April 2009 Archive
-March 2009 - May 2009 -
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 October comment -White spaces, white noise! argues in favour of using the unused parts of broadcast spectrum for wireless Internet as being in the wider public interest albeit proceeding with caution and regulating to as to not to cause interference to broadcast signals.
2009-04-30: UTV, which in December last year closed down its Edinburgh talk station Talk107 (See RNW Dec 17, 2008 and Jan 7) has now closed down Valleys Radio in South Wales.
The station, which operated on AM and FM, was closed at 10:00 local time today following a morning in which breakfast host Mark Powell had read out messages from listeners. There were goodbyes from station staff before the music ended with a broadcast of "Our Final Song".
UTV has in part blamed regulator Ofcom, which refused it permission to re-locate in the Neath/Port Talbot area where it proposed to house its sister stations, Swansea Sound and The Wave (See RNW Licence News Dec 7, 2008 ). As with the Edinburgh station it had failed to find a buyer.
The station employed four permanent staff and a number of freelances and its web site is now a page just carrying a UTV Radio graphic. Last month UTV Radio (GB) Director of Local Radio Calum Macaulay said the company had explored every avenue to keep the station open profitably.
Another UK station Zee Radio is scheduled to end its broadcasts today: It owner Zee Network Europe had hired digital TV management business Canis Media to find a buyer for its radio assets with so far no word of success.
Zee Radio aired on AM and digital audio broadcasting - DAB - radio plus the Sky Digital platform and online
The station, whose programming is based on Indian music and culture, was launched in the UK in January last year by Bollywood star Shah Ruhk Khan. If it does fold it will be the 14th UK station, including various digital stations that were folded by GCap-Global Radio and Bauer Media, to close since the beginning of last year.
2009-04-30: According to the New York Times, Clear Channel Communications is in a cash flow crisis that could see it fail to meet its loan agreements with a consequent steep increase in interest charges.
Saying the company is vying for the title of "the biggest loser" amongst media companies in the current recession, the Times report notes that Clear Channel earlier this month reported revenues down 23% on a year ago (See RNW Apr 20) - its cash flow almost halved - as well as its decision to cut another 590 jobs (See RNW Apr 28) - a figure that has not been officially confirmed and that rumour suggests could actually be approaching 1,000.
The report notes that Bishop Cheen, who follows corporate bonds for Wachovia, wrote recently that Clear Channel was on track to become the biggest defaulter among media companies and therefore the biggest workout ever in the industry and adds that Clear Channel's options may be limited since although many companies had been able to do debt-for-equity deals to stave off bankruptcy in Clear Channel's case its court fight with banks at the time of the original deal could affect the outcome.
In numbers terms the Times reports that Clear Channel has around USD 16 billion in bank debt and a further USD 6 billion of junior debt and that one of its loan covenants requires that debt should not exceed 9.5 times its cash flow. It says that Moody's debt analyst Neil Begley, who noted that the private equity funds buying Clear Channel had gone to court to force the banks to see the deal through, estimated Clear Channel's value at around USD 6.5 billion at the moment although this could increase to USD 12 billion if the market rebounds.
RNW comment: Having gone to court against the banks, Clear Channel's current owners don't have much goodwill if the banks can do better or as well by forcing the liquidation of Clear Channel, so some fine calculating will be in progress at the moment. A high-stakes poker game this one!
Previous Clear Channel:
New York Times report:
2009-04-30: The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has moved towards a replacement Democrat Jonathan S. Adelstein, who was nominated last month to become administrator of the Department of Agriculture's Rural Utilities Service (See RNW Mar 23) , with a White House announcement that President Obama is to nominate Mignon L. Clyburn as an FCC Commissioner.
Clyburn, whose potential nomination was rumoured last month (Also RNW Mar 23), is a South Carolina public service commissioner and daughter of House Majority Whip and South Carolina Democrat James Clyburn.
Before her election to the Public Service Commission she spent fourteen years as the Publisher and General Manager of The Coastal Times, a weekly newspaper in Charleston, South Carolina.
2009-04-30: Following an increase yesterday by UKRD in its bid for The Local Radio Company taking its offer up from an initial 2 pence per share (See RNW Mar 27) to 3.25 pence, Hallwood Financial, which is headed by The Local Radio Company's chairman Anthony Gumbiner responded today with a conditional bid of 3.5 pence per share - it had offered 2.5 pence in response to the UKRD offer (See RNW Apr 14).
The new bid is conditional on Hallwood receiving minimum acceptances from not less than 90 per cent in nominal value of the TLR Shares. Hallwood currently owns around 28% of The Local Radio Company whilst UKRD, which had bought around a million shares on Wednesday - has holdings or acceptances of its offer that would take its share of the company to approaching 40%: It is required under UK codes to bid for the whole of the Local Radio Company's stock it does not own.
Local Radio Company shares were up 40% today to end at 3.5 pence.
Previous Local Radio Company:
2009-04-30: Sirius- XM has announced that it has adopted a Stockholder Rights Plan, to run to August 1, 2011, although the company's board can terminate at any time before the rights are triggered, designed to preserve tax benefits of net operating losses. Under the plan one right will be distributed for each share of common stock of Sirius XM outstanding as of the close of business on May 11, 2009.
In a release, Sirius XM CEO Mel Karmazin commented, "Our net operating loss carry-forwards are an important asset of the Company; an asset that we believe we should make every effort to protect. This rights plan protects the interests of all stockholders and preserves these substantial tax benefits for the Company The rights plan is intended to enhance stockholder value; it has not been implemented for defensive or anti takeover purposes."
The plan is to be put to a stockholder vote by June 30. It is seen as a "poison pill" to protect against a takeover bid and contains a clause that says any person or group that buys at least 4.9 percent of outstanding common stock without board approval, would cause "a dilution in the voting and economic ownership of the investor" but exempts any further purchases by Liberty Media - which has invested USD 530 million in Sirisu-XM, from the plan, thus safeguarding Liberty's ability to use the benefits.
Previous Liberty Media:
2009-04-29: This week we start with talk radio, if only for a headline in the San Francisco Chronicle where Bob Egelko reported a Federal Court's dismissal of a lawsuit against a host under the headline, "What do you expect? It's talk radio, court says."
The case wasn't against one of the well-known conservative hosts, however, but against Tom Martino, host of a nationally syndicated consumer-advice show who responding to a 2004 call from a customer of the complainants told the caller "They're just lying to you."
The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco took the view that the comment was not slander or libel - false statements - because the comment would be interpreted as opinion by any reasonable talk show listener.
The three-judge panel said, upholding a judge's dismissal of the suit, commented that Martino's program "contains many of the elements that would reduce the audience's expectation of learning an objective fact: drama, hyperbolic language, an opinionated and arrogant host, and heated controversy."
The complainants' lawyer, Linda Marshall, said the report, questioned the depiction, commenting, "Millions of people do listen to talk radio. A lot of talk radio hosts do make an effort to be accurate. ... People believe them and rely upon them, particularly in consumer cases."
In terms of actual events, if the caller was correct she was promised a refund but this was not delivered: The store said they had referred the customer to the manufacturer who refunded the money a day after the broadcast and that this had cost it around USD 600,000 of lost business.
RNW comment: A case it would seem to us where there's fault on most sides except for the customer who did not get good service (UK law in these cases makes the store not the manufacturer responsible for supply of faulty goods but guarantees can be more of a mixed bag) but also one of potential unintended consequences it would seem to us. Obviously if a host is seen is a bigoted lair the logic of this ruling is that almost nothing the host says can be considered libellous or slanderous although presumably a host with a reputation for honesty and straight dealing could be found liable. Maybe a case to require a mandatory statement in some cases after each advert break saying that "Statements made on this programme are not necessarily truthful or in any way accurate or unbiased!
After that to a UK case where LBC host James O'Brien came under attack in a phone call from soccer player Frank Lampard over comments he'd made about newspaper reports of the circumstances his former girlfriend and their children were living in compared to his own: Compared to US talk hosts O'Brien seems a model of moderate behaviour and decorum but the comments the Lampard phone call garnered, even though a few were abusive, are an education about the differences between the US and UK - make your own mind up however as a simple online search will turn up many reports as well as links to the audio (there is a YouTube version here). Our paper link is to the Independent's transcript of the call.
Sticking in the UK for a moment, we dip into a Paul Smith comment in the UK Guardian on the future of Xfm, now in the hands of Global Radio and down to two stations from its original four.
The crucial section to us was, "Xfm legend Ian Camfield returned from a year at K-ROCK in New York. And the Xfm website milked the infinitely juiced udders of both The Ricky Gervais Show and Adam & Joe, despite neither appearing on the station for years. Xfm continued to play alternative music - if your definition of alternative means mainstream indie music, plus The Who once a day.
"And then they went and employed Richard Skinner for mid-mornings. Whaaaat?"
And later, of the changes, "Xfm suddenly sounds a lot more grown up, and there's no doubt Global are gunning for the audience of the now-dead Virgin Radio.
"Whenever a station changes its name and format - as with Virgin Radio's re-launch as Absolute Radio - it churns up the radio market and disrupts listening. Xfm wants the audience that didn't stay with Virgin when the licence was sold and Absolute Radio launched in its place.
"There's a decent prize at stake, too. Virgin Radio attracted over a million listeners a week - double what Xfm currently manages, and a figure that Absolute Radio may struggle to reach with its more eclectic offering."
Smith in connection with this notes the uproar in 1998 when Capital Radio (before it became part of GCap and Global took over the latter) bought Xfm and "it was re-launched as an overtly commercial competitor to Virgin. Ten years later, the man who led that unsuccessful coup - Richard Park - is Global's director of broadcasting. It's a fair bet that Park and his son Paul Jackson are paying very close attention to the fortunes of Absolute."
Then to Canada where late night host Richard Syrett has been dropped by Astral Media's CFRB-AM, Toronto, amidst suggestions from his fans that he had been victim of a conspiracy although the station blamed the economy and ratings for the show. Syrett has since done some stand-in work on Coast-to-Coast AM and we tend to believe Astral but couldn't pass by a posting from the station as reported by Patrick Maloney in Ontario paper the Sault Star.
"This is not the X-Files and I'm not the cigarette man lurking in the shadows," a station executive wrote. It's possible that the U. S. administration created this worldwide economic mess to bring about cuts at the station in a bid to silence Richard Syrett but that is not what happened."
The conspiracy theorists weren't having that - Patrick Whyte, owner of the Toronto shop Conspiracy Culture who helped organize a protest of Syrett's dismissal told the paper, "It's clearly a political move. It had nothing to do with ratings or money "whilst the host said the reason was that Canadians "have a very unhealthy trust of authority Our constitution is based on peace, order and good government. We've been inculcated with this notion that we should trust authority and be civil and obedient."
And comparing the US and Canada Syrett added of the American Revolution, which he saw as the birth of US thinking, "Hart Pomerantz, a lawyer and comedian, had a great line: In the U. S. they shot their parents (the British Empire). We still send money home."
RNW comment: Syrett certainly has a point albeit it may not be quite what he thinks since history indicates a far murkier conflict with Britain than mythology - which is what most Americans and Britons we have met subscribe to rather than taking the trouble to study the historical facts in detail: Ignorance is indeed a fertile ground indeed for conspiracy theories albeit we'd argue that there's a problem of inconsistent scepticism that also boosts such theories. If you want to listen to an 11-minute interview with Syrett on media he's on YouTube talking about Globalism and media consolidation and also about Operation Northwoods, the 1962 proposals drafted by the Joint Chiefs of Staff for CIA or other operatives to commit apparent acts of terrorism in U.S. cities to create public support for a war against Castro-led Cuba: Maybe the conspiracy theorists have too much justification after all! (The relevant document was first made public on November 18, 1997, and published online in a more complete form including cover memoranda) by the National Security Archive on April 30, 2001 (The archive is not a government one but, this being America, land of the misleading titles, a non-governmental, non-profit research and archival institution . Smeggy has the documents online in text and JPEG format for anyone tempted to believe the US military. After Cuba and Vietnam scepticism would seem the only sensible reaction).
Finally to the two issues we had expected to dominate this week's report - the US Supreme Court ruling backing the Federal Communications Commission over fleeting broadcast indecency and Clear Channel's latest cutbacks.
There was surprisingly little reactions - as opposed to reports and readers' comments - in relation to the Supreme Court decision but of what we did read we suggest the Reason.com "Hit and Run" report and blog by Jacob Sullum - primarily for some of the comments about the constitutionality of FCC content regulation.
Sullum in his report notes Scalia's majority comments about it being "conceivable that the Commission's orders may cause some broadcasters to avoid certain language that is beyond the Commission's reach under the Constitution" and comments that "It seems likely, given the doubts it expressed about the constitutionality of the FCC's censorship, that the 2nd Circuit will rule that it violates the First Amendment, in which case the government certainly would appeal again to the Supreme Court.
As to Clear Channel, well anyone who believed the numbers in the latest cuts announce d- given as around 590, would seem to be in serious under-estimate territory as later indications are more like a thousand.
On that story the comments we have opted for came before the numbers crept up: John Gorman began his blog in irreverent manner: "'I mean, Jesus, John (John Hogan, Clear Channel Radio CEO). It's only 590 people nationwide, including corporate people this time,' said the voice on the other end of the phone. 'There's no need to do a hatchet job on us. This wasn't an 'Obama thing,' not even close.'"
Gorman then continues, "I didn't realize that January 20, 2009 - the day Clear Channel terminated 1,850 employees, which coincided with Barack Obama's Presidential inauguration, would be formally referenced by that company as the 'Obama thing,' but I digress.
"The voice on the other end of the line belongs to someone whom I promised would remain nameless. He does, in my opinion, represent Clear Channel Communications. He's paid by Clear Channel and has a high level management position in a market, which I gave my word, would not identify.
"The manager called me because, as he put it, 'Some of our clients started reading your thing after it the magazines and newspapers picked up on it - and sometimes they give me crap about the stuff you write.'
"'I'm just asking for you to put everything into context. I mean, everyone is firing everyone these days. Not just us.'"
"'I'm going to miss some of those people, for sure,' he added. 'Some were good people.' I didn't ask him whether he was referencing the programming talent or the back office people or both who were unceremoniously let go in the past twenty-four hours. My guess is that he never got too close to any of them. It's like those kids growing up on the farm faced with the realization that the cute little lamb they used to play with would be tomorrow's dinner."
"'But, I'll be honest, you and I should be more concerned about General effing Motors closing between 1,000 and 1,200 dealerships by the end of this year,'" he continued. 'Do you know how many effing radio and TV spots that are going to just disappear? All that effing revenue lost. That's the real shame and that's what you ought to be writing about 'cause it's going to end up costing jobs at CBS down the street and Emmis and Citadel and the rest of them.'"
And later of the vaunted freedom for Program Directors to choose "whether to go with Premium Choice, their fancy name for voice-tracking and syndication - or stay live and local."
"We now know the identities of the PDs that wanted to stay live and local. They're the ones who are no longer under the employ of Clear Channel.
"In at least one market, the entire staff was fired in favour of John Hogan's Premium Choice.
For more follow the link at the end: We go on to another comment from another regular commentator who's no fan of Clear Channel: Jerry Del Colliano in his Insidemusicmedia blog under the heading "Breaking Down the Clear Channel Firings" described Clear Channel Radio CEO as the "Chief Execution Officer" and put forward the thesis that the mess has come about through short-sighted greed.
In one section he comments, "Here's what I mean by being insensitive. Hogan writes 'We have introduced and created a host of resources that help us: make better decisions, serve our customers and audiences more effectively, and lower our cost of doing business'.
"Who is 'we'?
"Lee & Bain, the investment suckers who overpaid for Clear Channel?
"And this poor rationale for top down decision making explains why each month for the past several years Clear Channel has been losing it.
"On top of all of this, the company's obsession with calling firings and cutbacks localism when it depletes and undermines local radio is more than an embarrassment to them -- it's a pox on both our houses -- theirs and the overall industry."
Del Colliano goes on to widen his attack - to "Lew Tricky Dickey, the chief barker of the Cumulus three-ring circus" and comments of the consolidation in radio, "The only reason these companies can't default on their loan covenants is because their investment banks don't want their stations back.
"Radio is no longer a growth business. Bankers have no idea how to run anything -- do we need to get graphic here or is the nationwide banking meltdown enough to make the point?
"I'm sorry that these virtual monopolies didn't work, but the reason they failed is because their arrogant CEOs ran up the debt to buy stations at prices that were, frankly, never really worth what sellers pumped them up to. Now they can't service that debt and even though they could probably survive an economic downturn (radio always used to in past recessions), the debt they ran up during the consolidation years is killing them."
"The banks -- the same institutions that have helped drive the overall U.S. economy into near Depression," writes Del Colliano, "are sticking it to their clients Believe me, Lee & Bain never expected to have a turkey on their hands for USD 19 billion. They were in it to spin it -- build it, sell it, chop it up into parts -- taking fees along the way and making more money."
And more gloomily of the future, "Radio goes online with its content and comes up with ways to cut on-air commercials out and insert Internet spots and still -- there's no business there. They don't get that what consumers want is variety, discovery and control over their content. Not terrestrial formats with new commercials in them.
"Few of us will be surprised when Lew Dickey gives the next spoon of laxative to his company.
"But the reason he and his compatriots are doing it is because in their ultimate greed, they got caught in a system that screwed them and now they have to screw their employees to be able to keep operating."
On to listening suggestions and first a couple of timely download suggestions from the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.
The first is this week's "Health Report" on "Flu research" - the blurb says that as the flu season approaches in Australia the programme "takes a look at some of the research into the flu virus by international scientists. And we're exploring the question of whether flu vaccine is as effective as most people think" - and that was before swine flu.
On a totally different note we suggest last Saturday's "All in the Mind" - "Comedy and the psyche" in which two top-of-the-bill acts at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival reflect on Freud, the comedic psyche and the power of the potty mouth.
Sticking with the ABC for a moment we also suggest Sunday's "Big Ideas" - the eighth Ruttenberg lecture, presented for the Centre for Policy Studies in London in which Professor Niall Ferguson outlines the ideological predicament faced by conservatives and also Monday's "Australia Talks" on the topic of wind energy.
That takes us to BBC Radio 4 and downloads of Monday's "Start the Week" for discussion on the "Crisis of Capitalism" and last Friday's "More or Less - Counting the Kilowatts" - a concise look at the arithmetic behind sustainable energy.
We'd also suggest downloads of the latest "Digital Planet" from the World Service - on viruses of a different sort, those that may be developed to hit mobile phones and Tuesday's "Global Business" in which Peter Day looked at the financial crisis facing Iceland.
On then to suggestions from streams and first BBC Radio 2 for Monday's "Big Band Special" - a tribute concert to Frank Sinatra and Ella Fitzgerald- plus "Andre Previn: All The Right Notes" - the final part of the four part series; Tuesday's "Hollywood Charmers" - again the final part of a four-part series - the charmer this time was Roger Moore: Thursday and comedy in "On the Blog. Series 1, An Englishman's Home"; Friday and the first of a three-part series "70 Years of Cool" - in this Jamie Cullum tells the story of Blue Note Records and the rise of modern jazz.; and then Saturday for the first of a two-part look at the story of "Billy Joel".
Moving to BBC Radio 3 we suggest last Sunday's "Drama on 3" - "Babel's Tower" by Mike Walker in which he imagines the interrogation of Jewish-Russian writer Isaac Babel upon his 1939 arrest and "Jazz Line-Up" in which Julian Joseph talks to saxophonist Branford Marsalis.
Then throughout the week we suggest "The Essay" - this week comments by various laureates; "Afternoon on 3" - "St Petersburg Conservatory" and from Tuesday through Friday "The Radio 3 Lunchtime Concert" - "Viennese Whirl".
Going back to Monday we suggest "Night Waves" on the "History of the Druids" plus "Jazz on 3" with Blink and the Sam Crockatt Quartet at the Loop Festival.
And finally from the station "Opera on 3" on Saturday - "Skin Deep" - David Sawer and Armando Iannucci's satirical opera about staying young and beautiful plus next Sunday's "Drama on 3" - "My Brother God and the Ban Yan Tree" in which An ordinary young Indian boy is chosen to become a religious figurehead and the "Sunday Feature" - "The Life and Times of Michael X."
Then BBC Radio 4 and from the last weekend last Saturday for "The Saturday Play" - "The Killing of Sister George" and Sunday for the "Music Feature" -"Gershwin's Horns" in which Rainer Hersch explores the musical significance of unusual instruments and "Twin Sisters, Two Faiths" in which identical twin sisters talk about their choices of Islam and Christianity as faith - with all the best will in the world it's quite easy after listening to these two to see how people who were not close or kindly inclined to each other could easily kill for their religion.
Then to the start of the week (Not the programme, which we've already suggested) and Monday for the first of a two-part "A Tale of Two Emirates" on how the credit crisis has produced a potentially precarious future for Dubai and throughout the week "Book of the Week" - "For All the Tea in China", the story of how the secrets of tea were taken by the East India Company from China to India and in the 15:45 local time (14:45 GMT) slot "Picturing Britain" - five programmes on various aspects of photography in the UK.
Back to economics on Tuesday with "Head To Head", the second of a four-part series: This one had Milton Friedman and Lord Balogh arguing the merits of free-market economics
From Wednesday we suggest "The Afternoon Play "- "Suing Mr Spargo" in which a teenagers parents disappointed at her exam results decide to sue the school - quite a perceptive look at teaching in the narrow and the mores of teenagers.
From Thursday we suggest more downloads with "In Our Time" on the "Vacuum of Space"; "Crossing Continents" with "Hard Times in Middletown, USA", a look at how the economic crisis has hit Middle America; and "In Business" - "Network News" - on what happens to high technology companies when their customers are in recession (Cisco says it will come out much stronger). Also from Thursday we suggest "The Balancing Bluebottle" in which Tim Boon tells the story of Percy Smith, a pioneer in the art of the natural history film, and the first of the two-part "The New Galileos" - in this programme Andrew Luck-Baker meets the scientists behind the James Webb Space Telescope.
From Friday on Radio 4 we suggest "The Reunion" - with a group of people affected by Thalidomide (instructive if nothing else for the pressures put on a few standouts to settle for around GBP 5,000 in damages as well as the benefits the drug can still bring in some areas of medicine); "Calling Time on the Binge Drinkers" in which French businessman PY Gerbeau examines Britain's cultural obsession with drinking to excess; and in the comedy slot at 18:30 local the first in a new eight-part "News Quiz" Series (Last week ended the "Now Show" latest series).. We'd also suggest a dip into "A Point of View" that this week and last (that one still there for a day) was presented by Clive James who has a fine turn of phrase and distinctive "Point of View."
To end with on Saturday we suggest the third and final part of the three-part "Reasons to be Cheerful" in which comedian Stephen K Amos offers an antidote to grumpiness; "The Saturday Play" - an adaptation of J.M. Barrie's "The Admirable Crichton"; the fourth and final part of "Bringing up Britain" that asks if seeking to modify children's behaviour and attitude risks homogenising them - and then a stream (or download) with the latest "Archive on 4" - "Pete Seeger at 90".
Previous Del Colliano:
John Gorman blog:
Insidemusicmedia - Del Colliano:
Reason "Hit and Run" - Sullum:
San Francisco Chronicle - Egelko:
Sault Star - Maloney
UK Guardian - Smith:
UK Independent - Lampard call transcript:
2009-04-29: Acting Federal Communications Commission (FCC) chairman Michael J. Copps is to ask the House Appropriations Committee's Financial Services Subcommittee today for increase the agency's budget by USD 6 million to 318 million to maintain FCC services at their 2009 level and also for USD 15 million to upgrade its IT infrastructure.
In prepared testimony that has been posted on the FCC web site Copps says the submission amounts in total to USD 335,794,000 for Fiscal Year 2010 and adds of the IT request that the FCC intends to make its processes more transparent and easier for the public to access, putting in such facilities as keyword searches of comments filed in ongoing proceeding and also to modernize its phone system and "improve internal coordination and information sharing by its staff."
He notes that at the moment "each of the various Bureaus maintains its own distinct licensing database" and comments, "This patchwork of data is inefficient, requiring redundant processing and IT support efforts."
Copps says that "In some ways, the easy road would be to muddle through with our outdated and inefficient infrastructure and force the rest of the world to adjust to us. But that is not my vision of an agency with "Communications" in its title."
He also says the FCC is "requesting an additional USD 1 million to meet its staffing needs," continuing, "In recent years, we have has lost a broad range of professional expertise due to retirements and other separations. Our goal is to recruit and retain highly-skilled employees- particularly engineers and economists, but also legal, policy and other professional staff."
Other requests include those for USD 900,000 to buy ten Mobile Digital Direction Finding vehicles and USD 1 million to fund its continuing digital TV work.
RNW comment: We would expect some whinges about requests for increases in budget in the current state of the US economy but at the moment significant time is waster by outsiders trying to find information in the FCC's system - a transfer of costs to others (probably in many cases the same people who will complain about the bid for increased funding). There is also a cost, even if it is not immediately obvious, in the agency not having suitably qualified staff.
The issue therefore is how far this is justified investment - presumably an issue the committee should be evaluating - not an absolute of no increases at the moment.
Copps prepared testimony (10-page, 88kb PDF):
2009-04-29: Cox Enterprises has announced that it is to increase to USD 4.80 a share its bid, originally pitches at USD 3.80 (See RNW Mar 23), to acquire - through its subsidiary Cox Media Group -all the outstanding shares of Class A common stock of Cox Radio, Inc. not owned by Cox Media.
When the original bid was made it represented a represents a 15.2% premium over Cox Radio's closing price on the previous Friday (March 20) and a 21.8% premium over the ten-day volume weighted average closing price: The new offer ups the premium to 45.5% and the offer has been extended from its original April 17 closing date to May 13.
Cox Enterprises said the decision to increase the offer price follows discussions between Cox Enterprises and the special committee of independent members of the board of directors of Cox Radio appointed to review the tender offer and adds that it expects that the special committee will recommend that the stockholders of Cox Radio accept the tender offer: The tender offer remains subject to the condition that a majority of the minority stockholders (those who are not executive officers, directors or affiliates of Cox Enterprises, Cox Media Group or Cox Radio other than directors of Cox Radio who constitute the special committee of independent directors formed to consider the tender offer) tender their shares.
The company notes that at the close of business yesterday approximately 417,300 shares had been tendered and says those who offered their shares in response to the original offer will receive the increased price.
The increased offer came a day after the filing by the law firm Bull & Lifshitz LLP of a class action lawsuit in the United States District Court Northern District of Georgia Atlanta Division alleging that the originally offer was unfairly coercive and that SEC filings made pursuant to the Tender Offer omitted material information.
This action followed earlier trawling for parties to a class action suit by The Shareholders Foundation (See RNW Apr 15).
2009-04-29: Reactions to the US Supreme Court decision by a 5-4 majority that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) can fine broadcasters for the broadcast of "Fleeting expletives" - including the broadcast of a single "indecent" word have in general been both predictable and muted.
The ruling overthrew a Second Circuit Court of Appeals decision that had found the FCC policy to be arbitrary and capricious in its Administrative Procedures in the case of a Fox TV appeal against a ruling related to Cher's comments during the 2002 Billboard Music Awards (she said "I've also had critics for the last 40 years saying that I was on my way out every year. Right. So fuck 'em.") and a comment by Nicole Richie during the 2003 Billboard Music Awards (She commented "Have you ever tried to get cow shit out of a Prada purse? It's not so fucking simple."): It did not consider First Amendment implications leaving that issue open.
In the original FCC rulings no penalty was imposed on Fox but the broadcasts were found to have broken FCC regulations for which the posted criteria were "language or material that, in context, depicts or describes, in terms patently offensive as measured by contemporary community standards for the broadcast medium, sexual or excretory organs or activities." The Appeal Court sent the matter back to the FCC but it opted to appeal to the Supreme Court rather than reconsider its case. At the time the US National Association of Broadcasters (NAB ) welcomed the Supreme Court's decision to review the case referring to the Court providing "badly-needed clarity to both broadcasters and policymakers on this critically-important First Amendment case.(See RNW Mar 18, 2008 NAB3 - but what planet does NAB inhabit if it really expected that kind of result from this court?).
Voting for the ruling, which was pretty well along partisan lines, were Chief Justice John G. Roberts; Samuel A. Alito Jr.; Anthony M. Kennedy; Antonin Scalia, who delivered the majority verdict; and Clarence Thomas although the last expressed some First Amendment concerns, referring to "a "deep intrusion into the First Amendment rights of broadcaster."
The ruling sends the matter back to the appeals court and in it Scalia for the majority commented, "The commission could reasonably conclude that the pervasiveness of foul language, and the coarsening of public entertainment in other media such as cable, justify more stringent regulation of broadcast programs so as to give conscientious parents a relatively safe haven for their children. We decline to substitute our judgment for that of the agency and we find the commission's orders neither arbitrary nor capricious."
Dissent came from Justices Stephen G. Breyer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, David H. Souter, and John Paul Stevens, with Breyer writing - in a dissent that the others joined - that in his view "...the Federal Communications Commission failed adequately to explain why it changed its indecency policy from a policy permitting a single 'fleeting use' of an expletive, to a policy that made no such exception."
Arguing that precedents meant that an agency to follow a "logical and rational" decision making"process and act "consistently" he commented that the majority's view could "significantly change judicial review in practice, and not in a healthy direction."
In this case he said the FCC had "said "next to nothing about the relation between the change it made in its prior 'fleeting expletive' policy and the First-Amendment-related need to avoid 'censorship,' a matter as closely related to broadcasting regulation as is health to that of the environment." He also commented that the "FCC failed to consider the potential impact of its new policy upon local broadcasting coverage" and suggested that the technology that made it possible to block parts of broadcasts - considered in part of the FCC's rulings - might not be affordable to "smaller independent broadcasters, including many public service broadcasters" suggesting that as a consequence they "would reduce local coverage, indeed cancel coverage, of many public events "
He also commented, "I cannot agree with the plurality, however, about the critical third point, namely that the new policy obviously provides smaller independent broadcasters with adequate assurance that they will not be fined. The new policy removes the "fleeting expletive" exception, an exception that assured smaller independent stations that they would not be fined should someone swear at a public event. In its place, it puts a policy that places all broadcasters at risk when they broadcast fleeting expletives, including expletives uttered at public events."
The FCC he said could have considered the issues relating to this last point but did not " And the result is a rule that may well chill coverage-the kind of consequence that the law has considered important for decades "
The majority in its ruling referred to the last and commented, "We doubt, to begin with, that small-town broadcasters run a heightened risk of liability for indecent utterances. In programming that they originate, their down-home local guests probably employ vulgarity less than big-city folks; and small-town stations generally cannot afford or cannot attract foul-mouthed glitteratae from Hollywood." [RNW What a generalisation and attack on Hollywood from justices who presumable expect respect but in our view have deserve contempt for a number of their rulings. And why does it have the place it does in a legal ruling?].
Justice Stevens in his dissent said the rules that had been changed "have been in effect for decades and have not proved unworkable in the intervening years" and added, "The FCC's shifting and impermissibly vague indecency policy only imperils these broadcasters and muddles the regulatory landscape. It therefore makes eminent sense to require the Commission to justify why its prior policy is no longer sound before allowing it to change course."
Justice Ginsburg in her dissent said she agreed that the FCC's change "exemplified 'arbitrary' and 'capricious' decision making and continued, "I write separately only to note that there is no way to hide the long shadow the First Amendment casts over what the Commission has done. Today's decision does nothing to diminish that shadow."
In reactions to the decision Fox said commented, "While we would have preferred a victory on Administrative Procedure Act grounds, more important to FOX is the fundamental constitutional issues at the heart of this case
For the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) EVP Dennis Wharton said in a statement that broadcasters would continue to "offer programming that is reflective of the diverse communities we serve" and continued, "Nonetheless, we're disappointed the court majority seemingly failed to understand the need for clear and consistent regulatory policies, especially in light of the various ways audiences now receive broadcast programming. We continue to believe that voluntary self regulation -- coupled with blocking technologies like the V-chip -- is far preferable to government regulation of programme content, and we question why speech restrictions should apply only to broadcasters."
FCC Acting Chairman Michael J Copps welcomed the ruling as "a big win for America's families" and continued, "The Court recognized that when broadcasters are granted free and exclusive use of a valuable public resource, they incur enforceable public interest obligations. Although avoiding the broadcast of indecent language when children are likely to be watching is one of those core responsibilities, few can deny the blatant coarsening of programming in recent years. The Court's decision should reassure parents that their children can still be protected from indecent material on the nation's airwaves. "
The ruling was also welcomed by various activist groups including the Family Research Council whose President Tony Perkins said the ruling "sends an unmistakable message to broadcasters: If you foul the public airwaves, you face the fine" and added, "Lack of FCC enforcement of indecency laws has encouraged networks to add more and more distasteful sexual humour, vile language, and increasingly graphic depictions of sexual conduct. The American people, through their elected representatives, have overwhelmingly made clear that they expect decency on the public airwaves. We urge the FCC to respond to this ruling by stepping up its efforts to keep indecency off the airwaves."
