April 2011 Archive
2011-04-30: The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has that ruled that Melbourne community station 3ECB (Radio Eastern) licensee Eastern Community Broadcasters Inc. breached agency codes relating to handling complaints but made no finding concerning other complaints about presenting factual material accurately and distinguishing factual material from commentary.
The ACMA investigated following a complaint it received in January this year alleging that the station broadcast factually inaccurate political material and did not distinguish factual material from commentary: The complainant had written to the 3ECB managing Director in November last year about comments made by a presenter who had recently returned from North Korea but had not received a response by the requisite deadline.
The complainant said the presenter spoke of cultural' events he had attended and noted how happy the people were in this wonderful country about which the complainant commented that the propaganda of the Nazi regime in presenting concentration camps as holiday camps is chillingly similar and added of the presenter that for him to go on and tell us that we should not believe what our government tells us about North Korea is beyond the pale.
The licensee responded to the ACMA in February saying that, partly because the complainant did not provide exact time and details of the broadcast complained about, it had been unable to determine if the complain was accurate but added that it had e conducted a thorough review of policies and procedures in relation to complaints and program content of a political capture and noted that the station has for many years maintained a policy of not permitting presenters to make comment on such matters.
On this basis the ACMA said it could make no findings on that part of the complaints but it did find that the station had not made every reasonable effort to resolve the complaint and also breached codes because it failed to acknowledge the receipt of the complaint, and did not respond to the complainant after the broadcast could not be sourced.
2011-04-29: At the end of its third day - now at round 12 - of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Auction 91 of 144 construction permits to gross total for provisionally winning bids has reached USD 6,776,400, up from USD 4,919,000 at the end of the previous day.
The net bids total amounted to USD 5,566,335, up from USD 3,980,905 and the Construction Permit for Lawrence Park, Pennsylvania, was still by far the highest bid.
This is now at USD 1,413,000 with the bid from First Channel Communications, the highest bidder at the end of the first day but overtaken on the second by Mini Me Media, LLC's USD 1,012,000.
Lowest bids are still of USD 1,000, the auction minimum, and after the Lawrence Park bid the Round 12 table lists two above USD 500,000 - of USD 571,000 from Cross Country Communications, LLC. for a CP in Celoron, New York (this was in equal third the previous day with a USD 299,000 bid, also from Cross Country) from and of USD 571,000 from Liberty Acquisitions 825, LLC for CP in Coosada, Alabama (Also in third equal place the previous day with an earlier bid from Liberty).
The second-ranking CP the previous day - a bid from Apex Broadcasting for a CP in Northport, Alabama, was down to fourth rank with another Apex bid of USD 400,000, one of three bids in the USD 300,000 to USD 400,000 range. After this there was one bid between USD 200,000 and USD 300,000 then none of USD 100,000 up to USD 200,000.
Previous FCC (and Auction 91):
2011-04-29: The Washington City Paper headline sums up Dan Snyder's latest deal succinctly as "Dan Snyder-Owned Football Team Announces Deal With Dan Snyder-Owned Broadcasting Company to Air Games on Dan Snyder-Owned Radio Station "
The paper then sums up the context neatly as "There's no dealing like self-dealing" before going on to note the announcement of the deal that will keep the Washington Redskins broadcasts on Red Zebra's WTEM-AM "through the 2015 season " before going on to not that nowhere in the release concerning the agreement was there any mention that the team, broadcasting company and station are all owned by Sunday.
As it comments before going on to note other deals in which Snyder has been involved that included companies he owned, "Oh, to be a fly on the wall during the negotiations that led to this extension!"
Previous Red Zebra:
Washington City Paper report:
2011-04-29: Westwood One, which earlier this month had delayed the release of its annual report because it needed to finalise debt arrangements and impairment charges (See RNW Apr 3), has now announced that it has sold its Metro Traffic division to Clear Channel.
It later announced an in-principle agreement with its lenders (See RNW Apr 7) and when the figures were released (See RNW Apr 13) the company had reported Network Radio revenues in the final quarter of last year up 9.8% whilst those of Metro Traffic were up only 2.2% but had spoken of increased distribution in Metro Traffic and investments in its sales force and that of Network Radio that it was optimistic would boost revenues for this year.
It released no figure for the total price of the sale to Clear Channel Acquisition LLC, an affiliate of Clear Channel Communications, Inc. but did say that "Approximately USD 104 million of the proceeds will be used to pay down 100% of the Company's outstanding 15.00% senior secured notes (notes held by the Company's controlling shareholder, Gores Radio Holdings will remain outstanding)." It added that the transaction strengthens the Company's balance sheet and positions it for further organic growth and/or M&A activity.
Westwood One in a news release said it is to focus on "expanding its core Network Radio business" and its President Rod Sherwood added, "Going forward, Westwood One will focus strategically on expanding the Company's leadership position as the premium content provider of news, information, talk, music, and entertainment programming in network radio."
"The network radio marketplace," he added "is growing, and we are aggressively pursuing new opportunities in programming and distribution. Selling the Metro Traffic business, including Sigalert, allows us to focus on our network radio strengths."
The release then went on to note additions to its services this year of The Daily Wrap (with the Wall Street Journal), The Robert Wuhl Show (sports talk), Urbanski, (conservative talk), Rocsi on the Radio and a new suite of Rick Dees programming and said it had launched more new products last year than any other network radio syndicator.
It also noted other programming and sports agreements to continue as the exclusive network radio partner of each of the NFL and the NCAA as well as getting record distribution for the NFL Sunday afternoon and NCAA football packages.
"Westwood One built its brand by delivering high quality programming to our affiliates and advertising customers," said Sherwood. "We will continue to invest in new programming, as well as expand our digital business this year, to satisfy our customer's needs in the marketplace."
Clear Channel already operates the Total Traffic Network (TTN), presumably leaving significant room for more jobs cuts although Clear Channel Radio President John Hogan in his memo to staff made mention only of the benefits of its acquisition of its "largest competitor", continuing, "Metro is a strong business with a tremendous customer base and distribution platform, and this agreement will strengthen our position as the leader in real-time traffic information and data."
He then went on to say that the deal "reflects Clear Channel Radio's strategy of building leadership positions in the most attractive segments of the local media and content creation businesses" and to comment on the combined strength of the two services in providing "better and more comprehensive 24/7 traffic information to consumers; stronger programming for affiliates; a broader reach and easier-to-buy platform for advertisers."
He added that Clear Channel Radio's traffic operations including Metro would continue to be headed up by Clear Channel Radio Chief Financial Officer Rick Baran but that Steve Kalin will remain President of Metro Traffic, primarily overseeing the Radio traffic business and Fred Bennett as President of the Metro Television business.
Previous Clear Channel:
Previous Westwood One:
2011-04-28: At the end of the second day of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Auction 91 of 144 construction permits that has now reached round seven, gross bids have totalled USD 4,919,000, up from USD 3,352,600 at the end of the first day and with more than a fifth of this for one Pennsylvania Construction Permit, the first to top USD 1 million.
Net bids total amounted to USD 3,980,905 up from USD 2,695,890 at the end of the first day but a fall from USD 4,141,175 at the end of round 7.
The range was from USD 1,000 at the bottom end - unchanged - to USD 1,012,000 from Mini Me Media, LLC for Lawrence Park, Pennsylvania: This was up from a highest bid of USD 512,000 from First Channel Communications for the permit yesterday.
Next highest was a bid of USD 301,000 from Apex Broadcasting, Inc. for a CP for Northport, Alabama - second ranked on the first day with a USD 186,000 bid from TTI, Inc.
In shared third place with a bid of USD 299,000 from Liberty Acquisitions 825, LLC was another Alabama CP, that for Coosada: This was in third-equal rank at the end of the first day with a USD 185,000 bid, also from Liberty Acquisitions 825, LLC. The other USD 299,000 bid was for a licence in Celoron, New York, where the bid is from Cross Country Communications, LLC.
The bid for the Daytona Beach Shores, Florida, CP, in equal third place at the end of the first day when the bidder was GLK Consultants LLC is now up to USD 271,000 with a bid from Daytona Beach Shores Broadcasting Company, LLC.
Previous FCC (and Auction 91):
2011-04-28: Five New Jersey radio stations may have been sold to one buyer by the end of the day although the door is still open for other parties to submit bids up to 17:00 local time according to the Press of Atlantic City.
It reports that only one potential buyer -Boardwalk Radio had put forward a bid for the five stations owned by Atlantic Broadcasting, which filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in December last year.
Boardwalk it says has bid USD 3 million for the five stations - AM stations News-talk station WOND-AM and Spanish station WBSS-AM (Pleasantville) plus Classic rock WMGM-FM ("Shark 103.7") and Top 40 WWAC-FM ("Wild 102.7" Atlantic City); and classic hits WTKU-FM ("Kool 98.3" Ocean City).
The paper notes that there is a nearly 96% ownership overlap between Boardwalk and Atlantic Broadcasting and gives details of the owners: It quoted Atlantic Broadcasting attorney Joshua Klein as saying that of the group's debt about USD 8 million, 6.8 million is secured debt to Sun National Bank and about USD 1.3 million is unsecured.
Creditors other than the bank will only receive a small part of what is owed but Kein commented of this, "We filed a plan of liquidation which specifies how the proceeds (of the sale) get split up. Under the circumstances, it's a good case for them, because they would have gotten nothing" [if Sun National had foreclosed on the assets].
The paper also gives details of the history of the stations that show how dramatically their value has fallen: It says the group, excluding WWAC, which as WJSE-FM, was bought in early 2005 for some five million but including TV station WMGM-TV 40, was bought in 2003 by Access.1 Communications of New York for USD 22 million. The radio stations were sold for a reported USD 9.5 million to Atlantic in May 2008.
Later however the group fared badly, something the paper said was put down by CEO John Caracciolo to the bad economy and mismanagement. The stations were put up for sale through Media Services Group and according to a court filing earlier this month 1,300 parties contacted the group of whom 39 signed a non-disclosure agreement to be allowed to examine Atlantic Broadcasting's records, and one party interviewed Atlantic Broadcasting management.
Boardwalk Radio LLC filed incorporation papers at the start of this month and was the only one to submit a complete bid: Its owners include Caracciolo, Paul R. Homer, Henry T. Wilson and W. Stewart Cahn, all of whom have an ownership interest in Atlantic Broadcasting except for Caracciolo
Klein said the deal was not as fishy as it might appear on the surface as Boardwalk Radio is taking the role of "stalking horse," setting a low bid that other interested parties will compete against and added, "The court would not have approved them as the stalking horse if it didn't smell right."
Press of Atlantic City report:
2011-04-27: At the end of the first day of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Auction 91 of 144 construction permits (See RNW Apr 26), gross bids have totalled USD 3,352,600.
The last round was Round 4 with the net bids total amounting to USD 2,695,890 and the round attracting 102 new bids with no withdrawals. Highest bid in the round was one of USD 512,000 from First Channel Communications for the licence for Lawrence Park in Pennsylvania - at the end of the first round the provisionally winning bid for this was of USD 140,000 from Mini Me Media, LLC -with the next highest amount of USD 186,000 from TTI, Inc. for the licence in Northport, Alabama; then USD 185,000 bids from Liberty Acquisitions 825, LLC for a licence for Coosada, Alabama and from GLK Consultants LLC for the licence for Daytona Beach Shores, Florida.
Four other bids were for USD 100,000 or more and the the lowest bids were several of USD 1,000, the minimum amount for the auction.
2011-04-27: The spat being conducted through public letters to the stockholders of Fisher Communications from the company and shareholder and hedge fund FrontFour has continued with yet another release from FrontFour urging election of the four nominees it has put forward for election as directors in opposition to the company's slate.
Describing its slate as "Qualified and Experienced Nominees Who are Determined to Significantly Improve Stockholder Value" FrontFour goes on to attack Fisher's Board saying (its capitals "WE CANNOT ALLOW FISHER'S CURRENT BOARD TO CONTINUE TO PRESIDE OVER THE DESTRUCTION OF STOCKHOLDER VALUE " and going on to say "THE COMPANY IS SPINNING A WEB OF MISLEADING INFORMATION TO CONFUSE THE REAL ISSUES IN THIS ELECTION AND TO HIDE THE FAILURE OF THE CEO AND BOARD TO EXECUTE ON THEIR OPERATING AND ACQUISITION STRATEGY
"THE CURRENT BOARD REFUSES TO BE HELD ACCOUNTABLE FOR ITS DECISIONS."
Referring to Fisher's latest letter (See RNW ) it says this "contains misleading and baseless assertions" and is "part of a continuing campaign to distract from the real underlying issue at hand -- the continued poor operating performance and destructive acquisition strategy of the Company under the current Board."
The letter goes to refer to Fisher comments as "UNFOUNDED AND HOLLOW ASSERTIONS"; failing "TO TAKE ACTIONS TO ADDRESS ITS POOR STOCK PRICE AND POOR OPERATING PERFORMANCE"; refusing to "ACCEPT ACCOUNTABILITY" for decisions; asks "CAN YOU TRUST THE CEO AND CURRENT BOARD TO MAKE PROPER CAPITAL ALLOCATION DECISIONS? "; comments "THE COMPANY IS ONLY SHOWING YOU THE NUMBERS IT WANTS YOU TO SEE! ALL THE HOMESPUN NUMBERS IN THE WORLD CAN'T HIDE THE COMPANY'S UNDERPERFORMANCE! "; and says they are "CONCERNED WITH THE COMPANY'S CURRENT REACTIONARY PATH".
Most of the comments under the headings are nigh impossible to treat as other than propaganda along the lines of comments already made with the major new comment concerning previous offers for the company -which FrontFour wished to sell at the time, including a 2008 offer made in April 2008 for "USD 43 to USD45 per share, which represented a 35% to 45% premium to market at the time."
The company it noted announced an intention to sell is Fisher Plaza real estate in May 28 but stockholders found out about the April offer "not from the Company, but from another stockholder through a filing with the SEC."
"Only after FrontFour announced its intention to run a proxy contest," it says "did the Company retain a financial advisor to explore alternatives for maximizing the value of Fisher Plaza."
FrontFour then continues, "Why not announce a mandate to maximize the value of all assets? Maximizing the value of a single asset in isolation may not be the best means to maximize the value of all assets of the Company. Is this Board just trying to placate stockholders? It is imperative to undertake a full review of all possible strategic options available for the Company before pursuing such a real estate transaction in isolation."
RNW comment: Whatever the various merits in this case, it would seem rather difficult for any company to pursue a long-term strategy whilst dealing with the attacks from a hedge fund that is a fairly small stockholder but stands to make a short-term gain from splitting up or selling the company.
2011-04-26: The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) tomorrow commences its Auction 91 or 144 construction permits for FM frequencies from 88 MHz to 108 MHz in 38 States plus one CP in Guam. They include 37 construction permits that were offered but not sold in auction 79 and 117 applicants have made upfront bids.
Minimum bids required range from USD 1,000 to USD 100,000 with seven stations in the highest priced group - Coosada, Alabama; Palmer, Alaska; Coachella and Waterford in California; Daytona Beach Shores in Florida; Ferrysburg in Michigan; and Lawrence Park (Erie) in Pennsylvania. In all the minimum bids required total USD 2.964 million.
Texas has most permits on offer (27) and in order of States the numbers of permits offered are Alaska (2); Alabama (3); Arizona (2); Arkansas (6); California (9); Colorado (6); Florida (4); Georgia (2); Guam (1); Hawaii (2); Idaho (2); Illinois (1); Iowa (1); Kentucky (1); Louisiana (4); Massachusetts (3); Michigan (7); Minnesota (1); Mississippi (2); Missouri (2);Montana (4); Nebraska (1); Nevada (6); New Mexico (2); New York (3); North Dakota (4); Ohio (1); Oklahoma (12); Oregon (5); Pennsylvania (1); South Carolina (1); South Dakota (1); Tennessee (2); Texas (27 - the highest minimum bid required in the state is USD 45,000 for a CP at Blossom); Vermont (1); Washington (2); West Virginia (1); Wisconsin (5); and Wyoming (4).
2011-04-26: Arbitron has reported revenues for the first quarter to the end of March this year up 5.2% on a year ago at USD 100.9 million with costs and expenses up 1.5% to USD 71.8 million, leading to an 18.2% increase in net income to USD 16.2 million (from 51 cents to 59 cents per diluted share).
The company comments that revenues benefited from commercialization of its Portable People Meter ratings in 15 markets in the second half of last year, completing its 48-market commercialization plan.
Operating income was up 15.5% to USD 29.1 million, EBIT (earnings before interest and income tax expenses) rose 17.2% to USD 26.6 million; and EBITDA earnings before interest, income taxes, depreciation and amortization) was up 16.1% to USD 33.9 million.
President and Chief Executive Officer William T. Kerr noted that during the quarter Arbitron earned Media Rating Council accreditation in eleven additional markets taking to 14 the PPM markets that display the MRC 'double checkmark' symbol.
"We also made progress in our cross-platform initiatives" he added noting that CBS and Turner Sports used Arbitron's PPM out-of-home ratings service for the 2011 NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Championship to demonstrate the significant lift that away-from-home television viewing can deliver.
Looking ahead Kerr commented, "For the balance of 2011, we still expect revenue to grow faster than costs. Because we have fully commercialized the PPM service in all 48 markets, we anticipate margin expansion as our costs stabilize and as we continue to benefit from the phase in of pricing for our PPM service."
Arbitron is forecasting revenues for the full year to be up between 6% and 8% on2010 revenues of USD 395.4 million with earnings per diluted share between USD 1.90 and USD 2.05 compared to USD 1.64 in 2010.
2011-04-25: Spanish Broadcasting System (SBS) has revealed in a 14K proxy filing that it is again seeking authorization from its shareholders to effect a reverse split to bring it back into the NASDAQ's minimum dollar share price requirement: Earlier this month it received a delisting notice because it had failed to do so following a de-listing notice issued in October last year (See RNW Oct 18, 2010 and Apr 16 ).
Earlier last year the company had regained compliance after a previous warning (See RNW May 5, 2010), before which it had said it had authorized a reverse split of its stock to regain compliance (See RNW Apr 26, 2010).
In the filing it notes that its annual meeting is to vote amongst other things on the election of six members of its board and to authorize the board "in its sole discretion to approve an amendment to our certificate of incorporation to effect a reverse stock split of our Class A common stock and Class B common stock by a ratio of not less than one-for-five and not more than one-for-ten, with the exact ratio to be set at a whole number within this range as determined by our Board of Directors in its discretion."
The filing also notes the annual remuneration of its senior executives with CEO, President and chairman Raúl Alarcón Jr. receiving a total of USD 1.982 million including a base salary of USD 1.25 million - it was increased to this from USD 1 million in 2007 - a drop from USD 2.486 million in 2009 when he received a USD 1.002 million bonus which was down to USD 518,000 this year.
Next highest paid was Senior Executive Vice President, Chief Financial Officer, Chief Administrative Officer and Secretary Joseph A. Garcia whose total remuneration was just below USD 613,000 - down from USD 662,000 - followed with just below USD 363,000 for Marko Radlovic, who in July last year added the duties of Chief Revenue Officer of the radio segment to those of General Manager of the Los Angeles market, after Frank Flores left the company in June last year (See RNW Jul 27, 2010 and RNW Jun 16, 2010).
SBS has also noted in an 8K filing that on April 19 it agreed to raise the salary of Albert Rodriguez, whom it appointed as Chief Revenue in January (See RNW Jan 9) from USD 180,000 a year to USD 300,000 a year. It also agreed to provide Garcia with an annual allowance of USD 20,400 to purchase or lease an automobile for business purposes as well as pay for insurance and other running costs for the vehicle.
2011-04-25: Having agreed its USD 2.4 billion takeover of Citadel (See RNW Mar 10) and earlier of the share of Cumulus Media Partners (CMP) that it did not already own in a stock-led deal (See RNW Jan 31), Cumulus is now tidying up its finances and has announced that it is to offer USD 610 million of Senior notes due 2019 in a private transaction with the notes to be offered only to qualified institutional buyers and persons outside the US.
