February 2009 Archive
-January 2009 --- March 2009 -
Links- internally where there are follow-up stories we try, at the end of each story, to put a pertinent link to the top of the previous relevant story. Regarding external links see note at end of page.
RNW October comment -White spaces, white noise! Argues in favour of using the unused parts of broadcast spectrum for wireless Internet as being in the wider public interest albeit proceeding with caution and regulating to as to not to cause interference to broadcast signals.
2009-02-01: Last week again saw the regulators in general having a quiet time as regards radio with the main news coming from the US where amongst its actions the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has extended until the end of May the deadline for Sirius XM to implement its voluntary agreement when the Sirius-XM merger was approved to make 4% of its audio channels available to third parties (See RNW Feb 27).
There were no radio postings from Australia or Ireland and only a few from Canada where the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) radio-related decisions included:
*Approval of application by Sun Country Radio Ltd. to acquire the assets of CKKO-FM, Kelowna, from Sun Country Cablevision Ltd. as part of a corporate reorganization. CKKO FM, whose licence was granted in March last year, is not yet on air.
Refusal of application by Diffusion Laval Inc. to remove from the licence of French-language commercial CFAV-AM the condition of licence requiring it to contribute CAD 8,000 (USD 6,300) a year towards the promotion of Canadian artists.
The CRTC noted that under its revised policy it has replaced the requirement for the promotion of Canadian artists with a new Canadian content development (CCD) regime and that the licensee following financial losses by the station wanted to move immediately to the new regime and make a CAD 500 (USD 390) financial for the fiscal year to the end of August when the station licence expires.
The application had been opposed by the Association québécoise de l'industrie du disque, du spectacle et de la vidéo (ADISQ) on the basis that the contribution was a factor in the award of the licence in 2003: It contended the condition should remain until the end of the licence term and noted that the licensee was in non-compliance with regard to the contributions.
The CRTC noted that when control of the station from Diffusion Laval Inc. to Placements P Marchand Inc. was approved in 2007 it had said the terms would remain but had made an exception to its policy requiring a tangible payments benefit of 6% of the value of the transaction because of the losses.
The CRTC took the view that the requirement to promote Canadian artists should be taken seriously when applying for licences and only subsequently changes in most exceptional circumstances. It rejected the request/
In the UK, Ofcom also had a quiet week as regards radio although it did award four new community licenses (See RNW Feb 25) and posted its latest Broadcast Bulletin in which it upheld no radio complaints (See RNW Feb 23).
In the US the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has, as already noted, delayed until the end of May the deadline for Sirius-XM to make 4% of its audio channels available to third parties (See RNW Feb 27) and also posted its latest US licensed broadcast station numbers, showing an increase of 142 year-on-year and up 68 since the end of September (See RNW Feb 28).
The FCC was also involved in various enforcement actions, the one which caught our eye most being on the Princess K Fishing Corporation that had initially been issued with a Notice of Apparent Liability for forfeiture (NAL) of USD 8,000 after it falsely activated an Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon, leading to the despatch of an aircraft to locate the craft and cost around USD 35,000.
The company had appealed on the basis of inability to pay and that it should not be held responsible for the acts of one of its employees who, according to its version, had been told to take care of a bag containing a unit that had been replaced and had thrown it into the sea, thus activating the alarm. The FCC dismissed the latter argument but reduced the penalty to USD 6,000 on the basis of ability to pay.
Other penalties included:
*USD 7,200 forfeiture to Wayne State College, licensee of KWSC-FM, Wayne, Nebraska, for failing to maintain the station's public file. The FCC had initially issued an NAL for USD 9,000 after finding that several years of issues/programs lists were missing from the station's public inspection file.
Wayne State had argued for reduction or cancellation because it records of the issue-oriented programming broadcast by the Station during the previous license term but failed to document it in the form of issues/programs lists and took immediate corrective action upon learning that it was not in compliance with the Commission's public file Rules and implemented new measures to ensure future compliance. It also argued on the basis of the effect of the forfeiture on its ability to continue full-time operations and on the basis of a history of compliance.
No documentation was provided to justify a reduction on financial grounds and the FCC dismissed the other arguments but reduced the penalty to USD 7,200 on grounds of a history of compliance.
*USD 3,000 forfeiture to Saga Communications, licensee of WTAX-AM, Springfield, Illinois, for failing to maintain the station's public file. It had been issued with an NAL for this amount to which it responded with a request for cancellation because it was "unaware" that the issues/programs lists were missing from the public file. The FCC rejected the argument and confirmed the full penalty.
In radio licensing decisions the agency:
*Granted request from Living Proof, Inc. to approve settlement agreement and its application for a new non-commercial educational FM in Big Pine and rejected petition to deny from Stephen Kalish and also the University and Community College System of Nevada. The university said the station would cause interference to its translator station in Bishop, California, and Kalish accused Living Proof of falsely certifying that it would comply with local public notice requirements and also misrepresented that he was engaged in settlement negotiations with Living Proof and the University.
Living Proof claims that its defective local public notice was attributable to a "scrivener's error" and that it subsequently published a correct notice and in a joint Request, it and the University asked for dismissal of the University Petition, approval of the Joint Request and grant of the Living Proof Application, as amended to substitute Channel 212 for the originally requested Channel 214 to avoid potential interference to the University's translator station.
The FCC accepted Living Proofs' explanation concerning the local public notice as plausible and said other allegations did not amount to misrepresentation. If granted the request and CP.
*Set aside modification applications from New Inspiration Broadcasting Company, Inc., licensee of KKLA-FM, Los Angeles, and Mitchell Media, Inc., licensee of KMRJ-FM, Rancho Mirage, that were granted in January this year and returned the applications to pending status.
Granted petition for reconsideration of earlier dismissal of application from the Seminole Tribe of Florida for a new non-commercial educational FM at Big Cypress: The application had been rejected as unacceptable for filing but the FCC granted the tribe a waiver and reinstated the application, accepting an assertion that the proposed station's 60 dBµ contour would cover 47 percent of the Tribal population within the BCR, only 3% short of the 50 percent coverage threshold required, a percentage that in this case amounts to only 24 persons.
Florida and Georgia:
*Granted the applications to involuntarily assign the following stations from Tama Radio Licenses of Tampa, FL, Inc. to receiver Scott Savage:
Florida - WHJX-FM, Baldwin; WTMP-FM, Dade City; WTMP-AM, Egypt Lake; WJSJ-FM, Fernandina Beach; WSJF-FM, St. Augustine Beach.
Georgia - WFJO-FM, Folkston; WSGA-FM and WTHG-FM, Hinesville; and WSSJ-FM, Rincon.
Dr. Glenn Cherry, former Chief Executive Officer of Tama, had filed an Informal Objection to the Assignment Applications, saying that an allegation of "premature assumption of control of the Tama licenses" was currently under investigation by the FCC Enforcement Bureau and that it agency should review the progress of this investigation before acting on the assignment application.
The FCC noted that the Enforcement Bureau had released an order and Consent Decree terminating the investigation and said that Cherry had not raised a substantial and material question of fact warranting further inquiry. It granted the assignments
*Dismissed, noting that it was filed too late, petition for reconsideration of denial of informal objection to renewal of licence of Pittsburg State University's KRPS-FM, Pittsburg.
*Dismissed an application from by Christian Family Network, Inc. to renew the license of expired FM Station DWOLY (AM), Battle Creek, and the concurrently filed request for Special Temporary Authorization to continue station operations pending consideration of the renewal application.
The licensee had been told in June 2006 that the licence, which should have been renewed by October 2004, had expired and authority to operate the station terminated. The station did not respond until these filings in January this year, providing provides an exhibit detailing its attempts to file a license renewal application and its attempts to contact Commission staff when it was unable to do so
The FCC pointed out that it could only consider late-filed petitions if the petitioner shows that its failure to file for reconsideration in a timely manner resulted from "extraordinary circumstances and said this was not the case here, rejected the request and ordered that the station must immediately cease operations.
*Granted application from New Jersey Public Broadcasting Authority for construction permit for a new non-commercial educational FM station in Bernardsville, New Jersey, and rejected mutually exclusive application from World Revivals, Inc. for a new NCE FM in Chatham. World Revivals had claimed that NJPBA does not have permission to use the proposed transmitter site, and that current local policies prevent NJPBA from obtaining such permission.
The FCC found that World Revivals had not made its case and granted the NJPBA application.
Previous Licence News:
CRTC web site:
FCC web site:
Ofcom web site:
2009-02-28: American broadcasting pioneer and legend Paul Harvey - America's most-listened to radio voice - has died aged 90 at his winter home in Phoenix Arizona: No cause of death has yet been released and his web site simply carries a photograph of him with the legend "Paul Harvey 1918-2009".
Harvey's wife and producer Lynne (Angel) died last year (See RNW May 5, 2008) after which he was off air for a while. He had also been off air for a period in 2001 because of damage caused to his vocal cord by a virus.
Citadel-owned ABC Radio Networks has posted a statement from his son Paul Harvey Jr. saying, "My father and mother created from thin air what one day became radio and television news. So in the past year, an industry has lost its godparents and today millions have lost a friend."
The networks President Jim Robinson says in tribute, "Paul Harvey was one of the most gifted and beloved broadcasters in our nation's history. As he delivered the news each day with his own unique style and commentary, his voice became a trusted friend in American households. His career in radio spanned more than seven decades, during which time countless millions of listeners were both informed and entertained by his "News & Comment" and "Rest of the Story" features. Even after the passing of his loving wife Angel in May 2008, Paul would not slip quietly into retirement as he continued to take the microphone and reach out to his audience. We will miss our dear friend tremendously and are grateful for the many years we were so fortunate to have known him. Our thoughts and prayers are now with his son Paul Jr. and the rest of the Harvey family."
ABC Networks posting:
Paul Harvey web site:
2009-02-28: The US ended 2008 with a total of 29,832 licensed broadcast stations, up 142 year-on-year and up 68 since the end of September according to figures just published by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).
Within the figures, the number of licensed radio stations at the end of the year was 14,253, up 276 on the year and up 59 in the final quarter of which AM station numbers were 4786, up 10 year-on-year and up eight in the final quarter.
Commercial FM numbers - 6427 - were up 118 year-on-year and 23 on the previous quarter whilst educational FM numbers rose to 3040, up 148 year-on-year and up 28 over the quarter and in addition the number of FM translators and boosters rose to 6120, up 216 year-on-year and up 33 over the quarter.
The number of licensed low-power FM stations was 859, up 28 year-on-year and the same as at the end of September.
Previous FCC station numbers (To end of June 2008):
2009-02-27: Entravision has reported final quarter 2008 revenues down 16% on a year earlier at USD 52.8 million but operating expenses were only down 2% to USD 35.2 million while corporate expenses were down 5% to USD 4.4 million: Consolidated adjusted EBITDA for the quarter was down 37% to USD 13.95 million; free cash flow was down 73% to USD 3.53 million; income/loss from continuing operations went from a positive 26.1 million to a loss of USD 134.1 million; and the net loss applicable to common stockholders nearly doubled - up 190% to USD 136.5 million (from 48 cents per share loss in the final quarter of 2007 to a loss of USD 1.58 per share) as a result of a USD 170 million impairment charge.
For the full year, net revenues were down 7% to USD 232.3 million, operating expenses were flat at USD 144.5 million and corporate expenses were down 1% at USD 17.12 million: Consolidated adjusted EBITDA was down 19% to USD 74.1 million with free cash flow down 47% to USD 26.57 million; income/loss from continuing operations went from a positive USD 40million to a loss of USD 484 million; and net income/loss applicable to common stockholders went from income of USD 40 million to a loss of USD 484 million ( from a loss of 39 cents per share to a loss of USD 5.34) as the result of USD 610 million of impairment charges.
Commenting on the figures, Chairman and CEO Walter F. Ulloa said the results "reflect the continuing impact of the global financial crisis and the recession, resulting in an advertising downturn."
He added, "We are continuing to focus on debt reduction and are committed to further reducing our costs and operating as efficiently as possible in order to maximize our cash flows, without sacrificing the quality of our content or marketing efforts. Our audience shares remain strong in the nation's most densely populated Hispanic markets."
Entravision also noted that it had repurchased 3.3 million shares of its Class A common stock for approximately USD 4.2 million in the fourth quarter of 2008 and during 2008 had repurchased 12.1 million shares of Class A common stock for approximately USD 50.4 million.
It also said its Board has approved the retirement of all treasury stock repurchased as of December 31, 2008, and a total of 14.1 million treasury shares were retired on December 31, 2008.
2009-02-27: The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has further delayed - until May 29 this year - the deadline for Sirius XM to implement its commitment to make 4% of its audio channels available to qualified third parties, saying that it did so because it had failed to provide the details necessary for implementation to the company: it is now inviting comments on various issues relating to this.
When the FCC agreed to allow the merger, Sirius and XM committed themselves to entering into leases with third parties to fulfil the obligation within four months and the FCC said it would provide details necessary for implementation later and subsequently the FCC Media Bureau on its own initiative extended the deadline from November 28 last year to February 27 this year because of this failure.
Amongst the issues on which the FCC wants comments are the definition of a Qualified Entity or Entities, the process for establishing eligibility, the technical and financial qualifications of lessees, the criteria for selecting among competing applicants where demand exceeds supply, whether there should be a single lessee or multiple lessees and, if more than one, how much capacity should be allocated to any single lessee, the technical aspects of allocating capacity to lessees, and the duration of the "long-term" lease, as well as other terms and conditions of service. It further notes in connection with this that Sirius XM is willing to remove itself from involvement in the selection and asks for comment on whether Sirius XM should be involved and, if not, who should make the selection, indicating that this could possibly be an independent trustee. Comments have to be filed by March 30 and reply comments by April 14.
Previous Sirius XM:
2009-02-27: The New York Stock Exchange has told Citadel it will suspend trading in the company's stock before the opening of the market next Friday: Citadel had received a de-listing warning because its market capitalization fell below the required USD 75 million and its stock had fallen below the required USD 1 minimum for more than 30 days and Citadel had submitted a business plan to address the issues.
The exchange, however, found this inadequate and said that after "reviewing these materials, the NYSE decided to proceed with suspension of trading."
Citadel has told the exchange it will not challenge the decision and says it expects to commence trading on the over-the-counter (OTC) market that same day under a symbol yet to be determined: Its current ticker is CDL.
2009-02-27: The US Senate has voted by 87-11 to approve the Broadcaster Freedom Amendment, which would prevents the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) from reinstating its former Fairness Doctrine, to the D.C. Voting Rights Act and has also passed by a 57-41 partisan vote with no Republicans in favour an amendment from Illinois Democrat Sen. Dick Durbin that requires the agency to "take actions to encourage and promote diversity in communication media ownership."
South Carolina Republican Sen. Jim De Mint, who put forward the amendment, commented in a statement, "Today's vote slammed the front door on the so-called 'fairness doctrine,' which threatens to censor free speech and shut down talk radio. When senators were forced to vote in the open on this issue, they were compelled to side with the American people."
He added a warning, however, continuing, "Today was an important victory for free speech, but the fight is far from over. Senator Durbin's amendment exposed Democrat intentions to impose radio censorship through the back door using vague regulations dealing with media ownership. Senator Durbin's language was so broad it could apply beyond radio to television, newspapers and the internet. All eyes are now on the FCC. If they attempt to shut down free speech indirectly, we will fight to stop them."
Oklahoma Republican Sen. James Inhofe commented, "The overwhelming bi-partisan vote in support of the Broadcaster Freedom Act shows that the American people reject the idea of reinstating the fairness doctrine. As one of the most outspoken members in the Senate against re-instating the doctrine, I am pleased to have supported Senators DeMint and Thune (Sen. John Thune) in their effort. Today is a tremendous victory for free speech and the First Amendment, and while I am sure liberals will continue to look for another way to attack conservative radio, I will be standing with my colleagues to ensure that doesn't happen."
Thune, a South Dakota Republican, commented, "It was reassuring to see the Senate stand up for free speech today and reject this anti-American policy. However, I am troubled that as we killed the 'Fairness Doctrine,' Senator Durbin's amendment brought to life a new threat to talk radio and other arenas of free speech."
RNW note: Unsurprisingly this vote gets most coverage in right-wing publications, accompanied in many of them by editorialising in the reports and adding readers comments virulently opposed to Durbin's amendment: From a distance it seems to us that many of the right are probably eminently qualified to set up coconut shies at a fairground but woefully inadequate when it comes to making arguments without vitriol.
2009-02-26: US local advertising revenues overall will contract over the next four years but interactive and mobile local search revenues will increase according to predictions just released by BIA and its subsidiary The Kelsey Group.
BIA Advisory Services in its U.S. Local Media Annual Forecast (2008-2013) forecasts a decline in U.S. local advertising revenues to decline from USD 155.3 billion in 2008 to USD 144.4 billion in 2013 - a negative 1.4 % compound annual growth rate
Within the figures it says the only growth area will be the local interactive segment and Tom Buono, president and CEO, BIA Advisory Services, commented, "By the end of the forecast period, the overall size of the local advertising market will be considerably smaller than it was at the end of 2008. As the shift to online accelerates, and the demand for accountability metrics grows, there is an increased urgency for traditional media companies to develop and embrace new business models that incorporate digital strategies in order to drive business over the next decade."
BIA and The Kelsey Group project the interactive share of local ad spending will more than double from 9% in 2008 to 22.25 over the period, in monetary terms an increase from USD 14 billion in 2008 to USD 32.1 billion in 2013 (at a CAGR of 18%). The traditional segment including newspapers, direct mail, and broadcasting, will it predicts fall from USD 141.3 billion in 2008 to USD 112.4 billion in 2013 (CAGR of -4.5%).
Neal Polachek, CEO, The Kelsey Group, added, "The share shift we expect could actually be more pronounced if the major traditional media are not able to integrate new interactive products into their bundle. Successful integration will require considerable attention to business models, product innovation and sales channel evolution."
Regarding U.S. mobile advertising revenues (search and display), the Kelsey Group predicts that this will grow to USD 3.1 billion in 2013, from USD 160 million in 2008, representing a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 81.2 %. Within the figures, the firm forecasts mobile local search advertising revenues will increase from USD 20 million to USD 1.3 billion, a CAGR of 130.5 %.
"As mobile data consumption rises, we expect local marketing to be a big winner," said Michael Boland, program director, Mobile Local Media (MLM), The Kelsey Group. "There is a strong correlation between local search and the mobile use case, which will cause a good portion of the ongoing mobile application boom to focus on local."
2009-02-26: The BBC has announced that Peter Horrocks, currently head of the corporation's Multi Media Newsroom has been appointed as Director of BBC World Service. He will succeed Nigel Chapman, who is leaving the BBC after more than three decades with the corporation to head the children's charity Plan International.
Commenting on the appointment in a news release, Richard Sambrook, Director of BBC Global News, said, "I am delighted that Peter is the new Director of BBC World Service. His experience as a strong editorial leader, coupled with his considerable energy and drive, will be a powerful asset as BBC World Service looks to build on its premier position in the global media landscape."
Horrocks joined the BBC in October 1981 as a news trainee and the posts he has held include Editor of both Newsnight and Panorama - the BBC's domestic flagship television current affairs programmes and Head of Current Affairs, a post he held until his move to his current role in September 2005.
He will take up his new post in April and commented of the appointment, "I'm very proud to have been given the chance to lead the world's most exceptional group of journalists and programme makers."
2009-02-26: Saga has become the latest US radio company to introduce pay cuts. As of March 13 employees - full and part-time will find their pay packets cut by 5% but they will gain two additional floating holidays this year as some recompense.
President and CEO Ed Christian, in an internal memo on the current US economic climate says that the company has to make some short-term economies, adding, "Are we endangered or in jeopardy? No, but we are challenged as we never have been before. Despite aggressive sales initiatives and significant cost reductions already implemented, we need to build in additional expense savings to offset the severe revenue shortfalls we are experiencing and anticipate will continue. This is a necessity. It is not for corporate enrichment. This move, along with others (including current negotiations with our bank group), will allow us to serve our audiences, our clients and our banks."
Christian adds that he hopes to restore original pay levels soon.
Elsewhere cuts continue - in the case of Bonneville of around 5% of its Salt Lake City employees according to the Desert News which quotes a Bonneville spokesman Craig Haslam as saying, "Our Salt Lake Radio Group has had to reduce its overall staff (90-plus) by five. The move was a business decision, purely in response to the harsh realities of current economic and market conditions, nothing else. Period. It truly was a very painful decision to make, because all five were exceptional, talented and highly capable employees."
The paper says that amongst those dropped was KSFI-FM veteran midday host Bob Nelson, who has been with the station since 1983, adding that the others were said to be a traffic reporter, a KSL news reporter, a producer and a salesperson.
Deseret News report:
2009-02-26: The delayed sale of the assets of international satellite operator WorldSpace, due to have started on Wednesday (See RNW Feb 23 )has been further delayed to March 6.
WorldSpace's former European partner New Satellite Radio SrL (NSR) had claimed that that WorldSpace was selling assets it was not entitled to, allegations that WorldSpace in a filing to a Delaware bankruptcy court said were "unfounded and unconvincing."
The filing related to agreements with NSR, Worldspace Italia, and WorldSpace to provide more than 40 audio channels on WorldSpace's Afristar satellite to Europe, specifically to Italy.
WorldSpace says NSR has at most a contractual right concerning future use of Afristar spectrum but no ownership right in the broadcasting capacity.
2009-02-26: Last week the news was yet again mainly gloom as far as US radio was concerned, gloom reflected in most of the comment but there were some exceptions and we start our weekly look at print comment on radio with one of them, from the Sioux Falls Argus Leader.
The report by BryAnn Becker is of course not about commercial radio but rather college radio which are said to "embrace broadcasting freedom by offering community programs, local music and more."
The first mention is of Augustana College's KAUR-FM, which has a "no Top 40" rule, with the exception of Sioux Falls bands and Becker comments that although college radio stations in the area still have student-run programmes they're "reaching beyond the confines of the college campus" in terms of programming and of course by adding live streams of their output to the broadcast signal.
The "the new format for college radio" says Becker is "radio that includes community-member-run programs, a focus on local music and a progression toward new technology, with Web streaming and podcasts."
Many students are unaware of student stations says Becker but "community members are tuning in. The host for KAUR's heavy metal show, "Anthems of Rebellion," Michael Scott, gauges that most of the audience is made up of community members, including a following at the South Dakota State Penitentiary."
Stations also host community-run programming including some in languages other than English - Spanish is an obvious choice but University of Sioux Falls' KCFS-FM also has an Ethiopian language programme, the only one in South Dakota.
KCFS's faculty adviser, professor Gerry Schlenker, says the community programs are learning experiences, commenting, "As a college station, that is really one of the things I think we relish for a number of reasons. ... It allows us to really connect with community entities and minority groups, for example. It gives our students exposure to a variety of cultures."
Station manager Ryan Gage, an art and graphic design major, notes that KCFS has more than 40 local bands in its library and adds, "We cater heavily to local music and to the local music scene in general."
After localism in practice as opposed to theory on to the national stage and Rush Limbaugh who from an outsider's point of view seems to have done his best to patronise President Obama in a Wall Street Journal commentary headed, "Mr. President, Keep the Airwaves Free. As a former law professor, surely you understand the Bill of Rights. "
Last October of course, Limbaugh was accusing the President to be of being "an anti-constitutional professor" who has "flatly rejected" the U.S. Constitution - a view based on Obama's comments during a panel discussion on how the Founders addressed the issue of slavery in the Constitution.
Limbaugh in the Wall Street Journal appears to us to be adopting the same approach he did with Obama's comments on the constitution - neglecting those parts of the comments that don't fit in with his propaganda line.
He writes that the President "singled me out directly, admonishing members of Congress not to listen to my show" - in fact Obama said to GOP representatives in a meeting with lawmakers from both parties, "You can't just listen to Rush Limbaugh and get things done", which is not the same thing. The President does not say people should not listen to Limbaugh but does put the host down - he could without any contradiction have continued on to say that they should listen to Limbaugh to study how far propaganda and bigotry has progressed from the more crude and open style of the past in some nations (And no we're not suggesting Obama did say anything like this, just suggesting on our own behalf that Limbaugh were to spend some time studying his nation's prime language and develop a bump of honesty his whole current shtick would be impossible to sustain).
Limbaugh's article itself starts off, "I have a straightforward question, which I hope you will answer in a straightforward way: Is it your intention to censor talk radio through a variety of contrivances, such as "local content," "diversity of ownership," and "public interest" rules -- all of which are designed to appeal to populist sentiments but, as you know, are the death knell of talk radio and the AM band?"
The question to anyone who thinks about it for a moment is not a straightforward question: It is more of a rhetorical polemic and the article that follows if deconstructed in terms of what is actually said, what is actually meant, and then examined in light of US history is propaganda rather than reasoned argument (FindLaw has a section on the First Amendment that on "Government Restraint of Content of Expression" is here - with links backwards and forwards to discussion of other First Amendment Issues)
Within it however are some points that could have been developed productively in relation to the First Amendment but regrettably in our view Limbaugh spends too much time on ego-preening (When I began my national talk show in 1988, no one, including radio industry professionals, thought my syndication would work ) and not enough on developing Limbaugh's argument ( the big issue was broadcast content. It is no accident that the AM band was dying under the so-called Fairness Doctrine, which choked robust debate about important issues because of its onerous attempts at rationing the content of speech) through backing it up with detail of how the public interest would be better served by allowing continuation of the current system and damaged by, for example, measures to increase "diversity of ownership" that on the surface would seem likely to increase diversity of expressed viewpoints or "local content", which would also seem likely to increase the overall expression of views and neither of which need in any way involve the government in mandating any kind of control over content.
In our view it's an issue that is worth proper discussion and a poor reflection on the Limbaugh article that it does not use the platform to do so: For those interested in reading the Limbaugh piece, the link as usual is at the end of this report.
After one kind of freedom of speech to another, that of a host to continue airing crude remarks: The host concerned is Peter Boyles of Clear Channel's KHOW-AM, Denver, who as a report from David Montero of the now-defunct Rocky Mountain News (The site was still up when we last checked but for how long it will remain there is unclear) makes clear, thought it was amusing to term U.S. Rep. Diana DeGette "Vagina DeGette" on air.
Boyles first made the comment after President Obama mispronounced deGette's name as "DeJette" providing an opportunity for Boyles to poke fun with his variation on the theme.
Clear Channel has asked Boyle to call it a day on use of the term - he aid he was "Done with it" but insisted, "It was funny to me. It remains funny to me. I'm not apologetic."
As usual the readers' responses are as or more illuminating than the report itself (Our view is that albeit slightly puerile, as an off-the cuff remark the description is likely at most to raise a chuckle or smile but after the first time, repetition soon becomes self-indulgent as well as childish and offensive).
Then back to the US radio business and more from Jerry Del Colliano's insidemusicmedia blog - this time his argument that even if radio is "recession-proof" it's still in trouble. Del Colliano comments in terms of the attitude of traditional media executives - be they from newspapers, radio or TV with the recording company executives thrown in for good measure - to social networking.
From this he goes on to argue that "the heart of radio's problems is not financial" postulating that revenues could come back but listeners are unlikely to - "especially the 80 million or so members of Gen Y who see nothing special in a radio or what's broadcast on it. And without the next generation, radio has no future."
To support his argument Del Colliano cites the popularity of social networking and suggests that "broadcasting as a concept is outdated" because of the practices of "today's techno-socio consumers" commenting that "News, music and communication is no longer separate the way traditional media companies want it to be. Today's consumers expect to click when they want to hear, click when they want to read and click when they want to see. Radio, television and print alone is so - 90's."
He puts argument quite neatly in one segment of the blog: "Even recessions and Depressions eventually end and prosperity returns. But not to livery stables, steam engine railroads and candle makers" and goes on to say, "Today's radio CEOs are bankrupt alright. In their knowledge of social networking, mobile content, generational media and the digital future."
And finally speculation as to what may well be the factor that saves Sirius XM - no not programming, not subscribers but a vital factor in attracting financing in the shorter-term. The factor of course comes in the form of tax and the auto industry - in this case Rick Aristotle Munarriz in The Motley Fool even speaks of nationalizing the company, commenting, "There are two huge advantages to nationalizing Sirius XM: the company's tax-loss carry-forwards and the significance of satellite radio to the ailing automotive industry. Billions rest in the balance of either reason."
We doubt the latter reason will have much effect on the company's future but suspect the first one is an important factor in that any profitably company taking over Sirius XM: Munarriz writes that a "tactfully nimble and careful acquirer would be able to offset a similar amount of pre-tax profits, saving the company at least USD 2 billion on their tax bill. More than USD 2 billion in extra pocket change would sound great to companies like Liberty Media and EchoStar -- and an even better deal to the truly profitable media giants like Comcast and Viacom -- but it would mean at least USD 2 billion less in taxable revenue for the government."
On then to listening suggestions starting with a potential five-hour marathon in the form of the 2008 Massey Lectures, given by novelist Margaret Attwood, and now on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation web site (Here - The first and last appear to be available as downloads, the other three as streams, each 55 mins).
The topic was debt and Attwood explores it not in an accountant's manner but as an investigation into the idea and forms which it takes - obligations to society, a spouse, and of course Shylock's pound of flesh.
Then to the BBC for some programmes we've already caught from the start of the week beginning with BBC Radio 2 and from Monday the eight of 13 episodes of the "Viva Latino!" series plus the second of four "Wish You Were There" programmes about particular concerts, in this case Richard Hawley's view of a 1964 gig in Sheffield by Little Walter.
The from Tuesday we suggest for former Prime Ministerial aide Alastair Campbell in one of "Dermot O'Leary's Time Capsules", talking in this case about his political career, nervous breakdown and new career plus "Carmen Miranda: The Lady In The Tutti Frutti Hat", the second of three programmes.
We also note that on Wednesday Mike Harding's show features a tribute to singer-songwriter and guitarist John Martyn and that on Friday the channel has the third and final part of "Still Walking: The Fats Domino Story" and in "Listen to the Band", the BBC Radio 2 Young Brass Soloist of 2009 finalists.
Switching to BBC Radio 4 we opt for from the weekend "Archive on 4" from Saturday, a look by Jenni Murray at the history of personal advice, from the agony aunts to the phone-in; from Sunday "Analysis" - "Rolling Stones" in which Alison Wolf asks whether human beings have an innate need to travel.
Throughout the week we suggest the "Book of the Week" -"Constable in Love" Martin Gayford's account of John Constable's battle to win the hand of his future wife plus the "Afternoon Reading" (Tuesday onwards).
From Monday we go for "The Afternoon Play -The Nine Days Queen" - Amanda Whittington's version of trial of Lady Jane Grey; "The Food Programme" on the history of the potato; and the second part of the three-part "Islam and Science."
From Tuesday we suggest "Colour Me White"- Aasmah Mir's report on the skin lightening industry in Britain ; "There Was a Young Man from Limerick" in which John Hegley celebrates the limerick and delves into its history plus "File on 4" in which Grant Ferrett investigates the sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe by Britain and Europe.
From BBC Radio 3 we suggest the regular weekday "Essay" - "Head in the Clouds" - five looks at clouds from various angles; from Thursday the "Handel Opera Cycle" featuring a performance of Handel's mythical 'opera seria' Amadigi di Gaula and "Night Waves" - "The Atomic Bomb", an edition exploring the culture and politics of the atom bomb; from Friday "The Verb" in which Ian McMillan presents a new drama written specially for The Verb, from the BBC writersroom ; from Saturday "World Routes" featuring Romanian band Taraf de Haidouks performing gypsy-inspired classics by Bartok and Falla , "Jazz Library" on the work of tenor saxophonist Dexter Gordon, and "The Wire" - "Salmonella Men on Planet Porno", an adaptation of Yasutaka Tsutsui's sci-fi black comedy set on Planet Porno.
Our final suggestion from Radio 3 is Sunday's "Iain Burnside", which looks at "Classical Music in Film Soundtracks", "The Sunday Feature" - "The Black Cube" in which Navid Akhtar talks about the Ka'aba, a shrine in the Grand Mosque in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, "Words and Music" - "An American Landscape" in which Ian Barford and Jeff Perry read works on the theme of the American landscape, and "Jazz Line-Up" featuring pianist Liam Noble and drummer Paul Clarvis.
Moving back to BBC Radio 4, we suggest from Wednesday "How to Explain Europe" in which Mark Mardell comments on why it is so hard to explain what goes on in Brussels to a UK audience; from Thursday "In Our Time" featuring discussion of TS Eliot's seminal poem The Wasteland, "The Art of Litter" in which John Wilson explores the reasons why some artists use rubbish in their work, and "Analysis" in which Richard Reeves, director of the think tank Demos, argues that social housing has failed; from Friday "The News Quiz" - the last in the current series, and the Omnibus Edition of "America, Empire of Liberty", covering The Great Depression, the New Deal, Pearl Harbor and dropping the atomic bomb; and from Saturday, "Archive on Four" - "A Strong Song Tows Us - Another History of English Poetry."
Moving on to some other podcasts, and first Radio Netherlands with Thursday's "Earthbeat", an edition in which in International Polar Year, the programme looks at the latest research coming out of the polar areas plus Saturday's "The State We're In" featuring amongst other things a look at the right people have to their money when a bank crashes; the right no to marry as in forced arranged marriages and polygamy in Kenya - dying out it would appear;
Then from the Australian Broadcasting Corporation we suggest last Saturday's "All in the Mind" on "The philosophy of good intentions" and Thursday's "Australia Talks", an edition on bushfire and animals.
RNW Note: We may further update listening suggestions further.
Previous Del Colliano:
Argus Leader- B Lecker:
Insidemusicmedia - Del Colliano:
Motley Fool - Munarriz:
Rocky Mountain News - Montero:
Wall Street Journal - Limbaugh:
2009-02-25: Arbitron has revealed in an 8-K filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) that it is dumping Owen Charlebois, its President, Technology, Research and Development, of the Company as of March 22, 2009, as part of a strategic review of its operations that has eliminated his position and also that of President, Sales and Marketing, currently held by Pierre Bouvard.
Bouvard is being kept on as Executive Vice President, Sales and Arbitron adds that Charlebois will receive severance pay under the terms of an Executive Retention Agreement agreed with him and other executives including Executive Vice President, Finance and Planning & Chief Financial Officer Sean R. Creamer and Executive Vice President, New Product Development, Portable People Meter Linda Dupree in August last year.
During that month New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo's office announced an investigation of Arbitron over the sale of around USD 8 million of stock in 2007 by eight executives just before the disclosure of criticism of sampling for its Portable People Meter (PPM) ratings that hit its share price. Charlebois
Charlebois sold around USD 1.5 million of stock in October 2007 whilst Bouvard and Dupree sold around USD 2 million of stock each in October and November that year. Companypay.com shows Charlebois as receiving around USD 533,000 in pay and bonuses and his 2007 fiscal year total remuneration was around USD 655,000.
Charlebois will receive a pay-off according to an agreed formula and also medical and life insurance benefits until re-employed with equivalent benefits or for 18 months following termination.
2009-02-25: Liberty Media, which earlier this month rescued Sirius XM from an imminent bankruptcy filing with USD 530 million in loans (See RNW Feb 17) that will see it end up with 40% of the company has described the investment as "driven by the appeal of the Sirius XM service and the attractive terms of the securities."
The comment came from Liberty President and CEO Greg Maffei as the company posted its final quarter an full year 2008 for its Liberty Capital group, Liberty Interactive group and Liberty Entertainment group.
Liberty Interactive group's revenue was down 4% to USD 2.38 billion in the fourth quarter and up 4% to USD 8.08 billion for the year; that for the Entertainment group's revenue was up 26% to USD 360 million in the fourth quarter and up 22% to USD 1.39 billion for the year; and Liberty Capital group's revenue increased 44% to USD 131 million in the fourth quarter and 27% to USD 617 million for the year.
Adjusted OIBDA respectively was down 21% to USD 432 million in the fourth quarter and 8% to USD 1.56 billion for the year for Interactive; up 143% to USD 107 million for the quarter and 27% to USD 324 million for the year for Entertainment; and down 20% to USD 106 million in the fourth quarter and up 40% to USD 294 million for the year for Liberty Capital.
The company has also announced plans to split-off a majority of the assets and liabilities currently attributed to the Liberty Entertainment group into a separate public company.
Previous Liberty Media:
Previous Sirius XM:
2009-02-25: UK media regulator Ofcom has announced the award of four new community radio licences for stations in Suffolk but opted not to grant a licence to a fifth applicant.
Getting licences are:
Blyth Valley Radio (Southwold) - offering a service to Southwold and surrounding villages and thus enabling local community and charitable, social and voluntary organisations to promote themselves.
Felixstowe Radio - offering a service to he Colneis Peninsular, including Felixstowe, Walton and surrounding villages. It will provide local news and information, including port and other maritime information, as well as entertainment.
Radio West Suffolk - offering a service to Bury St Edmunds and the surrounding area that will feature among other things local musicians and live events from venues in the area.
Forest Heath Public Radio - offering a service to the Forest Heath area of West Suffolk and intending to offer programmes with social action content so listeners can make more informed choices about their own lives, programmes in languages other than English and engage with young people - to give them a sense of belonging and self-worth.
The rejected fifth application came from Coast Community Radio (Clacton-on-Sea, Essex).
2009-02-25: SNL Kagan has predicted a stronger financial future for broadcast radio after a difficult 2009 with station values expected to recover some of the ground lost in the "leverage hangover" of recent years.
Its study "Radio Station Deals and Finance" said SNL Kagan senior analyst Robin Flynn comments, "In recent years, radio has suffered from a 'leverage hangover'. "Back in 2002, equity made up, on average, 76% of total market cap. However, that flipped in 2008, with 73% of total cap representing debt obligations."
The study shows a"huge decline" in deal dollar volume in 2008, a trend expected to persist in 2009 - radio station sales dropped significantly from USD 2.2 billion in 2007 to USD 932 million in 2008, with the average price per station also falling from USD 2.9 million to USD 1.6 million and SNL Kagan says it anticipates more forced sales, Chapter 11 reorganizations and declining cash flow multiples in the first half of 2009, as station owners cope with the weak ad market.
Of the current situation, Flynn added, "Companies are now focused on reducing expenses and debt, and they will emerge from the current economic crisis with a more conservative business model, leading to revenue growth and at least partial recovery in station values off of today's historically depressed levels. With more than 235 million listeners, broadcast radio still remains a viable business in the long term."
2009-02-24: Entercom has recorded final quarter 2008 revenues down 14% on a year earlier to USD 104.1 million with station operating income and EBITDA each down 25% to USD 39.3 million and USD 35.3 million respectively - same station net revenues were down 14% and same station operating revenues down 25%.
Entercom's bottom line was hit by a non-cash after-tax (before adjustment for the impact of a valuation allowance) intangible impairment charge of USD 395.2 million in the quarter, making its net loss USD 429.8 million compared to USD 9.36 million a year earlier ( from 25 cents to USD 11.91 per basic and diluted share).
For the full year Entercom's net revenues fell 6.3% to USD 438.8 million with operating income moving from a positive 41.9 million to a loss of USD 710.3 million and a net loss of USD 8.36 million increasing to USD 516.65 million ( From a loss of 22 cents to USD 14.05 per basic and diluted share).
During the quarter, the Company reduced its outstanding debt by USD 41.5 million, including the repurchase of USD 8.5 million of its Senior Subordinated Notes at a discount and repurchased 0.8 million shares of common stock for USD 0.7 million.
President and CEO David J. Field commented of the performance, "In the face of difficult general economic conditions that are adversely impacting advertising revenues, Entercom has taken significant measures to improve our short-term performance and enhance our long term prospects. We have materially reduced expenses, while at the same time increased our investment in various digital and new revenue initiatives."
"We also are pleased," he added, "to note that in 2008, Entercom posted a three percent increase in free cash flow and reduced long term debt by USD 140 million. Finally, as we look to the future, we note that the fundamentals of the radio business remain strong. At a time of unprecedented change in media usage that is severely impairing a number of other media, radio posted an all-time record number of listeners in 2008 and remains the most cost effective major advertising medium in the nation."
At the company's conference call he expanded the positive note, commenting that Entercom had produced "excellent results" in a some markets - Buffalo, Denver, Milwaukee, Norfolk, and Wichita were mentioned - and also that radio had increased its audience in 2008 and was still "the most cost-effective major advertising medium."
Field spoke of being "optimistic" about the future, commenting, "Despite the current issues facing everyone in this economy, over the long haul, radio's future is quite bright."
Asked about performance so far this year he said January was down 18% but expressed "certain degree of optimism" about the second half of the year.
2009-02-24: BBC World Service South Asian services will be hit by a one-day strike on Thursday following a vote of National Union of Journalists members in the affected services in which 87% were in favour of industrial action over management proposals to offshore all Hindi output and halve the London output of the Urdu and Nepali services:The service has already cut a number of language services and in June last year dropped its Romanian service, the last non-English service to an EU member country (See RNW Jun 26,2008)
The union says the plans could lead to 34 redundancies in three departments with staff either having to lose their jobs or move to Islamabad, Delhi or Kathmandu on significantly worse terms and conditions.
NUJ Broadcasting Organiser Paul McLaughlin said of the move, "In light of the strong ballot result, our members will be taking strike action next Thursday. This will be the first of many actions on this issue unless the BBC comes back to the table to negotiate."
Another union affected - BECTU - noted that the plans are part of a BBC plan to save 3% of its costs year-on-year and move to smaller premises in 2012. It has been pressing the BBC to recognize that the plans threaten editorial independence since broadcasts from the region will be subject to local laws: it also says the disruption is likely to lead to a loss of expertise and Helen Ryan, BBC supervisory official, said of the situation, "It is a great disappointment that more than eight months of talks have culminated in strike action. However, the issues at stake are fundamental to the character of the World Service and to the conditions which staff work to."
The BBC says it is "disappointed" by the action and claims its plans will "create new opportunities for staff and greatly improve our service to our audiences in the region."
The NUJ is also opposing moves by The Local Radio Company to merge the newsrooms of ten of its local radio stations in the south of England that could lead to between six and 12 redundancies.
The plans would mean journalists in Plymouth could be required to cover news and sport in places such as Aylesbury and Eastbourne, which are 90 miles (145km) and 70 miles (113km) from Portsmouth in different directions
Stations involved are stations included are Mix 96 at Aylesbury, Mix 107 at High Wycombe, Wessex FM in Dorset, Spire in Salisbury, Isle of Wight Radio, Spirit in Chichester, Quay in Portsmouth, Fire in Bournemouth, Sovereign in Hailsham, and Arrow in Hastings, which would be supplied with 45-90 second news bulletins - to be ready by station DJs - from a Portsmouth news centre staffed by a news editor, five news reporters and two sports reporters in addition to which some stations will also have a "content manager" - paid less than a journalist - to record audio for news and programming.
NUJ Deputy General Secretary Michelle Stanistreet said the plan "represents more than cutbacks. The news service across the south is being totally gutted. Loyal staff - who work long hours for low pay - are being forced to re-apply for what are effectively their old jobs while listeners are being short-changed by radio stations they regard warmly as part of the local community.
"Ofcom - the regulator - have not intervened so it is left to the NUJ to Stand Up for Journalism."
Ofcom according to the UK Guardian is also planning to remove an existing rule that prohibits new commercial radio stations from changing their format within two years of their launch.
Ofcom has not so far posted formal notice of the change but the paper says it was agreed by Ofcom's radio licensing committee at its meeting on Monday and will come into effect immediately.
The rule was introduced to prevent stations from applying for licences - which are awarded on the basis of the plans put forward - for a format with the knowledge that they could then immediately apply to change it and the paper says that it to drop the rule because the reason for its existence had largely gone because it is not planning to advertise any more analogue commercial licences.
Stations potentially affected by the change include stations affected by the change are Jack FM in Oxford, Sunshine FM in Hereford and Monmouth, Liverpool's Citytalk, Smooth FM in north-east England, Exeter FM, Southend FM, Rock Radio in Manchester and Perth FM..
Previous Local Radio Company:
UK Guardian report:
2009-02-24: Mexican Radio Group Grupo Radio Centro, S.A.B. de C.V. has announced final quarter 2008 revenues up 15% on a year earlier to MXN 231.3 million (USD 16.73 million) with full year revenues 12.3% to MXN 735.1 million (USD 53.15 million): Operating income was up 13.6% for the quarter to MXN 94.095 million (USD 6.8 million) and up 28.3% for the year to MXN 236.574 million (USD 17.1 million).
Net income for the final quarter of last year rose 26.9% year on year to MXN 57.693 million (USD 4.17 million) and for the full year was up 39.1% to MXN 126.675 million (USD 9.17 million).
Previous Grupo Radio:
2009-02-23: The New Zealand Broadcasting Standards authority has upheld complaints against Radioworks Ltd.'s station "The Edge" over its broadcast against her wishes of a woman's mobile phone number, an action that subsequently led to her receiving abusive texts.
The woman had written to the station to ask that the hosts stop making fun of people from other countries leading them to call her. She expressed her concerns and then ended the call, having been told she was not on the radio, at which stage one of the hosts commented, "If you would like to learn to be a better person " and started giving out her phone number. The other host interrupted to tell him not to give out the number but he continued and gave the whole number.
Subsequently she made a formal complaint to the station, pointing out that she had received some 60 text messages, many highly abusive including texts that said, "I really thought wat u said on the radio yesterday was a lot of shit you fucking slut"; "Go bak 2 the usa douchbag"; and "Ur a real egg u dnt know shit bout our country so pis off bak 2 ur own at least we dnt go round shoting poor innocent kids in schools."
RadioWorks in response had accepted that the phone number should not have been broadcast - a breach of New Zealand broadcasting rules - and also that the hosts had breached the rules by calling her and telling her she was not being broadcast when in fact she was. It said the programme director had been spoken to as a result of the complaint and had reprimanded the staff involved and apologized for the inconvenience caused, and was confident that this host would not repeat the behaviour.
The complainant felt the action was inadequate and referred the complaint to the Authority, which was told by RadioWorks that it felt its response had been adequate and also noted that the complainant had not incurred any costs because of the breach.
In its ruling the Authority said the actions had "amounted to serious breaches of the fairness and privacy standards" and noted that this was the second time a serious breach of the privacy standard has occurred involving this particular programme and its hosts
It took the view that an offer of financial compensation limited to actual financial loss by the complainant was inadequate and commented that "the breach of privacy was sufficiently serious to justify some form of compensation, and it now orders RadioWorks to pay NZD 1500 (USD 760) to the complainant.
Previous New Zealand Broadcasting Standards Authority:
2009-02-23: Stephen Sykes, an 18-year-old trombonist from Somerset who is principal trombone of The National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain, is BBC Radio 2's Young Brass Soloist 2009.
His winning performance of Hoagy Carmichael's Stardust and Philip Wilby's White Knuckle Ride will be broadcast this Friday on the station along with performances from the three other finalists, 17-year-old French horn player Lauren Reeve-Rawlings from Wiltshire; 19-year-old flugel horn player David Moore from Stalybridge; and 18-year-old euphonium player Matthew White from Lancashire.
As part of his reward Stephen receives an invitation to perform alongside a championship standard brass band with a guaranteed broadcast on Radio 2 and an appearance on the network's flagship live music programme "Friday Night Is Music Night."
2009-02-23: The Chapter 11 bankruptcy auction of international satellite radio operator WorldSpace is finally due to commence this morning albeit in circumstances where it is being challenged by creditor New Satellite Radio SrL, effectively representing partners in its European operations and subject to bids from qualified entities - the previous sale process was abandoned because there were no qualified bidders..
New Satellite Radio has asked to see bids submitted on the basis that among assets WorldSpace has put up for sale are Non-Debtor assets in which it "has an indirect interest and which are vital to its business."
Qualified bids had to be submitted last Wednesday and the auction will take place in the New York offices of international law firm Shearman & Sterling LLP but then goes before Judge Peter J Walsh on Wednesday.
2009-02-23: The Australian Broadcasting Corporation is claiming to be the market leader amongst international broadcasters in the Pacific following research it has commissioned that revealed strong figures for the ABC's international radio and online broadcasting arm - Radio Australia.
Radio Australia's CEO Hanh Tran put the success partly down to a move to FM, commenting, "These figures show how we have re-invented ourselves by broadcasting in target centres through our 24 hour FM transmission, as opposed to 5 years ago, where we only broadcast into the Pacific via shortwave transmission."
The survey figures show the highest listening in Vanuatu (Port Vila and Santo) where 58.2% of the audience had listened to a Radio Australia programme in the previous seven days. It was followed by the Solomon Islands (Honiara) with 56.9% and then Papua New Guinea (Port Moresby & Lae) and Fiji (Port Moresby & Lae), each with 27.3%, and finally Samoa (Apia) with 22.7%.
The research was commissioned from Fijian based group, Tebbutt Research to cover 5 Pacific nation capitals and major urban centres and John Westland, Manager of Radio Australia's Partnerships. Commented of the findings, "Radio is a mature medium in the Pacific with numerous local services based in each region, making the range of choice for local audiences diverse. Establishing distinctive content in this important neighbouring marketplace has been a priority for us and something we have worked hard over the past 5 years at achieving."
Radio Australia still broadcasts via shortwave but now also via 11 FM transmitters in major urban centres throughout the Pacific, with an expected 3 more transmitters to be included in the Northern Pacific by the end of the year.
Previous ABC, Australia:
2009-02-23: UK media regulator Ofcom upheld no radio complaints in its latest bulletin in which it upheld standards complaints in four TV cases, gave details of two more that it had not upheld. It also upheld a TV fairness and privacy complaint and gave details of two complaints against another TV programme that were not upheld.
In addition to the above Ofcom also listed without details 288 TV complaints against 161 items and 15 radio complaints against 15 items that it did not uphold or were considered out of its remit: This compared to 266 TV complaints against 150 items and 23 radio complaints against 18 items that were listed in the previous bulletin.
Previous Ofcom Complaints Bulletin:
2009-02-22: Last week was yet another of comparatively few announcements relating to radio from the regulators: In Australia, the only radio-related announcement from the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) was a proposal to make changes to allow commercial services 4RBL and 4BRZ to address deficient coverage in the Queensland communities of Burrum Heads, Fraser Island and Childers.
The ACMA at the request of the licensee- Rebel Radio Network - is planning to increase the maximum power allowed for transmitters currently planned for Mt Goonaneman near Childers, make FM frequencies available for 4RBL and 4BRZ translator services at Eurong on Fraser Island and remove an FM frequency already planned for 4RBL in Burrum Heads.
In Canada, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) as well as making a few radio postings also opened a public hearing on broadcasting in the New Media environment: Radio-related postings included the following:
*Approval of application by Astral Media to change the frequency of its transmitter VF2329, Big White Mountain, which carries the signal of CILK-FM, Kelowna, from 103.9 MHz to 93.1 MHz and increase it antenna height. The request was triggered by approval of an application by Vista Radio Ltd. to operate its new FM radio station in Kelowna at 103.9 MHz.
The change would change the status of the transmitter, currently a low-power unprotected service, to a Class A protected transmitter.
The CRTC also posted details of applications processed under its streamlined procedures from Nov 1 to December 31, 2008, that did not require a public process.
These included the following radio-related decisions:
Change in authorized contours of Canadian Broadcasting Corporation's transmitter, CBR-1-FM, Calgary.
*Change in effective control of TFG Communications Inc., licensee of CJEF-FM, Saint-John, and its transmitter CJEF-FM-1, Rothesay, through the transfer of all issued shares from Geoffrey Rivett to Ryanne Holdings Inc., a corporation owned and controlled by Robert Pritchard.
*Change in authorized contours of Canadian Broadcasting Corporation's transmitter, CBAF-FM-21, Bon Accord.
*Change in authorized contours of Canadian Broadcasting Corporation's transmitter, CBZC-FM, Bon Accord.
*Change in the authorized contours of Hope FM Ministries Limited's English-language CINU-FM, Truro.
*Extension to March 2 of time limit to commence operations of new FM ethnic radio station to serve Windsor that was authorized in May last year. This is the final extension that will be granted.
*Extension to 16 July of the time limit for Windsor Pentecostal Church to commence operations of non-commercial, low-power English-language Religious FM serving Grand Falls/Windsor, approved in Jan 2007.
*Change in the contours of English language commercial stations CKDR-2-FM, Sioux Lookout.
The CRTC also posted notice of consultation with March 24 deadline for submission of interventions or comments:
*Application by My Broadcasting Corporation (MBC), on behalf of 2079966 Ontario Inc. (2079966), seeking authority to take over 2079966, licensee of CIYN-FM, Kincardine, and its transmitter in Goderich. The licensee is also seeking to add a 3,100 watts transmitter in Port Elgin. The transaction value is USD 1 million (USD 799,000) without the Port Elgin transmitter and USD 1.125 million (USD 899,000) if the Port Elgin application is granted.
*Application by Société de communication Ikito Pikogan ltée , licensee of native Type B radio programming undertaking CKAG-FM, Pikogan, to relocate its transmitter and increase effective radiated power from 50 watts to 3,738 watts.
In Ireland, the Broadcasting Commission of Ireland (BCI) has signed a contract with Choice Broadcasting Limited (trading as 4FM) for the provision of a music driven Multi-City FM service, the country's first such service. It will broadcast to Dublin City, County and Commuter belt, Cork City and County, Limerick City and County, Galway City and County and Co. Clare. With a service targeting the over-45s
Programming will be a broad mix of music ranging across five decades, as well as specialist programmes on specific music genres including jazz, songs from films and shows and, soul whilst speech output will include regular news bulletins, sports, travel and traffic reports and a range of information and features
BCI chairperson Conor Maguire said they were "delighted to sign this contract with 4FM, the first contract of its kind in Ireland" adding, "The Commission believes that this multi-city service is a unique offering which will bring diversity from a content and listenership perspective. I would like to wish all involved in 4FM every success in launching the station and for the duration of their contract".
The BCI also launched its 2009 Community Broadcasting Support Scheme that provides funding support for licensed community/community of interest radio and community television services. Fund allocation for the year has been increased to Euros 65,000 (USD 83,100).
In the UK, Colette Bowe has been confirmed as the new Ofcom Chairman from March (See RNW Feb 20): Ofcom also announced details of the second round of grants for its 2008/09 Community Radio Fund for which it considered 56 applications - a further three were not considered as the stations have not yet gone on air - making grants totalling just below GBP 216,000 (USD 310,000). The grants ranged from GBP 10,000 (USD 14,370) to GBP 29,000 (USD 41,700) with the average being just below GBP 14,400 (USD 20,700).
Ofcom also said it will invite applications for the first round of funding for 2009/10 on April 15, adding that it does not yet know how much funding will be available for the year although it expects it to be of the order of GBP 455,000 (USD 654,000).
In the US, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has been involved in a number of enforcement actions including (in order of penalty or proposed penalty):
*Issued USD 6,000 Notice of Apparent Liability for Forfeiture (NAL) to Cumulus Licensing LLC, licensee of WTWR-FM, Luna Pier, Michigan, for broadcasting a phone call without telling the other party it intended to do so or gaining consent.
The call was made following a 2006 motorcycle accident involving Pittsburgh Steelers Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (Big Ben) to a restaurant in which an employee was asked if the restaurant would continue to serve its "Big Ben" burger in view of the accident and joked about ways to serve the burger.
Cumulus admitted that producer and on-air personality, John DiModica, initiated the call, but denied that it recorded the conversation for broadcast and broadcast the call without obtaining consent: It said that the station had obtained the employee's consent after making the call but before broadcasting it and submitted a sworn declaration from DiModica and an archival recording of the conversation to support this assertion. It claimed that it did not violate the prohibition either on recording or live broadcast because it used a digital delay system and "dumps" the content if the call recipient objects to the broadcast and airs it subject to a ten-second delay if permission is obtained. It maintained that use of the digital delay system does not constitute a recording.
The FCC said the recording and transcript supplied supported Cumulus's assertion that it obtained permission before broadcasting the conversation but it clearly did not obtain consent before it began recording and it rejected arguments that the use of the digital delay system did not void the requirement to advise the recipient of a call of the intention to broadcast.
*Issued USD 3,000 NAL to Mid-Coast Radio Project, Inc., licensee of Non-commercial Educational Station KKFI-FM, Kansas City, Missouri, for late filing of renewal application and granted the renewal. It rejected objections to the renewal from two former station staff, an office administrator and former general manager, who had made various allegations, some that related to matters not within the agency's jurisdiction and also failure to have properly working Emergency Alert System (EAS) equipment, maintaining EAS records, and reporting tower lighting outages in a timely fashion. In relation to these it noted that an inspection in May 2007 revealed no EAS violations, no transmitter log violations and no tower lighting violations. .
*Issued USD 4,000 forfeiture to Citadel Broadcasting, licensee of WXTC-AM, Charleston, South Carolina, for failure to properly maintain the Station's public inspection file.
The FCC had issued a USD 9,000 NAL for the violations to which the company responded requesting cancellation or reduction on the basis that it had only become responsible for maintaining the file in June 2001 when it took control of the station - the issues/programs lists were missing from the public file from the third quarter of 1999 through the first quarter of 2003 - and because the amount was excessive compared to penalties imposed on other similar offenders.
The FCC accepted the argument that Citadel had been responsible for producing the lists relating to under half of the breaches and reduced the penalty to USD 4,000, commenting that this was in line with forfeitures ordered for similar violations.
*Reduced from a total of USD 16,500 to a total of USD 1,200 forfeiture on Discussion Radio, Inc., licensee of WDIS-AM, Norfolk, Massachusetts, for breaches of rules relating to license renewal, unauthorized operation of the station and maintenance of the station's Public File.
Discussion Radio had provided copies of its 2001, 2002 and 2003 Federal tax returns - showing net income of USD 1,622 on gross receipts of USD 18,786 in 2002 and losses of USD 5,322 on gross receipts of USD 11,879 in 2001 and off USD 7,009 on gross receipts of USD 15,343 in 2003.
The FCC commented that the "violations leading to the NAL were particularly egregious to the extent that the Commission found that renewal of the WDIS license presented a "very close question" and added that in this case it would "not rescind the forfeiture as DRI urges, but, in light of the financial information provided by DRI, will reduce the forfeiture amount to USD 1,200."
In two licensing decision the agency granted one petition for reconsideration and denied another: Granted was a petition from Christian Broadcasting, Inc. seeking reconsideration of the dismissal of its application and three related tech box submissions for new AM broadcast stations in Anchorage, Alaska: Christian Broadcasting had ticked the NCE box when it applied to take part in an FCC auction and under rules that gave precedence to commercial applicants when there are mutually exclusive applications and dismiss the NCE application unless all applicants successfully effect a settlement agreement or provide an engineering solution removing the mutual exclusivity.
It said that in doing so it had made an error because it believed it was required to identify only its legal classification , i.e., as "a non-profit corporation.
The FCC said that it recognized that the instructions it formerly issued - these have subsequently been amended - might have contributed to confusion and allowed the petition. Christian Broadcast was given 30 days to submit an amended application.
Denied was a petition from Money Matters Radio, Inc. to reverse denial of a Special Temporary Authority (STA) request to rebroadcast on a new FM translator the signal of WESO-AM, Southbridge, Massachusetts, in order to improve its night-time service.
Money Matters had no authorization for the site specified and STA was reversed on the basis of a footnote of a Notice of Proposed Rule Making that allowed it o only consider STAs where the FM translator was already authorized.
Reconsideration said the FCC was only allowed in such cases where the "petitioner either demonstrates a material error or omission in the underlying order or raises additional facts not known or not existing until after the petitioner's last opportunity to present such matters." In this case, it said, " MMR has not made any such showing."
Previous Licence News:
ACMA web site:
BCI web site:
CRTC web site:
FCC web site:
Ofcom web site:
2009-02-21: The Australian weather that led to brush fires that have so claimed at least 209 lives have also been a significant factor in a delay to the release of the first Australian radio ratings for this year.
The Nielsen Company has delayed the release, originally due next Tuesday, until March 5, because of a combination of the "the combination of the additional processing time required with the move to the enhanced collection methodology of single person placement plus the fact that the extreme weather conditions experienced in many states during the survey recruitment process delayed some of the field work.
Nielsen managing director Peter Cornelius said of the delay, "These factors are unprecedented and should not impact future survey releases during the year".
Previous Australian Radio Ratings:
2009-02-20: US radio revenues in 2008 were down 9% overall on 2007 to USD 19.478 billion with the third quarter down 11% on a year earlier to USD 4.649 billion according to the US Radio Advertising Bureau: Off-air revenues, which have been the only growth area for the year were up 1% for the quarter to USD 444 million and up 7% for the year to USD 1.79 million whilst network revenues were down 4% tor the quarter to USD 298 million and flat for the year at USD 1.15 billion.
Within traditional revenue figures, local revenues were down 15% for the quarter to USD 3.172 million and 10 % for the year to USD 13.607 million whilst national revenues fell 14% in the quarter to USD 735 million and 12% for the year to USD 2.93 billion: Combined local and national figures fell 13% in the final quarter to USD 3.907 billion and 10 for the year to USD 16.537 billion
The RAB said the medium's fortunes had paralleled the US economy during 2008, beginning on a note of optimism and ending with economic uncertainty.
It added, "Reflective of the consumer mindset, advertisers who focused on the home, as well as value or price, strengthened their commitments to Radio in Q4 and throughout the year, even as many traditional mainstay spenders pulled back on their advertising. Advertisers increasing Radio budgets may be heeding their own 'value' message and capitalizing on the medium's efficiencies."
RAB President and Chief Executive Officer Jeff Haley noted that some advertisers had increased their radio spending, noting, "Major retailers in big box, QSRs, supermarket, and home improvement came on strong in Q4, as did accounts in the Communications and Insurance categories."
Haley also noted a focus on off-air, commenting, "Radio's stepped up efforts to follow advertiser trends to emerging media channels paid off in 2008. Radio operators' commitment to growing Off-Air business opportunities netted a 7% increase in this platform for the year, despite a relatively small gain in Q4. This area will remain a focus as Radio rises to meet the challenges of 2009 and beyond. At the current growth rate, Off-Air is on target to reach USD 2 billion in 2009."
In terms of advertising areas, political revenues benefited from an electoral year with combined local and national spending of some USD 56 million in the final quarter in the thirty-five markets that report advertiser detail to Miller, Kaplan, Arase & Co., more than half the year's total of USD 108.3 million. Network radio according to TNS Media Intelligence saw annual political spending of USD 20.9 million of which USD 8.1 million was spent in the final quarter.
The RAB recorded final quarter increased in Home Improvement (49%), Grocery/Convenience/Liquor Stores (4%), and Professional Services (1%) whilst for the year there were increases in Professional Services (6%), Insurance (5%) and Restaurants (1%).
2009-02-20: The UK government has confirmed the appointment of Colette Bowe as chairman of media regulator Ofcom to replace Lord David Currie, who is stepping down after six years in the post: She will take up the post on March 11 for a five-year term.
Bowe will be paid GBP 200,000 (USD 287,000) a year for up to three-days a week.
2009-02-19: US progressive talk network Nova M has as expected filed for bankruptcy and its site now brings up a new name - the "On Second Thought - Talk Radio for Independent Minds" radio network.
On Second Thought says it will honour Nova M's commitments although it does not comment on the exit of host Randi Rhodes (See RNW Feb 18 ): In a message on the site its CEO, Dr Mike Newcomb, a doctor who specializes in treatment for the elderly and 2002 Democratic gubernatorial candidate for Arizona and host of the Mike Newcomb Show that aired on Nova M and remains on the new network, says the network will "continue to build upon the foundation laid by our predecessors and will work diligently to fulfil our fiduciary responsibilities to all investors and principals involved."
"Equally important," he adds, "we will, with the millions of faithful progressive listeners across the country, uphold our vision to promote freedom, social justice, economic justice and peace worldwide."
On Second Thoughts says it will "initially be offering a daily 9 hour block of programming with some of the most entertaining, engaging, experienced and provocative hosts America has to offer" and adds, "We look forward to adding more talent and innovative products to our network in the near future."
The current line-up - all for weekdays - listed is "The Nancy Skinner Show" (15:00-18:00 EST); "The Mike Newcomb Show" (18:00-21:00 EST) and "The Mike Malloy Show" (21:00 to midnight EST).
Nova M was founded by Chicago couple Anita and Sheldon Drobny in 2006 and they had been funding it from their own resources but the economic downturn hit their ability to continue support as well as advertising revenue for the network. Anita Drobny told the Wall Street Journal that towards the end losses were around USD 100,000 a month and that the financial stresses affected her husband's health - he is currently in hospital in Chicago after a breakdown.
"There were so many wealthy progressives out there that could have made [progressive radio] happen," she said, but they didn't want to help. "It ended up being on Sheldon's shoulders."
Previous Drobny/Nova M:
Nova M/On Second Thoughts web site:
Wall Street Journal report:
2009-02-19: Radio One Inc has reported a fourth quarter net loss of USD 7.6 million (nine cents a share) on revenues of USD 74.3 million: The revenues were down 0.6% on a year ago but the net loss compares to USD 388 million (USD 3.93 per share) a year earlier when it was hit by impairment charges of USD 205.5 million compared to a figure of USD 85.3 million this year.
On a more positive note station operating income in the quarter was up 6.6% to USD 31.1 million although the impairment charge took it to a net operating loss of USD 64.2 million.
For the full year revenues were down from USD 319.6 million to USD 316.4 million with an operating loss of USD 111.7 million jumping to USD 394.4 million; net loss from continuing operations up from USD 257.4 million to USD 298.7 million and not loss going down from USD 391.5 million to USD 304.3 million (from USD 3.97 to USD 3.23 per diluted share).
CEO and President Alfred C. Liggins, III noted the "market for radio advertising continues to deteriorate sharply" and continued, "While we outperformed our markets by 540 basis points our core radio revenues were down by 7.1% in the fourth quarter, despite a strong showing from political advertising."
"In this difficult environment," he said, "we continued to focus on cost cutting and de-leveraging the balance sheet."
He added that the company ended the year with total debt of approximately USD 675.2 million, down from approximately USD 815.5 million a year ago and that it had re-purchased approximately USD 196.0 million of our 87/8% notes at an average discount of 38.4%.
"This," he said, "has substantially increased the amount of capacity that we have under our bank covenants. Business conditions in the first quarter of 2009 are worse than we previously anticipated, with radio pacings down approximately 30% year to year. Our focus for 2009 is to improve our market share, save costs where possible and continue to de-lever the Company."
Radio One at its conference call - it is now to drop quarterly calls and go for an annual call -received congratulations on a "relatively good quarter" from an analyst to which he responded by noting that they were "astounded" at what they were seeing of the economy as a whole.
Previous Radio One Inc:
2009-02-19: CBS Corporation has reported fourth quarter revenues for 2008 down 6.1% at USD 3.53 billion in what Executive chairman Sumner Redstone termed "one of the most difficult financial environments in history, with very little visibility on how long these economic conditions will continue or if there is worse to come."
He praised the work of President and CEO Leslie Moonves and his team who he said were "managing our businesses superbly with an eye toward future growth."
Moonves headlined the full-year results - revenues were down 0.85% to USD 13.95 billion - as reflecting "the quality of our content and the enduring strength of our operations."
On an adjusted basis, operating income before depreciation and amortization ("OIBDA") for the fourth quarter of 2008 was down 30.5% to USD 590.7 million and adjusted operating income was down 37.3% to USD 458.1 million whilst for the full year adjusted OIBDA was down 12.6% to USD 2.78 billion and adjusted operating income was down 16.5% to USD 2.28 billion.
Adjusted net earnings from continuing operations were USD 226.7 million (34 cents per diluted share), for the fourth quarter compared to USD 382.5 million (56 cents per diluted share) a year earlier and for the full year adjusted net earnings from continuing operations USD 1.16 billion (USD 1.73 per diluted share) compared to USD 1.43 billion (USD 1.98 per diluted share) in 2007.
The adjusted figures exclude pre-tax non-cash impairment charges totalling USD 14.18 billion for the year: These resulted in a reported OIBDA loss of USD 11.63 billion and an operating loss of USD 12.16 billion.
Within the results Interactive revenues for the final quarter rose 218% to USD 186 million; Publishing revenues were up 1% to USD 245 million; TV revenues were down 8% to USD 2.21 billion; Outdoor was down 15% to USD 526 million and radio was down 18% to USD 368 million: For the full year Interactive revenues were up 154% to USD 422 million; Publishing was down 3% to USD 886 million; TV was down 1% to USD 8.99 billion; Outdoor was down 1% to USD 2.17 billion and radio was down 12% to USD 1.54 billion.
In terms of operating income TV was down 40% for the quarter at USD 272 million; radio was down 56% at USD 70.5 million' Outdoor was down 75% ay USD 35.2 million and publishing was down 3% at USD 26.1 million whilst for the full year TV was down 14% to USD 1.51 billion; radio was down 29% to USD 467 million; Outdoor was down 45% to USD 223.5 million and publishing was down 11% to USD 79 million. Interactive losses for the year improved from a USD 21.7 million loss in 2007 to a USD 9.3 million loss in 2008.
CBS said of the radio results that revenues reflected the impact of weakness in the advertising market and station divestitures with OIBDA falls from these factors and restructuring costs being partially offset by lower talent and employee-related expenses and decreased marketing and promotion costs resulting from restructuring and cost-saving initiatives.
2009-02-19: This week in our look at print comment on radio we start with a study from Rochester Institute of Technology by Michael J. Saffran, an adjunct professor of communication in the College of Liberal Arts at Rochester Institute of Technology, headed, "Effects of Local-Market Radio Ownership Concentration on Radio Localism, the Public Interest, and Listener Opinions and Use of Local Radio."
It's online as a 76-page PDF (it is after all an academic document) and he comments that the "research sought to determine effects of local-market ownership concentration on listener opinions and use of radio-potentially indicative of stations' localism and public service-by surveying listeners in markets categorized by ownership concentration levels."
In essence the report found that perceptions were not that strongly influenced by ownership concentration in markets but that there were "potentially negative consequences from local and national consolidation on amounts of local music, news, and public-service programming; live-local programming; and station responsiveness."
The study involved the markets of Dallas, TX (low concentration); Buffalo and Rochester, NY (medium concentration); and Binghamton and Ithaca, NY (high concentration) and in all 830 completed surveys were returned.
For those who want the whole follow the link at the end of this report but there were some disturbing results for radio with those reporting satisfaction with radio as "not at all" or "very little" outnumbering those who reported a "great extent" by more than two-to-one (39.5% to 14.8% ).
Equally disturbing for the future of the medium those under 25 listened to radio least and those 45-54 and respondents in markets with low ownership concentration listened most.
As regards the claim that music helps local artists nearly 80% perceived the amount of music on their stations aired by local bands as "Very Little" or "Not a Lot" and only 2% as "A Lot."
Perceptions were more favourable when it came to community involvement - around 23% responded their satisfaction with this as "Very Little" or "Not At All" and 22% pronounced themselves satisfied to a "Great Extent."
When it came to news, where radio's availability on the move might have helped it, primary sources for news amongst those responding went in the order Internet; TV; newspapers; and radio.
The findings of the survey are to be presented at the 100th annual convention of Eastern Communication Association to be held in Philadelphia in April and it proposes policy changes that would include capping national station ownership to 120 stations - be they radio (AM or FM) or TV; elimination of the newspaper/broadcast cross-ownership ban; the reallocation of digital spectrum to independent local broadcasters and expanded licensing of low-power FM stations and sharpened and strictly enforced studio staffing requirements
After an academic but nevertheless worrying study since if the reason radio is more popular amongst an older demographic is that they grew up with it, the future bodes ill for the medium, we stay outside the normal boundaries with a letter from Mike Salmon responding to a report by Paul Farhi in the Washington Post. Farhi had commented on female TV sportscasters but the letter in our view made appoint more widely applicable - the importance of experience."
Salmon expanded on this in terms of the fact that many male sportscasters are former players and coaches, commenting on former Washington Redskins quarterback Joe Theismann "being smothered by a defender in such a way that his broken leg bones came through his skin" and continuing, "It was that kind of irreplaceable football knowledge that made Mr. Theismann a great announcer. "
Salmon ended by writing, "Women who have not played football against a 300-pound lineman lack the experience to provide such commentary. But the same was true for comedian Dennis Miller. Remember his stint on "Monday Night Football"? A flash in the pan, to say the least."
On next to another kick in the teeth for radio, this time from Budweiser, whose owners Anheuser-Busch have said they will not pay for the brand's radio commercials until 120 days after they have aired and have given stations until the end of this month to object.
As Jerry Del Colliano in his InsideMusicMedia blog comments, "Of course, for the stations that opt out, don't expect any Budweiser business" and continues, "Anheuser-Busch's new owners, the Belgian/Brazilian mega firm Anheuser-Busch InBev is dictating the new rules. Seems like they think that there is a new world order for multinational companies. I'm not making this up. In effect, they are saying the rest of the world is stupid enough to accept payment in four months, why not American radio?"
Del Colliano speculates that the US Radio Advertising Bureau (RAB) and National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) instead of objecting will swallow their tongues, commenting, "Don't look for them to piss off Anheuser-Busch" and adding, "Radio consolidators are too scared to protest. They find their stations off anywhere from 15 to 40 percent so far this year. Send stamps if you want. Just advertise."
He pertinently then says, "Imagine drinking a Bud four months after its stale date" but of the stations' predicament says it will get uglier. He takes the view that "as of today -- radio should tell Anheuser-Busch to shove it (not in those words but in actions). If they miss this chance, they have just allowed the new paradigm -- net four month terms as standard operating procedure."
They should he say no and "take the repercussions if Anheuser-Busch decides not to buy."
"Advertisers that want to negotiate hard for the best rates, then agree to them and later demand more discounts to get the deal done are already redefining radio sales," he comments. "Now, Anheuser-Busch is taking this abuse to another level of absurdity."
RNW comment: Radio in these circumstances is between a rock and a hard place but in the end Del Colliano is almost certainly correct. Except in our view stations should go a stage further and do their damndest to drum up business from other brands, particularly local brewers where they exist. If it works and Bud's sale drop they should then be fair to others who've stepped in and play hardball with Bud, perhaps to the extent of for at least four months not taking Bud adverts. Such a move would have a salutary effect on others who may be considering similar late payment tactics and if it doesn't work then stations will probably be no worse off than if they had let others see that such terms could be imposed. If they are going to be pushed out of business at least go with some spine might be the best approach.
And to end with a possible hopeful note from Fred Jacobs who in his latest blog notes that the National Association of Broadcasters has agreed rates with SoundExchange for Internet streams of local stations (as we write the Internet-only operators, represented by the Digital Media Association (DIMA) have failed to reach an agreement and are currently operating without one as the deadline under which they had to reach agreement under last year's Webcaster Settlement Act ran out on Sunday).
Jacobs sees the NAB deal as "an open invitation to broadcasters" and continues, "Consumers aren't about paying for satellite radio. But they want to simply receive audio entertainment on a wide array of devices and gadgets - from computers to phones."
"This new deal," he continues "paves the way for radio to transcend towers and transmitters, and get serious about providing its content in new places, from desktops to laptops to iPhones. Radio has been struggling in the 'location department' for several years now, but can now effectively compete in offices, cars, and while consumers are on the go with mobile devices."
He still has some words of warning however saying that "Radio needs to step up the quality and reliability of its streams. Too often an afterthought, we have seen up-close-and-personal what happens when stations produce inferior streams."
"It would be unthinkable," says Jacobs, "for a terrestrial station to produce a signal that is inconsistent and poorly processed, but somehow when it comes to streaming, too many broadcasters haven't gotten the message. The Internet has democratized streamers. Everyone has the potential to be the equivalent of a 50,000 watts/clear channel online, whether it's a station owned by a big company, one run by a mom & pop outfit, or even streaming-only enterprises. But when broadcasters fail to step up by providing quality streams, they do themselves a major disservice - and they drive the digital audience elsewhere."
On then to listening suggestions and they're predominantly from the BBC as pressures have limited our listening online.
First however some podcasts from the corporation and others starting with the BBC World Service Documentary archive that currently includes Parts One through Three of "Fresh Start", a documentary series in which Lucy Ash
considers how prisoners can be prevented from re-offending: The third and final programme included a Kansas scheme that is turning former drug dealers into successful legitimate businessmen and a maximum security jail in Italy that has become Tuscany's more exclusive eatery.
From BBC Radio 4 we suggest "File on 4" - "New Dangers for Banks" on how British banks are still not lending to businesses or are imposing onerous conditions and also on how they may be at further danger from their overseas operations in tax havens and could end up with little recourse to deal with borrowers there and also "Start the Week", which included Mike Figgis commenting on digital filmmaking.
Back to business and we suggest from the weekend "Bottom Line" on cost cutting and "Profile", which was of John McFall, who's been giving top bankers a grilling as chairman of the UK Treasury Select Committee.
For the moment last week's "In Business" - " Prophet Motive"on motives other than money for business people is still available.
Then for a different perspective to the domestic British one on the row over a British oil refinery contract to service which foreign workers were being brought into the UK: It came in last Saturday's" The State We're In" on Radio Netherlands.
We then move to programmes from the UK and Australia on Charles Darwin on the 200th anniversary of his birth - first from BBC Radio 4 with the fourth and final part of "Darwin, My Ancestor" presented by his great great granddaughter Ruth Padel: All four episodes are currently on the programme's website.
Then from the Australian Broadcasting Corporation we opt for last Saturday's "All in the Mind" that discussed his theories and work in a one-hour special; last Friday's "Book Show", which included a discussion on "Darwin and the literary imagination" as well readings throughout the week (a stream only for copyright reasons) from "The Voyage of the Beagle."
Then back to the BBC, where most programming is only available for a week after broadcast, and from Radio 4 we suggest the "Afternoon Reading" - Tuesday through Thursday and this week there quirky tales from Ali Smith; "The "Classic Serial" - Evelyn Waugh's "Scoop" - in two parts, one last Sunday and the other next; and then on a day by day basis the following.
From Monday "What is a Wife?" in which writer Geraldine Bedell examines the role of the wife in modern society and "The Food Programme" on British farmhouse cheese; plus "Islam and Science", the first of a three-part series in which Ehsan Masood explores the status of science in the modern Islamic world - refreshing to hear some intelligent Muslim scientists recognising that the religion's fundamentalists have affected deleteriously scientific development because of the prohibitions they put on many discussions (Much, we might comment, as did the Catholic Church for a considerable period). We also note that last week's "Sunday Feature" on BBC Radio 3 was "Darwin's Conundrum", an exploration of what Charles Darwin really thought about faith and religion, a broadcast followed by "The Ascent of Man" in which Ruth Padel and Henry Goodman read prose and verse exploring the idea of the Ascent of Man.
Skipping past Tuesday's "File on 4" which we've already recommended as a download we go to Wednesday's "Moral Maze", which marked its 500th edition with a special programme on Moral relativism before a live audience at the Royal Society of Medicine, in London. It provoked considerable laughter as well as serious discussion.
Also from Wednesday we recommend the second part of the two-part "I Was Put on Trial by Al Qaeda" by Alan Little that we recommended last week.