RNW Comment: It should come as no surprise to any of our regular readers that we are with the dissenters on this one. We do not rule out the introduction of changes to rules but very great care should be taken when rulings are made retroactively and when posted guidelines would indicate that rules were not broken at the time of broadcasts. We also feel that it should be incumbent on agencies to very clearly justify changes before they are to be introduced and have seen absolutely nothing within the FCC's comments to guarantee proportionality in the response when a breach comes not from a large commercial organisation but from a small station. We go along with Breyer on this issue and can see absolutely no reason why the FCC in its new rulings could not have capped penalties - currently of up to USD 325,000 for a breach - in terms of a percentage of gross revenues, thus offering automatic protection to them. The fact that this was not done to us shows that insufficient attention was paid by the FCC to the potential effects of its ruling.
FCC - Posted guidance re obscenity, profanity and indecency:
US Supreme Court Ruling (72-page, 405 kb PDF):
2009-04-28: Clear Channel has followed its cuts on Inauguration Day of some 1,850 posts (See RNW Jan 20) with around 590 more job cuts, around 3% of its work force, taking the total cuts to approaching 12%.
The earlier cuts were mainly in sales but the latest are mainly in operations including engineering, IT and various customer service and accounting posts plus a number of on-air posts as a number of stations dropped local programming in favour of syndicated material from Clear Channel's "Premium Choice" programming that was announced earlier this month together with the company touting changes as offering "Unparalleled Support for Local Communities" (See RNW Apr 15). The company has also closed down a headquarters corporate marketing group that included senior vice president, strategic marketing Sanda Coyle and senior marketing manager Carmen Delchambre.
Clear Channel has also suspended its matching of 401 K retirement benefits from the end of this month - it has been matching half contributions of 5% of pay - but says that if it achieves at least 90% of its 2009 budget goals it will re-instate the contributions retroactively.
Previous Clear Channel:
2009-04-28: Fisher Communications has reported first quarter revenues to the end of March down 25% on a year ago at USD 28.5 million with TV revenues down 27% to USD 20.3 million and radio revenues down 29% to USD 4.9 million, offset slightly by a 1% increase in Fisher Plaza revenues to USD 3.3 million.
Fisher said the radio revenue fall was more than offset by expenses reductions attributable largely to the absence of the Seattle Mariners baseball contract in the first quarter of 2009 and added that the radio loss from operations was USD 74,000, compared with a loss from operations of USD 373,000 in the first quarter of 2008.
Overall Fisher moved from net operating income of USD 1.28 million in the first quarter of 2008 to a loss of USD 5.38 million this year with its net loss increasing from USD 1.05 million to USD 4.27 million ( from 12 cents to 49 cents per share).
President and Chief Executive Officer Colleen B. Brown said of the results, "During the first quarter, our financial performance continued to be hampered by the negative macro-economic conditions that have been affecting the entire broadcast industry since the middle of last year. The worsening automotive, financial and credit crises combined with the ongoing decline in consumer spending has resulted in advertisers significantly curtailing their spending. Fisher has taken a number of proactive steps to mitigate the impact of the downturn, but our results are clearly being impacted by a weak economy and an even weaker environment for consumer advertising."
"Despite this softness," she added, "our stations continue to take market share where ad dollars are being spent, which is a reflection of our commitment to delivering quality content that benefits our viewers, listeners, advertisers and business partners. We also remain focused on diversifying our sources of revenue by expanding our fast-growing Internet business and by monetizing our valuable content that we provide our distribution partners through retransmission fees."
2009-04-28: BBC Radio 4 today dropped a scheduled - and heavily promoted - edition of "On the Ropes", in which John Humphrys spoke to broadcaster Andy Kershaw, citing as its reason concern that it would breach the privacy of his former partner and their children: It was replaced by a repeat of a programme in which author Salman Rushdie celebrated the seventieth anniversary of the classic film The Wizard of Oz.
Commenting on the decision, which was made at the last minute, BBC Radio 4 controller Mark Damazer said on the station's blog site that it was not often that a programme was dropped at short notice but in the end this edition of the programme "did not work."
He continued, "We were mindful of the background and, in particular, the strained domestic circumstances surrounding the break-up of Andy Kershaw's long-term relationship and the legal order, the result of which makes it very difficult for him to have significant access to his children.
"We had hoped that we could explore the events leading to his personal and professional crisis and his subsequent efforts to recover while bearing in mind the interests of other parties and providing them with the appropriate degree of privacy. In the end that was not possible. The programme was recorded and edited close to the day of transmission - hence the lateness of the decision."
Some would-be listeners were markedly sceptical about the posting with one commenting. "Not recorded/edited so close to transmission that you were unable to trail it extensively. And right up to the start of the replacement programme, the Radio 4 website and 'Listen Live' listed it. It dies rather look as if a) someone from outside intervened or (b) you noticed only very late what it was you were planning to transmit. Neither breeds confidence or trust.
"It's ironic (and disappointing) that, one of the rare times you have a truly interesting subject, your (or someone's) sensitivities prevent you from broadcasting it."
Another said," Thanks for the explanation, but it would have been nice had some sort of explanation been given on air for the pulling of the programme - or did my ears decisive me?" and another commented," Whatever the reason for it being pulled, it would surely only be courteous to give an explanation on air "
In the programme Kershaw had talked about rebuilding both his life and career after he lost his BBC Radio 3 show and in January last year was jailed for three months for in November 2007 breaking a restraining order that banned him from contacting his former partner. He had pleaded guilty to the breach and also admitted being drunk and disorderly outside Peel, Isle of Man, police station and swearing at officers (See RNW Jan 16, 2008).
The advance publicity for the show on the Radio 4 web site said that Kershaw had "enjoyed a highly successful broadcasting career, winning a brace of Sony Radio awards and receiving critical acclaim for his reports from Rwanda, Angola, Haiti and Iraq. However, his outspoken opinions led to him being dropped by Radio One; he openly attacked Bob Geldof over his stance on Africa and in 2007 his personal life began to suffer!
It continued, "He was arrested trying to break into the home of his former girlfriend and was found guilty of drink driving. A restraining order was placed on Andy, and his Radio 3 show was taken off air. In 2008 he breached this restraining order in an attempt to see his two children and ended up in jail. He is attempting to rebuild his life and career."
In an interview on BBC Radio 5 Live about the programme yesterday, Humphreys had told Simon Mayo that Kershaw cut a "very sad figure" and added that Kershaw "he seemed to me to be in control of himself, he is desperately keen as you can imagine to get back into the business. He was very good, wasn't he?
"He hasn't touched a drop for 10 months, he said he stopped drinking. He's a sad man, there's no point in trying to pretend otherwise. His relationship fell apart, that was the cause of it all, he doesn't have proper access to his children. His latest relationship with his girlfriend has fallen apart. He doesn't have a job; he is living by himself effectively on the Isle of Man.
"In many ways he cuts a very sad figure, and I have to say I felt a good deal of sympathy for him as a colleague and a human being. But I think he's coming out the other side now - he assured me that he was coming out the other side. I would like to think one of these days we will hear him on the airwaves again."
BBC Radio 4 said the decision to drop the programme - said to have been made by Damazer although the Corporation has not confirmed this - was not connected with Kershaw's behaviour during the interview.
BBC Radio4 blog - Damazer comment and listener responses:
BBC Radio Five Live - Mayo Show stream (Humphrys interview is approximately 1 hr 04 in - it was mainly on his book "Dying Well" and other topics - the Kershaw segment was approximately 1hr 29 in at the end of the interview - only available for six more days)
BBC "On the Ropes" advance details of show:
2009-04-28: UK media regulator Ofcom in its latest bulletin upholds two radio standards complaints and a radio fairness and privacy complaint in addition to three TV standards complaints: It also considered a further TV standards complaint resolved through action taken by the broadcaster and gave details three TV standards and one TV fairness and privacy complaint that was not upheld.
In the previous bulletin it had headlined its GBP 150,000 (USD 223,000) fine imposed on the BBC for comments made on the Russell Brand Show on Radio 2, also found that The Chris Moyles Show on BBC Radio 1, had infringed the privacy of actor Andrew Sachs and his granddaughter and noted that two stations that in December last year were issued with "Yellow Cards" for not carrying enough local content were still not conforming to the terms of their licences.
One radio standards complaint upheld in the latest bulletin involved Allan Lake who presents a late-night call-in show on Absolute Radio and comments he made about a particular brand of electronic cigarette ('e-cigarette') which claims to help smokers quit. The complainant felt Lake made repeated references to Smart Smoker (the manufacturer) and also made health claims about the e-cigarette which could not be proven.
Absolute Radio in response admitted that Lake went beyond acceptable boundaries when discussing a product on air: It added that Lake, who often discussed his desire to quit smoking, was contacted by a member of the audience who recommended this particular product and he subsequently obtained a free sample of the e-cigarette from the manufacturer to test and discuss on-air.
Absolute said it had received no payment for the references and the manufacturer had not sought to place the product in the programme. It described the incident as "an ill-judged editorial choice on the part of the presenter who wanted to discuss on air his own experience giving up smoking" and said when it was aware of the complaint it had suspended the programme, discussed the matter with Lane and thoroughly re-briefed him on the sections of the Code relating to the broadcast of commercial references and added that it was also ensuring all relevant personnel attend a further compliance course.
Ofcom accepted that there had been no payments involved but ruled that there had been promotion of a product in breach of its rules.
The second radio standards complaint upheld involved a broadcast by Big FM in Leeds - the station was broadcasting under a 28 day Short-term Restricted Service Licence - in which complainants said a presenter had made derogatory comments of a racial nature about a number of business owners in the community.
Ofcom had asked the station for a recording of the programme concerned but despite repeated requests did not receive a recording until more than two months later - for the wrong dates: It finally received a recording for the correct date more than two weeks later. This it said did not include the derogatory references described by the complainants but did find apparent gaps between the recordings supplied.
The station manager was then contacted and explained this was due to limited recording facilities, but that the content described by the complainants was not broadcast in any case.
Ofcom noted the denials but said that it was not able to make a proper assessment on the basis of the recordings supplied and said it considered there had been "serious and significant breaches of the broadcaster's licence" in relation to retention and production of recordings and failure to supply adequate recordings. It added that these would be taken into account should the station apply for a licence in the future.
The Fairness and Privacy radio complaint upheld involved the Drivetime show on BBC Radio London and comments made by main host Eddie Nestor concerning a court case in which Nisha Patel Nasri's husband was found guilty of her murder.
Complainant Terry Schuler had called the programme using the pseudonym "Dave from Islington" and referred to three crime stories which had been featured in earlier news bulletins that involved crimes "highly represented by people from either the Afro Caribbean community or Eastern Europeans or Asians". Schuler complained that he was portrayed as a racist in the programme in that comments were attributed to him which he did not make.
Ofcom found that despite the pseudonym Schuler was identifiable and noted comments by the presenter to the effect that "What I wanted to do is to push him (Dave) because what he actually wants to talk about is colour. He's not talking about any kind of cultural heritage" and later "what 'Dave' wanted to say was white people but he didn't say it" (co-host Kath Malandri had in relation to this suggested that Schuler meant "white people but not Eastern Europeans?" and Schuler in his complaint had referred to crimes committed "by people from either the Afro-
Caribbean community, Eastern Europeans and Asians" and also noted that Britain "had its own "nutcases" to be dealt with, but that immigrants from the communities he had mentioned had different ways of solving problems and did not have the same respect for law and order that British people had.").
Thee host's comments were made later in the show during calls from other listeners and Ofcom said Schuler should have been given an appropriate and timely opportunity to respond to these serious allegations but he was not offered this opportunity and this was unfair to him.
The BBC had accepted that what Schuler said on the programme was not accurately represented by Nestor when he attempted to summarise the contribution later in the programme and noted the correction by his co-host. It also said it had written to Schuler expressing regret for this but asked Ofcom to consider whether any unfairness to Schuler was sufficiently significant bearing in mind Mr Schuler chose to use an assumed name when he called the programme.
Schuler responded to the BBC comments by referring to various points in the programme where emails were read out by the presenters or comments were made by the presenters that were not corrected or challenged. He also said that said that someone did recognize his voice despite the BBC's assumption that no-one would and added that that a comment had been made in a venue he frequents and the comment became a talking point at that particular time.
In addition to the above Ofcom also listed without details 630 TV complaints against 212 items and 54 radio complaints against 39 items that it did not uphold or were considered out of its remit: This compared to 314 TV complaints against 169 items and 20 radio complaints against 20 items that it did not uphold or were considered out of its remit that were listed in the previous bulletin.
Previous Ofcom Complaints Bulletin:
2009-04-28: Mexican radio group Grupo Radio Centro has reported first quarter broadcasting revenues to the end of March up 21.5% on a year earlier at MXN 155.8 million ( USD 11.3 million) - put down primarily to increased advertising revenues - with expenses up 7.9% to MXN 112.2 million (USD 8.1 million) with this increase put down to an increase in sales commissions due to the increase in broadcasting revenue; an increase in the peso cost of U.S. dollar-denominated rental payments pursuant to the Company's agreement to operate English-language XHFO-FM, Mexico City ; and higher marketing research expenses. Grupo Radio also noted that earlier this month it began to operate KMVN-FM. Los Angeles, under a Local Marketing Agreement with Emmis that was announced earlier this month (See RNW Apr 3).
Broadcasting income was up 79.8% to MXN 24.3 million (USD 1.76 million); operating income was up 154.4% to MXN 33.3 million (USD 2.41 million) and net income rose more than seventeen-fold from MXN 810,000 ( USD 58,600 ) to MXN 14.6 million ( USD 1.06 million)
Previous Grupo Radio:
2009-04-27: GroupM, the media buying arm of UK-based WPP Group, which in September last year was forecasting that advertising expenditures in all media throughout India having increased by 20% in 2007 would increase 20% in 2008 to USD 5.6 billion and 19% in 2009 to USD 6.6 billion has now revised its forecast sharply downwards to a 4.7% rise in 2009 to a total of USD 4.71 billion from the USD 4.49 billion - a rise of 14.7% - actually reached in 2008: GroupMhas not made any forecast for 2010.
The report - "This Year, Next Year - India Media Forecasts" - says that in 2009 newspaper revenues, which rose 8% in 2008, will fall by 2% to USD 1.99 billion; TV, which rose 18% in 2008, will be up 7% to USD 1.95 billion and radio, which rose 49% in 2008, will rise 15% to USD 20 million. Digital media revenues are forecast to increase most - by 25% to USD 16.8 million after a 2008 increase of 74%.
The report says that "While the economic situation in India is not as dismal as opposed to some of the other markets, the general market sentiment continues to be negative. This is in part due to the global linkages of several key Indian players who are impacted by parent performance in other markets."
It continues, "Historically, in times of recession, advertisers desist from experimenting with media and fall back on the medium which has traditionally offered them the best results. It is no surprise that in this recession most organizations are treading cautiously and are wary of committing to marketing spends across untested new media. They would rather wait till the latter half of the year when they will have a better sense of the business outcome before deciding on the spend level. In keeping with this sentiment and for want of adequate business information, we have limited our predictions to 2009 and make no prediction for 2010."
Amongst sectors most affected by the recession in 2009 compared to 2008 the report lists real estate - hardest hit with a 20% fall ; apparel, information technology and retail - each down 15% ; and financial services down 10. In terms of media, it says TV has done better than expected in 2008 and "Radio is expected to do reasonably well as it has established a widespread network of markets and is a relatively less expensive medium than TV and Print."
It notes that radio formed 4% of the overall advertising expenditure rose from 3% in 2007 to 4% in 2008 with four large cities - Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata and Bangalore- taking 55% of FM advertising expenditure and state-owned All India Radio increasing its revenues by 30% to USD 74.34 million, primarily due to a hike in ad rates, whilst the opening up of several new markets in 2008 resulted in growth of 62% for private FM players whose revenues were up to USD 116.8 million.
The report notes that about 80% of the FM stations licensed in January 2006 were on air by the end of 2008 and there are currently a total of 238 FM radio stations from 40 broadcasters across 90 cities in India.
The players with the highest number of operational stations are Big FM with 44 stations, Radio Mirchi with 32 stations, Radio City and South Asia FM with 21 stations each and My FM with 17 stations and the report notes that because of a cap on the number of stations per broadcaster many large players have formed joint ventures with small regional owners in a bid to offer wider market coverage and to prompt national advertisers to spend more. It adds that through these strategic alliances Big FM has 56 stations (the highest in the country) followed by Network 93.5 with 49 stations and Radio Mirchi with 42 stations.
The biggest revenue earners of 2008 were Radio Mirchi followed by Big FM, Radio City and Red FM in that order and the report says that besides "plain-vanilla advertising spots, radio now offers content integration, brand mentions in woven into RJ (radio jockey) editorial and on-ground activation directly involving the listener. This year 75% of total revenues came from spots; activations accounted for 10-12%; and Innovations brought in the balance 13-15%."
Concerning the future MGroup says the next licensing tender is likely to attract bidding for 700 new FM channels in 237 cities, several not presently served by FM and adds that the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), has proposed many reforms which could stimulate revenue growth: Bidding for the new licences is likely to take place only after the General Elections of May 2009, so most of these new channels will be operational only from 2010.
Previous Indian Radio:
2009-04-27: The BBC and UK commercial radio have announced a new partnership under which they play to establish The Radio Council, which the corporation said in a news release "will lead a range of partnership initiatives between the BBC and Commercial Radio, bringing the industry together to secure radio's future in the digital age."
The initiative was revealed at the Radio Reborn Conference in London by Tim Davie, Director BBC Audio & Music, Ashley Tabor, Global Radio's Group Chief Executive, and Andrew Harrison, Chief executive of commercial industry body The Radio Centre with the group to initially be comprised of the BBC and the UK's three largest commercial radio groups - Bauer Media, Global Radio and GMG Radio- plus the RadioCentre as the representative of other commercial radio companies.
The council is expected to meet quarterly and its chair is to rotate annually between the BBC and the commercial sector with Davie to hold the post for the first year.
Amongst initial activities the council is expected to develop an online live radio player that would be a source for all live UK radio; develop a common user interface and electronic programme guide (EPG) for radio being broadcast on all platforms - DAB, DTV, online and mobile devices; and develop a calendar of exclusive digital-only content for listeners on DAB
All the projects will need to gain approval from the BBC Trust and RadioCentre before they are launched and those concerned say they expect the Radio Council to co-ordinate with government the appointment of a CEO for Lord Carter's Digital Radio Delivery Group with a role to "focus on delivery across four areas which will be key to securing a switchover timetable: coverage, devices, platforms and marketing."
Davie said of the move, "The partnership between the BBC and Commercial Radio is crucial to the future of the medium. Radio is unique and much-loved, but the media environment is changing and we have to work together to make sure it remains as popular and relevant as ever" and Harrison added, "This exciting new initiative kick-starts our collective approach to ensuring radio is at the heart of Digital Britain. We will of course remain competitors for listeners with the BBC, and RadioCentre will continue to lobby for the commercial and regulatory freedom to compete on level terms, but today we recognise that we need to work together in a new partnership to deliver a thriving radio sector for listeners."
Tabor said Global Radio "fully endorses the formation of the Radio Council at this critical period in the drive to digital. It is absolutely right that the BBC recognises, as it did with TV, the need to work collaboratively and in partnership with the commercial sector. We appreciate the significant contribution the BBC has the capacity to make to facilitate Digital Britain from a radio perspective, and Global Radio is prepared to play a leading role alongside the BBC, GMG, Bauer and all our other colleagues in commercial radio, to make it happen."
Davie had told the conference, organised by the UK Media Guardian, that the industry needed to change or it would falter.
MediaGuardian quoted him as saying, "We have to act in a fundamentally different way. Managing decline is by no means inevitable if we act now. Radio must battle in a world of fully mobile audio delivering limitless choice. Radio must offer something different."
"What is absolutely clear is that continuing current purchase trends will not lead to switchover in our lifetime; we need a step change in approach.
"There are huge risks in a switchover and we must establish clear criteria for any such move. However, leaving radio without a healthy digital broadcast platform, even accepting the immense long-term potential of internet radio, seems to me like bad news for the medium."
He also said there was a need for better, cheaper DAB receivers, commenting of the take-up of UK terrestrial digital TV, "Freeview happened because you could pick up a GBP 20 (USD 30) box in Tesco and away you go."
In an interim Digital Britain report, communications minister Lord Carter said in January that there would be no migration to digital radio until more than half listening was digital and national DAB coverage equalled that of current FM with local DAB reception possible for 90% of the UK population. Current digital listening is under a fifth of all radio listening in the UK.
Stephen Miron, Global Radio chief executive, told the conference his company as the UK's largest commercial radio group was prepared to lead the charge to digital but it needed support from others. He also quipped that he hoped next year the conference would be not "Radio Reborn" but "Radio Renaissance" (Our French indicates this is just a longer way of saying the same thing but presumably Miron thinks it sounds better!)
The conference also heard an exchange concerning the future of BBC Radio 1 breakfast DJ Chris Moyles, the subject of a Sun newspaper report saying he was to be dropped (See RNW Apr 18).
DJ Paul Gambaccini said of remarks Moyles made about Will Young (being homosexual) that there had been disturbing reports about bullying and suicides in schools and that Moyles kept on encouraging bullying. He also referred to the row over Russell Brand - Gambaccini has criticized Brand's appointment and also said he would not have kept Moyles on after the Will Young remarks - saying that former BBC Radio 2 Controller Lesley Douglas had a soft spot in that she thought his type of comedy would work on radio but had been undone by that.
In response, Radio 1 deputy controller Ben Cooper defended Moyles as "an excellent broadcaster who has made a couple of mistakes in five-and-a-half years on breakfast" but did not go so far as to guarantee that Moyles would be in his job in a year's time, commenting that every year there were tweaks and changes at the station but he wanted the host to remain as long as he connected with the young audience.
Former Capital Radio breakfast host Chris Tarrant expressed concern about commercial radio being driven by financial priorities with a timidity and demand for control on the basis of what focus groups said and a move away from personality radio which he contended people still wanted.
RadioCentre chair Dianne Thompson suggested that commercial radio could regain the 50% plus share of listening it once held in a digital environment and added that the switchover date was crucial. She also called for less regulation of content and suggested that consolidation should be allowed because the presence of the BBC meant competition concerns were reduced.
Previous Guardian Media Group:
Previous Global Radio:
UK Media Guardian report on Davie comments at Radio Reborn conference:
2009-04-26: Last week the main regulatory activity came from the US where the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) issued proposals to promote rural radio services and also named the members of its Federal Advisory Committee on Diversity for Communications in the Digital Age: Elsewhere there were comparatively few radio announcements.
In Australia, the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) posed only one radio notice, a finding that community station 4OUR, Caboolture, Queensland, , breached conditions of its licence that prohibit the broadcasting of advertisements and the broadcasting of sponsorship announcements that run in excess of five minutes per hour.
Licensee Caboolture Community FM Radio Association Inc. was found to have failed to include tags in relation to one pre-recorded announcement for financial sponsors, four studio interviews and on thirteen occasions during an outside broadcast and on two occasions to have breached the five-minutes-per-hour allowed for sponsorship announcements.
The ACMA noted various improvements made to the stations policies and procedures following its investigation and said it was satisfied with the initiatives taken.
In Canada, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) made a number of radio related postings including the following:
*Approved application by Newcap Inc. to convert its CHLW-AM, St Paul, to a 16,000 watts FM that would retain CHLW's country music format. It also approved simulcast of the signal on AM and FM for three months after the new FM commences operation.
*Approved application by Newcap Inc. to convert its CKVH-AM, High Prairie to a 25,000 watts FM that would retain CHLW's Classic Hits format. It also approved simulcast of the signal on AM and FM for three months after the new FM commences operation.
*Approved application by Touch Canada Broadcasting Limited Partnership for a licence for a 50,000 watts daytime and 20,000 watts night-time commercial Christian music (Southern Gospel and Inspirational music format) AM in Calgary.
The application was opposed by Lighthouse Broadcasting Ltd., which expressed concerns that the signal would penetrate the Medicine Hat, Alberta market, where Lighthouse is currently authorized to operate specialty gospel Christian CJLT-FM. It argued for denial of the application or restriction of transmitter power to 5,000 watts.
Touch responded that its signal would not reach Medicine Hat and the CRTC after examining the submissions approved the application.
*Approved application by N L Broadcasting Ltd. to convert CJNL-AM, Merritt, to a 200 watts FM: The new station would retain CJNL's Adult Contemporary format and NLB has also applied to add to the licence of CHNL-AM, Kamloops, the 1,000 watts day and night-time CJNL transmitter at Merritt that is presently owned by Merritt Broadcasting, a corporation controlled by NLB.
*Approved application by Acadia Broadcasting Limited for a licence for a 10,000 watts English-language New Country music format commercial FM in Bridgewater, Nova Scotia. The application had been opposed by Jim Ernst and his broadcast consultant Communications Michel Mathieu on the basis that he is planning to submit an application for a new FM to serve Mahone Bay, Nova Scotia, which is about 11 kilometres northeast of Bridgewater: They suggested the two applications be considered together. The CRTC noted that its practice was to decide on the basis of applications already received and granted the application.
*Approved application by Maritime Broadcasting System Limited to convert its CKDH-AM, Amherst, to an 18,700 watts English-language commercial FM. The new station would retain CKDH's current Adult Contemporary music format and a three-month simulcast period was approved when the new FM came into operation.
*Denied applications for commercial ethnic-language AM stations to serve Scarborough and Markham. Applications to serve the markets had been considered at a public hearing at which operators of ethnic services within the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), which includes Scarborough and Markham, had argued that the area was already well served by the eight undertakings currently licensed to provide ethnic or third-language programming to the various multicultural communities within and surrounding the GTA.
The CRTC agreed with the objectors that the area was already well served and added that approval of either or both the applications would not result in the addition of significant programming diversity. It rejected both.
*Approved application by Société de communication Ikito Pikogan ltée to increase the power of its Native Type B FM station CKAG-FM, Pikogan, from 50 watts to 3,738 watts and relocate the antenna. The licensee said the change would allow members of the Abitibiwinni First Nation living outside the station's current service area to receive its programming and the CRTC noted that the change would modify the status of the station from a low-power unprotected FM service to a protected service.
The CRTC also posted a consultation notice, with a May 26 deadline for interventions/comments relating to Yukon applications to renew the licences of RDU's (radiocommunication distribution undertakings) serving Ferry Hill and Haines Junction - each distributing the programmes of the CBC Northern Radio Service; and Horse Camp Hill - distributing the distributes the programmes of the CBC Radio One English-language AM radio network.
There were no radio postings from Ireland or the UK but in the US the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) as already noted has been active regarding minority and rural services: It posted a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) concerning policies to promote Rural Radio Service and also named the members of its Federal Advisory Committee on Diversity for Communications in the Digital Age (See RNW Apr 23).
Regarding rural radio services, statements were issued by all the current commissioners - Acting Chairman Michael J, Copps, his Democrat colleague Jonathan S. Adelstein, and Republican Robert M. McDowell.
The NPRM itself called for comment on procedures currently used to award commercial AM and FM licences and notes that based on the experience gained in conducting past auctions the FCC considers it appropriate to consider "rule and procedural changes to better encourage the fair distribution of broadcast licenses, particularly in smaller communities, rural areas, and tribal areas, afford greater opportunities to participate in competitive bidding, promote the filing of technically sound applications, and deter speculation. The Notice also proposes to modify the non-commercial educational ("NCE") fair distribution comparative criterion by establishing a tribal priority. "
The FCC noted that current procedures favour FM allocations on the basis of population served, adding that this "factor is easily determined and applied, and the argument can be made that service to the greatest population represents the most efficient use of spectrum" but also that it tends to skew awards "toward communities near large cities, at the expense of new and needed service at smaller communities and in rural areas."
It added that it was even more concerned over the award of AM licences because procedures favoured larger communities and tended to move to competitive bidding, again to the detriment of new entrants -"- many of whom propose stations in small communities and rural areas."
The FCC is proposing tentatively to amend preferences to reduce this bias and in particular tentatively concludes that services that would serve an urbanized area should be considered proposals to serve that area rather than the community of licence and also where 75 percent or more of the population within a proposed new station's principal community contour already receives more than five aural services or the community of licence has five existing services, there should be no preference given on the basis of population served.
The agency also noted that currently where there is a difference in service value index(SVI)- "is a method of discounting raw population totals based on the number of services received, enabling the proponent to claim that its application would better serve the public interest by serving underserved areas" - preference is currently given if the there is an SVI difference of 18.8% and suggests that at least a 50 percent SVI differential, for reception service, must be shown by an AM applicant in order to qualify for a dispositive preference.
The FCC is seeking comment on the above suggestions and also on a priority for AM auction and FM allotment proposals that would provide new third, fourth, or fifth reception service to a substantial number of listeners; on whether to establish an "underserved listeners" priority; and "comments as to combinations of the alternatives referenced above, or other methods by which we could promote additional transmission services at smaller communities or those that serve as the population centres for rural areas. Finally, we seek comment on how the proposals stated above would affect small business entities, including those owned by minorities and women."
The agency is also proposing changes to limit the move of existing stations from smaller communities, in particular to automatically deny applications that would leave an area with no or only one service; to prohibit downgrading of AM facilities where a preference had been given, and to give priority to Native American and Alaska Native Tribal Groups Serving Tribal Lands, noting in this regard that there is currently a most acute problem where tribal lands are adjoining urbanized areas: it suggests that where applicants meet appropriate conditions relating to tribal areas they should be given priority for FM allotments and AM and NCE FM filing window applications.
Also noted is the large number of AM applications that could be speculative and the agency is seeking comment on whether it should be allowed to cap the number of applications from an applicant and also to prohibit FM translator "band-hopping" filings that through a minor change applications attempt to gain a reserved band and thus be able to operate under the less restrictive NCE rules.
In his comment, acting FCC chairman Michael J, Copps said the NPRM was "long overdue" and continued, "Our allotment and assignment policies have been transformed over time into an arcane parlour game that only industry insiders know how to play. It is time to level the playing field. We need fair and transparent rules to meet our statutory obligations and, more importantly, our obligations to the American people."
His fellow Democrat Jonathan S. Adelstein said he was "very pleased to support this Notice of Proposed Rule Making, which will allow the Commission to more effectively carry out our obligation to distribute radio service fairly throughout the United States, especially rural and underserved areas" and added, "The Commission's objective in the auctioning and licensing process is to prioritize the needs of communities that do not already have local radio. Community radio stations do not merely serve the towns in which they are located. In rural areas across the country, local community radio stations reach out to keep farmers, ranchers and all those beyond the town limits informed and connected. Perhaps most importantly, these stations are essential components in our national Emergency Alert System safety net. In sum, the value and importance of these stations should not be underestimated."
Republican Robert M. McDowell was less welcoming, commenting that it had been "more than a decade since the Commission last considered rules that seek to balance our statutory obligation to implement "fair, efficient, and equitable distribution of radio service" under Section 307(b) of the Communications Act with our statutory obligation to award licenses through competitive bidding" and adding "Although I do not necessarily agree with all of the tentative conclusions associated with the questions set forth in this Notice, I appreciate the flexibility afforded me in the editing process."
The FCC was also involved in a number of enforcement actions including:
*Issued USD 4,800 forfeiture to Sumter Baptist Temple, Inc., licensee of WSSC-AM, Sumter, South Carolina, for failing to file renewal application in time and unauthorized operation. It had issued a Notice of Apparent Liability for Forfeiture (NAL) of USD 6,000 to which the licensee filed a request for cancellation or reduction on the basis that it had thought it had filed the application and only discovered it had not done so when advised by communications counsel hired to file an unrelated application, that it immediately took corrective action, and that it has a history of compliance. In line with past decisions the FCC dismissed the first two arguments but reduced the penalty on the basis of a history of compliance.
*Cancelled USD 7,000 NAL issued to KSLO Broadcasting Co., Inc., licensee of KSLO-AM, Opelousas, Louisiana, for late filing of renewal application and unauthorized operation and substituted an admonition.
The licensee had filed its application in paper form in advance of the due date and supported this assertion with a copy of a cancelled cheque payable to the commission and a certified mail receipt. It said that when its paper application was returned because the FCC was only accepting electronically-filed applications the station general manager attempted to file the renewal electronically but failed due to unfamiliarity with the system and issues relating to his deteriorating health. The FCC rejected the arguments but because the paper application had been filed on time substituted an admonishment for the fine.
In a contested set of applications for consent - the assignment by Skywest Media LLC of a number of licences and construction permits to Cochise Media Licenses LLC. - the agency denied an objection filed by White Park Broadcasting, Inc. and granted the applications.
At issue were licences or permits for KXML-FM, Salmon, Idaho; a new FM in Las Vegas, New Mexico; KRZX-FM, Monticello, Utah ; and new FMs in Hudson and Kaycee, Wyoming;
White Park's objection came from a companion proceeding concerning Skywest's new FM Station at Kaycee, for which it had filed a modification for operation on Channel 221C2 at Evansville, Wyoming.
White Park has a pending application to modify the license of KDAD-FM, Douglas, Wyoming, to substitute Bar Nunn, Wyoming, as its community of license, that the FCC was unable to process whilst Skywest's application was pending and it noted that 14 months after Skywest filed a "Notice of Intent to Respond," - in which it stated that it was in the process of amending its application to respond to the issues raised in White Park's objection - it had failed to file the amendment.
The FCC commented that White Park fails to explain how Skywest has violated its rules and said the objection attempts to raise issues that are not relevant to the applications. It dismissed the objection and granted the applications.
