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 next relevant story. Regarding external links see note at end of page.
RNW April comment looks at the the ways of ensuring diversity and choice in radio.
RNW March comment looks at the pros (few, if any, we believe) and cons (significant) of further media consolidation.
RNW February comment considers whether charges and regulations proposed for streaming could almost kill off the idea.
2002-04-30: More results from US radio this week with Beasley Broadcasting exceeding its fairly modest guidance but still recording a quadrupled net loss for the quarter of USD10.3 million, 42 cents a share, compared to USD2.6 million, 11 cents a share, a year earlier.
Revenues were down rather less at USD24.9 million, down 3.7% and BCF was actually up 6.8% at USD6.9 million. After-tax cash flow positively sparkled in contrast with previous guidance: It ended up as USD 4 million, 16 cents a share, compared to a forecast of three cents a share and a delivery in 2001 Q1 of USD2.8 million, 11 cents a share.
Beasley chairman and CO George Beasley said that March turned out to be a surprisingly strong month following a weak February and that combined with a 7% reduction in station operating expenses had helped the company exceed its guidance. Looking ahead, Beasley is forecasting second quarter revenues of USD27 million, BCF of USD8.5 million and ATCF of 13 cents per share.
In other US radio business, Cumulus Media and Triad Broadcasting have now announced that they have settled their legal fight over Triad's long delayed USD1.725 million purchase of WWLD-FM, Tallahassee, Florida. Triad first agreed to purchase the station in July last year and went to court in November, claiming that the planned closing date in October had passed and Cumulus was trying to renege on the deal.
Cumulus said the delay was because of a delay in its own closure on the USD 1.5 million purchase of WSLE-FM, Cairo, Georgia (now completed); Triad is now to get its hands on WWLD no later than the first of November this year.
Triad already owns WYZR-FM, WAIB-FM and WHTF-FM in Tallahassee.
Previous Beasley Broadcasting:
Previous George Beasley:
2002-04-30: Shortly after settling one case alleging discrimination in its promotion practices, BBC World Service radio is facing another claim.
In the previous case, Asian journalist Sharan Sandhu withdrew her claim following an out-of-court settlement of GBP50, 000 (See RNW April 27).
The latest case involves Perry Grambas who worked in the World Service Greek section on contract for five years.
He is claiming that he was unfairly repeatedly rejected for a permanent post despite a recent BBC ruling that allowed employees on long-term contracts to by-pass normal procedures and keep their jobs on a permanent basis.
His case, alleging racial discrimination and unfair dismissal is to be heard by an employment tribunal in June.
2002-04-30: Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) executives are discussing the biggest overhaul in 30 years of the Corporation's 60-year-old radio group at board meetings in Halifax, Nova Scotia, that are due to end today.
Main changes proposed are to CBC radio's weekday morning shows and its Saturday schedule, which is due to include a live four-hour trans-Canada show.
The new schedules are due to debut in stages with the first due in mid-May and other changes being phased in until the fall but doubt is being expressed internally about the practicalities concerning staffing, particularly of the Saturday show, and a seeming absence of firm commitments to the new shows from current big-name CBC hosts.
So far only vague details of the changes, which are being introduced to attract more younger and minority listeners and reflect the country better, are in the public domain; they include the end of most current CBC Radio One morning shows and their replacement by two weekday morning programmes, one running from 0830 to 10.00 local and the second running to noon.
2002-04-30: Tomorrow sees the May Day "Day of Silence" by webcasters, designed to get media coverage of the problems faced if currently proposed royalty fees for streaming are put into effect.
Radio and Internet Magazine lists more webcasters who have now said they'll take part. Doubtless it will be reported in some quarters as a success: We'll cast an eye over the major US print media and report on May 2 how much cover we actually see.
RAIN web site (Links to Save Internet Radio site):
2002-04-29: We've a historical perspective for this week's look at print writers comments on radio. But first," One moment please, The Savoy has now been blown up by the crowd "
That was one of the lines from the first episode of three programmes in BBC Radio 4's A History of Fear that looks at moments when Britain has been gripped by fear.
Whilst most people interested in radio and drama history will be aware of the Orson Welles's Mercury Theatre production of H.G. Wells War of the Worlds broadcast on CBS in 1938, comparatively few will be aware of a 1926 BBC radio spoof broadcast that had many Britons in, not to mince words, something approaching panic.
The broadcast was "launched" by a seemingly genuine news bulletin that ended with a report saying that "The crowd in Trafalgar Square is now assuming threatening dimensions " before going to join the band at the Savoy hotel and then starting to introduce a lecture only for a "newsflash" saying how a lecturer, due to speak, had been grabbed by the crowd and was "being roasted alive "
There were then reports of a mob was rampaging through London setting fire to buildings including the Savoy Hotel and the Houses of Parliament.
The broadcast's impact was heightened because of the circumstances - people had come to believe the BBC News (they had rather less trust in newspapers, which were widely recognised as partisan), unemployment was high, the miners were on strike, and the Russian Revolution was a fresh memory. Many people called the BBC, concerned that London was really in the grip of revolution.
No recording survives (unlike the War of the Worlds' recording --see link below) so it's impossible to estimate the actual quality of the broadcast from the reconstruction that was aired, but as Elisabeth Mahoney in the UK Guardian commented : "It's hard to believe, listening to a reconstruction of the broadcast (no original survives) that anyone fell for the buffoonery."
"After the limpest, most muffled explosion sound-effect, the announcer tells us that the Savoy Hotel has been blown up. There's a comic pause. 'That noise you just heard was The Savoy Hotel.' Another cheeky pause. 'Being blown up. By the crowd.' Big Ben has been reduced to rubble, the Minister for Traffic has been hung from a lamp-post ('correction: it was not a lamp-post but a tramway post that was used')."
The broadcast also featured in a review by Sue Arnold in the Guardian's Sunday sister paper, The Observer, in which she commented that it , "posed some interesting questions about our relationship with radio. We believe what we hear on radio because we can't see who's talking, and are therefore more willing to fantasise about probability."
Arnold then went on to draw some interesting parallels with today through her review of a BBC Radio 3 programme, "A Brief History of Irony".
"If Joe Queenan, the New York columnist famous for his character assassinations, had known about that BBC hoax," continues Arnold, "his Brief History Of Irony on Radio 3 might not have been quite so respectful to British humour."
"After 11 September, Vanity Fair editor Graydon Carter remarked that irony was dead. Certainly no one laughed for a while, until the Onion, a satirical US magazine, broke the ice with an article entitled 'Hijackers Surprised To Find Selves In Hell' ('We expected eternal paradise for this... '); other headlines included 'US Vows To Defeat Whoever It Is We're At War With'. "
"Ian Hislop (RNW note - editor of the UK satirical magazine "Private Eye") reckons irony began here around 1500, but Australian writer Kathy Lette dates it back to the Garden of Eden."
"So when did irony reach Australia? asked Queenan."
"'With the convicts,' she said. "
"'So you got the ironic, funny convicts and we got the puritans,' said Queenan."
A line that, which in some ways wouldn't seem too inappropriate in the US National Public Radio series The Yiddish Radio Project that has attracted attention not only because of its content but also because of the reaction to it as a result of contemporaneous events. In the Chicago Tribune, Raoul V. Mowatt comments on the actual series which now has four of ten segments remaining (It's aired on Tuesday's on the NPR "All Things Considered" programme).
He quotes Henry Sapoznik, the music historian who started the project, as saying the programme's themes are universal. "This isn't just about Yiddish," he said. "It's about every ethnic group that struggles to maintain its identity."
But as Mowatt notes, some listeners have reacted more in relation to current Middle East tensions than to the origins of the programme itself.
The same point was made in an Associated Press report in the Baltimore Sun by Katherine Roth who reports that the broadcast has attracted anti-Semitic e-mails.
"The vituperative nature of some of the e-mail caught everyone off guard," Sapoznik, told the AP. "Some of it is what I call good old-fashioned nativist American anti-Semitism."
"For instance, one person wrote: 'How do you say bloody Israeli storm troopers in Yiddish?'
"Who in their right mind is going to conflate a program about Yiddish-speaking Jews from New York in the 1930s and Israeli soldiers today?" Sapoznik asked.
"If this was a series on Delta blues and there was turmoil in Mogadishu or Rwanda, no one would confuse American blacks from the Delta with warlords in Africa."
NPR ombudsman Jeffrey Dvorkin said that NPR had received around 300 letters, half of which were negative, half of those being what he termed, "blatantly anti-Semitic." Some also said NPR coverage of the Middle East was biased toward Palestinians and accused it of using the Yiddish radio series to placate Jewish listeners.
After which, it's a relief to refer to another BBC Radio 4 programme, "A thousand Years of Jewish History", which has contained some fascinating and moving stories.
One anecdote from a repeat broadcast yesterday is worth noting. It came from a descendant, now an academic, of Russian immigrants to London's East End, which like New York and other major US cities earlier this century had a vibrant Yiddish culture.
His grandfather he recalled, poor though he was, always carried some money for beggars and would always not only give to whoever asked "black, white or yellow" but also thank them for asking.
The gift was one that benefited the giver and asked, what if the receiver was a scrounger, the grandfather told his grandsons that this was not a matter for him but between the recipient and his conscience.
And on Friday's when in his moth-eaten coat and top hat he walked past the London docks, the Catholic Irish dockworkers, who knew him, would tip their hats to him in respect.
Somehow one wonders how he might have responded to an Ariel Sharon?
Baltimore Sun/AP - Roth:
Chicago Tribune - Mowatt:
UK Observer - Arnold:
UK Guardian - Mahoney:
New Mercury Theater Archives (include War of the Worlds broadcast):
2002-04-29: Bill Wilson, the chairman and chief executive of Teamtalk, the online sports site and operator of TEAMtalk252, which took over the Atlantic 252 airwaves and in March turned it into a sports station (See RNW March 11) , has resigned.
His move follows an admission that costs associated with the launch were well above expectations.
The company is closing its European operations to trim costs and has warned that its results will be below expectations. It has also written off assets totalling GBP10.5 million.
TEAMt will now face a strategic review aimed at reducing costs dramatically under new executive chairman, Chris Oakley and says that following the review it expects to move into profit in two years.
2002-04-28: In the US the Federal Communications Commission seems to be having a crackdown on tower and emergency alert systems shortfalls but elsewhere it was mostly normal business for the regulators.
Australia was quiet with nothing of note on the radio side and in Ireland, the only radio related release from the Broadcasting Commission of Ireland related to interim audience figures (See RNW April 24).
In Canada, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) was busy but mainly with routine matters including licence renewals and a large number of deadline extensions.
Renewals that went through included
*a one-year administrative renewal of the licence of CKBR-FM , Dillon, Saskatchewan;
*a six month administrative renewal of the licence for the English-language national audio programming undertaking, the National Broadcast Reading Service (Voice Print);
*and a similar six month administrative renewal of the French-language national audio programming undertaking, La Magnétothèque.
Deadlines extended included
*an extension until the end of this month for Natotawin Broadcasting Inc. to implement a new transmitter for of CJLR-FM La Ronge at Meadow Lake, Saskatchewan;
*an extension intil the end of May for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation to commence operation of a new transmitter of CBLA-FM Toronto at Shelburne, Ontario;
*an extension until the end of May for Rogers Broadcasting Limited to commence operation of a new transmitter of CKKS-FM Vancouver at Whistler, British Columbia;
*a six-month extension until July 25 for Radio du Golf inc. to commence operation of a new radio transmitter of CJMC-FM Sainte-Anne-des-Monts at La Martre, Quebec;
*a six month extension until September for Cogeco Diffusion inc. to commence operation of a new transitional digital radio programming undertaking at Montréal and Laval, Quebec;
*a six month extensions until October for the commencement of operations of low-power type B native radio undertaking at Opaskwayak Cree Nation (The Pas), Manitoba;
*a 12-month extension until March next year for Communications CHIC (C.H.I.C.) to commence operation of a new radio programming undertaking at Rouyn-Noranda, Quebec;
*and a 12-month extension until March next year for Aboriginal Voices Radio Inc. to commence operation of a new radio programming undertaking at Calgary, Alberta.
The CRTC has also approved a power increase for CJMS Saint-Constant, Quebec, from 5,000 watts to 10,000 watts during the day and from 1,100 watts to 5,000 watts during the night and transfers of control of CFOR-FM Maniwaki, Quebec; of CITB-FM Thunder Bay and its transmitter CIPR-FM Pigeon River, Ontario; and of Radio Beauce inc., licensee of the radio programming undertakings CHJM-FM Saint-Georges and CKRB-FM Saint-Georges-de-Beauce, Quebec.
On the watchdog front in Canada, the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council (CBSC) has ruled that various episodes of the Brother Jake Morning Show broadcast on CFMI-FM (Rock 101, Vancouver) in February and May last year were too sexually explicit for a time of day when children are likely to be listening. (See RNW April 25)
In the UK, the Radio Authority has said announced the results of its preliminary public interest test concerning the new East Midlands regional licence application by Smooth Radio East Midlands Ltd., a wholly owned subsidiary of Guardian Media Group plc. The authority says that it does not think the public interest would be adversely affected if the licence were awarded to Smooth Radio but is inviting further comment before a final declaration.
The Authority has also invited public interest comments on the application by another newspaper group for the same licence. This concerns the application by Vibe (East Midlands) Ltd., a company controlled by Daily Mail & General Trust, which runs a number of local newspapers in the area.
In the US, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has proposed fined for a whole run of tower violations, the largest relating to non-broadcast operations. They included a proposed penalty of USD153, 000 on AT&T Wireless Services Inc., and another of USD111,000 on SpectraSite Communications Inc. for a whole swathe of offences.
Largest radio company fine proposed is one of USD22,000 on Jamie Patrick Broadcasting, Ltd., licensee of KTRY- FM, Bastrop, Louisiana for violations including failure to install and operate Emergency Alert System (" EAS") equipment, and failure to maintain a public inspection file.
In another Louisiana case, the Commission has accepted a financial hardship argument from New World Broadcasting and reduced to USD 2,000 a proposed fine of USD11,000 in connection with defective EAS equipment at KCLF-AM, New Roads.
Previous Licence News:
Previous UK Radio Authority:
BCI web site:
CBSC web site:
CRTC web site:
FCC web site:
UK Radio Authority web site:
2002-04-28: Michael Copps, the sole Democrat Commissioner on the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC), has hinted in a speech to the United States Conference Of Catholic Bishops in Dallas, Texas, that unless broadcasters take action to cut indecent broadcasts their acts, new laws may be brought in.
He also addressed the issues of media consolidation, his concept of public interest and the issue of broadcasters setting up their own code and also retaining tapes of programmes.
Copps first made come comments regarding the 'public interest', saying, " Not only do I find the concept attractive personally, but Congress made it the foundation of our communications statutes. "
"In fact, the term "public interest" appears 112 times in the Telecommunications Act of 1934 as amended in 1996."
He then spoke of the consolidation in US media, saying it "also presents us with serious questions of public policy" adding, "our people have always harboured a deep suspicion of excessive industrial consolidation, and they have always wanted sentinels at the gate to guard against it."
"Each proposed industry combination needs to be looked at on its merits - some are good, some are not - but the public interest test must be rigorously applied to every one of them... One of our most important jobs at the FCC must be the preservation of a bustling marketplace of ideas, diversity in sources of content in each community, and a multiplicity of voices to stir discussion and debate throughout the land. This is what nurtures our democracy. "
Concerning indecency Copps said that every day he hears from Americans "fed up with the patently offensive programming diet they are being fed."
"I hear, he continued, "from parents totally frustrated with the sexually explicit, profane and violent programming that increasingly commandeers the airwaves. I even hear from some broadcast station owners and managers that something needs to be done about it."
"Well, they're right: we as a society have a responsibility to protect children from content that is inappropriate for them and harmful to them."
"The FCC has a statutory obligation to protect children from obscene, indecent or profane programming, noted Copps, who continued, "I take this responsibility very seriously. But the process by which the FCC has enforced these laws places an inordinate responsibility on the complaining citizen. It's generally the rule that the Enforcement Bureau wants a recording or a transcript or something very detailed about any allegedly offensive broadcast. That strikes me as onerous. How is my wife, listening to the car radio while she is driving a van load of kids home from elementary school, going to record or write down an offensive broadcast that might come on the air?"
" Lack of information about what was said and when it was broadcast should not be allowed to derail our enforcement of the laws. If something is said on the public airwaves, a strong argument can be made that it should be part of the public record. "
Commenting on standards of broadcasts, Copps said, "Today's mad race to the bottom is sad. Shock broadcasting seems increasingly to be elbowing aside broadcasters' public interest obligations. The lowest common denominator is becomes the highest good."
He said that he thought the best people to sort out the problems were the leaders of the industry and called for a volunary code but also hinted at a threat of legislation,saying, "As I visit on Capitol Hill, several Members tell me they are thinking of introducing legislative remedies. That's out of my purview, of course, and I've been telling them that as far programming standards go, my emphasis is on the voluntary, although when it comes to indecency, the FCC does have statutory obligations. But on programming, maybe it is time for the Commission to consider what we can do."
FCC site -Copps speech:
2002-04-27: Hundreds of webcasters including a host of well-known names have now signed up for the May Day "Day of Silence" proposed by Radio and Internet Magazine founder Kurt Hanson to draw attention to the problems posed by the royalty rates suggested by the US Copyright Arbitration Panel, CARP, (See RNW April 24) according to the publication.
Amongst those that are listed as participating are Beethoven.com, KING-FM, Seattle and KPIG, Freedom, California; in addition a number of major names including Live365, ShoutCast and KNAC.com have indicated that they will support the protest with heavy schedules of public service announcements on the issue.
In its Thursday issue, RAIN quoted figures from Kevin Shively of Beethoven.com about the likely effect of the rates proposed by CARP.
Shively said that for eight of the larger independent webcasters - Beethoven, Digitally Imported, Radioio, Radio Paradise, SomaFM, 3WK, Wolf FM, and Ultimate-80s - the total hours streamed last year were 40 million hours.
Combined revenues for the year, he said, were USD93,000 but based on the CARP panel's recommended royalty rate, royalty payments due to the RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America) would be USD710,000!
RAIN web site (Links to Save Internet Radio site)
2002-04-27: Fisher Communications, most of whose broadcasting stations are in the Pacific Northwest and were particularly affected by dot.com problems, saw a broadcasting division operating profit of USD786, 000 in Q1, 2001, become a USD764, 0000 loss in the first quarter of this year.
Overall Fisher reported a trebling of its losses, from USD2.3 million or 27 cents a share in the first quarter of 2001 to USD7.8 million or 90 cents a share this year.
Fisher's broadcasting division revenues were down 14% to USD 29.8 million with TV revenues, which were down 18%, worst hit; radio did better -its revenues were only down 4%.
Fisher web site:
2002-04-27: The BBC World Service journalist who had claimed that she was passed over for promotion because of her colour and sex (See RNW April 17) has agreed a GBP50, 000 out-of-court settlement with the Corporation according to the London Times.
Sharan Sandhu had said the organisation was dominated by white males and had a colonial culture; the BBC welcomed the resolution of the case and withdrawal of the complaint. In a statement it said, "The BBC does not accept that Sharan's career was affected by sex or race discrimination. The BBC has shown Sharan exceptional goodwill and generosity. We do not recognise the colonial mentality she described."