The transaction is exempt from the registration requirements of the Securities Act of 1933 and Cumulus says the notes will be guaranteed by certain of the Company's existing and future direct and indirect domestic restricted subsidiaries and, in certain circumstances, may be assumed by a direct wholly owned subsidiary of the Company, in which case the Company will guarantee the Notes
It adds that in connection with its refinancing in connection with the pending acquisitions of CMP and Citadel, it will use the net proceeds to repay in full all outstanding amounts under the term loan facility under the Company's existing senior secured credit facilities and pay fees and expenses related to the offering of Notes with any remaining proceeds to be used for general corporate purposes.
2011-04-25: Responding to a post last week by Mark Ramsey attacking the US National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) "Radio Rocks My Phone" campaign ( A new campaign was launched last week - See RNW Apr 20)" as "the most ham-handed, tone-deaf thing I've seen since that late, great gem "Radio Heard Here" Emmis CEO Jeff Smulyan today delivered a fairly spirited defence of radio (albeit in our view not so much of NAB although he says he felt "compelled to answer for the NAB, and the rest of the radio industry.").
Commenting on Ramsey's comment asking "Does NAB know the magic of streaming already makes radio available to those same devices and does so with features enabled by technology that no FM chip can match?", Smulyan says he knows "all about streaming" and adding, "Like thousands of other broadcasters, I've been doing it for nearly two decades. I don't know if anyone else has made money at it, but we haven't, and I haven't heard of anyone else who has. At Emmis, we've invested millions of dollars in our interactive ventures because we want to be where our audiences are, but we are also realistic about economics."
He then comments on the £tremendous cost" of streams compared to broadcast, giving as an example Emmis's KWPR-FM, Los Angeles, which reached around 2.8 million people a week for transmitter electricity costs of USD 39,5000 a year, however many people the station can attract, whereas to reach the existing number through streaming would be nearly USD 1 million a year.
Consumers, says Smulyan, haven't been paying the true cost of streaming but that is "about to change dramatically" because the growth in mobile data use means that unlimited usage plans will be unsustainable. He then goes on to question how people will react when the cost of streaming audio and video doubles unlimited usage plans costs from USD 30 a month to USD 60 or even goes higher.
He also takes on comments made by Ramsey about phone makers understanding what drives "consumption of their devices whilst NAB does not" and cites "one of the largest manufacturers of phones in the world" as saying, "'When people know they can have radios in their phones, they buy them. It is a very cheap addition, and people love the feature.' That's why nearly one billion cell phones all over the world have been sold with radios in them!"
Smulyan then goes on to say the reason this hasn't happened in the US is because, unlike most of the world, major carriers control the sales in the US and have deliberately kept them off the market, initially to try and promote the sale of music downloads. [RNW comment: This is one part of Smulyan's comments that we fully agree with as he is making a point we have made a number of times about the NAB approach, namely that it should have been lobbying for freeing of the market for phones through a requirement that, as with landlines, carriers should not be able to refuse to allow people to use any compatible equipment with their service. A free market argument rather than one of dictating to people as the NAB was trying to do with calls for an FM chip to be mandatory in mobile phones).
Smulyan then goes on to another area, that of information in an emergency where carriers have still not set up a warning system and have proposed building a texting system to do so.
This says Smulyan makes no sense because nearly 40% of the American public has never sent or received a text (RNW query: If still accurate - and also with the caveat that the statistic needed is how many people with a mobile phone have never sent or received a text - this would seem to be a unique American phenomenon since most of the people we know with mobile phones in the rest of the world - as well as having built-in FM - regularly text to varying degrees).
Smulyan then makes the point that in a major emergency power goes down "rendering the cell system useless" (Again this isn't true in much of the world where there is often reasonable battery back-up at towers and in the US the FCC two years ago- following Hurricane Katrina - drafted legislation to require retrofitting of towers with back-up power supplies to keep a system up for eight hours: Needless to say the carriers went to law and got an injunction staying the order and the Bush White House in December 2008 rejected the plan).
Smulyan then goes on to make the point that even if the system stays up a spike in use can jam the system whilst broadcasters, most of whom have emergency generators, remain on air providing information.
RNW comment: We're not sure we could stand the shock were a US broadcaster to come up with a thoroughly well-argued case for almost anything presenting arguments fairly but Smulyan does a reasonable job here albeit in our view he misses the main point that Ramsey is making about how people use their mobile devices for multiple purposes.
That said we think Smulyan is correct over the cost-benefits per receiver of broadcast and over the value of radio as a broadcast medium in emergencies when power does go down: We're not sure he carries the argument through properly, however, since a lot of people will still have radios in automobiles and homes, reducing the actual value of having them in a mobile phone and we wonder how the NAB would react if radio broadcasters were required to have emergency back-up albeit we think this reasonable for both them and carriers. The debate needs to be about cost-effective implementation with rules then to be brought in mandating different levels of back-up depending on circumstances - carriers might well reduce overall coverage for some sites if for practical reasons the cost for the benefit gained is too high.
We also think as we commented above that the point about the anti-market situation that exists in the US in many areas where industry lobbies buy political action in ways that are against the public interest needs to be made fairly widely - in this case there should be prohibitions in our view on carriers (and ISPs) being able to effectively bar the use of third-party equipment on their systems although this would obviously mean reduced or absent support from the carriers (and ISPs) for such equipment beyond supplying essential technical information.
Ramsey posting - includes Smulyan response:
2011-04-24: Last week the main regulatory news again came from the US where Sirius XM has finally made space on its satellite available to independent qualified entities as agreed when the merger of Sirius and XM was approved in 2008 and has also been in the news after the administration decided to appeal a Federal Court ruling last year that its broadcast indecency rules were "unconstitutionally vague": Elsewhere thins were fairly quiet as regards radio
In Australia, the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) made only one radio posting, a ruling that a New South Wales community licence holder had breached licence conditions on representation of the community interest set down in its licence and encouraging participation (See RNW Apr 21).
In Canada, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) in a fairly quiet week announced four radio licence decisions in Ontario.
*Approved an application from Torres Media Ottawa Inc. to increase the power of its English-language commercial station CIDG-FM, Ottawa, from 934 to 1,793 watts: Torres said it had made the request in response to listener complaints of weak or inconsistent signal reception in the Ottawa/Gatineau region.
*Approved an application from Cochrane Christian Radio (CCR) for a licence to operate a 37 watts English-language low-power specialty FM to provide a Christian Adult Contemporary music service in Cochrane.
*Approved request from not-for-profit Cochrane Polar Bear Radio Club to operate a 50 watts English-language low-power community FM radio programming undertaking in Cochrane to replace its very low-power developmental community radio programming FM in Cochrane that was authorized in 2008.
*Approved application from Haliburton Broadcasting Group Inc. for a licence to operate a 1,360 watts English-language Adult Contemporary music format commercial FM radio station in Kemptville. It had received opposing interventions on the basis that the market is already well served by radio stations with the same music format broadcasting from Ottawa, Smiths Falls and Cornwall, and that the proposed radio station should have local ownership but in approving the application noted there had been no opposition from other radio stations.
There were no radio announcements from Ireland and only one from the UK where Ofcom posted its latest Broadcast Bulletin in which it upheld one radio standards complaint (See RNW Apr 20).
In the US, as already noted, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has announced that Sirius XM has finally signed long-term leases with "qualified entities" for a total of 11 channels under the commitment it made to the agency in 2008 when the merger of Sirius and XM Satellite Radios was agreed (See RNW Apr 18): The FCC has also been in the news with a decision by the Obama administration to appeal against a Federal Court decision in July last year that its policies on broadcast indecency were "unconstitutionally vague" (See RNW Apr 22).
Presumably prompted by the recent earthquakes and tsunami in Japan - the first topic on the agenda is The Japanese Experience -, the agency has also announced that its Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau will host an Earthquake Communications Preparedness Forum on May 3 at the FCC headquarters.
The agenda seems to be mainly devoted to emergency communications to services rather than to broadcasting of information although the panel for the last discussion - Communications Response to an Earthquake - includes Whit Adamson, President of the Tennessee Association of Broadcasters. Tennessee is one of 39 US states listed as having a "moderate to severe" risk of earthquakes and sits on the "New Madrid" fault line (after New Madrid, Missouri)albeit the last time there was a very large quake from this was in 1811-12 when the December 1811 earthquake,, the largest to hit the US, was estimated to have had a strength of more than 8.0 on the Richter scale: The area that could be affected has 15 nuclear power plants of similar design to those at Fukushima in Japan and US Geological Survey in 2009 said the southern states were unprepared for a major earthquake in terms of planning and infrastructure.
In radio-related decisions the FCC has levied a USD 4,000 penalty on Anabelle Savage, Chapter 7 Trustee for Universal Broadcasting, Inc., former licensee of KQLO-AM, Sun Valley, Nevada, for unauthorized transfer of control of the station.
The agency had cancelled a proposed USD 7,000 penalty on the station for late filing of a licence renewal and unauthorized operation after the licence expired earlier this month (See RNW Apr 15) on the basis of the bankruptcy.
In the current case the Trustee had applied for consent to assign the licence to Jireh Media, Inc. in July 2009 and this was granted in April last year.
Whilst the application was pending, the agency received an informal objection to the transfer on the basis that Jireh largely managed the day-to-day maintenance and rehabilitation of the Station during the Trustee's time as licensee and that the Trustee did not manage or hire any employees to manage the radio station or adequately supervise Jireh's work.
The FCC noted that it does give significant consideration to bankrupt status in issuing forfeitures and that in this case the Trustee herself had committed the violations. It reduced the penalty from a base level of USD 8,000 to USD 4,000 because of the bankruptcy.
In Nevada, the FCC has approved the transfer of the licence of FM translator station K273AF, Carson City, from Eddie Floyd to The Evans Broadcast Company, Inc.
Floyd had applied last year to transfer the licence to Wilks License Company-Reno, LLC, after hr was convicted of multiple felonies but had certified in the application that he had not been convicted of a felony and because of this the Commission designated the case for a hearing as to whether he had misrepresented material facts to the Commission, whether Floyd's felony convictions should preclude him from remaining a Commission licensee, and whether the license for the Station should be revoked.
It also noted that Floyd is also the debtor in a Chapter 7 involuntary bankruptcy proceeding and had informed the Administrative Law Judge assigned to the HDO proceeding that he was seeking approval from the Bankruptcy Court to sell the Station for the benefit of his creditors.
In March this year Floyd petitioned for Extraordinary Relief and assignment of the licence to Evans Broadcast along with the termination of all matters based on his petition.
The FCC opted to allow the assignment as an exception to its general prohibition on the transfer of a licences whose qualifications to hold a licence have been called into question, saying that the interests of innocent creditors outweigh the benefits that might flow to Floyd. Evans is to pay USD 20,000 for the licence and none of this will go to Floyd, his wife or his heirs.
It declined, however, to terminate all matters related to the matter.
Previous Licence News:
2011-04-23: Salem Communications Conservative talk WNYN-AM (AM 970, The Apple) has told host John Tabacco that his show is to be cancelled following profanity-filled calls to the show according to the New York Daily Post.
The paper says that finance expert Tabacco, who launched his Sunday night "Family Business with John Tabacco" only two weeks ago had invited "Mob Wives" actress Drita D'avanzo and her VH1 reality co-star, Renee Graziano to be call-in guests on his first two shows and both women swore during their calls, D'avanzo to the extent that producers could not erase them.
Tabacco, who co-hosts the show with his brother Derek, tried but failed to discourage D'avanzo from swearing and said station executives told him after last week's show that his choice of guests and programming was unacceptable and then on Thursday Program Director Peter Thiele wrote to him telling him the show would be cancelled with the last edition to air on May 15.
D'avanzo said she had been doing interviews for satellite radio and thought she could say anything she wanted and didn't feel the hosts should be bamed for what she said whilst Tabacco told the paper the decision was "both discrimination and censorship" (RNW comment - in view of FCC regulations it would appear to be sensible censorship and judging by the Post's account of the show the discrimination in this case might well be considered praiseworthy by many). Neither Salem nor Thiele returned calls from the paper asking for comment.
New York Daily Post report:
2011-04-23: Indian state-controlled broadcaster All India Radio (AIR) has been asked to pay back-taxes of INR 18.94 crore (Approx USD 4.3 million - a crore is ten million) according to the Hindustan Times.
The paper reports that India's Commissioner of Sales Tax has asked the broadcaster to pay the amount for outstanding service taxes for the 2008-09 financial year and that AIR has committed itself to file a response to the demand within a month in a circular that the paper says is dated May 13 and of which it has a copy.
The circular, it adds, directs AIR's station and office heads to submit copies of vouchers and details of figures for 2008-09 to Prasar Bharati (The Broadcasting Corporation of India that oversees the country's state radio and TV services) within a week.
Previous Indian Radio:
Previous Prasar Bharati:
Hindustan Times report:
2011-04-22: The Obama administration has backed the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) over the issue of broadcast indecency, with the Justice Department appealing against a ruling in July last year by the Second U.S. Circuit of Appeals Court in New York that the agency's policies were "unconstitutionally vague" (See RNW July 13, 2010).
In that ruling the Court, hearing an appeal against the rules introduced in 2004 under which "fleeting" indecency can lead to a fine, commented that by prohibiting all "patently offensive" references to sex, sexual organs and excretion without giving adequate guidance, the FCC "effectively chills speech because broadcasters have no way of knowing what the FCC will find offensive" and as an example referred to a Vermont station's refusal to air a political debate because a local politician had previously used expletives on air."
FCC chairman Julius Genachowski commented at the time that the agency was "reviewing the court's decision in light of our commitment to protect children, empower parents and uphold the First Amendment" but Democrat Commissioner Michael J. Copps reacted much more strongly saying he was "shocked by such an anti-family decision."
The appeal will raise First Amendment issues should the Supreme Court opt to hear the appeal: In 2009 when it last ruled on indecency rules the Supreme Court narrowly upheld the FCC's authority to issue penalties for indecency but remanded the case back for further review to the US Third Court of Appeals in Philadelphia, which had thrown out a USD 550,000 fine imposed by the FCC in September 2004 over the brief display of a Janet Jackson breast during the 2004 Super Bowl broadcast (See RNW April 5, 2009 and Sep 23, 2004 ).
RNW comment: We can see both sides of the issue here in that a society can reasonably consider regulating what if broadcast but in the case of the Super Bowl broadcast it seemed to us that what was being down was to effectively retroactively penalise broadcasters in response to an organized campaign rather than carefully consider how it could best amend rules to strike a sensible balance between freedom of speech, regulation of broadcasts and the practicalities and costs of any such action.
The rules do indeed strike us as unreasonably vague and also excessive in that they effectively prohibit live broadcasts as the only way a broadcaster can prohibit a "fleeting" incident is through a delay system with vigilant monitoring.
It also seems to us that should a politician speaking in public make utterances that breach the rules there should be the freedom to air such comments in full and that the rules need to clearly distinguish between such cases and live broadcasts of events over which a broadcaster has no control and the airing of recorded programming where advance vetting is straightforward.
In this case, our view is that rather than defending the rules, the FCC should have amended them so as not to have unreasonable First Amendment implications.
We would like to see the Supreme Court take the case and slap the FCC down hard over its current rules but also give guidance as to the principles on which a re-write would be constitutionally acceptable..
2011-04-21: Fisher Communications' Board has fired back its latest missive in the battle between it and hedge fund and shareholder FrontFour, which is putting up rival candidates for the board to be elected at the company's Annual General Meeting next month.
FrontFour had responded to an earlier letter from Fisher to its shareholders by accusing the Fisher board of failing to protect shareholder value and saying CEO Colleen Brown had cost them USD 173 million (See RNW Apr 14).
Fisher in a letter to shareholders has now attacked FrontFour and its founder David Lorber, who is on the Fisher Board, commenting on (Fisher's Capitals) "MR. LORBER'S LACK OF TRANSPARENCY, POOR GOVERNANCE PERFORMANCE AND HIS MISLEADING STATEMENTS DEMONSTRATE A WILLINGNESS TO SAY AND DO ANYTHING TO ENSURE THAT HIS FIRM CONTROLS FISHER."
It notes that Lorber has been a director at Fisher since 2009 and has been able to vote on the issues raised and goes on to comment, "In an attempt to excuse Mr. Lorber's conflict of interests stemming from the obvious self-serving nature of his recent and current actions, his hedge fund, FrontFour, recently informed you that Mr. Lorber had recused himself from all board meetings at Huntingdon Real Estate Investment Trust at which its unsolicited takeover bid was discussed."
The letter comments on Lorber's "conflict of interests stemming from the obvious self-serving nature of his recent and current actions" and in connection with the Huntingdon Real Estate Investment Trust's rejected but for the company noted that "Huntingdon, which made the unsolicited low-ball bid for Fisher, is run by Mr. Lorber's business partner and co-founder of FrontFour."
It also comments on issues of Huntingdon's purchase of Fisher stock; "control" issues between Huntingdon and FrontFour; and goes on to comment, "In order to accomplish their short-term and self-serving goals, Mr. Lorber and FrontFour seek control of the Company through this proxy contest, a contest they intend to finance at the expense of Fisher shareholders. FrontFour recently disclosed on page 24 of its proxy statement that it intends to seek "reimbursement from the Company for all expenses it incurs in connection with the solicitation of proxies" at the Annual Meeting, and that it "does not intend to submit the question of such reimbursement to a vote of security holders of the Company."
"FrontFour initiated this fight, caused Fisher to incur the significant expense of defending the Company, and now expects you, the other shareholders, to pay for it," says the letter, which continues "You can be certain that the current Fisher Board has no intention of reimbursing FrontFour or Mr. Lorber for their proxy contest expenses. In fact, they should reimburse the Company for the extra expense this contest has caused Fisher to incur."
It also comments - presumably in response to FrontFour's attack on the Fisher directors as having no "relevant real-estate experience" by saying that the FrontFour nominees have no "experience in the broadcast industry" and that two have "have never before served on the board of a public company."
Lorber it says has "simply assembled a group that includes former associates from a now defunct New York hedge fund called Pirate Capital in an attempt to seize control and sell Fisher."
It also notes of FrontFour's criticism of its performance that since 2006 all broadcasting companies in the US have faced major challenges and adds that Fisher has "actually outperformed the industry" saying its core TV revenue was up by 15% compared to 10% average in their markets; that it has successfully diversified its revenue base; and grown its online activities.
"Fisher's impairment charges over the last five years" it says "are 19% of average assets versus an average of 40% for Fisher's peer group."
2011-04-21: The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has ruled that Bankstown and Surrounding Areas Community Radio Inc.( BSACR), holder of a temporary community station licence breached its licence conditions regarding representation of the community interest it is licensed to represent and also encouraging members of that community to participate in the selection and provision of programmes.
The station was licensed to serve the general community of the Bankstown area in New South Wales from October 2009 to October 2010 and the ACMA received a number of complaints including recordings and a programme schedule that alleged the failures including a failure to meet the needs of the Vietnamese Community (the ACMA notes that in 2006, 38% of the licence area's population spoke only English at home with the other main languages being Arabic -17%; Chinese languages - 9%; Vietnamese -7% ; and Greek - 3%) of the area and also saying that the station has been broadcasting Arabic language continuously for one period and at another not broadcasting for some days.
BSACR responded by saying that it offered a wide variety of programmes addressing different needs; that it has made its programming decision based on continued consultation with its members; noted that it broadcast a wide variety of programmes in Arabic and said it did not "deny that the feedback and engagement of our Arabic community residents [ ] is very strong" but emphasised that its "programming schedule attempts to address the needs of the general Bankstown community"; and also added that the programming is being revised.
The ACMA noted its guidelines and the make-up of the community together with the programming - mainly a mix of Arabic and English plus five hours a week that were all aired on Sundays in Macedonian (two hours), Italian (an hour), Turkish (an hour) and Urdu (an hour). This mix it said dominated the schedule to the extent that it failed to meet the community interest.