Previous Licence News:
ACMA web site:
CRTC web site:
FCC web site:
2009-04-25: The saga of Citadel's Scranton, Pennsylvania, oldies station WARM-AM, which went off the air on April 14, a shutdown attributed on the station web site to a transmitter problem, may possibly have ended with the return of the station to the airwaves.
Nobody at Citadel has so far as we can gather commented publicly on the matter - the Hazleton Standard Speaker said the station's general manager Bill Palmeri did not respond to telephone and e-mail messages and other employees refused to comment when contacted.
No information was posted on the station's web site but the return was in time to avoid having to file notification to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) that it had gone silent - a filing required within ten days. There had been considerable speculation that the station was closing down permanently and Sam Liguori, the host of WARM's "Polka Weekend with Sam Liguori" had thanked listeners in a letter to the Citizens' Voice that noted technical problems and then said , "It is hard to say goodbye, but WARM looks like it's gone for good."
There was no hard word from Citadel's HQ during the absence about what had happened or what plans the company had for the licence.
Standard Speaker report:
2009-04-24: US National Public Radio (NPR), whose new contracts with its unionized staff have just been ratified, has laid off a further 13 employees as part of cost-cutting measures according to the Washington Post.
The union vote by NABET (National Association of Broadcast Engineers and Technicians ) and AFTRA (American Federation of Television and Radio Artists) was for a contract that reduces the organization's contributions to retirement plans, cuts three holidays and requires employees to take week-long furloughs, and suspends jurisdictional rules governing some technicians' jobs.
NABET in a release said its vote was 72% in favour and 28% against and the new contract will go into effect immediately with the 'Economic Crisis Concessions' of furlough days, suspended payments to the 403(b) pension, suspended flex credits, and decommissioned holidays effective on May 1st: It added that the deal requires monthly meetings from July 2009 through March 2010 which will involve monitoring NPR's economic situation and that bargaining for the next contract will begin by October 1 this year.
The Post in its report on the cuts says that as well as the job cuts - in the information technology, legal services and communications departments and that NPR says won't affect programming - NPR will furlough all of its employees for five days over the next five months as well as cutting pay for Memorial Day, Independence Day and Labor Day this year, and three more holidays when its new fiscal year begins on Oct. 1.
Retirement contributions it said would be eliminated to the end of the current fiscal year and halved next year when there will also be no merit rises.
It adds that the reductions will put NPR on track to meet its budgets- it needs to close a projected USD 8 million budget gap during its current fiscal year, and USD 15 million over the next two years - but NPR spokeswoman Dana Davis Rehm could not say whether the worst was over.
"I don't think anyone can predict what's going to happen," she said. "We think this is a very prudent and reasonable plan."
Washington Post report:
2009-04-24: EMI has announced that Andrea Vidler, currently Chief Marketing Officer at Bauer Media and a formerly with the BBC, where she eventually became Head of Marketing for BBC News and then Head of Marketing & Business Development for BBC Sport,and later Managing Director of Capital Radio and of Magic 105.4, has been appointed President of EMI Music UK and Ireland.
She will take up her new role in the summer and will lead all of EMI Music's operations in the UK and Ireland, reporting to David Kassler, EMI Music's President, Europe, who said of her appointment in a news release, "Andria has managed and transformed some of the UK's most influential media brands. With her excellent management and consumer marketing skills, I believe she will be a great asset to EMI and to our artists."
2009-04-24: Former Air America Radio and Nova M Radio host Randi Rhodes is to be syndicated by Clear Channel's subsidiary Premiere Radio Networks from May 11: Rhodes quit Nova M in February (See RNW Feb 18) having joined it following her suspension last year by Air America Radio, which she had joined in 2004, over comments she made attacking Hillary Clinton and Geraldine Ferraro (See RNW Apr 4, 2008).
Before then she had been a U.S. Air Force aircraft mechanic, moving into radio with a Country music station in Seminole, Texas and then working in Mobile, Alabama, New York City, Milwaukee, West Palm Beach and Miami where she took WIOD-AM to the top of the ratings for the 20:00-23:00 slot.
The Randi Rhodes Show will broadcast live from Washington, D.C., and Premiere says it will be affiliates so far including KTLK-AM, Los Angeles, KKGN-AM, San Francisco and KPOJ-AM, Portland.
Rhodes commented of the move in a Premiere news release "Right now, America needs a voice that reflects its hopes and concerns. It will be my privilege and pleasure to provide vital information to the public about everything that is possible in the 21st century, and also have a few laughs along the way."
"Premiere is an incredible family of radio pros," she added "and is truly the most talented and experienced radio syndicator in the nation. I'm exited about this decision and Premiere's enthusiasm for this partnership. It's truly a dream come true."
2009-04-23: The US National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) and musicFirst Coalition, which wants performance royalties to be paid for music aired by terrestrial US radio stations, clashed again today with the latter accusing NAB President and CEO David K Rehr of talking out of both sides of his mouth and NAB responding with an attack on the recording industry but not really taking up the comments.
The NAB has also announced that a further five lawmakers have now expresses support for The Local Radio Freedom Act that calls on Congress to oppose the introduction of performance royalties taking the total to 178 members of the House.
In a statement musicFirst had commented of upbeat remarks about the future of radio made at the NAB Show by Rehr that "Either the economic storm clouds suddenly darkened or NAB realized they needed a more convenient message for policymakers considering the Performance Rights Act, one that was full of economic peril."
musicFirst spokesman Martin Machowsky has said that in comparison to NAB its message was "clear and consistent" - that ". Radio is rocking and poised for an even better future. Music is the key to radio's future. Without it, music radio is just static." He added that the parties should work together to create a fair performance rights system for artists, musicians, labels, other radio platforms and terrestrial radio.
In response NAB issued a statement attributed to Executive Vice President Dennis Wharton that said, "RIAA (the Recording Industry Association of America), which backs musicFirst) still doesn't get it. America's local radio stations are indeed facing the worst advertising recession since the Great Depression, a financial reality that would be exponentially worsened by a performance tax. But instead of suing grandmothers and college kids or looking to another industry for a brazen money-grab, we're embracing technology, adapting our business model, and looking to the future."
RNW note: We've long come to think of NAB's intellectual level as about as good as that of a slug high on caffeine and this exchange does little to change the view. RIAA may or may not "get it" but in a free market it should not be the function of the state to stop it making foolish business decisions which, if NAB is correct, is what it would be doing by introducing royalties.
At issue remain the principle of payment for use of copyright material - related to which NAB must either decry all copyright, which would be fatal to its members in the long term - and the issue of how much and the system that should be applied to determining the conditions, a system that in our view should be decided on the basis of the overall interest of society not on how much bribery or pressure can be applied on politicians by powerful vested interests.
NAB's response is pathetic and it obviously "doesn't get" the idea of actually making an argument as opposed to pushing propaganda.
2009-04-23: Westwood One has announced that it has completed the refinancing of its outstanding long-term indebtedness and the recapitalization of its equity, a move that included agreement by its existing lenders to exchange all their outstanding indebtedness -approximately USD 241 million for USD 25 million in cash, shares of 8.0% Series B Convertible Preferred Stock representing approximately 25% of Westwood One's equity and USD 117.5 million aggregate principal amount of new senior secured notes, maturing July 15, 2012.
Entities managed by the company's largest stockholder The Gores Group, LLC purchased for cash USD 25 million of Series B Preferred Stock, and exchanged all of their 7.5% Series A Convertible Preferred Stock for shares of 7.5% Series A-1 Convertible Preferred Stock ("Series A-1 Preferred Stock"): This gives Gores approximately 74.8% of Westwood One's equity with respect to its preferred stock whilst Westwood One's existing common stockholders own approximately 2.5% of the outstanding equity of Westwood One.
The company has also agreed a new credit facility with Wells Fargo Foothill, LLC comprised of a USD 20 million subordinated unsecured term loan and a USD 15 million senior unsecured revolving line of credit to finance working capital and other general corporate purposes: Both of these are guaranteed by Gores funds.
Westwood One President and CFO Rod Sherwood commented in a release, "We have reached a significant milestone in Westwood One's turnaround plan. The refinancing and infusion of additional capital provide key support for our strategic initiatives to drive revenue, improve operating efficiency and acquire new properties to further enhance Westwood One's traffic, news, sports, talk and entertainment leadership positions."
As part of the agreement Westwood One's Board was reconstituted with Gores assuming control of the Board and three Gores' designees were named to the Board - Andrew P. Bronstein, Managing Director of Glendon Partners, an operating group associated with Gores, Jonathan I. Gimbel, Vice President, Mergers and Acquisitions, of The Gores Group, LLC, and Michael F. Nold, Managing Director of Glendon Partners.
Gores Group Senior Managing Director Scott Honour said it had increased its investment in Westwood One because it continued "to recognize the opportunity for long-term growth. The Company is well-positioned in the media market, with a strong competitive offering, leading content and services and a focused, customer-centric orientation."
Previous Westwood One:
2009-04-23: The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has named the members of its Federal Advisory Committee on Diversity for Communications in the Digital Age, which is to meet for the first time in Washington DC on May 7.
The Committee is to make recommendations to the FCC regarding policies and practices that will further enhance the ability of minorities and women to participate in telecommunications and related industries and issued to be considered by the Committee will include financial issues such as access to capital, transactional transparency, career advancement, and the impact of new and emerging technologies on diversity issues.
In all there are 31 members so far including chairperson Henry Rivera of the Emma Bowen Foundation for Minority Interests in Media; Raúl Alarcón Jr., Chairman & CEO, Spanish Broadcasting System; Maria E. Brennan, American Women in Radio and Television; Jane Mago, National Association of Broadcasters (NAB); James Winston, National Association of Black Owned Broadcasters (NABOB); and Andrew Schwartzman, director of the US Media Access Project public interest law firm.
Acting FCC chairman Michael J Copps said in a release he was "extremely pleased to announce the membership of this vital Advisory Committee, "which will provide an important and independent voice for strengthening our commitment to diversity."
"The sad truth," he added, "is that the diversity of this great nation is not reflected in the ownership of its media and telecommunications facilities. The time has come to chart a new course, to roll up our sleeves and get to work to craft sustainable solutions."
2009-04-22: This week we start our look at print comment on radio by departing from the brief and going straight to some audio - it came in this week's "Digital Planet" on BBC World Service (available as a download) and was a discussion on the future of radio lasting around seven minutes. Nokia it would appear makes more "radios" than any other manufacturer in the world and Nick Pigott, Global Radio's Head of Technology suggested that the future of radio as standalone receivers may well be dire but not radio as a medium. He noted how there is already a generational divide with the main purchasers of standalone radio receivers tending to be an older generation whilst younger people are more used to multi-purpose devices- listening on cell phones for example to either streams from the internet or Fm from a built-in receiver. Already he suggested more and more people are listening on platforms other than a traditional receiver and he suggested that in a decade these receivers will be comparatively rate.
Then sticking in the UK we opt for Paul Donovan's Sunday Times column: Headed "Journey's end is the measure of good radio" he began with the story of a listener who was so engaged by BBC Radio 4's 90-minute Saturday afternoon play Man of the Moment, by Alan Ayckbourn that rather than doing the shopping he intended he drove round for a while then returned home and sat in the car waiting until the play ended.
Donovan continues, "Among radio fans this is a familiar phenomenon. 'The highest indicator of a programme's worth is whether you find it difficult, or indeed impossible, to get out of the car until it has come to an end,' says the writer Nicholas Lezard."
Donovan then notes how in 1985 he became "mesmerised by a reading of "A Night to Remember", Walter Lord's classic account of the sinking of the Titanic," and leads from this to recommend a 1997 reading by Martin Jarvis that is currently running in ten parts on BBC7 in the afternoons.
Next we quote a little of a UK Guardian review of the Russell Brand-Noel Gallagher show on UTV's talkSPORT. Jane Graham commented, "As a double act, Brand and Gallagher work brilliantly. The combination of Brand's melodramatic verbosity and Gallagher's droll, dry sarcasm works to both comic and dynamic effect, with Brand's meandering style disguising his ability to keep the conversation fresh and focused . The show was a highly entertaining two hours of footballing pub banter, but funnier, smarter and less predictable, with references to Dickens, Jung and Confucius balancing chat about the wisdom of Alan Shearer's acceptance of the Newcastle manager's job, the psychological impact of melancholy club anthems, and the mind-games between Benitez and Alex Ferguson (or "Taggart", as Noel called him)." (To us despite the Guardian's enthusiasm, it was mixture of the puerile, pretentious and boring but dip in and make your own mind up!)
After enthusiasm for radio in the UK, to the opposite in the US - well at least as regards the output of conservative talk hosts as perceived by John Sinton, the founding president of Air America Radio.
Writing in the Athens Banner-Herald Sinton was making more of a political than a qualitative judgment but maybe he had a point when he wrote, "But the polemicist likes of the Glenn Beck-Sean Hannity-Rush Limbaugh axis hate the idea of unity. It's bad for business. They need conflict for ratings. Building demons builds business. Hate and fear are the twin fuels that drive the engine of right-wing talk radio."
He then continued, "When you ask Limbaugh about his political influence, he demurs and says it is all entertainment. It reminds me of the great scene from the movie "North Dallas Forty" where the enraged quarterback screams at the team owner, "Damn it, B.J., every time I call it a game, you call it a business, and every time I call it a business, you call it a game. Which is it?"
"So is right-wing talk radio entertainment, or is it heavy-handed politics dressed up as entertainment? It's a rhetorical question. The answer is moot because, human nature being what it is, as long as you spew venom, you will have listeners."
His remedy was the simple one - stop listening to them. But then presumaby he isn't in the audience they're trying to attract.
And more negative vibes about US radio on a more general basis from John Gorman in his blog. Gorman, quite correctly in our view, is somewhat sceptical of the intent behind initiatives announced by Clear Channel this week in relation to community commitment, scepticism shared by Jim Carnegie, publisher of Radio Business Report and TV Business Report.
Carnegie commented, "RBR like others reported on Clear Channel's spin on putting more Non-Local programming on their stations. Let's not forget the slide-in of more PSAs to CYA and brand this as local community involvement or what the FCC calls - LOCALISM.
"One of these days the FCC is gonna wakeup and nail your sorry Tush right in Da Butt. Then everyone in radio will pay the price. But this is for another observation.
"Let's get real here on talent. Tell me talent can not be found? Bull. What about the 2,000 people CC fired a few months back? You cannot tell me that those people did not have talent."
And later of Clear Channel- and others - he commented, "Any hopes that the new owners of Clear Channel would be enlightened enough to understand that they need to invest for the future and reinvigorate the company's local businesses have vanished as we've watched their actions. They've fired bean growers and hired bean counters. Now they've moved to reduce the local content of businesses whose primary strength is their local identity."
Gorman was more blunt, writing, "CC radio head John Hogan released the most unconvincing, conniving press release, which all other disingenuous press releases will be measured against for the foreseeable future. It declared that Clear Channel born again of fresh new initiatives that would show its commitment to the wants and needs of their cities of license.
"Hogan even sent a rewrite of this terribly-written press release in letter form to Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA), the Chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee, which you can read here.
"It did nothing other than humiliate the entire radio industry. When the company with the most number of stations commits a faux pas of that scale, what message does it send to everyone from the ad community to the government on the way it conducts business?"
He then continues, "Can you imagine a conversation between Hogan and Fumbles (Gorman's nickname for NAB President and CEO David Rehr)?
"Fumbles: Oh, you speak bullshit too! Hogan: It's like a second language to me."
Indeed it too often is so on to listening suggestions and first two podcasts (or streams) -Tuesday's Digital Planet from the BBC specifically for the discussion on the future of radio, which we've already noted (From around 12:30 in - seven minutes well worth a listen) and also the Russell Brand-Noel Gallagher soccer chat show aired last Sunday and currently on the talkSPORT site as an MP3 or stream.
Then on to BBC streams that will only be there for a limited time starting with BBC 7 and "A Night to Remember" - the first of ten episondes aired on Monday - followed by a number of musical documentaries from BBC Radio 2 - Monday's "Andre Previn: All The Right Notes" - the third of four programmes; Tuesday's "Blonde on Blonde" - this week in the final programme in the three part series Mariella Frostrup celebrated Marilyn Monroe's life and work - and the following "Hollywood Charmers" - the third of four and on Omar Sharif; and next Saturday's "The Lyrics of Bob Dylan" in which music critic Laura Barton attempts to decode Dylan's lyrics.
We'd also mention from the station Monday's "Big Band Special", a tribute to Frank Sinatra and Ella Fitzgerald; Wednesday's "The Radcliffe & Maconie Show" for Pete Townshend talking about the stage adaptation of his rock opera Quadrophenia; Thursday's "On the Blog" and Suzi Quatro -focussed on the American charts of 1973; plus Friday's "The Blagger's Guide to Bob Dylan".
Dylan also featured on BBC Radio 4 in last Saturday's "Archive on 4" - "For One Night Illegally - The History of the Bootleg" in which writer and broadcaster David Hepworth charted the story of bootleg recordings.
And still with Radio 4 throughout the week we suggest the "Book of the Week" - "The Lost Mona Lisa" - and "Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen's Men of Fashion", a three- week series now in its last week that we picked up serendipitously on Monday when the programme was on the Influence of Hollywood on men's' fashions and found it to be far more interesting than we would have anticipated.
Then on a daily basis we suggest:
* Sunday's "A Fine Defence of Enid Blyton" in which children's author Anne Fine examined the author's enduring appeal;
*Monday's "Start the Week" (Also a podcast) for its discussion on "International Democracy" and "Costing the Earth", which detailed the carbon dioxide emissions of data processing warehouses;
*Tuesday's "On the Ropes" in which the guest was Gillian Gibbons, the teacher arrested in Sudan in 2007 for calling a teddy bear Mohammed - she was later expelled and the issue gave Sudan the opportunity to significantly dent the image of Islam to millions, albeit Gibbons, now teaching in China reacted with comparative equanimity to the events - and also "Head to Head" on the 1969 debate between Noam Chomsky and William F Buckley about American foreign policy (the first of four programmes), "Word of Mouth", in which Michael Rosen explored the use and abuse of the word "like" by teenagers and others, "Great Lives", this edition on the conductor Sir Thomas Beecham, and "Down the Line", a one-off edition of the spoof show, this one on the credit crunch.
*Wednesday's "Life's Soundtrack" in which Trevor Cox explores how our voice and our hearing develop and change through our lives, "A Wonderful Way to Make a Living" - Joe Queenan in this programme talked to those whose job is to test the security systems of banks, and "Material World" which dealt with how machines are learning to recognise and express emotions.
*Thursday's "In our Time" (Also a podcast) on the building of St Petersburg and "Costing the Earth- Obama's Green Dream."
*Friday's "Anthropology at War" in which Mark Whitaker reports on the US army's embedding of anthropologists with combat brigades, our regular comedy suggestion with "The Now Show" (Also a download) and "The Friday Play" -"Consideration", on a woman who sues her husband for the return of the kidney she had donated to him.
*and finally Saturday's "Archive on 4" again- this time "Working for Margaret" in which Matthew Parris asks former staff and ministers what former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher was like as a boss and "Bringing up Britain" - the third of a four-part series: This programme looked at step-parenting and 'blended families'.
Then to BBC Radio 3 for "World Routes in Zanzibar", a two-part series that began last Saturday and ends this Saturday plus running through the week "The Essay" that this week was on Henry VIII.
From Monday we suggest "Jazz on 3" and George Haslam's FreeTime Quartet in Session and then from Thursday "Performance on 3" with the London Symphony Orchestra conducted by Tan Dun in a performance of his "Internet Symphony" composed for his YouTube Symphony Orchestra and Friday for more "Performance on 3" and the CBSO and Andris Nelsons performing music inspired by Bach.
After streams a run through some podcasts/MP3s starting with more from the BBC including the World Service Documentary Archive and "The Secret Scientists - part two" - the first part is still in the site - in which Jim Al-Khalili looks at the scientists from the Islamic world who created a legacy for scientists in the European renaissance and "Global Business" - a look at the economic crisis's effects on Iceland and Ireland.
We'd also add a couple of BBC Radio 4 podcasts in the form of last weekend's "Profile" - of Jacob Zuma and last Friday's "More or Less: Behind the Stats", this edition including a look at the statistics behind the debate on drug legalisation.
Then tothe Australian Broadcasting Corporation and last Sunday's "Background Briefing" on what made the Romans laugh (A recommendation last week); this Tuesday's "Law Report" on restrictions on media coverage of child protection and family court matters - the previous week the programme looked at a Queensland case in which a young mother became a crucial witness in a triple murder case. She was also raped by two of the murderers and Queensland's Department of Child Safety deemed this woman 'an unfit mother' because her two-year-old son was with her at the time of the crimes and last Sunday's "Night Air" - "Kind of Oriental" on white men who can only contemplate an affair with or marriage to an 'Asian woman' and also from last Sunday "Ockham's Razor" -" Welcome to gravitational astronomy 101" that considered the real threat of a cosmic bullet threatening life on earth.
Athens Banner-Herald - Sinton:
John Gorman blog:
RBR - Carnegie:
talkSPORT - Brand & Gallaher show page (links to stream or MP3):
UK Guardian - Graham:
UK Sunday Times - Donovan:
2009-04-22: Radio industry body Commercial Radio Australia has announced that sales of digital radio receivers are to be tracked from the launch of the technology to include not only the numbers but also the types of receivers bought.
The body's CEO Joan Warner said they wanted to "gain a unique profile of digital radio listeners in Australia right from the beginning of the technology. We will use this information together with our digital radio platform of listening data, set to be included in the Nielson radio ratings from May to further understand our audience."
She added that it was "unlikely any figures will be released in the short term but rather when the industry begins to see trending in uptake."
Digital radio sales will initially be tracked by GfK Retail and Technology's sell-in service and eventually be complemented by GfK's sell-through sales data. Categories to be tracked are Clock Radios, Radio Only Products, Portable Systems, Personal Audio, Hi-Fi Components and Hi-Fi Systems.
DAB+ digital receivers will be on sale from May at leading retailers in Australia's capital cities with models from Pure, Roberts, Bush, Revo, Grundig, iRiver, Sangean and Teac. The DAB+ signal will be introduced into these cities - Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth - throughout May and a simultaneous five state mainland capital Listener Event with all commercial radio stations and the ABC and SBS will be held on 6 August.
Commercial Radio Australia has also posted a list of the finalists for this year's Siren Awards for the best radio advert of 2009 with the winner automatically being entered into the Cannes Radio Lions to be held in June.
The awards are now in their sixth year and there were nearly 600 entries this year with 26 ad agencies, radio stations and production studios getting through to the final: Winners will be announced on May 8 at a breakfast in Sydney hosted by Jonathan 'Jono' Coleman and Ian 'Dano' Rogerson, from the drivetime show, "The Jono & Dano Show". The breakfast will be followed by a one day seminar on how to write and produce good radio ads, called "Getting radio off the Page".
The main speaker at the seminar - "Getting radio off the Page" - will be Australian actor, writer, producer and director, Rob Carlton and the focus will be on writing and production.
Warner commented of this, "It is important to invest as much as possible in the production process for radio ads - casting, production and direction are all vital. The speakers at the Masterclass all have extensive experience in these areas and should provide some valuable tips for everyone attending."
Previous Commercial Radio Australia:
Sirens Award finalists news release:
2009-04-22: Arbitron has announced that the Beasley Broadcast Group has renewed its multi-year agreement for diary-based ratings in five markets - Augusta, Georgia; Fayetteville, North Carolina; Ft. Myers, Florida; Greenville-New Bern-Jacksonville, North Carolina and Wilmington, Delaware.
Beasley Chairman and Chief Executive Officer George Beasley said the deal demonstrated the group's confidence in Arbitron, adding, "Beasley Broadcast has enjoyed a long-term relationship with Arbitron and we look forward to continuing this association in our large and mid-size markets."
Beasley also takes Arbitron's Portable People Meter (PPM) ratings service in Philadelphia and has signed up for PPM ratings in Las Vegas and Miami when Arbitron commercializes the service in those markets.
Previous George Beasley:
2009-04-22: This year's National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) Show in Las Vegas attracted just fewer than 84,000 visitors according to figures released by the organization on Tuesday evening: It broke these down to 83,842 registered attendees of whom 23,232 were International and 1,246 News Media and added that research showed the show generated more than USD 50 billion in sales each year. The figures are down almost a fifth from last year's 104,000.
NAB Executive Vice President Dennis Wharton commented in a release, "With two days remaining, the NAB Show has been a phenomenal success by any measure in an otherwise challenging economy. We appreciate the strong support of both exhibitors and attendees who continue to make the NAB Show the most important annual event for the electronic media marketplace."
2009-04-21: In at attempt to restructure its debt, Clear Channel Communications has disclosed in a filing to the Securities and Exchange Commission is offering to exchange two classes of its bonds with new bonds that would be registered under the Securities Act allowing them to be sold: Notes that were not exchanged would carry restrictions on how they could be sold or transferred.
The offer is to replace outstanding 10.75% Senior Cash Pay Notes due 2016 and 11.00%/11.75% Senior Toggle Notes due 2016 with USD 980,000,000 aggregate principal amount of 10.75% Senior Cash Pay Notes due 2016 and USD 1,330,000,000 aggregate principal amount of 11.00%/11.75% Senior Toggle Notes due 2016 that have been registered under the Securities Act.
In its prospectus the company says the terms of the notes are identical except for the registration of the notes being offered
The New York Times in its report on the offer adds that what it terms "people briefed on the matter" have said the company, which was acquired in a USD 17.9 billion leveraged buyout last summer, is considering hiring an adviser to consider restructuring options for its capital structure.
It also noted that a preliminary filing showed its revenues to have dropped 23% in the first quarter (See RNW Apr 20) and that this year, Standard & Poor's said that a 30 percent drop in the company's earnings for 2009 could lead to a breach of its loan covenants.
In other Clear Channel news, Clear Channel Radio has named Vishal Sharma to the new post of Senior Vice President, Strategic Initiatives, a role in which it says he will "lead the development and implementation of Clear Channel Radio's strategic initiatives and company-wide transformation efforts."
Sharma joins the company from The Boston Consulting Group and Clear Channel Radio Chief Financial and Administrative Officer Mitch Goldstein said of the appointment, "Vish brings both excellent operating experience in leading significant change projects with sustained positive impact, as well as business consulting expertise in generating strategic insight and driving significant value, making him the perfect candidate for this position."
Previous Clear Channel:
New York Times report:
2009-04-21: The US National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) in its continuing campaign against the introduction of performance royalties for terrestrial radio station has claimed another 15 supports for The Local Radio Freedom Act that says the charges should not be introduced, taking the total number of supporters in the House to 173.
The NAB has also unveiled a new 60-second spot opposing the introduction. Called "Don't Feed the Fat Cat", the advert began airing today on Washington DC stations WMAL-AM and WTOP-FM and the NAB has posted a transcript of its content.
This goes, "Once upon a time, the Record Label Fat Cat gorged on rich, tasty profits he got from music sales through radio. The radio played the music. The people bought the music. And the Fat Cat got fatter and fatter. At least, he did, until he ate up all his profits. Now he wants to tax the radio to see if he can taste a few more profits, by biting the hand that feeds him.
"But, that's not so good for radio. It's even worse for music and listeners. And it's not a very happy ending to the story. The Record Label Fat Cat is fat enough. Let's take the Performance Tax off his plate. If you want the real story of the Performance Tax, go to NoPerformanceTax.org.
"Don't feed the Fat Cat."
RNW comment: Yet again we find NAB's advocacy puerile and simplistic. Maybe that's what it takes to attract US politicians and public, but what a contemptible lot if that is so!
We remain of the view that the argument in principle for such a charge is clear and that the argument should be about amount in relation to which we continue to hold our view that government should not be dictating in this area but a better approach would be to allow the market to decide through tiered royalty charges, to which artists and companies should have to commit themselves for a reasonable period. In this way artists who want airplay could go for a nil or low-rate band and those who think they deserve top rate can try it - and fall flat on their face if the NAB's arguments about the value of radio promotion are well founded.
2009-04-21: Xfm London breakfast host Alex Zane is to leave the Global Radio station "by mutual agreement" and will be replaced by afternoon host Ian Camfield. Zane first became prominent on MTV and has also appeared on a number of other TV shows.
Xfm has wished him "every success for the future" and a spokesperson for Zane said he couldn't commit himself to the show for a further year in view of other projects he was working on.
Previous Global Radio:
2009-04-21: Arbitron has bucked the general trend for US radio companies and reported first quarter revenues from continuing operations up 4.7% on a year ago to USD 98.5 million but Earnings before interest and income tax expense (EBIT) for the quarter was down 25.1% to USD 20.1 million and net income was down 19.3% to USD 12.3 million, 46 cents per diluted share compared to 57 cents a year earlier although the company noted that excluding the USD 8.2 million pre-tax impact of a previously disclosed restructuring charge, earnings per share for the quarter were higher at 65 cents.
Costs and expenses were up 19.1% to USD 75.4 million, a rise put down to planned expenditures for the Portable People Meter (PPM) ratings panels, the planned introduction of cell-phone-only household sampling in diary markets and expenses of USD 8.2 million related principally to severance and benefits for the reorganization and restructuring program announced in March 2009.
President and Chief Executive Officer Michael Skarzynski said of the results that during the quarter Arbitron had "focused its efforts in four areas: customer satisfaction, service quality, cost management and strategic positioning."
"The recession and decline in the advertising spending for radio remains the number one challenge for our customers, particularly for radio broadcasters," he added, "Arbitron is working hard through our customer satisfaction improvement programs to increase the value and utility of our PPM and diary market services while prioritizing our customer needs and interests in our decision-making.
"Continuously improving service quality for the PPM and diary markets also remains a top priority. Arbitron has extended, to all PPM markets nationwide, key methodological enhancements including an expansion of cell-phone-only households in our panels using address-based sampling, as well as increases in our benchmarks for in-tab compliance rates, response measures and other key metrics. We also initiated cell-phone-only household sampling in an initial 151 diary markets for the Spring 2009 radio survey."
Skarzynski also said the company had reduced projected expenses next year by USD 10 million and noted that "In the area of strategic positioning, we realigned the executive staff, restructured the organization to move the company closer to our customers, recruited three new executive vice presidents and relocated company headquarters to Columbia, Maryland."
Arbitron has reiterated its full year guidance of revenues to increase between 6% and 10% with earnings per diluted share to be between USD 1.40 and USD 1.55, up between 3% and 14% including the impact of the US 8.2 million noted above.
Arbitron has also announced the appointment of Taher G. Behbehani, most recently, Vice President, Business Affairs, Time Warner Cable Inc., to the newly-created position of Executive Vice President, Chief Strategy and Business Development Officer, reporting to Skarzynski
2009-04-20: US National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) President and CEO David K. Rehr have delivered an upbeat "State of the Industry" keynote speech for the 2009 NAB Show being held in Las Vegas.
Opening by saying there was nowhere he'd rather be Rehr went on to say, "We are witnessing exciting changes in radio and television. Changes that seem to happen in a blink of an eye changes that can seem unsettling. But from where I stand, these changes are opportunities for us to seize. The world is facing an economic crisis. That is unquestionable. But that isn't stopping us."
He then goes on to comment that at the show "we are demonstrating that broadcasters are forging ahead, spurring innovation and creating multiple platforms to deliver our content. From moving 3D viewing into the home to incorporating FM chips in cell phones to exploring all the possibilities of the Internet. We are planning for the future and seizing opportunities in this digital age. Our journey to this moment has been swift. Our confidence tested. But our focus unwavering.
We are faced with making some tough decisions to ensure a strong future for our business.
"But from this adversity, we are finding strength, and directing our energy towards creativity, innovation and tomorrow. We are taking control of our future."
Regarding radio Rehr commented that it was "at a critical juncture. The rise of MP3 players and other competing platforms made radio seem obsolete to some people. They said radio wasn't adapting to the digital age. They said that listenership was declining and that radio was a medium of the past. But we knew they were wrong, and we set out to prove it.
"Two years ago, we launched Radio 2020 - an initiative to ensure radio's value will be recognized well into the future. We joined with the Radio Advertising Bureau and the HD Digital Radio Alliance to have 'one voice' for radio. We spent countless months and considerable dollars looking at radio's perception and determined a strategy to "revitalize" this great medium. Radio 2020 is a 12-year commitment to set any misperceptions right, and build on the 'love affair' listeners have with radio."
He also commented that the "Radio Heard Here" campaign is "reminding everyone -- the radio business, advertising community, electronics industry and listener that radio has a great impact on people's lives."
"We're fostering a new generation of radio listeners and reaching out to them through our Web site, blogs and social networking," commented Rehr. "Our goal for radio is simple, yet focused: Wherever there is a speaker or a pair of headphones, radio will be there."
Rehr also noted the rise in online listening ; HD radio technology "not only crystal clear sound, but more channels, new formats and new content"; and the push to get FM chips included in cell phones, a move that would also "give cell phone users access to the Emergency Alert System."
Rehr then went on in a similar upbeat way about TV before returning to radio and commenting that "during a time when there are more media choices than ever before in the history of the world, radio listenership is growing. Ninety-two percent of Americans say radio plays an important part in their lives. And, there has been more innovation in radio in the last five years than in the past 50."