"The BBC stands by the selection procedures, both successful and unsuccessful, that Sharan went through and believes that the procedures are demonstrably fair."
London Times report (requires registration):
2002-04-27: CNN Radio, which is marking its 20th anniversary this month, is to open a new state-of-the-art digital newsroom at the organisation's Atlanta Headquarters on April 29.
The facility will allow CNNRadio, which is distributed by Westwood One and whose services include 48 daily newscasts as well as news and feature feeds, to post audio reports as MP3 files on its web site for affiliates to access.
As well as its English-language service, the new facilities will also handle its Spanish radio services, formerly Radio Noticias, and its Spanish and Portuguese language Latin American web sites.
2002-04-26: US radio station sales dropped by 46% in number and by 85% in total value last year - to just under USD 4 billion - compared to 2000 according to BIA Financial Network (BIAfn).
It also notes that the decline was greatest in the larger markets-in the top ten only a tenth as many stations were sold.
Reflecting this, the average price paid also fell, by around USD10 million.
With the notable exception of Forstmann Little's purchase of Citadel, most of the deals were also for a small number of stations; 72% of station sales were single-station deals, up from 63% a year earlier.
2002-04-26: Two complaints against British Radio, one against BBC Radio 4 concerning fairness and the other about language used by Ali G on BBC Radio 1, were upheld by broadcasting watchdog, the Broadcasting Standards Commission (BSC) in its March bulletin; this was the same number as in its March bulletin but a higher percentage as fewer complaints were received and upheld.
In all the commission lists 75 complaints compared to 91 in March, four concerning fairness (five in March) and 71 concerning standards (86 in March). Of the 72 concerning standards, no statements were required from the broadcasters in 64 cases, 53 of them TV and eleven radio.
Of the other complaints where statements were required, three standards complaints against TV were upheld and two not upheld and one against radio was upheld and another not upheld.
Of the four fairness complaints, one against radio was upheld, one against TV was partly upheld and two against TV were not upheld.
The fairness complaint against radio that was upheld involved an edition of the BBC Radio 4 programme Face the Facts concerning families who had been accused of harming their children
through Munchausen's Syndrome By Proxy. It referred to Professor Southall, employed by the North Staffordshire
NHS Trust and mentioned his refusal to discuss a particular case and also referred to his suspension on an unrelated matter, The BSC held that parts o the complaint were of particular importance to the Professor's reputation and upheld the complaint that he had been unfairly treated.
In the other case upheld against radio, a standards complaint against BBC Radio 1's Breakfast Show and an appearance by Ali G (See RNW February 19) ., the BSC noted that there had been an apology.
However, it commented, it "was extremely concerned by the lack of editorial control exercised during the interview, which gave Ali G the opportunity to swear, use sexual innuendo and offensive language without any significant intervention from the production team."
"The Commission considered," is wrote, "that the interview had been wholly inappropriate for broadcast at a time when significant numbers of children might have been listening."
"It therefore upheld the complaints and exceptionally, under Section 119 (2) of the Broadcasting Act 1996, required the broadcaster to publish a summary of this Finding in a form and at a time and date to be directed by the Commission."
Previous BSC/BSC Complaints Bulletin:
BSC web site (Note: This is a 'Flash' site: It links to the report in PDF format- 76 kb):
2002-04-26: Although it posted a loss of USD1.1 billion in its first quarter results, having included a USD1.5 billion write-down in the value of its Blockbuster video chain, Viacom, which owns CBS and Infinity Radio, performed better than had been expected.
The write down came under new US accounting rule SFAS No. 142 and Viacom says that Blockbuster is the only part of its business that will be affected by the rule.
Overall Viacom reported first quarter revenues of $5.67 billion, compared to USD 5.75 million in Q1, 2002; EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization) of $1.09 billion, compared to USD 1.15 billion and free cash flow of USD380 million compared to USD348 million.
Its Infinity operations had revenues of USD 798.9 million, down 4% on 2001's USD 835.6 million and EBITDA of USD274 million, down 15% from USD323.1 million; most of the shortfall, however came from Infinity's outdoor operations with radio revenues down only 1%.
Looking ahead, Viacom says it continues to believe that this year it will achieve double-digit growth in EBITDA and in earnings per share. It says it believes that advertising revenues will be up in the second quarter of 2002, compared with the same quarter last year.
Viacom President Mel Karmazin said that he was anticipating increased radio revenues in the second quarter, adding, "We're seeing pacing up for the entire company - - for the entire radio group - - for the month of April. May is up stronger that April and we anticipate June to be up What we're seeing is demand rising currently. It's increasing dramatically. .. there's no reason to believe that the third quarter will not be the same as the second quarter."
Viacom web site (links to results 100Kb PDF)
2002-04-26: UK Wireless Group chief executive Kelvin Mackenzie has thrown down the gauntlet to the British radio ratings company RAJAR (Radio Joint Audience Research), which is jointly funded by the BBC and commercial radio companies, and other radio companies.
Following his release of the results of a trial in the Windsor-Slough-Maidenhead (Star FM market) area of Berkshire of the Swiss Radiocontrol radio audience measuring system (see RNW March 22), MacKenzie now says his national station TalkSport is to launch a test that will compare the results of diary entries, the method currently used by RAJAR, and the meter system.
MacKenzie, whose station fared better in the earlier meter tests than in RAJAR's ratings (it had four times the reach), says the new test involving more than 300 people, will prove the diary system to be a fraud and put an end to arguments over which system is more accurate.
RNW comment: Rather than put forward our own views of MacKenzie (significantly uncomplimentary both as a member of the human species and as one whose views should be taken with anything less than a ton of salt), we include below some excerpts of comments by Phil Riley, chief executive of Chrysalis Radio, made in the UK Financial Times.
Riley was responding to the original test that involved a sample of 670 adults -more than twice the planned sample - compared to RAJAR's annual total of some 130,000 diaries. He also has been in radio long enough to be able to recall the problems of credibility with advertisers when the UK commercial radio companies and the BBC used different systems that gave widely differing results.
Among Riley's points about MacKenzie's original test:
* Claiming the rest of radio is not interested in electronic radio listening measurement is simply not true - and he knows it. RAJAR, on behalf of the entire industry, is committed to testing electronic measurement, and a large-scale project is under way to do just that.
*The Swiss "watch" system isn't the only meter being developed. The American research company Arbitron is also pioneering a "pager" style device, which works using an entirely different system of radio monitoring, and RAJAR is testing both.
*You'll not be surprised to hear that getting two different electronic devices tested to the satisfaction of everyone involved in the radio industry (the BBC, commercial radio and the advertisers) needs to be done carefully and thoroughly, and the final results are due out in the spring of next year - perhaps a long time to wait, if like Kelvin, you're still losing money hand over fist on your radio investment, but for the rest of us enough time to get it right.
*One of the most intriguing results of the wristwatch test was Kelvin's claim that Radio 3 has as many listeners as Classic FM. Now I don't want to get into a debate on the programming merits of these two stations here, but anybody who seriously believes that the eclectic and challenging output of Radio 3 is as popular as Classic's "greatest music of all time" approach needs their head testing, and any survey methodology which openly suggests such a result surely needs more work before being publicly unveiled as "the future of radio research".
Previous Wireless Group:
UK Financial Times - Riley report was published April 16:
2002-04-26: It would only happen in Ireland or would it? According to the Irish Times, outgoing Members of the Dáil (Irish Parliament) have been asked by the Broadcasting Commission of Ireland (BCI) not to give interviews to illegal pirate stations during the country's election campaign.
In a letter to the chairman of the Members Interests Committee, Tony Killeen, BCI chairman Conor J. Maguire says the proliferation of such stations is of concern and adds, "The situation is particularly exacerbated at the time of the run-up to an election such as we have at present. An issue that has created difficulty in addressing the problem has been that in certain parts of the country, illegal stations have been given credibility through appearances on air by public representatives."
He asks for an undertaking from the Committee, which vets the conduct of TDs (MPs) that politicians will refuse to co-operate with pirate stations but in his reply Killeen says the committee is not in a position to give a formal undertaking, as it does not control the behaviour of members.
RNW comment: On the basis that pirate stations are illegal and giving them an interview is aiding an illegal activity, one would have thought lawmakers would not need such an approach.
Irish Times report:
2002-04-25: Regent Communications has announced an offering of 10.5 million common shares from its March shelf registration priced at USD7.50 per share, 40 cents below the company's closing price before the announcement.
It had initially planned to offer 8.25 million shares (See RNW April 4) but added more when there was strong demand. In addition to the offering, the underwriters have a 30-day option to purchase up to 1.575 million additional common shares to cover over-allotments. Regent says it expects to raise around USD74 million after expenses from the offering.
Earlier this week, Sinclair Broadcast filed a shelf registration with the SEC to sell up to $350M in new stock, bonds or other securities.
Other US radio business news includes a number of deals, one of which is a USD3.8 million take over of KHPN-AM, Kansas City by ABC Radio. The station, which currently carries business news, will become a Disney children's outlet.
Also in the northern US, Impact Radio LLC is buying WQCT-AM & WBNO-FM Bryan, Ohio, from Williams County Broadcasting Systems Inc. and WLKM-AM & FM Three Rivers, Michigan, from Voice of Three Rivers Inc.
Further south Caswell Communications is paying USD450, 000 for WZJY-AM, Charleston, South Carolina.
2002-04-25: The Canadian Broadcast Standards Council (CBSC) has ruled that various episodes of the Brother Jake Morning Show broadcast on CFMI-FM (Rock 101, Vancouver) in February and May last year were too sexually explicit for a time of day when children are likely to be listening.
It found a number of items involving such topics as flatulence and bodily functions, as well as those containing sexual innuendo were in bad taste, but not in breach of its codes and that sketches that mocked identifiable groups on the shows reviewed did not breach the human rights provision of the CAB Code of Ethics because they did not reach the level of abusively or unduly discriminatory comment.
The CBSC was responding to a complaint from a listener at an electrical manufacturing firm who said he had reacted to a comment from a client. He complained to the station and, finding its response unsatisfactory, to the CBSC.
In making its ruling, the CBSC noted that, relating to "the matter at hand, not only might children have been listening when the remarks were made, but children were in fact invited to be listening and to participate in the "Kids' Joke Segment", which encourages children to telephone the station and recite a joke on air. The hosts then judge the jokes and reward the child who tells the best one."
"In those episodes reviewed, the young people identified themselves as being between the ages of eight and twelve."
In the case of a February programme involving discussion of sex on a workbench, the children's joke segment was only minutes before this discussion, said the panel.
It concluded in its ruling that, "The episodes included sexually explicit material which was broadcast at times of the day when children could be expected, and were encouraged by the broadcaster, to be listening, contrary to Clause 6, paragraph 3 of the Code of Ethics which requires that broadcasters ensure the proper presentation of opinion and comment."
CBSC web site:
2002-04-25: BBC Radio 1 has tightened up its procedures for live interviews to be conducted at times when children may be listening.
The move follows complaints about an outburst by Sacha Baron Cohen (Ali G) in February (See RNW February 19) .
Throughout his interview on Sara Cox's breakfast show Cohen peppered his appearance on Cox's show with obscenities and references to sex and drugs. and the BBC Complaints Unit ruled that the language used was not suitable for the time of broadcast.
The new procedures include a pre-briefing with the interviewee's representative, a face to face briefing with the interviewee on the day and a warning procedure which, if not adhered to, should result in the interview being brought to an immediate close.
In its Quarterly Complaints Bulletin for the period to the end of March, the Corporation lists a total of 186 complaints concerning 156 items compared to 265 complaints concerning 115 items in the previous quarter. It upheld 25, six of them partly, compared to 135, 56 of them partly, in the previous quarter.
Radio complaints on which there was comment, apart from that against Cox, included a complaint against:
*A report in From Our Own Correspondent that referred to "Israeli F16s dive-bombing low over" Gaza on a day when it had not done so, although the BBC noted that it had done this on a number of occasions
*A complaint against Taking Issue on BBC Radio 4 in which a studio guest misrepresented the manner in which a sufferer from Motor Neurone Disease (MND) would be likely to die. A briefing note was circulated to prevent recurrence.
*A complaint against a new report on the World at One that said British rail fares on a network had gone up 17% when the rise only affected first class tickets on one route.
* A complaint from a greetings card manufacturer against BBC Radio Five Live over a competition to produce a Christmas Card message that involved Hallmark Cards being a judge and whose prize was that they would use the message. Programme staff were reminded of the BBC's guidelines on undue prominence for commercial concerns.
The unit also noted that in the full year to the end of March, it had dealt with 794 complaints relating to 115 items: Of these it had upheld 231, 70 of them partly, in relation to 67 different items.
Previous BBC Complaints Bulletin:
BBC web site re complaints:
2002-04-25: Sirius Satellite Radio has agreed a deal with MediaBay and its Radio Classics subsidiary for the latter's collection of old-time radio to appear on Sirius channel 156.
The collection includes such artistes as Jack Benny, Burns and Allen and Fibber McGee and Molly. Sirius will also use the content on other channels.
At the start of this week, Sirius announced that it is to broadcast two-and-a-half hours a day of Tech TV content on its talk channel 116.
Sirius web site:
2002-04-25: Veteran US newsman Edward de Fontaine, who was one of the staff at the launch of the Associated Press radio network, has died aged 72.
Born in Dubuque, Iowa, he first worked in radio in his hometown and after a spell in the army spent most of the 1960's as a foreign correspondent based in Europe.
He was assistant managing editor when AP radio was launched in 1974 and later became managing editor in charge of the network's editorial operations.
In 1982 he joined the Voice of America and was its Director/Broadcast Operations when he retired in 1997.
New York Times/AP obituary:
2002-04-24: With the deadline for a decision on Internet royalty rates under a month away, 20 members of the US Congress have written to the Librarian of Congress, James Billington, urging that the Library of Congress and US Copyright Office do not set royalty rates that would devastate web casting.
"We are concerned that the CARP proposal is contrary both to the intent of the DMCA and Congress' general policy not to stifle innovation on the Internet," says the letter drafted by Rick Boucher (Virginia), Chris Cannon (Utah ), and Jay Inslee (Washington).
The letter continues, "We want to ensure that all creators are fairly compensated for their work. We are concerned that the CARP-recommended rates for sound-recording copyright owners are, however, high in comparison to historical royalty rates, such as rates paid by terrestrial broadcast radio to songwriters and music publishers" and suggests that the omission of a percentage of royalties alternative "seems to undermine entirely the ability of small webcasters to survive."
Boucher and Cannon are behind the Music Online Competition Act that would amend some provisions of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA).
The fees proposed by the US Copyright Arbitration Panel (CARP) are 0.07 cents per performance for AM and FM rebroadcasts and 0 .14 cents per performance for Internet-only streams, plus a 9% ephemeral-license fee for all webcasters (See RNW Feb 22).
A number of webcasters ay the proposed rates would put them out of business and a group of California-based webcasters has urged California's Congressional delegation to support fair royalty rates for webcasting.
One of them, Bill Goldsmith of RadioParadise.com, commented, "The proposed fees would definitely put us out of business. If that happens, everyone loses: our listeners, the artists we play, and the record labels themselves. We'd see two years of hard work and sacrifice go right down the drain."
In another suggested protest at the proposals, Kurt Hanson, publisher of Radio And Internet Newsletter and founder of the SaveInternetRadio.org web site, has proposed a May 1 shutdown of Internet streams - the date was chosen in view of the International distress signal ,"Mayday" - to draw attention to the threat to webcasting.
He suggests that the "Day of Silence", combined with a request to our listeners to use the silent time on that day to write totheir Congressional representatives, local newspapers, and favourite journalists about their concerns, would create a media event that would increase support for opposition to the proposed royalties.
For those who felt they could not go silent for a whole day, he suggests periods of silence within each hour of programming - or periods of silence interspersed with public service announcements on the subject..
RAIN web site (Links to Save Internet Radio site)
2002-04-24: XM Satellite Radio's first quarter results show the company's subscription more than doubling but its losses were also up, although the company exceeded Wall Street estimates. At the end of the quarter XM had 76,242 subscribers, up 48,509 over the quarter. XM needs around 4 million subscribers to break even.
Its losses were USD112.3 million (including an operating loss of operating loss of USD98.4) up from USD36.9 million a year ago and the loss applicable to common shareholders was USD117.7 million, or USD1.56 a share, compared with USD42.7 million, or 80 cents a share in 2001. EBITDA was USD75.9M in red ink.
XM's revenues, which only started in the final quarter of 2001, were USD1.8 million for the quarter, USD 1.4 million from subscriber revenues and the rest from advertising.
In a conference call Chief Executive Hugh Panero said less than 1 percent of subscribers were cancelling each month. He added that 70% were paying quarterly and another 88% either for a year or six months in advance.
Panero added that XM remained on track to hit subscriber targets of 130,000 at the end of the second quarter, 200, 000 at the end of the third quarter and 350, 000 at the end of the year, noting that XM expected a boost towards the end of the year as General Motors included XM radios or options in 25 of its 2003 models. XM should also be helped by the launch of its lowest-priced receiver yet, a USD1999 Pioneer free-standing model that also requires an additional antenna costing around USD50, next month and the addition of Wal-Mart to outlets selling XM receivers.
XM web site:
2002-04-24: Latest Irish audience figures from the JNLR/MRBI Interim Survey covering the period October 2001 - March 2002 show state broadcaster RTÉ maintaining or increasing its listenership and national commercial station Today FM also increasing its audience.
RTÉ Radio 1 increased listenership by 1% to 32% (+1), its Lyric FM channel also added 1% to move to 4% and its 2FM channel held on to 27% whilst Today FM took its listenership up 1% to 16%.
In Dublin, Lite-FM increased reach by 1% to 13% and new music service Country FM recorded a reach of 2%. Elsewhere County Sound in Cork increased its reach by 5% to 59% , a share just beaten in the Connaught/Ulster and Munster regions where 62% and 61%, respectively, of the population tuned into local radio each weekday.
Previous Irish Ratings:
2002-04-24: The most recent Internet ratings from MeasureCast show yet another rise in Internet listening which has nearly doubled this year and is more than five-and-a-half times the level of January 2001: in the week to April 22, it rose by nine per cent following a fall back the previous week.
At the top of the rankings, Jazz FM held on to the top station honours and Clear Channel was again the top network: Citadel Interactive made its debut in MeasureCast's network ratings at number 10. Within the station rankings, MEDIAmazing came back into the top five but in the network rankings it was a case of only musical chairs in the top five.
For the week to April 14, the top five stations ranked by Total Time Spent Listening (TTSL) with previous week's TTSL and Cume persons (CP), a measure of the cumulative audience, in brackets, were:
1: Jazz format Jazz FM - TTSL 306,125 (286,904); CP 75,109 (71,801): Same position with listening and reach up.
2: Hot Adult Contemporary Virgin FM - TTSL 303,549 (259,822); CP 51,715 (48,736): Same position with listening and reach up.
3: Classical format WQXR-FM, New York - TTSL 202,428 (144,456); CP 44,205 (22,557): Same position with significantly higher listening and reach.
4: Classical format King FM - TTSL 133,473 (133,666); CP 21,527 (22,325): Same position with slightly lower listening and reach.
5: Listener-formatted MEDIAmazing - TTSL 80,306 (76,492) : CP 50,480 (46,829) : Up from sixth with higher listening and reach.
The top five networks for the same week (Previous week's figures in brackets) were:
1: Clear Channel Worldwide TTSL 1,486,503 (1,538,355) ; CP 264,319 (263,963). Same position with lower listening and higher reach.
2: Radio Free Virgin TTSL 767,617 (694,283): CP 157,040 (144,982) - Same position with higher listening and reach.
3: WARP Radio TTSL 604,418 (622,266) hours: CP 124,925 (130,895) - Same position with lower listening and reach.
4: StreamAudio network TTSL 574,834 (505,957) : CP 102,500 (104,478) - Down from fourth with higher listening and lower reach.
5: Virgin Radio TTSL 447,275 (380,913): CP 87,812 (80,071) - Up from fifth with higher listening and reach.
(RNW note - MeasureCast listed Virgin fourth but the numbers would indicate an error.)
Previous MeasureCast ratings:
MeasureCast web site:
2002-04-23: According to the UK Radio Magazine, London AM station Ritz 1035AM has fired all its presenters and is now running in automated mode. The dismissals follow circulation of a fake news release on station letterheads saying presenters were owed thousands for work over recent months. Ritz chairman Tom Winter, says the magazine, said the news release "completely undermined" the station. He had told the magazine that the Ritz Music Group had invested more than GBP2.5 million in the station. GBP750, 0000 of that in the last year alone; the station, he said was costing from GBP60, 000 to GBP 70, 000 a month to operate but was producing no advertising revenues.
UK Radio Magazine- news pages :
2002-04-23: Australian group Southern Cross Broadcasting, which owns the top-rated Sydney talk station 2UE, has cut its profits forecast for 2002 to AUD32 million; its shares dropped by 12% to AUD 10.20 following the announcement, which it attributed to the effects of the weak Australian advertising market.
Southern Cross's talk network has been hit by a fall in national advertising revenue and also by the fall in its ratings following the defection of breakfast host Alan Jones to Macquarie Network's 2GB.
In the first ratings so far this year, 2UE's Breakfast show dropped to second place (See RNW March 27 ) and the company's revenues are rumoured to have fallen by almost a third.
Previous Southern Cross:
Southern Cross web site.
2002-04-23: The Winter Arbitron ratings just released in the US show news stations losing the edge they gained in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks and music stations moving back to their former audience shares. News and talks station were down everywhere including major cities such as Chicago, Los Angeles and New York.
Arbitron web site:
2002-04-22: For this week's look at print articles on radio, we have opted to consider one issue from various viewpoints. The issue is the one of "dumbing down", centred in this case on classical music and intelligent talk on radio.
On the first, the message from different sides of the Atlantic Ocean is in stark contrast.
In the UK, Vanora Bennett in her Saturday radio column in the London Times comments on Classic FM, which is ten years old in September. If it were a person, she writes, Classic would be "a small and unnaturally good child: studious, with clean knees and big gleaming specs."
When it was launched the expectation, she says was of an audience of 2.8 million a week; in fact it now has 6.7 million, more than a million of them under 25, and also attracts 364,000 children with weekend programming such as the Classic Tales slot, in which media stars read famous stories."
Classic's managing director, she says does not like comparisons with BBC Radio 3 but prefers to think of Classic listener's as Radio 4 fans. Nor does he want then unsettled by music: "We try to avoid doing anything which intimidates, assumes knowledge, or uses technical language unnecessarily," he says.
Not that Bennett is totally enamoured: "Listen to Classic FM's twee, timid choices, she writes," ("Mozart and Beethoven are fighting it out for the top slot today . . . And the winner is - Beethoven!") and you might easily find yourself wishing that the station would get a catapult, smash some windows and have some red-blooded, adventurous fun."
The situation for classical music in the US seems more parlous, although we do note that two classical stations are regularly in the top five in the Internet ratings published by Arbitron and MeasureCast, and in some ways there could be a comparison between their national reach and that of Classic as opposed to the ratings for local stations in the US where classical has had a hard time and is now down to less than 30 self-supporting stations.
That, of course, makes the classical output of National Public Radio (NPR), all the more important and its recent changes to its programming (RNW April 13) have attracted adverse comment in many quarters in terms of the perceived cutback in classical output.
So have similar changes at New York public station WNYC-FM that form a peg for comment about classical radio in the US by cellist David Finckel, and pianist Wu Han in the New York Times.
"Those of us who care deeply about classical music," they write, "fear that WNYC's action will do more than deprive local listeners of hours of extraordinary music; it will accelerate a national trend toward reducing the amount of great music broadcast on the radio."
" In our travels as musicians, we hear the same story all too often: A city used to have classical music radio, but the station was bought - or polled its listeners with an eye toward "better" demographics - and has switched to talk or to popular music formats. Great music on the radio is in dangerously short supply these days; in some places it has been abandoned altogether."
"Americans have always depended on public radio to educate, inform and enrich listeners. A radio station trying to do justice to the great art of classical music must take its mission seriously, programming with the integrity and intelligence of a serious arts institution."
"For public radio, this means putting to use a vast collective classical music library; broadcasting live events; exploring new kinds of compositions; and providing a stage for distinguished performers, composers and music scholars."
The New York Times also carries a number of letters on the subject of classical music broadcasts including one defending the NPR changes from Ken Stern, NPR's Executive Vice President.
He says the changes are "part of a carefully crafted effort to better serve the public radio music listener" and says the changes to its classical programme "Performance Today" will retain it as a showcase for classical music with the principal change being to "emphasize music performance and de-emphasize the long-form interviews that many feel interrupt the programming flow."
"We are also developing, in partnership with member stations," he writes, "a classical music stream that will complement our current offerings and provide another option for public radio stations to present listeners with sought after, high-quality music and cultural content. Classical music remains a vibrant part of public radio, and NPR will continue to seek to improve its service in this area."
Another letter, from North Carolina, blames part of the demise of classical music on other factors in addition to "dumbing down", saying that it has "been played to death."
"No composition, no matter how perfectly constructed," says the correspondent, " should be asked to bear the burden of endless repetition "
"Serious music, to be sustained, requires living composers who are serious about reaching 21st-century ears through the classical idiom."
"Instead, contemporary compositions seem tailored to advance an academic career or to innovate for the sake of innovation. When heart regains its place next to intellect, and composers speak not to the privy few but directly to the human condition, then classical music both past and present will regain a place in our lives. "
Yet another correspondent, the music director at Michigan University's student run station, says that "classical music is being phased out by stations in favour of talk and news...this trend is motivated by the need for money rather than by a commitment to the public interest" but then calls for a widening of output.
" Public radio," he writes, "could serve the public good and simultaneously serve the broadest public taste if it were willing to embrace music like jazz, hip-hop and techno. All of these are serious and enduring and, if treated as such, can be the subjects of enlightening and stimulating radio." (RNW comment: Shades of jazz and world music on BBC radio 3????)
On to intelligent talk and Paul Donovan's column in the UK Sunday Times in which he laments the death of the "Brains Trust", the Saturday night BBC Radio 3 programme that deals with topics raised by listeners and is scheduled to be dropped in favour of "The Verb" hosted by Barnsley-based performance poet Ian McMillan.
Donovan quotes current Brains Trust host Joan Bakewell as saying, "It is sad, because it is just about the last place on the air where you can hear high-table conversation."
"Theodore Zeldin flew in from Paris to appear on it. AS Byatt came back from Provence. They enjoy meeting on it, just as listeners enjoy taking part afterwards. They fill the website with long essays on aesthetics and philosophy. But it is not being recommissioned. It has been quietly laid aside."
Donovan says that few programmes have such a distinguished history as the Brains Trust, which was born in 1941, had a spell on television and since 1998 has been on Radio 3.
"Some people," writes Donovan, " may think it is a dinosaur, whose extinction is long overdue" but the existence of other intellectual programmes do not have to mean killing the programme. "Its topics are chosen by listeners and reflect universal concerns. War and peace, love and hate, happiness and grief, choice and free will, and what Wittgenstein said on his deathbed ("Tell them I've had a wonderful life"). It imparts wisdom, as well as entertainment. It is too precious to be swept aside by new brooms, who see only cobwebs and not the furniture beneath."
He then suggests that if enough people write in to protest, the show could be saved, concluding, "Just because The Brains Trust began in the age of the wireless doesn't mean it is redundant in the age of radio."
Donovan's Irish colleague Gerry McCarthy, also laments some changes in radio talk in his column, commenting on a lackadaisical output from state broadcaster RTÉ's Sunday Show compared to the Sunday Supplement show on commercial rival Today FM.
"The original Sunday Show concept," he writes," was simple. Assemble a panel of articulate people, use the content of the Sunday newspapers to kick-start them and generate an open-ended debate on the day's issues. "
"On a good week you have highly topical subjects, panellists with a range of opinions and plenty of good old-fashioned argument. Even a bad week can be entertaining. But two factors are vital: the choice of panellists and the continuity of debate."
He then says the station has now lost the plot and the programme "its latest incarnation under Myles Dungan, the Sunday Show has degenerated into yet another magazine programme. It still sticks to the basic panel-plus-papers format, but makes the cardinal error of interrupting the conversation with promo slots, in which guests plug their latest book or record."
"Even when the guest has an interesting topic, the act of cutting back and forth between panel and pluggers spoils the programme's continuity."
"It would take a broadcasting genius to preside over such a scrambled-egg Sunday with any sense of authority; and Dungan is no broadcasting genius. "
"Neither," he continues, " is Sam Smyth, but his Sunday Supplement on Today FM has successfully inherited the discussion programme mantle."
"Smyth sticks tightly to the original format. Helped by his huge range of contacts in the media and politics, he almost inevitably has top-notch guests. "
"They may not always be household names, but Smyth knows how to create that vital aura which keeps listeners tuned in." "Last Sunday's mix, for instance, included barrister Gerry Danaher and journalist Damien Kiberd. They made serious points, they joked, they kept up a regular flow of informed opinion - and they sounded like they were having a good time. As a listener-cum-eavesdropper, you felt yourself wanting to nudge a little closer to catch every word. "
New York Times -David Finckle and Wu Han:
New York Times letters re classical radio:
UK Sunday Times - Donovan:
UK Sunday Times- McCarthy:
UK Times - Bennett:
RNW Note - UK Times and Sunday Times require registration:
2002-04-22: Looking at the plight of Scottish Media Group (SMG), which last week finally announced its 2001 figures showing a GBP59 million profit in 2000 turning into a loss of GBP64 million in 2001, Heather Connon in the "Throg Street" financial column in the UK Observer, comments that it is hard to see where the money will come from "to repay its GBP393 million debt the June 2003 deadline set by its bankers without selling any of its assets."
She notes that in 2001, SMG's "radio and television businesses generated just £43.4m, and that was all used up on bank interest, capital spending and investment, so debt actually rose by £90m. The bank deal means it will have to find an extra £6m of interest this year, and while it can cut back on some spending, last year's restructuring programme will actually cost it £10m this year. "
Advertising revenue will have to rise sharply to boost profits enough to avoid disposals, she says, adding that the fact that SMG has written GBP56 million of the value of its 29/5% of rival Scottish Radio Holdings (SRH) but refused to write down the goodwill on its GBP 225 million purchase of the Ginger Media Group, including Virgin Radio, suggests that it is determined to hold on to the latter business but is more likely to sell its SRH holdings than raise its stake in the company when new UK media cross ownership regulations are issued.
UK Observer report:
2002-04-21: The most important regulatory decision last week was the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) approval of deals connected with Telemedia's sale of its radio and television stations; elsewhere the activity was on a smaller scale.
In Australia, the Australian Broadcasting Authority (ABA) awarded the new Gosford licence to DMG Radio, which put in an AUD 31.5 million bid (See below ).
Professor David Flint, ABA Chairman, said the auction "indicates how commercially valuable the FM band is. The level of bidding demonstrates a real depth of interest in the market and shows that the radio frequency spectrum is a public asset of great worth."
The Authority also announced that it was withdrawing the open narrowcasting frequency 96.9MHz frequency in Moranbah, Queensland that had been one of 92 open narrowcasting licences for which it had invited applications.
Noting that no applications were received when the frequency was put up for auction in June 1998 and May 1999, the Authority said that in September 1999 the frequency was made available for a temporary community broadcasting service that was subsequently started by Rock FM in March 2000.
It is now seeking to change the Emerald Licence Area Plan to plan a permanent community radio licence on 96.9 MHz in Moranbah.
In Canada, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC), as reported below, conditionally approved the sale of Telemedia's radio and TV stations and down the line sales of some of the stations.
The Commission also approved a new English-language FM community radio programming undertaking at the Okanese Indian Reserve, Saskatchewan, but only until August 2006 rather than the maximum seven years permissible because it wishes to review , at an earlier date, the applicant's performance in fulfilling the objectives for community radio stations.
Also in Canada, the Canadian Broadcasting Standards Council (CBSC), condemned the use by a Vancouver radio station of the term "bitch-slapped" in a sports report (See RNW April 19).
Things were fairly quiet in Ireland where the Broadcasting Commission of Ireland (BCI) approved the signing of satellite content contracts with RTÉ (See RNW April 18).
It was also quiet in the UK, where the Radio Authority has published its assessment of the award of the Reading licence to New City FM against competition from four other applicants. Crown FM, Juice Reading, Reading 107 and RFM.
The winners are a group which includes a Surrey and Berkshire Newspapers, a subsidiary of Guardian Media Group and the Milestone Group, the company which runs Kick FM in Newbury and Kestrel FM in Basingtoke.
In members' view, says the authority, "New City FM presented a strong business plan that benefited from credible backing. Links with neighbouring stations and the local newspaper group will provide the station with good marketing and promotional opportunities."
New City FM plans to broadcast a full music-led service for an audience aged between 25 and 54.
In the US, the Federal Communications Commission has been active on the disciplinary and technological fronts. As already report (RNW April 18 ) it confirmed an USD8, 000 fine on Eure Family Limited Partnership but reduced by USD3, 000 to USD 22, 000 another on Willis Broadcasting Corporation.
It also announced that an investigation by its Enforcement Bureau had led to an arrest concerning the operation of an unlicensed FM station in Brooklyn, one of more than 20 unlicensed stations that have been closed this year as a result of Enforcement Bureau investigations.
On the technological front, the Commission is now seeking comment on the National Radio Systems Committee (NRSC) report concerning iBiquity's IBOC (in-band-on-channel) hybrid mode AM/DAB (Digital Audio Broadcasting) system (see RNW April 9).
The commission also notes that additional tests are required to assess AM night time (skywave) propagation conditions and also because the iBiquity AM IBOC tests evaluated by NRSC were conducted using MPEG- 2AAC perceptual audio coding and iBiquity reportedly intends to use proprietary audio coding based on PAC, developed by Lucent Technologies, in its final AM IBOC DAB system.
During the week, FCC chairman Michael K Powell, testified before the Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, State, and the Judiciary of the Committee on Appropriations of the House of Representatives concerning the FCC fiscal year 2003 budget.
The FCC is seeking USD 278 million for the year and amongst the issues highlighted by Powell were enhancement of the Commission's independent technical and engineering expertise and enforcement of competition policy with specific mention of a request to "increase dramatically" the forfeiture amounts the FCC can impose.
Previous Licence News:
Previous UK Radio Authority:
ABA web site:
BCI web site:
CBSC web site:
CRTC web site:
FCC web site:
UK Radio Authority web site:
2002-04-21: The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) has given its approval to various deals involved in the sale of Telemedia's TV and radio stations including the CAD255 million cash and stock deal to sell 21 radio stations in Quebec and the Maritime Provinces to Astral Media.
Canada's Competition Bureau is still blocking the sale of nine stations and Telemedia's interest in two others (See RNW Dec 23, 2001).
The bureau says that allowing Astral to acquire the Quebec stations would lessen competition in 6 radio markets but Astral and Telemedia have launched a court action to argue that only the CRTC had jurisdiction in the matter of broadcast licences. The case is due to be heard on May 13.
The CRTC has imposed some conditions including the divesting by Astral of CFOM-FM in Lévis, the maintaining of a high level of local programming, and the investment over the next seven years by Astral of CAD 13.6 million in the development of Francophone artists.
The CRTC has also approved Standard Radio's purchase of 64 radio stations and two television stations from Telemedia and the subsequent acquisition by Rogers Broadcasting of 14 of the radio stations (in Ontario) and by NewCap of 15 of the radio stations (in Alberta).
Standard retains the TV stations, 21 radio stations in British Columbia, one radio station in Alberta and 13 radio stations in Ontario.
In approving the deals, the CRTC commented that "One of the advantages of this transaction is the fact that together these companies will invest CAD23,756,000 towards the development of Canadian artists."
CRTC web site:
2002-04-21: DMG radio has added yet another FM to its Australian stable; this time it took the new Gosford licence with a bid of AUD13.5 million to beat off competitor Austereo, which had bid AUD13.1 million.
Gosford, which is near Sydney, is one of Australia's fastest growing regional markets and is currently served by stations owned by RG Capital, which recently bought a 50% stake in Austereo Newcastle Stations (See RNW March 12).
The new station will be the 64th in DMG's network and it is expected to be in the running for new licences to be auctioned in the Gold Coast and Sunshine Coast areas of Australia.
2002-04-20: US radio advertising revenue fell back by 5% in February according to the US Radio Advertising Bureau (RAB) but in a reversal of the trend for many months this time national revenues were up and it was local sales that caused the fall; This was put down to the lack of sweeps advertising this year because of the Olympics.
The split was national revenues up 1% compared to a year ago, local sales down 6% and combined sales down 5%; for the year to date the figures were national sales up 1%, local down 35 and combined sales down 2%.
RAB's Sales Index which relates to a base of 100 in 1998, before the dot com boom, showed the national index at 132.7, local index at 130.2 and the combined index at 130.6 for February whist for the year to date the respective figures were 129.8 national, 131.8 local and 131.5 combined.
RAB President and Chief Executive Officer Gary Fries commented, "Radio has a broad range of advertising categories which has sustained the medium through the recent turbulent economy."
"Radio revenues are strengthening each month, and as we look forward, the industry is poised for a steady growth recovery."
RAB web site:
2002-04-20: Yet again there have been quite a few US radio station deals over the past week.
*Three buys by Mapleton Communications. It's paying USD1.2 million to Winsome Media LLC for classic rock simulcast stations KXDZ-FM and KXTZ-FM, San Luis Obispo, California and USD 600, 000 to Central Coast Community Broadcasting for AAA-format KOTR-FM in the same market. When the deals are finalised, Mapleton will own 16 stations in California.
*A sale by Cox Radio of KCCN-AM, Honolulu to local businessman Duane Kurisu. The price is said to be around the same -- USD575, 000 - as it recently received for KRTR-AM in Honolulu.
* A sale by Silverado Broadcasting of Reno, Nevada, station KPTL-AM to Casino Radio for USD 350, 000. Silverado is keeping KNVQ-FM in the Reno market.
*A sale by Brown Family Broadcasting Inc., which is controlled by LA Tonya Brown, daughter of soul singer James Brown, of WAAW-FM, Williston, South Carolina, to Frank Neeley for USD7000. Neeley already owns two AMs in the state.
In addition to deals, XM Satellite Radio has announced the closure of its 13.4 million stock offering, which raised USD154 million (See RNW April 13). and Viacom, which had been expected to sell USD500 million in five-year notes at USD 998.40 per USD 1,000 of face value, with a coupon of 5.625% has boosted the offering to 700 million to meet demand.
In another cash-raising move, Christian-oriented Salem Communications has filed a USD240 million shelf registration that will allow it to raise funds by issuing new securities including stocks and bonds.
Salem founders Chairman Stuart Epperson and CEO Ed Atsinger are each selling 625K shares of Class A common stock.
The two each retain more than 3.5 million shares and own all of the Class B shares, which have ten times the voting power of the Class A shares. This will leave each of them still controlling around 44% of Salem's voting power.
2002-04-20: Dublin's second new station to debut this month, SPIN-FM, is now on air.
Targeted at the 15-34 year old audience, it says it will air no music dating back before 2000.
Earlier this month, NewsTalk FM went on air with a rolling news format (See RNW April 9):
2002-04-20: Entercom Communications appears to have won its battle for KWOD-FM, Sacramento, although Ed Stolz's Royce International Broadcasting hasn't ye given up the fight. Judge Sheldon Grossfield, who ruled in November last year that a 1996 letter of intent to sell the station to Entercom for USD 25 million was a binding contract, has now ordered Stolz to sign the FCC forms to transfer KWOD-FM Sacramento to Entercom on May 2nd.
The judge has yet to rule on damages to be awarded to Entercom for whom broker Larry Patrick, testified that the company's loss to date from the delayed closing was USD 7.1 million.
Stolz had delayed implementation of the judge's previous order by filing a Chapter 11 bankruptcy petition (see RNW Jan 5) but that was dismissed because the judge assessed Royce International's assets to be far in excess of its liabilities.
Entercom is to place USD25 million in escrow, with USD15 million of that being immediately released to Stolz but Stolz says he intends to fight on, raising some interesting questions as to whether the judge may find him guilty of contempt, and possibly appoint a receiver to take control of the licence, if he refuses to sign the transfer forms.
2002-04-19: Scottish Media Group (SMG) has written down investments by nearly GBP 60 million, taking it into a pre-tax loss for 2001 of GBP64 million compared to a profit of GBP59 million in 2000 but it says new banking arrangements place it in a strong position for the expected consolidation of UK broadcasting.
The write-downs were of GBP56.3million to to GBP89.3million for its 29.5% strategic holding in Scottish Radio Holdings (SRH), based on the SRH share price at the end of 2001 and of GBP 5million to GBP3.5million of its investment in Heart of Midlothian plc. (RNW note- this is the Hearts soccer club).
In its results for the year to December 2001, whose release was delayed whilst it re-organised its banking covenants (See RNW March 16). It now has a new deal that will take it through to June 2003.
SMG reports turnover down from GBP300.5 million in 2000 to GBP280.8 million last year; EBITDA down from GBP78.8 million to GBP65.7 million; Total operating profit - excluding exceptionals, online losses and goodwill amortisation- down from GBP70.3million to GBP57.2million; pre-tax profit down from GBP59.0million to GBP36.0million; earning per share down from 15 pence to 8.4 pence. SMG's dividend per share was less than half that of 2000 at 3 pence compared to 6.8 pence.
In its own presentation of the figures, SMG's headlines include "All divisions profitable with strong margins, despite advertising downturn"; "Cost reduction initiatives have delivered GBP5million of annualised savings"; "Well positioned to deliver strong growth from any upturn in advertising" and "Debt renegotiation successfully concluded." (RNW comment -the last of these is true, we suppose, albeit SMG notes that the renegotiation led to "a GBP5.9million exceptional charge in 2001 relating to fees, professional adviser costs and increased interest charges-- up 1.5%.).
In terms of its divisions, the bright spot was SMG's Out of Home Division, comprising outdoor and cinema advertising: This increased turnover by 16% to GBP33.4million and operating profits by 21% GBP5.2million (2000: GBP4.3million).
All other divisions reported falls in revenues: of 2% in its publishing division, of 11% in its TV division and of 17% in the radio division.
Radio, which is mainly the Virgin national commercial station, saw its turnover drop to GBP27.9million compared to GBP33.6million in the 10 months of SMG's ownership in 2000. Operating profits for the corresponding period were down 30% to GBP10.5million, some of which SMG puts down to a strong performance by Virgin in 2000 spurred by advertising around the Euro 2000 football
tournament and from dot.com advertisers.
SMG says that Virgin Radio's tight cost control has resulted in an operating margin of 38% that, although reduced from 12 months ago, is still industry-leading.
Looking ahead, its report says UK advertising has yet to show substantive signs of
recovery but declines have been getting smaller. It adds, "Encouragingly, the market is becoming more predictable and buying activity is reverting to more traditional patterns. In particular, radio, as the medium most able to take short-term money, is showing the first signs of recovery."
There has been widespread speculation that SMG would have to sell assets to ease its GBP 400 million of debt but according to the UK Guardian, the group has ruled out disposals.
The paper said that the group's finance director, George Watt, said SMG's balance sheet was secure, after it announced it had successfully renegotiated the terms of its loans and that the restructuring deal would allow the group to take a leading role in the media spending spree that it expects will be unleashed by the new communications bill next year.
"We are not breaking the group up. We now have a window to understand where media ownership is going and then decide on the right strategic moves," he said.
SMG's shares ended Thursday up nearly 6% at GBP1.52 compared to a Wednesday close of GBP1.44
SMG results (184 kb PDF):
UK Guardian report:
2002-04-19: Arbitron has announced first quarter revenues of USD65.9 million, up 9.5% on the same period of 2001: it has also signed 90-day renewals of its agreements with Viacom's Infinity and Disney's ABC Radio, both of which can now use its winter ratings book.
Negotiations for longer-term renewals are continuing and CEO Steve Morris told analysts they were "far along."
Arbitron's largest customer Clear Channel, a year ago took its negotiations right up to the wire, but signed a deal in the end and Infinity, its second largest customer, is expected to follow suit. Infinity accounts for around a tenth of Arbitron's revenues and ABC for around 3%; the two last minute deals have meant that around USD900, 000 of revenue will not now be listed in Arbitron's figures until the second quarter. Morris said the company was on track for full-year revenue growth between 9% and 11%.
Other numbers from Arbitron for the first quarter included earnings before interest and taxes (EBIT) of USD27.6 million, up USD 300, 000 from 2001 and net income of USD14.2 million, down USD2.1 million. Arbitron puts this down to higher costs including those related to development of its RADAR service and Portable People Meter.
Previous ABC, America:
Previous Clear Channel:
Arbitron web site:
2002-04-19: The Canadian Broadcasting Council (CBSC) has ruled that CKVX-FM (Xfm, Vancouver), breached its codes when an on-air personality in a July 2001 sports report used the term "bitch-slapped" to describe the way the Seattle Mariners baseball team had dealt with their opponents.
The comment led to a complaint from a lawyer, who heard it whilst diving to court in connection with a case that involved a father who beat up his daughter because she was "disrespectful".
He wrote to the station which, after an initial exchange of letters, responded, "You correctly heard an announcer on Xfm use the term 'bitch-slapped'in reference to a baseball score the morning of July 30, 2001."
"The term is acceptable for use on Xfm, realizing it is accepted within our target audience as a phrase of celebration and/or victory. 'Bitch' does not refer to a female in this case, but rather something or someone that may be less significant."
"The target audience for Xfm is 18-24 year old men. Within this rock/alternative life-group, terms rejected by the mainstream as profanity, are acceptable and often have unique meanings."
" It is our intent to attract and retain these listeners. Again, please accept our apology for any embarrassment or inconvenience caused. If you wish to discuss this with me personally, please call the number listed below."
The complainant subsequently contacted the CBSC, commenting in part, "I don't care who you ask, the term "bitch-slapped", for an English language user, will denote the physical correction of a lesser [female] by a physical dominant [male], in this instance the alpha Seattle Mariners over their lesser opponents Unfortunately I have to deal with acts of physical assault on a regular basis in my work."
"Such are common, particularly male against female. I take the position that the term 'bitch- slapped', if not promoting may well condone and certainly does not rebuff these acts. Such are not acceptable, nor is language which promotes it."
Ruling that the use of the term was inappropriate, the CBSC commented, "While the expression 'bitch-slap'may have more than one meaning, the B.C. Panel understands its use here to have been that identified by both the complainant and the broadcaster in its replies While not extreme, the violent domination which is of the essence of the term is unacceptable on the public airwaves."
"There is in its use an assumption that this is an appropriate way to express a significant victory by one team over another. While verbs like smear, whip, stun, beat, pound, even massacre, as well as others, indicate substantial dominance in sports events, none of these has a sexist connotation."
"The Panel finds it curious and particularly unacceptable that the verb 'slap'would not likely even find its way onto the foregoing list of victorious verbs except in the circumstances in which it is attached to a feminine noun. There are many many ways to express sports dominance which are not attached to gender or other forms of submissiveness."
"There is a broad enough choice that no broadcaster can reasonably view itself as unduly limited by reason of the application of the industry's own restriction on the airing of expressions of violence against women."
"The use of 'bitch-slap' is not an option in such circumstances."
2002-04-19: San Francisco public broadcaster KQED, which runs KQED TV and KQED-FM, has named Jeff Clarke, head of Houston's public television station, as its new president to replace Mary Bitterman, who announced in November that she was to leave to head the James Irvine Foundation (See RNW Nov 10, 2001).
Salary details have not been released but Bitterman was paid a total of almost USD 220, 000 in 2000.
2002-04-18: US National Public Radio (NPR) has purchased property in Culver City, California, to house a new USD 12 million multimedia West Coast Production Centre as part of its national expansion.
It will be the organisations first large production centre outside Washington, DC, and NPR says it plans to start moving into the building in September.
NPR's Los Angeles news bureau and the production staff of The Tavis Smiley Show will be the first groups to occupy the centre. Half of the cost has been raised form donations. The building formerly housed an Internet Company and was purchased from Welk Group Inc.
NPR president and CEO Kevin Klose said that the Centre would "deepen NPR's connection to the creativity, thought, diversity and trends that are hallmarks of the American West, bringing listeners a broader world of ideas, events and culture."
NPR Executive Vice President Ken Stern told the Los Angeles Times that said the expansion was key to the network's plan to overhaul its approach to arts, music and entertainment programming, announced last week (See RNW April 13) .
He noted that NPR currently has arts reporters stationed only on the East Coast and added, "American culture is by no means just New York and Washington. There are other voices out there."
"One of the things we want to accomplish here is to expand our arts coverage so it encompasses more of the country. And California is very much a thought leader."
The Times points out that it also houses around 13% of NPR's national audience, with nearly 3.2 million Californians listening to the network each week.
Los Angeles Times report;
NPR news release:
2002-04-18: Simon Cornes, currently Editor of Reuters Audio News, has been appointed Managing Editor of BBC Radio Derby and BBCi, Derby.
He takes over from Mike Bettison, who is now Managing Editor of BBC Radio Nottingham, on Monday, April 22.
Cornes worked for BBC Radio Gloucester as News Editor in 1988 and subsequently was Director of Journalism at the London College of Printing during which period he performed consultancy work for Manx Radio and Classic FM.
2002-04-18: The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has dismissed a petition from Eure Family Partnership to reconsider an USD 8, 000 fine imposed for failure to exhibit red obstruction lighting on its antenna structure in Mathews County, Virginia.
The fine had already been reduced from the base USD10, 000 amount after submissions by Eure.
Eure said that it used to monitor the tower via a dial-up device that was programmed to notify the engineer at WXEZ-FM, Yorktown, when it owned the station.
After it sold WXEZ in October 2000,. It leased space on the tower to Bullseye Broadcasting under an agreement that said Bullseye should monitor the tower lights and inform Eure of any failure. Bullseye had said that they did not know of the obligation and additionally that a dial-up device that was supposed to indicate failures had not been re-programmed after Eure sold WXEZ.
Eure repaired the fault and re-programmed the dial-up device following the complaint . The FCC said the original penalty had been reduced because of Eure's explanations and previous history of compliance with regulations but it insisted that as licensee Eure was responsible for ensuring compliance with the regulations..
The FCC has also partly relented on penalties imposed on Willis Broadcasting in relation to the operation of WGRM-FM, Greenwood, Mississippi. It had proposed a USD25, 000 penalty for failure to have operational Emergency Alert System (" EAS") equipment at WGRM- FM; failure to register WGRM- FM's antenna structure; and failure to make WGRM- FM's public inspection file available for inspection. Willis had originally not responded to the FCC notice of apparent liability but later explained that its president and chief executive officer was struck with a disabling illness that disrupted its normal functioning and led to its failure to respond .
It had also provided evidence that the tower was in fact registered but in the name of a Mr Clay V Ewing. The FCC therefore reduced the penalty by USD3,000 to USD 22, 000 but instructed Willis to update the antenna ownership records should Mr Ewing no longer own the structure.
FCC web site:
2002-04-18: Irish state broadcaster RTÉ has signed satellite content contracts with the Broadcasting Commission of Ireland (BCI ) that should facilitate the carriage of its radio and television services on the Sky digital platform.
The current plan is for simulcasting of RTÉ services, enabling them to be received in areas where the terrestrial broadcasts have problems.
The BCI expects to sign a similar contract with commercial broadcaster TV3 shortly.
BCI web site:
2002-04-17: BBC World Service radio's weekly audience fell in 2001 by 2% - three million listeners - to 150 million from the record figure of 153 million a week a year earlier (See RNW March 29, 2001) according to latest figures released by the service.
This still leaves it well ahead of Voice of America (VOA) , the second-ranked international radio broadcaster, which claims around 91 million listeners a week, and the BBC says that most of the surveys were carried out before September 11, so it expects that in some areas the figures are a low estimate.
In particular it comments that it expects to "have attracted significant new audiences and high listenership in Afghanistan, Iraq and Somalia following expanded coverage in Pashto, Persian, Arabic, Urdu and Somali. However, at present, it is not possible to survey those countries.".
Most of the audience loss - 12 million listeners a week - was in India where radio listening in general is in steep decline; Indian radio listening has now halved compared to a decade ago
In most other areas, including Africa, Australia, Bangladesh, Europe, the USA and Ukraine, the service recorded increases, particularly where it can deliver broadcasts via FM transmissions; nearly a third of its audience, it says, now come from rebroadcasting partners who now account for some 44 million listeners a week, up by seven million on 2000. In the US and Australia, where World Service shortwave broadcasts were dropped at the start of July last year the audience for local re-broadcasts was up a quarter from 2.3 million to 2.9 million for the US; it doubled from a million to two million in Australia.
Short and medium wave (AM) audiences have fallen to 115 million from 124 million, with most of the fall in India where shortwave listening is dropping rapidly ; although commercial FMs are being introduced they are prohibited from broadcasting news and current affairs.
BBC World Service Director Mark Byford commented that the World Service was "continuing to make significant investment in upgrading transmitters for those areas where shortwave listening will continue to be the only viable means listeners will have to receive BBC services for years to come."
"However, he added, " the dramatic changes in India and Indonesia, where short wave listening is rapidly declining, emphasises the need for us to continue to be agile and invest more time and effort in further FM expansion around the rest of the world."
He also complimented the BBC journalistic team for its post-September 11 performance, saying, "Our strong editorial response to the events of September 11th and its aftermath have been a magnificent testament to the firmness of our public service values of accurate, impartial, editorially independent journalism. We know our services have a great impact." "Even in those areas where we are not attracting mass listening we remain important to key decision makers and opinion formers. We know we are highly valued. Nowhere more so than in Afghanistan where we are unable to carry out detailed audience research but we know listenership is high."
"Hamid Karzai, the leader of the interim government of Afghanistan," commented Byford, " has highlighted the impact of the World Service across the country".
He quoted Karzai as commenting, "The BBC World Service has been the main media outlet for the Afghan people for many, many years. It's a radio service that almost all Afghans - who want to have news - listen to, especially in Afghanistan. It has credibility. When I have been in the villages of central Afghanistan, people are listening to it. When I've been in Kandahar, people are listening to it... and in Herat and Mazar-e-Sharif. It is the main source of information for Afghanistan."
In terms of Internet operations, BBC World Service won the prestigious Webby Award for the world's best radio web site (See RNW July 19, 2001) and online usage, both text and audio, reached record levels. Usage more than doubled year-on-year from 33.6 million online page views to 76.9 million in December 2001 - an increase of 43.3 million in 12 months.
The World Service is currently awaiting word from the British Foreign Office, which funds it although it is controlled by the BBC, about the new level for its annual grant.
It received a total of GBP183 million in 2001.
Although the BBC World Service reputation may be high worldwide, at home it has attracted criticism in an industrial tribunal where an Asian journalist, Sharan Sandhu, 51, has claimed that she was repeatedly passed over for promotion because of her race and sex.
She says that the organisation was dominated by white male journalists when she joined as a sub-editor in 1990 and that they were of two types, arrogant "Oxbridge " and boozy "tabloid." Sandhu said that they had a colonial mentality and left ethnic minority staff with the impression that they were all right as long as they stayed in their place.
She also said that 11-and-a-half hour shifts introduced in August 1997 discriminated against working mothers, who were placed next to each other in the newsroom in the "mums' ghetto" Being there, she said , was widely regarded as a block to promotion. The BBC is denying discrimination.
BBC news release re audience figures:
2002-04-17: Emmis Communications, which at the end of March said it would beat previous forecasts for its final quarter results (See RNW Mar 28 ) has reported final quarter revenues of USD116.9M, more than USD2M ahead of its guidance of USD114M and up 6.3% on the final quarter of fiscal 2000; EBITDA of USD25.2M, was also more than USD2M above its guidance of USD23.3M. After Cash Tax flow (ATCF) was down 49% for the quarter at 16 cents a share; Emmis put this down to lower non-cash tax benefits.
For the full 2001 fiscal year, which runs to February 28, Emmis reported net revenue up 13.4% to USD533.8 million and BCF up 6.6% to USD185.7. ATCF however was down for the year at USD1.39 per share compared to USD1.96 per share for 2000.
Within the figures, radio revenues were a little down for the final quarter and TV was up whilst for the full year radio revenues rose 7.1% to USD256.6 million whilst TV revenues were up 31% to USD205.46 million.
The performance of its TV division gave some ammunition to Emmis to counter criticism of its move into TV.
Emmis Chairman and CEO Jeff Smulyan said the company remained committed to splitting its radio and TV operations into separately traded units and he hoped the split would go ahead in the current fiscal year.
Addressing questions about Emmis's debt levels, Smulyan commented, "Despite a difficult economic environment, we have focused on our operations while taking steps to address our leverage issues."
"The recent stock offering ( which was oversubscribed and raised USD120.2 million - See RNW April 6), working in conjunction with our cost-containment initiatives and the sale of our Denver radio properties (See RNW Feb 14 ), takes the pressure off of our balance sheet and allows us to be opportunistic in the months ahead."
"I remain confident in our ability to deliver stronger operating results across our business units and to take advantage of the improving economy."
Like other US companies, Emmis has also commented on the adoption of new accounting standard SFAS142: it says it expects to complete its impairment test on its unamortized goodwill and broadcast licenses during the quarter ending May 31 this year. It adds that it expects write-downs to result but cannot yet estimate the amount of them.
Looking ahead, Smulyan said that there was still a lot of last minute business to come for April and May currently looked encouraging but he wanted to wait a little before saying more.
Emmis web site (A Flash site!)
2002-04-17: Canwest Global Communications is expected to put its New Zealand radio and television interests up for sale or possible float them to help reduce its USD3 billion debt according to the Sydney Morning Herald.
Canwest owns the MoreFM and RadioWorks radio networks in New Zealand as well as 57.5% of the TV3 and TV4 television networks. The Herald reports that the TV business is thought to be losing around USD5 million a year but the radio operations make a small profit; it says the assets have been unofficially for sale for some time but speculation intensified after Canwest's subsidiary TV operation the Australian Ten Network had to suspend its full-year dividend and debenture interest payments after writing off half the value of its Eye Corp investment.
CanWest received USD8 million from the Ten network last year and the paper reports that without payments from Ten, Canwest could breach its banking covenants.
Amongst companies potentially interested in buying the New Zealand operations are said to be Austereo, the Kerry Packer media empire and New Zealand pay TV operator Sky Network Television.
Sydney Morning Herald report:
2002-04-17: Internet listening has now increased by more than 80% this year and more than five-fold since January 2001, according to the latest figures from MeasureCast.
MeasureCast CEO Ed Hardy said that Internet radio was growing faster than a year ago when it rose by 63% from January to April. "Consumer demand for Web radio is skyrocketing," he added.
At the top of its rankings, Virgin FM has been dethroned by Jazz FM as top station by total time spent listening (TTSL) but Clear Channel retains its clear lead at the top of the network rankings although Radio Free Virgin moved up to second, displacing Warp Radio.
For the week to April 7, the top five stations ranked by Total Time Spent Listening (TTSL) with previous week's TTSL and Cume persons (CP), a measure of the cumulative audience, in brackets, were:
1: Jazz format Jazz FM - TTSL 286,904 (224,898); CP 71,801 (65,009): Up from second with listening and reach up.
2: Hot Adult Contemporary Virgin FM - TTSL 259,822 (261,166); CP 48,736 (46,634): Down from first place with listening down and reach up.
3: Classical format WQXR-FM, New York - TTSL 144,456 (130,821); CP 22,557 (23,079): Same position with higher listening and lower reach.
4: Classical format King FM - TTSL 133,666 (129,087); CP 22,325 (22,293): Same position with higher listening and lower reach.
5: News-Talk format The Tom Joyner Morning Show - TTSL 79,871 (70,959) : CP 10,288 (9,343) : Same position with higher listening and reach.
The top five networks for the same week (Previous week's figures in brackets) were:
1: Clear Channel Worldwide TTSL 1,538,355 (1,197,033) ; CP 263,963 (237,098). Same position with higher listening and reach.
2: Radio Free Virgin TTSL 694,283 (590,033): CP 144,982 (141,433) - Up from third with higher listening and reach.
3: WARP Radio TTSL 622,266 (630,905) hours: CP 130,895 (124,657) - Down from second with lower listening but higher reach.
4: StreamAudio network TTSL 505,957 (508,431) : CP 104,478 (109,858) - Same position with lower listening and reach.
5: Virgin Radio TTSL 380,913 (374,980): CP 80,071 (77,899) - Same position with higher listening and reach.
Previous MeasureCast ratings:
MeasureCast web site:
2002-04-16: Westwood One has announced that it has extended by five years its deal with Viacom's Infinity Broadcasting under which Infinity provides management services to Westwood and the latter operates the CBS Radio Networks for Infinity.
There was a unanimous vote in favour by the board for the deal, which also specifies compensation to be paid to Infinity and also provides for warrants to be issued to Infinity to acquire up to 4.5 million shares of Westwood One's common stock at priced to be determined in the future subject to performance-based thresholds.
In its announcement, Westwood commented, "Infinity has done an excellent job of creating value for all of Westwood One's shareholders."
"Since the inception of the management agreement in 1993, Westwood One has benefited substantially both operationally and through the growth of its stock price, which has appreciated at a compound annual growth rate of 45%."
Meanwhile CBS-Infinity's parent Viacom, whose shares fell by around 6% last year, has announced reduced 2001 bonuses for its executives. CEO Sumner Redstone and President Mel Karmazin were each paid a bonus of USD12 million, USD3 million down from 2000, but also saw salaries up nearly USD1.3 million to USD3.3 million.
Each of them also received options to buy 750, 000 class B Viacom shares, significantly down from the 2 million options they received in 2000.
Previous Westwood One:
Viacom web site:
Westwood One web site:
2002-04-16: DMG has added the new Perth FM to its Australian holdings, this time through DMG Radio (Perth) Pty Ltd., a joint venture between DMG Radio and Australian Radio Network (ARN).
It bid a winning AUD 25 million (around USD12.5 million) to add the station to its winning bids of AUD67 million for the Brisbane licence in another joint venture with ARN (See RNW May 31, 2001); AUD 70 million for the Melbourne licence (See RNW Dec 15, 2000) and a record AUD155 million for the new Sydney licence in a joint venture with GWR (See RNW May 25, 2000):
The Australian Broadcasting Authority (ABA) announced at the end of November last year that it was to auction the Perth licence and the auctions was held on February 14.
2002-04-16: More US radio deals include a 50th Market for ABC's Radio Disney children's formats, a further acquisition for the K-Love Contemporary Christian network and a further Washington, DC, sale to make it two over the past fortnight.
The Radio Disney deal is the purchase for undisclosed terms of gospel station WQUA-FM, Mobile, Alabama, from Lyn Communications; Disney is to turn it into its children's format.
Earlier this month ABC announced three deals for stations that it is to turn into Radio Disney outlets (See RNW April 6).
Also in Alabama, Susquehanna Radio is selling WHMA-AM, Anniston, for USD 150,000
The DC sales are those of WWGB-AM by Jack Mortenson to the Rev. Sun Young Joo's Mountain Broadcasting for USD2.9 million in cash and of WMET-AM by Beltway Communications to IDT Corporation for USD7 million. The latter sum is made up of USD2.8 million in cash and USD 4.2 million in IDT stock.
The K-Love deal is another Texas acquisition, this time a USD 500, 000 purchase of KGG-FM, Corpus Christi, from Roloff Evangelistic Enterprises. At the beginning of the month, K-Love announced a USD 1 million deal to purchase KXCR-FM from Etcom Inc .(See RNW April 6)
And finally a possible Internet auction deal. WMGO-FM, Yazoo City, Mississippi, is being offered on eBay with a minimum of USD210, 000. Bidding closed on Wednesday and should the Federal Communications Commission refuse the transfer to the winning bidder, the sale price will be refunded less a handling fee of 10%.
Previous ABC, US:
2002-04-16: XM Satellite Radio, whose stock fell 16% last week to end at USD11.14 and is down nearly 40% so far this year, recovered by more than 3% on Monday to just top the USD11.50 at which it had priced its latest issue of 13.4 million shares (See RNW April 13).
XM's low point in the last 12 months was USD 4.70 a share on September 27 last year; It closed on Monday at USD 11.501, having ranged between USD11.01 - 11.61
XM web site:
2002-04-15: Technology and technique for the theme of this week's look at print comment on radio. First the technique with comments from the two Irish radio columnists.
First up is Gerry McCarthy, who in his column on Irish radio in the UK Sunday Times contrasts those he terms the "ranters" with the old school.
He takes RTÉ's Pat Kenny as an exemplar of the latter group, writing of his cover of the resignation of a junior Irish minister that it was "public service with knobs on" and delivered "as comprehensive an analysis as was possible."
Kenny's "clinical approach ", writes McCarthy, "worked superbly as he spooled out rope to one opposition politician after another, as Labour leader Ruairi Quinn, then Fine Gael leader Michael Noonan, tried and failed to resist the temptation to kick Molloy (the minister who resigned) while he was down Apart from his quietly probing questions, Kenny did nothing to stoke the flames - a minimalist but informed and confident approach."
Of the ranters and their "shock-jock approach, he is less enamoured, citing Eamon Dunphy on another report as providing "the pantomime anger."
"In a spooky echo of his former employer and fellow broadcasting incandescent, Vincent Browne," writes McCarthy, "Dunphy howled that the matter was 'outrageous'. He repeated the relevant six- and seven-digit bonus figures in tones of incredulity, and performed his by now familiar routine of the common man appalled by the venality and deviousness of the powerful.
It is, to borrow a phrase from Dunphy, bogus official Ireland shite. Dunphy is a player. He earns vast sums and largely holds the fate of a national radio station in his hands. The common man act doesn't wash. Nor, generally, does the moral indignation."
Dunphy's comments were, of course, no more "official shite" than some of the facets of Dublin's new talk station, NewsTalk 106, referred to by Harry Browne in the Irish Times. "You wouldn't want, " he writes, " to take the station's promo snippets too seriously - like the one which plugged 'the new radio competition that everyone's already talking about . . .'. Some trick, when the relevant programme had not even aired yet."
"From listening to its first-day programming," he continues, "you get the feeling that NewsTalk would love to have poached Eamon Dunphy. Failing that, they've tried to clone him into three parts: David McWilliams represents the vaguely iconoclastic but basically pro-business Dunphy, Damien Kiberd is the green-leaning Dunphy, and George Hook is the jock-talking Dunphy."
Talking of content as opposed to style, he writes, "The level of NewsTalk's ambition (or pretensions) can be measured by the fact that hardly any item from 7 a.m. to 2.30 p.m. was a local Dublin story."
Nor was Browne particularly impressed by the "station's programming structure" of which he commented that it "sees too many interruptions from ads, promos and the vaunted 20/20 news service every 20 minutes."
Next technology, and first up here is a San Francisco report that suggests that digital technology could lead to there being no scarcity of spectrum for radio broadcasts.
In it, Silicon Valley writer and broadcaster Hal Plotkin, suggests that the more efficient use of the airwaves using "spread spectrum" technology, could remove the scarcity value on which today's licensing system is based.
The battle cry, he writes, is "It's time for the Federal Communications Commission to get out of the business of deciding who gets to be a broadcaster and who doesn't. "
Spread spectrum technology works on the basis of treating radio transmissions as packets of digital information, analogous in many ways to Internet traffic, thus allowing a vastly-increased number of signals to be sent in the same spectrum by hopping from frequency to frequency so as to use the gaps that currently exist in the signals.
Digital mobile phones, points out the article, use a form of spread-spectrum technology as do "wireless data networks, most notably the esoterically named IEEE 802.11B, also known as Wi-Fi."
Plotkin suggests that, since the idea works most efficiently when there is more spectrum allocated to it, adding, "Many experts add that it's now readily apparent that advanced spread-spectrum technologies would also work as well or even better for other types of transmissions, including both television and radio. "
He says that established broadcasters have a vested interest in opposing the spread of the technology and concludes, "Given the influence of big media Congress is unlikely to be the moving force behind a switchover to a more modern and fair broadcasting system. The better hope would appear to rest in the courts, where the jumble of complicated technical issues will eventually be boiled down to what really matters. After all, we're talking about free speech here. "
"In the end, the First Amendment won't be worth squat if the federal government is allowed to continue restricting speech over the airwaves in an era when technology has eliminated any need for such restrictions."
RNW comment: The technological points made by the article are worth considering (See also link below to a 1998 MIT/Harvard paper that he provides) but we fear Plotkin is being naive at best in his assessment of the likely results of moves such as he suggests.
We cannot quite see how the US First Amendment would protect a small broadcaster's need for free speech over the speech and data needs of several hundred mobile phone users and in terms of effect, as with the Internet, it may be valuable that anyone can theoretically have a voice but that's not the whole tale.
Perhaps Plotkin should have awaited the final outcome of the current debate over digital copyright charges before jumping too far into speculation over the freedoms that would arise. We can't see the record companies standing idly by should current radio operations be transformed into a much larger number of outlets sending digital information over the airwaves.
Finally the question of digital broadcasts as outlined by Steve Carney in the Los Angeles Times.
Noting that Los Angeles and five other test markets will see digital broadcasts later this year, he considers iBiquity's IBOC ( in-band on channel) digital system that was formally introduced at NAB Las Vegas (See RNW April 9).
Noting the system's endorsement by the National Radio Systems Committee (NRSC), Carney says that the endorsements virtually ensure FCC approval of the system some time this summer.
Proponents of the system, as Carney notes, tout improved audio quality, less interference and the ability to send out data as well as audio whilst opponents cite likely interference with the signals of Low power FM stations, or indeed static for adjoining stations from the combination of digital and analogue signals.
He also comments on the question of costs, both for the stations in re-equipping and for listeners who have on average some half-dozen radios in a household and would have to pay around USD300 for a converter to allow each one of them to receive the digital signal.
RNW comment: As we've noted before, the current radio system allows travellers to take with them portable "world radios" that can receive both Am and FM plus, in some cases, short wave signals for a comparatively modest sum (We have before us as we write, a leaflet on a ten -band model including shortwave for around USD30 and a rather more sophisticated Roberts model with better audio quality and an alarm for USD 100).
The costs of digital receivers have certainly militated against a take-up of digital in countries such as the UK where there are already many digital broadcasts (more people listen to them from the Sky TV system than from radio receivers!).
In addition, the rest of the world seems likely to go for the DRM (Digital Radio Mondiale) system rather than that of iBiquity. So far we haven't seen any article that gives a good assessment of the iBiquity and DRM systems: US writers seem ignorant of the rest of the world in this area and the rest of the world so far doesn't seem to considering the iBiquity system.
We'd much prefer a worldwide system of digital - it's already a pain having cell phones that work pretty well everywhere in the world except the US. If anyone does know of such comparative information we'd really appreciate an e-mail.
Irish Times - Browne:
Los Angeles Times -Carney:
SF Gate - Plotkin:
UK Sunday Times - McCarthy:
MIT/Harvard "spread-spectrum white paper:
2002-04-15: Media organisations in the Republic of Ireland are starting to look increasingly valuable as rule changes that will allow more consolidation are anticipated and more outsiders launch bids for Irish companies.
Latest to go, subject to approval by the Broadcasting Commission of Ireland (BCI), is Tullamore-based Midlands Radio 3 which serves Counties Laois, Offaly and Westmeath.
It is to be taken over by UK Tindle Radio in the latter's first expansion into the Irish Republic.
Earlier last week, Ulster TV (UTV) announced that it was purchasing Limerick-based Treaty Radio (See RNW April 9) and like Scottish Radio Holdings (SRH), which took complete control of the Today FM national station in November last year (See RNW Nov 15, 2001) but has also been buying print titles, it has made no secret of its ambitions for further media acquisitions in the Republic.
Both UTV and SRH risk running foul of the regulator on ownership concentration or media cross-ownership grounds should they place bids in various areas.
UTV would be more likely to face opposition should it try and build up its urban-area holdings into anything approaching a position dominating independent urban Irish radio outside Dublin and SRH would face cross-ownership objections in counties Longford, Kilkenny and Tipperary, where it now owns the main newspapers.
Previous Tindle Radio:
2002-04-14: XM Satellite Radio says that ST Microelectronics, which manufacture the chips for its receivers, has now shipped 355,000 units to radio manufacturers.
This, says the company, is a good indication if the expected demand for its services since the numbers relate to orders placed by retailers with manufacturers and such orders are only placed for a good reason.
XM web site:
2002-04-14: Last week was very quiet on the licence front with nothing at all on the radio front from Australia, not much from North America and little more in the UK and Ireland.
In Canada, the only radio-related activity for the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) was a request to change the licence conditions for an existing low-power weather information radio station at Chilliwack, British Columbia to allow it to provide a wider Tourists/Travellers Advisory Service which integrates current weather forecasts, weather bulletins and highway surface conditions, and other travel-safety information as well as tourist information for the Chilliwack area.
In Ireland, the Broadcasting Commission of Ireland (BCI), has announced the receipt of four applications for the first tranche of existing local licences to be re-advertised throughout the Republic.
They are :
*Louth/Meath area - a broad-based service application from LMFM Radio.
*County Wicklow area - a broad-based service application from East Coast FM.
*Dublin City and County area - two applications for music-driven services from Dublin's 98FM - the Sound of the City and FM104.
In the UK, the Radio Authority has re-awarded one licence, re-advertised another a published its assessment of a previous award.
Renewed was the Greater London FM licence held by Virgin Radio Ltd.; Virgin provided a digital service on the second London digital multiplex which entitles it to automatic renewal if it is providing or is committed to provide such a digital service.
Re-advertised was the north London AM licence currently held by London Turkish Radio for which a competing application has been received.
The assessment was for the digital multiplex for Swindon and West Wiltshire, which was awarded to Now Digital against competition from Emap Digital Radio Ltd (See Licence News Jan 20 for details of services offered 2002-01.html#UKRA3). In its assessment, the authority says Now's business plan "was realistic and sustainable" and that "programming proposals catered well for a good range of age groups and audience tastes, with children and young people particularly well served."
In the US, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has red-flagged the sale of KRIB-AM in Mason City, Iowa. The station along with KLSS-FM and KYTC-FM is being sold by Three Eagles to itself as part of a USD71 million re-capitalisation.
It has also said that 11 low-power FM stations now have licences and another eight have applied for formal licences, thus meaning they can begin preliminary operations. In addition, at the applicants request, the FCC has dismissed construction permit applications for seven LPFMs - one in Iowa, three in New Mexico, one in North Carolina, one in North Dakota, and one in Texas.
Previous Licence News:
Previous UK Radio Authority:
BCI web site:
CRTC web site:
FCC web site:
UK Radio Authority web site:
2002-04-13: More news of US radio stock and bond offerings this month includes the pricing by XM Satellite Radio of its offering of 13.4 million shares (See RNW April 9 ) at USD11.50, 40 cents below is closing price on Thursday.
Of the USD154 million this would produce, XM will get USD147 million; in case of an oversubscription the underwriters have been granted the right to purchase up to 2 million more shares.
Another offering announced earlier this month, that of 10.5 million shares by Radio 1 Inc (See RNW April 6) has been oversubscribed; as a result existing shareholders are now to dispose of around a million shares more than the 1.3 million they were originally selling. XM's success follows an earlier over-subscription to Emmis's offering (See RNW April 6).
Entercom, which offered stocks and bonds totalling some USD330 million at the end of February, also saw the offering oversubscribed. It says the underwriters picked up an addition 525 ,000 share above the 3.5 million offered, making the proceeds of stock sold USD207 million, nearly USD27 million above the base offer. It also offered USD150M in 7.625% senior subordinated notes due in 2014.
Previous Radio 1 Inc:
2002-04-13: UK TalkSport has fired DJ Tommy Boyd, his producer and technical operative after they failed to "dump" comments by a caller who said he was a republican and added of royalty that he would like to "shoot the fucking lot of them."
Boyd, a former children's TV presenter, distanced himself and the station from the comments but the station said they had "no choice" but to fire the team, adding that failing to cut the comments was either a gross error of judgement or a result of failing to monitor the output properly.
RNW comment: Bearing in mind some of the comments that TalkSport has let through, and in some cases defended, we would have felt the station did indeed have a choice but maybe they were being more sensitive than usual about public opinion and the likely views of the UK Broadcasting Standards Council which received a complaint about the broadcast.
We await the next BSC Complaints Bulletin with interest.
Previous BSC/BSC Complaints Bulletin:
2002-04-13: US National Public Radio (NPR) is cutting more than 50 posts, although those affected can apply for 31 new jobs within the re-organised network according to the Washington Post. The changes include cutting its cultural programming division and "gutting" its classical music program "Performance Today" according to the Post.
It quotes NPR Executive Vice President Ken Stern as saying, "NPR is refocusing its cultural programming to better serve our stations and our audiences. One of the things coming out of this is that NPR will be distributing more hours of cultural programming than it currently does" and
The Post then points out that, although some programmes like NPR's "World of Opera" will be expanded, "Performance Today" will continue in name only as the new programme will consist mostly of recorded performances without the interviews and commentary segments it previously included.
Stern had said of it, "We'll focus more on the unique asset of the show, which is NPR's ability to acquire quality music." Another programme "Jazz Profiles" says the Post will consist only of re-runs.
Under NPR's re-organisation, which follows an internal report written by Jay Kernis, NPR's senior vice president for programming, the organisation will retain its news division and divide cultural programming into Arts Information, Music and Entertainments units. News will continue to handle such programmes as "All Things Considered" and "Morning Edition"; Entertainment will handle shows such as "Car Talk"; the Music Unit will produce music programmes and Arts Information will handle features, interview and news items about the arts.
Washington Post report:
2002-04-12: AOL/Time Warner has confirmed that former AMFM Vice Chairman and Radio President Jimmy de Castro has been named President of America Online.
He moves into his post on Monday, replacing Jonathan Sacks who retired in February. Earlier this week AOL CEO Barry Schuler moved to lead a new AOL division charged with developing new digital services.
Sacks' duties are to be assumed by another Chicago radio veteran, Bob Pittman, AOL/ Time Warner co-chief operating officer.
De Castro, who build AMFM up to 465 stations before it was taken over by Clear Channel, told Robert Feder of the Chicago Sun-Times, that he would keep his Chicago office and commute to AOL's Virginia headquarters.
He told Feder his radio experience would serve him well in his new role.
"When you think about radio, it's all about customer satisfaction--finding out what people want and giving it to them," he said. "AOL is the biggest mass marketer out there. It's got 34 million people. We've just got to get people to stay in the service longer, get video on demand, audio on demand, games and what have you, and then find a way to monetize it. Ultimately, it's about enhancing the customer relationship."
Previous de Castro:
Feder Sun-Times column:
2002-04-12: An employment tribunal has ruled that a former BBC Radio Bristol broadcast assistant, Helen Reed, was unfairly dismissed by the BBC but it rejected her claim that she was subjected to bullying by station manager Jenny Lacey.
The tribunal said that Reed, who said she had been pigeon-holed as someone who could only handle lighter stories and features, had been dismissed without being given a proper chance to prove she could develop as a news journalist when the format of the breakfast programme on which she worked was changed.
The station, said the tribunal, should have made more effort to provide a structured training programme to ensure that Reed could cope with the hard news stories that were the new focus of the show.
2002-04-12: The US National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) says that total attendance at this year's convention in Las Vegas topped 95,000, a fall on last year's 113, 000 which itself was a drop on the record 115, 0000 attending in 2000.
President and CEO Eddie Fritts put the fall down to a combination of the state of the US economy and the drop in travel following the September 11 attacks. "We're exceedingly thrilled with the success of the show," he said. " when you look at other trade shows this year, most are trailing far greater than this convention. It is successful beyond our wildest expectations."
Fritts has also admitted that there has been consideration of the long-term future of NAB's Radio Show, which has also suffered a continuing fall in attendance but stressed that the nature of NAB demanded that it continue and added that he was looking forward to the Seattle show this fall.
NAB web site:
2002-04-12: Sydney station 702 and the ABC's Alice Springs, Northern Territory, station have won the Australian Broadcasting Corporation's metropolitan station of the year and regional station of the year awards in the broadcasters 2002 local radio awards, which were announced in Perth.
Broadcaster of the year was Michael Mackenzie, also from the Northern Territory services and rural reporter of the year was Rosemary Grant from Tasmania.
Previous ABC, Australia:
ABC awards announcement:
2002-04-11: Concern about the implications of the introduction of digital radio in the US was expressed at a NAB session by Bill Suffa, SVP Capital Management for US radio giant Clear Channel.
He called the recommendation that it be used for daytime only (See RNW April 9) a "death-knell for AM" and noted that in winter night-time for many parts of the US included afternoon drive time. He said the quality of iBiquity's IBOC (in-band-on-channel) digital signal was good but asked what happened when the signal had to be switched at night, suggesting that the huge difference in quality meant that many people were just not going to listen.
Others were less pessimistic and Susquehanna SVP and National Radio Systems Committee (NRSC) chairman Charlie Morgan said that , despite night time problems, AM IBOC had "quality and durability and provided a really, really good" broadcast. IBOC FM met goals he said and people would automatically get an AM receiver when they moved to digital FM,
iBiquity CEO Robert Struble, who was hosting the session, took up the cost of a switch to IBOC, which he said would be around USD75,000 all up for a station. He said he expected IBOC-capable receivers from five or six manufacturers to be available in January 2003's Consumer Electronics Show.
Struble also commented on a suggestion from General Motors that the radio industry subsidize a USD50-per-unit mark-up for IBOC car receivers but said he considered this unacceptable as keeping costs down was important for broadcasters.
RNW comment: As in the UK, which already has a lot of digital radio transmissions but few receivers, we wonder why the US consumer would want to switch to digital unless the cost is kept right down.
In an automobile other noises detract from the quality benefits and for home use in most areas a good FM receiver already offers adequate quality at low cost. Thinking of the half-dozen radios in most households, replacement will be a significant cost.
It also seems to us that if the US goes it alone with iBiquity and the rest of the world adopts the DRM (Digital Radio Mondiale) system there is another significant drawback for anyone travelling who currently can take a reasonable quality portable with them and receive signals anywhere in the world.
The initial drive for the move seemed to us to be as much a product of government's hopes to gain a fortune from the sale of spectrum for other uses such as mobile telecommunications, as from any real benefit to listeners, and the financial fall from glory of the telecoms companies has significantly reduced the amount that is likely to be raised by spectrum sales.
All in all, as with digital TV, we don't see any large public demand for a change on the basis of the current offerings, which in many cases are more of the same with a few added bells and whistles as far as content is concerned.
Previous Clear Channel:
2002-04-11: Regent Communications has opted not to hold its good news until it formally releases its first quarter results towards the end of the month and put out preliminary figures saying that it now expects losses of 1 cent per share compared to previous guidance of twice that.
Regent also says it expects revenues in the USD12.9 to UD13 million rang e and Broadcast Cash Flow (BCF) in the USD 2.9 to 3 million range, the latter USD 2.5 to USD 2.7 million up from previous forecasts of USD2.5 to USD2.7 million. It also says it expects same station revenues for the quarter to be down 2% on a year ago compared to previous forecasts of flat to 5% down.
Hispanic Broadcasting has also raised its sights. It says it expects first quarter revenues in excess of earlier guidance of revenue growth between 1% and 3%, although it does not quantify the increase. It also says it expects same station revenues to exceed composite revenue growth for stations in its markets, but again does not quantify this.
2002-04-11: Sirius Satellite Radio says its service is now available in eleven US states following its accelerated rollout. They are Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming. Sirius plans to have seven more states added by the end of this month.
Sirius web site:
2002-04-11: Arbitron's March webcast ratings just issued show Live 265 maintaining its network top rank for the seventh consecutive month with Clear Channel, which tops the MeasureCast network, again in second place. In the station rankings, Virgin Radio and Jazz FM retain their top and second spots.
Arbitron ranks by ATH (aggregate tuning hours), the equivalent of Measurecast's TTSL (Total Time Spent Listening) and it shows higher listening Clear Channel, which it says topped five millions hours compared to four million for Measurecast, but lower listening for Virgin than the latter.
Arbitron's March top five channels, ranked by ATH with previous month's figures in brackets were:
1:Adult contemporary Virgin FM with ATH 1,034,600. First in February with lower ATH 893,500
2: Jazz FM with ATH 763,800. Second in February with higher ATH 826,200.
3: Classical King FM with ATH 580,000.Same position as February when ATH was lower at 535,500
4: Classical WQXR-FM with ATH 476,100. Same position as February when ATH was lower at 352,300
5: Jazz format KPLU with ATH 301,300. Up from eighth in February when ATH was 258,200 - it took over from Media Amazing, which was fifth in February with ATH 343,400 but has now dropped its free streams.
Arbitron's March top five networks were, ranked by ATH with previous month's figures in brackets were:
1:Live 365 with ATH 7,609,100. Position unchanged but up from February ATH 6,148,800.
2: Clear Channel Worldwide with ATH 5,041,200. Position unchanged but up from February ATH 3,483,700.
3: ChainCast Networks/StreamAudio with ATH 2,467,800. Position unchanged but up from February ATH 2,073,800.
4: SMG PLC (Virgin radio owners) with ATH 1,545,400. Position unchanged but up from February ATH 1,251,100.
5: Public Interactive with ATH 799,600. Position unchanged but listening down from February ATH 853,600.
Previous Arbitron webcast ratings:
Arbitron web site:
2002-04-10: The Canadian Broadcast Standards Council (CBSC) has ruled that a broadcast of a prank call obtained from a US broadcaster by Vancouver station CFMI-FM (Rock 101, Vancouver) did not breach its codes.
During the call, a man posing as a representative from a company conducting drug testing for employers contacted a woman and told her that her test results indicated very high drug use. The woman insisted that there must be an error and, in desperation, eventually offered to sleep with the "tester" in order to be allowed to re-take the test.
This had led a listener felt that this broadcast promoted sexual harassment and wrote," I was upset at this kind of "prank" perpetrated on our airwaves and complained to CFMI [...] who sidestepped responsibility by saying "Thanks for your comments. The call was actually made by a radio station in the U.S., and set up by the girl's mother as a prank call. We replayed it. I do appreciate your thoughts on it."
The listener commented in an e-mail to the CBSC, "This piece offended me and would have offended many others as it publicly endorsed sexual harassment. By rebroadcast this material suggests that CFMI thinks sexual harassment is okay. I don't think that position taken by a broadcaster is okay."
The CBSC panel after considering the complaint said it felt that "the 'tester' been the one to suggest sexual activity, the dialogue might have unfolded differently and the Panel might have reached a different conclusion."
The "tester" in fact, it noted, revealed the prank as soon as the woman had upped the offer to the level of sexual favours, and although it found the segment to be in very poor taste, it did not find it exploitative of either sex.
RNW comment: The decision also notes that its ruling was based on the content of the call not the intent.
Canada does not, for example, allow as a defence that an item was meant to be humorous.
We wonder how they would react to an April Fool's prank on a Kansas City station. KQRC, which this year broadcast a report that the city's water supply was contaminated by a high level of "dihydrogen monoxide (i.e. water) that causes increased urination, profuse sweating and wrinkling of hands and feet but could be removed by boiling long enough.
The report led, according to the Kansas City Star, to around 150 calls about the report including 30 to the emergency services and the city's superintendent of water protection told the paper that it was a "terrorist act" as far as he was concerned.
Would the CBSC decide on the basis that the facts of the story were accurate or on the basis that it was also factual that it caused distress to the ignorant.
One, as is apparently going to be the case, for the lawyers since the city is reported to be proposing to sue the station!.
2002-04-10: The two contenders for Ireland's first regional commercial radio licence, for the South East of Ireland, Power FM and Beat 101, have made their presentations to the Broadcasting Commission of Ireland (BCI) at an oral hearing in Kilkenny.
Each group is proposing a music-station targeting he 15-34 age group.
Both groups are based in Waterford and have strong financial backers. Power FM's backers include Bob Geldof and it is 51% owned by SBS Broadcasting, which runs television and radio stations in Europe.
Beat 101's backers include U2 manager Paul McGuinness and its largest shareholder would be the Waterford radio station WLR-FM with whom it proposes to share sales and administration services.
A decision on the award is expected by the end of this month.
2002-04-10: Internet listening was down 5% in the week to March 31 according to MeasureCast but it also reports that during the month Clear Channel became the first network to stream a total of more than four million hours of programming.
It puts the fall in listening in the week to part of what its CEO Ed Hardy termed "the natural cycle of Internet radio listening (RNW comment - we invite suggestions as to what exactly this means above what Dr Johnson called "mere wind") but at the same time emphasised that total Internet streaming by the stations it measures has increased by 70% since the start of this year and 466% since it launched its Internet Listening Index in January 2001.
In general the top stations and networks have remained the same but there was a major leap into fifth spot from 36th by the Tom Joyner show with the previous week's fifth ranked station rock-format Internet-only KNAC dropping to eighth place.
For the week to March 31, the top five stations ranked by Total Time Spent Listening (TTSL) with previous week's TTSL and Cume persons (CP), a measure of the cumulative audience, in brackets, were:
1: Hot Adult Contemporary Virgin FM - TTSL 261,166 (309,801); CP 46,634 (60,309): Same position but both listening and reach fell yet again.
2: Jazz format Jazz FM - TTSL 224,898 (207,380); CP 65,009 (66,648): Same position with listening up and reach down.
3: Classical format WQXR-FM, New York - TTSL 130,821 (160,538); 23,079 CP (26,270): Same position but lower listening and reach.
4: Classical format King FM - TTSL 129,087 (140,766); CP 22,293 (23,808): Same position but lower listening and reach.
5: News-Talk format The Tom Joyner Morning Show - TTSL 70,959 : CP 9,343 : New entrant to top 25
The top five networks for the same week (Previous week's figures in brackets) were:
1: Clear Channel Worldwide TTSL 1,197,033 (1,256,457) ; Cume 237,098 (171,591). Same position with lower listening but higher reach.
2: WARP Radio TTSL 630,905 (633,763) hours: Cume 124,657 (131,920) - Same position with lower listening, and reach.
3: Radio Free Virgin TTSL 590,033 (567,952): Cume 141,433 (125,293) - Same position with lower listening but higher reach.
4: StreamAudio network TTSL 508,431 (519,587 ) : Cume 109,858 (88,142) - Same position with lower listening but higher reach.
5: Virgin Radio TTSL 374,980 (433,686): Cume 77,899 (90,906) - Same position with lower listening but higher reach.
In its March monthly report, also just published, MeasureCast highlights the growth in listening to Clear Channel's network to more than 4 million hours streamed in the month. At the individual station level there was more shuffling around with Virgin FM again taking the lead from Jazz FM for the month and KNAC.com moving up from seventh to fifth rank, knocking out MediAmazing which has switched to a subscription-only model and ended all free streams; it dropped from fourth to ninth position.
MeasureCast's March top five channels ranked by TTSL with last month's TTSL and Cume (Cumulative Audience) in brackets were:
1): Adult Alternative Virgin Radio TTSL 1,248,404 (1,085,346); CP 163,307 (118,436). Up from second with increases in listening and reach.
2): Jazz format Jazz FM TTSL 995,159 (1,129,763); CP 212,960 (220,990) - Down from first with lower listening and reach.
3): Classical King FM (Seattle) TTSL 560,193 (527,690); CP 64,393 (58,183) - Same position with higher listening and reach.
4): Classical format WQXR-FM TTSL 499,087 (401,962); CP 56,346 (36,885): Up from fifth with higher listening and reach.
5): Rock format Internet-only KNAC.Com 333,344 (302,489); 44,900 ( 38,737) Up from seventh with higher listening and reach.
There were also changes in the top five networks with Clear Channel jumping to top spot and pushing the others in the top five down a slot.
MeasureCast's top five networks were (Previous rank and hours in brackets where applicable):
1: Clear Channel Worldwide TTSL 4,873,030; CP 668,887 (New entrant and straight to the top):
2: WARP Radio TTSL 2,707,351 ; CP 397,125 (TTSL 2,506,269 ; CP 351,535); Down from first despite higher listening and reach.
3: Radio Free Virgin TTSL 2,393,080 ; CP 375,459; (TTSL 1,975,924 ; CP 294,248 ) Same position with higher listening and reach.
4: StreamAudio network TTSL 2,170,637 ; CP 278,996 (TTSL 2,352,317; CP 248,086 ) Down from second with lower listening but higher reach.
5: Virgin Radio TTSL 1,780,957 ; CP 255,855 ; (TTSL 1,525,644; CP 185,648); Down from fourth with higher listening and reach.
Previous MeasureCast ratings:
Previous MeasureCast monthly ratings:
MeasureCast web site:
2002-04-09: This year's National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) Conference has now opened in Las Vegas with a significant focus on the convergence between media as digital technology develops and the 2006 deadline set by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for TV transition to digital broadcasts approaches.
On the radio side of digital, the US National Radio Systems Committee (NRSC) at the weekend approved the iBiquity Digital AM IBOC (in-band on channel) digital system albeit only for daytime operation at the moment.
It had already endorses iBiquity's FM system in last year (See RNW Dec 4 2001).
The evaluation committee set up by the NRSC, which is jointly sponsored by the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) and NAB, pointed out that at night there was concern about interference because there was then both groundwave and skywave propagation of AM broadcasts whereas in the daytime propagation was primarily ground wave.
The NRSC commented that the system will "allow AM broadcasters to provide listeners with two-channel stereo audio rivalling existing analogue FM stereo in quality" and that it will also enable them to provide date services and set them on an "efficient path to an all-digital service."
iBiquity's Geneva-based digital radio rival, Digital Radio Mondiale (DRM) is also showing its wares in Las Vegas. Its efforts will include live DRM broadcasts from the WEWN short-wave station in Birmingham, Alabama.
DRM provides a digital AM system for short,, medium and long-wave which can use existing frequencies and bandwidth. It has members round the world including Radio Canada International. Canada has already adopted the EUREKA-147 digital audio broadcasting system developed in Europe as the standard for digital broadcasting in Canada.
DRM web site:
iBiquity web site:
NAB web site:
NRSC report on iBiquity AM system (2.1 Mb PDF)
2002-04-09: New Dublin station NewsTalk FM begins its broadcasts today with a format of rolling bulletins every 20 minutes and news on the hour, although its promotional campaign is being delayed until this weekend (See RNW April 5).
Its programme director Pete Lunn, who formerly worked for the BBC, told the Irish Times that the station has a similar target audience to the BBC's Radio 5 Live, which he said had eaten into the audience of BBC Radio 4.
Radio 4 has a share of around 12% compared to Radio 5 Live's 4.6% but, said Lunn, Radio 5 Live had a younger audience with more males compared to Radio 4 whose audience was mainly older, middle class and female.
He compared Irish state broadcaster RTÉ's output to that of BBC Radio 4 and said that NewsTalk's research had shown that people from 25-55 said they would move from RTÉ' if there was a high-quality alternative.
Also in Ireland, Ulster Television (UTV), which already owns 60% of County Media, the owner of three radio stations in Cork, and would like full control, has announced a further expansion into the Republic's radio market.
It is to buy Limerick-based Treaty Radio, whose Live95FM has a 38% Limerick market share in the most recent JNLR (Joint National Listenership Research) figures, for just under 17 million Euros including assumption of Treat's debts of just over 1 million Euros. In 2002, Treaty has a turnover of around 2.5 million Euros and mad an operation profit of around 900,000 Euros.
Irish Times on NewsTalk:
2002-04-09: XM Satellite Radio has filed with the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to sell around USD170 million worth of stock.
It is to offer 13.4 million common shares but may add 2 million more to meet demand and says it expects to receive some USD168 million net from the basic offering and USD193 million if the additional shares are all sold. Proceeds will be used for general corporate purposes and XM says the funding would be sufficient for its operations until the second quarter of next year.
XM has also declared a regular quarterly dividend on its 8.25% Series B Convertible Redeemable Preferred Stock; this is payable on May 1 in XM's Class A common stock at a rate of USD1.0313 per share of Series B Preferred Stock.
It has also filed an 8K form with additional information to its annual 10 K filing, some of it cautionary.
In terms of its financial state, the filing notes that as of the end of 2001, XM has incurred capital expenditure of USD1 billion and aggregate net losses of some USD391 million; it says that it needs additional funding for its business plan and that this might not be available, estimated a need for an additional USD40-65 million to take it to the end of this year, and notes substantial payment obligations under its agreement with General Motors and the need to make cash payments on itds14% senior notes beginning in September 2003.
The filing also notes that the company could be significantly affected by downturns in the US economy in particular in relation to advertising. XM, it says, expects to "derive a significant part of our future revenues from
Advertising" and that this means that "market and advertiser acceptance of our XM Radio service will be critical to the success of our business."
XM's shares fell around 3% on Monday to end around USD12.80 compared to a Friday close of just under USD13.20.
XM web site:
XM SEC filings site:
2002-04-09: The UK government has again delayed the publication of its draft Communications Bill; it was expected to be published an April 26 but is now not expected to be seen until after local government elections in May.
The bill is expected to relax cross-ownership regulations but details are expected to be controversial, particularly in relation to any restraints there may be on the expansion of Rupert Murdoch's media empire.
Previous UK Communications Bill:
2002-04-08: We have chosen a varied mix for our look at print comment on radio over the past week, ranging from the technological and new to a BBC practice long discontinued but which this writer also shared and found valuable.
It is the long-discontinued practice of dictation of scripts to a typist and was noted in Wesley Boyd's " An Irishman's Diary" in the Irish Times.
Boyd takes up the issue of the mangling of language by many broadcasters, particularly the liking for the verbose in favour of the clear and simple.
"My lord Acton had the right of it," writes Boyd. "Power tends to corrupt, he said memorably, and absolute power corrupts absolutely."
"Now the poor word that he used correctly and so eloquently, particularly in its adverbial form, is being corrupted on our airwaves every hour of the day. From Cabinet Minister to cabinet-maker, the reply to almost every question asked is "absolutely". Have people who appear on radio and television forgotten that the simplest and most telling affirmative response to a question is "Yes"?"
Boyd then quotes the expectation for the spoken English curriculum in English primary schools "that children are taught to speak clearly, fluently and confidently to different people" and adds, "Irish broadcasters, please copy."
He also comments on what he terms "The Language of Broadcasting", starting by reference to the BBC practice of around four decades ago: "When I worked many years ago in the BBC radio newsroom in London," he writes, "every journalist, senior and junior, had to dictate his report to a typist."
"The purpose of this expensive practice was not to create full employment among the typing classes but to achieve a high standard of spoken English to maintain the tradition of excellence laid down by the stern and demanding Lord Reith, the BBC's first director-general. "
"The language of radio broadcasting, he had ordained, was spoken, not written. By dictating the report the journalist, it was hoped, would avoid the construction of awkward and inelegant sentences."
"Later, in the RTÉ newsroom during the worst of the troubles in the North, I heard a reporter came on the line from Derry to recount yet another shooting incident, not to a typist but directly to a recording machine: "A sniper shot a Scottish soldier in the shoulder..."
"Not surprisingly, he stumbled several times over his chosen words and had to start over again. . .and again. As the precious seconds ticked away towards air time he was sharply advised by the irate editor on duty in the Dublin studio to change his introduction to: "A British soldier has been shot and wounded by a sniper in Derry." "Lapses can occur in the rush to get the latest news on to a bulletin, but they are inexcusable when they are simply the result of a lackadaisical approach by professional broadcasters I am not suggesting that everyone who goes into a studio, or, more frequently these days, lifts a mobile phone to contribute to a programme should be obliged to have a certificate from a school of elocution, but surely professional broadcasters and regular contributors should make the effort to elucidate with eloquence." "What is acceptable from an inarticulate and excited eye-witness in the street describing an accident should not be tolerated from a seasoned performer."
Boyd concludes," And can someone, anyone, answer a question without starting with the superfluous "Well"? Yeh know what I mean, like. Absolutely!"
Still in Ireland, Gerry McCarthy in his column on Irish Radio in the UK Sunday Times has some acerbic comments on a number of Irish broadcasters currently standing-in on Irish state broadcaster RTÉ, albeit not about the language they use but about their general performance.
That he is not impressed is clear from his opening: "One could be forgiven for thinking that RTÉ Radio 1 is trying to ease the imminent arrival into the world of its newest rival, News Talk 106FM."
"Not only have several key Radio 1 presenters taken holidays, but also their replacements are ill suited to serve the station's audience."
McCarthy then goes on to give details commenting, "The most obvious example is Joe Jackson, currently filling in for John Creedon in the noon slot. Whereas Creedon wears his craft lightly, Jackson wears his insubstantiality heavily."
"They both have a penchant for easy-listening music from the 1950s and 1960s. But whereas Creedon swings along with Tony Bennett, Jackson prefaces crooning cuts with excruciatingly self-regarding, po-faced rock homilies. His programme is an anomaly, an evening music show plonked bang in the middle of Radio 1's daytime schedule, with Jackson's pompous links rendering it less entertainment than enema."
After more razor work on Jackson, McCarthy concludes, "Jackson isn't the only problem. The fact that, simultaneously, Philip Boucher-Hayes continues to occupy Pat Kenny's Today slot adds to the sense of disruption. Hearing him instead of Kenny adds to the feeling that the station is losing its sense of direction. With Marian Finucane's programme congenitally weak, the swath of programming from 9am to lunchtime is well below par."
"Either Radio 1 is trying to reposition itself as a specialist station for show-band fans or it thinks it is untouchable. The omens could hardly be better for the arrival of News Talk 106FM."
Radio 1, however much it may be shooting itself in the foot, is, however, in far more control of its future than many webcasters may soon be thanks to the new rules and rates that have been proposed by the US Copyright Arbitration Panel (CARP).
This prompted a Los Angeles Times editorial headlined, "A Sword over Web Radio" in which the paper takes a swipe at over-the air broadcasters as well as the problems that CARP may cause for webcasters.
"Radio stations," it begins, "sound the same from San Diego to Schenectady. The homogenization began in 1996 when Congress lifted the cap on the number of stations a single network could own."
"About the only break from the three or four cookie-cut Ashanti/N'Sync/Clint Black play list variations comes from a growing number of independent ''Webcasters'' who stream colourful and original programming on the Internet."
It then continues, "Congress may wind up shutting them down, though, if it allows the U.S. Copyright Office to levy draconian "sound recording performance royalties" on enterprises transmitting over the Internet. The proposed fee--a bit more than 1/10th of a cent per song per listener--may not sound like much, but when you realize that most Webcasters have zippo revenues and that they would have to pay the fee retroactively since 1998, the truly crippling cost becomes clear."
After doing some arithmetic on the amounts a webcaster might have to pay, it argues that the logic applied to webcasters should be the same as that for broadcasters who "more than half a century ago they persuaded Congress that record labels are already well compensated through the promotional benefit of having their music played."
"It's not fair," opines the Times, "to stick them with a second fee because, if anything, they provide better promotion than traditional broadcasters by showing the album they are playing so listeners can purchase it with the click of a mouse."
"The Recording Industry Assn. of America has argued that the additional fee would help compensate for any damage that computer geeks might cause by pirating music broadcast over the Internet. "
"The truth is that in order to stream music, Webcasters have to degrade its sound quality to the point that it is unattractive to thieves A misguided 1998 law created the problem by requiring the Copyright Office to impose a new fee. Now federal legislators need to revise the dictate, making clear that they never intended it to demolish diversity. "
Still with diversity, the UK Guardian radio critic Elisabeth Mahoney earlier in the week looked at Access Radio, a new strand for British Radio that is the subject of a pilot scheme.
"Most discussions about the future of radio," she writes, " tend to focus on sexy, high-tech phenomena such as digital radio and well-funded behemoths like BBC 6 Music. The rise of Internet listening means that radio, the conventionally intimate and often locally rooted medium, now has a global profile too."
"The Radio Authority's new pilot scheme for what it calls Access Radio doesn't fit into this glitzy new image, with its low-key utilising of radio's potential for serving communities largely ignored by mainstream broadcasting."
"Avowedly local and context-specific, the scheme allows stations up to a year's licence to broadcast on FM or AM, and the first batch began transmitting on March 23. The idea is to test the feasibility of a new tier of radio services to be used in socially and educationally constructive ways in the future."
She then details two she has sampled, Takeover Radio, a children's channel in Leicester and Christian music station Cross Rhythms in Stoke on Trent: Both are on the Internet as are others that have already gone on air -see links below for anyone who cares to gain an idea of their range and output:
Irish Times - Boyd:
Los Angeles Times editorial on web radio:
UK Guardian - Mahoney:
UK Sunday Times McCarthy:
UK Access Radio sites:
Angel Community Radio:
Bradford Community Broadcasting:
Northern Visions Radio:
Note Sunday Times requires registration:
2002-04-07: Last week was very quiet on the regulatory front with nothing of significance from Canada or Ireland and very little from the UK where the Radio Authority only published an assessment f one award.
Australia was rather busier. The Australian Broadcasting Authority (ABA) released its annual report on the financial results of the country's broadcasters which showed revenues up but profits down; the Authority itself collected more from the broadcasters (See RNW April 3).
The ABA also invited applications for 92 open narrowcasting licences for areas of New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania, Victoria and Western Australia. It has set a reserve price of AUD10, 000 for each of the licences to be issued in Adelaide, Brisbane, Penrith and Perth and AUD4, 000 for each of the remaining licences.
In Sydney itself, however, the Authority is to cut one planned narrowcasting licence and instead offer a Sydney-wide AM community licence (See RNW April 5).
It has also decided to impose an additional licence condition on the three Sydney Community licences allocated in May last year to Free Broadcast Incorporated (FBI), Gadigal Information Service Aboriginal Corporation (Gadigal) and Muslim Community Radio (MCR).
In each case it is incorporating in the licence the requirement that services must not be operated "for profit or as part of a profit-making enterprise." This condition it part of the definition of community stations in Australia and the Authority says that to make it a condition of the licence will strengthen its enforcement powers should licencees operate in this manner.
In the UK, the Radio Authority has issued its assessment of the award of the local licence to serve either the city of Chester or the towns in south Flintshire to Cheshire FM. In all it received five applications, the unsuccessful ones coming from Chester Broadcasting Ltd.; Chester Radio Ltd.; Dee FM Ltd.; and Deva FM Ltd.
In awarding the licence to Chester FM, the Authority says its members felt the station's board combined "strong local business credentials and radio expertise." It noted that, although most of the funding came from local sources it also benefited from the involvement of Town and Country Broadcasting, a company linked to The Wireless Group,
Chester FM is proposing a music-led, full-service station for listeners aged over 25 and the ABA commented that "Chester FM's plans for programming output, in particular its proposals for speech and news, were interesting, well developed, and resourced appropriately. Members were of the view that the business plan for this new entrant was suitably realistic."
In the US, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has been receiving more submissions concerning its policy over ownership restrictions.
Its policies over TV ownership restrictions in a local market suffered a setback when the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit said its current rules concerning TV duopolies were "arbitrary and capricious", terms that it used when it recently sent back to the FCC its 35% cap on national audience share cap for TV networks.
The TV duopoly rules have also been sent back to the FCC for further consideration.
As far as radio is concerned, the restrictions seem to be attracting sharply divided responses with minority groups wanting restrictions to be retained but the larger commercial broadcasters and the National Association of Broadcasters calling for them to be eased or dropped completely (See RNW April 5 and April 3 )
Previous Licence News:
Previous UK Radio Authority:
ABA web site:
FCC web site:
UK Radio Authority web site:
2002-04-07: An Associated Press report carried by various newspapers looks at the current operations of Information Radio being run in Afghanistan by the U.S. Army Psychological Operations unit.
It carries Afghan folk music and Dari language techno and informational items created by Army marketing experts who also include announcements with the message that the allies and the interim government of Hamid Karzai should be supported.
Not all Afghans get the message however and the article quotes on 17-year-old carpet seller who turns off the radio when he hears women telling women to seek jobs and education. "It's anti-religious talk," he says, "Freedom of women is not in our religion and education for women is anti-Islam."
The station can be heard on AM near the allied bases at Kandahar, the Taliban's stronghold, and Bagram near Kabul.
Support for the station is not unsurprisingly stronger near Bagram but there are supporters in Kandahar as well where a rather older carpet seller aged 35 said, "They help people find out what the government is doing and what its policies are. It's also good for women and the new generation. It encourages parents to educate their girls."
The US army spokesman from the unit commented, "We've put nothing false out there because we want people to use the station. I hope that we're providing information that people want to know."
San Francisco Chronicle/AP report:
2002-04-06: The latter half of this week has not seen any major US radio deals but there has been a steady flow of smaller ones and also news of a number of stock issues from earlier shelf registrations.
These included the successful sale of Emmis's March offering of 4 million shares (See RNW March 28). The company not only sold the entire offering but the underwriters also picked up the extra 600, 000 shares that they had an option. Emmis ended up with USD120.2 million, USD17.5 million above the expected proceeds.
Another offering, that of ten million shares of non-voting stock by Radio One Inc, was priced at USD20.25 after market closure on Thursday, USD1.20 below the day's closing price. 8.7 million of the shares on offer are new issue, the others are being offered by existing shareholders including Radio One CEO Alfred Liggins and a number of investors who formerly held Blue Chip Broadcasting stock. Blue Chip was taken over by Radio One in February of last year (See RNW Feb 9, 2001).
Also offering stock is Regent Communications, which is to sell around 8 million new shares under the USD250 million shelf registration filed in March.
As with the Emmis offer, additional shares - in this case 1.2 million of them -will be made available to the underwriters should the offer be oversubscribed. Based on its current price the issue should raise around USD60 million for Regent.
On the station deals front, the largest single deal in the period was Hispanic Broadcasting's closure of its USD58 million purchase of KARA-FM, San Jose, California, from Empire Broadcasting (See RNW Dec 19, 2001).
Also closing was another California deal, Mapleton Communications USD1.85 million purchase of KTEE-FM in the Monterey-Salinas-Santa Cruz market from Central Coast Communications.
Among newer deals the most significant was the purchase by ABC of three more AM stations that are to become Radio Disney O&Os. They are WBWL-AM, Jacksonville, Florida, from Cox Communications; WFDF-AM, Flint, Michigan, from Cumulus; and WHTK-AM, Norfolk, Virginia, from Truth Broadcasting.
Other deals included the El Paso, Texas, purchase for USD1 million of non-commercial KXCR-FM by Educational Media Foundation from Etcom Inc. It's to be turned into a K-Love Contemporary Christian outlet.
Finally another Internet radio collapse: This time it's NetRadio.com, which has already been moribund for months. It's shareholders voted on Thursday to dissolve the company.
Previous ABC (US):
Previous Hispanic Broadcasting:
Previous Radio 1 Inc.:
2002-04-06: Irish state broadcaster RTÉ has denied allegations from one of its former executives that it has ruined the transmission plans of Solas AM which gained the Dublin and country religious licence in May last year (RNW May 1 2001).
RTÉ has told Michael Carroll of Solas AM, a former head of radio in RTÉ, that it is "not in a position to enter into a contract for a term that would justify the cost of installing and commissioning new transmission facilities" for Solas. According to the Irish Catholic newspaper the future of Solas is now in doubt because of the extra costs of a transmitter. Solas claims that RTÉ has said it could release a site for the transmitter at Beaumont but RTÉ says no agreement was reached. It suggested that Solas's options now would be to look for a site on lands owned by someone else or try to get an FM frequency that RTÉ could facilitate at its Three Rock site.
RNW Comment: Remembering that a number of bidders for this AM licence has expressed reluctance because they would have preferred an FM licence, the uncharitable part of us couldn't help but think that maybe some kind of attempted fix is being tried on here. The straightforward approach for us would be to re-advertise the licence, for which there were three other applications, as an AM or, alternatively advertise a new FM licence with no preference being given to Solas. We will be watching this one with interest.
Previous Solas AM:
2002-04-06: The UK Daily Star newspaper has signed a marketing deal with TEAMtalk252, the sports station that in March took over the frequency of former dance music station Atlantic 252 (See RNW March 11).
The UK Guardian reports that under the agreement station presenters, including weekday morning host Jamie Broadbent, will write columns for the newspaper. TEAMtalk is hoping that the deal will help it boost its profile amongst sports fans in the UK.
UK Guardian report:
2002-04-05: In further submissions to the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) concerning ownership limits, Viacom, which owns Infinity radio, has gone further than Clear Channel and called for the ending of any limitations.
Like Clear Channel it argues that that consolidation has not damaged competition and has led to greater diversity (See RNW April 3).
Clear Channel had suggested relaxation not elimination of caps.
On the other side of the argument, NABOB (The National Association of Black Owned Broadcasters) has lined up with AFTRA (the American Federation of Radio and Television Artists) in calling for more regulation, not less. It says that consolidation has led to a reduction in minority ownership of broadcasters and wants a tightening of regulations so that more deals attract a "red flag" on concentration grounds.
Also backing more regulation is the public interest group Americans for Radio Diversity, which argues that local ownership is preferable to that of large corporations.
Previous Clear Channel:
2002-04-05: New Dublin news and talk station Newstalk 106 has decided to hold back its advertising and marketing drive until a few days after it has gone on air on April 9; it will start its Euro 500,000 campaign with outdoor sites, television and print media plus handouts of its programme line-up at strategic Dublin traffic junctions on the following weekend.
Chairman John Purcell told the Irish Times that the move was "a deliberate strategy" and added, "The biggest mistake a start-up station can make is to over-promise and under-deliver."
The Times says that in the launch phase advertising agencies are more interested in the stations own promotional budget than its talent line-up and then goes on to say advertisers are suggesting that the line-up of presenters suggests that the NewsTalk may end up with a mainly male audience.
Aidan Dunne, managing director at MCM media planners commented that a talk station could easily fall into the trap of catering for the "chattering classes" not the C1 group of lower middle-class that it Ireland's fastest growing population sector and the biggest economic drivers. This group, says Dunne, is interested in entertainment as well as news and information.
Irish Times report:
2002-04-05: Sydney is to get an additional AM Sydney-wide community radio service but lose an open narrowcasting service under a change to the Sydney radio licence area plans.
The decision by the Australian Broadcasting Authority (ABA) follows a number of submissions and chairman Professor David Flint said that the authority now believed that there was more need for n additional community radio service than for an open narrowcasting one.
ABA news release:
2002-04-05: The University of California, Santa Barbara, has now said officially that it has failed to raise the USD3.6 million needed for Pacific Broadcasting's classical station KDB-FM (See RNW Jan 24).
The University had wanted to keep the station's classical music format and Chancellor Henry Yang said he still hoped to see the station stay classical. "Right now we must support the owners in their efforts to find another party that has the resources to buy the station and the determination to retain its classical music format," he said.
When it launched its campaign to save the station, one of only 29 self-supporting classical music format stations left in the US, the university described it as an "important cultural and community resource."
The chances of saving the "resourse" do not seem strong with a number of groups reported as offering up to UD6 million for the station with the intent to change the format but no signs of a taker for a classical station.
KDB web site:
2002-04-04: The editor of UK Independent Radio News (IRN), which supplies news to most British commercial radio stations, Jon Godel, has sent an apology to the company's 258 customers over an error that meant that it failed to supply an pre-prepared obituary of the Queen Mother in time for their 6p.m. bulletins on Saturday.
In a memo, Godel writes," We have to accept that it was not initially IRN's finest hour, but in apologising for any difficulties this may have caused for your output it seems right that we offer an explanation as well."
He then goes on to detail how the organisation had recently updated is stand-by obituary, re-issued its obituary instructions and put all staff through technical training. On the night, he continues, "some of our most senior people were on duty. When the announcement was believed imminent a last-minute telephone briefing by myself took place. On the announcement, a verbal and text alert was sent to the network. "
"Unfortunately when the audio obit alarm should have been fired, eight minutes before the 6pm bulletin, which would have made IRN one of the first broadcasters to break the news, an incorrect button was pressed and it didn't happen. Instead, the first bulletin was the 6pm news. The next bulletin, as per the written IRN agreed obituary procedure, was at 6.30pm. "
Godel then goes on to try and recover somewhat, noting that the full pre-recorded obituary was sent out after IRN's 7p.m. news and writing, "From that poor start I hope that you will agree IRN went on to produce some excellent bulletins throughout the night and Sunday The night was not the disaster some reports would have you believe. However, I do accept that at the end of a series of technical problems the performance fell short of IRN's own high standards. "
"I would like to take this opportunity to apologise and to reassure you that necessary steps have been taken. We are now focussing on preparing quality programmes for the next two stages of this story. "
RNW note: Under an agreed system for UK commercial radio, stories sufficiently big enough to warrant news flashes are supposed to be relayed to DJs and presenters through an alarm in radio studios; the alarm is crucial since most commercial stations are music-oriented and do not employ staff journalists.
2002-04-04: US-funded Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty has now commenced broadcasts to the north Caucasus region including Chechnya despite Russian protests that the broadcasts to the separatist region are propaganda and endangering relations with the US.
The Interfax news agency quotes a senior Russian official Alexei Volin as saying, "The launch of the service is likely to fuel extremism not only in Russia but elsewhere in the world, given the ties between Chechen terrorists and international terrorist groups."
The Radio Liberty broadcasts, which had originally been scheduled to start in February but were delayed at the request of the State Department on the ground that it could set back efforts to start a dialogue with Moscow on ending the Chechnya war, are comprised of a daily hour-long broadcast,aired twice, in Chechen, Avar, and Cherkassian as well as Russian.
Thomas Dine, president of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, is quoted by the San Francisco Chronicle as saying that the new service will provide "perspectives that you cannot get elsewhere" in Chechen, Avar and Circassian -- the languages spoken by ethnic groups in Chechnya and the republics of Dagestan and Karachayevo-Cherkessia.
"Our news will be of the region, produced by correspondents who are in the region," Dine said. "We'll be able to let people think things through in their own language."
Previous Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty:
San Francisco Chronicle report:
2002-04-04: Two women formerly employed by London Black station Choice FM in a claim due to be heard by an employment tribunal later this year have alleged that they were forced out of the station by sustained sexual harassment.
One of them, Wendy Browne-Osibo, alleges that while she was working as a production assistant her bottom was slapped and squeezed and that one DJ told her he would like to "give it" to her "from behind" and offered to pay her £200 to show him her breasts. She also says that a pornographic email was exhibited and circulated around the station at all levels and there on display was a picture of the rear view of a naked woman, which she was not allowed to remove although staff and visitors made comparisons with her in her presence.
Browne-Osibo says she complained formally only to find that Choice FM investigated her grievance in the presence of the two men she complained about. They laughed, although she was in tears, and neither was sacked or disciplined.
She subsequently was off sick but says she was intimidated when she returned to work and resigned soon after.
The other complainant Audrey Atkinson, who worked as a sales administrator, says the station was unsympathetic when she had child care difficulties and that she was told the station that it was not going to employ any more "fat girls".
Her boss, she says, also spoke of having a mistress or "ever-ready" - a woman always available for sex. The station's managing director has refused comment because the case is still pending.
UK Guardian report:
2002-04-03: Further submissions to the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) concerning broadcast ownership regulation are sharply at odds as might be expected from the perspectives of the American Federation of Radio and TV Artists (AFTRA) on one hand and radio giant Clear Channel on the other.
AFTRA says that radio group owners' business plans in local markets have eliminated much diversity n news, entertainment and public affairs broadcasting. "The loosening of station ownership limitations since the Telecommunications Act of 1996 has had a devastating impact on diversity and competition in radio broadcasting," says AFTRA.
It singles out Clear Channel for comment saying that it has now expanded to such a size that there is concern that both radio and the recording industries may have been both transformed and destroyed forever.
Unsurprisingly Clear Channel takes an opposite view. Like the National Associating of Broadcasters (NAB), which claimed in its submission that deregulation had enhanced diversity (See RNW Mar 20), it says that programming choice has not been hurt by consolidation and claims that there is an ever-expanding range of media choices and increased variety of formats available to listeners. It also says that consolidation has not justified concerns about competition in advertising.
In a separate statement, Clear Channel radio CO Randy Michaels says that local station and market managers have been left to control the selection, quantity and content of news and public affairs programming on the company's stations.
Previous Clear Channel:
2002-04-03: .Australian broadcasters listed small increases in revenues but lower profits in the figures they submitted to the Australian Broadcasting Authority (ABA) for 2001; they also paid more to the ABA for licences.
Overall commercial radio licensees say they generated revenues of AUD746.6 million, up 1.2% compared to AUD737.5 million a year earlier; expenses at AUD608.2 million were 2.9% up, leaving profits at AUD138.4 million down 5.4% on AUD146.3 million in 2001.
245 radio licensees out of a total of 249 reported their figures to the ABA; a year earlier the country had 240 commercial radio licensees.
The ABA collected commercial broadcasting licence fees of AUD218.6M, an increase of 3.4 per cent on the previous year's figure of AUD211.4M; Of this AUD15.6M came from 245 of 249 commercial radio services compared to AUD14.5M from 240 services in the previous year.
ABA web site: (links to news releases: Full Broadcasting Financial Results 2000-01 is available from the ABA on CD for AUD550)
2002-04-03: In the first takeover by Forstmann Little-owned Citadel to be announced since Farid Suleman joined it (See RNW Feb 22), the company has said it is to pay USD3.1 million for KLGH-FM Kingfisher, Oklahoma.
The station will take Citadel's Oklahoma City market holdings to five FMs and one AM.
In another US deal, former Sinclair Broadcast Group CEO Barry Drake is leading a takeover of WTYX-FM and WVIV-FM, Jackson, Mississippi by Backyard Broadcasting.
Proteus Investments is selling the pair for around USD 5million, nearly double the USD2.75 million it paid for them.
On the results front, Journal Communications whose holdings include the Milwaukee Journal and Sentinel newspapers as well as 35 radio and five TV stations, has reported 2001 revenues down 1.7% to USD825 million.
Its Broadcast Group revenues were down 10% whilst for the newspapers revenues fell 7.7%. Radio was a bright spot; compared to a fall of more than a fifth in TV revenues, the radio stations increased revenues to USD73.9 million from USD73.5 million and increased pre-tax earnings by 18% to USD5.9 million.
Previous Forstmann Little:
2002-04-03: Internet listening rose again in the week to March 24th according to MeasureCast, which says it is now at nearly five times the level of January 2001 when MeasureCast launched its Internet Radio Listening Index. The percentage of women listeners within the total has over the past year from 28% to 31% and MeasureCast also notes that the percentage listening during "traditional work hours" has slipped down from 85% a year ago to 76% this March.
At the top of the rankings, Virgin Radio held on to the top channel spot and Clear Channel to the top network rank.
For the week to March 24, the top five stations ranked by Total Time Spent Listening (TTSL) with previous week's TTSL and Cume persons (CP), a measure of the cumulative audience, in brackets, were:
1: Hot Adult Contemporary Virgin FM - TTSL 309,801 (310,870); CP 60,309 (61,116): Same position but both listening and reach fell.
2: Jazz format Jazz FM - TTSL 207,380 (223,639); CP 66,648 (68,683): Same position but listening and reach each down.
3: Classical format WQXR-FM, New York - TTSL 160,538 (92,397); CP 26,270 (16,080): Up from fourth with higher listening and reach.
4: Classical format King FM - TTSL 140,766 (137,894); CP 23,808 (24,315): Down from third as listening fell although reach was up.
5: Rock format Internet-only station KNAC - TTSL 91,579 (81,835): CP 15,985 (15,474): Same position with higher listening and reach.
The top five networks for the same week (Previous week's figures in brackets) were:
1: Clear Channel Worldwide TTSL 1,256,457 (1,088,273) ; Cume 171,591 (220,454). Same position with higher listening but reach fell.
2: WARP Radio TTSL 633,763 (616,479) hours: Cume 131,920 (133,111) - Same position with higher listening, and reach.
3: Radio Free Virgin TTSL 567,952 (558,073): Cume 125,293 (128,853) - Same position with higher listening but reach fell.
4: StreamAudio network TTSL 519,587 (440,145) : Cume 88,142 (88,211) - Up from fifth with significantly higher listening, albeit still lower than two weeks previously. Reach fell slightly.
5: Virgin Radio TTSL 433,686 (449,078): Cume 90,906 (91,854) - Down from fourth with lower listening and reach.
Previous MeasureCast weekly ratings:
MeasureCast web site:
2002-04-02: XM satellite radio says that it ended March ahead of expectations with 76, 000 subscribers compared to a forecast of 70, 000 and remains on track for 350,000 subscribers by the end of this year.
Hugh Panero, XM's president and chief executive commented, "XM added over 48,000 subscribers in the first quarter, exceeding its target by 15%, outpacing most Wall Street analyst expectations. Our momentum continues with consumers, retailers and automakers alike recognizing XM as the hot new audio entertainment product of 2002."
Most of the growth so far, he added, has come from retail sales but it expects a boost to automotive sales in the second half of the year when receivers become available in more new car models; General Motors, which already offers XM in Cadillac Devilles and Sevilles, plans to add Buick, Chevrolet, and Pontiac cars from the fall to make a total of 23 models offering XM.
XM Web site:
2002-04-02: Two complaints against British radio, one involving a trailer and the other a programme was upheld by broadcasting watchdog, the Broadcasting Standards Commission (BSC) in its March bulletin, one more than in its February bulletin.
In all the Commission lists 91 complaints compared to 107 in February, five of them concerning fairness (7 in February) and 86 concerning standards (102 in February).
Of the fairness complaints one of the TV complaints was partially upheld and the others not upheld; none involved radio.
Of the 86 standards complaints, no statements were required from the broadcasters in 58 cases, seven radio and 51 TV and of the others only two against radio were upheld with a further two resolved, the same two resolved and two upheld applying in the case of TV complaints.
The programming complaint upheld against radio involved "inappropriate" sexual comments made on Capital FM' breakfast show on October 8, 2001 when Roxy was standing in for Chris Tarrant.
Capital had apologised but the panel nevertheless upheld the complaint, saying that "sexual remarks made by the presenter when re-running some commentary from a football match" exceeded the boundaries for the time of day.
Also upheld was a complaint about a trailer broadcast on Virgin Radio at 0845 on November 9.
Virgin had said it did not think there was a problem but the panel said of the trailer, which involved an impersonation of English soccer manager Sven Goran Eriksson entitled "Score with Sven", that "the concentration and level of explicitness had been unacceptable for broadcast at a time when children could have been listening. The complaint was upheld.
The resolved cases against radio both involved the late evening Jon Holmes show on Virgin radio on October 13 last year: one concerned comments about terrorism made during a hoax call to Sinn Fein and Virgin said the call had been made on the presenter's initiative and disassociated itself from the action.
The other involved a complaint of "tasteless content, swearing and incitement to criminal violence" and Virgin "agreed that the item was inane" and also said it "was extremely concerned by the level of complaints about this presenter and he had been suspended pending a review of this and other matters." The commission took the view that, since the show had been withdrawn, it was "inappropriate to take the matter further."
Previous BSC Complaints Bulletin:
BSC web site (Note: This is a 'Flash' site: It links to the report in PDF format- 87 kb):
2002-04-01: For this week's selection from print on radio, we have ranged from a celebration of a transmitter to a look at music format developments in US public radio to the possible demise of most Internet radio which was once fairly widely seen as likely to permit a flowering of choice for radio.
The transmitter note comes courtesy of the UK Sunday Times and Roland White in its RadioWaves column.
Spurred by hearing on BBC Radio 4 that the "Droitwich transmitter " was being shut for essential repairs" prompted him to note that it was the only transmitter he had heard mentioned on air.
"Other transmitters," he writes, "have their fans, no doubt, but nothing conjures the spirit of the old BBC like the word Droitwich."
"Here is surely where men in brown coats and Brylcreemed hair, possibly called Ted, still smoke their pipes and watch over large, flickering dials."
"So it was disappointing to discover that the transmitter, the country's main long-wave service, is actually a handful of 700ft masts stuck in a field in Worcestershire."
In the early days, he notes, the main BBC signal came from a 25watt transmitter at Daventry , which with Droitwich was a name on old pre-war radios along with other redolent names such as Hilversum. Droitwich with a new 150 watt transmitter opened in 1934 and during the second World War was put into action both to beam messages to Europe and to jam radio frequencies of enemy aircraft.
During the Cold War it was also in action, this time broadcasting Voice of America to Eastern Europe.
On to the music and a group of stories by Dave Bunker in Current Magazine about music formats on US Public Radio.
The format at the heart of his critique is American popular music and he looks at four programmes as examples.
Two are already successfully syndicated, World Café from WXPN in Philadelphia , now in its tenth year, and independent American Routes. Both have received substantial funding from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB).
"The music mix on World Café," writes Bunker, " is described on the show's website as "a rich eclectic blend of contemporary rock, folk, alternative country, rhythm and blues, world beat and jazz", although he considers this over-stated.
American Routes under producer/host Nick Spitzer and executive producer Mary Beth Kirchner describers itself as offering "...blues and roots rock; ragtime and jazz; gospel and soul; zydeco and beyond." Bunker says the show's play lists confirm regular coverage of all of this range except ragtime and "In addition, the show can travel well beyond these bounds."
"On a recent program Spitzer introduced a produced piece about living in Point Hope, a tiny town in northern Alaska, with short samples of an avant garde vocal piece by Meredith Monk and Inuit throat singing."
Less fortunate, at least in terms of funding from the CPB, are two other shows highlighted by Bunker.
They are Rock 'n' Roots, the brainchild of Thomas Boyd and Ann Sternberg, musicians and radio veterans based in New York state who , he says, "came together over a shared passion for the less-trodden paths of the American popular music landscape" and Sounds Eclectic, a two-hour weekly national version of the long-running and successful weekday program Morning Becomes Eclectic on Santa Monica's KCRW.
The latter distributed nationally by Public Radio International and now airs on 29 stations, mainly in smaller markets.
Host and producer Nic Harcourt says the show is not meant to educate, he adds, so much as to present new music worthy of people's consideration, adding, "The idea of the program is to take a broad range of progressive-sounding music and put it into a program where it can appeal to, and perhaps open up people to, new ideas."
Although the programme has no full-time staff, unlike American Routes, which has five full-time paid staff, and World Café, which has six, it benefits significantly from the backing of KCRW, for whom Harcourt is music director, and which pays for production costs.
Rock 'n' Roots, a weekly one-hour show, however, is very much a labour of love, It's prepared at home by Boyd and Sternberg together with an engineer and then recorded at a private studio n New York and distributed free by CD or satellite.
Its funding comes from private sources or small grants and since beginning national distribution in 1998 has built up takers among some 80 stations, mainly in smaller markers, and is also aired on Australia and Canada.
Sternberg says its mission is "To demonstrate the cross-fertilization of musical culture, and to expose both the pioneers of many genres and the new, underexposed musical talents." Its content includes "rediscovered folk, jazz, swing, blues, rock, R&B and more."
All-in-all, Rock 'n' Roots seems like the kind of show that might well have sprung to life on the Internet but, as indicated by Katharine Mieszkowski in a Salon article, headed "Web Radio's last stand", the CARP (Copyright Arbitration Panel) ruling on fees to be charged for streaming under the DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act) may yet wipe out what she terms "independent online music."
Mieszkowski looked at the threat through the eyes of Internet-only station of SomaFM whose programme director and general manager Rusty Hodge, commented on how such stations would be affected by the ruling, which calls for a fee of 0.14 cents per song per listener, retroactive to 1998, for such stations .
Hodge, who lives from his day job, said he already paid ASCAP and BMI fees, which go to the songwriters and composers. In all his station is going to have to pay around USD1,000 this year in such fees, a significant sum for a station that costs only around USD 12,000 a year, all of it coming from donations.
San Francisco-based SomaFM began as a pirate radio operation in 1996 but has now been online for around two years. Calculations he has done, says Hodge, indicate that to pay the fees CARP has set out would cost the station around USD1,000 a day, much more than it could afford.
"The problem with the CARP ruling," he says, " is that everybody assumed that it would be kind of like the BMI and ASCAP fees were; [that] the fees would be reasonable. We figured for non-commercial broadcasters it would be like $1,000 or $2,000 a year, and while it would hurt some of the really, really small little guys, the more serious little guys -- like us, who have a community supporting them -- would still be viable."
Hodge says his station already plays mainly material from small independent labels but there are problems as the big five but smaller labels and he does not see independent agreements with artists and labels are very workable. In the end, he concludes, smaller stations will have to go out of business and those that remain will have two options.
One would be to go more commercial, which would involve losing independence and playing mainly the records that the record companies wished to promote, and the other would be to play music by truly independent artists but that would mean losing a large part of the audience.
Neither prospect appeals to him and he says that the solution he would like is to be treated as a terrestrial broadcaster with fees the level of those going to BMI and ASCAP.
Current Magazine - Bunker (links to other articles):
Salon - Mieszkowski:
SomaFM web site:
UK Sunday Times - White:
*Sunday Times requires registration.
2002-04-01:Kevin Matthews, who has been off the Chicago airwaves for half a year, since he was fired by by ABC-owned WZZN-FM (See RNW Aug 25, 2001) is back again today as midday host for Infinity's WCKG-FM between Howard Stern's syndicated morning show and Steve Dahl's afternoon spot.
Matthews takes over from Buzz Kilman and Wendy Snyder, who will become full-time contributors to Dahl's show.
2002-04-01: Figures of around GBP150 million are being suggested in the UK as likely figures to be offered by a number of other British media groups for the newspaper titles owned byVirgin radio owner Scottish Media Group (SMG), which has delayed publishing its annual accounts while it renegotiates its bank borrowings of some GBP400 million (See RNW Mar 12). They include the Glasgow-based Herald and Sunday Herald.
Amongst various options being mooted are a sale of SMG's newspapers and small magazines division to focus on its radio and outdoor promotions business allied with a split of its radio and TV holdings into separate radio and television companies, thus paving the way for a sale of the television business and merger of the radio business with rival Scottish Radio Holdings (SRH) in which SMG holds a stake of close to 30% for which it paid nearly GBP150 million, some GBP60 million above the current stock market valuation of the holding.
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