May 2009 Archive
-April 2009 - June 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.
2009-05-31: Last week yet again saw a quiet week as regards for the regulators, particularly in the US where most attention is currently being devoted to the switch to digital TV: There were no radio announcements from Australia and fairly few elsewhere.
In Canada, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) had a quiet week as regards radio but did post a once decision - the approval of an application from Five Amigos Broadcasting Inc. for a new 570 watts Adult Contemporary English-language commercial FM in Wallaceburg, Ontario.
The application had been opposed by Blackburn Radio Inc., which contended that the new station would have an undue negative impact on existing stations in the nearby Chatham radio market and said Five Amigos economic projections were over-optimistic.
Five Amigos in response said that recent economic development meant Wallaceburg could sustain a station and noted that it was a separate market to Chatham.
The CRTC in approving the application said it considers the new station would introduce a significant amount of local programming into that community and that based on the limited area that would be served by Five Amigos' proposed station relative to the size of the Chatham radio market, it considered that the proposed station would not attract a significant amount of advertising revenue from the Chatham stations.
The agency also posted a consultation notice with a June 30 deadline for the submission of interventions or comments that included an application by Jack McGaw Consulting Incorporated to decrease the power of its English-language tourist information station CIRH-FM, Halifax, from 560 watts to 355 watts.
In Ireland, the Broadcasting Commission of Ireland (BCI) made just one posting affecting radio, the announcement of awarding of funding of around Euros 25,000 (USD 35,500) through its recently piloted Station Innovation Scheme that provides support to licensed radio and television stations in Ireland for innovative development initiatives.
The awards went to seven applicants and will support a number of smaller stations in development of streaming capabilities; enable a community television station to explore opportunities to broadcast local events using mobile phone technology and it will fund a project with RTÉ Radio and Phantom 105.2, in association with All In Media, to trial approaches of generating advertising revenue through digital radio.
In the UK, Ofcom upheld fined Lakeland Radio GBP 15,000 ( USD 24,000) for running three competitions that listeners had no chance of winning (See RNW May 29) and also upheld two radio complaints in its latest Broadcast Bulletin (See RNW May 26)
It also posted reasons for its award of three new community radio licences this month - to HCR FM, Huntingdon; intobeats, Bedford; and AHBS Community Radio, Ashford, Kent (See RNW Licence News May 24) highlighting HCR's long experience through 13 temporary restricted service licences and good community links, intobeat's ten years experience and the considerable benefits for young people in the area, and AHBS's operation of a hospital radio service since 1971.
The agency also posted its May Radio Broadcast Update that included the following:
*Award of a Digital Sound Programme service licence on satellite to Transworld Radio Ltd.
Return or revocation of the licences of:
Club Asia's satellite service:
Transworld Radio's national multiplex service:
Bauer's Radio's Sky satellite service for Kerrang!, The Hits, Q, Heat and Smash Hits:
Adventist World Radio's satellite service:
There was just one analogue licence renewal - the extension of the licence of Splash FM (Worthing) for four years to May 2015 in addition to which Ofcom noted the issuing of community licences to Glastonbury FM, Glastonbury and Demon FM, Leicester, plus a decision by Ness Community Radio Limited, Inverness, not to go ahead with the service for which it had been awarded a licence in May 2007 (See RNW Licence News May 13, 2007)and a further decision to allow Knowsley, Lancashire, station KCC Live to increase the percentage of revenue it could take from advertising or sponsorship from the 15% allowed when the licence was awarded in February last year to 50%.
In the US, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) was again paying most attention to the transition to digital TV - the sole topic on the agenda for an open meeting on Wednesday and also a topic attracting record numbers of calls to the agency's help lines.
It also published the dates for responses to its Notice of Proposed Rulemaking issued last month concerning "Promoting Diversification of Ownership in the Broadcasting Services proceeding": Comments have to be submitted by June 20 with reply comments to be submitted by July 13
In terms of radiothe FCC made a number of postings concerning contested licensing decisions including the following:
In Michigan, the FCC rejected an application from Christian Family Network, Inc. (CFN) to renew the expired license of Station DWOLY-AM, Battle Creek, and a concurrently filed request for special temporary authorization to continue operation pending consideration of the Application.
The station's licence had expired in October 2004 and in June 2006 CFN had been advised that the licence had expired, the call letters had been deleted from the FCC database, and operations had to cease.
There was no response but in January this year had filed the applications and provided 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.
FCC staff treated the applications as a petition to reconsider the licence expiration letter and found that failure to respond had made the licence expiration final. CFN responded that the application should be treated as a new proposal and should be evaluated on its merits.
The FCC having considered CFN's arguments rejected them, pointed out disparities between this case and other cases CFN had stated as precedents to justify its case, and rejected CFN's arguments bout the reason for its failure to file. It also said that to grant the applications would reward CFN for continued flouting of regulations by continuing operation despite orders to cease.
The station was instructed to cease operations immediately.
In Ohio, the FCC denied an application for Application for Review filed by Franklin Communications, Inc., North American Broadcasting Co., and WLCT Radio Incorporated relating to the re-allotment of Channel 227B from Chillicothe to Ashville, Ohio, and modification of the licence of Clear Channel's WLZT-FM to specify operation on Channel 227B at Ashville.
The decision was made under rules that allowed modifications specifying a new community of licence without affording other interested parties an opportunity to file competing expressions of interest and the FCC commented that in this case it provided Ashville (population 3,174) with its first local service while Chillicothe (population 21,796) will continue to receive local service from six stations and because then licensee Secret Communications did not propose a change in transmitter site, there was no loss of service to any listeners.
FCC changes in determining markets meant that Clear Channel, the current licensee which owned or controlled seven stations in the Columbus market, would become owner of an eighth station in the Columbus market but the FCC said it stuck to established policy of not considering multiple ownership issues in conjunction with an allotment rulemaking proceeding.
In a dissenting note acting FCC Chairman Michael J. Copps said the majority were affirming "an astonishing staff finding that the fact that Asheville has less than 1% of the population of Columbus is not a sufficient disparity to justify an unfavourable finding under the "relative population" factor" of its Tuck rules and a finding that Asheville is an independent community despite the fact that only 39% of its residents work in the county in which Asheville is located.
He did, however, welcome the subsequent agreement to "examine our radio allotment and assignment criteria, including the Tuck standard, as part of the recently released Rural Radio Service Notice of Proposed Rulemaking."
His fellow Democrat Commissioner Jonathan S. Adelstein concurred in the decision but said he also continued to believe in the need to re-assess the FCC's "needs to re-examine our licensing and allotment process, especially our application of the Tuck factors" and added, "I share the concern that our Tuck analysis does not provide any means of ensuring that the proposed station will be a meaningful local outlet and not just an additional service to the urbanized area. There is merit to the Joint Petitioners' argument that the Commission has 'abandoned' the requirement that a licensee provide local service to its community of license."
In a Texas case, the FCC rejected a petition to deny and gave the go-ahead for the assignment of the license of KIJN-FM, Farwell, Texas, from Metropolitan Radio Group, Inc. to Joseph Walker.
Initially the application also covered this licence and that of KIHN-AM but subsequently it was amended to remove the AM station.
Rooney Moon Broadcasting, Inc., licensee of New Mexico stations KRMQ-FM-and KSMX-FM, Clovis and KSEL-AM and KSEL-FM, Portales, had filed a petition to deny on the basis that allowing the deal would give Walker an attributable interest in three AM and four FM stations in the Clovis Metro, thus requiring him to demonstrate that there are at least 30 stations in the market, something he had not done.
Walker had responded by saying the application had been filed - and met FCC rules - on the basis of contour overlaps because at the time of its filing there was no information concerning the Arbitron Clovis Metro at the time and that he had not attempted to mislead the commission.
The FCC in its ruling accepted Walker's contention but took the view that the deal had to comply with its local ownership rules on the basis of the Arbitron metro and that the amended application to acquire just the FM met this requirement.
Previous Licence News:
BCI web site:
CRTC web site:
FCC web site:
Ofcom web site:
2009-05-31: US host Michael Savage is to sue UK Home Secretary Jacqui Smith for GBP 100,000 (USD 160,000) damages following her ban on him entering the UK according a report in the UK Mail on Sunday.
Savage's web site carries a link to the article, which says Savage has hired international law firm Slowing to sue for damages: It says that a letter from the lawyers to Smith, due to be delivered on Monday, says, "'Our client requires the payment of a substantial sum in damages to be agreed and retraction of the allegations. He also requires a personal apology from you and an acknowledgement that the Home Office has agreed to pay a substantial sum in libel damages."
The paper adds that Savage also wants a "'written undertaking from you and the Home Office not to repeat the allegations complained of and the payment of our client's legal costs This matter is extremely urgent as the false and defamatory material concerning our client has had enormous circulation both inside and outside the UK."
Savage told the paper, "I am living in fear and have had to employ security guards after being outrageously named on this list of terrorists and killers. The first I knew about it was when it was issued as a Press release and I was absolutely shocked.
"Why me? I'm not a terrorist. I'm one of America's most popular radio hosts and a happily married father of two. Maybe Jacqui Smith just plucked my name out of the hat because I'm controversial and white - to counter-balance all the Arabs named on her list."
Savage continued, "It is totally preposterous but it's deadly serious because she has made me a target. My lawyers have told me I have a very strong case for defamation."
The Home Office told the paper, "the Home Secretary has already said, he was excluded for engaging in unacceptable behaviour by making comments that might provoke others to serious criminal acts and foster hatred that might lead to inter-community violence. 'Any legal proceedings would be robustly defended; we stand by our decision to exclude this individual.
"Coming to the UK is a privilege that we refuse to extend to those who abuse our standards and values to undermine our way of life."
RNW note: We carried comment on the issues raised in our May 13 look at print comment on radio (See RNW May 13). As background to this report, the Mail newspapers have a long history of opposition to Labour Party governments and in the current political climate this report is yet another putting the government in a potentially bad light.
As regards the suit itself, we do not have expertise in the laws involved but suspect that in this case Savage is acting more to gain publicity than with an expectation of getting large damages. From what we have seen reported the claim would appear to be more based on association with others on the list rather than specific allegations against Savage and, although we do not favour the ban, we would take the view that the Home Secretary should have the right to make such an order - and then have to justify the decision. We cannot see it being reasonable to object that being on such a list for one reason should make it defamatory because other people are on a list for other reasons, however much worse those reasons may seem since to do so would mean that, for example, a leader of an organization banned as being "terrorist" could object to being on a list including a war criminal as the latter would presumably be seen as much worse. The scale of difference between offences may be very significantly different but in our view the right to ban should be related purely and simply to the reasons given for such a ban, not on the reasons for other bans.
As to damages, Savage's pre-existing reputation is such that we cannot see this ban having such effects as to cause Savage suddenly to live in fear or employ security guards because of it and would regard a dollar as overpayment for the actual damage caused to him.
Mail on Sunday report:
Michael Savage web site:
2009-05-30: Right-wing Boston talk host Jay Severin who was suspended indefinitely by Greater Media's WTTK-FM following references to Mexican immigrants as "criminaliens," "primitives," "leeches," and exporters of "women with moustaches and VD" (See RNW May 2) is to return to the air next Tuesday.
A statement on the station web site says Severin "regrets the remarks for which he was suspended and understands that his comments were indeed wrong and hurtful to the Mexican and Mexican-American communities."
It continues, "Accordingly, we feel it is time to end Jay's suspension and welcome him back to WTKK. All of our hosts have strong opinions and talk radio is a format for open and spirited debate about the many issues we face in Boston, New England, our nation and our world. There will no doubt be times when you disagree with Jay - and our other hosts too - but our ultimate goal is to maintain a level of conversation that is entertaining, compelling, and thought-provoking, yet civil and respectful. While we will not always succeed in walking this line, we will continually strive to do so."
Previous Greater Media:
2009-05-30: Arbitron's Board has elected Philip Guarascio as Non-Executive Chairman of the Board, replacing Stephen B. Morris, who stepped down as President and Chief Executive Officer in January this year and had been chairman since May 2007.
Guarascio, who is 67, has served on Arbitron's Board of Directors since 2001and the company's CEO and President Michael Skarzynski commented of the appointment, "Phil's impressive career, vast experience and industry expertise continue to be incredibly valuable for the Company. As Arbitron evolves, we will continue to rely on Phil's leadership and guidance as we work to enhance our existing services, and forge ahead in research and development that we expect will help create new multimedia offerings for our domestic and international clients."
2009-05-30: Debt-strapped CanWest Global Communications Corporation has announced that it has completed the sale of its indirect interests in four Turkish radio stations: Super FM, Metro FM, Joy Turk, and Joy FM.
Last year it exited the UK radio business when it sold its Original 106 Solent regional station to Celador Radio having already sold its Bristol and Aberdeen stations (See RNW Aug 12, 2008).
CanWest yesterday said that it would not pay bondholders CAD 10 million (USD 9.1 million) as it needed funding to keep its newspapers running whilst it tries to refinance its debt.
In a statement CanWest said managers of its CanWest Ltd. Partnership, which owns 12 dailies, are in talks with lenders about the unit's 9.25 percent notes: The partnership will breach financial covenants on May 31 and failure to make the payment would trigger default on the notes.
CanWest says it does not expect its senior lenders or holders of its 8% bonds to demand immediate payment but will allow it to continue discussions on recapitalization.
2009-05-29: Beasley Broadcast Group has announced agreement to sell two Las Vegas stations for USD 15.2 million in cash to Silver State Communications LLC.
Under the agreement Silver State gets classic country KBET-AM, the signal and frequency but not the format of country KCYE-FM - "The Coyote" - and some of Rhythmic Top 40 KFRH-FM's assets.
Beasley is to retain the KCYE-FM format and will move it to the current KFRH-FM frequency on consummation of the deal whilst Silver State will acquire the KFRH programming and call letters, which it will move to the current KCYE frequency.
The deal will leave Beasley with three stations serving the Las Vegas market - Coyote Country 102.7 KCYE-FM, Classic Hits 96.3 KKLZ-FM, and NewsTalk 720 KDWN-AM and chairman and CEO George Beasley said the deal reflected the company's "long-term commitment to the Las Vegas market as well as our focus on further de-leveraging our balance sheet" and added, "Notwithstanding the current economic and market challenges, we continue to believe that Las Vegas remains one of the most vibrant and promising radio markets in the country and that our cluster will be well positioned as the economy and industry rebounds."
Silver State Communications President Edward Stolz noted that the "acquisition of KBET-AM and KFRH-FM marks Silver State's entrée into the Las Vegas market, the nation's 33rd largest radio market when ranked by revenue" and added, "We look forward to offering Las Vegas listeners entertaining programming and local and national advertisers effective on-air and online marketing solutions."
In other US broadcast financial news, CBS Corporation has announced a USD 250 million offering of 8.875% senior notes due 2019 with proceeds to be used for general corporate purposes including the paying down of debt.
The offer follows a previous offering earlier this month of USD 350 million worth of the notes and of USD 400 million of 8.20% senior notes due 2014 taking the total offerings this month to USD 1 billion.
Previous George Beasley:
2009-05-29: UK media regulator Ofcom has fined CN Radio Group's Kendal-based Cumbrian station Lakeland Radio GBP 15,000 (USD 24,000) for running three competitions that the regulator concluded gave many listeners who had paid the enter through premium rate phone or text charges no chance of winning.
Ofcom started an investigation following a complaint from a listener who had entered the second of three "Suss the Celeb" competition in which a clip of a mystery celebrity's voice was aired during the weekday drivetime show and listeners were invited to name the celebrity through a phone call or text message.
According to the rules, entrants were to be selected at random to name the celebrity with the competition rolling through to the next day if no correct answers were received: The prize began at GBP 5 (USD 8) and increased by that amount each day until the correct answer was aired.
After investigating this competition Ofcom extended its investigation to all three competitions the station had run and found that in "most of the approximately 85 daily rounds of the competitions, the presenter deliberately selected telephone or SMS entrants who had submitted incorrect answers, which he then broadcast."
It said the licensee had "relied solely on an assumption that the competitions were being conducted in accordance with their terms and conditions, without ensuring that relevant staff had received appropriate compliance training" and added that its Content Sanctions Committee "was particularly concerned by this given the small number of staff who had responsibility for ensuring that Lakeland Radio's broadcast content complied with the Code."
It commented that the fact that this was a small local station did "did not detract from the seriousness of the Code Breaches" or affect the licensee's responsibility to ensure compliance although it did note that neither the station or its owner had gained financially from the competition - there were 671 entries in all - when the cost of the two prizes awarded was taken into account and also that the station turnover had fallen considerably in 2007-08.
The maximum penalty for the offence is GBP 250,000 (USD 404,000) but in deciding on the GBP 15,000 penalty the committee took into account subsequent improvements made by the station, its broadcast of an apology and GBP 1,000 (USD 1,600) contribution to a local charity.
Previous CN Group:
2009-05-29: There was some good news for US radio in a listeners' survey conducted last month by Rasmussen Pulse for Radio Heard Here that showed 97% of the 5,000 people polled said they liked the fact that radio was free with the same percentage saying they say they are glad to have radio as an option for their entertainment, news, weather, traffic and information needs and 98% liking being able to listen to radio wherever they go.
94% said 94% say they find interesting news, traffic, weather and other information on radio; 92% that sometimes what they hear on the radio makes them laugh and 90% that radio makes the time pass when they're performing routine tasks
Other responses topping 80% came in the categories of aware that radio is available on new technology devices such as iPods, iPhones, mobile phones, computers and MP3 players (88%); that radio is doing a good job embracing technology (86%); that they hear unique local personalities on the radio (84%); and that they things on radio that surprise them (83%).
Responses to music experience through radio were a little less positive - 76% said they enjoy discovering new songs on radio and 74% say they enjoy discovering new artists on radio but the weakest response was it came to recalling hearing the "Radio Hear Here" spots - only 16% remembered hearing them.
2009-05-29: The BBC Trust has partially upheld a complaint about a BBC Radio 4 Today programme item on Tibet broadcast in March last year, saying that the introduction of an acamic contributor did not make his viewpoint clear.
A complainand had that alleged partiality by the programme in allowing a Professor from the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology to put views forward with little challenge and also by denying an opportunity of reply to the professor's comments to Sonam Dagpo, Head of International Relations for the Tibetan government-in-exile.
The Trust dismissed most of the complaint but concluded that the introduction of Professor Barry Sautman, an Associate Professor of Social Science, who put forward a Chinese government viewpoint and was known to be unsympathetic to Tibetan independence, "had not made it sufficiently clear as to the particular viewpoint" of this contributor.
The Trust said that it considered Professor Sautman to be a "credible choice of interviewee", that there had been no breach of guidelines in selecting him, and that his inclusion to "balance the views" of Dagpo "indicated that the programme team had not considered him to be impartial."
It added of his introduction that because his introduction had been only "only by his name and university, not by his affiliation to any particular viewpoint" this was a breach of the part of the Impartiality guideline relating to clearly identifying the viewpoints of academic contributors."
Overall it ruled that listeners to the item "would have got a reasonable idea of the views of both sides of the debate" and that the item as a whole was "sufficiently impartial."
The complainant had written twice to BBC Information and four times to the Editorial Complaints Unit before complaining to the Trust.
2009-05-28: Sirius XM shareholders have as expected voted at its annual meeting in favour of its plans to allow it to increase the number of shares of common stock from 8 billion to nine billion or allow a reverse split of the stock together with a reduction in the number of shares.
They also approved the company's 2009 Long-Term Stock Incentive Plan and voted down a proposal to give stockholders an advisory vote on executives' pay packages and also elected twelve directors.
The directors are Joan L. Amble, Leon D. Black, Lawrence F. Gilberti, Eddy W. Hartenstein, James P. Holden, Chester A. Huber, Jr., Mel Karmazin (the Sirius XM CEO) , John W. Mendel, James F. Mooney, Gary M. Parsons (Sirius-XM chairman), Jack Shaw and Jeffrey D. Zients in addition to which the company noted that an affiliate of Liberty Media Corporation, the holder of the Company's Convertible Perpetual Preferred Stock, Series B-1, had previously appointed David J.A. Flowers, Gregory B, Maffei and John C. Malone as members of the board.
Sirius XM noted that the final results of the voting are expected to be filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission as part of the Company's Quarterly Report on Form 10-Q for the quarter ending June 30, 2009.
CEO Mel Karmazin's presentation to the meeting was positive, saying that the company had become the largest US radio company in terms of revenue in the first quarter of this year and was continuing to grow its subscriber bases as well as cutting operating costs.
Previous Liberty Media:
2009-05-28: The Local Radio Company in which UKRD now has a majority stake (See RNW May 14 ) has staved off bankruptcy with a GBP 1.5 million ( USD 1.6 million) loan from UKRD with an initial term of six months and bearing 9% interest. The loan is secured by a debenture over the assets of The Local Radio Company whose independent directors say that having consulted with the Company's nominated adviser, Ruegg & Co Limited, consider that the terms of the loan facility are fair and reasonable in so far as the Company's shareholders are concerned.
The Local Radio Company had previously announced that it had an "extremely tight" cash position and needed an infusion of funds to continue trading: Before the takeover it had announced plans to raised GBP 1.5 million (USD 2.4 million) through an open offer to existing shareholders but this plan died when a bidding battle started between UKRD and Hallwood Financial, is headed by The Local Radio Company's former chairman Anthony Gumbiner. (See RNW Mar 3)
The Local Radio Company had reported a loss of GBP 6.9 million (USD 9.7 million) for the year to the end of September 2008 (also Mar 3) and its cash reserves fell during the period from £2.47 million ( USD 3.9 million) to GBP 566,000 (USD 900,000).
In other UK radio news Staffordshire digital station Focal Radio has gone off the air. It had failed to raise funds that it needed to survive after local l tycoon Mo Chaudry withdrew his support. (See RNW May 21).
The station was the idea of Potteries broadcaster Sam Plank and his wife Verity Hilton, who was the station manager.
Plank who had been paying the station's 23 staff from his own pocket from mid-May said that despite overwhelming support from listeners they had failed to achieve enough funding to continue. "We were pledged over three-quarters of out target to take the station forward but couldn't achieve the final GBP 20,000 (USD 32,000). The last broadcast was Plank's show.
Southampton station Radio Hampshire has also closed down. The station was previously known as "The Saint", the nickname of Southampton Football Club, but after the Saints were relegated it was sold by Southampton Leisure Holdings.
A notice on the station web site says:" Without any prior warning to our listeners and to our advertisers Radio Hampshire was forced to switch off on 107.2 & 107.8. Sadly none of the presenters were able to say good bye and thank you to everyone for listening.
While this website remains live (our emphasis) all the staff presenters would like to say a big thank you for your support."
It continues, "The station is now been handed over to the administrators. We know how much our station was loved and this has been reflected from your messages of support.
Previous Local Radio Company:
Radio Hampshire web site:
2009-05-28: This week we start our look at the week's print comment on radio in the UK where Paul Donovan devoted his radio column in the Sunday Times to the issue of accents in adverts.
He began his column by noting, "The first advertisement on British commercial radio was for Birds Eye fish fingers, on LBC in 1973. Ads have been the rock on which commercial radio has stood ever since. True, there is also sponsorship, but ads are the lifeblood" and then went on to comment of advertising on British radio that "those 4,500 annual campaigns, embracing 11m ads and costing the people who place them GBP 560 million(USD 905 million) a year, are quite important, recession or no recession. How, though, do advertisers know if anybody takes notice of them? How can they be sure that we don't reach for the off switch as soon as we hear Johnny Rotten shouting about Country Life butter in his estuary English?"
He then went on to the issue of accents, until now researched in terms of its effect on radio ads, adding, "Given our obsession with vocal nuances and what they suggest about class, that is odd, but it has at last been done. The Central Office of Information, which spends £40m a year on radio adverts and wants to make sure it is not wasted, joined forces with the Radio Advertising Bureau. They carried out detailed research in five areas - Manchester, Birmingham, Bristol, Tyneside and Chatham - and have just published their findings in a 91-page report, Voices, an interesting and at times pungent read."
He continued, "There are two broad conclusions. First, we are ambivalent about our regional accents. Newcastle folk like their Geordie accents much more than Bristol folk like Zummerzet ones, which one respondent calls "a bit Farmer Giles". There are also widespread image problems. Generally, estuary accents are associated with wide boys (Radio 2's late and unlamented Russell Brand is too much of a "fruit and veg barrer boy", say some). Bristol ones are simply funny, and with the Birmingham accent, "there is a stereotype of 'unintelligence' ".
Donovan then noted that "received pronunciation is alive and well and still rather popular. Not the army-officer variety from Pathé newsreels and Harry Enfield lampoons, but something much less formal and pompous, though still conveying authority, knowledge and seriousness. 'The majority of all groups chose it as being most appropriate for national radio advertising,' the report says.
He concluded by commenting on his own reaction to adverts amongst other things saying "it is some time since I heard a brilliant radio ad. I hear many with hideous, transatlantic, insincere voices and not enough with witty, distinctive voices" before concluding with reference to the RadioCentre's GBP 1 million (USD 1.6 million) "creative challenge" to boost UK adverts, the winners of which are to be announced in September.
After funding for commercial radio, we move to the UK Guardian where Roy Greenslade commented on the Commons vote on an opposition Conservative motion to stop an increase in the BBC licence fee (Defeated -See RNW May 20).
Greenslade says the six-year settlement underpins BBC editorial independence and comments that "Tory leader David Cameron knows that well enough."
After comments on TV and its waning commitment to public service, Greenslade goes on to comment on complaints from commercial radio, online and print operators about the BBC, an argument he says, "does not take account of the new possibilities of the digital age, not least convergence."
His conclusion is the most significant part of the report, commenting in relation to any plans to cut the BBC's funding, "Cameron would do well to take note of the most important fact dropped into Lyons's speech, the result of a poll in which people were asked: 'Would you miss the BBC if it wasn't there?'"
"Two years ago, 70% said they would. A pretty good figure. Nothing like as good, however, as the latest result. Now 85% say they would miss it. Given the BBC's high-profile dramas of the past year or so - fiddled phone polls, Ross-Brand, continual sniping from national newspapers - that is remarkable support. Would we miss MPs as much?"
Back to the Sunday Times, whose proprietor Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation would stand to gain from curbs on the BBC: There Minnette Marrin put forward her views on cutting down the corporation under the heading, "One TV channel and three radio stations, that's all the BBC needs."
She says that the BBC "licence fee should be savagely cut back, permanently," adding, "I am not saying this because I resent or dislike the BBC. On the contrary, I trained there, worked there for several years, watch it regularly and regard it, for all its glaring faults, as a national treasure. It does many important things superbly well. You could almost say the BBC is, or was and could again be, a light unto the nations.
"The BBC is, however, far too big and it does far too much, in a pointless and vastly expensive frenzy of misguided activity. It fills the airwaves almost round the clock with programmes it should not be making and it fills its corridors with people it should not employ. It wastes millions on layers of management and on unnecessary salaries, initiatives, away days and jollies. All this should stop. Leave it all to commercial media producers, if they can make money out of it or want to waste their own money on it."
"What the BBC should do," comments Marrin, "is what commercial producers don't do, can't do, can't do equally well or won't do properly, and only that. For that it deserves protection from the rough winds of commerce and competition, and only for that."
She does let up in some areas, commenting, "The BBC's website is a glaring exception: its established existence and its dazzling superiority make it difficult for other media organisations to develop in this hugely important market of the future.
"In this the BBC is doing exactly what commercial competitors are desperately trying to do and must do successfully to survive. Yet I believe it is in the national interest to have this website, because it is both wholly independent editorially and wholly accountable to the British public.
"So, too, it is essential to have truly independent news-gathering of the sort the BBC can and mostly does provide - something hugely expensive to do and so tempting to abuse that the protection of the fee-paying public must be a public good."
" Another public good is the World Service, which is so good that BBC supremos are constantly tempted to cut it. Yet another is the great benefit of watching programmes without the mental damage done by constant advertising. And it is quite reasonable to expect the public to pay, one way or another, for a great public good; the advantage of cutting back the BBC is that we would get this national treasure for a lot less."
Marrin's ends by referring by a pamphlet written by Antony Jay for the Centre for Policy Studies, in which he suggested the BBC should reduce itself to one national television channel and one speech radio channel, adding, "I don't think such a scheme is unreasonable, though I'd hang on to Radio 3 and the World Service as well. Nor do I think it would damage the BBC: harsh and radical pruning leads to re-invigorated new growth - another simple idea that could well be considered by other public institutions in these hard times."
RNW comment: To which our rather acid response is that this would certainly require considerably more resources than Marrin postulates unless a very considerable swathe of music, comedy, current affairs, drama, and documentary production - much of it from independent producers - is not to die to the considerable loss of Britain.
Many of the responses posted to the comment were also rather more in favour of the BBC than was Marrin - one commented "For what you get for such a small price people should be happy,6 TV stations 12 radio stations internet access to replays all for the small fee try sky TV or virgin media for the same price what would you get 3 months viewing" and another read, "Surely, it has got to be worth paying less than 50p a day just for the joy of not having to see/hear incessant commercials four or more times an hour...W - whilst others went much further along a dogmatic free-market line with one commenting that the licence fee should be dropped leaving the BBC to "Run ads or have a subscription service and do it soon."
Perhaps the most reasoned response was one that said, "It's quite obvious from reading many of the posts that we all like different things about the BBC and that is what the BBC does best - it caters for all. It couldn't possibly do this with just one TV channel and a couple of radio stations."
Finally to America and more comment from Jerry Del Colliano in his insidemusicmedia blog about the woes of commercial radio under the heading, "Radio Station Blowout Underway."
Del Colliano contends that the big consolidators have been killing the value of radio stations: He notes a few recent sales at knock-down prices and then comments, "Now we've seen what I believe is going to be the start of a radio station blowout -- companies unloading stations for whatever they can get to raise cash."
They have to sell to get out of financial trouble he comments and then notes that "Sheridan Broadcasting which has owned WAMO for 36 years was forced to sell WAMO AM/FM and WPGR-AM for a paltry USD 8.9 million -- combined. Three for less than the price of one in the old days of consolidation."
And of the future? "And the new owner is Joseph Missions -- you can see where this is headed. The formats will change to religion as apparently the only companies with ample money to buy radio stations are religious groups."
The problem postulates Del Colliano is the debt entered into to buy stations whereas companies without that debt load are "still making money by operating local radio stations without debt"
His predictions include stations sales "for multiples of below 5 times cash flow to willing buyers"; a rush by sellers to complete deals because delays could push the price even lower; and associated job losses for local employees leading to a radio industry in which people buy "to use radio stations to espouse causes, sell their own products or gain influence. The price is right -- low and going lower."
He also suggests that the big operators have made almost the cuts they can - once down to the minimum there's nowhere to go with no more economies of scale possible.
On then to listening suggestions - partly posted in advance of the main report - and starting with the BBC, whose listen-again facility is only for seven days for most programmes.
And first from BBC Radio 2 we suggest from Saturday "Island 50" - the story of Island Records: Part one was aired last Saturday and is on the site until this Saturday when the second and final part airs.
Also from last Saturday we suggest Bob Harris featuring an acoustic session from Canadian band Olympic Symphonium.
Then from Monday, a UK Holiday, we suggest "Pet Shop Boys: Wired" in which the band celebrate the finest 21st Century pop music, "Fire and Rain: The James Taylor Story", and "The Record Producers", an edition looking at the work of Nicky Chinn and Mike Chapman.
From Tuesday we opt for "Harlem Timeline", the second of a four-part series on the art, music and poetry of the Harlem Renaissance and "You Heard It At The Movies", the fourth of an eight part series, this edition entitled "Gotta Sing, Gotta Dance".
From Wednesday we suggest more Bob Harris - this time a programme including singer-songwriters Suzy Bogguss, Matraca Berg and Gretchen Peters, the third programme in the four-part "The Wilson Dixon Line", this programme called "When Love Comes to Town...and Then Leaves Again", and the first in a new four-part series "Miranda Hart's Joke Shop."
From Friday we suggest the second part of the four-part "Bonjour Mr Aznavour", this edition dealing with Aznavour's relationship with Edith Piaf and from Saturday "Island 50" as already noted and the following Bob Harris, including a session from Jon Allen.
Moving to BBC Radio 3, we suggest last weekend's "Sunday Feature" - "Children of the Whitsun Weddings" in which poets Paul Farley and Kate Royal discuss their admiration for Philip Larkin's poetry and the following "Words and Music - Do Not Go Gentle" in which Barbara Jefford and Neville Jason explore the adventure of entering old age, and "Jazz Line-Up" featuring drummer, percussionist and composer Asaf Sirkis.
During the week we note that "The Composer of the Week" is John McCabe and also suggest "The Essay" - this week "Looking for Ghosts" in which Michael Goldfarb visits various locations to learn more about philosophers Spinoza and Moses Mendelssohn; Gabriel Riesser, who was the first Jewish judge in Germany; writers Ludwig Boerne and Heinrich Heine; and Rachel Whiteread's Holocaust memorial in Vienna.
Also from the station we suggest Monday's "Jazz on 3" - trumpeter/composer Dave Douglas at the Cheltenham Jazz Festival 2009; Tuesday's "Night Waves" in which Philip Dodd talks to Economist editor John Micklethwait about the revival of religion; Friday's "The Verb" with Ian McMillan and poet Daljit Nagra discussing how to write the perfect opening to a poem; and Saturday's "Music Feature" -"Ode to Whitman" in which Rob Cowan explores the attraction of composers to the poetry of Walt Whitman; "World Routes" - the second of two programmes of highlights from the Darbar South Asian Music Festival 2009; "Jazz Library" - this week saxophonist Dave Liebman joins Alyn Shipton to choose highlights of his recordings; "Opera on 3" - Wagner's Der Fliegende Hollander from the Royal Opera House; plus the second of the two-part "Jazz Library" on Sonny Rollins.
Moving then to BBC Radio 4 we first suggest "Book of the Week" - "Radiohead" in which Lee Ingleby reads from John Osborne's exploration of UK radio stations; the second week of the "Woman's Hour Drama" on the Roman Detective Falco; and from Tuesday through Thursday "The Afternoon Reading" - Alan Bennett reading "Winnie the Pooh"; and "Book at Bedtime" - "The Outlander" by Gil Adamson.
Going back to last Sunday to start day by day suggestions we opt for "Britain In Their Sites" on the planning of the only post-war British New Town to be built in the north of England, Peterlee in County Durham; plus the last of the "Lights, Camera, Landmark" series, this programme on the Greenwich Old Royal Naval College, which is one of London's busiest film locations.
From Monday we suggest "Start the Week" -"Supersense and the Skies" plus "Hearts and Minds", the first of two programmes in which Nick Fraser considers the role of intellectuals in relation to world events including subsidy of intellectuals by the CIA; and "Wall: An Essay by David Hare" in which Hare delivers his views on the potential future border between Israel and Palestine; and "Costing the Earth: The Carteret Islands - Sharks In The Garden" on how the Carteret Islands are slowly being submerged by the rising sea.
From Tuesday we suggest "The Deighton File" in which novelist Len Deighton talks to Patrick Humphries about his life and writing career; from Wednesday "The Conchies of Holton-Cum-Beckering" in which Billy Bragg meets the surviving members of a unique group of war conscientious objectors; "The Media Show" for its discussion of the decision to pre-record Jonathan Ross's Radio2 show; and "Unreliable Evidence" on "The Law and Climate Change".
From Thursday we suggest "In Our Time" in which Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the influence of St Paul on the early Christian church, "Material World" includng an item on the causes and lessons of the 1930s 'dust bowl' in America's Great Plains and "The Report" on how the system of MPs expenses was allowed to get out of control (All three also available as a downloads).
From Friday we suggest a regular in the form of "The News Quiz" - the fifth of the current eight-part series (also a download) plus "Points of View" - currently delivered by Clive James; and from Saturday "Hunting Haydn's Head" in which Simon Townley tells the story of the theft of the skull of composer Joseph Haydn; "The Saturday Play" -"The Complete Smiley - A Murder of Quality" and "Archive on 4" in which Lynne Truss shares her personal treasure trove of interviews with world famous writers.
Crossing the Channel from the UK to Holland we next suggest some downloads from Radio Netherlands starting with last Saturday's "The State We're in", which caught our ear for the range of items including a talk with a former member of the Tamil Tigers (Liberation Tigers of Tamil Elam - LTTE) now living in London but disillusioned by the LTTE's repression and brutality, two comments from the US about its healthcare system, and an interview with the father of a Palestinian boy shot by Israeli soldiers who donated the child's organs to help Israeli children.
We also suggest this Saturday's edition of the programme including items about the execution of Nigerian author and environmental activist Ken Saro-Wiwa, memories of the Tienanmen protests and massacre, and an item from India in which Shabnam Ramaswami argues that the dividing line between rich and poor in her country is the ability to speak English.
Then to Australia and the Australian Broadcasting Corporation's "All in the Mind" that on Saturday airs the first of a two part "Child soldiers: The Art and arts of healing."
We'd also suggest - fortunately the ABC keeps audio online for most programming rather longer than the BBC- a run of items from "Australia Talks" with reports on Monday on the pay of politicians; on Tuesday, a discussion of Sri Lanka and how Australia should treat Tamil refugees in light of the defeat of the Tamil Tigers; and on Thursday for "Driving distractions" - according to the World Health Organisation road accidents will be the third biggest killer by 2020 - and one in five of them is caused by distractions.
We'd also suggest from the ABC last Sunday's "Background Briefing" - "The enemy in the net" (The Internet of course) and the fight against criminals using it and also "Big Ideas" - "In the Name of Civilization" that took a look at how the idea of civilization been deployed throughout history to justify all manner of interventions with results that all too often are anything but civilized.
Then to Monday and more about the UK MPs expenses scandal from "Late Night Live" which on Tuesday had items on the California State Supreme Court ruling on gay marriage and the implications of the North Korean nuclear test and then on Thursday and Friday for items relating to the 1975 murder by the Indonesians of five journalists shortly before it invaded East Timor.
From Wednesday we suggest the "Book Show" for more on Ken Saro-Wiwa in a report on a human rights court case due to have begun in the US on May 26 - but set back a week - in which his family take oil company Shell to court for complicity in his death and on Friday for rather more literary items including author Kazuo Ishiguro on his work and a review of his five "Nocturnes" tales.
Finally to the US for a couple of weeks of WNYC's "On the Media" - last week's for items on the Cheney/Obama clash regarding use of torture and fighting terror, issues relating to the use of drones for military attacks in Afghanistan and Pakistan and resulting civilian casualties (we wonder how a strike on an Irish bar might have gone down during the height of IRA attacks funded in large part from the US but the principle seems to us the same), and this Friday's edition for items concerning Sonia Sotomayor's nomination to the US Supreme Court and issues of US industry funding of journals, relating in this instance to funding by US drug companies of journals so that work has been "peer reviewed" when in fact "PR" might be a better word to precede "Peer" (Our view on this one is to make the punishment suit the crime: Any such cheating should mean automatic forfeit of all copyrights and patents relating to the products involved, after which we doubt there'd ever be such funding and a lot more care about attempts to give a patina of credibility to assessments of products by those paid by producers- rather less PSR and more honesty in other words.).
Previous Del Colliano:
Insidemusicmedia blog - Del Colliano:
UK Guardian - Greenslade:
UK Sunday Times - Donovan:
UK Sunday Times -Marrin:
2009-05-27: Continuing its campaign against the introduction of performance royalties for US terrestrial radio (together with its perversion of language by calling such a charge a "tax" and little-America attack on the big four recording companies as owned outside the US in three cases) the US National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) has launched a competition encouraging radio stations across America to produce and air their own 30-second radio spot opposing the performance tax.
The NAB has dubbed the competition "Don't Tax That Dial"and says it will "call on the creative skills and promotional power of radio stations in an effort to thwart a lobbying campaign by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), which aims to levy a new fee on radio stations for music aired free to listeners."
There will be a USD 2,500 prize for the winning entry on top of which airfare, hotel accommodations and complimentary NAB Radio Show registration for two will be provided to the winning entry. Entries have to be in by the end of July.
2009-05-27: BBC Radio 2 has announced new weekend shows to be hosted by Zoë Ball, Richard Allinson and Emma Forbes starting next month: Ball will host the 06:00 to 08:00 Saturday morning early breakfast show from June 6; Allison will present a new overnight show, produced by independent production company Somethin' Else, running from 03:00 to 06:00 on Saturdays and 02:00 to 05:00 on Sundays; and Emma Forbes will host the Sunday early breakfast show from 05:00 to 07:00 from June 7 preceding Aled Jones' "Good Morning Sunday" show.
Station controller Bob Shennan called the trio "fantastic additions to the Radio 2 weekend schedule" and added, "They are warm, entertaining presenters who have many years of broadcasting experience between them, and I look forward to their shows becoming essential listening for all early risers."
Ball who was the first female host of the BBC Radio 1 breakfast show has recently covered for Dermot O'Leary and Ken Bruce on the station whilst Allinson has been with the station since 1997 hosting late night and Saturday afternoon shows and Forbes has co-hosted the Steve Wright show with Mark Radcliffe and also co-hosts the Saturday 18:00 to 20:00 "Going Out With Alan Carr" show on the station.
The moves mean that Mo Dutta, who currently hosts a show running from 04:00 to 08:05 on Saturdays and Pete Mitchell, who currently handles the Sunday 03:00 to 07:00 slot will be leaving Radio 2: Dutta is to join Global Radio's Xfm in Manchester
Radio 2 has also been criticised by former BBC Radio 1 controller Matthew Bannister for its decision to pre-record the Saturday morning Jonathan Ross show following complaints about remarks he made that were alleged to be "homophobic" and the earlier row over comments he and Russell Brand made about actor Andrew Sachs granddaughter and that led to the cancellation of Brand's show on which the comments had been aired and a suspension for Ross.
Speaking on the BBC Radio 4 "Media Show" today Bannister said, "Once you have taken the decision to pre-record a music radio sequence, it does make a change to the show and to the adrenaline that not only the presenters but the guests feel. If you are recording it, you can go back and retake stuff. You don't have that sense that every word you say on air counts.
He also said the audience would have a subtly different reaction to the show and it would feel "less spontaneous and less exciting" and not have that feeling of "being of the moment."
Bannister said that he thought the decision was made to the BBC could put "their hands on their hearts and say 'This programme is compliant without rules" but that it would raise other potential problems in that if a show was cleared and there was then an "avalanche complaints the executives would look as if they had made a terrible mistake." (The comments are just after a minute into the show, which is available as a podcast or MP3 download as well as a stream). Bannister said it was a "sticking plaster" solution that could not be applied to all output.
In other UK radio news, Bauer Media is to make job cuts at its Big City network of stations although no details have yet been released. Bauer has already cut jobs at its Q and Heat radio stations which were relocated (See RNW Mar 20) and later took them off the Sky digital platform (See RNW May 21) and last week announced that it was to make cuts at its advertising and magazine divisions.
A Bauer spokesman said, "In light of the continuing economic climate, we are looking to reshape some of our local teams. We have therefore reluctantly had to enter consultation with a small number of staff at each affected station to discuss these proposals. There will no further comment until this consultation process has concluded."
On a more positive note, former Chrysalis Radio chief executive Phil Riley, who is heading a group that has agreed to buy eight Midlands stations from Global Radio (See RNW May 22) has announced the appointment of former Virgin Radio - now Absolute Radio following its purchase from SMG by a Times of India subsidiary - programming and marketing director David Lloyd as group programming and marketing director for the stations. Lloyd has most recently been head of regional and local programmes for the BBC in Hull.
Previous Global Radio:
2009-05-27: Microsoft has announced expansion of its music and entertainment Zune service together with the addition of HD radio receive capability on its Zune HD portable media player to be introduced in the fall.
The new player will also include high-definition (HD) video output capabilities, organic light-emitting diode (OLED) touch screen, Wi-Fi and an Internet browser.
In a news release Chris Stephenson, Microsoft GM/Global Consumer Marketing, TV, Video & Music Business, commented of the addition of HD radio capability, "Radio has always been a core feature in Zune devices as it plays a central role in consumers' lives. It is where they discover new music, tag songs for purchase, and stay in touch with the goings-on in their local communities. We are excited to improve on this feature and provide free digital HD Radio reception in Zune HD. With its superior digital audio sound and ability to receive the vast array of new innovative HD2/HD3 multicast channels, Zune HD will be the world's first portable media player to include HD Radio technology."
The release also quoted iBiquity Digital President and CEO Bob Struble plus various broadcasters.
Struble said the player would bring "a vast new group of consumers the high-quality, innovative HD2/HD3 programming only available through HD Radio broadcasts "whilst National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) EVP Dennis Wharton said the announcement "gives America's 235 million weekly radio listeners yet another platform to enjoy our free service, and it uniquely positions the Zune HD at the forefront of entertainment products."
Also quoted were CBS Radio President and CEO Dan Mason who said, "Again, Microsoft is demonstrating its leadership in consumer products by including HD Radio technology in its Zune HD. Across the country, creative programmers are designing innovative programming for over 1,000 new HD2 and HD3 channels, which are only available to HD Radio receivers. This will be a popular feature this fall, when the product becomes available"; Clear Channel CEO Mark Mays who commented, "Congratulations to Microsoft for continuing its commitment to give consumers their favourite source of music, news, sports, and talk programming: radio. We are particularly enthusiastic about the company's commitment to state-of-the-art radio technology: the HD Radio system, which is now virtually standard across the country"; and Emmis Chairman, President and CEO Jeff Smulyan who commented, "With digital HD Radio technology, the concept of what is 'radio' is evolving. Now, the technology will be seamlessly integrated into the Zune HD users' basic experience of their portable device."
The release also had a dig at rival Apple, saying, "Apple's popular iPod remains virtually the only MP3 player/PMP that does not include an FM receiver."
iBiquity noted the announcement in its "In the News" section but the HD Digital Radio Alliance seemed to have again missed an opportunity: When we last checked it had no comment on its web site:
Previous Clear Channel:
Previous HD Digital Radio Alliance:
Previous Mark Mays:
2009-05-26: Vatican Radio is to start taking advertising from July after 78 years of airing free from commercials.
Italian electricity multinational ENEL will be its first commercial radio sponsor and will be aired in Italian, English, Spanish, French and German. The station is to put strict limits on the type of adverts it will take and all commercials are to be vetted by an advertising agency to ensure they are in keeping with moral standards.
The Vatican has been looking for funding to help defray costs of the station, which costs around Euros 21 million (USD 30 million) a year to run
Vatican Radio was set up by Guglielmo Marconi, the Italian inventor of radio, in 1931and employs around 200 journalists to broadcast news of the Pope and the Catholic Church to the world.
Previous Vatican Radio:
2009-05-26: Global Radio is to re-launch its Hit40UK Sunday chart show as The Big Top 40 Show from June 14 based on iTunes downloads and airplay with the top ten to take account of downloads through iTunes during the show.
The show, which has higher ratings than the official UK Singles Chart broadcast on BBC Radio 1, which is compiled on the basis of physical and download sales, will air on 142 commercial stations including Global's Heart and, Galaxy networks, and Hit Music Network, including 95.8 Capital FM; Bauer Media's Big City Network and GMG Radio's Real network.
The show will be hosted by Rich Clarke and Kat Shoob, and in addition to the chart will include music news, artist recommendations and interviews.
Global Radio director of broadcasting Richard Park described the change as a "historic move" in which commercial radio has aligned the UK's biggest chart show with the current music download movement, making the first ever totally interactive chart where the listener decides.
"With 90 per cent of sales in the UK's official chart now being from downloads alone, it's important we reflect the new future of purchasing music, and there is no more significant partner than iTunes," he added.
Previous Global Radio:
2009-05-26: Arbitron's SVP/Press & Investor Relations Thom Mocarsky is to step down at the end of June after more than a quarter of a century with the company although he will remain with the company as an advisor for a transition period.
His departure was revealed to staff in an internal memorandum from newly installed executive VP and chief marketing officer Alton Adams who indicated that further changes are to be announced soon.
Paying tribute to Mocarsky, who joined the company in 1982 as Director of Communications, Adams said his "his hallmark has been his unique ability to translate complex information into customer-ready messages" and added, "He has had an integral leadership role in our client, press and investor relations since he arrived and has shaped both the communication organization and approach into what they are today. Thom's expertise and insights have defined our communications strategies, especially as the company transitioned to electronic measurement."
2009-05-26: UK media regulator Ofcom in its latest bulletin upholds two radio standards complaints and has imposed fines totalling GBP 52,500 (USD 83,900) fine against Portland Media Group which controls a number of "Red Hot" TV channels (GBP 25,000 - USD 40,000 fine) and the Television X2 channel (GBP 27,500 - USD 43,900 fine) as well as upholding a standards complaint against Playboy TV and partly upholding a TV fairness and privacy complaint. It also gave details of a further TV standards complaint that was not upheld. The numbers compare with the upholding of one radio and three TV standards complaints in the previous bulletin that also gave details of a further TV standards complaint and two TV Fairness and Privacy complaints that were not upheld.
The two radio complaints upheld were against Bath FM and Lite FM (Peterborough): The Bath FM ruling related to an advertisement by the Response2Route local campaign against a bus transport scheme in the Bath area that led to a listener complaining about the advert and querying whether adverts of this kind were permitted.
Ofcom asked Bath FM to comment about whether the advert showed political or industrial partiality and was broadcast on behalf of an organization with mainly or wholly political objectives and the station accepted that it did not comply with the Communications Act 2003 and Radio Advertising Code.
It explained that the booking for the commercial airtime was handled regionally within the South West Radio group but that the copy clearance was undertaken locally by the radio station and in this case, although advised by the regional group that RACC (Radio Advertising Clearance Centre) clearance was required had transmitted the advert for a week before it was sent for assessment by the RACC, which said that the advert was in a prohibited category. It added that it had not taken "appropriate internal action with the parties concerned" and had tightened its internal procedures.
Ofcom said that the group's description of itself as an organisation which opposes the local council?s plans to build a new road meant that it was prohibited from advertising on radio or TV as its objects are wholly or mainly political in nature. It also said that the content was political in nature as defined in the Act and thus also prohibited.
In the Lite FM case the station's weekday breakfast programme was presented for a week from a bed in the foyer of a new hotel in Peterborough and a listener complained that the promotion of the hotel over the week was unfair to local guest houses.
Lite said in response to Ofcom's inquiries that although the programme was broadcast from the Park Inn, the programme?s regular format was followed, with its regular features, guests and competitions.
Ofcom said it appeared that the station had maintained its editorial independence but some references to the sponsor were in breach of its codes and the sponsorship was not made sufficiently clear to listeners.
In addition to these cases Ofcom also listed without details 351 TV complaints against 178 items and 44 radio complaints against 23 items that it did not uphold or were considered out of its remit: This compared to 334 TV complaints against 119 items and 29 radio complaints against 26 items that it did not uphold or were considered out of its remit that were listed in the previous bulletin.
Previous Ofcom Complaints Bulletin:
2009-05-25: Brisbane today became the fourth Australian capital city to launch DAB+ digital radio broadcasts - following Adelaide, Melbourne and Perth: Sydney is to follow on May 30 and the launches have so far been by commercial stations with the Australian Broadcasting Corporation and Special Broadcasting Service transmissions expected to launch services next month and July.
The Brisbane stations involved are 4BC, 4BH, 4KQ, Triple M, b105, 97.3 FM, Nova, Radio TAB, Radar, Pink Radio and NovaNation.
Their services may be affected by torrential rains and high winds this week that could lead to a limited switch-off during the first week. All the services are to be broadcast in interference test mode for the first couple of weeks, which means that power will be lower at night while any interference is assessed but so far the tests have not revealed any problems in Adelaide, Melbourne, or Perth.
2009-05-24: The main regulatory news last week again came from the US where the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has launched an inquiry into Arbitron's Portable People Meter (PPM) ratings: Elsewhere there were no radio postings from Australia but a number from Canada where the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) made the following decisions:
*Approval of application by Trust Communications Ministries to delete the condition of licence for CJLF-FM, Barrie, relating to the broadcast of commercial messages. The specialty FM had been limited in the minutes of messages it could broadcast and had submitted in support of its application instances when it had been required to calculate third-party sponsorship segments as part of its advertising limits including broadcast of Skywords traffic reports, which include pre-packaged programming segments that are provided with short sponsorship inserts. It noted in relation to these that it receives no revenue from the Skywords traffic sponsors, but must include the sponsor identifications in its commercial messages inventory since they fall within the definition of advertising.
In granting the application the CRTC noted that last year it had denied a similar request because of non-compliance of the conditions but that the last instance of non-compliance took place in 2007 since when the station has installed new monitoring equipment and monitoring in March this year had shown the station to be in compliance.
The CRTC also posted a number of public notices including the following:
Consultations with June 25 deadline for submission of interventions or comments including the following radio applications:
Newfoundland and Labrador:
*Application by Bonne Bay Cottage Hospital Heritage Corporation for a licence to operate a 30 watts low-power, English-language, Type A, community FM radio in Norris Point.
*Application by Radio 710 AM Inc. to acquire the assets of the tourist radio programming undertaking CJRN-AM, Niagara Falls, from CJRN 710 Inc. as part of a corporate reorganization. The CRTC notes that Radio 710 AM Inc. is wholly-owned and controlled by Niagara Media Group Inc., a corporation controlled by Northguard Capital Corp., which in turn is controlled by Mr. Andrew Ferri and that following the transfer control would continue to be exercised by Ferri.
It adds that this application was first scheduled to be heard at a hearing on 30 March 2009 but was withdrawn to be rescheduled at a later date: The Commission says it will consider the interventions already accepted and placed on the public file for the 30 March 2009 hearing as well as other interventions received in the context of this hearing.
* Application by Radio coopérative de Coaticook, Coop de solidarité for a licence to operate a 1,250 watts French-language, Type B, community FM radio programming undertaking in Coaticook.
*Application by CPAM Radio Union.com inc. to change the frequency of its French-language ethnic commercial CJWI-AM, Montréal, from 1,610 to 1,410 kHz, relocate the antenna, and increase the power from 1,000 to 10,000 watts day and night. CPAM says that during the past two ears its signal has suffered interference from a Toronto AM on the same frequency and that the change would allow it to provide a clearer signal to its target audience, which has moved to the suburbs surrounding Montréal.
*Application by Dawson City Community Radio Society for a licence to operate a 50 watts low-power, English-language, Type B, community FM in Dawson City.
Consultations with June 26 deadline for submission of interventions or comments including the following radio applications:
*Application by Westman Media Cooperative Ltd. to amend the Class 1 broadcasting licence for its cable broadcasting distribution undertaking serving Brandon by allowing it to distribute, at its option, the audio programming service of one or both licensed satellite subscription radio (SSR) undertakings approved for carriage in Canada on a digital basis,
In Ireland, things were fairly quite but the Broadcasting Commission of Ireland (BCI) has announced the winners of its Gael Linn radio programme competition: The competition, which is sponsored by the Broadcasting Commission of Ireland and RTÉ Raidio na Gaeltachta is open to all second level students.
Students are asked to produce a radio programme, in Irish, on a subject of their choice, and the six winners were:
Section A: (Irish speaking schools)
1st Place: 'Éabhlóid nó Réabhlóid!'; Coláiste an Phiarsaigh, Glanmire, Cork.
2nd Place: 'Barack Obama'. Gaelcholáiste Reachrann, Donaghmede, Dublin
3rd Place: 'Ceol agus Craic'; Scoil Phobail Mhic Dara, Carna, Galway
Section B: (English speaking Schools)
1st Place: 'Scigchlár', Blackrock College, Dublin
2nd Place: 'Raidióige', St. Brigid's Secondary School, Mountrath, Laois
3rd Place: 'Ar an dé deiridh nó ar rothaí an tsaoil?". St. Patrick's Academy, Dungannon, Tyrone.
In the UK, Ofcom as we have already reported has announced a pay freeze and stopping bonuses for executives this year (See RNW May 20) and in addition its Chief Executive Ed Richards has told the Radio 3.0 Conference in London that the organisation is considering easing restrictions on sponsorship but has also warned against a "meaningless" analogue radio switch-off, adding that a change had to be in the interests of the audience (See RNW May 21).
Ofcom has also announced that it has awarded three more community radio licences, taking the total so far awarded above 200, and also says it expects to award 29 termporary radio service licences for Ramadan this year.
The community licences went to HCR FM, Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire - a service of music plus local news and information for the whole community of Huntingdon and the surrounding area; Intobeats (Bedford) -an urban music-based community radio service to 14-35 year olds in Bedford; and AHBS Community Radio, Ashford, Kent - a service of entertainment and health information, aimed especially at those directly involved in healthcare, but also encompassing the wider community.
The Ramadan licences have been awarded through a draw for those areas where there were more applications than frequencies available and the contested licences went to:
Bradford (16 applicants) - Licence awarded to: Gulshear Khan
Keighley (4 applicants) - Licence awarded to: Tufail Khan
Huddersfield (2 applicants) - Licence awarded to: Mahmood Hussain
Leeds (3 applicants) - Licence awarded to: Zahida Bi Hussain
Manchester or Oldham (3 applicants) - Licence awarded to: Oldham: Fareeda Bi
Bolton or Bury (2 applicants) - Licence awarded to: Bury: Anwar Haq
London North or West (3 applicants) - Licence awarded to: Southall: Rubina Baig
London East (5 applicants) - Licence awarded to: Muhammad Abul Kalam
London South (3 applicants) - Licence awarded to: Sutton: Sophia Rahman
Luton (6 applicants) - Licence awarded to: Rashid Nazar
Bristol (3 applicants) - Licence awarded to: Shanaz Bibi
Dudley or Walsall (2 applicants), Licence awarded to: Dudley: Hamid Qudoos
Sheffield (2 applicants) - Licence awarded to: Mohammed Shabbir
Ofcom also held a draw for Muharram 2009:
Bradford (2 applicants) - Licence awarded to: Jamil Hussain
and Milaad 2010
Bradford (3 applicants) - Licence awarded to: Shazia Begum
In addition non contested Ramadan licences went to
Blackburn: Syed Zafar Iqbal
Burnley: Mohammed Ashfaq
Burton-on-Trent: Shahid Mahmood
Cardiff: Ansar Mahmood
Edinburgh: Zahid Ali
High Wycombe: Gulham Hussain
Glasgow: Sajid Quayum
Leicester: Abdulkarim Gheewala
Middlesbrough: Idrees Rashid
Milton Keynes: Mohamed Sheikh
Newcastle Upon Tyne: Saqib Arshad
Preston: Atiq ur Rehman
Reading: 1 Ummah FM
Slough: Zulfikar Ali
Stoke-on-Trent: Mohammed Riaz Shah
Woking: Nisar Sulaymani
In the US, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC ) has, as already noted, announced an inquiry into Arbitron's Portable People Meter (PPM) ratings (See RNW May 18).
It was also involved in a number of enforcement decisions including the following related to radio:
*USD 12,000 forfeiture to MFR, Inc., licensee of WJAQ-FM and WTOR-AM, Marianna, Florida, for late filing of renewal application and unauthorized operation of the stations. It had issued a Notice of Apparent Liability for Forfeiture (NAL) for this amount in March 2005 to which the licensee responded with a request for reduction or cancellation on the basis that its failure to file the applications was inadvertent - it had filed an application without the filing fee and subsequently attempted to submit the fee without resubmitting the renewal applications - that it immediately took corrective action when it found out the licences had expired, on the basis of a history of compliance and that payment of the forfeiture would severely restrict its ability to operate the stations.
The FCC in confirming the full penalty noted that that co-owned GFR, Inc., licensee of WTOT-FM, Graceville, had successfully re-filed its application before the licence expired and also dismissed the other arguments, noting in connection with the claim of financial hardship that the stations had income above USD 300,000 for 2003 and 2004 according to income statements provided.
*USD 8,000 forfeiture to Emerson College, licensee of WERS-FM, Boston, Massachusetts, for failure to maintain the public file for the station. In this case an NAL for USD 10,000 was issued to which the licensee responded with a request for reduction or cancellation on the basis that it took immediate corrective action, voluntarily disclosed the violation (in the course of its licence renewal, that the amount was excessive, and that it had a history of compliance. In this case the penalty was reduced by USD 2,000 because of a history of compliance but the other arguments were rejected.
*USD 1,500 forfeiture to GFR, Inc., licensee of WTOT-FM, Graceville, Florida for late filing of renewal application. In this case the licensee had argued for cancellation or reduction of an NAL for this amount on the same basis as MRF Inc. In this case the statements provided did not document income and the other arguments were rejected.
*Cancelled USD 1,500 forfeiture issued to RealRadio, LLC, former licensee of KRSN-AM, Los Alamos, New Mexico. RealRadio had explained that it had filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection and that Yvette Gonzales was appointed to serve as a Chapter 7 trustee. It further explained that, along with the renewal application, it had simultaneously filed an application for involuntary assignment of the Station to Trustee, as well as a request for Special Temporary Authority for the Station to remain silent.
The Trustee said the station remains in bankruptcy and is currently silent and that the former licensee, RealRadio, is no longer associated with the station, and thus that to impose a forfeiture would only harm innocent creditors of the bankrupt former licensee. The FCC concluded that in this case cancellation of the forfeiture was warranted.
In a number of licensing decisions the FCC:
*Denied a petition filed by Houston Christian Broadcasters, Inc. (HCB) to modify the construction permit for its unbuilt station at Caldwell, Texas. HCB, which had obtained the permit from Philos Broadcast, Inc., one of four mutually exclusive applications - including an HCB application - for a new non-commercial educational, wanted to change the station's transmitter location, effective radiated power, and antenna height, and to upgrade the station from a Class A to a Class C2 facility.
The FCC refused the application on the basis that the original permit was awarded by decisive preference and the modifications would not satisfy the conditions placed on the permit as a result of that preference.
*Denied application from Barry P. Lunderville for review of a Media Bureau grant of a permit to Shaw Communications, Inc. to construct a new FM translator station serving Berlin, New Hampshire and to receive the signal of WVMJ-FM, Conway, New Hampshire
*Denied application from Jeffrey Bate for review of a Media Bureau grant of a permit for a new AM station at Johnstown, Colorado, to Jeffey N. Eustis by dispositive Section 307(b) preference.
*Denied application for review filed by Susquehanna Radio Corp. and Petition for Reconsideration filed by James K. Zahn, - they had filed applications among a group of nine mutually-exclusive applications for a new AM filed during the January-February 2000 filing window for AM Broadcast Auction No.32.
The licence was awarded under a dispositive Section 307(b) preference to an application from KM Communications, Inc. for new AM at Elk Grove, California,
*Denied application for review filed by Kidd Communications of a decision to award a new AM at Jacksonville, Oregon, to Pamplin Broadcasting-Oregon, Inc. Kidd had filed a mutually exclusive application for an AM at Truckee, California but the Pamplin bid was awarded the licence under a dispositive preference.
Previous Licence News:
BCI web site:
CRTC web site:
FCC web site:
Ofcom web site:
2009-05-23: Entercom's Sacramento KWOD-FM has dropped alternative music after 18 years and is now what the company says is "America's first '90s station" - 106.5 The Buzz.
The change saw two hosts depart - Andy Sims, who hosted the midday show and "Rubin", who had been drivetime host - and the station is currently airing without DJs although its marketing director John Nelson said it would be "announcing staff, including a high-profile morning show" within the next few weeks.
He told the Sacramento Bee that that the decision was a business one, saying, "The alternative audience is a very loyal fan base, but the number of people listening and the advertising community was not supporting it."
A farewell note on the KWOD web site from Program Director Curtiss Johnson noted that the station had been playing "Alternative" since 1991, before the term was coined and added after comments about the "great years": "That is why it is so difficult to tell you that, after 18 years, KWOD is coming to an end. The last few years have been very challenging for KWOD; as it has been for the world of Alternative music, and the radio stations that play it, in general. The severe downturn in the economy over the last year has affected many people and companies. I'm not telling you something that you don't already know. But, perhaps you didn't know that, while we are a radio station, we face the same circumstances as so many other organizations today the challenge of running a business profitably. We have taken many steps over the last few years to improve things, but in the end they have not been enough. We're proud of what KWOD has stood for over the years. And, we've had fun being part of it.
"Some of you may want to blame this decision on some faceless corporation. While KWOD does have a parent company, it's not how it came down. This was a local decision that was both difficult and personal. We had to finally admit that our best efforts, over a number of years, were not going to produce the results we needed."
The final song aired on by KWOD was Short Skirt/Long Jacket by Cake whilst Buzz launched with "Summertime" by Will Smith.
KWOD web site (Farewell):
90's Buzz web site:
Sacramento Bee report:
2009-05-23: A posting on the BBC radiolabs blog concerning the corporation's 1-year "Project Mayflower" trial of DRM (Digital Radio Mondiale) using an AM frequency that had previously been used by BBC Radio Devon (See RNW Apr 23, 2007) says that it engendered a mostly positive response to the technology from the panel of listeners and that the signal's daytime coverage was greater than that of the previous analogue signal but there were problems at night.
The blog was posted by Tom Everest, who works for BBC Distribution, and noted that as with all digital signals interference at night from distant stations rather than causing audible interference caused the signal to drop out.
Everest says the problem is soluble by either using frequencies less prone to interference, by using higher powered transmitters or by building extra transmitters - he notes that using DRM a broadcaster can use two transmitters on the same frequency without causing interference between them, so building more transmitters doesn't necessarily mean using more frequencies
BBC Radio Devon has posted a report on the trial that links to a Summary report (A 698 kb 11-page PDF), an Audience Survey report (A 518 KB 26 page PDF) and a Technical White paper (A 1.26 Mb 43-page PDF).
The summary notes that the trial was conducted to examine the potential of using DRM as a replacement for analogue AM services in the UK: In the trial, because rules agreed by the ITU (International Telecommunications Union) allow the use of DRM on an AM frequency subject to a power reduction to keep the amount of outgoing interference at a comparable level with the AM frequency, the DRM transmissions were limited to 80 watts EMRP (Based on a 40% efficiency of the 1kw AM transmitter at Plymouth). In addition a second transmitter was installed at North Hessary Tor, the main VHF transmitting station for the southwest, so as to allow investigation of co? and
Adjacent?channel interference (both DRM into AM and AM into DRM), as well as checking the potential of single frequency networks. This transmitter notes the report was unable to provide more than a few watts so did not provide additional coverage to the listeners taking part although it did allow investigation of interference.
Panellists it says rated the DRM signal as comparable to FM but inferior to DAB (Digital Audio Broadcasting) when listening to the Radio Devon service - principally a mix of speech and adult contemporary music.
As regards day and night transmissions the report noted that although the night-time coverage was much less than the daytime one, the former was still larger than "the equivalent 'clean' AM coverage at night."
It also noted that the frequency being used is "particularly susceptible to interference from distant transmissions" and in relation to interference that listeners will stick with an analogue AM signal despite interference thus effectively increasing the coverage area above the "technical limit" but the digital signal in contrast made a fairly sudden transition from working perfectly to not working at all.
The audience research report says that a minority of panel member, mostly from the area beyond Plymouth had reception difficulties and although DRM improved audio quality as a whole the "robustness of the DRM signal would need to be markedly improved if it were to be the only platform on which a station like BBC Radio Devon was available."
It also noted that during the trial the same Radio Devon signal was available on FM, DAB, and DRM with overall perception being that DRM was perceived by some listeners to be on a par with FM - but not as good as DAB, which also delivered more consistent service availability and reception in most areas."
BBC Radio Devon digital trial report (with links to three reports noted):
BBC Radiolabs blog:
2009-05-22: Putting its best face on a spot revenue fall of 26% and overall revenue fall of 24% year-on-year in the first quarter of 2009, the US Radio Advertising Bureau (RAB) highlights growth in online and HD revenues.
RAB now splits its figures into local revenues - down 26% to USD 2.354 million; national revenues - down 27% to USD 473,000 with the combined total down 26% to USD 2.827 billion; Network - down 13% to USD 238 million; Digital (HD) - up 13% to USD 101 million; and Off-air - up 12% to USD 264 million with the overall grand total down 24% to USD 3.430 billion.
Commenting on the figures, RAB President and CEO Jeff Haley said in a release, "Radio's digital platforms are experiencing the greatest growth and are reflective of the dollar shift from media to marketing by many of today's advertisers. As consumer and technological sophistication increases, advertisers will continue to support those platforms which appeal to their customers' increased on-demand behaviours -- and Radio is primed for it."
Haley added of the changes in advertising spend in the US, "In today's economy, consumers are looking to make every dollar count. It's interesting to note that many advertisers who are tied-in to price and value are making use of Radio -- an economic yet effective vehicle to transmit their messages out to the buying public. As the economy begins to turn up, we should have numerous advertisers who've confirmed their trust in Radio as we've helped their businesses survive -- and even thrive -- through these times."
In terms of categories, Communications/Cellular/Public Utilities is the top spender on spot advertising followed by restaurants and then in third place Television/Networks/Cable Providers. The formerly top-ranked automobile advertising is down to fourth place.
Heading spending in the top category and overall were AT&T, which so far this year has spent USD 130.8 million and Verizon Wireless, which spent USD 101.8 million. Other increases noted included MetroPCS, USCellular, and Leap Wireless whose radio spending was up by 97%, 90%, and 25%, year on year in addition to which Boost Mobile has committed nearly USD 15 million to radio this year, up from last year's USD 289, 000 for the quarter.
In the restaurant category Dunkin' Donuts was top spender - up 55% to USD 23.1 million in the quarter followed by Taco Bell - up 25% to USD 20.1 million followed by White Castle which upped its spend 310% to USD 4.9 million, equalling the spend of Jack in the Box, which had increased its expenditure by 79%.: The RAB also notes that Arby's Restaurant added USD 4.7 million to last year's USD 322,000 and Steak N Shake added USD 2.4 million to last year's USD 17,000 spend.
Within the automobile advertising there were some significant increases, including Volvo Motor Corp. - up 137% - and Audi Motor Corp. - up over fivefold and network radio also gained in this category - General Motors Corporate upped it's spend two-fold to nearly GBP 7.5 million whilst Chrysler and Volkswagen, each absent within the sector in Q1 '08, each spent more than USD 1 million.
There were also significant increases from various companies in the Grocery/Convenience/Liquor Stores category and a few in insurance where top category spender GEICO dominated spending with USD 58.6 million, a figure that made it the fourth largest spender overall.
Previous RAB figures (2008 and final quarter 2008):
2009-05-22: Former Chrysalis Radio chief executive Phil Riley is moving back into the radio business with newly-created LDC Midlands group - backed by venture capital group Lloyds TSB Development Capital - that has acquired eight Midlands-based radio stations that Global Radio is having to sell as a condition of Competition Commission approval of its GBP 375 million (USD 597 million) takeover of GCap Media.
Bauer Radio had been in exclusive talks with Global about buying the stations (See RNW Apr 7) but no agreement was reached on a sale.
The new group is understood to have agreed the purchase of a total of eight licences - BRMB, Mercia, Wyvern and Beacon in the West Midlands and Heart 106 in the east Midlands plus three Gold stations in Birmingham, Coventry and Wolverhampton in a deal that will see Heart 106 continue under the Heart branding under licence from Global.
Riley commented of the agreement, "We are delighted to be taking ownership of these stations - I have a real passion for radio in the Midlands, as someone who has spent most of his working life in the region, and LDC are perfect partners given their Birmingham base" whilst Global Group chief Executive Ashley Tabor said they were pleased to keep the Heart brand on air in the East Midlands. He added that LDC has appointed Global Radio to represent its stations commercially to national advertisers and their agencies.
Previous Global Radio:
2009-05-22: Tribune Co.-owned WGN-AM, Chicago, has dropped the 09:00 to noon "Kathy & Judy Show" that has been hosted for 20 years by former Chicago newspaper columnists Kathy O'Malley (with the Chicago Tribune when the show began and now aged 63) and Judy Markey (who was with the Chicago Sun-Times and now aged 65) in a move that station president and General Manager Tom Langmyer said was a "business decision" made in response to a changing market.
The cancellation was announced by the hosts at the start of their show today but no replacement has been announced. The hosts said they had been told three weeks ago and an official announcement from the station said they would continue to be employed by WGN "and will be heard in commercial announcements."
Langmyer in the announcement paid tribute to the hosts, saying, "Kathy & Judy have been a phenomenal chapter in WGN Radio's rich history. They have a level of personal connection with their listeners that is extremely rare. They've shared fun, laughter, joy and a wonderful relationship with their many 'Girlfriends.' They will be missed and we wish them much happiness."
"This was a business decision. The media business and the Chicago radio market have changed dramatically in the last few years, including a new method of ratings measurement. WGN needs to respond to these changes, and this is the time to move in a new direction."
In recent ratings the show has slipped - in February it was seventh amongst all listeners but in April it had dropped to eighth.
On the show, O'Malley commented, "One of the things that radio does is pull people together. There have been so many times in the last 20 years when somebody has said to me, 'I thought I was all alone out there and then I heard somebody else say it.' That's one of the blessings of radio. Whatever it is, however sad you are, you're not the only person that's going through this."
In other Chicago radio changes Clear Channel-owned smooth jazz WNUA-FM is being flipped to Spanish-language Mega 95.5 although its original format is being retained on the stations HD2 channel and online (Only for US listeners- the site currently goes to a Thank You page from which there is a link to register for audio).
The new format will be formally launched in a fortnight before which the station is to air 5,000 songs from its new format (The station site is currently offering these but only to listeners inside the US for whom registration is required).
Previous Clear Channel:
Previous Tribune Co.:
Mega 95.5 site:
WGN-AM -Kathy and Judy release - includes links to MP3s of all three hours of their final show:
WNUA-FM site - Thank-You page:
2009-05-22: Australian radio operations have provided a bright spot for the UK's Daily Mail and General Trust according to its figures for the six months to the end of March in which overall revenues were down 7% to GBP 1.085 billion (USD 1.7 billion) with an operating profit of GBP 88 million (USD 140 million) a year ago becoming a loss of GBP 152 million (USD 242 million) - adjusted figures before amortisation and impairment of intangible assets and exceptional items and including cash impairment charges of GBP 188 million (USD 299 million) show a profit of GBP 166 million (USD 264 million) falling 30% to GBP 116 million (USD 185 million).
Overall DMGT reported pre-tax profits of GBP 23 million (USD 36.6 million) becoming a loss of GBP 239 million (USD 281 million - adjusted figures show a profit of GBP 144 million (USD 230 million) falling 47% to GBP 77 million (USD 123 million).
Within the figures the company said that DMG Radio Australia revenues remained flat at GBP 26 million (USD 41 million) although underlying revenues were up 1% as compared to a 4% decline in the overall radio advertising market in Australia and it has moved into profit of GBP 2 million ( USD 3.2 million).
DMG Radio Australia operates the Nova Network, which it says increased its share in the key 18-39 demographic across Australia and Vega stations in Sydney and Melbourne. Vega Sydney increased its market share but share fell for Vega in Melbourne.
DMGT said, "Significant cost measures have been taken to mitigate the impact of anticipated lower revenues, arising from the adverse market conditions, which are aimed at driving profit* growth further in the full year.
2009-05-22: According to the New York Post two of the largest lenders to Clear Channel have opposed the company's debt swap proposal under which it says they are being offered in part an exchange of some of their USD 15 billion in debt for USD 2.5 billion that is owed to the company from Clear Channel's outdoor-advertising business.
The paper adds that if the situation is not resolved the company could violate its loan agreements, triggering bankruptcy in which case the money that the outdoor unit owes Clear Channel would be shared equally among the senior lenders and bondholders, even though senior lenders usually get priority: Had the lenders agreed to Clear Channel's proposal, they would have gotten first claims on the debt owed by the outdoor unit.
The Post adds that one lender noted that the Clear Channel loans he's holding have increased in value recently, trading at around 54 cents on the dollar, up from the high 40s range a few weeks ago, and he predicts they could be worth close to par in a bankruptcy given Clear Channel's assets have value in which case he might fare better forcing the company into bankruptcy than accepting a debt swap.
Previous Clear Channel:
New York Post report:
2009-05-21: Ed Richards, the chief executive of UK media regulator Ofcom, has told the Radio 3.0 conference in London that his organisation is considering easing restrictions on sponsorship and has also warned against a "meaningless" analogue radio switch-off, adding that a change had to be in the interests of the audience.
Regarding sponsorship Richards said commercial radio had gone as far as it could with spot advertising. Ofcom research he said had shown that "spot advertising is at the limits of what it can do. It is often considered intrusive by listeners" and added, "These changing circumstances mean we have to adapt. We need to balance the benefits of flexibility for the industry with what listeners want, and ensuring listeners are not misled. We think there is scope for the relaxation of the rules".
Under current rules UK commercial stations have to make sure sponsorship messages are separated from programming but Richards comments suggested that this separation may be eased.
Regarding the problems of commercial radio at a time when radio listening is at its highest ever levels Richards said Ofcom was "acutely aware" of the difficulties of balancing listeners' interest in quality services and enabling stations to be commercially viable adding in relation to this that the suggestions Ofcom had already put forward to allow more co-location, larger transmission areas, and programme sharing could turn many local stations from loss into profit
In relation to digital audio broadcasts Richards said DAB services had to become financially viable on their own and Ofcom was already working on changes including merging some multiplexes and extending the transmission areas covered by others.
He said of switching off analogue that he could give a date but it would be "meaningless without a credible plan to get there" and added, "It is better to get that right and have a sense of determination and urgency to get that right rather than pluck a meaningless date out of the air. There is no point in doing something that the audience would regard as a disaster. It has to be seen as a good thing. That is the acid test.
"The idea of analogue switch-off has been given a great deal of prominence and we very much welcome that debate. But in our view, as a crucial first step, DAB services must become a financially stable proposition in and of themselves. There are practical steps we can take to help achieve this."
Overall said Richards, radio was the most heavily regulated medium in the UK even though its turnover was smallest and the time had come to dismantle current regulation of local commercial radio although he noted in terms of local listening that community stations had proved very popular with demand for licences easily outstripping the spectrum available for them.
2009-05-21: Clear Channel is exploiting the current employment situation in the US with an initiative under which listeners will be able to use Clear Channel local stations airtime and websites to market their skills to potential employers.
The scheme is being launched on 21 stations - in Alabama, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Kansas, Louisiana, Michigan, Missouri, Ohio, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Texas, Virginia, and Washington D.C. and Clear Channel Radio's President and CEO John Hogan said in a news release, "We realize this is a difficult time for many individuals and families and want to support our listeners who are out of work in any way we can. Radio is all about community and serves as the perfect platform to connect job seekers with employers. We hope that job seeking listeners will take advantage of this special opportunity."
Listeners seeking employment will be encouraged to visit station websites and submit entries online from which each station will choose five entrants per week to record their own thirty second radio resume where they will provide basic personal information and qualifications, and direct interested employers to the station's website where the entrants' full resumes will be posted.
RNW comment: We checked the sites of a couple of stations - in Detroit where we were hit in the eyes with a headline "THE GOVERNMENT WANTS TO DESTROY RADIO! CLICK HERE TO HELP FIGHT IT!"(The link goes to a propaganda page describing a performance royalty as a tax and other descriptions favoured by NAB such as "...the money would flow out of your community and into the pockets of the record labels - the great majority of which are foreign-owned" but not a line so far about the scheme - and Akron where the headline was about AKRON/CANTON'S LARGEST INDOOR YARD SALE" but again not a word about the scheme.
Somehow this didn't quite gel with the company line - but then full facts rarely do it seems to us. We hope we're wrong as regard listeners benefiting but doubt very much that this scheme will actually yield much for listeners or that it will cost Clear Channel much but it may well benefit the company with advertisers - both stations carried Green Card Lottery adverts so maybe even with Foreign-owned advertisers!.
Previous Clear Channel:
2009-05-21: Stoke on Trent, Staffordshire, community broadcaster Focal Radio is reported to be on the verge of collapse after local tycoon Mo Chaudry, who was arrested last month in connection with investigations into allegations of corruption involving Stoke-on-Trent City Council, said he had no choice but to pull out of the station because the public sector had turned its back on the venture.
The station employs 23 staff, mainly freelance, and they have been broadcasting appeals for fund to keep the station on air; Chaudry bought the station in March this year after it had gone off the air the previous month and ThisisStaffordshire quoted him as saying he made the deal to keep the station as a voice for the region not to make a profit. It adds that he is thought to have put around GBP 80,000 (USD 120, 000) into the station and said, "I have made a huge personal commitment in terms of money, time and energy to build-up the business since inception for no financial gain. I liked its community ethos and felt that the people of the region needed to have a voice. "Since the police inquiry became public, the public sector has declined to do business with Focal.
"The whole business model was based on engagement with the public sector and as a result I have been left with no option but to wind down the operation."
The station, the first new commercial radio station to launch in the region for 25 years, launched in November last year on digital radio and the Internet but went off air in February this year after the company behind it ran into trouble.
The publication adds that the station was the idea of Potteries broadcasting legend Sam Plank and his wife Verity Hilton and says Sam has paid staff out of his own pocket since May 13.
Plank said, "I'm saddened over the way the situation has developed. However, there is now a golden opportunity for the listeners of this area to invest in a radio station that is truly theirs and looks positively at what happens in their patch. I would love to hear from anyone who feels they can help." The station is currently playing music together with a message about its situation online.
In other UK radio news Bauer has confirmed that five of its national stations will come of the Sky digital TV platform next week. Q, Heat Radio, Kerrang!, The Hits and Smash Hits will remain on DAB multiplexes and the Freeview TV platform but Bauer's strategy director Travis Baxter said it would not invest in every platform. Its Kiss and Magic stations will remain on the Sky platform.
Focal Radio web site:
2009-05-20: This week we start our look at print comment on radio with a rare- for the UK anyway - recommendation for phone- in shows: It came courtesy of Gillian Reynolds' column in the Daily Telegraph and related to the row in the UK over MPs' expenses.
Interestingly the recommendation was for a BBC station albeit Reynolds column indicated listening to others: After starting with a comment on BBC Radio 4's "Start the Week" on the topic of finding merit in such unexpected places, Reynolds continued, "Yet all last week I also cheered as the phone-in show tumbrels rolled for greedy MPs, named and shamed in this newspaper for using to the full their Parliamentary allowances without regard to their own ability to pay for such things as bathplugs and the cleaning of moats. Anger, scorn and contempt have always been part of the currency of phone-in debate but last week they totally dominated it. I have never heard anything like it.
"MPs' expenses: Now we can start again - with a clean House. If our elected representatives failed to understand the level of outrage generated it can only be because they weren't listening. More fools they. The MP who tried, on Victoria Derbyshire's Radio 5 Live Thursday morning phone-in, to plead for a suspension of the minimum wage in the present economic crisis, was howled down. Had he ever tried living on it, let alone below it, he was asked? He tried to bluster his way out. He failed.
"By yesterday Nicky Campbell's Radio 5 Live phone-in was asking whether it was all getting a bit hysterical. Esther Rantzen appeared, saying she might run as an independent candidate at the next election. Did I also hear her say she was bad at claiming expenses herself and, when she worked for the BBC, never had? Perhaps I missed a qualifying word or two. I have yet to meet a BBC staffer, past or present, who never, ever, claimed for a dinner taken in the course of business. (Our emphasis!)"
Reynolds went on to link the furore and the ability of radio to offer "clear information and informed opinion": "That is, of course, the big gap that's opened up across the airwaves, between people who can claim expenses (whether or not they do, whether or not the claim is honest) and the majority of the working population which cannot. The beauty of British radio remains its ability to reflect it all. Vox populi has its undoubted place on the air. What radio also offers is clear information and informed opinion through which to reach a personal view" and then went on to review Unreliable Evidence, also from BBC Radio 4.
Moving on from that column to the US, we noted yet another report from the US that indicates that "clear information and informed opinion" may be rather more rare there when it comes to radio or indeed any corporate statement. It came from the New York Daily News and a report on changes at Pacifica-owned WBAI-FM: "The changing of the guard at WBAI has picked up speed, with long-time program director Bernard White put on 10-day suspension, which he says really means he's fired.
"This is a termination," said White in a note to his supporters after he was ushered from the building Friday.
"I am not allowed in the building," he said, "and I am unable to retrieve my personal belongings that I have accumulated over my 29-year association with WBAI."
The report noted that "Critics of White and former station manager Anthony Riddle, who was offered a reassignment last week, say these moves are necessary to re-broaden WBAI's audience without compromising its original mission as a free-speech alternative to commercial media" and went on to quote Steve Brown, a member of the Local Station Board governing WBAI, who argues that under White, the station has served an increasingly narrow audience as saying, "We hope this will be the beginning of a renaissance for WBAI.
We also noted somewhat of a lack of clear information in postings about the "The Performance Rights Act" that would introduce performance royalties for US terrestrial stations airing music and the FCC inquiry into Arbitron's Portable People Meter (PPM) system.
Taking the latter first, WTMJ-AM, Milwaukee, host Charlie Sykes could in our view well attract the appellation of "unreliable evidence" in relation to his comments on the PPM. He began a posting on the Journal Communications' station web site: "Weird, but actually ominous. In what appears to be the first stage of a broader, Chavez-style crackdown against talk radio and its audience success, Obama's FCC has taken an official step toward eliminating (or, at best, manipulating) an electronic ratings system his supporters consider 'racist'."
Sykes went on to say that the PPM "provides the first truly accurate system for measuring radio listening. Because it is passive, rather than requiring a diary to be manually maintained, opportunities for cheating have virtually been eliminated.
"That means stations with small but particularly loyal followings, such as hip-hop outlets, no longer wrongly benefit from distorted record-keeping meant to reward certain FM personalities. In many cases, other formats (especially conservative talk radio) are now experiencing a more accurate reflection of their listenership, leading to improved results.
"In addition, the Reverend Al Sharpton's liberal talk show has apparently been hurt by PPM's implementation."
For the record we cannot see that the FCC has made a strong case for it to investigate of the PPM - rather it has reacted to political pressure and propaganda from stations that have found its introduction hurt their businesses. At the same time the PPM is clearly not perfect as considerable testing of it compared to other devices carried out by UK rating organisation RAJAR showed and there seem to have been some justifiable criticisms of the results in terms of the panels wearing the device. The description "Chavez-style crackdown" is fairly mild compared to comments on various topics made by other US talk hosts but the term "fair and accurate", which was a requirement of court reporting in the UK, does not apply to it.
On then to performance royalties, a topic on which US broadcasters, for the benefit of their business, have been mounting a strong lobbying campaign. The National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) for example has adopted a tactic of taking up not the principle behind the charge but concentrating on various abuse of the proposal and the "mainly foreign-owned" recording companies whilst Radio One Inc. has campaigned on its stations again not in terms of principle but in terms of the effect it perceives that the introduction would have on stations (See RNW May 13 for both) and called for lobbying of Michigan Democrat Representative John Conyers who heads the Judiciary Committee, that has sent the matter to the full house.
Conyers posted a statement on his web site that in our view was rather more clear and fair concerning the matter: He noted an amendment he offered to insure that "the needs of small, minority, religious, and non-music broadcasters are taken into account as he and other Members of Congress continue to work on the legislation" and said of his views: "On one hand, I believe that the time is finally ripe for establishing some form of equity for recording artists - allowing them to be paid fair compensation for their creativity.
On the other hand, I am concerned about the economic impact this bill may have on broadcasters, particularly smaller broadcasters. I know times are tough, and it is not the intention or goal of this legislation to drive broadcasters into bankruptcy or to bring about a widespread consolidation of the industry."
The amendment offered included delays to the date for implementing the legislation, "reducing the royalty payments due, and insuring that the needs of small, minority, religious, and non-music broadcasters are taken into account."
After various other comments, he concluded, "I understand this is an important an emotional issue for many. Creative rights go to the core of our cultural and intellectual health as a society. Broadcasters are a vital cog in our local communities and our political debates.
"I believe we can encourage creativity, while at the same time protecting the economic viability of local broadcasters, and I believe today's mark-up represents a good first step towards protecting both."
How far Conyers' comments prove accurate cannot currently be estimated but the view seems to be expressed rather more honestly than anything NAB has come up with on this issue.
It also seems rather fairer than almost any release from Clear Channel: This week we opt for comments by Jerry Del Colliano in his insidemusicmedia blog under the heading "Clear Channel's New Game Plan."
Last month Clear Channel posted release concerning an initiative offering "Unparalleled Support for Local Communities" (See RNW Apr 15) and Del Colliano took up the promises made and performance delivered following this and other Clear Channel initiatives.
He began "The original say one thing and do exactly the opposite is being implemented with a passion at Clear Channel.
"Publicly, President John Slogan Hogan (Clear Channel Radio President and CEO) is saying the company is all about local radio while he spearheads its replacement with nationally syndicated Repeater Radio.
"Publicly, Hogan says local management gets to opt in to Repeater Radio ("Premium Choice") but there is no evidence these decisions are being made locally.
"Publicly, Clear Channel has made a holy war out of promoting its "Less Is More" concept of fewer commercials, more music and better rates while secretly mandating its FM stations carry up to a whopping 22 commercials an hour in two -- count them -- two commercial breaks.
"Hogan's Hypocrites are now some mid-level managers who are fighting to keep their jobs even as they lose their credibility and honour."
He then goes on to list "an inside look at what Clear Channel is really doing -- forget the posturing" - for which follow the link.
To end with however back to more positive comment - from the UK of course. The first came from Chris Campling in the London Times commending Brixton Prison Radio and saying it deserved to win a Sony Award (It in fact won four - see RNW May 12).
"Sadly," however, as Campling wrote, "the only way to appreciate the quality of the programming is to get yourself banged up in Brixton" before continuing, "But it's impossible to be unimpressed by the dedication of those involved - 24-hour broadcasting chews up ideas and manpower, and while there may be a million stories in the naked city, how many are 800 prisoners able to tell, or prepared to? "
His Sunday Times colleague Paul Donovan also wrote on the Sony Awards, in his case referring to seeing BBC Radio 3 "collect its (first and long overdue) award for UK Station of the Year."
He went on to note some of the highlights of the station including the 1954 broadcast by the then Third Programme of Under Milk Wood narrated by Richard Burton (Still available as a CD), relating this to responses he received to a his "Can't Switch Off Syndrome competition" posted a month earlier.
The response, by one Thomas Webster, won the first price and included recollections dating to 1963 when "he was one of 'a raucous group of science students' returning to London one Sunday morning. 'The van was approaching the start of the M1 when we agreed that there were no pubs on the motorway and we needed some good English beer before we could complete the journey. (This was pre-breathalyser) We turned the van around and switched on the radio to hear a warm, rich Welsh voice recounting the history of a small village. We arrived in a pub car park, but nobody got out. We sat mesmerised by the beauty of the voice and the words. We listened in silence until the end. Even then, it was some time before the first of us left the van, only to discover that the pub had already closed."
Indeed and given the choice of this or a lifetime of Limbaugh we wouldn't hesitate for a second in buying British.
On then to listening suggestions (posted in advance of the report): We start with BBC Radio 4 and a number of series running through all or part of the week - noting that "Book at Bedtime" - "Brooklyn" by Colm Toibin concludes a two week run this week; that the "Woman's Hour Drama" sees the start of another ten-part series - "Falco: Poseidon's Gold", a dramatisation by Mary Cutler of Lindsey Davis's novel about the Roman detective Falco; and that the new "Book of the Week" is "The Blue Hour", taken from Lillian Pizzichini's biographer of author Jean Rhys.
Also running through the week on the station in the 14:45 GMT slot is the second "Musical Migrants" series and from Tuesday through Thursday "The Afternoon Reading" slot under the theme "Lost and Found" includes a previously-unpublished tale about the funeral industry by Mark Twain and "Providence and the Butler", PG Wodehouse's story with an eccentric earl, a young man, a chorus girl and a butler.
Sticking with programming that runs throughout the week we next opt for BBC Radio 3 and "Composer of the Week" - Sibelius; "The Lunchtime Concert" and "Afternoon on 3" from Monday to Thursday featuring performances from Perth Concert Hall and Louise Fryer exploring tone poems respectively; The "Essay"(Monday to Friday) on the theme "Under the Influence" has five authors talking about influences of poets on their work; and "Performance on 3" includes Handel's oratorio Athalia (Monday) and Purcell's semi-opera King Arthur performed by Le Concert Spirituel (Wednesday).
Then to individual programming starting with BBC Radio 2 and Monday for the third and final part "Liberace: Mr Showmanship"; Tuesday and the start of a new four-part series "Harlem Timeline" plus the third of the eight-part "You Heard It at the Movies"; Thursday for the second part of the four-part "The Wilson-Dixon Line" and "On the Blog"; Friday for the first of a four-part "Bonjour Mr Aznavour" presented by Petula Clark and "Listen to the Band" - from the European Brass Band Championships"; and Saturday for the first of a two-part "Island Life" on the story of Island Records.
Then back to BBC Radio 3 for last Saturday's "Music Matters" - "Glyndebourne at 75" and "Between the Ears" - "Empty Ocean" in which islanders on Fair Isle lament the loss of fishing and including music performed by local musicians (Next Saturday's programme "Vapourtrain" is on travel by steam train); last Sunday's "Words and Music" on the theme of Carnival; Monday's "Night Waves" in which Isabel Hilton looked at the cultural history of knots and "Jazz on 3" for highlights of the 2009 Freedom of the City festival; then Saturday for more jazz in "Jazz Library" featuring bassist Henry Grimes and also "World Routes" - the first of two programmes with highlights from the Darbar South Asian Music Festival 2009, and "Opera on 3" - Korngold's Die Tote Stadt from The Royal Opera House; and more "Jazz Library" as we move into Sunday with the first of two programmes on Sonny Rollins; and finally Sunday with more Sibelius in "Discovering Music" plus "Drama on 3" - "Scandinavian Dreams" on feminist writer and radical pamphleteer Mary Wollstonecraft's journey to the wilds of Scandinavia to recover her husband's lost treasure ship.
Moving to BBC Radio 4 but sticking with Wollstonecraft for a moment we note Wednesday's second of the three-part "Letters to Mary" in which three writers send her an informal letter; This week the letter came from Richard Reeves, Director of the independent think-tank Demos and commented on how far her dreams of Republicanism had advanced in the UK in the 250 years since her birth - next week's letter if from writer and feminist Natasha Walter, who looks at Wollstonecraft's "A Vindication of the Rights of Women."
Then back to last Friday for "The News Quiz" - until Friday this week anyway ( A download or stream) and to Sunday for the second and last part of the "Classic Serial" - "The Siege of Krishnapur."
Then from Monday we suggest more downloads with "Start the Week" - "Spirits, Kindness & Cruelty" , "Crossing Continents" - "Malaysia: Racial Supremacy No More?" on Malaysia's policy of preferences to ethnic Malays - and also from the World Service documentary archive "Freedom from Slavery in Mauritania". Also from Radio 4 on Monday we suggest "Foes Reunited" for a report on how social networking sites are being used by youths to spread sectarianism in Northern Ireland and "Costing the Earth" - "Whose Amazon Is It Anyway?" on the arguments about protection of the Amazon rainforest.
From Tuesday we suggest the latest "What's the point of..." about Formula 1 racing and "Nature-Alien Attitudes" about the benefits and problems of introducing non-native species into a new environment; "Great Lives" - about the late Fred Astaire, chosen by Dr Michael O'Donnell and including comment from his daughter, the last in the current "Heresy Series"- as much as anything for the comments from Clive James; and "World Heritage: Curse or Blessing?" in which Emily Maitlis asks if the UN's heritage policeare a force for good or ill.
From Wednesday we suggest "Midweek" for comments by Colm O'Gorman, Ireland's executive director of Amnesty International and founder of the charity "One in Four" that helps victims of abuse - timely in view of the report issued that day detailing abuse perpetrated on children in Ireland by institutions of the Catholic Church,"The Media Show" (also a download) for comment on a new French law that would see persistent pirate downloaders barred from the internet and also for discussion on the state of children's radio as the BBC this weekend drops "Go4it", the sole remaining children's programme on analogue radio, and "Unreliable Evidence" - a discussion about protests and the law..
From Thursday we suggest "In our Time" on the history of the Whale ( A download or stream), "Happy Birthday Tommy Walker" in which Nick Maes revisits and celebrates The Who's influential rock-opera Tommy, 40 years on and the fourth of the current six-part "Down the Line" spoof series.
From Friday we opt for the latest editions of "More or Less", always a good look at the use or abuse of statistics plus "The News Quiz" and from Saturday "R.E.S.P.E.C.T - The Art of Backing Vocals" plus the"Saturday Play" - "Call for the Dead" based on John Le Carré's first novel and "Archive on 4" - "The Many Lives of Roald Dahl" in which Sophie Dahl looks at the life of her grandfather.
Previous Del Colliano:
Conyers re Performance Royalties:
New York Daily News - re WBAI:
UK Sunday Times - Donovan:
UK Telegraph - Reynolds:
UK Times _- Campling:
WTMJ-FM - Sykes:
2009-05-20: Cox Enterprises has announced that by the closing of its Tuesday deadline for the USD 4.80 a share tender offer from its Cox Media Group subsidiary to acquire all the Class A common Cox Radio shares it does not already own it had acquired or been offered shares amounting to 91.4% of the total of 79,489,544 Cox Radio shares outstanding.
It will now take the Cox Radio private and President and CEO Jimmy W. Hayes commented in a statement, "We are pleased that Cox Radio shareholders supported this transaction and, in so doing, took advantage of an excellent opportunity to obtain liquidity at a 45% premium over the closing price the trading day prior to commencement of the offer. We believe that private ownership offers advantages that will assist Cox Radio in attaining its business objectives and managing its capital structure as well as ensuring that Cox Radio maintains its best-in-class operations."
Cox Enterprises says it will implement a short-form merger under Delaware law in which Cox Radio will become a wholly-owned subsidiary of Cox Enterprises and all remaining public shareholders, other than those as to which appraisal rights are perfected, will have the right to receive USD 4.80 per share for their shares.
Cox Enterprises said that a total of approximately 10,327,500 shares of Cox Radio Class A common stock were tendered, including some 917,500 shares subject to guaranteed deliveries and approximately 327,000 shares tendered by affiliates, representing 59.4% of Cox Radio's publicly held Class A shares.
It added that together with the 78% of equity interest it already owned it will own around 72,652,000 shares as a result of the bid.
2009-05-20: UK media regulator Ofcom has announced a pay freeze and no bonuses for members of its Executive Committee this year: Announcing the move it said its Remunerations Committee had taken into account "the negative rate of inflation, the pressure on public finances and the economic circumstances of the many companies within the communications sector where similar action on pay has been taken" and added, "The Committee wanted to ensure that Ofcom reflected the circumstances of the companies and taxpayers who pay for the organisation and took full account of the widespread financial pressures they face."
Ofcom says the savings of around GBP 900,000 (USD 1.42 million) will be returned to taxpayers and the companies that pay its licensing fees: Last year it paid out more than GBP 100,000 (USD 158,000) in bonuses to its executive committee and for 2007-2008 its board received a total of just over GBP 1.4 million (USD 2.23 million) including bonuses of GBP 120,000 (USD 189,000) whilst its content board received GBP 577,000 (USD 910,000) in remuneration. In all Ofcom employs 853 staff.
The decision comes against a background of the UK row over expenses claimed by Members of Parliament and comments by David Cameron. the leader of the opposition Conservative Party. in which he called for the BBC licence fee to be frozen - it rose GBP 3 (USD 4.7) to GBP 142.50 (USD 224.9a year ) in April this year and is due for further rises linked to inflation under a six-year-deal - threatened to "name and shame" public sector workers who earn more than GBP 150,000 (USD 237,000 ) a year if he is elected Prime Minister: the Prime Minister's pay rate is GBP 187,000 (USD 295,000) a year whilst Ofcom chief executive Ed Richards, whose total package of just under GBP 418,000 (USD 659,000) was highlighted by Cameron, has a basic salary of GBP 282,000 (USD 445,000) on top of which pension payments amounted to just under GBP 80,000 (USD 125,000) last year.
The freeze of the BBC licence was debated in the UK House of Commons today and opposed by Culture secretary Andy Burnham who said the current settlement should not be torn up and added that the prospect of annual consideration of the fee would undermine the Corporation and "take away its creativity and stability", adding that the BBC should be funded adequately but "never over-funded".
His Conservative Shadow Jeremy Hunt said the BBC needed to maintain its bond with the licence payers and added "That means understanding that when times are tough, you don't just pocket the money allocated to you in happier times - you listen to people's concerns and you respond to the very changed economic circumstances of 2009." The Opposition motion was ultimately defeated by 334 votes to 156 -
BBC Trust chairman Sir Michael Lyons in a speech to the Royal Television Society on Tuesday night said the plan is "a recipe for curbing the BBC's editorial independence" and also , in reference to suggestions that leftover digital switchover money could be diverted to funding public service broadcasting by commercial players commented, "As you know, we have agreed to discuss with the Government the potential to use any digital switchover surplus to fund universal broadband rollout and take-up. We've agreed to do this because ensuring universal access is already one of our responsibilities.
"But agreeing to these discussions does not mean we are signing a blank cheque, or agreeing to any more general use of the licence fee to pay for things that don't fall within the BBC's public purposes as set out in the Charter.
"The Trust is the guardian of the licence fee. Those are the words of the Charter - 'the guardian of the licence fee'. And that's not a duty we'll shirk.
"The licence fee should only be used to enable the BBC to deliver its public services taking licence fee payers' money and giving it to other causes and commercial players clearly isn't [compatible with that principle]. It's wrong in principle, it undermines the BBC's accountability to licence fee payers, and it risks compromising the BBC's independence."
2009-05-19: APN News and Media, which owns Radio Network, New Zealand and half of Australian Radio Network (ARN), has dropped its interim dividend this year - it paid 10.5 cents a share a year ago- and announced that it is issuing new shares in a move to raise up to AUD 99 million (USD 77 million) to reduce its debt.
The move is being made through an AUD 79 million (USD 61.5 million) 1-for-5 entitlement offer to institutions at AUD 1.00 a share, a 16 per cent discount to its last traded price of AUD 1.19 before it halted trading in its stock in advance of the announcement: It will dilute the holding of Independent News and Media, its largest shareholder with a 39.1% holding. In addition APN may raise an additional AUD 20 million (USD 15.6 million) from retail investors.
Irish-based Independent News and Media, which amongst other operations publishes the Irish Independent and the London Independent newspapers, has its own financial pressures and has just negotiated Euros 15 million (USD 20.5 million ) in working capital from its banks and a six-week extension on a Euros 200 million ( USD 273 million) bond repayment to allow it to continue talks on a financial restructuring: It plans to raise around Euros 150 million (USD 205 million) through asset sales and will not be taking up any additional APN equity.
APN chief executive Brendan Hopkins said the equity "coupled with the announced capital management initiatives, ensures that APN retains a high degree of financial and operational flexibility in these uncertain times and that APN is now well positioned in relation to the debt reduction program."
The Australian reports that APN said the proceeds of the underwritten institutional offer will reduce the group's pro forma net debt from AUD 911 million (USD 709 million ) as of December 31 to AUD 834 million (USD 649 million), reducing its net debt to EBITDA ratio to 2.6 times from 2.9 times.
APN net profit in 2008 was down 17% on a year earlier to AUD 140.1 million (USD 109 million) before exceptional items including an AUD 146.8 million (USD 114 million) impairment charge that took it from a 2007 net profit of AUD 167.4 million (USD 130 million) to a loss of AUD 24 million (From net profit of USD 130.2 million to a net loss of USD 18.7 million). Underlying revenues in 2008 were down 7% on 2007 at AUD 1.226 billion (USD 954 million) and Hopkins said at the time that the second half of 2008 had been "particularly challenging". Radio EBIT (Earnings before interest and taxes) in 2008 were down 9.1% year-on-year at AUD 235.2 million (USD 183 million).
The Australian report:
2009-05-19: CBS Radio CEO Dan Mason has told Marketwatch that its advertising sales are improving on the back of ratings gains in some markets, the growing popularity of its online streams, and a return of some advertisers who, having held back spending, are now realizing they have to gain attention.
Marketwatch notes that CBS Radio revenues in the first quarter were down 29% to USD 259.9 - in part because the absence of revenues from Westwood One that were in the figures a year earlier- and its operating income was down 62% and quotes Mason as saying of the current improvement that it is "seeing is that our [advertising] inventory is becoming very tight in New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco " whereas "About a year ago, there was a glut in the marketplace."
Mason also noted that some telecommunications companies new to radio have been advertising on his company's New York stations whilst studio entertainment advertising has bounced back in Los Angeles and in addition Blockbuster has just completed a "multi-million dollar deal" to air commercials on CBS Radio, a deal mason said is "huge for us."
Amongst markets where there have been ratings improvements are Detroit where WXYT-FM had ranked 16th or 17th in the market among adults 25-54 during most of 2007 as a "Free FM" outlet but after a switch to sports talk was top ranked in the demographic, and Los Angeles where another Free FM station KLSX-FM moved up from 20 to second rank 2 among adults 18-34 as hits Amp Radio after its format switch in February.
Mason commented of the latter that its cume had increased from around 600,000 to 2.4 million and added, "That's incredible in an era when allegedly no one listens to the radio. Where do 2.4 million people show up from, if they're not listening? And that number includes teens, because it's the No. 1 teen station in Los Angeles."
Mason also noted an increase in online listening, following deals with AOL and Yahoo, from around 125,000 to some 300,000 and said of online advertising, "I think as advertisers gradually understand the capabilities of online media, that inventory will tighten up, as well," Mason said. "There's a learning curve that advertisers have to go through to be able to use that medium effectively."
2009-05-19: The US National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) says it now has the support of 200 of the 435 House Members in its opposition to the introduction of performance royalties on terrestrial radio stations.
Yet again in its statement the NAB attacks the recording companies on the basis that three out of four of them are foreign owned and also on the aid the fee would provide to artists.
NAB Executive Vice President Dennis Wharton commented in a statement, "Lawmakers are growing increasingly sceptical over record label claims that this legislation is about 'helping artists'. And given the historic abuse of artists by the labels, who can blame them? The sad truth is that a performance tax will cripple an artist's number one promotional vehicle -- free radio airplay, and it will transfer hundreds of millions of dollars from America's hometown radio stations into the coffers of foreign-owned record labels."
2009-05-18: The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has launched a Notice of Inquiry seeking comment on the Arbitron Portable People Meter (PPM) ratings service following concerns raised with the agency, particularly by minority broadcasters, who say "its potential impact on audience ratings of stations that air programming targeted to minority audiences, and consequently, on the financial viability of those stations."
The Notice adds that the broadcasters "claim that the current PPM methodology undercounts and misrepresents the number and loyalty of minority radio listeners. They assert that, because audience ratings affect advertising revenues, undercounting minority audiences could negatively affect the ability of these stations to compete for advertising revenues and to continue to offer local service to minority audiences. They express concern that such undercounting could particularly affect the ratings of local, urban-formatted radio stations that broadcast programming of interest to African-American and Hispanic audiences."
Arbitron has said it welcomes the move that it says will give it an opportunity to "better educate all parties about our Portable People Meter service and its advantages over the diary-based system" and allow it to "further explain why a passive, electronic audience measurement service is a valuable tool that can help the radio broadcast industry compete with the emerging digital media in the 21st century."
Arbitron also notes that the move is not the same as a formal investigation, which had been requested by the PPM Coalition- which includes Spanish Broadcasting System, Univision, Entravision, ICBC, and NABOB - as it allows anyone to express their views.
Amongst the topics on which the FCC is seeking comment are the "Effect of PPMs on Diversity and Competition"; Use of Arbitron Data by the Commission; and the agency's remit to take action in this case. Specific issues include whether the PPM actually under-counts minority listening; the impact on minority stations; particular improvements that could be made in the PPM system; the effect of settlements in cases where Arbitron made changes as part of settlements with States Attorney-Generals in New York, New Jersey and Maryland; and the impact of Media Ratings Council (MRC) accreditation -the PPM has been accredited only in some of the markets in which it is used.
Statements on the move were issued by all the Commissioners with Democrats Michael J. Copps and Jonathan S. Adelstein supporting the NOI more firmly than Republican Robert M. McDowell, who implied doubts as to the agency's authority to conduct the inquiry..
Acting FCC chairman Copps in his statement says the inquiry has been launched to examine concerns raised and adds that the FCC has "an independent interest in ensuring the accuracy and reliability of PPM. First, we have a strong interest in promoting ownership diversity-both under our general public interest authority and the express directive of Section 257 of the Communications Act."
Taking up the issue of the FCC's powers to undertake an inquiry he adds, "We do not regulate Arbitron, but then we do not regulate banks either, and yet we should-indeed, we must-take into account the difficulties of access to capital if we are going to develop effective rules. Anything that affects media diversity and minority ownership-and the instant item does not draw any conclusions-affects our ability to do our job. Moreover, the Commission relies on Arbitron data to evaluate broadcast radio transactions, issue periodic industry trend reports, and conduct congressionally mandated reviews of our media ownership rules. Without confidence in the underlying data, those important functions could be undercut."
Copps says that the proceeding "is not about preserving the status quo or inhibiting technological progress. To the contrary, Arbitron should be commended for trying to improve its ratings methodology and for committing significant resources to that effort."
Adelstein notes that he had called for an inquiry last year as to whether the "Arbitron's deployment of its new audience measurement system, the portable people meter (PPM), was undermining the Commission's efforts to promote media diversity and expand ownership opportunities for businesses owned by people of colour" , notes various concerns raised and says he is "pleased that the Commission is prepared to conduct our own fact-finding and examination to determine whether PPM is 'sufficiently accurate and reliable to merit the Commission's own reliance on it in its rules, policies and procedures'."
McDowell in his comment says that the Notice "provides the Commission with a more formal opportunity to consider issues that have been raised about the reliability of the new 'portable people meter' (ratings)" and says he looks forward to "receiving comment from a broad array of interested parties on the questions raised in the Notice" and ends by raising the issue of the agency's authority in this areas by commenting, "I expect to pay particular attention to analyses of the Commission's authority to take any further action in this arena."
FCC Notice of Inquiry -184 kb 21 page PDF - or 152 KB Word document:
2009-05-18: Adelaide today became the third Australian capital city to launch DAB+ digital radio broadcasts - as with Melbourne (See RNW May 11) and Perth (See RNW May 4) whose launches preceded it only commercial stations were launched with the Australian Broadcasting Corporation and Special Broadcasting Service transmissions expected to launch services next month and July.
Stations involved were SAFM, FIVE AA, Nova 91.9, Triple M, Mix 102.3, Cruise 1323, Radar, Pink Radio, NovaNation and Koffee: The signal will reach more than 90% of the city's population. Brisbane commercial stations are to launch their digital transmissions next Monday with the Sydney launch due on May 30:
2009-05-17: Last week the most significant news in relation to the regulators came from comments made by acting FCC chairman Michael J. Copps in which he suggested that US broadcast licences should run for three years rather than eight and be subjected to examination rather than just nodded through: Needless to say the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) opposed the idea (See RNW May 16).
Elsewhere it was a matter of a fairly small number of radio-related postings - none from Australia: In Canada, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) was rather busier with postings including the following:
*Approval of application by CIAM Media & Radio Broadcasting Association ) to amend the broadcasting licence for its English-language Type B station CIAM-FM, Fort Vermillion, in order to change the frequency of its transmitter CIAM-FM-11 Vanderhoof, from 97.9 MHz to 98.5 MHz. The applicant said the change was needed because of unforeseen technical interference with a station in Prince George, British Columbia that was discovered during on-air testing.
*Approval of application of change of effective control of 2079966 Ontario Limited, licensee of CIYN-FM, Kincardine, and to add a 3,100 watts in Port Elgin, Ontario.
2079966 is owned by Brian Cooper (35.05% voting interest), Daniel McCarthy (35.05% voting interest) and The Haliburton Broadcasting Group Inc. (29.9% voting interest) and the proposed ownership transaction would be effected through the transfer of all the issued and outstanding shares of 2079966 to My Broadcasting Corporation, a corporation jointly controlled by Jon Pole and Andrew Dickson. In the course of this transaction, Blackburn Radio Inc., a corporation ultimately controlled by Richard Costley-White, would exercise its option to acquire 29.9% of the voting shares of My Broadcasting and it is expected that 2079966 would later be amalgamated with MBC.
The CRTC notes that in deciding on the application it has to consider the transaction value; the tangible benefits required on transfers of ownership; the sale of CIYN-FM during its first licence term; and the proposed addition of a Fort Elgin transmitter.
It says it has determined the transaction value as CAD 1,126,520 (USD 948,000) and tangible benefits would under its policies be at least 6% of this amount (CAD 67,591.20- USD 57,000) and noted that MBC requested an exemption because the station has achieved the level of operation proposed in the original licensing application. It did not approve any exemption or reductions.
Regarding the sale in the first licence term the CRTC adds that the applicant has said the current shareholders are unable to make the substantial financial investment needed to keep the stand-alone station in operation and the CRTC accepted that based on the losses made this would not constitute licence trafficking.
It denied the application for a transmitter at Port Elgin, noting that the licensee had been granted permission for transmitters in Goderich and Port Elgin but had not brought these into operation by the applicable deadline or request extensions to the deadline, thus rendering the permission granted null and void.
*Approval of application by Pineridge Broadcasting Inc. to amend the broadcasting licence for its new English-language commercial FM in Peterborough, Ontario (authorized in May last year), by relocating the transmitter, increasing the antenna height, and decreasing its power from 13,000 to 2,100 watts.
The licensee said the changes were requested to improve reliability of its service to its core market but would reduce the population within the station's 3mV/m contour from 123,354 to 111,808 people and within the station's 0.5mV/m contour from 285,253 to 254,822 people.
The CRTC also posted a consultation notice, with a deadline for interventions or comments of June 16 concerning an application by UCFV Campus and Community Radio Society to increase from 92 watts to 250 watts the power of its new English-language community-based campus FM radio station CIVL-FM at the University College of the Fraser Valley in Abbotsford. The applicant says the changes are required to allow it to move the station's antenna to its definitive site.
In Ireland, the Broadcasting Commission of Ireland (BCI) is involved in the release of radio ratings, which showed listening had increased (See RNW May 15): It also advertised community licences in West County Limerick; West Dublin; Dundalk town and environs; and Roscommon town and environs. The stations will be expected to provide a combination of speech and music programming of particular relevance to listeners in these specified geographic areas.
In the UK, Ofcom was also involved in advertising new community licences, in its case for stations in Greater London and other areas within the M25 motorway that encircles London: Regarding the advert Ofcom noted that it is already considering applications from outside the area, some of which might be suitable for use within the M25 and thus competing for an FM frequency with new applications although in some cases the same frequency could be used both inside and outside the M25 area. Applications have to be submitted by September 15 together with a non-refundable GBP 600 (USD 910) fee.
Ofcom also posted its latest Broadcast Bulletin in which it found that comments that had led to UTV firing John Gaunt had breached its rules (See RNW May 12); allowed Bauer Radio to add music to the output of its Liverpool talk station City Talk 105.9 (See RNW May 13) and also posted its first Enforcement Report.
In relation to broadcasters this report noted that during 2008 Ofcom had fined broadcasters a record amount of almost GBP 7.83 million (USD 11.9 million) and that it had "conducted raids and prosecuted 28 criminals for illegal use of the airwaves".
In relation to broadcasting enforcement action Ofcom said it had investigated 879 cases, found 214 breaches and imposed 29 statutory sanctions including the largest ever fine for radio content of GBP 1.11 million (Currently USD 1.67 million but at the time USD 2.21 million - on GCap Media in June last year in relation to its "Secret Sounds" competition - See RNW Jun 26, 2008).
Relating to "pirate" radio broadcasts Ofcom said that in 2008 it carried out 36 studio raids, secured 28 prosecutions and 14 formal cautions, removed 489 illegal transmitters and issued 74 written warnings to combat illegal broadcasting activities.
In the US, apart from the comments already noted about reducing the duration for which broadcast licences run, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has posted a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) and Order in relation to its fees for the 2009 fiscal year and another NPRM relating to policies to promote rural radio services amongst other things.
Acting chairman Michael J. Copps said of the fees that "it is hard to believe that we are still generally assessing fees based on the communications marketplace as it existed in 1994" and continued, "To be frank, we are not yet able to say what a modernized fee structure will look like. But I do intend to press the Commission for action on this before we issue next year's Notice of Proposed Rulemaking for FY 2010."
Comments regarding fees have to be submitted by June 4 with reply comments due by November 11 whilst comments regarding the promotion of rural radio services have to be submitted by July 13 with a November 8 deadline for reply comments.
In enforcement actions the agency has issued USD 8,000 forfeiture to College of the Holy Cross, licensee of WCHC-FM, Worcester, Massachusetts, for failure to properly maintain a public file. It had issued a Notice of Apparent Liability for Forfeiture (NAL) for USD 10,000 in July 2006 to which the licensee requested a reduction or cancellation on the basis that it voluntarily disclosed the violation; that the amount was excessive; that it would cause financial hardship and a history of compliance.
The FCC rejected the first three arguments, noting in relation to financial hardship that it had not been supplied with financial documentation that would allow it to assess ability to pay. It reduced the total by USD 2,000 to USD 8,000 on the basis of a history of compliance.
In Washington State it cancelled a USD 4,000 NAL it had issued to Valley Air, LLC, former licensee of KCSY-FM (formerly KVLR(FM)), Twisp, for failure to maintain the station's public inspection file and substituted an admonishment.
Valley had argued for cancellation on the basis of financial hardship and submitted Federal Income Tax returns to support its claim - it had lost USD 345,000 in the three years 2003, 2004, and 2005, a period during which its revenues totalled below USD 235,000. On this basis the penalty was cancelled and a forfeiture issued.
Previous Licence News:
BCI web site:
CRTC web site:
FCC web site:
Ofcom web site:
Ofcom Enforcement report ( 44-page, 265 kb PDF):
2009-05-16: The US National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) has responded with muted objection to suggestions made by Acting Federal Communications Commission (FCC) chairman Michael J. Copps that US broadcast licences should require renewal and scrutiny every three years.
Copps had said at the Free Press Summit in Washington D.C. that he would like to see the agency become serious about public interest obligations and a re-invigorated licensing process, commenting, "It is time to say goodbye to postcard renewal every eight years and hello to license renewals every three years with some public interest teeth."
NAB did not take up the public interest suggestion in its response: A statement from Executive Vice President Dennis Wharton said, "NAB would respectfully oppose attempts to shorten license renewal terms. Congress wisely reformed license renewal terms to allow broadcasters to better compete against our pay platform competitors. Reducing a broadcaster's term of license would actually harm localism by injecting greater uncertainty into a business model facing the worst advertising downturn in decades."
RNW comment: From the outside it seems that many broadcasters - or should it be the conglomerates that own them - have put return on investment issues so far to the forefront that public interest ones have been badly neglected, whatever the PR propaganda they issue may say.
We can see both that it would not do their stock any good at the moment were renewals to be for a short period and that to attack the idea of public interest factors might not be a good PR move.
2009-05-15: In more US first quarter results LBI Media has provided a relatively bright spot with radio revenues down only 11.4% on a year ago but Univision radio revenues were down 26.1%.
LBI reported net revenues down 17.4% to USD 21.8 million with TV down 23.9% to USD 9.7 million whilst radio wad down only 11.4% to USD 12.1 million.
It put the decline down mainly to decreased advertising as a result of the downturn in the US economy and the radio decline down primarily to its Los Angeles market.
Operating expenses in the quarter were hit by USD 51.5 million in impairment charges (USD 31.9 million for radio and USD 19.6 million for TV) - making the increase more than 2.5 times - and rose to USD 70 million: Excluding the impairment charge they were down 6.1 to USD 18.5 million.
Adjusted EBITDA was down 37% to USD 5.8 million with a net loss of USD 37.4 million compared to a net loss of USD 5.9 million a year ago.
Within the figures radio went from an operating profit of USD 4.7 million a year ago to a loss of USD 29.4 million and TV from income of USD 1.95 million to a loss of USD 18.7 million with radio adjusted EBITDA down from USD 5.98 million to USD 3.71 million and TV adjusted EBITDA down from USD 3.18 million to USD 2.06 million.
Executive Vice President and Secretary Lenard Liberman said of the performance: "During the first quarter, we experienced weak revenues across most of our stations as a result of the national recession. While our radio segment outperformed the industry, our TV segment experienced losses of business in line with those seen by our competitors. Our ratings remain strong and our programming continued to drive audience shares across our operations during the first quarter. We also took steps to begin to reduce our operating costs and we expect to demonstrate solid progress in cost management for the full year."
At Univision, overall net revenues were down 12% to USD 410.3 million but adjusted operating income before depreciation and amortization was up 3.5% to USD 153.8 million and its net loss was down from USD 166.2 million a year ago to USD 55.2 million.
CEO Joe Uva commented that Univision "continued to aggressively manage through the recessionary market conditions in the first quarter by diligently reducing costs across our business and maximizing efficiencies, while still investing in strategic opportunities that will be key to Univision's long-term success."
"Given the current environment, "he added, "we were pleased with our results and that we continued to outperform our English-language peers. We have already begun to see the impact of our success in signing multi-year retransmission agreements, which has created an entirely new built-in revenue stream for the Company."
"We are also pleased," he said, "with the feedback we have received from the upfront Partnership
Forums we held across the country over the last several weeks. Our message that the U.S. Hispanic community can be a growth market for advertisers in the current environment is resonating among both new and existing clients, and the fact that the Univision Network continued to see strong audience growth in the first quarter only further underscores our unique positioning."
Within the figures TV revenues were down 8.7% to USD 368.5 million with radio down 26.1% to USD 66.4 million and interactive revenues were down 5.1% to USD 7.5 million.
Adjusted TV OIBDA was up 14.6% to USD 145.1 million but that for radio more than halved from USD 22.5 million to USD 10.3 million and interactive OIBDA went from a loss of USD 500, 000 to a loss of USD 1.6 million.
Previous LBI Media:
2009-05-15: UTV has said in an interim statement that its revenues in the first four months of this year are down 9% on a year ago in trading that was in line with its expectations, adding that it achieved its budgeted operating profit.
Within the figures its British radio revenues were down 15%, based on continuing operations - it notes that its estimate is that the radio market as a whole was down 18% - and it says it expects revenues to be down 9% in May and June "in line with somewhat improved market conditions."
In contrast its Irish radio revenues were up 25% with the acquisition of FM104 accounting for 28% of this rise and sterling translation exchange gains for a further 14%: Like for like revenues it adds were down 17% and it expects this trend to continue in May and June.
TV was down more- by 19% in line with the UK TV market and it says expects revenues to be down by 20% at the end of the first six months whilst New Media, aided by its acquisition of Tibus in February last year, an acquisition that accounted for 7% or revenues, was up 2%.
UTV notes that it is continuing to focus on cost reductions and is currently ahead of budgeted savings
2009-05-15: Irish radio listening is increasing according to the latest JNLR/TNSmrbi survey covering April 2008-March 2009 that shows 86% of the Irish population listen to radio daily, a figure up from 85% in the previous January-December 2008 survey and up from 84% a year earlier.
Listenership to any regional/local radio was stable at 55% compared to the previous survey but up from 52% a year a year earlier and national station reach was generally stable although RTÉ Radio 1 increased its weekday reach by a point to 25% - up from 23% a year earlier and Today FM lost a point from the previous survey and a year earlier to 15%. The remaining national services maintained their listened yesterday figures, with RTÉ 2FM at 16%- 17% a year earlier; Newstalk at 7% - 6% a year earlier; and RTÉ Lyric FM at 4%- 3% a year earlier.
In overall market share for weekdays 07:00 to 19:00 there was a decrease from 49.6% to 49.1% for any regional/local station (47.9% % a year earlier); within the national weekday share figures compared to the previous ratings, RTÉ Radio 1 was up 0.8 to 22.7% (21.4% a year ago); RTÉ Lyric FM was unchanged at 1.7% (1.5% a year earlier) whilst RTÉ 2FM was down 0.2 to 11.6% (12.6% a year earlier); Today FM share was down 0.3 to 10.6 % (12.1% a year earlier); and Newstalk was up 0.1 to 3.6% (3.7% a year earlier).
Of the regional stations Beat 102-103FM had a weekday reach figure of 20% unchanged from the previous survey (and up from 12.1% a year ago) with its share from 11.4% to 12.3% (11.6% a year ago); regional youth service Spin South West was up from 16% to 17% (14% a year ago) with its share up from 8.8% to 9.2% (8.2% a year ago) whilst newcomer North-West regional service i102-104FM was up from 11.0% to 13% - its share was also up -from 5.9% to 7.3%
Amongst local stations, excluding Dublin and Cork, the top five stations (weekday reach compared to the previous ratings) were Highland Radio down 1% to 65%; Limerick's Live 95FM with 56%, up from 55%; Shannonside Northern Sound with 54%- up 4%; Tipp FM with 50% - up 2%; and WLR FM with an unchanged 49%.
In weekday share terms the top five were Highland Radio with 62.4% (Up 2. 1); Tipp FM with 52.3 (up 3.3); Mid West Radio with 52.1% (Down 4.1); Shannonside/Northern Sound with 50.5% down 0.8); and Radio Kerry with 48.6% (Up 2.1).
In Dublin the leaders in terms of weekly reach were RTÉ Radio 1 with 37% (Up 1); FM 104 with 29% (down 1); Dublin's 98 (former 98FM) with 23% (unchanged); Spin 1038 with 20%; Newstalk with 19%. (Up 1); and RTÉ 2FM with 18% (down 1);
In Cork the leaders in weekly reach were Cork 96FM/County Sound 103FM with 68% (down 1); Cork's 96FM with 54% (unchanged); RTÉ Radio 1 with 37% (up 2); Cork's Red FM with 34% (Up 1); Today FM with 32% (Up 1); and C103 with 28% (unchanged).
Previous Irish Ratings:
2009-05-14: Emmis Communications in its fourth quarter (to the end of February) and full year 2008 results has recorded revenue falls of 20% to USD 68.5 million and of 7% to USD 333.9 million (within which International revenues rose 16.6% to USD 48 million whilst domestic revenues fell 9.8% to USD 285.9 million) although Chairman and CEO Jeff Smulyan commented that they saw "signs that the operating environment is slowly improving."
He added, " These improvements coupled with recent actions to LMA KMVN-FM in Los Angeles and repurchase and retire USD 78.5 million of our bank debt for USD 44.7 million position Emmis well for the inevitable rebound in our radio and publishing operations."
Pro-forma revenues for the periods were down 8% and 20% respectively to the same totals.
Within the figures radio reported and pro-forma revenues in the fourth quarter were each down 18% to USD 51.1 million and publishing reported and pro-forma revenues were down 26% to USD 17.4 million.
Overall Emmis's net operating loss in the final quarter jumped to USD 166.7 million largely because of a USD 163.2 million impairment charge- Emmis did not post year-ago totals but said the per share loss was up from 52 cents to USD 4.39 and that station operating income in the quarter was down from USD 18.8 million a year earlier to USD 7.5 million. Pro-forma international radio revenues for the quarter were down 8% on a year ago to USD 12.5 million but expenses rose by 8% to USD 9 million.
For the full year a 2008 net loss of USD 1.35 million became a loss of USD 275 million with the net loss available to common shareholders rising from USD 10.3 million to USD 283.9 million (Up from 28 cents per share to USD 7.81 per share).
In relation to costs Emmis noted that during the quarter it exercised its early purchase option on its leased corporate jet - paying USD 10.2 million in cash and subsequently sold the jet for USD 9.1 million in cash.
It also noted that between April 14 and May 1 this year it purchased USD 78.5 million in face amount of its debt for USD 44.7 million in cash in a series of Dutch auctions: The action followed a March change to its bank credit agreement that allowed it to repurchase some of its bank debt at current market prices and to exclude up to USD10 million of severance and contract termination expenses from consolidated operating cash flow (as defined in the credit agreement). The amendment also reduced the amount of the revolving line of credit available to Emmis from USD 145 million to USD 75 million and restricted Emmis' ability to perform certain activities
Also in March it fired around 100 employees and cut the salary of non-contract employees by 5%, asking contract employees to voluntarily accept a cut of the same amount as executives had done, Severance payments related to this totalled USD 7.6 million.
In its 10K filing to the Securities and Exchange Commission Emmis said of the economic climate that its "revenues continue to be impacted by economic trends that have caused a general downturn in the advertising sector. The capital and credit markets have been experiencing unprecedented volatility and disruption. The markets have produced downward pressure on stock prices and credit capacity for many companies, including us."
2009-05-14: UKRD has won the battle for The Local Radio Company and now controls 50.09% of the votes either through the shares it already owns - 14,734,456 Local Radio Shares, representing approximately 20.46% of the existing issued share capital of Local Radio - and acceptances of its bid, which has taken its holding up to 36,071,558 Local Radio Shares.
Its bid has been declared unconditional and will remain open for acceptance until further notice.
UKRD had revised its offer upwards on May 11 to four pence a share, having previously offered two pence and then 3.25 pence, offers topped by counter offers from Hallwood Financial, which is headed by The Local Radio Company's chairman Anthony Gumbiner, of 2.5 pence and 3.50 pence respectively (See RNW Apr 30).
Following the latest UKRD improvement, Hallwood had increased its offer to five pence after the markets closed, valuing The Local Radio Company at GBP 3.6 million (USD 5.52 million) compared to the UKRD bid value of GBP 2.88 million (USD4.42 million): Hallwood will retain the 28% of the company it owns - UKRD needs 75% of the shares to delist the company as it had planned.
Previous Local Radio Company:
2009-05-14: Mexican radio company Grupo Radio Centro which last month made a move into the US through a deal to programme KMVN-FM through a Local Marketing Agreement with Emmis Communications (See RNW APR 3) has announced that certain members of the Aguirre family, who beneficially own 51.6% of the Company, have agreed to purchase a 49% equity stake in its wholly-owned subsidiary Grupo Radio Centro LA, LLC (GRC-LA.
GRC-LA was formed to provide programming to KMVN-FM and Grupo Radio Centro will retain the remaining 51%: It says the Aguirre family members involved in the purchase will be responsible for 49% of the cost of the Company's investment in GRC-LA.
Previous Grupo Radio:
2009-05-13: Usually Rush Limbaugh gets the lion's share of publicity about US talk radio but this week Michael Savage topped him - and Jay Severin, who was suspended earlier this month for remarks he made about immigrants and Mexicans (See RNW May 2)- by far.
At issue was Savage's presence on a list of "undesirables" whom British Home Secretary Jacqui Smith has banned from the UK: Others on the list included Hamas MP Yunis Al-Astal, Jewish extremist Mike Guzovsky, former Ku Klux Klan grand wizard Stephen Donald Black and neo-Nazi Erich Gliebe.
Smith is threatening to sue (He is American after all) and various UK papers in the anti-government camp pushed this line whilst in the US freedom of speech comments predominated.
First Savage's site - like most US talk hosts he seems to have an elevated idea of his importance as amongst the many references to the issue is one entitled (His capaitals) "SAVAGE BECOMES A CAMPAIGN ISSUE IN BRITAIN THE SCANDAL OVER MY BEING BANNED IN BRITAIN SEEMS TO HAVE TIPPED THE POLITICAL SCALES IN FAVOR OF THE CONSERVATIVE PARTY THERE..."
To which our response is: "Really!" Nearly all the controversy at the moment is the issue of MPs expense fiddles as many people see them or downright theft, as others would have it. The government is probably heading for a massive defeat and we the effect of Savage is at most a factor so marginal as to be un-measurable.
Another item read "Savage appeals to Hillary to have Brits remove his name from 'unwanted list' ...On behalf of Michael Savage, the Thomas More Law Center respectfully demands that you call upon the government of the United Kingdom..." and a third "SEND COPY OF PSYCHOLOGICAL NUDITY
TO THE WOMAN WHO BANNED SAVAGE FROM THE UNITED KINGDOM. Jacqui Smith - Home Office,
Direct Communications Unit, 2 Marsham Street, London SW1P 4DF."
Most pleasing description of Savage came from Canada where Dr. Charles McVety in The Jewish Tribune termed him a "prominent Jewish radio talk show host" but then put him in the place Savage often puts others by virtually ignoring him I a report that became more of a polemic against a United Nations anti-blasphemy resolution that amongst other things called for the "creation of laws in member states to prevent criticism of religions (Islam)".
RNW comment: For the record our view is that to shout offensive remarks in a place of worship is likely to lead to violence and can be handled by laws like the old British "conduct like to lead to a breach of the peace" and society would be healthier without any laws against criticism of religion or offending the religious. If their faith is so weak or their knowledge so inadequate that they cannot respond to attacks without resorting to bans they should be held up to extra derision.
On to some UK reports starting with the Times and comment from Giles Hattersley on the general issue of "why millions love to listen to the ranterati."
Hattersley start by putting Smith somewhat in her place: "Last week Jacqui Smith forgot the first rule of dealing with shock jocks: never take the bait. On Tuesday the home secretary unveiled 16 names from a list of 22 undesirables the government has recently banned from entering the UK: Ku Klux Klan members, Russian skinheads, religious extremists . . . and Michael Savage, a 67-year-old American radio presenter with a dog called Teddy who can bark the tune of Jingle Bells.
He continued, "Now, Savage (born Michael Alan Weiner) isn't some lonely nutcase with a ham radio ranting about Hitler, but America's third most popular chat show host with 8.5m weekly listeners. Think of an American Nicky Campbell - with a gun, a temper and some highly contentious views on immigration."
Hattersley then gave some examples of comments made on Savage's show "Savage Nation" which in our view do support the idea that he should be held up to derision in as many places as possible (along with his supporters) rather than being barred from any of them: "The illness du jour is autism," Savage fumed. "You know what autism is? In 99% of the cases, it's a brat who hasn't been told to cut the act out. They don't have a father around to tell them, 'Don't act like a moron. You'll get nowhere in life. Stop acting like a putz. Straighten up. Act like a man. Don't sit there crying and screaming, you idiot'."
And on Muslims "I said, 'So kill 100m of them, then there would be 900m of them.' What is it gonna take for you people to wake up? Would you rather we disappear or we die? Or would you rather they disappear and they die? Because you're gonna have to make that choice sooner rather than later " or that victims of the 2004 tsunami deserved it for harbouring terrorists, that children's minds are "being raped by the homosexual mafia" and that a caller who mocked his teeth "should only get Aids and die, you pig".
Clearly a man who should publicly be offered treatment but did they amount to what Smith termed "someone who has fallen into the category of fomenting hatred, of such extreme views and expressing them in such a way that it is actually likely to cause inter-community tension or even violence if that person were allowed into the country"?
Savage's response was, well fairly Savage (with both an upper and lower case "S"): Hattersley comments, "In full spit-fleck mode, Savage took to the airwaves later that day to call the home secretary a "witch" and a "lunatic", adding if she didn't remove him from the list he would sue for defamation. Since he hasn't committed any crime, he might have a case."
He also makes a reasonable "Let-sleeping-dogs (or radio hosts) lie" note that Savage wasn't planning to come to Britain and retails some of the comments from other "conservatives" (we don't really think this is the appropriate description of some of those involved) in the US such as John Ziegler, who is a stand-in for Savage: "This isn't amusing, it's downright scary. He's not on some sort of watch-list; he's actually banned from entering the country because of what he believes. He's never broken any laws, never incited violence. His opinions are really not that far outside the mainstream They are pretty damn close to what our founding fathers in this country believed." (We would have thought killing a hundred million or so Moslems -presumably because of their religion - might fall foul of the founders!).
And one practical result of Smith's action. Apparently Holocaust-denying white supremacist Hal Turner - who was the subject of an unpublicised Home Office order banning him from the UK two years ago - claimed to have flown to the UK and broadcast his internet radio show from London.
Hattersley says Turner says he didn't go through customs - "Knowing the right way to present yourself gets you through, say as a flight crew."
Turner may of course be a liar but Smith did get some support including that from fairly right-wing UK talk host Nick Ferrari who commented, "I despise Savage's views on autism and so on this occasion - which is very rare for me - I agree with Smith that it's probably best he doesn't come in." Ferrari added of the free speech issue, "With the right of free speech comes the responsibility of what you say What Savage says about autistic children is just bloody disgraceful and he does it purely for its shock value. The only way, I believe, to do that sort of radio is if you have an intellectual argument to back it up. I don't think he has any intellectual capability."
Hattersley also quotes Rory O'Connor, the author of "Shock Jocks: Hate Speech and Talk Radio" as saying of the kind of comments Savage makes, "Clearly, the majority of Americans do not support this kind of hate-filled speech but there is a sizeable minority that does and the audience is not at all monolithic. A lot of people listen because they literally can't believe what they're hearing. It's the aural equivalent of a car wreck on the highway."
O'Connor did not support the ban, commenting, "The antidote for hate speech is more speech though it's a mistake to see the shock jocks just as outsiders being outrageous. They have power. Savage and the others were even able to defeat immigration reform in the United States two years ago."
In the UK Independent Guy Adams under the heading "Michael Savage: Mr Angry" says Savage is "not your average radio rabble-rouser", describes the way he reacted on his show to the ban and lists some of the epithets Savage used about the Home Secretary - a "lunatic", "witch", "monster", "Bolshevik", and "lowlife", as well as a "tin-pot dictator" and "beer-swilling mutt".
Savage also reacted says Smith by "calling on listeners to cancel their summer holidays in the UK and boycott goods such as 'Jaguar' and the 'pint'" but he also noted another facet of Michael Alan Weiner, the name Savage was given by his parents - "When he gets off his political high horse, Savage can also be very funny: on Thursday, he interrupted his criticisms of Jacqui Smith to launch into a hilarious diatribe against middle-aged drivers of convertible cars. It offered a glimpse of the comic talent that once led him to believe that he could become the next Lenny Bruce."
In Savage's home town the San Francisco Chronicle in a report by Joe Garofoli and Carla Marinucci noted support of Savage - albeit presumably not of many of his views - from "some of his opponents, including civil libertarians " and also the Council for American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) whose spokesman Ibrahim Hooper commented, " as a matter of principle, we don't support such bans. They tend to be selective, in that only popular speech is allowed and unpopular speech is not allowed Usually, these types of things (the ban) just give people like this publicity. I don't think Savage will be too upset. It will give him something to talk about on his show for the next six months."
The article also noted actions the US itself has taken on occasion to ban people and a letter from more than 70 organizations, including the ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union) asking Attorney General Eric Holder, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano to end "ideological exclusion," described as "refusing visas to foreign scholars, writers, artists and activists not on the basis of their actions but on the basis of their ideas, political views and associations."
That letter cited amongst those who had been banned Adam Habib, a South African professor and human rights activist, Rafael de Jesus Gallego Romero, a Colombian priest who is a critic of his government, and Tariq Ramadan, a Swiss national who is a professor at the University of Oxford and described as a leading Islamic thinker.
The paper appears not to have pushed this issue with Savage - it quotes him as saying he was shocked to learn he was on the list and said he was preparing legal action, commenting, "This lunatic is linking me up with Nazi skinheads who are killing people in Russia, she's putting me in a league with Hamas murderers who kill Jews on buses," he said. "My views may be inflammatory, but they're not violent in any way.
To end we suggest another UK Times comment - this time from Melanie Reid whose heading put things into context: "Why on earth are we banning a mouthy DJ? The people on this exclusion list are as much of a threat as athlete's foot."
Reid suggests there were two reasons for the ban - a diversion from other matters and a matter of politically correct balance- "while pandering to our base instincts about foreigners, the list had to be racially balanced. So along with the Safwat Hijazis and Nasr Javeds, the Western world was scoured for a tired old shock jock, a Nazi or two and a couple of Russian thugs. They may be as dangerous as toothless lions, but by God they're white."
On thento listening suggestions and we start with BBC Radio 2 and from Monday, the second part of the "Liberace: Mr Showmanship!" series; from Tuesday the second of eight "You Heard It At The Movies" programmes looking at some of the most successful screen composers - and also "Not Letting It Be" in which Matt Lucas looked at the tradition of music business satire; from Thursday comedy with "Words of Wisdom" in which award-winning comedian Jesse Griffin performs as outlaw country singer Wilson Dixon and "On the Blog" - this episode was "Into the Valley of Debt"; from Friday the final part of the three-part "70 Years of Cool" on Blue Note Records; and from Saturday for those who like such things note that the 54th Eurovision Song Contest takes place in the Olympic Stadium in Moscow - this year Radio 2's host is Ken Bruce.
Then to BBC Radio 3 and first to note that last week end was devoted to Mendelssohn: This week we opt for "Afternoon on 3" - "Looking East" with music inspired by Asia and poetry then from day-to-day for Monday's "Jazz on 3" - The Profound Sound Trio at the Cheltenham Jazz Festival 2009; from Tuesday "Night Waves" with a report on a speech by the heir to the British throne Prince Charles - well known for his criticism of modern architecture - to the Royal Institute of British Architects; from Wednesday "Performance on 3" with coverage of the Royal Philharmonic Society Awards 2009 and "Night Waves" again, this time for an extended conversation with novelist AS Byatt; from Friday "The Verb" - in this edition Ian McMillan's guests include award-winning novelist Colm Toibin and poet CK Stead; from Saturday "Music Matters" - Tom Service visits Glyndebourne to look at the role of the opera house in the 21st century, "Jazz Library" in which clarinettist and saxophonist Bob Wilber looks back at his career, and "Opera on 3" from the Royal Opera House - a performance of Offenbach's Les contes d'Hoffman in which tenor Rolando Villazon is the drunken poet Hoffman, and another "Jazz Library", this time featuring jazz bassist Dave Holland; and finally from Sunday "Discovering Music" - on Brahms' Symphony No 2 plus "Drama on 3" - "Hum" - the insidious presence of noise in our lives and "Jazz Line-Up" featuring veteran guitarist Larry Coryell in concert from Germany.
Then to BBC Radio 4 and first last Saturday and the movies if only for the glorious title for a programme on the original "Italian Job"- released 40 years ago: The title? "When Real Women Wore Minis and Real Men Drove Them."
Also from Saturday we suggest "Unreliable Evidence" -" The Law and the Unborn" on the UK's new Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act.
From Sunday we suggest "Lights, Camera, Landmark" - the third of a five-part series and a programme on the use of Lacock, Wiltshire, in making period dramas, the first part of "The Classic Serial" - a two-programme adaptation of "The Siege of Krishnapur" by JG Farrell, and "The New Hindu Fundamentalists" in which Navdip Dhariwal investigates the rise of Hindu fundamentalism in Britain..
Moving to weekdays we suggest "Book of the Week" - "My Name is Daphne Fairfax", various "Bad Habits" in the 14:45 GMT slot, and "Book at Bedtime" - the first of ten-parts of "Brooklyn, An Unlooked-for Offer" running this week and next.
Then on to some podcasts/downloads - or rather back to begin with as the first suggestion is "The Interview" from last Friday - with Nandan Milekani, one of India's best-known software entrepreneurs and also from Friday "More or Less" - the statistics looked at this week included the numbers behind a study linking cancer and alcohol.
Then to Monday with another podcast in the form of "Start the Week" - for AS Byatt on children's stories and David Akisanya on foster care plus streams of the "Afternoon Play" , looking at the relationships involved when a daughter travels to Jamaica to find the father she was told abandoned her, " A Baby ASBO" in which Winifred Robinson follows misbehaving children and the work being done to help them, and another download or stream in "Crossing Continents" that this week looked at the housing crisis in Cuba - including tales of women who had to divorce and marry a property's owner to get on the ladder, and finally the latest edition of "Word of Mouth."
From Tuesday we suggest "Nature" - "Anuta - An Island Governed By Love" on the tiny Pacific Island of that name, "Great Lives" - this edition on "John Coltrane" who was chosen by musician Andy Sheppard, "Sacred Election: Lessons from the Biggest Democracy in the World" on India's general elections, the latest "What's the Point Of?" - this one on the UK's Privy Council, and "Case Notes" - this programme on treatments for breast problems (Apparently solid breasts are not good in terms of cancer but having children and breast feeding them is).
From Wednesday we suggest "The Media Show" (also a download/podcast)- for discussion of the current revelations being published by The Daily Telegraph about British Members of Parliament and their expenses, the latest "Unreliable Evidence" on assisted suicide, "Midweek" primarily for Allegra Huston, whose family life - she was not the daughter if film director John Huston but of British Lord John Julius Norwich is the subject of her book "Love Child" , and "Elvis By Bono" in which U2's singer Bono reads his own poem, Elvis (This is available on Listen Again although we were not sure in advance and the BBC web site does not make it clear in advance when programming is not.)
From Thursday we suggest another regular (Stream or download/podcast) with "In our Time" on the Ottoman siege of Vienna in 1683, "Open Country" on the Settle to Carlisle railway line, "The Landfill Designers" on why products and scientific advancements are deliberately given a short life, "In Business" (also a donnnload) - "Location, Location" - on devices building in geographical markers (such as GM's Onstar service) and BBC World Service's documanterarh "Assignment- Toxic Killer Waste" on the dumping in the Ivory Coast of toxic waste that made a hundred thousand people ill.
From Friday we suggest the next edition of "More or Less" - this time looking at statistics on domestic violence amongst other topics, plus "The News Quiz".
And from Saturday we suggest "A Wonderful Way to Make a Living" - a de-cluttering professional who claims to have sold feng shui books to Japanese, "Getting the Gongs" in which Steve Punt investigates the growing trend for industry awards ceremonies and "Archive on 4" - "A Laureate's Legacy - The Poetry Archive" in which Andrew Motion tells the story of the proudest legacy of his time as Poet Laureate.
Finally a few podcasts cum downloads from other stations starting with Radio Netherlands' "The State We're In" from last Saturday - including a report from the SWAT Valley in Pakistan - and this Saturday when reports include the ban on Moscow's gay pride march and also the right to divorce as it related to a gay Indian man, the Khul Islamic divorce re-introduced into Egypt in 2000 and Collaborative Divorce.
Also from Radio Netherlands we suggest Monday's "Curious Orange" - the last in a four programmes looking at the presence of the Dutch military in Afghanistan (the second and third programmes are currently still on the site).
Then from the Australian Broadcasting Corporation we suggest "All in the Mind" from last Saturday on "The silent disability: Acquired Brain Injury and the justice system" - a report that suggests that brain injuries are common amongst prisoners but little is done to deal with it; last Sunday's "Big Ideas" for P.J. O'Rourke inveighing against the idea of government intervention in the economy as ineffective or counter-productive in almost any circumstances; Monday's "Late Night Live" for a discussion concerning the case of the imprisoned then freed US-Iranian journalist Roxana Saberi ; Tuesday's "Book Show" for a report on the much-anticipated authorised biography of billionaire investor Warren Buffet and "By Design" for its discussion of the typeface Comic Sans: Wednesday's "Late Night Live" for its report on the British MPs' expenses row and the same show on Thursday for discussion with senior CIA analyst Steven Ward about his military history of Iran.
And to end with two editions of the station's "Ockham's Razor" in the form of talks - last Sunday and this Sunday by Professor Adam Graycar, Head of the School of Criminal Justice at Rutgers State University, on the effects of corruption in the world.
Jewish Tribune - McVety:
Michael Savage web site:
San Francisco Chronicle - Garofoli & Marinucci:
UK Independent - Adams:
UK Times- Hattersley:
UK Times - Reid:
2009-05-13: The US National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) has reacted promptly to a 21-9 vote by the House Judiciary Committee to send to a full vote the Performance Royalties Act that would introduce performance royalties for terrestrial US radio stations - satellite and online broadcasters and broadcasters in most of the world already pay such charges - yet again playing the chauvinistic card that three of the four major recording companies "reside outside the United States" and saying half the new fee would go directly into their "coffers."
The NAB statement noted that the result came "Despite pleas from local radio stations, listeners, and civil rights leaders "and Executive Vice President Dennis Wharton made the best of the vote to send the bill forward in a statement in which he concentrate on those who had opposed it, saying, "We were pleasantly surprised by the considerable bipartisan opposition to a performance tax, even in a committee where support for the record labels is strongest. NAB applauds these nine members for standing with America's hometown radio stations, their 235 million weekly listeners, and the yet-to-break artists who will lose their number one promotional platform if this bill is enacted."
He continued, "Nearly half the House of Representatives already opposes RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America) efforts to feather the nest of foreign record labels. Record label abuse of artists from Count Basie to Prince is well-documented, as evidenced by scores of lawsuits filed by musicians cheated out of royalties. Moving forward, the fundamental question is this: If the debate is about 'fairness to artists', why should the record labels get one penny from a performance tax on radio stations?"
The vote came after a three hour hearing in which three amendments were put forward but only one, which would restrict the amounts paid by small stations was passed.
Michigan Democrat Representative John Conyers who heads the Judiciary Committee said of the vote, "This is not a revolutionary concept. Everybody gets paid for their creativity and their work" and added that sponsors of the bill will seek consensus before it goes to the full House and were committed to "finding middle ground" on the issues involved.
Conyers is being put under pressure over his support for the move with one of the latest moves coming in an open letter from Radio One founder Cathy Hughes - links are posted on station web sites - to the "Radio One family" in which she reiterates points made by the NAB about the bill being "the brain child of the foreign owned record industry" and adds, "The music that you now receive free from us - we would have to pay millions of dollars for. And in the midst of this economic depression, black radio stations simply do not have that financial ability."
Hughes continues, "There has been only one hearing on the bill and that hearing did not have any black ownership representation. Black radio owners and community leaders including Rev. Jesse Jackson, Rev. Al Sharpton, Dick Gregory, Tom Joyner, and myself have all begged Conyers to at least allow us the opportunity for a hearing. He has flatly refused. We now ask you, our radio family, to assist us in saving the future of black radio. Please call or email or visit the offices of John Conyers today" and gives Conyers phone numbers and e-mail address.
It then says, "TELL HIM that you oppose this bill that would murder Black owned radio and the free music that you now hear on all free radio stations. In the midst of an American economic recession, it is not the right time to send millions of dollars to foreign owned record companies that don't even pay taxes like you and me in this country. This bill is not in the interest of Black people! Please help us save Black radio!"
Previous Radio One Inc.:
News One - Hughes letter:
2009-05-13: Bauer Radio has been given the go-ahead by UK media regulator Ofcom to broadcast music on its all-speech Liverpool station City Talk 105.9 subject to not simulcasting any programming with the company's Magic 1548, keeping speech content at half the programming or more during non-peak day times and committing itself to providing a Saturday afternoon sports programme and a late night phone-in programme five nights a week.
Bauer had wanted to mix soft-pop led and music in its programming during non-peak weekday daytime hours but retain speech at peak-time (weekday breakfast and drivetime, plus weekend late breakfast) and also to share programming with its "eclectic pop" Magic 1548 and Radio City stations outside of weekday daytime (See RNW Mar 3),: Ofcom put the matter to a public consulatation that ended at the end of March and led to 42 responses, 13 in favour- all from individuals - and 29 against including three local radio licensees.
The objections from other stations included one on the grounds that the new format would allow Bauer to "ring-fence" its existing formats through providing pop chart, and speech and trying to protect Radio City from competition; it also said soft pop was already available in Liverpool. Another licensee said adding soft pop narrowed the range of programming available as Magic can be heard on AM, that there was no support for the change, and that the City Talk format has not failed, that Bauer may have applied for all-speech to gain the widest opportunities for advertising when sold with Radio City; and there is no reason to assume the proposed Format would succeed whilst the third licensee opposing the request also said programming range would be narrowed, Bauer would be given an unfair advantage and its station might become unviable and that it would be unfair to allow a format change after the station - which launched at on January 28 last year - had been on air for so short a time.
Both Ofcom's Content Board and Radio Licensing Committee said the request should be granted but the latter added conditions as already noted: It said that providing programmes were not shared with Magic, choice would not be narrowed; City Talk would remain the only station in the area offering all-speech programming at peak hours and that during the rest of the time it would be offering a unique mix of local speech (at least 50% of output on average) and soft-pop music.
The UK Guardian, in its report on the decision said objections had been made by Southport station Dune FM and GMG Radio, which is owned by the same parent and operates Salford-based Real Radio, Rock Radio, and Smooth Radio brands in the area. It quoted GMG Radio's development director, Jeff Stephenson, as saying, "The surprising stance being taken by Bauer now is one which appears to be giving up unnecessarily on a service just over a year after launch - when it is realistically in age terms hardly an infant.
"We believe and it is our experience that long-term successful radio in the North West can be achieved through talent, good management, and commitment to a format in line with audience requirement and expectations, together with major and ongoing investment allocated to marketing the new brand successfully.
"This newest service for Liverpool with Bauer's backing should be capable of and continue to provide listeners with what was promised in the licence application and if done effectively should be impacting positively on its audiences and advertisers as anticipated."
The Liverpool Daily Post reported that station executives are now to discuss whether to change the name of the station. It quoted City Talk director Richard Maddock as saying, "Ofcom's decision is welcome news because it provides clarity "and adding, "The team will now look at the business plan, review our current market situation and consider the implications of the Ofcom decision Our commitment to quality, well-produced speech broadcasting at key parts of the day continues as before, and we will continue to work hard to deliver the best talk-focused station."
Previous Guardian Media Group:
Liverpool Daily Post report:
2009-05-13: According to the Wall Street Journal Republicans, who have already forced a delay of hearings on the nomination of Julius Genachowski as Federal Communications Commission (FCC) chairman because they want to fill the Republican vacancy on the commission at the same time (The hearing scheduled for last week has now been delayed until after Memorial Day- May 25), are now considering whether they should drop current Republican Commissioner Robert M. McDowell.
The Journal says that McDowell has seemed likely to get a second term having amassed a "fairly conservative, business-friendly voting record at the FCC since 2006" but its sources say this re-nomination is now in doubt: It says that its sources say some AT&T Inc. lobbyists have suggested in meetings recently that its time for a new slate at the FCC and notes that AT&T's chief lobbyist Jim Cicconi, a Republican, told lawmakers as well as reporters at a wireless industry conference in April that FCC commissioners shouldn't receive more than one term although the company had not voiced concerns when former chairman Kevin J. Martin was reconfirmed for a second term in 2006.
It suggests that AT&T's concerns with McDowell may spring from his decision in December 2006 to recuse himself from voting on the company's merger with BellSouth Corp. - was one of several times that McDowell butted heads with Martin, a long-time acquaintance of Cicconi's.
Formally AT&T says that "As a regulated company we strive to work well with whoever is nominated and confirmed for these important jobs" but the Journal notes that the decision on a re-nomination could hinge on the attitude of Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, the top-ranking Republican on the Senate Commerce Committee: She recently launched an exploratory committee to run for governor of Texas and the Journal notes that Dallas-based AT&T was the fifth largest campaign contributor to Hutchison's Senate campaign committee and leadership political action committee in 2008 - and has also been generous to her rival, Gov. Rick Perry, who received USD 50,000 from AT&T's Texas political action committee and a USD 25,000 personal contribution from AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson in September.
RNW comment: A case it would seem of near-open threats cum bribery from a company whose shareholders presumably include pension funds and others who may not share its views: As we have said before we think all political contributions by companies should be made on the basis of an opt-in by shareholders with all holdings by groups such as pension funds automatically being excluded since it would be expensive to consult individual shareholders or pensioners but at the same time many of them can be assumed to have differing politically. In the UK the system of opt-ins applies to union members contributions to political donations and we see no reason this should not apply to companies as well.
Wall Street Journal report:
2009-05-12: Citadel founder Larry Wilson is to make a return to the radio business after eight years with a purchase of the two Portland, Oregon, stations owned by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen.
No figures have so far been released for the deal to buy talk format KXL-AM and all-sports KXTG - FM that operate as Rose City Radio but the Oregonian it its report quoted Wilson, who has been semi-retired since Citadel was sold in 2001, as saying he hopes to build a modest chain of stations based in Portland through a new company Alpha Broadcasting.
He described the price paid as "very fair" and added, "We would like to expand, particularly into some other western cities I love the radio business, and I think the rumours of its demise are way overstated. If it's community radio, the listenership is there, and these are two powerhouse radio stations."
The Oregonian report:
2009-05-12: The UK Times in a report based on accounts released by Companies House says that Global Radio held underlying profits steady at GBP 31 million (USD 47.5 million) for the year to the end of March despite an advertising fall of around 18%: It also noted that auditor KPMG warned of "a material uncertainty" until Global had completed a long-negotiated refinancing of its GBP 210 million (USD 322 million) of borrowings with Lloyds Bank.
In relation to this it quotes chief executive and co-owner Ashley Tabor as saying that the caution was "simply a matter of housekeeping" and that the private company was "very comfortably servicing our debt". The caution would disappear when the debts were refinanced, he added.
The paper notes that breakdown of the results is not simple - Global bought Chrysalis Radio in July 2007 for GBP 170 million (then USD 340 million- See RNW Jul 31, 2007) and GCap Media for GBP 375 million (then USD 750 million) in a deal announced in May 2008 and completed in June that year (See RNW May 16, 2008) although it was not cleared by the Office of Fair Trading until August 2008 (See RNW Aug 8, 2008) but Tabor said that on the basis that both companies had been owned for a full year revenues were GBP 269 million (USD 412 million) and underlying earnings were GBP 31 million (USD 47.5 million)- around the same as a year earlier despite a GBP 40 million fall in revenues - thanks to cost cutting.
Financing for the takeovers says the Times was partly through debt - GBP 84 million (USD 129 million) with interest at 6.125 per cent for Chrysalis and GBP 126 million (USD 193 million) of borrowings, which attract interest at 3.4 percentage points above the floating Libor rate (the rate banks lend to each other), for GCap. The rest is thought to have come from Tabor's father the bookmaker and Monaco-based investor, through a series of shareholder loans, some of which attract interest rates of 15 per cent or more.
Previous Global Radio:
UK Times report:
2009-05-12: In an additional submission - "Building on the Myers Review" (A 15-page 262 kb PDF) - to the UK Government's "Digital Britain" project from media regulator Ofcom has supported proposals made by former GMG Radio chief executive John Myers that would ease and change regulation (See RNW Apr 16) but distanced itself from Myers' suggestions for a "local impact test" for regulating "localness".
Commenting that "Commercial radio is facing its greatest challenges since launching 35 years ago" the submission says that the "central challenge for policy and regulation is to meet the public's demand for the local radio content they value, in a way which takes account of the financial realities faced by operators, while at the same time creating an industry structure for a digital future."
Ofcom says it agrees with Myers that AM stations should be allowed to drop localness but as regards the 180 smaller FM stations serving a population fewer than 700,000 it says that it sees difficulties with the local impact test "coming from its lack of legal robustness, its cost to industry, its lack of regulatory certainty, and the construction and assessment of the market research."
Ofcom goes on to suggest that three other options should be considered:
- A "Focus on news, information and community notices" by requiring that stations should have to provide local news at least hourly during daytime (as suggested by Myers) and should also have to carry traffic and travel news and weather during peak times and a community notice-board several times a day giving details of local events. Other local programming requirements would be dropped under this plan and Ofcom would enforce the rules by regular monitoring.
- A new "Localness Charter" under which a "more specific version of our existing guidance, which would be written in to each station's licence" would be developed with listeners invited to complain of poor performance for most monitoring, supplemented by a formal, biennial assessment of the industry.
- "Liberalise current rules, and create a new set of mini-regions": A proposal under which current requirements for locally produced content would be reduced from ten to seven hours on weekdays and applied "within newly drawn 'mini-regions', which would give the flexibility effectively to create larger, more viable stations, while preparing for digital migration (because these new regions correspond to actual or potential DAB transmission areas).
Under this plan local news, information and community-focussed local content would be required but there would be more flexibility in its productions by allowing co-location and programme sharing within the new areas.
Ofcom says they it would be possibly to develop a hybrid of the suggested options and posted a table in which it estimates that savings to the industry of the Myer's local impact test would be around GBP 8 million (USD 12.3 million) a year from co-location with programming and compliance costs difficult to estimate. It would also involve GBP 3-4 million (USD 5-6 million) in extra regulatory costs.
The news option would it says potentially save the same amount through co-location, around GBP 9 million (USD 13.8 million) from programming, an extra GBP 1 million (USD 1.53 million) in regulatory costs and have lower compliance costs than the current system.
The localness Charter option might have greater co-location potential savings, although Ofcom says this is difficult to estimate, would cost an extra GBP 1-2 million (USD 1.53-3.1 million) in regulatory costs. It says compliance costs and potential programming savings are difficult to estimate.
The liberalisation approach it says would potentially save most - around GBP 9 million (USD 13.8 million) upwards through co-location and around GBP 15 million (USD 23 million) in programming with no extra regulatory or compliance costs.
2009-05-12: In further US radio results, Citadel, Cumulus and Radio One Inc have joined the ranks of radio companies with radio revenues down more than a fifth on last year in the first quarter of this year: by nearly 23%, 29% and 24% respectively although Radio One's overall revenues were only down 16%.
Citadel in a 10Q filing to the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) said its revenues (unaudited) were down 22.8% to USD 158.9 million; operating expenses were down 31.1% to USD 144.7 million; Operating income was down 19.2% to USD 14.2 million and pre-tax income went from USD 396,000 a year ago to a loss of USD 5 million.
Overall, aided by a reduction in tax expenses from USD 8.67 million to USD 307,000 Citadel cut its net loss from USD 8.27 million to USD 5.31 million * from a loss of three cents to a loss of two cents per share).
In the filing Citadel put down the revenue fall down mainly to the "current economic climate" and says it expects revenues for the remaining quarters of this year to be down on last year. It notes: "The expected continuing decline in radio revenues in the first half of 2009 and the projected decline in operating profits created uncertainty regarding the Company's ability to continue to comply with its debt covenants through 2009" and says that as a result in March it entered into new credit arrangements (See RNW Apr 1) that "modifies various terms of the Senior Credit and Term Facility, including suspending certain financial covenants through 2009 while imposing new monthly covenants for 2009." Its Senior Credit and Term Facility is now classified as a current liability and Citadel commented, "We have substantial indebtedness that may limit our ability to grow, compete, and obtain additional financing in the credit and capital markets. As of March 31, 2009, we had a total indebtedness of approximately USD 2,060.0 million, which consisted of USD 2,011.7 million under our Senior Credit and Term Facility and USD 48.3 million under our convertible subordinated notes.
Cumulus reported revenues down 24.1% to USD 55.4 million within which cash revenues were down 23.9% to USD 53.1 million and barter revenue was down 28.7% to USD 2.31 million.
Station operating expenses were down by 17.3% to USD 42.3 million, station operating income was down 40% to USD 13.1 million and adjusted EBITDA fell 58.8% to USD 7.54 million.
Overall Cumulus moved from net income of USD 4.24 million a year ago to a loss of USD 3.30 million (From income of ten cents per share to a loss of eight cents).
Radio One Inc reported first quarter revenues down 16% on a year ago at USD 60.7 million with station operating income down 43% to USD 16.5 million: Operating expenses were nearly doubled because of the impact of an impairment charge of USD 48.95 million that took them to USD 103.98 million from USD 53.9 million but without the impairment charge they were up by only 2.1% to USD 55 million. Within the figures the company said radio revenues were down 24%.
The impairment charge also took operating income into a loss of USD 43.3 million compared to net income of USD 18.6 million a year ago and overall a consolidated net loss/ net loss attributable to common shareholders of USD 18.85 million more than tripled to USD 59.4 million (from 19 cents to 84 cents per share loss) - net loss from continuing operations was up from a loss of USD 11.0 million to the same USD 43.3 million loss
Radio One CEO and President Alfred C. Liggins, III said of the performance, "On top of Q1 seasonally being the smallest of the year, the continuing poor economic climate continued to weaken the demand for advertising in general."
"Our radio revenue performance," he continued "mirrored that of the markets we operate in, down 24%. Our radio automobile business dropped by 57% compared to last year, and, we experienced declines in both inventory pricing and sellout rates. We continued with our cost cutting initiatives, and leveraged new and alternative revenue sources fuelled by the radio industry's growth in digital and online dollars. Though business continues to book extremely late, pacings indicate Q2 revenues will experience declines similar to those in Q1. We will proactively continue to focus on radio share growth, internet sales, further cost cuts and our balance sheet.
In other US business news the Trenton Times has reported that Nassau Broadcasting will be controlled by Goldman Sachs under a deal in which it takes 85% of Nassau's equity in exchange for forgiving around two-thirds of its debt.
The paper quotes Nassau CEO Lou Mercatanti as saying in a memo to employees that the company had been "working with our lenders to come up with a viable plan to refinance or restructure the company's debt in the face of the country's worst credit crisis and advertising markets in decades" and that the agreement had been precipitated by the coming due of a debt package on Sept. 30
Mercatanti put problems down to a combination of the economic crisis and expansion, saying, "We acquired quite a few stations in the last few years, and if there was a wrong time to do it, that was it."
As a result of the deal, three stations - WWHQ-FM and WNNH-FM in New Hampshire and WHXR-FM in Maine will be sold to comply with Federal Communications Commission (FCC) market ownership caps and Nassau's stations in Boston and Cape Cod will be put under the control of separate companies to avoid lenders' conflicting interest in other radio companies. Nassau will continue to operate these stations and Mercatanti and his management team will continue to operate the company.
Previous Radio One Inc:
Trenton Times report:
2009-05-12: A UK prison radio station took four awards in this year's UK radio "Oscars" - The Sony Awards - at which the host Chris Evans took two awards, BBC Radio Five Live took five Gold Awards and BBC Radio 3 was named "Station of the Year" for the first time.
The prison radio station is Electric Radio Brixton, based at HMP Brixton in London: It took Gold in the Community Award and the Listener Participation Award as well as two bronze awards - in The Interview category for an interview with former prisoner and Conservative cabinet minister Jonathan Aitken - and The Speech Award for Prisoners' Voices.
Notable for its absence from the winners' ranks this year was BBC Radio 1: Despite the ratings success of its Breakfast Host Chris Moyles, his show only took the breakfast "bronze", behind BBC Radio Five Live with Gold and Bauer's Kiss FM with silver.
The full list of Gold awards was:
UK Station of the Year - BBC Radio 3:
Digital Station of the Year - Fun Kids:
Station of the Year (One million plus) - Bauer's Kerrang 105.2:
Station of the Year (300,000 - one million) - BBC Hereford and Worcester:
Station of the Year (Under 300,000 listeners) - Global Radio's Beacon Radio (Shropshire):
The Gold Award - Neil Fox - Currently breakfast host on Bauer's Magic FM, London, and described as going to a "broadcaster at the top of his game, for his mastery of the challenges of first class music radio, for his championship of UK commercial radio and the inspiration he has provided to so many of the next generation of music makers"
The Local & Regional Lifetime Achievement Award - to Colin Slater of BBC Radio Nottingham _ "For his 40 year dedication to our medium. For his craftsman's skill at shaping match commentary (Notts County FC), for his unstinting commitment to radios role within the sporting community of his home city "
The Special Award - Paul Brown - amongst other things RadioCentre chairman, former Chairman of the UK Radio Academy, and former chief executive of the UK Commercial Radio Companies "Association - described as an individual who has "done it all broadcaster, programmer, manager, regulator, trade association guru, industry servant and above all champion of all that is best about British Radio "
The Music Programme Award - Words and Music - BBC Radio Arts and Radio 3 for Radio 3:
The Specialist Music Programme Award - David Rodigan - Kiss Specialist Production Team for Bauer's Kiss Network
The Entertainment Award - Chris Evans Drivetime - BBC Radio 2
The Music Special Award - Vaughan Williams: Valiant for Truth - BBC Radio 3
The Music Programming Award - Classic FM
The Drama Award - Mr Larkin's Awkward Day - BBC Radio Drama for Radio 4
The Sports Award - 5 Live Olympic Breakfast - BBC News Programmes and BBC Sport for 5 Live
The News and Current Affairs Award - The World Today - BBC World Service News and Current Affairs for the World Service
The News Special Award - The Investigation: Never Too Old To Care - A Stark Production for BBC Radio Scotland
The Breakfast Show Award - 5 Live Breakfast - BBC News for 5 Live
The Music Radio Personality of the Year - Chris Evans - BBC Radio 2:
The Music Broadcaster of the Year - Mark Radcliffe - Smooth Operations for BBC Radio 2:
The Speech Award - Simon Mayo and Mark Kermode - BBC News for 5 Live
The News Journalist of the Year - Gavin Lee - BBC News for 5 Live
The Speech Radio Personality of the Year - Vanessa Feltz - BBC London 94.9
The Speech Broadcaster of the Year - Nick Ferrari - Global Radio's LBC 97.3
The Comedy Award - Count Arthur Strong's Radio Show! - Komedia Entertainment and Smooth Operations for BBC Radio 4
The Feature Award - Between The Ears: Staring At The Wall - BBC Radio Documentaries for Radio 3
The Interview Award - Feargal Keane interviews Lana Vandenberghe - Taking a Stand, BBC Radio Current Affairs for Radio 4
The Breaking News Award - The Rangers Riot - BBC Radio Manchester
The Live Event Coverage Award - Absolute Coldplay - Absolute Radio and TBI Media for Absolute Radio
The Listener Participation Award - Electric Radio Brixton: Daily Show - Prison Radio Association and Electric Radio Brixton for Electric Radio Brixton
The Community Award - A Sound Fix (Spots) - Prison Radio Association for Electric Radio Brixton
The Themed Programming Award - Family Life - BBC Hereford and Worcester
The Promo Award - Kiss The Planet - What Will You Do? - Kiss Imaging Team for Bauer's Kiss Network
The Competition Award - Facebuck$ - Galaxy Network Imaging for Global Radio's Galaxy (Manchester, Birmingham, Yorkshire and North East)
The Station Imaging Award - BBC 1Xtra
The Internet Programme Award - The Budgerigar and the Prisoner - Clifton Diocese.com
The Multiplatform Radio Award - Wimbledon - BBC Radio 5 Live Interactive for 5 Live
Previous Sony winners (2008):
Sony Awards site (2009 winners):
2009-05-12: US-Iranian freelance journalist Roxana Saberi, who was arrested in Iran in January and in April was sentenced to eight years in jail has now been released after an appeal hearing and is said to be staying with friends in Tehran but likely to leave the country soon.
Her sentence was reduced to a two-year suspended sentence after the five-hour hearing during the hearing at which the charge was changed to from one of passing secret information to a lesser count of having access to classified information according to the BBC's Teheran correspondent. She had originally been accused of buying alcohol and then of working as a reporter without a valid press card.
Saberi, who had worked for the BBC and US National Public Radio amongst other organizatios , had been held in Evin jail in Tehran since January 31: She left the jail on Monday with her father, Reza, who said she was doing well and implied that they would soon return to the US. He lives in Fargo, North Dakota- Saberi was crowned Miss North Dakota in 1997 - having moved to the US in the 1970s.
2009-05-12: UK media regulator Ofcom in its latest bulletin upholds just one radio complaint - against former talkSPORT host Jon Gaunt who was fired over the comments concerned: It also upheld three TV standards cases and gave details of a further TV standards complaint and two TV Fairness and Privacy complaints that were not upheld.
The standards complaint against Jon Gaunt related to an interview with a councillor regarding a policy by the London Borough of Redbridge that from 2010 any foster carers in the borough would be required to be non-smokers during which Gaunt called the councillor a "Nazi", a "health Nazi" and "ignorant pig."
In all 53 complaints were made to Ofcom about the exchange between Gaunt and the councillor, most of them about the conduct of the interview but some also over the use of the term Nazi in a manner that they considered belittled the events of the Second World War.
talkSPORT told Ofcom they regretted what happened and that it "totally accepts and regrets that the language [used by Jon Gaunt] was offensive and that the manner in which the interview was conducted was indefensible" adding that it had encouraged Gaunt to be himself, but also made it clear to him the requirement to always remain within the law and abide by the Code.
Regarding the broadcast it said Gaunt had ignored "constant instructions by talkback and hand signals" from the producer to calm down, let the guest answer the questions, and retract the use of the word "Nazi". According to talkSPORT the programme producer had considered using the so called "dump" button but decided it was better to get Jon Gaunt to retract and qualify his comments. This Jon Gaunt did by calling Michael Stark "a health Nazi". As the programme producer believed Jon Gaunt was ignoring his comments, he gave further instructions by talkback and hand signals to conclude the interview.
Eventually, Jon Gaunt terminated the interview and at the behest of the programme producer, Jon Gaunt gave two on-air apologies within the programme, following the interview.
Following the broadcast it said the producer spoke to talkSPORT's programme director to express concerns about the conduct of the interview following which the PD told Gaunt he thought the interview had been "appalling". Gaunt defended himself by saying the councillor had provoked him, and that it was a very emotive subject for Jon Gaunt personally, as he had been in care himself as a teenager.
Subsequently following discussions within senior management at the station and its owner UTV Gaunt was suspended while an inquiry was launched and UTV's Radio Managing Director apologized to the councillor. Later after the investigation Gaunt's contract was terminated and an on-air apology was broadcast.
Ofcom said it recognized the steps taken by the station to warn Gaunt to exercise care and during the interview to control the situation as well as the investigation it launched and apologies it broadcast but added that it remained concerned, in the wake of the recent sanction imposed by it on talkSPORT involving The James Whale Show that the "broadcaster's compliance procedures do not appear robust enough to deal with problematic material being broadcast live."
It held that its codes had been breached.
In addition to the above Ofcom also listed without details 334 TV complaints against 119 items and 29 radio complaints against 26 items that it did not uphold or were considered out of its remit: This compared to 630 TV complaints against 212 items and 54 radio complaints against 39 items that it did not uphold or were considered out of its remit that were listed in the previous bulletin.
Previous Ofcom Complaints Bulletin:
2009-05-11: It was a case of revenues down around a fifth in the latest round of US radio company first quarter results although Westwood One's revenue fall was just below the 20% mark: Clear Channel Media Holdings reported revenues down 23% on the figures of a year ago (before it was taken over by private equity interests) to USD 1.2 billion, including a USD 64.5 million fall due to movements in foreign exchange without which the percentage fall would have been 19%.
Operating expenses were down 12% to USD 1 billion - including a USD 62.2 million decrease due to movements in foreign exchange without which the fall would have been 7% and also around USD 33.6 million in restructuring charges plus around approximately USD 9.8 million of non-cash compensation expense, up from USD 9.6 million a year earlier. Clear Channel said of the restructuring that it is expected to reduce costs by around USD 350 million a year but result in one-off charges of around USD 200 million.
Overall the company showed a loss before discontinued operations of USD 428.0 million of which approximately USD 278 million was interest expenses as a result of increased debt: The figure compares with net income of USD 169.8 million a year earlier.
Within the figures radio revenues fell 22% to USD 603.6 million; Outdoor was down 25% to USD 582.2 million; and other revenues were down 6% to USD 19.7 million.
Operating Income before Depreciation and Amortization (OIBDAN) was down 56% to USD 174.2 million within which the figure for radio was halved to USD 138.1 million and that for Outdoor fell 46% to USD 87.7 million.
In terms of cash availability, Clear Channel said that as of May 8 it had approximately USD 12.6 million available on its bank revolving credit facility and a balance of approximately USD 1.4 billion in short-term investments.
President Randall T. Mays said in a brief statement, "Radio and outdoor remain incredibly efficient marketing mediums. Our focus across our great businesses is to maximize the efficacy of our mediums for the benefit of advertisers. We thank our employees for their unwavering dedication and commitment."
At Cox Radio the revenue fall was of a similar magnitude - down 22.8% to USD 75.5 million with station operating income down 58.6% to USD 14.98 million and net income down 69% to USD 3.97 million (From 14 cents to five cents per diluted share).
Within the revenue figures local revenues were down 21.1% to USD 24.56 million; national revenues were down 32.4% to USD 13.93 million and Other revenues were down 13.3% to USD 4.02 million.
At Westwood One revenues fell 19.4% to USD 85.9 million with adjusted EBITDA moving from a positive USD 11.0 million a year ago to a loss of USD 6.9 million; free cash flow moving from a positive USD 5.4 million to a loss of USD 3.4 million; operating loss increasing more than six-fold from a loss of USD 3.0 million to a loss of USD 19.6 million.
Within the revenue figures Metro Traffic revenues fell by 26.9% - put down principally due to the weak local advertising marketplace spanning various categories including automotive, retail and telecommunications - and Network Radio was down 13.5- "principally due to the general decline in advertising spending which affected Network revenue from sports and news events, particularly in automotive advertising, as well as the cancellation of certain unprofitable programs."
Net loss increased by less, aided in part by a 38.9% reduction in interest expenses to USD 3.3 million and an increase in income tax benefit from USD 3.0 million to USD 7.4 million, taking the total to a net loss of USD 15.2 million, up from USD 5.3 million a year ago (From six cents to 17 cents per diluted common share).
The company is forecasting second quarter operating expenses to fall by between USD 13.0 million and USD 15.0 million compared to the first quarter "as a result of the seasonality in broadcast rights fees as well as the new cost reduction program launched in the first quarter, and the ongoing reductions from the Metro Traffic re-engineering program." It did not forecast revenues but said it would drive its turnaround by concentrating on "generating revenue from branded programming in network radio, and an enhanced technology-based product in traffic, and leveraging these and other revenue initiatives with a strengthened sales organization"; "maintaining a single-minded focus on reducing operating expenses"; and by "taking advantage of growth opportunities in the marketplace." It did not specify what the "growth opportunities" were.
Commenting on the quarter Westwood One's President and CFO Rod Sherwood said it "achieved several major goals in the first part of 2009 that have positioned it well to drive its strategic initiatives for the rest of the year" adding "Most importantly, the Company's financial structure has been solidified by the successful completion of the debt refinancing and equity recapitalization, which was the linchpin of the Company's turnaround strategy."
Noting cost-reduction measures in the quarter, including pay cuts and benefits from changes at its Metro Traffic operations, the company said these were expected to save between USD 55 and USD 63 million a year "offset to a limited degree by investments in the
Company's sales force, TrafficLand and digital capabilities, and the full-year impact of costs under the new CBS Agreement."
"Like other media companies, Westwood One's revenue continues to be impacted by the economic downturn as advertisers continue to exercise caution with their budgets," said Sherwood. "We have restructured the Company's capital structure and initiated cost reduction programs so that we can emerge from these difficult times as a stronger, more nimble company."
In other US broadcasting business, CBS Corporation has announced the pricing of a debt offering of USD 400 million of 8.20% senior notes due 2014 and USD 350 million of 8.875% senior notes due 2019: It intends to use the net proceeds of the offering to fund the Company's pending offer to purchase its outstanding 7.70% senior notes due 2010 and for general corporate purposes.
Previous Clear Channel:
Previous Cox Radio:
Previous Randall Mays:
Previous Westwood One:
2009-05-11: Despite WorldSpace's bankruptcy problems in the US the company is planning to launch a satellite car radio service in India by the middle of next year according to Indiantelevison.com.
It quotes WorldSpace MD (India and Middle East) Mathewkutty Sebastian as saying that regulatory hurdles are holding up the introduction of an in-car service and adding that if they are cleared the service can be rolled out in India in the next eight to ten months.
Receivers would not be built into new cars but available as an add-on according to Sebastian who commented, "Initially it won't be an in-built car radio and in the Indian context, it may be advisable to have a plug-play receiver rather than an in-built radio. We are yet to finalise on the pricing."
Sebastian also said that WorldSpace was to offer an online subscription service, commenting that this would be "aimed at the Indian Diaspora" and adding, "Here again, it is the regulatory hurdles that have delayed our efforts so far. We hope that it will be cleared soon."
Previous Indian Radio:
2009-05-11: Following the launch of digital radio transmissions in Perth last Monday (See RNW May 4), the east coast launch of DAB+ transmissions takes place today in Melbourne.
Stations togo on air on DAB+ are MIX, GOLD, SEN, 3AW, 3MP, FOX, MAGIC, TRIPLE M, NOVA, VEGA, Sport 927, Radar, Pink Radio, Koffee and NovaNation and as in Perth the transmissions will be in interference test mode for the first ten days with power possibly being lowered at night as interference is assessed.
The next launches scheduled are in Adelaide on May 20, Brisbane on May 25 and then Sydney on May 30: All the launches are by commercial stations with the Australian Broadcasting Corporation and Special Broadcasting Service to commence their broadcasts in June and July.
2009-05-10: Last week was another where the main regulator news came from the US, where the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) issued a Report and Order and Fourth Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) relating to promoting diversification of ownership of broadcasting services and also potentially scored another court victory in relation to its indecency regulations when the Supreme Court sent the rejection of a fine (on CBS TV in relation to the Janet Jackson breast baring in the 2004 Super Bowl Show) back to the lower court.
There were no radio-related postings from Australia or Ireland but in Canada, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) did make various postings.
They included an Information Bulletin clarifying issues related to Canadian content development contributions made by commercial radio stations. The current system was introduced in 2006 to replace the agency's previous Canadian talent development plan and basic contributions are based on total revenues in the previous broadcast year over and above which there may be extra contributions that are generally imposed under conditions of the licence.
The CRTC also posted notices updates of the financial summary for the Halifax, Nova Scotia, and Québec radio markets to include preliminary results for 2008.
In Halifax these show total revenues for stations in the market as CAD 23.3 million (USD 20.1 million) - up 7.2% from 2007; expenses as totalling CAD 18.9 million (USD 16.4 million) - down 4.0% from 2007 and pre-tax profits as CAD 2.82 million (USD 2.45 million) - up 25% on 2007.
In Québec these show total revenues for stations in the market as CAD 32.3 million (USD 28.0 million) - down 6.4% from 2007; expenses as totalling CAD 23.9 million (USD 20.7 million) - down 27.1% from 2007 and pre-tax profits as CAD 7.67 million (USD 6.63 million) - up 1.9% on 2007.
It also posted a public notice with a June 10 deadline for the submission of interventions or comments relating to the following applications:
Application by Canadian Hellenic Cable Radio Ltd. to remove from the licence of its Montréal commercial specialty FM, originally approved in April 2007, a condition relating to interference with the signal of Aboriginal Voices Radio's CKAV-FM-10, Montréal, following revocation of the AVR licence at AVR's request.
Licensing decisions posted included:
*Approval of application by Evanov Communications Inc., on behalf of a corporation to be incorporated, to use frequency 106.1 MHz by its new commercial FM radio station in Winnipeg approved in August last year subject to the applicant finding an alternative frequency to the one originally requested.
Newfoundland and Labrador:
*Approval of application by Newcap Inc. to relocate the transmitter of its English-language commercial station CJYQ-AM, St. John's, and reduce the daytime transmitter power from 50,000 watts to 25,000 watts. The night-time power remains 25,000 watts.
Newcap said it needs to relocate the antenna because of repeated vandalism of its transmitter facilities and added that the change will result in a reduction in the population served within CJYQ's 15 mV/m contour from 149,655 to 70,522 people. Coverage within the 5 mV/m contour should not be reduced.
*Approval of application by Luciano Butera, on behalf of a corporation to be incorporated, to acquire from Mrs. Jeannine Dancy the assets of the tourist radio programming undertaking CHQI-FM, Niagara-on-the-Lake.
*Approval of application by Rogers Broadcasting Limited to acquire from K-Rock 1057 Inc. the assets of the English-language FM radio stations CIKR-FM and CKXC-FM, Kingston.
Rogers, which already owned 25% of K-Rock, said the purchase price was CAD 8,530,494 (USD 7.38 million) and the sale and the CRTC noted that the acquisition was motivated primarily by the unforeseen retirement due to health reasons of John P. Wright, who owns 60% of the stations.
In acquiring the stations Rogers proposed a tangible benefits package equal to 6% of the value of the transaction (CAD 512,000 - USD 443,000) but the commission noted that Rogers would be assuming operating leases valued at CAD 303,197 ( USD 262,000) making the 75% it was acquiring worth CAD 226,648 ( USD 196,000) on top of which Wright would be receiving CAD 100,000 (USD 86,500)for consulting services thus taking the revised total value to CAD 8,857,142 ( USD 7.66 million ) and increasing the benefits package total to CAD 531,429 (USD 460,000).
*Approval of application by 2188301 Ontario Corporation to relocate the transmitter of the English-language low power commercial radio programming undertaking CFAO-FM, Allison, and reduce the antenna height. The applicant said the changes were needed because the site it had originally proposed was unavailable.
*Approval of transmitter relocation, increase in antenna height, replacement of omni-directional antenna with a directional antenna, and power increase from 1,300 watts to 9.100 watts and increase for CKOY-FM, Sherbrooke.
*Approval of application by Coopérative de radiodiffusion MF 103.5 de Lanaudière to increase the maximum power of CJLM-FM, Joliette, from 3,000 to 4,500 watts.
*Approval of application by Radio communautaire de la Rive-Sud inc. to increase the power of its French-language Type B community station CHAA-FM, Longueuil, from 64 to 340 watts.
In the UK, Ofcom had a quiet time, with just one radio-related posting in which it gave details of its award of three new community radio licences in Bedfordshire in April - to Biggles FM (Biggleswade, Sandy and Potton); and Luton stations Radio LaB and Inspire FM (See RNW Licence News May 3 ).
Each of the groups will be allowed to seek up to half their annual income from the sale of advertising or programme/station sponsorship and all either had previous experience through restricted service licences or in the case of Radio LaB, which is supported by the University of Bedfordshire and has much relevant internal experience, access to experience.
In the US, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) as already noted has released its complaints figures for the second half of last year - up in both quarters (See RNW May 7 - But, as we have often noted, the absence of detail as to how many came from a particular e-mail campaign makes them not particularly valuable); has seen the US Supreme Court send back to the lower court another ruling against it - this time the decision to void a USD 550,000 fine on CBS over the 2004 Super Bowl show and brief baring of a Janet Jackson breast (See RNW May 4).
The FCC also posted details of its Report and Order and Fourth Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) relating to promoting diversification of ownership of broadcasting services, and specifically steps to improve its collection of data on minority and female broadcast ownership.
In its introduction the agency commented that "the overall level of minority and female ownership in the broadcast industry remains dismal" and added that "Unfortunately, the Commission currently does not possess reliable data on the precise status of minority and female ownership- data that we will need to establish and maintain effective policies over time and that the courts will insist upon if the Commission chooses to pursue more race- or gender-based approaches."
To improve its data the agency is proposing amongst other things to broaden the reporting requirements to include commercial broadcast licensees that are sole proprietorships and partnerships comprised of natural persons; to require low power television stations licensees, including Class A stations, to file biennially and in addition seeking comment relating to whether it should amend its Form 323-E, "Ownership Report for Non-commercial Broadcast Stations," which is filed by non-commercial educational radio and television broadcast stations, to obtain gender and minority ownership data, and to identify more accurately ownership of NCE stations. Currently, low power FM licensees, which are all non-commercial entities, are not required to file 323-E Ownership Reports and the agency is seeking comment on whether to impose a biennial filing requirement on LPFM licensees to collect gender, race, and ethnicity ownership data.
Statements in relation to the proposals were posted by Acting Chairman Michael J. Copps, his Democrat colleague Commissioner Jonathan S. Adelstein, and Republican Commissioner Robert M. McDowell.
Copps commented that at first glance the order seemed to be about "data" and later added, in relation to previous diversity initiatives adopted by the agency, initiatives he said that they "to the extent they accomplish anything, generally benefit white males": "The excuse not to do more was the same as it has been for years-that we lacked adequate data to do more. But if we lack the data, we have no one to blame but ourselves. Today we are going to take that sorry excuse away."
"The sad truth" commented Copps "is that we simply do not know the precise state of minority and female ownership in this country. The official term for it is 'we don't have a clue.' We will never get to where we need to go unless we know where we are.
Adelstein commented, "I enthusiastically support today's Report and Order, which takes a major stride in assessing and promoting diversity in the broadcast industry" and added, "Diversity in broadcast ownership is too crucial for the Commission not to get it right. If we are going to make progress, we must lay a solid foundation. The first step is obtaining a clear picture of where we presently stand. I am pleased that we are overhauling our current method of collecting data on minority and female broadcast ownership. We are implementing a complete, credible, and illuminative means of gathering racial and gender information."
McDowell as in the past was less enthusiastic, but supported the move commenting, "Rendering rules on an unsure factual foundation is akin to building a house on quicksand. Today, the FCC attempts to improve our fact-gathering as we pursue our obligation to improve our understanding of diversity of ownership in the traditional media marketplace. As the expert government agency, we should provide both policymakers and the public with station ownership statistics that are more precise and reliable" but adding the caveat, "What today's action does not do, however, is change our existing broadcast attribution rules. To do so now, in the midst of such economic uncertainty, would be foolhardy. As I continue to advocate for a regulatory environment that is more attractive to private investment, I am interested in hearing from commenters as to whether the changes to Form 323 would impose any inadvertent negative effects.
"In sum, although I do not entirely agree with every word in the item, I support this action and I look forward to reviewing the information that it will yield."
In radio licensing decisions the agency rejected an objection by Trinity Baptist Church of Tucumcari and granted the licence for a new non-commercial educational ("NCE") FM to serve Tucumcari, New Mexico, to Iglesia Shekira. Trinity had argued that Shekira had violated local public inspection and local notice requirements of FCC regulations but the FCC said no evidence had been provided as to how access was denied and regarding local notice, although a local public notice was posted around two weeks late its actual publication in two local newspapers "provided substantial compliance with the rule".
In Florida, the FCC denied a petition from The School Board of Broward County for reconsideration of the earlier dismissal by the agency of an application for a waiver to rules relating to protection of TV channels in relation to an application to allow its non-commercial educational WKPX-FM at Sunrise or alternatively not to operate its proposed facilities until WTVJ-TV had commenced digital operations and was no longer operating on Channel 6.
The FCC said it took the view that to grant the waiver would be unfair to organizations that had filed complaint applications or potential applicants and licensees that chose to defer filings based on the recognition that it is not presently possible to file rule-compliant proposals.
Previous Licence News:
2009-05-09: A controversial advertisement for Adults Surviving Child Abuse (ASCA) has won the 2009 Gold Siren award for Australia's best radio ad of the year.The awards, now in their fifth year, are organized by industry body Commercial Radio Australia whose Chief Executive Joan Warner commented of them, "Each year the Siren Awards continue to raise the bar in terms of creativity and originality. There have been nearly 600 entries this year - a fantastic result which shows how important this Award has become. Also the success of past winners and entrants at Cannes is testament to the fact that great work is being achieved with radio ads in Australia."
The advert, written by Steve Dodds from agency, Whybin TBWA in Sydney also took a Silver Siren award as winner of the craft category: Called "21st Birthday", the advert is one of three in a campaign launched by ASCA to promote awareness about child abuse that has been criticized as being insensitive.
Judge Emma Hill, Group Creative Director, Clemenger BBDO said of the winning advert: "It was the stand out ad in terms of making you stay, listening and feel something, even though that something was 'incredibly uncomfortable.' So many radio ads just wash over you and are easy to ignore. This one wasn't."
She added that the advert was not insensitive or inappropriate, and commented, "It's hard hitting yes, but I think it gets the message across that child abuse is very difficult to move on from and that victims need a lot of love and support to do so."
Another judge Craig Moore, creative director, One for All, commented, "In past years there has been two or three standouts in the pack, this track won by a mile."
Dodds noted that few adverts feature people laughing about child abuse and continued, "Most public service commercials try to tug at the heart strings, or shock with graphic imagery. We figured people tune out to that kind of approach. A lot of people think victims of childhood abuse should just get over it and we wanted to show they can't. It'd be great if they could, but they can't" whilst ASCA Chair, Dr Cathy Kezelman said the organisation was thrilled with the impact of the radio campaign,
"The three radio ads, the radio component of ASCA's national campaign are sharp and punchy and like the rest of the campaign, confront the long-term legacy of child abuse head on," she said.
"They highlight the horror of emotional, sexual and physical abuse intentionally utilising both male and female perpetrators and victims. Like the rest of the campaign they brashly disarm the audience, shattering taboos and getting people thinking and talking about the repercussions of childhood abuse, often for the very first time. We are thrilled with their impact; they are spearheading real change."
Another advert from the campaign - "Rugby" also won a Silver Siren in the craft category: It was produced by sound engineer, Beau Silvester from Whybin TBWA and creative directors were Garry Horner and Matt Kemsley.
The other Silver award went to writers Kurt Beaudoin and Josh Edge of The Brand Agency, Perth, for an advert "Find Your Animal" for Perth Zoo.
Previous Commercial Radio Australia:
2008 Siren Awards (May 2008):
2009-05-08: Regent Communications reported first quarter net broadcast revenues down 12.3% to USD 18.3 million: station operating expenses were down 6.4% and station operating income down 27.2% to USD 4.4 million: The company's net loss was more than ten times that of a year earlier - up to USD 32.5 million from USD 3.0 million (from eight cents to 81 cents per share) including a non-cash impairment charge of USD 31.8 million.
Same station revenues were down 13.4% to USD 17.4 million and same station operating income fell 29.2% to USD 4.2 million.
President and CEO Bill Stakelin said the quarter was "impacted by the ongoing national recession which resulted in an industry-wide advertising slowdown" but added "This was partially offset in part by our consistent ability to outperform both our industry and our portfolio of markets, as well as our efforts to reduce our operating costs and adjust to ever changing market dynamics.
"During the quarter, our aggressive Interactive program continued to gain additional traction with advertisers and listeners, and we further monetized our online presence. In addition, we continued to deliver large audience shares across our station clusters. Looking ahead, the environment remains challenging, but we are continuing to implement our strategy while operating as efficiently as possible. We have maintained strong relationships with our local advertisers and we are well-positioned to benefit as the economy begins to recover."
2009-05-08: BBC Radio Five Live has announced new weekend shows starting in September that are to be hosted by Danny Baker, who last year rejoined the station as one of the hosts of its 606 football phone-in (See RNW May 20, 2008), and Absolute Radio breakfast host Christian O'Connell.
The former will host a Saturday 09:00 to 11:00 slot preceding its "Fighting Talk" programme: The station says The Danny Baker Show "will provide the perfect warm-up to a day of 5 Live sport; featuring listener stories, comedy banter, fans on the road, interactive games, special guests and examination of the big (but mostly the little) issues that occupy supporters' minds ahead of the weekend action."
Baker commented in a BBC release, "To be hosting a Saturday morning sports show on one of the planet's greatest stations is a truly magnificent opportunity. There is currently a rainbow around my shoulder and my gait at the moment indicates to all, 'There is a man whose job is pure gravy'. I will strain every nerve to make this show exactly what Marconi had in mind when he legged it down to the patent office and I look forward tremendously to the mighty listener contributions reaching new heights of sublime absurdity and great truth. To quote the great Richie Valens: 'Let's go...'"
O'Connell will host a 15-episode live topical news comedy programme on Sunday mornings starting on 6 September but details are unclear - the station is to invite independent production companies and in-house production areas to pitch for the show's production.
O'Connell, who hosted the station's Fighting Talkin 2005, commented, "I'm really excited to be returning to 5 Live. I miss doing Fighting Talk and often find myself mumbling half-baked opinions to myself at the weekend and now I can find a home for these other than my park bench. 5 Live is the BBC at its very best. I'm looking to help build a show from scratch with the right team, from developing it over the next few months to getting it on air each Sunday. I'm going to create a show that, like Fighting Talk, is unique, smart, compelling and funny!"
Leaving the station is Eamonn Holmes whose Saturday morning show contract has ended whilst on Sunday mornings Gaby Logan's show will be shortened by half-an-hour as will the breakfast show. Garry Richardson's Sportsweek will begin 30 minutes earlier at 8.30am to be followed by Logan at 09:30 and then O'Connell from 11:00 to noon.
The station is also changing its weekday sports programming from August 17, giving it an extra-half hour until 22:30 when Richard Bacon's show takes over.
2009-05-08: In another round of first quarter results terrestrial radio revenues at CBS, Entercom, Saga, and Salem, have fallen by between 29% and 12.5% but Sirius-XM Radio has managed a small increase in revenues and also cut its loss.
CBS Corporation reported revenues down 13.4% to USD 3.16 billion with operating income before depreciation and amortization dropping from USD 642.0 million for the first quarter of last year to 249.8 million; operating income down from USD 524.2 million to USD 107.5 million and an overall net loss of USD 55.3 million compared to net earnings of USD 244.3 million a year ago (From a positive 36 cents to a loss of eight cents per share).
Within the figures radio revenues were down most - by 29% to USD 259.7 million; Outdoor was down 24% to USD 379.9 million; publishing was down 20% to USD 161.7 million; TV was down 12.3% to USD 2.23 billion within which advertising was down 15% to USD 1.31 billion; an interactive more than doubled from a year ago - up from USD 52.9 million in 2008 to USD 133.6 million reflecting the acquisition of CNET although they were down 5% on a comparable basis.
Radio OIBDA and operating income was down 57% to USD 52.2 million and 62% to USD 43.7 million, respectively with the fall in advertising income and absence of additional revenues from Westwood One and from Denver stations that were sold partly offset by USD 10 million for restructuring that we in the year ago figures.
Outdoor OIBDA for the first quarter of 2009 fell 75% to USD 25.1 million and it reported an operating loss of USD 38.2 million for the first quarter of 2009 compared to operating income of USD 44.1 million for the same quarter last year whilst TV OIBDA fell 49% to USD 228.7 million and operating income was down 54% to USD 184.7 million with the fall partly offset by the absence of USD 34.9 million in restructuring charges a year ago.
Executive Chairman Sumner Redstone said that "During a tremendously challenging period, Leslie (President and CEO Leslie Moonves) and his team continue to manage CBS with distinction," adding, "I have no doubt that the actions we are taking today, together with the strength of our industry-leading content, will translate to significantly better results once the economy improves."
Moonves commented, "Like other companies, our results were affected by the economic downturn that continued during the first quarter" but added, "We are confident that the second half of the year will bring improved results due to a strong slate of syndication releases, the effect of cost reductions that were made last year and early signs of an improving local advertising marketplace."
"Each of our business segments," he said, "was profitable on an OIBDA basis in the quarter, and together they generated healthy free cash flow. Meanwhile, we remain focused on reducing our cost structure, significantly lowering capital expenditures, and conserving cash in order to meet our debt obligations going forward."
Entercom reported revenues down 21% to USD 75.4 million with station operating income down 47% to USD 16.9 million and EBITDA down 51% to USD 12.9 million.
Free cash flow fell even more steeply - down 59% to USD 4.3 million and adjusted net income plunger from USD 4.15 million to USD 283,000. Entercom also noted that during the quarter, the Company reduced its outstanding debt by USD 17 million including the repurchase of a portion of its Senior Subordinated Notes.
President and CEO David Field commented of the figures, "The best thing that can be said about the first quarter of 2009 is that it is now behind us. We are determined to emerge from the economic storm with stronger capabilities, an enhanced competitive position, and an improved business model and are on track to achieve these goals. We have made significant improvements to our business model over the past several months, enabling us to reduce expenses and develop promising new revenue streams while enhancing the quality of the programs we offer our listeners and customers."
He continued, "We remain enthused about our future prospects based upon very strong consumer radio usage trends and radio's outstanding value proposition to customers. Finally, while second-quarter pacings remain well behind last year, there has been meaningful and encouraging improvement in business activity over the past four weeks."
Saga Communications revenues were down less- by 17.2% to USD 26.1 million from USD 31.5 million with operating income down from USD 3.56 million to USD 117,000 and net income of USD 910,000 a year ago becoming a net loss of USD 362,000 (From a positive 18 cents per share to a loss of nine cents).
Same station revenues were 17.7% - from the same total to USD 25.9 million and within the figures radio revenues were down from USD 27.4 million to USD 22.70 million (USD 22.51 million on a same station basis) whilst TV revenues fell from USD 4.51 million to USD 3.4 million.
Radio Operating income was more than halved - from USD 5.47 million to USD 2.38 million whilst TV operating income went from a positive USD 643,000 to a loss of USD 196,000.
Salem revenues were also down but again by less- in its case down 10.7% to USD 54.1 million with operating income down 31.3% to USD 8.8 million. EBITDA down 29.3% to USD 12.8 million and net income down just over 40% - from USD 5.0 million to USD 2.9 million (from 21 cents to 12 cents per diluted share).
Within the figures net broadcast revenue was down 12.3% to USD 42.0 million (same station net broadcast revenue was down 12.5% to USD 40.3 million), and station operating income was down 2.7% to USD 15.7 million (same station operating income was down 0.9% to USD 15.4 million. Non-broadcast revenues were up 2.1% to USD 6.3 million with non-broadcast operating income up from a USD 100,000 loss a year ago to income of USD 500,000.
Salem notes that the figures a year ago included a USD 6 million gain from the sale of KTEK-AM in Houston and also USD 1.4 million from discontinued operations, a figure that included USD 2.2 million from the sale of WRRD-AM in Milwaukee.
Salem is one of the few companies making forecasts - in its case a revenue decrease in the second quarter revenues of between 14% and 17%: It also forecasts a 10% to 13% fall in operating expenses before gain or loss on disposal of assets and impairments
Sirius-XM Radio bucked the trend with a 5% increase in pro-forma revenues to USD 605.5 million and pro-forma adjusted income from operations of USD 108.8 million, up USD 179 million on a year earlier when it had a pro-forma loss of USD 70 million but its subscription total dropped below 19 million: It ended the quarter with 18,599,434 subscribers, up 3% from 17,974,531 pro forma subscribers at the end of first quarter 2008 but down 2% from fourth quarter 2008 subscribers of 19,003,856.
Overall Sirius-XM reported a pro-forma loss for the first quarter of USD 62.9 million compared to USD 233.4 million a year earlier with pro-forma cash flow moving from a year ago loss of USD 311.1 million almost to break-even with a loss of USD 3.6 million.
On a GAAP basis, first quarter 2009 revenue was USD 587 million, the first quarter 2009 net loss was USD 50.4 million- down from USD 104.1 million a year earlier (From a loss of seven cents per share to a loss of a cent per share) and the first quarter 2009 net loss attributable to common stockholders was USD 236.6 million.
CEO Mel Karmazin said the figures showed "Satellite radio is now a cash flow growth story," said Mel Karmazin, CEO of Sirius- XM. "First quarter 2009 adjusted income from operations of USD 108.8 million is our second consecutive quarter of positive adjusted income from operations and represents an improvement of USD 179 million over last year's first quarter pro forma loss from operations of (USD 70.2) million. With a 5% increase in pro forma revenue and a 23% decrease in cash operating costs, these results demonstrate our focus on improving profitability despite slower automobile sales and a 2% sequential decline in satellite radio subscribers. The growth in adjusted income from USD 31.8 million in the fourth quarter of 2008 to USD 108.8 million in the first quarter of 2009 should give investors comfort that we are well positioned to exceed USD 350 million in adjusted income from operations this year, an increase from our prior guidance to exceed USD 300 million."
Looking ahead Sirius-XM says it expects 2009 adjusted income to top USD 350 million, up from its previous guidance of USD 300 million issued in March.
2009-05-07: Radio listening in the UK reached an all time high since the introduction of new research methodology in January 1999 - reach was up 251,000 year-on-year to 45.8 million - in the first quarter of the year according to latest figures from RAJAR ( Radio Joint Audience Research) released today and covering the first quarter of the year: Digital listening was also up - by 12% to 206 million hours a week with DAB (Digital Audio Broadcast) receiver ownership up 19% year on year and listening via mobile phones up 13% year-on-year.
DAB listening now accounts for 12.7% of the total, up from 10.8% a year ago and listening via digital TV platforms was up from 3.2% a year ago to 3.4% of the total.
Regarding mobile phone listening, RAJAR says 13% of adults listened via mobiles in the latest quarter, up from 11.6% a year ago, whilst amongst the 15-24 demographic 30.6% said they had listened this way, up from 27.3% a year ago.
The ratings showed both the BBC and commercial radio gaining reach both quarter on quarter and year-on-year - the BBC added 289,000 listeners over the previous quarter and 410,000 over year ago to reach 33.809 million whilst commercial radio added 288,000 over the previous quarter and 479,000 over a year ago to reach 31.498 million.
In terms of listening share however, the BBC was up from 55.7% in the previous quarter to 56.3% although it was down on a year ago when its share was 56.8% - whilst commercial listening share was down to 41.2% in this quarter from 42.2% in the previous quarter although up from 41.1% a year ago.
In the commercial sector, largest commercial group Global Radio took its cumulative total up from 18.26 million listeners a week in the previous quarter to 18.53 million.
For that sector, RadioCentre chief executive Andrew Harrison commented, "It is very encouraging to see that Commercial Radio continues to attract more and more listeners and local Commercial Radio in particular, has had another healthy quarter. Commercial Radio is increasingly being listened to via DAB and other digital platforms; with the Government's Digital Britain report due for publication shortly, which we hope will include a date for switchover, we look forward to that growth accelerating."
At the BBC, Tim Davie, Director BBC Audio & Music, said, "These figures are excellent news for the radio industry and digital radio in particular. Radio remains as relevant and popular as ever and the growth in digital listening - powered by DAB - is particularly encouraging."
The BBC also noted that Welsh-language station BBC Radio Cymru's weekly reach grew by 13,000 quarter on quarter to 159,000 - it was up 20,000 listeners on a year ago and took a 3.7% share of radio listening in Wales and that in Northern Ireland BBC Radio Ulster held on to its top rank with a weekly audience of 531,000, up 14,000 on the previous quarter but down 8, 000 on a year ago.
For Bauer, group managing director of radio, Dee Ford, said the ratings showed a "solid" set of results and added, "Our priority is to run a stable and commercially viable network of radio stations that continue to serve our local communities with compelling programming."
Within the figures compared to the first quarter and a year ago:
*BBC Radio 1 gained 496,000 listeners and had a weekly audience of 11.072 million with listening share up from 10.1% to 10.3% (10.6% a year ago when it had 11.067 million listeners).
*BBC Radio 2 lost 8,000 listeners and had a weekly audience of 13.457 million but listening share was up from 15.8% to 15.9% (16.5% a year ago, when it had 13.632 million listeners)
*BBC Radio 3 gained 11,000 listeners to end with a weekly audience of 1.992 million but listening share was down from 1.3% to 1.1% (0.9% a year ago, when it had 1.795 million listeners).
*BBC Radio 4 gained 170,000 listeners to end with a weekly audience of 9.982 million and listening share up from 12.40% to 12.5% (12.2% a year ago when it had 9.561 million listeners).
*BBC Radio 5 Live, excluding Sports Extra, gained 189,000 listeners to end up with a weekly audience of 6.211 million, but listening share was down from 4.8% to 4.7% (4.6% a year ago when it had 6.022 million listeners).
(Including Sports Extra it gained 235,000 listeners to end with a weekly audience of 6.323 million but a listening share down from 5.0% to 4.8% (4.7% a year ago when it had 6.088 million listeners).
*BBC World Service gained 69,000 listeners to end up with a weekly audience of 1.470 million and a listening share up from 0.7% to 0.8% (0.7% a year ago when it had 1.345 million listeners).
*BBC Asian Network gained 26,000 listeners to end up with a weekly audience of 405,000 and an unchanged listening share of 0.2% (0.2% a year ago when it had 535,000 listeners).
On the commercial side for national networks:
*Bennett, Coleman & Co Ltd's Absolute Radio - the former Virgin Radio - (total including all AM and FM) - in its second ratings since it became Absolute Radio - lost 194,000 listeners to end up with a weekly audience of 1.693 million and an unchanged listening share of 1.2% (1.4% a year ago when it had an audience of 2.466 million listeners as Virgin).
RNW Note: SMG in 2008 sold Virgin to Bennett,Colemand and Co. Ltd-owned Times of India subsidiary TIML Golden Square Ltd and the stations were re-branded, losing the Virgin name.)
*Global Radio's Classic FM lost 288,000 listeners to end up with a weekly audience of 5.414 million and listening share down from 4.0% to 3.7% (3.7% a year ago when it had 5.622 million listeners).
*UTV's talkSPORT lost 99,000 listeners to end up with a weekly audience of 2.515 million and an unchanged listening share of 1.8% (1.9% a year ago when it had 2.470 million listeners.).
Among digital stations - excluding Bauer's Kerrang! which has a substantial analogue and digital listenership and a total weekly reach of 1.366 million including its analogue stations (down from 1.384 million quarter on quarter and up from 1.297 million a year ago) but including BBC Radio Five Live Sports Extra and Asian Network - the top ten stations in the survey had a weekly audience as below (previous quarter in brackets):
1 The Hits (Bauer) -1.300 million (down from 1.329 million and from 1.571 million a year ago).
2 Smash Hits Radio (Bauer) - 996,000 (up from 922,000 and from 973,000 a year ago).
3 BBC 7 - 984,000 (up from 850,000 and up from 813,000 a year ago).
4 Planet Rock (Now independent, having been sold by GCap) - 674,000 (down from 680,000 but up from 563,000 a year ago).
5 BBC 6 Music - 681,000 (up from 619,000 and 520,000 a year ago.). Up from sixth.
6 BBC Five Live Sports Extra - 642,000 (down from 663,000 and from 648,000 a year ago).Down from fifth.
7. BBC 1Xtra -616,000 (up from 533,000 and up from 595,000 a year ago).
8 Heat (Bauer) -423,000 (Down from 465,000 and 441,000 a year ago).
9 BBC Asian Network -405,000 (up from 379,000 but down from 535,000 a year ago).
10 NME Radio (in its third ratings) up from 152,000 to 194,000 (Just ahead of Absolute Radio Classic Rock with 186,000).
Mojo Radio (Bauer), which was tenth with 258,000 in the previous ratings, was closed by Bauer at the end of November 2008.
Previous Bennett, Coleman & Co (Absolute Radio ultimate parent):
Previous Global Radio:
Previous Planet Rock:
Previous RAJAR & RAJAR ratings (Final quarter 2008):
2009-05-07: Figures just released by the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for the third and fourth quarters of 2008 show quarter-on-quarter increases in consumer inquiries and complaints for both periods.
In the third quarter the total number of inquiries rose nearly two thirds from the second quarter - up from 62,036 to 102,079; both figures were dramatically higher than in the third quarter of 2007 when the total was 18,977.
Within the 2008 third quarter figures the number of broadcasting inquiries rose by 93% from 31,719 in the 2nd quarter to 61,404 in the 3rd quarter with 88% of these relating to digital TV issues.
Regarding complaints the total rose 14% quarter-on-quarter to 98,816 -they only totalled 987 on the third quarter of 2007. Of these broadcasting complaints were up from 30.315 in the second quarter to 40,057 with most of these - 37,450 or around 93% - being indecency/obscenity complaints. In 2007 the third quarter complaints totalled only 987, of which 368 were indecency or obscenity complaints.
In the final quarter of 2008, the total number of inquiries rose 116% to 221,419 with broadcasting inquiries up 194% to 180,949 of which 85% concerned digital TV issues.
Final quarter complaints were down 28% quarter-on-quarter to 70,836 within which broadcasting complaints were down 27% to 29,106. Again most of these - 26,743 of the total were indecency/obscenity complaints: The numbers compares with a total of 1,249 broadcasting complaints in the final quarter of 2007, 433 of which were indecency or obscenity complaints.
For the whole of 2008 indecency/obscenity complaints in 2008 totalled 210,190, up 35% on a 2007 total of 154,626.
Previous FCC complaints figures (First two quarters of 2008):
2009-05-07: Entravision has reported first quarter revenues down a quarter on a year ago at USD 41.7 million with Consolidated adjusted EBITDA down 60% to USD 6.7 million and net loss from continuing operations more than doubled - up from USD 7.05 million to USD 14.49 million.
Overall the net loss was up from USD 7.70 million to USD 14.49 million with the net loss per common share up from eight cents to 17 cents.
Chairman and CEO Walter Ulloa said of the performance that the results "reflect the continuing recession and the challenging environment for businesses, such as ours, that are dependent upon advertising revenue."
He continued, "We are continuing to aggressively manage our costs to maximize our cash flows. Our television and radio operations continue to deliver solid ratings in the nation's most densely-populated Hispanic markets. We believe we are well positioned to benefit when the economy recovers, given the strength of our brands and our ability to deliver consistently strong audience shares to our advertisers."
Entravision also noted that in the first quarter of this year it had repurchased 400,000 shares of Class A common stock for approximately USD 500,000 and that it has amended its bank credit facility in March - the new deal imposes additional restrictions including a "significantly higher interest rate on outstanding principal, a reduction in the revolver facility from USD 150 million to USD 50 million, a mandatory prepayment for 100% of the proceeds of certain asset dispositions, a restriction from making acquisitions and investments depending upon the leverage ratio, a sweep of 75% of quarterly excess cash flow to repay principal on the outstanding consolidated debt, limitations on capital expenditures in 2009 and 2010, and restrictions on repurchasing shares of its common stock and debt."
At the time of entering into this amendment, it says it made a prepayment of USD 40 million to reduce the outstanding amount of its term loans and paid its lenders an amendment fee.
2009-05-07: The BBC Trust has announced that is has launched a service review into BBC Radio 2, the UK's most popular radio station, and Radio 6 Music.
The Trust is committed to reviewing every BBC service at least every five years and this review is the fourth: It will examine Radio 2 and 6 Music's current performance, including the stations' usage, quality, distinctiveness and value for money, and the BBC's future plans for the services. There will be a 12 week period of consultation, beginning today, when the public will be able to give their opinions on the two services. The final report will be published in early 2010.
David Liddiment, the BBC Trustee and a former ITV director of television who is leading the review, said in a release, "Radio 2 is the most listened to radio station in the UK and its sister station 6 Music is growing in popularity. As part of the review we want to hear from as many listeners as possible with their views on the services - good and bad.
"As well as the current performance of the services we'll also be looking at the BBC's future plans for the stations to ensure they are robust and deliverable. If change is needed we can alter the stations' service licences or ask the BBC Executive to address the issues we raise."
The review will not deal with matters such as the recent row over on-air comments made by Russell Brand and Jonathan Ross that led to a GBP 150,000 (USD 230,000) Ofcom fine (See RNW Apr 3) or pay of the station's personalities.
BBC link to consultation form:
2009-05-06: US National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) President and CEO David K. Rehr has announced his resignation after three years in the post.
In a NAB release Rehr said he had "have enjoyed leading America's broadcasters through this time of change and challenge" and continued, "Our efforts to educate America about the digital television transition have been enormously successful, and our effort to reinvigorate radio through the Radio Heard Here campaign is positioning radio broadcasters well for the future. I am looking forward to building on these experiences and working with the broader Washington community to further advocacy efforts through marketing, communications and education."
Rehr plans to continue in his current role during a transition phase during which Janet McGregor, NAB's chief operating and financial officer, will work closely with Rehr and assume day-to-day duties until a successor is named.
Paying tribute to Rehr, NAB Joint Board Chairman Jack Sander said, "David made a significant contribution and has been extremely dedicated to making NAB a stronger organization In large part due to David's efforts, we have a very solid infrastructure in place. Our senior staff members are experienced and extremely talented. Our board of directors and members are a powerful force comprised of the best minds in broadcasting. We are prepared and well positioned to represent radio and television's best interests as we progress into the digital future."
Rehr joined the NAB from the National Beer Wholesalers Association in December 2005 in succession to Eddie Fritts, an appointment confirmed in October that year (See RNW Oct 21, 2005) and during his period the organization has suffered a number of setbacks. They included a failure to block the merger of Sirius and XM Satellite Radio and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) "white spaces" initiative under which unused parts of broadcast spectrum may be opened up for use by computer devices. The NAB is currently heavily involved in lobbying to prevent the introduction of performance royalties for music aired on US terrestrial stations.
2009-05-06: US Spanish-language broadcasters today forecast at a Congressional staff briefing that there would be job losses and reduced service to listeners if performance royalties are introduced for music aired on terrestrial stations in the country.
Amongst those speaking were Univision host Eddie "Piolin" Sotelo, who recounted details of a meeting with President Obama in which he said the President agreed with him about the need for a "Bridge" from the White House to the Hispanic community and Frank Flores VP and General Manager Spanish Broadcasting System (SBS)who referred to the pressure from recording companies for royalties as being "like throwing a surprise Birthday party for a dear friend of yours and at the end of the night your dear friend comes and asks you for an appearance fee."
He continued, to laughter, "And you sit there and wonder "What the hell is all this about?" A lot of these artists wouldn't be where they are if it wasn't for these radio stations."
Bustos Media chairman and CEO Amador Bustos said they were not talking in an abstract sense but potential demise for some minority broadcasters. He termed the royalties a "performance tax" that would be the "last and final nail in the coffin for these small broadcasters like ours and I think it is just absolutely ludicrous that the recording companies are trying to sort of bite the hand that feeds them."
Border Media Partners VP and Market Manager Miguel Villareal said that for most of those present "the additional tax would mean laying off some people and when you lay off some people - one, two , or however many you have to lay off - that is one less person who has the opportunity to serve the community through the enterprise. We're dealing right now with the outbreak of the swine flu and there are entire communities along the border that are being impacted on a daily basis, on an hourly basis: For us to lose one individual that could not go on the air to give information as to what to do and where to go in case of emergencies could be devastating. "
musicFirst, the lobbying group representing artists and performers continued its push for the Performance Rights Act that would bring in royalty charges and pointed out that the National Hispanic Conference of State Legislators (NHCSL) recently approved a resolution that calls upon Congress to enact the Performance Rights Act.
The resolution notes that only terrestrial stations have an exemption, something they termed "a "unique government-created exemption from having to compensate creators" and it called upon Congress to correct a long standing iniquity in the law
musicFirst executive director Jennifer Bendall commented that they were "pleased that grassroots Hispanic policymakers are strong supporters of closing this outrageous corporate loophole and will work with their members of Congress to advance this critical bill."
Previous Border Media Partners:
Previous Amador Bustos:
Previous Bustos Media:
2009-05-06: Beasley Broadcast Group has reported first quarter revenues down 23.2% to USD 22.56 million with station operating income down 33.3% to USD 5.38 million and operation nearly halved from USD 4.83 million to USD 2.51 million: Net income plunged from USD 1.19 million to USD 8,000.
Beasley put the revenue fall down primarily to the advertising downturn in the current economy and Beasley adds that nearly two-thirds of the fall related to the company's Miami-Fort Lauderdale, Philadelphia and Las Vegas market clusters.
Regarding net income Beasley said the figure reflected a combination of lower operating income and a USD 500,000 loss on extinguishment of long-term debt, which together more than offset a USD 700,000 reduction in interest expense resulting from lower borrowing costs and voluntary repayments of borrowings under the Company's credit facility.
Commenting on the results, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer George G. Beasley said, "The economic recession and its impact on advertising spending, the radio industry, and Beasley Broadcast Group resulted in a significant decline in first quarter revenue. In the face of this environment, we believe that our profitable first quarter results highlight the benefits our vigilance in managing costs and our balance sheet. However, the revenue decline incurred during the period outpaced the benefits of company-wide cost containment programs resulting in a loss of operating leverage, which impacted SOI, operating income and net income comparisons."
On a positive note he said the company "further built our interactive business, strengthened our national sales representation, added network affiliations at select stations, contained costs at the station and corporate levels and lowered the Company's outstanding bank debt while increasing cash and cash equivalents from 2008 year end levels. Reflecting this focus, first quarter interactive and off-air initiatives revenue grew by 3% year-over year to USD 1.3 million from the first quarter of 2008."
He also noted that the company had made an 18% reduction in total cost and expenses in the 2009 first quarter reflects moves including a headcount reduction of approximately 15% at the end of the 2009 first quarter and a partial quarter benefit of a company-wide salary reduction of 5% which began during the quarter and concluded, "While the current economy has emerged as a strong headwind for all businesses, we expect that our ongoing approach to actively managing our station portfolio, balance sheet and capital structure, practicing prudent expense management and developing new revenue streams will serve the Company well when the economy and industry rebounds."
Previous George Beasley:
2009-05-06: According to TNS Media Intelligence, US advertising revenues fell by 4.1% year-on-year in 2008 to USD 141.7 billion with a fourth quarter fall of 9.2%. Its SVP Research Jon Swallen added that "Preliminary figures from the first quarter of 2009 indicate little change in the health of the overall ad economy as total spending continues to contract sharply."
Within media the greatest 2008 fall was for newspapers - down 11.8% overall with Spanish language newspapers down 14.2% followed by radio with an overall fall of 10.3% within which local radio was down 11.1%, national spot radio was down 11.2% and network radio was down 2.7%. Third came magazines - down 7.5% overall with B-to-B magazines, whose advert revenue fell by 10.5% faring worst.
For all media the final quarter fall was greater and again newspapers were down most - by 16.5% with Spanish language papers down 18.3%, national papers down 17.9% and local papers down 16.3%.
Radio was again second overall - down 14.8% with local radio down 17.7%, national spot radio down 11.6%, and network radio down 3.2% - and magazines were again third - down 13.9% with B-to-B again faring worst, with an 18.3% fall.
2009-05-05: This week our look at print comment on radio starts in the US with the suspension of Boston host Jay Severin, termed by Scot Lehigh in the Boston Globe "a punk posing as a pundit."
He also comments implicitly about Greater Media's WTTK-FM, beginning, "I have to admit, I'm confused.
"Has WTKK suddenly adopted elementary standards of civility?
"Is it now applying an IQ test to its talk-show hosts?
"On Thursday, the station suspended Jay Severin, and if you read between the lines, that indefinite suspension sounds like it might just be permanent.
"Why? Severin's anguished fans wonder. And I have to admit, it's a good question.
"Sure, Severin reportedly called illegal immigrants from Mexico 'criminaliens', 'primitives', and 'leeches'. Yes, he said that Mexico's leading exports were 'venereal disease", 'women with moustaches', and 'swine flu'.
"But come on. That kind of racist ranting has been his stock in trade all along. Indeed, it's precisely what has made him the pied piper of the pugnacious p.m. pinheads."
Lehigh then spells out his personal attitude to Severin' and points out that there is no First Amendment issue here, and then notes that rants are what Severin does.
On the first he refers to "Severin's crude, bombastic, xenophobic discourse" and terms him a "bigot and a fraud"- Lehigh's comments were that having proved his point "it made no difference to Severin's committed fans"; of the First Amendment -"That amendment protects speech against state suppression. It doesn't prevent one from being suspended or fired as a commentator by his private-sector employer"; and of the rants - " these latest comments are no particular aberration. It's what he does. Just like, say, calling Hillary Clinton 'a lying bitch' and a fat communist this-or-that. Or labelling her husband 'a traitor'. Or saying that Mike Dukakis should be 'executed' and that Al Gore 'would murder his daughter' to become president It's all par for the course - and it's been going on for as long as he's been polluting the airwaves."
And as for Severin's success the secret "- to the degree one could call a talk-radio host who traffics in venom and vitriol a success - was simple.
"First, he appealed to the visceral grievances and resentments of his audience. Second, he flattered them by continually telling them they were the best and brightest, men and women of intelligence and discrimination."
Lehigh says that the result was to take WTTK-FM "relentlessly down market" and he contrasts Severin's style with an interview by another Conservative host -Dan Rea of CBS Radio's WBZ-AM - with Massachusetts Governor David Patrick: Rea he says was "civil and respectful. The callers I heard followed suit, with fair if sometimes pointed questions. The session was lively and interesting, which is to say, terrific informative radio. Tom Finneran does the same thing mornings on WRKO (Entercom's WRKO-AM)."
And contrasting the three men: "Listening to both men, you can learn something. That's an experience I've never had with Severin.
"Here's the difference. Rea, a veteran and accomplished journalist, and Finneran, the former House speaker, are informed, intelligent, and gentlemanly.
"Severin, for all pretentious palaver, is simply a punk posing as a pundit."
After Greater Media, on to a much bigger player in the form of Clear Channel and imaginings from Jerry Del Colliano in his insidemusicmedia blog of an employee takeover of Clear Channel, although he recognises that the chance of this really happening is "slim to none (and in this case, both Slim and None are on vacation)."
Del Colliano compares Clear Channel to Chrysler in terms of contraction and possible bankruptcy, saying of the latter, "If Clear Channel went into bankruptcy (a possibility as early as this year) and the government as well as another healthy partner participated, the employees could rebuild the kind of radio that time has shown audiences love.
"Not repeater radio, voice tracking and under nourished programming, but 100% local radio with news and community involvement that reflects diverse local needs."
He then continues, "If Clear Channel winds up in bankruptcy, it is likely that a judge will allow them to violate their pension and severance responsibilities. A lot of good people are going to get screwed if that happens. And that's what I liked about the UAW/government deal to protect the workers. After all, it was their bosses who messed up.
"What if it were the other way around for radio?
"Take away the consolidators' present management and let the employees run the company (with support from the government and another solvent investor)."
"A Chrysler-type employee takeover of Clear Channel would also solve the issue of penny stocks -- the residue of greed by radio CEOs who continue to prove they take care of themselves before they worry about investors.
"It also stymies investment banks, arguably the cause of radio's demise in the first place.
"For years they simply redid the loan arrangements to consolidators who borrowed too much at inflated multiples to get themselves in trouble. Even now, when you see that a group escaped bankruptcy for a few more months, they likely did it by agreeing to even higher interest rates.
"The investment banks have nowhere to go. They certainly don't want to foreclose on radio stations they don't want, can't run and can't sell, but they're acting like they have the upper hand."
Del Colliano remains gloomy about the future for terrestrial radio - "The entire next generation that was raised without previous generations' addiction to radio, have moved on to the digital future. Radio is still trying to broadcast to these people 24/7 when they can get what they want when they want it on mobile and smart devices or over the Internet" and he goes on to suggest that were employees to take over they would also fail unless their plans include "a plan to build what the marketplace wants (mobile and Internet content as well as old fashioned terrestrial radio)."
RNW comment: We cannot see the US devotion to the market (except when politicians can be bribed through lobbyists and contributions to tamper with the market to the benefit of particular industries through regulations or absence thereof - the Performance Royalty issue is a prime case of this at the moment) allowing an employee takeover but do think the best route forward would be to refuse to allow radio companies to walk away from severance and pension responsibilities - albeit they could be capped to an individual maximum (say at the level of the highest paid New York PD at the moment, thus screwing the Mays family and a number of other highly paid radio executives whose companies are failing) -and keep licences.
This would put the company's owners between a rock and a hard place - they'd have the free market option to show they could honour their contracts and keep going or walk away in which case the licences could be offered to other bidders with station employees at each station
As Del Colliano commented of the local employees - "After all, they are the ones who built local radio into such an appealing business that Wall Street overpaid to get into it.
"And, I'm arguing, that the local employees are the only ones who can turn this debacle around on a dime.
"I only wish it could happen.
"Save the radio business by kicking out the carpetbaggers and letting the employees take back radio stations that their owners have proven they cannot operate when left to their own devices."
Next the issue of broadcast indecency and an op-ed by lawyer Adam Freedman under the heading "Gentlemen Cows in Prime Time" takes on the justices of the Supreme Court.
Referring to their crackdown on the use of "dirty words", Freedman writes, "That the justices managed to do this without actually uttering either of the words at issue - one refers to a sexual act, the other to a bodily function - exemplifies both the court's tact and its lack of connection with contemporary English usage."
Freedman goes through the history of various incidents and rulings before noting that in the written judgment for the majority from Justice Antonin Scalia it was said that it was "entirely rational" for the F.C.C. to conclude, as it did, that one particular curse "invariably invokes a coarse sexual image."
The evidence for this suggests Freedman is mixed. He quotes Jesse Sheidlower, editor at large of the Oxford English Dictionary and the author of a book on swearing, as describing the F.C.C.'s argument as "rubbish" and continues, "Although the word in question originally referred to a sexual act, Mr. Sheidlower argued, it has now taken on an independent "emotional" sense. The nonsexual use of the word can be seen in countless contemporary examples, as when Vice President Dick Cheney used it in 2004 to recommend that Senator Patrick Leahy do something that is, strictly speaking, anatomically impossible."
"The counterargument is that the very power of the word as a non-literal intensifier derives from its underlying sexual meaning. Or, as Ruth Wajnryb, an Australian linguist, explained in her book "Expletive Deleted," the word is taboo "because of its referential function."
And later - "Indecency laws are tied to evolving community standards. In 1623, the English Parliament passed legislation to prohibit 'profane swearing and cursing.' Under that law, people could be fined for uttering oaths like 'upon my life' or 'on my troth.' In the Victorian era, the word 'bull' was considered too strong for mixed company; instead, one referred to 'gentlemen cows.' Times change, notwithstanding the fervent wishes of prescriptivists to keep dirty words dirty."
Freedman then refers to the (at the time upcoming) case concerning CBS and the Super Bowl half-time show (It was sent back to the court that had rejected the FCC penalty for reconsideration- See RNW Apr 4) and comments, "Perhaps the F.C.C.'s disproportionate response to that incident will be recognized for what it was: a regulatory malfunction."
RNW Comment: We have already made it plain that we have serious concerns about the current US Supreme Court, which in our view seems at time far too little concerned with justice and too much concerned with individual justice's prejudice in favour of the powerful and the views they hold. We continue to hold those views.
Finally to the UK where BBC Radio 4, as we have reported (See RNW Apr 28) dropped a planned edition of "On the Ropes" with Andy Kershaw.
Kershaw has since given his version of events, telling Vic Bates of the Independent, "'Certainly, there is nothing in the court order preventing me from speaking fondly of my children on the radio'
"According to Radio 4's own website message-board, many listeners were as stunned and dismayed as I was by the cancellation of last Tuesday's On The Ropes. For their sakes (and thanks to them for the overwhelming support), I'm glad they didn't also have to share the public humiliation of that decision."
Kershaw says throughout the recording of the programme, "My attitude throughout was positive and optimistic. I did not want to use the programme to attack the injustices and humiliations heaped upon me over the past three years. After all, these had only aggravated and prolonged a period of turmoil of which I was the original architect."
He adds that he has now "fully recovered from my breakdown and from my period of alcohol dependency. I have, at last, moved on" and felt that the invitation to the programme was an "an opportunity to announce that. It would be, I hoped, cleansing. And it was. There was no anger in what I said on the programme, no bitterness, nor any self-pity. There was nothing to which my ex-partner and the mother of my two children could reasonably object."
." I described the rediscovery of my energy, enthusiasm, ambition, optimism, efficiency, curiosity and sense of humour. And that I am now, at 49, in the best physical and mental shape I had ever known."
Kershaw says that as he left the studio the programme host John Humphrys "slapped me across the shoulder and said: 'I think you got the tone of that absolutely right.' The producer, Karen Gregor, was gushing that I'd been 'absolutely brilliant' and that it was 'the best On The Ropes we have ever recorded.'"
The programme he says was cleared by the lawyers on the same day (Thursday) for broadcast the following Tuesday (09:00) - "Clearly, the BBC, at that stage, was not only comfortable about the programme legally but very happy with it editorially - and plugging it as if they'd persuaded Osama bin Laden to face Humphrys."
The next he heard, he said, was a call from Andrew Thorman, executive editor of factual programmes, Birmingham (The show is handled by BBC Birmingham) to tell him Radio 4 Controller Mark Damazer had decided the programme would not be. He called the producer who "admitted, reluctantly, that there had been contact between herself and Juliette Banner (my ex-partner) on Monday morning" but also confirmed that the lawyers had cleared the broadcast.
Damazer, says Kershaw, eventually called him around 10 a.m. on Tuesday morning - the time the broadcast had been scheduled to end, said he had listened to the programme and found no problems at first but after Banner's call killed it on "'grounds of "concerns for the children', yet was unable or unwilling to tell me precisely what I had said on the programme that had given him those concerns."
Kershaw says Damazer "even said: 'I don't have to go into that detail'" and continues, "I believe he does, not just to me but to the widely experienced BBC people, John Humphrys and Karen Gregor. In half a century of broadcasting, Humphrys has never had a programme dropped from transmission. In 25 years of service to the Corporation, neither have I."
He adds there was nothing said to raise concerns about his children of whom he spoke "only with affection" and says Damazer's public statement referred to "the legal order, the result of which makes it very difficult for him to have significant access to his children."
The order says Kershaw prevents him from contacting his ex-partner and her current boyfriend but "There is no legal barrier whatsoever to contact with my children. Certainly, there is nothing in the court order preventing me from speaking fondly of my children on the radio. Nor am I barred by law from speaking publicly, should I wish to do so, of their mother and my lack of normal contact with my children."
In effect he accused Damazer, whom he has asked for a written explanation, of creating a misleading impression of last-minute pressure because of the lateness of its recording and editing - when in fact the programme had been cleared by lawyers five days before the scheduled transmission - and also expresses scepticism, to say the least, about validity of the concerns about his children - [Damazer] "played the children card, with an assumed concern for the welfare and privacy of my children, superior and more intimate than my own, to justify his decision."
Kershaw would appear to have some valid points but like the likelihood of an employee takeover of Clear Channel we suspect his chances of getting a full explanation are "slim to none."
On then to listening suggestions (posted in advance of the above report) and first opt for BBC Radio 3, which this week is heavily devoted to the work and life of Felix (and Fanny) Mendelssohn: The couple are the topic of this week's "Composer of the Week"; "Afternoon on 3" is devoted to Mendelssohn's works as is "The Lunchtime Concert" (from Tuesday); and on Saturday the station starts a Mendelssohn Weekend.
Mendelssohn aside we'd also note the regular "Essay"- this week "A Cretan Spring" in which Adam Nicolson and Sarah Raven explore facets of the island and Jazz with "Jazz on 3" on Monday - more from the Cheltenham Jazz Festival 2009; and drama - linked to Mendelssohn next Sunday in "Drama on 3" - Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream" and Mendelssohn's complete incidental music for it.
Then BBC Radio 2 starting with Monday and "The Record Producers" - this edition on the work of 10cc- plus the first part of a repeat of the station's "Liberace: Mr Showmanship!".
From Tuesday we suggest "Sound Effects" in which Cerys Matthews explores the power of music to bring us together and "You Heard It At The Movies" - the first part of an eight-part series. This episode looked at scores from Apocalypse Now, Chariots of Fire and Lawrence of Arabia.
Jumping to Friday we suggest the second of the three-part "70 Years of Cool", the story of Blue Note Records and modern jazz (The first part is available until then) and from Saturday the second and final part of "Billy Joel: All My Life" (Again the first programme is available until then).
Moving to BBC Radio 4 we first suggest from last Saturday the first part of a two-part dramatisation of Chaucer's Troilus and Criseyde (The second programme is this coming Saturday) and from Sunday the first of a two-part "Catholics and Jews" in which Edward Stourton looks at claims Christian theology paved the way for modern anti-Semitism (Part 2 is this coming Sunday) plus "Petitioning the Modern Way" in which Jon Ronson looks at e-petitioning (Only available until Saturday when the second part airs).
From Monday and running through the week in the 14:45 GMT slot we opt for "Sacrifices" in which families with a talented child talk about sacrifices made to encourage the talents - which run through dancing, playing tennis, playing the piano, horse riding, and a Paralympic athlete.
On Monday itself we suggest the second and last part of "A Tale of Two Emirates", this episode dealing with Abu Dhabi''s huge development programme that seems to have been launched with potentially disastrous riming; "France's Forgotten Concentration Camps" - set up to hold Spanish Civil War refugees; "Costing the Earth" - "Raising a Stink" on harnessing the power available from sewage; and "M Is for Maxwell Knight", the story of the 1950s naturalist Maxwell Knight who was also an MI5 spy.
From Tuesday we suggest the latest "On the Ropes" in which foster parent Marjorie Lambert told the story of how she took on a foster daughter who made accusations of sexual abuse and began a string of threatening phone calls Lambert eventually received some compensation but it took her a decade to discover information about the girl's past which she says, had she known it, would have led to her turning down this fostering. Also that day we opt for the third of the four part "Head to Head" series - in this programme Clive James debated the effects of Christianity with Gore Vidal ; the latest "Great Lives" programme, in which broadcaster and DJ Colin Murray chose Frank Sinatra as his subject; and "The New Hindu Fundamentalists", an investigation about the rise of Hindu fundamentalism in Britain.
From Wednesday we suggest "The Media Show" - mainly for the plugs former (fired) UTV-owned talkSPORT host John Gaunt gives his new venture Sun Talk Radio.launched by The Sun tabloid newspaper for which he is a columnist, and subsequent discussion on the implication of such services for broadcast radio - and "Thinking Allowed" on modern architecture and how far it is fit for purpose and how far indulging in dream - some savage denunciation came from Jeremy Till (Both these are available as downloads or streams).
On Thursday we suggest "In our Time" for a discussion on "Magna Carta" and "The Report" - on the topic of how the right to protest is being eroded in the UK (Again both available as downloads or streams).
From Friday we suggest "The Reunion" - this programme on the reunion of former Beirut hostages John McCarthy, Brian Keenan and Terry Waite; "Ladies of Leisure" about a controversial women-only hotel in Saudi Arabia; and a regular with "The News Quiz".
Previous Del Colliano:
Boston Globe- Lehigh:
Insidemusicmedia blog - Del Colliano:
New York Times - Freedman:
UK Independent - Bates/Kershaw:
2009-05-05: Clear Channel Radio has announced that it has partially renewed its currently-expired Arbitron ratings contract - it ran out at the end of last year - but will be taking fewer services - it says it will not use Arbitron's services in some 24 markets.
Of these markets, it adds that 17 are covered by its 18-market contract with Nielsen, which has entered the radio ratings business. It will operate in the remaining seven markets without ratings data.
Regarding Nielsen, Clear Channel said in a statement that it "remains fully committed to Nielsen in the 18 markets in which we are currently working with them. In addition, based on the outstanding data gained from the first pilot market, we remain interested in expanding our relationship to include additional markets. We will be adding one additional market immediately. The professionalism, commitment to accuracy, and customer support we've received from Nielsen is matched only by their research quality and ability to deliver an accurate measure of true radio listening. We look forward to a long and mutually productive relationship with them."
Arbitron has now revealed in an 8K filing to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) that the deal is for three years covering 105 markets, all listed in the filing, on top of it has agreed a new RADAR network ratings deal with which Clear Channel subsidiary Premiere Radio Networks as well as new agreements with Katz Media Group and Clear Channel Traffic: The total amount of payments for the three-year period is expected to be around USD 69 million.
Arbitron's shares, were down 2.15% at USD 20.45 in early afternoon but closed unchanged for the day at USD 20.60.
Previous Clear Channel:
2009-05-05: Top-rated Sydney 2GB talk host Alan Jones has gone back on air this week after a month's sick leave from the Macquarie Network-owned station but says he is only sleeping an hour a night with a consequent detriment to his health.
Jones compared his disrupted sleep with that of shift workers and noted studies that have found a link between sleep deprivation and illnesses.
"I wouldn't sleep more than 50 minutes most nights and that's something my doctors continue to be concerned about," he commented, adding, "can go to bed at 11(pm) and be awake again before midnight. Go back to sleep then wake again at twenty past 12. There have been some mornings where I have got up, put on my suit, grabbed my bag and been headed out the door feeling fine only to look at the clock and realise it's only 1.30(am)."
Previous Macquarie Radio Network::
2009-05-05: CBS Corporation has announced that it is to combine the online assets of CBS Radio and its Last.fm business in a new business unit, CBS Interactive Music Group, which will be part of CBS Interactive.
The new unit will be headed by the Group President David Goodman, who joined CBS Radio in 2002 as Executive Vice President of Marketing, was promoted to President of Marketing in February 2005, and appointed President, Digital Media and Integrated Marketing in 2007.
Announcing the move, CBS Corporation's President and Chief Executive Leslie Moonves said they were "combining two industry-leading music properties to form a single group dedicated to music fans everywhere" and added, "CBS is in a unique position to bring together the leading-edge technological resources at CBS Interactive with the content, promotional and sales assets at CBS Radio to drive efficiencies into the business and create unmatched experiences for all of our customers. David is uniquely qualified to lead our efforts in the area, and I look forward to all he'll do to grow this new enterprise."
CBS Radio President and Chief Executive Officer Dan Mason commented, "David and his team have crafted an intelligent long-term digital strategy for CBS Radio and provided our properties with resources and tools local radio stations could never have imagined would be in their arsenal. Our stations are better equipped than any of their competitors at delivering music enthusiasts a fully interactive on-air and online user experience. With the power of CBS Interactive behind our efforts we will only get better. No other radio company has the calibre of resources of CBS and no other interactive company can own local radio like we do."
2009-05-05: Boston host Jay Severin's agent George Tobia has said he expects his client to be back on air in his afternoon slot on Greater Media's WTTK-FM soon following talks held on Monday about his suspension.
The suspension followed on-air attacks on Mexican immigrants (See RNW May 2) and the station, although confirming a meeting had been held, said Severin will "remain on suspension until further notice."
The Boston Globe quoted WTTK spokeswoman Heidi Raphael as saying, "WTKK and Greater Media value an open and vigorous dialogue, but we also strongly adhere to basic principles of civility, common decency, and respect for all cultures. We believe Jay's suspension is the best way to uphold both of these corporate policies."
Severin received qualified support from the Framingham-based Concerned Citizens and Friends of Illegal Immigration Law Enforcement whose director Joe Rizoli told the paper, "I'm not particularly happy with some of the words he used, but if you look at some of the effects of illegal immigrants on our country, it's worse."
"The fact that these people are living lives that are so anti-American is worse than anything Jay Severin could have said" he added, continuing, "I think he should try to be a little more respectful. People are people, no matter whether they're illegal aliens or not. You don't treat them that way."
There was also qualified comment from the American Civil Liberties Union(ACLU), which did not accept that he was protected by the First Amendment (which says the US government should not legislate to limit speech): Carol Rose, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts, told the paper, "The ACLU is watching this with interest, because there are multiple free-speech concerns at issue, including Mr. Severin's free speech, the rights of the radio station to decide what it wants to air, and the right of the public to protest, and concerns for private demands for censorship to restrict the flow of ideas The ACLU supports the broadest possible marketplace of ideas, but as a First Amendment legal matter, the fact that the radio station is privately owned suggests that the rights of the radio station to control its content trumps Mr. Severin's First Amendment legal claims."
Civil liberties lawyer Harvey Silverglate said the station had the right to fire or suspend Severin but added that media organizations have "an ethical obligation not to take someone off the air just because he said something offensive."
"I find it puzzling there's an audience for this drivel, but if there's an audience for it, we have to accept the fact that somebody is going to pay a broadcaster to give the public what it wants to hear," said Silverglate. "That's the nature of a free society: Even if I can't understand what a listener sees or hears in what he says, we're not the arbiters of taste. Nobody has the power to prohibit his being hired."
Previous Greater Media:
Boston Globe report:
2009-05-04: DAB+ digital radio was launched in Australia today when nine Perth commercial stations - Mix 94.5, 92.9, Nova 93.7, 6PR, 96 fm, 6ix, Radar, Pink Radio and Novanation - started transmissions in a move that Joan Warner, Chief executive on industry body Commercial Radio Australia described as a "milestone" for Australian radio and the biggest innovation since FM was introduced in the 70s.
"The Australian radio industry has invested in and created its digital future and will compete with other digital technologies and continue to maintain radio's relevance in listener's lives," she commented, saying that the switch on was "a culmination of seven years work with the Federal Government, the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA), commercial broadcasters, the ABC and SBS, together with retailers and manufacturers of digital radios to ensure a comprehensive and coordinated switch on of a compelling new way of listening to radio."
The broadcasts will commence in interference test mode and the power may be lower at night while any interference is assessed and the signal will reach well over more than 90% of the Perth population according to the ACMA's Digital Radio Channel Plans.
Barring unforeseen delays Melbourne is to launch its DAB+ transmissions next - on May 11 - followed by Adelaide (May 15); Brisbane (May 25); and Sydney (May 30). Commercial stations are leading the way with the ABC and SBS expected to commence digital services throughout June and July.
Commercial Radio Australia said at the end of last week that significant progress has been made on the finalisation of innovative technical and advertising production specifications for the synchronisation of "visual" and audio components of DAB+ digital radio.
Amongst broadcasters involved in the development are ARN, Austereo, DMG, and Fairfax Radio, as well as key digital courier companies; Adstream, Audionet, DubSat, Fairfax Digital, Music Point and DStar and Warner said agreement "was reached on the basic components of an effective set of specifications", adding that the group "will now finalise the industry specifications for distribution to all stakeholders in the next couple of months."
The specifications are being developed to provide consistent audio and visual production values to meet digital radio's unique needs and specifically match audio and text/image files at the final broadcast point to ensure the correct visuals are displayed with the correct audio.
Previous Commercial Radio Australia:
2009-05-04: Hard on the heels of its decision to uphold the right of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to fine stations for "fleeting" indecency in the case of Fox TV (See RNW Apr 29), the US Supreme Court has in a one-line order directed the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia to reconsider its decision voiding a USD 550,000 fine that the Commission imposed in September 2004 on CBS over the brief display of one of Janet Jackson's breasts during the 2004 Super Bowl show (See RNW Sep 23, 2004).
The court had thrown out the fine in July last year, commenting that at the time of the offence the agency's previous policy relating to "fleeting" incidents - its practice had been in effect - the incident lasted "nine-sixteenths of one second" and the FCC had in the past not taken action over "fleeting" instances related to video indecency: CBS had already implemented a five-second audio delay to guard against the possibility of indecent language being transmitted on air, but it did not employ similar precautionary technology for video (See RNW July 21, 2008).
The court sent the matter back to the FCC, concluding, "Like any agency, the FCC may change its policies without judicial second-guessing. But it cannot change a well-established course of action without supplying notice of and a reasoned explanation for its policy departure. Because the FCC failed to satisfy this requirement, we find its new policy arbitrary and capricious."
CBS, which had paid the penalty but appealed the decision, termed the original ruling in its favour "an important win for the entire broadcasting industry because it recognizes that there are rare instances, particularly during live programming, when it may not be possible to block unfortunate fleeting material, despite best efforts": It said of today's ruling, "We are confident that in reviewing the case the Third Circuit will again recognize that the Super Bowl incident, while inappropriate and regrettable, was not and could not have been anticipated by CBS. This remains an important issue for the entire broadcasting industry because it recognizes that there are rare instances, particularly during live programming, when despite best efforts it may not be possible to block unfortunate fleeting material."
RNW comment: The decision is in line with that of the Fox case but view is that this ruling displays the ignorance and prejudices of this court rather more than any feeling for fairness and justice. We commented at the time of the Appeals Court ruling that the "court has not said that the FCC is not now within its power to take action but it has said that at the time of the action taken by it the agency departed without prior warning from normal practice. That ruling seems substantiated by the facts and it would take an activist court decision to overturn it."
We see no reason to change that view and hope the Appeals court after reconsideration reiterates its view. Oh to have the power to seize the assets of the justices who voted for this ruling for the costs every broadcaster would have to incur to put in video-delay technology to prevent any recurrence. It would be unjust retrospective action but no more unjust than a number of decisions of the Roberts' Court. One can only hope that if Roberts and his colleagues ever make a mistake that breaks the law in any way, they will be given the maximum penalty - which would be just.
2009-05-04: The US National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) has claimed the support of six more House members and four Senators for the Local Radio Freedom Act that opposes the introduction of performance royalties for terrestrial US radio and now has the support of six Senators and 184 members of The House.
Commenting on the support NAB Executive Vice President Dennis Wharton said in a release, "Given the record labels' decades-long history of exploiting musicians for their own financial gain, lawmakers are growing increasingly sceptical over the RIAA's (Recording Industry Association of America) disingenuous claim that this new fee will benefit artists. And with 50 percent of the new fee funnelled directly into the coffers of the foreign-owned record labels, who can blame them?"
Thee has also been opposition to the idea of royalties ("disingenuously" termed a tax in their news release posted by the Free Radio Alliance!) from religious broadcasters in a letter to members of Congress from Russ Hauth of Salem Communications; Harv Hendrickson of Northwestern Media, a ministry of Northwestern College; Don Crawford of Crawford Broadcasting; and Dan DeBruler of Christian Listening Network.
In the latter they write, "Radio companies like ours that air ministry programming are trying to weather the economic storm ahead, but some members of Congress - at the urging of the foreign-owned record labels - have introduced legislation that could make it impossible for radio ministries to survive Even if the legislation included exemptions that actually meant something, we would oppose this measure on principle."
They continue, "Why would we legislatively and financially reward an industry that consistently displays bad behaviour at the expense of local jobs and local communities? Local religious radio stations like ours exist to help people. And the entire radio industry is formed around the notion that it has the responsibility to not only entertain and inform, but also to serve the great people in this country. We take pride in doing that every day, and it is why we need your help."
Free Radio Alliance Spokeswoman Cathy Rought added, "The labels love to march out celebrities and throw around words like 'fairness' and 'parity' when in fact there is nothing fair or equal about the handout they seek. And they surely haven't used fairness in their dealings with both consumers and artists. The performance tax is a money grab by the labels for millions of dollars at the expense of family-supporting jobs and local communities at a time when people already can't make ends meet. It is irresponsible and reckless."
The Alliance in conjunction with Univision-syndicated host Eddie "Piolin" Sotelo are due to host a panel discussion tomorrow in DC on the negative impact a "performance tax" would have on radio, suggesting that it would have a potential for massive job losses.
RNW comment: Although we think any move by the recording labels to demand large royalties would be counter-productive not to say plainly foolish in the current economic climate, it is difficult to consider the radio industry in this instance as other than unimaginative propagandist hypocrites with no belief in the free market. We object both to the perversion of language and narrow-minded chauvinism in their frequent releases - when were US owners forced to sell their recording companies to foreigners? Whiners who couldn't hack it in the marketplace seems a fair description of many involved in this farrago.
2009-05-03: Last week the main regulatory news came from the US where the US Supreme Court upheld the right of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to levy fines for single instances of broadcast indecency although it left the door open for a First Amendment challenge to the agency's rules (See RNW Apr 29): Elsewhere there was a steady but low level of activity but no major decisions.
In Australia, the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) posted no radio announcements but it has "invited industry feedback on its Five Year Spectrum Outlook 2009-2013, as part of its commitment to keep the five-year snapshot of radio-communications priority issues current." The spectrum involved is mainly for mobile and wireless services and feedback has to be submitted by Aug 31.
In Canada, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) made a number of radio-related postings including the following:
*Approved application by Rawlco Radio Ltd. to amend the antenna's radiation pattern of its new Edmonton station authorized in October last year station so as to provide better coverage to the southern parts of Edmonton.
*Approved application by CIAM Media & Radio Broadcasting Association to relocate its transmitter CIAM-FM-5, Weberville, and decrease the effective height of the antenna.
*Approved the application by Niagara Radio Group Inc. for authority to acquire -as part of a corporate re-organization - from CJRN 710 Inc. the assets English-language commercial stations CKEY-FM, Fort Erie, and its transmitter CKEY-FM-1, St. Catharines, along with CFLZ-FM, Niagara Falls.
The agency also posted a notice of consultation with a deadline of May 19 for the submission of interventions or comments regarding a request by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) to add a temporary 50 watts transmitter at Caraquet to carry the programming of its French-language CBAF-FM at Moncton, New Brunswick: The licensee said the transmitter would be in operation from 1 July 2009 to 30 September 2009 to broadcast the Acadian Festival of Caraquet and the 4th Worldwide Acadian Convention.
Another consultation posted, this time with a June 2 deadline for the submission of interventions or comments called for comment on the CRTC's determination to require the disclosure of aggregate financial data by owners of large broadcasting distribution undertakings (BDUs), multi-system operators (MSOs) and conventional television and radio ownership groups. Groups affected were Astral Media Inc., BCE Inc., Bragg Communications Inc., the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation/Société Radio-Canada, CanWest Media Inc., Cogeco Inc., Corus Entertainment Inc., CTVglobemedia Inc., Newcap Inc., Quebecor Media Inc., Remstar Diffusion inc., Rogers Communications Inc., Shaw Communications Inc. and their successors.
The CRTC notes that the majority of the affected groups - Astral Media Inc., Bragg Communications Inc., Cogeco Inc., Corus Entertainment Inc., CTVglobemedia Inc., Quebecor Media Inc., Rogers Communications Inc. and Shaw Communications Inc. - made written submissions expressing various concerns with the process and substance of the resulting policy on the disclosure of financial information.
It adds that they made their concerns strongly and the Commission as a result of this and the importance of the issues raised has determined that it would be in the public interest to initiate a further public process. Under this process, the Commission is proposing revised reporting and disclosure requirements that respond to industry concerns and provides all interested parties with a full opportunity to comment on the revised requirements.
In Ireland, the Broadcasting Commission of Ireland (BCI) posted no specific radio decisions but it has details of project grants available under its Media Research Funding Scheme: The Scheme was launched in 2007 and, to date, has funded five research projects to a total value of Euros 95,560 (USD 127,000).
Applications are being invited, with a June 12 deadline for their submission, for short-term research projects of 3-9 months duration and the BCI says it intends to fund two projects to a value of Euros 16,000 (USD 21,250) per project.
BCI's Chief Executive, Michael O'Keeffe commented, "Research is important to the Commission in informing our thinking on broadcasting matters and in assisting with evidence-based decision making, so we are delighted to be in a position to fund research at this time."
In the UK, Ofcom has announced the award of three more community licences in Bedfordshire - to Biggles FM, a local music and community information based station to serve Biggleswade, Sandy and Potton; Radio LaB, a University of Bedfordshire station to all young people in Luton in education and beyond, with an additional focus on older people of the "third "; and Inspire FM, another Luton station, that will be rooted in the local Muslim community.
Ofcom also posted its latest Broadcast Bulletin in which it upheld three radio complaints (See RNW Apr 28) and its April Broadcast Update.
In the latter it noted the re-award of the Ullapool licence to Lochbroom FM Ltd and the transfer to DAB Jazz FM Investments Ltd of the Jazz FM licence and the handing back or revocation of four licences.
These were Merseyside's The Rocket Ltd's Mersey 106.7; South London Radio Ltd's Lewisham station South London Radio; Time FM 106.8 Ltd's Thamesmead station Time 106.8; and UTV-owned Valleys Radio Ltd's Valleys Radio in South Wales (See RNW Apr 30).
It also notes a four-year extension of the licence of 107.1 Rugby FM to August 2014; the renewal until June 2021 of the licence of Solent station Wave 105; an agreed change of format for Rutland Radio that would remove from its Character of Service the requirement for "melodic music", a change the station said "will allow us to concentrate on playing appropriate music for 25-54 year olds without having to make sure it also meets the melodic requirement"; and continuing breach of licence conditions by Bath FM and Brunel FM (See RNW Licence News Apr 12)
Also noted in the update were London digital multiplex changes that moved LBC 1152 from the London I to the London III multiplex; that moved Choice FM from the London III to the London I multiplex; and the addition of NME Radio to the London III multiplex. Also noted was the replacement of existing Rock Radio Digital output with the Rock Radio Manchester service on the North East England multiplex.
There were also four change of control reviews in the period - affecting Midwest Shaftesbury (Serving Blandford and the Vale); Midwest Yeovil (Serving Somerset and W Dorset); Star (Bristol); and Touch (Banbury). All were nodded through without requiring any changes.
Also in the update were notes the award of a community licence to Vale of Glamorgan Broadcasting CIC (BRO Radio) and the ending of the licence of Bournemouth & Poole College's Aspire FM.
In the US, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) as already noted has had its power to impose fines for the broadcast of fleeting indecencies upheld (See RNW Apr 29): It also appears likely to gain a replacement for Jonathan Adelstein with the announcement that President Obama intends to nominate Mignon Clyburn as a Commissioner (See RNW Apr 30) and has asked for a Fiscal Year 2010 budget of USD 336 million (See RNW Apr 29).
In enforcement actions, the agency has:
*Reduced from USD 25,000 to USD 22,500 the forfeiture it had imposed on Rama Communications, Inc., licensee of WOKB-AM, Winter Garden, Florida, for failure to clean or repaint its antenna structures as often as necessary to maintain good visibility, failure to enclose the antenna tower within an effective locked fence or enclosure, operation at times with power other than those specified in its the license, and failure to maintain and make available a complete public inspection file (See RNW Licence News Dec 14, 2008).
Rama had not responded to a Notice of Apparent Liability (NAL) for USD 25,000 leading to the confirmation of the penalty but subsequently filed a petition requesting reduction or cancellation.
In the petition Rama claimed that it did not respond to the NAL, because it either did not receive it or confused it with another Notice of Apparent Liability for Forfeiture that it received, that one of the inspections underlying the violations at issue was also "partly the basis of the third NAL issued for violations at station WLAA-AM, Ocoee, Florida (See RNW Licence News, Dec 29, 2008); that it had since corrected the violations; and inability to pay. The FCC rejected all the arguments except the last, reducing the penalty fro USD 25,000 to USD 22,500 on the basis of documentation provided.
*Issued a USD 7,200 forfeiture to Tri-State University, licensee of WEAX-FM, Angola, Indiana, for failing to properly maintain a public file for the Station. The FCC had issued an NAL for USD 9,000 to which Tri-State responded by requesting a reduction or cancellation on the grounds that it took immediate corrective action upon learning that it was not in compliance; that the public was not harmed by its failure to maintain a complete public file; that the forfeiture amount is "excessive for a non-commercial education station;" that payment of the proposed forfeiture would be a "blow" to the Station's budget and cause it financial hardship; and that a forfeiture reduction is warranted because of its history of compliance with the Commission's Rules. AS it has done in the past the agency rejected all the arguments except for the compliance one, reducing the penalty to USD 7,200 on this basis.
In California, the FCC denied a petition to reconsider its decision to refuse Special Temporary Authorization to operate KSPA -AM, Ontario, California with facilities proposed in a pending minor change application to change the community of license of the station from Ontario, California, to Chino, California, in order to provide a first local service to Chino: The FCC noted that its staff has not been able to act on the application because Ontario's Chino proposal conflicts with two prior-filed mutually exclusive short-form auction applications for Culver City, California in AM Auction No. 84.
Previous Licence News:
ACMA web site:
BCI web site:
CRTC web site:
FCC web site:
Ofcom web site:
2009-05-02: Right-wing talk host Jay Severin has been suspended indefinitely by Greater Media's WTTK-FM following references to Mexican immigrants as "criminaliens," "primitives," "leeches," and exporters of "women with moustaches and VD."
Greater Media spokeswoman Heidi Raphael declined to say which of the comments, made since the recent outbreak of swine flue centred on Mexico, had led to his suspension but told the Boston Globe the station had not been using any of the comments in promotions as some had said.
The Globe said Severin's comments sparked deep concern among Mexicans and other Latinos living in the Boston area, prompting what his lawyer George Tobia described as a flood of complaints to station management.
It quoted Amparo Anguiano, deputy consul of the Consulate General of Mexico in Boston, as calling Severin's latest language "hatemongering" and adding, "All he does is spread hate. It's not the first time immigrants have been denigrated unfoundedly for being dirty, uncivilized, and bringing in diseases. There's nothing more to say, other than these statements spread unfounded biases, hate, and prejudice."
Marcela Garcia, editor of El Planeta, a Boston-based publication distributed to Latinos throughout the region, said, "Any time I catch him on the radio, it's aggravating, insulting, and disgusting," she said. "I just can't listen to him. He doesn't just show a lack of respect; he shows a lack of knowledge about what immigration means to this country. What he says just fuels the racist dialogue going on about immigration" and Franklin Soults, a spokesman for the Massachusetts Immigrant & Refugee Advocacy Coalition, said, "There has been a huge rise in hate crimes against immigrants, especially Hispanics, and on the show, he doesn't just talk about Mexicans as criminals, he talks about them as if they were animals and should be quarantined."
There was also criticism of the comments in the New York City Spanish-language daily newspaper El Diario la Prensa, which posted audio of his comments on its web site and said he was using the flu outbreak to attack Mexicans and immigrants.
"For Severin, Mexicans are 'criminaliens' and primitives who export venereal diseases to the United States," reported the paper, adding, "That's not the end of Severin's anti-immigrant rants. Immigrants are leeches and their children, he warns, don't speak English, will retard schools, add to crime and spread disease. Amid all of this, Severin has the audacity to state, 'I don't mean to hype the story.' "
The paper quoted WTTK program director Grace Blazer as saying the station was in "profound disagreement" with Severin's comments but Brian Maloney, another right-winger in his Radio Equalizer refers to the "strange removal of libertarian Boston drivetime host (Severin)" and runs a number of transcripts from the Globe, which it describes as a "long-time Severin foe", of his remarks and later comments, "Baffled listeners are pointing to Severin's high salary and falling ratings, however. Could all of this simply be a smokescreen? Is his employer no longer able to support his million-dollar salary?... The complete lack of public awareness, much less controversy, ahead of Severin's removal makes this move appear especially fishy. Where were the angry mobs, denunciations from the mayor and governor and cancelled advertising? That's the usual routine, but here, the whole mess came right out of left field."
Mahoney advises his readers to "expect fireworks, especially when Severin himself emerges from seclusion and makes a public statement. Nobody gives up a plum job that easily!" but so far the only comment has come from Tobia, who said it was not clear how long Severin will be on suspension and adding, "All we know is it's indefinite. We're just learning of it, and we're dealing with it."
Tobia said he expected Severin to be back on air eventually and added, "It would certainly be unfortunate if someone was suspended because some people didn't like what he said."
RNW comment: Business being business - and generally amoral - we suspect that Mahoney is partly correct in surmising that the cost of Severin, whose ratings have fallen, could well be a factor in his fate. It would also potentially be bad business to keep on a host whose appeal in a changed political climate in the US is probably going to be more limited in the foreseeable future.
However without seeing his contract it is impossible to estimate whether it's cheaper to keep him on or dump him: If the latter, we would expect him to go and rather doubt he'll get anywhere near a half his existing deal from anyone in the existing state of the radio business.
As to Mahoney's description of Severin as "libertarian", we think the comments are objectionable and more to do with licence than liberty. We wouldn't ban Severin from the airwaves but presumably his pay related to success ion attracting an audience, however repulsive some of them may be, and if the audience is falling his worth in business terms is much less.And of course nowadays he could always launch a show online, preserving his freedom to rant if not his lifestyle.
Previous Greater Media:
Boston Globe report:
Radio Equalizer site:
2009-05-01: Sirius-XM executives were all paid less last year than in 2007 according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) related to the holding of its annual meeting on May 27 but they all still took home millions apiece apart from EVP and Chief Administrative Officer Dara F. Altman who only took up her post on September 26 last year.
CEO Mel Karmazin, who is paid a basic salary of USD 1.25 million - under a five-year contract that runs to November this year, ended up with USD 28.2 million including stock options compared to USD 32.3 million in 2007 and USD 31.2 million in 2006 whilst next highly remunerated was EVP and Chief Financial Officer David Frear whose basic pay was up from USD 519,000 in 2007 to USD 631,000 in 2008 with a total remuneration of USD 3.37 million, down marginally from USD 3.72 million in 2007 but up from USD 2.46 million in 2006.
After Frear came President and Chief Content Officer Scott A. Greenstein whose basic pay went up from USD 792,000 to USD 846,000 but his total has fallen dramatically from USD 7.09 million in 2006 to USD 5.04 million in 2007 and USD 2.99 million in 2008.
The other executives named in the report were President Operation and Sales James Meyer - basic pay up from USD 892,000 in 2007 to USD 946,000 last year but whose total fell from USD 3.65 million to USD 2.84 million; EVP General Counsel and Secretary Patrick L. Donnelly, whose base pay was upped from USD 475,000 to USD 523,000 but whose total fell marginally from USD 1.84 million to USD 1.82 million and newcomer EVP and Chief Administrative Officer Dara F. Altman - formerly an EVP at XM Satellite Radio, who took up her post in September last year, and was paid USD 292,000 for the period she was with the company.
Of last year's payments the company said in its filing, "Unprecedented global economic conditions presented challenges for many companies in 2008, including us. The decline in current market conditions and related changes in the status of our business caused us to make adjustments to our compensation program in 2008. Our Compensation Committee approved increases in the base salaries of our named executives officers (other than Mr. Karmazin and Ms. Altman), which were in keeping with our historical practices and which the committee believed were necessary in order to remain competitive and compensate the executives for increased responsibilities brought about by the merger and changing economic conditions. However, our Compensation Committee has not yet awarded any annual bonuses with respect to the year ended December 31, 2008."
The filing also notes that Chairman Gary Parsons, formerly XM chairman, has a contract until November this year under which he receives a base salary of at least USD 525,000 annually subject to increase by XM's Board of Directors.
At the Annual meeting the agenda includes election of the company's 12 Common Stock Directors; approval of an amendment to allow the company to increase its authorized shares of common stock from 8,000,000,000 to 9,000,000,000 shares; approval of an amendment that would allow a reverse stock split (by a ratio of not less than one-for-10 and not more than one-for-50 shares at in the period to the end of June next year); and approval of its Long-Term Stock Incentive Plan.
The new board will have three fewer members than the current board and three will be from Liberty Media, which has put some USD 530 million into Sirius-XM- expected to be Liberty chairman and director John Malone, its CEO/president Gregory Maffei, and senior VP/treasurer David Flowers. Of the current board, Jeffrey Zients, is expected to stand down following his nomination earlier this month to become the United States' first chief performance officer.
Previous Liberty Media:
2009-05-01: Global Radio is cutting more jobs - estimated as being from 20 -30 - mainly at its Xfm and Gold networks. The company has not given further details but the losses are thought to be mainly amongst backroom and online staff at the stations with possible losses in its marketing and design departments.
Programming for Xfm is expected to be moved to the Capital programming team with Heart's team taking charge of the Gold network.
Global said the company was continuing to "evolve" to fit its new business model and added, "This, as well as the current economic climate, means it is appropriate for us to constantly evaluate and adapt our structure to ensure our continued success. Unfortunately, this sometimes means the company has to take some tough decisions."
Both Xfm - down to two stations following the sale of its south Wales station and rebranding of its Scottish station as part of Global's Galaxy network - and Gold have been struggling with the latter down from around 1.24 million listeners at the end of 2007 to around a million.
Previous Global Radio:
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