RNW comment: We don't know how well the comments played at the time but reading them in cold-print brought to the mind two D-words- "deluded" and "dishonest." Regarding the first we see very little evidence of a development of radio listening amongst younger demographics - the audience of the future and it's a dangerous delusion to assume they will listen as much as teenagers in the past: And as to innovation, are we talking about the reason people listen - programming - or the technology that others have developed that can make a station's audio available over a wider area?
2009-04-20: Cox Radio has announced that the Special Committee it set up to consider a bid by Cox Enterprises though its wholly-owned subsidiary Cox Media Group to take full ownership has now withdrawn its recommendation made earlier this month that stockholders accept the USD 3.80 per share offer for their stock (See RNW Apr 4).
The Committee says it is now taking a neutral position concerning the tender offer although it has not changed its view that the offer was a fair one financially. It notes that Cox Enterprises and Cox Media Group have announced an extension of the tender offer until 12:00 midnight New York City time on Friday, May 1, 2009 without increasing the offer price; that Cox Radio's Board of Directors have adopted a resolution clarifying the Special Committee's authority to negotiate all terms of the tender offer, including the offer price; and that n the course of conversations among the Special Committee and a representative of Cox Enterprises, Cox Enterprises' representative informed the Special Committee that Cox Media Group and Cox Enterprises were giving serious consideration to increasing the offer price to USD 4.20 per share and that the increased price may not be their best and final offer.
The change comes against the background of a class action law suit backed by international investor advocacy group The Shareholders Foundation alleging that the offer was not in the interests of the shareholders but of Cox Enterprises (See RNW Apr 15 ).
Cox Radio is also involved in another lawsuit, this time along with a dozen other radio companies who are being sued by patent licensing company Alday LLC for what it says is breach of its patent for technology that allows stations to replace local content with material of wider interest when streaming on the Internet.
Being sued along with Cox in a suit that was launched in a U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas are Aloha Station Trust; CBS Radio; Citadel Broadcasting; Clear Channel Communications; Cumulus; Entercom Communications; Gap Broadcasting; Gap Broadcasting II; Radio One Inc.; Regent Communications; Saga Communications and Univision.
The patent was issued in June 2003 to inventors David D. Minter and Albert S. Baldocchi and Alday, now the exclusive licensee, wants a ruling that the groups infringed the patent plus damages.
RNW comment: If the radio companies are using technology specifically developed by the patentees, the case would seem reasonable: If, however, they just came up with the idea of different adverts for different markets during a stream, our view is that the patent should be revoked - and ideally that all other patents licensed by Alday should be reviewed with a view to possible revocation. The old system of only allowing patenting of a process seems to us to have been sensible and it would probably aid the US and world economy and innovation if it were brought back and patents not tied to specific processes all voided.
2009-04-20: BBC Radio 1 breakfast host Chris Moyles spent around 12-minutes of his show on Monday attacking the tabloid newspaper The Sun for its front-page story saying that he was to be dismissed by the Corporation (See RNW Apr 18).
Moyles said he wasn't "going to start a war" with the paper's Bizarre editor Gordon Smart, a co-author of the report, and continued on to say he'd always got on well with the Paper and previous editors of the section but then says "Gordon seems to want to ruin all that goodwill and I have no idea why."
Moyles went on to note that Smart had been told by the BBC Press Office that the story isn't true and also by someone else but went on to run the story and "in that cowardly way that often journalists do when they are starting to forget their training and what they are a journalist for, he goes 'Oh I have very good sources'."
As to the actual situation, Moyles says, "Here are the facts - we ain't going anywhere. We are staying on the show as long as you want us on here and as long as me and Radio 1 are happy doing it. There are no plans to take me off in September or August or November at all."
UK Guardian - transcript of Moyles comments:
BBC i-Player for audio stream of Moyles show (His comments run from around 1hr 36 - his musical intro- to 1hr 48 of the show):
2009-04-20: Tom Joyner, who has had no Chicago outlet since his syndicated morning show was dropped by Clear Channel's WVAZ-FM last month (See RNW Mar 24) is to return to the city's airwaves on Wednesday on Crawford Broadcasting's Soul 106.3 - from 05:00 to 09:00 - with his weekend programme "Right Back at Cha" to air Saturdays from 9 to 11 a.m.
A report on the host's web site says Reach Media, parent company of the Joyner Morning Show, reached an agreement with Crawford Broadcasting that allows a more customized morning program that will be specific to Joyner's "radio hometown."
It also notes an outcry when Clear Channel dropped the show and adds that ratings released a few days later showed Joyner ranked No. 4 mornings in the key demographic of 25-54 year-olds with a 4.6 share for the entire market, and as the top urban morning show.
2009-04-20: Talk host Michael Savage in conjunction with the Ann Arbor, Michigan-based, Thomas More Law Center, Gregg Cunningham of the pro-life Center for Bio-Ethical Reform and former marine and Iraq war veteran Kevin Murray has filed a lawsuit against the Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, and US Attorney General Eric Holder, alleging that the department's policy against "extremists" violates the First and Fifth Amendments to the United States Constitution.
Reporting on the suit, which is based on a DHS report "Rightwing Extremism: Current Economic and Political Climate Fuelling Resurgence in Radicalization and Recruitment " that has been posted by a number of websites but not so far released by the agency officially (albeit absence of a denial suggests it is genuine), the Michigan Messenger notes that the Center "seems to specialize in filing lawsuits with little hope of succeeding on the merits" adding that the same group filed suit against AIG last year because one of its subsidiaries sells a type of insurance that complies with Muslim legal restrictions.
Murray, it says, was the plaintiff in that case, and it adds that this case "appears to be little better. Like the AIG complaint, it's mostly filled with political boilerplate rather than serious legal arguments."
The paper also adds that it is "especially ironic that the group objects to DHS keeping an eye on right-wing extremists less than two weeks after Richard Poplawski, a white supremacist with ties to far-right organizations, opened fire and killed three police officers in Pittsburgh."
Reports in right-wing publications give a totally different impression - Savage's site links to a report from WorldNet Daily which quotes Richard Thompson, president and chief counsel for the Center as saying, "This is not an intelligence report but a diatribe against those who oppose the policies of the Obama administration. It is a declaration of war against the American people and our constitution. It is a prelude to extreme gun control legislation and hate speech laws targeting Christian churches and others who oppose abortion and same sex marriage The federal government should be focusing its attention on the 35 radical Muslim compounds in the U.S. training its followers on how to kidnap and kill Americans."
RNW comment: Follow the links for the report and suit - both PDFs - and make up your own mind. Ours is to wonder why if the Center has evidence of "35 radical Muslim compounds in the U.S. training its followers on how to kidnap and kill Americans"- not the precise numbers - it has a public duty to name names and give details. We doubt the veracity of this statement and certainly reading the posted DHS report and comparing it with the WorldNet report indicates that Savage and his followers have somewhat of a problem with factual reports as opposed to propaganda in the way they present their "information" but of course whatever else the suit does it is garnering publicity for Savage.
Michigan Messenger report:
WorldNet Daily report:
DHS report (9-page 1.94MB PDF):
Law suit (14-page 1.19 MB PDF):
2009-04-20: Clear Channel Media Holdings, following the recent pattern of disclosing preliminary results in an 8K filing to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has said that its revenues in the first quarter to the end of March were down around 23% on a year ago - from USD 1.56 billion (See RNW May 10, 2008) to USD 1.21 billion.
Expenses were down around 5% to a total of USD 1.04 billion compared to USD 1.1 billion.
The company also listed its total debt as USD 21 billion with total guaranteed/subsidiary debt at USD 17.78 billion and Short-term investments (Cash and cash equivalents) totalling USD 1.47 billion.
The figures are affected by disposals but could still cause investors concern about the company's ability to meet its agreements with its lenders. Clear Channel has announced that it will formally release first quarter figures on May 11 but will not hold a conference call.
Also reporting reduced revenues - in its case a 10K filing for the whole of 2008 - was CMP Susquehanna Radio Holdings, which was formed by Cumulus Media to operate the stations it acquired from Susquehanna Radio in 2006 in a USD 1.2 billion deal (See RNW Nov 1, 2005)
Revenues were down 9% on 2007 to USD 203.4 million, a decline put down to "the impact of the current economic recession" for the decline in revenue, which was partly offset by USD 2.8 million in 2008 political revenue."
The company said its loss from continuing operations nearly tripled - up from USD 185.29 million to USD 525.629 million.
Of its plans, CMP said in the filing, "Management is focused on preserving our operating income and cash flows from operations by reducing our variable costs in an effort to keep pace with the current downturn in demand for advertising."
In all the company operates 32 stations in nine markets - San Francisco, Dallas, Atlanta, Indianapolis, Cincinnati and York, Pennsylvania, plus Cumulus stations in Houston and Kansas City
Previous Clear Channel:
2009-04-19: Last week was yet another when the regulators had a fairly quiet time - there were no radio postings from Australia and in Ireland and the UK only announcements concerning broadcasting schemes.
In Canada, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) was a little busier. Its radio-related postings included:
Posting a public notice with a May 21 deadline for interventions or comments relating to an application by the Jim Pattison Broadcast Group Limited to increase the power of its English-language commercial station CIBW-FM, Drayton Valley, from 7,400 watts to 50,000 watts to prevent interference from Harvard Broadcasting Inc.'s CFEX-FM, Calgary. Pattison has agreed with Harvard, whose station had caused interference, that Harvard will pay for the facilities including a new antenna and transmitter, to increase the power.
*Approval of application by the Cowichan Valley Community Radio Society for a licence for a 3.7 watts English-language, low-power developmental community FM in Lake Cowichan.
The CRTC also moved from May 25 to May 26 the public hearing it had scheduled in Québec to consider various applications and from May 27 to May 28 a hearing scheduled in Halifax, Nova Scotia.
In Ireland, the Broadcasting Commission of Ireland (BCI) has posted preliminary closing dates for applications for its 2009 Sound & Vision scheme: For Radio Round 8 the deadline is May 5 with decisions to be announced in July and for Radio Round 9 applications can be made from Sep 7 to Oct 6 with decisions to be announced in December.
In the UK, Ofcom has opened its first round of funding applications for community radio in 2009: This closed on May 12 and the awarding panel is to meet in June to consider the applications.
In the US, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has posted the procedures and minimum opening bid amounts for its FM Auction 79 in which 122 permits are to be auctioned including three FM allotments that were defaulted on after a previous auction, and a construction permit for one FM allotment that was offered but not sold in Auctions 37 and 62.
The agency was also involved in a number of enforcement actions including the following:
*Issued USD 7,000 forfeiture to Dewey D. Lankford, former licensee of Station WANA-AM, Anniston, Alabama, for late filing of renewal application and unauthorized operation. The FCC had issued a Notice of Apparent Liability for Forfeiture (NAL) for this amount to which Lankford had filed a request for cancellation on the basis that he thought his application had been properly files and that the failure might have been the result of failings at the bureau's Consolidated Data Base System.
The FCC noted that in regard to the latter supporting evidence provided showed that the bureau had extended deadlines as a result of problems, evidence it commented that worked against Lankford's contentions. It confirmed the full penalty.
*Cancelled a USD 8,100 forfeiture issued to Halifax Christian Community Church, Inc., licensee of WFBO-LP, Flagler Beach, Florida. The agency had originally issued a USD 24,000 NAL following complaints that the station had broadcast announcements that breached the agency's non-commercial underwriting rules.
Halifax had responded requesting a reduction on the basis of inability to pay and had accordingly reduced the penalty to USD 8,100 and after this it had contacted the bureau and offered to relinquish its license.
In response to this the agency issued a consent decree under which it ends its investigation and cancels the forfeiture whilst Halifax agrees to turn in the licence, not to apply for a new licence for five years, and after that disclose details of the Consent Decree with any licence application it may make.
Previous Licence News:
BCI web site:
CRTC web site:
FCC web site:
Ofcom web site:
2009-04-18: BBC Radio 1 has responded to a story in the UK tabloid newspaper The Sun that said its breakfast host, 35-years-old Chris Moyles, is facing the sack with a denial that this is the case.
The Sun's "exclusive" report by Gordon Smart, the paper's "Bizarre editor", and Simon Rothstein says Moyles will be dropped after he become the longest-serving host in the slot in September when he will overtake Tony Blackburn who held the post from for five years and nine months from the station's launch in September 1967: So far Moyles has been in the slot for five years and four months - the same period as Simon Mayo who held the post from May 1988 to September 1993 and ahead of Mike Reid whose term ran five years and three months from January 1981 to April 1986.
The paper said that current drivetime host Scott Mills who is around a month younger than Moyles, would be asked to step in whilst a replacement was readied for the slot and said the BBC wanted a "rising star for the prestigious job amid criticism that the station's line-up is now too old for its listeners."
It added that a source at Broadcasting House said, "The BBC were planning to break the news gently by convincing Chris it was his decision to quit. He will be totally devastated to leave. His ego will take a battering" and adding of the plans, "The early plans to introduce a new generation of stars to the station are now under way. Chris is still in the dark about the moves behind the scenes, but Scott Mills has been made aware."
The Sun noted that Moyles, who is paid GBP 630,000 (USD 930,000) a year and has an audience topping seven million a week has frequently hit trouble with "ill-judged" comments, of which a Radio 1 source said, "Patience was beginning to run out."
The paper quoted a station spokesman as refusing to comment how long Moyles would remain with Radio 1 but saying, "We've no plans to take Chris off breakfast. He hosts a highly successful show."
BBC News ran a report under the heading "Radio 1 'not axing Chris Moyles'" in which it quoted a BBC spokesperson as saying there were "no plans to take Chris off the breakfast show" and adding, "He has a hugely successful show with over seven million listeners, and he added more listeners in the last Rajar figures."
Moyles took over the slot from Sara Cox in January 2004 and since then its audience has risen from 5.5 million listeners a week to 7.3 million in the latest survey.
BBC News report:
UK Sun report:
2009-04-18: WorldSpace despite its bankruptcy problems in the US (the filing did not include its wholly-owned Indian subsidiary), plans to go ahead with its plans in India without any major changes according to Radio and Music, which quotes as its source WorldSpace India managing director M Sebastian.
The publication adds that in relation to a planned new licensing regime for satellite radio in India (See RNW Apr 15), WorldSpace has sought a five-year time period to migrate into the new licensing regime once it is finalised and has also officially told the Information and Broadcasting Ministry, it would divest 26 per cent of its equity in favour of Indian equity investors, within the five-year timeframe.
Sebastian asked about reports that the government has agreed to allow it a time frame of three years to come in line with foreign investment limits, Sebastian said that the company is not aware of the final decision of the Government as it is not yet announced publicly.
Of WorldSpace's problems Sebastian commented, "We have been passing through a difficult phase globally, but I am glad that we have been able to successfully conclude the restructuring process under the Chapter 11 protection (The bankruptcy court has approved a sale of asserts to a company controlled by founder and chief executive Noah Samara - See RNW Mar 20). Various factors, including the overall slowdown in the economy, have affected our business but we are happy with the progress made so far in spite of these challenges."
World Space currently provides 34 radio channels in India that include BBC World and London-based WRN news channels and Sebastian said he was optimistic about prospects in the country where WorldSpace currently has around 175,000 subscribers at INR 1800 (USD 36) a year - a total subscription income of around USD 6.3 million a year.
Previous Indian Radio:
Radio and Music report:
2009-04-18: Russell Brand, who resigned from his BBC Radio 2 Saturday evening show following the row over crude remarks made by him and Jonathan Ross (See RNW Oct 29, 2008), is back on the radio in the UK tomorrow - co-hosting a soccer show for UTV-owned talkSPORT with Noel Gallagher of Oasis, formerly a regular contributor to Brand's show.
In a posting on its web site talkSPORT calls the show, which will air tomorrow from 20:00 to 22:00 GMT, "high-octane, no-holds-barred" and says it will be two-hours of "footie frivolity and rapid-fire banter." It has left the door open for further shows but made no announcement about them.
Brand is a West Ham supporter and writes a weekly football column in the UK Guardian newspaper whilst Gallagher supports Manchester City.
talkSPORT Programme Director Moz Dee said of the show, "talkSPORT welcomes Russell back to radio. He's a unique talent who understands the medium brilliantly, and together with Noel Gallagher, it'll be a must listen. Both are proper football fans who just happen to be two of the most creative minds in popular culture."
In a posting about the show Brand (his ungrammatical English) comments "Me and Gallagher will turn talkSPORT into the fulcrum of the revolution. If we can just get Wossy (Jonathan Ross, who was suspended by the BBC as a result of the incident but is now back on both BBC Radio 2 and BBC TV) to come on as a guest, a new dawn will rise."
He also appeals for "Embarrassing football stories" and volunteers as a "football agony auntie", commenting, "It's very important to us that listeners contribute and interact with the show. Therefore, why not take part now by sending us any interesting or funny info you have around the following areas
"1. Send us your most embarrassing football related stories whether you missed the birth or your first born because of a game or foolishly tried to start a chant with cringing results, we (and the nation) want to hear about it. Email Russell and Noel
"2. Faced with a tricky football related problem? Who better to offer sound advice than Russell Brand and Noel Gallagher? You may be beside yourself that your son supports the wrong team or need help to keep your wife happy on match days .just send us your problem and Russell and Noel will offer a personal and quite unique solution. Email Russell and Noel
"3. Failing that, we'd just love to hear from you with any other football related questions you'd like to ask Russell and Noel or any other nuggets of gold that you have spotted and feel might contribute to the show. E-mail Russell and Noel."
talkSPORT web site:
talkSPORT posting re show:
2009-04-17: DMG Radio Australia has now released details of its plans for two 24-hour digital stations - dance station Novanation and chill-out station Koffee.
It describes Novanation as Australia's first national commercial dance station to be heard 24 hours a day whilst Koffee is described as a mood and lifestyle-driven brand that plays music to encourage listeners to find time to chill.
Each station will also have an interactive website and be broadcast on DAB digital radio - Koffee, which will initially be aired on DAB in Sydney, Melbourne, and Adelaide and the stations will be available to iPod Touch and iPhone users - and in addition DMG will also simulcast its Nova, Vega and Five Triple-A stations on the national digital radio network, a move it says will make it most diverse digital radio offering from any Australian broadcaster to date.
DMG Radio Australia Group Program Director Dean Buchanan said in a release "We're really excited about being about to connect and interact with people beyond FM radio. Our new DAB+, online and mobile offerings enable us to do that and together these mediums open up a powerful and exciting listener generated future. That future starts now."
CEO Cathy O'Connor added, "Novanation and koffee break new ground for commercial radio. We believe it's unique content along with features such as text and pictures that will drive the uptake of digital radio in Australia. Combined with new levels of interactivity online, dmg has built these stations with the future in mind."
2009-04-17: Irish state broadcaster RTÉ has agreed deals to get its four new digital stations - speech station RTÉ Choice; RTÉ Junior, aimed at 2 to 12-year-olds; RTÉ 2XM, a sister station to youth station 2fm; and dance station RTÉ Pulse -on the NTL and Chorus digital platforms, a move that will make them available to around 85% of the country's population.
The stations are already on DAB digital radio in the Greater Dublin area, the North East Coast and Cork and Limerick cities, where RTÉ is carrying out DAB trials as well as online.
2009-04-16: Arbitron/Edison Research's The Infinite Dial 2009: Radio's Digital Platforms just released says the weekly online radio audience in the US has risen from 33 million a year ago to an estimated 42 million, 17% of the 12 plus US population.
It adds that it reached 20% of those 25-54 and says online listeners tend to be "upscale, well-educated and employed full time" - 54% are employed full-time ("compared to 43 percent among persons 12 and older" -RNW Note: We're not sure quite what is meant by this statistic. Presumably very few 12 and 13 year-olds are employed full time in the US!); 16 percent of weekly online radio listeners live in homes with an annual income greater than USD 100,000 (vs. 10 percent among persons 12 and older); 37 percent of weekly online radio listeners have a college degree or higher education level (vs. 29 percent among persons 12 and older).
Weekly online video viewing is up even more rising from around 46 million (some 18%) to some 69 million (27%) and a third of those 12 and above have a profile on a social networking site, up from 24%, a figure that rises to 63% amongst teenagers (12-17 -hang on another odd definition, since when was twelve a Teen"?) and 64% of those 18-24.
In mixed news for over-the-air radio, more than one in five radio listeners (21%) say it has a big impact on their lives; ranking second only to owners of the Apple iPhone in particular (23%) and cell phone owners in general (47%) as the audio platform/device that has a big impact on people's lives whilst only 14% of those 12 and above say they are spending less time with over-the-air radio specifically due to time spent with iPods and other portable MP3 players.
However portable players have a greater impact amongst those 12-24 with nearly a third saying they are spending less time with over-the-air radio specifically due to time spent with iPod/other portable MP3 players, a percentage that has nearly doubled since 2008.
The study says radio digital platforms provide advertisers with new touch points to reach consumers, adding that their users are a highly attractive consumer segment and broadcasters provide an increasingly wide variety of digital options for advertisers and new methods to connect ROI with media spend.
It also adds that audio content providers should not ignore the explosion of online video or social networking and that media should accelerate efforts to get their content on mobile phones.
Arbitron senior vice president of marketing Bill Rose commented in a release, "The sharp growth in weekly usage of online radio in this year's study provides compelling evidence that radio's digital platforms may be reaching critical mass. The growth of online radio is reinforced with what we are seeing in PPM. We are beginning to see encoded streams of AM/FM broadcasts with significant audience in local markets."
Edison Research vice president of strategy and marketing Tom Webster added, "Consumer use of new digital platforms such as iPods and social networking sites is becoming nearly ubiquitous. This represents a window of opportunity for radio to reinvent itself by spreading its content across the expanding choices consumers use to control their media experience."
Previous Edison Media:
2009-04-16: A government-commissioned report into UK local commercial radio says that four-fifths of the (Category B) smaller stations - those with an area covering a potential adult audience of 700,000 or fewer people - are currently either loss-making or only making a small profit and more than a quarter of them could go out of business within two years unless there is a radical overhaul of the UK regulatory system covering them.
Prepared by former GMG Radio chief executive John Myers, the report says that the "industry is experiencing difficult times; in fact, these are the very worst of times. Radio stations have already closed and there is a very real threat that more, perhaps as many as fifty, might follow in the coming years."
It continues, "It is not only the smallest stations which are struggling. The stark reality is that 80% of local radio stations serving populations under 700,000 are either loss-making or are each generating an annual operating profit of less than GBP 100,000 (USD 150,000), even before consideration of any interest payments. Commercial radio's very existence is under threat."
In all the UK has some 183 FM and 23 AM stations serving a coverage area of 700,000 or fewer adults; 42 FM and 34 AM stations with a coverage area greater than this - most of these are currently profitable - 20 regional FM stations; and three national commercial stations on top of which there are currently 131 community stations on air with a further 51 licensed but not yet launched.
Myers in his report noted that already half a dozen smaller stations have closed - the first was Star FM in Stroud, which handed back its licence in (See RNW Sep 23, 2006 2006-09.html#UKRD1).
He says the reason for the threats to the existence of local commercial radio, which he adds is not along in its fight for survival, includes competition from online services, what he terms "; the challenge of having to work within outdated broadcast regulation and rules"; poor decision-making within the industry and the effect of the current economic climate on revenues. Regarding the latter he notes that industry revenues are expected to fall below GBP 500 million (USD 750 million) per annum this year for the first time since 1999;
"Radio is important to the very fabric of our society," writes Myers, continuing, "and local radio particularly so. The radio industry presently requires a helping hand but it cannot escape the inevitable reality of having to exist within a digital world and, as such, appropriate planning needs to be put in place by everyone connected with the industry to create a clear vision for its sustained future. Lord Carter's Interim Digital Britain Report outlined a path to such a future and, as part of it, I was asked to explore, review and make recommendations on the viability of delivering 'localness' in a digital age."
Myers was asked to examine the extent to which current localness requirements are appropriate and sustainable; the role of radio in delivering local content when media is predominantly digital; and the "most effective way to deliver local content, via local radio, in a digital age."
Myers comments on his recommendations that some will "undoubtedly require courage to implement, but I believe firmly that now is not the time for 'baby steps' or for weakness of commitment."
"Instead, " he continues, "the radio industry as a whole must be bold, as I believe this might be one of the last opportunities it will be offered to carve out a long-term, profitable and successful future. The challenges the sector faces are very real, but so too are the opportunities. The prize for all is a radio industry that can remain the envy of the world, and where 'localness' is its DNA."
The report says that substantial investment in DAB digital radio had yet to yield returns and that although consolidation has reduced costs it has in general not improved revenues or increased audiences and adds that the "build-out of DAB infrastructure across the UK is not 'fit for purpose' and requires a complete re-design, alongside changes to 'gatekeeper' and ownership rules."
Myers notes the effect of technological change, in particular the spread of broadband that has led to increasing audiences through "Listen-again" facilities and downloads or podcasts and he compares the current situation to that of the 1960s and 70s when Radio Luxembourg - a service not licensed in the UK - had considerable UK listening.
Despite the change Myers says it does not necessarily make FM redundant and he comments, "The simplicity and cheapness of FM transmission technology will continue to make it an ideal system for local radio, particularly in those parts of the UK where the frequencies are not overcrowded."
He also predicts that the "radio receiver of the future will probably offer the consumer a combination of analogue and digital platforms (via broadcast and the internet), just as radios since the 1960s have offered combinations of FM, Medium Wave and Long Wave reception."
Myers is not pessimistic overall - he comments that "the future of radio is, at the same time, likely to be incredibly exciting for the listener, and incredibly daunting for the UK radio station. In a situation where almost any kind of radio content is out there somewhere on the internet, I believe that it will be increasingly essential that each and every radio station has a very clear 'Unique Selling Point' (USP)."
In this context he says, it will not be music itself that is the defining difference between stations but the "content between the records" and he suggests stations will have to be "be truly 'global' or truly 'local' to mark themselves in this crowded marketplace."
"If you operate a country music radio station," he comments, "you will have to offer not only the best country music selection, but also the best interviews, news and information about the country music industry. Only the handful of most content-rich country music radio stations in the world will continue to attract significant audiences. At the other extreme, if you are the only radio station super-serving the needs of a particular local community, you will continue to attract an audience that cannot obtain local information, news, weather and what's on information from any other radio station."
The report says "localness" will be the key to the success of local radio but "the stark reality is that, in many local markets, there will only be room for a limited number of profitable, sustainable local commercial radio stations. In some markets, that number might only be 'one'. To suggest otherwise ignores the reality of current over-supply, especially given the significant and unique level of market intervention in UK radio, principally in the shape of the BBC and, more recently, community radio."
Regarding the future for smaller stations, Myers says ", I recognise that a third of these stations are likely to be profitable and sustainable, a third could fail, and the final third could prosper within a new framework. My recommendations are intended to save the latter, creating room for others to build their businesses and provide more appreciative content, whilst providing a route for others to drive to a digital world where the advertising buck is already headed. The first step is to redefine the very nature of localness with a more sensible approach to regulation."
Regarding this redefinition, Myers stresses his belief in regulation and comments, "My deliberate objective has been to make recommendations that are relevant for a future which might seem distant right now, but will be upon us all too quickly. This is not to dismiss the need for regulation of the commercial radio sector. Quite the opposite, as I favour regulation and recommend a toughening of 'localness' rules enacted through, for example, increased commitments to the provision of local news. It has become increasingly apparent that the 'light touch' regime by which the radio industry has been regulated, while thought to be appropriate at the time, has turned out to be a false dawn."
He suggests a re-definition of all UK radio stations into five categories with "appropriate regulation and rules for each"; "A key move from 'input' to 'output' regulation for Category 'B' stations; The introduction of a 'Local Impact Test' for local commercial radio stations with a coverage area of less than 700,000 adults, which must provide evidence of local consumers' satisfaction with the content provided by their local radio station with this to be followed by relaxed rules concerning station location and number of local hours broadcast - he later comments that it does not matter to the listener where the facility is located if the content is local and vice-versa having some locally based giving national information is not local content; an increase in requirements for the minimum number of "local" news bulletins; and an easing of music stipulations within prescribed 'Formats'.
Myers also suggests that co-owned small local stations whose coverage areas are adjacent or overlap should be allowed to merge, that long-term investment should be aided by an extension of all local and regional commercial radio licences to 2020, and all multiplex licences to 2030; that radio specific and cross-media ownership rules be dropped so that competition law becomes the legal constraint to consolidation; co-operation between the BBC and other radio sectors to create a national radio training facility; exploration of the idea of sharing audio content locally as for example making BBC interviews be available to all; and an easing of restrictions on community stations so that they can be licensed in areas served by a commercial radio station with a coverage area of 50,000 adults or less.
Regarding digital he makes proposals similar in intent suggesting that the BBC take a lead role in underwriting that investment required to build out the DAB networks; that local digital multiplexes be allowed to merge to create larger coverage area; barring broadcasters from the 'gatekeeper' of a local, regional or national DAB multiplex, or consider the introduction of an effective pricing policy that ensures the cost of equivalent access to DAB is the same rate as FM or lower by 2015, in order to ensure plurality of services; and being more ambitious towards digital migrations as for example by setting a date for larger stations to go digital-only.
Myers says he takes the view that his key suggestions will safeguard listeners' interests and the long-term success of commercial radio, enable commercial radio to cut its costs substantially but also provide more local content and news; and through the move to regulation on what is broadcast - as opposed to studio location requirements for example combined with a local impact test provide a tool to measure the impact of a station on its local community.
Myers report (120 page 646 kb Word document- also available as 598 kb PDF):
2009-04-16: Arbitron has announced an agreement with Bonneville International to supply it with a new software service for Portable People Meter ratings- PDA Web, an online version of PD Advantage, which analyzes PPM radio ratings data and allows radio station programmers to determine the station preferences of PPM respondents with details such as the station preferences of PPM respondents such as when listeners are tuning in and tuning out, and to what stations they are going when they do tune out.
Arbitron EVP, Sales, Pierre Bouvard said of the service that it is "a Program Director's Swiss Army Knife, designed to answer very specific questions about a station's audience." You can't manage what you can't measure, and PDA Web gives PDs in PPM markets granular information about how their station's metrics are trending."
Bonneville Vice President, Programming, Greg Solk added, "The combination of PPM Estimates and PD Advantage Web will provide Bonneville with audience insights that help us make better programming decisions faster. With each new PPM market coming online, we are able to use what we've learned in LA, Chicago and DC and bring those programming enhancements online right away. Having the tools right out of the box for upcoming PPM markets will be invaluable."
2009-04-15: Clear Channel Radio has announced a combination of new programming including what it terms "Unparalleled Support for Local Communities" and a plan to "Program Quality for All Day Parts" with the latter including "the launch of new programming and makes programming and on-air talent that's proven to be most popular with audiences, available more broadly to local program directors in all markets for all day parts."
Of this of Clear Channel Radio president and CEO John Hogan said in a release, "Our programming objective is to increase audience size and engagement across all day parts and all platforms. At the same time, we face a particularly difficult economy that makes it extremely challenging for some local stations to invest in developing the highest-quality programming and talent. Despite the difficult economy, we see enormous long-term opportunity in investing in things that immediately improve the competitive situation of our stations."
"These improvements have been part of the company's long-term strategy to strengthen its competitive position," he added. "We're accelerating these pieces because of the undeniable competitive opportunity presented by this market."
The company says that at the heart of the plan is its "Premium Choice" analysis under which it has evaluated programming at all its stations over every day part for the past two years and it notes that ratings have grown dramatically based on tests of "programming elements" - it says it evaluates a wide range of variables and "identifies properties with significant potential to succeed in other markets " with notable successes being "On Air with Ryan Seacrest", which increased audience share in San Francisco by some 86% within three months of beginning its broadcast there; and the show increased audience share in Denver by some 46% in the same timeframe.
The company also notes expansion of its programming created for online and on-demand broadcasting platforms including new music genres and also the success of its iheartradio on both the iPhone/iPod Touch and BlackBerry platforms.
Clear Channel says the plan also creates important opportunities for new, local and unsigned music artists.
As regards its community commitment, Clear Channel cites expanded support for local music artists and a new higher "minimum level of service" for all markets over five areas - charitable partnerships, public-service announcements (PSAs), local public-affairs programming, local advisory boards, and 24/7 access to station management for local officials.
"We are materially increasing our commitment to community programming, increasing our commented John Hogan. "We believe when radio focuses on serving local communities, it is radio at its finest."
Clear Channel Communications chief communications officer Lisa Dollinger added, "Clear Channel Radio's community engagement programs are designed to ensure that our programming and stations are relevant, resonant, and meaningful to our communities, which is the cornerstone of great radio. With one in eight Americans struggling with hunger - including millions of children, senior citizens and the working poor - using our local voices, radio stations and Web sites to drive donations and volunteerism at local food banks in every community is a perfect match to radio's power to drive action."
The company is also to extend its existing Local Advisory Boards to every market in which it broadcasts and Dollinger commented of them, "In developing deeper and broader relationships with business and civic leaders, we have been able to bring in people and organizations we had not historically worked with on a regular basis. This meeting of ideas, reference points, and broad-based expertise has strengthened our platform and helped us fully utilize our powerful resources to make our local communities better for everyone."
RWN comment: The proof of the programme will of course be in the results but it is difficult not to have a degree of scepticism in that the plans seem to have two potentially conflicting parts -one of expanding syndication of successful shows and the other of increasing local output. The company says every programme director will be able to decide how much Premium Choice programming they take including none at all but we would suspect that PDs who opt to take none would have to produce outstanding success in both ratings and profits to get away with it.
Previous Clear Channel:
2009-04-15: Cox Radio in an 8K filing to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has reported (unaudited) first quarter revenues down 22.8% to USD 75.5 million and operating income down by more than two thirds from USD 25.1 million to USD 8.0 million.
Operating cash flow was down on a similar scale from USD 31.4 million to USD 11.4 million and EBITDA was down from USD 27.9 million to USD 10.6 million.
Cox Enterprises is currently bidding for the part of Cox Radio that it does not own share (See RNW Mar 23) and a special committee of its board of directors set up to consider the USD 3.80 per offer has unanimously recommended acceptance (See RNW Apr 4) but as so often there has been a threat of legal action from disgruntled shareholders.
The international investor advocacy group The Shareholders Foundation earlier this month backed an investor who has filed a proposed class action lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia against Cox Radio, Inc, its board of directors, Cox Enterprises and Cox Media.
The suit alleges that "Cox Enterprises seeks to acquire the remaining Cox Radio publicly held shares on unfair terms and without regard to the best interests of Cox Radio's public shareholders or the intrinsic value of Cox Radio's stock" and also say "the tender offer leaves the public stockholders of Cox Radio faced with an unfair coercive Tender Offer and without a fully informed voluntary choice whether to sell Cox Radio or seek appraisal."
It says the "the tender offer serves no legitimate business purpose of Cox Radio but rather is an attempt by the defendants to enable Cox Enterprises to benefit unfairly from the transaction at the expense of Cox Radio's public shareholders and Cox Enterprises has breached and will breach their duty as controlling stockholder of Cox Radio by engaging in improper overreaching in attempting to carry out the tender offer."
RNW note: Cox Enterprises' offer when made amounted to a 15.2% premium over Cox Radio's previous closing price and a 21.8% premium over the ten-day volume weighted average closing price: The stock has currently moved above the offer price - in late afternoon today it was up 1.2% at USD 4.17 having traded between USD 4.05 and USD 4.39 so far today: Over the past 52 weeks the stock has varied between USD 2.90 and USD 13.09.
RNW note: We will update with the day's closing price later today.
Shareholders Foundation - Cox lawsuit posting:
2009-04-15: This week we have opted to start our look at print comment on radio form the UK where Roland White in a column in The Times asked the question, "What were the funniest radio comedies?"
He began, "Who was the best radio presenter ever? What was the best radio moment? Which is the best radio soap set in a fictional Borsetshire village? These are just some of the questions that are never asked. "
Then, pegging the column to a celebration of radio comedy being hosted by The Radio Academy he continued, "Every other medium has been graded and listed to within an inch of its life: best TV drama, worst Oscar speech, you know the sort of thing" before going on to list his "selection, decided by a committee of one, which argued furiously about leaving out Hancock's Half Hour and Goodness Gracious Me."
For the full list follow the link but the top 3 in the list were the Goon Show ( I always thought the Goons got a long way with funny voices, strange noises and the comic potential of the term "batter pudding". But it cannot be denied that Sellers, Milligan and Secombe changed the genre with their comic inventiveness, surrealism and sheer cheek ); The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (My favourite. Not just a wonderful idea, not just very funny, not just the only known portrayal of a hero travelling the galaxy in a dressing gown, but a show that made real use of the radio medium); and I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue (It's been going since about the early 13th century, but is still the funniest thing pretty much anywhere).
We'd also in passing mention the fourth for the note on its host - Round the Horne - "It seems astonishing now that the show's host, Kenneth Horne, combined this role with a career as sales director of Triplex glass" and the last - if only because of the degree to which we regretted its ending - "Week Ending toppled The Navy Lark as the longest-running comedy. Spitting Image without puppets. For years, Friday bedtime just wasn't the same without it."
After a celebration of content in British radio over the Atlantic and, it being such a rare positive report on HD radio, we felt we had to give a longish run to David Pogue's column in the New York Times, even if we found it rather long for what it was and short on real detail if Pogue was trying to assess HD in a context.
Headed, "State of the Art: HD Radio Crying Out to Be Heard", Pogue's colum began by noting the efforts made to promote iBiquity's HD radio system and the fact that "even after four years of this, most people still don't have any idea what HD radio is."
He then continued," And no wonder. You can't sum up HD radio in a one-line movie pitch It takes a couple of paragraphs to explain it."
That explanation went to what he termed the roots of HD - in our view, if accurate a condemnation of US radio owners as very slow to see where things might be headed since Eureka DAB (Digital Audio Broadcasting) standards had been defined in the late 80s and transmissions launched in the UK by the BBC in 1995 followed by the 1999 launch of a commercial multiplex whereas in the US The National Radio Systems Committee (NRSC) and then three IBOC (In-Band On-Channel) companies began tests in December 1999 - "Back in the mists of time (2001-ish), the big bosses of AM and FM were freaked out by the imminent arrival of satellite radio. Satellite was going to offer hundreds of stations, better sound, no fading of stations as you drove from city to city and music channels without any commercials at all. So the big bosses decided to fight technology with technology - and they came up with HD radio."
He then goes on to comment on the system itself - "It's a digital broadcast that's cleverly blended in with the analogue AM or FM signal that you already get. Same stations, paid for by the same ads, but upgraded for superior digital sound. What the ads say is true: AM stations sound like traditional FM (most are even in stereo), and the FM channels sound like a CD. There's no static, ever."
RNW comment: we're not convinced that it was a good idea for listeners as opposed to the radio companies who thereby preserved their position to go the route of putting the digital signal inside an analogue signal for various reasons including potential for interference, likely to increase considerably if lobbying by the broadcasters to be allowed to increase the power of the HD signal to 10db is accepted, and also because of the limitations automatically placed on quality. The HD system, like DAB - and particularly DAB+ using AAC coding rather than the original inefficient MP2 coding - does allow a choice between quality and quantity with the overall spectrum of an FM station allowing up to some 300 Kbps within which HD transmissions can be of CD-quality at 100kbps; FM - from 25-50 bps; AM - 12kbps, or speech - 5kbps, depending how spectrum is divided between the analogue and digital signal. So far the worldwide tendency has been to go for quantity rather than quality of the signal and in the UK the DAB signal is inferior to FM, albeit for speech it is fine and gets rid of the annoying static of analogue, and also to that available online in some cases. In addition, of course, HD is a proprietary system requiring licensing whilst DAB and DRM, which also used the existing frequency, are open standard.
Cases in our view where the UK has paid the penalty of going for the first system with DAB - as the US did with NTSC for TV - and commercial pressures rather than wider interests took the US down a route with HD that almost certainly means the system will get comparatively little adoption outside the US' sphere of interest.
Pogue does refer to the ability to split the signal but takes no cognizance of any downside in terms of potential audio quality - "Better yet, about half of HD radio stations are taking advantage of multicasting: separate, different FM broadcasts - shadow channels - beamed out on the same frequency. They permit radio stations to experiment with niche, experimental and even interactive programming, usually commercial-free. WCBS-HD, an oldies station in New York, for example, has two shadow HD channels: one playing '80s hits and one that's a better-sounding version of the AM news channel."
He digs at satellite in terms of cost - "HD radio broadcasts are free. Take that, USD 13-a-month satellite! (Presumably not bothering with the fact that many people subscribe to get rid of the inherent "cost" of terrestrial channels - having to listen to adverts interrupt the programming: Also a factor in subscription TV) and then goes on to consider why take-up and awareness of HD is so low: "One reason: confusion. It took years for the public to grasp satellite radio - and now we're trying to sell people on yet another kind of radio? (The name doesn't help. According to hdradio.com, HD does not stand for high definition; "it is simply the branding language for this new technology."- RNW comment: And if you believe that the choice didn't have anything to do with exploiting the introduction of HD TV, you'll presumably believe everything in a Clear Channel or Citadel news release!) .
Pogue also comments, "Those cool shadow channels are confusing, too. You have to tune in the primary channel first. On some radio models, a "multicast" icon appears on the screen, if shadow channels are available. Then you hit the up/down tuning buttons to find the multicast channel. Try explaining that to Granddad." (To which our comment is that we find it difficult to believe that the technology, since it allows displays on screens, could not have been developed for a guide to automatically produce listing of the available multicast stations).
Pogue also comments of HD radio that "the setup can be intimidating to Mr. and Mrs. Average Person" (Again why? Or is the average a bit dim in the US. Certainly not an issue in our view from the UK with DAB or digital TV where going through the menu to search for available channels can in our experience be done by a five-year-old without any trouble.).
Of the audio quality, Pogue comments, "The marketing doesn't lie: HD radio really does sound better than regular radio. AM loses the tinniness. FM gets richer and deeper. (To which our comment is that a check online can easily find a contrary view - a Google check on "audio quality FM v digital radio" produces a lot of results. When we checked most were about DAB rather than HD and did plump for digital as being superior, albeit some cautioned about the original DAB being inferior, but we suspect this is based on the absence of the hisses and pops of analogue rather than serious testing in most cases. For a reasonable comparison from the European Broadcasting Union - HD will be similar to DAB+ in quality terms - we suggest this link that goes to a PowerPoint slide show albeit unfortunately the links to audio demonstrations no longer work. We'd also point towards Sam Lin's site for a comparison of MP3 and CD and digitalradiotech as a good site on DAB/DAB+ and other European options. HD demos are online at HDradio.com but no classical music demos nor indeed anything that would really allow an audiophile to make a proper comparison).
Pogue refers to the HDRadio.com online demo but also comments, in reference to a Polk receiver that its "design is so clever: when it tunes into an HD radio station, it first plays a couple of seconds of the regular station before kicking into HD. That way, you keep saying, 'Wow, what a difference! Sure glad I bought that radio!' Without the side-by-side test, though, you're not so aware of what you're missing."
He also asked for comments on HD radio from his "100,000 Twitter followers", getting 16 responses: Of these a dozen praised the audio quality and variety of multicast channels, half complained, however, about reception problems like "hunting," where the radio switches back and forth between the HD and regular versions of a channel, and three, who worked in the radio industry, expressed doubts about HD's survival on the basis of cost to stations and also of buying receivers.
He noted of one of these responses was that the biggest concern is the very concept - "What draws radio customers isn't sound quality, it's programming. Take satellite radio: it's not the audio fidelity that draws an audience, it's those 300 (mostly commercial-free) channels - featuring the likes of Howard Stern, Major League Baseball, Martha Stewart and others, as well as dozens of narrowly programmed music stations. HD's multicast channels could fulfil much the same mission, but these days, few stations have the money or manpower to work on HD channels."
That, continued, Pogue, "explains the five Twitter pals who independently mentioned that they listen to Internet radio more than HD radio these days, especially on the iPhone. It may not sound as good, but wow, what programming - radio stations from all over the world, all available free."
RNW comment: More to the point, if the stations concerned are prepared to provide the bandwidth, there is no reason why the audio quality online on any reasonable broadband should not be as good or even better.
Pogue concluded, "Two thousand radio stations are now broadcasting in HD, 70 car models are available with built-in receivers. But the number that counts - people actually listening to HD radio - is shockingly low. Unless the economy turns around, unless satellite goes away, unless reception improves, unless HD gets a reputation for great shows (and not just great sound), HD may have a tough slog ahead."
After comedy and HD, on to a sidebar-on the continuing popularity of Rush Limbaugh with stations at least.
It came from Bill Mann in the Huffington Post and according to him the reason is "Rush's show was, and presumably still is, given away for free to many local radio stations." The free isn't actually free so much as "barter" - the practice under which syndicator Premiere Radio Networks doesn't charge for the show but takes much of the advertising time available during the show to air national adverts it has already sold - the idea that allowed Bill Paley to develop CBS at a time when NBC dominated US radio but charged for shows whilst Paley went for the advertising and didn't charge for the shows.
Of the practice Mann writes, "It's a very sweet deal for local radio station owners, explained Bill Exline a respected radio broker (he helped people buy and sell local stations). 'Not only does the local station get three hours of free programming,' Exline explained, 'but that's one less local talk-show host on staff they need. It makes small- and medium-market radio properties more profitable and attractive by cutting down staff expenses.'"
Larger stations do pay for the show says Mann but "Radio sources say that small- and medium-market stations still get Limbaugh's show for free, or pay only a token amount of cash for it. I asked Michael Harrison, editor of radio-syndicator-friendly Talkers magazine about this, and he claimed he didn't know how many Limbaugh affiliates still barter."
Finally an issue of the limitation, maybe censorship, of comment on the BBC notice boards, courtesy of Martin Kelner in the UK Guardian: Under the heading, "It's good to talk - unless you're a listener" Kelner starts with comment on the pre-internet days when the forum for taking up matters with the corporation was the duty editor's log.
"If you wanted to comment on something on the BBC, and did not have a green ballpoint pen handy, " he writes, "you could phone the corporation and your call would be logged" and then adds, "I am sure I am not giving away a trade secret in saying these comments were not always treated entirely seriously within Broadcasting House. I was presenting in the early morning on Radio 2 in those days, and was not alone in printing out the log for private entertainment. Mispronunciation was a favourite bugbear, especially of place names. I remember reading the dutifully logged comment: 'Could the presenter please be told that Aberystwyth should be pronounced Aberystwyth.' Sometimes complaints were about things that had not been said at all. A presenter accused of promoting drug use among the young had actually said he fell out with friends because he bought their son some 'drums' for Christmas, not 'drugs'."
He then moves to the present, writing, "The modern equivalent of the duty officer's log is the message board, and, until recently, you could go on the BBC's Points of View board and comment on programmes, presenters and so on. But the radio section of the board has recently been shut. 'I just don't think the BBC is interested any more, and it makes me and a lot of people very angry, 'Lynda Richardson wrote to MediaGuardian. She complained that the 5 Live general message board was closed down two years ago, and now there was nowhere for listeners to post views on the station - or on Radio 2 or 4."
"The BBC is trying to persuade everybody to post on the presenters' blogs," she wrote, "I get the feeling that the BBC is trying to shut down any boards where we can discuss radio."
Kelner says Richardson has a point and "ironically these forums are disappearing as radio becomes more interactive, often tediously so, with listeners' views on almost anything being elicited - via phone, email, text, Twitter, Facebook - and broadcast, however moronic. If you think Jacqui Smith should resign, they want to hear, but if you think Victoria Derbyshire should - name picked at random, I'm a fan - they do not."
He says he can see the problem for the BBC - "Message boards often become little more than vehicles for giving disliked presenters a kicking, and while the BBC, as a publicly funded body, has a duty to listen to our views, it does not necessarily need to host them" but nevertheless suggests that it "may be politic for the BBC to give some ground on message boards."
"The great strength of radio is the one-to-one connection we feel with it, " comments Kelner "and the message boards reinforce this, and should continue - even if some broadcasters see them as an internet outlet for the green ink brigade, and the occasional poster gives the impression that they may not be able to tell the difference between drugs and drums.
Then to listening suggestions and to start with, we note that BBC Radio 3 is celebrating Handel's 250th anniversary with a Handel Week that as we noted last week began at the weekend.
For those who are Handel fans there's a plethora of programming daily starting with "Composer of the Week", and including "Performance on 3" with a variety of Handel-related programmes in the evening and to round off "The Essay" is "The Great and Good Mr Handel." (Check the online schedule for more - the week ends with EBU Handel Day from 09:00 GMT on Sunday).
Apart from Handel the station in its drama-related output marks the work of Alan Ayckbourn with last Sunday's "Drama on 3" - "A Small Family Business" and Monday's "Night Waves" in which Matthew Sweet discusses his 1974 play trilogy "The Norman Conquests", the weekday afternoon's include music on the theme "Exile" with works by composers including Britten, Hindemith, Martinu, Milhaud ,Prokofiev, Rachmaninov,Sibelius, Smetana, Stravinsky, Vaughan Williams, Weill, and Walton
For opera fans "Opera on 3"- "Live from the Met" - on Saturday is Wagner's "Siegfried" and also from Saturday we'd suggest "World Routes" - the first of two programmes from the Sauti za Busara 2009 festival held in Zanzibar.
Then to BBC Radio 2, which is also marking the Handel anniversary with "Handel 250" on Friday evenings - this week's is the third and final programme. Earlier in the week from the station we suggest from Monday "The People's Chart" - a countdown of the UK's most-heard recordings of the last 75 years, "The Record Producers" - on Roy Wood, and "Andre Previn: All The Right Notes", the second of a four-part series
From Tuesday we opted for "Blonde on Blonde" in which Mariella Frostrup told the story of blonde actress and singer Diana Dors -the second of three programmes in the series - and the second in the four-part "Hollywood Charmers" series, this one on Errol Flynn.
On Wednesday we went for "Mike Harding" in which folk musician Martin Carthy introduced tracks from Brass Monkey's Head of Steam album; on Thursday we suggest "On the Blog- Series 1, You Can't Hurry Love" and from Saturday "Who Knows Where the Time Goes: The Sandy Denny Story."
Then on to BBC Radio 4 and throughout the week we suggest "Book of the Week" - "The Music Room"- William Fiennes' memoir of childhood in moated castle complete with a severely epileptic elder brother; and then going back to drama we note that last Saturday's "Saturday Play" was another Ayckbourn work- "Man of the Moment" in which a criminal turned TV celebrity agrees to participate in a reality show. We'd also suggest from Saturday "Archive on 4" - suggested last week - a programme in which physicist and broadcaster Brian Cox presented a tribute to his science hero, Carl Sagan and the "Bringing Up Britain" series - on shouting at children. This week's programme will be on children with mental health problems.
From Monday we went for "Start the Week" (Also a download) in which Andrew Marr talks to former Conservative minister Michael Portillo about violence, "The Baronet and Tissington's Fight for Survival" on how
historic house owners are struggling to balance the books and keep their estate going, and "Inside The Child Prisons", the first of a two-part series on the fortunes of violent and damaged youngsters, and "Crossing Continents" (Also a download) on alleged atrocities in Kosovo, and "Costing the Earth" on the range of biomass heating schemes in the UK.
From Tuesday, current events gave topicality to "On the Ropes", whose subject was the Journalist Colin Freeman was kidnapped in Somalia and held hostage for 40 days Colin Freeman who was kidnapped in Somalia and held hostage for 40 days, and we'd also suggest "The Prime Ministers" - this programme, the last in the series was on Clement Attlee and "Word of Mouth" on what can be done to help keep storytelling alive between parents and children plus "Blair's Faith Foundation."
On Wednesday we suggest drama in the form of the "Afternoon Play" - "Listening to the Generals" based on how Jews were tasked with recording the conversations of Second World War German generals, "The Afternoon Reading" - part one of a five-part reading of "On Dover Beach" by Tom Stoppard in which Matthew Arnold engages in animated internal debate with himself about his poem of that title, and "Ludwig Koch and the Music of Nature", the story of the German wildlife sound recordist Ludwig Koch.
From Thursday we suggest "In our Time" on suffragism, the movement for women's voting rights and "Material World" from the Edinburgh International Science Festival (both also downloads), and "Remembrance of Smells Past" in which Ian Peacock discovers why certain smells can transport us back to our childhood.
Then from Friday we suggest "The Reunion" - this week of people involved in the 1989 Hillsborough disaster in which 96 fans died in a crush at the Sheffield sports stadium (Its anniversary was Wednesday), "What's in Your Head", on how words or songs learned as a child have helped people in situations of extreme pressure and a regular suggestion with "The Now Show" (Also a download).
On Saturday we suggest the next edition of "Archive on 4" - "For One Night Illegally - The History of the Bootleg" and to end we suggest Sunday's "More or Less" and "In Business" in which Peter Day investigates the development of electric car (Also downloads).
On then to some more downloads starting with BBC World Service documentaries - the site currently has parts 1 and 2 of "The Atrocity Archives" based on documents detailing evidence of atrocities in Guatemala's civil war; "Kosovo's Disappeared" in which Michael Montgomery returns to the region for Assignment: He investigates allegations of torture, kidnap and murder by the Kosovo Liberation Army both during and after the war. This follows an earlier "Assignment" - also on the site at the moment on "Turkey's Dirty War".
Then to Radio Netherlands and first "Curious Orange" for its "Pop meets jazz" series plus last Saturday's "The State We're In" on credit and also including a report on the doctors of 'The Smile Train' who operate on thousands of kids with a cleft lip and palette in the developing world; and Monday's "Curious Orange" with the first in a series of shows on Afghanistan and "Earthbeat" for programmes on sustainable environmental initiatives.
And back to the BBC for a few late additional suggestions starting with BBC Radio 4 and "Blair's Faith Foundation", a report by Christopher Landau on the foundation set up by the former British Prime Minister to promote religious dialogue and understanding. Landau in our view let scepticism speak for itself quite well - enthusiasm in North America where Blair travelled by private jet, downright scepticism from a British Moslem who felt that association with Blair would be a negative for most Moslems round the world, and tempered scepticism in Mali. All in all we didn't hear any convincing arguments that Blair will make any difference nor that having a faith-based approach will succeed better overall than a non-faith one and when it came to vaunted action against Malaria we rather felt one Bill Gates was worth a billion Tony Blairs.
Also from the BBC some more World Service downloads starting with "The Secret Scientists", the first in a three-part series in which Jim Al-Khalili, a Bagdad born (Iraqi father and English mother) British theoretical nuclear physicist looks at some impressive scientists from the Islamic world who, during the Dark Ages in Europe, created a legacy that lasted for some hundreds of years. We remain to be convinced that the last hundred years or so have matched this early period in any way.
Also on the World Service documentaries site at the moment are tboth parts of its "Keeping the Peace" series looking at how Liberia has so far managed to remain comparatively peaceful after a long-running civil war.
Moving over an ocean to Australia, we first suggest three linked programmes from the ABC Radio National's "All in the Mind" - two programmes on the views of maverick psychiatrist and libertarian Professor Thomas Szasz, now 89, and then this weekend's response from two psychiatrists.
We'd also suggest a run of three "Big Ideas" programmes starting with the March 29th programme on the Global Financial Crisis then going on to the following week's "Food glorious food" in which Dr Raj Patel in a lecture recorded at Melbourne University asks why there are hundreds of millions of people who don't get enough to eat and, at the same time, hundreds of millions of people are overweight and then the April 12th edition "The Life of a Secret Agent" in which at the Perth Writers Festival freelance journalist David Cohen, former CIA agent Robert Baer, and Dame Stella Rimington, the former head of MI5, compare note son how their experience has affected their writing.
And finally from this Sunday the latest "Background Briefing" - "What Made the Roman's Laugh" - at least a relief after the previous week's programme on "Zombie Banks."
Huffington Post - Mann:
New York Times - Pogue:
UK Guardian - Kelner:
UK Times - White:
2009-04-15: The Indian government is to offer satellite radio licences on a revenue-share basis but they will be subscription-only barring adverts to protect terrestrial FM broadcasters according to the Hindustani Times, which adds that religious organizations and political parties will also be barred from setting up services as will private news channels.
The paper says successful bidders would pay an annual fee of 4% of their gross revenues and also have to provide a guarantee of INR 10 crore (INR 100 million - USD 2 million - or the annual fee, whichever is higher.
Services would, however, be allowed to offer talk and current affairs programming and broadcast news from state-controlled All India Radio and Doordarshan.
The move could bring in competitors to WorldSpace, currently the only service in India and aired on the basis of a one-off approval in 1998 - and also in bankruptcy in the US: Uplinking would have to be done by locally-registered firms in India.
The paper says it has a copy of the proposed guidelines that say there would be a limit of two-minutes per hour for promotional material about the channels and that they might also be mandated to broadcast public interest announcements for up to an hour a day.
It quoted Pradip Baijal, former Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) chairman, as saying, "The beauty of a liberalised market is that the cost settles down at a level that can be afforded. It (satellite radio) will give the subscriber more choice and I would go a step further to say that even terrestrial television should be opened up and not be limited only to Doordarshan
The paper also quoted a "senior official involved in the drafting of the guidelines", who it said had requested anonymity, as saying research had shown there would be a large market for the service but adding, "It is for the consumers to decide whether to subscribe to the service or not."
RNW comment: Based on the experience of WorldSpace, and also the financial pressures on Sirius XM in the US, we are not convinced that this idea will get that far. We somehow doubt that there will be that many operators prepared to gamble on this service in the current economic climate although if a suitable deal could be struck to put the service on a satellite TV platform - and receivers could me made cheaply enough to get a standalone radio service - costs might be significantly lower than those WorldSpace had to face operating its own satellites. Even so the restrictions we suspect will meant that capping foreign investment at 74% of bidders is not going to lead to a rush to invest from outside the country.
Previous Indian Radio:
Hindustani Times report:
2009-04-14: BIA Advisory Services has reported weak US radio station sales in the first quarter of this year as well as for the whole of 2008 and says that the only opportunity for valuation growth for the industry lies in the ability to transform itself into a blended operation of broadcasting, online and other activities
BIA said station sales in 2008 totalled 769 with a total value estimated at USD 700 million, the first time since 2001 that the total was below USD 1 billion although it was the sixth time that a thousand stations or fewer were sold and it notes that in 2002 the same number of stations were sold but for a total of USD 5.4 billion.
It also noted that 2008 was the first year since the late 1980s where the number of stations sold in metro markets (383) was virtually equal to that of unrated markets (386) and this year through to March 164 stations had been sold for a total of USD 46 million.
Mark R. Fratrik, Ph.D., Vice President, BIA Advisory Services, commented of the need to expand beyond on-air offerings, "Transforming the business model may not come easy for owners, particularly because there is no magic formula, but they will increase the value of their operations simply through off-air diversification, which can take a number of forms."
Mike Andres, Managing Director of BIA Capital Strategies, an investment banking affiliate of BIA specializing in the communications industries, saw vulnerabilities in the newspaper industry as real revenue opportunities for radio stations, commenting, "Radio's upside potential lies in its ability to accelerate the pace they take local advertising dollars away from newspapers, once advertisers that have been dormant begin returning. Many local newspapers have been ceasing operations, or moving to online versions, creating opportunity for other local media to fill this need."
Rick Ducey, chief strategy officer of BIA, added, "While expense cutting may be necessary in this economy, radio broadcasters must accelerate their transformative process and recognize where they exist in the media ecosystem. To do this they must recondition their sales teams, think more locally, look at their advertisers through a different lens, consider migrating to other platforms, and start partnering with other organizations to provide more for their consumers and advertisers."
2009-04-14: Goom Radio, which launched in the US in March following earlier European launches (See RNW Mar 18), has announced that it has secured around USD 16 million (Euros 12.2 million( in funding from Wellington Partners Venture Capital, Elaia Partners and Partech International.
It says that the funding will be used to Goom Radio launch its offering, hire a dedicated sales team and build out infrastructure.
Goom, which says its mission is to re-invent radio for the Internet generation, is headed by CEO Rob Williams, previously VP/market manager of Clear Channel, New York, and operates from the former Clear Channel Z100 studios in New York.
Eric Archambeau, the general partner in Wellington Partners, commented of the company in a release, "We see something fundamentally disruptive in Goom Radio; the company is evolving one of the few remaining mediums that hasn't been overhauled by the web. Printed news, television, music and movies have been transformed by the web and now it is radio's turn. This combined with the stellar executive team put together by Rob Williams, and a promising business model make the timing right for the evolution of the radio industry online."
Williams commented, "Goom Radio has set out to change the way radio is perceived by creating a unique alternative to what is currently available in the world of radio both online and off. Receiving the support of Wellington Partners, Partech and Elaia, all of which have strong experience in this space, validates our belief that there is tremendous potential for this offering."
Goom also noted that it has already started to expand its sales team by recently appointing Joe Anastasi, a 20-year radio industry veteran who was previously with Google Audio and dMarc Broadcasting, as account executive for the team.
He commented, "Goom Radio is going to change the way people think and consume radio. I am excited to be a part of a talented executive team that is leading this industry milestone."
Previous Goom Radio:
2009-04-14: Shares in The Local Radio Company jumped by two-thirds on Tuesday to end at 2.50 pence following a call by its directors to reject a 2 pence per share offer from UKRD (See RNW Mar 27) in favour of a 2.5 pence per share offer from Hallwood Financial, the investment vehicle of its chairman Anthony Gumbiner (See RNW Apr 9).
The UK Daily Telegraph quoted Rick Thompson, an adviser to UKRD from Charles Stanley Securities, as saying it had not ruled out "either making a higher offer or ducking out of the race", thus raising the possibility of a bidding war.
Non-executive director John Perriss had publicly endorsed the Hallwood bid on the basis of it being both cash and 25% above the UKRD offer.
Previous Local Radio Company:
Daily Telegraph report:
2009-04-13: Emmis has reported (unaudited) total revenues for its financial year to the end of February down 6.8% on fiscal 2008 at USD 333.9 million within which domestic radio revenues were down 9.8% to USD 202.9 million, international radio revenues were up 14.2% to USD 48.0 million, and publishing was down 9.7% to USD 83 million.
Things were worse in the final quarter with total revenues down 19.8% to USD 68.5 million within which domestic radio revenues fell 20.8% to USD 38.7 million, international radio fell 6.5% to USD 12.5 million and publishing fell 25.5% to USD 17.4 million.
The figures were revealed in an 8K filing to the Securities and Exchange Commission in which Emmis said it expects to file its annual 10K report around May 14 and which also revealed impairment charges of USD 373.4 million for the year - up from USD 21.2 million in the previous year - and USD 163.2 million in the quarter - up from USD 21.2 million a year earlier.
This charge together with a USD 4.2 million restructuring charge helped take its loss for the quarter up from USD 12.2 million to USD 166.7 million and for the full year turned net income of USD 19.7 million in fiscal 2008 to a loss of USD 333.7 million in fiscal 2009.
Emmis also said its subsidiary Emmis Operating Company (EOC) had in April borrowed USD 71.2 million under its revolving credit facility and noted that this together with outstanding revolver credit loan borrowings and letters of credit, uses up the entire USD75 million available to EOC under the revolving credit loan. It adds that it has engaged Blackstone Advisory Services L.P. to provide financial advisory services as the Company explores a possible amendment to the credit facility or a possible restructuring of certain of its liabilities. The company has also noted that in February it signed an agreement to sell its corporate aircraft for USD 9.1 million in a transaction expected to close this week.
Emmis also noted that "The advertising environment remains incredibly challenging, particularly for traditional media like radio broadcasting and publishing."
It continues, "Our domestic radio revenues in March finished down 26% as compared to same period of the prior year. As of April 10, 2009, our domestic radio revenues for April were pacing down 32% and for May were pacing down 37%. Pacing information for the month of March strengthened throughout the month as advertising is generally being purchased by our clients much later in the current year than it was purchased in the prior year. Our publishing business is seeing trends similar to our domestic radio business. Our international radio division is expecting first quarter revenues on a percentage basis to be down high-teens in local currency, but the strengthening of the US dollar will adversely impact results."
Despite the woes of the industry, many executives are still taking home handsome payments despite cuts: Citadel in an SEC filing revealed that in 2008 its CEO Fared Suleman was paid USD 6 million - down from USD 11.2 million in 2007 and USD 18 million in 2006: It also noted that in January this year his base salary was cut by 10% with other executives pay being cut by 5% and that in 2008 the only bonus awarded - of USD 100,000 - went to Chief operating officer Judy Ellis, taking her total pay to just under USD 755,000
In addition to this earlier this month Suleman "voluntarily cancelled" two stock awards of 2 million shares of restricted stock made to him in 2008 - one a time limited grant in instalments over three years and the other a performance-based grant to vest in a single tranche if a set performance objective had been reached. In making the awards Citadel's compensation committee had noted that he had had voluntarily waived his annual bonuses for calendar years 2006 and 2007 and that for calendar year 2007, he received no equity grant from the Company.
Citadel's stock which was around USD 15 at the start of 2005 has plummeted and it was de-listed this year and now trades Over-the-Counter where its stock closed at six cents today.
2009-04-13: According to BIAFn, five of the top-ten billing radio stations in the US in 2008 were in Los Angeles and in ownership terms Clear Channel owned half the top ten with the remaining five being split between CBS Radio (3 stations), plus Bonneville International and Emmis.
In terms of ranking BiaFn listed the top ten as:
1 - Clear Channel's KIIS-FM, Los Angeles - USD 66.3 million (Up from USD 65.9 million in 2007 when it was ranked second)
2 - CBS Radio's KROQ-FM, Los Angeles - USD 56.1 million (Down from USD 67.6 million in 2007 when it was ranked first)
3 - Clear Channel's KFI-AM, Los Angeles - USD 54.4 million (Down from USD 61.1 million in 2007 when it was fourth-ranked)
4 - Clear Channel's WLTW-FM, New York - USD 52.6 million (Down from USD 62.8 million in 2007 when it was ranked third)
5 - CBS Radio's WINS-AM, New York - USD 51.8 million (Down from USD 57.7 million in 2007 when it had the same rank)
6 - Bonneville International's WTOP-FM, Washington - USD 51.75 million (Up from USD 51.48 million in 2007 when it was ranked tenth).
7 - Clear Channel's WHTZ-FM, New York - USD 49.6 million.
8 - CBS Radio's WCBS-AM, New York - USD 46.7 million
9 - Emmis Communication's KPWR-FM, Los Angeles - USD 46.3 million
10 - Clear Channel's KOST-FM, Los Angeles USD 45.7 million
2009-04-12: Yet again last week saw a fairly low level of radio related work from the regulators but in the UK Ofcom after stealing the headlines a week earlier with a GBP 150,000 fine on the BBC did so again this week with its submission to the government on the future of radio in "Digital Britain", a submission that proposes what could be the end of local radio in its current model in the UK (See RNW Apr 6).