From Thursday and Friday we suggest drama and comedy in the form of "The Afternoon Play", which on Thursday is "Sir Gawain and the Green Knight" based on a new translation of the famous poem by Simon Armitage, narrated by Ian McKellen and on Friday is "The Last Smoker" by Yasutaka Tsutsui - the story of how cantankerous novelist Haruki, the world's last smoker, is hounded to a fate worse than death by do-gooders and self-righteous journalists, as they try to eradicate smoking once and for all. The comedu comes in the station's 18:30 GMT slot with on Thursday "Old Harry's Game", the first part of a six part comedy series from Andy Hamilton that is set in Hell, which is thrown into confusion this wek when a dog turns up and on Friday "The News Quiz" (also a podcast/download).
From Saturday we suggest the "The Saturday Play "-"The Lady in the Van" - Alan Bennett's relationship with an eccentric old vagrant who lived in his front garden.
Sticking with drama but changing stations we go to BBC Radio 3 for next Sunday's "Drama on 3" - "The Time Machine", Philip Osment's dramatisation of HG Wells' classic story.
We also note that "The Essay" on Radio 3 this week is devoted to "Pinter's Voices" and looked at the late Harold Pinter's life through the eyes of a theatre director, drama critic, writer, film historian and actor. In addition Thursday's "Night Waves" is dedicated to his play "The Homecoming."
Also from Radio 3 we suggest "Afternoon on 3" that this week is on the viola; Monday's "Jazz on 3" - highlights from the Saalfelden Jazz Festival 2008; next Saturday's "Jazz Library" on Gene Krupa; and next Sunday's "The Choir", featuring American Gospel Music plus "Jazz Line-Up" featuring the latest jazz releases and interview with saxophonist Courtney Pine.
Then to BBC Radio 2 and from Monday we note the continuing "Viva Latino!" series - the seventh of 13 episodes plus "Wish You Were There?", the first part of a three part programme on the Stax/Volt Revue at the Finsbury Park Astoria in 1967.
Tuesday saw two documentaries of note on the station - "Life with Lucy and Desi" in which Mariella Frostrup remembered husband and wife team Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz and the first in a three-part "Carmen Miranda: The Lady In The Tutti Frutti Hat."
On Friday the station airs the second part of its three-part "Still Walking: The Fats Domino Story" and on Saturday it follows last week's "Gene Vincent" with "Eddie Cochran: Something Else."
RNW note:We have partially updated listening suggestions but hop to add more download listening recommendations.
Previous Del Colliano:
Insidemusicmedia - Del Colliano:
Jacobs Media - Fred Jacobs' blog:
Rochester Institute of Technology report (285 KB 76-page PDF):
Washington Post - Salmon letter:
2009-02-18: Speculation is rife that the progressive talk network Nova M, founded in 2006 (See RNW Oct 19, 2006) may fold after losing host Randi Rhodes who joined the network after quitting Air America Radio in April last year following her suspension after an attack she made on Hillary Clinton and Geraldine Ferraro (See RNW Apr 11, 2008), but is currently off the air and embroiled in a row with the network, which she says has left.
Unconfirmed reports say that Nova M has not paid its staff and has been advised to file for bankruptcy protection and has not paid its staff.
The Nova M site is still up and lists her show but carries a link to her page where she says (in Capitals) "NOVA M RADIO HAS NOT YET CORRECTED THE PROBLEM THAT HAS KEPT ME OFF THE AIR. DESPITE MY STRONG DESIRE AND READINESS TO BROADCAST MY SHOW. RESPECTING THE EMPLOYER-EMPLOYEE RELATIONSHIP THAT HAS EXISTED BETWEEN NOVA M AND ME, AND EXPECTING THE SOLUTION TO BE QUICKLY ACHIEVED, DETAILS OF THE TRIGGERING EVENT WERE WITHHELD IN GOOD FAITH. BUT I CAN TELL YOU THIS MUCH: ANY STATEMENT IMPLICATING ME AS BEING IN ANY WAY RESPONSIBLE FOR THE DISRUPTION IN THE RANDI RHODES SHOW IS PATENTLY FALSE. THIS ENTIRE SITUATION IS SOLELY WITHIN THE CONTROL OF NOVA M.
IN LIGHT OF MOST RECENT DEVELOPMENTS, MY SHOW WILL BE SEEKING A NEW HOME. I WOULD ASK FOR YOUR CONTINUED PATIENCE AND INDULGENCE IN RESPECTING MY RIGHTS DURING THIS TIME. YOUR UNWAVERING SUPPORT IS CHERISHED. THANK YOU."
Anita Drobny, who with her husband Sheldon, started the idea of a progressive US talk radio network but sold Air America radio's forerunner and later founded Nova M, had posted a note "To all of Randi's listeners" that said, "You are all correct - I have not had the option to disclose what has been happening between Randi and Nova M You see, it's in her contract that she has total control, but, after Wednesday night, I want you all to know that Nova M has done everything we can to get her back on the air.
All this is her choice; if she wants to tell you all what the issue is, then I hope she does, but I can't according to her contract rules.
But I can tell you this I have wanted her back on the air. She's an amazing talent and needs to be heard.
Thank you all for all of your support.
Randi now has to make her decisions as to what she must do with her career "
Sheldon Drobny is currently in hospital in Chicago following what his wife says was a mental breakdown.
Nova M website:
Randi Rhodes site:
2009-02-18:According to the UK Guardian a confidential report commissioned by the RadioCentre from Ingenious Consulting suggests that commercial radio companies launch two national digital stations in return for easing general regulations.
The paper, which says it has seen the confidential report "Commercial Radio: The Drive to Digital", adds that the report was based on comments from representatives of all the main commercial radio groups and submitted to the government ahead of the publication of communications minister Stephen Carter's interim Digital Britain report last month: It suggests that commercial sector launch two new national DAB stations "and take on a number of commitments to promote DAB" but as a quid pro quo for the extra investment, it said the government should "relax dated analogue localness regulations to make radio fit for purpose in a digital age".
In particular it includes industry demands to slash the locally-produced programming requirements and allow more co-location for small stations.
The paper suggests that one of the new stations would be speech based and adds that industry speculation suggested this would be based around Global Radio's London talk station, LBC, and the other on Smooth Radio, owned by GMG Radio, which has the same parent as the paper.
However it quoted RadioCentre chief executive, Andrew Harrison as saying no decision had been taken as to what the two new national DAB services might be and adding, "[The Ingenious report] was one input into a range of conversations which RadioCentre had with ministers in the run-up to the publication of Digital Britain, reflecting different inputs from across the sector. Now the next step is to read the detail of the Digital Britain report and come back with our proposed industry plan."
The report said that whereas in 2006 a third of stations lost money "current estimates suggest the industry as a whole is loss-making" and noted that commercial radio revenues were down 15% year-on-year in the final quarter of 2008 and the industry's obligations to DAB, which cost it GBP 27 million (USD 34 million) a year were hitting the profitability of small local stations.
It concluded that commercial radio had to embrace DAB or retreat from it, a retreat "which because of contractual and regulatory commitments, would be slow and painful."
RNW note: The article when we last checked had attracted just four comments: Three were hostile -asking such questions as to who wanted DAB at the cost of even further reductions in local programming, suggesting that it would be better to sell the analogue licences to community stations for GBP 1 and let the commercial stations "wander off and play National on DAB" and in the case of a third suggesting that Planet Rock showed what could be done on digital with commitment to making it "much more than just a jukebox". The fourth comment suggested the number of comments showed the level of consumer interest.
We would add that if people are forced to scrap old receivers and pay for new DAB ones - already outdated and producing inferior audio to FM because of the MP2 encoding used in the UK - we suspect they would in general prefer to take the approach of more community stations on FM, keep the requirements for commercial operators, who got automatic analogue licence renewal for providing a DAB service on a local multiples, and as suggested let community stations have the FM frequencies.
Reluctantly we are beginning to conclude that technological developments that have allowed access to Internet audio to become much cheaper has meant that there is comparatively little in the public interest in keeping many commercial stations going if they have no local content.
We certainly wouldn't consider it in the public interest since the stations, having had the benefit of that automatic renewal are offering a pig-in-a-poke as to what they would be obliged to provide for any such deal, to consider any proposals as vague as this report contains.
UK Guardian report:
2009-02-18: Tom Cuddy. Citadel's Programming VP for FM stations and for WPLJ-FM, New York, has resigned and is leaving the company at the end of this month after 29 years with it and predecessors.
Cuddy joined what was then Capital Cities Communications as an on-air personality at WPRO, Providence, in 1980 and two years later became Program Director for WPRO AM and FM.
He moved to New York in 1987 as VP of programming for ABC Radio Networks and executive producer of syndicated shows "American Top 40" and "American Country Countdown", stepping back into a local station role in 1990 as VP of programming for WPLJ-F. He added the role of VP of Programming for ABC Radio's FM stations in 1996 (ABC radio was taken over by Citadel in a 2006 USD 2.7 billion deal (See RNW Feb 7, 2006) that closed in June 2007 (See RNW Jun 14, 2007) but since then Citadel's value has plunged and it has warned of a likely de-listing (See RNW Dec 2, 2008)). It is now valued at around USD 35 million.)
Cuddy's departure follows that of Citadel Major-Market Group President Mitch Dolan - also a holdover from Capital Cities/ABC Radio Days - and Los Angeles market President John Davidson earlier this month (See RNW Feb 9).
2009-02-17: Sirius XM has announced an agreement with Liberty Media under which Liberty will invest a total of USD 530 million in loans and will end up with 40% of Sirius XM's common stock.
It will remove the immediate threat of bankruptcy that Sirius XM had warned could come as soon as today if it was unable to arrange re-financing of USD 171.6 million of debt from 2½ of maturing convertible notes due today and which will now be repaid out of an initial USD 280 million senior secured loan from Liberty. The loan will carry 15% interest, will mature in December 2012, and will be secured by the assets securing Sirius XM's existing credit agreement.
The second phase of investment will provide an additional USD 150 million loan to Sirius XM subsidiary XM Satellite Radio and in addition Liberty has agreed to buy up to USD 100 million of XM's current outstanding loans. When this phase is completed Sirius XM will issue Liberty a total of 12.5 million shares of preferred stock convertible into 40% of the company's common stock.
In addition Liberty will receive seats on the Sirius XM Board of Directors proportionate to its equity ownership and is expected that Liberty chairman John Malone and president and CEO Greg Maffei will join the Sirius XM Board of Directors.
Sirius XM CEO Mel Karmazin, who is escaping the clutches of a potential rival bid from Charlie Ergen's EchoStar, which had been buying Sirius XM debt and he commented of the agreement, "We are pleased to have come to this agreement with Liberty Media, particularly in light of today's challenging credit markets."
"Liberty's investment," he added, "is an important validation of what SIRIUS XM has already achieved and a vote of confidence in what we will achieve. This agreement enables Sirius XM to continue to develop the opportunities first outlined in the merger of Sirius and XM. By strengthening our capital structure and enhancing our financial flexibility, this investment allows us to continue providing the great content and innovative programming our subscribers know and love."
Maffei commented, "We are excited to be investing in Sirius XM. We have been impressed with the company, its operations and management team. Sirius XM's ability to grow subscribers and revenue in a difficult financial and auto market is indicative of how listeners view this as a 'must have' service."
Sirius XM noted in a news release that the deal does not constitute a change in control for Sirius XM under its outstanding debt instruments and is not subject to the approval of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) but the receipt by Liberty of voting stock is subject to expiration of the applicable waiting period under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Act.
Previous Liberty Media:
Previous Sirius XM:
2009-02-17: CBS Radio has flipped its Dallas/Fort Worth Rhythmic AC KMVK-FM (Movin' 107.5) to AC MEGA 107.5, which it is claiming will be the market's "first and only Spanish language Hot Adult Contemporary station."
The move took place at 13:00 local and the Movin' 107.5 site now produces a MEGA page with no reference to its predecessor.
The station launched with what CBS says will be 10,000 songs in a row from core artists such as Mana, Juanes, Shakira, Reik, Gloria Trevi, Marc Anthony, Paulina Rubio, Enrique Iglesias, and Alejandro Fernandez.
It is targeted at Spanish speakers aged 25-54 and Brian Purdy , CBS's SVP and Market Manager, Dallas/Fort Worth, commented in a release that they were "thrilled to bring Hispanic listeners throughout Dallas/Fort Worth a station they can call their own. MEGA's' sound will be unique to the market and something we fully expect the Hispanic community will immediately embrace."
2009-02-17: The BBC has appointed Ben Cooper as Deputy Controller for BBC Radio 1 and BBC 1Xtra with a remit to oversee both mainstream and specialist programming on the two networks.
His appointment follows the addition of the Controller, Popular Music, role to Andy Parfitt's portfolio of Controller BBC Radio 1, 1Xtra, BBC Switch and the Asian Network (See RNW Dec 22, 2008) and he will take up the post in April.
Announcing the appointment Parfitt commented in a release, "Ben is a fantastic executive and has led the Radio 1 team very effectively over the past few years - this is an opportunity for him to broaden his experience and to bring the Radio 1 and 1Xtra operations closer together."
Cooper said he was "delighted to work across both Radio 1 and 1Xtra" and added, "I'll be busy, but I love music radio, so it will be very rewarding. I especially want to build on the success of 1Xtra and look at strengthening their position on digital platforms, as well as continuing my challenge at Radio 1 of attracting young audiences to the BBC in new creative ways."
2009-02-17: Arbitron has reported final quarter 2008 revenues up 16.8% on a year earlier at USD 93.6 million with full year revenues up 9% to USD 368.8 million but costs and expenses rose faster - up 18.2% to USD 79.9 million for the quarter and up 11.9% to USD 279.2 million for the full year.
Net income was down 8.1% for the quarter at USD 3.4 million (an unchanged 13 cents per diluted share) and down 7.5 % for the year at USD 37.2 million (Up from USD 1.35 to USD 1.36 per diluted share).
Arbitron notes that the year's figures included losses of USD 39,000 from its UK-based custom research business CSW Research Limited that it sold at the end of January last year and which had lost USD 324,000 in 2007.
President and CEO Michael Skarzynski said of the results, "In the fourth quarter of 2008, we restarted the commercialization of the Portable People Meter service by bringing electronic measurement to radio in 12 new markets including New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco, Dallas, Atlanta, Detroit and Washington D.C. With the recent MRC accreditation in Riverside-San Bernardino, we continue to make progress in the commercialization of our PPM radio ratings services. We also signed settlement agreements with the New York and New Jersey Attorneys General and are implementing programs that we believe will further improve our PPM services. These are all significant accomplishments that keep our long-term plans to commercialize PPM in radio's largest markets solidly on track."
He did not make reference in his statement to the settlements with the Attorney Generals of Maryland, New Jersey and New York in relation to Portable People Meter (PPM) ratings but did comment, "We have also strengthened our commitment to continuous improvement in markets of all sizes. We are adding cell-phone-only households to our samples in diary markets and have accelerated the development of electronic and online alternatives to the paper and pencil diary for all markets."
Arbitron is forecasting 2009 revenues to increase between 6% and 10% on 2008 with earnings per diluted share to be up from USD 1.36 to between USD 1.40 and USD 1.55.
2009-02-16: According to the Financial Times, Sirius XM, which has a Tuesday deadline to repay USD 175 million of bonds, is actively weighing up a deal with John Malone's Liberty Media that would give the company a financial lifeline that would keep it out of the hands of rival EchoStar headed by Charlie Ergen.
The paper says that Malone would offer around USD 250 million in a senior secured loan that would be a first step in the rescue of the company and would lead to a strategic relationship with Liberty's DirecTV that would allow Sirius XM to remain independent and leave CEO Mel Karmazin in his post.
Ergen on the other hand has crossed swords with Karmazin in the past and would be expected to take over Sirius XM and possibly oust Karmazin.
The Wall Street Journal added late on Monday that Sirius XM and Liberty were close to a deal, an arrangement that could forestall action by existing shareholders who have said they would seek Karmazin's removal if the company files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy rather than making a deal to stay afloat.
Edward Weisfelner, a lawyer with Brown Rudnick LLP who's representing the creditors, told Bloomberg, "Creditors believe that a precipitous bankruptcy filing will not be in their best interests" and added that if it did file for bankruptcy they would seek the appointment of a trustee or an overseer to replace Karmazin and senior management.
Previous Sirius XM:
Financial Times report:
2009-02-16: According to the London Times Virgin Radio founder Richard Branson and former Wireless Group chief executive Kelvin MacKenzie - the company including its talkSPORT national licence was bought by UTV- have each told UK media regulator Ofcom that they want to bid for a national radio licence and that the licences currently held by Absolute Radio - a Times of India subsidiary that bought the former Virgin Radio frequency from SMG; UTV's talkSPORT; and Global Media's Classic FM.
Ofcom closed a consultation regarding the licences last week but under current law has to put the licences up for auction - requiring one round of sealed bids - in 2011 - the Classic FM licence is up for renewal in September 2011 - and 2012.
The paper quoted Virgin Radio co-founder John Pearson, who now works for Sir Richard's Virgin Radio International, as saying the group had told Ofcom that "we believe the national radio licences should go out to tender; we think other potential broadcasters should be given a chance".
He added that they would like to return the Virgin brand to the UK.
MacKenzie declined to comment on his submission to Ofcom, but the paper said sources close to him had said: "Since he was the first one to make money out of speech radio, he wants the chance to do it again."
The paper notes that last month the Government's Digital Britain review rejected a proposal to extend the national commercial licences without an auction, but said that it would keep that decision "under review": it adds that current fees for the stations are modest - GBP 100,000 a year (USD 143,000) flat fees for the AM frequencies and half that amount plus 6% of its revenues for the Classic FM frequency.
UTV said that if it didn't win its licence it would run the station on digital only.
Previous Bennett, Coleman & Co. Ltd (Absolute parent):
Previous Global Radio:
UK Times report:
2009-02-16: SoundExchange, which last month reached an Internet royalty deal with Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) for non-commercial educational public stations through 2010, has now reached a longer-term agreement with the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) covering streaming by US terrestrial stations.
The CPB deal involved a single up-front royalty payment of USD1.85 million together with consolidated usage and playlist reporting from CPB on behalf of the entire public radio system and also involved National Public Radio (NPR) agreeing to withdraw its appeal of the May 2007 Copyright Royalty Board (CRB) royalty rate decision.
The NAB says its agreement will cover both streaming by stations that simulcast over the Internet and stand-along Internet stations created by local broadcasters and adds that it "provides discounts on previously-set rates for 2009 and 2010 and establishes rates for 2011-2015, providing stations with an enhanced ability to serve listeners through online platforms."
NAB says it has also reached separate agreements with individual record label groups that waive certain statutory format restrictions allowing, for example, certain artists to be played more often during a four hour period.
Under the agreement, rates for simulcasts or web channels operated by local radio stations are reduced in 2009 and 2010 by approximately 16 percent, then gradually increase through 2015 - from USD 0.0015 per streamed sound recording in 2009 to USD 0.0025 per stream by 2015.
NAB Executive Vice President Dennis Wharton commented of the agreement in a news release, "Today's announcement provides local radio stations with the ability to enhance their local service with an online component, boosting listeners' access to music, local news and information. By ensuring the continued viability of Internet streaming for America's radio stations, today's agreement further strengthens the relationship between free, local radio and our 235 million weekly listeners."
SoundExchange Executive Director John Simson added, "Because of the explosive growth of music on the Internet, this is good news for everyone involved in music - from artists to labels to broadcasters and to fans. It provides radio stations more opportunity to grow their on-line businesses in a stable business environment. Furthermore, it gives artists and copyright holders the opportunity to have more of their music played, while being fairly compensated, in more places as radio services expand their offerings on the Internet."
2009-02-16: The BBC has announced that the long-running BBC Radio 4 programme "Gardener's Question Time" is to be produced by iIndependent production company Somethin' Else from August.
The programme has been produced by Trevor Taylor of Taylor Made Broadcast Ltd for the past 15 years but the BBC says he decided to retire and the production was put out to tender.
The programme was inspired by Britain's "Dig for Victory" campaign during the Second World War and was first broadcast as "How Does Your Garden Grow?" in April 1947. It was only broadcast in the BBC's Northern Region until 1957 when it went national.
It was produced in-house by the BBC until 1994 when production was moved outside the corporation to Taylor Made, sparking a row with the then-presenting team who defected en-masse to up a new gardening show on Classic FM.
Somethin' Else is the UK's larges independent radio production company: Last year it made some 1,800 hours of radio programming for both the BBC and commercial stations with titles ranging the Fresh40 chart show for commercial radio to The Essential Mix and other programmes for BBC Radio 1; Charles Hazlewood and Soul Solutions with Micah Paris for BBC Radio 2; and Jazz File and Jazz on 3 for BBC Radio 3.
2009-02-15: Last week was another quiet one as regards radio for the regulators with no radio announcements from Australia and only a few from other areas.
In Canada, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) announced no radio licensing decisions but it did lift its restrictions on the broadcasting of hits by English-language FM stations in the country except for the bilingual markets of Montréal and Ottawa-Gatineau; update its list of charts determined to determine hits and opted to retain the hits rules for campus stations (See RNW Feb 12).
There were no radio licensing decisions from Ireland either although there the Broadcasting Commission of Ireland (BCI) was involved in the release of latest radio ratings (See RNW Feb 14).
In the UK, Ofcom posted its latest broadcast bulletin, upholding two radio complaints (See RNW Feb 10); The complaints involved calls to programmes that were broadcast as live but had been pre-recorded and Ofcom subsequently issued a warning to broadcasters that they could face action if they breach rules by misleading listeners or viewers.
In the US the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) again devoted most of its attention to digital TV but it also posted a number of enforcement decisions and also on its own initiative extended until April 10 the deadline for Cox Enterprises, Inc.; Calvary, Inc; Bonneville International Corp.; Scranton Times LP; and Morris Communications to file amendments to pending waiver requests or renewal applications or to file requests for permanent waivers of the agency's newspaper/broadcast cross-ownership rule.
It notes that this extension is necessary to provide additional time for the Commission to consider the parties' request that the deadline be delayed until 90 days after the issuance of a final court order on pending judicial challenges to the Commission's modified newspaper/broadcast cross-ownership rule.
In enforcement actions the FCC has:
*Issued a Notice of Apparent Liability for Forfeiture for USD 7.5000 to Lancaster Educational Broadcasting Foundation, licensee of Non-commercial Educational Station WFCO-FM, Lancaster, Ohio, for repeatedly broadcasting prohibited advertisements.
A complaint had been made that the station aired prohibited underwriting announcements during its broadcast of Capital University college football games during the 2006 season and following enquiries the FCC said that at issue were 20 underwriting announcements for for-profit entities - aired by the station for which it received "monetary consideration": The FCC considered that its rules had been broken and commented that several referred to the underwriters' services or products in comparative terms; and others referred to features of these and others sought to encourage business patronage . None it said were consistent with discretion allowed to non-commercial stations and it also noted that the licensee claimed that it had "contacted attorneys to get advice as to what can be or cannot be included in a sponsorship spot" but did not five details of when it did so or provide evidence of corrective measures taken.
In these circumstances it said no claim for mitigation under these factors is available and a substantial forfeiture - the base level forfeiture is USD 2,000 - is necessary because of the large number of announcements in question, coupled with the significant number of repetitions, over an extended period of time. Accordingly it proposed the USD 7,500 penalty.
*Fined John Brown University, licensee of KLRC-FM, Siloam Springs, Arkansas, USD 7,200 for failing to properly maintain a public file: The station had failed to put its complete issues/program lists in its public file from January 10, 1999, through January 10, 2003 and in 2004 the FCC issued a Notice of Apparent Liability for Forfeiture for USD 9,000.
The University had argued for a reduction on the basis of a history of compliance, that the amount was disproportionate to the offence and suggested "recent precedent" indicated that a USD 3,000 forfeiture would be more appropriate: It attributed the violation to the fact that "the station is a student-staffed educational radio station [and] during the license period, several different faculty members and students were responsible for maintaining the station's local public file. "
The FCC dismissed the last argument and regarding recent precedent noted reduction of a forfeiture from USD 9,000 to USD 7,200: It made the same reduction in this case.
*Issued a USD 6,000 NAL to Clear Channel subsidiary AMFM, licensee of KOST-FM, Los Angeles, for failing to "fully and accurately disclose the material terms of a contest" and to conduct the contest "substantially as announced or advertised."
The FCC had received a complaint in relation to its "KOST Rewards 'Les Miserables'", saying that contestants were able to enter the contest on the Station's webpage beginning on May 29, 2006 at 3:50 p.m. and ending on June 2, 2006 at 8:50 p.m., but that, on June 2nd, the names of three Contest winners were broadcast by the station and the winners' names were posted on the Station's website with only one additional winner being chosen after this time.
The station had responded by arguing that nobody was misled because while contestants knew they had a chance to win tickets, they did not know how many pairs of tickets would be awarded in total, nor when the drawings would be held. It also argued that although listeners were told on-air that they could enter on the station's website to win tickets to "Les Miserables," the contest was not governed by the Commission's Rules because "substantive information" about the Contest was not broadcast on-air.
The FCC dismissed the arguments and also noted that "Clear Channel has a history of violations of the Commission's rules" and increased the proposed penalty from the normal base level of USD 4,000 to USD 6,000.
In licensing actions the agency dismissed a petition from Wauchula Educational Broadcasting Corp. ("WEBC"), former permittee of WWWP-LP, Wauchula, Florida, seeking reconsideration of the dismissal of its license application. The construction permit issued to the licensee contained a condition that it provide a partial proof of performance to establish that the AM array of WAUC-AM had not been adversely affected but the application was filed without satisfying this condition and the FCC asked it to amend the application to demonstrate compliance.
WEBC failed to do so and after various events including the destruction by a hurricane of WEBC's then tower in August 2004 and the alter erection of a new 300-foot microwave tower was erected 1.1 miles from the WAUC-AM antenna array, FCC staff dismissed the application because of the failure to meet the licence condition.
WEBC argued that the new tower distorts the WAUC-AM antenna pattern to the extent that a meaningful partial proof of performance cannot be conducted to comply with the condition in WEBC's construction permit and also claimed it was unable to timely satisfy the condition in the construction permit because the WAUC-AM- licensee, Marvina Enterprises, Inc, preferred that its contract engineer, Phil Scott, conduct the partial proof of performance and for various reasons he had been unable to make the measurements.
It requested that the condition be permanently waived because the installation of WEBC's small antenna on its existing tower has a "negligible" effect on the WAUC-AM antenna pattern or alternatively to exercise "continued forbearance" such that the partial proof of performance need not be made until the pattern distortion issue associated with the 300-foot microwave tower is resolved.
The FCC noted that more than two and a half years had elapsed between the date WEBC was told of the condition and the dismissal because of the failure to meet it and rejected the petition.
In another case it dismissed a Petition to Deny filed by Plus Charities, whose bid for a non-commercial educational FM - to serve Coggon, Iowa, had been rejected and which sought denial of a rival application by New Bohemia Group, Inc., the tentative selectee.
Plus Charities argued for the dismissal of New Bohemia's application because it was signed by a corporate director, rather than a corporate officer; the date of the certification of the technical section of the Application post-dated the applicant's certification; and at the time the Application was certified, the Iowa Secretary of State had dissolved New Bohemia as a corporation.
The FCC rejected the arguments, noting that the Iowa Secretary of State administratively dissolved New Bohemia Group, Inc., for failure to file a "2007 Biennial Report" after which New Bohemia filed the report and the corporation was reinstated.
BCI web site:
CRTC web site:
FCC web site:
Ofcom web site:
2009-02-14: 85% of the Irish population still listen to radio daily according to the latest JNLR/TNSmrbi survey covering January-December 2008, a figure unchanged from the previous survey to September 2008 and up from 84% a year earlier.
Listenership to any regional/local radio again increased one point - to 55% - over the previous ratings and was up 3% on a year ago whilst national station reach was stable or up slightly in general compared to the previous survey - 24% for RTÉ Radio 1 - up from 23% (23% a year earlier) ; 16% for RTÉ 2FM, down from 17% (17% a year earlier); an unchanged 16% for Today FM (16% a year earlier); 7% for Newstalk 106-108FM - up from 5% (6% a year earlier survey) and 3% for RTÉ Lyric FM (3% a year earlier).
In overall market share for 07:00 to 19:00 there was an increase from 49.2% to 49.6% for any regional/local station (47.6% a year earlier); within the national weekday share figures compared to the previous ratings, RTÉ Radio 1 was up 0.4 to 21.9% (21.6% a year ago) ; RTÉ Lyric FM was unchanged at 1.7% (1.7% a year earlier) whilst RTÉ 2FM was down 0.5 to 11.8% (11.8% a year earlier); Today FM share was down 0.1 to 10.9 % (10.9% a year earlier) ; and Newstalk was down 0.1 to 3.5% (3.5% a year earlier).
Of the regional stations Beat 102-103FM had a weekday reach figure of 20%- up 1% on the previous survey (and up 3 % on a year ago); regional youth service Spin South West was unchanged at 16% (14% a year ago) whilst new North-West regional service i102-104 in its third figures was up 2% to 11% - its share was up 0.7% to 5.9%
Amongst local stations, excluding Dublin and Cork, the top five stations (weekday reach compared to the previous ratings) were Highland Radio with an unchanged 66%; Limerick's Live 95FM with 55%, down from 58%; Shannonside Northern Sound and Midwest Radio with 50%, up from 48% and 49% respectively; and WLR FM with 48% - down from 49%.
In weekday share terms the top five were Highland Radio with 60.3% (Up 1); Mid West Radio with 56.5% (Up 0.5); Shannonside/Northern Sound with 51.3% (Down 2.9); Tipp FM with 49% (up 0.5); and Radio Kerry with 46.5 % (Up 0.6).
In Dublin the leaders in terms of weekly reach were RTÉ Radio 1 with 36% (Up 1); FM 104 with 30% (up 1); Dublin's 98 (former 98FM) with 23% (unchanged); Spin 1038 with 20% (Up 1); RTÉ 2FM with 19% (unchanged); and Newstalk with an unchanged 18%.
In Cork the leaders in reach were Cork 96FM/County Sound 103FM with 69% (up 1); Cork's 96FM with 54% (down 1); RTÉ Radio 1 with 35% (up 1); Cork's Red FM with 33% (Up 1); Today FM with 31% (Up 3); and C103 with 28% (up 1).
Previous Irish Ratings:
2009-02-14: MuxCo has posted updated details for its new DAB digital multiplex that is to be launched in autumn (Fall) this year and will serve Liverpool, Cheshire and North Wales: It says it is now to use transmitters at Moel-y-Parc, Wrexham Rhos and St.John's Beacon that will enable the service to reach around 1.4 million adults (15 plus).
The multiplex will carry existing analogue services BBC Radio Wales, BBC Radio Cymru, 107.6 Juice FM and Dee 106.3 and digital-only services to include Traffic Radio, a 24/7 traffic news and information service from the Highways Agency, a new music service from Town & Country Broadcasting and a range of data services from Folder Media, Muxco's parent and has capacity for further services if it can attract them.
Previous Muxco/Folder Media:
2009-02-13: Sirius XM Radio has announced that wholly-owned subsidiary XM Satellite Radio Holdings Inc. has exchanged USD 172.5 million of existing Convertible Senior Notes Due 2009 for New Senior Secured Notes Due 2011 as part of a larger restructuring effort but warned that if talks concerning other refinancing are in progress and if these fail it "may be forced to file for bankruptcy protection as early as February 17, 2009."
The notes were exchanged for new ones in private placement deals and are part of a total of USD 400 million of its outstanding 10% Convertible Senior Notes that was due December 2009 and the company says the exchange is for a like amount of the new notes that will interest at the following rates: initially at 10% per annum paid in cash; from December 1, 2009 to December 1, 2010, at 10% per annum paid in cash and 2% per annum paid in kind; and from December 1, 2010 to maturity, at 10% per annum paid in cash and 4% per annum paid in kind.
In addition the company says the purchasers of the new Senior Secured Notes will be paid an aggregate structuring fee of USD 9.45 million, USD 5.07 million of which was paid in cash and USD 4.38 million of which was paid in the form of shares of the Company's common stock based on the closing sales price of the Company's common stock on February 12, 2009, which was USD 0.074 per share.
Previous Sirius XM:
2009-02-13: Cumulus Media is to cut its 3,700 strong workforce by around 7% - some 270 jobs - according to the Atlanta Business Journal, which quotes Chairman, President and CEO Lew Dickey as commenting that as "a result of the economic challenges we face, the entire advertising sector has seen a big drop off."
He added, "Like all media companies we are not immune to this and consequently have to realign our fixed costs to match the revenue environment and that simply is what we are doing", saying that the company will look at things on a market-by-market basis.
Some markets had more room to go than others," said Dickey. "It is our hope that markets will return and we can rehire some of these positions, but in this current operating environment we have to be very prudent."
The Cumulus announcement follows a Google decision to phase out its Google Audio Ads and AdSense for Audio products and to sell its Google Radio Automation business, the software that automates broadcast radio programming.
In a Google blog posting its VP, Product Management, Susan Wojcicki says the move will cost up to 40 jobs. Google Audio Ads and Google Radio Automation were launched after it bought D-Marc in 2006 (See RNW Jan 18, 2006) in to create a new revenue stream for broadcast radio and the company says it will keep the radio products available until the end of May and will also "work with partners to make sure that there is as little disruption to their business as possible."
Google dropped its newspaper advert business last month and it says it will now focus on developing "Internet-based solutions that will deliver relevant ads for online streaming audio."
Atlanta Business Journal report:
2009-02-12: The US National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) says that 110 lawmakers have now expressed support for the "The Local Radio Freedom Act"that would oppose introduction of performance royalties for terrestrial radio stations.
The measure was introduced into the House today by Texas representatives Gene Green (Democrat) and Mike Conaway (Republican) and an identical resolution is expected to be introduced in the Senate.
House Resolution 49 says "Congress should not impose any new performance fee, tax, royalty, or other charge relating to the public performance of sound recordings on a local radio station for broadcasting sound recordings over-the-air, or on any business for such public performance of sound recordings" and runs counter to efforts backed by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) and NAB Executive Vice President Dennis Wharton said of the move, "NAB applauds Reps. Green, Conaway and their House colleagues for their commitment to ensuring that America's 235 million weekly radio listeners have continued access to free, local radio. The undeniable fact is that RIAA's plea for a record label bailout will put thousands of radio jobs at risk and threaten the economic viability of a recording artist's greatest promotional asset."
The musicFirst coalition that lobbies for artists and performers and the recording industry in favour of the charges responded with a release in which its Jennifer Bendall commented, "The NAB resolution should be recognized for what it is - a last ditch effort to save corporate radio's loophole in copyright law. It says AM and FM music radio stations should continue to get special treatment, that AM and FM music radio stations do not have to play by the rules, and that AM and FM music radio stations should enjoy a competitive advantage over other music platforms."
She added, "AM and FM music radio stations earn USD 16 billion a year in advertising revenue without compensating the artists and musicians who bring music to life and listeners' ears to the radio dial. It's not fair, it's not right and it will be changed.
"Radio is the only platform that does not pay a fair performance royalty to America's artists and musicians. Satellite radio, internet radio and cable television music stations pay a fair performance royalty to artists and musicians. When radio streams its signal online it pays a fair performance royalty. And songwriters receive a royalty for music played on the radio. Music moves people. It's why you turn on the radio, not the other way around."
2009-02-12: The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) has lifted its restrictions on the broadcasting of hits by English-language FM stations in the country except for the bilingual markets of Montréal and Ottawa-Gatineau and has also updated its list of charts determined to determine hits. These are now the Nielson BDS Country Spins; Billboard Canadian Hot 100; Billboard Hot 100 Singles; and Billboard Hot Country charts whereas previously it had also listed an additional seven charts.
In these markets a hit is defined as any musical selection that, at any time, has reached one of the Top 40 positions in the charts listed and in the two markets the Commission has retained its former policy that stations had to ensure that less than half the musical selections aired during each broadcast week are hits. These restrictions will also remain in force for English-language campus radio stations.
The CRTC notes that when it last reviewed its policy regarding the broadcast of hits in 1997, it adopted a less restrictive definition of a hit for commercial FM radio stations serving English-language markets in order to permit the development of the Contemporary Hit Radio or Top 40 format on the FM band but did not completely eliminate the policy in order to protect AM stations offering the Oldies format from direct competition by FM stations, which broadcast with superior audio quality.
At that time it also opted to maintain the use of a stringent definition of a hit for English-language commercial FM stations serving the Montréal and Ottawa-Gatineau markets in order to protect French-language broadcasters who are bound by the requirement to play minimum levels of French-language vocal music and could have been severely disadvantaged in retaining a high level of tuning by francophone listeners if they were forced to compete with English-language stations offering unlimited amounts of Top 40 music released since 1980.
The concerns about the effect on Oldies stations were also made by some respondents to the agency's call for comment son its policy with the Canadian Independent Record Production Association (CIRPA) arguing that the current restrictions on the use of hits should remain given that they provide a viable niche for AM stations but the CRTC comments that overall, the financial evidence shows that the policy has not achieved its intended effect and that Oldies stations continue to face increasing competition from FM stations that program a large amount of "gold" musical selections, and from other sources, such as Internet and satellite radio.
It accordingly dropped the requirements although it added that it still took the view that it is important to maintain the total amount of Canadian music available to radio listeners and kept its requirements for minimum levels of Canadian music.
The CRTC has also changes other regulations including its Sex-Role portrayal rules in which the reference to the Canadian Association of Broadcasters' (CAB) Sex-Role Portrayal Code for Television and Radio Programming has been replaced with a reference to the CAB's Equitable Portrayal Code.
2009-02-12: Sirius XM shares jumped today following a report in the New York Times, which earlier this week broke the news that Sirius XM is making preparations for a possible Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Filing (See RNW Feb 11),that the companyis now in preliminary talks with Liberty Media, the conglomerate controlled by John C. Malone. Liberty's holdings include DirecTV, the largest US satellite television provider by subscribers, ahead of the Dish Network from EchoStar, which has been building up its holding in Sirius debt as a possible precursor to a bid.
The paper says, Sirius XM chief executive Mel Karmazin, has been locked in talks with Charles W. Ergen, his counterpart at EchoStar, but the two are said not to get along, and. Karmazin has rebuffed Ergen's advances before and is unlikely to keep his job if EchoStar takes over his company: It adds that people close to Sirius XM say that EchoStar's proposal to Sirius XM is unclear and it may be no better for the radio company's bondholders than a bankruptcy filing.
A potential deal between Liberty and XM could spark a bidding war between Liberty and EchoStar in which the latter starts with an advantage because of the Sirius XM debt holdings it has built up.
Sirius XM shares lost more than half their value on Wednesday following the earlier report about their bankruptcy filing preparations but rebounded today to end up 36% at 7.48 cents.
Previous Sirius XM:
New York Times report:
2009-02-12: The UK Department of Culture, Media and Sport, has appointed outgoing GMG Radio chief executive John Myers to head the independent review of local radio outlined in communications minister Stephen Carter's interim Digital Britain report last month.
He will report directly to Carter and will look at the role radio should have in delivering local content in a predominantly digital media landscape; the most effective way to deliver local content, via local radio, in a digital age; and To what extent are the current requirements for a pre-determined number of hours of local content, and the locality in which content is produced, appropriate and sustainable.
Carter said he was pleased that Myers had taken the role and said the review would be "key in informing Government's thinking on the future of local radio."
Myers, who announced last October that he was to leave GMG Radio after ten years (See RNW Oct 24, 2008) was due to step down from GMG in March but will now step down at the end of this month: His report is due to be completed by the end of March.
He commented, "We know that consumers value local content, particularly on local radio, and that successive governments and regulators have sought to secure this through localness rules. It is only right that as we move towards a predominantly digital landscape for radio we consider the appropriateness of the current rules and how local content should be preserved in the future."
"The Interim Digital Britain Report" he added, "has shown government's appetite to tackle the challenges facing the media industry. I am looking forward to contributing to this Digital Britain process."
Previous GMG Radio:
2009-02-11: Sirius XM stock plunged today following a New York Times report that it has hired advisers to prepare for a possible Chapter 11 bankruptcy: The paper cites people involved in the process as its source, adds that its sources say it has hired Joseph A. Bondi of Alvarez & Marsal and Mark J. Thompson, a bankruptcy lawyer with Simpson, Thacher & Bartlett, to help prepare a Chapter 11 filing, and notes that if the company did so file it would be the second-largest Chapter 11 filing so far this year, according to Capital IQ.
Sirius XM's market capitalization is now only a little above 200 million and its stock has ranged from 5.2 cents (today's low point) to USD 3.89 over the past year: it has to find some USD 1 billion in financing this year, some USD 175 million of it this month and in current market conditions may be unable to get this at rates it can afford. Earlier this month it was reported that EchoStar has been buying Sirius XM debt in what it says could be the first salvo in an attempt to take control of the company (See RNW Feb 5) .
The Times suggests the bankruptcy threat could be part of Sirius XM's negotiating tactics in relation to EchoStar's chief executive, Charles W. Ergen, who could convert his debt into equity instead of demanding payment. It adds that EchoStar also owns an additional USD 400 million if Sirius XM debt that comes due in December and suggests that in the case of a bankruptcy filing EchoStar could seek in court to take over the company but that Ergen might be able instead to negotiate to convert his shares before bankruptcy at an attractive rate and gain control of the company.
Sirius XM chief executive Mel Karmazin stands to lose heavily - he had bought 20 million shares at USD 5 each and added a further two million in August last year for which he paid USD 1.37 a share.
Irrespective of a takeover or filing, Sirius XM now has around 20 million subscribers, a number large enough to make it likely to survive, but its shareholders would almost certainly be almost wiped out and some of its big programming deals - its biggest deal was the Sirius deal with Howard Stern who agreed a USD 500 million five-year deal in 2004 (See RNW Oct 7, 2004) and both Sirius and XM before their merger paid heavily for sporting deals as well as for personalities - are likely to be ended or renegotiated downwards to take the company into profit.
Sirius XM shares ended today 51.7% down at 5.9 cents.
Previous Sirius XM:
New York Times report:
2009-02-11: We start this week's look at radio with acid comment from radio lover and UK Telegraph radio columnist Gillian Reynolds who to quote from the headline on her column this week reviewed among other things "the BBC's infatuation with social-networking site Twitter."
She began, "It makes a change from bad news about the weather, worse about the economy and gossip about the latest awards ceremony. Still, the sudden conquering of Radio 5 Live by Twitter seems bizarre. Presenters like Richard Bacon natter on about it all the time, Twitter this, Twitter that, uttering snippets of banality and daftness beyond belief."
Summing up many of the twitterers she continued, "That, apparently, is the point of Twitter. It is an internet service, free, for people to tell each other what they are doing. These messages (they are called Tweets) are, individually, very short: a bit longer than my opening sentence; about the same as this one. You can put in an unlimited number of messages for other people to read. In return, you can read what other people are doing, minute by minute: washing their hair; walking the dog; being stuck in a lift."
Reynolds noted that the messages "become significant when they turn into first hand reports of big things happening" and added that "Twitter has become part of "citizen journalism", the instant relaying of fact" but then put things into their place.
"Fact is useful. It is not necessarily truth, but it is the basis of news," she wrote. "As Radio 5 Live is a news and sports network, Twitter and its Tweeters have their role in sustaining the flow. But listening to all the stuff about Twitter on 5 Live last week made me think, again, about what constitutes news these days."
She then cited an interview on Weekend Woman's Hour by Jennie Murray with Sharon Shoesmith, former head of children's services at Haringey, over the death of a child "killed by parental cruelty and neglect" and drew from the interview, about which she gives detail, the lesson that "What it showed was the complex web of accountability which makes it hard to see who is actually answerable, these days, for anything. Quite like the BBC, when you think about it."
The issue of accountability also arises in connection with the economic crisis currently affecting the world and in terms of radio Jerry Del Colliano in his insidemusicmedia blog under the heading "Broke Back Radio" commented of US radio that "The local radio business was a victim of investment bank greed during the heady times of the Nineties.
"No radio station was ever really worth USD 100 million.
"No multiple of streaming cash flow or any other metric would make a radio station's value that high. And at the same time, in smaller markets, many good local radio stations were not worth the profit for which some cagey radio pioneers cashed in when money came to town."
Del Colliano doesn't go into accountability as such although he does continue, "Of course, level-headed radio people knew this all along. Maybe investment banks knew it, too. But they don't care. They live in a world of fees. They make a fee for going to the restroom. Okay, maybe not that, but for almost everything else.
"Investors didn't know, either.
"Radio seemed like a good business to put their hard earned money into. And, there was an emotional bond as well. It's not copper mining -- it's radio.
"When satellite radio was introduced the investment bank analysts talked it up pretty hot and heavy. It was the future, remember? I never saw the future in satellite radio when I published Inside Radio and some of these same analysts would take me to task for depressing their stock. Look at satellite radio's depressed stock ..."
There is more gloom about where this has led to but in essence Colliano seems to be saying - with a fair degree of accuracy - that many radio groups are broke and owe more than they can repay; the revenues on which valuations were based have plummeted; there's no investment money around to buy stations, even on the cheap so selling stations to reduce debt isn't a realistic option - he notes CBS's "fire sale of three Denver stations for USD 19.5 million -- many times under what CBS paid for them. The purchase by Jeff Wilks went for six time cash flow. Not too long ago, Denver was a 16-20 times cash flow market."
But then there is a note of hope for some - "Six times cash flow -- or lower -- could be the new standard to set the price on major market stations and companies like Wilks may be able to operate them at these purchase prices" albeit not that much for the big groups whose only plus he suggests is that the banks, "don't really want Citadel back or Cumulus back -- or any debt ridden radio group", will have the same problem in selling assets and thus may suspend repayment of debt for want of a better option.
Clear Channel's new owners, Lee Capital Partners and Bain Media, he says knows they have a "turkey" and "will proceed with tearing down the local radio model and replace it with Repeater Radio to cut costs."
He then draws an analogy to the property market - "The franchise value was driven up by the consolidation craze -- radio's neighbourhood, in effect, got more expensive. Buyers thought their assets were worth more than they were and drove the prices up to unreasonable levels."
The responses include two that suggest the whole idea of broadcast radio fails to make sense in an Internet and Wi-Fi world - something we think forgets factors such as emergencies - but for that follow the link at the end.
RNW comment: Del Colliano doesn't go that far but looking at the current environment in the US with recording companies pressing for performance royalties (payments that in principle are justified but a demand coming at precisely the wrong time and one where the recording companies can in our view achieve very little if they push for significant payments as it will kill many stations), it might well be that the best future for the medium as opposed to the investors is for regulators to consider the demand from listeners for service and from non-commercial groups for licences and re-think regulations to benefit these irrespective of the market, which we fear will seriously damage the medium in the US in the long term. Should requirement of local content be made mandatory it might push a few large groups into liquidation but if their licences are taken up either by other operators who pay low prices and escape the debt burden or by non-commercial stations, we suspect the listeners at large would get a better service.
Next to a continuing issue in the US, that of the current campaign by right-wing talk hosts against the idea of Federal Communications Commission (FCC) "fairness" regulation, the feeling from those further to the left that left-wing (by US standards as by the reckoning of many other countries policies many Republicans now term extreme left were not that long ago espoused by right-wing governments) talk radio doesn't get a fair shake; and the response thereto.
It formed the topic for a Marc Fisher blog in the Washington Post under the heading "What Conspiracy? Talk Radio's Roar, From Right & Left."
Fisher pegged his comments to those of Bill Press who had earlier bemoaned the loss of left-leaning DC talk station "Obama 1260", which has become a financial advice station (See RNW Feb 2).
Press's syndicated show filled the morning drive slot on the station and Fisher comments that he's so exercised by what happened that "he's even calling for the return of the Fairness Doctrine, the long-discarded regulatory scheme by which the federal government prevented radio and TV stations from airing much in the way of controversial political programming."
RNW comment: That line from Fisher immediately hits us as a form of spin, nay propaganda, which often is another word for misleading or lying. The regulation may well have had the effect of leading station owners to eschew controversy but the comment is just as fair as those from Rush Limbaugh or Randi Rhodes about Democrats or Republicans respectively. See the Corey Dietz comments that follow.
Fisher goes on to note that WMAL-AM in DC airs conservative talk - but is 8th in the ratings - and that WTNT-AM, which had low ratings like Obama 1260, is still on the air but that on the other hand "the market's #1 station, WHUR-FM, which features the Michael Baisden Show, which was a nonstop Obama campaign machine throughout the fall, to the #3 station in the market, Majic 102.3, where the morning host is Tom Joyner, a reliably liberal voice whose love song to Obama is currently featured on the station's home page. The liberal line-up includes another all-talk station, WOL-AM, where hosts such as Joe Madison and Al Sharpton dish out just as partisan and powerful a menu of provocative talk as do the yakkers of the right."
He continues by asking, "Why didn't Press include any of these shows or stations in his rant against the purported domination of the airwaves by conservative voices? Might it be because all of the above hosts are black and their shows air on stations that are black-run and oriented toward a black audience? "and also notes that DC listeners can additionally receive left-leaning Pacifica's WPFW-FM and "public radio: Although National Public Radio in recent years has made a concerted and generally successful effort to include more conservative voices in its commentaries and other programming, the fact remains that its audience skews liberal, and that colours many of the call-in and other talk shows on public radio."
Fisher comments that "nobody wants to return to the bland tripe that aired on most talk stations before the repeal of the Fairness Doctrine opened the airwaves to all voices" and ends with a perceptive couple of paragraphs about the changes technology has made: "On the Internet, a cacophony of voices ring out, most of them reaching hardly anyone, and nearly all of them being heard only by like-minded people. The real information problem our society faces has nothing to do with one perspective being drowned out by another; rather, our deepening media problem is that we are cleaving into two societies, each with its own, separate version of the truth, each startlingly segregated from the other.
"The glory of the new media era is that anyone and everyone can sing out their message. The flip side of that democratic blossoming of voices is that, without the scarcity of outlets that once forced us all to share the same information, we can and do drift off into separate realities. Drowning in an ocean of digitalia, we see and hear each other less than ever before."
A poll linked to the blog showed around four-fifths of respondents opposed requiring licensed stations to "carry a mix of opinions" but the responses seem to bear out Fisher's perceptions of narrowing horizons and an increasingly partisan society: For the full range follow the link but we quite liked one short comment: "Partisan, bomb throwing radio is moronic, regardless of its politics. Just because pigs look happy in their own sh**, doesn't mean we all should join them." Indeed.
And for a final comment on the issue to Corey Deitz on about.com: Deitz is not in favour of the "Fairness Doctrine" but he is fair about "What it was", writing, "The Fairness Doctrine was a regulatory policy instituted by the Federal Communications Commission in 1949 - a policy adopted during the Democratic administration of President Harry S. Truman.
"It was abolished by the F.C.C. during the Reagan administration. In a nutshell, it was regulatory policy - not legislative law - which attempted to balance out points of view on the public airwaves."
He then goes on to "What Eliminating it Did", saying it "freed talk radio to provide only the programming listeners were willing to support. Soon afterward, Rush Limbaugh launched his nationally syndicated program which in effect saved the fiscal solvency of AM radio by supplying a struggling medium - pummelled by FM - with a unique revenue-producing syndicated show audiences were enthusiastic to support and stations were able to build upon."
After noting that conservative talk expanded as station operators built on its success, Deitz goes on to "Where we are now", writing, "20 years later, talk radio is dominated by conservative talk. There is only one reason: the marketplace - the listeners - have supported it. Conservative talk radio is a product. What has occurred here is a classic example of supply and demand" and after further comment that "any attempt to bring back The Fairness Doctrine, or anything which mirrors its regulatory ghost, is nothing more than an attack on free market capitalism." Again for the rest follow the link.
Then finally to the issue of performance royalty payments as seen by John Gorman in his blog:
Under the heading, "Radio: RIAA v. NAB - two wrongs don't make it right" Gorman notes the positions of both sides and then continues, "There are no good guys here. Pot, meet Kettle. Glass House, meet Stones. Deflation, meet Stagnation. Wrong, meet wrong.
"Both radio and record industries are wholly dysfunctional and delusional. For the past decade both have ignored their customer base. Now, they wonder why their market share has dwindled.
"Radio homogenized its formats, eliminating localism, talent, and R&D. Labels churned out mostly mediocre CDs and retailed them for almost double the cost of a hit movie DVD."
After further details including details of a few massive amounts paid to top executives, Gorman comments on the relative effectiveness of the two lobbying groups involved, writing, "The RIAA has their act together under its CEO Mitch Bainwol and they've been snarling, snapping and barking like rabid dogs at the NAB while its CEO David "Fumbles" Rehr plays scared mouse and writes long, rambling, meaningless letters to anyone with the time to read them, which is absolutely no one on Capitol Hill."
Of likely outcomes he suspects the odds favour approval of the royalties but says that if they are the expenditure cannot be afforded by radio and says, "There is always the possibility of the law of unintended consequences. The bill passes and all music radio formats go - wackjobs unite - talk."
He also notes that a year ago he "suggested that Internet radio only owners and the NAB should join forces since the heavy-handed tactics they were receiving from the RIAA would eventually close in on terrestrial radio, too" and "Fumbles" took the opposite tack.
Again for the rest read the blog and the responses, the later unfortunately for the radio industry it comes out rather badly as does Rehr albeit one response reminded us in its style of the kind of party-political abuse so common on the Internet: "Gorman, take your blog and shove it. You were in radio? Could of fooled me the way you trash it. There is nothing wrong with radio. It's the economy, stupid. When it recovers radio will too. Then what will you write about? How bad things are that they are good?
On then to listening suggestions and we start with BBC Radio 2 and from Monday the continuing "Viva Latino!" Series, now at episode 6 of 13, and the sixth and final episode of "Hitsville USA: 50 Years of Heart and Soul."
From Tuesday we suggest "Parnes' People" in which Malcolm McLaren remembers the rock'n'roll manager and impresario Larry Parnes and the following sixth and final episode of "Stubborn Kind of Fella: Remembering Marvin Gaye": From Wednesday we opt for Mike Harding and music recorded at the 2009 Celtic Connections Festival; then jump to Friday and "Still Walking: The Fats Domino Story", the first of three programmes and finally from Saturday "Ride With The Devil: The Gene Vincent Story."
Then moving to BBC Radio 3 we suggest "Afternoon on 3" that this week is on the theme "Ancient Greece" with music relating to the stories and myths of Greece; various Darwin-related programming - "The Essay" this week is "Darwin's Children" on various links between the theory of evolution and areas of life from literature to Facebook plus "Night Waves" on Thursday in which Rana Mitter asks who has been the most influential: Charles Darwin or Marx and Freud?" and "The Sunday Feature" - "Darwin's Conundrum", an exploration of what Charles Darwin really thought about faith and religion.
Also from the station we note that next Saturday sees the second of three "World Routes in Brazil: Carnival (The first programme is online until then); that last Saturday's "Jazz Library" featured the work of trumpeter, author and broadcaster Ian Carr and next Saturday's that of trumpeter Art Farmer.
Moving back to history, "Night Waves" on Wednesday features a reassessment by Anne McElvoy of the legacy of Abraham Lincoln 200 years after his birth and finally we opt fro drama and "The Wire" on Saturday with "Nina Black" - Melanie Harris' portrait of a woman with severe attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder and "Drama on 3" on Sunday, a Harold Pinter Double Bill featuring his 1993 play Moonlight and his 2005 radio piece "Voices."
From Radio 4 suggestions include the "Afternoon Reading" - from Tuesday through Thursday and this week a series of three comic mysteries by 19th-century German author Johann Peter Hebel; "Book of the Week" - "Tequila Oil" by Hugh Thomson and based on his 1979 purchase in Texas of an Oldsmobile - he had no licence and didn't know how to drive - with the intention of driving it to Belize to sell for a profit; plus from Wednesday " I Was Put on Trial by Al Qaeda" , the first of a two part programme from Alan Little.
We also suggest the final part of a series we have already recommended, "Fry's English Delight" in which after last week's programme on "Quotations" Stephen Fry moves on to "Cliché".
On to day by day programming and from Monday we suggest "Start the Week", a special edition on "Censorship since Rushdie's fatwa", a discussion on the death sentence pronounced on the author by the Ayatollah Khomeini and reactions to it and in similar vein "Archive on 4" - "The Book Burners"; and also "The Afternoon Play" - "The Need for Nonsense" on the friendship between the writer and illustrator Edward Lear and his Greek manservant; and "The Food Programme" on English Cheeses. Next week's programme is on potatoes.
From Tuesday we opt for the third of four episodes of "Darwin: My Ancestor" by Ruth Padel, his great-great granddaughter; From Wednesday for "The Media Show" which included discussion about children's programming on the BBC: As with "The Food Programme" the online pages indicate that streams of past programmes are available after the usual seven-days but whilst the Media Show links do bring up audio the Food Programme ones last time we checked produced an error message.
From Thursday we suggest "In Business" in which Peter Day hears about the influence of religion on business; from Friday "The News Quiz" (Both of these are also available aspodcasts/downloads as is Start the Week) and a timely Omnibus edition of "America, Empire of Liberty" that looks at how the US reformed its city politics and tried to curb the excesses of big business (the crooks in both areas would appear to still exist in too large numbers).
And finally from Sunday we suggest the "Classic Serial", the first part of a two-part programme based on Evelyn Waugh's "Scoop."
Previous Del Colliano:
About.com - Deitz:
John Gorman blog:
Insidemusicmedia - Del Colliano:
UK Telegraph - Reynolds:
Washington Post - Fisher
2009-02-11: Reporters Without Borders (RSF - Reporters sans frontières) has said it is "shocked and appalled" by the abduction of four women broadcast reporters in the eastern Sierra Leone city of Kenema by members of a women's secret society that practices female genital mutilation.
Te four women - Manjama Balama-Samba of United Nations radio and the Sierra Leone Broadcasting Service (SLBS), Henrietta Kpaka of the SLBS, Isha Jalloh of Eastern Radio and Jenneh Brima, also of Eastern Radio - were kidnapped on 6 February by members of Bondo, a secret society that practices female genital mutilation and the next day, their abductors forcibly undressed Balama-Samba and made her walk naked through the streets.
The journalists had been conducting a series of interviews jointly with the Inter-African Committee on Traditional Practices in order to mark International Day of Zero Tolerance of Female Genital Mutilation, which was marked on 6 February for the 5th year running and the Bondo group regarded their questions and comments as a sign of disrespect for their traditions.
Reporters Without Borders said of the action, "Such disgraceful behaviour worthy of a bygone age is very damaging to Sierra Leone's image. We urge the president to personally intervene in this case to ensure that the perpetrators receive an exemplary punishment. We also urge the minister of social welfare, gender and children's affairs, Haja Musu Kandeh, to take note of this incident, which is very traumatic for all women in Sierra Leone."
The UN estimates that 94% of women in Sierra Leone have been subjected to genital mutilation but others put it as more like 65 per cent, partly as a result of the country's Christians taking a stand against the practice. The government publicly undertook last year to adopt a law banning FGM but has not yet done so.
Reporters without Borders report:
2009-02-10: Bauer has announced that Mark Story is to step down as Managing Director of its top-ranked London Commercial Station Magic 105.4 and that Steve Parkinson, managing director of its Kiss FM, has been appointed to the newly created role of MD London Radio with a remit that now covers both stations. The changes are thought to be part of wider cost-cutting moves by Bauer.
Story is an industry veteran who started early on radio as a 9 year old book reviewer Irish State broadcaster, Radio Telefís Éireann (RTÉ) and then worked for the station before moving to Capital Radio in 1983 to produce its breakfast show, helping to devise the Chris Tarrant breakfast show that launched in 1987. He moved to BBC Radio 1 in 1989 producing Simon Mayo's Breakfast show and the following year moved to Piccadilly Radio as Programme Director, taking the station - by then re-branded as Key 103 and now part of Bauer's Big City network, from fifth to top rank in the market and launching Steve Penk's breakfast show. He moved again in 1995, joining Virgin Radio but returned to EMAP (which was taken over by Bauer in a deal approved by Emap shareholders a year ago - See RNW Jan 26, 2008) in 1998 and launched Magic 105.4 and revamped Kiss 100.
He was MD of both stations until the end of 2004 when he was promoted to overseeing all Emap radio programming. He became Bauer's managing director of programming after it bought Emap and in March last year was promoted to managing director, national brands for Bauer Radio after Andria Vidler was promoted from her role as MD of Magic 105.4 to chief marketing officer of Bauer Consumer Media (See RNW Mar 20, 2008).
Story, who was amongst those interviewed for the BBC Radio 2 and 6 Music controller post job that went to former BBC Radio 5 Live controller Bob Shennan (See RNW Jan 27) is to form his own radio consultancy after he leaves Bauer on Feb 26.
Parkinson joined the Bauer in 2005 as Marketing Director for its radio business and subsequently was Managing Director for Scotland and Northern Ireland, in which role he oversaw their integration with the Emap business. Before that he was MD at Heart 106.2 from 2000 to 2005, taking the station to the top rank amongst London commercial stations, knocking Capital from its perch for the first time. He began his career in programming and sponsorship at Metro Radio and Hallam FM in Newcastle and Sheffield respectively and has also been managing director of the Galaxy network and a launch director of LBC 97.3.
Dee Ford, Bauer's Group MD Radio commented in a release on the appointment, "Steve was at Heart when it overtook Capital for the first time and at Kiss when the station overtook Capital for the first time. Steve has successfully led Kiss for the past two years and I am confident he will deliver the overall London radio strategy necessary to take Magic 105.4 and Kiss to the next level of success. He will be supported by a highly experienced senior team, particularly Pete Simmons and Andy Roberts, our award-winning Programme Directors at the respective stations and Alison Finch, Magic's Commercial Director."
Parkinson added, "This is a fantastic role and allows us the opportunity to deliver a joined-up London strategy to take on other commercial broadcasters and the BBC. Q4 RAJARs revealed Kiss beat Radio One in London for the first time in two years and Magic is snapping at the heels of Radio Two. Collectively, Kiss and Magic are leading the commercial charge against the BBC music stations in London. These famous brands are going from strength and I'm looking forward to building yet greater reach and additional hours at Kiss and Magic to dominate the London market."
2009-02-10: Clear Channel has disclosed in an 8K filing to the Securities and Exchange Commission that it has borrowed the USD 1.6 billion left available to it under its USD 2 billion revolving credit facility. The company says it "made the borrowing to improve its liquidity position in light of continuing uncertainty in credit market and economic conditions."
CC Media Holdings Inc., the parent of Clear Channel Communications Inc., and Clear Channel Outdoor Holdings are each due to release their full-year and final quarter 2008 results on March 2.
Previous Clear Channel:
2009-02-10: UK media regulator Ofcom in its latest bulletin upholds two radio standards complaint relating to soliciting texts for pre-recorded programmes that were broadcast "as live" plus four TV standards complaints, considers a further three radio and two TV complaints resolved through action taken by the broadcaster as well as posting details of a TV complaint that was not upheld. It has now made four rulings on pre-recorded programmes and is warning broadcasters that it will consider deceiving audiences by encouraging them to interect with programmes that have been pre-recorded will be taken seriously.
The radio complaints upheld involved the "Overnight Hit Mix"on West Dunbartonshire, Argyll & Bute station Your Radio and Northern Media Group radio stations in Northern Ireland. Ofcom also partly upheld two fairness and privacy complaints against a TV programme.
In the Scottish case the Overnight Hit Mix programme was pre-recorded but broadcast as live and included the host soliciting texts that a listener who had responded subsequently found could not have been acknowledged on air during the programme as indicated by the presenter.
The station in response to an enquiry said that the presenter's invitation to listeners to text the programme was a "spur of the moment error of judgement" by "a young and inexperienced broadcaster" and stressed that there never any deliberate attempt to mislead its audience.
It added that all presenters who pre-recorded programmes had been made aware there should be no attempt to encourage listeners to contact a show that did not have a live present in studio, that it had suspended pre-recorded overnight shows and it re-introduced them would ensure their hosting by experienced presenters, and had also changed its training for new hosts.
Ofcom noted the action taken but commented that it had published two previous findings regarding similar issues and that the broadcaster should therefore have been aware of the potential problems.
The Northern Ireland case concerned an edition of the "Saturday Night Warm-up" dance music show that was also pre-recorded and broadcast as-live across Northern Media Group's six commercial radio stations in Northern Ireland: Five FM, Six FM, Seven FM, Q97.2, Q101 West and Q102.
Again in this case the broadcaster said there had been no intention to harm or mislead and said it did not receive any income from the text service involved. |It added that messages sent during the pre-recorded programme were subsequently checked and the presenter was encouraged to use them in the next available programme.
In this case Ofcom noted an apology by the Group and action taken to avoid recurrence but added that it was extremely concerned that the broadcaster failed to have sufficient procedures in place to prevent the deception of its audience. It said it regarded the action as a serious breach of its code and said it would consider further regulatory action in the event of any similar breach by any NMG station.
It also noted for the benefit of other broadcasters that it had no published four findings concerning implied interaction with programmes that were in fact pre-recorded and said it was putting broadcasters on notice that it regarded these breaches as serious.
The radio complaints considered resolved involved BBC 6 Music; The Alex Zane Breakfast Show on Xfm and a programme trailer on East Yorkshire and Northern Lincolnshire station Viking FM.
In the first case George Lamb in his weekday show had referred to a news item concerning the bid by American property tycoon Donald Trump to build a luxury golf course in Scotland against opposition from local fisherman.
Lamb commented that fisherman Michael Forbes whose farm was on the site initially approved for the course had said he would "give my land to travellers before I give it to Trump" and later added, "And you ain't moving travellers off basically. Travellers is [sic] like asbestos basically. The whole gaff is getting condemned."
This led to six complaints that the comment was racist towards travellers to which the BBC responded that the comment was "not intended to be, nor was it, racist" but said that nevertheless the recording of the programme, available on the BBC iPlayer, was withdrawn on the day of broadcast and re-edited to remove the section in question and that George Lamb also made an on-air apology the following day. Ofcom considered the actions sufficient to resolve the issue.
In the Xfm case there was a discussion on Zane's show about the song "Code of Love" by Mike Sarne that was released in 1963 and which it was said was acceptable then but would now be "questionable at best" and they played a sample that went, "Number 1 you find someone, 2 you hold her hand, 3 you kiss her on the cheek. Number 4 you squeeze her, number 5 you tease her, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, too late to say when."
The presenters then said they had been inspired to write their own song that would have been acceptable in the 60s but would be considered inappropriate now and then played the song, "Won't Take 'No' For An Answer", which featured a man describing his amorous and, at times, physical advances, and a woman attempting to refuse them.
A listener complained that the song included connotations of rape to which Xfm explained the background but added that the programme makers had not sought advice in advance from Xfm's management about the inclusion of the song; said it considered the song to have been "inappropriate for broadcast"; that its inclusion had been a "serious misjudgement" and that it had taken steps to remedy the situation including disciplinary action and compliance training for the staff involved and had also broadcast an on-air apology the following day.
Ofcom in its ruling commented that "the extract from Sarne's song played by the presenters bore little relation to the pastiche they attempted. The subject matter and tone of "Code of Love" were vastly different to the presenters' own song (which was supposedly inspired by the former). In Ofcom's view, the presenters' song was likely to have been perceived by listeners as recounting a physical and sexual assault. "It also noted that the item was transmitted at breakfast time when children might be listening but considered the action taken by the station sufficient to resolve the matter.
In the Viking FM case Ofcom received a complaint about a trailer for a late night programme called "The Confessional" that included a voiceover saying "Tonight on 'The Confessional' We're looking for your stories all about dogging " followed by a vox-pop excerpt in which it was said, "There was people having sex there were a lot of guys really and then another couple came over and kinda joined with them so it ended up being like a big groupie."
Station owner Bauer acknowledged that the trailer did not comply with Ofcom's codes, apologized to the complainant, and said it sincerely regretted that the trailer was transmitted at a time when the audience was likely to include children.
It explained the error by stating that the trailer was flagged with timing restrictions but that due to an oversight, the restrictions were overlooked and the trailer was aired at 17.20. It further said that the error was spotted immediately and the trailer removed from the playout system to prevent any further recurrence."
It also said it had said it carried out a full review of its playout procedures to ensure that any material which is not appropriate for broadcast at particular times cannot be incorrectly and that it will no longer pre-record and schedule trailers for The Confessional programme.
Again Ofcom considered the action taken sufficient to resolve the matter.
In addition to the above Ofcom also listed without details 266 TV complaints against 150 items and 23 radio complaints against 18 items that it did not uphold or were considered out of its remit: This compared to 272 TV complaints against 158 items and 16 radio complaints against 16 items that were listed in the previous bulletin.
Previous Ofcom Complaints Bulletin:
2009-02-09: BBC World Service has suspended its suspended its FM broadcasts in Sri Lanka following what it termed "deliberate interference" by the Sri Lankan national broadcaster the Sri Lankan Broadcasting Corporation ( SLBC), which had carried them.
There had been criticism of the Corporation's news cover of the conflict between the Sri Lankan government and the LTTE (Tamil Tigers or Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam) with accusations flowing from some Sir Lankans that the BBC was relaying Tigers' propaganda (See RNW Dec 28, 2008).
The BBC said in a statement that programmes and individual news reports in the World Service English, Sinhala and Tamil languages have been blocked by SLBC and not broadcast to listeners in Sri Lanka, noting 17 instances of interference to BBC Tamil and eight similar instances to BBC Sinhala broadcasts between 27 November 2008 and early January 2009.
The Corporation said it expressed its concern directly to SLBC Chairman Hudson Samarasinghe in a series of letters and meetings throughout December and early January, making it clear that such interference and blocking meant that BBC programming was being editorially compromised by SLBC's actions and this was contrary to the BBC's contractual agreement with SLBC.
It adds that the interference continued with three instances of interference on BBC Tamil output, one on BBC Sinhala and two instances on the English language programming in the past 10 days and World Service Director Nigel Chapman commented, "We are dismayed that the BBC's programmes in the English, Sinhala and Tamil languages have been interrupted on the SLBC network. We are equally disappointed to see that our programmes continue to be interfered with even after our representations. We have no choice but to suspend broadcasts until such time as SLBC can guarantee our programming is transmitted without interference."
Chapman said the Corporation, whose short-wave services in all three languages and on the Internet continue, was "prepared to have further discussions to resolve this issue and will investigate any specific detailed complaint SLBC may have about BBC output. So far, no specific complaint has been raised."
The SLBC on its site does not mention the dispute but concentrates on news reports that either describe the LTTE as a terrorist organization and highlight support for the Sri Lankan government in its fight against them and recent military success by Sri Lankan forces.
SLBC web site:
2009-02-09: In continuing US radio job cuts, two senior Citadel executives have been ousted - Mitch Dolan President of Citadel's major market station group and Los Angeles market President John Davidson.
Dolan, a former President and General Manager of Capital Cities/ABC's WPRO-AM & FM, Providence, Rhode Island, which he joined in 1979, had been President and General Manager of Citadel flagship WPLJ-FM in New York since 1990 as well as his major market role in which he oversaw 22 stations in nine markets.
Citadel seems to have been reasonably efficient in excising mention of Dolan from its web sites but we did note that Davidson is still listed as a contact for KABC and KLOS in Los Angeles
2009-02-09: Arbitron has announced a multi-year agreement with Pamal Broadcasting to provide Custom Survey Area Reports (CSARs) for the Hudson Valley, New York metro, comprised of Westchester, Dutchess, Orange, Putnam and Rockland Counties and covering an area with a population of just above 1. 72 million people 12 and above.
Pamal general manager Jason Finkelberg commented in an Arbitron release, "Westchester and The Hudson Valley is a separate and distinct region where people live and work. Listening patterns are very different from those of New York City. In the past, we've had to rely on data from the Poughkeepsie, Newburgh, Westchester and New York books. We are excited to finally have one survey that will cover our entire region."
Arbitron will deliver ratings for the market twice a year and its vice president, Diary Market Development Tom O'Sullivan added, "Advertisers, agencies and radio stations alike are demanding more timely data in order to gauge the effectiveness of a broadcast medium This timely measurement of the Hudson Valley area will provide Pamal Broadcasting with the tools to compete for advertising dollars."
2009-02-08: Last week was yet another quiet one for the regulators as regards radio with no postings from Ireland and only a few from other regulators: In Australia, the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) posted only one radio announcement, a finding that Lambing Flat Community Broadcasting Inc.'s 2YYY, Young, New South Wales, breached a condition of its licence by exceeding the hourly sponsorship limit of five minutes.
The licensee had already been directed in September 2007 to "take all steps necessary to ensure compliance" with its licence conditions and to report on its steps taken to ensure their compliance and report every three months until September last year and the ACMA expressed concern that it had breached the same licence condition nine times since January 2007: The current ruling followed a complaint about a broadcast on Aug 27 last year during the final reporting period and the ACMA is currently considering that report.
2YYY was broadcasting under a temporary community licences that ran to Jan 3 this year and its frequency was allocated to it and to another applicant whose broadcasting term began on Jan 4 and runs to Jun 30 this year.
Applications will be invited for the new temporary licences before the end of June and the ACMA noted that it may take into account 2YYY's compliance record since it started broadcasting in 2004, when determining what future action is warranted with respect to this breach.
In Canada, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) had a fairly quiet week as regards radio announcements with the main one being the announcement of the award of two new FM licences for London, Ontario (See RNW Feb 3).
Other radio postings included two relating to Quebec stations:
*Approval of application by Amie du Quartier to increase the power of French-language low-power Type B community FM radio programming undertaking CFND-FM, Saint-Jérôme, Quebec, from 3.16 watts to 49 watts and also increase the effective antenna height.
*Revocation at the licensee's request of the licence of François Labbé's French-language radio network Réseau des Appalaches, Thetford Mines, following confirmation of eligibility for exemption.
There were again no radio postings in Ireland and in the UK, Ofcom posted only radio notice, the pre-advertisement of the Havering area FM licence currently held by Time 107.5 Ltd that is due to expire on 17 May 2010.
Declarations of intent to apply have to be submitted by March 2 and in accordance with usual practice a non-refundable fee of GBP 10,000 (USD 15,000) has to be submitted with each declaration together with a GBP 40,000 (USD 60,000) deposit, which will be refundable upon receipt by Ofcom of a valid application in response to the subsequent re-advertisement of this licence.
Should only the existing holder submit a declaration it will be invited to re-apply and if no declaration is received the licence will not be re-advertised.
In the US where the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has been most concerned about the transition to digital TV, the agency also posted details of a number of enforcement actions including a proposed USD 6,000 penalty on CBS Radio's KDKA-AM, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and a USD 4,000 penalty on Entercom's KDGS-FM, Andover, Kansas in relation to their conduct of competitions (See RNW Feb 6).
Other penalties and proposed penalties included the following related to radio:
*USD 14,000 forfeiture to Jason Konarz, licensee of DWQMA-AM, Marks, Mississippi for failure to enclose the station's antenna tower within an effective locked fence.
The FCC had issued a Notice of Apparent Liability for Forfeiture in this amount in November last year to which Konarz had failed to respond.
*USD 9,000 forfeiture to Saga Communications, licensee of WYMG-FM, Jacksonville, Illinois, for failing to properly maintain a public file for the station. It had issued an NAL for this amount in June 2005 to which Saga responded with a request for cancellation on the basis that the violations were not wilful or repeated; it is contrary to the public interest to assess a forfeiture for voluntary, self-reported violations (the violations were disclosed in the course of filing a licence renewal); and that Commission precedent in similar circumstances had been to admonish the licensee.
The FCC pointed out it had previously reduced Saga's forfeiture amount by USD1, 000 in light of its voluntary disclosure and rejected all the arguments, confirming the penalty.
*USD 3,000 forfeiture to Saga Communications, licensee of WIXY-FM, Champaign, Illinois, for failing to properly maintain a public file for the station. Saga had been issued with an NAL for this amount and responded with the same arguments it had used to request cancellation of the penalty for WYMG: The FCC again pointed out that it had made a USD 1,000 reduction in light of the voluntary disclosure and rejected the arguments, confirming the full penalty.
*USD 250 NAL to the American Institute For Jewish Education, licensee of Low Power FM Station WMDI-LP, Lakewood, New Jersey, for failing to file renewal application in time. It also renewed the licence.
Previous Licence News:
2009-02-07: The Canadian Broadcast Standards Council (CBSC) has ruled that comments made on an Ottawa station about Islam violated the Canadian Association of Broadcasters' (CAB) Code of Ethics but in another ruling concluded that hostile comments made by a caller to a New Brunswick station did not promote violence as defined by the code.
In the Ottawa case Lowell Green, who hosts a weekday 10:00 to noon show on CFRA-AM commented on the imprisonment of a British elementary school teacher who invited the class to name one student's teddy bear with the result that nearly all of the class chose Muhammad, apparently the first name of the most popular student in the class, a choice that led to vehement objections by some Sudanese to giving a toy the same name as the Prophet and calls from some for her execution.
Green took as his question of the day on December 3, 2007, "Is there something inherent in the Muslim faith that promotes violence and oppression of women?", a question to which most callers answered "yes" but some disagreed and the CBSC concluded that Green in his responses and comments had "mounted a sweeping, abusive and unduly discriminatory criticism of Islam" that the CBSC added "was uninformed and unfair. It conceded none of the diversity that exists in Islam or among its adherents. [...] [H]e consistently made it entirely clear that his issue [...] was [that there was a problem with the faith and that it] was not the work of a few fanatics, but rather a reflection of the religion, problems and attitudes that he attributed to the "great, overwhelming majority of Muslims in the world." Moreover, he brooked no contradictory observations of persons who were admittedly Muslim, informed about the religion, or of a different viewpoint."
It continued, "Green did not merely disagree with opposing points of view; he mocked, ridiculed and insulted their interlocutors. Using terms like "silly" and "baloney", he denied to callers that which is potentially best in talk radio: fair, interactive dialogue. Although not all broadcasters admit the appropriateness of anything other than pure objectivity on the part of hosts, the CBSC has long upheld the right of talk show hosts to espouse a point-of-view on air. The right to express an editorial perspective is one thing; the exclusion of the opinions of those who would express a conflicting perspective is quite another. [...] Disparaging opposing views with condescending, even childish, words such as those noted above is neither fair nor proper."
In his comments Green had commented, "Almost every act of terrorism around the world today - and there are hundreds every week - is carried out in the name of Islam. Almost every outrage, from a Saudi woman sentenced to two hundred lashes for the crime of being in a car with a man to the teddy bear incident, the Danish cartoons, more than a hundred and twenty French police injured in widespread rioting in France, all carried out in the name of? Islam. Don't tell me this is the work of a few fanatics. Thousands marched in Khartoum demanding the British school teacher be killed. Tens of thousands protested the Danish cartoons. More than a hundred were killed in that. Thousands of mostly young Muslims rioting, burning, looting in France today. And let's be brutally frank once again. It's obvious -- it's gotta be obvious -- that the terrible oppression of women seen throughout the Muslim world has widespread support. What is happening clearly is not just the work of a few fanatics. In your opinion, is much of what is happening the work of a few fanatics? Or is there something in the Muslim faith itself which promotes, which mitigates against freedom, democracy and equal rights? [...] Well, is it only the work of a few fanatics, the widespread oppression, the lack of democracy and freedom and equal rights and freedom of the press in almost every Muslim world or every Muslim country that you can think of? Seems to me that, with one exception and that would be Turkey, every Muslim nation on Earth, serious oppression against women, lack of freedom, lack of democracy and, in many cases, lack of very much equality for anybody."
In other comments Green had agreed with callers who thought what happened was part of the faith itself although he also commented "we can go back in history and we can see many evils carried out in the name of Christianity And we're not afraid to talk about that" and had also commented, "Well, as you might expect, and I certainly did, uh, the complaints are already pouring in that I'm picking on the Muslim faith, et cetera, et cetera. But you know something? I have stated repeatedly and I say so again: I believe that denying females certain rights within the Catholic Church is blatant discrimination So if I can criticize the Catholic Church and the Christian faith, I don't see why I can't criticize the Muslim faith."
The station in response to a complaint about Green attacking Islam had responded that "The incident which sparked the latest controversy was rioting by thousands of Sudanese (many armed with clubs and knives), calling for the execution of a British school teacher who allowed her students to name a teddy bear 'Muhammad.'
"Lowell made the point of his show quite clear. He was not in any way attacking believers (followers of Islam), nor was he saying they do not have a right to hold and practice their faith.
"That said, however, he went on to explain that he was not treating Islam any differently than he has treated other faiths. For example, Lowell has criticized the Catholic Church for what he sees as discrimination against women priests. He has criticized Protestants in Northern Ireland for supporting deadly attacks against Catholics in their ongoing strife. There are similar examples surrounding Sikhs, Falun Gong, Judaism and other faiths. To merely discuss a matter of legitimate public concern is not an attack on any individuals or groups."
The CBSC in its decision noted previous occasions on which Green had attacked Islam and commented of this case that it found "the tactics used by Lowell Green in dealing with the callers and the subject of the meaning of the Qur'anic ayah on which he was relying to have been unfair and improper."
"The host," it said, "was entitled to make his point about apostasy and had every opportunity to do so. It was not necessary for him to resort to that provision of the Qur'an. He chose that route. That was his option. Then, having invited Muslims to call the program on the basis that they could explain their fundamental religious document to him and CFRA's listeners, he disregarded their explanations of the very nature of the Qur'an, as well as their arguments about the context of the ayah he had quoted. When one of the Muslims even explained that the Arabic, that is, the original and definitive, version of the Qur'an, which he had before him, did not contain the words the host relied on, Green changed the subject. [ ] All in all, the audience was left with a lopsided perspective on the meaning of the Qur'an. They deserved more. The broadcaster's refusal to permit callers in good faith to provide the explanation of the misquoted text from the Qur'an when he had invited them to do so rendered the presentation of that text neither full, fair nor proper, and consequently in breach of Clause 6 of the CAB Code of Ethics."
In the New Brunswick case, CHNI-FM, St John, had broadcast a segment of its Maritime Morning show during which Paul Watson, the head of the marine conservation lobbying group Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, was the guest of host Andrew Krystal.
The group strongly opposes seal-hunting and Watson was reported to have commented of the drowning less than a week earlier of four sealers whose disabled boat capsized while being towed to port by the Canadian Coast Guard that the slaughter of thousands of seal pups each year was more of a tragedy than the deaths of the four men.
Most callers expressed support for Watson according to the CBSC but one caller said, "I think you should be put on the ice floe with the seals [...] and hopefully someone will come along with a hakapik and put it in your skull."
This led to a complaint that the comment was a threat on Watson's life that should not have been aired to which the station responded that the remark was just an example of the heated debates that sometimes occur in talk radio and that it did not believe that the caller had truly intended to promote violence.
In this case, the CBSC agreed with the broadcaster: Although it said it considered the caller's comment harsh it did not feel it was inciting, sanctioning or glamorizing violence and it ruled that, although a disavowing comment by host Krystal would have been appropriate, the absence of one did not amount to a breach of CAB codes.
2009-02-06: Arbitron, which in January agreed settlements with the New Jersey and New York States' Attorney Generals of lawsuits they brought concerning its Portable People Meter (PPM) ratings (See RNW Jan 7) has now agreed a similar settlement with the Maryland's Attorney General's office, although no lawsuit had been launched in this case.
The lawsuits were brought over the perceived defects in the PPM ratings that adversely affected minority broadcasters and Arbitron agreed measures to improve samples of minorities in its PPM panels.
In the settlement with Maryland, Arbitron has agreed in relation to its PPM ratings in the Washington DC area to:
*Recruit panellists using a combination of telephone-based and addressed-based sampling methods with a commitment to use the address-based sampling technique for at least 10 percent of its sampling efforts by or before October 1, 2009 and at least 15 percent of its recruitment efforts by the end of December 2010.
*Increase cell-phone-only sampling to at least 10 percent of all recruitment efforts by or before October 1, 2009 and at least 15 percent of all recruitment efforts by the end of December 2010;
*Take all reasonable measures to ensure average in-tab rates of at least 75 percent for the overall persons age 6 and older population, and to ensure that categories and subcategories comprising 10 percent or more of the radio population for the market fall within 85 percent of the overall 75 percent target.
*Provide to Washington D.C. market subscribers monthly reports detailing the PPM installed and in-tab sample sizes by individual zip code;
*Take all reasonable measures to obtain accreditation for the PPM radio ratings service from the Media Rating Council.
In addition Arbitron is to include a disclaimer on written promotional material and websites indicating that PPM ratings are based on audience estimates and should not be relied on for precise accuracy or precise representativeness of the radio market
As regards Baltimore, where the PPM service is scheduled to be commercialized later this year with the release of the September survey report on October 9, Arbitron has agreed to use comparable methods and comply with comparable terms.
Arbitron president and CEO Michael Skarzynski said of the agreement in a release, "The company's long-standing continuous improvement programs are a powerful framework for enhancing our Portable People Meter radio ratings services. This agreement with the Maryland Attorney General further indicates that Arbitron is proceeding along the appropriate course as we commercialize PPM in the top radio markets."
Maryland Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler added, "Arbitron's PPM technology is a valuable tool for the radio industry. Developed here in Maryland, the technology is already in use in the Washington, DC market and soon to be implemented in the Baltimore radio market. As its use continues to grow, it is critical that the PPM system is implemented in a manner that accurately reflects the listening audience and treats all broadcasters fairly."
The National Association of Black Owned Broadcasters (NABOB) and the Spanish Radio Association have both welcomed the agreement, saying in a joint statement, "We congratulate and thank attorney general Gansler for his leadership in ensuring that Arbitron's new PPM system accurately reports the listening preferences of African American and Hispanic listeners in Maryland Significantly, this is the first agreement that requires Arbitron to solve these problems prior to implementation of its PPM service in a market, in this case, Baltimore. We deeply appreciate attorney general Gansler's commitment to this important civil rights issue."
2009-02-06: The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has posted a number of enforcement decisions including the imposition of a USD 4,000 fine on Entercom's KDGS-FM, Andover, Kansas and a proposed USD 6,000 penalty on CBS Radio's KDKA-AM, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, in relation to their conduct of competitions.
In the KDKA case, a complainant alleged that in November 2007 KDKA's investigative reporter and talk show host, Marty Griffin, announced that he would give away a million dollars to the 13th caller and "a million an hour" thereafter but after he called the station and was told he was the thirteenth caller he was put on hold for around 43 minutes after which who was transferred to Griffin who asked him questions about the Thanksgiving holiday.
He asked about the prize money and was disconnected and when he called back was told there was no million dollar prize. He also contacted Griffin by e-mail and received a response saying he was "the only person in the area who didn't get the joke."
CBS in response to FCC enquiries did not dispute airing the comments but contended that the broadcast was a "joke", at most a "harmless prank" that was neither a contest nor a hoax prohibited under the Commission's rules.
AS evidence to back up this contention it said the public should have known the announcement was a joke on the basis of the absurdity of the idea that this news/talk station would give away one million dollars without any promotion; of Griffin's frequent laughter when discussing the idea of giving away one million dollars; of the preposterous details concerning the prize money, such as including information that the money was in the form of new bills contained in a barrel at the station or that it was in a briefcase secured by handcuffs; of Griffin's repeated claim, through the end of the three hour show, that fewer than thirteen calls had been received, even though more than fifty listeners had called the station; and the fact that no thirteenth caller was identified and no caller mentioned the USD 1,000,000 prize on the air.
In response to this the FCC noted that Griffin repeatedly made on-air announcements regarding the USD 1,000,000 giveaway during the three-hour program and made no statement on-air to clarify that the offer was a joke or prank, and, instead called the contest "the real deal," and took calls from the listening public, several of whom asked on the air whether they were the winning caller.
"The recording and transcript," said the FCC, "also make perfectly clear that the public was in fact misled by the contest announcements Griffin himself admitted during the broadcast that several individuals placed follow-up calls to the Station to complain that they had not won the USD 1,000,000 prize despite having been the thirteenth caller. "
Regarding the absurdity of offering such a prize without advance promotion it commented that this assumed the show attracts only regular listeners, and excludes the possibility that others, including those travelling in the station's service area, may have been listening.
It took the view that an upwards adjustment of the base penalty of USD 4,000 was justified and issued a Notice of Apparent Liability for Forfeiture (NAL) for USD 6,00 to CBS.
In the Entercom case, KDGS-FM ran a contest called "Santa's Sack," in which the station on each day of the contest, would give its listeners a clue as to what was in "Santa's Sack" and would indicate which numbered caller would have the chance to guess what was in "Santa's Sack." With a correct guess, the designated caller received what was in "Santa's Sack" as well as a teddy bear.
Complainant Darelene Harris alleged that she responded to an invitation to call the Station during an episode of the contest, and was the designated caller for that contest but although she correctly guessed that there was USD 1,000 in "Santa's Sack," the on-air announcer who took her call that day said she was incorrect.
She continued to listen to the Station, and the next day heard that another listener guessed the same amount of USD 1,000 in "Santa's Sack" and the on-air personality announced that USD 1,000 was the correct answer and awarded the prize to that listener. Harris later visited the Station to dispute the Station's decision not to award her the prize and says several Station employees agreed with her contention, but that no one at the Station ever rectified the situation, prompting her to file a complaint with the Commission.
Entercom acknowledged that its investigation had revealed that the station did not broadcast the "material terms of the Contest," but argued that there was no rule violation because the terms of the Contest were at all times available on the Station's website. It said the announcer who took the call mistakenly thought the correct amount was not just what was in the sack but also the USD 10 value of the teddy bear and it argued that no further action was warranted because it had made good the error by awarding the complainant USD 1,000 and had taken steps to avoid that no such error would be made in future.
The FCC disagreed and issued an NAL for USD 4,000 to which Entercom responded by requesting that the penalty be cancelled or at most reduced to an admonishment on the basis of actions taken subsequently an because each promo had said the full rules were available on the station's web site.
The FCC pointed out that rectification subsequent to a complaint could not nullify or excuse rules violations and it confirmed the penalty.
2009-02-05: The BBC Trust and BBC management have welcomed a report from the UK Government's National Audit Office (NAO) that says the corporation should do more work to analyse the costs of its more expensive radio production as part of its efforts to achieve efficiency savings.
The report was commissioned by the trust and noted significant differences in production costs between different BBC radio stations for programming of the same genre: It looked mainly at the Corporation's ten network stations, four of them digital only, and six nations stations - two each in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales although it did consider for comparison some figures for costs at the Corporation's 38 local stations in England. In all it notes the BBC spent GBP 462 million (currently USD 675 million) on Nations and Network Radio in 2007-08.
Commenting on it Tim Burr, Comptroller and Auditor General said in a release, "The BBC has already achieved savings in radio production across its Network and Nations radio services and has plans in place to make further savings. But the BBC needs a better understanding of why the cost of producing similar programmes on its different radio stations varies so widely."
Amongst those differences the report notes that the cost of music output on BBC Radio 2 is 54% higher than on BBC Radio 1 and more than twice the cost for BBC Radio 3 and that for drama BBC Radio 4 costs for in-house production are similar to the costs for programming commissioned from independent productions companies whilst at BBC Radio 3 the costs is almost 29% more per hour. In addition in-house drama production costs in London and in Manchester and the North are over 50 per cent higher than the other English regions and Wales, and over three times those in Scotland.
It notes: "In 2006 the six Nations stations completed an exercise to compare their costs, to identify best practice in the way that they worked and to inform the setting of efficiency targets. In 2007 the Network stations commissioned benchmarking of programmes across Network and Nations stations but the exercise has not yet been used to inform target setting or the identification of savings initiatives. Using the data collected for the wider 2007 benchmarking exercise we examined the cost of comparable programmes and identified a wide range of cost variations. We used BBC classifications of programmes, for example, drama and comedy, while recognising that the classifications themselves are often broad. For example, the goals of music programmes on Radio 1, Radio 2 and Radio 3 are very different."
Of the "savings" made within BBC Radio Burr added, "In the three year period ending March 2008, BBC Network and Nations radio services delivered efficiency savings of GBP 11.7million (USD 17.1 million) against a target of GBP 11.6million (USD 17.0 million) and has targets in place to deliver further savings of GBP 21.1 million (USD 30.9 million) in the five years to April 2013. The NAO found that there was limited documentary evidence that the BBC has systematically assessed the potential impact of savings on its radio output and that it has done limited work to examine significant cost variations. As a result, the NAO concluded that the BBC is not making full use of opportunities to increase the value for money it is achieving in radio production. It is likely that a systematic analysis of the costs and performance of the most expensive programmes would help the BBC to identify areas where it could make further efficiency savings."
The NAO recommends that the BBC should make full use of its data on the costs of radio production to identify the scope for potential further efficiency savings across its Network and Nations stations and for BBC Trustee Jeremy Peat said of these in a release, "We welcome the NAO's findings and recommendations. In 2007 the Trust set a demanding 3% net cash-releasing annual efficiency target for the BBC, and BBC network and Nations radio has robust plans in place to meet this target over the coming years. However, we agree with the NAO that the BBC should adopt a more systematic approach to using comparative cost data and identifying potential savings. Any work on potential savings should take account of the possible impact on output. We have asked the BBC Executive to report back to us in 12 months' time with progress on key findings from this report."
Tim Davie, Director, BBC Audio & Music, commented, "I welcome this report and am pleased it recognises the £86million we are already committed to saving. However, there are clearly opportunities to do more and I am determined to increase efficiency while maintaining the unparalleled quality of our programmes. We have a huge responsibility in managing licence fee income and I will ensure we are driving even harder bargains to deliver value for money for our audiences."
RNW note: The 39-page report has some interesting graphs of costs per hour - for both different stations and in the case of drama also by location as well as whether a production is in-house or from an independent - and also costs compared to commercial stations for breakfast and drive time shows.
It also gives examples of savings made in some cases = as for example in Scotland where the Corporation introduced the new role of Content Assistant, which replaced four previous roles an allowed it to cut staff and reduce costs.
One the most significant charts shows cost per listener hour -BBC Radio 4, Radio 5 Live, and Radio 2,which have the highest costs per hour of network stations also have low costs per listener hour whilst the language services Radio nan Gàidheal in Scotland and Radio Cymru in Wales have by far the highest costs per listener hour.
Although some of the points appear to be reasonably thought through we are also concerned about the degree to which accountants may end up reducing programming quality by reference to costs per hour rather than emphasising to the degree that the BBC has in the past the importance of cost per listener hour. In other words, to use a Hollywood analogy, end up pushing for more output of direct-to-DVD level rather than blockbuster.
The BBC Executive in its response takes up this point, noting at one point, "Whilst working hard to deliver efficiencies, we need to ensure that this special contribution to the creative economy, recognized for its cultural value around the world, is nurtured and protected. Therefore any efficiency targets must recognise the sensitivities of changes to output that is particularly highly valued by audiences, as assessed by the different dimensions of reach, quality, impact and value for money." We just hope they stick to their guns on this one!
NAO report (910 KB PDF):
2009-02-05: The Wall Street Journal has reported that Echo Star has been buying Sirius XM debt in what it says could be the first salvo in an attempt to take control of the company.
Echo Star is controlled by Charles Ergen and the paper, citing unnamed people familiar with the matter says that he has recently acquired part of a USD 300 million tranche of Sirius debt that matures on Feb. 17, according to the people: It adds that Sirius recently converted part of the debt to equity, reducing the total debt outstanding to about USD 175 million but says it isn't clear whether Mr. Ergen participated in the exchange.
It also says Ergen could also be buying up senior bank debt, due in May, which trades thinly on the over-the-counter market and notes that Sirius shares were down to 14 cents - they rose after the report and ended Thursday up nearly 16% at 16.5 cents, valuing the company just below USD 580 million - and that its USD 3.4 billion debt is trading at a deep discount.
The Journal says EchoStar could use the debt to help it take control, either by pushing for a debt-for-equity swap or by building up a holding of the majority of the bank debt thus allowing it to block moves to gain concession from Sirius XM's bankers and force the company into bankruptcy during which it would try to take control through swapping its debt for equity and buying out other bondholders whilst cutting loan deals with the banks.
Neither Sirius nor EchoStar have so far commented on the reports but the paper notes that Sirius has a problem of finding more than USD 1 billion this year - debts amounting to USD 925 million come due and it also needs to find USD 43 million - due on Feb 17 - in programming fees to the National Football League, and a further USD 60 million to Major League Baseball in March although the cash for this is in escrow and the Journal quotes a person familiar with the matter as saying that the company is negotiating hard with the league to let Sirius tap those funds.
In other satellite radio developments WorldSpace has now asked the Delaware Bankruptcy Court to extend its Debtor in Possession authorisation, which expired on Jan 29, and set Feb 20 as the new auction date for its assets. The sale was due to have been held at the end of last month but had been postponed by the court (See RNW Feb 4).
In other US radio business news Saga Communications' Class A Common Stock is now being traded on the NYSE Alternext US and the company says it has begun the process of the process of voluntarily withdrawing the listing of its Class A Common Stock from the New York Stock Exchange in light of its acceptance for listing on the Alternext. It will continue to train under its current ticker symbol SGA.
Saga had received a de-listing notice in December based on the requirement for a minimum market capitalization of USD 25 million or more for any 30-day trading period.
It subsequently announced that its board had authorized a reverse split of its stock at a ration of not more than one-for-four as a measure that would allow to move the listing of its Class A Common Stock from the NYSE to the NYSE Alternext (See RNW Dec 30, 2008).
Saga ended Thursday unchanged at USD 4.155 - it it was among stocks reported as being sold recently by private investment company Tweedy Browne, which cut its holding in the company by some 35% as well as selling all its holdings in Fisher Communications.
Previous Sirius XM:
Wall Street Journal report:
2009-02-05: The BBC has announced that Harvard University Professor Michael Sandel is to give this year's Reith Lectures on the topic "A New Citizenship."
The lectures will be broadcast on BBC Radio 4 and the World Service in June and will alsobeavailable online: Sandel says they will cover "the prospect for a new politics of the common good".
He added of the lectures that they "have a storied tradition of engaging the life of the mind and the public square. At a time of political change and economic turmoil, we need new thinking about the common good: What, in an age of globalisation, are the moral limits of markets? What should be the place of moral and spiritual values in public life? How is biotechnology transforming our relation to nature and the environment?"
BBC Radio 4 Controller Mark Damazer commented in a release, "I am delighted that Professor Sandel will be giving this year's Reith lectures. His concerns - about economic behaviour and its relationship to community, the nature of social solidarity, the definition of justice and the allure and danger of the hunt for perfection - all resonate loudly. He is an academic of great distinction and I am sure his lectures will again underline the value of ideas and of dispassionate intellectual engagement with so many of the issues and dilemmas that lie behind the day to day debates and controversies that punctuate public life."
2009-02-04: This week in our look at print comment on radio we concentrate on articles from the UK with positive comment about radio as perceived and negative about the quality of current digital radio transmissions in the light of plans to phase out FM.
The positive first from Libby Purves writing in the Daily Telegraph under the heading, "Why we're still ga-ga for radio." She begins by quoting from the 1929 BBC Handbook: "'Broadcasting, that magical agent,' they wrote, 'has made available by means of comparatively simple apparatus and at next to no cost the finest things there are to hear.'"
And later: "Grim old Reith himself put it more succinctly: 'There are two kinds of loneliness: insulation in space and isolation of spirit. These are both dispelled by wireless.'"
Later still come words that must seem alien to many across the Atlantic: "Radio wins more listeners each year. In a complex crisis, people want news: where do they turn? To the Today programme, now attracting its biggest audiences since 2001. The rest of Radio 4 is also at a six-year high, pulling in nearly 10 million; on Radio 2, Wogan's happy witterings draw more than eight million every weekday. The medium refuses to atrophy: we remain in thrall to a form of entertainment born when corsets were whalebone and horses pulled the plough."
And after comments on he nature of radio - "stretches the imagination and makes the listener its partner " - the reason that may seem alien comes down in her view - "We have been lucky, in Britain, that it grew up as it did, falling into the hands of idealists and funded as a service rather than an advertising medium. Lucky, too, that those pioneers understood that, as Reith put it, people cannot always be listening to "grand" things. The radio has been a nursery of drama - from Shaw and Priestley to Lee Hall - and the place where the best comedy is born. Radio has fostered comic genius: It's That Man Again and The Goons, Hancock and Horne, Alan Partridge, Arthur Smith. Little Britain was a lot funnier on the radio than it has been since. When it comes to news, radio asks sharper, deeper questions than television because it has no pictures to dwell on."
Not all good but overall pretty damn good - "Of course there is bad and brainless radio - how could there not be, when it is so cheap and easy to make? Of course (don't we know it) there is cruel, laddish radio. Even the more intelligent networks sometimes foul up, bore you rigid, or give airtime to nitwits. But by and large, speech radio in Britain is a marvel: civil, unpatronising, unpompous."
Purves was publicizing her book "Radio: A True Love Story" but her comments- and it was noticeable that commercial radio did not feature in the article (and we have made it clear on many occasions that rather than see BBC Radio reduced in scope we'd happily consign the whole commercial competition to the bin albeit we welcome the presence of both as preferable) - are nevertheless a worthy encomium to a worthy medium.
Amongst the comments in response was one that takes us on to our next topic - "What worries me long-term is the threat to replace proper radio - particularly FM - with DAB or other digital formats that just don't give you proper sound. Radio is indeed glorious but it is under threat, in cars, in kitchens, in sheds and hairdressing salons - unless we wake up and stop the radio spectrum thieves from taking it away from us."
Which takes us to TechRadar.com and an interview - posted under the heading "DAB vs. internet: vested interests limit progress. Digital radio critic claims consumers being mislead" - with Steve Green (Editor of the website digitalradiotech.co.uk) - "a vociferous critic of DAB and the BBC /radio industry's digital radio strategy in general."
Green's first point was that "the audio quality on internet radio is either already far better than on DAB, or it will be in the near future", a result of the fact that currently UK DAB uses the old MP2 encoding whereas the Internet streams are to switch to using the much more efficient AAC/AAC+( RNW Note: In addition there has been criticism, justified in our view, of the Corporation for airing lower quality audio on digital satellite and the Freeview terrestrial TV platform - the highest bit rate is 192 kbps on these - than the audio associated with its TV Channels - 256kbps except for its News24 news channel when 192 kbps is used).
He also points out that the promotion if DAB by its supporters using the basis of it providing greater choice falls flat when compared to the stations available on the Internet and that in addition Internet stations cover niche genres for which there will never be room on DAB.
Regarding the government's Digital Radio Working Group (DRWG), which is recommending a move to DAB, Green comments that it is "made up of representatives from the BBC, commercial radio and the DAB receiver manufacturers, and they recommended to the government that everyone should be pushed towards buying DAB, but they didn't include internet radio in the long-term plan for digital radio at all."
Green suggests that the reason the broadcasters want to promote DAB over the Internet is "down to protectionism: the broadcasters would like everyone to listen to digital radio via DAB, because DAB offers the least amount of choice, so their stations will face the least amount of competition, and they think this will lead to them losing fewer listeners than if a lot of people began listening via the internet. And the big receiver manufacturers have the UK DAB market all sewn up, so they'd very much like the status quo to continue as well."
Green, who comments that "the losers, as ever, will be the consumers" and takes head-on the argument over the pressure massive listening would put in the Internet by noting that at the moment most streams are delivered on a "'unicast" basis of one stream per listener whereas some ISPs have already implemented "IP Multicast" which eliminates duplicates of a stream.
He also comments regarding the coding of DAB- "The sad fact is that the reason why DAB receives so much criticism is that there was never actually any need for the broadcasters to degrade the quality in the first place. Development of the AAC audio codec began in 1994, and it was standardised in 1997. So if the BBC executives in charge of planning DAB in the 1990s had actually listened to what the BBC R&D engineers were telling them about the advantages that AAC had to offer, they could have upgraded the DAB system prior to the big launch in 2002, and the audio quality on DAB would have been good today, not poor."
And that says Green had a wider knock-on because the decision to use old technology meant DAB was effectively a UK-only market "which in turn led to the car and mobile phone manufacturers choosing not to integrate DAB into their products, because they will only integrate Europe-wide standards, not something that's effectively limited to just the UK."
Some of the comments are not hopeful for the future of DAB with one noting, "internet radio could become widely available on audio products, and the DAB industry wouldn't be able to do much to stop it. The reason why this might happen is largely due to Sony's announcement at CES 2009 (the Consumer Electronics Show) that 90 per cent of all its products would be able to connect to the internet by 2011. Once Wi-Fi is added to audio devices, it would only cost a few pence extra in manufacturing and licensing costs to allow these products to receive internet radio. In comparison, it costs a few pounds to add DAB to a product. And if Sony is planning on adding Wi-Fi to so many of its audio products, you would expect its rivals to add Wi-Fi to more of their products as well. So it's possible that there will be a very wide range of internet radio-enabled audio products available within the next two to three years."
RNW comment: Think HD and the same applies and if one thinks of 3G mobile devices as well as Wi-Fi much of the wide area coverage deficit that currently prohibits good reception of the Internet on the move starts to disappear. We still find, even with decent broadband that reception off-air is more reliable than live internet streams but on-demand doesn't have the same problem so there is a significant threat to much of the radio audience if FM is switched off when DAB is worse quality than FM for the audiophiles and receivers are still much more expensive than current analogue models, leading people who have a number of receivers to question whether they need to replace them all with digital receivers, particularly for portable devices where the power consumption is greater.
There is thus the danger of those who may lead opinion over audio quality turning against radio (a dip into Green's comments on his own site indicates that the quality argument would drastically change with a switch to DAB+, the system Australia will launch) and many others will opt to forgo radio if FM is switched off and they have to spend money they don't feel they should have to - and in current economic circumstances may not have - to replace receivers with digital ones. At the very least there should be no question of switching off analogue to get inferior digital quality and our view on this is that a pre-condition for any switch-off should be that DAB+ receivers (which can also handle DAB) should have been on the market for at least five years and at least 75% of receivers should be able to handle DAB+ -- if need be manufacturers and broadcasters should be told they can pay for receivers for those affected to get the levels up before there is any chance of a switch off. If they don't want to, let the listener rule with their feet and retain their old radios.
But maybe Green has it right - his figures by the way indicate that the effective cost of BBC TV adverts for DAB boil down to a greater subsidy per receiver sold than the total cost of a basic FM receiver - and technology will overtake the arguments in which case serious consideration should be under way now as to whether the future for distribution really will be the Internet and if so, how to best handle the change.
On however to current economic circumstances elsewhere and the effect they are having on the US radio industry: And if Jerry Del Colliano's latest musings on his Insidemusicmedia blog are correct US radio could be "Bankrupt in 6 to 12 Months."
In essence Del Colliano's argument boils down to the way in which non-radio investors have treated the medium, particularly in terms of the effects of consolidation.
"Consolidated radio groups," he comments, "are facing bankruptcy because some will not be able to restructure their massive debt -- the debt they acquired in the first place when they paid too much for overvalued radio stations."
He continues, "No one worried about it then.
"But now, it's time to pay the piper.
"Why else do you think radio people who know better are hunkering down for what they know is coming -- default.
"One reader, a radio executive, claims New York money types are not just talking about the possibility of radio groups defaulting, but the probability.
"Some think it can happen within six months to a year.
"Radio groups like Cumulus, Univision, Clear Channel, Entercom -- in fact, most of them -- have structures that make it difficult to survive if debt cannot be restructured. And in case you haven't noticed, money is hard to come by these days."
For the rest read his column but to end with we note from the Lexington Herald Leader am article by Robert Lindsey under the heading, "20 years in radio; then you're let go."
Lindsey was fired in November last year and writes of the effect on him - an initial spurt of calls from people he had worked with "to tell me they were shocked and to offer me help finding a job" with some still calling two months later when he as he comments, "Today, I am no closer to finding a new job. Unfortunately, my skills and education are not an influencing factor. I am under a six-month non-compete agreement, which means I cannot work in radio within a 76-mile radius of my previous station. This means I cannot do the job I love until May 4, 2009, but I'll keep looking, as I've spent most of my life in a radio station. In the meantime, I am getting the word out and still looking for a small business to buy."
On then to listening suggestions and straight to the BBC and first BBC Radio 2 and a number of continuing series we have been following starting with Monday and the continuing "Viva Latino!" and "Hitsville USA: 50 Years of Heart and Soul" series, the fifth episode in each case - from 13 and six in total respectively.
Then from Tuesday we suggest "The Hour The Music Died", a docudrama on the crash that killed Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and The Big Bopper and the following "Stubborn Kind of Fella: Remembering Marvin Gaye", the fifth of six programmes.
From Wednesday we suggest 90 minutes of Mike Harding and highlights from the 2009 BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards.; from Friday the fifth and final "Gene Krupa" programme; and from Saturday "Maria Elena Holly: My Life With Buddy" in which Maria Elena Holly talks to Don McLean.
Then to BBC Radio 3 and a note that following last Sunday when most the day was taken up with "EBU Mendelssohn Day" - European Broadcasting Union concerts to mark 200 years since Mendelssohn's birth - "Afternoon on 3" during the week is devoted to a "Mendelssohn Symphony Cycle."
Thereafter from the station we opt for Monday's "Jazz on 3" with more from the 2008 London Jazz Festival, this time featuring Ben Allison and his band in concert; Thursday's "Night Waves" in which Matthew Sweet explores the legacy of the fatwa issued against Salman Rushdie in 1989 (an issue on which we would have taken a much harder line at the time as those in our view who incited murder should have been jailed or deported whilst legitimate protest should have been allowed, even if we regard book burning with distaste); Friday's "The Verb"; Saturday's "World Routes" - the first of three programmes on Brazil's Carnivals, "Jazz Library" with Ian Carr, Donizetti's Lucia di Lammermoor "Live from the Met" ; and "The Wire" -" Sold on eBay", a comedy about a man who sells his life on eBay; and Sunday's "Ian Burnside" that looks at how composers have responded to the Creation with music from Haydn and Milhaud and "Drama on 3", a new play "The Steps" from Mike Bartlett and the following "Sunday Feature-The Origins of the Origin" in which Andrew Cunningham traces the roots of Darwin's On the Origin of Species and "Jazz Line-Up" featuring music from violinist Regina Carter amongst other items.
Next to BBC Radio 4 and from the regular weekday programming we suggest "Book of the Week" - "The Last Supper", Rachel Cusk's story of her family's three-month tour of Italy; "Woman's Hour Drama" - "The Lady of the Camellias", from Tuesday through Thursday the "Afternoon Reading" with three stories by Haruki Murakami and the continuing "Book at Bedtime" - the final five episodes from "The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society".
From other programming on the station we start with "Fry's English Delight" - the first of three programmes: last Sunday's was on "Metaphor" and next Sunday the topic is "Quotation".
Then moving through the week we suggest Monday's "The Tiger Takes Guard", the second part of the two-part look at the future of Indian Cricket (we recommended the first programme last week) and "Costing the Earth" - "Totally Uncool" on the harmful effects of the over-use of air conditioning and chiller cabinets; Tuesday's "Darwin: My Ancestor" looking at Darwin as a husband and father and "Great Lives" in which former Mayor of London Ken Livingstone chose Robert Kennedy as his hero plus "File on 4" in which Allan Urry investigated the sale of counterfeit drugs to GPs, hospitals and chemists .
From Wednesday we suggest "The Media Show" including a look at the launch of the Sky satellite channel in the UK - a launch on which Rupert Murdoch risked his company and "The Few", the second of the two-part look at the elites of the digital age that we first recommended last week.
From Thursday we suggest "In Our Time" on The Brothers Grimm; from Friday "The Battle of the Tweed" on the Harris Tweed industry of the Outer Hebrides and "The News Quiz"; and from Saturday another perspective on the Rushdie fatwa in "Archive on 4-The Book Burners."
Then from Sunday (this is also available as a podcast) we suggest" In Business" and "The Remarkable Mr China" in which Peter Day talks to Irish businessman Liam Casey from his base in Shenzen, near Hong Kong.
Insidemusicmedia - Del Colliano:
Lexington Herald Leader - Lindsey:
Techradar.com - Green interview:
UK Telegraph - Purves:
2009-02-04: Chicago radio veteran Ed Schwartz - Chicago Ed - has died aged 62 after being ill following a diagnosis of renal failure in September 2005. His career began at WLS-AM in 1973 and later that year he became late-night host at WIND-AM. He moved to WGN-AM in 1982, gaining a name for his Good Neighbor Food Drive, and attracting a weekly audience approaching 400,000.
He moved to WLUP-AM in 1992 but was moved to various time slots and failed to recreate his ratings success and he left the station in 1995, becoming a columnist with Learner Newspapers
WGN-AM in its report of his death commented, "Whether you were ending your day, or starting it, the dark hours of overnight were made brighter by his quirky presence. "
David Stewart, who worked with Schwartz at WGN and earlier at WIND added of Ed that "He was known for his knowledge of Chicago trivia, Chicago historical facts and figures and places around town. He became a big proponent of the Chicago Police and Fire departments. He would always have fire people on (the air) and police people on talking about what they were up to."
WGN also posted audio of a 2006 interview of Schwartz by Dean Richards whilst the Chicago Tribune - Tribune Co is WGN's parent - posted a remembrance of him by Phil Rosenthal that included a profile of Schwartz by Eric Zorn that was published on May 3, 1982, the week before news broke that Schwartz would be leaving WIND-AM for WGN.
Chicago Tribune - Rosenthal/Zorn:
2009-02-04: Beasley Broadcast Group has followed Salem's similar move last month (See RNW Jan 29) and instituted a 5% pay cut across the board including its top executives from founder, Chairman and CEO George Beasley downwards. Like Salem it had already cut down its staff numbers - in Beasley's case by around 7% taking its total below 700.
Last month Entercom revealed that it was instituting a hiring freeze and pay freeze with the latter also affecting its executives (See RNW Jan 27) who agreed changes to their contracts to waive pay increases.
Previous George Beasley:
2009-02-04: Switchdigital London, owner of the London II DAB multiplex, has announced agreement with regulator Ofcom to increase power at five transmitters, this adding around half a million extra potential listeners to its broadcasts, which can already reach some six million adults..
The power increase will be completed by February 16 at Arkley, Alexandra Palace, Crystal Palace, Guildford and Otford.
Piers Collins of Switchdigital, commented of the move, "The Government has highlighted that DAB is the digital radio platform of choice, and that multiplex operators need to work with service providers to enhance coverage. The enhanced coverage that we will be delivering on Switchdigital is a significant step forward."
2009-02-04: The auction of the assets of international satellite radio operator WorldSpace that was due to have been held at the end of last month (See RNW Jan 17), has been postponed by the Delaware Bankruptcy Court for at a least a fortnight.
The company is being sued in a class action suit that in June 2007 was consolidated by a New York judge into a single suit after a number law firms had launched actions concerning allegations that the company and its founder Noah Samara had overstated subscriber numbers by continuing to include expired subscriptions in the Company's subscriber count for an additional 90-days following the expiration of the initial three-month promotional period. WorldSpace's stock had dropped by more than a fifth on March 17, 2006, after it revealed the practice the previous day in an investor's conference call. The company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in October last year (See RNW Oct 17, 2008) and has continued to operate with some USD 13 billion of debtor-in-possession financing, which has priority over other creditors and had a due date of Jan 29, on which date the court was scheduled to have ruled on the result of the auction.
2009-02-03: The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) has awarded two new FM licences for London, Ontario, to Blackburn Radio Inc. and conditionally to Sound of Faith Broadcasting, denying seven other applications: Blackburn proposed a 4,000 watts Adult Album Alternative (Triple A) English language commercial FM and Sound of Faith a 234 watts Christian music English-language specialty commercial FM regarding which the Commission notes an apparent shortfall from 2004 through 2007 of CAD 16,400 (USD 13,300) in its required contributions for CHJX-FM to Canadian talent development (CTD) under the former CTD plan.
Accordingly it has is to require Sound of Faith to provide documentation to show compliance including proof of CHJX-FMs payment made to various CTD initiatives and a breakdown of CHJX-FM's payments made and a detailed description of the initiatives sponsored with those payments, so as to allow the Commission to determine the eligibility of the initiatives: It adds that it payments had been made to ineligible recipients, the applicant must redirect funding to eligible initiatives before 30 June 2009 in order to fulfil its prior CTD obligations.
The Commission commented that in reaching its decision it took into account a considerable worsening of the economic situation in southern Ontario since the call for applications but says that in spite of this it considers the market can support the licensing of one new mainstream commercial radio station as well as the re-launch of CHJX-FM.
A dissenting note was issued by Commissioners Elizabeth Duncan and Peter Menzies who said they felt that other applications were superior to the Blackburn bid, notably Rogers' application for a 4,000 watts Contemporary Hits English language commercial FM that the company described as
"a personal and on-demand, on-air and on-line, local radio experience," and a first in Canada.
"Their audience-driven, interactive approach to programming," commented the dissenting Commissioners "was designed to repatriate youth to radio and appeal to a younger demographic, particularly women aged 15-34. Further, their business plan made it clear that this project was the product of, and an investment in, innovation. Without such innovation the economy, businesses, and industries are, at best, diminished and, at worst, subject to failure."
"In our view," they added, "Rogers' proposal, which intended to link Internet and mobile technologies with conventional radio, showed the type of ingenuity that would not only best serve London's significant university population and underserved youth demographic, but create a template for future creativity within the industry." They also noted that Rogers was offering over the basic annual contribution a total of CAD 3.2 million (USD 2.6 million) in Canadian content development contribution over seven years compared to CAD 1.5 million (USD 1.22 million) from Blackburn.
The applications that were rejected were from:
CTV Limited for a 6,600 watts Modern Hit Radio English-language commercial FM:
Evanov Communications Inc. for a 4,000 watts Youth Contemporary English-language commercial FM.
Forest City Radio Inc. for a 4,000 watts Pop/Oldies English-language commercial FM.
Frank Torres, on behalf of a corporation to be incorporated for an 18,578 watts Blues English-language commercial FM.
My Broadcasting Corporation for a 2,500 watts Gold Based Adult Contemporary English-language commercial FM.
Rogers Broadcasting Limited for a 4,000 watts Contemporary Hits English-language commercial FM.
United Christian Broadcasters Canada for a 2,904 watts Adult Contemporary Christian music English-language specialty commercial FM.
2009-02-03: Two north-west England veteran broadcasters have died this week, one veteran Merseyside broadcaster and Liverpool FC stadium announcer Phil Easton and the other Manchester veteran Tim Grundy.
Easton died aged 59 from a suspected brain haemorrhage: He was found dead at his home on Monday after returning following his breakfast show broadcast on Bauer Radio's CityTalk.
The Liverpool Echo leads its report on Easton's death with a tribute from British Prime Minister Gordon Brown who commented, "Phil was an accomplished and talented broadcaster who was on the top of his game when we met just a few weeks ago. My thoughts go out to Phil's family and his many friends on Merseyside during this terrible time."
It says that he was due to pick up his wife Fran from an appointment and when he did not turn up she returned home and found him dead.
Easton joined Radio City in 1975 and more recently hosted the breakfast show on sister station Magic 1548 before making the switch from DJ to talk and launching City Talk, also owned by Bauer, on January 28 last year.
His co-host Kim Hughes paying tribute on the station web site said she was "devastated" and continued, "Phil was more than my co-host; he was my friend. I will miss him endlessly and send all of my love to his family."
She added in response to well wishers, "Thank you, all of you, for your messages Phil would have been bowled over and very surprised by how many lives he'd touched, that was the measure of the great man, he was a reluctant legend. Today's show was the hardest thing I've ever had to do but I know it was exactly what he would have wanted and I wanted, so much, to make him proud."
"Phil was more than my co-host he was my friend and a true friend at that. Despite the bad jokes he made me laugh, a lot. If the truth be known, he cared so much for the show, the station, the listeners, the city, the team and me and I will miss him more than I can ever say."
Richard Maddock, Station Director for Radio City, Magic and City Talk added: "We are deeply saddened to hear this tragic news. Phil was an astounding broadcaster and friend to everyone here at Radio City, Magic and City Talk. Our thoughts are with his family at this terrible time. On my part, my heart too goes out to his wife, Fran, and his three kids, Dan, Ben and Zoe. The loss of such a brilliant guy to radio pales into insignificance compared to the loss they have suffered."
Radio City Chairman and founder Terry Smith said: "The Great Easton Express was a classic programme and Phil had an incredible ability for finding bands who were going to make it big. After we learned of his death we were up all night deciding how to do the programme this morning. His co-presenter Kim Hughes had to break the news live on air at 6am. It nearly broke her. But we decided the show had to go on."
Amongst rivals paying tribute was BBC Radio Merseyside presenter Roger Phillips who said Phil recently spoke of his plans to retire within two years and move to Spain with his family and told the Echo: "It seems so unfair as he was a fit guy and was bonkers about his football. I knew him socially and he was the tops."
Easton's death came hard on the heels of the death of another North-West England broadcaster Tim Grundy, who died on Sunday after falling ill following his return from a holiday in Kenya.
Grundy, son of TV host Bill Grundy, also began his career in 1975, in his case as a 17-years-old coffee boy on Piccadilly Radio (Now owned by Bauer and broadcasting as Key 103 on FM and Piccadilly Magic 1152 on AM) in Manchester, his home town. He was with the station for more some 15 years, eventually becoming its Programme Controller in which role he helped establish the career of Chris Evans.
In 2002 with his older brother Tony he helped launch Reading 107 FM, where he was the first voice on air and hosted the breakfast show for three years. More recently he has hosted some shows for BBC Radio Manchester whose managing editor John Ryan told the Manchester Evening News, "His passion for the city was still very evident. We'd like to pass on our condolences to his family."
In 2006 he had a near-fatal heart attack on his way home from holiday and was in a coma for 13 days, and the paper reports that a defibrillator was then put inside his chest.
As well as his radio work, Grundy worked for BBC TV and also set up his own company to make history programmes for the Discovery Channel.
City Talk report:
Liverpool Echo report:
Manchester Evening News report:
2009-02-03: Sirius XM Radio has announced that its award-winning Bob Dylan "Theme Time Radio Hour" programming, originally broadcast on XM Satellite Radio and currently airing on Wednesday mornings on its Deep Tracks (Sirius channel 16 and XM channel 40) is also to be broadcast weekly on Sirius XM's The Spectrum channel beginning Sunday February 8.
The Spectrum broadcasts,- oN Sirius channel 18 and XM channel 45 - will feature four hours of Theme Time Radio Hour programming, comprised of an encore of the Wednesday show plus two shows from the Theme Time Radio Hour archive an an additional encore of Wednesday's show.
The shows features Dylan introducing a mix of songs from a wide range of genres on the chosen theme together with the host's comments plus with phone calls, email readings, contributions from special guests and an array of classic radio IDs, jingles and promos from the past.
Sirius XM President and Chief Content Officer Scott Greenstein commented of the move in a release, "Bob Dylan's Theme Time Radio Hour is among the most unique programs ever done on radio, offering a window into the mind of one of the most prolific artists of our time. We are thrilled to be able to offer to even more Sirius XM listeners such an innovative show from one of the few people who are truly able to be called an American icon."
RNW as fans of the show we would recommend Theme Hour and could argue that it is "unequalled" but to qualify a word that from its root means the only one "most" or any other word annoys us as yet another (American-inspired?) perversion and weakening of language. The word was valuable in its original meaning and the changes are no improvement.
Previous Sirius XM:
2009-02-03: GMG Radio, which last month appointed Jonathan Gillespie from Google UK, where he had been Head of You Tube and Display, as its Commercial Director, has now appointed brand chiefs for its Smooth and Real Radio brands.
Reporting on the appointment of Jay Crawford, currently programme director of GMG Radio in Scotland, to the Real Radio post and of Steve Collins, programme director of Smooth Radio in the north-west, to oversee the group's six - Smooth Radio stations, the UK Guardian, which is owned by the same parent, said GMG radio considered the appointments would ensure consistency in both programming and commercial activity across the two stations.
It quoted GMG Radio group programme director, John Simons, as saying the pair would "help develop the Smooth and Real brands, ensuring we can meet the growing commercial needs for the networks whilst ensuring the core brand values of the stations continue to be met."
Both Collins and Crawford are industry veterans who have been in radio for more than three decades, working as hosts and in programming.
Previous GMG Radio:
UK Guardian report:
2009-02-02: UBC Media has announced agreement to sell its commercial division to Global Traffic Network, Inc. for GBP 9 million (USD 12.8 million) plus additional payments if agreed revenue targets are met over the next three years.
The sale is expected to close on March 1 this year and the company says that if the acquired business generates GBP 11 million (USD 15.65 million) in the 2009 calendar year it will be entitled to an additional GBP million (USD 1.22 million) with additional payment up to a maximum of GBP 5.5 million (USD 7.8 million) on 2009 revenue ranging upward from GBP 11 million to GBP 13.6 million (USD 19.3 million). For 2010 and 2011 it will be entitled to receive half of the amount by which revenues from the business exceed GBP 12 million (USD 17.1 million) and GBP 12. 5 million (USD 17.8 million) respectively.
UBC notes that the division generated revenues of GBP 11.53 million (USD 16.4 million) in the financial year to March 2008 and GBP 4.64 million (USD 6.6 million) in the first half of the current financial year since when it has signed a 2 year deal with Global Radio to supply traffic and travel bulletins for the entire Global Radio group, increasing the size of the audience delivered to advertisers by the Commercial Division by 32% (See RNW Oct 15, 2008).
It comments that its board believes the offer "represents a full valuation of the business in the current trading environment, given the Commercial Divisions' decline in revenues and the prospects for commercial radio advertising" and adds that it believes that the division will benefit "from being part of a larger group with operations in a number of major international markets."
UBC is listed on the AIM (Alternative Investment Market) and the sale will result in a fundamental change of business according to AIM rules - the company will retain its Programme Production Division and Data & Interactive Division and will not be considered to be an investing company under the AIM Rules and says its directors believe "that, in the current economic climate, there are significant opportunities to replace the earnings of the Commercial Division by making carefully targeted acquisitions to complement the Groups remaining divisions, creating consolidation benefits."
It adds that the board "intends to explore a strategy which will balance a return of capital to investors against acquisition and consolidation opportunities."
As part of the deal, GTN has required as a condition of sale that UBC Chief Executive Simon Cole enters into personal three year non-compete and non-solicitation restrictions for which the Company will pay to Simon the sum of GBP 30,000 (USD 42,700) in consideration of him entering into the restrictions and in addition UBC has also agreed to discharge any legal fees Simon may incur in reasonably defending any claims which may be bought under the restrictions to a maximum of GBP 200,000 (USD 285,000).
UBC COO John Quinn will move across to GTN, who made it clear that he was crucial to a successful transaction, and UBC notes that he will receive a cash bonus on completion of one year's basic salary plus the average of his annual performance-related bonus for the two financial years ending 31 March 2009 an amount which is not expected to exceed the sum of GBP 160,000 (USD 228,000).
GTN Chairman, CEO and President William L. Yde III commented in a release that they were "are extremely excited about the acquisition, as it will dramatically increase our presence in the United Kingdom, adding approximately 230 radio stations and over 700,000 radio advertising spots per year."
He added, "The stations currently serviced by the commercial division of UBC have a non-duplicated cume of approximately 21.5 million listeners weekly, which is greater than our combined reach in Australia and Canada. We have always seen the United Kingdom as having huge potential for us and we believe this acquisition is the best strategy to take advantage of that opportunity."
Cole commented that the UBC commercial team had spent 13 years "building up a market leading networking business in the U.K. and now it is time for that to be part of a bigger international operation" and added, "At UBC, we now need to look to the future as a cash-rich and market leading radio services company incorporating profitable production and interactive businesses. I believe that our position affords us enormous opportunities at this time."
2009-02-02: In his February "From the Corner Office" posting, Greater Media Chairman, President and CEO Peter Smyth is calling for all working in radio to fight plans by the recording companies to push for performance royalties from terrestrial radio stations, payments that Smyth terms a "Performance Tax" (using a deliberate mangling of language favoured by the US National Association of Broadcasters (NAB)).
Smyth says the plans could "realistically, cost the radio industry between USD 400 million and USD 7 billion per year" and attacks claims that the money will be used to aid recording artists, saying, "The fact is that the record companies - not individual artists - will be the primary beneficiaries of a performance tax on radio. The same companies who denied, resisted, and ultimately blew their business in the transition to digital delivery, now want to dig into the pockets of radio to save their skins."
"For the past 80 years," he continues, "the relationship between the music industry and radio has been mutually profitable for both industries, providing limitless on-air promotional exposure of artists' music at absolutely no cost. Radio has profited as well with access to great recorded musical content and we have been a willing partner in creating highly profitable careers for a long roster of artists in all music genres. Radio has been and continues to be the prime driver that puts people in concert seats and motivates them to buy music, whether it is at iTunes, Amazon or a brick and mortar store. Radio will continue to be the best possible channel for widespread distribution of music in a cost-effective and profitable fashion for some time to come."
"For each of us who are working daily in radio," writes Smyth, "this is a direct economic threat that can be more damaging to our future than anything the economy has handed us so far. A direct tax on radio's already-suffering profitability would force a wholesale rethinking of our station's formats, our staffing, our ability to contribute to our communities, and how we run our business. It is a disruption that should never be considered, especially in this time of economic uncertainty."
He concludes, "The radio industry is actively working to meet the challenges presented to it by the digital age and the economic downturn. We cannot and should not have to deal with a legislative mandate that would turn our business upside down. I will continue to keep you up to date on this battle as it unfolds in the months to come. Please pitch in if you care about the future of this industry."
RNW Comment: Only the US of advanced Western countries exempts radio from performance royalties - they are not a tax - and in the US others who could also be said to be promoting recordings have to pay these charges.
It would accordingly seem that the justification for an exemption is skimpy indeed albeit the timing of introduction of any such charges would be coming at a terrible time. However either radio owners do believe in a marketplace or they don't. If they do, they have to accept that the recording companies' should have a right to levy charges and make a sound argument for these to be minimal because of the promotional value of radio.
This, of course, leaves the recording companies with the right to get things disastrously wrong and badly hurt both themselves and the radio industry but that is what markets allow.
If the radio companies are so sure of the benefits there is nothing to stop them forming their own recording companies and doing deals under which there would be greater airing of their recordings because they didn't charge performance royalties: If their recording companies succeed because the promotional argument is valid, the recording companies will speedily change their tune.
On the other hand if the argument is shown to be false, the effect on US music radio could be catastrophic.
It would seem not unreasonable to say to Smyth and his NAB cohorts that either they believe in the market or they don't. If they do, they should stop whining and find a way forward without expecting legislatures to give exemptions for non-market reasons. If they don't, they should openly admit to belief in imperfections in the market system - maybe get into an on-air argument with Rush Limbaugh on the matter!
Previous Greater Media:
Smyth - From The Corner Office:
2009-02-02: Frontier Silicon has announced that it is to invest GBP 10 million (USD 14 million) in a new advanced chip for digital radio, the Chorus 3.
It says the cost and power consumption of the new chip will be cut by half and that it will support all types of DAB radio - UK DAB currently uses the old MP2 encoding which is much less efficient in use of spectrum than newer systems such as DAB+ and DMB.
It anticipates shipping chips to manufacturers early next year and its chief executive Anthony Sethill, noting the endorsement of UK radio to DAB in the interim Digital Britain report issued last week, commented, "The cost structure and performance of the new DAB chip will assist the Government's aim to achieve the necessary criteria for a digital migration of radio by 2015. We now look forward to harnessing the success of this advanced DAB technology as we develop a concrete Digital Migration Plan with the Digital Radio Delivery Group."
Previous Frontier Silicon:
2009-02-02: Washington DC only commercial "progressive" talk station OBAMA 1260 is to switch to financial news next week according to Howard Kurtz of the Washington Post who quotes Program Director Greg Tantum as saying he had thought the station could work because of enthusiasm over Obama, but that ratings collapsed to a level that could not be measured after the election.
The station - then talk WWRC-AM, was bought last year by Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder's Red Zebra Broadcasting from Clear Channel along with its Sportstalk WTEM-AM and talk station WTNT-AM (See RNW Jun 5, 2008) and Tantum said ratings at WTNT, which features conservative talk, had doubled.
Kurtz said Tantum added that he was planning to move Ed Schultz, one of OBAMA 1260's hosts, to WTNT. Schultz currently airs in the noon to 15:00 slot following Stephanie Miller and leading in to Lionel. The station's web site currently gives no notice of a change.
Previous Red Zebra:
OBAMA 1260 web site:
Washington Post - Kurtz:
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