It also ruled that the station has not making sufficient attempts to encourage members of the community to participate in the selection and provision of programmes.
BSACR is one of six community broadcasters who have been allocated to serve the area on a time-share basis and is due to broadcast continuously from July 16 to October 1 this year and the ACMA noted that the station has now said it will ensure the guidelines are followed including seeking community participation. This it said indicted a commitment to meeting the licence conditions and it is taking no further action for now but will continue to monitor the licensee's performance.
2011-04-20: The US National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) - whose tepid response to a resolution (the Creativity and Innovation Resolution) put forward by Californian representatives Darrell Issa (Republican) and Anna Ishoo (Democrat) opposing compulsory FM chips in mobile devices prompted comment that it has backed off on its campaign to make the devices mandatory - has now launched a new campaign "aimed at educating listeners about the benefits of radio-enabled mobile devices in providing local news, entertainment, and emergency lifeline information.."
The resolution, which was introduced into the House a week ago, said a "Government mandate that will force mobile device manufacturers and wireless carriers to include terrestrial broadcast radio tuners in new mobile devices will stifle innovation, competition, and consumer choice" and ends by saying that Congress should "oppose any mandate for the inclusion of terrestrial broadcast radio tuners in the manufacture or sale of mobile devices, which would stifle innovation, competition, and consumer choice.".
The bill was welcomed by The Wireless Association, the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) and the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA): In a joint news release they took another opportunity to put forward the issue of performance royalties with a comment from Neil Portnow, president of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, in which he said, "The music community wants to see the growth of distribution platforms that compensate musicians and performers. The most exciting new mobile devices are also the distribution platforms that fully compensate musicians and performers. FM Radio, by contrast, does not."
Also pushing the idea of a performance royalty was Mitch Bainwol, Chairman and CEO of the RIAA, who commented, "Every platform in the industrialized world respects property rights but one - terrestrial radio in the U.S. So the idea of the government rigging the playing field to expand the scope of the existing taking makes zero sense. That's why we welcome this resolution and the broader concept of policies that reward technical and creative innovation."
The trio also went on to suggest that those who wanted FM enabled devices would have no problem n getting them, quoting Steve Largent, president and CEO of CTIA-The Wireless Association, as saying, "With more than 650 unique wireless devices in the U.S., consumers have a variety of options, including handsets with FM chips. The hallmark of our industry is one that offers consumers numerous choices so they can customize their wireless experiences, through innovative streaming music services such as Pandora or downloading an indie artist's app."
Gary Shapiro, president and CEO of the Consumers Electronics Association, added, "An FM chip mandate is unnecessary and unjustified. These new mobile devices are platforms for innovation and creativity, and Americans can decide for themselves what functions and features they want. Requiring today's digital phones to include an analogue FM Chip makes as much sense as requiring them to include a telegraph."
The response from the NAB to enquiries about the Bill was to say that it would "prefer that cell phone carriers voluntarily add radio chips to mobile devices." and add "For public safety reasons alone, it makes perfect sense to enable cell phones with inexpensive radio chips."
The NAB says that its campaign will feature radio spots in English and Spanish and print ads for use by local stations that will promote the RadioRocksMyPhone.com site it launched in September last year (See RNW Sep 28, 2010).
NAB President and CEO Gordon Smith commented, "People deserve all available means to stay safe in times of crisis, and radio stations can provide critical lifesaving information even when cellular service is disrupted. This campaign will help listeners find radio-enabled mobile devices so they may receive up-to-the-minute emergency information even on the go."
The NAB also noted that Smith sent a letter to members of Congress urging them not to support the Creativity and Innovation Resolution and highlighting "the important role radio stations can play in providing life-saving information during emergencies when cell phone service is unavailable, such as during this weekend's storm that sparked tornadoes in several states."
RNW comment: Glancing again at the radiorocksmyphone website, we did not spot anything particularly new or compelling as an argument to make FM chips compulsory. As we noted when the site was launched, there does seem to us to be a reasonable argument to make in requiring mobile networks to allow consumers to connect all suitable devices to a network as is required for landlines since moves that widen consumer choice allow better operation of a market. The NAB, however, dissipates its case by making irrelevant comparisons to the situation elsewhere in the world (There networks may supply devices "locked" to their networks but "unlocked" ones are available and those supplied can usually be unlocked but this point is not put forward by the NAB).
A little more research and a consumer benefits approach could be put quite straightforwardly in terms of a market approach but the NAB waffles on about things that a little thought should tell them will merely lead to a mental switch off.
We think their campaign will be a waste of time and money.
2011-04-20: UK media regulator Ofcom in its latest bulletin upholds one radio standards complaint and nine TV ones against five channels; gives details of a further three TV standards complaints not upheld; and upholds one TV fairness and privacy complaints and partly upholds two more as well as giving details of a further five not upheld. It also found that TV broadcasters had aired more advertising than permitted in three cases.
The radio complaint upheld was against Bournemouth community station Hope FM and The Business Show, a two hours show aired twice weekly and sponsored by SceneOne magazine, a local theatre guide.
Following an edition that included a representative of a web-based recruitment agency, a listener contacted Ofcom saying he did not know if there was any commercial gain to the station but "any commercial arrangement with the interviewee and her company certainly wasn't transparent."
Hope Fm when contacted confirmed that businesses were featured in The Business Show in return for payment but said it did not think the broadcast breached the relevant Ofcom rule, saying that the programme is clearly & appropriately signalled as being commercial in nature, and therefore not part of "normal" programming.
Ofcom commented in its ruling that "The Business Show may have a different style to other material broadcast on Hope FM. Nevertheless, it is presented as programming" and went on to note that in this case no reference was made to any commercial agreement and said its code was breached. As regards the sponsorship from SceneOne magazine was concerned it noted that the programme sponsor was appropriately signalled and said there was therefore no breach of the code.
In addition to the above findings Ofcom also listed without details 342 complaints against 172 TV items and eight radio complaints against seven items that it did not uphold: This compared to 1027 complaints against 242 TV items - 814 of these related to the "Dancing on Ice" programme - and 783 to one of its editions - and 67 radio complaints against 16 items - of these two programmes accounted for 53 complaints that were similarly listed in the previous bulletin.
RNW note: Perhaps as of much interest in this bulletin as the rulings themselves was a ruling in one case of an X-factor programme aired in December last year that elicited 2,868 complaints, more than 2,000 of them after a coverage about the performances in a daily national newspaper that reported on concerns that the performances were too explicit for a family programme, and included a number of still images of the performance. The stills it noted were "significantly more graphic and close-up than the material that had been broadcast in the programme, and had been taken from a different angle to the television cameras. Readers of the newspaper would have therefore been left with the impression that the programme contained significantly more graphic material than had actually been broadcast."
The newspaper concerned was the Daily Mail, which of course was also responsible for the protests over the edition of the Jonathan Ross Show on BBC Radio 2 that ultimately led to the host leaving the BBC as did Russell Brand and Lesley Douglas, the then controller of the station (See RNW Oct 30, 2008 RBrand5). The point of course is to note how outrage can be stirred up by campaigns - especially when it costs someone nothing to e-mail a complaint, something that should be borne in mind every time there are large numbers of complaints about an issue that has upset some organizations, whether or not many of the individual complainers were actually viewing or listening to the relevant broadcast.
Previous Ofcom Bulletin:
UK Daily Mail report re X-Factor:
2011-04-19: Radio One, Inc. stock bounded up today following the release of preliminary results for the first quarter and an announcement that its board has been authorized to spend up to USD 15 million on repurchasing its Class A and Class D common stock.
The common stock was up more than 10% by early afternoon to USD 2.72 and the Class D stock was up 15% to USD 2.61: They ended the day up 10.79% to USD 2.67 and 15.11% at USD 2.59.
The repurchase would have amounted to some 12% of the company shares at its closing prices on Friday of USD 2.39 and USD 2.28 respectively.
The preliminary results to the end of March indicted net revenue up 10.9% on a year earlier to USD 65.4 million with station operating income to be between 17.2 million to 18.2 million (USD 17.8 million for the first quarter of 2010) and adjusted EBITDA to be between USD 9.2 million to USD 10.2 million.
The company added that it anticipates a net loss of USD 0.32 to 0.39 per share compared to a loss of nine cents per share a year earlier.
Previous Radio One Inc.:
2011-04-19: New York State-based Pamal Broadcasting has agreed the sale of its seven stations in Florida to MARC Radio Group of Winter Park, Florida, for an undisclosed amount.
Pamal, which is headed by Latham car dealer Jim Morrell, owns a total of 33 stations in New York, Vermont, and Massachusetts as well as the Florida stations being sold - WTMG-FM; WHHZ-FM; WKZY-FM; WDVH- FM; and AMs WRZN; WDVH and WTMN, all in the Gainesville-Ocala market.
The Business Review quoted Michael Dufort, Pamal's assistant secretary treasurer, as saying of the deal, "Gainesville-Ocala is a terrific, vibrant market. We enjoyed being there each of the past 10 years. We are confident the stations will thrive in the good hands of a Florida-based owner like MARC Radio, and we wish them every success."
Business Review report:
2011-04-18: The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) - which when in 2008 it approved the merger of Sirius and XM Satellite Radio on a partisan vote with the Democrat Commissioners opposed (See RNW Jul 28, 2008) - with completion immediately following (See RNW Jul 29, 2008) - included a condition that audio channels be made available on long leases to independent entities - has announced that Sirius XM has now implemented the agreement.
The original agreement issued on Aug 5, 2008, included the provision that the "merged entity will set aside 4 percent of its full-time audio channels for non-commercial educational and informational programming, and will lease another 4 percent of its channels to "qualified entities" and the definition of such "entities" was clarified in November last year to remove racial references in the original definition that included "any entity that is majority-owned by persons who are African American, not of Hispanic origin; Asian or Pacific Islanders; American Indians or Alaskan Natives; or Hispanics." The constitutionality of the original definition has been put into question by Progress and Freedom Foundation and Randolph J. May, President of the Free State Foundation.
The five organizations selected will provide a total of seven services on 11 channels. They are:
Howard University (licensee of WHUR-FM and WHUT-TV) - to provide one channel on both Sirius and XM of Music and talk programming for the African American community and another channel on both Sirius and XM of Music and talk programming for the African American community, with programs from Historically Black Colleges and Universities
BYU Radio (licensee of KBYU-FM and KBYU-TV) - One channel on both Sirius and XM of Music and talk programming for the Mormon community
Eventus/National Latino Broadcasting - One channel on both Sirius and XM of Spanish language talk programming and one channel on both Sirius and XM of Spanish language music programming
WorldBand Media - One channel on both Sirius and XM of Spanish language talk programming.
KTV Radio - One channel on XM of Korean language music and talk programming.
The FCC had set an April 17 deadline for Sirius XM to sign lease agreements with its selectees, who had to be told of their tentative selection on March 2 this year.
Commenting of the selection, FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski said "This marks a valuable step in increasing the diversity of programming available to satellite radio listeners while promoting access for new entrants and independent satellite radio programming. I applaud Sirius XM for its new line up."
Democrat Commissioner Mignon L. Clyburn congratulated the five "awardees selected as qualified entities by Sirius XM" and added "I look forward to learning more about the content they plan to offer and the exciting programming sure to come."
"Today's announcement," she said "is the culmination of a long undertaking, and I'm pleased that the roadmap the Commission and Sirius XM developed has achieved fruition."
Previous Sirius XM:
2011-04-18: Industry body Commercial Radio Australia this week launched a new series of radio and online advertisements promoting digital radio.
Timed for Mother's Day (May 8 in Australia and the US - it was on April 3 in the UK) the adverts will run for three weeks across 42 commercial radio stations in the five digital radio metropolitan markets of Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth, and will be supported by online and social media.
The ads were written by the award winning radio specialist agency, Eardrum creative director Ralph van Dijk, with one ad including a montage of songs featuring the word mother using the premise that your radio is trying to tell you to buy a digital radio for Mother's Day. Animated online banner ads complementing the radio campaign will run on all metropolitan commercial station websites and on www.digitalradioplus.com.au.
Commercial Radio Australia also started taking entries today for this year's New Artists 2 Radio (NA2R) competition, which is celebrating its tenth year and chief executive Joan Warner noted that his year the Australian Independent Record Labels Association (AIR) will be involved in the search for the unsigned independent artists for whom the competition is designed.
Ten finalists will be selected with two winners being announced: They will have the chance of six weeks guaranteed airplay, across the day, on the major metropolitan and regional commercial radio networks valued at AUD 1.3 million (USD 1.36 million) .
Warner commented of the competition "Unearthing new Australian talent has always been one of the key roles played by commercial radio and this initiative provides some fantastic tools for unsigned artists to help them break into commercial radio and the music industry" and AIR general manager Nick O'Byrne added, "There's a place for great Australian independent music on commercial radio and for that reason AIR is happy to support an initiative like NA2R. NA2R provides an opportunity for independent artists to open the door to the mainstream."
Previous Commercial Radio Australia:
2011-04-17: Last week the main regulatory business came from the US where the Federal Communications Commission has posted details of a filing by Cumulus of divestitures it is proposing to allow its takeover of Citadel - probably the last really large radio merger there will be in the country - to go through: Elsewhere was quieter although there were radio related postings from most areas.
In Australia, the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has found that Brisbane community station 4BI breached its licence conditions by not continuing to represent the youth community interest as specified in its licence (See RNW Apr 15).
In Canada, the main decision from the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) concerned the merger of Sirius and XM in Canada, giving it the go-ahead (See RNW Apr 12).
It also posted a public notice with an April 28 deadline for the submission of comments or interventions concerning a request from Haliburton Broadcasting Group Inc. for authority to acquire the assets of the Ontario English-language commercial stations CFLZ-FM, Niagara Falls, and CKEY-FM, Fort Erie, and its transmitter CKEY-FM-1, St. Catharines, from Niagara Radio Group Inc.
The deal is worth CAD 5.5 million ( USD 5.7 million) and the associated tangible benefits package proposed is CAD 330,000 (USD 344,000) to be spent over a seven-year period.
A further public notice with a May 20 deadline for the submission of interventions or comments, concerns a request from 591991 B.C. Ltd. to amend the conditions of the licences of Quebec French-language commercial stations CHLT-FM, Sherbrooke; CJRC-FM, Gatineau; and CHLN-FM, Trois-Rivières, all stations included in the CAD 90 million (then USD 78.7 million) sale of Corus Entertainment Inc.'s Quebec stations to Cogeco inc. that was announced in April last year and completed in February (See RNW Feb 1).
The CRTC as part of the approval had required Cogeco to file amended conditions of the stations' licences that it had committed itself to regarding local, spoken word, and news programming.
The CRTC also approved an application for a English- and Aboriginal-language, low-power Type B Native FM radio station in Thamesville, Ontario, and also extended until April 21 the deadline for filing comments concerning the renewal of the licences of Astral's CKTF-FM, Gatineau, Quebec and CIBK-FM, Calgary, Ontario, with the deadline for submission of reply comments by the applicants extended to April 27.
The new licence approved goes to Gordon Peters, on behalf of a not-for-profit corporation to be incorporated for a 50 watts English- and Aboriginal-language, low-power Type B Native FM radio programming undertaking in Thamesville.
There were no radio postings from the UK or Ireland and as noted in the US, the main radio business before the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) was the filing by Cumulus of details of stations it is proposing to divest to allow its takeover of Citadel to go through (See RNW Apr 12).
The agency, which had escaped closedown as the US agreed a budget, also issued two sets of penalties on radio stations mainly for late renewal applicant filing and subsequent unauthorized operation to for public file breaches (See RNW Apr 15 and Apr 16).
It was also involved in a number of contested or potentially contested radio licensing decisions including (in order of state of licences involved):
*Louisiana: Issuing order to Clear Channel requiring it to show cause why its WQUE-FM, New Orleans, which is operating on Channel 227C with an ERP of 100 kilowatts at 300 meters HAAT- below the 451 metres minimum required for a Class C station of 451 metres HAAT - should show cause why it should not be reclassified as a Class CO facility.
The order follows a petition from Bowen Broadcasting requesting the allotment of FM Channel 228A at Summit, Mississippi, as that community's first local service to facilitate which it requests the reclassification.
The FCC notes that the WQUE licence can be modified to Channel 227C0 at its current authorized transmitter site and Clear Channel now has until May 23 to file a written statement as to why its licence should not be modified or seek authority to increase the antenna height to at least 451 metres. It would then have 180 days to file for an appropriate construction permit to institute the change. If it does not respond it will be assumed to have consented to the change.
*Texas: Approved assignment of licence for Texas NCE KTRU-FM, and FM Translator Station K218DA, both in Houston, from William Marsh Rice University to University of Houston System.
Petitions opposing the transfer had been made by Friends of KTRU and in addition three listeners to the station had submitted letters opposing the transfer.
The opposition was among other things on the basis that the transfer was not in the public interest; contradicted the agency's policies in favour of broadcast localism; undermines the educational purpose of an NCE; would result in an NCE concentration in the hands of the University of Houston; negotiations between the universities violated the Texas Open Meetings Act; that the UHS proposed programming - the format is to be changed from alternative music formats to classical music and fine arts programming - is inadequate and that the agreed purchase price was too low and against the public interest. They also alleged that one of Houston University's stations did not contain the most recent ownership reports, something that the University accepted.
The FCC said it was not competent to act on issues of state law but on the other issues the case had not been made for refusal of the assignment of the licences which it accordingly approved.
Vermont: Granted application from Vermont Public Radio (VPR) for a new non-commercial educational FM station to operate on Channel 206 at Middlebury, Vermont and rejected a petition from Family Rosary Radio for a new NCE FM station also to operate on Channel 206 but at Rome, New York and also a joint petition from Family, Mars Hill Broadcasting Co., Inc. and Northeast Gospel Broadcasting, Inc. for reconsideration of the dismissal of their applications
Vermont Public Radio's application had been tentatively selected by agency staff during an October 2007 filing window on the basis that it would provide new NCE service to at least 5,000 more people than any of the other proposals in the NCE MX Group 542.
Family Rosary Radio argued in its petition that because Vermont Public Radio subsequent to its filing of the application in question had received a construction permit from the 2007 filing window for a new NCE FM at Middlebury on Channel 211 - now operating as WOXM-FM - its application was not eligible for a fair distribution preference but should have been evaluated under the FCC's point evaluation system.
Vermont Public Radio in relation to this argued that the Commission had provided for such circumstances when it decided that analysis of applications should relate to data available when a filing window closed.
Those in the joint petition for reconsideration argued that dismissal of their applications was premature until a Construction Permit had been issued to VPR because they precluded "preclude "the possibility of a settlement agreement" among the Petitioners and SUNY (The State University of New York was also amongst those applying for an NCE licence in the filing window) in the event that the Petition's challenge to VPR's tentative selectee status prevails."
The FCC agreed that the dismissal was premature but rejected the other arguments and also opted to grant the VPR application.
Previous Licence News:
2011-04-16: Mexican radio operator Grupo Radio Centro has reported first quarter revenues up 13.5% on a year ago at MXN 188.8 million (USD 162 million) with the increase put down by the company primarily to higher advertising expenditures.
Broadcasting expenses were up by 6.1% to MXN 179.7 million (USD 15.65 million) and broadcasting income more than tripled to MXN 18.1 million (USD 1.55 million) from MXN 5.5 million (USD 471,000) a year earlier.
Operating income was MXN 8.72 million (USD 748,000) compared to a loss of MXN 4.42 million (USD 380,000) a year earlier.
Overall Grupo Radio reported a loss before taxes of MXN 11.1 million (USD 949,000) compared to a loss of MXN 25.4 million (USD 2.17 million) a year earlier with a net loss down from MXN 27.6 million (USD 2.37 million) to MXN 17.3 million (USD 1.48 million).
Previous Grupo Radio Centro:
2011-04-16: In another run of enforcement actions the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has confirmed penalties totalling more than USD 40,000 on a number of US radio stations. In descending amount order they were:
*Confirmed penalties totalling USD 18,000 on Phoenix Broadcasting Group, Inc., licensee of Arkansas stations KAMJ-FM, Gosnell, and KQXF-FM, Osceola, for public file violations. The agency had issued USD 9,000 Notices of Apparent Liability for Forfeiture (NALs) to each station in 2004 followed by forfeiture orders in 2008 after it had rejected requests for cancellation on the basis that the violations were neither wilful nor repeated and inconsistent with other forfeiture orders.
In the plea for reconsideration the licensee also argued that the Commission failed to comply with the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement and Fairness Act of 1996. The FCC rejected this argument and dismissed the petition for reconsideration.
*Confirmed penalties totalling USD 9,000 on Saga Communications for public file breaches at Illinois stations WTAX-AM, Springfield, and WIXY-FM and WLRW-FM, Champaign.
The agency had initially issued NALs of USD 3,000 to each station in June 2005 and rejected subsequent requests for cancellation. Saga then petitioned for reconsideration on the basis that the violations were neither wilful nor repeated and were inconsistent with other penalties issued in similar cases. The FCC dismissed the arguments, refused the petition, and confirmed the penalties.
*Confirmed USD 9,000 penalty issues to Saga Communications for failure to maintain public inspection file at WYMG-FM, Chatham, Illinois. The agency has issued an NAL for this amount in 2005 and rejected a subsequent request for cancellation. Saga then filed a petition for reconsideration on the basis that the violations were neither wilful nor repeated and were inconsistent with other penalties issued in similar cases. The FCC dismissed the arguments, refused the petition, and confirmed the penalty.
*A USD 3,450 payment as part of a Consent Decree with New Beginning World Outreach, Inc., licensee of non-commercial educational Station WNBV-FM, Grundy, Virginia, that terminated investigation into possible violations of the broadcast of underwriting announcements. The licensee has also had to set up a Compliance plan effective for three years.
The investigation was launched after the FCC received a complaint in April 2009, together with recordings, alleging that the Licensee was "selling fully produced commercials for just one dollar per announcement."
Letter of Inquiry were sent to the station in May and October 2009 to which the licensees responded in July 2009 and January 2010 but a further complaint was then sent to the Commission in May last year in response to which a further letter was sent to the licensee in July with a response received in August.
*USD 2,000 forfeiture to Escalante City, former licensee of FM translator Station K237AD, Escalante, Utah, for operation after licence had expired together with an admonition for late filing of renewal application.
The FCC had sent a USD 4,000 NAL in connection with the breached in March last year to which the licensee responded by requesting cancellation because the failure was inadvertent and payment would cause financial hardship.
Both arguments were rejected but the FCC noted that it had left it too late to impose a penalty for the late filing. It imposed a USD 2,000 forfeiture for the unauthorized operation and substituted an admonishment in connection with the late filing.
*USD 250 forfeiture to Paul Smith's College, licensee of Class D FM Station WPSA-FM, Paul Smiths, New York, for unauthorized operation together with an admonition for late filing of renewal application.
The FCC initially issued a USD 7,000 NAL for the two breaches to which the licensee responded by saying the NAL should be cancelled because the violation was unintentional, it did not believe it was operating without authority, and also because the statute of limitations applied to the NAL.
The FCC agreed this was the case as regards the late renewal and substituted an admonishment for this breach. The statute, however, did not apply to the unauthorized operation and in relation to this the FCC reduced the penalty in line with other recent decisions.
2011-04-16: Spanish Broadcasting System (SBS) has announced that it has received notification from the NASDAQ stock market that its stock is to be de-listed at the opening of business on April 20 unless it requests a hearing before a NASDAQ panel by 16:00 ET on April 20.
SBS had been given a deficiency notice on October 12 last year (See RNW Oct 18, 2010) because the stock had been below the exchange's one dollar minimum price for the previous 30 consecutive business days: Earlier last year had regained compliance after a previous warning (See RNW May 5, 2010), before which it had said it had authorized a reverse split of its stock to regain compliance (See RNW Apr 26, 2010).
SBS then had until the close of business on April 11 to regain compliance for which its stock had to close above the minimum for ten consecutive days.
It failed to do so but says that it will apply for a hearing and thus stay any de-listing until a decision is rendered. A number of other radio companies that received de-listing notices earlier including SBS as noted above had made preparations for a reverse stock-split to bring themselves back in line if required and SBS may well also take this course.
2011-04-15: San Francisco gained an FM sports talk station today when Entercom flipped its 95.7 KBWF-FM frequency from Country to Sports having announced last month that the station had taken over the rights for the Oakland Athletics from KTRB-AM, which went into receivership last year.
After that the Athletics made moves towards purchasing the station whilst sportscasters Ron Barr and Ken Dito kept sports on the air: That deal according to the Athletics' VP of broadcasting Ken Prie fell through when receiver Comerica Bank demanded that it sign a new broadcasting rights deal.
The Athletics were then off the air for a while before returning on CBS Radio's Oldies KFRC-AM until they finalized the deal with Entercom.
KBWF broadcast the first Athletics game on April 1 and today flipped to Sports Radio, billing itself on the station website as the Bay Area's only FM station.
KTRB meanwhile is still on the air with a skeleton operation and Barr says it is still up for grabs.
2011-04-15: The BBC Trust has rejected a three-part complaint from UTV's talkSPORT about BBC Radio 5 Live but has said that the complaint "raises some significant and valid questions about what constitutes news on 5 Live and how broadly an individual 'news' programme on 5 Live should go in its delivery of news" and is to reconsider how the station's output is monitored and also to make the station's remit concerning minority and secondary sports coverage clearer.
talkSPORT had complained that the station was not complying with the terms of its service licence in three area- that news does not represent around three-quarters of 5 Live's output each year.; that it is "broadcasting an excess of speech content which lies outside its published remit as 'BBC Radio's home of continuous news and live sports coverage'; and that it is "neglecting minority and secondary sports and fixtures."
UTV had instigated its complaint in a submission to the BBC Trust's consultation on the Strategy Review in 2010 and were advised by the Trust that if they thought there had been a licence breach this should be taken up with BBC management.
It did so in May last year and supported the claim with second-by-second analysis of 5 Live output across two 24 hour time periods that suggested that news (including information and sports news) accounted for 61% of output on Monday 1 March 2010 and 44% of output on Saturday 13 March 2010. "This methodology," says the Trust "also allowed UTV to make a range of qualitative assessments which they used to inform their complaint."
BBC management then carried out its analysis that showed news (including information and sports news) accounted for 81% of output on Monday 1 March 2010 and 54% of output on Saturday 13 March 2010 to which UTV responded that the BBC Management's response did not properly address their complaints, commenting amongst other things that the definition used for "news" by the BBC management was too broad and that the BBC's own figures showed only 70% of output to be news.
BBC management subsequently provided their definition of news but UTV was not satisfied and took the matter to the Trust in February this year.
Considering the complaints point by point the Trust commented that as regards news output its Appeals Panel took the view that if a programme's primary purpose is news, then the full duration of that programme is counted as news and by that measure the station was meeting its commitment for 75% of its annual output to be news.
It went on, however recommend "that the upcoming service review examine the measurement of news" commenting, "This is because a more nuanced method of monitoring the proportion of news output against this commitment, which takes into account the particular mix of news programming without recourse to second-by-second analysis (which, as noted above, can be prone to interpretation and wide variations), would be desirable."
Regarding what constitutes news it said the BBC has an agreed definition of news with Ofcom for the purposes of monitoring of television news quotas on BBC One and BBC Two and that BBC management had used this as the basis for defining what is a news programme on 5 Live.
The panel did not uphold the complaint on this point but said it raised "some significant and valid questions about what constitutes news on 5 Live and how broadly an individual 'news' programme on 5 Live should go in its delivery of news"
Regarding the second complaint, which the panel noted was closely linked to the first, the panel said it "recognised that 5 Live has speech content that may not be considered by listeners as news or sports output. However, the Panel believed that there may be public value in some non-news and non-sport speech output on the station."
Again it did not uphold the complaint but it did comment that "this point of the appeal, taken together with point A, raised constructive questions about the relative levels of different types of speech content on 5 Live , how this speech content delivered public value to audiences and how it related to the overall remit of the 5 Live" and went on to say that "The panel tasked the forthcoming service licence review with assessing the public value of speech output on the station that is neither continuous news nor live sports."
Regarding the third point over minority and secondary sports, BBC management noted that they had to provide a balance in terms of sports coverage that effectively served audiences. They also provided a list of all minority and secondary sports covered in 2010, noting that there were 14 minority sports covered on 5 Live.
On this point the panel again rejected the complaint but added that "the service licence does not provide clear commitments as to the frequency and range of coverage of minority and secondary sports and it tasked the forthcoming service licence review with considering this area and reaching greater clarity on the station's commitments in this regard."
Following the panel's ruling, Scott Taunton, managing director of UTV Media (GB), told the UK Guardian, "It's clear from its decision that the BBC Trust is keen to hold 5 Live to its core requirement for 75% of its airtime to be dedicated to news.
"The appeal findings leave us in no doubt that the BBC Trust has major questions about 5 Live's provision of continuous news and a home for minority sports, and that it wants to see - through the licence review - a significant tightening of its remit in these areas."
BBC Trust ruling (10-page 92 kb PDF):
BBC Trust - BBC service licences page (links to all service licences):
UK Guardian report:
2011-04-15: In another run of enforcement actions the US Federal Communications Commission has imposed penalties totalling USD 24,100 on a number of radio stations but also cancelled a USD 7,000 penalty proposed on a Nevada AM now in the hands of bankruptcy trustees.
A USD 7,000 Notice of Apparent Liability for Forfeiture was issued to Universal Broadcasting, Inc., former licensee of station KQLO-AM, Sun Valley, in 2009, following its late filing of a licence renewal and unauthorized operation after the licence expired.
The station should have filed the renewal by the start of June 2005 but did not do so and in July 2007 filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection - converted to Chapter 7 bankruptcy in December 2007: The renewal application was filed in October 2008 together with request for special temporary authority (STA) to continue operation until the renewal was considered. The station subsequently had a period off air and the Trustee argued in response to the NAL that the bankrupt status warranted reconsideration of the penalty.
The FCC noted that cancellation was normally considered warranted where the licensee or permittee has relinquished control over its assets and the imposition of a forfeiture "would diminish the amount available to innocent creditors and would otherwise serve no public interest purpose."
In this case it agreed that the forfeiture should be cancelled.
Less fortunate were the following stations where penalties were confirmed (In descending amount order):
*USD 8,000 forfeiture to San Jose State University, licensee of KSJS-FM, San Jose, California, for public file violations. The university had been issued with a USD 9,000 NAL in December 2005 and responded by filing a request for reduction that was rejected.
It then petitioned for reconsideration on the basis that the forfeiture order failed to explain how the breach was distinguished from those in other cases where a different penalty was levied; that its actions were not egregious; that the decision was at odds with a video decision in which a TV station was admonished for public file violations; inability to pay; and on the basis of a history of compliance.
The FCC rejected all the arguments, noting that inadequate documentation had been provided to justify a reduction on financial grounds, but reduced the penalty by USD 1,000 on the basis of a past history of compliance.
*USD 7,200 penalty to KUOA, Inc., former licensee of KUOA-AM, Siloam Springs, Arkansas, which had been issued with a USD 9,000 NAL in 2004 for public inspection file breaches.
This was reduced to USD 7,200 on the basis of a history of compliance to which KUOA responded with a petition for reconsideration, arguing that the Forfeiture Order failed to explain how its case differed from others where the penalty was USD 3,000 and also that its failures "were not egregious".
The FCC noted the reduction already made, said that the other cases were distinguishable and confirmed the penalty.
*USD 7,200 penalty to John Brown University, licensee of KLRC-FM, Siloam Springs, Arkansas, for failing to properly maintain a public file for the station.
The FCC had originally issued a USD 9, .000 NAL in June 2004 and later reduced it to USD 7,200 on the basis of a history of compliance. John Brown had petitioned for reconsideration, arguing that the Forfeiture Order failed to explain how its case differed from others where the penalty was USD 3,000 and also that its failures "were not egregious".
As with KUOA, Inc., the FCC noted the reduction already made, said that the other cases were distinguishable and confirmed the penalty.
*USD 1,700 penalty and admonition to Grace Baptist Church, licensee of KBLW-FM, Gaylord, Michigan, for late filing of licence renewal and subsequent unauthorized operation .
Grace had been issued with an NAL totalling USD 7,000 in 2007, USD 4,000 of which related to the unauthorized operation and USD 3,000 to the late filing.
Grace responded to the NAL by arguing amongst other things inability to pay and on this basis the total was reduces to 3,000, or approximately 5%t of the licensee's average gross revenues for the three-year period before the NAL was issued.
Grace subsequently petition for a further reduction on the basis of financial hardship in view of its more recent financial documentation and included profit and loss statements for 2007-09 and the first half of 2010.
The FCC declined a reduction on this basis but noted that it had not issued the NAL on time to issue a penalty for the late filing: Accordingly it substituted an admonition in relation to this breach and reduced the USD 4,000 by the same percentage by which it had reduced the original total, leaving a penalty of USD 1,700 to be paid.
2011-04-15: The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has ruled that Brisbane Interactive Radio Group Inc, licensee of community radio station 4BI, Brisbane, breached its licence conditions by not continuing to represent the youth community interest it was licensed to represent.
The ACMA investigated a complaint that 4BI was providing programming not relevant to the youth community in the Brisbane RA1 licence area with programs of concern predominately sourced from overseas.
As a result of the investigation the ACMA found that the station did not have adequate mechanisms and procedures in place to monitor the needs of Brisbane's youth following which 4BI has committed itself to implement an assessment of the needs of the youth community in its licence area and to introduce new programs as a result of that assessment.
The ACMA says it has accepted these measures as a way of addressing the compliance issues raised and adds that the licensee will have to report on its progress to the ACMA, which will continue to monitor the licensee's performance.
2011-04-14: The US House of Representatives has passed by a 260-167 vote (Voting for 179 Republicans and 81 Democrats and against 59 Republicans and 108 Democrats) the compromise US budget that was agreed at the weekend by party leaders: The Senate later passed the budget by an 81-19 vote.
Passage will both prevent closure of government departments - the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) as we noted had posted details of how it would close down if it had to ( See RNW Apr 9) - and also preserved funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) with no strings attached on funding to NPR (National Public Radio). These had been proposed Colorado Republican Rep. Doug Lamborn in the measure voted through by the Republican-controlled House by 228-192 in March - and led one Republican, in favour of cutting CPB funding, to register himself as present on the basis that he thought that to single out NPR made the bill unconstitutional (See RNW Mar 17)
The budget passed includes continued funding for the CPB, which will get around USD 445 million in Federal Funds this year, much the same as in the previous appropriation, and no restrictions on how the funding should be allocated.
2011-04-14: Astral Media and Corus Entertainment have reported revenues for their second fiscal quarter to the end of February up 7% to CAD 232.7 million (USD 241.8 million) and 8% to CAD 191.1 million (USD 198.5 million) respectively with TV driving the increase in both cases.
At Astral EBITDA for the quarter was up 3% to CAD 64.3 million (USD 66.8 million) and consolidated net earnings were up 3% to CAD 34.8 million (USD 36.2 million - from CAD 0.69 to CAD 0.71 per diluted share).
Within the figures out-of-home revenues are up 17% for the quarter and 23% for the first six months; TV is up 7% for both the quarter and half-year; and radio revenues are up 3% for both.
Overall for the first six months, revenues are up 7% to CAD 499.8 million (USD 519.2 million) and EBITDA rose 4% to CAD 153.6 million (UISD 159.6 million) and consolidated net earnings were up 8% to CAD 88.1 million (USD 91.5 million - from USD 1.45 to USD 1.53 per diluted share).
President and CEO Ian Greenberg commented of the performance, "I am pleased by the growth we experienced in the second quarter of Fiscal 2011 and am delighted that all our business units continue to contribute to our performance quarter after quarter. While benefiting from an improved economic landscape, we maintain our focus on gaining additional operational efficiencies throughout the organization."
At Corus TV drove increases for both the quarter and half year - revenues for the first six months rose 8.3% to CAD 413.2 million (USD 429.3 million) - with TV revenue rises of 8.36% to CAD 148.4 million (USD 154.2 million) and 9.62% to CAD 316 million (USD 328 million) respectively whilst radio was up 5.23% to CAD 42.7 million (USD 44.4 million) and 4.1% to CAD 97.3 million (USD 101.1 million).
In segment profit terms TV was up 10.9% to CAD 59.0 million (USD 61.3 million) and 14.0% to CAD 137.1 million (USD 142.5 million) respectively and radio up 18.3% to CAD 9.67 million (USD 10.05 million) and 5.47% to CAD 28.9 million 9USD 29.28 million) respectively.
Overall Corus's net profit from continuing operations was up 92.75% for the quarter to CAD 27.45 million (USD 28.51 million) but down 15.57% to CAD 71.12 million (USD 73.88 million) respectively with basic earnings per share up from CAD 0.18 to CAD 0.39 for the quarter but down from CAD 1.10 to CAD 0.95 for the half year.
President and CEO John Cassaday commented, "Strong advertising and subscriber revenue growth continued in the second quarter. Coupled with our cost containment initiatives, we delivered double digit segment profit growth in both our Radio and Television divisions, demonstrating the power of operating leverage."
2011-04-14: FrontFour, the hedge fund criticized by the Fisher Communications board in a letter to shareholders earlier this month urging support of its slate of directors and rejection of those put forward by FrontFour for the company's annual meeting, has now responded with a counter-attack. It also made it personal, saying the Fisher board failed to hold CEO Colleen Brown accountable for severe underperformance and that none of them had real estate experience and some had conflicts of interest in broadcasting..
In its letter to stockholders that it made public FrontFour says they should not (Their Capitals in a news release) "MISLED BY FISHER'S ATTEMPT TO DISTRACT STOCKHOLDERS' ATTENTION FROM THE COMPANY'S DISASTROUS PERFORMANCE OVER THE PAST FIVE YEARS" and goes on to add, "WE ARE NOT SEEKING TO TAKE CONTROL OF FISHER FOR OURSELVES OR FOR HUNTINGDON
"OUR QUALIFIED NOMINEES ARE COMMITTED TO RESTORING STOCKHOLDER VALUE AND WILL DEMAND ACCOUNTABILITY FROM MANAGEMENT."
It says the Fisher letter (See RNW Apr 12) is "is full of misleading propaganda, half-truths and false claims about FrontFour that are self-serving and intended to entrench the Board and senior management."
More specifically is adds, "The fact remains that no matter how hard they may try, no scare tactics or wild claims about FrontFour looking to hijack the Company can hide the obvious truth concerning the failures, poor track record and serious shortcomings under the leadership of the Company's President and CEO, Colleen Brown" and goes on to say that since she was put in place in October 2005 the company has "continuously and seriously underperformed" and that "Fisher's shares have lost 48% of their value, as of December 31, 2010. Adding insult to injury, over this same time period, Fisher has spent USD 91.6 million on three acquisitions that have failed to generate returns In other words, Ms. Brown has presided over the destruction of USD 173 million of the Company's equity value over the past five years."
It then quotes various past comments by Brown on conference calls and in a Wall Street Journal interview about her strategic plan; says Fisher's TV BCF margins between 2007 and 2010 have been "well below management's own goals" and "continue to significantly lag industry competitors" and attacks the TV acquisitions Brown has overseen, noting that of a total impairment charge of USD 78.2 million in fiscal 2008, USD 76.8 million was in the television segment.
It also attacks the board for trying "to limit the ability of stockholders to have any say whatsoever on the future of the Company and their investment in the Company" and in support of this notes the adoption of new by-laws increasing from 20% to 25% the threshold of voting needed to call a special meeting and to two-thirds the threshold to amend by-laws.
It also notes of comments by Fisher that Fisher Board member David Lorber, a co-founder of FrontFour, had taken part in a unanimous vote not to declassify the Fisher Board after stockholders approved a non-binding proposal to do so in 2009, he had only reluctantly agreed after it "became clear that the proposal would otherwise be voted down by the Board and while stating to his fellow Board members that it is and always will be FrontFour's view that staggered boards should be declassified in the spirit of good corporate governance."
It then goes on to say (Again its capitals) that "WE ARE NOT SEEKING TO TAKE CONTROL OF FISHER
"WE ARE SERIOUSLY CONCERNED WITH THE BOARD'S HISTORY OF IGNORING ACQUISITION PROPOSALS THAT COULD MAXIMIZE VALUE."
"FrontFour is not running this election contest to push through a deal with Huntingdon Real Estate Investment Trust," it adds. "That could not be further from the truth. At no point has Mr. Lorber advocated for a deal with Huntingdon or persuaded the Fisher Board to accept Huntingdon's acquisition offer. Mr. Lorber has recused himself from all meetings at both companies regarding Huntingdon's interest in a transaction and only found out about the Huntingdon offer at the same time as the other members of the Fisher Board."
It then goes on, "For the record, FrontFour does not believe that the Huntingdon offer, in its current form, provides full and fair value for your investment in Fisher and is not pushing the Fisher Board to accept this offer. However, when the offer was made it was at a significant premium to the then-current market price, and we believe it was inexcusable for."
The election contest for board members it says is "not about control, but rather a referendum on whether stockholders are satisfied with the performance of the Company under the Board and CEO Colleen Brown."
It then attacks Brown and other members of the board for not putting their money where their mouths are, saying "The truth is that after FrontFour acquired shares in 2010, members of management and the Board commended Mr. Lorber at the time for showing confidence in the Company. On the other hand, the other members of the Board have not been investing much, if any, of their own money in the Company. In fact, the other directors have collectively only purchased a total of 2,099 shares in the past two years. To our knowledge, Ms. Brown has never bought a single share with her own capital. "
Of members of the board other than Brown FrontFour says that none have "relevant real estate experience, which we believe is vital to maximizing the value of the Company's real estate assets" and notes that of them Tony Cassara sits on the board of Fisher competitors Hero Broadcasting and Young Broadcasting, and Roger Ogden, who is one of the Fisher nominees, sits on the board of directors of E.W. Scripps Company, which has interests in broadcast television stations whereas the FrontFour "Board members have proven track records of running businesses and creating value."
RNW comment: "Wouldn't trust as far as you could throw them" came straight to mind as we ploughed through this release. Expect flying kitchen sinks to continue but had we shares in Fisher would certainly be delving more deeply into comparisons with competitors before making any decision and tending to the view that FrontFour does want to break up Fisher by splitting up its real estate and broadcast operations, actions that would not rule out a sale of the real estate to the (rejected) Canadian bidder Huntingdon Trust in which Lorber has an interest.
2011-04-14: The Canadian Broadcast Standards Council (CBSC) has ruled that Quebec City station CHOI-FM breached Canadian Codes in a broadcast in which it attacked a government agency and named its senior employees following an investigative newspaper story.
The Maurais Live morning talk show wrongly identified the agency as the Agence de la santé et des services sociaux de la Capitale-Nationale (Capital City Health and Social Services Agency).
Hosts Dominic Maurais and co-host J.C. Ouellet in the programme concerned referred to "an incredible story of crap government spending, yet again, as shown in a superb investigative piece in the Journal de Montréal, Journal de Québec" ; commented on "civil servants from the Québec City Health Agency" having to spend "training budget otherwise it won't be renewed. That's more or less the usual racket of the Quebec government" and then said they would be "be naming each and every one of" the agency's managers.
The host then began the broadcast of the names of each of the individuals he had said he would name on the air, in most cases identifying the positions they held and sarcastic references about them and also made further references to the alleged CAD 1,400 (USD 1,450) program/travel costs and occasional references to the fact that none of the named individuals could do anything with respect to actual personal medical conditions or operations.
After more references to the agency and the alleged spending, Maurais phoned the Quebec Health Agency and made comments about wanting "to bring you a bit of relaxation this morning. A relaxation and training workshop. So, I just wanted us to relax together, to have a nice day with this music I'm bringing you." The call was ended when the woman at the agency asked if the caller wanted to speak to someone at the agency and on being told no said goodbye.
Following a complaint from the Health Agency CEO to the CBSC, the CEO of CHOI's owners RNC Media [The CBSC refers only to Mr B - The RNC Media website lists the Company's Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer as Pierre R. Brosseau] responded by saying "Le Journal de Montréal reported on Tuesday that in 2009 health agency personnel were given training courses, namely 48-hour silence experiences, at a cost of CAD 1,404.37 per person". In taking up this news, Mr. Maurais' purpose was not to target a single agency, but rather to regionalise that news and take the example of our own agency in Quebec City."
In reference to the reading out of the names, he said, "As the complete list of employees was available on the Agency's website, Mr. Maurais merely read the names in order to show the administrative bulkiness of the health system at a time of glaring need where health services are concerned, of overflowing emergency rooms and of a sore lack of family doctors.
"Our host's intention was to condemn these facts with humour. At no time did he attack anyone personally or otherwise, and we sincerely regret that this situation angered certain members of your agency. "
The complainant was not satisfied by the response and the CBSC Panel agreed that Canadian Codes had been breached, noting that hosts were required to get facts on which they based their opinion right and that in this case the host had go the agency wrong.
It did not accept the attempt to explain away this with the comments that the "purpose was not to target a single agency, but rather to regionalise that news" and further in relation to the naming of individuals commented "there was not the slightest justification or public interest in the revelation of the names of employees of an agency that was itself erroneously targeted in the first place."
It ruled that the broadcast breached Canadian Association of Broadcasters (CAB) Codes relating to fair and proper comments and also invaded the privacy of the individuals it had named.
2011-04-13: The BBC has responded to a call by Members of Parliament on the Foreign Affairs Select Committee for a reversal of cuts to the World Service by saying that if the government in "the light of the FAC report, the Government is prepared to re-open aspects of the Spending Review settlement the BBC will be pleased to engage with them constructively."
It welcomed the Committee's "FAC's strong support for the World Service and the value it brings in promoting British values and providing a widely respected and trusted news service" but added, "It is of course for the Government and Parliament to decide on the priorities for public spending."
The Committee had commented on the long-term "ramifications" for the World Service of the 16% budget cut that had been imposed on it and called for ring-fencing of future funding, questioning whether moving the funding from the Foreign Office to the BBC licence fee by 2014 would improve the budget's security.
The UK Guardian quoted Richard Ottaway, the Conservative MP and committee chairman as saying of the service, "The BBC World Service has been described by Kofi Annan as 'perhaps Britain's greatest gift to the world'" and added "The value of the World Service in promoting the UK across the globe, by providing a widely respected and trusted news service, far outweighs its relatively small cost.,"
"The recent dramatic events in north Africa and the Middle East have shown that the 'soft power' wielded through the World Service could bring even more benefits to the UK in the future than it has in the past, and that to proceed with the planned cuts to the World Service would be a false economy."
Cost savings proposed by the BBC would involve the loss of around 650 jobs from the 2,400 people employed by the service and also cost it around a sixth of its worldwide weekly audience of 180 million (See RNW Jan 26) and he the committee said the cuts should be reversed to keep the budget at around GBP 253 million (USD 383 million) a year: If this cannot be done it wants "damage limitation" including funds to maintain the Hindi and Mandarin services and also an increase in funding to the BBC Arabic services.
Foreign Secretary William Hague responded to the committee's report by noting that the Service "performs an invaluable role, reflecting British democratic values overseas and supporting British influence in the world" but added that like other bodies it had to do its part in reducing the deficit.
"We have spent many months working with the BBC World Service to make sure the budget reductions are manageable," said Hague, adding that "the BBC has been clear that the transfer of funds from the licence fee in 2014/15 will not make the World Service's funding less secure."
UK Guardian report:
2011-04-13: Westwood One, which had delayed reporting its figures from the end of last month because it needed to reach agreement with its lenders and finalise impairment charges (See RNW Apr 4), has reported full year and final quarter 2010 revenues each up 6.5% to USD 362.5 million and USD 98.3 million respectively.
Within the figures it says Network Radio was up 9.8% in the fourth quarter and 7.1% for the full year whilst Metro Traffic was up 2.2% in the quarter and 5.8% for the full year.
Within the Metro Traffic totals Metro Traffic Radio revenue was up 14.3% in the fourth quarter and 9.2% for the full yea but Metro TV was down by 36.8% in the fourth quarter, due to lower ratings and audience levels, and down 4.9% for the full year.
Operating loss for the final quarter was reduced by 2.1% to USD 9.4 million whilst Adjusted EBITDA for the quarter was down from USD 6.1 million to USD 900,000, a fall put down primarily to decline in Adjusted EBITDA of USD 2.4 million for Network Radio, due primarily to investments directly associated with revenue generation, and a decline in Adjusted EBITDA of USD 2.4 million for Metro Traffic, which was primarily the result of decreased revenue in Metro Television.
Net loss for the quarter was up from USD 3.9 million in the final quarter of 2009 to a loss of USD 11.9 million (from a loss of 19 cents to a los of 56 cents per diluted share): the company noted that the year-over-year change in net loss reflects the reduced tax benefit of USD 7.5 million, partially offset by the lower operating loss of USD 0.2 million.
For the full year the operating loss was cut from USD 95.6 million in 2009 to USD 22.0 million, reflecting the 2009 impairment charge of USD 50.5 million, and adjusted EBITDA was up 16.35% to USD 12.1 million with net loss down from USD 82.6 million to USD 31.3 million (From USD 9.51 loss per diluted share to a loss of USD 1.50 per diluted share). The reduction, noted the company, reflected both the 2009 impairment charges and lower restructuring and special charges of USD 15.6 million, partially offset by reduced tax benefits of USD 16.9 million.
Looking ahead the company noted analysts predictions of modest growth for the overall radio industry in 2011 and said it was "optimistic that recent investments in new programming, renewal of key partnerships in Network Radio, and increased distribution in Metro Traffic, coupled with investments in the sales forces of both Network Radio and Metro Traffic, will help increase revenues for the Company for the full year 2011."
President Rod Sherwood commented of the performance, "Our fourth quarter and year end revenue increases reflect our strategy of growing our radio and digital business by launching new programming, expanding our distribution, renewing key content partnerships, and investing in our sales force to support our revenue structure" and also noted restructuring of its TV business that should improve its performance.
Previous Westwood One:
2011-04-12: Cumulus Media has now filed paperwork to divest 14 stations so as to comply with Federal Communications Commission (FCC) market caps on completion of its USD 2.4 billion buyout of Citadel (See RNW Mar 10) that in some cases would take it over the limits and in others lose its "grandfathered" status in a market.
The stations concerned will be put into Volt Radio, a divestiture trust with Scott Knoblauch acting as the Trustee. They are (In order of state of market):
Alabama -Adult standards WNZZ-FM, Montgomery (Cumulus)
Arkansas - Fayetteville station Hot AC KYNF-FM, Prairie Grove
Georgia - Rock WROK-FM, Macon and Savannah Urban AC station WTYB-FM, Tybee Island (Both Cumulus).
Mississippi - Columbus sports station WKOR-AM, Starkville (Cumulus).
Missouri - Kansas City station KMJK-FM (Cumulus)
New York: Hot Adult WELJ-FM, Montauk (Citadel).
Pennsylvania - Harrisburg stations - Country WCAT-FM, Carlisle (Citadel) and WWKL-FM, Palmyra (Cumulus).
South Carolina - Myrtle Beach stations Sports-talk WJXY-FM, Conway and CHR WXJY-FM, Georgetown (Both Cumulus)
Tennessee: Nashville stations Classic hits WRQQ-FM, Belle Meade (Cumulus) and CHR WNFN-FM, Millersville (Cumulus).
Texas: Talk KKLF-AM, Richardson.
2011-04-12: Fisher Communications has written to its shareholders asking that they vote for its slate of directors at its 2011 Annual Meeting and reject the four nominees put forward by hedge fund FrontFour Capital Group, which has been pushing the company to accept various takeover bids.
In its letter Fisher accuses FrontFour of trying to take control of the company for a short-term gain at the expense of other shareholders and making inaccurate and misleading statements to bolster its case.
Fisher notes that sitting director David Lorber is a member of the Board of Trustees of the Canadian-based Huntingdon Real Estate Investment Trust that last year made an unsolicited offer for Fisher at an implied offer price of only USD 23.99 per share in cash and Huntingdon shares adding that he criticized the Fisher Board over its rejection of the bid only for the markets to value Fisher at around 25% above the bid (A closing price of USD 29.86 on April 11 is noted in the letter but down 3.68% on April 12 to close at USD 28.76).
Fisher says its Board ", including Mr. Lorber, was very well informed about Fisher's value at that time."
FrontFour's ownership interest in Huntingdon, and the affiliation of Mr. George (Zachary George is Lorber's co-founding partner of FrontFour, which is the largest shareholder of Huntingdon) and Mr. Lorber with Huntingdon," says the letter "create a direct conflict of interest between its (and Mr. Lorber's) interests and the interests of our other shareholders."
It goes on to say, "You should also note that FrontFour has not been a long-term significant Fisher shareholder. Instead, it is a hedge fund that is focused on reaping a significant short-term gain "and that "FrontFour is seeking to gain control of Fisher without any control premium being offered to the rest of the shareholders."
FrontFour if successful, says the letter, intends "to initiate a sale process for the Company. It would be doing so at a time when valuations of broadcasting stocks remain near the bottom of the market."
It then goes on to say that FrontFour has deliberately provided a misleading picture of Fisher's performance, citing earlier poor performance but omitting more recent - and more positive- results and also in criticizing the Board omitted to mention that Lorber has been part of a unanimous vote for the action criticized.
2011-04-12: The BBC's Head of News, Helen Boaden, has told the Voice of the Listener and Viewer (VLV) Spring Conference that she expects some sharing of programming by BBC local radio stations: She also said the practice of sending star names to the scene of a breaking news story has at times been a "Waste of money" and indicated that the BBC may change its practices.
She also spoke of the challenges the Corporation faces with the licence free frozen for the next five years and new obligations to meet and quoted Dickens' Micawber on bringing "expenditure in line with our income", something that she said meant "new savings" had to be found.
(RNW Note: The Micawber comment is in David Copperfield -
"Annual income 20 pounds, annual expenditure 19 pounds 19 and six, result happiness.
"Annual income 20 pounds, annual expenditure 20 pounds ought and six, result misery.")
Boaden began her speech at the conference - "Risking Quality in Times of Change - what future for Public Service Broadcasting?'" with references to the BBC's motto, "Nation shall speak peace unto nation" and also to Micawber before going on to comment on the cuts the BBC would have to make, noting that 16% "efficiencies will balance the books, but would leave us nothing left to invest in new content. So we're aiming for 20 per cent efficiencies in the parts of the BBC which create the content. "
She also potentially upset some traditionalists by then saying, ". Gone is the day when Lord Reith could comment: 'Accused of setting out to give the public not what it wanted but what the BBC thought it should have, the answer was that few knew what they wanted, fewer what they needed.'"
She then said there was no point in "cutting indiscriminately" and went on to comment on pressures on the Corporation including those from politicians - "at varying degrees of volume and politeness" - and noted that " politicians, of whatever party, embrace the BBC's independence in theory - but have occasional difficulties in practice, especially when they're in power. So I'm afraid that as Director of News, I've got used to the sound of incoming fire."
She noted in particular criticism of a Panorama TV a Panorama programme alleging corruption among FIFA officials - ahead of the World Cup vote -and accusations that in broadcasting it the BBC was being "unpatriotic ", albeit afterwards "80 per cent of the public backed the BBC for broadcasting the programme. And even a member of the 2018 bid team said we'd been right to do it when we did. (RNW comment: the fact that any of the craven self-serving sports bid representatives thought corruption should be covered up to protect a bid seems to us a damn good reason to prohibit any public expenditure on attracting major sporting events as opposed to providing sporting facilities for the public in general. These people in general, as with too many sporting heroes deserve to be looked down on rather than considered role models.)
Looking ahead to a possible easing of UK regulatory requirements that require impartiality in news reporting, Boaden went on to say that if it is allowed the practice will be eschewed by the BBC, which will "do everything it can to maintain and strengthen its tradition of impartial journalism."
This took her on to a need for the BBC, whose practices had grown piecemeal, to re-examine the way it was organized as well as to make difficult choices regarding spending: In this context she noted, "Local radio audiences vary significantly during the day. For the past year, we've been improving the resourcing of all our Breakfast shows on local radio because we know this matters to our audiences. They want consistently high quality local news, sport, weather and information."
To protect these shows, she said, the Corporation has to consider whether it should "radio stations to intelligently share output in the low audience periods of the day like mid-afternoons?" and to ask, "Across all of radio, are we doing too much on too many services? What is the role of the News Channel as we head to 2016? How does it fit with our mobile and online news services?
. we can't continue to do everything in the way we are currently doing it and save the money we need to save. We have to try to match our journalism to our budget and to our audience's expectations. And that will be hard."
In relation to the World Service Boaden noted the cuts that had to be made and said the Corporation had "tried to focus on parts of world where the BBC is needed most; where access to free and impartial news is most limited; where our global perspective is not offered by local news providers we decided that the only way to sustain our services, and to cope with the savings, is to share content more effectively across the BBC - and to invest where we can in the distinctive journalism that audiences most want from us.
"For many of our audiences - for instance in Somalia and Burma - we will continue to produce a highly localised offer. But in other markets, the BBC delivers global newsgathering and expertise - which local news providers can't do. So a significant shift to a greater proportion of global journalism makes audience and economic sense."
Answering questions after her speech, Boaden said of the practice of flying name anchors to the scene of a major news story had sometimes with hindsight been a "waste of money".
In some cases, she said it was justified and the practice would continue, citing as a recent example the hosting of the Radio 4 breakfast "Today" programme from Japan by Jim Naughtie.
On local radio she said the idea that stations might share content with Radio 5 Live, Boaden said that it was an idea put up internally that "came and went" but said the principle of sharing some output would emerge but that she "would be very nervous about sharing morning programmes - the common conversation in your area happens much more through those morning programmes than it does in the afternoon" and added, "You have to be careful in the evenings as well - local sport is a massively important glue, it is part of the place where you live. That is why I use the word intelligently. You have to do it thoughtfully."
Also speaking at the conference - on the topic of BBC radio services - was BBC Trustee David Liddiment who summarized the Trust's recent reviews of BBC Radios 3, 4, and 7 and in particular commented on the ageing demographic for BBC Radio 4 - the percentage of its audience between 35 and 54 he noted had fallen from 33% in 2000 to 26% last year.
The BBC Trust he said was "not telling Radio 4 that it has to actively target younger audiences. You will not wake up tomorrow to find Chris Moyles presenting the Today programme!... Nor do we want to reduce Radio 4's intelligence, analysis or ambition."
Regarding changes the Trust had suggested to all services Liddiment said "We expect any changes to be made sensitively, and with the appropriate level of respect for those very qualities that audiences already love, to ensure that services stay relevant, exciting and distinctive."
RNW Note: In its "Work Plan" for 2011-12, which was made public at the beginning of this month, the BBC Trust set out its intentions regarding the implementation of the BBC licence fee settlement and cuts that will result from it.
It split costs savings into those that "do not affect the BBC's output but reduce its cost base" and those that "impact directly on output" and also noted that it had asked the UK's National Audit Office (NAO) to undertake two "value for money" studies.
These would be on a "Continuous improvement programme" and "Management of overheads."
The Trust has already overruled the BBC Executive over some cuts, most notably reversing the plan to axe the BBC6 digital radio station.
RNW comment: In the ultimate analysis the idea of having an anchor - in effect a parrot with a name that reads words in essence put together by somebody else, particularly on TV, seems to us to depend more on the Hollywood idea of Star names than on informing an audience. We can see strong arguments for it in that it does draw attention to the importance of the event and also may - particularly if resources are put in to allow an anchor who is capable of this to take a break to do some reporting before first going on air from the location - produce stronger reporting overall on the event. When the story is a one-day wonder, however, we think little if anything is added to the information count - it's all about the celebrity one.
BBC Trust 2011-12 Work Plan (10-page 156 kb PDF):
2011-04-12: The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) has approved the merger of Sirius and XM's operations in Canada, which is to be effected through the merger of XM Canada and Sirius Canada into a new company, controlled by Canadian Satellite Radio Holdings Inc (CSRHI).
The holdings in the new company will be approximately 30% Canadian Satellite Radio Holdings Inc (CSRI Inc. - the Canadian joint venture formed with XM to provide XM's satellite radio services in Canada) in Canada; CBC/Radio-Canada (20.2% voting interest); Slaight Communications (20.2% voting interest) and Sirius XM Radio Inc. (25.0% voting interest) and at the time the merger was approved by CSRI Inc. shareholders in February Executive chairman John Bitove said it expected "synergies" of around CAD 20 million (then USD 20.3 million) a year within 18 months of closing (See RNW Feb 18 ). The companies had put forward the merget in November last year (See RNW Nov 25, 2010).
The CRTC has also administratively renewed the broadcasting licences for the Sirius Canada and XM Canada satellite subscription radio services from 1 September 2011 to 31 August 2012 and says it will discuss the implementation of the terms and commitments set out in this decision as well as the licensees' compliance with its conditions of licence as part of the licence renewal proceeding.
These include a tangible benefits exemption because the merging companies have been unprofitable over the three years preceding the filing date of the application; intangible benefits that include a commitment by the applicants to provide a substantial amount of Aboriginal programming on at least one service before the expiration of the current licence term; not to increase to the undiscounted monthly rate for their basic subscription packages prior to 31 December 2011, with any increase in this rate to not apply to existing customers as of that date until 31 August 2012; to make available to subscribers of either XM Canada or Sirius Canada the same "best of" package of audio programming as is currently offered by Sirius XM in the U.S. ; to make reasonable efforts to offer subscribers of either service the ability to subscribe to the content on the existing online media player of either company; and to make reasonable efforts to import interoperable radios capable of receiving both the XM and Sirius services, and offer those for sale as soon as practicable.
The CRTC commented that although this would mean Canada would now have only one Satellite Subscription Radio service, the "potential for significant public detriment stemming from the proposed merger is mitigated by the availability of alternative sources of audio programming and content, including pre-recorded digital audio, terrestrial radio, and the increasing availability of content from Internet sources delivered to smartphones, in-vehicle entertainment systems, Internet radios, personal computers and other networked devices."
There are also requirements concerning independent directors and conditions under which Sirius XM can veto some decisions, prohibiting broadcast of local content, and a six minute per hour cap on national commercials on Canadian-produced channels.
The CRTC also noted that CSR and Sirius Canada had apparently failed to comply with some of their licence conditions in relation to CTD (Canadian Talent Development) and that CSR had also acknowledged apparent non-compliance in relation to the division of contributions between English-language and French-language initiatives. CSR had also acknowledged the CTD non-compliance but Sirius Canada argued that it carried over shortfalls and paid them the following year and thus remained in compliance. Sirius had also argued that activation revenues should be excluded when calculating CTD payments.
The CRTC rejected the arguments on these points but will allow contributions for the 2010-2011 and 2011-2012 broadcast years to be based on the applicants' previous year's revenue.
The two satellite companies issued a statement welcoming the decision and Mark Redmond, President and CEO of both Sirius Canada and the merged entity said, "This decision will lead to the creation of a stronger combined organization, better equipped to innovate and compete in the broader audio entertainment marketplace."
"We are pleased," he continued "that the CRTC recognized the clear benefits derived from this merger. This is an exciting time for SIRIUS|XM Canada, and we look forward to continuing to offer a world-class entertainment experience for our current and future subscribers."
CSR Executive Chairman John Bitove said the approval was "great news for our subscribers, shareholders, employees and partners, keeping us on track for completing this transaction by June."
CSR also noted that last month Canada's Competition Bureau had issued a No-Action Letter under the Competition Act, and announced that it did not intend to make an application to the Competition Tribunal to challenge the proposed merger.
Previous Sirius Canada:
Previous Sirius XM:
Previous XM Canada/CSR:
2011-04-11: BBC Radio 2 and 6 Music Controller Bob Shennan in an interview with the UK Guardian newspaper has defended Radio 2 against criticism from both the BBC Trust and commercial rivals and has also expressed scepticism over switching off analogue transmissions.
Radio 2, the station that has the UK's largest audience, commented of suggestions that he was chasing a younger audience and calls by the BBC Trust to include more comedy and documentaries and also reverse a decline in listeners aged 65 (See RNW Feb 15, 2010) and above by denying that he was trying to attract a younger demographic and adding that he had already made moves on the other issues.
"I would maintain that we have made Radio 2 even more distinctive," Shennan told the paper, asking "Which commercial radio station is launching a children's writing competition in their breakfast show to bring 50 kids to the Hay Festival [as Chris Evans has done]?" and continuing "We are doing stand-up comedy awards on Steve Wright's show, Simon Mayo's launched a book club in drivetime. I don't think there are any of those on [Global Radio's commercial network] Heart."
In an implicit criticism of commercial station practices he noted that Evans played six Matt Monro songs in one programme and added, "What we don't do is test music to find out what we think the audience loves then feed it to them remorselessly. We lead tastes, we don't pander to them."
Shennan also noted that the average age of the station's audience was 51 as it had been five years ago and was sceptical about the switch to digital - originally touted as to take place in 2015 (RNW Note - An idea that has now been dropped - See RNW Apr 6 - and which was always nonsensical in view of the conditions set as prerequisites for a switchover: A good reason to either ignore in future or fire where possible all of those who pushed the propaganda line on this).
"The feeling was that 2015 was ambitious," said Shennan. "What's clear is that we are going to be in a hybrid world for some time. This is a slower process than television [switchover] and we will live in a multiplatform world for the foreseeable future."
Figures show that Radio 2 has a lower percentage of listening via digital platforms (21.1%) than the industry as a whole (25%) and BBC radio (25.5%) and Shennan declined to put a figure on how much of the listening would have to be digital before he would consider switching off the analogue signal: "Obviously I have to look after the interests of my audience and not just wilfully deprive them of something whilst encouraging them to move towards digital. That's the balance we've got to strike," he said. "We are not quite sure where that tipping point is. We'd need to be really confident that we could migrate our audience."
UK Guardian report:
2011-04-11: The US National Radio Systems Committee (NRSC) has adopted an updated version of its FM-subcarrier based data broadcasting system standard that governs the transmission of data on US radio signals.
The new standard, NRSC-4-B includes only those sections which differ from the European version of the Standard, IEC 62106, Specification of the Radio Data System (RDS) for VHF/FM sound broadcasting in the frequency range from 87.5 to 108.0 MHz.
It was developed by the Radio Broadcast Data System (RBDS) Subcommittee's RDS Usage Working Group (RUWG) and the Group says it expects this new, more concise version to simplify design and development of compatible devices by transmission equipment and receiver manufacturers. In addition NRSC-4-B, it notes, includes some new "Program Type (PTY)" codes which better reflect some of the new programming choices available to listeners.
Milford Smith, Vice President, Radio Engineering with Greater Media and NRSC Chairman, said in a news release, "The proliferation in the implementation and use of RBDS since the original NRSC standard-setting effort has been nothing short of spectacular with title and artist information, music tagging, dissemination of real time traffic information and the like adding exciting new features and content as an adjunct to FM broadcasts. With this latest revision of the US standard and its much tighter integration with the European RDS standard, it is anticipated that RBDS will see even greater and more creative use as the revised standard makes the design of multinational receivers a considerably less intimidating process, encouraging consumer electronics manufacturers and software developers to explore even more imaginative uses of the service.
2011-04-10: Last week the main issue affecting the regulators was not so much one of regulation but of the US budget where failure to agree made it look as if the US might be without funds for government, leading to plans by various agencies, including the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to plan how they would shut down (See RNW Apr 9): Elsewhere things were quiet with the week being one where there were no significant radio-related postings from Canada or Ireland and only one from Australia.
There the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) made one radio posting, a ruling that Victoria community station 3WPR-FM, Wangaratta, has breached codes of practice on complaint handling and also the availability of policies and procedures (See RNW Apr 8).
In the UK, Ofcom posted its latest Broadcast Bulletin, upholding no radio complaints (See RNW April 4). The agency also published its Annual Plan which sets out its priorities for 2011/12.
Most attention goes to broadband and telecommunications issues as well as the savings the agency is to make in its costs (Ssee RNW Licence News April 3). Broadcasting gets only a short mention in the list of priorities - to "Implement streamlined broadcasting standards procedures"
Apart from mentions of representing UK interests in various International issues including attendance at the World Radio Conference to take place in January-February next year and of broadcasting compliance issues, the main references to UK radio relate to the continued licensing of broadcasters, including inviting applications for a third round of community stations, and the move towards digital radio.
Regarding the last Ofcom says it proposes to "publish the second annual Digital Progress Report for Radio in the first quarter of 2011/12." And also notes that the "government's Digital Radio Action Plan also asks Ofcom to consider and identify future uses for any vacated MW and FM spectrum in the event of radio switchover."
It says it expects to begin work on this during 2011/12 and says that during the year it will "complete its work leading a coverage planning process to report to government on how DAB coverage can be increased to reach FM equivalence."
Regarding commercial analogue radio it notes arguments from the industry for it to broaden its approach to include the whole licensing process.
In the US, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) as already noted (See RNW Apr 9) posted details of its shutdown plans should there be no agreement on the US budget and it had to furlough most employees although a last minute agreement between party leaders should avoid this.
Earlier in the week it had launched a beta version of its new website (See RNW Apr 6).
The FCC was also active on the enforcement front, levying a USD 10,000 fine at the end of the week on an Oklahoma low-power FM for interrupting its programming with unauthorized commercial announcements and also operating at a greater antenna height than authorized (See RNW Apr 9).
In Vermont it entered into a Consent Decree with Vermont State Colleges, licensee of WVTC-FM, Randolph Center, in relation to breaches of rules relating to the keeping of a station's public file; timely filing of licence renewal applications and unauthorized operation, and filing of ownership reports.
Under the agreement Vermont State Colleges will pay a penalty of USD 8,500 and also set up a Compliance Plan, running for three years.
In radio licensing decisions, the agency has granted an application from the Catholic Social Club of Putnam County Tennessee, Inc. (CSC) for a construction permit for a new, non-commercial educational (NCE) FM at Cookeville, rejecting a petition to deny the award from Roane State Community College and mutually exclusive applications for the permit from Cookeville Christian Broadcasting and four other parties.
The petition from Roane State College had argued for dismissal of the CSC application because the CSC had not submitted any evidence of its as opposed to CSC, is the real party in interest in the CSC Application; and that the CSC made a false statement of a material fact regarding whether it is entitled for credit as an "established local entity." The CSC responded by saying all three points made were incorrect.
The agency had initially dismissed the CSC Application because it would cause prohibited overlap with the protected service contours of two other Tennessee stations - WZYZ-FM), Spencer, Te, and WDVX-FM, Clinton- but then accepted a petition for reconsideration that included technical changes that removed the overlap.
Cookeville Christian Broadcasting, whose application had been dismissed, after Sloane filed its petition had argued that the dismissal was premature and the FCC. The FCC agreed that the application should not have been dismissed until a ruling was made on the Sloane petition but said that this was a "harmless error" in view of the dismissal of the Sloane petition.
Previous Licence News:
Ofcom Annual Plan (278 KB 47-page PDF).
2011-04-10: Marks for honesty but not timekeeping or professionalism to British DJ - and BBC Radio Five Live Sports Host - Chris Evans on Saturday Night: He was due to host the Third round coverage of the Masters gold from Augusta on the station but did not turn up at 21:00 when the programme started because he hadn't remembered at what time the show began.(RNW note - In all this runs around 4 hours and it's a bit difficult to go back and forward accurately in the stream with longer programmes)
Instead co-host Iain Carter began the show by commenting, "And a very good evening from Augusta Now the more observant of you will have notice that this is either a stunning impersonation of Iain Carter from Chris Evans or that this isn't Chris Evans at all "
Carter then went on to say they hoped he would be there, that they "didn't know where he is" it wouldn't be the first time Evans had been late (he was notable for poor timekeeping when on the Radio 1 breakfast show) and suggest that he had been out watching the golf and if you get caught up in the bottleneck from the course you may be stuck and not make it in time. He also noted that mobile devices were banned on the course so there was no way to contact Evans.
Carter and the other presenters then went on to report on the Masters until around 22 minutes into the show they chatted about what Evan's excuse would be when he did turn up, adding and said he was having "plenty of time" to think of one.
Some two minutes later they speculated that Evans would say he thought the show began at nine-thirty and that he was "loping in now...he's giggling, he's smiling": Evans apologized rather breathlessly to his co-hosts and admitting he forgot about the time the show began.
"Is this a rehearsal," asked Evans, and was told they were on "live". Evans told Nine-o-clock" said, "No way. I thought it was ten-o-clock I apologise profusely. I ran in from where I was - well, I did the Augusta shuffle I had no idea we started at 9pm. I was in the foyer having a water and a chat."
Asked why he was out of breath Evans said his producer had told him he was due on air and he had run up the stairs from the foyer. Evans asked what he had been doing said "watching the golf! That's what we came to do" and then went on, "How's it going anyway? I had such a great introduction written and everything. Oh well. I'm here now."
BBC Masters programme for which Evans was late (available until Apr 16):
2011-04-09: The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has issued a USD 10,000 forfeiture to an Oklahoma low-power FM for interrupting its programming with unauthorized commercial announcements and also operating at a greater antenna height than authorized.
The FCC had issued a Notice of Apparent Liability for Forfeiture (NAL) in this amount in July last year to Enid Public Radio Association, licensee of low-power FM station KEIF-LP, Enid, noting that in a petition to deny renewal of KEIF's licence Chisholm Trail Broadcasting Co. had demonstrated that the licensee was operating with an antenna higher than authorized, and further was wilfully and repeatedly broadcasting unauthorized commercial announcements (See RNW Licence News Jul 18, 2010)
KEIF had, said the FCC, not disputed the findings or argued for reduction or cancellation of the forfeiture, which was accordingly confirmed.
The FCC has also posted on its web site details of how it plans to close down should there be failure to agree on a budget for the U.S., in which case it will close down "all FCC activities other than those immediately necessary for the protection of life or property will cease."
*Update: For the moment, at least, there is a budget agreement between party leaders but presumably the plans hold should there be a subsequent failure to vote the budget through.
2011-04-08: Although there was still a small increase overall on a year ago in Australian metropolitan radio revenues, figures for March issued by industry body Commercial Radio Australia show a significant slowdown with growth in only the two main markets of Sydney and Melbourne and falls in the others.
Overall according to the 2011 Metropolitan Commercial Radio Advertising Revenue, as sourced by Deloitte, the revenues were up 0.3% to AUD 59.34 million (USD 62.75 million) with Sydney up 2.33% to AUD 19.39 million (USD 20.48 million) and Melbourne up 1.78% to AUD 17.63 million (USD 18.64 million).
Perth then fell by 0.77% to AUD 7.82 million (USD 8.26 million) with Brisbane, which was hit by flooding in January, down 2.33% to AUD 9.22 million (USD 9.75 million) and Adelaide down 5.19% to AUD 5.29 million (USD 5.59 million).
For the first nine months of the current financial year the revenues are now up 6.73% on a year earlier.
Previous Australian radio revenue figures:
Previous Commercial Radio Australia:
2011-04-08: Clear Channel Chairman of Media and Entertainment Platforms Bob Pittman has told the Ad Age Digital Conference that digital radio, which accounts for only 3% of total listening so far, is the radio industry's greatest opportunity.
Pittman also noted the strength of radio, citing figures from Edison Research and Arbitron that showed Americans spending 2.1 hours a day listening to it, below the 3.1 hours for TV but above the figures for the internet of 1.9 hours and well ahead of the half-hour spent with newspapers. Despite this, he said, the cost per thousand listeners for radio was disproportionately below that for the cost per thousand viewers to TV - USD 5.35 on average compared to USD 12 whilst a direct correlation would take the figure up to USD 7.9.
Ad Age in its report on Pittman's comments, quoted him as saying, "We have work to do. We actually have to make the digital revolution come to radio. This allows us to get in front of it, not let it happen to us but let it drive us. There are real benefits to the radio business and to our listeners."
Pittman, it adds, is betting that investment in digital will bridge the gap between radio and TV and it noted Clear Channel's purchase of streaming-music service Thumbplay (See RNW Mar 2) to compete more directly with Pandora, CBS' last.FM, Spotify and other online radio players.
It also quoted him as stressing the importance of the local element at radio, commenting of his time at AOL, where he was COO, "When I was at AOL, we tried to spend a lot of time getting to local. That was our nirvana. Radio is our nirvana. Not only is it targeted to specific audiences that hang together in a lot of characteristics, there is an emotional attachment to radio. Four in five listeners will be disappointed if their favourite station was no longer on the air."
Commenting on his this could aid radio's online activities, he said, "We have a social connection, which adds a whole other layer. Radio really does have a tribe that wants to talk to each other."
RNW comment: The fact that digital has a very low share of listening to radio in the US seems to us almost irrelevant to its prospects for growth - the same logic could apply to horse and buggy sales as a form of transport. The question that needs to be addressed is why advertisers prefer to spend on various media and how far radio can increase their perception of its value. On this we would also suggest more work needs to be done on the ways in which advertising campaigns across various media are more effective than concentration on a single one.
Previous Clear Channel:
Ad Age report:
2011-04-08: The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has ruled that Victoria community station 3WPR-FM, Wangaratta, has breached codes of practice on complaint handling and also the availability of policies and procedures.
Licensee Wangaratta Community Radio Associations inc. was cleared of breaching codes relating t the principles of diversity and independence and some codes relating to complaints handling.
The ACMA had investigated after a complainant said 3WPR had breached Australia's Community Radio Codes by not providing copies of its policy documents as requested and not making every reasonable effort to resolve his concerns.
3WPR in response had said that the complainant had been a member of the station for more than 19 years, queries why he had not complained before, and alleged he was "firing bullets made by another member of the station."
It did admit that it did not know of changes that had been made to the Code but that the station's Policies and Procedures document were freely available for anyone to read at their convenience.
The ACMA however ruled that as 3WPR had not informed the complainant that the document was freely available, it had breached codes and also that being unaware of a change did not provide a valid reason for the ACMA to find that there had not been a breach.
It noted that the station had taken action to update its documents and procedures but gave details of further changes needed to bring it into compliance and said it would liaise with the station concerning these.
2011-04-07: The appointments of (Lord) Chris Patten as Chairman of the BBC Trust and of Diane Coyle as its Vice-Chairman have now been confirmed. The posts pay GBP 110,000 (USD 180,000) and GBP 70,610 (USD 115,000) a year respectively and Patten will take up his post in May when current Trust Chairman Sir Michael Lyons steps down.
Patten, a former Chairman of the Conservative Party and the final Governor of Hong Kong before it was returned to China, is currently Chancellor of the University of Oxford and a Conservative member of the House of Lords: He had said that if elected he would resign the party whip and sit as a cross-bencher.
Patten said of his appointment in a BBC Trust news release, "The BBC is among our greatest national institutions and a key part of British cultural identity, at home and abroad. It is a privilege to take on the Chairmanship and to play a part in helping the BBC realise the vision of public service and public value which are at the core of its mission."
Coyle, an economic consultant who is currently a Trust member, said "As we navigate a route through the changes in audience behaviour in a fully digital world, I look forward to leading our work in ensuring the BBC stays firmly focused on delivering public value from the services it provides."
Current Trust Chairman Sir Michael Lyons added, "I welcome Lord Patten as he takes over the Chairmanship of the BBC Trust. I am confident he will be a strong defender of licence fee payers' interests and I wish him well. I would also like to congratulate Diane for her expanded role, which properly reflects her contribution to the Trust since its inception."
2011-04-07: Westwood One, which earlier this week said that it was delaying the filing of its Annual report because it is negotiating its debt and finalizing impairment charges (See RNW Apr 4) has now announced that it has reached an agreement in principle with its lenders.
The agreement, it adds, "remains subject to execution of definitive documentation with the lenders" but would allow amendment of the debt covenants to "to provide the Company with additional financial flexibility going forward."
Westwood says it "It remains focused on its business strategy of providing the best level of programming and service in the industry to its affiliate and advertising customers" and President Rod Sherwood said of the agreement in principle, "This is a positive development for the Company and demonstrates our lenders willingness to work with us as we continue to grow our radio and digital businesses in 2011 and beyond."
At the time it said the annual report would be delayed, Westwood One said that unless to reached agreement on debt amendments "there will be substantial doubt about our ability to continue as a going concern."
Previous Westwood One:
2011-04-06: Ford Ennals, the former chief executive of digital TV switchover body Digital UK who now has the same role at Digital Radio UK (aka Get Digital Radio) , the company overseeing digital radio switchover in the UK, has told a digital radio conference he was sorry about confusion over the date at which most UK analogue stations are to be turned off.
Ennals, reports the UK Guardian, distanced himself from the 2015 target date set two years ago and said he would no longer refer to it in public although he continued to maintain that there switchover would happen in the "near future" and said it was feasible that it still might take place by 2015.
The conditions that are required before a switch are that DAB digital radio should be the same as for current FM and that more than half listening should be digital: The former will require spending around GBP 100 million (USD 160 million) on transmitters and commercial radio companies have expressed reluctance to spend on DAB infrastructure whilst the BBC, although it may offer to contribute, is cash-strapped because of a six-year freeze in its licence fee and is having to make cuts. Government funding is likely to be on offer but only to cover around a sixth of the cost.
Sales of digital radio receivers in the UK fell last year to 1.94 million compared to 1.99 million in 2009 and 2.08 million in 2008 and last month William Rogers, the chief executive of local radio operator UKRD Group and one of the commercial radio sceptics about DASB, said that the 2015 date was dead in the water.
Extra government funding, he said would make no difference and although there would be some kind of future switchover "there isn't a cat in hell's chance of it being in 2015. That date is dead in the water, and we all need to wake up to that fact."
Andrew Harrison, the chief executive of commercial radio trade body, the Radio Centre, was also sceptical about the timing of any switch: He noted that so far DAB reached only some 80% of the UK population, far short of the required target and continued, "Clearly if people can't receive digital radio at all, or if the signal is patchy, then any speculation about a digital future is completely fanciful" although he said he remained confident about consumer take-up if coverage issues were solved.
There has also been significant criticism of the quality of the UK DAB system that used MP2 encoding - as opposed to the AAC coding used in DAB+, and the Guardian quoted Mark Rock, the founder and chief executive of sound-sharing application Audioboo, as saying, "Radio seems to be the only industry that is moving towards digital with more expensive technology that is inferior quality."
RNW comment: From a consumer point f view, it seems to us that the case for any switchover. Commercial companies have little that is worthwhile offering that can economically be better provided via DAB than online and via mobile devices advantages and technologically DAB offers only some advantages in terms of interference over FM but not improved quality as the broadcasters opted to go for more channels rather than better quality.
That decision seemed sensible when taken but the availability of the internet whilst on the move has undermined arguments for DAB in terms of choice and quality and the cost of receiving so many receivers cannot be justified for many consumers who are adequately served by current analogue ones.
We have come round to the view that the determinant here should be the consumer not the industry and market forces should be the ultimate arbiter.
This we suspect (and as the possessors of half a dozen DAB/FM receivers as well as quality AM/FM/SW ones, we have if anything an interest in the continuation of DAB) would mean that DAB would go into decline but it does not make sense to force millions of households to spend hundreds of millions on new receivers for little extra choice and no real quality gain when other technologies can do this on the basis of mobile devices people choose to spend their money on.
The best move forward would be to dispense of Ennal's pontificating services as cheaply as possible - his role isn't worth the minimum wage in our view - and tell commercial radio that it's up to them whether they want to provide digital as well as analogue but not kill the latter. As for the BBC, existing digital stations over and above simulcasts of analogue, are beginning to attract reasonable audiences and should be retained along with analogue transmissions until people choose to make a move themselves to DAB. We now doubt that they will.
Previous Digital Radio UK/Get Digital Radio:
UK Guardian report:
2011-04-06: Boston radio host Jay Severin's penchant for statements that outrage many seems to have finally cost him his highly-paid career following his dismissal by Greater Media, a week after he was suspended from afternoon drive on WTTK-FM, Boston.
Severin, who was suspended "indefinitely" two years ago after he made reference to Mexican immigrants as "criminaliens," "primitives," "leeches," and exporters of "women with moustaches and VD " (See RNW May 2, 2009) but then returned to the airwaves a month later (See RNW May 30, 2009) was suspended last week when he said, as the Boston Herald put it "that as a former business owner, he had hired 'mostly attractive young women' and had sex with nearly all of them over two decades.
The paper says Severin made the comments while defending American Apparel chief Dov Charney, who is being sued for sexual harassment by several female ex-employees and called those women "whores" and liars," according to audio it has of his broadcast.
He then said of his own exploits, "I slept with virtually every young college girl I hired to be an intern or an employee for my firm. That's not the purpose for which they were hired, but it certainly was an ancillary dimension of the job. I don't think of myself as a monster or strange in any way because of that. All I was was a young man who was the boss and I did it because I could."
NowPublic.com reported that in connection with his own activities, Severin also said, "Those girls that got to sleep with me got to know their boss better, they got to go on trips, they got to travel in some cases to various parts of the world, to see things and meet people that they never would have seen or done...These were not whores. These were Ivy League graduates, young women or interns from Ivy League institutions who were interested in politics and government.
"We'd have drinks together at the end of the day and we'd spend the night together. I should feel badly about that?"
Great Media in a statement by Heidi Raphael, Vice President of Corporate Communications, said, "Greater Media today ended its relationship with Jay Severin. Our company has always encouraged a free and open dialogue on a variety of issues and topics, and we will continue to be guided by that principle. But we also demand that our on-air talent maintain an appropriate level of civility, and adhere to a standard that respects our listeners and the public at large."
It went on, "Jay Severin has been an important part of what we have accomplished with 96.9 WTKK-FM since its inception in 2000 and for that we are grateful and wish him well in future endeavours. Unfortunately, it had become clear at several points in the past two years that Jay was either unwilling or unable to maintain our standards on the air. It's for that reason we have made the decision to end our relationship.
"In the interim, Michael Bower will be assuming the on-air duties from 2 to 6 p.m. each day on WTKK while we review our long-term programming plans for that time slot."
The Herald said that Severin, who had a seven-year contract running to 2013 -- reported to be around USD 1 million a year - had refused comment on the affair, saying in an e-mail, "under the circumstances I regret to say that I am not at liberty to offer you any insight or comment."
The Boston Globe said that Severin's attorneys George Tobia and Laura Studen did comment, saying that the reason the host was fired was financial - since Arbitron's Portable People Meter (PPM) ratings were introduced, Severin's ratings have fallen and in February he was ranked 16th with a 2.3 share among the key 25 to 54-year-old listeners.
Studen commented, "It's pretty transparent that this is no more than the station's interest in saving money. Jay's the highest paid guy at the station and they have a ratings problem, so they look at his contract. Jay's going to pursue all of his rights under his contract. He was terminated for no cause. This is a thinly veiled attempt to get out from under his contract."
A similar line was taken by Michael Harrison, publisher of Talkers magazine, who told the Globe, "I'd guess it was a business decision. If you have a controversial host, you have to put up with a lot of heat from special-interest groups and, sometimes, the FCC. If the host is worth it, you keep him or suspend him. But when the heat outweighs the benefits, you get rid of him, and I'd say that's what happened in this case."
Harrison also said that the culture of talk radio had changed, commenting, "There's less tolerance for frivolous, insulting, or offensive behaviour."
The Globe adds that although Greater Media would not add to the statement, a "person close to the decision to fire Severin" said his salary had little to do with the decision to terminate him and added, "This was quite simply about a guy who ran out of second chances, and just couldn't maintain basic civility on the air. It's not about money. They will lose advertisers who believed in and supported Jay. But it was the only credible and honest way to deal with it."
RNW comment: We suspect Harris on has a point and wonder if Severin would have been booted had he been topping the ratings but at the same time doubt that his law suit will go far. Greater Media would have had to be rather incompetent not to have had clauses that allowed it to fire a host who pushed things too far. Whatever happens, we doubt he'll ever get a deal close to his current one again.
Previous Greater Media:
Boston Herald report:
Boston Globe report:
2011-04-06: The latest edition of Arbitron-Edison Media's Infinite Dial series says that the percentage of Americans aged 12 and older has more than doubled over the past year and that more than half of Americans in this group use Facebook - up from only 8% in 2008 when the companies first recorded social media.
It also shows that use of oOnline radio has increased significantly - doubling over the last five years and that self-reported weekly time spent with online radio is now nearly 10 hours.
This compares says the report, "the Infinite Dial 2011: Navigating Digital Platforms", with an a 20% increase to 8 hours 11 minutes in self-reported daily usage of TV, Radio and the Internet combined.
In terms of computer use, as well as 51% of American households now having two or more computers, the report says that 81% of American households have Internet access and two thirds of these have a Wi-Fi network.
In terms of listening to radio the report also notes that one in ten reported listening to Pandora Internet Radio in the week before they were surveyed and more than one in ten cell phone owners said they had listened to online radio streamed in their cars by connecting their phones to their car stereo system.
Online listening, however, says the report, is a complement to over-the-air radio, not a substitute, citing figures of 89% who listened to over-the-air AM/FM in the week before the survey whilst 11% listened exclusively to online radio and did not listen to AM/FM.
HD radio awareness says the report is greater amongst men and boys than women and girls (58% of those 12 plus compared to 43% but the report does not give figures for HD listening or ownership.
In looking at the implications of the changes re report says that online radio "is on a roll" and that consumers "show interest in in-car online radio" and also notes that Pandora "is changing consumer expectations of online radio" and also that the "growth in smartphones requires a re-evaluation of customer relationships." Of radio it says that it is "relevant and resilient."
Bill Rose, Senior Vice President of Marketing, Arbitron Inc., commented of the changes in a news release, "When you consider the rapid growth in ownership of smartphones in context with the continued rise in the use of social media it becomes increasingly clear that these platforms are fuelling fundamental changes in consumer expectations and how they use media" whilst Tom Webster, Vice President of Strategy and Marketing, Edison Research, added " What's fascinating about the Internet over the past ten years is the additive effect it has had upon the American media diet, which continues to expand. Rather than crowding other forms of media off the plate, so to speak, digital media is being consumed simultaneously with offline media and in venues and opportunities where media might not have been consumed previously."
Of radio itself Rose commented, "This study provides further evidence of radio's continued resilience and relevance in today's digital landscape."
RNW comment: we aren't quite sure, apart from a self-interest in not disparaging the medium that provides his company's main source of revenue, Rose comes to this conclusion.
Looking at some of the figures in the report comparing 2001 and 2011 the same percentage of Americans (98%) not own a use a TV; broadband Internet penetration is up from 20% to 70%; Online radio use has doubled from 28% to 56%; online video is up from 23% to 54%; and video-on-demand use has increased from 20% to 35%.
In addition new devices such as the i-Pod are now used by 31%; the same percentage applies to smartphones; and 25% have used audio podcasts.
The percentage owning an AM/FM radio, however is down from 96% to 93% whilst 12% now have satellite radio and there are other services that also potentially take time.
From this it would seem that the convenience and existing base of receivers in use means that radio is going to be around for a long time but there should be concern about the degree to which younger listeners are using other devices for sourcing their audio.
In addition as automobiles become equipped to allow online listening and smartphones develop, more of them are likely to reduce listening to local stations, which will also be hit by a continuing move of advertising online.
Add to this mix the travails of the music industry - the promotional quid-pro-quo of airtime is obviously less valuable to it as sales plummet - and its likely victory in the fight for performance royalties and the figures for over-the-air radio don't look too good.
Within terrestrial radio the changes that have been taking place would also seem to suggest additional weakness for AM with more stations switching news/talk on to FM - at the moment as simulcasts but that may not last if FM takes over most of the listening and AM transmitters need to be replaced.
Ultimately the sensible approach it seems to us is to assume that a few big players will do reasonably well with syndicated services but still may face a gradual decline but many smaller stations and operators will falter and may well die unless they face up to a changed situation in which the only additional reason to listen boils down to local content: Why, after all, listen to the syndicated services on a local station, if it is available through online radio at home, in the car, and on many other devices?
Previous Edison Media ( & Infinite Dial report):
2011-04-06: The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has launched a beta version of its new web site, saying in a release "Reimagined FCC.GOV delivers on agency promise of bringing Web 2.0 to Government ; Beta site opens door for public feedback as FCC transitions to new design."
Eschewing plain language the release then goes on, "Now architected with a more intuitive user experience and the addition of Web 2.0 technologies, the new site improves and simplifies the FCC.gov experience for consumers, government, public safety agencies and the business community."
It adds that the site was "shaped by public feedback and sharpened through an ongoing conversation with users over the past several months."
Of its design it says, "FCC Managing Director Steven VanRoekel oversaw the technical development and innovation strategies for the new FCC.gov. His vision for the new site drove the deployment of the site's cloud-hosted architecture, open source development, and embrace of leading design techniques drawn from leading consumer sites."
It then goes on to say the launch "marks a significant step forward in FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski's initiatives to continuously improve and modernize the way the public interacts with the Commission and the federal government."
Genachowski is quoted as commenting, "This FCC is empowering consumers and businesses to get the most out of technology. The launch of the new FCC.gov keeps us at the forefront of innovation, and delivers on our promise to move at the speed of high-tech change."
VanRoekel comments, "Online innovators have built destinations that deliver outstanding experiences, high-quality products and great customer service. That's what consumers and businesses expect online, and it's what makes the web great. Traditionally, dot-govs have struggled to keep up with rapidly changing technology."
RNW comment: Almost needless to say, the new site has includes changing panes rather than the old static first page and then further down has more photographs rather than more plain text.
To us, however, the main issue is how easily the site allows information to be found and in those terms a quick browse suggested that it's still much more efficient to use a search engine than the FCC site facility.
On that basis we don't care about the fancy jargon but consider that the site fails quite badly. Maybe it's a puritan approach and the FCC does say the site was shaped "by public feedback and sharpened through an ongoing conversation with users" so it could be that we're out of kilter in wanting easy ways to get to the information we want and do the things we want than to have higher priority than decoration.
Presumably after the new site is launched the FCC will be too ashamed to ever bring enforcement actions against licensees who have problems using its systems: If not, their fines should come out of VanRoekel and Genachowski's remuneration and pension funds with the option of resignation and no pay-offs offered to them at any stage.
FCC Beta website:
2011-04-05: Indian media group Bennett, Coleman and Co. Ltd (BCCL), which is owned by the Sahu Jain family and whose holdings include the Times of India and Entertainment Network India Ltd (ENIL), operator of the Radio Mirchi brand stations, is conducting a business review and may consider selling its UK Absolute Radio network, the former Virgin Radio, according to Indian business publication Mint .
Mint cited "two people with direct knowledge of the matte", neither of whom wished to be identified as saying that the company has given Jefferies India Pvt. Ltd the mandate to sell the business.
On the record, the company was less definitive and the report quotes Bennett, Coleman's chief executive Ravi Dhariwal as saying, "We are in the process of conducting a review (of our various businesses) as to where we stand. It's too premature to talk about the likelihood of sale, etc. I wouldn't want to comment any further."
A Bennett Coleman subsidiary, TIML Radio Ltd., bought Virgin Radio, - but not the name, which is still controlled by Sir Richard Branson's Virgin Group - from Scottish Media Group (SMG) in 2008 for GBP 53.2 million in cash (then USD 104.6 million - See RNW Jun 21, 2008). SMG had bought the station when it took over Chris Evans' Ginger Media for GBP 225 million (Then USD 371 million) in 2000 (See RNW Jan 13, 2000).
The station was re-branded as Absolute Radio at the end of September 2008 (See RNW Sep 29, 2008): It has not fared particularly well in the ratings and in 2009, the latest figure for which numbers are available, Absolute reported a pre-tax loss of GBP 4.3 million (then USD 6.84 million) that is said was in line with its expectations (See RNW Oct 5, 2010).
At the time Absolute Radio chief executive Donnach O'Driscoll was upbeat about the performance and said the "heavy lifting" was now behind the company. He has forecast break even this year.
Mint registered doubt in comments from Jehil Thakkar, executive director and head of media and entertainment (gaming, film industry, broadcasting, print media) at audit and consulting firm KPMG India Pvt. Ltd.
Thakkar noted that listening patterns are well established in Europe where differences between countries make consolidation difficult, and added, "Unless they were trying to cater to a specific diaspora in Europe, which they weren't, getting people to tune in is difficult."
Previous Bennett, Coleman & Co. Ltd.:
2011-04-05: Entercom, which last month in changes in Kansas City flipped an FM to simulcast its AM talks station (See RNW Mar 24) has done it again, this time in Buffalo where it has moved 19,500 watts classic rock WLKK-FM - "107.7 The Lake" to the HD2 sub channel (and online) and is simulcasting its News-Talk WBEN-AM on the main FM frequency.
The change was hardly marked by The Lake itself - the site flipped to saying it was now WLKK HD2 and around a minute after midnight this morning the announcer on the station mentioned HD2 in his identification of it.
In the immediate run-up to the switch, which was not noted on the old Lake website, the station aired Led Zeppelin's "Thank You" followed by Pete Townshend's "Till the rivers all run dry" and Poco's "Go And Say Goodbye" - the last titles listed on the site before the change. At the time of the switch it was airing "Stuck In The Middle With You."
The Lake had been on air since 2004 when Entercom bought its predecessor WNSA-FM, which had a sports format, from Adelphia Communications for USD 10.5 million.
The WBEN site started to advertise its availability on FM as well as "our long-time home at 930 AM" at midnight but the call signs have remained unchanged as the WBEN-FM calls are owned by Greater Media's Philadelphia Adult Hits station 95.7 Ben FM.
In the latest ratings WLKK was in 13th place, well behind Citadel's 24,000 watts WGRF-FM (97 Rock) and 50,000 watts Classic Hits WHTT-FM.
2011-04-04: Westwood One in a filing to the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has said that it is delaying the filing of its 10K Annual Report for 2010, which was due on March 31, because of discussions about amending its debt agreements that could threaten it as a going business and also because it still has to finalise any impairment charges for the year.
Regarding these it says it expects impairment charges to be in the range USD 15 million to USD 25 million.
As regards financing Westwood One says that it is trying to ease the Company's 15.0% Senior Secured Notes due July 15, 2012 and that the outcome of these talks will affect details of the required 10K filing and adds that if it is unable to agree a new amendment or otherwise provide sufficient documentation regarding our lenders' agreement to certain adjustments made to its calculation of Adjusted EBITDA, it will not comply with debt leverage covenants. This would mean a default on the Senior Notes that in turn, unless the lenders agree to a waiver, would mean it had to speed up repayment with a "material adverse effect on our business."
"Unless we enter into a definitive agreement with our lenders," adds Westwood One "there will be substantial doubt about our ability to continue as a going concern."
Despite the filing, the shares were up 3.15% to close at USD 6.87 on Monday although the NASDAQ overall was down slightly whilst the Dow and S&P 500 were up slightly.
Previous Westwood One:
2011-04-04: BIA/Kelsey in this year's first edition of its "Investing In Radio Market Report" says that US local radio over-the-air revenues in 2010 were up 5.4% on 2009 at USD 14.1 billion and forecasts what it terms a "moderate 3.7% increase this year with the 2012 rise to be 4.5% thanks to a boost from election advertising.
The firm also projects online/digital revenues for radio to show a 14.1% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) in the five-year period from this year and notes that revenues from online/digital were USD 405 million to the industry in 2010 and are expected to rise from USD 494 million this year to USD 783 million by 2015.
The company's vice president Mark Fratrik commented of the figures, "The higher than expected radio revenues in 2010 reflected the return of national advertisers to the airwaves and some political battles that made an impact in certain markets. Radio, however, still continues to face a lot of competition in the local and online advertising marketplace. Stations are responding by becoming more aggressive with their digital and online strategies, which are driving measurable revenue."
Fratrik also noted that radio in large markets fared best last year with 26.9% of revenue going to stations in the top 10 markets, which saw over-the-air revenue increases of 6.9 percent whilst the rise in radio stations in markets 11 through 25 was 5.7 percent increase, and that in other markets was lower than this.
RNW comment: Bearing in mind the falls when the froth went out of the US after the last bubble burst, we are not as confident as BIA/Kelsey about the future and would like to see some more detail as to how projections for next year were arrived at. If they were a matter of adding anticipated election advertising to a healthy base, we suspect they could be very optimistic. We fear that the effects of Middle East turmoil, the rise in oil price, and probably the effects of cuts in public expenditure and consequent increase in unemployment that are in train, never mind what might come if the Republicans continue their hard line, could well push the US back into recession.
2011-04-04: UK media regulator Ofcom in its latest bulletin upholds no complaints against radio but does uphold standards complaints against six programmes, considers another resolved through action taken by the broadcaster and gives details of two more TV standards complaints not upheld. It also gives details of a TV Fairness and Privacy Complaint not upheld.
The numbers compare with the previous bulletin's findings that a community FM had breached its licence conditions, the upholding of one radio and one TV standards complaint and upholding of a TV fairness and privacy complaint and partial upholding of another such TV complaint. In that bulletin it also listed TV advertising minutage, a TV standards complaint resolved by action taken by the broadcaster, and details of a TV Fairness and privacy complaint not upheld.
In addition to the above findings Ofcom also listed without details 1027 complaints against 242 TV items -814 of these related to "Dancing on Ice" and 783 to one of its editions - and 67 radio complaints against 16 items - of these two programmes accounted for 53 complaints - from theists (as we shall term them since it is not clear which religion was being upset) about religious beliefs or discrimination - that it did not uphold: This compared to 368 complaints against 206 TV items and 32 radio complaints against 26 items that were similarly listed in the previous bulletin.
Previous Ofcom Bulletin:
2011-04-04: Clear Channel Media Holdings has revealed in a filing to the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) that following Mark Mays's exit as Chief Executive Officer and President, it has established a new position - "Office of the Chief Executive Officer" - to take over these roles - Mays remains Chairman - until a replacement is found.
Mays stepped down on March 31 and the company has appointed Thomas W. Casey, the current Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of the Company, Clear Channel Communications, Inc. (CCU) and Clear Channel Outdoor Holdings, Inc. (CCOH); and H. Walls, Jr., the current Executive Vice President, General Counsel and Secretary of the Company, CCU and CCOH, to serve in this role in addition to their existing duties until the replacement is in place.
Previous Clear Channel:
Previous Mark Mays:
2011-04-03: Last week saw the start of invitations for further applications for community licences in the UK but not much licensing activity as suchelsewhere with rather more activity in terms of general regulation and procedures.
In Australia, the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) is seeking comments with a deadline of May 13 on an "Options Paper" it has issued regarding its review of its Commercial Radio Standards.
The Standards were introduced in 2000 following the cash-for-comment row and the authority has drawn up the options following submissions it received to an Issues paper released last year commissioned research, and consultation with industry and the wider community.
Submissions have to be made by May 13 and the ACMA has posted an online form for comments on the proposals that cover three standards currently applying to commercial radio broadcasting-the Advertising Standard, the Disclosure Standard and the Compliance Standard.
Regarding the Advertising Standard the agency has put forward two options -either to change the existing standard or replace it with a new one.
The change proposed would expand the definition of a "consideration" to include both direct and indirect benefits and interests and explicitly require advertising to be distinguishable at the time the commercial material is broadcast.
It would also either prohibit "integrated advertising", maintain the "the reasonable listener test", or require that it contain details of the commercial sponsor at the start of the advertisement and have the tone and style of an advertisement.
Regarding disclosure, three options have been put forward - to revoke the current standard in favour of an industry code, to shift the current standard to an editorial independence model or to vary the current standard.
If the last option is chosen this would expand the programming covered to include not just current affairs programmes but also infotainment and all public interest material, whatever a programme's format. It would also make licensees, who are currently responsible for presenters' agreements, also responsible for the licensee's agreement where a relevant presenter has an actual or beneficial interest in the licensee company and any other agreements where the person concerned has significant influence on the content of material broadcast.
On the other side it would relax the prescription of the form of on-air disclosure announcements by removing the list of acceptable phrases and substitute an 'identifiable sponsorship announcement' co-incident with the relevant content that makes clear to listeners that there is a relevant commercial relationship. It would also relax the register and notification requirements and would require licensees to keep a public online register- for the information of citizens and the ACMA and to provide further information to the ACMA on request.
As regards compliance, the ACMA is posing two options - either to keep the current standard with some minor changes or to revoke it and deal with breaches on a licensee-by-licensee basis.
ACMA Chairman Chris Chapman commented of the proposals, "The ACMA is considering the regulatory arrangements under the commercial radio standards in the context of whether the regulation is effective in practice, whether it is cost efficient (i.e. maximises benefits to citizens and takes account of costs to industry) and whether the regulation is appropriate in balancing needs of citizens without imposing undue burden on industry."
In Canada, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) has also concentrated on process rather than decisions and has posted a call for comments - to be made by April 28 - on the proposed Structural and Operational Plan for the not-for-profit Community Radio Fund of Canada (CRFC) and also details of requirements for electronic filing of forms to the CRTC. Regarding the latter the agency is introducing new forms and has also posted details of its service objectives for the processing of broadcasting and telecommunications applications that came into effect from April 1.
Regarding the CRFC the CRTC is asking for comments on the plan put forward by the Fund as to how is should administer its distribution of the sums it receives from the mandatory basic annual Canadian content development (CCD) contributions from commercial radio broadcasters with revenues in excess of CAD 1.25 million per broadcast year (around USD 1.25 million- the CAD is currently a little more than the USD), and of tangible benefits arising from the transfer of ownership of commercial radio undertakings.
In the 43-page plan posted on its website the CRFC notes that when the CRTC published Canada's new Campus and Community Radio Policy (the Policy) in July 2010, it included a new funding mechanism for the campus and community radio sector that it terms "a significant step in meeting the sector's needs."
The CRFC further notes that it considers CAD 52.4 million a year an ideal annual minimal revenue for the sector that would reach a healthy minimum capacity with enough resources to maintain existing services and begin to address development needs and that in the longer term the ideal level would be closer to CAD 62.4 million. It adds that the current shortfall is some CAD 20.4 million and that it has set a goal to meet half of this within three to five years.
In terms of the effects of the new Policy the CFRC estimated that from September this year it will receive around CAD 1.4 million in new CCD revenues - plus tangible benefits funding of some CAD 230,000 a year related to deals still to be approved and CAD 380,000 a year from deals already approved and ending in the 2016-7 broadcast year: It adds that to distribute this it needs the budget to employ an executive director and a program officer, taking base costs to around CAD 225,000 a year.
In the medium term it says it will also need an administrative assistant to help with clerical duties and administration and in the longer term additional employees.
The formula it is proposing for allocation of CCD funding it receives would allow it to use 15% of this up to the first CAD 1.5 million a year and then 5% of revenues above this for the fund's administration.
In Ireland the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI) has signed a 10-year contract with BCA Social Economy Project Limited for community station "West Dublin Access Radio". The station has been operating on 96FM in the West Dublin area for five years under its previous contract.
The BAI also posted the "Irish Broadcasting Landscape: Economic and Environmental Review for the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI)" document that looks at the state of both radio and TV in the country and amongst other things comments not just on the make-up of the broadcasting sector but also on the effect on it of online advertising and boom and subsequent collapse in the Irish economy.
The report also compares the changes in Ireland with those in other European countries, noting in connection with radio that the country's radio revenue grew dramatically from 1997 -1998 up by 24.9% then by 11.9%; 12.5%; and 26.6% before falling back by 6.9% in 2001-2002 and then rebounding - up 34.6% to 2003 and then by 4.0%; 16.4%; 17.6%; 13.1% and 5.5% before dropping in 2008-2009 by 11.5%.
Regarding falls as the economy collapsed the report says, "Several local radio operators describe a 60% fall in commercial revenue in 2009 and a direct impact of the falling radio revenues has been increased discounting with some services offering up to 70% discounts off their rate card."
"Scott Williams, Chairman of IBI and CEO of Dublin's Q102," it adds "puts it bluntly claiming pirate radio stations in the 1980s were delivering more cost per unit than some licensed operators today. While 2009 was extremely challenging for local radio, 2010 shows local radio advertising stabilising but all radio media sales are described as a discount battle. Newcomers, like 4FM, have so far failed to find an audience and a commercial life."
"One of the factors affecting the radio market," adds the report, "is the poor metrics available on radio advertising, particularly in the local radio market. While there is a clear sense that radio operators are suffering from two years of recession, there is little agreement that at present the radio market is over-supplied. However, there is little support for new services with advertising agencies saying they see no room for new offerings when others are failing."
Regarding digital radio it notes that "DAB services are provided by RTÉ Radio but no progress has been made on digital radio since the commercial sector withdrew from the DAB trial period in November 2008. There appears to be less than 30,000 DAB radio sets in use and in 2009 Internet radio sets frequently sold more in Irish retail stores than DAB ones."
In the UK, Ofcom has started a new round of community radio licensing (See RNW Apr 2) and it is also involved in a number of consultations and has announced budget cuts over the next four years of 28.2%.
Most of these will come in the 2011/12 year when the budget is to be GBP 115.8 million (USD 186.8 million) for 2011/12, a figure that is says is a 22.5% real terms year-on-year reduction, some GBP 26.7 million (USD 43.1 million).
The cuts Ofcom says will be over a wide range of expenditure but retain capability and effectiveness.
On the licensing front it received three applications for the re-advertised FM local commercial radio licence for Bath, currently held by One Gold Radio Ltd (broadcasting as Total Star).
They are from Nova Radio - Bath, offering "A locally oriented station for people aged 25 to 54 in the city of Bath area featuring a broad-based variety of music with Bath local news and information on city events and culture"; 107.9 Radio Bath - offering "A full service, local radio station for Bath. Music based, with local news and information. Playing classic hits and contemporary music appealing to a broad audience, and with specialist music and student-oriented output appealing to a younger audience"; and Celador Radio's The Breeze offering "An easy listening music-based service with local news and information for Bath and the surrounding area."
Ofcom has also announced the results of a series of draws I conducted to decide on awards of temporary radio licences (Restricted Service Licences or RSLs) in August this year, the period that covers Ramadan and Eid, and also for other periods where there were competing applications.
It notes the high demands for licences during this period, mostly from those for Ramadan and Eid services.
The August licences went to: Hafiz M.S. Hashmi (Woking, Surrey); Mohammed Shabbir (Sheffield); Rizvan Iqbal (Preston); Mohammed Shahid (Oldham); Muhammad Kalam (London (Whitechapel)); Jabbar Karim (Leeds); Adeel Shahid (Keighley); Mohammad Shahid (Huddersfield); Umar Khan (Bradford) and Khalil Ur Rehman (Accrington, Lancashire).
The other licence awards were for October-November - a Hajj licence to Khalid Naeem (Bradford); November to December - a Muharram licence to Jabila Khan (Bradford); and for February next year - a Milad licence to Abdul Rahim (Bradford).
In the US, the Federal Communications Commission has started to mail the first Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) audit letters for 2011 to randomly selected radio and television stations and has also fined a Florida pirate operator USD 20.000 (See RNW Mar 3). It also posted details of a consent decree with a Georgia AM operator under which Hanmi Broadcasting Inc. will pay USD 22,000 and institute a compliance plan (See RNW Mar 28).
In licensing actions it has granted a petition from WFCR Foundation, Inc. against a staff ruling that it was ineligible to claim a new entrant bidding credit in the FCC's Auction 91 because the contours of its existing station WNNZ-AM overlapped that of the principal community contour of FM allotment MM-FM797-A at Adams, Massachusetts, the only Auction 91 FM allotment WFCR selected in its FCC Form 175 application.
WFCR had said its own study - based on measured ground date that the commission in 1987 and other data - showed that there was no overlap between WNNZ-AM's daytime principal community contour and the predicted principal community (70 dB?) contour of the Adams allotment. The FCC accepted the details and ruled that WFCR is eligible to claim a new entrant bidding credit of 25%.
Previous Licence News:
ACMA Commentary Form (links to form as Word or PDF document):
ACMA Issues paper:
BAI - Irish Broadcasting Landscape report (144 page 2.53 Mb PDF):
CRFC Structural and Operational Plan (43-page 289 kb PDF):
2011-04-03: Most Americans think their government spends more than it actually does and the perceived spending on public broadcasting as very much higher than it actually is according to a CNN/Opinion Research poll that also shows that despite this a majority of those who responded think that it should receive the same amount or more.
Federal funding to the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) was USD 506 million last year according to figures from the organization whilst the Federal Government's budget was USD 3.456 trillion that year according to the White House's Office of Management and Budget.
This makes the percentage spent on the CPB around 0.00014% yet nearly 70% of those polled thought it received 1% or more of the budget - only 27% said under 1%; 40% from 1% to 5%; 18% from 6-10%; 8% from 11-20%; 5% 21-30%; 4% 31-50% and 7% for 50% or more: The median figure was 5%.
The telephone poll was conducted with 1023 American adults from March 11-13 and it also showed 2% estimating that Medicare and Medicaid each received less than 1% (in fact it is some 23% for Medicare and some 7% for Medicaid - 58% underestimated the Medicare spending and 20% underestimated that for Medicaid). As regards Defense, which takes around 20% of the budget, none thought the share less than 1%; 5% had it as 1-5%; and 8% as 6-10% with 19% as 11-20% and 20% as 21-30%.
RNW Comment: We are not surprised that the estimations in the poll (link below) were incorrect but wonder how they could be so out of kilter with reality and anyone could have put the very high figures that some did down for the share of spending taken by public broadcasting.
That said, the poll should be encouraging for the public broadcasters in that it shows that despite thinking the expenditure was very much higher than it actually was, 53% thought it should be increased or kept the same with an additional 19% that it should be decreased a little.
CNN/Opinion Research poll:
2011-04-02: UK media regulator Ofcom has started a new round of community radio licensing, the third since the first UK community station was launched in 2005.
It says the decision to open the round was made "in response to significant interest expressed by more than 270 individuals and community groups" and notes that to date, 228 community radio licences have been issued and around 11 million people are now able to tune into community radio stations across the UK.
Ofcom Director of Radio Content and Broadcast Licensing, Peter Davies, said: "Over the past six years community radio stations have provided a voice for hundreds of local communities across the UK. Our postbag has been inundated with a high level of interest for new licences, which gives a strong indication of the likely level of demand in this licensing round."
The applications are to be considered on a regional basis starting with applications from Wales and South West England for which the window closed on July 21 this year.
After this the timetable is expected to be:
2: Scotland - End of 2011 running to 3 months after opening date
3: Northern Ireland - First half 2012 running to 3 months after opening date
4: Northeast England and Cumbria - Second half 2012 running to 3 months after opening date
5: Yorkshire and the Humber and the north west of England - First half 2013 running to 3 months after opening date
6: West Midlands, East Midlands (including Lincolnshire) and the east of England - Second half 2013 running to 3 months after opening date
7: South east England - First half 2014 running to 3 months after opening date.
Ofcom notes in connection with these that are large parts of the UK - mainly in major towns and cities - where there are no suitable FM frequencies available.
2011-04-01: BMW has announced that it is to become the first manufacturer in Australia to offer DAB+ digital radio as an option for its vehicles - but it will be costly.
The option is to be offered for its current Series 5 and 7 cars from next month - at AUD 750 (USD 780) for the 7 series and even more - AUD 900 (USD 935) for the 5 Series Touring and Sedan.
The option will also be available in the company's new 6 series when it is launched.
2011-04-01: Spanish Broadcasting System (SBS) has reported 2010 revenues down 2% on a year earlier at USD 136.12 million within which radio was down 3% to USD 119.53 but TV was up 5% to USD 16.59 million.
For the final quarter revenues were down 3% on a year earlier at USD 35.96 million within which radio revenue was down by 5% to USD 31.68 million but TV was up 10% to 4.28 million.
OIBDA for the year showed radio up 2% for the year to USD 55.46 million and up 1% in the final quarter to USD 13.94 million whilst TV losses for the year rose 29% to USD 8.29 million and increased from a USD 825,000 loss in 2009 to a loss of USD .205 million in 2010: Overall OIBA was up 2% for the year to USD 39.00 million and down 12% for the final quarter to USD 9.52 million.
Station operating expenses were down 2.69% for the year to USD 88.95 million but up 0.06% for the quarter to USD 22.991 million and overall a loss of USD 13.778 million in 2009 - when the figures included USD 21.64 million of impairment and restructuring costs compared to a USD 3.02 million in 2010 - became net income of USD 15.04 million (From a loss of 33 cents to income of seven cents per basic and diluted share).
For the final quarter a net loss of USD 7.83 million - after USD 10.96 million in restructuring and impairment costs in 2009 compared to USD 927,000 in 2010 - became net income of USD 3.36 million (From a loss of 14 cents to income of a cent per basic and diluted share).
Commenting on the figures Chairman and CEO Raul Alarcón, Jr., said the company "experienced volatile advertising conditions in many of our markets during 2010, even as we continued to drive strong audience shares across our multi-media platform."
He continued, "We are encouraged with the revenue growth at our television segment during the fourth quarter and we are seeing some improvement in the advertising climate in select markets year-to-date. We have continued to focus on strategically investing in our content and distribution, while carefully managing our costs. As a result, we were able to drive considerable improvement in our operating income for the full year. In 2011, we remain committed to building on our strong Hispanic media brands, growing our multi-media footprint and improving our operating results."
Although not mentioned in its earning release, SBS in its 10K filing of the annual report to the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) says that it has hired with Lazard Frères & Co. LLC "to act as our investment banker in connection with exploring potential strategic transactions."
The company also notes in the 10K that it has until April 11 to get its shares back up to the minimum USD 1 price required by the NASDAQ: The price has to be at a dollar above for ten consecutive days and closed today down 3.23% at 90 cents but have closed above the dollar for a few days last month - most recently USD 1.09 on Mar 9.
SBS had received a delisting notice in October last year (See RNW Oct 18, 2010) and earlier last year had regained compliance after a previous warning (See RNW May 5, 2010), before which it had said it had authorized a reverse split of its stock to regain compliance (See RNW Apr 26, 2010).
It says in the filing that it will take all reasonable actions to regain compliance.
Links note: As far as possible we provide site links to the previous related story. Should these links not work, please advise us so we can sort out the problem.
Regarding external links, we give links where we can but an ever-increasing number of newspapers and stations either require registration or only keep items available for a limited period or move them to a pay-per-use archive (typically after 7 or 14 days in the USA).
Thus some links become outdated or sources you would have to pay for or subscribe to access. See links page for notes regarding various sites we think of value
Back to top :
- March 2011- - May 2011 -
Radionewsweb.com, 38 Creswick Road, Acton, London W3 9HF, UK: