revolutions" in which John Tusa and his guests discuss the impact of the tumultuous world events of 1968
We then suggest BBC Radio 3 and "Belief" - Monday through Thursday at 23:00 GMT in which Joan Bakewell talks to four people about what they believe in and why, starting with Major General Tim Cross, whose army career included serving in Northern Ireland, the Balkans and Iraq, commenting on military ethics and belief. He is followed by novelist A. L. Kennedy; The UK's Chief Rabbi, Sir Jonathan Sacks; and Sr Frances Dominica, founder of Helen House, the world's first children's hospice.
The back to BBC Radio 4 on Sunday and "Men Read Maps, Women Gossip" in which Stephen Monsell, professor of cognitive psychology, assesses the multi-tasking ability of Vivienne Parry and Quentin Cooper as they attempt to count backwards in 7s while frying an egg, making toast and answering incoming texts. We wonder what Prager would make of this one?
And later this week from Radio 4 we suggest this week's "Material World" (Thursday 16:30) in which the same Quentin Cooper investigates the latest research by neuroscientists who are attempting to further our understanding of how the brain processes complex sounds such as music and speech and form Saturday "Border Blaster: In Search of the Wolf" (10:30 GMT) in which Nick Barraclough recalls the first pirate radio stations which sprung up across the Rio Grande in Mexico in the 1950s and next week's "Archive Hour" - "Wunderkind!" in which Mark Lawson celebrates the centenary of the conductor Herbert von Karajan.
And finally BBC Radio 2 with this week's "Best of Jazz" - the last in a series that Humphrey Lyttleton hs been hosting for four decades.
EarnedMedia.org - Eliason:
Project for Excellence in Journalism:
TownHall.com - Prager:
UK Sunday Times -Sandall:
2008-03-17: Early falls in US stocks in the wake of the problems of Bear Sterns have again prompted doubts as to whether the Clear Channel buy-out will go ahead at the agreed USD 39.20 per share and that it might be renegotiated or collapse entirely.
Last week, before the Bear Sterns collapse, Clear Channel shares had remained below USD 35 compared to a buyout price of USD 39.20 and in early trading today they were down again - to USD 32.25 in mid-morning - heightening speculation that the banks will kill off the deal and bear the USD 500 million this will cost them rather than continue underwriting the deal.
Last month the Department of Justice detailed divestitures it would require for the deal to go ahead (See RNW Feb 14) and Bain Capital LLC and Thomas H. Lee Partners were reported to have begun wiring in capital for the equity part of the deal.
Previous Clear Channel:
2008-03-17: Despite the optimistic comments about the Edinburch Talk 107 by the company's Chairman John B McGuckian in its preliminary results (See RNW Mar 14) the Edinburgh Evening News and Scotland's Sunday Herald are both expressing scepticism about the station's attempt to move upmarket: Last week the station got rid off programme director and morning host Mike Graham; breakfast co-host Susan Morrison whose contract was not renewed, and six staff producers.
The Sunday Herald reports that managing director Matt Allitt, who took up his post in November last year, decided to wield the axe after seeing new research profiling the station's potential audience. It adds that its sources say the research showed presenter personality to be considered more important than news content but that Graham's style was deemed to be too "aggressive" and "argumentative" for the station's revamped approach.
Talk 107 had set a target of 100,000 listeners at the end of is first year from a potential audience of around a million but latest figures from RAJAR showed that in the final quarter of last year it had only reached some 35,000.
Despite this the paper says UTV appears to remain committed to the station and it quotes UTV's Head of Press and PR Steven Farmer as saying," The changes we are seeing now are in no way one last hurrah. We'll keep going ", denying reports that UTV was to ask Ofcom if occasional music could be permitted on the station, and adding, "We are planning to reshape the content more in the style we now know listeners in Edinburgh want. That will be based on well-informed presenters with a great sense of humour."
The paper remained sceptical, quoting an unnamed insider as saying, "They are now going head to head with the BBC, and Auntie is great at what it does. The people at Talk107 are good, but they cannot match that investment. Talk radio is more expensive to produce than music radio. I still think it is a flawed format.
Edinburgh Evening News report:
Sunday Herald report:
2008-03-16: Last week was again a fairly routine one for the regulators with amongst the headlines completion in Australia of divestitures that Macquarie Media Group had agreed as a condition of its purchase of Southern Cross Broadcasting and in the US the continuing wait for a decision concerning the Sirius-XM merger.
In Australia, apart from the Macquarie divestitures (See RNW Mar 15), the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) posted only one radio announcement, an invitation for applications for temporary community licences for Perth following the March 9 surrender of its frequency by Groove FM (See RNW Licence News Feb 24).
ACMA Chairman Chris Chapman said the surrender provided an "opportunity for community groups to develop their operational and programming skills while providing for the cultural needs of the Perth community not met by existing services" and added, "ACMA is committed to retaining 101.7 MHz for community radio broadcasting in Perth. The decision to permit community radio trials on the frequency is seen as a first step towards the eventual long-term reallocation of the frequency for community radio."
He added of Groove's demise, "It is disappointing that Groove FM was unable to take advantage of its temporary licence to address the concerns that ACMA identified with the service" and the ACMA said that while would welcome the emergence of a new organisation representing the youth community, it is the policy intention of the Broadcasting Services Act that temporary services will not be confined to youth radio but may address any legitimate community need.
In Canada, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) posted only a few radio-related notices included the following calls for applications for FM licences in London and Guelph, Ontario, where it has received application for commercial licences. Applications have top be submitted by May 12.
It has also awarded new FMs licence to serve Kelowna, British Columbia, to Sun Country Cablevision Ltd., and to Vista Radio Ltd., subject to a suitable alternative frequency and parameters being found.
Sun, a relatively small local company, proposed a 7,100 watts Classic Rock format and Vista, a regional player, proposed a 19,900 watts Classic Hits format on a mutually exclusive frequency.
In all the commission considered 11 applications for licences to serve the area, a number of them mutually exclusive. The others came from
They were from Clear Sky Radio Inc.( Smooth Jazz); Corus Radio Company (News/Talk); CTV Limited (Alternative Interactive Radio); Deep Waters Media Inc. (New Variety music); Harvard Broadcasting Inc. (Adult Standards / Easy Listening music); In-House Communications Inc.(Contemporary Christian music); Northern Native Broadcasting Radio (English- and Native-language Type B Native FM); CJVR Ltd. (Country music); Sun Country Cablevision Ltd. (Classic Rock); Touch Canada Broadcasting Limited Partnership (Contemporary Christian music) ; and Vista Radio Ltd. (Classic Hits).
The Commission noted healthy radio growth in the market and said it considered it could support two more stations.
A note of dissent was entered by Commissioner Michel Morin who noted that the call for applications had followed an application by Vista for a country music station and that once the potential competitors were announced the two groups that shared ownership of Kelowna's five radio stations reacted by abruptly changing their formats over the summer of 2007 - the Jim Pattison Group switched its Soft Vocals music format to Country and Astral-Standard replaced its Oldies format on station CKFR-AM with a News/Talk format -even before the hearings scheduled for late October could take place.
The tactic he noted was entirely legal as the CRTC has not regulated radio formats since 1995 and he went on to say "We can almost conclude from this that the hearings had lost their point, at least in part In other words, as far as radio formats were concerned, Kelowna was a Wild West town without a sheriff. The dominant players in the Kelowna market appropriated the new players' formats even before the hearings were held, thereby short-circuiting the call for applications issued in response to Vista Radio's 2006 application."
This, he said, raised a question of why applicants should "invest sums often upwards of $100,000 to submit a proposal to the CRTC if existing players can move to a different format with impunity just before the public hearings, and by doing so deal a fatal blow to the proposals submitted by undertakings attempting to participate in the public process? "
In view of this, he said, he thought that there was a need to establish a framework for hearings and calls for applications for new radio licences and suggested that to prevent similar conduct in future stations already in a market should be required to immediately freeze their broadcasting formats until the conclusion of the CRTC hearings.
This he said "would undoubtedly arouse opposition from the industry" and he added, "But is it not the CRTC's role to protect the interests of the Canadian broadcasting system as a whole, and in particular to promote its renewal by vigorous and stimulating commercial proposals?"
He also suggested that there should then be a partial freeze to prevent existing players copying a new format until the successful applicants had commenced broadcasts.
RNW comment: The whole licensing system seems in our view to be a waste of time in the current circumstances and if the prime requirement is to ensure more variety in the market, the rules should be changed more substantially - preferably by voiding all licences of an existing player who uses the tactic and putting them back up for allocation and also allowing it to re-apply only if it meets the cost of the licence application of a newcomer whose application it has undermined.
Commissioner Morin quite reasonably raises the question of a lack of transparency in weighing the factors that will determine allocation of a licence - "Diversity of voices? Meeting the needs of underserved listeners? Market impact? Or the quality of the application?" but says that because this was his "first hearing relating to a call for applications, I hesitate to go into any further detail."
He goes on "In the Kelowna case, it seems clear to us that this market was poorly served by the five radio stations. The format changes made by the two dominant groups on the eve of the hearings demonstrate this fact beyond the shadow of a doubt. Were the interests of consumers well served by these efforts to shut new players out of the Kelowna market?"
At the same time Morin makes a reasonable point on their behalf, that Corus and CTV might not have put in applications if they had known that the issue of local and regional ownership, highlighted in the decision, was so significant and also notes that the Corus proposed "News/Talk format was eminently local" and that CTV's proposal was directed at young people in Kelowna, not Toronto.
He also says that in his opinion "at least three proposals presented at the public hearings in Kelowna were preferable to the two selected by the Commission." These were the Deep Waters Media, Corus Radio and CTV proposals.
The CRTC also posted a notice concerning a public hearing to be held in Gatineau, Quebec, on May 13, to consider various applications including the following applications for radio licences for the Ottawa/Gatineau market:
Mutually exclusive applications for frequency 99.7 MHz:
*Application by Instant Information Services Incorporated , which currently operates English-language FM commercial tourist radio programming undertaking CIIO-FM, Ottawa, to increase power from 25 watts to 427 watts, a change that would change its status from an unprotected low power service to a regular Class A service. The licensee says it has an agreement in development with the City of Ottawa, to become the Designated Broadcast System in the event of an emergency and its current signal would not reach many of the people who may be affected by an emergency.
*Application by Christian Hit Radio Inc. for a 2,400 watts English-language talk-based commercial specialty (religious) FM in Ottawa. The service proposed would include few hours each week of programs in French and minority languages such as Spanish, Arabic, Mandarin and Cantonese.
*Application by Ottawa Media Inc. for a licence to operate an English-language commercial Adult Album Alternative FM in Ottawa and Gatineau.
*Application by Astral Media Radio Inc. for a 45,000 watts English-language Soft Adult music format commercial FM in Ottawa and Gatineau.
*Application by Mark Steven Maheu, on behalf of a corporation to be incorporated, for a licence to operate a 3,000 watts English-language Pop Alternative commercial FM in Ottawa.
Mutually exclusive applications for frequency 101.9 MHz and 101.7 MHz:
*Application by Réél-Radio for a 158 watts French-language FM community-based FM in Gatineau.
*Application by Radio de la communauté francophone d'Ottawa for a 718 watts French-language Type B community FM in Ottawa.
*Application by Fiston Kalambay Mutombo, on behalf of a corporation to be incorporated, for a 450 watts French-language Christian music specialty FM in Ottawa.
*Application by Instant Information Services Incorporated for a licence for a 200 watts French-language FM commercial tourist FM in Ottawa.
*Application by Corus Radio Company for a licence for a 4,100 watts English-language commercial specialty News/Talk FM in Ottawa and Gatineau.
*Application by Frank Torres, on behalf of a corporation to be incorporated, for a 3,600 watts English-language blues music FM in Ottawa.
The meeting will also consider the following applications:
*Application by Columbia Basin Alliance for Literacy for a licence to operate a 5 watts English-language type B community FM in Nakusp, British Columbia.
*Application by Salmo FM Radio Society for a licence to operate a 5 watts English-language developmental community FM in Salmo. British Columbia.
*Application by Evanov Communications Inc., on behalf of a corporation to be incorporated, for a 65,000 watts New Easy Listening music format English-language commercial FM in Shelburne, Ontario.
*Application by Frank Rogers, on behalf of a corporation to be incorporated, for a 50 watts English-language FM commercial radio programming undertaking in Alliston, Ontario
*Application by Frank Rogers, on behalf of a corporation to be incorporated, for a 50 watts English-language FM commercial radio programming undertaking in Beeton-Tottenham, Ontario.
*Application by Cochrane Polar Bear Radio Club for a 5 watts English-language FM developmental community radio programming undertaking in Cochrane. Ontario.
* Application by RNC Média inc. to renew the licence of the French-language specialty (classical music) commercial radio programming undertaking CHLX-FM Gatineau expiring 31 August 2008.
The licensee no longer wishes to operate under the specialty format, wishes to delete licence conditions relating to the broadcast of jazz and concert music and in its place is proposing a soft popular music format comprised of ballads and love songs.
*Application by Guy Simard, on behalf of a corporation to be incorporated, for a licence to operate a 17,460 watts adult pop music French-language FM commercial radio programming undertaking in Montmagny and a 12,600 watts retransmitter at St-Fabien de Panet, both in Quebec.
*Application by 591991 B.C. Ltd., licensee of CFEL-FM Montmagny, Quebec, to add a 2,300 watts FM transmitter at Montmagny. The request follows a transmitter relocation in 2007 that resulted in an inadequate signal in some parts of the city of Montmagny.
*Application by La Radio touristique de Québec inc. to decrease the antenna height and increase from 12.7 watts to 79.4 watts the power of French-language tourist information station CKJF-FM, Québec. This would result in a change of the CKJF-FM status from a low-power unprotected service to a regular Class A1 service.
Linked with this is a similar application to increase the power of English-language tourist information station CJNG-FM, Québec, from 12.7 to 20.4 watts and decrease its antenna height. This change would also give the station regular Class A1 service status.
*Application by non-profit corporation Radio communautaire de Windsor et région inc. for authority to acquire the assets of the radio programming undertaking CIAX-FM Windsor, from Carrefour jeunesse-emploi comté Johnson.
*Application Groupe Radio Antenne 6 inc. to convert commercial station CFGT-AM, Alma, Ontario, to a 50,000 watts FM and simulcast the programming of the new station and existing AM for a period of three months.
*Application by Golden West Broadcasting Ltd. to acquire the assets of the CFEQ-FM, Winnipeg, Manitoba, from Kesitah Inc.
The CRTC notes that the value of the transaction, based on the terms of the Assets Purchase Agreement, is CAD 725,000 (USD 733,000) but the applicant does not propose any tangible benefits since the station has been in deficit since its launch.
*Application by 9183-9084 Québec inc. - a share corporation controlled by the Hockey Club, Les Remparts de Québec inc., which in turn is jointly controlled by 3 shareholders, namely Financière Micadco inc. (Michel Cadrin), Gestion Maurice Tanguay (Jacques Tanguay) and Phantrex inc. (Patrick Roy) - to acquire from Corus the assets of CHRC-AM, Québec.
The CRTC notes that the value of the transaction, based on the terms of the Assets Purchase Agreement, is CAD 282,177.40 (USD 285,000) but the applicant does not propose any tangible benefits since the station has been in deficit for more than 10 years.
*Application by Coopérative des travailleurs CHNC, for authority to acquire the assets of the French-language commercial station CHNC-AM, New Carlisle, and its transmitter CHGM-AM, Gaspé, from Radio CHNC ltée.
*Application by Golden West Broadcasting Ltd. for a 100,000 watts country music English-language commercial FM in Humboldt, Saskatchewan.
There were no radio announcements from Ireland but in the UK, Ofcom announced that 100 Community radio stations were now on air (See RNW Mar 10) and also posted its latest Broadcast bulletin in which it upheld no radio complaints (See RNW Mar 11)
Ofcom has also pre-advertised the Ullapool FM licence currently held by Lochbroom FM Limited. Declarations of intent together with a GBP 5,000 (USD 10,000) fee and refundable GBP 1,000 (USD 2,000) deposit have to be submitted by April 7. If only Lochbroom submits a declaration it will be invited to re-apply for the licence and if there are no declarations, the licence will not be re-advertised.
Ofcom has also started consultations on a request from Guardian Media Group to remove the obligations for its London and North West Smooth FM stations - previously Jazz FM outlets - to remove requirements for these stations to be required to provide 45 hours a week of jazz programming and also the obligation for the North-west station to play "jazz, soul, blues and R & B".
GMG has said that if the request is approved it will provide a 24 hour a day jazz service on DAB in London and the North-west but Ofcom notes that legislation requires Ofcom to consider the requested changes to Smooth Radio in London and the North West on a stand-alone basis and so this consultation relates solely to those two FM stations. Consideration of these changes, it adds, cannot be linked to any possible future request from GMG to launch a jazz station on DAB.
Comments on the proposals have to be sent to Ofcom by April 11.
In the US, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), as already noted, has yet to issue a decision concerning the merger of Sirius and XM. In other radio related decisions it issued USD 10,000 penalty to Philadelphia pirate operator Michael Stone Campbell (See RNW Mar 11).
It also posted a number of other enforcement actions including:
*Issued USD 17,000 forfeiture to Craig Watkins for operating a pirate FM in the Bronx, New York, and refusing an inspection of the station. Watkins was issued with a notice of apparent liability of forfeiture for this sum and had responded by denying that a station had been operating from his home although he admitted the equipment was found there. He did not address the issue of refusing to allow an inspection.
In Florida, the Commission granted the application to transfer the licence of non-commercial educational WKCP-FM (formerly WMCU-FM), Miami, from Trinity International Foundation, Inc. to American Public Media Group rejecting a petition to deny from a number of listeners and more than a hundred informal objections from listeners.
The petitioners had argued that Trinity has engaged in a pattern of conduct that demonstrates that it lacks the basic character qualifications necessary to be permitted to assign a broadcast license to a third party and in addition a number of objectors also expressed strong appreciation for the current programming on the station and asked the Commission to bar the proposed sale to AMPG.
The FCC held that various complaints, some of which are the subject of lawsuits, were either not substantiated or were non-FCC misconduct and as regards objections to a format change from Christian music and entertainment to classical music pointed out that it did not scrutinize programming.
In Pennsylvania, it denied a petition to set aside its grant of transfer of the licence of WHAT-AM, Philadelphia, from Urban Radio 1, LLC to Marconi Broadcasting Company, Ltd. commenting that at the heart of the petition was the issue of programming on the station and it did not scrutinize programming.
In New York it denied a petition to refuse assignment of a construction permit for WEHM-FM (formerly WCSO-FM), Southampton, New York, from Peconic Bay Broadcasting Corporation to AAA Entertainment Licensing LLC.
The transfer was opposed on issues of the number of licences allowed in a market and the definition of a market using mutually overlapping contours as opposed to using Arbitron-rated markets for the definitions, a practice adopted in 2003.
The transaction took place when the contour-based system was in use and was allowed on the basis of the rules then in force.
The commission upheld the original decision and Democrat commissioner Michael J. Copps in a statement said it "demonstrates just how irrational the Commission's old 'contour-overlap' methodology could be and why moving to Arbitron markets was such an improvement.
Previous Licence News:
ACMA web site:
CRTC web site:
FCC web site:
Ofcom web site:
2008-03-16: Clear Channel Communications has announced completion of the sale of its TV group to Newport Television, LLC for USD 1.1 billion, subject to certain closing items including proration of expenses and adjustments for working capital. The total is some USD 200 million less than agreed when the sale was announced in April last year.
The deal ends a lawsuit launched last month by Clear Channel against Newport's parent company Providence Equity Partners to force completion of the sale (See RNW Feb 18). In a subsequent lawsuit, Wachovia, the bank financing the deal had sued to end its commitment and Providence had counter-sued but all parties have now agreed to withdraw from their legal action.
Previous Clear Channel:
2008-03-16: Broadcasts of commentary on Leeds United soccer games is to move to digital radio only from next season when the club ends its agreement with BBC Radio Leeds, which has broadcast club games for most of its four decades on air.
Currently digital station Yorkshire Radio and Radio Leeds broadcast the games but the BBC deal is not being renewed for the 2008-09 season.
Yorkshire Radio has been carrying the games for the last two seasons on the Yorkshire digital multiplex, digital satellite TV and online and the commentaries will also be online from LUTV.
Station director Ben Fry commented, "This is a big step forward for digital radio in Yorkshire and for Yorkshire Radio. Having covered the club for the last two seasons we have now got a first class team in place and a product we feel can deliver the standard of coverage Leeds fans deserve."
2008-03-15: Clear Channel in a filing to the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has, whilst not ending its opposition to the deal, said that should Sirius be allowed to take over XM Satellite Radio, at least half the broadcast capacity of the combined entity should be made available on lease to others.
In the filing, Clear Channel says that the conditions it suggests would be the minimum "to remain even remotely faithful to Commission precedents and policies regarding competition, spectrum and preservation of a viable, locally-oriented, free, over-the-air radio broadcast system."
Amongst the conditions as well as the lease suggestion, Clear Channel says not less than 5% of capacity should be set aside for public interest programming; that decency rules be applied; that the combined entity should be formally prohibited from broadcasting local content and receiving local advertising revenues; and that the FCC should require HD radio capability to be built into all satellite radio receivers so as to remove the incentive for the combined company to "through its dominant market position, to engage in anti-competitive behaviour by locking up exclusive agreements with automobile manufacturers, thereby impeding dramatically the growth of HD radio."
"Although this condition does not mitigate the core problems posed by the proposed merger," it says, "imposition of this condition is absolutely critical to the future competitive viability of free, over-the-air radio in the digital era."
RNW comment: Our response would be along the lines of thanking Clear Channel for its interesting comments but add that some of the conditions seem contrary to the court rulings relating to First Amendment speech protections for subscription services; that the local content suggestion is interesting and raises the issue of a corollary insistence of significant local content from all terrestrial stations as a condition of licence; and that regarding HD this would be an interference in the free market albeit it would be a reasonable suggestion given legally binding commitment from all terrestrial licensees to pay any additional costs involved through a levy.
We remain on balance still just on the side of a rejection of the merger, primarily because of the absence of competition in advertising-free services but the Clear Channel filing seems to us simply self-interested; logically incoherent, and unprincipled. We would hope it spurs the FCC and others to go ahead with those significant requirements of local content - not the nature of it - but its presence with due attribution to Clear Channel for bringing up the issue in terms of its prohibition of such content on satellite.
Previous Clear Channel:
2008-03-15: Macquarie Media Group (MMG) has announced the sale of 19 Australian regional radio licences by Macquarie Southern Cross Media (MSC) including 12 regional radio licences and three TV licences that it had agreed to dispose of in an enforceable undertaking made to the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) in July last year.
The ACMA had given approval to MMG's acquisition of Southern Cross Broadcasting, which would have taken it above allowed market caps under media diversity rules, subject to the disposal of the licences.
The radio licences sold are in New South Wales (Young- sold to Bill Caralis), Queensland (Atherton -sold to Coastal Broadcasters; Charters Towers - sold to Resonate Broadcasting; and Emerald; Kingaroy; Mt Isa; & Roma - all sold to Smart Radio), Tasmania (Burnie; Devonport; Queenstown; & Scottsdale - all sold to Grant Broadcasters) and Victoria (Warragul - sold to Resonate Broadcasting) - in some markets the group sold more licences than had been required under the agreement.
MMG did not release details of individual transactions but said the overall total it received was around AUD 34.5 million (USD 32.3 million) with proceeds to be used to grow the group or pursue capital management initiatives. It added that the full year contribution of the licences being divested is less than 5 percent of MSC's annual earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation.
MMC also posted its 2007 preliminary report showing media asset revenues, boosted by acquisitions, up 58.7% over 2006 to AUD 242 million ( USD 226.8 million) with proportionate earnings up 52.6% to AUD 52.8 million ( USD 49.5 million - from 17 cents to 25.2 cents per security).
Executive Chairman Max Moore-Wilton noted that Macquarie Southern Cross Media (MSC) was formed through the combination of MMG's regional radio business and SBC's free-to-air television operations is Australia's leading regionally focused media business and said that with long-term funding facilities secured for each of the three businesses, MMG is in a solid position given current financial market conditions.
Chief Executive Officer Mark Dorney added that the outlook for the 2008 financial year is positive, saying, "The next six months should see us continue to realise the benefits from the integration of Southern Cross television and MMG's regional radio business.
Within its broadcasting operations - MMG also owns Taiwan Broadband Communications and print business American Consolidated Media - the company said its regional radio operations performed strongly over the six months to 31 December 2007 with revenue growth of 11.8% on the previous comparable period driving EBITDA growth of 17.3%. This resulted, it said, in an EBITDA margin of 39.4%, compared with 37.6% for the six months to 31 December 2006.
Previous Macquarie Bank/Macquarie Media:
2008-03-15: Washington Democrat Rep. Jay Inslee has now introduced into the House a resolution of disapproval, aiming to negate the recent Federal Communications Commission (FCC) easing of media ownership rules: His action follows an earlier introduction of a similar resolution in the senate by North Dakota Democrat Byron Dorgan (See RNW Mar 6).
Inslee commented in a statement. "Consolidation already has brought us to the point where two companies control 70 percent of market revenue in an average radio market. We need to use every tool available to prevent further weakening of media-ownership rules."
Inslee's resolution is co-sponsored by four Democrats -New York Reps Maurice Hinchey and Louise Slaughter; Washington Republican Dave Reichert; and Wisconsin Democrat Tammy Baldwin.
2008-03-14: Cumulus shares ended Thursday up 27.5% at USD 6.25 and touched USD 6.50 at one point following a filing that said its lenders had now consented to amend its credit agreement to allow it to merge with an investment group led by Cumulus chairman Lew Dickey and an affiliate of Merrill Lynch Global Private Equity.
The company still requires approval from its stockholders and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC)before its deal to go private can be completed.
2008-03-14: CBS Radio has flipped its Houston Smooth Jazz station, KHJZ-FM (The Wave) to a Rhythmic contemporary format and renamed it Hot 95.7. The switch was made at 15:00 local and CBS is billing the station as "the next generation of Top 40 Contemporary Hit Radio featuring the most popular music of today, blended with relevant topics and lifestyle info."
The new station is being broadcast commercial free until March 25 to coincide with Houston's spring break and will feature artists such as Justin Timberlake, Beyonce, Kanye West, Alicia Keys, Usher, Fergie, and Mariah Carey. So far there are no new call letters.
The Wave's web site thanks its listeners and says that it will continue on the internet for now with a return to the airwaves via a secondary HD channel in early May.
Houston Hot Hits web site:
The Wave web site:
2008-03-14: UTV has reported group revenue for 2007 up 2% to GBP 115.6 million (USD 235 million) with group operating profit including associate income and before exceptional charges was up 5% at GBP 26.0 million (USD 52.8 million).
The profit growth was led by its radio operations - up 21% to GBP 14.5 million (USD 29.5 million) after start-up losses of GBP 2.4 million (USD 4.9 million and down from GBP 2.6 million in 2006) for its new stations in Belfast and Edinburgh - and New Media - operating profit up 30% to GBP 1.4 million (USD 2.85 million) whilst TV operating profit was down 14% to GBP 10.1 million (USD 20.5 million).
In revenue terms radio accounted for 56% of the group's total of which GBP 46.7 million ( USD 94.9 million) was from Great Britain and GBP 16.6 million (USD 33.7 million) from Ireland.
It added that short-term issues in local advertising revenue at our Irish radio stations, which we had identified in Q2, were quickly addressed, leading to a much improved position in the second half and an overall increase of 4% in Irish radio advertising, delivering profits after start-up losses up by 7% in the full year.
In Britain it said a 5% improvement in advertising revenue at our GB radio stations compares to a 3% increase in the total radio advertising market. talkSPORT's 12% improvement in revenue was particularly strong given that the comparative figure included significant World Cup 2006 revenue.
With the costs associated with coverage of the World Cup dropping out, it added, operating profits after start-up losses at our GB radio stations were up by an impressive 31%.
UTV also said it had reduced its net debt by GBP 10.4 million (USD 21.1 million) to GBP 107.2 million (USD 217.9 million).
In relation to the market as a whole it said its radio advertising revenue in Great Britain was up 6% on a like-for-like basis against a market growth of 3% and noted that it had acquired FM104 in Dublin.
Group Chief Executive John McCann commented, "I am pleased that we are able to announce another strong set of results and continued out-performance of the wider market. Earnings per share increased by 13% and, notwithstanding the continued investment in our start-up stations, operating profit from our Radio businesses increased by 21%. New Media operating profit grew by 30% and our Television division again out-performed the ITV network against the backdrop of a difficult television market."
He added, "UTV's continued success compared to our media peer group is extremely reassuring. Our strategy of driving organic earnings growth, which in turn enables continuing investment in key commercial areas, remains core to our success. This coupled with our recently announced acquisitions of Dublin's leading radio station, FM104, and Tibus, a web services company, will allow us to build further in our core markets."
Regarding the current year McCann said trading so far was encouraging and "our outlook for the year is cautiously optimistic given the current market uncertainty."
Chairman John B McGuckian said that for the first quarter UTV says it expects revenue at its British stations to be up 9% year-on-year and losses at its Edinburgh start-up talk107 to be significantly lower at GBP 1 million ( USD 2 million - compared to GBP 1.7 million - USD 3.45 million in 2006) with a break-even target of 2009.
Regarding its digital activities - it holds 10% of the UK's second national commercial digital multiplex - it said it would be launching a new national speech-based radio station, talkRADIO, on the platform. This it said would, together with start-up losses at its new Preston station, mean initial losses of some GBP .2 million (USD 2.54 million) this year.
2008-03-14: Sydney 2GB host Alan Jones has lost his challenge to a conviction for broadcasting the name of a juvenile involved in a murder trial when he read out the teenager's name from the Sydney Daily Telegraph in July 2005.
The paper's publisher and 2GB's licensee Harbour Radio - owned by Macquarie Radio Network - were fined AUD 3,000 (USD 2,835) and AUD 4,000 (USD 3,780) respectively and they also lost their appeals against conviction.
The paper is not appealing against the penalty but his lawyers said Jones, who was fined AUD 1,000 (USD 945) and placed on a nine-month good behaviour bond, would now challenge the penalty and Judge Michael Finnane told him and Harbour Radio, which is also appealing against the penalty, to prepare written submissions. He is to give his decision on March 27.
Previous Macquarie Radio Network:
Wollondilly News/AAP report:
2008-03-13: In latest US results, Spanish Broadcasting System (SBS) has reported revenues up 4% in the final quarter to USD 46.2 million and up 2% for 2007 to USD 179.7 million whilst Westwood One reported them down 11.8% for the quarter to USD 118.3 million and down 11.9% for the year to USD 451.4 million.
At SBS, the increase was put down primarily to its TV operations, which reported income up 80% for the quarter to USD 3.0 million and 110% for the year to USD 10.2 million as MegaTV established itself: Radio revenues were up 1% for the quarter to USD 43.2 million but down 1% for the year to USD 189.6 million. TV Operating loss before depreciation and amortization and loss (gain) on sale of assets for TV was reduced by 30% to a loss of USD 3.65 million and reduced 40% for the year to a loss of USD 12.1 million whilst for radio operating income fell 8% to USD 15.1 million for the quarter and fell 7% for the year to USD 66.6 million.
Overall SBS saw its net income for the year fall from USD 49.9 million to USD 981,000 - net loss applicable to common shareholders moved from net income of USD 40.2 million to a net loss of USD 8.7 million (From a positive 56 cents per share to a loss of 12 cents) whilst for the quarter the loss was cut from USD 6.95 million in 2006 to USD 4.96 million - net loss applicable to common shareholders went down from USD 9.36 million to USD 7.38 million - from 13 cents to ten cents per share).
Chairman and CEO Raúl Alarcón Jr. commented of the results, "Our overall fourth quarter results were driven by an 80% revenue increase at MegaTV, as well as top-line growth at our radio operations."
He added, "We performed within our guidance and well ahead of the majority of our peers despite facing a continued challenging advertising environment. Capitalizing on its strong audience growth and national expansion, MegaTV has continued to generate robust revenue growth, while gradually reducing its operating loss. We expect this trend to continue for the year 2008, as we build upon MegaTV's success and leverage our partnership with DIRECTV. Our radio portfolio continues to generate substantial audience shares. In the year ahead we remain focused on maximizing our platform and improving our ability to convert our audience shares into financial gains. Given our premium asset base in the nation's top-ten markets, we remain well positioned to capitalize on the rapid growth of the nation's Hispanic population."
SBS is forecasting net income in the first quarter of this year down in the mid single digit range.
At Westwood One, the revenue decrease was put down primarily attributable to lower audience and inventory levels, a reduction in the size of its sales force and increased competition: It noted that that within the 11.9% fall for the year, national revenue was down 11.1% and local/regional revenue was down 12.5% and that excluding the figures for the 2006 Winter Olympics its 2007 revenues would have been down 9%.
Adjusted EBITDA for 2007 was down 15% to USD 97.4 million for the year whilst for the quarter it fell 27.7% to USD 27.2 million but net income for the year was a positive USD 24.4 million compared to a 2006 net loss of USD 469.5 million ( 28cents compared to a loss of USD 5.46 per diluted share) whilst for the quarter it went from a net loss of USD 488.6 million to net income of USD 8.3 million ( From a loss of USD 5.68 to a positive ten cents per diluted share): Westwood noted that the 2006 quarter and year losses were principally attributable to the goodwill impairment charge that was recorded in the fourth quarter of 2006.
Westwood One President and CEO Tom Beusse said of the performance, "We completed the year poised to stem the decline in revenue and Adjusted EBITDA we have experienced over the last several years."
He continued, "The recently completed long-term agreement with CBS and the capital infusion and commitment we just received from Gores will allow us to make targeted investments in our business which will fuel revenue growth in the second half of 2008 and beyond. These investments will put us in a position to compete more effectively in all our businesses, some of which are in growing segments of media."
Previous Westwood One:
2008-03-13: Arbitron has announced diary enhancements that are to be introduced to improve response rates for hard to reach demographics starting with its Spring 2008 survey, specifically highlighting incentives to attract young males, blacks and Hispanics.
The company says that in all continuously measured markets Arbitron will offer a second chance to respondents in households who initially agree to participate, but fail to return any diaries for the week they were selected
The initiative follows incentives that were introduced in the top ten markets in Fall 2002 to attract blacks and Hispanics and Arbitron says that a test of its planned initiative showed improvements in gaining returns with some 40% of households who agreed to participate for a second time returning diaries.
Ed Cohen, Arbitron vice president, Research Policy and Communication commented of the move in a news release, "This is the best of both worlds for diary sample improvements. Typically when you improve proportionality, response rates go down and vice versa. With the second chance diary system, we are able to improve both proportionality and response rates."
Tom O'Sullivan, Arbitron VP, Diary Market Development, commented, "The second chance diary provides an opportunity for respondents willing to participate to have their radio listening counted in the survey," said Tom O'Sullivan, VP, Diary Market Development. "Both of these enhancements focus on improving sample representation for the hardest to reach demographics. We've seen success in promised incentives for the top ten markets and similar results are expected with the young male sample in the additional markets."
Arbitron says the Young Male Promised Incentives is to be expanded to all non-continuously measured markets where the Male 18-34 proportionality index is less than 60, averaged across the most recent two surveys. At recruitment, households with young male respondents, aged 18-34, are promised an additional premium for each returned diary.
2008-03-13: US President George W. Bush has told the US National Religious Broadcasters 2008 Convention in Nashville, Tennessee, that he would veto any attempt to re-introduce a fairness doctrine for broadcasters and also strongly defended his actions in going to war against both Afghanistan and Iraq.
In terms of the Fairness Doctrine, he referred to it in terms "effort afoot that would jeopardize your right to express your views on public airways."
"Some members of Congress want to reinstate a regulation that was repealed 20 years ago," he continued. "It has the Orwellian name called the Fairness Doctrine. Supporters of this regulation say we need to mandate that any discussion of so-called controversial issues on the public airwaves includes equal time for all sides. This means that many programs wanting to stay on the air would have to meet Washington's definition of balance."
He then added, to laughter and applause, "Of course, for some in Washington, the only opinions that require balancing are the ones they don't like " and went on to say the shows that "these advocates of so-called balance really have in their sights" are those "hosted by people like Rush Limbaugh or James Dobson, or many of you here today. By insisting on so-called balance, they want to silence those they don't agree with. The truth of the matter is, they know they cannot prevail in the public debate of ideas. They don't acknowledge that you are the balance; that you give voice -- (applause.) The country should not be afraid of the diversity of opinions. After all, we're strengthened by diversity of opinions."
Bush then went on to comment on legislation drafted by the Republicans that would ban re-instatement of the doctrine but was being blocked by Democratic leaders in the House of Representatives and added to applause "If Congress should ever pass any legislation that stifles your right to express your views, I'm going to veto it."
Following this he went on to claim that 9/11 showed "firsthand how the lack of freedom and opportunity in the Middle East directly affects our safety here at home" and to refer to those in the attack as instruments of evil."
Bush then gave as examples of "lessons of history" that should not be forgotten as the extermination of Jews in Nazi death camps; the crimes of Pol Pot and the genocide in Rwanda and continued to applause, "This kind of enemy must be confronted, and this kind of enemy must be defeated."
Afghanistan and Iraq, he said, were "part of the same war, the same calling, the same struggle" and said of the current situation that the surge was working.
2008-03-12: Lee Abrams, who is widely regarded as the creative heart of XM Satellite Radio is leaving the company to join Tribune Co. as its chief innovation officer.
He will take on the newly-created role on April 1 and Tribune said of the appointment in a news release that the "sweeping change underway at Tribune Company" had taken "another giant leap forward" with his appointment. Abrams, it said will be responsible for innovation across Tribune's publishing, broadcasting and interactive divisions: Its holdings include the Baltimore Sun, Chicago Tribune, Los Angeles Times, Newsday and other papers as well as 23 TV stations and WGN-AM in Chicago.
Abrams was quoted in a Tribune news release as saying, "There is a remarkable opportunity for Tribune to design the future of American media with passion, intellect, and imagination that meets the spirit of the 21st century. We have the resources to pioneer a new age of information and entertainment that re-invents and enlightens--and that is exactly what we are going to do!"
The Washington Post said that Abrams had said his departure was not connected with the pending takeover by Sirius although he added that his job at XM might not be filled because it could be redundant in a merged company.
It quoted him as saying,"Over the past couple of years, I've been fascinated with the concept of news and information as being the new rock and roll. There had always been music, but rock and roll took it to a whole new level, broke the rules, wrote a whole new playbook "and adding that he thought the news industry could undergo a similar revolution.
Randy Michaels, Tribune's chief executive of broadcasting and interactive, commented, "Lee is the most formidable creative thinker in the media business today. He invented the modern FM radio format, got satellite radio off the ground when no one gave it a chance, and managed to advise on the redesign of Rolling Stone magazine and the launch of TNT cable network in his spare time. Lee's going to pump new life into our content, re-energize our brands, and get people thinking and working together like they never have before."
Abrams, who is 55, has been Senior Vice President and Chief Creative Officer at XM since 1998: Before that he was the founding partner of Burkhart/Abrams, the Atlanta-based consulting giant, and is credited with inventing album rock, the first successful FM format. He pioneered the radio "morning show" and gave Howard Stern and Steve Dahl their first major market jobs.
Washington Post report:
2008-03-12: The UK Competition Commission has agreed in principle to the USD 2.5 billion (USD 5 billion) takeover by Macquarie bank's Macquarie UK Broadcast Ventures Limited (MUKBV, which owns rival Arqiva, of National Grid Wireless - formerly Crown Castle UK, which was formed when the BBC's domestic transmitter network was privatised in 1967 - subject to "the agreement of a package of measures to protect the interests of their customers."
They include financial discounts and a range of conditions to ensure that service levels are kept up to standard and an adjudicator will be appointed to resolve disputes.
The Commission says that its proposed measures will "be effective in addressing the adverse effects of the acquisition, whilst preserving the benefits that could arise from the acquisition, including reducing the risks associated with the digital switchover process and passing back cost savings to customers" and adds that if suitable undertakings cannot be agreed it will order a substantial divestment of the NGW business acquired under the deal.
Diana Guy, who chaired the inquiry, commented, "We are very conscious that this is a unique situation given the critical importance of digital switchover and the possibility that a substantial divestment could jeopardize this process, and result in extra costs for customers."
"Customers have told us," she added, "that the proposed measures would be the best way to address the effects of the loss of competition and ensure that they receive immediate benefit from the substantial cost savings and synergies arising from the merger. We have also recognized that Ofcom is the sectoral regulator and will play a role in the implementation and support of the proposed measures."
Arqiva says what it terms a "proposed package of behavioural remedies" will ensure that some GBP 165 million (USD 330 million) is passed back to the broadcasters. It includes a 17% price reduction for radio broadcasters, who spend around GBP 100 million (USD 200 million) a year on their analogue and digital broadcasts, some 60% of it from the commercial sector in addition to which radio customers, who generally have shorter-term contracts than those for television transmission, will gain the perpetual right to extend their contracts on existing terms
CEO Tom Bennie said of the ruling, "We are pleased to have concluded this major part of the process and we hope the merger can now proceed as planned. This merger will bring significant benefits to the broadcasting industry. Historically in the UK we have had a single national broadcast network but in dual ownership. By unifying the transmission infrastructure we'll be able to pass on savings to customers and, crucially, deliver digital switchover but in a more efficient manner and with greater financial certainty."
The deal can be challenged by customers of both Arqiva and NGW - the UK's two largest broadcast transmission companies - who include the BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and GCap Media although this is not considered likely. The UK radio trade body, the RadioCentre had been pressing for a 25% reduction in charges to radio.
Previous National Grid Wireless:
Competition Commission report (93-page 870 KB PDF):
2008-03-12: Bonneville International has announced a number of management changes tied in with the retirement of SVP and Salt Lake City market manager and KSL-TV President Bruce Christensen at the start of next year.
Its EVP and COO Bob Johnson will take on the Salt Lake market manager role when Christensen retires and in addition EVP Drew Horowitz has become executive VP of Bonneville Radio, with oversight of all Bonneville operations in the company's six markets outside Salt Lake City whilst SVP & D.C. market manager Joel Oxley takes on an additional role overseeing Bonneville's St. Louis market as senior regional VP.
Announcing the changes Bonneville president and CEO Bruce Reese said in a news release that the company was "blessed with great leadership" and "fortunate to have in Bob and Drew two leaders who have remarkable blends of both vision of the future and attention to current details."
2008-03-12: BBC Radio 2 has announced that Humphrey Lyttelton, who has been presenting his "Best of Jazz" programme since 1968, is to retire from the show with his last broadcast to air next Monday (22:30 GMT).
It quotes the host as saying, "I think it's time to clear a space for some of my other ambitions. I have had a great relationship with Radio 2 and my Best Of Jazz listeners, and will perhaps pop in to make further contribution as the occasions arise. Meanwhile, 'au revoir'."
The final show will feature ten tracks that are special to Humphrey - music that holds memories and that represents landmarks in his own life.
Paying tribute, Radio 2 Controller Lesley Douglas said, "Humphrey Lyttelton is not only a giant in the world of jazz, but has also remained a giant of music broadcasting for the past 40 years. His listeners will miss him on Radio 2, and the world of music broadcasting will be the poorer without his weekly show. We wish him continued success in his other pursuits for many years to come - and I hope this is not the last time he will be heard on Radio 2."
2008-03-12: The US National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) has challenged the US Copyright Royalty Board (CRB) decision that increased charges for internet streaming, arguing in a 49-page brief filed jointly with Bonneville International Corporation and the National Religious Broadcasters Music License Committee, that the CRB failed to follow the statutory standards for rate-setting and ultimately adopted a rate structure founded upon flawed methodology.
In the filing they say that the simulcasters "submitted extensive evidence showing that these statutory tests required an annual flat fee royalty, because that is what Simulcasters have negotiated in other similar marketplace contexts and because a per-performance fee structure would undermine Simulcasters' business models."
Because of this they say that the CRB ruling that they must pay a per-performance, per-listener royalty does not meet the requirement under the Copyright Act to determine what rates and terms "a willing buyer and willing seller would have negotiated in the marketplace."
It goes on to say that even if the CRB could have justified a per-performance fee structure the rates set were unlawful for four reasons - that the CRB decision to use as benchmarks the rates agreed by record companies and interactive webcaster services was arbitrary and violated the willing buyer/seller provisions; that interactive services are not remotely comparable to the non-interactive streams at issue and the CRB discussion of arguments for a lower rate than Internet-only broadcasters was arbitrary and failed to consider the available evidence; that the "mathematical model on which the Board relied in its attempt to adjust for indisputably significant distinctions between interactive and non-interactive services produces absurd results, and the Board's one-sentence rejection of Simulcasters' criticisms was patently arbitrary"; and that the "Board did not consider the record evidence in refusing to permit Simulcasters to use the alternative 'aggregate tuning hours' method for calculating royalties."
The brief points out that the nature of the simulcasters audience is unique because it is "small, stable, and extremely localized (typically a tiny fraction of the terrestrial radio station's audience);" and adds that local stations have no realistic prospect of attracting - or ambition to attract - a large national Internet following. It also argues that the nature of the use of music is different from that of Internet-only stations and points to the promotional value offered by radio stations' "substantial local followings" and in support of this refers to the money spent by recording companies in trying to get their recordings aired by stations.
RNW comment: Unlike far too many NAB actions this particular brief appears quite well argued and we think the CRB may well be unable to refute some of the points.
2008-03-12: According to the London Times, GCap Media has shelved its plans to sell of its share of the Digital One national commercial multiplex to Arqiva following comments from Global Radio, which is in talks to take over the group.
GCap had announced last month that it had agreed to sell its interest in the multiplex to Arqiva for a nominal sum (See RNW Feb 11) but, says the paper, Global, has told the Takeover Panel that it is not happy for the sale to take place until a decision has been made on whether or not it will acquire GCap.
The Times adds that Global has not raised the same concerns about other planned disposals that were announced by GCap, in particular its decision to put its three regional Xfm stations up for sale.
In addition to the sale, GCap has said that it intends to close its digital-only national stations "The Jazz" and "Planet Rock" on March 28 but the Times says it is understood to have held talks with a number of parties interested in Planet Rock.
Previous GCap Media:
Previous Global Radio:
London Times report:
2008-03-11: The Asia-Pacific Broadcasting Union (ABU) has presented Peter Senger, Chairman of the Digital Radio Mondiale Consortium and Director DRM for Deutsche Welle, with a lifetime achievement award at the opening of the ABU Digital Broadcasting Symposium 2008 in Kuala Lumpur on Monday.
In making the award the ABU said it was in recognition of his commitment and long-time contribution to the development of the DRM standard, a non-proprietary system suitable for radio services in the medium and shortwave frequency bands and noted that the technology had the potential to bring about a revolution in the radio broadcasting industry in the region.
2008-03-11: The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has levied a USD 10,000 penalty on Pennsylvania pirate operator Michael Stone Campbell a/k/a Monroe Campbell of Philadelphia.
Campbell had not responded to a Notice of Apparent Liability for Forfeiture for this amount but had written to Senator Arlen Specter saying he began providing live broadcasts in Philadelphia on 97.7 MHz in December 1994and claiming the FCC lost his construction permit application.
The FCC noted that it had been given no evidence that Campbell had submitted an application for a CP but even if he had the action of filing it would not have given him permission to broadcast. It confirmed the full penalty.
2008-03-11: UK media regulator Ofcom has upheld one TV standards complaint but no radio complaints in its latest bulletin in which it also published details of one radio and three TV fairness and privacy complaint that were not upheld.
The radio complaint concerning which details were published involved Radio Aire and an incident in which an employee at Leeds prison called the station in September 2006, using a number heavily promoted for phone-ins to let them know that a helicopter used by the programme for reporting on traffic congestion had flown over or was very near to the prison.
An exchange between the employee and host Simon Logan was recorded and subsequently broadcast leading a governor at the prison to complain that the station had treated the caller unfairly and infringed her privacy.
In rejecting the complaint Ofcom noted that the tone of the conversation was light-hearted and friendly with no apparent attempt at ridicule and it considered there had been no unfairness. It also noted that although the participation phone number had been called the broadcast did not include her name or any personal details and concluded there had been no breach of privacy.
Ofcom also listed without details 333 TV complaints against 121 items - 132 of them were against one programme and 34 radio complaints against 29 items that it did not uphold or were considered out of its remit: This compares with 249 complaints against 168 TV items and 29 radio complaints against 26 items that were out of its remit or not upheld in the previous bulletin.
Previous Ofcom Complaints Bulletin:
2008-03-10: This week we're back in what has become quite a normal pattern in relationship to radio - criticism from the US and a rather more positive view from the UK - we would love to have the resources to find out how far this is the result of a strong state broadcaster in the latter and significantly more devotion to the market in the former.
To start off with, however, we digress to a north of England community station that managed to get itself publicity round the world last week when one of its presenters apparently got so tied up in what he was saying that having neglected to put himself on air he never noticed this.
The station was Radio Teesdale and rather than others' reports on the matter (an online search should find around a dozen reports, its own version of how Andy Greener's devotion to a running item about paranormal phenomena at Barnard Castle engaged his attention to the degree that he didn't notice flashing lights as listeners and station manager Peter Dixon tried to get through.
Admittedly the story, if nonsensical was in a degree engaging - about a dungeon in the 900-years-old castle in which there is supposed to be a portal that takes you into a parallel universe - but only if you are wearing only striped underpants and a woolly hat with a little bobble on the top and had jogged down a nearby minor road.
Dixon wrote on the station website an understanding note on how Greener "forgot to switch the transmitter from the automated to the studio desk", thus putting out more easy listening music rather than his own chat about news events and other content.
Dixon had picked up on the output when he tuned in at home as he was getting his children ready for school and rang a few times without getting an answer and initially concluding that Greener ad not made it in on time.
He eventually did get through and "Andy answered and we both worked out what happened. It turned out he'd seen the phone ringing as he was dong a voice a link and even asked "the listeners" to ring back when a record was on! We took a deep breath and brought it back on air with explanations to the listeners. Andy then managed to cram a 90 minute show into 30 minutes with reruns of what happened in the first hour!"
Dixon's reaction welcomingly civilized - "Well recovered Andy" as a first reaction and later, when asked if Andy got "into trouble" for the event.
"Far from it," he responded. "Our philosophy is that we aim to be professional at all times. Everyone makes mistakes and we certainly operate a no blame culture within Radio Teesdale. Almost every one of our 35 presenters had never been in a radio studio before they joined Radio Teesdale. As we approach our first birthday, everyone has done fantastically well to pick up all the technical aspects of broadcasting. At the end of the day, the radio side of things is 10% of what we are about. It's all about working with the community of Teesdale."
RNW comment: As Dixon noted at the end of his entry, Greener is unlikely to make the mistake again and we would add that the incident is unlikely to reduce audience numbers. And we fully approve of Dixon's management style - far more likely to encourage initiative and no more likely to engender repeat errors than a harsh response.
Then on to the US and a different kind of radio silence - that of a number of experienced staff formerly employed by Citadel , which following losses has been wielding the axe - bluntly described by Robert Feder in his Chicago Sun-Times column as "The idiots and incompetents who've been destroying radio struck again Friday. In this case, their targets were legendary major-market stations that until recently were owned by ABC The villain this time was Citadel Broadcasting Corp. CEO Farid Suleman, who made a lousy deal to buy the stations and now appears determined to wreck them in order to save face and pay down his crushing debt."
Feder then goes on to contrast Suleman with his former boss - "Before he blundered into Citadel, Suleman used to be a bean counter and hatchet man for Mel Karmazin at the former Infinity Broadcasting. Suleman obviously learned little from his mentor, who appreciated the value of talented personalities to a successful radio product."
After putting his boot into Suleman, Feder continues on to describe the moves as "an overreaction to Wall Street after a tough fourth quarter" and continue, "With audience ratings solidly in seventh place and 2006 revenues of $18.5 million, WLS was operating smartly and profitably. And WZZN, which seemed to be on the verge of a turnaround under a new manager, almost surely will have to shelve its expansion plans."
Then after the professionals who have gone to the hosts who remain, with particular reference to unfriendly comment about talk hosts courtesy of Jaime O'Neill who responded in the Paradise Post to a recent column by its managing editor Rick Silva defending right-wing talk hosts as part of an attack on John McCain.
Checking back on the original comment we find it led off with a rather clumsy "peg" saying that because McCain was (then) on his way to getting the Republican nomination "liberals in the media are gleefully calling this the end of talk radio and a rejection of talk show hosts.".
Silva then continued, "It shouldn't surprise many to know the same voices who are saying this today, have said it just about every other year since 1992. And they have consistently been wrong on the very issue. Mostly, I think because they simply refuse to understand talk radio, its audience and they hate it. They hate it with a passion and say just about every word uttered on such shows as hate. Apparently simply disagreeing with these folks is a sign of hatred..."
There were no links or quotations to back up the allegations - poor journalism and a poor show for a managing editor in our view - so it seems quite reasonable to write off Silva as a bigot.
At least, however, space was given for the response and O'Neill did include a fair number of quotations to back up his response and attack on many hosts as "radio blatherers" who he says "have maintained popularity by being provocative, by being willing to say almost anything, and by spreading hate, much as guys like Father Coughlin did back in the 1930s when that precursor to Rush-style hatemongering was spewing anti-Semitism and anti-liberal viciousness from coast to coast."
After quite reasonably denigrating Silva's inability to find signs of hate O'Neill goes on, "I thought I'd help him out with just a few examples of it. I think most people would agree that these comments go beyond mere disagreement on ideas or policy."
"Here's Randall Terry, the anti-abortion demagogue, offering his tempered view of things on talk radio: 'I want you to let a wave of hatred wash over you. Yes, hate is good.'"
Fairly specific that one, even for a bigot.
Or Rush Limbaugh: "I tell people don't kill all the liberals. Leave enough around so we can have two on every campus - living fossils - so we will never forget what these people stood for" and describing Kurt Cobain shortly after his suicide as "just a worthless shred of human debris." O'Neill here in our view goes slightly over the justifiable in using the term hate in connection with Limbaugh's comments but we'd hardly consider the host a paragon of Christian virtues: More like pre-Christian as withso many who seem to hanker after the Old Testament rather than the New to guide their views.
With Michael Savage, O'Neill seems fully justified in view of the host's comments to a homosexual caller who disagreed with him: "You should only get AIDS and die, you pig. How's that? Why don't you see if you can sue me, you pig. You got nothing better than to put me down, you piece of garbage. You have got nothing to do today, go eat a sausage and choke on it " or his views on the United Nations - "I don't know why we don't use a bunker-buster bomb when he comes to the U.N. and just take [Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad] out with everyone in there."
Or Michelle Morgan when disagreeing with the New York Times and suggesting "Hang 'em," or Ann Coulter who said her "only regret with Timothy McVeigh (Who killed 149 adults and 19 children when he blew up a Federal Building in Oklahoma City) is he did not go to the New York Times Building."
The case in some cases seems reasonably made and in most cases the attraction of the hosts appears to include crude puerile abuse and fortunately in our view the UK has much less of it in broadcast media. And we appreciated the closing sentence, "If you can't find hate on talk radio, you probably couldn't find chicken at KFC."
Finally a look at the latest item on the agenda of the US National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) which last week issued a "Call for Action" in relation to a Federal Communications Commission (FCC) "Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that seeks comment on various rules that would mandate how broadcasters serve their communities."
The NAB goes on to give its "description of these proposals and some suggestions on the type of information you might include in your comments to the FCC."
Take just two paragraphs - one from the FCC 98-page document and the other from the NAB.
The FCC says, "Renewal Application Processing Guidelines. We believe that the recommendations set forth by the Campaign Commenters, USC Annenberg and the Brennan Center for Justice, et al. concerning the potential adoption of specific guidelines for broadcasters to follow may have merit and deserve further exploration. Accordingly, as stated in paragraph
40 supra, we tentatively conclude that we should reintroduce specific procedural guidelines for the processing of renewal applications for stations based on their localism programming performance. We seek comment on this proposal. Specifically, should these guidelines be expressed as hours of programming per week or, as in the past, percentages of overall programming? Should the guidelines cover particular types of programming, such as local news, political, public affairs and entertainment, or simply generally reflect locally-oriented programming? What should the categories and amounts or percentages be? Should we adopt processing guidelines regarding specific types of locally-oriented programming to be aired at particular times of the day? Should the Commission create other renewal processing guidelines that give processing priority to stations that meet certain measurable standards? How should we define local programming? Must it be locally produced? We seek comment on these questions and invite comment on any related issues that commenters feel the Commission should consider in connection with the possible adoption of specific localism processing guidelines for broadcast renewal applications."
The NAB translates this as: "The FCC proposes to introduce specific procedural guidelines for the processing of license renewal applications, similar to the process in place in the 1970s. Thus, a station that does not air a specified amount of local programming would automatically have their renewal application reviewed not at the Bureau level, but by the commissioners themselves."
It later goes on to suggest that members should "Explain why a uniform programming requirement imposed on all stations, regardless of local needs and station or market characteristics, would not result in improved service to the public."
Perhaps the best single rule to be applied would be one saying that any member of NAB as a dishonest organization is automatically unfit to hold a licence but to take the matter more seriously we can but hope that a proper analysis will be done of the NAB member responses - particularly of NAB's suggestion that broadcasters should show why the proposals are unnecessary by "describing the types of local programming you already provide" and in particular how much overall programming is devoted to local news with special reference of course to all Citadel stations post-the -cuts!
On then to listening suggestions and first a US voice on UK radio, that of P.J. O'Rourke who was Promoting a book in an interview on the BBC Radio 4 "Today" programme today, and also from the programme an interview concerning a bill going through the UK Parliament that could mean that embryos used in IVF treatment would have to be screened out if the child would be born deaf.
The first interview is notable for O'Rourke's comments on Hillary Clinton - ,make our own mind up but this listener felt the questioner should have pushed him on his attitudes rather than going along with the comments and the second for the attitudes of a deaf couple who reject the idea of deafness as a disability - and who, despite a spirited and for the most part well-argued defence of aspects of their position do have a problem with normal dictionary definitions - deaf organizations it is said all agree that deafness is not a disability - tell that one to Rush Limbaugh! (Both items - 4 mins and 7 mins respectively are on the site as MP3s).
Then to the US for more politics and last week's "On the Media" from WNYC carried reports on the Clinton and Obama campaigns with specific reference to "This Magic Momentum", something Tim Noah of Slate says is more of a media device than reality, and from Politico's media reporter Michael Calderone on Senator McCain's relationship over the years with his local paper, The Arizona Republic. Also on the programme was an item on the ousting of National Public Radio CEO Ken Stern.
Then we suggest a move to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation and last week's "Media Report", on the topic of digital radio - asking the crucial question of whether it has a future? The digital in this case is DAB-plus, based on the original Eureka 147 DAB system used in the UK but with more advanced coding that allows more efficient use of spectrum.
Also from the ABC we suggest the past two weeks of "Ockham's Razor" - the first a suggestion that electro magnetic radiation may be a major reason for a worldwide decline in the frog population and the second a response from Professor Rodney Croft, Director of the Australian Centre for Radiofrequency Bio Effects Research. The first programme makes a good case as to why frogs might be more affected than other creatures and suggests some ways of checking around the house for radiation from devices such as computers and the second argues fairly convincingly of a lack of evidence of any harm.
After that back to the BBC and first Radio 2 with "Buy Me Up TV", a new comedy series inspired by shopping channels that began last Saturday. The series runs for three more weeks and the first programme had some good lines in a mixed bag.
Then Radio 3 and again in the 23:00 Monday through Thursday "Essay" spot we recommend "Greek and Latin Voices": This week Maria Wyke, professor of Latin at University College London, examines the work of the Roman historian Tacitus, focusing on Annals, his most famous surviving work.
Finally suggestions from BBC Radio 4 starting with "Austria: A Convenient Victim" from Monday - a look by Charles Wheeler at how Austria was depicted a victim of Nazism rather than an ally - and how it has kept much of its looting of Jewish properties and disreputable past under wraps and at 15:45 - running through to Friday - the continuing "FBI at 100" series.
From Tuesday (09:00 GMT) we suggest the second in the "What's The Point Of..." series looking at British institutions. This week the programme is about The Football Association.
At 11:30 GMT, there's a look at a British rake of the first order - Wilfred Scawen Blunt, a public serial adulterer but also an authoritative diplomat and the first Briton to be imprisoned in the cause of Irish independence and at 13:30 "The Music Feature" is "Ken Clarke's Jazz Greats."
On Thursday we suggest "In our Time" (09:00 GMT and also available as an MP3), which this week features a discussion of Greek Myths; "Material World" (16:30 GMT) featuring a look at advance d battery technology; and "Analysis" (20:30 GMT) that in "What Are We Fighting For?" considers the role of the armed forces today.
On Friday, for those who may have missed the daily items, Radio 4 at 21:00 GMT has an omnibus edition of "The FBI at 100" - last week's edition is on the site until then - plus the usual 18:30 GMT airing of "The Now Show" and on Saturday (20:00 GMT) "The Archive Hour" looks at "The My Lai Tapes", recordings related to the 1968 orgy of rape and murder of hundreds of civilians in three villages by US soldiers - an investigation whose findings were suppressed for many years.
Chicago Sun-Times - Feder:
Paradise Post - O'Neill:
Paradise Post - Silva:
Radio Teesdale - Dixon blog:
2008-03-10: The UK has now reached 100 community radio stations with the launch of 7 Waves Community Radio, serving the people of Leasowe and surrounding areas on the Wirral, and Calon FM, serving Wrexham.
The first community licence was awarded three years ago since when community stations - not-for-profit organizations that typically cover small geographical areas with a coverage radius of up to 5km - have been launched in most parts of the UK from the Isles of Scilly in the south to Orkney in the north.
In all 162 licences have now been awarded by UK media regulator Ofcom whose Content and Standards Partner Stewart Purvis said they were now "an established third tier of radio broadcasting in the UK."
"This new tier of radio," he added, "adds richness and variety to the services already provided by the BBC and commercial radio and offers opportunities for people to get involved in local broadcasting."
2008-03-09: Last week the main regulatory news was again from the US where the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) posted its proposed rules for increasing minority ownership of media and also extended the deadline for comment on its localism proposals: Elsewhere things were very quiet with no radio announcements from Australia or Ireland, only one in the UK and a few in Canada.
In Canada, radio related decisions and notices posted by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) included the following:
Administrative renewals from 1 September 2008 to 31 August 2009 of a number of licences for stations and transitional digital undertakings including the following analogue licences:
CBCX-FM, Calgary, and its transmitters.
CBR-AM, Calgary, and its transmitters.
CBR-FM, Calgary, and its transmitters.
CHFA-AM, Edmonton, and its transmitters.
CBX-AM, Edmonton, and its transmitters
CBPQ-FM, Coquihalla Toll Plaza.
CILK-FM, Kelowna, and its transmitters;
CBTK-FM, Kelowna, and its transmitters.
CBYG-FM, Prince George, and its transmitters.
CFPR-AM, Prince Rupert, and its transmitters.
CBU-AM, Vancouver, and its transmitters.
CBU-FM, Vancouver, and its transmitters.
CBUF-FM, Vancouver, and its transmitters.
CBUX-FM, Vancouver, and its transmitters.
CBCV-FM, Victoria, and its transmitters.
CKSB-AM, St. Boniface, and its transmitters.
CBWK-FM, Thompson, and its transmitters.
CBW-AM, Winnipeg, and its transmitters.
CBW-FM, Winnipeg, and its transmitters.
CKSB-FM, Winnipeg, and its transmitters.
CBZ-AM, Fredericton, and its transmitters.
CBZF-FM, Fredericton, and its transmitters.
CBA-AM, Moncton, and its transmitters.
CBAF-FM, Moncton, and its transmitters.
CBAL-FM, Moncton, and its transmitters.
CBD-FM, Saint John, and its transmitters.
Newfoundland and Labrador:
CBY-AM, Corner Brook, and its transmitters.
CBG-AM, Gander, and its transmitters.
CBT-AM, Grand Falls, and its transmitters.
CFGB-FM, Goose Bay, and its transmitters.
CBDQ-FM, Labrador City.
CBN-AM, St. John's, and its transmitters.
CBN-FM, St. John's, and its transmitters.
CHAK-AM, Inuvik, and its transmitters.
CFYK-AM, Yellowknife, and its transmitters.
CBAF-FM-5, Halifax, and its transmitters.
CBAX-FM, Halifax, and its transmitters.
CBH-FM, Halifax, and its transmitters.
CBHA-FM, Halifax, and its transmitters.
CB-AM, Sydney, and its transmitters.
CBI-AM, Sydney, and its transmitters.
CBQR-FM, Rankin Inlet, and its transmitters.
CFFB-AM, Iqaluit, and its transmitters.
CBO-FM Ottawa, Ontario and its transmitters.
CBO-FM, Ottawa, and its transmitters.
CBOF-FM, Ottawa, and its transmitters.
CBCS-FM, Sudbury, and its transmitters.
CBON-FM, Sudbury, and its transmitters.
CBSS-FM & CBBX-FM, Sudbury.
CBQ-FM, Thunder Bay.
CBQT-FM, Thunder Bay, and its transmitters.
CBL-FM, Toronto, and its transmitters.
CBLA-FM, Toronto, and its transmitters.
CJBC-AM, Toronto, and its transmitters.
CJBC-FM, Toronto, and its transmitters.
CBE-AM, Windsor, and its transmitters.
CBEF-AM, Windsor, and its transmitters.
Prince Edward Island:
CBAF-FM-15, Charlottetown, and its transmitters:
CBCT-FM, Charlottetown, and its transmitters.
CBJX-FM, Chicoutimi, and its transmitter.
CBFG-FM, Chisasibi (Fort-George).
CBGA-FM, Matane, and its transmitters.
CBFX-FM, Montréal, and its transmitters.
CBM-FM, Montréal, and its transmitters.
CBME-FM, Montréal, and its transmitters.
CBV-FM, Québec, and its transmitters.
CBVE-FM, Québec, and its transmitters.
CBVX-FM, Québec, and its transmitters.
CJBR-FM, Rimouski, and its transmitters.
CHLM-FM, Rouyn-Noranda, and its transmitters.
CBSI-FM, Sept-Iles, and its transmitters.
CBF-FM-10, Sherbrooke, and its transmitters.
CBKA-FM, La Ronge, and its transmitters.
CBK-AM, Regina, and its transmitters.
CBK-FM, Regina, and its transmitters.
CBKF-FM, Regina, and its transmitters.
CFWH-AM, Whitehorse, and its transmitters.
The CRTC also issued the same administrative renewals for a number of transitional digital undertakings in Brampton, Mississauga, Montréal North York, Oakville, Ottawa, Richmond, Sechelt, Toronto, Vancouver and Windsor and networks including the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation's Radio One (English AM service); Radio Two (English FM service); Première Chaîne (French AM service); and Espace musique (Chaîne culturelle) (French FM service).
Other licence decisions included:
*Approved application by Northern Native Broadcasting (Terrace, B.C.) to add a 34 watts low power FM transmitter at Williams Lake to carry the programming of CFNR-FM, Terrace.
*Approved application by United Christian Broadcasters, Canada, to add a 50 watts low-power 50 watts transmitter at Kingston to broadcast the programming of CKJJ-FM, Belleville.
*Approved application by Radio CHNC ltée for licence for 3,800 watts classic rock and country music format FM at New Carlisle to replace CHNC-AM and also for new FM transmitters in Carleton - 480 watts; Chandler - 870 watts; Gaspé, where it will replace an AM transmitter - 257 watts; and Percé - 426 watts.
The CRTC also approved a six month simulcast period following commencement of operations of the new FM. In approving the application the commission noted that CHNC had lost audience and advertising revenues that were attributed to the audience moving to FM: It also noted that CHNC would need additional transmitters to cover its current transmission area.
The application was opposed by Diffusion communautaire Baie des Chaleurs inc., licensee of the community station CIEU-FM, Carleton, opposed adding an FM transmitter in Carleton because of its potential impact on CIEU-FM's audience share and advertising revenues - CHNC said in response it had been serving the area since 1933 with its AM signal and 27% of its revenues currently come from the area.
Another comment came from Radio du Golfe inc., licensee of the commercial stations CJMC-FM, Sainte-Anne-des-Monts, and CFMV-FM, Chandler, which questioned the applicant's ability to pay for the equipment and infrastructure required to complete its project, as well as its financial forecasts, in particular with respect to its ability to make its proposed station profitable as of the first year of operation, to which CHNC responded by noting that its previous owner had agreed to write off CAD 430,000 (USD 435,000) he had advanced to the station, thus eliminating almost all the accumulated deficit and that this together with steps taken by the new shareholders and financial support of various organizations had put the station in a profitable position.
There had also been problems of compliance with regulations relating to broadcast of French-language vocal music a year ago before the station had been purchased by the Coopérative des travailleurs CHNC.
*Denied application from Radio du Golfe inc., licensee of CFMV-FM, Chandler, and CJMC-FM, Sainte-Anne-des-Monts, for a licence for a French-language musical hits FM in Gaspé, Quebec and a low-power FM transmitter in Rivière-au-Renard to broadcast the proposed station's programming.
This application was opposed by Radio Gaspésie inc., licensee of community station CJRG-FM, Gaspé, and Radio CHNC, ltée, in terms of the effect on the market and the commission agreed that adding competition could jeopardize CHNC's re-structuring. It also said it was not satisfied with the applicant's business plan and noted past failure to comply with its licence conditions relating to Canadian talent development for its stations CFMV-FM, Chandler, and CJMC-FM, Sainte-Anne-des-Monts. It concluded that it found the applicant's proposals interesting but in view of the various other factors was not prepared to approve the application at this time.
The CRTC also posted a public notice concerning various applications including an application to increase the power of commercial ethnic station CHOU-AM, Montréal, by increasing the day-time and night-time transmitter power from 1,000 watts to 2,000 watts improve the reception of its signal downtown Montréal as well as on the south shore where their signal is almost non-existent.
As already noted there were no radio postings from Ireland and in the UK there was only one from Ofcom - its reasons for the award of four new community licences last month to Canalside Radio (Cheshire); KCC Live (Merseyside); Moorlands Radio (Staffordshire); and Rossendale Radio (Lancashire - For all see RNW Licence News Mar 2).
In each case the Radio Licensing Committee was satisfied that the applicant had met the required "characteristics of service".
Regarding Rossendale Radio and Moorlands Radio, the committee said the stations should be allowed to seek up to 50% of their respective annual income from the sale of advertising or programme/station sponsorship but in the case of KCC Live it said it had concerns that the service could prejudice unduly the economic viability of another local service and limited the percentage of income from advertising/sponsorship to 15%, in line with the applicant's financial projections.
Canalside is prohibited from income from these sources as its service is within the coverage area of a local commercial radio service which has more than 50,000, but fewer than 150,000, adults living in the area.
The licences were awarded following a call in July last year for applications for community licences in north Wales and northwest England: It resulted in 24 applications, five of which are still to be considered.
In the US the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) as already noted has adopted rules to promote diversification of broadcast ownership and also extended the deadline for comment on its localism proposals, proposals that have already led the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) to call for submissions on the measures, which it opposes.
In relation to the broadcast ownership rules, all the commissioners issued statements with partial dissent from the Democrat commissioners and they were broadly welcomed by the Minority Media & Telecommunications Council, which had proposed many of the changes accepted.
Thee changes include allowing additional time for "eligible entities" [broadly speaking "small businesses"] that acquire expiring constructions permits to build a facility; revising the commission's equity/debt standards to facilitate investment in them; allows licensees whose licence is designated for a revocation hearing or basic qualifications heading to sell the station to such an entity before the hearing; bars parties from considering race or gender in broadcast transactions and requires licence renewals to include a certification that its advertising-sales contracts do not discriminate on the basis of race or gender - thus prohibiting such restrictions as no Spanish or urban stations; and gives priority to such entities in some duopoly situations; and convening an 'Access-to-Capital' conference that will focus on the investment-banking and private-equity communities and opportunities to acquire financing."
In his statement FCC chairman Kevin J. Martin referred to steps taken by the agency "to address the concern that there are too few local outlets available to minorities and new entrants" and specifically noted changes made to Low Power FM Rules in February and moves to facilitate the use of lease access channels.
Regarding the current proposals he said it adopts "rules that are designed to promote diversity by increasing and expanding broadcast ownership opportunities for small businesses, including minority and women-owned businesses. "
The actions he said "strike an appropriate balance. They carefully take into account the opportunities and challenges of today's media marketplace and, at the same time, prioritize the commitment to localism and diversity."
The statements from Democrat Commissioners included a comment from Commissioner Michael J. Copps that started off with a strong attack along lines he has previously voiced. Saying the decision would "make George Orwell proud", Copps continued, "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 went on, "I am not the only one disturbed by this illogical scenario. Congress and the American people have done everything but march down to Southwest DC and physically shake some sense into us. Everywhere we go, the questions are the same: Why are we rushing to encourage more media merger frenzy when we haven't addressed the demonstrated harms caused by previous media merger frenzy? Women and minorities own low single-digit percentages of America's broadcast outlets and big consolidated media continues to slam the door in their faces. It's going to take some major policy changes and a coordinated strategy to fix that. Don't look for that from this Commission."
Copps accused the Commission of telling people to "be content with baby steps to help women and minorities-but the fine print shows that the real beneficiaries will be small businesses owned by white men" and also of giving a green light to further media consolidation at the same time as it became clear that this was the real cause "of the disenfranchisement of women and minorities" and continued on to note that the fact that the Commission did not have details of how many minority and female owners there were showed "how low this issue is on the FCC's list of priorities."
He also strongly attacked the definition of "eligible Entity" in terms of a small business saying that groups like Rainbow/Push and the National Association of Black Owned Broadcasters asserted that this will do little or nothing for minority owners.
Copps also noted that the commission now rubber-stamped renewals whereas in the past it had required a thorough review of performance before renewal and said the commission needed to "reinvigorate the license-renewal process."
Consolidation to date the "decision to treat broadcasting as just another business" said Copps "has not produced a media system that does a better job serving most Americans. Quite the opposite. Rather than reviving the news business, it has led to less localism, less diversity of opinion and ownership, less serious political coverage, fewer jobs for journalists, and the list goes on."
In his statement Copps' fellow Democrat Jonathan S. Adelstein said that when the FCC was "not moving in slow motion, it has taken steps that amount to a retreat from our statutory obligation to promote diversity. When it comes to ensuring that the ownership of the public's airwaves - which are licensed to serve the public - look like the American people, the FCC's legacy does not make us proud."
He noted that in "2003, rather than taking regulatory steps to promote diversity of ownership, this Commission took steps to specifically undermine it. The Commission repealed the only remaining policy specifically aimed at fostering diversity Luckily, the federal appellate court reversed the Commission. In a stinging indictment, the Court said: 'repealing its only regulatory provision that promoted minority ownership is  inconsistent with the Commission's obligation to make broadcast spectrum available to all people 'without discrimination on the basis of race.''"
Like Copps he also attacked the definition of businesses eligible for relief as "a step back, or, under the best scenario, the Commission has taken a step to the side."
His dissent was being recorded, he noted, because "it is highly doubtful that today's Order will appreciably help women and people of colour own a great share of radio and TV stations. In fact, media diversity advocates have argued that the definition of eligible entities adopted is potentially detrimental to the goal of diversifying broadcast media ownership. "
The comments from the Republican Commissioners were blander with Deborah Taylor Tate noting existing shortcomings in minority and female ownership and singling out two of the commission's proposals in terms of providing solutions.
These were the setting up of an" annual 'Access to Capital Conference'" to link potential buyers with prospective investors (RNW note: Her statement later comments "I hope this will become an annual event" - so we're not very sure of the status of this or Tate's capabilities in terms of using her native language) and "modification of our Equity-Debt Plus attribution rule" so as to ease the cap on investments - the rule was introduced because of concerns that multiple non-attributable interests could be combined to allow the holders to exert a significant influence over licensees
In his comment Robert M. McDowell noted that "Many positive and constructive ideas before the Commission may be hobbled by Supreme Court rulings regarding race-specific remedies on one side, and a lack of statutory authority for doing much more on the other side" and defended the definition of eligible groups that had been adopted.
In other actions the FCC has again proposed or confirmed a number of penalties including the following:
*Issued USD 15,200 penalty to Pembrook Pines Elmira, Ltd, licensee of WEHH-AM, Elmira Hts-Horseheads and, WELM-AM, Elmira, both in New York, for failing to comply with antenna structure lighting requirements, failing to notify the FAA of an antenna structure light outage, and failing to operate its AM stations consistent with the modes and power authorized in the stations' licenses.
It had originally issued a Notice of Apparent Liability for Forfeiture (NAL) for USD 19,000 to which Pembrook responded by requesting a reduction on the basis that the commission had not previously treated failing to comply with lighting requirements - for which an USD 8,000 penalty was proposed- and failure to notify the FAA- for which the proposed penalty was USD 3,000 - as separate offences. It also argued for reduction on the basis of a history of compliance.
The FCC rejected the first argument, saying cases cited in support of Pembrooke's position did not include findings that the owners were aware of the outages prior to inspection, but did reduce the penalty to USD 15,200 based on a history of compliance.
*Issued USD, 4,300 penalty to Ronald Mondgock, former licensee of Novice Class Amateur Radio Service station KA3OMZ, Honeybrook, Pennsylvania, for operating on frequencies for which he had no licence. It had originally issued an NAL of USD 10,000 to which Mondgock responded by requesting cancellation based on inability to pay. The FCC on the basis of documentation provided reduced the penalty to USD 4,300 but declined to cancel it.
*Issued USD 4,200 penalty to Brahmin Broadcasting Corporation, licensee of KRAE-AM, Cheyenne, Wyoming, for failure to enclose the KRAE antenna tower within an effective locked fence or other enclosure. The Commission had initially issued an NAL for USD 7,000 and Brahmin argued for reduction based on its good faith attempts to repair the fences and a history of compliance.
Brahmin said that it had made a repair on February 14, 2007, that it thought had taken care of concerns in a message it received on February 20, and that when it was alerted to another problem on Mar 6, the fence was fixed the same day.
On this basis the commission reduced the proposed penalty to USD 5,600 and then reduced it further to USD 4,200 on the basis of a history of compliance.
*Issued USD 1,500 NAL to Robert John Williamson, licensee of WGYV-AM, Greenville, Alabama, for late filing of renewal application. The licence was renewed.
In addition the commission admonished Seehafer Broadcasting Corporation, licensee of WXCO-AM, Wausau, Wisconsin, and Roser Communications Network, Inc., licensee of WBGK-FM, Newport Village, New York, for violation of its EEO rules. It noted that because the violations were in a preceding period and the licence had been renewed it was prohibited from initiating forfeiture proceedings under the statute of limitations.
The FCC also renewed the licences of a number of Entercom stations in Massachusetts; Oregon; New York; Pennsylvania, Rhode Island; and Washington State to which there had been objections, primarily on the basis of its involvement in payola.
Previous Licence News:
CRTC web site:
FCC web site:
Ofcom web site: :
2008-03-08: AOL Radio has dropped its deal with XM Satellite Radio in favour of a deal with CBS Radio under which the latter will sell adverts and also provide content from some 150 of its stations - with music, news, talk and sports formats - to AOL.
XM in its announcement that it would no longer be providing advert-free music channels to AOL from May 1 and said this was linked to "AOL's transition to an advertising supported business model."
It added that it would build its online advert-free subscription service and promoted a six-month introductory rate of USD 2.99 a month starting immediately. The usual charge for XM Radio Online is USD 7.99 a month.
XM's EVP and Chief Marketing Officer Vernon Irvin said in a release, "XM's presence on AOL Radio was a valuable way to introduce consumers to our service free of charge. We will continue to offer consumer free trials of XM Radio Online. We look forward to building our online subscription business and are confident XM Radio Online's new introductory rate along with new channels and features coming this spring will help us turn XM fans into subscribers."
CBS Radio President and CEO Dan Mason said of its deal, "CBS Radio continues to invest in high-growth areas including internet streaming. We have been very clear about our goals in this area and teaming with AOL is a tremendous step forward in that regard. Couple that with years of progress building out our own streaming operations, and CBS Radio is instantly positioned as the leader in the online radio space. A combined CBS Radio/AOL Radio affords us vastly greater scale, as well as massive distribution for our brands. We look forward to all that we will now be able to offer our audiences and advertisers alike."
For AOL Radio its EVP Kevin Conroy added, "This partnership with CBS RADIO reconfirms our commitment to the expanding online radio audience and provides significantly more programming choices for our listeners."
The two companies said that in addition to the services of the CBS Radio sales force, advertisers will also be able to utilize CBS-backed TargetSpot to facilitate their online advertising transactions.
In addition, Ronning Lipset Radio, the national online radio representation firm which has handled AOL Radio's streaming ad inventory for more than four years, is broadening its responsibilities to include CBS Radio's online radio properties as well.
Along with the change of supplier, a new player developed by CBS Radio is to be launched in the spring with an interface that will include all of AOL's current stations plus a wide range of local sports, talk, news and music stations, including CBS Radio's WFAN-AM and 1010 WINS in New York; KLSX and KROQ in Los Angeles; WXRT in Chicago; WVEE in Atlanta; and a number of customized stations created exclusively by CBS Radio for the Internet.
Previous CBS Radio:
Previous Ronning Lipset:
2008-03-08: US National Public Radio (NPR) has announced that its CEO Ken Stern, who has been with it for ten years, starting as COO, is to leave "by mutual agreement." Current NPR chairman Dennis L. Haarsager will take over as interim CEO while the Board conducts a national search for a permanent replacement and current Board Vice Chair Howard Stevenson will stand in as Chairman. President Kevin Klose will continue in his current role.
In a statement issued by NPR Stevenson said, "We appreciate the many contributions Ken Stern has made to National Public Radio in various roles over the last decade and wish him well in his future endeavours. During his tenure, Ken was instrumental in improving NPR's financial health and for initiating important work extending NPR's reach to various new platforms including satellite and digital distribution. Under his watch, NPR News significantly increased the number of staff, foreign and domestic bureaus and areas of coverage. With the superb programming we now have in place - and a doubling of the public radio system's audience over the last seven years from 13 million to 26 million weekly listeners - the public radio system and NPR are well-positioned to gain even more listeners."
Regarding NPR itself Stevenson said it was "in excellent financial shape" and added that it was pleased with the announcement earlier in the week that it had "have acquired a well-situated site for our new headquarters - which will include public space for live shows and events."
NPR expects to move into its new HQ - at 1111 North Capitol Street in a development comprising the current four-story building constructed in 1927 for the Chesapeake & Potomac Telephone Company and a new 10-storey office tower in which it is to be incorporated - in 2012 and will house all of NPR's 600 staff in D.C.
Nothing was said in the release about Stern's future plans or the reasons for his departure but an NPR news report said he had been forced out of the post, to which he was appointed at the start of October 1996, by the board and suggested that behind this lay Stern's push into digital.
Stern it says led this because of his "often-repeated conviction that the old way of doing business wouldn't work" and it noted his argument for on-demand availability of NPR output on whatever platforms people wanted to use.
This, says the report, had "aggravated anxiety among local stations about their relationship to the network", fearful that if people could listen to NPR shows elsewhere it would reduce their support of local public stations and it adds that "Interviews with eight current and former public radio officials suggest Stern failed to convince local stations - and especially their representatives on the board - that he saw a clear and healthy role for them in the digital future."
Some, added the report, noted that he "he lacked the light touch and charismatic aura of his predecessor, Kevin Klose, that served Klose well in dealing with board members and prospective donors."
It added that Stern, who was told on Thursday that he was to be ousted, declined to be interviewed about the matter and quoted John A. Herrmann Jr., a long-time member of the board of directors, as saying it was time for NPR to find someone who can navigate these issues about the nature of media in a multi-platform age as deftly as Klose and Stern together led the network through the financial questions of the 1990s.
A Washington Post report quoted Stern as saying in a statement, "I'm proud of having brought NPR to new heights as one of the greatest journalism organizations in the world. . . . I also take great pride in NPR's financial performance during my tenure, with our financial reserves and endowment growing by over 2,000 percent. I have enormous respect for the management team I assembled and know they will keep NPR on this successful path."
Previous Ken Stern:
NPR News report:
Washington Post report:
2008-03-08: GapWest Broadcasting, which last month closed its USD 74 million purchase of 57 Clear Channel stations in 13 markets - in, Idaho, Iowa, Minnesota, Montana, Washington, and Wyoming - has announced a USD 33 million credit facility from General Electric Commercial Finance.
The funding will help finance the Clear Channel deal by Dallas-based GapWest, which is backed by Oaktree Capital Management...
Previous Clear Channel:
2008-03-07: The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has extended until April 28 and June 11 the deadlines for filing comments and reply comments respectively in relation to its "Report on Broadcast Localism and Notice of Proposed Rulemaking" that put forward rule changes to "enhance broadcast localism and diversity, to increase and improve the amount and nature of broadcast programming that is targeted to the local needs and interests of a broadcast station's community of service, and to provide more accessible information to the public about broadcasters' efforts to air such programming. " (See RNW Jan 25)
The original deadlines were March 14 and April 14 respectively but an extension was sought by various organisations including the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB), which has issued a "call to action," urging broadcasters to file comments with the agency, and National Public Radio (NPR). The FCC plans have not been welcomed by many commercial broadcasters.
2008-03-07: GCap Media, which in May last year dropped daytime DJs from its Xfm stations in favour of playlists chosen by listeners under its Xu format (See RNW May 18, 2007) is to bring them back in London later this month.
In a announcement on its web site the station says Dave Berry will take over the weekday drive time show from March 25th - he joined the station's Saturday line-up at the start of this year - and current drive time host Rick Shaw will move to an 09:00 to 13:00 slot with a show that will also see the return of the one-hour Indie classics X-list from 9am -10am.
Xfm London's Programme Director Adam Uytman said of the changes, "This is a really positive signing for Xfm. We have had great feedback from our listeners about Dave's Saturday show and it will be great to have a London voice on the daytime schedule. We will shortly be announcing the host of the afternoon show and changes to the weekend schedule - so many more exciting changes ahead!"
The announcement says the move is part of a plan to drop "the speech-less Xu format of their daytime programmes and re-introducing presenters, starting in London" but it gives no details concerning its FM stations outside London.
These were put up for sale by the company last month along with a threat to close them and hand back the licences if they were not sold by Mar 28 (See RNW Feb 11): It is not clear if the potential takeover of GCap by Global radio has led to this threat being withdrawn.
Previous GCap Media:
2008-03-07: In further US results Univision has reported both revenues and operating income up in the final quarter and also the last nine-months of 2007 - it was bought out last year so full-year comparisons are partly with a predecessor's period. It also recorded a substantial net loss - of USD 247.8 million for the nine months and a loss of USD 67 million for the last quarter of its predecessor (the quarter to the end of March last year) compared to a net income of USD 349.2 million by its predecessor in 2006.
Net revenues were up 13.3% in the final quarter to USD 544.3 million and up 8.4% for the full year to USD 2.07 billion excluding 2006 soccer world cup estimated revenues of USD 113.6 million without which the increase was 2.3%.
Adjusted operating income before depreciation and amortization was up 10.9% to $248.0 million for the quarter and up 7.8% to $863.2 million for the year.
In divisional terms, TV net revenues for the quarter rose 4% to USD 415.4 million with operating income up 8.6% to USD 191.2 million; radio net revenues were up 13.3% to USD 115.1 million; and Internet revenues rose 16.9% to USD 13.8 million.
For the full year TV revenues were down 0.6% to USD 1.597 billion with operating income up 5.1% to USD 674.8 million ; radio revenues were up 12.7% to USD 429.9 million with operating income up 16.6% to USD 173.8 million; and Internet revenues were up 20.9% to USD 46.3 million with operating income up 14.9% to USD 14.6 million.
CEO Joe Uva termed 2007 "a tremendous year for Univision" and added, "I'm incredibly proud of all we have achieved. From the smooth transition to new ownership, to reorganizing and refocusing our advertising sales structure, to implementing a host of initiatives to inform and educate our audience, we achieved many milestones while cementing Univision's position as the leading Spanish language media company."
In divisional terms he added, "During this quarter, Univision once again produced very strong results across all core platforms - the Univision Network consistently outdelivered at least one of the other major networks in primetime among young adults, Univision Radio continued its double-digit year-over-year revenue growth and Univision.com maintained its position as the #1 Internet destination in the U.S. among Spanish-dominant and bilingual Hispanics. We look forward to building on the momentum gained in 2007 to drive growth in 2008 and beyond."
South of the border, Grupo Radio Centro, which reported its results last month (See RNW Feb 22) has ratified the company's board and approved a dividend of MXN 100 million ( USD 9.2 million - approx MXN 0.62 per A share).
Previous Grupo Radio:
2008-03-06: North Dakota Democrat Senator Byron Dorgan has followed up his suggestion in December (See RNW Dec 20, 2007) and reacted to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) majority vote that formally eased media ownership restrictions in the top 20 US markets (See RNW Dec 19, 2007) by introducing a "resolution of disapproval" to prevent implementation of the move that that its critics contend is likely to effectively end them in many more
The resolution is co-sponsored by 13 Senators including Democratic Presidential Contenders Hillary Clinton (New York) and Barack Obama (Illinois); Maine Republicans Olympia Snowe and Susan M. Collins; Democrats Joe Biden (Delaware); Maria E. Cantwell (Washington); Christopher J. Dodd (Connecticut); Dianne Feinstein (California); Tom Harkin (Iowa); John Kerry (Massachusetts); Jack Reed (Rhode Island); and Jon Tester (Montana) plus Independent Bernie Sanders (Vermont).
Dorgan, one of the leaders of the fight against consolidation and easing the cross ownership ban, said in statement, "When nearly half of the people in this country are told that in their cities and towns the media will get the green light to consolidate, they will not be happy."
When the move was passed FCC chairman Kevin Martin, said it was only a minimal loosening of the ban to help struggling newspapers by spreading local news-gathering costs across multiple media platforms, a view that was strongly attacked by critics including the Democrats on the Commission.
2008-03-06: Cox Radio has bucked the recent trend of revenue falls to report final quarter revenues up and Regent has come close with only a marginal fall but the effect of impairment charges put both deeply into the red.
For Cox final quarter revenues were up 1.1% to USD 114.3 million and 2007 full year revenues up 1% to USD 444.9 million but its station operating income was down - by 2.4% to USD 46.4 million and by 3.7% to USD 178.9 million for the quarter and year respectively.
Net income went from a 2006 loss of USD 24.5 million to a 2007 positive USD 1.87 million (from a 25cents loss to a positive 2 cents a share) and in the final quarter went from a USD 88.1 million loss to a USD 52.1 million loss (from 93 to 57 cents a share loss).
Cox commented that the operating loss for the quarters included a USD 117.1 million 2007 non-cash write-downs of impaired intangible assets to reduce the carrying value of intangible assets in our Birmingham, Greenville, Honolulu, Houston, Jacksonville, Louisville, Richmond, Southern Connecticut and Tulsa markets to their estimated fair values. In the final quarter of 2007 it had recorded a USD 176.3 million non-cash impairment charge in order to reduce the carrying value of intangible assets in our Birmingham, Greenville, Houston, Louisville and Richmond markets to their estimated fair values. It added that the net income for 2007 compared to 2006 net loss was primarily due to the lower non-cash impairment charge in 2007.
It also noted that in the final quarter of 2007 it had repurchased re-purchased 3.2 million shares of common stock for an aggregate purchase price of approximately USD 39.3 million and that as of the end of the year it has purchased a total of 11.3 million shares for approximately USD 152.6 million - its board has authorized two USD 100 million re-purchase schemes.
President and CEO Robert F. Neil commented of the period, "2007 marked another year of solid operating performance from our stations. Our growth in net revenues of 1% once again outpaced the markets in which we operate and the industry as a whole. I'm especially pleased with our stations in Atlanta, Birmingham and Greenville which led our company this year in revenue growth, generating substantial increases over 2006 and dramatically outperforming their respective markets in revenue growth."
Looking ahead he added, "While the outlook for the overall economy remains uncertain, our focus remains balanced between operating our business as efficiently as possible and making the investments necessary to sustain and improve our powerful local brands."
At Regent, full year broadcast revenues were up 18.4% to USD 97.9 million but for the quarter they were down marginally - from USD 25 million in 2006 to USD 24.9 million - whilst station operating expenses were up 13.9% to USD 63.1 million for the year and down 1.4% for the quarter to USD 15.3 million.
Thanks to a non-cash impairment charge of some USD 163.6 million in the quarter and year - compared to USD 48.4 million a year earlier, Regent's net loss was up from USD 29.5 million for the final quarter to USD 1o3.1 million (From 77 cents to USD 2.69 per share): For the year its net loss was up from USD 26.6 million to USD 102.6 million (From 67 cents to USD 2.68 per share).
President and CEO Bill Stakelin commented, "Our fourth quarter revenue growth was well ahead of the industry, while increasing our revenue share across our portfolio of markets. In fact, in the fourth quarter Regent outperformed the industry in terms of same station revenue growth by approximately 680 basis points. The advertising market remained difficult in 2007, but we continued to execute on our business plan to position our portfolio for growth over the long-term." He continued, "We are driving attractive audiences across our clusters, while building and expanding our integrated web platform. Our station brands are immersed in the communities we serve and we believe we offer local advertisers an exceptional value proposition. In the year ahead, we remain focused on further increasing our audience shares and better monetizing our listener reach through our cross- platform sales strategy."
Previous Cox Radio:
2008-03-06: GCap Media has extended until March 26 the period by which Global Radio has to make a bid for it and said it will "work together with Global to determine whether it will be able to make a recommendable offer" following yesterday's 11% increase to 225 pence a share of its previous offer of 202 pence (See RNW Mar 5): It is 18% above the original bid of 190 pence and values GCap at GBP 371 million (USD 737 million).
It also said in a statement that it noted that Global's "announcement described the Proposal as not being subject to any anti-trust conditions, which is important in addressing the Board's concern that the conditionality attached to any Proposal should be minimal."
Global Radio which had asked for an extension until April 2, has welcomed the statement with its chief executive, Ashley Tabor, saying it was "delighted that the GCap board has made it possible for Global to work towards finalising an offer that will create substantial value for GCap's shareholders."
"Global Radio," he added, "strongly believes that a combination of its brands with those of GCap will create a strong and vibrant company that will be able to breathe new life into Britain's commercial radio sector. We look forward to working with GCap in the coming days."
The four leading shareholders in GCap - DMGT, Fidelity, Schroders and Standard Life - control more than 50% of the company and two of them - Standard Life with 7.5% and Schroders with a little above 16% - have openly pushed the company to negotiate with Global.
Analysts' consensus seems to be that the bid will succeed with the UK Guardian quoting Ingenious Securities as saying 225p was "a full and arguably fair final offer" and its analyst Steve Liechti saying it was "very punchy and attractive".
In a note Ingenious said, "The ball is now firmly in GCap's court and we believe that the management will find it difficult to reject this bid as easily as the 202p offer last week in light of the company's lacklustre strategic review. We suspect that shareholders will be tempted to accept this offer to draw a line under the affair and that the regulatory hurdles to the bid will be fairly low."
Previous GCap Media:
Previous Global Radio:
UK Guardian report:
2008-03-06: US radio annual spot revenues in 2007 were down 3% year-on-year to USD 18.476 billion and down 5% in the final quarter to USD 4.646 billion according to the US Radio Advertising Bureau, which highlights "lead growth positions" from "Off-Air (previously referred to as Non-Spot) and Network maintaining their lead growth positions" that took the overall falls to 2% for the year at USD 21.310 billion and 4% for the quarter at USD 5.407 billion.
RAB said the overall results, described as "mixed results across various sectors", mirrored "fluctuations in the current economic climate".
Within the figures local revenues were down 2% year-on-year to UD 15.133 billion and 3% in the quarter to USD 3.738 billion; national revenues were down 6% for the year at USD 3.343 billion and down 11% for the quarter at USD 863 million (Combined figures as above). In contrast both network and off-air were up - by 4% for the year to USD 1.153 billion and 1% for the quarter to USD 309 million for network and by 10% to USD 1.681 billion and 12% to USD 452 million for the quarter in the case of off-air, a rise termed "a meteoric double-digit streak" by RAB in its news release.
President and CEO Jeff Haley commented of the results, "As Radio broadcasters expand their online components and extend interactive and on-demand options, Radio will continue to deliver a seamless audio experience across numerous platforms to connect with consumers where and when they want. The nimbleness of the expanded Radio space provides a true 360-degree integration opportunity for marketers and their agencies to reach and engage their customers."
[RNW comment: Suggestions on the abuse of language and superlatives in particular to ].
In terms of advertising sectors, RAB said network radio "benefited from heavy spending in the retail and automotive categories" with TNS Media Intelligence data showing total retail up 18% in the Quarter and up 20% for the year and automotive - the leading category - up nearly 21% in the Quarter and 37% for the full year.
In local and national spending, political advertising was a major factor with as RAB puts it "Presidential, Congressional, Senatorial, and local race dollars" funding radio and continuing, "Greatest spend in 4th quarter and year-end came from local organizations and many 527s. Issue advertising accounted for 67% of 2007 spend and 58% of the quarterly spend."
Amongst other leading advertising categories were Communications/Cellular/Public Utilities that in 2007 was second-ranked with full-year 2007 spending up 16.3%
Previous RAB & RAB figures (Jan 2008):
2008-03-05: Global Radio has increased its offer for the UK's largest radio group, GCap Media, to what it terms a "final proposal" of 225 pence a share, up from its previous 202 pence, which was rejected by GCap.
The move led GCap's share price to jump by 14% to GBP 214 at the start of Tuesday although they then fell back to end the day up only 6.1% at 199.25 pence as conditions of the offer and GCap's non-committal response dampened sentiment.
The 199.25 pence, values the group at GBP 328.5 million (USD 652.4 million) compared to the latest Global "proposal" - Global says that this is subject to pre-condition that the bid deadline of March 5 set for it to "put-up or shut-up" should be extended to April 2 and that it might not make an offer - which values GCap at GBP 371 million (USD 737 million). The rejected bid valued GCap at GBP 333 million (USD 661 million).
Four shareholders - DMGT, Fidelity, Schroders and Standard Life, most of whose holdings were bought at a considerably higher price than the current proposal, some at more than double - between them control more than half of GCap's stock and although GCap was non-committal - it issued a statement noting the announcement of the new bid and adding, "The Board of GCap Media will consider this proposal and will make a further announcement in due course", the UK Guardian said Standard Life, which owns 7.5% of GCap, had said the board should open talks with Global Radio.
It quoted David Cumming, head of UK Equities at Standard Life Investments, as saying, "Due to the increased offer, we believe that it's appropriate GCap engage with Global Radio with a view to accepting the revised bid terms."
The bid from Global is subject to due diligence and also includes a pre-condition that the bid Global in a statement said it urged GCap shareholders to "encourage the board of GCap to accept this proposal and request the extension of the 'put up or shut up' deadline" and added, "Global Radio believes that the final proposal offers substantially greater value than could be achieved by GCap on a standalone basis, even if the planned cost savings and initiatives outlined in GCap's strategy announcement of February 11 can be achieved in full."
GCap's price includes a premium based on the likelihood of a bid and would be likely to fall if Global walked away, thus meaning the new proposal potentially includes a premium of around a third,
Previous GCap Media:
Previous Global Radio:
UK Guardian report:
2008-03-05: Salem Communications, which has long seemed almost immune to many of the vicissitudes of US radio has announced a year-on-year fall of 0.2% in its final quarter revenues to USD 59.1 million with operating income down 28.8% to USD 7.1 million and net income plummeting from USD 3.3 million to USD 200,000 (From 14 cents to one cent per diluted share). The figures included a USD 100,000 loss on disposal of assets, a USD 1.9 million impairment charge (USD 1.00 million net of tax) and non-cash compensation charges totalling USD 1.8 million.
For the full year 2007, however, its revenues increased by 2.7% to USD 231.7 million although operating income was down 21.1% to USD 39.8 million and net income fell to less than half the 2006 figure - from USD 19.0 million to USD 8.2 million ( From 78 cents to 34 cents per diluted share). The figures included a USD 23.7 million in gains from asset disposals; a USD 1.9 million impairment charge; a USD 3.6 million loss from early redemption of USD 94.0 million of 9.0% senior subordinated notes due 2011; and USD 8.6 million of non-cash compensation charges.
Salem said it was no longer to provide specific quarterly guidance on revenues, station operating income and earnings per share but would provide quarterly ranges for total revenue - expected to be down in the low-single digit range in the first quarter - and total operating expenses - predicted to increase in the low-to-mid-single digit range, primarily because of increased investment in its non-broadcast business.
Within the figures, net broadcasting revenue for the quarter was down 1.8% to USD 52.2 million; station operating income was down 7.7% to USD 18 million - same station revenues was down 2.1% to USD 50.8 million and same station operating income was down 7.2% to USD 18.2 million whilst non broadcasting revenue was up 14.1% to USD 6.9 million with non-broadcast operating income up 23.5% to USD 500,000.
For the full year, net broadcasting revenue was up 0.1% to USD 206.6 million but station operating income was down 2.8% to USD 74.8 million whilst same station net broadcasting revenues was up 0.5% to USD 202.3 million but same station operation income was down 3% to USD 75.2 million.
Non-broadcast revenue for the year was up 29.7% to USD 25.1 million and non-broadcast operating income was up 70.2% to USD 2 million.
Salem also announced the results of its 2008 National Block Programming Renewals - an average increase of 4% with 90% of the block programming contracts successfully renewed.
CEO Edward G. Atsinger III, noted of the results that Salem's Christian Teaching and Talk format is featured on nearly half its stations and added, "The ongoing success of this format is directly related to the effort we and our 125 national block program customers put into making our relationship a true partnership. The programmers provide compelling content. We provide the broadcast platform. In addition, many of the personalities featured on these programs make themselves available to speak at local radio events. We sponsored over 50 of these events in 2007, connecting stations, programmers and the local church community at a personal level. Our commitment to this type of partnership results in consistent renewals and a reliable stream of revenue and cash flow."
2008-03-05: UK Commercial Radio revenues were up 7.1% year-on-year in the final quarter of 2007 according to the UK RadioCentre, which says total revenues for the period reached just below GBP 151 million ( USD 300 million).
Within the figures national revenues were up 11.4% to just above GBP 83.3 million (USD 165.5 million); local revenues were up 3.2% to GBP 40.2 million (USD 79.8 million) and revenue from sponsorship and promotions was up 1.1% to GBP 27.4 million (USD 54.5 million).
RadioCentre chief executive Andrew Harrison noted that this was the third consecutive growth quarter for UK commercial radio and the first full year of growth since 2004. Terming it "really good news for our industry" he said, "Despite reports that the traditional media sector is facing challenging times, these figures confirm that our sector is bouncing back as advertisers recognise radio's valuable role in a multi-media schedule."
Simon Redican, managing director of the UK Radio Advertising Bureau, which is part of the RadioCentre, added "These figures are another set of impressive results for our sector. Commercial Radio reaches over 30 million listeners a week, advertisers can't ignore that reach and it's a great place for them to get their messages out to the great British public. Today's figures reinforce that."
He added, "Over the last year, the RAB has stepped up activity and we are starting to see the results. We restructured the team as part of a drive to ensure greater customer focus - appointing strategy consultants to each of the major agency groups, giving agencies a single point of contact and focusing on providing bespoke support to clients. Underpinning this is RadioGauge, a research initiative which gives radio supporters a measure of both communication and creative effectiveness."
2008-03-05: US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Kevin J. Martin has remained non-committal about the Sirius-XM merger in a meeting with reporters at the agency's HQ on Tuesday.
He re-iterated comments about the two companies, which have argued that they are competing in a wider audio market not just in a satellite radio one, facing a "high-hurdle" to gain regulatory approval that he notes was prohibited when the licences were originally granted.
Martin was also non-committal about a timeline for a decision although he did not that most of the time the Department of Justice, which has to rule on the merger in terms of anti-trust legislation, usually "goes first."
The two companies have just agreed to extend until May 1 the period until which their merger agreement will stand (See RNW Mar 1) but Martin did not give clues as to whether the agency would announce its decision by then nor about the proposal from minority-backed group Georgetown Partners, which wants the FCC to insist as a condition of any merger that around a quarter of the spectrum a merged satellite broadcaster would control be leased out, thus allowing it to launch around 70 advertisement-supported satellite channels.
2008-03-04: Last week was yet another where the downsides predominated over the upsides in terms of print cover of radio, particularly in the US where Citadel is reaction to its massive losses by firing staff: We have opted to pass by on comment on Citadel - for that we suggest blogs from Jay Marvin and Brian Maloney's "Radio Equalizer" blog - no friend they of Citadel's CEO Farid Suleman, either of them - and instead look at other comment, starting off in Australia and Brisbane where Anooska Tucker-Evans in The Courier-Mail attacked recent stunts in Australian radio under the heading, "Crudity rules airwaves war."
"CHEAP stunts," she begins, "including an on-air lesbian kiss, revelations of marital affairs and the theft of a mum's birthing video have raised the question: How low will radio stations go to win ratings?"
After commenting on the depth to which various commercial stations are accused of sinking, she quoted Queensland University of Technology media lecturer Prof Alan Knight as saying of the DJs and programmes involved, "No brains, not much talent and a great deal of desperation is unfortunately driving them."
"Australian radio bosses" writes Tucker-Evans, "are increasingly giving the green light to stunts that test the limits of decency Examples include getting someone to drink breast milk on air, encouraging a caller to admit infidelity while her partner was listening, throwing objects at a radio presenter's genitalia and goading a Hollywood star into swearing."
She also quoted criticism from a former B105 breakfast host Jamie Dunn, "who was synonymous with on-air humour on Brisbane radio in the 1980s and '90s. "
He now works on Sunshine Coast radio and said he was embarrassed for the industry that some stations thought they had to be rude and crude to get ratings, commenting, "Over the years people just go harder, and harder, and harder to get attention, and I don't think that's the key to comedy."
B105's current content director Mitch Braund disagreed, saying Dunn's view was out of touch and he believed B105's breakfast show gave audiences what they wanted, commenting, "I think that's just people getting old and you have your own point of view . . . I don't think we've gone too far. There's no plan to be outrageous or wacky. It's a show that reflects real life, talks about real life issues, and we do it in our own way."
Countering that Braund admitted that he had reprimanded his breakfast team of Labrat, Camilla and Stav over two incidents in the past six months, one when Labrat impersonated the boss of Sony BMG Australia to try to get an impromptu interview with singer Justin Timberlake, and the second was when Labrat and Stav stole Camilla's birthing video from her home and put it on the internet.
The crux of the issue seemed to be how far stations could go and get away with things with Nova 106.9 general manager Sean Ryan admitting that some people might be offended but adding that the station knew when to draw the line.
"We'll walk to the edge of the cliff but we won't jump off it," he said. "We've got listeners that are 10 years old and we've got listeners that are 65 years old, so I think there has to be some decency to what you do."
Australian radio could also be in for problems in its move to digital according a report from Asher Moses in the Sydney Morning Herald.
Under the heading "Why digital radio is doomed", he quoted Jock Given, a professor of media and communications at Swinburne University, who specializes in digital broadcasting, as saying the radio industry will have difficulty convincing people to upgrade because unlike digital TV, where the image displays the benefits, digital radio didn't add much to the digital audio offerings already freely available on the internet.
"The idea that everyone is going to do it [upgrade] just because it's digital, I think that's naive, because the present is digital," said Given, who recently wrote the book Turning Off The Television: Broadcasting's Uncertain Future.
He continued, in words that will be no comfort to HD radio's proponents in the US: "The sorts of people who are most likely to be interested in new kinds of [digital radio] products seem to me to be quite likely the people who have already taken up new kinds of [online] digital audio products and may find what digital radio is able to offer them a bit underwhelming by comparison with what they've already got."
Givens made the obvious points about the need for broadcasters to invest in infrastructure for digital radio and listeners to buy receivers whilst people with suitable internet access and a computer already had all they needed to listen online and commented in relation to GCap's decision to row back on its commitment to digital audio broadcasts, "Here is this well-placed commercial radio operator in Britain [GCap] saying we're getting out of this game having stuck with it for 13 years, meanwhile here in Australia we're just getting started with it. We're a market that's a third of the size of Britain spread across a much larger land mass and so the job of financing interesting new services with this technology is tougher."
After the woes of radio elsewhere on to those of the medium in the US and comments in Jerry del Colliano's blog (incidentally he's also amongst those who think Citadel CEO Farid Suleman should be fired not paid massively and says Suleman has a "total lack of understanding on how to create and market content.") concerning the "performance tax" - he used the National Association of Broadcasters' term for a performance royalty, thus abusing the language - and calls from the US recording industry to remove terrestrial radio's exemption.
He was critical of the record companies, saying that they were "clueless" about "the new paradigm that free is the new overpriced CD" and then continued, "What's scary is that no matter how many times you tell them that both the radio industry and record business have lost control of their delivery systems, they stumble back into dreaming up ways to get their piece of traditional music-related businesses and new ones that are struggling to get off the ground.
He then goes on to comment that "These misguided dinosaurs from prehistoric times are hoping for passage of the radio performance tax repeal this year" and later adds that radio is the one friend they have left.
Of charges being levied for streaming music and downloads he comments, "How idiotic is it to overtax Internet streaming when the Internet is the only guaranteed growth engine that could help the dying record business" and throws back at them their hypocritical concern over the problems of aged artists getting nothing when their recordings are aired - "They didn't like it when I pointed out how many singers the record industry has screwed on its own over the years."
He concludes that the industry is now "competing with free" and that its lawyer's don't care about the future - just what percentage they can get from those who currently transmit music - and says that they're "fighting over two dead bodies Without the next generation the radio industry is dead. Without a means to control their delivery system the record industry is dead. The only animal that fights over dead bodies is -- a vulture."
In an earlier blog - still on his site - Del Colliano had also suggested an inversion of the argument with radio getting a percentage of recording sales in any market where a record had been paid with a percentage also going for online purchases. We don't think he's entirely serious but there is a pleasing return of service to the recording companies in his comments.
Finally an excerpt from Jay Marvin's blog, which contains reminiscences about the days of yore
On then to listening suggestions and regrettably other pressures have limited our time to listen to streams and downloads - thus pointing up the benefits of old fashioned portable and automobile radio receivers (Yes I am aware that technology is being developed to make it far easier to play MP3s on automobile radios but you still have to plan a little and I prefer the serendipity of tuning in and often, in the UK anyway, finding programming that gives me a different perspective on things or adds to knowledge: Which means I'm a BBC listener, rarely a commercial station one, and a poor prospect for any programming interrupted frequently with inane adverts about things I don't need or want).
Suggestions are thus mainly BBC and first the most recent edition of "Profile" from BBC Radio 4 - the subject on Saturday was Michelle Obama.
Then from BBC Radio 3 we suggest this week's Essay - 23:00 GMT Monday through Thursday -This week it is Greek and Latin Voices exploring the work of Euripedes and from Friday The Verb (21:45 GMT) in which Ian McMillan investigates the art of juggling aphorisms plus Jazz on 3 (23:30 GMT), which features a session from Gannets, the improvising quintet led by Fyfe Dangerfield, founder and frontman of the indie rock band Guillemots.
And from BBC Radio 2, the continuing Saturday (20:00 GMT) "Redneck Music" series - the fourth and final programme is next Saturday - plus from Thursday (23:00GMT) the third of the four-part "On Songwriting" series, this week with Nile Rodgers.
Also from BBC Radio 4 throughout the week we suggest the "Book of the Week" ( 09:45 GMT) - "My Father's Country" in which Wibke Bruhns chronicles the life of her father, who was executed in 1944 for failing to disclose a plot to assassinate Hitler; "The Afternoon Play " - 14:15 GMT and this week a series of contemporary re-workings of tales by Ovid and 15:30-16:00 GMT slot with "The Afternoon Reading" - a series of stories by writers with a Liverpool connection followed by a history of the first 100 years of the US Federal Bureau of Investigation in "The FBI at 100."
Then back to BBC Radio 4 and more drama with "The Friday Play" from last week - one we caught briefly whilst driving and then picked up online through the Listen Again stream.
"Bad Dad" by Colin Hough is not a classic but the idea of a prolific sperm donator finding he has sired 164 children - and that his full details have been sent to them all through an administrative error - just to compound woes he's having conceiving with his wife - was of itself intriguing and the play did provide some enjoyable moments.
Then from Tuesday three suggestions from BBC Radio 4 - the first of four looks at British institutions in " What's The Point Of...The Archbishop of Canterbury (09:00 GMT with a 21:30 GMT repeat); "In Search of Tristan" (11:30 GMT) in which Twm Morys explores the legend of Tristan and Isolde; and the "Music Feature" (13:30 GMT) - "Ken Clarke's Jazz Greats" in which the UK's former chancellor Ken Clarke profiles great jazz musicians of the 20th century.
Next Thursday and "The Poet Unwound" (11:30GMT) in which Steve Punt explores the history of the spleen, both as a medical organ and as a poetic metaphor, seeking out the modern spleen and its poetic descendants; Friday and "The Now Show" (18:30 GMT or an MP3 after airing); and Saturday's "Archive Hour" (20:00GTM) which features Alan Parker's personal impression of David Lean on the centenary of the film director's birth.
Then moving to Radio Netherlands, we suggest a dip into "Radio Books" for its selection of stories (available as downloads so they can be listened to on the move); and finally a pain - in the form of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation's "All in the Mind" which on Saturday aired the first of the a two-part "The Power and the Pain" in which BBC Baghdad correspondent Andrew North, who was paralyzed with acute pain as his immune system attacked his nervous system after reporting on the US invasion of Iraq, explores the experience of pain.
Brisbane Courier-Mail - Tucker-Evans:
InsidemusicMedia - Del Colliano:
Jay Marvin Blog:
Brian Mulroney - TheRadioEqualizer:
Sydney Morning Herald - Moses:
2008-03-04: Westwood One has announced that it has closed its agreement with CBS Radio that includes a long-term distribution agreement running to March 3017.
Under the new agreement Westwood One will manage its business directly rather than through CBS Radio.
Westwood One has also announced that it has closed the sale and issuance of 7,142,857 shares of Westwood One common stock to Gores Radio Holdings, LLC (, an entity managed by The Gores Group, LLC, at a price of USD 1.75 per share for an aggregate purchase amount of USD 12.5 million.
The investment is the first part of a total of up to USD 100 million to be invested in Westwood One by the Gores Group LLC (See RNW Feb 25)
Previous CBS Radio:
Previous Westwood One:
2008-03-04: Shares in GCAP Media slipped on Monday, ending the day just under 2% down at GBP 187.87 as reports circulated that Global Radio was not going to increase its 302 pence a share bid that was rejected last week (See RNW Mar 1).
The Global Bid increased its previous offer from 190 pence and on the basis of Monday's closing represented a premium of some GBP 23.5 million ( USD 46.7 million) for GCap whose capitalization was GBP 309.50 million ( USD 614.4 million) compared to the GBP 333 million ( USD 661.0 million) on offer in the revised Global bid.
RNW comment: Many years ago we remember the late Kerry Packer selling the Channel 9 Network to Alan Bond and making a comment along the lines that he would buy it back at half-price, which he duly did. We suspect GCap will be in much the same position since its plans to get out of its hole appear to be mainly a matter of cost-cutting and we doubt that can turn around the company. Global in our view can afford to take the gamble since there are few buyers rushing forward and Clear Channel, which was mooted a likely buyer at one stage, is now selling up rather than expanding its overseas radio operations.
Previous GCap Media:
Previous Global Radio:
2008-03-04: Suggestions that whilst music radio may be in trouble, US talk radio was comparatively safe, have been dented by preliminary figures from The Media Audit, which in its National Radio Format Report for 2007 says that although talk still reaches more adults than any other radio format its reach is declining.
The report shows that News/Talk now reaches some 11.5% of the adult US population compared to 14% in 2005, a fall of almost a fifth over the period.
Public Radio in contrast has fated well, retaining a weekly reach of 9.8% of the adult US population: It is also the second choice amongst most news/talk listeners.
On the positive side for the format the audience is comparatively wealthy with 27.8% of news/talk listeners and 28.7% of public radio listeners coming from a household with an income of USD 100,000 a year or more. The survey also showed 17.4% of news/talk listeners and 16.2% of Public Radio listeners to have more than USD 250,000 in liquid assets.
The average household income for a Public Radio listener was USD 79,785 compared to USD 78.287 for a News/Talk listeners and an overall US average of USD 65.686.
In terms of listening time, News/Talk has the heaviest listeners - an average of 167 minutes a day compared to 147 minutes a day for Public Radio listeners.
They are also generally home owners (by which we assume the survey means they owe money to lenders?) with 85% of them owning their own homes compared to 81% for public radio listeners according to the survey.
In political terms news/talk listeners skew Republican slightly - 33.9% compared to 32.8% who are Independent, and 26.3% who are Democrat whilst Public Radio listeners skew markedly the other way - 43% are Democrat, 34.5% are Independents, and 14.5% are Republicans.
Previous Media Audit:
2008-03-03: A number of hosts as well as other staff were fired by Citadel at the end of the week, action taken as it revealed losses of approaching USD 1 billion in the final quarter (See below).
Reports say they included New York hosts John Gambling, a WABC-AM veteran who lost his morning slot, which will be taken over by Curtis Sliwa; newsman George Weber; and WPLJ-FM afternoon host Rocky Allen; Washington D.C., veteran Chris Core, who was dumped from his WMAL-AM morning show after more than three decades, and all on-air staff at WJZW-FM, whose format was switched from smooth jazz to oldies from the 60's and 70's; and various staff in Chicago including long-time Chicago radio news journalist Jennifer Keiper , long-time City Hall reporter Bill Cameron, and Saturday morning host, Jake Hartford.
In the New York Daily News David Hinckley said further changes seemed imminent and suggested WLPJ could be "on the firing line" as Citadel CEO Farid Suleman had commented on the inroads - revenues down 70% -made into the station's advertising by CBS Radio rival WWFS-FM, which began playing some of the same music as WPLJ last year.
In the Washington Post, Paul Farhi noted that Chris Core had just finished his morning programme when he was told the shift would be his last after being at the station since 1974. In all said Farhi around a dozen employees were laid of at Citadel's three stations in Washington: He quoted Core as saying, "I'm very surprised, but it isn't about me and it isn't personal. It's not based on ratings. It's not based on something I said or didn't say. This is something that came from outside Washington, and it's affecting all of [Citadel's] stations."
He added of his show, "I tried to run an open-minded, fair talk show. I never hung up on people and I tried not to talk over them. I enjoyed the banter and intellectual stimulation. I tried to engage with people I disagreed with. I guess that makes me a rarity in talk radio."
As for plans he commented, "I guess my dream job would be to work for the Washington Nationals. If the [team's owners] call, I'd say I was available."
In Chicago Jim Kirk reported in the Chicago Tribune that staffers on WLS-AM were uncertain following the dismissals about the station's commitment to local news and quoted one unnamed staffer as saying, "It doesn't make sense'' and adding that many stations are turning to more local programming to keep audiences in an era when digital music players and satellite radio are stealing listeners.
RNW comment: One can see why broadcast owners are likely to fight tooth and nail against any Federal Communications Commission (FCC) requirements for local cover and this certainly won't happen during the current administration. The question therefore is how much listeners really care: If they do they should put pressure on advertisers to boycott all Citadel stations until local hosts and cover are re-instated and also try and press for local cover on other stations.
The problem for Citadel is of course that however it plays things it is unlikely to be able to cut deeply enough to justify the price paid by it for the ABC stations and indeed the price paid for Citadel by Forstman-Little in its buyout. The fact that its owners made a bad business assessment when buying should not, however, be regarded as justification for gutting a station and if they do so, the logical response for listeners who care in the longer term about localism and local news cover is to desert in droves, and move to rivals who do offer such a service.
Chicago Tribune report:
New York Daily News report:
Washington Post report:
2008-03-03: Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) radio news anchor Frank McCormick has retired after a broadcast career lasting more than four decades, around half of which have been as the voice of CBC Montreal radio news.
McCormick began his career as the host of a rock and country music show at a station in Kenora, Ontario: He moved to Montreal as the first morning host for CKGM-FM - now CHOM - in the 60s and later moved to news, covering stories including Expo '67 and John Lennon and Yoko Ono's 1969 bed-in at the Queen Elizabeth Hotel.
2008-03-02: Last week was fairly quiet for all the regulators, albeit with a steady flow of radio related postings. There were no major issues although in the US the satellite radio companies are still awaiting decisions on their merger.
In Australia, the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has ruled that Townsville Community Broadcasting Company Limited, licensee of 4TTT, Townsville, Queensland, breached licence conditions on advertising and sponsorship announcements in March last year.
Following a complaint the ACMA found that the station had broadcast advertisements on 6, 7 and 8 March 2007 and had broadcast sponsorship announcements in excess of the five minute per hour limit on 7 and 8 March. The licensee, it says has already taken measures to prevent recurrence and at the moment it is proposing to take no further action.
The agency has also allowed changes to the licences of commercial radio services 4GY and 4NNN, Gympie, Queensland, to improve coverage and reception of their translator services in the Noosa/Tewantin area and also made capacity available for an FM translator service for national services 4PNN.
4NNN is to be allowed to increase the antenna height and power - to 3kW - of its main transmitter and change the antenna radiation pattern and 4GY will be allowed to provide a 200 watts FM translator at Noosa/Tewantin where it was unable to find a suitable site for the planned AM translator service.
In Canada, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) again posted only a few radio related decisions and notices. They included the following:
*Approval of application by Aboriginal Voices Radio Inc. (AVR) to amend the licences for its stations in Edmonton, Montréal and Kitchener-Waterloo, in order to replace their current conditions of licence with those that the Commission imposed on AVR's radio programming undertakings in Toronto, Vancouver, Calgary and Ottawa.
The commission also denied a request to amend conditions related to spoken word programming -currently requiring 20 hours per broadcast week of "structured enriched spoken word programming" - this is defined as "involving some research pertaining to the documentation of current and past events, instruction and information, human interest information, leisure interests, public affairs, cultural programming, storytelling, academic instruction, interviews and the like" - with a requirement of the same duration of spoken word programming.
Denial of application by Jim Pattison Broadcast Group Limited Partnership to acquire from Rogers Broadcasting Limited the assets of CKIZ-FM, Vernon, and its transmitter CKIZ-FM-1, Enderby, British Columbia and to acquire from Great Valleys Radio Ltd. the assets of CIGV-FM, Penticton, and its transmitters CIGV-FM-1, Keremeos, and CIGV-FM-2, Princeton.
In denying the applications, which had been opposed by Vista Radio Limited, the CRTC noted that it had approved the conversion of Pattison's CKOV-AM, Kelowna, to FM and that Canadian policy allows ownership of only three stations in a given language in markets where less than eight commercial stations are operating in that language with only two of those on the same frequency band. Pattison already owns two FMs in the Kelowna radio market and the CRTC noted that if it were allowed the acquisitions, which would require exceptions to the Common Ownership Policy because of contour overlaps, two operators - Pattison and Astral Media - would control all the nine commercial stations serving Vernon, Kelowna and Penticton and that its policy is to ensure that all audiences have access to a diversity of programming, with a plurality of ownership of private stations being necessary for this.
*Approval of frequency change, decrease in antenna height and of power from 5,700 watts to 3,700 watts for CTV's CKPT-FM, Peterborough, which was approved as a conversion from AM of CKPT. The change is being made to resolve third adjacent interference with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation's station CBCP-FM, Peterborough.
In other activities the CRTC released a report that showed that the amount of music by emerging artists played on French-language stations is approximately twice the amount played by English-language stations (See RNW Feb 28) and has also agreed with Statistics Canada an understanding under which rather than both organizations gathering information on telecommunications in the country there will now be a single point of contact for the companies involved, the CRTC's web-based Data Collection System. Information thus gathered will be shared with Statistics Canada.
In Ireland the Broadcasting Commission of Ireland (BCI) posed no radio licensing decisions but it did launch its "Good Practice Handbook for Networks" at its second Network Information Day held in Dublin.
The handbook is part of an initiative to assist the development and growth of broadcasting networks and the event was attended by representatives of six sector and industry networks, which receive funding through the BCI Training and Development fund.
These are CRAOL - The Community Radio Forum; AIRPI - Association of Independent Radio Producers Ireland; SPI -Screen Producers Ireland; Learning Waves; CTA - Community Television Association; and The Irish Hospital Radio Network.
In the UK Ofcom has posted a number of community licence decisions as well as its statistics for prosecutions in the 2006-07 year (See RNW Feb 25); its latest Broadcast Bulletin in which it upheld one fairness and privacy complaint each against radio (See RNW Feb 26); and its February monthly update which included the lifting of the Yellow Card issued to CanWest's Solent station Original 106 last October for failing to deliver the music policy set out in its format (See RNW Mar 1); its review of Bauer Radio's acquisition of Emap Radio; and details of three DAB format changes:
*The addition for one month to the Cardiff and Newport multiplex of a student interest service "Xpress Radio".
*The removal of Welsh language service Radio Acen from the Swansea multiplex.
*The replacement of Smooth London with Smooth NE on the Yorkshire multiplex.
In licensing actions Ofcom posted its reasons for the a\ward of the Lincolnshire digital multiplex and also announced the award of four new community licences to:
*Rossendale Radio, Rossendale Valley, Lancashire - for a community-focused service with a strong emphasis on local information, empowerment and social action campaigning.
*Canalside Radio, Bollington, Cheshire - for a service to Bollington, and the surrounding area.
*Moorlands Radio, Biddulph, Staffordshire - for a service to Leek and Biddulph and smaller villages across the Staffordshire Moorlands. It says its output will include programmes produced and presented by local people and local music.
* KCC Live, Knowsley, Liverpool - a service for young people - aged 10-24 - in Knowles.
Ofcom noted that it had considered five other applications but opted not to award licences in their case. There were from:
*Kat FM, Crewe and Nantwich.
*Tatton FM, Tatton, Cheshire.
*Halt FM, Altrincham, Cheshire.
*CCM, Congleton, Cheshire.
*Southport Community Radio.
In the case of the Lincolnshire digital multiplex, which was awarded to the sole applicant - MuxCo Lincolnshire Ltd. (See RNW Feb 22), Ofcom noted that MuxCo's executives have considerable experience in the management of local DAB multiplexes and the operation of digital radio services and said MuxCo's business plan demonstrated the group's ability to operate the multiplex over the term of the licence.
The Licensing Committee also said that the "package of services would appeal to a broad range of listeners in the area through their differing formats and target demographics" and considered that the proposed multiplex line-up would broaden local digital choice by offering local services specific to the Lincolnshire area on DAB for the first time.
In the US, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) was again paying more attention to TV "indecency" than to radio where it still has to issue a ruling about the Sirius takeover of XM.
It also posted details of a number of enforcement actions and contested licence renewals including the following:
*Issued a Notice of Apparent Liability for Forfeiture (NAL) of USD 15,000 to DBK Concepts, Inc. of Miami,, Florida, for marketing noncompliant radiofrequency devices.
*Issued penalty of USD 7,000 to David Pace of Nacogdoches, Texas, who did business as Pacetronics / Pace Marketing and 4:13 Electronics / Pacetronics for offering for sale a non-certified Citizens Band ("CB") transceiver. Pace had contested an NAL for this amount, saying that he was offering the device in question for sale as an amateur transceiver; that there are no court cases which prohibit him from marketing this device; and that he is unable to pay the proposed forfeiture. He failed to provide required documentation to sustain the last argument and the FCC rejected his other contentions and confirmed the full penalty.
*Issued NAL for USD 500 to the School District of Haverford Township, licensee of Class D non-commercial educational Station WHHS-FM, Havertown, Pennsylvania, for failing to file renewal application on time and unauthorized operation after the licence expired. The licence was renewed.
*Adopted consent decree with Long Pond Baptist Church, licensee of non-commercial Educational Station WTBH-FM, Chiefland, Florida, to which it had issued USD 11,200 NAL in relation to the broadcasting of underwriting acknowledgements.
Under the agreement Long Pond will pay a USD 250 penalty and has committed itself to training any new employee on acceptable underwriting content within 30 days of them joining and also to implement and maintain a plan to educate prospective clients about appropriate underwriting content.
*Dismissed petition by Texas amateur radio operator Donald Winton of Corpus Christi to whom it had initially sent an NAL for USD 7,000 for failure to make his citizens band ("CB") radio station available for inspection. Winton had again appealed, submitting his petition after the deadline expired.
Although the penalty was reduced to USD 225 on the grounds of inability to pay the petition itself was dismissed as untimely although the agency noted that it would also have been dismissed had he failed it on time - Winton did not contest refusing an inspection but contended that his station was not re-broadcasting the output of a local AM station even though after he went into his house after being approached by an agent the transmissions, which had been causing interference, had ceased and the agency pointed out that it was the refusal to allow an inspection that led to the penalty not the broadcasts; that he was not a Commission licensee - the commission noted that the permission to operate without an individual licence is granted on the basis of operation within its rules; and that the agent did not have a search warrant to inspect his home.
Previous Licence News:
ACMA web site:
BCI web site:
CRTC web site:
FCC web site:
Ofcom web site:
2008-03-01: In more US radio results Citadel more than doubled its revenues in the final quarter of 2007, largely thanks to the acquisition of ABC Radio, but had an operating loss of more than a billion dollars whilst at Cumulus revenues were down in the quarter and its losses also widened.
At Citadel, net revenue for the quarter went up from USD 114 million to USD 246 million for the final quarter and up from USD 433 million to USD 720 million for the year but operating income went from a positive USD 10.8 million in the final quarter of 2006 to a loss of USD 1.044 billion in the final quarter of 2007 and from a loss of USD 35.2 million in 2006 to a loss of USD 1.416 billion for 2007. Net loss for the quarter was USD 848 million compared to a net loss of USSD 1.1 million a year earlier (From a cent to USD 3.24 per basic and diluted share) whilst for the year it went from a loss of USD 48.0 million to a loss of USD 1.29 billion (from 43 cents to USD 6.61 per share).
The figures include an increase in impairment charges for the final quarter of approximately USD 1.08 billion, a charge that Citadel says is down to a continued deterioration in the radio marketplace and to a decline in the Company's stock price during the final quarter: Pro-forma figures showed revenues for the quarter down 5.1% from USD 258.5 million to USD 245.3 million and for the year down 3.5% from USD 978.4 to USD 944.5 million.
Commenting on the results Chairman and CEO Farid Suleman spoke of a Difficult" period for the broadcasting industry and said the "performance of the larger market radio stations acquired in the ABC Merger was particularly disappointing."
"Whereas the Company continues to believe that the long-term prospects from these stations will be positive," he continued, "the Company in the interim is completing a major restructuring of these stations to both improve short-term profitability as well as position them for future growth. The Company is however pleased with the potential growth and profitability of the ABC Network. The Company's plan for the coming year is to focus on immediately improving the profitability of the ABC Radio stations as well as use the Company's considerable free cash flow to pay down debt."
At Cumulus, net revenues for the quarter were down 3.8% to USD 84.4 million and for the year were down 1.8% to USD 328.3 million. Station operating expenses were also down - but by less - 1.6% down for the year and 0.6% for the final quarter - with the result that station operating income was down 8.9% to USD 31.2 million for the quarter and down 2.1% for the year to USD 117.7 million. The per share losses were up from USD 1.21 to USD 3.56 for the quarter and from 88 cents to USD 5.18 for the year. The figures include impairment charges for the quarter of USD 149.3 million and for the year of USD 230.1 million, up from USD 63.4 million in 2006 - for both the quarter and year.
On a pro-forma basis revenues were down 3.8% for the final quarter to USD 84.4 million and down 0.8% for the year to USD 328.3 million. Cumulus put much of the final quarter revenue decline down to a USD 2.8 million fall in political advertising revenue year on year.
Regarding the outlook Cumulus said first quarter revenues are currently pacing up 3% year-on-year and it expects operating expenses to be down slightly.
2008-03-01: GCap Media has rejected an increased bid from Global Radio of 202 pence per share, subject to conditions including due diligence and finalization of financing facilities - it had previously rejected an offer of 190 pence - but its share price ended Friday down 0.26% at 190.75 pence despite rumours that Global could come back with an increased offer.
The latest offer valued GCap at GBP 333 million (USD 662 million), up from GBP 313 million (Currently USD 622 million) for the original offer, which was rejected by the GCap board in December without being put to shareholders.
This time GCap said in a statement that its board had "consulted with its advisers and major shareholders" and "believes that this revised proposal significantly undervalues the Company because it does not reflect the value that would be created by implementing the strategy of the new Chief Executive, Fru Hazlitt, outlined in the announcement of 11 February (See RNW Feb 11)."
It then comments on the plan - aimed it said to "target operating margin ranges of 12-14% in the year ending March 2009 and 17-19% in the year ending March 2010", targets that are "supported by specific initiatives delivering full year profit improvements of GBP 12.3 million (USD 24.4 million), which includes total annualised cost savings, excluding the effect of closures and disposals, of GBP 8.8 million (USD 17.5 million) and a number of other initiatives to drive revenue growth."
The statement then continues on to say that the offer "does not reflect that these are unique assets for any acquirer and fails to take account of the synergies that are likely to be available from consolidation. The Board also believes that the level of conditionality attached to the proposal is unacceptable since it does not offer a sufficient degree of certainty of successful completion."
Global is now in a war of nerves with GCap - there are no other obvious bidders but it only has until Wednesday next week to make table its offers before a Takeover Panel deadline comes into effect.
The latest offer is not seen as high enough to tempt GCap's large shareholders - DMGT, Schroeders, Fidelity and Standard Life between them have more than half of its shares - but the share closing price indicates that the shares are expected to fall again if Global walks away. Suggestions are that an increase of around 215-220 pence might be sufficient to win the day and still offer Global Radio economies of scale.
Previous GCap Media:
Previous Global Radio:
2008-03-01: Sirius and XM Satellite Radio have announced that they have agreed not to exercise their rights to terminate their Merger Agreement, made more than a year ago, until May 1, 2008.
The two companies are still awaiting regulatory approval of the merger - effectively a takeover by Sirius of XM - from the Department of Justice (DOJ) and Federal Communications Commission (FCC).
2008-03-01: UK media regulator Ofcom, which in October 2007 issued a "Yellow Card" to CanWest's Solent station Original 106 for failure to deliver the music policy set out in its format - it had played playing up to almost twice the amount of top 20 hits allowed by its Adult Album Alternative format (See RNW Oct 9, 2007) has said the station is now operating within its format and ahs lifted the card.
It had conducted a further sampling following its issuing of the Yellow Card and said that the station was now within its permitted percentage of Top 20 hit singles. There was also a considerable reduction in the number of tracks that could not comfortably be described as "Adult Alternative", another problem during the original sampling.
2008-03-01: Arbitron has revealed in a 10K filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) that the Media Rating Council (MRC) has denied accreditation in New York and Philadelphia for its Portable People Meter (PPM) ratings service, which was accredited earlier in Houston in January last year.
Both denials, says Arbitron, were issued in January but it adds that it remains "committed to obtaining and maintaining MRC accreditation in each United States local market where we commercialize our PPM service" and says that it has "begun the process of re-auditing the Philadelphia and New York PPM methodologies and execution and expect to continue to work with the MRC to obtain accreditation of the Philadelphia and New York local market PPM ratings services."
Previous Media Rating Council:
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