In Australia, the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) posted no radio decisions but it has now issued for comment its draft "Community Broadcasting Licence Guidelines 2009."
The Guidelines when finalised will replace the 2007 version and proposed changes to the current guidelines include a new section on varying temporary community broadcasting licences and
the removal of the formula for apportioning broadcast time between two or more temporary community broadcasting licence holders sharing a frequency in the same licence area.
ACMA Chairman Chris Chapman said the changes aim to make the guidelines "easier to understand and to administer" and added, "The draft guidelines also seek to address concerns from aspirant groups and holders of temporary community broadcasting licences about the formula for determining timing conditions for these types of licences."
In Canada the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) in a fairly quiet week posted its decision on the capability of Iroquois Falls, and Cochrane, Ontario, to sustain new commercial services, ruling that they did not. It had called for comments following receipt of applications and in light of the current economic recession and comments from incumbents said that it will "not generally be disposed to accept applications for new commercial radio stations to serve the markets in question for a period of two years."
The CRTC also posted a consultation notice, with a deadline for interventions or comments of May 11, regarding two applications in Ontario.
In the first application Bel-Roc Communications Inc. has requested amendment of a licence condition of its CKJN-FM, Haldimand County, requiring it to devote 60% or more of its musical selections from content category 2 throughout the broadcast week and between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. Monday to Friday to Canadian selections broadcast in their entirety. Bel Roc says it has failed to attract enough advertiser and listener support to maintain this level and wants it reduced to 35%.
In the second Newcap Inc. is applying to increase the power of CJUK-FM Thunder Bay, from 37 to 250 watts, a change that would change the station from a low-power unprotected service to that of a regular Class A1 FM station.
In Ireland the Broadcasting Commission of Ireland (BCI) again posted no licensing decisions but it has announced details of the eighth funding round of its Sound & Vision funding scheme for radio.
Applications are now invited from programme makers for funding for new radio programmes dealing with the themes of Irish culture, heritage and experience and also for new programmes aimed at improving adult literacy.
In the UK, Ofcom as already noted has posted details of its submission to the government concerning the future of radio in digital Britain (See RNW Apr 6). It also posted its latest Broadcast Bulletin (See RNW Apr 7) in which it highlighted its fine on the BBC for comments made on the Russell Brand Show on BBC Radio 2 (See RNW Apr 3), and also noted that in addition The Chris Moyles Show on BBC Radio 1, had infringed the privacy of actor Andrew Sachs and his granddaughter and that Bath FM and Brunel FM, which were in December last year were issued with "Yellow Cards" for not carrying enough local content (See RNW Dec 16, 2008) are still not conforming to the terms of their licences.
In the US, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has an Order and a Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to improve its collection of data on minority and female broadcast ownership to be able to more accurately assess and effectively promote diversity of ownership in the broadcast industry.
Statements on this were issued by all the commissioners with that of Jonathan S. Adelstein indicating that the agency was planning to set up an inquiry into the effect of Arbitron's Portable People Meter (PPM) ratings service on minority broadcasters (See RNW Apr 8).
In his comments Acting FCC chairman Democrat Michael J Copps commented that the decision "should be music to the ears of anyone who cares about reversing the shameful state of affairs in which we find ourselves."
"Our broadcast media-and they are not alone among our nation's media-for all their many wonderful accomplishments," he commented "are still deficient when it comes to reflecting the diversity of America. Some of them are trying, and I want to recognize that. But until they do a better job of reflecting that diversity, they are not really reflecting America. That shortfall will continue until more women and minorities actually own stations and set their own policies."
He later added, "If we are going to be a data-driven agency, we need much better data. We cannot, or at least should not, be forced to rely on outside parties, many with their own vested interests, for the basic information the FCC needs to make informed decisions. Today we commit to getting independent and credible information to under-gird what I intend to be meaningful action to right the injustice of the present situation. We are going to encourage and assist the cause of greater minority and female ownership."
His Democrat fellow commissioner Jonathan S. Adelstein said of the move, "I enthusiastically support today's Report and Order, which takes a major stride in assessing and promoting diversity in the broadcast industry. This item is long overdue. For decades, women and people of colour have been underrepresented in broadcast ownership. While the Commission had lauded the virtue of a diverse broadcast media landscape, until today we have not even counted how many women and minorities actually own broadcast outlets. "
He added, "Diversity in broadcast ownership is too crucial for the Commission not to get it right. If we are going to make progress, we must lay a solid foundation. The first step is obtaining a clear picture of where we presently stand. I am pleased that we are overhauling our current method of collecting data on minority and female broadcast ownership. We are implementing a complete, credible, and illuminative means of gathering racial and gender information. An improvement in the quality of information we receive will allow us to assess the impact of our rules and policies on minority and female-owned entities, as well as the opportunities that are available for these stations to serve the public" and then commented on "widespread concerns that the Portable People Meter ratings system ("PPM"), created by Arbitron, has started to pose a threat to minority- and women-owned stations."
"The potentially inaccurate ratings of PPMs," said Adelstein, "could damage minority- and women-owned stations. I am encouraged that the Commission will soon launch an inquiry I have sought into this audience measurement system so that all the facts and its effect on diversity will be evaluated and brought into light."
Republican Commission Robert M. McDowell was supportive but less positive about the move. He commented, "Over the years, an array of groups from across the political spectrum have criticized the Commission's systems and methodologies for collecting and maintaining broadcast ownership data. Debates over policy, and the important subsequent decisions that often emerge, should be firmly grounded not only in law but in solid facts as well. Rendering rules on an unsure factual foundation is akin to building a house on quicksand. Today, the FCC attempts to improve our fact-gathering as we pursue our obligation to improve our understanding of diversity of ownership in the traditional media marketplace I look forward to receiving comment on proposals to make our data more comprehensive as well, including recommended approaches to account for ownership of non-commercial stations, which have considerable variation in their licensees' organizational structures."
McDowell added, "What today's action does not do, however, is change our existing broadcast attribution rules. To do so now, in the midst of such economic uncertainty, would be foolhardy. As I continue to advocate for a regulatory environment that is more attractive to private investment, I am interested in hearing from commenters as to whether the changes to Form 323 would impose any inadvertent negative effects.
"In sum, although I do not entirely agree with every word in the item, I support this action and I look forward to reviewing the information that it will yield."
The agency has also further extended on its initiative - this time until June 9, the deadline for Cox Enterprises, Inc., Calvary, Inc., Bonneville International Corp., Scranton Times LP, and Morris Communications to file amendments to pending waiver requests or renewal applications or to file requests for permanent waivers of the newspaper/broadcast cross-ownership rule. The extension, it said, is necessary to provide additional time for the Commission to consider the Media Parties' request that the deadline be delayed until 90 days after the issuance of a final court order on pending judicial challenges to the Commission's modified newspaper/broadcast cross-ownership rule.
In enforcement actions the FCC has:
*Denied an application for review filed by CBS Radio Inc. of Tampa, formerly Infinity Broadcasting Corporation of Florida), licensee of WQYK-FM, St. Petersburg, relating to a USD 10,000 forfeiture issued for failure to comply with radio frequency radiation maximum permissible exposure limits.
The agency had found an absence of warning signs during a number of inspections and initially issued a USD 20,000 Notice of Apparent Liability for Forfeiture (NAL) in January 2005. It subsequently issued a USD 10,000 forfeiture order in February 2007 to which infinity had responded by applying for review on the basis that it and other licensees lacked notice of the RFR standards applicable to rooftop antenna sites and that the Commission's RFR compliance standards to ensure workers are fully aware of their potential for RFR exposure fails the requirement that licensees should be able to identify, with ascertainable certainty, the standards for complying with the rules.
The FCC took the view that through various orders and enforcement orders the station would "have been able to identify, with ascertainable certainty, the standards with which we expect parties to conform" and also dismissed other arguments. It rejected the application for review and confirmed the forfeiture order.
*Issued a USD 4,000 NAL to Greater Boston Radio, Inc. for broadcasting information about a contest without fully and accurately disclosing all material terms. It had received a complaint that the station failed to conduct its "Win a Car" contest in accordance with the contest's advertised terms - the complainant said that contest promotions broadcast by the Station stated that the winner would win one of three new cars.
As a preliminary winner who received a cash prize and an automobile ignition key that he initially believed represented a chance to win the contest's grand prize, his choice of one of three cars, he found that the prize was not the winner's choice of three available cars but, instead, a two-year lease of the selected car and that the prize also required the winner to qualify for credit with the car dealer supplying the leased car.
The station had acknowledged that its broadcast did not spell out the details but the complete rules, available on its website, spelled out that what was being awarded was a two-year lease of the car chosen, and not title to a car, and that the winner would have to be qualified for credit by the contest co-sponsor.
It added that it had taken "remedial measures to ensure that every material term is fully disclosed in announcements for future contests" and argued that it should only be subjected to an admonishment for the misunderstanding concerning the grand prize. The FCC disagreed and issued the NAL, commenting that the station "promoted its Contest over the air with misleading information that did not fully disclose to the listening audience the Contest's material terms."
*Issued USD 2,000 forfeiture to Best Media Inc., licensee of Translator Stations K217DJ(FX), Kemah, Texas, W207B1(FX); University Park, Illinois, W206B1(FX), Hamtramck, Michigan; and K217DP(FX), Barker, Texas for its failure to timely file the Stations' license renewal applications and for unauthorized operation of the Stations.
In Texas the agency dismissed objections to an application by JCE Licenses, LLC, licensee of KNIT-AM, Dallas- currently operating with a power of 5.0 kW daytime and 1.9 kW night-time- to increase the daytime power to 50 kW, an application allied with the surrender of the licence of KVLH-AM, Paul's Valley, Oklahoma.
The applicants said the two proposals would increase service from the station, eliminate existing prohibited overlap to a substantial area and population, and leave no area receiving fewer than five aural broadcast services.
M&M Broadcasters, Ltd. of Cleburne, Texas, had objected on the grounds that the changes would cause impermissible signal contour overlap with the signal of its KCLE-AM (licensed to Burleson, Texas and serving Dallas/Fort Worth). M&M also argued that the KNIT Application is contrary to the Commission's policy against removing the sole signal service from a community.
The FCC after examining technical details and confirming the services that would remain in the KVLH service area permitted the application and denied the objections.
Previous Licence News:
ACMA web site:
BCI web site:
CRTC web site:
FCC web site:
Ofcom web site:
2009-04-11: Australia's radio industry is to start airing its first adverts in a multi-million dollar digital radio awareness campaign on Monday when they will go out on all commercial radio stations and in 65 languages on SBS radio in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth and Adelaide.
The adverts have been developed by creative agency SMART in conjunction with industry body Commercial Radio Australia and are the first stage in raising Australians' awareness of digital radio before services start going to air next month.
Commercial Radio Australia CEO Joan Warner said of the campaign that it was their first direct communication with potential listeners, continuing, "The message is simple - that digital radio is a new exciting way for our loyal radio audience to listen to their favourite stations in digital sound and to discover some great new digital programming."
The initial stage of the campaign is "teaser" adverts that "radio is going digital" and broadcast ads will be supplemented by an extensive online banner ad campaign across all radio websites and many partner retailer websites.
It will be followed by a second phase of adverts outlining the benefits and capabilities of digital radio and include widespread retail in store promotion and point of sale material.
This phase will then be followed by the promotion of a five state capital simultaneous national digital radio listener event in August.
Ads can be heard on the Digital Radio Plus website at digitalradioplus.com.au
Previous Commercial Radio Australia:
2009-04-10: Montréal-headquartered Astral Media like its Toronto competitor Corus has reported a revenue rise but lower profit in the second quarter of this year but in its case both radio and TV posted revenue increases on a year ago whilst Corus radio revenues were down (See RNW Apr 8).
Overall revenues were up 2% to CAD 209.3 million (USD 169.1 million) for the quarter to the end of February whilst for the six months they were up 12% to CAD 453.8 million (USD 366.5 million).
Within the figures, radio revenues for the quarter rose 1.8 % to CAD 75.3 million (USD 60.85 million) for the quarter and 35.2 % to CAD 165.2 million (USD 133.4 million) for the half year; TV was up by 2.6% to CAD 121.8 million (USD 96.4 million) and 2.8% to CAD 255.2 million (USD 206.1 million) respectively; and Outdoor was down 7.4% in the second quarter to CAD 12.2 million (USD 9.8 million) and up 0.5% to CAD 33.4 million (USD 26.9 million) respectively.
In terms of EBITDA, radio was down marginally in the quarter - from CAD 23.90 million to CAD 23.45 million (USD 19.30 to USD 18.9 million ) but up 32.7% for the half year to CAD 54.4 million (USD 43.9 million); TV was up 4.4% for the quarter to CAD 43.2 million (USD 34.9 million) and up 2.3% for the half-year to CAD 90.9 million (USD 73.4 million) and outdoor was down 23.5% for the quarter to CAD 1.50 million (USD 1.21 million) and down 0.3% for the half-year to CAD 9.31 million (USD 7.52 million ).
Overall EBITDA was up 1.4% to CAD 61.9 million (USD 50.0 million ) for the quarter and 12% to CAD 141.4 million ( USD 114.2 million ) for the half-year whilst net earnings from continuing operations in the quarter were flat at CAD 28.9 million (USD 23.3 million) - up from CAD 0.51 to CAD 0.52 per basic share - but for the half-year net earnings from continuing operations rose 7% to CAD 71.3 million (USD 57.6 million - up from CAD 1.19 to CAD 1.27 per share).
President and CEO Ian Greenberg commented of the figures that "The strength and resilience of these second quarter results are another illustration of the importance of having a diversified and balanced revenue mix under challenging economic conditions. "
"While some of our media platforms or geographic operations faced increased volatility, other segments of the Company performed very strongly, thus allowing us to record a 50th consecutive quarter of growth,'' he added. "While maintaining our very healthy balance sheet, we continue to invest in the future of our core business sectors as we navigate through these difficult times. HBO Canada, Virgin Radio and the recent announcement of an innovative Digital outdoor advertising network are examples of such a commitment and the positive results it continues to yield for the Company.
In terms of its operations Astral highlighted the launch in January this year of three Virgin radio stations - in Vancouver, Ottawa and Montréal - to join Virgin Radio999, which was launched in Toronto in August last year.
2009-04-10: BFBS (British Forces Broadcasting Services), which last year aired a three-months trial on digital radio in the UK up until the start of April (See RNW Apr 2, 2009) has now opted to take up a slot on the Digital One national multiplex from April 20.
The station's Controller, Charles Foster commented of the decision, "We believe the time is right for us to launch in the UK, where the vast majority of British Forces are now based, and where public support for the work of the Forces is high on the agenda. We focus on connecting the worldwide Forces' community, be it service personnel, their families, friends, or just people who want to show their support. Our launch on DAB digital radio means we can now complete the connection at home."
As well as DAB, BFBS is on a number of FM stations in Northern Ireland and also in various countries where British Forces are based: It streams its three services- BFBS Radio, BFBS Gurkha Radio, and BFBS Northern Ireland on the Internet and also offers a listen-again service of its News bulletins, Newsplus and Forces24.
Previous Digital One:
2009-04-09: Hallwood Financial Ltd, which currently owns 28% of The Local Radio Company has topped an offer of 2p per share from UKRD, which owns 13.5%, with a bid of 2.5 p per share- TLRC stock closed at a penny on Thursday, down a third on the day.
Earlier this month shareholders had rejected a plan to raise GBP 1.51 million (USD 2.22 million) through an Open Offer (See RNW Mar 3). Their decision followed the UKRD bid, which totalled GBP 1.25 million (USD 1.83 million), valuing the Local Radio Company at GBP 1.4 million (USD 2.05 million- See RNW Mar 27) and UKRD chairman Trevor Smallwood said at the time they believed the offer was at an attractive premium and in the best interests of TLRC shareholders.
Hallwood, which is based in the British Virgin Islands, is headed by Anthony Gumbier who is both its chairman and non-executive chairman of The Local Radio Company. His offer values the company at GBP 1.8 million ( USD 2.64 million) and he said the company would remain remain publicly traded on the London Stock Exchange's AIM market if its offer was accepted whereas Smallwood has said his intention is to take it private.
In a separate announcement The Local Radio Company has announced that its Jazz FM business, owned in conjunction with Trinity FM Ltd., has been sold for a nominal GBP 1 (USD 1.47) to Jazz Investments Limited, a company established by Richard Wheatly (Founder of the original Jazz FM and a former director of the Company and Trinity) and Alistair Mackenzie (a former director and employee of the Company).
Trinity had operated the service on behalf GMG Radio Holdings Limited from October last year under a three year deal (See RNW Aug 29, 2008).
The sale included the assumption by its new owners of Trinity's liability to GMG of GBP 195,510 (USD 287,000) which would otherwise have been due to be discharged by Trinity on 31 March 2009 and also removes potential redundancy costs of around GBP 258,000 (USD 379,000).
The Local Radio Company said that the sale improves its cash flow situation, which its Board is monitoring carefully since shareholders rejected its open offer, and notes that from October to the end of March this year Jazz FM has operated at a loss of GBP 733,000 (USD 1.01 million). It adds that the book value of assets included in the sale have a book value of GBP 61,000 (USD 85,900).
Previous Guardian Media Group:
Previous Local Radio Company:
2009-04-09: Australian commercial radio revenues in the metropolitan radio markets fell by 2.8% in the first quarter compared to a year ago according to figures from the 2009 Metropolitan Commercial Radio Advertising Revenue as sourced by Deloitte.
In all the five metropolitan markets generated advertising revenues of AUD 140.3 million (USD 100.9 million) within which the Sydney market revenues were AUD 42.7 million (USD 30.7 million) - down 8.7% on a year ago.
Of other markets Perth was down 3.9% to AUD 18.8 million (USD 13.5million); Brisbane was down 1% to AUD 23.0 million (USD 16.5 million); Adelaide was up 0.1% to AUD 13.8 million (USD 9.9 million) and Melbourne was up 2.3% to AUD 42.0 million (USD 30.2 million).
Commercial Radio Australia CEO Joan Warner said all the figures had been affected by the global financial crisis and continued, "Sydney continues to be testing and as the largest market, is affecting the national figures. Perth also recorded falls for the quarter but Melbourne and Adelaide have both recorded growth - so results have varied across the country."
Previous Commercial Radio Australia:
2009-04-08: This week as last we concentrate in our look at print comment on radio in the UK where Ofcom's GBP 150,000 fine on BBC Radio 2 and submission to the British government about the future of local radio have both garnered fairly wide coverage, especially the former.
We start however, in the first of a number of articles from the UK Guardian, on a different note concerning the BBC in the shape of a report by Maggie Brown about the BBC World Service, which is about to get a new director.
Brown starts by noting that Peter Horrocks, who moves to the post from his current position as head of BBC News, is going into a situation of ferment amid "Recent threats of strike action from its 1,030 UK-based journalists, internal tensions exacerbated by the decision to move to Broadcasting House, disagreement over its ambitions to modernise."
Horrocks writes Brown "takes over from Nigel Chapman, an effective but unloved director who has stepped down after implementing a brusque five-year modernisation plan that saw the launch of Arabic Television exactly a year ago, together with re-launched online and radio services, and Persian TV this January."
Chapman also axed ten foreign language services and there are conflicts over the attention paid to existing radio services as the corporation launches its new TV channels and also between developing the use of new technology and maintaining existing services.
Critics of the changes, writes Brown, "say old-style shortwave radio broadcasts, including the World Service's valued English language service, still matter - particularly in conflict zones and unstable states. Others say that in the modern age, audiences rely more on television, internet and mobile services for news."
On a more positive note, Brown comments on the importance now placed on "what diplomats call 'soft power' - the spread of accurate news and analysis to people living under unstable or repressive regimes" which is seen as a "key instrument in the battle for minds."
The World Service, because of this has been able to improve its funding - although operated by the BBC it is paid for by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and its budget was upped by 10.6% this year to GBP 265 million ( USD 390 million).
However the increase has mainly gone to TV and Richard Sambrook, director of BBC Global News - to whom the World Service and Horrocks report commented that to "have impact in journalism you have to be in television."
There is also the issue of the independent operation of the service and Professor Jean Seaton, the official historian of the BBC commented against a background of correspondents being required to contribute to all BBC output (we have increasingly noted reports on BBC Radio and TV that have obviously been created primarily for one medium but used in the other with consequent weakening of the report) that "There is enormous anxiety about losing autonomy and control of its agenda."
After the World Service, to the domestic BBC service and the fine on BBC Radio 2:This led to some rather strident calls for Russell Brand and Jonathan Ross, who made the remarks at issue, to pay the fine rather than the BBC - ultimately therefore a penalty on the audience who fund the Corporation through the licence fee.
The Daily Mail, whose Sunday sister's report on the original programme led to the outcry about the comments headed its report, "Make Ross pay: As BBC is fined record £150,000 over sick stunt, MPs demand £6m-a-year star and Russell Brand foot bill" and a number of other papers took up the same line.
There seemed to be no problem in finding politicians who supported this line = the Mail quoted Liberal Democrat spokesman Don Foster as saying the penalty should come out of Ross's pay (He is now back on the air with radio and TV shows on the BBC but Brand is mainly working on plans for movies in the US and TV shows for commercial stations) whilst Labour MP Gerald Kaufmann said, "If one wants to see justice done, the fine should be directed at those that commit the fault and in this case those who were responsible for allowing the material to be broadcast."
Shadow culture secretary Jeremy Hunt was more cautious and would not comment on whether the presenters should pay the fine but said the BBC had got off "much more lightly than they deserve."
The BBC itself told the paper the fine would be paid out of its general budget and added, "Jonathan Ross has already paid a significant financial penalty through being suspended without pay for three months. Ofcom's ruling is against the whole BBC not one individual."
RNW note: There was comparatively little intelligent comment from the papers -rather more in some of the comments posted - about a sensible policy to adopt in case of organizations such as the BBC where the perception is that the fine is effectively on the public rather than the organization and a widespread absence of any suggestion that in effect exactly the same happens with a commercial broadcaster should it allow a fine to affect funding for programming -almost as if there is some kind of magic that means in a commercial context there is some kind of magic that protects programming from cuts when times are rough(tell that to all those now losing their jobs in broadcasting).
In this context we do recall after indecency fines increased in the US, some broadcasters were proposing clauses in contracts that made the performer pay when there were fines, something we would have concerns about, but rather better than trying to retrospectively make a performer responsible and let the employer off the hook).
Back to the Guardian however for one comment on the matter from Emily Bell whose thesis, as per the headline, "Fear of scandal curbs the BBC far more than fear of fines" put the matter in a different context to the with-hunts of some of the tabloids.
Bell commented, "After trial by the Mail on Sunday, the sacking of Lesley Douglas and the departure of Brand, the corporation's official penance is a £150,000 fine from Ofcom. Whenever the BBC is fined there is the unavoidable conclusion that this is not really the BBC's money to hand over, it's our money, which in itself casts doubt on the appropriateness of the penalty. Beyond this, however, there is a further question: what constitutes a sanction if not a fine?"
The BBC she said, "historically relies on a cultural handbrake rather than an external crash barrier to stop brand-damaging sprees of misjudgement. The multiplicity of compliance officers who hover over everything from In the Night Garden to Newsnight are continually clenching their buttocks not so much in fear of an Ofcom fine but rather due to the heightened (and maybe wrong) sense that the BBC 'cannot afford another scandal'".
"For commercial broadcasters an Ofcom fine is usually the end of a process, rather than one noise in an echo chamber of disapproval - with the resulting mood music helping to determine the direction of charter renewal once a decade" she continued, and she also raised the issue of possibly making Ofcom the overall regulator for the BBC, adding, "Both the BBC and the national press jealously guard their ability to self-regulate, although evidence of how this has benefited either over the past decade is not immediately obvious. Internally the BBC seems cowed and constrained; the press is financially strapped and losing its audiences, influence and trust."
After the BBC to commercial radio in the UK - and in this case Ofcom's proposals for local commercial radio in its submission to the government: Again the Guardian had one of the more thoughtful set of responses in its organgrinder blog under John Plunkett's name that began , "Media regulator Ofcom proposes to save local radio by killing it. Well, not quite, but the so-called 'local radio' we end up with will be very different to the one we know today. Sensible solution, or a cop-out?"
In essence Ofcom is accepting that local stations are already going out of business and suggesting that the situation could be improved by easing restrictions and allowing larger stations that would remain profitable to be formed.
Of this, after other comments on the services in his area - Plunkett comments amongst other remarks - "You can't beat the feeling that someone is broadcasting to you just a couple of miles down the road. That is hard to replicate, no matter how good you are at the "magic of radio" - the blog concludes, "Ofcom might be throwing commercial radio a lifeline. Or it might, as it rips up the regulatory rulebook, be handing it the tools to hasten its own demise."
The few responses posted were rather uncomplimentary about the current services with comments including, "Given half of them are Heart, and the other half of them are voice-tracked, I doubt it'll make much difference. Local radio is already dead (giants like Radio City and Key 103 excepted)" and "The reason local radio is doing badly is that most of it is rubbish. Untalented DJs playing repetitive muzak. Larger station might actually have a chance hire better DJs and take chances on music."
We haven't had time to go through our notes on other downloads but in terms of BBC listening would note the Handel Week programming on Radio 3 at the weekend, last Saturday's "Music Matters" in which Tom Service talked to Simon Rattle, principal conductor of the Berlin Philharmonic and also "Jazz Library" with more from the Gateshead Jazz Festival 2009; Sunday's "Private Passions" in which Marianne Faithful chose music by Bach, Mozart and Schubert, "The Choir" featuring Soviet Choral Music and "Drama on 3" - "The Trial and Death of Socrates ";
Starting Monday and hroughout the week we suggest "Composer of the Week" - Astor Piazzolla is thecomposer plus "Belief" a five-part series at 22:00 GMT in which Joan Bakewell explores belief with various guests.
Then we opt for Tuesday's "Eleventh International String Quartet Competition Final" and "Night Waves" on the reputation of economics in the wake of the credit crunch; Wednesday's "Night Waves"-" Christians in the Arab World"; Thursday's "Performance on 3" - Bach's St Matthew Passion; Friday's "Afternoon on 3" including The Monteverdi Choir in Bach's St John Passion at the 2008 Proms and "Performance on 3" - "King's Easter Festival" with the BBC Singers at King's College, Cambridge; Saturday's "Jazz Library" with the Heath Brothers and "Opera on 3" with Die Walkure "Live from the Met" (Starting at 16:00 GMT); and from Sunday "Sunday Morning" in which Ian Burnside presents a Handel tribute, "The Early Music Show" that explores Handel's Eight Great Keyboard Suites, the "Sunday Feature" -"Liquid Assets - Handel's Finances" in which BBC business correspondent Peter Day looks at Handel's financial dealings, and "Drama on 3" - "A Small Family Business" - Alan Ayckbourn's award-winning 1987.
From BBC Radio 2 we note the start of three new series: on Monday - the first programme in the four-part "Andre Previn: All The Right Notes" ; and on Tuesday "Blonde on Blonde" in which Mariella Frostrup tells the story of Doris Day and the following "Hollywood Charmers" - in the first of three programmes. In this one Michael York explored the life and career of Academy Award-winning actor David Niven.
On Friday we suggest the second (the first programme is currently on the site) part of the three-part "Handel 250" in which Alan Titchmarsh marks the 250th anniversary of the death of George Frideric Handel..
Then to BBC Radio 4 and first we suggest last weekend's "Any Questions" and "Any Answers" for comments on the Ofcom fine imposed on BBC Radio 2 - including a fair number of comments to the effect that Ross and Brand should be paying the fine.
Also from the weekend we suggest "Archive on 4" - "From Midpoint to Endpoint - Talking With John Updike" in which Mark Lawson traces the career of late US novelist and poet John Updike.
From Monday we opt for "Document", which considers why black soldiers in the French army were denied the glory of liberating Paris in 1944 and "Costing the Earth-Antarctic Treaty" then from Tuesday the second and last part of "Britishness", a programme featuring Nitin Sawhney with the Archbishop of Canterbury and some Welsh rugby fans (who consider themselves Welsh rather than British) plus the seventh of the eight-part "The Prime Ministers". This programme was on Stanley Baldwin.
From Wednesday we suggest "Bringing Up Britain", the first in a four-programme second series - this programme considers the impact of shouting at children and also a cats and dogs programme in the form of "Debating Animals" that considered the relative popularity of cats over dogs in the UK.
From Thursday we suggest four podcasts/downloads - "In our Time" that this week looked at Aldous Huxley's 1932 novel "Brave New World", "Crossing Continents" - an edition reporting on reports on alleged atrocities in Kosovo; and "Material World" that looks, four decades after the first Concorde flight at what happened to the dream of supersonic flight; and "In Business" - "All New", a report on people looking at innovation as a way our of the current economic crisis.
We'd also suggest comedy with "4 Stands Up" and "Power Failure? The Story of the Battery" in which Mark Miodownik explores the prospect of a new generation of highly powerful batteries.
From Friday we again opt for comedy with "The Stanley Baxter Playhouse" , the third and last of the current series; the "Afternoon Play", which is Peter Vickers' "NQ48", about one man's quest to get out of bed. ; and "The Now Show" (available as a download) . And finally from Friday a late addition with "Lost Albums" - this programme was on Vashti Bunyan's "Just Another Diamond Day"
Then to Saturday and "The Saturday Play" - Alan Ayckbourn's "Man of the Moment" plus "Archive on 4"- "Carl Sagan - A Personal Voyage" in which physicist and broadcaster Brian Cox presents a tribute to his science hero (Also available as a download).
And finally Sunday when we note the new "Classic Serial" is Emile Zola's "Therese Raquin" (A two-part adaptation) plus "The New Scramble for Africa" in which Mike Wooldridge reports on the quiet economic inroads into Africa being made by India.
UK Guardian - Bell:
UK Guardian - Brown:
UK Guardian - Plunkett/organgrinder blog:
UK Daily Mail report re fine on BBC:
2009-04-08: A US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) inquiry into the effect of Arbitron's Portable People Meter (PPM) ratings service on minority broadcasters appears to a fait accompli according a line in a statement by Democrat Commission Jonathan S. Adelstein welcoming the agency's Report and Order on Promoting Diversification of Ownership in the Broadcasting Services.
Adelstein says he "enthusiastically" supports the move, which is long -overdue and notes that although the Commission has "lauded the virtue of a diverse broadcast media landscape, until today we have not even counted how many women and minorities actually own broadcast outlets. "
He then goes on to say that to make progress the FCC needs a clear picture of the current situation and expresses pleasure at the decision to overhaul "our current method of collecting data on minority and female broadcast ownership."
He concludes his statement by commenting on the PPM ratings, writing, "Even as we make progress on this front, new challenges appear with each year. Since our last Diversity Order in 2007, we have heard widespread concerns that the Portable People Meter ratings system ("PPM"), created by Arbitron, has started to pose a threat to minority- and women-owned stations. The Commission recognizes the important role of advertising revenue in ensuring a diverse ownership of broadcast assets. The potentially inaccurate ratings of PPMs could damage minority- and women-owned stations. I am encouraged that the Commission will soon launch an inquiry I have sought into this audience measurement system so that all the facts and its effect on diversity will be evaluated and brought into light. We have clear authority over all signals transmitted by broadcasters under section 303(j) of the Communications Act to ensure they are in the public interest. Because encoded broadcast signals are required for the PPM to operate and the measurements are used as currency throughout the broadcasting industry, we have legitimate questions about whether to allow unaccredited systems to be used over the public airwaves, impairing the Commission's important goals to promote diversity and fair competition under the Communications Act. And in light of the challenging economic times and the fact the Commission uses Arbitron's market definitions and rating data, we need to ensure PPM's accuracy and reliability. The Commission cannot be left in the dark.
"Both this Report and Order and the forthcoming PPM inquiry demonstrate not only the Commission's commitment to diversity, but also it's determination to bring all the facts to the table in every decision. I am, therefore, pleased to support this item and the work that lies ahead.
2009-04-08: Corus Entertainment has reported second quarter revenues to the end of February up 1% on a year earlier to CAD 181.4 million ( USD 146.5 million) but within the figures radio revenues fell by 6% to CAD 57.9 million (USD 46.8 million) whilst TV revenues rose 5% to CAD 123.4 million ( USD 99.7 million).
Overall Corus reported net income for the quarter down 18% to CAD 29 million (USD 23.5 million - CAD 0.36 per basic and diluted share compared to CAD 0.42 basic and CAD 0.41 per diluted share a year earlier) with radio profit was down 31% to CAD 7.1 million (USD 5.7 million) and TV profit was up 7% to CAD 47.5 million (USD 38.4 million).
Corus noted that the quarter's figures included a gain of CAD 7.2 million (USD 5.8 million) related to the disposition of a residential music business, while the prior year's quarter benefited from CAD 13.2 million (USD 10.7 million) in recoveries related to income tax changes and that removing the impact of these items results in adjusted basic earnings per share of CAD 0.29 in the current year, and CAD0.26 in the prior year.
For the first six months of the year revenues are also up 1% - in this case to CAD 398.1 million (USD 321.5 million) within which radio was down 5% to CAD 133.3 million (USD 107.7 million) and TV was up 5% to CAD 264.7 million (USD 213.8 million ).
Net income for the six months was down 6.8 % to CAD 132.4 million (USD 56.3 million - down from CAD 0.89 per basic share and CAD 0.87 per diluted share to CAD 0.87 basic and CAD 0.86 per diluted share) with radio profit down 19% to CAD 29.1 million (USD 23.5 million) and TV profit up 4% to CAD 111.8 million (USD 90.3 million).
JPresident and CEO John Cassaday said of the results, "We are proud to have delivered both revenue and segment profit growth in such challenging economic times. Strong brands, superior programming, rigorous cost controls and multiple revenue streams helped offset the effects of a cyclically soft Canadian advertising market."
The radio revenue fall included an 8% drop in local advertising and 5% drop in national advertising and Cassaday noted that the company had been working to contain costs with actions including a hiring freeze, management salary reductions and cuts to discretionary spending.
Corus said of advertising that the current economic climate had led advertisers to delay bookings until the last moment although services geared towards women had seen steady sales and Cassaday told analysts that there wasn't "a complete malaise over the whole ad economy, there are segments that are continuing to grow." He also noted that advertisers were taking longer to pay, although they were paying.
2009-04-08: Eight new "Radio Heard Here" spots have been released as part of the multi-platform multi-year campaign being conducted by a partnership of the US National Association of Broadcasters (NAB), Radio Advertising Bureau (RAB) and HD Digital Radio Alliance.
The spots include two in Spanish and are available for download from the partnership's site and that of the HD Alliance.
NAB , president and CEO David Rehr said of the spots, "Radio's accessibility, content diversity and personality make it an essential part of the weekly routine for 93 percent of Americans. Each spot brings to life the different ways radio connects with 235 million weekly listeners."
RAB President and CEO Jeff Haley added, "The next generation of Radio Heard Here spots reflects the marketing efficiencies of strategic and creative radio commercials. In today's advertising climate it's more important than ever for our industry to remind marketers that radio advertising is an ideal solution to deliver their message to consumers."
Previous HD Digital Radio Alliance:
2009-04-08: Westwood One has revealed in an 8K filing to the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) that its Chief Revenue Officer Andrew Hersam's employment was terminated at the end of March but adds that under a Separation Agreement that has been agreed in principle but not yet executed he will continue to receive his base salary of USD 435,000 for a year, his entitlement under his employment agreement.
In addition Hersam has the right to exercise a third of his stock options to purchase 300,000 shares of the company's common stock at USD 1.66 a share - the company has now been bought by The Gores Group but the stock was trading at six cents on the Pink Sheets when we last checked!
Westwood One said it had also agreed in principle to Hersam entering into a two-month consultancy agreement for services relating to the negotiation and closing of a cross-platform advertising sales deal to the Company: For this consulting, which runs to the end of May he will receive a total of USD 46,750 .
Previous Westwood One:
2009-04-08: The US National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) continuing its opposition to a performance royalty payment for terrestrial radio has launched a new web site NoPerformanceTax.org that it says will "serve as the organization's newest advocacy tool in its effort to thwart a record-label led effort to charge radio stations a new fee for music aired free to listeners."
The site, which it terms "grassroots Web site" it says "gives radio stations the ability to download, air and share radio spots opposing a performance tax, as well as an array of online banner ads for use on station Web sites and sample letters to members of Congress. The site also provides users with background information on the performance tax issue, video clips from Congressional hearings and Capitol Hill events, NAB news releases, and news media coverage of the performance tax issue."
The home page of the new site says "It's Time to Get the Real Story On the Performance Tax" and then continues on to say, "Local radio stations provide billions of dollars in promotional value to artists and record labels. In appreciation, the record labels bestow upon radio stations 'gold' and 'platinum' albums to show their gratitude.
"So why do labels now want to "tax" radio for playing music - a practice that has put money in their pockets for more than 80 years?"
It also contains a link to an "About the Issue" page on which it asks "What is a performance tax?" and then goes on to answer the question by saying, "A performance tax is a fee that record labels want the government to impose on local radio stations simply for airing music free of charge for listeners."
The explanation goes on to note a decline in album sales as "more listeners opt for digital downloads" but adds that "radio remains the number one promotional vehicle for music - it's not responsible for the label's resistance to the digital age, and it shouldn't be on the hook to fix it."
After this it re-iterates its previous arguments including the argument that the money would "flow of your community and into the pockets of the record labels - the great majority of which are foreign-owned. The record labels would like for you to think this is all about compensating the artists, but in truth the record labels would get at least 50% of the proceeds from a tax on local radio."
NAB also notes that "Radio compensates composers and songwriters to the tune of about USD 550 million annually. It's widely understood that songwriters do not have the same name recognition to financially exploit themselves to make money. Performers can make money from touring and personal appearances, merchandise and other licensing and branding opportunities like perfume and clothing lines" and that stations pay a "royalty for streaming music over the internet, for reasons that include concerns that a perfect digital copy of the music could be captured by the end user."
2009-04-07: Telecommunications infrastructure and broadcast transmission company Arqiva has announced that it has agreed terms with Global Radio to take over Global's 63% share in the UK Digital One national commercial digital multiplex, taking it to full ownership.
It will also take full ownership of Now Digital, the company which operates Global Radio's local digital radio multiplexes, although Global radio will continue to broadcast its stations on the multiplexes involved including the transmission of Classic FM on Digital One.
No details were given of the amount paid but it is thought to be a nominal sum and tied into a reduction in its charges to Global for broadcasting on the multiplexes.
Digital One was awarded the sole national commercial DAB digital audio platform in 1998 with a renewable 12-year licence and it now covers more than 90% of the UK population with a network of more than 120 transmitters: It is also a major stakeholder with the BBC in the Digital Radio Development Bureau (DRDB). A second multiplex was awarded to a consortium led by Channel 4 but it dropped its radio plans and the licence was never taken up.
Last year Fru Hazlitt, then chief executive of GCap Media, had announced her intention to dispose of its stake in Digital One (See RNW Feb 11,2008) but the disposal was held up after Global took over G-Cap (See RNW Mar 12, 2008).
Commenting on the deal, Arqiva's Director of Radio Paul Eaton said in a release, "Digital One has always played a leading role in the development of DAB and in stimulating the market for DAB receivers in the UK. As an independent operator, Arqiva is in a good position to realise the full potential of the multiplex and encourage new services to launch on the DAB digital radio platform. We believe in the long-term future of DAB, and this deal with Global extends both of our companies' commitments to digital radio well into the future."
In another deal, Global Radio has entered into exclusive negotiations with Bauer Media over the sale of five stations in the Midlands - Heart 106 in the east Midlands plus BRMB, Beacon, Mercia and Wyvern - whose disposal was a condition of its purchase of GCap Media (See RNW Aug 8, 2008).
Bauer has also announced that it has appointed Graham Bryce to the new position of MD Radio, Scotland. He is to take up the post on June 8 and will report directly to Dee Ford, Bauer's Group MD Radio.
Bryce began his career with KPMG in London and then spent a decade with Capital Radio - becoming Managing Director of Xfm, Choice FM and Capital Gold before Capital merged with GWR into GCap. In 2005 he joined SBS Radio Group as Senior Vice President and last year he joined Dublin-based Communicorp, where he is currently Strategy and Operations Director.
He commented of his new appointment, "Having spent 15 years working within radio in England, Ireland and continental Europe, I am delighted to be returning home as MD Radio, Scotland for Bauer Media. I am looking forward to developing the business and working with the local teams to increase commercial revenues and deliver more compelling local programming for which we are famous."
Bryce will have responsibility for developing and delivering strategy and marketing for Bauer's eight stations in Scotland - Radios Clyde, West Sound, South West Sound, Forth, Borders, Northsound, MFR and Tay.
Ford commented of his appointment, "I am delighted that we have attracted Graham back to his Scottish roots, in this newly created role of MD Radio, Scotland. His proven leadership and operational experience within high growth media businesses will be critical in these challenging times as we seek to step change the business Graham has a personal energy and instinctive passion for what is important to radio listeners and advertisers in Scotland.''"
Previous Digital One:
Previous Global Radio:
2009-04-07: UK media regulator Ofcom in its latest Broadcast Bulletin headlines the GBP 150,000 ( USD 223,000) fine imposed on the BBC for comments made on the Russell Brand Show on BBC Radio 2 (See RNW Apr 3): It also notes that in addition The Chris Moyles Show on BBC Radio 1, had infringed the privacy of actor Andrew Sachs and his granddaughter.
In addition it noted that two South West Radio Ltd stations -Bath FM and Brunel FM in Swindon that in December last year were issued with "Yellow Cards" for not carrying enough local content (See RNW Dec 16, 2008) are still not conforming to the terms of their licences.
Ofcom commented in relation to these two stations that there had been poor use of automation, particularly at Bath FM where Saturday 10 January, an entire hour of the previous week's programming was played out between 12.00 and 13.00, containing out-of-date information such as Christmas and New Year messages and DJ links and that right across the station's output there were frequently outdated Christmas and New Year promotional messages and jingles being aired before and after commercial breaks.
It comments that "if a service is described in its Format as being 'locally focused' or 'locally oriented', we would not expect hour after hour of daytime output to pass by with no local material being broadcast."
South West Radio Ltd. said it was of "great concern" to all at SWR that the errors in format had occurred, noted that the automation was an ongoing project that was being resolved, and said that it had increased staff numbers at its news hub and was also introducing a new lunchtime show on both stations and a new sports show on Brunel FM.
Ofcom noted the promises made by South West Radio and said it would monitor the stations' output within the next three months and list the Yellow Cards if the issues had been addressed but if they had not would consider further action including includes possible financial penalties, licence shortening or licence revocation.
As well as the BBC fine, Ofcom has also imposed fines totalling GBP 22,500 (USD 33,400) on the Playboy One TV Channel for broadcasts of sexually explicit content and gave details of an advertising complaint against ITV2 that it considered resolved through action taken by the broadcaster, which had in error exceeded the permitted per-hour advertising allowance.
In addition to the above Ofcom also listed without details 314 TV complaints against 169 items and 20 radio complaints against 20 items that it did not uphold or were considered out of its remit: This compared to 458 TV complaints against 196 items and 34 radio complaints against 32 that it did not uphold or were considered out of its remit that were listed in the previous bulletin.
In New Zealand, the New Zealand Broadcasting Standards Authority has posted five rulings - three radio and two TV - but did not uphold any complaints. The radio complaints related to a discussion of the attacks in Mumbai; an item about the change in government n the country including comments about the former Prime Minister's sexual orientation; and a discussion about people photocopying their naked bottoms.
Previous New Zealand Broadcasting Standards Authority:
Previous Ofcom Complaints Bulletin:
2009-04-07: Regent Communications has disclosed in an 8K filing to the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) that the Bank of America has written to it saying that it considers the company in default of its Credit Agreement and given it 30 days to remedy the situation or face losing its credit.
The letter refers to remarks by the auditors that said although Regent had been in full compliance with the credit agreement covenants relating to financial ratio at the end of 2008 it might not be able to comply with them for the whole of this year.
These concerns have led the lenders to note that they constitute a "default" under the terms of Regent's agreement and to say no additional borrowing will be permitted. In addition in the note, dated the first of this month, the lenders say that they could demand repayment of the entire loan - Regent said this was USD 195,139,000 at the end of March.
Regents adds that it is currently in negotiations with the Bank and other parties to the Credit Agreement to amend some of the "financial ratios and other covenants" of the credit agreement in order to regain compliances but that it cannot guarantee that it will be able to negotiate any amendment.
Failure it adds could lead the lenders to bring forward repayment of the total outstanding debt, charge the default rate until the debt can be repaid, and to "and proceed against available collateral pledged pursuant to the terms of the Credit Agreement and related Loan Documents."
It also notes that if it is able to negotiate an amendment this could involve it paying additional finance fees and higher interest charges. "Such charges," says Regent "could have a material effect on the Company's future cash flows, results of operations or financial condition."
Also facing serious financial problems are Pacifica Network and partricularly the New York Pacifica station WBAI-FM.
Pacifica in a posting this month says the Pacifica Foundation is "facing a severe financial crisis" and continues, "Multi-year down trending listenership at all of our stations has been eroding our membership and net income. The economic downtrends in society as a whole are also impacting us. Restructuring is occurring at most of our stations which has already reversed the decline at a station or two. "
It quotes James Ross, the Chair of the Pacifica National Finance Committee as saying that WBAI has operated at a deficit for years and that this is a threat to the Foundation.
Pacifica says it has received complaints about programming that may be threatening the financial and legal health of the Pacifica Foundation and "Therefore, following legal advice, we are taking preparatory measures to secure our broadcast signals should we need to prevent legal liability as a last resort."
"These precautionary measures," it adds, "will be taken at all five stations under advice of Counsel" and it continues, "Pacifica is the license holder for all five stations and is ultimately responsible for everything broadcast over all of them."
In terms of the scale of the deficit Pacifica says WBAI owes the foundation at least USD 800,000 in unpaid central service fees and billbacks that have accumulated since 2006 and that through the first five months of the current fiscal year, WBAI is operating at a deficit of at least USD 30,000 per month, despite layoffs last fall designed to cut costs and bring the station to financial stability.
It also notes that WBAI is four months in arrears on its office rent and 2 months behind on the rent for the facility that houses the transmitter with the total in unpaid rent around USD 198,000.
Pacifica says it doesn't have the reserves to underwrite WBAI's continuing deficits and it warns that it is "at risk of being sued for breach of our lease agreements, which could have dire consequences. In the case of the Tower lease where our transmitter is located a continuing breach could result in a loss of our signal."
2009-04-07: Brixton Prison service Electric Radio Brixton has been nominated in four categories. and three stations have been nominated for the "Station of the Year" title in this year's Sony Awards, the "Oscars" of UK Radio.
The nominations were announced at a London ceremony by Capital Radio breakfast hosts Johnny Vaughan and Lisa Snowdon: The event itself, the 27th, is on May 11 and will be hosted by BBC Radio 2 host Chris Evans who will take over from long-time awards host Paul Gambaccini.
The stations nominated for "STATION OF THE YEAR AWARD" are BBC Radio 1; BBC Radio 3; and Global Radio's Classic FM. The Brixton Service, run by the Prison Radio Association, was nominated for THE SPEECH AWARD for Prisoners' Voices; THE LISTENER PARTICIPATION AWARD for its Daily Show; THE INTERVIEW AWARD for an interview with former cabinet minister and prisoner Jonathan Aitken; and THE COMMUNITY AWARD - for A Sound Fix (Spots);
Other nominees are:
DIGITAL STATION OF THE YEAR - BBC Asian Network; Fun Kids; and Planet Rock.
STATION OF THE YEAR (1 MILLION PLUS) - BBC Radio Ulster; Kerrang 105.2; and Magic 105.4.
STATION OF THE YEAR (300,000 - 1 MILLION) - BBC Hereford & Worcester; BBC Radio Nottingham; and Lincs 102.2 FM.
STATION OF THE YEAR: UNDER 300,000 - BBC Radio Foyle; Beacon Radio (Shropshire); and
THE MUSIC PROGRAMME AWARD - In: Demand - Key 103 for the Big City Network;
The Huey Show - Wise Buddah Creative for BBC 6 Music; The Mark Radcliffe and Stuart Maconie Show - Smooth Operations for BBC Radio 2; Words and Music - BBC Radio Arts and Radio 3 for Radio 3; and Zane Lowe - BBC Radio 1.
THE SPECIALIST MUSIC PROGRAMME AWARD - Andi Durrant: The Warm Up - Distorted Productions & the Galaxy Network for the Galaxy Network; David Rodigan - Kiss Specialist Production Team for the Kiss Network; Friction - BBC Asian Network; Mic Check - Somethin' Else for the BBC Asian Network; and Stuart Maconie's Freak Zone - BBC Audio & Music for 6 Music.
THE MUSIC RADIO PERSONALITY OF THE YEAR - Chris Evans - BBC Radio 2; Lauren Laverne - BBC Audio & Music for 6 Music; Scott Mills - BBC Radio 1; Simon James & Hill - Kerrang! Radio; and Zane Lowe - BBC Radio 1.
THE MUSIC BROADCASTER OF THE YEAR - Alex James - Classic FM; David Rodigan - Kiss Specialist Production Team for the Kiss Network; Mark Radcliffe - Smooth Operations for BBC Radio 2; Steve Lamacq - BBC Audio & Music for 6 Music, Radio 2 & Radio 1; Stuart Maconie - Smooth Operations for BBC Radio 2 and 6 Music.
THE MUSIC SPECIAL AWARD - Absolute Coldplay - Absolute Radio & TBI Media for Absolute Radio; Cut & Paste - Wise Buddah Creative for BBC Radio 1; Gerry's Danny Boy - BBC Radio Ulster;
Vaughan Williams: Valiant for Truth - BBC Radio 3; Who Knows Where The Time Goes, The Sandy Denny Story - Whispering Bob Broadcasting Company for BBC Radio 2
THE ENTERTAINMENT AWARD - Adam and Joe - BBC Audio & Music for 6 Music;
Chris Evans Drivetime - BBC Radio 2; Christian O'Connell - Absolute Radio; Geoff Lloyd - Absolute Radio; and Tim Shaw's Absolution - Absolute Radio.
THE MUSIC PROGRAMMING AWARD - BBC Radio 1; Classic FM; and Magic 105.4.
THE DRAMA AWARD - Cavalry - BBC Radio Drama for Radio 4; Goldfish Girl - BBC Radio Drama for Radio 4; Mr Larkin's Awkward Day - BBC Radio Drama for Radio 4; The Color Purple - BBC Radio Drama for Radio 4; and The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists - Above the Title & Woolyback Productions for BBC Radio 4.
THE SPEECH AWARD - America, Empire of Liberty - BBC Radio Current Affairs for Radio 4;
Jon Ronson On.... - Unique the production company for BBC Radio 4; Outlook: Black in the USA - BBC Audio and Music Factual for the World Service; Prisoners' Voices - Prison Radio Association & Electric Radio Brixton for Electric Radio Brixton; and Simon Mayo & Mark Kermode - BBC News for 5 live.
THE NEWS & CURRENT AFFAIRS AWARD - 5 live Breakfast - BBC News for 5 live; Newsbeat - BBC News for Radio 1; The World Today - BBC World Service News & Current Affairs for the World Service; The Wrap - BBC Asian Network; Today - BBC News for Radio 4.
THE NEWS SPECIAL AWARD - Desperate Dreams: The Monday Documentary - BBC Manchester Current Affairs for the World Service; Driving Into Debt - Falling Tree Productions for BBC Radio 4;
Poetry From The Front Line - White Pebble Media for BBC Radio 4; Rhys Jones - Century Radio; and The Investigation: Never Too Old To Care - A Stark Production for BBC Radio Scotland.
THE NEWS JOURNALIST OF THE YEAR - 106 JACK fm & Oxford's FM 107.9 News Team - 106 JACK fm & Oxford's FM107.9; City Talk News Team - City Talk 105.9; Eddie Mair - BBC News for Radio 4; Gavin Lee - BBC News for 5 live; and Mike Thomson - BBC News for Radio 4.
THE SPEECH RADIO PERSONALITY OF THE YEAR - Eddie Mair - BBC News for Radio 4; Ian Wright - talkSPORT; Nicky Campbell - BBC Radio 5 live; Stephen Nolan - BBC Radio 5 live & BBC Radio Ulster; Vanessa Feltz - BBC London 94.9.
THE SPEECH BROADCASTER OF THE YEAR - Edi Stark - A Stark Production for BBC Radio Scotland; Evan Davis - BBC News for Radio 4; John Humphrys - BBC News for Radio 4; Nick Ferrari - LBC 97.3; and Simon Mayo - BBC News for 5 live.
THE BREAKFAST SHOW AWARD - 5 live Breakfast - BBC News for 5 live; Bowie @ Breakfast - Radio Clyde for 102.5 Clyde 1; Kiss 100 Breakfast with Rickie, Melvin & Charlie - Kiss 100; Shaun Keaveny - BBC Audio & Music Factual for 6 Music; The Chris Moyles Show - BBC Radio 1.
THE LISTENER PARTICIPATION AWARD - Adam and Joe - BBC Audio & Music for 6 Music; Electric Radio Brixton: Daily Show - Prison Radio Association & Electric Radio Brixton for Electric Radio Brixton; Iain Lee - Absolute Radio; Sadie Nine's Loud Women - BBC Essex; and Stephen Nolan - BBC Radio 5 live.
THE COMEDY AWARD - 606 with Danny Baker - Campbell Davison Media for BBC Radio 5 live; Adam and Joe - BBC Audio and Music for 6 Music; Count Arthur Strong's Radio Show! - Komedia Entertainment & Smooth Operations for BBC Radio 4; Miranda Hart's Joke Shop - BBC Radio Comedy for Radio 2; The Now Show - BBC Radio Comedy for Radio 4.
THE FEATURE AWARD - Anatomy Of A Car Crash - BBC Radio Documentaries for Radio 4; Between The Ears: Staring At The Wall - BBC Radio Documentaries for Radio 3; Giving Way To A New Era - Made in Manchester Limited for BBC Radio 4; Leonard and Marianne - Falling Tree Productions for BBC Radio 4; and Lives In A Landscape: Gone East - BBC Radio Documentaries for Radio 4.
THE INTERVIEW AWARD - Allison Ferns interviews Reunited Brothers - BBC Southern Counties Radio; Andrew Peach interviews Graeme Murty - BBC Radio Berkshire; Eddie Mair interviews Ken Livingstone - BBC News for Radio 4; Electric Radio interview with Jonathan Aitken - Prison Radio Association & Electric Radio Brixton for Electric Radio Brixton; and Feargal Keane interviews Lana Vandenberghe - Taking a Stand, BBC Radio Current Affairs for Radio 4.
THE BREAKING NEWS AWARD - Attacks in Mumbai - BBC News Programmes for Radio 4;
Body on Arbroath Beach - Tay News Team for Tay FM & Tay AM; Schools Closures - BBC Radio Shropshire; The Rangers Riot - BBC Radio Manchester; and The Ray Lewis Investigation - BBC London 94.9.
THE LIVE EVENT COVERAGE AWARD - Absolute Coldplay - Absolute Radio & TBI Media for Absolute Radio; Carnival - 1Xtra; Summer Sundae Weekender - BBC Audio & Music for 6 Music; The Beijing Olympics - BBC Radio 5 live; and The Coldstream Guards Come Home To Windsor - The Andrew Peach Show for BBC Radio Berkshire.
THE COMMUNITY AWARD - A Sound Fix (Spots) - Prison Radio Association for Electric Radio Brixton; Coventry Market the Musical - BBC Coventry & Warwickshire; Don't Be A Tosser! - BBC Radio Suffolk; Legsy Gets A Break - BBC Radio Berkshire; and Omagh Community Radio Group - Omagh Community Radio Group for Strule FM.
THE THEMED PROGRAMMING AWARD - 1968 - Myth or Reality? - BBC Production Departments and Independent Companies for BBC Radio 4; Family Life - BBC Hereford & Worcester; The Chopin Experience - BBC Radio 3; The Forgotten Army - 106 JACK fm; and US'08 BBC Bus: Talking America - BBC World Service News for the World Service.
THE PROMO AWARD - Absolute Radio Discover Real Music - Absolute Radio; Bristol's Big Give - GWR Bristol; Kiss The Planet - What Will You Do? - Kiss Imaging Team for the Kiss Network; The My Lai Tapes - BBC World Service Promotions for the World Service; and TV Licensing - Students Campaign - Fresh Air Production & Proximity London for BBC Radio 1.
THE COMPETITION AWARD - Adam and Joe - Video Wars - BBC Audio & Music for 6 Music; Facebuck$ - Galaxy Network Imaging for Galaxy (Manchester, Birmingham, Yorkshire & North East); Heart's Tankety Tank - Heart (West Midlands); Radio City Makes Your Day - Radio City; and Win Your Wedding - CFM.
THE STATION IMAGING AWARD - 1Xtra; BBC Radio 1; City Talk 105.9; JACK fm; and Xfm (London & Manchester).
THE INTERNET PROGRAMME AWARD - Answer Me This! - Answer Me This Podcast.com; Media Talk - The Rout At Radio 2 - Guardian.co.uk; Nature's Voice - Podcast for the RSPB Website; Rethinkdaily - Rethinkdaily.co.uk; and The Budgerigar and the Prisoner - Clifton Diocese.com.
THE MULTIPLATFORM RADIO AWARD -95.8 Capital FM iPhone Application - Global Radio Creative Technology for 95.8 Capital FM; Classic FM; Radio 1's Big Weekend - BBC Radio 1; Wimbledon - BBC Radio 5 live Interactive for 5 live; and World On The Move - BBC Natural History Unit, Audio & Music Interactive & Airlock for Radio 4.
Previous Sony Awards (2008 Winners):
2009-04-06: UK media regulator Ofcom in its Radio in Digital Britain submission to the Government has suggested that it should consider dropping current localism requirements, allowing mergers to create larger groups that would be viable, and also backed the proposals of the Radio Working Group in proposing that DAB (the UK is on the original DAB that uses MP2 encoding rather than the more efficient AAC in DAB+) should be the primary distribution platform for UK-wide and large local radio stations, and calls for a migration of listening to DAB over the next decade.
In its summary of its proposals it headlines three suggestions:
*Restructuring restructure both the analogue and digital radio landscapes, in order to secure the future of commercial and community radio in the face of increasing financial and competitive pressures,
*Encouraging the continued growth of the DAB platform; and
*Overcoming some of the obstacles that might hinder any future digital migration.
Regarding the medium it says that its research suggests that "broadcast radio still has a particular role to play" in UK media and it goes on to comment, "At UK-wide and larger local levels, the commercial radio sector complements the BBC's radio services, but also has an important role providing competition, diversity of genres and plurality of voices, given the BBC's share of the radio audience. At smaller local levels, commercial and community radio makes a unique contribution of local content and community benefits not duplicated elsewhere."
As regards national radio it suggests that the government consider allowing existing analogue regional stations to become UK-wide digital (and quasi-national analogue) stations, in effect by dropping the local programming required from them; and allowing existing regional multiplexes to be merged and expanded to create a second, regionalised UK-wide commercial DAB multiplex, that could be a platform for national radio station brands while still selling advertising on a regionalised basis.
It goes on to say that at a local level we suggest there may be a need to amend legislation and regulation to ensure the continuation of a viable tier of commercial services, large enough and sufficiently well resourced to provide local news and other content in every part of the UK.
In connection with this it says stations will need "scale to be viable" and suggests it "may be sensible to define a new set of geographic areas for this tier, taking into account local affinities."
Regarding such stations it says it plans to consult as to whether it should continue to regulate music formats for all stations and that they should be large enough to able to afford DAB transmission.
Below this tier Ofcom says there would be universal availability of smaller services but suggests encouragement of the growth of new services building on community radio.
Amongst the possible models for stations it suggests the options include allowing stations to continue with their current commercial model but with grater flexibility to co-locate and share programming; merging with other commercial stations in an area so as to move into the tier of large local stations; a "non-profit, accountable community model with eligibility for public funding" or a more flexible commercial model whereby they propose a different set of commitments to localness (similar to the Key Commitments of community radio stations) which get written into their licence.
"Last year we halved the amount of localness required of licensees and simplified formats but the system is under increasing financial pressure and our modelling suggests that there are probably too many small stations to be viable in the long-term," says the report.
It adds, "While we welcome the continued provision of small-scale radio, whether community or commercial, one of our aims, stated above, is to facilitate the provision of well resourced, viable local services in every part of the UK of a size large enough to deliver high quality local news and information services while maintaining local relevance outside of news."
The lowest level of stations says Ofcom would not migrate to DAB and could be expanded as frequencies are freed up by larger stations' move to DAB.
As far as changing technology is concerned, the report sees them as both an opportunity and a threat in relation to distribution and content.
Commercial radio services it says can achieve scale through UK-wide audiences, enabling them to invest in content and talent to create mass appeal services, or to make niche services viable. But historically there has been little competition for the BBC or plurality at the UK-wide level, mainly due to spectrum constraints" and it adds, "Digital platforms offer an opportunity for commercial radio to compete with the BBC in terms of choice and variety at a national level."
Regarding community radio it notes that 187 stations have already been licensed and131 are already broadcasting but they can only reach around a tenth of the population and this cannot be significantly increased unless spectrum is freed up by a migration of larger services to DAB.
In relation to this and possible service mergers, Ofcom says the current 12-year renewals of UK-wide DAB multiplexes would not allow operators to make reasonable financial returns within the period and it suggest consideration of whether such licenses should be extended to 20:30, possibly with a requirement of the extension being linked with conditions such as a build-out to a certain level. It also suggests that if the government opts to abolish the current rule prohibiting ne organization controlling more than one nationwide multiplex there should be safeguards to ensure that the services on the multiplexes are provided by more than one operator.
2009-04-06: Australian commercial radio revenues in 2008 were slightly up on a year earlier according to latest figures from the Commercial Economic Advisory Service of Australia (CEASA) whose figures show total advertising revenue for the year up 0.7% on 2007 to AUD 991.7 million (USD 703 million).
Commenting on the figures Joan Warner, chief executive of industry body Commercial Radio Australia, said they showed radio to be resilient in tough times.
She noted that within the figures "metropolitan advertising revenue fell slightly (0.1%) and regional ad revenue grew by around two per cent last year" with Sydney facing a particularly challenging time.
Warner also predicted added interest in radio and opportunities for the industry with the introduction of digital radio, commenting, "The industry is excited about the opportunities digital radio offers and is gearing up for an unprecedented marketing and promotional campaign, beginning Easter Monday, highlighting the benefits of digital radio for listeners."
Previous Commercial Radio Australia:
2009-04-06: Pressure is building n the UK from media owners for relaxation on restrictions on local and cross media ownership but is meeting objections from trades unions.
Submissions were put in last week to the Office of Fair Trading (OFT), which is reviewing the regulations, including one from the UK Radio Centre, which wants the OFT to widen the scope of its enquiry - currently on local newspapers - to include all media, claiming that if this is not done there is a danger of creating an imbalance. The OFT deadline for submissions was last week and it is expected to post its report later this month.
The RadioCentre says there is a need for relaxation to allow creation of strong local media companies and its Chief Executive Andrew Harrison said the level of ownership regulation faced by commercial radio " is out of all proportion to the industry's size and influence on the advertising market."
"More than ever," he continued, "we compete in a multi-media world for advertisers' revenues as well as for consumers' time; the media mergers regime needs to be updated to reflect the realities of the modern media market. The current rules are preventing consolidation which could really help stations to invest in content and thrive in the digital age.
"Commercial Radio is a small industry facing serious economic challenges, yet the combination of the current merger regime and media ownership rules restrict the activities of local radio in an even more severe manner than for the newspaper and TV industries."
Regulation he said should have a clearly defined purpose and value or it should be removed "and the benefits and justification for such mono-media regulation for radio are simply not apparent."
The RadioCentre also noted that Ofcom is carrying out its triennial review of Media Ownership Rules this year and adds that if the OFT allows a single press company in a market the current rules requiring two commercial owners plus the BBC in a market would create an "asymmetrical" situation.
"Plurality," commented Harrison "is no less important than it was five or ten years ago, but seeking to secure it within a single medium is a completely outdated notion. We must look across all media when seeking to secure plurality".
The National Union of Journalists (NUJ) in its submission argues that lifting the restrictions against consolidation would be a "disaster for local journalism".
It called on the OFT and Competition Commission to ensure that takeovers should carry enforceable conditions including "commitments to invest in news-gathering, with a specified proportion of profits going into editorial resources and requirements over staffing ratios".
For the newspaper industry the Local Media Alliance, which is made up of the chief executives of Trinity Mirror, Johnston Press, Newsquest, Northcliffe Media, Guardian Media Group, Archant and DC Thomson has called for "modernisation" of the regulations and argues that creating publishers with greater local scale would be the most effective way to protect the viability of local newspapers.
2009-04-05: The regulatory news that had the most impact last week was a GBP 150,000 (USD 223,000) fine on the BBC over crude remarks broadcast on two editions of the Russell Brand Show on BBC Radio 2 (See RNW Apr 3): Elsewhere postings were more routine.
There were no radio postings from Australia and only a few from Canada where the main news from the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) was its posting of its Report to the Governor in Council on English- and French-language broadcasting services in English and French linguistic minority communities in Canada.
The Commission concluded that that official-language minority communities have appropriate access to television services and that the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and community radio stations play a most important role in official-language minority communities.
It also found that that community reflection in the programming of the services available in the Canadian broadcasting system can be improved albeit it added that In the medium and long term, it considers that new media represent the best solution for ensuring access to a maximum number of services and for allowing a better reflection of official-language minority communities within the Canadian broadcasting system.
In regard to radio, the CRCT report noted that as of the end of last year the country had 656 licensed AM and FM stations of which 105 were French language and 551 English-language with 72 stations primarily licensed to broadcast religious programming (27 of them French-language and 45 English language) plus 45 Type A, 57 Type B and six English-language developmental community stations and 50 Type B Native radio stations and 3 Native radio networks.
The majority of the official-language minority communities it said have access to satellite and Internet radio services, as well as pay and specialty audio services, but francophone minority communities generally have limited access to conventional French-language radio services with most only able to receive CBC services.
The report also noted that the CBC's cultural radio services Espace musique and Radio Two do not reach all Canadians - the CBC said that only 91% of Francophones in Canada can receive Espace musique and only 77% of Anglophones in Quebec can receive Radio 2. The CBC added that it would be very expensive to extend its cultural networks to remote communities and it has no plans to extend them.
It and Astral Media added that most of the programming broadcast by their French-language stations is currently available on the Internet but the report notes that in some areas only dial-up Internet services are available.
The CRTC also posted the following radio decisions (In order of province):
*Approval of application by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, licensee of CBR-FM, Calgary, to use a subsidiary communications multiplex operations channel to broadcast multicultural programs in Punjabi, Hindi, English, Fijian, Gujarati and Urdu.
As well as interventions in support of the application the CRTC noted opposition from Fairchild Radio Ltd., licensee of CHKF-FM, Calgary, its SCMO operator Sabrang Enterprises, and, jointly, from CKUA Radio Network and its SCMO operator Radio Sursangam Ltd. (RSL).
They argued that there were already enough services serving Calgary's South Asian community and that in the current economic climate a new entrant would negatively affect both existing SMCO and conventional radio incumbents. CKUA and RSL further argued that there will be programming overlap between the proposed service and existing services and that the applicant provided unrealistic economic assumptions.
The CBC in its response argued that the new service would increase the diversity of voices in the market and also that population growth warranted a new service. The CRTC in approving the application noted that Fairchild's CHKF-FM is the only ethnic radio station licensed to serve Calgary and that its programming is primarily in Cantonese. It added that CHFK does provide some programming in South Asian languages but is not dependent on its South Asian programming for a significant portion of its revenues.
*Approval of application by Shore Media Group Inc. to change the frequency of its CHHR-FM, Vancouver, from 104.1 MHz to 104.3 MHz (channel 282C) and increase its power from 4,200 to 5,200 watts. Shore said the changes are needed because of interference from a US station.
*Short-term renewal to August 31, 2012, of licence of Newcap Inc.'s CIHT-FM, Ottawa/Gatineau. The CRTC noted that the licensee may have failed to comply with its conditions of licence specifying its required contributions to Canadian talent development (CTD).
*Revocation at the licensee's request of licence of Aboriginal Voices Radio Inc.'s Type B Native station CKAV-FM-8, Kitchener.
*Revocation at the licensee's request of licence of Aboriginal Voices Radio Inc.'s Type B Native station CKAV-FM-10, Montréal.
The CRTC has also posted a notice, with a deadline for interventions or comments of May 6, relating to an application by L.A. Radio Group Inc. to use the frequency 101.3 MHz for its 26,000 watts English language commercial FM approved for Red Deer, Alberta, in October last year subject to it finding a suitable alternative frequency to the frequency it had originally requested.
In Ireland the Broadcasting Commission of Ireland posted no radio decision but it did launch its 2009 Station Innovation Scheme and a posted details of a Media Literacy Report that it had commissioned. The former provides support to broadcast stations for innovative initiatives and the total funding available for 2009 is Euros 30.000 (USD 40.500).
The report, prepared by the Dublin Institute of Technology's Centre for Social and Educational Research (CSER) has made a series of recommendations taking into account proposed legislation that would require that the proposed new broadcasting regulator, the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI), undertake activities to promote media literacy, including co-operation with broadcasters, educationalists and other relevant people or groups. The recommendations include the establishment of an Irish media literacy expert group to advise on definitions, strategies and new developments in relation to media literacy.
Commenting on the research findings one of the authors, Dr. Brian O'Neill said, "It is clear that media literacy is something that affects everyone. We all need to be more media literate to make sense of the major changes happening in today's information-rich world. Teachers and educators have a major role to play, but media industries must also play their part in ensuring there is a better public understanding of the issues and challenges".
BCI Chief Executive Michael O'Keeffe added, "The research undertaken by the CSER and funded by the BCI clearly outlines the importance of having a clear definition and understanding of what media literacy is from a policy development perspective. One of the major challenges facing the BAI will be in determining degrees of media literacy, in order to develop an integrated approach to its promotion in Ireland. It will be important for the BAI to ensure that as new services and platforms develop, so too will the requirement for measures to be put in place to ensure that consumers and users are informed and better enabled to cope in an increasingly complex and dynamic environment."
In the UK, Ofcom as already noted has fined the BBC GBP 150,000 for comments aired on the Russell Brand Show (See RNW Apr 3) : it also lifted its "Yellow Card" on Global Radio's Bristol station GWR-FM and agreed a collocation of KMFM's Ashford station and its Folkestone and Dover sister (See RNW Apr 1).
In the US the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has now posted the agenda for an Open Meeting on Wednesday with two radio-related items listed.
These are the consideration of a Report and Order and Fourth Further Notice of Proposed Rule concerning improving data collection on minority and female broadcast ownership and also a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking concerning the policies and procedures for allocation and assignment of broadcast frequencies in the commercial AM and FM and non-commercial FM services.
In addition, the agency has also been involved in a number of enforcement and contested licensing decisions including the following:
*Issued USD 7,000 forfeiture to Des Moines Independent Community School District, licensee of non-commercial educational station KDPS-FM, Des Moines, Iowa for late filing of license renewal application and for unauthorized operation of the Station.
The FCC had issued a Notice of Apparent Liability for Forfeiture (NAL ) for this amount to which the licensee responded by requesting cancellation or reduction on the basis that the failure was inadvertent, that it immediately took corrective action on learning that the licence had expired and because it is a non-commercial station on a limited budget. As is its normal practice the FCC rejected the first two arguments and in the case of the third confirmed the penalty since no appropriate supporting documentation had been sent to it concerning ability to pay.
*Issued USD 5,200 forfeiture to Saga Radio Networks, LLC for late filing of renewal application and operation of an earth station without Commission authority. The FCC had issued an NAL for this amount to which Saga responded that imposing a forfeiture would be inconsistent with FCC actions in previous cases. The FCC disagreed and confirmed the full penalty.
In Alabama the agency had rejected objections to the move and approved the assignment of the licence of WUSD-FM (formerly WRJM-FM), Geneva, from Stage Door Development to Gulf South Communications, Inc.
William C. Carn, III had been appointed Trustee in bankruptcy of Stage Door and the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Middle District of Alabama had approved the sale of Stage Door's assets.
H. Jack Mizell, President of Stage Door Development, Inc., had filed an objection as had Tim Alexander with Mizell alleging that the station's main studio in Ozark did not comply with the FCC's main studio rules and also alleging that Gulf South and its manager had confessed to "eleven criminal acts by failure to comply and non-response to an opportunity to cure the complaints."
Alexander objected on the basis that Gulf South has been providing programming to the Station since September 6, 2008, although the sale of the Station to Gulf South has not been consummated.
The FCC noted action taken by Gulf South to comply with the main station rule and that Mizell had not submitted evidence of any criminal misconduct that the agency takes into account in making determinations as to character qualifications for holding a licence. Regarding the programming, the Trustee said this had been provided under a Local Marketing Agreement and the FCC found that its rules had been complied with. It approved the transfer,
In Texas, the FCC had denied a petition for the reconsideration of the staff decision to cancel the licence of Low Power FM Station DKLNA-LP, Pittsburg.
Cenia Carillo, a board member of licensee Ministerios Tocando Corazones (MTC) had requested cancellation of the licence in writing in October last year and the FCC staff duly obliged. Subsequently Yesenia Orellana, another board member, had alleged that Carillo, her former mother-in-law, acted for personal reasons in requesting the cancellation and petitioned for reconsideration of the decision. The FCC noted that the petitioner had failed to provide documentation demonstrating that Carillo lacks authority to act individually on behalf of the licensee and said that without a court order establishing that Carillo was not authorized to act on behalf of MTC it would not grant the petition for reconsideration.
Previous Licence News:
BCI web site:
BCI Media Literacy Report:
CRTC web site:
FCC web site:
Ofcom web site:
2009-04-04: Chicago radio host Garry Meier, who co-hosted top rating shows with Steve Dahl and Roe Conn but who after 2004 when he did not renew his contract for the Roe & Garry Show on WLS-AM (See RNW Jan 13, 2004) has been off the fair for most of the time (apart from a seven-month spell in 2007 as solo late-night host for then WCKG-FM (See RNW Apr 1, 2007) until it was flipped by CBS Radio in October 2007 to an AC format (See RNW Oct 30 2007)), has now been confirmed as afternoon host for Tribune Co's WGN-AM.
He will be teamed with Jim Turano who was also with him on WCKG and replaces John Williams who moved to morning drive to succeed Spike O'Dell after O'Dell retired in December last year (See RNW Nov 25, 2008).
Meier was considered a front runner for his new post, which he started yesterday, and had already been in the slot for a week's stint last month (See RNW Mar 17): He started his new role on Friday.
The Chicago Tribune reported that Meier would not comment on the terms of his contract, which was negotiated by his wife, Cynthia, but commented of his time off-air, "If you do this for a long time and then you're not doing it, it's frustrating. This is what I do, and I love doing it still, and I want to keep doing it until I don't."
If you do this for a long time and then you're not doing it, it's frustrating," Meier said. "This is what I do, and I love doing it still, and I want to keep doing it until I don't."
WGN Program Director Kevin Metheny commented of Meier's hiring, "Garry's talking about what's on his mind, which is typically what's on other people's minds but through a fun-house mirror. It's of a somewhat different sensibility than what's been on WGN historically. It's a little more aggressive, a little more edgy and a little more youthful than what's been on WGN. But we have a desire to be more relevant to a larger constituency."
Previous Tribune Co.:
Chicago Tribune report:
2009-04-04: Cox Radio has announced that the special committee of its board of directors that was set up to consider the offer by Cox Enterprises to take over all of Cox Radio that it does not already own (See RNW Mar 23) has unanimously recommended acceptance of the offer
In a release it said that the USD 3.8 a share offer is fair, from a financial point of view, to Cox Radio's stockholders, other than Cox Media Group and Cox Enterprises.
When the offer was made it amounted to a 15.2% premium over Cox Radio's closing price last Friday and a 21.8% premium over the ten-day volume weighted average closing price.
2009-04-03: UK media regulator Ofcom has fined the BBC GBP 150,000 (USD 223,000) over two Radio 2 Russell Brand Shows in October last year when crude calls relating to Brand's having sex with actor Andrew Sachs' granddaughter were made by Brand and Jonathan Ross and left on Sachs' answering machine and broadcast.
The following week's programme that included a repeat of a sung "apology" made by Brand the previous week. Brand also attacked the Mail newspapers, which had broken the story - there were only two complaints before the Sunday Mail report but in the end a total of nearly 45,00 were made, although not from Sachs or his granddaughter although Sachs agent had told the BBC he was upset by his treatment.
In addition Ofcom found that an interview with Russell Brand on the Chris Moyles Show on BBC Radio 1 had infringed the privacy of Sachs and his granddaughter although it imposed no financial sanctions for this breach.
The broadcasts have already led to the ending of Brand's Show (See RNW Oct 29, 2008), a suspension of Jonathan Ross, who was also involved int he calls, from his BBC radio and TV shows for 12- weeks and the departure of the then Radio 2 Controller Lesley Douglas (See RNW Oct 30, 2008) and the station's of specialist music and compliance Dave Barber (See RNW Nov 7, 2008)..
Ofcom in imposing the fines of GBP 70,000 (USD 104,000) for breaches of its Standards regulations and GBP 80,000 (USD 119,000) for breach of Privacy rules commented that the penalty "reflects the extraordinary nature and seriousness of the BBC's failures and the resulting breaches of the Code."
It commented that he Corporation had "broadcast explicit, intimate and confidential information about Georgina Baillie, the granddaughter of the actor Andrew Sachs, in both programmes without their consent" and said it "found that this not only unwarrantably and seriously infringed their privacy but was also gratuitously offensive, humiliating and demeaning."
The Russell Brand Show, which had previously been made by the BBC, had been contracted out to Brand's production company and its producer "loaned to the company and Ofcom identified six "underlying flaws" in the BBC's compliance system in this case:
"A lack of clarity about the exact role of a senior figure at the agency that represents Russell Brand, as the Executive Producer, on behalf of the independent production company;
The failure of the Executive Producer to attend a BBC Safeguarding Trust compliance course, despite this being a condition of the production contract;
The failure of the Executive Producer to sign off compliance forms for the programmes of 18 and 25 October 2008 ,despite this being a condition of the production contract (it was not known whether he signed off previous forms);
No proactive testing and insufficient monitoring of the compliance systems in BBC Audio and Music in general, but especially after Russell Brand became an independent production from May 2008;
An unacceptable conflict of interest for the Line Producer seconded from the BBC on a part-time basis to the independent production company making Russell Brand;
And a lack of clarity about who at the BBC had editorial oversight of the series."
"These overall weaknesses," it commented, "set the scene for the very serious failures of the BBC's compliance systems that resulted in the repeated broadcast of exceptionally offensive, humiliating and demeaning material."
Ofcom also commented: "This list of weaknesses is all the more extraordinary considering that the senior management of BBC Radio always regarded Russell Brand as a 'high risk' series, and considering the assurances given to Ofcom that the compliance systems of BBC Radio would be improved after an earlier and very serious breach of the Code by The Russell Brand Show on BBC 6 Music in the summer of 2008. At that time the BBC gave Ofcom clear assurances about improvements made, or to be made, in the quality of its compliance generally and in BBC Radio in particular. The evidence in this case clearly showed that the necessary improvements were not implemented quickly or effectively."
BBC management in a short release said it accepted the findings and continued, "As we said last October, this material should never have been broadcast and we apologised unreservedly for that.
"We note that Ofcom has found that senior management acted swiftly to mitigate the offence and damage caused by the breaches of the Code.
"The BBC has since taken comprehensive action to deal with what were unacceptable failures in editorial judgement and compliance which led to the broadcast.
"This has included a comprehensive review of compliance across Audio & Music, and a new policy ensuring presenters and their agents cannot be the Executive Producer responsible for compliance on their own shows.
"In addition and as is well-known, two very senior managers and Russell Brand resigned and Jonathan Ross was suspended without pay for 12 weeks."
The BBC Trust in a separate statement noted that the BBC Trust's Editorial Standards Committee had already considered the case and "concluded that the breaches on the relevant episodes of the Russell Brand Show were serious and that the content was so grossly offensive there was no justification for its broadcast. Furthermore, the ESC concluded that the comments included in the broadcast represented "an abuse of the privilege given to the BBC to broadcast to its audiences" and "fell far short of the standards the licence fee payer expects of the BBC." It identified three failings - a failure to assert editorial control by Radio 2, a failure to follow the compliance systems in place and a failure of editorial judgement."
It said it "regrets that these serious breaches by the BBC have led to a financial penalty being applied by Ofcom and the loss of licence fee payers' money as a result" but added that Trust had "instructed BBC management to undertake a range of remedial actions, including broadcasting an on-air apology, immediately strengthening editorial controls around any programme which represents a high level of risk and ensuring that existing guidelines are complied with."
In discussion of the fine on the BBC Radio 4 "Any Questions" programme all the panellists - Hazel Blears, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government; David Willetts, Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills; Liberal Democrat' Deputy Leader Vincent Cable and journalist Anne McElroy all took the view that the penalty or part of it should be paid by Brand and Ross or the BBC Executive involved rather than coming out of the licence fee.
RNW comment: The comments made on "Any Questions" have been mirrored in a number of responses to reports on this matter but there would appear to be no contractual obligation on the production company, Brand or Ross, to make any payment and they can legitimately argue that, as the first programme had been pre-recorded, they should not then be held solely responsible since there should have been vetting of it whereas in fact BBC senior figures failed to listen to the programme and waved it through. It would, however, seem reasonable for future contracts to contain reasonable penalty clauses concerning breaches of regulations that do lead to penalties although we do not think in any such case these should absolve the broadcaster of part of the responsibility and they should certainly contributions from artists should be capped at an amount considerably less than the fees they have received from the broadcaster for a show or series.
As to allowing a production company owned by the talent to produce shows our view is that the BBC has been wise to ensure that they can no longer be allowed to be responsible for compliance although we doubt that this will be the whole answer unless of course there are significant breach of contract clauses to ensure that should the talent walk away because of a compliance clash they do become responsible for all costs this causes to the broadcaster, a system that would act as a brake in impetuous behaviour.
Ofcom judgement (37-page 249Kb PDF):
2009-04-03: Mexican radio company Grupo Radio Centro, S.A.B. de C.V. has announced agreement with Emmis Communications under which it will provide programming to the latter's KMVN-FM, Los Angeles, and also sell advertising time on the station, which it may also purchase..
Under the deal, which runs for up to seven years, Grupo Radio will pay Emmis USD 7 million a year plus any expenses Emmis incurs in relation to the station and it is to make an upfront payment for the first two years (USD 14, million, around MXN 200 million), a payment to be financed through a bank loan of MXN 200 million, bearing interest at a fixed rate of 13.0% per annum and maturing in five years.
Grupo Radio has also entered into a seven-year call and put option agreement with Emmis to purchase the assets of KMVN- FM for USD 110 million. Grupo Radio can exercise the option at any point during the agreement whilst Emmis can require it to purchase the station during the final year of the term. Should US law prohibit Grupo Radio from owning a US radio station, it has to assign the option agreement to a qualified third party.
Mr., Grupo Radio Centro's CEO Carlos Aguirre said of the deal in a release, "We are very pleased to announce this transaction, which will permit Radio Centro to broadcast the Company's programming on an important FM radio station in the largest radio market in the United States in terms of revenue, Los Angeles, California. This transaction promotes Radio Centro's business strategy by allowing the Company an opportunity to leverage its international programming success despite the current recession."
Emmis Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Jeff Smulyan commented, "As we announced last year, we are exploring strategic alternatives, lowering debt and better positioning ourselves to face the current recession. We want to do what is right to get the best results for our shareholders and employees. While selling a station is always difficult, in making today's announcement, we made substantial progress toward these goals."
Previous Grupo Radio:
2009-04-03: The Australian Broadcasting Corporation has appointed Kate Dundas, its Director People and Learning and formerly Head, National Networks for ABC Radio, as its new Director of Radio: She has already taken up the role and replaces Sue Howard who stepped down at the end of last year after 22 years with the broadcaster, (See RNW Dec 20, 2008).
Announcing the appointment, along with that of Kate Thornton, the ABC's Head, Asia Pacific News, as Director of News from April 14, ABC managing director Mark Scott said, "I am delighted that Kate Torney and Kate Dundas, with their extensive media experience in News and Radio respectively and their deep understanding of the ABC, will take on these key roles. Both will make great contributions to the ABC Leadership team. I am also delighted that we have been able to make these appointments from within the ABC."
Of Dundas he commented, "Kate brings a depth of experience in the area of strategic reform, and a solid knowledge of content creation and editorial policies in her previous role working with the ABC's national radio networks, making her an outstanding candidate for this position. Kate's work in the role of Director People and Learning, where she has worked hard over the last 18 months to encourage a culture of mentoring and staff development will be important as the review of the ABC Radio division continues in the coming months. Kate will continue this work from the Radio division where the opportunities of new technology and the implementation of digital radio can be fully explored."
H added of both appointments, "The ABC is currently in a strong position and we want to maintain that leadership in digital media, capitalising on our strengths in the key content areas of News and Radio - the work of the Directors of News and Radio will be integral in this endeavour. Both have also demonstrated a commitment to the ABC's values as an independent media organisation of integrity, respect, working together between divisions in a collegiate manner, and the ability to foster creativity and innovation amongst our staff."
Previous ABC Australia:
2009-04-03: The BBC and the National Union of Journalists and BECTU who are in dispute over planned cuts including some in the World Service South Asian Service (See RNW Mar 16) have now reached agreement over the job cuts planned and the unions have called off strikes planned for April 3 and 9.
The parties say talks will continue over other parts of the dispute and the BBC issued a statement saying, "The BBC confirmed that in this instance, regarding the South Asia dispute, it expects that it can deal with the individuals involved through a combination of voluntary severance and redeployment such that there would not be a need for compulsory redundancies.
"However, the BBC reiterated its position that it cannot guarantee that there will be no compulsory redundancies in the future. The BBC said it would continue to make every effort to find solutions through voluntary redundancy and redeployment."
2009-04-02: Citadel, which has just revealed details of renegotiated credit agreements (See RNW Apr 1) has now dropped the ABC Radio Networks name and is re-branding it as Citadel Media, getting rid of the "radio" part of the title.
The ABC Radio Networks site now brings up a page headed Citadel Media below which is a graphic "Evolution...The Process of Change" to a promotional video ( A sequence of graphics, stills and video set to music showing the services and artists they have on offer and the people they target).
For the moment at least the ABC Radio Networks brands remain including ABC News Radio.
RNW comment: Bearing in mind the financial state Citadel is in we're not sure we'd be particularly impressed by this move were we a shareholder. Take away the packaging and the issue remains of the content, which is not changed. The video in our view something that we would think any buyer worth their salt would not waste time viewing - it's not revealing and not particularly impressive whereas it should surely be pitching reasons to think of doing business with the company. This video doesn't persuade us but then again we were never fans of nouvelle cuisine when as so often it boiled down to making things on the plate look pretty but not offering much substance rather than adding attractive display to the best ingredients.We remain to be convinved of substance in Citadel's case.
2009-04-02: According to a survey commissioned by the UK Digital Radio Development Bureau (DRDB) nearly two-thirds of Briton expect a new car to come with digital radio - the UK is on the Eureka DAB system, a figure it says grows to above three quarters when people "get a taste of the benefits DAB can deliver."
To enable them to do so it had supplied a PURE Highway in-car DAB adaptor (which allows an analogue car radio to receive DAB) to 100 people before doing a follow-up survey, finding that in this case the percentage expecting DAB as standard rose from 63% to 76%, and it notes that since the Highway was launched in late 2007 sales of after-fit DAB devices have increase five-fold.
The DRDB notes that the majority of the thousand drivers surveyed owned mass market automobiles priced between GBP 7,000 and GBP 15,000 (USD 10,000-22,000), with Ford and Vauxhall (GM-owned) the most commonly owned makes.
It quotes Ford, which already includes DAB as standard in most of its top of the range cars, and as an option in nearly all other models, as responding, "We anticipated increased customer demand for in-car DAB and it is now fitted as standard on many versions of our models, including the Focus, Kuga, C-Max, Mondeo and S-Max Titanium series and the Mondeo and Galaxy Ghia."
Vauxhall, which includes DAB as standard in some models of its Insignia range and as an option in most other cars, said, "DAB is certainly the future direction for in car audio and we are continually expanding the offer, for example we have made this feature standard in 25% of New Insignia".
The UK DRDB notes the growth of DAB (either the original DAB, DAB+ or DMB) round the world with recent moves to legislate for digital radio in France (DMB), approval of a rollout of nationwide DAB services in Germany next year and in Australia's capital cities this year (Both DAB+ services) whilst, as well as the UK, Switzerland, Denmark, Sweden and Malta
DRDB chief executive, Tony Moretta commented, "Our research shows that despite the distractions of other gadgets, people really do love radio in their cars, and they love digital radio even more. Many car manufacturers already recognise this and DAB support is taking off in a big way, being available as standard or an option in more than 80 models from 16 different manufacturers.
"Improving DAB take-up in cars is key to meeting the criteria for digital radio switch-over set out in the Digital Britain report. With the increasing support of car manufacturers, recent announcements in France and Germany, and growing consumer demand, I am very optimistic that we will see significant growth in this area over the coming years."
2009-04-02: In a run of formal flips in the US this week and next, Beasley Broadcasting has dropped its Soft AC format from KFRH-FM (Fresh 102.7), Las Vegas to top 40 under the name "102.7 Now" whilst Washington D.C. and Seattle, Washington, will see changes next Monday.
The Beasley flip took place at 17:00 yesterday and the format is similar to the rhythmic top 40 format of the company's WPOW-FM, Miami, and WRDW-FM, Philadelphia. Beasley has already put up a new website and said in a release that the new station will "combine the strength of its on-air position with multiple online and digital applications, creating a cohesive audio and online experience for our 18-49-year-old listeners."
Next Monday, CBS Radio will flip Classic Rock WTGB-FM, Washington DC, currently stunting, to AC as "94.7 Fresh FM" and has set up a redirect of its website to a site promoting the change to Fresh FM.
CBS Radio's DC SVP/Market Manager Sam Rogers said of the change, "As we challenged ourselves to rethink the 94.7 frequency, we looked at the demographic makeup of the market and how audiences are currently using radio. We then mirrored Fresh FM to fit their lifestyle and tastes. Young female listeners are active users of the medium, and our current portfolio of stations lacked a dedicated outlet for them to turn to. That all changes with today's announcement."
In Seattle, Bonneville International has now said that its long-planned switch - the initial announcement was made in November last year (See RNW Nov 15, 2008)- of KIRO-AM to an ESPN sports format will also launch on Monday. Currently it simulcasts news/talk programming on KIRO-AM and FM, and it will retain this on the FM frequency.
The new station will offer play-by-play cover of the Seahawks and Mariners as well as a combination of national and local programming. The line-up includes Mike and Mike in the Morning from 03:00 to 07:00; The Herd With Colin Cowherd from 07:00 to 11:00; Brock Huard and Mike Salk from 11:00 to 15:00 and Kevin Calabro from 1500-1800 to be followed by sports programming.
2009-04-01: UK media regulator Ofcom in its March Radio Broadcast Update reveals that it has now resolved the Yellow Card issued last month to Global Radio's Bristol station GWR-FM for operating outside its format (See RNW Mar 13). It says three days of monitoring fro Mar 23-25 showed the station was now operating inside its format's musical requirements.
It also notes an agreed format change for under which it will allow co-location of KMFM's Ashford (66,810 potential listeners) and Folkestone and Dover (107,209 potential listeners) stations.
The company noted that the areas are only 12 miles (19 Km) apart and said, "While the base of our programming would change it will not have any effect on either of the stations output and we would continue to provide a high degree of local content relevant to the area."
Ofcom also noted a change on the digital multiplexes for Nottingham, Leicester, Swindon & West Wilts, under which the Chill-out format and Chill service are ended but there is an obligation to bring on another service.
Previous Global Radio:
2009-04-01: Industry body Commercial Radio Australia and The Nielsen Company have announced that they are to set up quota sampling of the 10-17 and 18-24 age groups from this month as part of what they term "fine tuning of the implementation of the new enhanced survey methodology in metropolitan areas."
The action follows expressions of concern by the industry about the sample sizes and demographic profile of the first two surveys of this year following which it was agreed that there would be testing of the samples for these demographics for the third and fourth surveys of this year to deal with under sampling in the earlier surveys.
Peter Cornelius, Managing Director, Media of Nielsen said of the move, "Quota sampling during recruitment will significantly improve the number of under 25 people participating in the radio surveys which will result in higher sample sizes in these demographics. This issue needs to be addressed to ensure a more representative sample in all markets and in all surveys."
Previous Commercial Radio Australia:
2009-04-01: LBI Media, Inc. has bucked the trend of recent US results and announced an increase in net revenues for the full year of 2008 although they were down in the final quarter its net loss was up in both periods.
For the final quarter revenues fell 4.5% to USD 26.4 million, a decrease put down primarily to decreased advertising revenue in both the company's television and radio segments, as a result of lower television infomercial advertising, cancellations in Texas after Hurricane Ike, and he continued impact of a difficult U.S. economy, partially offset by revenues from its television station in Salt Lake City, Utah, and improved radio performance in Texas.
Within the figures radio revenues were up 1% to USD 15.75 million and TV was down 12% to USD 10.70 million.
For the full year revenues were up 1.8% to USD USD 117.7 million primarily attributed to increased advertising revenue in all of its radio markets and incremental revenue from its Salt Lake City television station, we acquired in November 2007, gains that were partially offset by declines in its California and Texas television markets, primarily resulting from lower infomercial advertising, cancellations in Texas resulting from the impact of Hurricane Ike and the general decline in the advertising industry due to the downturn in the U.S. economy.
Within these figures radio was up 9% to USD 66.69 million and TV was down 6% to USD 51.01 million.
Adjusted EBITDA for the final quarter was down 36.0%, to USD 6.3 million and for the full year by 1.4%, to USD 44.6 million. The overall figures were affected by increases in broadcast license impairment charges of USD 45.0 million in the final quarter and USD 83.6 million increase the full year with the latter increased by a USD 8.8 million loss on note redemption, partially offset by a USD 74.8 million change in benefit from (provision for) income taxes.
As a result for the final quarter LBI showed a net loss of USD 39.4 million, up from USD 4.9 million a year earlier and a net loss for the full year of 68.3 million, up from USD 53.9 million.
LBI Executive Vice President and Secretary Lenard Liberman said of the results, "2008 was a challenging yet successful year for LBI Media. Despite the difficult economic environment and the many issues faced by the broadcast industry, we managed to outperform our peers. While we experienced the challenges of a very difficult advertising market faced by the industry, our ratings and market share grew through strong radio and television programming."
Regarding divisional performances he commented, "Despite the current economic climate, our radio assets have performed well in 2008 with growth across all of our markets, reflecting improved station ratings and increased national advertiser acceptance of our station formats. Our flagship radio stations in Los Angeles and Houston, Que Buena and La Raza, are now the number one stations in their respective markets all day in the Hispanic Adults 18-49 demographic according to the January 2009 PPM. Our flagship radio station in Dallas, La Raza, is also the number one Hispanic station in the market all day in the Hispanic Male 18-34 demographic based on the January 2009 PPM. The ratings success of our radio stations bodes well for our future growth as we seek to convert our audiences into increased advertising dollars."
Saga Communications has reported third quarter revenues down 7% to USD 34.9 million with full year revenues down 2.8% to USD 140.0 million: An impairment charge of USD 116.4 million in the quarter took it from net income a year earlier of USD 3.1 million to a net loss of USD 74 million ( from income of 62 cents to a loss of USD 17.41 per share)- the loss was USD 112 million before income tax) whilst for the full year the charge turned net income in 2007 of USD 11 million to a net loss of USD 66.5 million ( From USD 2.19 income per share to a loss of USD 14.05).
Within the results Saga's reported radio revenues in the third quarter were down 9.7% to USD 29.8 million but TV was up 13% to USD 5.1 million whilst for the year radio's reported revenues were down 4.4% to USD 121.1 million and TV was up 8.4% to USD 18.9 million.
Saga notes that without the impairment charge it would have had a net income of USD 9.9 million (USD 2.08 per share) for the year. It also highlighted a growth of 17.3% in free cash flow to USD 18.9 million for the year.
It also noted that during 298 it bought back 899,601 shares of stock for a total purchase price of USD 19.2 million of which 378,412 shares were bought for a total purchase price of USD 7.4 million during the third quarter
RNW note- The per share figures have been adjusted by Saga to take into account its 1-for-4 reverse stock split that took place in January.
In Mexico, the shareholders of Grupo Radio Centro, S.A.B. have voted to keep the current board and also approved payment of a dividend for 2008 totalling MXN 100 million (USD 7.28 million) - some MXN 0.61 per share
In other US radio business Citadel Communications has revealed as part of its 10K annual filing to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) that it has agreed with its lenders amendments to its credit agreements that suspend some of this year's covenants but impose new ones covering this year and next.
Putting the agreement into context Citadel said it was in compliance with its debt covenants at the end of last year but added that "the expected continuing decline in radio revenues in the first half of 2009 and the projected decline in operating profits created uncertainty regarding the company's continued ability to comply with its debt covenants through 2009."
Under the heading "Risk Factors" Citadel says, "The Company amended its Senior Credit and Term Facility to suspend its financial covenants for 2009; however, the amendment imposes certain new covenants for 2009 and 2010, including, but not limited to, that we have at least USD 150 million of available cash as of January 15, 2010 and that the remaining convertible subordinated notes be amended by January 15, 2010 to provide for a maturity date on or after September 30, 2014. We cannot assure you that we will meet any or all of these covenants, particularly the 2010 covenants. Should we default under our Senior Credit and Term Facility, our outstanding indebtedness may be accelerated, and we may need to obtain an additional amendment or waiver from lenders or reorganize our capital structure .
Also in US radio business, CBS and Clear Channel have now closed on the station swap announced in December under which the former swapped swap five of its stations in mid-size markets for two Clear Channel Houston stations (See RNW Dec 15, 2008).
CBS gets KLOL-FM and KHMX-FM and Clear Channel takes KBKS-FM (Seattle, Washington), WQSR-FM (Baltimore, Maryland), KXJM-FM and KLTH-FM (Portland, Oregon), and KQJK-FM (Sacramento, California), in a deal that which satisfies U.S. Department of Justice conditions placed on its approval of Clear Channel Communications' acquisition by private equity groups led by Thomas H. Lee Partners, L.P. and Bain Capital Partners, LLC.
Previous Clear Channel:
Previous Grupo Radio:
Previous LBI Media:
Links note: As far as possible we provide site links to the previous related story. Should these links not work, please advise us so we can sort out the problem.
Regarding external links, we give links where we can but an ever-increasing number of newspapers and stations either require registration or only keep items available for a limited period or move them to a pay-per-use archive (typically after 7 or 14 days in the USA).
Thus some links become outdated or sources you would have to pay for or subscribe to access. See links page for notes regarding various sites we think of value
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-March 2009 - May 2009 -
Radionewsweb.com, 38 Creswick Road, Acton, London W3 9HF, UK: