March 2009 Archive
-February 2009 - April 2009 -
Links- internally where there are follow-up stories we try, at the end of each story, to put a pertinent link to the top of the previous relevant story. Regarding external links see note at end of page.
RNW October comment -White spaces, white noise! Argues in favour of using the unused parts of broadcast spectrum for wireless Internet as being in the wider public interest albeit proceeding with caution and regulating to as to not to cause interference to broadcast signals.
This week we devote out week's look at print comment on radio
to the UK and start with an article by Martin Kelner in the UK
Guardian asking the million dollar question - it begins, "Will
there be much wailing and gnashing of teeth if local commercial radio
dies out, as predicted by industry analyst Claire Enders at the
Guardian's recent Changing Media Summit? (See
RNW Mar 19) Will it weaken local
democracy in the way that the death of local newspapers might?
2009-03-31: Although the financial gloom amongst US commercial stations is getting wide publicity less is being given to public radio stations who are also being hard hit as sponsors pull out or reduce contributions and there is also complaint in some quarters about public radio "fat cats".
The economic slowdown is hitting many non-profits according to a survey from aNon-profit Finance Fund Survey that says many are strained to "breaking point" with only 12% of the 986 non-profit leaders surveyed saying they expected to be above break-even this year and only 16% saying they would be able to cover operating expenses whilst nearly two thirds only have cash to cover three-months operations and half of these only having enough cash in hand for a month's operation.
At National Public Radio (NPR), which dumped 64 posts in December last year, remuneration and benefits for its executives have been cut - NPR officers from Vice-President rank and upwards are to work without pay during the last pay period of the fiscal year, effectively taking a 4% pay cut and in additions the broadcaster will suspend its contributions to the executives retirement plans from April onwards - and it is proposing similar cuts for its 565 employees according to Current Magazine, which adds that NPR President Vivian Schiller says there are also "very likely" to be some job cuts although she hopes to minimize the numbers.
NPR says the magazine is projecting revenue to fall by as much as the USD 23 million deficit that led to the December cuts and it is facing a USD 8 million deficit for this fiscal year to the end of September.
The NPR board had reduced the deficit by authorizing the spending of USD 15 million in reserves that the broadcaster had built up and Schiller told Current, "Before the economy hit the skids, our surpluses went into reserve for a rainy day. Now it's pouring outside."
The magazine quoted Dana Davis Rehm, senior V.P. of marketing, communications and external relations, as saying the cuts will save more than USD 500,000 a year but adding, "It's not an insignificant amount of money, but we have a lot more savings that we need to find. It's important for the staff to understand how seriously we take this."
Schiller said NPR's "whole executive team is going to take a disproportionate share of the cuts" but she played down the idea of a national pledge drive on the basis that the listeners were not NPR's but those of their affiliate stations.
The Washington Post reported that the idea had been put forward by NPR personality Susan Stamberg and "All Things Considered" host Melissa Bloch in employee meetings held to discuss the deteriorating financial condition. It added that although NPR's rules prohibited it from soliciting funds directly the rules did not prevent co-operation with local stations who wished to raise funds on NPR's behalf although for them to do so the stations would need a waiver from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) which granted waivers to aid a New York station that lost its tower in the 9/11 attacks and those hit by Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
The Post added that NPR affiliate WAMU-FM in Washington already worked with NPR to solicit major donors but that its spokeswoman Kay Summers had been unenthusiastic about NPR raising funds directly, commenting, "My initial reaction is that we want to continue with [the existing practice] rather than have a wholesale change of policy. It would be a real sea change in the business model."
Schiller said NPR would introduce online donations with the proceeds going to stations, a move that had "been in the works for a long time, but it was held up over differences on the giving options" offered to online donors and objections by stations to the idea, now dropped in favour of soliciting donations to stations, that listeners should have the option of donating directly to NPR.
NPR is currently in separate talks with its unions NABET (The National Association of Broadcast Employees and Technicians) and AFTRA (The American Federation of Television and Radio Artists) over its plans but is not commenting about their progress.
In San Francisco, the San Francisco Chronicle reports that some staff at Northern California Public Broadcasting (NCPB) , the parent of public stations KQED and KQED-FM, have expressed dissatisfaction over the salary still being paid to President and CEO Jeff Clark.
Last month the broadcaster dumped 30 employees and cut its budget by 13% with Clark announcing that senior management was voluntarily reducing its compensation by about 13 percent and freezing executive salaries through 2010.
The papers says that the staff felt that Clark's USD 361,000 base salary - which approaches USD 400,000 with performance-based incentives was excessive, noting that it is more than is paid at public broadcasters in New York and Boston with greater revenues although less than is being paid in Los Angeles and Philadelphia.
The paper quoted Kevin Wilson, president of NABET's Local 51 as saying , "In this economy, it just doesn't make sense" and also said Sandra Miniutti, vice president of marketing for Charity Navigator, an online watchdog that evaluates 5,000 of the nation's top non-profits said Clark's salary was "definitely on the higher side" and that "It's hard, in this economy, when you're asking someone to give USD 40 or USD 125 or whatever in membership fees when they see what the executive is making."
NCPB board President Noelle Leca said of the pay level, "I'm very comfortable with what he's making. My own perspective is that Jeff has been extraordinarily successful in his role. I think people lose sight of the fact that when we hired him (in 2002); KQED had one radio and one television station and an annual budget just shy of USD 30 million. We now have two radio stations, three television stations and an annual budget north of USD 60 million. I think you'd be hard-pressed to find somebody else in public broadcasting who's had the extraordinary run that he's had in the time that he's been here.
"Our biggest challenge is nervously looking at what folks in the commercial sector earn. Jeff has been extraordinarily successful, and my concern is that he could walk out to our brother next door," Leca added.
Clark, said the paper commented that a more realistic yardstick would be to compare his compensation to that of the leaders of other leading Bay Area arts nonprofits such as the San Francisco Ballet (whose top exec earns USD 277,341 from the organization's USD 53 million budget) or the San Francisco Symphony (USD 377,805 on USD 84 million in revenue; USD 65 million operating budget).
He added, "Are there always going to be some folks who may not be satisfied with my compensation or others'? That's just part of being in a leadership role and something that is not new in the 20 years that I have been an executive in this industry and probably won't change going forward."
Current Magazine report:
Non-Profit Finance Fund release on survey:
San Francisco Chronicle report:
Washington Post report:
2009-03-31: In more UK radio job losses, Global Radio, in its third run of redundancies, is to cut around 15 jobs in its 160-stong London-based commercial team following a review of operations carried out by group commercial director Mike Gordon.
Gordon has told staff of the cuts as part of a restructuring with staff to take part in three days of redundancy consultation interviews this week.
Last July Global cut more than 130 posts (See RNW Jul 9, 2008) posts and in January it cut a further 40 jobs from the 100 plus people employed in its digital teams (See RNW Jan 14).
Also being dropped following a review is GMG Radio head of music Terry Underhill who was appointed to the post in January 2007 (See RNW Jan 18, 2007). He has been with GMG Radio for some eight years, starting off as breakfast host and programme director for its first station in Wales and then moving to Yorkshire before taking on the head of music role.
GMG Radio group programme director John Simons said he had "contributed enormously to the success of the group" and added, "He has been a loyal employee and has shown tremendous passion and commitment to the growth of the business. We wish Terry every success in the future and he goes with our best wishes."
GMG Radio has also announced that it is to spend around GBP 2 million (USD 2.9 million) to support the re-branding of Century Radio in the north-east and north-west of England as Real Radio.
The campaign will launch this weekend and will include TV, outdoor, taxi and bus ads.
Previous Global Radio:
Previous GMG Radio:
2009-03-31: Senators Blanche Lincoln (Arkansas Democrat) and John Barasso (Wyoming Republican) have introduced into the US Senate the "Local Radio Freedom Act" that says opposes the introduction of performance royalties for US terrestrial radio: A sister act was introduced into the House earlier this year by Texan Representatives Gene Green (Democrat) and Mike Conaway (Republican) and so far has attracted support from 158 lawmakers.
Lincoln, who had already introduced the legislation last year during the 110th Congress, said in a release that it signals bipartisan Senate opposition to the Recording Industry Association of America's proposal to levy a new fee on radio stations for the airplay of music.
She added, "Local radio airplay reaches more than 230 million Americans every week, providing an invaluable promotional vehicle for musicians and their record labels. This resolution will ensure that local radio stations across the country can continue to serve listeners without being subjected to additional fees that could diminish the quality of radio programming, including news, weather and AMBER Alert information that at times proves lifesaving."
The introduction was welcomed by the US National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) whose Executive Vice President Dennis Wharton commented in a release, "Broadcasters appreciate the bipartisan leadership of Sens. Lincoln and Barrasso on an issue of critical importance to the survival of free, local radio. "A performance tax would threaten thousands of American jobs, reduce music diversity, and hamstring a new artist's ability to reach radio's 234 million weekly listeners. RIAA's attempted money-grab would decimate a radio business reeling from the worst advertising recession in decades."
As before the NAB descended into chauvinism in attacking the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) proposals to introduce the fees, commenting, "At least 50 percent of the proceeds from the new fee would go directly into the coffers of the record labels, three of four of which are based outside the U.S."
The NAB also notes that some 500 US radio and TV broadcasters will gather in Washington DC this week for the NAB State Leadership Conference that brings local broadcasters to the Washington to meet with elected officials and discuss issues impacting local radio and TV stations and adds that "Protecting local radio stations from the RIAA-sought fee has been identified as the number one priority of the NAB Radio Board of Directors."
2009-03-30: Univision has reported final quarter and full year 2008 revenues both down with impairment charges pushing it into a large loss, results that CEO Joe Uva said in the final quarter "reflect an operating environment that was among the most difficult we have seen across most industries" although he continued on a more upbeat note, adding, "Nevertheless, we continued to meet our key near-term goals of maintaining ample liquidity to operate our business, successfully negotiating favourable retransmission agreements and aggressively managing costs With our resolute focus on our goal of becoming the most valued and valuable partner among all of our viewers, listeners, online users, mobile customers, advertisers and distributors, we remain confident that we are taking the right steps and we believe we are well-positioned to rebound quickly when the climate improves."
Overall Univision revenues for the final quarter were down 7.8% to USD 502.1 million within which TV revenues fell by 6.2 % to USD 389.7 million; radio by 13.6% to USD 99.3 million; and interactive media by 5.8% to USD 13.0 million: For the full year overall revenues were down 2.5% to USD 2.02 billion within which TV was down 2.1% to USD 1.5464 billion; radio was down 3.7% to USD 414.1 million; and interactive media was down 8.2% to USD 42.5 million.
Adjusted OIBDA for the final quarter fell 13.9% to USD 213.5 million and by 7.5% for the year to USD 798.2 million with TV down 13.5% to USD 165.3 million; radio down 15.2% to USD 43.6 million and Interactive media down 14.8% to USD 4.6 million. Full year TV OIBDA was down 6.5% to USD 631 million; full year radio OIBDA was down 9.1% to USD 157.9 million and full year interactive media OIBDA was down 36.3% to USD 9.3 million.
Univision's bottom line was then hit by impairment charges of USD 1.6 billion in the final quarter to which were added USD 598.7 million related to its Televisa settlement plus an investment loss of USD 20.3 million and restructuring and related charges of USD 30.0 million taking it to a net loss of USD 1.988 billion
For the full year the impairment charges were USD 5.4 billion to which were added USD 610.8 million related to its Televisa settlement plus an investment loss of USD 162.9 million and restructuring and related charges of USD 450.0 million taking it to a net loss of USD 5.127 billion.
2009-03-30: The BBC in response to a complaint from commercial radio body the RadioCentre that it is unfairly promoting established bands such as Coldplay and U2 has held that a tie up between BBC Radio 1 and Coldplay's Viva La Vida tour breached its guidelines on avoiding the perception that the Corporation is endorsing a third party's trading activities.
It has recommended an updating of the guidance but the RadioCentre's Chief Executive Andrew Harrison says the action is inadequate and merely a "token slap on the wrist.
He added that the body would now appeal to the BBC Trust "for much tougher changes to editorial and fair trading practice ", saying that the Coldplay tie-up was part of a wider issue that included u2 staging a gig on the roof of BBC Broadcasting House and being allowed a "U2=BBC" feature on the BBC website. Harrison said the BBC's "excessive promotion" of some artists overwhelms commercial radio's ability to compete.
2009-03-30: Clear Channel Radio has named radio outsider Mitchell P Goldstein, most recently as Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of Julius family-owned baby and healthcare products company Nice-Pak Products, overseeing finance and IT, as Chief Financial Officer.
Goldstein's appointment is effective immediately and Clear Channel Radio President and CEO John Hogan commented of him, "Mitch brings world-class talent and extensive financial expertise that broadens and strengthens our management team at this important time. Mitch's broad industry experience also complements our in-house knowledge and he will immediately become a strategic and operational asset to Clear Channel Radio."
Goldstein, whose main experience has been in food and retailing, commented, "Clear Channel Radio is an outstanding business facing an unprecedented situation. Every so often, great challenges are accompanied by great opportunity for success. I'm looking forward to working with John and his team to help achieve that success for Clear Channel Radio."
Last year former Clear Channel executive Randy Michaels poached a number of Clear Channel executives who joined him at Tribune Co. including former Clear Channel CFO Jerry Kersting, who was hired as its executive vice president (See RNW Apr 18, 2008).
Previous Clear Channel:
2009-03-30: The Royal Albert Hall venue in London has appointed Ralph Bernard, the founder of Classic FM and former GCap Media chairman and chief executive as its chief executive to take over from David Elliott who retires in May after 11 years in the post.
Announcing the appointment, John Antcliffe, president of the governing council of the Royal Albert Hall, said Bernard's "deep understanding of media and entertainment and wide business experience will be of immense value in the years ahead."
2009-03-29: Yet again last week was a fairly quiet one for the regulators with most radio-related activity concerning community rather than commercial radio: In Australia, the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) bas invited public comment on a proposal by Hobart FM Inc., licensee of community station 7THE, to change its community of interest so as to serve the general community of Hobart RA2 rather than the educational community.
7THE was first issued with a licence in 1977 and notes that at that time radio was one of the few mediums used to deliver education but technological change including the development of the Internet and distant learning mean that radio is no longer the preferred method for learning.
It adds that it has also found it difficult to attract people who are willing, qualified and available to deliver educational programmes by radio.
In Canada, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) had a rather busier week. Amongst decisions posted (in order of province) were:
*Approval of application by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) to use a subsidiary communications multiplex operation (SCMO) channel of CBUF-FM, Vancouver to broadcast a predominantly Fijian Hindi- and Fijian-language radio service to be provided by Radio Fiji Mirchi.
*Approval of application by CTV Limited to re-locate the transmitter of its English-language commercial station CKQM-FM, Peterborough; increase the antenna height and reduce the power from 50,000 to 7,500 watts.
The CRTC notes in relation to this approval that the change will allow Corus to use the frequency 100.5 MHz for a 5,000 watts FM to replace its English language commercial station CKRU-AM, Peterborough.
The CRTC also posted a public notice with an April 27 deadline for submission of interventions or comments that includes the following radio matters:
Mutually exclusive applications:
*Application by CTV Limited to use frequency 95.7 MHz for an Edmonton English-language commercial FM approved in October last year subject to finding an acceptable alternative frequency to that it had applied for.
*Application by Harvard Broadcasting to use the same frequency for its an Edmonton English-language commercial FM that was also approved in October.
*Application by Pineridge Broadcasting Inc. to amend parameters approved in May last year for a new English-language commercial FM to serve Peterborough and the City of Kawartha Lakes.
Pineridge is now requesting permission to re-locate the transmitter, increase its effective height and decrease the average affective radiated power from 13,000 to 2,100 watts. The change, it says, would allow it to provide a more reliable signal to its core market although it would also reduce the overall potential audience.
In addition it posted a notice of consultation, with an April 29 deadline for submission of interventions or comments regarding applications to be considered at a hearing commencing on 25 May in Québec. This includes the following radio applications:
Applications for a new commercial station to serve Québec, Quebec:
Mutually incompatible applications 105.3 MHZ:
*Application by Evanov Communications on behalf of a corporation to be incorporated for a 1,200 watts Contemporary Easy Listening music format commercial French language FM on frequency 105.3 MHZ.
Application by Evanov Communications on behalf of a corporation to be incorporated for a 1,400 watts Contemporary Easy Listening music format commercial French language FM on frequency 105.7 MHZ.
*Application by Michel Cloutier, on behalf of a corporation to be incorporated, for an 80 watts French-language specialty FM in Lévis that would devote 40% of its musical selections to Jazz and Blues music
In addition to this Radio communautaire de Lévis has applied for a licence for 79 watts French-language Type B community FM in Lévis.
*Application by Radio MF Charlevoix inc. to renew the broadcasting licence for the French-language commercial radio programming undertaking CIHO-FM, Saint-Hilarion, and its transmitters CIHO-FM-2, La Malbaie; CIHO-FM-3, Baie-Saint-Paul; CIHO-FM-4, Petite-Rivière-Saint-François; and CIHO-FM-5, Saint-Siméon, that expires on August 31. The CRTC notes that the licensee may have failed to comply with regulations concerning the broadcast of French-language vocal music and category 3 (Special Interest Music) musical selections.
*Application by Radio Express inc. to renew the broadcasting licence for the French-language commercial radio programming undertaking CKOD-FM, Valleyfield, that expires on August 31. The CRTC notes that the licensee may have failed to comply with regulations concerning the provision of logger tapes and submission of annual reports.
*Application by 591991 B.C. Ltd. to renew the broadcasting licence for the French-language commercial radio programming undertaking CHLT-FM, Sherbrooke, that expires on August 31.
The CRTC notes that the licensee may have failed to comply with regulations concerning the broadcast of French-language vocal music
*Application by 591991 B.C. Ltd. to renew the broadcasting licence for the French-language commercial station CHLN-FM, Trois-Rivières, that expires on August 31.
The CRTC notes that the licensee may have failed to comply with regulations concerning the broadcast of French-language vocal music and Canadian content for category 2 music.
*Application by 591991 B.C. Ltd. to renew the broadcasting licence for French-language commercial radio programming station CFEL-FM, Lévis, that expires on August 31.
The CRTC notes that the licensee is requesting licensee requests deletion of the condition of licence requiring it to file an annual report on the diversity of French-language Canadian musical selections broadcast by the station.
*Application by 591991 B.C. Ltd. to renew the broadcasting licence for the French-language specialty station CJRC-FM, Gatineau, that expires on August 31.
The CRTC notes that the licensee may have failed to comply with regulations concerning the broadcast of French-language vocal music and the broadcast of Canadian content for category 2 music.
*Application by 591991 B.C. Ltd. to renew the broadcasting licence for French-language commercial station CKRS-FM, Chicoutimi, that expires on August 31.
The CRTC notes that the licensee may have failed to comply with regulations concerning the broadcast of French-language vocal music and the broadcast of Canadian content for category 2 music.
*Application by 591991 B.C. Ltd. to renew the broadcasting licence for French-language commercial station CFOM-FM, Lévis, that expires on August 31.
The CRTC notes that the licensee may have failed to comply with regulations concerning the broadcast of French-language vocal music and the broadcast of Canadian content for category 2 music.
*Application by 591991 B.C. Ltd. to renew the broadcasting licence for French-language commercial station CKOY-FM, Sherbrooke, that expires on August 31.
The licensee is requesting deletion of licence conditions requiring it to devote at least 45% of all category 2 (popular music) musical selections aired over the entire broadcast week to Canadian musical selections broadcast in their entirety and to devote at least 25% of all musical selections broadcast to new musical selections.
*Application by 591991 B.C. Ltd. to renew the broadcasting licence for French-language commercial station CKAC-AM, Montréal, that expires on August 31.
The licensee is requesting deletion of licence conditions requiring it broadcast during the period commencing 2 September 2007 and ending 31 August 2009, at least 80 hours of local programming in each broadcast week.
*Application by Metromedia CMR Broadcasting Inc. to renew the broadcasting licence for French-language commercial station CHMP-FM, Montréal, that expires on August 31.
*Application by Metromedia CMR Broadcasting Inc. to renew the broadcasting licence for French-language commercial station CINF-AM, Montréal, that expires on August 31.
*Application by 9174-8004 Québec inc. to amend the broadcasting licence for French-language commercial station CHEQ-FM, Sainte-Marie de Beauce, by changing frequency from 101.3 MHz to 101.5 MHz and increasing the average effective radiated power from 4,677 to 26,000 watts.
*Application by Sortir FM inc. (previously known as La Radio touristique de Québec inc.) to amend the broadcasting licence for tourist station CKJF-FM, Québec, by changing the frequency from 90.3 MHz to 106.9 MHz and to increase the maximum effective radiated power from 16 to 100 watts.
*Application by Club Social la Grande for a broadcasting licence to operate a radiocommunication distribution undertaking to serve Camp Sarcelle that will distribute, in non-encrypted mode, the programming services of CFQR-FM, CBF-FM, CKOI-FM and CITE-FM, Montréal.
*Application by Radio Ville-Marie to amend the broadcasting licence for French-language specialty station CIRA-FM, Montréal, by adding a ,000 watts daytime and 180 watts night-time transmitter in Gatineau.
*Application by Groupe Radio Antenne 6 inc. to amend the broadcasting licence for French-language commercial station CHRL-FM, Roberval, by decreasing the average effective radiated power from 16,600 to 15,031 watts. The applicant notes that this application is inseparable from an application to convert its CFGT-AM, Alma, to a 50,000 watts FM. The power decrease it says would prevent a contour overlap between the two stations.
*Application by Radio MF Charlevoix inc. for a broadcasting licence to operate a French-language Type B community FM radio programming undertaking in Saint-Hilarion as well as FM transmitters at La Malbaie; Baie-Saint-Paul; Petite-Rivière-Saint-François; and Saint-Siméon.
The applicant currently holds a commercial radio licence to operate commercial station CIHO-FM, Saint-Hilarion and seeks to replace its commercial radio licence with a community radio licence.
It also wishes to continue operating its four FM transmitters that cover the Charlevoix area.
The CRTC also posted a notice of consultation, with an April 29 deadline for submission of interventions or comments regarding applications to be considered at a hearing commencing on 27 May in Halifax, Nova Scotia. This includes the following radio applications:
Applications for a new station to serve Halifax:
*Application by Acadia Broadcasting Limited for a licence for a 45,000 watts Adult Album Alternative (Triple A) English-language FM on 105.1 MHz.
*Application by HFX Broadcasting Inc. for a licence to operate 32,000 watts Adult Album Alternative (Triple A) English-language commercial FM on 105.1 MHz.
The two above are mutually exclusive.
*Application by Frank Torres, on behalf of a corporation to be incorporated, for a licence for a 14,223 watts Blues music English-language commercial FM using 99.1 MH.
This will be considered together with a mutually exclusive application from Parrsboro Radio Society to increase the power of its low-power community Type B station CICR-FM, Parrsboro, from 50 watts to 500 watts. The station is currently an unprotected low-power FM service on 99.1 MHZ and the change would give it protected status.
*Application by Truro Live Performing Arts Association for a licence to operate a 5 watts English-language FM developmental community station in Truro using frequency 106.1 MHz
This application is mutually exclusive with another application to be considered at the same hearing from Hope FM Ministries Limited to change the frequency of its low-power English-language specialty station CINU-FM, Truro, from 98.5 MHz to 106.3 MHz, a change being proposed to solve interference issues with Coopérative Radio-Halifax-Métro limitée 's CKRH-FM, Halifax.
*Application by Alex J. Walling, on behalf of a corporation to be incorporated for a licence for a 50 watts English-language FM Type B community radio station in Liverpool.
*Application by Andy McNabb, on behalf of a corporation to be incorporated, for authority to acquire the assets of the English-language specialty station CKKK-FM, Peterborough.
There were again no radio postings from Ireland but in the UK Ofcom has posted its 2008 annual report on Restricted Service Licences (RSLs).
In all during the year it says it received 508 applications for short-term restricted licences- up 2% on 2007 - with licences being awarded in 438 cases - down 2% on 2007.
Regarding long-term RSLs there are now 98 such services on air in the UK, with ten of these licences being awarded in 2008. Of the total 48 of the licences are held by educational establishments; 37 are in hospitals; 11 are on military bases; One is a tourist information service; and One provides traffic and travel information at a conference centre.
In addition there are four Audio Distribution Systems Restricted Service Licences and Ofcom notes that during 2008 it received one application, from Barnsley Football Club in South Yorkshire to provide commentary of football matches for spectators.
In the US, the main news for the Federal Communications Commission was the announcement that President Obama intends to nominate Democrat Commissioner Jonathan S. Adelstein as administrator of the Department of Agriculture's Rural Utilities Service (See RNW Mar 23), although his departure from the FCC is almost certain to be delayed until the appointment of a new chairman or Commissioner as otherwise the agency would be inquorate.
The agency has also announced that it has commenced its 2009 EEO (Equal Employment Opportunity) audits and has been involved in a small number of radio enforcement actions.
These included issuing a USD 250 forfeiture to East Tennessee State University, licensee of translator station W218BW-FX, Lenoir, North Carolina, for failing to fine renewal application on time.
The agency also admonished White Park Broadcasting, Inc., licensee of unbuilt stations KBEN-FM, Cowley, and KWHO-FM, Cody, and also of KROW-FM, Lovell, all in Wyoming, for false environmental certification but also granted its applications for minor modifications to the stations.
White Park was the successful bidder in the agency's FM Auction 37 for a frequency in Lovell and in FM Auction 62 for several licences including FMs at Basin and Cody. It has filed applications to re-locate KBEN-FM from Basin to Cowley and also to change the frequency of KROW-FM and locate the antennas of it, KBEN, and KWHO, on a new 60.5-meter tower to be constructed on McCullough Peak in Park County.
Legend Broadcasting had filed an objection in which it said White Park's certification in relation to KBEN/KWHO did not require environmental procession was false because it did not have a basis for the certification and regarding the KROW application that "White Park's "determination" that there is no need for preparation of an EA does not appear to be based on any objective criteria or proper due diligence. It claimed that White Park had not submitted evidence that the proposed tower would not impact threatened or endangered species or their habitats.
The FCC in its ruling approved the applications commenting that additional information it now had showed that the proposals will "have no significant environmental impact on the quality of the human environment, and no further environmental processing is warranted" but it also found that environmental certifications in the KBEN and KWHO Applications were made without a reasonable basis for believing they were correct and also that the same applied to the KROW application.
On this basis it concluded that a monetary forfeiture would be warranted for White Park's violations with respect to its certifications but under its rules in these cases it can only propose a forfeiture within a year of the date of the violation. It therefore issued an admonishment for making environmental certifications in the Applications without having a reasonable basis for believing they were correct.
Previous Licence News:
ACMA web site:
CRTC web site:
FCC web site:
Ofcom web site:
2009-03-28: The German Commission of Broadcasting Policies (Rundfunkkommission) has given the Eureka 147 DAB+ digital radio system a boost by approving a nationwide multiplex able to transmit between 10 and 15 radio stations.
National public radio broadcaster Deutschland Radio will get a third of the national digital network capacity with two thirds going to private radio operators, allowing them to broadcast national radio services for the first time. The BNetzA, the frequency authority of Germany, now has to assign frequencies and choosing the network operator for the planned large single frequency network.
In addition to the national digital channels each of Germany's 16 regions will have a further two or three multiplexes, thus making between 30 and 40 digital stations available in every region split between local and national and private and public broadcasters.
Most broadcasts will be in DAB+ but some broadcasters may continue with DAB services and they could also introduce DMB in the future.
Commenting on the approval, WorldDMB President Quentin Howard said, "This decision is great news for digital radio in Germany and for the whole of Europe. The largest countries in Europe - Germany, France and the UK - have all committed to the same family of digital radio standards, making it easier for other countries to follow suit. Digital radios will become even cheaper and more readily available, and with new models able to work in any country the barriers to a universal digital radio system for the whole of Europe have been removed."
In Australia, which has adopted DAB+ as its standard, regional commercial radio broadcasters from around Australia have agreed unanimously at a meeting in Sydney that digital radio services must be made available to all Australians, not just those in metropolitan areas.
They called on Australia's Federal Government to make an immediate public commitment to the allocation of VHF Band III spectrum to regional broadcasters for the rollout of digital radio services across Australia.
Commenting n the call, Joan Warner, CEO of industry body Commercial Radio Australia said the broadcasters had agreed "that the provision of digital radio services across the whole of Australia is key to the principle of social inclusion for all Australians."
She added, "A vital element in ensuring the planning and provision of digital radio services in a timely manner is an assurance from Government of access to spectrum. Regional broadcasters believe there is no impediment to the Government immediately making a strong policy commitment to regional commercial radio operators and their listeners that appropriate spectrum will be allocated in the future to regional broadcasters for digital radio services."
Expressions of interest in a regional DAB+ trial have been made to CRA by a large number of commercial radio broadcasters including Bathurst Broadcasters, Macquarie Southern Cross Broadcasters, Prime Radio, Hot Tomato, Supernetwork, Flow FM, Coastal Broadcasters, Austereo/ARN (Canberra FM), West Coast Radio Pty Ltd, North East Broadcaster Ltd Rich Rivers Radio and Tab Corp - 2KY and Commercial Radio Australia has already been told by regulator The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) where suitable spectrum is available for a trial.
Regarding this Warner commented, "An announcement of future spectrum priority plus facilitation of a regional DAB+ trial will provide regional broadcasters and regional listeners, plus the automotive and retail sectors, with confidence that the Federal Government, in collaboration with the radio industry, is committed to making digital radio available throughout Australia."
The "Digital Radio 2009 - A Global Review" report earlier this month from Eureca Research forecast a global market of some 70 million DAB receivers by 2015.
The report said that despite repeatedly stressing the multimedia capabilities of the Eureka-147 platform, the DAB industry has never been able to successfully leverage its capabilities in order to create a more compelling USP for consumers, increase advertising revenues for broadcasters or to generate new revenue streams for multiplex operators but this year, there is more evidence than ever before that the industry is finally grasping this challenge.
Gareth Owen, Research Director at Eureca Research commented, "Our research shows that there are numerous initiatives aimed at developing innovative multimedia and data applications taking place around the world - from France, Germany, Italy and the UK in western Europe to Australia, Singapore and South Korea in the Far East" said Owen. The introduction of so-called 'Screen Radios,' essentially DAB radios with large touch-sensitive colour screens and Wi-Fi connected DAB radios should lead to the introduction of a host of new functionalities and services before the end of 2009. These will include advanced multimedia-rich EPGs, visual radio services (displaying programme or advertising images), interactive advertising via tag-and-store, music download services, real-time traffic information via TPEG and on-demand information data such as public transportation schedules, weather, emergency alerts, financial data, etc."
He added, "I think that the next five to seven years will be crucial for the future of the Eureka-147 platform, and if it fails to build a critical mass - particularly in France and
Germany - then its future as a global digital radio standard will undoubtedly be on the line. I strongly believe that an EU-wide co-ordinated strategy for the switchover of radio to digital (as was done for television) is needed in order to ensure this success."
The report also noted that other broadcast technologies such as DRM+ and the American HD Radio system (which is trying to establish a foothold in Europe) will soon also become available in Europe and there is renewed interest in using new DVB-T technologies to enable mobile radio reception on DTT networks - which could thus dispense with the need for a separate, independent digital radio network in some countries.
DRM (Digital Radio Mondiale) has also had a boost recently with decisions by India and Russia to adopt it for digital radio and at its annual General Assembly held in Erlangen, Germany, this week the DRM Consortium heard and debated how the recent decisions of these two countries to implement DRM for short-wave and medium-wave bands will become the driving force for the rollout in the rest of the world.
Previous Commercial Radio Australia:
2009-03-27: Democrat Michael J. Copps, the acting chairman of the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC), has called for reconsideration of current restrictions of cross-ownership of broadcasters and newspapers in light of the problems of media owners in the current economic climate.
In an interview with Bloomberg Copps, who opposed loosening of cross-ownership restrictions that were passed by an FCC party-line vote in 2007 under then chairman Kevin J Martin (See RNW Dec 19, 2007) said the agency should "visit this whole problem" and added that the current rules didn't meet "the needs of the industry, the economy or the public."
RNW comment: In terms of a Democracy allowed unfettered free markets and a monopoly of news gathering in an area should in our view, despite platitudes about the Internet having made many more sources of information available, be considered very carefully. From what we frequently see when trying to check down the source of an online report, very frequently the Internet does not provide original reporting but rather multiple comments on a report that often goes back to an agency.
Newspapers in our view have in the past provided an invaluable source of investigative reporting as well as general news reporting but commercial broadcasters have failed miserably in this regard over recent years.
We are not in favour of government control of information (albeit in many case nowadays it would appear that much of the news about local government as well as much more general news comes from news releases rather than independent reporting) but do firmly believe that democracy needs independent reporting for its health and such reporting has to be paid for.
We cannot see that ending cross-ownership and continuing with a free market will serve democracy much better than did the state system of the former Soviet Union (or indeed the state controls over Russia's mass media today) and think that what is needed is a look at how best to finance such reporting (Maybe we should debate a levy on all organisations that benefit from broadcasting or communications licences but do not satisfy requisite criteria on original reporting could be considered to operate in much the same way that Germany levies charges for training on organisations that do not provide it at an adequate level).
2009-03-27: UKRD, which has already built up a 13.51% stake in The Local Radio Company, has now made a cash offer to purchase the stake it does not hold in a deal that would value TLRC at around GBP 1.44 million (USD2.06 million).
The offer is worth 2 pence a share - double that of Wednesday's closing price of a penny a share and boosted TLRC stock to 1.25 pence at closing on Friday: Over the past year stock in the troubled company has varied between 50 pence and GBP 15.23.
UKRD chairman Trevor Smallwood said they believed the offer was at an attractive premium and in the best interests of TLRC shareholders, adding, "The combination of UKRD and Local Radio will result in a stronger player in the local radio sector throughout the UK and an expanded service offering to listeners."
Referring to an announcement earlier this month of an open offer by TLRC of new shares to raise GBP 1.5 million after it reported a loss of GBP 6.9 million (USD 9.7 million) for the year to the end of September 2008 (See RNW Mar 6) he said, "We strongly believe that the Offer is considerably more attractive than the open offer proposal announced by Local Radio on 6 March 2009, which is totally unacceptable and could potentially result in loss of control of Local Radio to two Local Radio Directors and heavy dilution for other Local Radio Shareholders."
TLRC has already sold a number of stations and is currently in the process of selling off its Jazz FM digital station.
Previous Local Radio Company:
2009-03-27: Arbitron, which has come under criticism over the quality of its sampling amongst various demographics, has responded by publishing average quality metrics for its 14 Portable People Meter (PPM) markets in February.
It says that its panels over-delivered on targets for those aged 6 and older (109%); 18-53 (103%), Black persons 6 and older (105%) and Hispanics 6 and older (113%).
IN eight PPM markets that qualify for a Spanish-language rating is said the PPM Panels exceeded targets with Hispanic Spanish-Dominant samples (137%) and English-Dominant samples (109%).
A table it has posted of In-Tab Sample Performance by Demographic Designated Delivery Index (DDI) shows only one market where it failed to meet targets for the 18-54 demographic - Middlesex-Somerset-Union where the performance was 95%. The market also posted the lowest performance for those aged six and above - of 102, a figure exceeded everywhere else except Houston where it was also 102.
A further table showing performance in terms of race/ethnicity showed it doing rather worse than the overall figures: For those six and above it was below target in three markets for Blacks (Dallas-Fort Worth with 95%; Houston with 96% and Middlesex-Somerset-Union with 99%) and also in three markets for Hispanics (Middlesex-Somerset-Union with 79%, Nassau-Suffolk with 80% and Houston with 96%).
A similar table for those 18-34 showed an overall failure to meet targets - it only exceeded 100% for all persons in Dallas-Forth Worth (102%) and met target in San Jose whilst for Blacks it exceeded targets in two markets - Middlesex-Somerset-Union with 111% and Houston with 101%; and for Hispanics it exceeded targets in six of the 14 markets - 102% for Los Angeles, 103% for Houston, 111% for Dallas-Forth Worth, 123% for New York, 138% for San Francisco, and 145% for San Jose.
2009-03-26: BIA Advisory Services are forecasting an 11% decline in radio revenues in the top 50 US markets with revenues for midsized to smaller market stations, which are better able to harness local revenues will be down 9.64%, and overall revenues down 10.6% this year compared to 2008, when overall revenues were down 8.5% to USD 16.7 billion. It adds that it sees a turnaround from 2011 with a slight increase beginning that year.
On the plus side it says online revenue, which in 2008 nearly quadrupled, increasing from USD 67 million to USD 247 million, will continue to grow with an average increase of USD 132 million each year through 2013, an increase that BIA comments in a release provides a "clear demonstration that as radio transforms into a cross-platform medium, leveraging local advertisers will boost revenues significantly."
Commenting on the forecasts Mark Fratrik, VP for BIA Advisory Services said, "Despite all appearances, radio is still a viable medium as evidenced through listener numbers, revenue growth in certain markets, and the popularity of specific formats."
"Tough times," he added, "will make owners think hard about what they are doing now and should be doing in the future. Technological advances such as online advertising, mobile device advertising, and other new-to-radio advertising could be a solution for offsetting declines in traditional radio revenues, especially in larger markets where these options could have a greater affect."
BIA notes that radio's problems have been exacerbated by technological change and the recent problems in the financial markets ands adds that "Station owners have been left to grapple with both strategic and tactical decisions for the long and short term in order to remain solvent."
BIA Chief Strategy Officer Rick Ducey commented, "While expense cutting may be necessary in this economy, radio broadcasters must accelerate their transformative process and recognize where they exist in the media ecosystem. "To do this they must recondition their sales teams, think more locally, look at their advertisers through a different lens, consider migrating to other platforms, and start partnering with other organizations to provide more for their audience."
2009-03-26: Clear Channel in Des Moines, Iowa, has fired three hosts from its KXNO-AM following an on-air row between two of them that according to the Des Moines Register led to one host using the F-word at least a dozen times but NBA Development League team the Iowa Energy has opted to keep two of the hosts who already worked for it and hire the third.
The row was between sports radio personality Marty Tirrell, who co-hosted the afternoon "Marty & Miller" show on KXNO -and also a weekly commentary for KCCI-TV from which he has also been fired - and Larry Cotlar, host of the morning drive "Cotlar & Company." Also fired was Cotlar co-host and assistant program manager Geoff Conn.
Conn and Tirrell had also worked on play-by-play commentary for the Iowa Energy, which today announced that it would retain them and also Cotlar for the commentary team.
In a statement the team said, "In the spirit of reconciliation, the Energy has invited Geoff Conn to continue as the public address announcer. Marty Tirrell will continue to do play-by-play and Larry Cotlar will be hired as the colour commentator for all remaining home games and the playoffs."
It added that Tirrell and Cotlar would both be given a "chance to address the fans" about the incident during Energy's Saturday night game against Fort Wayne but would make no comment until then.
The team said its decision had been made because of the apologies made by both Tirrell and Cotlar saying "This acceptance of responsibility and accountability was not only key to retaining the affiliation with the Iowa Energy, but also necessary in order to move the local sports community beyond this unfortunate incident" but added, "Regardless of whether Tirrell and Cotlar believed that they were having a private conversation, the content and tone of the conversation were completely unacceptable."
Tirrell said in a statement, "While I am disappointed by the decision I know Clear Channel did what they thought they needed to do. I have remained quiet for the past few days so Clear Channel could make their decision. That said, I have been eager to publicly apologize."
He continued, "Specifically, I would like to apologize to Larry Cotlar for the way I treated him. He deserved better, I would also like to apologize to anyone who heard the comments on the radio, to Bud Legg and the IHSAA and to Clear Channel for the embarrassment I have caused them.
"Finally, I want to apologize to Joel McCrea at Clear Channel who has been a terrific boss and mentor. I do not know what my future holds but I do know I love Iowa and I love sports and I hope I can find a way to stay involved in both."
Cotlar in a statement said he was "saddened and deeply disappointed with Clear Channel's decision to terminate my employment after all my years of service over an unfortunate incident which I did not initiate nor had any knowledge was being broadcast over the airwaves."
Cotlar was also a play-by-play announcer for Drake University men's basketball games with an annual contract and no announcement has yet been made as to whether renewal of that will be affected but the Iowa Chops general manager Steve Nitzel said that Conn's position as a back-up announcer for the ice hockey team would not change.
Previous Clear Channel:
Des Moines Register report (Also has earlier report on firing):
2009-03-26: The BBC has appointed BAFTA award-winning comedy producer Jane Berthoud as Head of Radio Comedy, the first woman to hold the post.
She will move into the post on May 4, taking over from acting head of radio comedy Gareth Edwards, who was moved into the post on a temporary basis in November last year after Paul Schlesinger moved to the BBC's TV comedy department.Edwards will return to TV work.
Berthoud has worked in BBC comedy for 40 years, six of them exclusively in radio where she has worked on At Home With The Snails, World Of Pub and Audio Diaries (all BBC Radio 4) and Alan's Big One with Alan Davies for BBC Radio 1: She is currently amongst other activities developing a new radio series with the winner of last year's If.Comedy Newcomer Award, Sarah Millican.
BBC Head of Comedy Mark Freeland said of the appointment, "I'm delighted that Jane has accepted this important role. She has a passion for radio comedy and her natural drive and comedy radar means that she's ideally placed to take radio comedy forward into the digital age and new creative spaces" and Radio 4 Controller Mark Damazer added, "I am delighted that Jane is going to lead the Comedy team (in Audio and Music). She has a terrific track record. The department is vital to the Radio 4 audience and the whole of the BBC. It continues to produce many hits and with Jane at the helm I am sure it will continue to do so."
Berthoud herself commented, "It's a very exciting job. With audiences in excess of five million per week, radio comedy remains a jewel in the crown of British culture and it's a privilege to be taking the helm."
2009-03-26: The operation of Portland College station KMHD-FM, the only all-jazz station in the area, may be transferred to Oregon Public Broadcasting (OPB) from the start of July under proposals from licensee, the Mt. Hood Community College (MHCC) District Board of Education, which is facing a significant budget shortfall.
In a release posted by Oregon Public Broadcasting, MHCC President John J. "Ski" Sygielski said the board of education will give serious consideration at its April 8 meeting to this proposed partnership with OPB with a decision expected at the May 13 board meeting and added, "This partnership would give KMHD the best opportunity to thrive in the future."
He also noted in relation to budget problems that MHCC expected to receive at least USD 4 million less from Oregon State in 2109-10 with further cuts expected later and added that "transferring KMHD's operations to OPB is one of the areas where we can reduce costs without compromising a music institution that is important to the College and the community I see this proposed partnership with OPB as providing significant benefits to Mt. Hood Community College in terms of increased visibility and internship opportunities for College students, while allowing us to redirect scarce resources into our academic programs."
Under the proposals MHCC would retain ownership of the station but its operation would move to PPB whose president and CEO, Steve Bass said their intention was "to continue to operate KMHD as a jazz station" and added, "With a current audience of about 100,000 listeners, we believe that the station can attract an even wider audience through increased promotion and higher visibility to OPB's 1.5 million viewers and listeners."
OPB would provide programming for the station from its studios near downtown Portland, a location expected to draw more event and fundraiser attendees as well as to shorten commutes for many of the volunteer on-air hosts.
2009-03-25: We begin this week's look at print comment on radio in the UK where Gillian Reynolds in her Telegraph radio column said the BBC had let down Britain's children by its decision to end Go4It, the last children's programme on analogue radio in the country, a decision she termed a scandal.
The decision as we have reported followed very low ratings for the programme amongst children (See RNW Mar 17) and
Reynolds takes that argument head on, saying of Radio 4 controller Mark Damazer that "He should be ashamed. What is the BBC for if not to offer programmes to audiences that are not served elsewhere? He skirts the question by saying the audience for Go4it is so small that the "market failure" argument does not apply."
That argument says Reynolds is "specious" and she goes on to comment, "Radio 4 has a duty to children. This is not some daft hankering for the days of Children's Hour and Listen With Mother. It is a practical concern. If the BBC is serious about radio, it has an obligation to provide considered speech, serious narrative and structured content for children. Only the BBC enjoys the secure income to do so."
She suggests that Damazer rather than end the programme could have "have changed it, improved it or promoted it more effectively He will, of course, happily grab Go4it's budget. Programme funds are scarce all over the BBC. Naturally, he'll exploit the time slot. An ambitious controller won't want to waste the "inheritance" of the Sunday night Archers' audience. He reassures us Radio 4 will continue to commission "family-friendly" drama, Roald Dahl's Matilda for next Christmas, the Wizard of Oz, Emil and the Detectives."
And picking him up on the last she comments, "He probably doesn't recall, not having been brought up on radio, that Emil and the Detectives is a BBC perennial, serialised across the years everywhere from the old Home Service to the short-lived Radio 5. Wasn't it one of the first serials on Go4it when it began in 2001? And family-friendly drama is hardly his own invention. Remember that glorious Christmas when Michael Green was Radio 4's Controller and there was Diana Rigg in The Snow Queen? Remember when Helen Boaden was at Radio 4 and put on Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, read by Stephen Fry, for a whole day?"
Reynolds goes on to poke derision at other comments from Damazer and in particular takes him up on the children's programmes on digital station BBC7, which are not made by radio - "They are made by CBeebies television. You can tell. They shout, they pout, they're matey, inducements to switch-off for listeners of any age. Significantly, they also mark the biggest downward blips in Radio 7's day. Yet this is what Damazer presents as the future of BBC children's radio."
Having made that point (one we think is well sustained as so much of today's media is "multi-purposed", meaning that it is never great on either but may be passable on radio and TV) Reynolds makes what is probably the most serious point about the issue - they there will be no political pressure to bring it back - unlike "Yesterday in Parliament" that was dropped by James Boyle when he was Radio 4 controller but had to bring back under political pressure (If nothing it's instructive on how disconnected most British politicians are from straight talking, rational argument, and the everyday experiences of many of the electorate: It's still broadcast every evening at 23:30 on weekdays when Parliament is in session by Radio 4).
Over the Atlantic next to the US and a writer who would probably fare well in the British Parliament. Writing under the title "Megaphone Envy and the Fairness Doctrine" it only takes a brief dip into Joseph Somsel's article to work out that the American Thinker, while it may be "devoted to the thoughtful exploration of issues of importance to Americans" is hardly non-partisan, not of itself a problem but a concern at the way blinkers affect intellectual capability to argue.
Somsel starts of by misquoting A.J. Liebling as saying - "Freedom of the press belongs to the man who owns one" but that is a genuflection to the quotation rather than promotion of the emphasis Liebling almost certainly meant by it. (The actual quotation, by the way, was "Freedom of the press is guaranteed only to those who own one", a subtle difference but an important one: Perhaps Somsel should put on his desk another Liebling quotation - "If you just try long enough and hard enough, you can always manage to boot yourself in the posterior.")
On however to the gist of Somsel's argument which boils down to the claim that because Pacifica has powerful FM licences in five cities and claims "almost 150 affiliate stations that re-broadcast their content in other US markets", criticism of conservative talk radio from those to its left is ill founded.
Somsel's introduction sets the tone for what follows: "The way the leftists and liberals go on about conservative talk radio, what they call our "megaphones," one would suspect that they had a bad case of megaphone envy. They make it sound that somehow conservatives and their capitalist lackeys have created a monopoly over the radio spectrum, cutting off and drowning out the left's political points of view that otherwise would surely prevail in the court of public opinion, if only the 'People' had the chance to hear them. However, the facts presented below suggest otherwise. There is an active progressive radio network broadcasting today, even if a commercial version, Air America, failed to survive financially."
The introduction of course represents a particular slant on arguments supposedly put by others but Somsel does provide reasonable evidence of equivalent coverage for Limbaugh's outlets and Pacifica in its markets and he also notes that Rush Limbaugh's outlets are all commercially owned and pay taxes whereas Pacifica is a non-profit, a status he notes that means it gets indirect subsidy from the fact that the US government allows deductions of charitable contributions from taxable income (which, of course he is not arguing against in general although he has to add "given the highly political content broadcast over Pacifica stations, are they really a charitable organization?")
Somsel also argues that "Another matter is the value of the licenses that Pacifica Foundation holds as a gift from the federal government" although we're not quite sure how, apart from the fact that commercial companies have to show the market value of these on their balance sheets but as a non-profit Pacifica does not, this is of any particular relevance to any argument being made although he does comment that Pacifica does not have to "pay taxes on the appreciation of the licences" - not particularly relevant unless they are sold.
He is on firmer ground, however, when it comes to popularity and ratings with Limbaugh massively outperforming Pacifica in all markets - least in Washington DC where he has only five times the audience compared to more than 40 times in New York.
Somsel also solicited Pacifica's opinion concerning the Fairness Doctrine but no official position was forthcoming although one host Shawn O'Brien of KPFK-FM, Los Angeles, said he would re-instate it "in a heartbeat" given the chance. O'Brien commented that since the repeal of the doctrine, "Pacifica has also become more partisan and far more doctrinaire, which is a real shame, as the original mission of the network was firmly in line with the intent of the Fairness Doctrine, in that, Pacifica wanted to present all viewpoints on the network."
And Somsel's conclusion from all of this: "Ultimately, liberals and the left don't envy the size of conservatives' megaphones; they fear the power of conservative arguments. More dangerously, they resent radio listeners' freedom to choose."
Whether this is or isn't so, the evidence presented in the article makes a strong case that in Pacifica's market the dominance of conservative talk is not down to technical factors such as station coverage but as to the evidence for this conclusion in the article is slim to say the least and perhaps makes O'Brien's view all the more powerful in terms of an argument for presenting different viewpoints rather than having the bigoted - from any point of view - reinforce their bigotry by only paying attention to the viewpoints with which they agree.
Somsel thus in our view comes over as partisan to the exclusion of intellect but, had he stuck to making his primary case in terms of conservative talk in these markets having no massive broadcast coverage advantages could have made that case effectively.
Finally to the more general issue of radio's problems as put by Jerry Del Colliano in his latest InsideMusicMedia blog in which he argues that radio needs to innovate but that this is not among the "usual solutions" put forward.
As he puts it, "Daily, we hear about the usual solutions to the radio industry's problems.
"Staying positive (or as I call it, drinking the Kool-Aid).
"Waiting for the economic downturn to end.
"Unfortunately, you never hear the word innovate as it pertains to radio.
"Of course, I am speaking of the people who control the business. The CEOs, their lemmings and the industry lobby and trade groups that they prop up. "
This leads him into an attack on Cumulus, commenting on its closure of its interactive department "After all, who needs interactive when you can save a few dollars?" and going on to say Cumulus has a problem with keeping up the payments for its USD 1.2 billion takeover of Susquehanna.
Of Susquehanna Del Colliano comments, "Remember Susquehanna? An outstanding company run by an outstanding individual name David Kennedy. Dan Halyburton, another Susquehanna exec was also a quality guy. If you spent USD 1.2 billion for Susquehanna's 33 radio stations, you'd think someone at Cumulus would have thought to keep two of the company's brightest executives on board to keep running it. So, Susquehanna became Cumulus and the end results weren't pretty."
He then extends the attack to Citadel and Clear Channel, saying that "In each case, major assets with talented people were run into the ground by a small handful of pretenders who have not even earned the right to run one radio station."
As to innovation he writes of "what I learned working with college students in a brainstorming situation. Remember now, they did not have the experience of, say, a radio executive, programmer or talent. But they researched that which they did not know."
And those lessons - they include encouraging people to come up "with outrageous, useless ideas if that's what it took to eventually arrive at a brilliant one"; to treat every idea equally since otherwise innovation grinds to a halt; for the facilitator to abjure going in proposing ideas in favour of allowing others to first get the chance to suggest new concepts; to insist that anyone suggesting an idea has to put its forward in a minute and then let it go forward for discussion (shades of a senior US executive who insisted that all proposals had to be made within 200 words in the first place); and setting time limits on developing the ideas (away from the brainstorming room).
And first from BBC Radio 2 a number of continuing series starting with Saturday's "From Edison to iTunes" that is looking at those who created today's record labels - this coming Saturday the broadcast will be in the third of four episodes.
Then from Monday the continuing "Viva Latino!" series which reached episode 12 of 13 this week and ends Monday plus the second of three episodes of "Third Reich & Roll", named because of the invention of recording tape in Germany during the Second World War - this episode looked at the development of multi-track recording and its effect on music production.
On Tuesday David Quantick reached the third of the four part "The Single Story" looking at the studios behind the business and the power of DJs and on Friday the four-part "Nat King Cole" ends.
Moving to BBC Radio 3 and we start with last week's "Sunday Feature" in which Hardeep Singh Kohli looked at the life and work of the Ukrainian writer Nikolai Gogol and then move to a regular in "The Essay" that airs on weekday evenings. This week it is on "The Work-Life Balance". Also running through the week is "Composer of the Week" that this week is on Reinhold Gliere.
Sticking with the station we next suggest Monday's "Jazz on 3" - a session by composer and guitarist Pete M Wyer; Wednesday's "Choral Evensong" that for the Feast of the Annunciation to the Blessed Virgin Mary came from Well's Cathedral and "Late Junction" featuring traditional music from Iceland and Bavaria; Friday's "The Verb" in which Ian McMillan's guests include novelist Graham Swift and Lithuanian poet Tomas Venclova; Saturday's "Music Feature" which looks at Ravel's "La valse", "World Routes" - the first of two programmes focussing on the music of Azerbaijan, and "Jazz Library" - featuring Sheila Jordan in the first of two programmes, and Wagner's "Das Rheingold" "Live from the Met" (Starting at 17:00 GMT as currently the UK has not changed time but the US has and the time difference is currently only four hours).
Then to end from the station we suggest next Sunday's "Drama on 3", a production of Gogol's "The Government Inspector", the following "Words and Music" on the theme of youth, and "Jazz Line-Up" marking the 70th anniversary of Blue Note Records.
Moving to BBC Radio 4 and World Service we first suggest a number of downloads including the World Service documentaries the "Third Agers" series - the last programme of four has now been put on the site, "Chinua Achebe: A Hero Returns" in which Richard Dowden joins the novelist on his first trip for many years back to his homeland of Nigeria and "Yiddish: A Struggle for Survival" - the second and final programme is now on the site along (for a few days more) with the first part.
From BBC Radio 4 we suggest last week's "Now Show" - and of course this week's after it airs on Friday; "Interview", which was with Binyam Mohamed, who has now been released from Guantanamo Bay and who is alleging that the US and UK were complicit in his torture in various countries; "Law in Action" that on Tuesday looked at Britain's employment tribunals and also from Tuesday "File on 4" on various alleged torturers living in the UK.
Then to streaming and we note that last Saturday's "Archive on 4" is currently "Tell Me A StoryCorps" about the American oral history project and throughout the week suggest from the 15:45 local slot "The Lion Pride" plus Women's Hour Drama - "This Book Will Save Your Life."
Then from Monday we opt for "The Criminal Mind" in which Joshua Rozenberg examines new medical insights into the criminal mind; "Call Yourself a Feminist" - the final part of the three-part series; "The Prime Ministers" - this week's was on Benjamin Disraeli, and the latest in "Ken Clarke's Jazz Greats", this week on Benny Goodman (the third of four programmes).
From Wednesday we suggest "Battling Back" in which Frank Gardner joins Operation Snow Warrior, a military training exercise for British soldiers badly injured in the Iraq and Afghan wars plus "The Media Show" if only for reminiscences about the pirate padio's days in- or off as the broadcasts came from ships - the UK.
From Thursday we suggest "Old Harry's Game", the last in the six-part comedy series - an episode in which Satan has worked out how to return Baby Patrick to Earth behind God's back; and two programmes also available as downloads -"Analysis -Obama's Pentagon" in which Mark Urban looks at whether the new presidency will see substantial reform at the Pentagon or whether pork and other considerations will lead to continuing spending on weapons that are not particularly suited to US needs and "Material World" which had a special Question and Answer edition.
From Friday we go for more comedy with from the morning the first of a three-part "The Stanley Baxter Playhouse" and also "The Now Show" in the evening.
Then from Saturday we suggest "Wah! Wah! Wah! Waaaaah! The Comedy Scores" in which Huw Williams appraises classic comedy music written for film, television and radio; and four downloads - "From Our Own Correspondent"- particularly for Justin Webb's comments on how the new president is changing foreign policy and Hugh Sykes' report from Baghdad on how far peace really is taking root; "Bottom Line" on Turnarounds but including some significant details of how far automobile sales have plummeted; "IPM" - "The Protest Edition", a timely look at issues of protests as protests are staged in London in advance of the G20 economic meeting; and "The Archive Hour - Beat Mining with the Vinyl Hoover" in which broadcaster Toby Amies looks into the archives to discover the significance of old vinyl recordings.
Then to other stations and first another dip into Radio Netherlands' "Radio Books" which has added another couple of stories; last Saturday's "State We're In" for discussion on the right to bonuses in the financial world in the current economic meltdown plus comment on how people treat each other in such circumstances including stories from Iceland and Russia and last Monday's "Curious Orange" for a look at whether Dutch children are spoiled brats or independent thinkers.
Then from the Australian Broadcasting Corporation we suggest last Saturday and this Saturday's editions of "All in the Mind" - the first "Doctoring with Darwinian Medicine" in which psychiatrist Randolph Nesse argues that physicians who ignore evolutionary theories imperil their patients and the second "The Modern Teenager- Myth or Marvel?", which looks at the debate on what teenagers really are.
Also from the ABC we suggest Wednesday's "Late Night Live" which includes discussion on whether at a time of climate change Australia's cities are sustainable (a similar discussion might be valuable about the suburbs in various countries in the longer term) and Thursday's "Life Matters" with items on bankruptcy in Australia and freedom of information, and Friday's "Australia Talks" - a discussion on the future of the library and the functions it currently performs; .
Finally a late add from the BBC in the shape of Saturday's Radio 2 "Galton & Simpson's Half Hour" that included Paul Merton as a blood donor and possessor of a rare blood group - shades of Hancock's Half Hour and the blood donor - and worth a listen.
RNW Note: We will file our report as soon as we can.
Previous Del Colliano:
American Thinker - Somsel:
InsideMusicMedia blog - Del Colliano:
UK Telegraph - Reynolds:
2009-03-25: Both the US National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) and Free Radio Alliance have disputed a paper released by the musicFIRST Coalition - a body lobbying for the introduction of performance royalties -that says most US terrestrial radio stations would not be badly hit by the introduction of such royalties for music they air and adds that most would only pay USD 5,000 a year.
In a statement the Free Radio Alliance says the "so-called study is questionable at best, but even assuming there is a shred of accuracy, even USD 5,000 would be the death of many local radio stations."
"A majority of radio stations," it continues, "are very small and not living high on the hog like the big record executives. For many small station owners that clear less than USD 30,000 before a salary, USD 5,000 is a lot of money. A fee introduced now will only continue to go up, as precedent has proven."
It also says that SoundExchange - a primary supporter of MusicFIRST and organization charged with finding and paying its artists - is sitting on more than USD 100 million in 'investments,' according to the IRS and continues, "The record labels should be looking at compensating its artists fairly, plain and simple; this study is another game of smoke and mirrors for the labels. Local radio has never been the problem in this equation. In fact, it's free airplay that helps to generate up to USD 2.4 billion in annual music sales for both the artists and the labels."
For the NAB, which announced that a further nine lawmakers have signed the Local Radio Freedom Act that says that "performance fee, tax, royalty, or other charge" should be introduced in relation to the broadcast of music - 158 lawmakers have now signed the measure, EVP Dennis Wharton expressed "delight" with "the growing bipartisan opposition in Congress to RIAA's (The Recording Industry Association of America) attempted fleecing of America's hometown radio stations."
He also took up the issue of the amount involved, saying, "Five thousand dollars may not sound like a lot of money to a fat-cat foreign record label mogul from Paris, France. But in Paris, Texas, a USD 5,000 loss in revenue could threaten a station's ability to carry AMBER Alerts, emergency weather warnings, and high school football games."
Previous Sound Exchange:
2009-03-25: Actor Sir David Jason has become the latest British public figure to proffer a public apology for remarks aired on UK radio: In his case he called Absolute Radio's Christian O'Connell breakfast show during its "Who's Calling Christian?" segment in which celebrities try to win money for charity
He was asked to leave a question for the next guest and responded, "What do you call a Pakistani cloakroom attendant?" answering after a short pause with "Me hat, me coat."
O'Connell responded by commenting, "No more jokes like that" and the section was edited out of the show before it was put out as a podcast by the station, which is to broadcast an apology during Thursday's breakfast show.
The Daily Mail quoted a spokesman for the actor as saying, "'He is really sorry and distressed that that joke upset people. He thought it was nothing more than a light hearted joke and doesn't see it as racist but is naturally very, very sorry that people did" and also quoted Mohammed Shafiq, of the Ramadhan Foundation as saying "These are inappropriate remarks about a stereotype that may have held a little water in the 50's and 60's but is not true to today."
When we last checked readers had posted more than 80 comments, the vast majority of which supported the actor and condemned the reactions as exampled of Political correctness although one drew a parallel with the condemnation of most of the paper's readers of Russell Brand and Jonathan Ross for remarks they made on BBC Radio 2 about the former having sex with actor Andrew Sachs' granddaughter that led to the end of Brand's show, the departure amongst others of then BBC Radio 2 controller Lesley Douglas, and a suspension of Ross's shows on the BBC.
In other UK radio news, veteran DJs Tony Blackburn and Gary Crowley head a new line-up starting a week on Saturday on BBC London 94.9. Blackburn will retain his Sunday noon to 14:00 show but will concentrate on soul and Motown rather than his current mix of music from the 60s to 80s and Crowley will host a new noon to 14:00 in addition to his current Saturday 18:00 to 20:00 show on the station.
Blackburn, who worked for offshore pirate radio stations Radio Caroline and Radio London, before joining the BBC in 1967 - he was the launch DJ for its pop station Radio 1 that year - has since been working in radioand TV - including spells at Capital Gold, Jazz FM and Smooth FM and on the KMFM commercial network in Kent- as well as releasing a number of recordings.
Crowley started work as an office boy for Decca records and began his broadcasting career with Capital FM when he was 19 - he was the UK's youngest DJ at the time - and has also worked in radio and TV since then including spells at what was then BBC Radio London, which he left in 1997 at which time it had become Greater London Radio - to join Xfm, London's first Indie station where he was its launch DJ.
When Capital Radio bought the station he was offered an overnight shift and left to re-join the BBC where he has been hosting the Saturday evening show that will now repeat part of his earlier show as well as the London Calling segment celebrating new music.
Vanessa Feltz, who currently hosts a Saturday 10:00 to 13:00 show will now air from 09:00 to noon and will be preceded by Breakfast with Jo Good and Simon Lederman, which moves from its current 07:00 to 10:00 slot to 06:00 to 09:00, taking over the 1 hour slot formerly occupied from 06:00 to 07:00 by The Best of BBC London.
Previous Bennett, Coleman & Co. Ltd (Absolute Radio's ultimate parent)
UK Daily Mail report:
2009-03-25: The US HD Radio Alliance has announced that 1,000 multicast stations are now on air in the US - there are now nearly 2,000 stations broadcasting their primary signal in HD and - and in addition there are now "100 Unique Receivers to Choose From" (RNW Comment: By which we presume they mean different models rather than there being a total of 100 unique receivers available in the US - but when did accurate use of language play much part in PR?).
Alliance Strategic Advisor and founder Peter Ferrara commented in a news release that the numbers were "significant on many levels -- broadcasters are continuing to see the value in offering additional content, stakeholders are seeing that radio and electronic manufacturers have fully embraced the radio digital revolution, and consumers now have more format choices on the dial and receiver models than ever before."
He added, "The phenomenal advances we have seen in the past few years prove that the industry's commitment has worked, yet we remained focused as there is still much work to be done."
Alliance President Diane Warren commented, "In this economic environment, being able to receive all these extra stations around the country for free is immensely appealing. With receivers available for every personal taste (could we have one that costs USD 20 dollars? - we can buy an AM/FM receiver for this amount but note that the Alliance says HD receivers are "now available for as little as USD 79.") and with innovative multicast stations on-air, HD Radio's future is bright. We're confident that with the broad station selection being offered, people will find something truly unique and consumer interest will only go up. We intend to continue to educate and inform radio consumers and listeners about HD Radio, the new free stations, and the devices with the new and 14th radio advertising campaign in 100 markets on over 700 stations."
She added of the multicast station's programming, "It's exciting to see how all these broadcasters are using these multicast stations and what they're putting on them. Whether they're experimenting with a format and using the extra station as an incubator to build a listenership base before bringing the format onto their primary FM signal, offering artists airtime that otherwise wouldn't have a chance to be heard on-air, or targeting specific demographics with niche content, it all creates a dynamic and relevant radio experience to find stations in addition to what's available on the FM dial."
Previous HD Radio Alliance:
2009-03-24: Arbitron and Westwood One have each announced further cost-cutting measures with Arbitron cutting its workforce by around a tenth and Westwood One instituting pay cuts on a sliding scale with the largest percentage cuts for top executives.
Arbitron confirmed it was to cut its full-time workforce by around 10% in what it termed a "further step in (its) previously announced strategic realignment. It is also cutting non-employee related expenses and says it anticipates that the cuts will lead to expenses of from USD 8-9 million in the first quarter of this year, primarily related to severance and benefit expenses.
It adds that it expects to save this amount in the rest of this year and then see USD 10 million of savings in 2010.
President and CEO Michael Skarzynski said in a release, "The company is realigning and restructuring in order to focus on our strategic priorities: strengthening our radio measurement service and developing new, multimedia services. This restructuring is also designed to speed decision-making so that we can better capitalize on growth opportunities."
He added, "The workforce reduction was a difficult and painful decision and I am grateful for the contributions of all of our employees. Arbitron is offering transition assistance and outplacement support for those colleagues exiting the company as a result of this restructuring and expense reduction program. The company is re-evaluating the skill sets that we need given the rapidly changing and competitive media measurement marketplace. We also believe the cost reductions provided by this restructuring will contribute to the company's long-term success."
Skarzynski said the process should be completed by the end of the first quarter and that its customers "will continue to receive the quality services that they have come to expect from Arbitron" adding, "We remain committed to our continuous improvement programs, which include increasing cell-phone-only samples and enhancing qualitative data. We also intend to invest in Arbitron's strategic growth areas."
Arbitron has also re-iterated its full-year 2009 guidance of revenues to increase between 6% and 10% on the USD 368.8 million of 2008 with earnings per diluted share between USD 1.40- and USD 1.55 compared to USD 1.36 in 2008.
At Westwood One the cost-cutting includes salary cuts ranging up to 15% - the reduction will be greatest for senior management, addressing unprofitable and low margin programs - which presumably will mean dropping syndication of various programming, and continuing announced re-engineering of its Metro Traffic service.
In all the company estimates that these will yield annual savings of from USD 55-63 million and President and CFO Rod Sherwood commented in a release, "Our turnaround plan calls for reducing operating expenses so that we can emerge from these difficult economic times a stronger Company that is better positioned for future growth. This is an ongoing process, and we are asking every member of the Company, from senior management to staff employees to share in this effort to help improve the Company's performance over the long term. We appreciate the many contributions our employees, unions and partners have made and continue to make to Westwood One. Once we have aligned our cost structure with our revenue trajectory, we will have strengthened the financial health of the Company and better positioned the Company for future success."
Westwood One adds that it has made significant progress under its turnaround initiative including agreement in principle with its lenders to refinance the Company's debt, and signing agreements for high-profile programming such as the NFL, Masters Tournament and The Fred Thompson Show.
Previous Westwood One:
2009-03-24: Clear Channel has dropped Tom Joyner's show from its WVAZ-FM (V103), which has aired the syndicated morning show for 13 years, leaving Joyner without a broadcast outlet in Chicago for the first time in two decades.
Clear Channel has moved The Steve Harvey Morning Show from WGCI-FM into Joyner's slot and will simulcast Harvey on both stations until the end of the month but has not yet made any announcement about Harvey's replacement on WGCI.
In a statement WVAZ-FM Program Director Derrick Brown commented that Joyner had "been a great partner with V103 for the past 13 years, making it difficult to part ways," and added, "We appreciate all Tom's hard work and wish him continued success."
Of the Harvey show he commented, "I feel like V103 just won the lottery! Steve Harvey is an entertainment and marketing juggernaut. There are very few entertainers who have successfully tackled radio, TV, film, stage, online and publishing. His unique life perspective and riveting content fit V103 like a glove. Being a 'King of Comedy,' nobody can beat Steve being funny and I'm absolutely elated that he's joining our team."
Joyner himself in his FlyJock's Blog notes that "Today for the first time in 20 years, neither my voice nor Sybil's (Sybil Wilkes) will be broadcast locally on a radio station in the city of Chicago" and adds, "Even though I've broadcast for many years from our Dallas studios, it's no secret that Chicago is the real mother ship, the home, the flagship of "The Tom Joyner Morning Show" and a city that we hold near and dear to our hearts."
He then adds, "On today's show, I'll talk about some of my best memories in Chicago, the after-work sets I hosted, the days I was snowed in, Bishop Don Juan's crush on the female members of our show and the list goes on and on but I want to make it clear that this is not a swan song for us by any means. The party with a purpose continues in Chicago and everywhere else through BlackAmericaWeb.com, where our show can be heard each day"
Also in Chicago, the Chicago Tribune reports that WGN-AM, also owned by Tribune Co, is to opt for its own local content to fill the slots left by the death at the end of last month of Paul Harvey (See RNW Feb 28). WGN will not take up any of the of the syndicated programming being offered by Citadel/ABC to replace Harvey- one segment of this will come from WLS-AM Afternoon host Roe Conn.
Previous Clear Channel:
Previous Tribune Co:
Chicago Tribune report:
Joyner blog posting:
2009-03-24: UK digital station Planet Rock, whose advertising is currently handled by First Radio Sales, a subsidiary of The Local Radio Company Plc & UTV Radio GB Ltd., is to join forces with Absolute Radio, the former Virgin Radio that was bought by a Times of India subsidiary, to sell its advertising and is also in talks about moving to Absolute Radio's premises in Golden Square, London.
Planet Rock was bought from GCap Media, now owned by Global Radio, by businessman Malcolm Bluemel and at first remained in GCap's Leicester Square premises: It moved to UBC Media's premises in Marylebone in October last year (See RNW Aug 29, 2008).
First Radio Sales wanted to focus on servicing its local radio stations and agreed with Planet Rock to end their agreement at the end of the month. This left Planet Rock looking for a tie-up - both Absolute and Bauer Radio were considered to be possible partners- or having to go it alone.
Absolute Radio chief executive Donnach O'Driscoll in his One Golden Square blog says of the advertising tie-up - Planet Rock's airtime and online advertising will be sold along with that of Absolute Radio, Absolute Classic Rock and Absolute Xtreme - means "media-buyers will be able to target a compelling national audience of music-passionate, male-focused listeners in a core demographic of 30-54 year olds in one streamlined media-buy from the existing Absolute Radio sales team."
He adds that Planet Rock will be establishing its own sponsorship and promotions team to work alongside Absolute Radio's to specifically sell Planet Rock's sponsorship and promotions assets and continues, "We are also in talks with the Planet Rock team about them renting some empty office space and a studio that we have here at Absolute Radio and will come back to you with more news."
O'Driscoll goes on to comment that there are some "fantastic synergies between our male targeted national brands" and notes that "Planet Rock is the UK's largest DAB only station and, with 13 consecutive quarters of Rajar reported audience growth, the fastest growing station in the UK." Together with Absolute radio it reaches some 2.65 million listeners a week
Previous Bennett, Coleman & Co Ltd. (Parent of Times of India and ultimately of Absolute Radio):
Previous Planet Rock:
One Golden Square blog:
2009-03-23: Cox Enterprises has announced a cash offer of USD 3.80 per share- some USD 69 million in all - for the publicly held shares in Cox Radio - it currently owns around 78% of the company and 97% of the voting shares - and says that it will take it private if the bid succeeds in attracting 90% or more of Cox Radio shares.
The offer represents a 15.2% premium over Cox Radio's closing price last Friday and a 21.8% premium over the ten-day volume weighted average closing price.
In a news release, Jimmy W. Hayes, President and Chief Executive Officer of Cox Enterprises, said of the effect of the bid as far as Cox Radio is concerned, "Cox Enterprises is committed to operating media businesses, and as a private company can take a long-term perspective, which is especially valuable in the current economic environment. Given how these economic challenges are affecting the radio industry, we believe that private ownership offers advantages that will assist Cox Radio in attaining its business objectives and managing its capital structure."
"We have confidence in the long-term potential of Cox Radio and its management team," he continued. "This transaction will allow us to further invest in a quality asset we know well and to best ensure Cox Radio maintains its best-in-class operations."
Regarding the position of shareholders ht said the offer provided them "with an excellent opportunity to obtain liquidity at a premium to the current share price. In addition, because we are fully financing the transaction and structuring it as a tender offer, we anticipate that shareholders will benefit from an expeditious process and quick receipt of payment."
The offer is currently scheduled to expire on April 17 and is conditional on a majority of the minority shareholders tendering their shares. Cox Enterprises adds that if on expiration it holds at least 90% of Cox Radio shares it will implement a short-form merger at the same per share price paid in the tender offer, assuming the other conditions to the tender offer are met or waived.
Earlier this month Cox reported a net loss for 2008 of USD 404 million after impairment charges of impairment charges of 749.3 million (See RNW Mar 1). In January, Cox Enterprises re-organized its media operations Cox Newspapers, Cox Television and Cox Radio into a new organization. Cox Media Group Inc. (See RNW Dec 3, 2008) and later promoted Hayes, formerly its executive vice president of finance and chief financial officer, to the post of CEO (See RNW Dec 30, 2008).
Later in the day Cox Radio responded with a posting in which it said, "We expect that our Board of Directors will appoint a special committee of independent directors to review and consider the tender offer and make a formal statement to Cox Radio shareholders within ten business days. Shareholders are advised to take no action at this time with respect to the tender offer pending the review of the tender offer by the special committee."
It added that it did not expect any effect on day to day operations.
2009-03-23: Spanish Broadcasting System has reported final quarter 2008 revenues down 11.5% on a year earlier to USD 40.9 million with those for the whole of 2008 down 8.9% on 2007 to 163.7 million with impairment charges for the year of USD 421.1 million - USD 22.67 million in the final quarter These took its net loss in the final quarter from USD 4.96 million in 2007 to USD 28.3 million (From 10 cents to 42 cents per share with the loss applicable to common shareholders up from USD 7.38 million to USD 30.78 million) whilst for the full year it went from net income of USD 981,000 to a loss of USD 328.7 million ( From a loss of 12 cents to a loss of USD 4.67 per share with loss applicable to common shareholders leaping from USD 8.69 million to USD 338.45 million).
Within the figures, radio fared worse than TV with its revenues down 19% to USD 34.98 million in the final quarter whereas TV revenues were up 95% to USD 5.88 million: For the full year radio revenues were down 14% to USD 145.4 million whilst TV was up 80% to USD 18.3 million.
Radio operating income in the quarter was down 16% to USD 12.6 million and that for TV was up 53% to USD 5.6 million whilst for the full year radio operating income was down 28% to USD 48 million and that for TV was up 33% to USD 16.1 million.
Chairman and CEO Raúl Alarcón, Jr. commented of the figures, "Our fourth quarter financial results were impacted by the national recession and industry-wide advertising slowdown, offset in part by the robust growth at MegaTV."
"Our TV operations," he said, "exceeded our expectations during the quarter with 95% revenue growth over the prior year. We are continuing to build on MegaTV's expanded distribution and ratings traction and we are successfully monetizing our growing audience shares.
Regarding radio he said SBS's stations "faced a very difficult operating environment during the quarter as advertisers decreased their budgets in the nation's top markets. However, we continued to generate industry-leading audience shares across our portfolio. We also continued to seek avenues to reduce our operating expenses, while maintaining prudent levels of investment in our station brands, content and sales personnel. Looking ahead, the advertising market remains weak and visibility is limited, but we believe we are taking the right steps to position the company for growth over the long-term."
SBS has not given first quarter guidance but it did note its receipt of a de-listing notice - currently the NASDAQ has suspended enforcement of its minimum share price rules until July 20 and SBS therefore has until around Nov 23 this year to regain compliance before being de-listed if it is unable to do so.
2009-03-23: UK Media regulator Ofcom its latest Broadcast Bulletin has rapped the knuckles of BBC Radio 1 breakfast host Chris Moyles following complaints that he had ridiculed Will Young because of his sexuality and made comments were offensive and derogatory towards the gay community. It upheld a standards complaint against Moyles show and further radio complaint and number of TV complaints concerning sponsorship - the main focus of the bulletin.
The rulings follow Ofcom's noting of apparent increase in the amount of information about sponsors' products/services included in some sponsorship credits and a subsequent monitoring exercise and involve sponsorship of the Big Brother and 4Homes on various Channel 4 stations; The Gadget Show and Weather on Channel 5; Weather on GMTV; The X-Factor and The Alan Titchmarsh Show on ITV; Daytime programming on Living; and Your Natural World programming on various UKTV channels. It also upheld four more standards complaints against TV and a complaint against the breakfast show on community station Vibe 105.3 FM, which broadcasts to Enniskillen in Northern Ireland. In addition another TV standards complaint was considered resolved through action taken by the broadcaster and another rules not in breach with details given as was an issue of advertising scheduling that broke into a live soccer game.
Regarding Fairness and Privacy, no complaints were up upheld although details were given of two TV complaints.
In the Moyles' case, he adopted an effeminate and high pitched Voice in an imitation of Will Young in which he sang alternative versions of two of the singer's well known singles: 'Evergreen' and 'Leave Right Now'.
In his versions Moyles broadcast the lyrics: "It's my birthday, gonna wear my new dress tonight. And I smell nice. I've had a shower and I've shaved my legs. Going out later, might go to Nob-oooh for dinner" and "Oooh Will Young here, mmmmh. I'm here, it's Will's birthday and as the years go by I get more very gay. When you saw me years ago you didn't know, but now I'm the gayest fella you probably know. mmm I like to wear a silly hat, I get camper by the hour, oh would you look at the muck in here. I'm Will Young and I'm gay."
Ofcom received eight complaints and contacted the BBC which responded by noting that Young, who had been a guest on the show a number of times and saying he was not being ridiculed because of his sexuality but also termed the comments "misjudged and unacceptable".
It added that the Controller of Radio 1 has now spoken to Chris Moyles and his production team about the matter and reminded them that "Radio 1 has a wider leadership role with young audiences around acceptance and tolerance towards sexual orientation - and they should be particularly careful not to inadvertently perpetuate certain stereotypes." In addition, the Controller of Radio 1 wrote to Chris Moyles' agent to make clear that the material was unacceptable.
Ofcom in its judgement acknowledged that Moyles commonly uses celebrities as the target of his humour but said that in this case the comments were clearly based on the singer's sexuality and therefore capable of giving offence.
It added that it was particularly concerned that the broadcast of this type of material may have the potential to encourage listeners, especially children, to discriminate against others because of their actual or perceived sexual orientation and concluded that the material was not justified by the context.
It also noted that it had previously published two findings concerning Chris Moyles and the use of discriminatory/offensive language and commented that in light of its rulings it should remind the BBC to take particular care to avoid potentially discriminatory treatment or language directed against sections of society, particularly in the case of programmes which children are likely to listen to.
In the Vibe case it had received a fairness and privacy complaint and asked for recordings of the programming involved: The broadcaster produced recordings of two programmes but not a third because of a problem with its programme logging system
It commented that because of this, even though it was due to a technical error, it was unable to rule on the complaint for the third programme and noted that the broadcaster is legally obliged to retain recordings for 42 days. Accordingly it ruled that its rules had been breached and commented (rather pompously in our view - we think that should Ofcom ever have a problem as a result of a technical failure a week's of the chairman's pay should be docked on every occasion after the first with a similarly pompous comment being posted on all occasions) that this "is a serious breach of the broadcaster's licence and entirely unacceptable. It will be held on record" and added that "Any similar breaches by Vibe FM will result in the consideration of further regulatory action."
In addition to the above Ofcom also listed without details 458 TV complaints against 196 items and 34 radio complaints against 32 items that it did not uphold or were considered out of its remit: This compared to 341 TV complaints against 174 items and 57 radio complaints against 23 items- 34 of them against two Chris Moyles shows on BBC Radio 1 - that it did not uphold or were considered out of its remit that were listed in the previous bulletin.
Previous Ofcom Complaints Bulletin:
2009-03-23: Triton Media's Dial Global has taken the top three spots and has half the top ten networks in the latest -RADAR 100 (Radio's All Dimension Audience Research) - Radio Network Audience ratings just released by Arbitron, which says that more than 186 million persons 12+ heard one or more network radio commercials each week of the survey period, up from 184 million three months ago.
Clear Channel's Premiere Networks had two networks in the top ten - its Premiere Male Focus Network and Premiere Modern Women Network as did Crystal Media Networks with its CMN Prestige and Prestige 2 and Westwood One took the final spot with its WON1 Network.
Comparisons (although listed in brackets) are not straightforward as the previous ratings (RADAR 99) were for the 12 Plus demographic but Arbitron's latest posted figures although for the same Monday-Sunday 05:00 to 12 Midnight are now for the 25-54 demographic.
The top ten were:
1 - Dial-Global Contemporary Network with an average audience of 3.288 million and an average rating of 2.6 (In RADAR 99 the network was second with an average audience of 5.946 million and an average rating of 2.3.)
2 - Dial Global Adult Power with an average audience of 3.205 million and an average rating of 2.5 (In RADAR 99 the network was in first rank with an average audience of 6.742 million and an average rating of 2.7).
3: Dial Global Complete FM Network with an average audience of 3.154 million and an average rating of 2.5 (In RADAR 99 it was fourth with an average audience of 5.857 million and an average rating of 2.3).
4: Premiere Male Focus Network with an average audience of 2.568 million and an average rating of 2.0 (In RADAR 99 it was 11th with an average audience of 3.924 million and an average rating of 1.5).
5: Dial Global Music & Entertainment with an average audience of 2.424 million and an average rating of 1.9 (In RADAR 99 it was eighth with an average audience of 4.339 million and an average rating of 1.7).
6: Westwood WON I Network with an average audience of 2.407 million and an average rating of 1.9 (In RADAR 99 it was fifth with an average audience of 5.533 million and an average rating of 2.2).
7: Dial Global Female Perspective with an average audience of 2.372 million and an average rating of 1.9 (In RADAR 99 it was sixth with an average audience of 4.467 million and an average rating of 1.8).
8: Crystal Media Network's CMN Prestige with an average audience of 2.350 million and an average rating of 1.9 (In RADAR 99 it was 17th with an average audience of 3.339 million and an average rating of 1.3).
9: Premiere Modern Women Network with an average audience of 2.096 million and an average rating of 1.7 (Not listed in RADAR 99).
10: Crystal Media Network's CMN Prestige II with an average audience of 2.087 million and an average rating of 1.6 (In RADAR 99 it was 23rd with an average audience of 3.090 million and an average rating of 1.2).
Citadel/ABC's highest ranked offering was its ABCRN Prime Access in 15th rank with an average audience of 1.805 million and an average rating of 1.4 (In RADAR 99 it was third with an average audience of 5.874 million and an average rating of 2.3).
Previous Citadel (Formerly Disney)/ABC, America):
Previous Premiere Radio Networks:
Previous RADAR ratings (RADAR 99):
Previous Westwood One:
2009-03-23: Both of his fellow Commissioners at the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) have congratulated Democrat Commissioner Jonathan S. Adelstein over his expected appointment to become administrator of the Department of Agriculture's Rural Utilities Service: US President Barack Obama announced on Friday that he intended to make the nomination, which will need Senate approval.
Adelstein is not expected to leave the FCC until at least one vacancy is filled - the former posts of Republican Commissioners Kevin J. Martin, the former chairman, and Deborah Taylor Tate are not yet filled - and his departure before then would leave the agency without a quorum. The President has nominated Julius Genachowski as FCC Chairman but he has yet to be confirmed.
Acting FCC Chairman and fellow-Democrat Michael J. Copps said in a release that Adelstein would on his confirmation "bring a depth of knowledge, experience and commitment to the job that will enable him to make a huge contribution to advancing the well-being of rural America."
Copps continued, "He knows the issues and challenges inside-out and will be able to hit the ground running, which is exactly what's needed since RUS has been given such extraordinary responsibilities by the recently enacted American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
Simply put, Jonathan's years at the FCC have been dedicated to advancing the public interest across the wide gamut of telecommunications and media issues. He's been a true leader, an eloquent spokesman, and a delight to work with. "
Republican Commissioner Robert M. McDowell said that the Service would "benefit greatly from his leadership and decades of experience in public service" and added, "Although I will miss having Jonathan as a colleague on the Commission, I wish him the best as he transitions into this new opportunity. I am confident that rural America will be well served by his commitment to service."
In his new role Adelstein will be in control of an agency that will be in charge of allocating USD 2.5 billion in grants and loans for building out broadband in rural areas, an area in which he has held a long-time interest.
The National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) also posted its congratulations, saying in a statement from Executive Vice President Dennis Wharton that it had "appreciated Commissioner Adelstein's South Dakota values during his tenure at the FCC" and adding, "We will miss his good humour, his understanding of the lifeline role played by local broadcasters, and his harmonica playing at the NAB Radio Show. We wish him well as he takes his public service passion to the Rural Utilities Service."
Rumours suggest that Adelstein's likely successor is Mignon Clyburn, a South Carolina public service commissioner and daughter of House Majority Whip and South Carolina Democrat James Clyburn.
2009-03-22: Last week was yet another quiet one as regards radio from the regulators: There were no radio decisions posted in Australia or Ireland and only a few in Canada.
There the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) approved an application by Manitoulin Radio Communication Inc. to increase the power from of its Type B community radio station CFRM-FM, Little Current Ontario from 1,830 to 27,500 watts and decrease the effective antenna height, changes the licensee said will allow its service to reach all of Manitoulin Island.
The CRTC also posted notice of a consultation with an April 23 deadline for interventions or comments that contained an application by Radio communautaire de la Rive-Sud inc., licensee of French-language Type B community radio station CHAA-FM, Longueuil, Quebec, to increase its power from 64 to 375 watts.
The CRTC notes that the application is inseparable from another application - by Coopérative de Radiodiffusion MF 103,5 de Lanaudière to increase the power of its station CJLM-FM, Joliette, from 3,000 to 4,500 watts - and that the two licensees are prepared to accept the additional interference problems caused by their respective power increases.
In the UK, Ofcom also had a quiet week as regards radio although it did award four more community licences: These went to Cambridge and Anglia Ruskin University Radio (CAM - Cambridge); Carolina FM (East Braintree, Essex); Future Radio (Norwich), a station that has been broadcasting in West Norwich since August 2007 and wishes to extend its service to cover the whole of the city- it will surrender its existing licence; and Wayland Radio, which will broadcast to Swaffham, Watton and surrounding villages in central Norfolk.
In the US, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) remained involved in the switchover to digital TV but it did post details of a number of radio-related enforcement actions including (In descending order of amount) the following:
*Issued USD 20,000 Notice of Apparent Liability for Forfeiture to Power Radio Corporation, licensee of non-commercial educational station KXPW-LP, Georgetown, Texas, for broadcasting adverts.
The agency had received a complaint concerning these broadcasts and in various exchanges the licensee admitted the broadcast of eight underwriting announcements that it said had been revised to make them conform to FCC requirements. It had admitted received remuneration for airing the messages on behalf of the station's underwriters, all of whom are for-profit entities and the FCC noted that in all the announcements had been repeated several thousand times from July 2003, through September 2004.
The FCC ruled that its regulations were breached and noted that there is a base forfeiture of USD 2,00 for violations but that this can be various according to the extent and gravity of the violation: In this case it said USD 20,000 was an appropriate penalty.
*Issued USD 10,000 forfeiture to Steven A. Skalecki of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, for involvement in operation of an unlicensed FM station. The agency had responded to a complaint in March 2006 and found a station to be operating from a residence and subsequently that Skalecki was responsible for utilities at the address.
It then sent a Notice of Unlicensed Operation to Skalecki which was signed for but a check later showed the broadcasts were continuing. In March and May 2007 further checks showed the station was still on air and in December that year an NAL for USD 10,000 was issued to Skalecki.
He responded to this by saying he operated a weather monitoring station from the property but claimed that the unlicensed broadcasts came from another nearby residence.
The FCC rejected his claims, noted that it had found an unlicensed station to be operating from his address on six occasions, and added that even without an inspection Skalecki is responsible because he provided the facilities used to operate the station. It confirmed the full penalty.
*Issued USD 9,000 forfeiture to The University of Montana-Western, licensee of KDWG-FM, Dillon, for failing to properly maintain a public file for the station. The station had said that it believed it was exempt as a small non-commercial educational station and also that it could only pay a penalty by eliminating activities since the revenue was solely derived from a mandatory student activity fee, assessed by the University and this had been designated for current expenses or equipment replacement.
The FCC had dismissed these arguments and issued an NAL for USD 9,000 to which the licensee had requested cancellation or reduction on the basis of having taken remedial action and of serious financial hardship, as the penalty represents 20% of its gross revenues and was substantially more than the penalty levied in similar previous cases. It also re-iterated its contention that the breach occurred because it believed itself exempt and said the commission had failed to explain clearly the definition of "Non-exempt" in its rules.
The FCC rejected all the arguments, noting that it had clearly explained that "exempt licensees include those offering wholly instructional programming and those operating under Class D, 10-watt authorizations." Regarding revenues it said it had not received adequate documentation to support the claim. It confirmed the full penalty.
*Issued USD 9,000 forfeiture to New Inspiration Broadcasting Company, Inc., licensee of KXMX-AM, Anaheim, California, for failing to properly maintain a public file. It had issued an NAL for this amount to which New Inspiration responded by requesting a reduction
*Issued USD 3,000 forfeiture to Radio Free Georgia Broadcasting Foundation, Inc., licensee of WFRG-FM, Atlanta, Georgia, for failing to properly maintain a public file. The FCC had issued an NAL for this amount to which the licensee responded by requesting a reduction to USD 1,000 or an opportunity to pay in instalments over the course of one year because the station, which it says is supported by listener contribution raised in the spring and fall and from federal grants, is unable to pay the entire forfeiture at once and also on the basis of measures taken to ensure future compliance.
It also noted that it has begun the expensive process of relocating its antenna and transmitter and purchasing a directional antenna at a very high cost, in the hopes of attracting more listeners and added that its annual costs exceed its revenues.
The FCC said that on the basis of documentation provided a reduction was not warranted but it would consider allowing payment in instalments.
In Arkansas, the FCC also dismissed an appeal by M and M Media LLC. of Bentonville against a decision by its staff to give preference to Johnson Communications, Inc. in the case of mutually exclusive applications in its AM broadcast Auction 64.
Johnson had filed for a station in Bethel Heights and M&M for one in Rogers and in this case rather than the conflict being settled by competitive biding, the FCC had decided that the competitive bidding procedures should be consistent with its statutory mandate to provide a "fair, efficient, and equitable" distribution of radio services across the nation and accordingly directed the staff to undertake a traditional Section 307(b) analysis prior to conducting an auction for mutually exclusive AM applications.
The Johnson application was given preference on the basis that it would provide the first service to Bethel Heights whilst in the case of Rogers there were already three services.
M & M had sought reconsideration and filed a petition to deny Johnson's application but the FCC found that its action was procedurally improper and the petition was denied.
The FCC has also posted the agenda for its April 8 Open Meeting: This includes A Report and Order, and 4th Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on Improving Data Collection on Minority and Female Broadcast Ownership and A Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on Policies to Promote Rural Radio Service and to Streamline Auction, Allotment and Assignment Policies.
Previous Licence News:
CRTC web site:
FCC web site:
Ofcom web site:
2009-03-22: Fresh FM, the former Laser Broadcasting station in the Yorkshire Dales has moved to a new rural home according to the Craven Herald.
When it was owned by Laser, which went into administration last year - five stations were sold in October - leaving four including FM up for sale (See RNW Oct 29, 2008) , the station was based in Firth Street in Skipton but it has now moved to purpose-built studios at the Broughton Hall Business Park.
The station was bought by its former manager Julian Hotchkiss and Roger Tempest, who owns the Broughton Hall Estate, through Utopia Broadcasting Ltd, which they formed for the purpose.
Tempest commented of the station, "We have a very fine, committed team and the financial robustness to ensure Fresh has a solid future. We will make sure the Dales can be proud of their local radio station."
Previous Laser Broadcasting:
Craven Herald report:
2009-03-21: BBC Radio 3 has released details of its plans to mark the 250th anniversary of composer George Frideric Handel's death next month including a week of special programming from April 11-19: The programming is part of the station's Composers Of The Year 2009 that is also marking anniversaries of Purcell, Haydn and Mendelssohn.
A highlight of the programming will be a live broadcast of The Messiah from Westminster Abbey on April 14th, the actual anniversary of the composer's death on top of which there will be an extensive programme of talks and debate about his life and works as well as his personal and professional relationships, his sense of nationality and astute approach to his finances - in the "Sunday Feature: Liquid Assets" to be broadcast on April 12.
Additional music programming will include "Composer of the Week" on Handel And The Oratorio ; all-Handel programmes on Performance on 3 during thee week; 12-hours of celebrations round Europe of the anniversary on April 19 - EBU Handel Day; and the broadcast of recordings specially recorded for the station by Laurence Cummings of his Eight Great Harpsichord Suites after each weekday evening concert; and "The Essay: The Great And Good Mr Handel" in the weekday 23:00 to 23:15 BST slot (22:00-22:15 GMT).
2009-03-21: Australia's Fairfax Media has announced moves to bring its print, online and other operations closer together to try and combat the effects of the current recession.
The major changes affect print and online, where editorial online and in print will be involved but will remain separate and advertising will be sold across all platforms although the two will not be formally combined and are being made following a three-month review of the company's structure under Brian McCarthy, who took over as chief executive in December from David Kirk (See RNW Dec 5, 2008).
McCarthy said in a statement that the new structure "provides for improvement in the way print and online work together, both commercially and editorially, for the benefit of our audiences and customers ": Under it the number of executives reporting directly to him has been trimmed to 16 and his former post of head of Australian printing and publishing has been eliminated but the company, which had already announced a plan to cut 550 jobs, says there will be no redundancies as a result of the changes.
Radio operations are not greatly affected and Graham Mott remains GM of Fairfax's Radio Group and also of 3AW & Magic 1278.
Previous Fairfax Media:
2009-03-20: News International's UK Sun tabloid newspaper confirmed today that it is to launch its Sun Talk online radio station from April 20, hosted by Jon Gaunt.
Details were given on the same page as Gaunt's column in the paper today and also posted by the host on his website.
In his posting Gaunt says the station will be "the Home of Free Speech" and continues, "This is the station for you where you will not only get expert comment, controversy and loads of laughs but also the chance to interact and have your say and to say it how you want."
He also confirms that his show will be live from 10:00 to 13:00 but notes that it will also be available to download and lists some of the other Sun staff who will be aired by the station, and that "the next Prime minister of this country David Cameron (currently leader of the opposition Conservative Party) will be my first live guest. David will be taking an hour of your calls and e-mails from 10am on the launch day.
Gaunt also comments indirectly on his firing by UTV's talkSPORT, writing, "I've had loads of offers since my untimely exit from that other station but I have held out for this one as the thought of translating Britain's greatest newspaper into a great radio station is a challenge I just couldn't resist and I can't wait to get behind that microphone again."
Elsewhere in UK commercial radio the continuing story is of cut backs with the latest coming from Bauer, which is to cup to some 15 jobs from its digital stations Heat and Q, which will also be moved out of London although they will retain studio facilities in the English capital.
Q Radio will be moved to Birmingham where it will share facilities with the company's Kerrang! rock station whilst Heat Radio will move to Manchester where Bauer owns Key 103, Magic 1152 and the digital stations Smash Hits and The Hits.
The latter two are far more successful than Q or Heat with The Hits having some 1.3 million listeners a week and Smash Hits around 922,000 compared to some 465,000 for Heat and 245,000 for Q.
Gaunt web site:
2009-03-20: WorldSpace has announced that a Delaware bankruptcy court has confirmed its approval earlier this month of the sale of virtually all of the assets of international satellite radio operator WorldSpace to Singapore-based Yenura, a company controlled by WorldSpace founder, Chairman and CEO Noah Samara.
Yenura is paying USD 28 million for the assets of WorldSpace and its U.S. subsidiaries, WorldSpace Systems Corporation and AfriSpace, Inc. and will also take on various liabilities. In addition some claims will be released under the deal, which requires regulatory approval. Yenura was said in WorldSpace's Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing to be an unsecured creditor owed around USD 55 million - it has been lending funds to WorldSpace for more than a decade.
WorldSpace has been operating under debtor-in-possession financing from its creditors since October when it was declared bankrupt: It has around 170,000 subscribers and had been pursuing a launch of its services, starting with a service in Italy that was to have launched later this year.
The agreement does not cover subsidiaries involved in separate bankruptcy proceedings, including WorldSpace Europe, WorldSpace UK and WorldSpace Europe Holdings (WorldSpace's Indian subsidiary is not included in the bankruptcy filing).
WorldSpace is also the subject of a number of lawsuits including a Class Action suit in which it is accused of inflating subscriber numbers in its Initial Public Offering (IPO) statement in August 2005 and a USD 500,000 claim by former COO Alex Brown for salary and benefits he says he is owed.
The defendants in the class action suit, who include the company and Samara, asked on March 16 that the suit be stayed until completion of the sale.
2009-03-20: BBC Radio 3 has confirmed that it is to drop its World Music Awards event which it launched in January 2002 when actor Johnnny Depp presented the Europe/Middle East category award to the Romanian Roma musicians troupe Taraf de Haidouks and will not be holding the event this year.
The most recent awards - the seventh - were announced in April last year in a ceremony at the Dingwalls music venue in London following which a winners' concert was held at the Royal Albert Hall at the end of July as part of the 2008 Promenade season.
Winners over the years have included American guitarist, singer and composer Ry Cooder who took the Americas award in 2006 and Baaba Maal, the Senegalese singer and guitarist, whose album "Missing You" won the Critics Award for Album of the Year at the first awards.
Radio 3 said that the awards had now served their purpose of increasing the profile of World Music and denied that cost cutting was a factor in the decision to drop the awards.
2009-03-19: Performance royalties for music played on terrestrial radio would kill urban radio in the US according to a panel of broadcasters who attended a briefing in Washington D.C. today.
The meeting was moderated by David Honig, civil rights lawyer and executive director of the Minority Media and Telecommunications Council, who said the charges could be forced into bankruptcy and said it was an issue of "right or wrong. An issue of civil rights, what our culture will be and who will control it."
Radio One Inc. President and CEO Alfred Liggins III noted the economic crisis already facing broadcasters with plunging revenues and debt to service and said his company is "already teetering on the verge of bankruptcy. This industry is already on the verge of bankruptcy. This tax will push us over the brink."
Liggins was backed by his mother and company founder, Catherine Hughes, who sat next to him nodding agreement and ICBC Broadcast Holdings, Inc. (Inner City Broadcasting) president and COO Charles Warefield who noted that they were the second largest African-American broadcaster in the country after Radio One and said that they would not be able to continue to support marginally profitable formats such as African-American news/talk and gospel and noted that his company has already laid off personalities at is New York City flagship stations, WBLS and WLIB. The royalty tax he, like Liggins, said would lead to additional lay-offs.
The broadcasters' version was challenged by a group of artists comprised of Duke Fakir, a member of the original Four Tops, Martha Reeves of Martha & The Vandellas and Mary Wilson of The Supremes, who have signed a letter supporting passage of the act.
The letter says that the royalties would have a "real and positive economic impact in the lives of working musicians and recording artists and help ensure the continued vitality of American music and culture" and says of the broadcasters, "Like many other corporate media companies, NABOB [the National Association of Black-Owned Broadcasters] stations, owners and disc jockeys have made millions of dollars from the uncompensated use of artists' creative talent. To assert that now such a requirement would hinder minority entrepreneurship and programming ignores the minority artists that have been played on NABOB stations for decades."
The letter says the artists would be prepared to make concessions to protect small minority businesses but provides fair compensation for artists and notes that only terrestrial radio escapes performance fees.
RNW comment: Apart from the fact that like most American businessmen it would seem, the free market is only to be supported when they do well out of it - the terms "blinkered "or "hypocritical" seem appropriate - it does seem to us that in the current economic climate neither artists and broadcasters can afford an all-out fight.
We remain of the view that the principle of payments has to hold in this case if any case for copyright is to be made but equally that the whole issue of US parent and copyright laws need a thorough review with the criteria for decisions to be the overall public interest in encouraging innovation through providing a fair balance between rewards for creators and the price the public has to pay.
In the current situation the greater public interest it seems to us would be best served by instituting the principle of royalty payments, setting them at a very low level for at least five years, and allying this with the start of a process to reconsider the whole patent and copyright system to include such elements as much shorter protection times (it's odd to say the least that when technology is changing more quickly the world has actually gone to longer terms for copyright and royalty protection); the setting up as regards performance royalties of a number of pricing bands to encourage the market to impose a disciple - artists who accept less would tend to get greater airplay and exposure with a subsequent career boost whilst those who priced themselves to high might find themselves out of pocket in the long term; and the setting up of a public micro-payment system to take over supply of copyrighted material where this can be done online and the copyright holder has ceased to support software (in our view this should be put into the public domain a couple of years after support has been ended) or supply in hard form (such as books, CDs and DVDs).
Previous Inner City:
Previous Radio One Inc:
2009-03-19: The UK MediaGuardian's Changing Media Summit has been told that commercial radio in the country could die out within 15-20 years as advertising revenues fall in the face of technological change and a switch of advertising agencies' priorities to online advertising.
Claire Enders, the founder of Enders Analysis, noted that many UK radio stations are currently making losses and that already revenue from classified, online and search advertising was greater than that of radio, commenting, "There is a next generation of people in agencies who are not that keen on radio."
Enders added that radio would not be commercially viable leaving the BBC and "hobbyist" models such as podcasts.
Matt Wells, the Guardian's head of audio, commented, "We are witnessing the slow death of commercial radio in this country due to a number of factors, [including] the complete failure to grasp the digital nettle. The proposition for consumers of digital TV is completely transformative compared to analogue TV. The same cannot be said of digital radio.
"And now the worst advertising recession we have ever seen means that commercial radio is on its last legs. If people running commercial radio do not recognise that, we are in worse trouble than I thought."
There was disagreement from Clive Dickens, the chief operating officer of Absolute Radio - the former Virgin Radio that was sold by SMG to a Bennett, Coleman & Co Ltd (Owns Times of India and Radio Mirchi) subsidiary. He said some station would survive but accepted that many would not, commenting, "There are a significant number of radio stations in our business that are not profitable and are not going to make it through the next two years.
"The investment in the relationship you have with the audience will define whether you stay in business. It's not about the sector or structure of business, it's about the audience's relationship with those brands and that content."
Dickens criticized the approach to digital radio by many of his competitors, commenting, "As an operator who has been in the sector with this brand for five months, [I would say] a whole range of failed models - plc models - have failed to grasp what consumers wanted: extended choice not upgraded sets."Greater choice in the first seven years [of digital radio] came from the BBC. As someone operating for five months, I say watch this space."
Dickens also said radio needed to develop off-air revenues not rely on spot advertising.
RNW comment: Noting News International's plans - see the story below - and that of other groups owning newspapers as well as broadcast stations, the competition for radio can only increase. We hope the prognostications are too gloomy but ultimately find comparatively little value in having commercial radio stations that offer comparatively little if any local news and other local content plus a very limited selection of music that can be obtained online or from national station.
On the other hand community radio could well have a great future on the same frequencies so we suspect the future model may well be more community stations, fewer commercial ones, and more online offerings, if people can find a way to make the latter pay.
Previous Bennett, Coleman & Co Ltd.
UK Guardian report:
2009-03-19: The UK Sun tabloid newspaper is expected to release details today of a new online radio station Sun Talk to launch on April 20 with opposition Conservative Party leader David Cameron as the first guest and be hosted by Jon Gaunt, currently a columnist for the paper and formerly a talkSPORT host - he was fired by the UTV-owned station after terming a local councillor a "Nazi" and "ignorant pig" (See RNW Nov 19, 2008).
The news of the impending launch was broken by Media Week, which said the launch is part of parent News International's GBP 1 million (USD 1.45 million) investment in new TV and radio studios at its Wapping site - the paper and its Sunday sister the News of the World already offer video content including a film review programme from the latter and the facilities will also be available for The Times and Sunday Times papers which are also based at Wapping.
Gaunt, whose website currently advises people to "keep checking" as "a major announcement is going to be made in the next few days" is expected to host the show from 10:00 to 13:00, his former slot on talkSPORT. He is currently a regular newspaper reviewer on News International's Sky news.
Media Week report:
Sun newspaper site:
2009-03-19: Dissident investor groups Riley Investment Management LLC and Riley Investment Partners Master Fund, L.P., the Angeles-based investor group that two years ago called for Regent to be put up for sale, has taken the scalp of Regent Communications chairman William P. Sutter, Jr., who has been in the post since 2005 and a director of the company since 1999.
The clash - in which Regent accused Riley, which held 7% of the shares - of demanding hasty action to elect four of its nominees to the board (See RNW Aug 16, 2007) - eventually led to two Riley representatives being appointed to Regent's board and Riley has now agreed not to take part in any moved to change Regent's Board until after the end of this year. It had expressed further dissatisfaction with Regent's leadership leading to an agreement that included Sutter's departure: He is replaced as chairman by John H. Wyant, a Cincinnati venture capitalist Jack Wyant who is currently on the board, but will not be replaced as a director: As part of the agreement Regent agreed to reduce its Board from the current seven to six members until the board took any action to change its size and also that the directors remaining after Sutter's departure would be nominated for re-election to Regent's Board of Directors at the 2009 Annual Meeting of Stockholders.
It also agreed that Regent's by-laws will not be amended in respect to calling any special meeting of stockholders unless approved by the majority of the Board, including at lease one of Riley's designated directors, or until at least two months after there are no Riley designees on the Board.
The current Riley representatives are John Ahn, a Riley principal, and John DeLorenzo, an executive with Entravision.
2009-03-18: This week we start our (posted late) look at print comment on radio in the UK where Gillian Reynolds in her Daily Telegraph radio column looked at the power of radio to impel buying - pegged as it happens to the BBC Radio 4 Archive Hour we recommended as listening in our previous columnists.
Reynolds linked creativity in radio adverts and in memories of the 1970's that are currently a fairly prominent of British media, citing host Andrew Marr's suggestion that it could have been "because there were hard times then" and a guest on the station's "Start the Week" who suggested that the 70s could have been "an age that specially imprinted itself on young minds and has now become the seed of midlife creativity."
Reynolds continued, "Probably both, I thought, 30 years being about the right gap for primal experience to transmute into potent memory. You could hear it in Radio 4's Archive Hour ... Radio Sales, presented by Brian Hayes, an informed, quizzical review of the radio commercial in the UK. There was a bit about the 1930s and Radio Luxembourg (that Ovaltineys song, yet again), a snippet of early commercial copywriting. Mostly, and understandably, this was about the pirate phase in British radio history and how, in the mid-1970s, legal commercial radio came to the UK."
She then goes on to the essence of her argument as regards commercial radio, writing, "There are lots of reasons why, demographic, social, political. The big one is that radio can sell things. When this very personal medium is used well, it informs, makes pictures, stimulates emotions, engenders trust, all the things that make us buy. I know this first hand. A commercial for Donnelly's skinless sausages, sung to the tune of The Mexican Hat Dance and broadcast on Radio Éireann, bouncing across the Irish Sea to Liverpool in the late 1940s, persuaded me to blow the contents of my mother's purse on them instead of the liver she had told me to buy. I can still sing the song.
"We learned here that a good commercial is not necessarily one you'll remember. It's the one that makes you spend. Tony Blackburn, remembering his pirate radio days, said his favourite ad was for Weetabix. We didn't learn whether he actually ate it. Commercial radio began at a big disadvantage, the slump of 1974. Tony Vickers, then sales manager at Capital Radio in London, remembered big agencies who wouldn't buy air time and a local advertiser who would, Freddie Barrett singing "Barrett's, Barrett's, come to Barrett's, Barrett's Liquor Mart "
"Such jingles, we heard, are now uncool, a thing of the past. Humour? A bit risky. If you hear a joke too often it annoys. Famous voices? Useful, but only if you like the person. At this, listeners to Radio 4 who seldom or never listen to commercial radio will have quivered in recognition. For what are Radio 4's trailers and promotions, as for Comic Relief, all about but persuading us to buy Radio 4 in particular and the BBC in general? The biggest client of commercial radio, by the way, is the Central Office of Information. 'People want honesty,' said its director, speaking of plain-spoken Army recruitment commercials. It seems to work, too, for campaigns to stop smoking, avoid sexually transmitted diseases. Maybe if politicians tried it we might go back to believing them."
There was however a sting in the tail later in the column where commenting on the Radio 4 docu-drama "Getting to Zero" by Sarah Woods, Reynolds wrote: "A fictional family tries to reduce its carbon footprint. Three real experts comment on their progress. Out went the freezer, big fridge, tumble-dryer, car. In came non-fast food, line-dried clothes, public transport. My halo glowed brighter by the minute. Then I started worrying: could the BBC wipe out commercial radio by making even the Central Office of Information redundant?"
Fortunately for commercial radio, we rather doubt that the world will actually drop consumer spending habits that easily or that politicians will turn completely honest round the world but the loss of advertising revenue is not the only threat - there's also for US radio at least the issue of potential new costs in the form of performance royalties for airing music - a problem singular to the US as there's no legal exemption from such charges in virtually all the rest of the world.
Philadelphia rock station B101 earlier this month announced that because of the costs of such rights for its programming when streamed - the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DCMA) imposed charges for digital media including satellite radio and music supplied via the Internet (See RNW Mar 14).
The decision by station owner Jerry Lee led to various comments including a column by Mark Ramsey of Hear 2.0 who after commenting on B101's action went on to comment " And let me also say that this whole crazy high rate business is one I knew was coming. Back when the radio industry generally sat on the sidelines as streaming rates spiked for Internet broadcasters, I warned that if we didn't get into the game in support of those broadcasters our turn would be next. Our general lack of support at that time helped to create a precedent whose consequences we are paying for today and tomorrow."
He then considered the future based on five points starting with the music industry's perspective - that they are about maximising profit, not distribution, and when consumers have stopped paying for music the way to maximize revenue is to "rightly conclude that their market is the one that pays - and that means (among other markets) radio."
B101 says Ramsey is making a statement - not saying that the withdrawal of streams is permanent "And indeed, it is very unlikely to be so. I wouldn't be surprised at all if streaming was live again within the next 30 days, and not accompanied by a news release."
He also comments on an important part of the equation, the effect on ratings "B101 may discover that removing their stream actually gooses their PPM ratings. Indeed, that may be part of their motivation: To experiment by killing the stream. That's because of the nagging AFTRA issue which prevents stations from matching their stream to their broadcast and thus prevents Arbitron from counting these as one and the same."
Ramsey comments that the effect of this is that if a listener stays with the station but listens online rather than off-air, ratings go down, a matter concerning which he comments "in a world where ratings and only ratings matter, this is a problem. But in the world we're moving into - the world outside of Arbitron - it's merely a necessary transition. "
Ramsey also suggests that B101 is also unlikely to have maximized potential revenue from its online stream "The ad market for this content is still maturing, but the available metrics and opportunities for localizing or personalizing messages go well beyond anything that our over-the-air products are capable of. With this extra accountability and extra targeting precision will come value for the advertiser. And if you stop streaming now you'll never harvest that value. In the long run, broadcasters - like the labels - will follow the money."
Finally, he argues that "what radio really owns is the relationships with its audience and its advertisers. We can leverage those relationships through digital means in many ways, and streaming is just one. The notion that the digital manifestation of our over-the-air broadcast is limited to streaming is an unfortunate myth."
The post attracted a number of responses of which one stuck a chord - particularly in the light of our feeling that there should be a number of copyright rates that a band can choose for a set period thus allowing the market to strike a balance between the benefits of exposure and the cost to the station - artists opting to make their music free are likely to get more exposure whilst those charging top rate may well get less. In this vein "Jeremy" commented, "Why not negotiate with bands direct? There is always someone hungry for airplay. I ask bands to send me music to post on my website and groups trip over themselves for the exposure. The radio stations could pay for the acts they '"need' and fill with emerging artists that will work with the station on rates."
Another suggestion (that we have also made in the past) came from George who commented of the current situation where there is a set royalty "The music industry is acting like a monopoly here, and although they aren't the ones setting prices, the prices are being set in a monopolistic way. The only way for radio to fight this monopoly is to say "no thanks," and then develop online content that IT owns and doesn't have to pay royalties for. Then radio will be in a better position to bring SE to the bargaining table. Until then, get ready to get squeezed."
And finally another important aspect of the US radio business - talk radio and Rush Limbaugh in particular.
First an article from Charles M. Madigan in the Chicago Tribune: Under the heading, "The business of Rush Limbaugh" he commented of the current "Limbaugh flap" that "If you think it's about politics, then you are just about half-right. If you think it's about business, then you are just about half-right too. That is because what this is about most of all is business and politics."
He then began with a "recap" - writing, "Limbaugh, perhaps the most successful broadcaster of the last two decades, is personally responsible for the birthing of modern talk radio. He is a wealthy character of vast fortune and ambition. His product is very conservative opinion. But he is not a William F. Buckley conservative, the late hero of an elite political world that was intellectual and snooty even as it managed to be interesting and provocative. Limbaugh is a mass-market conservative and there is nothing snooty or elite about his pitch. It is just very good business."
As far as politics is concerned he was much more dismissive of Limbaugh, writing, "Limbaugh's audience, losers by political definition but loyalists in a business sense, is not much of a political slice, but it is a vast radio market slice...What an interesting conflict that represents."
Madigan then went on to look at the numbers - the Limbaugh audience, which he put down as from 12-16 million, he said is a big audience but not so important in political terms "There were 125 million votes cast last November. It's a big political world. Limbaugh's audience most likely trends toward an older demographic, too, following an election in which young people played a central role. And who knows how many Limbaugh listeners are voters?"
And the conclusions?
For Limbaugh - "Given these realities, Limbaugh should take every chance he can get to bash away at the Obama administration and hold onto his audience, lest it suffer the same fate as the Republican Party. What he is doing then is not arrogant. It's smart from a business perspective. It seems overtly political because there is a leadership void in the Republican Party at the moment. Like mercury, he has moved into that crack. But this smells more like business than politics."
For the Democrats - "There is no better punching bag in the media world for Democrats. There are people who disagree, and people who strongly disagree and people who are repelled at the thought of Limbaugh. Even the suggestion that his performance over the last few weeks 'doubled'" his ratings spawned a perfect storm wave of Web blather.
And the conclusion..." So there you have it. Everyone wins, Rush gets richer and the question, "Who is running the Republican Party?" just gets louder and louder. Everyone involved, then, is motivated by self-interest, which is why this spat isn't going to go away soon."
And finally from Enews commentary from Eric Boehlert about the actual size of the Limbaugh audience: Under the heading, "Why Don't We Just Pretend Rush Limbaugh has 50 Million Listeners? " he comments on two articles in the Washington Post about that audience's size.
The first by Howard Kurtz said Limbaugh's audience had "nearly doubled since his feud with the White House burst into the media limelight" - figures that appear to be based on Talkers magazine, whose research indicates that Limbaugh's weekly audience has spiked from 14.2 million to about 25 million.
The second came from Paul Farhi who on the following day responded under the headline "Limbaugh's Audience Size? It's Largely Up in the Air" and wrote: "According to what Limbaugh delights in calling 'the drive-by media,' the number varies wildly. Is it 30 million (Pat Buchanan on MSNBC), 20 million (Time magazine, ABC News), 19 million (Fox News), 14 million (CNN), or '14.2 million to about 25 million' (The Washington Post)? Answer: Maybe. "
He then went on to have Arbitron put Limbaugh in his place: "But estimates of Limbaugh's nationwide (and overseas) audience are exercises in guesswork, slippery methodology and suspect data. Limbaugh himself has muddied the water with the claim that he reaches 20 million people a week, although there's no independent support for that figure. Arbitron, the radio industry's dominant audience-measurement company, has never publicly released a national estimate for Limbaugh, and it says, in effect, that the job is too complicated, expensive and time-consuming to bother with. "
Farhi says that the problem is the fact that the 600 or so stations that carry Limbaugh air it at different times and may not run the whole show whilst there are no figures for listening to the show on Armed Forces Radio. He added that Talkers publisher Michael Harrison had said its estimates came "what we're hearing, based on the e-mails, the calls, all the buzz this controversy is generating. We put a little bit of our interpretation on it, added it all up, and that puts you in the ballpark."
Boehlert expresses considerable scepticism - he described Kurtz's comment as "a pro-Limbaugh proclamation that went off like a firecracker, especially online, as conservatives cheered the news and mocked Democrats for padding Limbaugh's audience" but says it's hard to see how it "could withstand serious scrutiny."
Limbaugh himself - not one to be over-modest - says Boehlert had not claimed this level of increase but in an article by Byron York of The Washington Examiner published on the same day as Kurtz's article had commented, "The latest numbers I have are for January, well before this kerfuffle began, and they are through the roof -- six shares in NY, for example. There are daily ratings taken now in about the top 15 markets but I have not seen them yet. All I can tell you is that as of January, we booked 80 percent of all our 2008 revenue and we'll be over 2008 by the end of this month."
As Boehlert points out if Limbaugh hadn't got more recent figures - and he adds that in his broadcast the following Monday Limbaugh reiterated that he had no idea if his ratings had recently increased twofold - it raises doubts over the "doubling."
He says he'd be "shocked" if listening hadn't increased given the publicity but describes Harrison as "an unabashed cheerleader for talk radio. That's his job -- to drum up business for the format." and terms Kurtz's use of the figures as "sloppy reporting" that "highlighted the media's perpetual soft spot for Limbaugh's ratings."
Boehlert also says that the figure of 20 million listeners a week to Limbaugh initially came from -Limbaugh: "The first reported reference I could find came from the July 31, 1993, issue of the radio bible, Billboard magazine, which reported 'Limbaugh's show is now heard on 610 stations and reaches approximately 20 million listeners, according to [Kit] Carson," Limbaugh's 'chief of staff.'"
And as to what those figures actually mean he makes two comments we found significant.
Firstly: "Limbaugh in 1993 claimed he had 20 million listeners, and in 2009 the press is still mouthing the same statistic. Meaning that, until recently, Limbaugh's audience hadn't budged -- not up, not down -- in 16 years... Obviously that doesn't pass any kind of smell test."
Secondly - "Also keep in mind that eight-digit number is what's known in radio as the "cume" (short for cumulative). It in no way reflects the actual audience size like the way television shows are measured minute by minute or half-hour by half-hour. Instead, the cume number represents a very large -- and generous -- umbrella covering the number of people who, in theory, tune into a program at any time during the week, even if it's for just two minutes.
"As a radio trade reporter confirmed to MSNBC last week, common industry shorthand to determine the actual size of a radio audience at any given moment is to cut the cume figure down by a factor of 10, which would mean Limbaugh's 20 million becomes 2 million. Or, if you take the more modest cume number of 14 million, which some inside the industry have used to judge the talker's audience, Limbaugh's rating becomes 1.4 million, which is roughly the same size audience that Rachel Maddow and Keith Olbermann get each night on cable TV."
So we leave you with Boehlert's concluding remarks: "The truth is journalists only have a faint idea of how many people listen to Limbaugh's program each week. And until reporters can get some independently verifiable information, they shouldn't pretend hunches represent facts. And they shouldn't announce Limbaugh's audience has doubled unless they can prove it."
Whatever the figures, to go back to Madigan, they're a matter of business and politics. And maybe Obama and Limbaugh are each being smart? To attack a host with a much smaller audience would make the Democrats seem a little petty but to tie in the Republicans to a man who is either actively disliked by a large portion of both Republicans and Democrats and supported by a only an election-losing percentage of the population may well benefit them. And Limbaugh - well he gains audience and money - and so what if his party is slaughtered at the polls?
On then to listening suggestions and first this week we go for WNYC's "On the Media" - having caught up on some of a backlog - and suggest the March 6 programme from the archives. It contains two items of particular interest, one considering the future of US conservatism against the backdrop of Rush Limbaugh's keynote speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference in DC and the other an interview with National Public Radio's new President and CEO Vivian Schiller about the effects of tough times and plans for the network.
We'd also suggest last Friday's programme and discussion on two "memes" (cultural information, such as a cultural practice or idea, that is transmitted verbally or by repeated action from one mind to another) - discussion on the suggestions that President Obama is a "socialist" and that Rush Limbaugh -him again - is leading the Republican Party. In the former case the discussion seemed to us a good illustration of the degradation of language that has long plagued the US in particular on the right (where the terms "liberal" and "Socialist" seem to have just become terms of abuse rather than having a meaning linked to their origins, just as in Europe the term "fascist" became a generic term of abuse by the left, again divorced from its origins) and also the degradation of political discourse, indeed politics, if the Republican Party actually thinks going along Limbaugh's route will endear to more than a minority of around a fifth of Americans.
Then to the BBC before some programmes disappear from the web site, starting with BBC Radio2 and various musical documentary programming including from Monday Episode 11 of the 13-part "Viva Latino!" series and the first of the three-part "Reich and Roll" in which Stephen Fry tells the story of how the Third Reich developed recording techniques.
Sticking with Radio 2 from Tuesday we suggest "Jarvis Cocker's Musical Map of Sheffield" and the second episode of the four part "The Single Story" in which David Quantick looks at the birth of the charts and the effect the single had on society; from Friday the third part of the four-part "Nat King Cole" (the second episode is on the site until then) and from Saturday Part 2 of the four-part "From Edison to iTunes" which looks at those who created and moulded the record labels we listen to.
Switching to BBC Radio 3, we suggest from last Sunday "Discovering Music", An exploration of Vivaldi's Gloria with Robert Hollingworth and then throughout the week Purcell-related programming -"The Essay" (Monday to Friday at 23:00 GMT) - "A Tribute to Mr Purcell, Purcell and Royalty" in which Jonathan Keates talks about Purcell and the different monarchs for whom he worked and next Saturday's "Music Matters" -"Purcell Weekend - In Search of Purcell" and next Sunday for "Iain Burnside" in which the host presents some of his favourite Purcell recordings and "The Early Music Show" in which Catherine Bott looks at some of the poets and texts set by Purcell.
Also running through the week from the station we suggest "Afternoon on 3", five days of programming from the 2008 Lucerne Festivals.
We'd also add "Night Waves" from Tuesday - "The Origins of Magic Books" in which Bidisha explores the story of magic books, from Ancient Egypt to Buffy the Vampire Slayer; "Performance on 3" from Wednesday featuring Roger Norrington's 75th birthday concert with the OAE, Stuttgart Symphony and Schutz Choir; "The Verb" from Friday featuring beatboxer Shlomo and novelist Janice Galloway and also from Friday "World on 3" in which Lopa Kothari announces the nominations for the 2009 Songlines Music Awards.
Finally from the station we suggest from next Saturday "World Routes" - the Jerusalem International Oud Festival 2008; "Jazz Library" in which Alyn Shipton presents an archive interview with the late drummer Louie Bellson; and "Opera on 3" with Bellini's La Sonnambula Live from the Met.
Switching to BBC Radio 4 we suggest in view of the decision to end the programme, the only specific children's programming on the station Sunday's "Go4it" - last week it featured a visit to the Cambridge Science Festival - then from Monday through the week, "Book of the Week" - "A View from the Foothills, Episode 1", a series taken from the diary semi-reluctant minister Chris Mullin kept during his time as a government minister.
We'd also note that there are still a few hours to catch last week's "Archive on 4" in which radio presenter Brian Hayes examined the history of radio advertising in the UK.
Also from Monday we suggest "Sound Architecture: The Spaces That Speak" in which science broadcaster Professor Trevor Cox explores the science of aural architecture; from Tuesday the second part of the three-part "Call Yourself a Feminist" - this episode featuring Linda Bellos, Roz Morris, Lynne Segal and Beatrix Campbell discussing feminism in the 1980s- and "Law in Action" (also a download) in which Clive Coleman considered knife crime on Britain's streets. And "File on 4" (also a download) -" Why local councils could lose millions" - in which Alan Urry reported on the crisis in town hall finances in the UK as interest rate cuts reduce income along with other effects of the recession that also increase demands on services.
From Wednesday we suggest "The Media Show" - this week amongst the topics were discussions on confidence in self-regulation by Britain's press and playwright David Edgar talking about the issues brought up by a BBC Radio 4 decision to turn down a play by; and Peter Bazalgette and internet privacy campaigner Alexander Hanff discussing to what extent tracking people's online actions to deliver targeted advertising can threaten privacy as well as offering a service.
We'd also suggest from Wednesday "Who Killed the Cockney Sparrer?" in which Tom Heap investigates who, or what, had led to a massive decline in numbers of the common sparrow in Britain.
From Thursday we suggest "In Our Time" on the Boxer Rebellion in the summer of 1900; "Crossing Continents" on an Israeli TV comedy on the funny side of Arab lives in the Jewish state; and "Analysis" (Again a download) - "The Financial Tsunami" in which Ngaire Woods considers how the financial crisis is affecting people in developing countries.
From Friday we suggest a regular in the shape of "The Now Show" (also a download) in the 18:30 comedy slot and from Saturday the second of four of "Ken Clarke's Jazz Greats" - this one on Fats Waller plus "Archive on 4" -"Tell Me A StoryCorps" in which Simon Garfield tells the story of the American oral history project StoryCorps.
Then from BBC World Service's "Documentary archive" we suggest downloads of three episodes currently on the site of the four-part "Third Agers'"
RNW note: We will again update later with some more download suggestions from other stations
Chicago Tribune - Madigan:
ENS News - Boehlert:
UK Telegraph - Reynolds:
Washington Post - Farhi:
Washington Post - Kurtz:
2009-03-18: Utah Republican Senator Orrin Hatch is coming under pressure from Utah broadcasters and lawmakers over his support for the Performance Rights Act that would require performance royalty payments from US terrestrial radio stations, which are currently exempted from them.
Hatch, who notes that satellite radio and cable companies already pay royalties, told the Salt Lake Tribune that "This legislation would ensure that musical performers and songwriters receive fair compensation from all companies across the broadcast spectrum" but he is being opposed it adds not just by broadcasters in the state but also by 96 of the 104 state lawmakers.
It quotes a letter, pushed by the Utah Broadcasters Association and state Rep. Julie Fisher, (Republican, Fruit Heights) as saying, "To require local radio stations to pay a fee while at the same time promoting the music industry's product is an unreasonable requirement."
Stu Stanek, general manger of Clear Channel Salt Lake, commented that not too long ago record companies were illegally trying to pay stations to get their music on the air, but now they are trying to flip it around and get the stations to pay them and said he saw the bill as an attempt by record companies to make up lost revenue from music piracy.
"That isn't really radio's fault," he said. "We pay them by promoting their product."
Salt Lake Tribune report:
2009-03-18: The US Radio Advertising Bureau (RAB) has endorsed Ad-ID, a system that allocates commercials a unique identification to allow tracking of commercialsat its 's RAB 2009 conference, which ends today in Orlando, Florida, .
Ad-ID was developed by the American Association of Advertising Agencies (4As) and the Association of National Advertisers and introduced in 2003 to replace the previous ISCI (Industry Standard Commercial Identifier) which had only eight characters compared to the 12 digit Ad-ID code that has four alpha and eight alphanumeric characters. It is currently used by more than 700 advertisers with around a hundred of them using it for radio commercials but so far there has been very limited uptake by radio companies.
Harold Geller, managing director of Ad-ID and senior VP cross-industry workflow for the 4As said the system was crucial to accountability, adding, "If you can consistently identify a spot, the advertiser it's associated with, and centrally access other necessary information, you create an environment where accountability and transparency are core capabilities."
RAB President and CEO Jeff Haley commented that as radio attempts to grow its share of advertising revenues "improved commercial workflow and consumer interactivity are increasingly important at the station level."
Speaking at the conference on Tuesday Haley had said the medium was "primary and enduring" in American culture, noting that Rush Limbaugh was "front and centre on our national stage" right now.
"What's important," he said, "is that, after 75 years, radio is still a primary medium for news and information. After 75 years, radio is still a primary medium for entertainment. And, most important, after 75 years, radio is still the first and last bastion of free speech in America."
He acknowledged current gloomy times but went to say he was present to talk about the good news and referred to latest Arbitron figures showing that radio has a weekly audience of some 234 million in the US, commenting, "The listenership of our medium is at 234 million listeners, and that's a 12-plus number. Our 6-plus number is even bigger. When consumer habits are shifting wildly, media companies across the board are struggling to focus and find out, What is the crucial point for my medium? We should always ask, 'What is the listener doing? How much are they using our product? And how does that compare with shifts across all other media?'"
Haley went on to say an average listener is spending three hours a day with radio compared to an hour a day with newspapers and around 38 minutes with a magazine (RNW comment: We're not how accurate this figure, presumably taken from Arbitron's 21 hours a week average figure, actually is. The US Bureau of Labour Statistics last year listed TV as the "leisure activity that occupied the most time" for the average American - it gave the figure for time spent on leisure activities as 5.7 hours for men and 5 hours for women with TV accounting for around half of this and the next most common leisure activity, socializing in various forms, as accounting for around three-quarters of an hour a day. Nielsen put the figure rather higher for households - in a study released in November last year it said the average US household watched TV for 8 hours and 18 minutes a day, including time-shifted programming. Adding the Arbitron and Nielsen figures plus the socializing time totals some 12 hours a day and if one then adds some more time for online activities and some time to deal with the much-vaunted American work ethic - some 46 hours a week, let's call it seven hours a day averaged over six days - doesn't really leave the time for the average of 6.7 hours a night sleep on weeknights that the National Sleep Foundation estimated earlier this month, never mind doing anything else. Someone's statistics have to be a tad inaccurate.).
Haley continued, "We have a lot to do, but we never have to doubt radio. We simply have to trust our connection with the consumer. We have to trust in its enduring strength and relevancy, and we simply have to get to work."
Haley also called for radio to get itself on "as many devices, on as many platforms, as possible."
2009-03-18: The Eureka 147 family of digital broadcasting systems has gained a further boost from France where it has been chosen for the country's digital radio standard and the French Government has passed a law that will require every new receiver sold in the country from September 2013 to be capable of receiving digital radio services, including automobile receivers.
The law sets out a three-phase timetable starting in September next year when any receiver that can display multimedia content, apart from automobile receivers, has to have digital radio capabilities. In September 2011 all new receivers apart from those for automobiles will have to be able to receive digital radio and multimedia and in September 2013 all receivers have to be able to handle digital radio - all cars sold in the country will have to contain a digital radio from that time.
Next month the French media regulator the CSA (Conseil Supérieur de l'Audiovisuel) is to publish details of the stations that have been allocated digital licences for the first phase of its digital radio rollout and in June the it has to produce its digital radio migration plan that will give a precise time schedule, area by area, for the total coverage of France by the digital radio stations.
During a debate in the French Parliament Patrice Martin-Lalande, Vice-Chairman of the Special Commission, said of the migration, "It is essential to ensure the development of digital radio in our territory digital radio is also an important issue: heard daily by over 80% of French people, it takes a key role in terms of pluralism of opinions and cultural diversity Radio cannot remain the only media in analogue, digital switchover has a triple benefit: improved coverage, improved quality of listening and serves as a lever for development and innovation for the French digital industry".
The publication of France's migration plan as the UK publishes its Digital Britain Interim report which sets out the conditions and targets for migration to digital radio in the country and WorldDMB Forum President Quentin Howard commented of the developments, "This ringing endorsement of digital radio from two major governments is a positive move which we hope will encourage other European governments to take similar steps. The bold position taken by the French government recognises the need to ensure universal availability of digital receivers and gives the radio industry a solid foundation and certainty with which to plan its digital future. "
The Eureka 147 family includes DAB in various forms and DMB -France has opted for DMB whilst the UK remains with the original DAB standard. Australia has opted for DAB+ when it launches digital radio this yearL In all various Eureka systems are now in use in some 40 countries including China, which has DMB stations in five major cities including Beijing.
2009-03-18: Internet service Goom Radio, whose French and German services were launched last year, has now made its debut in the US backed by a number of former US terrestrial radio executives including CEO Rob Williams who is a former Clear Channel New York president/market manager; head of programming Tim "Romeo" Herbster, formerly WHTZ-FM (Z100), New York managing director and night-time host - the US Goom station is based in Z100's former studios in Jersey City, New Jersey; and chief sales officer Drew Hills, former head of dMarc Broadcasting.
The French station was launched in September last year by a company founded by Emmanuel Jayr and Roberto Ciurleo, both former employees of French station NR1: Its site was follwoed by a German site in November -- all three sites can be accessed from a drop down menu at the top of the master site - and the French site describes it as offering "All the current hits, shows, interviews with the greatest artists and names of the music industry "
Goom's English site describes it as "the evolution of radio" and says it provides "The best music, the best talk shows, and the best interviews with the top names in the entertainment industry, all hand-picked by the most talented DJs and artists, delivered to you."
It continues, "We also give you all the tools and knowledge you need to create and influence your own radio station, all in Goom's proprietary HD sound. Whether you want to listen to the most remarkable in digital radio, or create your own, Goom is here for you. Listen to premium entertainment.
"Our experienced DJs and music programmers bring you the best in music, news, in-depth interviews and live performances. All for free, and in our unique HD sound quality."
In a news release, Williams commented, "We have put together a stellar team, all with a strong background in radio and an eye toward the future of programming for the Internet generation to establish Goom Radio as a unique alternative to what is currently available in the world of online music. Our objective is to create remarkable radio experiences, something we feel the current generation of online offerings has not really focused on, truly bringing together the best of both the radio and the Internet."
RNW comments: Stripping out the obvious bull - for example what on earth is "unique HD sound quality"? - we assume the service licence's iBiquity's HD system and though iBiquity were using a form of AAC, a "lossy" compression codec (as opposed to the various lossless audio compression systems such as FLAC and ALAC), which means the term "unique" is a marketing form of abuse of language aimed at the ignorant - this service is yet another sign of changes that could hit listening to terrestrial stations significantly as wireless internet and decent quality broadband continue to expand.
Its launch came after Arbitron's PPM (portable People Meter) ratings has already show online listening to CBS Radio's WWFS-FM (Fresh FM) in the third week of last month was greater in the station's market than broadcast listening amongst adults 18-34 (3.2 online compared to 3.0 off air) and women 18-34.
So far much of the competition online has been from services that offer a choice of audio rather than a service including DJs and the other features that are a staple of radio as opposed to Internet audio services that are either essentially online catalogue purchasing or listening (with adverts funding the provision of music) systems or like Pandora add a feedback element to create automated recommendations.
If the assumption is made that many of today's younger listeners aren't particularly interested in local content (certainly true), technical quality (also certainly true for virtually anybody who listens whilst in an automobile and we would think for most youngsters who appear quite happy with 128kbps MP3s played on mediocre equipment) but would quite like to opt out of making their own choices or prefer to have recommendations from a DJ whose choices and comments they generally appreciate, the service could do quite well.
That, of course, would attract the bigger players but in this particular situation their size isn't that much of an advantage since the infrastructure needed for the service is fairly straightforward and there's a limit to how far they could progress by enticing DJs from another service.
What we await now are some figures in a year or so's time on the profitability of the venture, particularly in view of the amounts hat will have to be paid out in performance royalties.
Goom Radio site (For language selection use drop down menu at top right of page):
2009-03-17: BBC Radio 4 is to kill its last children's programme - the last programming for children on any BBC analogue radio station - although it says in its release on the matter that the station will "enhance family-friendly listening across its schedule."
The announcement came as part of changes to the Corporation's children's programming on both radio and TV and the BBC said Go4it, currently broadcast on Sunday evenings at 19:15, has struggled to attract a young audience with ratings showing the average age of listeners is more than 50 and a very low listenership from its target 4-14 audience, an average 22,000 of some 450,000 listeners last year. The current series, now in its eighth year - it was launched on Easter Sunday 2001 with Matt Smith as its first host and Haywood took over in May 2002, ends on 24 May.
Radio 4 Controller Mark Damazer said in a BBC release, "Go4it has done its very best to reach a children's audience. Barney (Presenter Barney Harwood who also presents programmes on the Corporation's CBBC children's station) and the team have done a terrific job in creating some fine programmes - last year's programme on bereavement was particularly outstanding - but we have to shape the schedule in the best interests of our listeners and we have not been able to find a successful way of putting a programme for children on an adult radio station."
In an interview with BBC news he said putting a children's programme amongst adult programming had failed to attract listeners, commenting "The audience has changed. Children have far greater choice than they used to "
The BBC cites as examples of planned family programming dramas such as Roald Dahl's Matilda, commissioned as the Christmas Classic Serial; Black Hearts In Battersea; Emil And The Detectives and The Wizard Of Oz and also classics from its archives such as Adrian Mole, Just William and Born Free.
BBC radio has been airing programming for children since 1950 when it launched "Listen with Mother", a programme that ran until 1982. Some children's radio serials were aired by the original BBC Radio 5 before it changed format in 1994 and the BBC will still air around three hours of children's programming each week on its BBC7 digital station.
2009-03-17: Morning drive host Jonathon Brandmeier has agreed a new one-year comment with Emmis's WLUP-FM despite approaches from Tribune-Co owned WGN-AM although the Chicago Sun-Times reports that his package is said to be much less than the USD 1.2 million he was said to have been earning under his previous deal.
The paper adds that whatever the base salary - it says Emmis Chicago regional vice president and market manager Marv Nyren disputed rumours that it was USD 500,000 but said he will never talk salary numbers - the base salary, bonuses tied to ratings benchmarks and on-air endorsement deals will the host's pay to around USD 1 million
The deal allows Brandmeier to retain his current staff and the paper says that Nyren said its structure would be a good framework for future contract talks. WGN still has to fill its vacant mid-afternoon slot and the Tribune says Garry Meier, who lost his late morning slot with WCKG flipped to AC in Novemebr 2007 but earlier this month had a week with WGN, is a front-runner for the post.
Earlier this month Emmis cut its staff numbers by 7.5% and also instituted a 5% pay cut for those who remained except where contracts prohibited this (See RNW Mar 6).
Previous Tribune Co.:
Chicago Sun-Times report:
2009-03-16: Syndicated US talk host Don Imus has told his listeners that he has stage 2 prostate cancer although he was upbeat about the future saying he had great confidence in his doctors and the "prognosis couldn't be better."
Imus has posted a video of his announcement ( a rather rambling one in our view) on his website: He begins by saying he is going to change "the name of the 'Imus Cattle Ranch for Kids With Cancer,' to the 'Imus Cattle Ranch for Kids With Cancer and me '", a reference to his New Mexico working cattle ranch that provides a cowboy experience to children suffering from cancer or serious blood disorders, and children who've lost brothers and sisters to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).
He went on to comment about having been on the Ornish vegetarian diet ( named after Dean Michael Ornish, M.D., president and founder of the non-profit Preventive Medicine Research Institute in Sausalito, California, and Clinical Professor of Medicine at the University of California, San Francisco) and an exercise regime before going on to comment about his condition -" It wasn't great news" but hasn't spread outside the prostate and predictions that he could be treated or cured, albeit expressing some concerns about the functioning of his penis.
The host's "Imus in the Morning" show is now syndicated by ABC Networks: He had previously been with CBS Radio but was dropped by them in 2007 following his infamous comments about members of the Rutgers University women's basketball team whom he termed "nappy-headed ho's" (See RNW Apr 13, 2007).
Citadel, which owns ABC, picked up the show in November 2007 (See RNW Nov 2, 2007) and ABC Radio Networks president Jim Robinson said in a statement that the host is a "true fighter and all of us at the network are in his corner pulling for him.
He added, "I know he is optimistic and has a great deal of confidence in his doctors who are providing excellent treatment. We know that as he faces this challenge he will emerge successful as he has throughout his life and career."
Imus site - video of announcement:
2009-03-16: In latest US radio results both Citadel and Cumulus - the third and second largest US radio companies in terms of station numbers - have reported final quarter revenues down by double-digits and overall losses for both the final quarter of 2008 and for the full year but at Citadel the losses were reduced, thanks to lower impairment charges, whilst at Cumulus impairment charges were up as were net losses.
Citadel reported revenues for the quarter down 12.7% on a year earlier at USD 214 million - put down to an industry advertising decline affecting both its stations and radio network - but for the full year they were up 19.9% to USD 863 million : Operating loss went up from USD 787 million in the final quarter of 2007 to USD 1.044 billion a year later - impairment and disposal charges in the quarter were USD 836.5 million in 2008, down from USD 1.10 billion a year earlier and for the full year were down from USD 1.612 billion in 2007 to USD 1.208 billion in 2008.
Pro-forma figures showed net revenues for the quarter down 13.1% at USD 214 million and down 9.4% to USD 860.6 million with segment operating income down 23% for the quarter to USD 67.3 million and down 18.2% to USD 287.4 million.
Citadel noted that its debt at the end of 2008 was USD 2.011 billion plus USD 49 million of convertible subordinated notes and said that it was is in compliance with its debt covenants under its senior credit facility but added that expected continuing decline in radio revenues in the first half of 2009 and the resulting projected decline in operating profits creates uncertainty regarding the Company's ability to continue to comply with its debt covenants under its senior credit facility through 2009. It is currently negotiating with its lenders to obtain a waiver or amendment to its senior credit facility: During the final quarter and year, it said, it reduced its long-term debt by approximately USD 41.5 million and approximately USD 405.3 million respectively.
It cautioned that it cannot guarantee achieving this and says it will file with the Securities and Exchange Commission a Notification of Late Filing with respect to its Annual Report on Form 10-K for the year to the end of 2008, and anticipates filing the Form on or before March 31, 2009.
Citadel stock, which is now traded over the counter following its de-listing, ended Monday up 27.6% at USD 0.074, making its market capitalisation just below USD 20 million.
Cumulus reported net revenues for the final quarter of 2008 down 11.1% on a year earlier to USD 75.1 million and down 5.1% for the full year to USD 311.5 million: Station operating income was down 14.3% for the quarter to USD 26.76 million and down 8% for the year to USD 108.3 million.
Overall it went from a net loss of USD 154 million in the final quarter of 2007 to a net loss of USD 393.7 million a year later (From a loss of USD 3.56 to a loss of USD 9.55 per basic and diluted share including impairment charges in the first period of USD 149.3 million and a year later of USD 499 million).
For the full year the net loss went from USD 223.8 million to USD 361.7 million (From USD 5.18 to USD 8.55 loss per basic and diluted share and including impairment charges of USD 230.6 million in 2007 and USD 499 million is 2008).
Pro-forma results that exclude the results of its Caribbean stations, which were sold in November 2007, show revenues down 10.8% for the quarter and down 4.6% for the year with pro-format station operating income down 14.2% and 8% respectively.
Cumulus stock ended Monday up 4.3% at 98 cents, giving the company a market capitalisation of USD 41.6 million - Cumulus is the second largest US radio company in terms of station numbers with around 340 stations, compared to around 225 for Citadel.
Also reporting a revenue decrease was Westwood One, whose 2008 revenues of USD 404.4 million were 10.7% down on a year earlier with final quarter revenues down 14.5% on a year ago to USD 101.1 million.
Westwood One also went into an operating loss in the final quarter - of USD 7.8 million compared to operating income of USD 19.7 million a year earlier (without taking into account goodwill impairment charges of approximately USD 224 million). For the full year, without taking into account goodwill impairment charges of approximately USD 430 million, the company had an operating loss of USD 7.9 million compared to operating income of USD 63.3 million in 2007.
Including the impairment charges, net loss for the year was USD 427.6 million compared with a 2007 net profit of USD 24.4 million (from a positive 28 cents to a negative USD 4.39 per diluted common share whilst for the quarter it was USD 222.5 million compared with net income in the fourth quarter of 2007 of USD 8.3 million (From a positive ten cents to a negative USD 2.22) per diluted share).
President and CFO Rod Sherwood said the company "achieved major milestones in its turnaround plan in 2008 and early this year" and listed amongst these "negotiating an agreement in principle with our lenders to refinance the Company's outstanding debt, renewing programming deals with powerful partners like the NFL and the Masters Tournament, launching new, high-profile programming like The Fred Thompson Show, and entering into an exclusive partnership with TrafficLand, a leading-edge technology company in the traffic business."
"This," he added, "has positioned us to focus more intently on generating revenue and reducing operating costs in the face of the soft economic environment."
Westwood One noted that it has recently reached an agreement in principle to refinance all of its debt, including debt coming due in 2009.
Previous Westwood One:
2009-03-16: BBC journalists have voted to strike on April 3 and 9 in protest at threats of compulsory redundancies: In all some 1, 1000 of the 4,000 journalists employed by the BBC took part in the vote with nearly 800 (77%) voting in favour of the action.
The National Union of Journalists says the most urgent threat of compulsory cuts is at the World Service's South Asian section, where up to 20 members are at risk and adds that staff in Scotland are also understood to be under threat.
NUJ general secretary, Jeremy Dear, said: "Journalists at the South Asian services have been fighting a heroic struggle against the outsourcing of their jobs ... now they have the weight of thousands of NUJ members at the BBC behind them."
Paul McLaughlin, NUJ National Broadcasting Organiser added, "Today's result shows that members at the BBC are fully prepared to stand up for their colleagues under threat across the BBC."At a difficult time for journalism the fact that so many members at the BBC are willing to support their colleagues is inspiring. If the BBC wants to provoke a strike over such small numbers it would be shameful. We call on the BBC to get round the table with us and sort it out."
London-based journalists on the BBC Hindi, Nepali, and Urdu radio programmes and websites have already held a one-day strike over the proposed cuts (See RNW Feb 24) and a resolution passes by union representatives spoke of particular concern over their facing compulsory redundancies and added that they noted "with concern the efforts by some World Service managers to coerce staff in the South Asia service in to accepting redundancy packages against their will."
The BBC World Service denies that anyone in the South Asian service was facing imminent compulsory redundancy and termed allegations of coercion "complete nonsense."
2009-03-16: Arbitron in a preliminary RADAR 100 National Radio Listening Report says that more than 234 people aged 12 and older listen to radio in the US in a typical week with listening to RADAR Network Affiliate stations topping 212 million: It adds that the medium reaches 92% of this demographic, a figure that goes down to 89% amongst teens 12-17 with network radio reaching 84% of that it terms "the ad elusive and media multi-taskers Adults 18-34."
In terms of other groups it says 92% of both Black Non-Hispanic persons and Hispanic persons, age 12 and older tune into radio over the course of a week; that the medium reached more than 94% of college graduates ages 25-54 and 95% of adults 25-54 with a college degree and an annual income of USD 50,000 and college graduates ages 18-49 with a household income of USD 75,000 or more with network affiliated stations reaching 85% of the last group. The full RADAR 100 report is to be released next Monday.
RNW Note: The overall listening total is the same as for RADAR 99 but that for affiliate network stations is up a little - it was "more than 210 million" - and other figures are very similar (See RNW Dec 10, 2008).
Previous RADAR (RADAR 99):
2009-03-16: Clear Channel's total audience has been boosted by around 15% by online and mobile listening according to a mocoNews.net report carried by the Washington Post that also says the company is planning to reveal details today of the success of its iheardradio application for the iPhone.
Quoting Evan Harrison, Clear Channel Radio's EVP and president of the company's Online Music & Radio unit Tricia Durvee says that the application, which is also now available for some BlackBerry devices, has been downloaded more than a million times in its first 20 weeks and use is growing by 13% a week. She adds that it is the fourth-ranked free music application.
Numbers cited are that Clear Channel Radio attracts 20 million unique visitors a month online, and the iPhone mobile app attracts 146,000 unique listeners a week and she quotes Harrison as saying, "Literally in LA, there are likely 20,000 to 25,000 more listeners between online and cell-phones. It's like adding another radio station, We are growing the audience, and there are more opportunities " and adding, "For us, it's paramount that we make it easy for our listeners to stay connected with our stations, whether it's at their desk, in their car or while mobile. It's a natural progression for us."
In business terms Harrison said currently the mobile revenues are limited to adverts already being aired but they will soon be selling interactive ads.
Previous Clear Channel:
Washington Post report:
2009-03-15: Last week saw a regular flow of postings from most of the regulators but mainly of routine decisions and matters: In Australia, the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) posted two radio announcements one relating to community radio service Phoenix FM, Bendigo, finding that Central Victorian Community Broadcasters Inc., the licensee of the temporary community radio service breached a condition of its licence by broadcasting an advertisement.
The ACMA noted that the advertisement took the form of a live interview with a local business person, a sponsor of the station, whose business and products were promoted during the discussion although the sponsorship was not made clear.
Following the ACMA investigation the station has taken various measures to avoid future breaches including specific training on sponsorship and advertising for all presenters, implementation of a process for managerial approval of live interviews and training for all volunteers on the licensee's legislative obligations and the agency took the view that no further action was necessary at this time. In doing so it noted a previous breach of the advertising licence condition last year by the station but commented that this had been because of equipment failure.
The second ruling involved Melbourne commercial station 3FOX, which was found to have breached codes by broadcasting a conversation without gaining consent from a person involved.
The ACMA had received a complaint that ACMA received a complaint that a segment of the program The Matt and Jo Show broadcast on 22 April 2008 included a conversation between the complainant and her and her boyfriend, which she believed to be private, was recorded and was broadcast by without her consent.
The show segment concerned - "Its Time to Go" - involves a member of the public phoning someone they live with and trying to convince that person that they want them to move out. If he or she is successful then both parties win a sum of money. The conversation is eventually interrupted by the program's presenters who explain the deception to the unsuspecting party. In this case the station was found to have recorded the conversation, which was of an identifiable person, and broadcast it without gaining consent.
Licensee Austereo said it has now has implemented a new system whereby the express approval of every identifiable person is recorded before their words are broadcast, has also all reminded 3FOX staff of the intent and operation of the relevant code and made it clear the appropriate practice is always to obtain clear, express consent prior to broadcasting any identified person's words. In addition all of the licensee's general managers and content directors were informed of ACMA's finding and reminded of their obligations and it set up training sessions in February 2009 during which the licensee's obligations under the codes were strongly reiterated to all operational staff.
The ACMA said that in view of these actions it would take no further action on this occasion but will continue to monitor the licensee's future performance to ensure that the actions result in compliance.
In Canada the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) made a number of radio postings with decisions (in order of province) including:
*Approval of application from Tiessen Media Inc. to change the frequency and antenna height of its transmitter CFIT-FM-1, Cochrane that carries the programming of CFIT-FM, Airdrie. Tiessen said it wished to move the transmitter site from the valley area of Cochrane to the area above the valley to better serve the rural areas of Cochrane and Rocky View and commuters to and from Calgary.
The CRTC also noted that the new frequency is a third adjacent channel to Astral Media's CJAY-FM and that Astral had expressed concern about possible interference. Tiessen said it did not anticipate interference with CJAY-FM but made a commitment to resolve any reasonable complaint regarding any interference.
Ontario and Quebec:
*Short-term renewal of licence of Radio 1540 Limited's commercial ethnic station CJLL-FM, Ottawa/Gatineau, from 1 April 2009 to 31 August 2012. The CRTC notes that the short-term will allow it to review the licensee's compliance with its conditions of licence relating to Canadian talent development (CTD) that became effective during its previous licence term.
The CRTC adds that the licensee must file a report within 60 providing specific details on its CTD expenditures during the previous licence term, how it will make up the shortfalls in its minimum required CTD expenditures, and how it will reallocate the expenditures originally directed to the Canadian Association of Ethnic Broadcasters catalogue of ethnic recordings. It also denied a request for an amendment to its current condition of licence 3 that would have permitted it to reduce the minimum amount of third-language programming that CJLL-FM must broadcast weekly from 92% to 85%.
It notes that analysis of the station's expenditures revealed apparent non-compliance with licence conditions in relation to contributions in 2004, 2005, 2006 and 2007 but adds that on the information it has it is unable to "unequivocally determine the exact amounts of the licensee's shortfalls."
The CRTC also posted a public notice, with a deadline for submission of interventions or comments of April 13 that included the following radio applications:
*Application by CIAM Media & Radio Broadcasting Association to re-locate its transmitter CIAM-FM-5, Weberville, which carries the signal of CIAM-FM, Fort Vermillion , and a decrease the antenna height. It adds that the relation is needed because of an inferior tower structure.
*Application by Newcap Inc. to increase the power of its English-language commercial station CHNO-FM, Sudbury, from 11,000 watts to 100,000 watts; re-locate the transmitter and increase its antenna height. It says the changes are needed to improve reception in the mountainous area served by the station and will also allow co-location with its CIGM-FM, Sudbury.
Another public notice, with a deadline for submission of interventions or comments of April 14, included the following radio applications:
*Application by Rawlco Radio Ltd. to re-locate the transmitter of its low power English-language commercial station, CFAO-FM, Alliston, and reduce the antenna height, because the antenna site it had initially proposed is unavailable.
*Application by Rawlco Radio Ltd. to amend the antenna's radiation pattern of its new English-language commercial FM to serve Edmonton so as to provide better coverage to the southern parts of Edmonton. The Commission notes that this modification will see a decrease in population from 998,500 to 983,663 for its 3 mV/m contour and an increase in population from 1,069,000 to 1,070,681 for its 0.5 mV/m contour.
Other public notices, this time with a deadline for submission of interventions or comments of April 17, included the following radio applications:
*Application by CIAM Media & Radio Broadcasting Association to change the frequency of its English-language Type B community radio programming undertaking CIAM-FM, Fort Vermillion, from 97.9 MHz (channel 250LP) to 98.5 MHz (channel 253LP), following unforeseen technical interference with a station in Prince George.
Newfoundland and Labrador:
*Application by Newcap Inc. to re-locate the transmitter of its English -language commercial station CJYQ-AM, St-John's, and reduce its daytime power from 50,000 watts to 25,000 watts: The night-time transmitter power will remain unchanged at 25,000 watts. Newcap said the move was needed because of numerous acts of vandalism made against its transmitter facilities.
*Application by591991 B.C. Ltd. to increase the power of its French-language commercial radio station CKOY-FM, Sherbrooke, from 1 300 to 9 100 watts (non-directional antenna to a directional antenna with a maximum ERP of 50 000 watts); re-locate the transmitter, increase its effective height and change its channel. The re-location would be to the same site as its other Sherbrooke station, CHLT-FM, allowing a consolidation of facilities for both of these stations.
There were no radio announcements from Ireland but in the UK Ofcom now has a new chairman, Dr Colette Bowe (See RNW Mar 12). It has also issued a "Yellow Card" to Global Radio's Bristol and Bath station, GWR-FM (See RNW Mar 13) and posted its latest Broadcast Bulletin in which it upheld no radio complaints (See RNW Mar 9).
Regarding Community Radio, Ofcom notes that in February it awarded four more licences in Suffolk - to Blyth Valley Radio (Southwold); Radio West Suffolk (Bury St Edmunds); Felixstowe Radio; and Zeta Digital FM (Forest Heath).
It also posted its first "Annual Report of Community Radio" that it says reveals a "a flourishing sector, with over 130 community stations currently broadcasting and another 50 preparing to take to the airwaves."
On average, it says, each station operates with 74 volunteers who together give around 214 hours of their time a week and overall they can reach around eight million people.
The 32 page report (a 386 Kb PDF) says Ofcom has now licensed 191 community stations of which 131 are on air, a further 51 are preparing to launch, and nine have decided not to launch or have handed their licence back.
In addition in the second round of licensing it is currently considering 43 applications from the southeast of England (excluding London and other areas within the M25) and will shortly invite applications from groups based within London or other areas inside the M25.
Average station annual income is around GBP 101,000 (USD 141,000) but the although the median figure (the mid-point in the distribution of stations' incomes) is significantly lower at GBP 65,500 (USD 91.500), suggesting a small number of stations earn significantly more than the majority
It adds that stations serving particular communities are more likely to have a higher income - those serving general audiences in urban areas (GBP 110,000 - USD 154,000) and those serving minority ethnic communities (GBP 124,000 - USD 173,000) tend to have more income than the sector average.
It also notes that it has had discussions with one station, which had more than half its income coming from advertising and is satisfied that the station has taken measures to remedy the situation. In addition it is working with another station to resolve a "significant failure to perform against its key commitments."
In the US, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) was again most concerned with the move to digital TV but it did post details of some radio enforcement actions.
In one case Pamal Broadcasting (and 6 Johnson Road Licences, which it controls) agreed a penalty of USD 50,000 to end investigations into possible breaches of payola regulations.
Under a consent decree Pamal also agreed to adopt a new plan concerning identification of sponsors that expands on its existing policies and procedures. The penalty is small in comparison with those previously agreed by CBS, Clear Channel, Citadel and Entercom - in all they agreed payments with the FCC totalling USD 12.5 million (-USD 4 million for Entercom, USD 3.5 million for Clear Channel, USD 3 million for CBS and USD 2 million for Citadel - See RNW Apr 14, 2007) following investigations launched by then New York State Attorney General Eliot Spitzer's office. Spitzer's office agreed settlements with the recording companies totalling some USD 36 million and also large settlements with CBS, which agreed to pay USD 2 million (See RNW Oct 20, 2006) and Entercom, which agreed to pay USD 4.25 million - See RNW Dec 28, 2006).
In another enforcement action the FCC has issued a USD 7,200 forfeiture to KUOA, Incorporated, licensee of KUOA-AM, Siloam Springs, Arkansas, for failure to maintain the station's public inspection file.
The agency had issued a Notice of Apparent Liability for Forfeiture of USD 9,000 in June 2004 to which KUOA responded by requesting reduction on the grounds that it had made good faith efforts to comply with the rules, that the penalty was excessive in comparison with penalties levied in other cases, and a history of compliance.
The FCC accepted the last argument and reduced the penalty to USD 7,200 but rejected the other arguments.
Previous Licence News:
ACMA web site:
CRTC web site:
FCC web site:
Ofcom web site:
Ofcom -Community Radio Annual Report (PDF)
2009-03-14: BBC World Service's Russian service launches a new schedule from today including a live weekend news programme Pyatiy Etazh (Fifth Floor) that will air at 20:00 Moscow time on Saturdays and Sundays: The show has originated from the fifth floor of Bush House - the London home of the BBC Russian service for more than 60 years and the service described it as aiming to differ from the weekday news and current affairs programmes on the station by creating "an atmosphere for lively, engaging discussions" - a "conversation about latest developments in politics and world affairs, culture and sport, and society, with a special focus on British life."
In other changes to the schedule, the flagship morning weekday news and current affairs programme, Utro na BBC, has been increased by half an hour to three-and-a-half hours each weekday and will start at 06.30 Moscow Time and the weekday drivetime news and current affairs sequence, Vecher na BBC - which includes the hour-long BBSeva hosted by Seva Novgorodsev - will be increased in April by one hour to four hours each day (from 17.00 Moscow Time).
In the UK, BBC Radio 2 has announced a new weekend look from next month to include new shows from Paul O'Grady ( Sundays at 17:00 local) and Alan Carr and Emma Forbes (Saturdays at 18:00 local) whilst Johnnie Walker, who is currently hosting the Saturday evening "Pirate Johnnie Walker" series will launch a new Sunday afternoon show.
Other changes include a move from Sunday afternoons to Saturday lunchtime for "Pick of the Pops", which will air from 13:00 to 15:00 local, displacing the current Saturday lunchtime comedy shows whilst Dermot O'Leary's Saturday afternoon show runs an hour later - from 15:00 to 18:00. There will be a further change from April 25 when Alan Carr launches a new show "Going Out with Alan Carr" from 18:00 to 20:00 local with "Paul Gambaccini with America's Greatest Hits", currently starting at 17:00, moving to the later 20:00 to 22:00 slot to be followed by the Saturday night documentaries, which move fro the current 19:00 start to a 22:00 slot.
On Sundays Elaine Page's show, currently airing from 13:00 to 14:30 adds an extra half-hour to be followed by "Johnnie Walker's Sounds Of The 70s" from 15:00 to 17:00 and then "Paul O'Grady On The Wireless" from 17:00 to 19:00 and "Alan Titchmarsh with Melodies For You", which will air from 19:00 to 20:30 in place of its current 18:30 to 20:30.
2009-03-14: Philadelphia AC station WBEB-FM (B101) is to stop streaming its output from tomorrow because owner and operator Jerry Lee considers royalty rate increases agreed with SoundExchange are excessive and make the streaming unviable.
In a release the station notes that rates have doubled over the last three years and under the new agreement would continue to increase until 2015, at which stage Lee says "it becomes ridiculous. I'll have to give away about half the money I take in."
He added, "I don't want to promote people listening on our stream, because in the end this is going to be a very unprofitable part of our business I don't expect anyone to follow my lead, but I'm one guy out there saying enough's enough."
Lee adds that many other stations won't be able to afford to stream music and continues,"Less streaming means fewer revenue opportunities for stations and ultimately less money for the artists who receive royalties. It's puzzling why SoundExchange would want to destroy a potential growth business opportunity for the artists it purports to represent."
2009-03-13: UK Media regulator Ofcom has issued a "Yellow Card" to Global Radio's Bristol and Bath station GWR FM for operating outside its format: The card followed complaints and a subsequent sampling of the station's output - it is a "a locally orientated contemporary and chart music and information station for under-44s" under the terms of its licence but the complainants said it had changed its music policy and was playing more "older" tracks, with competitive implications for other stations.
Ofcom commented that it had expected that at least two-thirds of the tracks aired by the station would be "Current" or "recurrent" - tracks less than two years old - but its monitoring found such tracks were less than half the output.
It found the station in clear breach of its format and issued the warning and adds that it has received similar complaints about a number of Global's stations and advises the licensee "to take this finding into account for programming across all its CHR stations", further noting that it has "had conversations with the licensee about content on its CHR stations in the past."
Ofcom also says that as there have been cases where the Yellow Card warning had not resulted in a station being brought back into format immediately, from now on any station found to be out of format will be considered for immediate sanctions that could include a "Yellow Card", fine, or shortening of the station's licence.
Previous Global Radio:
2009-03-13: Salem Communications has reported final quarter 2008 revenues down 6.3% on a year earlier to USD 58.5 million with full year revenues down 3.6% to USD 220.7 million: Like most other US radio companies it also went from profit to loss thanks to a USD 52.7 million impairment charge that turned a final quarter 2007 positive USD 200,000 to a loss of USD 30.6 million (From 1 cent per share in the black to USD 1.29 loss) and net income for 2007 of USSD 8.2 million to a loss of USD 33.1 million (From 34 cents a share net income to USD 1.40 net loss).
Within the figures net broadcast revenues were down 8.6% in the final quarter to USD 47.1 million but station operation income was up 1.3% to USD 18.2 million: Same station net broadcast revenue was down 8.7% to USD 44.9 million. In contrast non-broadcast revenues were up 11.1% to USD 6.9 million with non-broadcast operating income more than tripling from USD 400,000 to USD 1.3 million.
For the full year net broadcast revenue was down 5.8% to USD 192.4 million with station operating income down 8.1% to USD 68.8 million: Same station net broadcast revenue was down 6.2% to USD 185.0 million with same station operating income down 6.7% to USD 68.3 million. Non-broadcasting revenue was up 15.2% to USD 28.4 million with non-broadcast operating income up 46.7% to USD 2.5 million.
Salem noted that the results reflect the reclassification to discontinued operations of its Columbus, Ohio and Milwaukee, Wisconsin radio stations and CCM Magazine and pending transactions in which it will acquire WAMD-ASM in Baltimore, Maryland for approximately USD 2.7 million and the sale of WRFD-AM, Columbus Ohio, for approximately USAD 4.0 million.
Looking ahead it says that it is projecting first quarter 2009 revenues to be down 11%-14% on a year ago with expenses before gain or loss on disposal of assets and impairments to decline 10% to 12%
At Fisher Communications, which has disposed of most of its radio operations, final quarter revenues were up 7.2% on a year earlier to USD 47.7 million thanks to a 12% increase in TV revenues to USD 37.9 million and 18% increase in Fisher Plaza revenues to USD 3.3 million whilst radio was down 18.3% to USD 6.6 million. For the full year revenues were up 7.1% to USD 173.8 million within which TV revenues were up 12% to USD 124.0 million, Fisher Plaza revenues were up 16% to USD 12.1 million and radio was down 9% to USD 36.7 million.
Fisher noted that the "deepening economic recession and its impact on advertising spending continued to affect the Company's financial performance in the fourth quarter" but that "strong political revenue accompanied by continued improvement in key performance metrics offset broad declines in core advertising categories."
2009-03-13: Australian Broadcasting Corporation managing director Mark Scott has said that he is confident the broadcaster will get a funding increase from the government despite the effects of the economic downturn.
He told the Corporation's AM radio programme that the ABC would need additional funds to cope with technological change, commenting, "We think there are great opportunities for the ABC to significantly increase the levels of Australian content on ABC television, to do more in digital radio and to increase operational funding for the ABC."
Amongst the ABC's projects are a proposed children's TV channel and additional digital radio services and Scott said the children's TV channel in particular made a compelling case for the ABC.
Regarding funding he said, "I think there are expectations that the Government will fulfil its election commitments to adequately fund the ABC and significantly increase the levels of Australian content funding I think everyone knows and understands that this is a very, very difficult (federal) Budget for the Government to frame ... but I think the Government also recognises, in our discussions with them, that this is a unique time for the ABC."
"Media is changing so quickly, technology is changing so quickly, commercial media is in so much trouble," he continued, "that the ABC needs to come through and deliver for Australians, no matter where they live, no matter how much they earn. [The ABC] is one of the things that we all have in common and it's a unique time for us and we need the funding now."
Previous ABC, Australia:
2009-03-13: Arbitron is apparently trying to head of a Federal Communications Commission (FCC) investigation into its Portable People Meter ratings service, which had led to state lawsuits that it has now settled [with New York, New Jersey, and Maryland- See RNW Jan 7 & Feb 26], by assuring interim FCC chairman Michael J, Copps, that they will meet critics to address concerns about the effect of the ratings on stations serving minority audiences according to Ars Technica.
It quotes Arbitron CEO Michael Skarzynski as telling Copps that his company would "work with stakeholders in the radio broadcasting and advertising communities and others, to improve the Radio First PPM service and to assist interested parties in taking advantage of the increased information that is available through PPM and that is not available under the diary-based system which PPM is in the process of replacing."
Ars Technica says that at a meeting with Copps the company, which had earlier argued that the FCC did not have the jurisdiction to investigate the PPM (See RNW Sep 25, 2008) did not bring up the subject on the agency's authority but changed its stance and warned that such an investigation would be likely to "result in retarding the continuous improvement program by diverting the time, energy, attention, and resources of key Arbitron personnel involved in that program to litigation-related tasks associated with a formal Commission investigation."
Ars Technica report:
2009-03-12: RNW Note: Yet again other pressures have delayed our weekly look at print comment on radio - most of it depressing - so we have opted to forego this week's report but are filing listening suggestions.
And first from the start of the week on the BBC (since the seven-day cut-off for most programmes means much material is only available for a week) we suggest the following:
From last Saturday - BBC Radio 3 and "Hear and Now" on "Experimental Composers", from BBC Radio 4 "A Tibetan Odyssey: 5- Years in Exile" and the "Classic Serial" - Part 1 of "Rendezvous with Rama".
From last Sunday - BBC Radio 3 for "Iain Burnside" - a discussion on how London attracts composers from other countries and "Private Passions" with civil rights lawyer Clive Stafford Smith; "Drama on 3" - "Bring Me the Head of Philip K Dick" ; The "Sunday Feature" -"Wee Have Also Sound-Houses " on the life and legacy of electronic music pioneer Daphne Oram; and "Jazz Line-Up" including an interview and concert set from composer Vince Mendoza an from BBC Radio 4 - "File on 4" ion which Julian O'Halloran asks if school safety measures to protect children have gone too far? (A podcast is available)
From Monday - BBC Radio 2 and the continuing "Viva Latino!" series (Episode 10 of 13) and the final episode of "Wish You Were There?", this time a gig by Queen in 1976 at Hyde Park Corner; From BBC Radio 3 -"Performance on 3" - the Ulster Orchestra celebrating the re-opening of the newly-restored Ulster Halls (we'd also suggest a dip into the rest of the week's "Performances on 3 ") plus "Jazz on 3" with highlights of "The Loop Festival" and from Radio 4 "Start the Week" (Download or stream)/
Also running on Monday and though the week we suggest from Radio 3 "The Essay" - which this week is on the rearing and training a female goshawk and from Radio 4 the "Book of the Week" - "The Settler's Cookbook" and "Wildlife and the Marine Bill".
From Tuesday we opt to begin with for BBC Radio 2 and "Phil Ochs: Still Marching" in which Billy Bragg looks at the life of 1960s protest singer Phil Ochs, and the first of a four-part "The Single Story" in which David Quantick looks at the early glory days of the vinyl single.
From BBC Radio 3 we suggest "Performance on 3" - "Something Rich and Strange" in which Petroc Trelawny presents the BBC Symphony Orchestra performing music by Iannis Xenakis and then BBC Radio 4 and "Call Yourself a Feminist", the first of a three part series in which Bettany Hughes presents a series of discussions tracing the development of feminist ideas (The second part airs next Tuesday); "Afternoon Reading", which now airs Tuesday through Thursday and "File on 4" on the record of the Royal Military Police in dealing with alleged crimes by UK forces
On Wednesday we again suggest "Performance on 3" - a concert given to mark the 40th anniversary of Chetham's School of Music in Manchester - and from BBC Radio 4 "Chi-Chi: Panda Ambassador" in which naturalist and journalist Henry Nicholls traces the story of Chi-Chi the panda at London Zoo (She was to have gone to the US but was rejected as a communist); "Law in Action" on the problems governments face in prosecuting (sea) pirates.
From Thursday we suggest BBC Radio 4 and "In Our Time" - a discussion on the Library of Alexandria (Download or stream); the continuing "Old Harry's Game" in the 18:30 comedy slot, this time asking why a baby has ended up in Hell; and "Analysis" - "Clever.com" that looks at the reality behind stereotypes of teenager's apparent over-reliance on the internet (it would appear that the evidence is that teenagers are actually rather worse at multi-taking than their elders - a matter of the development of the human brain - and also that, much as they may protest to the contrary, their abilities are affected by a shortage of basic skills).
From Friday we suggest the second part of the four-part "Nat King Cole" documentary on BBC Radio 2 and from BBC Radio 4 more comedy with "The Now Show (a stream or download)."
From Saturday we suggest from Radio 2 "From Edison to iTunes", the first of a four-part series in which Paul Morley considers how technological changes have influenced the music we listen to; "Jazz Library" from BBC Radio 3 in which bassist Peter Ind joins Alyn Shipton to select highlights from his recording career; and from BBC Radio 4 "From Our Own Correspondent (Again a stream or download), particularly for its report on France re-joining NATO even if just for a few reported comments, maybe apocryphal but still telling including President Lyndon Johnson's supposed response when French President Charles De Gaulle decided to pull France out of NATO and told him the Americans would have, as well as having to move the NATO HQ, to remove all of its troops from France. Johnson apparently responded by asking:" Does that include those buried in the country?" plus "Ken Clarke's Jazz Greats" - the first of four - this is on Charlie Parker; and finally and appropriately for this column "Archive on 4" in which radio presenter Brian Hayes examines the history of radio advertising in the UK.
Next on to other stations and various downloads, starting this week with the US and last Sunday's "Media Matters" from Will-AM: The guest was Greg Mitchell, author and editor of Editor & Publisher and the discussion largely centred round his book "Why Obama Won."
Then to the Australian Broadcastring Corporation and the last three weeks of "All in the Mind" - two programmes on Dreams and this Saturday's on "Ancient brains: Rare finds and past lives" - the finding in Yorkshire, England, of a 2000 year old human skull with brain tissue still intact and also the discovery of the first ever fossilised brain - that of a 300 million year old fish, last alive in the Late Paleozoic.
Sticking with the brain in a sense we next suggest last Sunday's "Big Ideas" - "Denis Dutton: Art, Beauty and Human Evolution" in which the philosopher considers how Charles Darwin's evolutionary ideas not only explain the facts of animal and human biology, but also have much to say on the moral, intellectual and artistic lives of human beings., Dutton argues that human aesthetic tastes are not socially or culturally constructed but are inborn traits shaped by nature and sexual selection.
Then to issues of censorship in this Sunday's "Background Briefing" - "Conroy's Clean Feed" on the Australian government's plans to censor the Internet in the name of protecting children.
On to climate change and last and this Sunday's "Ockham's Razor", the first on issues of waste and the last a programme in which computer programmer suggests a "Manhattan Project" (The name of the US Second World War programme to develop nuclear weapons) for climate change.
To end with from the ABC storytelling, first from Friday's "Late Night Live" whose topics were "Disaster Soap Operas" - considering the fascination with disasters and a talk by David Thomson about Orson Welles plus this Friday's "Book Show" including a feature on "Literature during the Depression."
Finally for more storytelling from Radio Netherlands whose "Radio Books" programme has a number of new stories -- the site has a total of 66 programmes, enough to keep going with for quite a while: The latest story comes from Belgian journalist Diane De Keyzer who has based "The Full Apron" on documents concerning a 1905 abortion investigation involving a gentleman-farmer who has a partiality for maidservants. Its two predecessors were also concerned with crime - Bart Kouba's Kafkaesque "Final Judgment" about a man on trial but uncertain what crime he has committed and Hilde van Mieghem's "The French Chef" about a woman on holiday in France who drinks too much and become the victim of a sexual assault.
2009-03-12: UTV has announced 2008 turnover up 6% year-on-year to GBP 120.3 million (USD 166 million) in preliminary results with group operating profits flat at GBP 28.1 million (USD 37.8 million) and pre-tax profits before exceptional items down 1.44% to GBP 20.3 million (USD 28.1million).
Exceptional items before tax were GBP 4.5 million (USD 6.2million) - GBP 2.4 million (USD 3.3million) in redundancy payments, GBP 700,000 (USD 966,000) relating to radio consolidation and restructuring and GBP 1.4 million (USD 1.9 million) in debt financing costs - and net income attributable to stockholders was virtually flat - up 0.35% from GBP 14.502 million (USD 20.02 million) to GBP 14.553 million (USD 20.09 million).
Within the figures radio revenues from continuing operations were up 13% to GBP 70.8 million (USD 97.7 million) driven by Irish radio operations which recorded a 50% improvement in revenue due to the acquisition of FM104 in Dublin and the effect of a more favourable euro exchange rate with operating profits up 54% to GBP 8 million (USD 11 million): But for the acquisition Irish radio revenues would have been up marginally.
Television revenues were down 5% - less than the market- to GBP 35.4 million (USD 48.9 million) with TV operating profits down 24% to GBP 7.7 million (USD 10.6 million) whilst New Media, boosted by acquisition of web development company Tibus, war revenues up 18% to GBP 11.5 million (USD 15.9 million) with operating profit up 44% to GBP 2.0 million (USD 2.8 million)
Group Chief Executive John McCann commented of the figures: "Given the wider context of the economy and advertising markets, I am pleased with today's results and our prospects for the future."
"These are clearly unprecedented times and the impact on the Irish and UK economies is well documented," He added. "The advertising sector is feeling the full force of the downturn and clearly that is an issue we are actively addressing. We moved early to raise capital and reduce debt through the rights issue and have aggressively cut costs throughout the business. Consequently we have once again outperformed the broadcasting sector and I believe we have the ability to maintain that outperformance. We are not complacent about the situation, but as a management team we are confident of the operational and financial strength of UTV Media."
2009-03-12: Beasley Broadcast Group has joined the ranks of US broadcasters with impairment charges of USD 62.5 million taking it to a loss for 2008 - in its case net income of USD 4.8 million for 2007 turned into a USD 30.5 million loss ( From 2 cents per basic and diluted share net income to a loss of USD 1.58) whilst final quarter net income of USD 500,000 for 2007 turned into a USD 36.5 million loss: Its final quarter revenues were down 14.8% to USD 30.5 million with full year revenues down 9.3% to USD 121.4 million.
Operating income went from USD 4.5 millions in the final quarter of 2007 to an operating loss of USD 56.8 million in the final quarter of 2008 and from a positive USD 21.8 in 2007 to a loss of USD 39.7 million in 2008.
The company commented that the final quarter decline reflected "weakness at the Company's Ft. Myers-Naples, Las Vegas and Miami station clusters as these markets continue to be significantly impacted by the real estate downturn and financial crisis. The Company's Philadelphia and Coastal Carolina station clusters also experienced substantial revenue declines in the quarter."
Beasley's Fayetteville cluster increased its revenues and its interactive and off-air revenues in the quarter were up 31% year-on-year
Commenting on the results, Chairman and CEO George G. Beasley said the company "the radio industry and businesses at large faced extremely challenging conditions in the fourth quarter of 2008. Our fourth quarter revenue decline reflects deteriorating local and national advertising -- including steep declines for traditionally significant advertising segments such as auto and retail -- as well as the impact of severe real estate downturns in several of the markets where we operate including Ft. Myers-Naples, Miami and Las Vegas. The 12.9% quarterly net revenue decline overshadows the ongoing success of our interactive and off-air initiatives where revenue grew by 31% year-over-year."
He added, "In light of the extremely challenging economic environment and industry conditions Beasley has taken steps to reduce spending at both the station and corporate levels including a reduction of approximately 7% of the Company's workforce and a recently instituted company-wide salary reduction of 5%. While difficult, we believe the salary reduction preserves jobs and allows our station and corporate personnel to focus on programming, local sales and other initiatives to ride out the impact of the economy. Throughout 2008 we applied cash on hand and cash from operations to debt reduction. Reflecting this focus, interest expense declined by approximately 35% for the full year and total debt fell to approximately USD 174.5 million at December 31, 2008 from approximately USD 191.1 million at December 31, 2007."
He also noted that excluding the impairment charge the savings made meant that the "Group's fourth quarter and full year net income and net income per share equalled or exceeded the results from the comparable period of 2007 " and added that in the fourth quarter Beasley had repurchased 1.1 million shares and "Reflecting my personal optimism about the resiliency of the radio broadcasting industry and the future of Beasley Broadcast Group, I also personally purchased 1.1 million shares of Beasley Broadcast Group for a total of USD 1.1 million in the fourth quarter."
Previous George Beasley:
2009-03-12: A British woman who was obsessed with - and had a knack for winning radio competitions, has been given a suspended prison sentence, fined and banned from entering phone-in contests after she won more than GBP 200,000 (USD 279,000) using fake names and addresses.
Bernadette Hurst had by-passed a rule forbidding more than one win in a year by using the fake details and her wins included GBP 171,000 (USD 238,000) from Bauer's Magic FM, the biggest prize in UK radio history.
Judge Nicholas Loraine-Smith told Hurst, who admitted four counts of fraud, "You were an obsessive. There is no suggestion that you cheated in any way when answering questions correctly. But you were then prepared to go to elaborate and dishonest lengths to try and keep hold of the money and the prizes you had won."
He added, "You thankfully failed to deceive these radio stations despite your complicated and increasingly incredible explanations. So although the sums of money and prizes you tried to obtain were very large you in fact gained nothing at all."
He noted she had previous convictions for dishonesty and said her latest offences "clearly pass the custody threshold", especially since she made a final competition entry after her arrest but because she had a personality disorder; two children still at school and helped look after her granddaughter did not jail her.
Hurst will be subject to a supervision order, has been banned from entering radio or TV competitions of for two years, will have to perform 150 hours unpaid work and pay a total of GBP 11,000 ( USD 15,000) towards prosecution and defence costs.
RNW comment: In this case we rather share the views expressed by respondents to the Times report on this story (which gives more details of her wins from Capital FM, Magic and Virgin FM): They are all dubious about the action taken - one asks "Are quiz setters now law makers?... is it illegal to go through a checkout twice with a "1 per customer" item?" and another "How can breaking game competition rules possibly be a criminal offence?"
The last asks if the Crown Prosecution Service doesn't have more worthy targets and we rather agree. The woman needs help not punishment and the radio companies could reasonably in our view withheld payment but the matter should have ended there. We'd like to see the amount doubled and taken from the pay packets of the judges, CPS and radio officials responsible for the complaint together with the ability to make a public declaration that they are "too lacking commonsense" to be allowed to enter into any future legal applications without permission from a senior judge.
UK Times report:
2009-03-12: Westwood One and the US National Football League have agreed a new two-year deal under which the company continues as the exclusive network partner of the League: It has held the exclusive deal since 1987 and been a partner with the NFL for more than four decades but at the end of last year Sports Business Journal reported partly because it took the view that that the company was a "financially troubled radio network" (See RNW Dec 24, 2008).
Westwood One President and CFO Rod Sherwood said of the agreement in a news release that it "reflects the spirit of our long-standing partnership with the NFL. The NFL is a powerful franchise with programming and a huge audience that bring great value to Westwood One, our affiliates and our advertisers."
Westwood One, Network President Gary Schonfeld added, "Advertisers have experienced great success with our network of over 500 radio stations broadcasting the NFL games to millions of fans across the country. The NFL games are the perfect environment for delivering advertising messages to an enthusiastic and attentive audience."
For the NFL, Howard Katz, Senior Vice President, Broadcasting and Media Operations, commented, "We are pleased to continue our partnership with Westwood One, which has been a long-time part of the NFL family. We continue to reach our fans wherever they may be."
Previous Westwood One:
2009-03-12: UK media regulator Ofcom now has a new chairman following the departure of founding chairman (Lord) David Currie who has stepped down after six years in the post.
His successor as already reported (See RNW Feb 20) is economist Dr Colette Bowe, whose past roles included a spell with the Independent Broadcasting Authority and as founding chairman of the Telecoms Ombudsman Council. She also chaired Ofcom's Consumer Panel from its inception in 2003 to the end of 2007.
2009-03-11: Moody's latest "Bottom Rung" list of companies that are at high risk of defaulting contains bad news for media companies, who comprise the largest industry segment on the list, which contains 283 companies, up from 157 a year ago.
The ratings agency has come under criticism in the past for being too lax in its ratings and is now under fire in some quarters on the basis that the list's publication could cause more problems for the companies it has named.
The list includes names such well known companies as Advanced Micro Devices (AMD), Blockbuster, Eastman Kodak, and Readers Digest and amongst the radio companies named are Citadel, Cumulus, Emmis, Millennium New Jersey, NextMedia, Radio One Inc., Regent, Sirius XM, Spanish Broadcasting System (SBS) and Univision.
2009-03-11: CBS Radio's K-Rock died today with a run of songs that ended with Led Zeppelin's "Babe I'm Gonna Leave You," and Van Halen's "Right Now" , ending a run of two decades on the 92.3 frequency apart from a brief spell as Free FM.
The is was followed by a thank-you to listeners together with promotion of the station's availability online and the frequency's HD2 channel and then new station 92.3 Now FM launched with an audio montage of top 40 radio from the New York of the past including jingles from WABC-AM, WLXO (99X) and the new station's main competitor, Clear Channel's WHTZ-FM (Z100).
The new station took some direct swipes at Z100, noting in a promo that said in part "Z100 was born in 1983. CDs weren't in stores yet, and Ronald Reagan was president . We think the time is now. Z100, you've had the game to yourself for almost 30 years, but that was then...."
The station is currently running through a debut list of 10,000 songs in a row that began with Black Eyed Peas' new track "Boom Boom Pow," followed by Flo Rida's "Right Round," Lady Gaga's "Poker Face" and Kanye West's "Heartless."
Amongst those losing out from the flip are Opie and Anthony (Gregg Hughes and Anthony Cumia) who now have no terrestrial New York output and have moved the whole of their five-hour show to Sirius XM: for the past three years it has aired from K-Rock until 09:00 after which they moved to the XM studios for the rest of the show.
Hughes commented in a Twitter message about the move that he felt, "Extremely bummed. This is not good for our show, period!"
Previous Opie and Anthony:
2009-03-11: BBC World Service is to air on March 21 a play, Al Amwaj (The Waves) written by seven writers in collaboration and created as part of a unique Arab playwriting initiative: It will be the first BBC play to be commissioned from writers in the Gulf region, all working in collaboration.
Writers were Abdulla Ahmed Bukamal, Hissa Faraj Al-Marri, Masoud Abdul Hadi and May Touma from Qatar; with Ali Al-Majnooni, Fatima Elias Al Gassim and Tahani Al-Ghureiby from Saudi Arabia and the play's creation follows a three-day "Writing for Radio" workshop in Doha, Qatar, organized in conjunction with the British Council and conducted by award-winning writer Nick Warburton and Marion Nancarrow, Executive Producer of BBC World Drama.
Thirty writers from Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Lebanon and Qatar were invited to take part. All attendees were then asked to submit ideas, scenes and treatments reflecting the things they cared about, with a view to becoming part of a smaller group who would work together to write a play specifically for BBC World Drama.
Seven writers were then selected and took part in a second two-day script workshop in Qatar from which the play resulted. It explores story telling and identity through the experiences of a taxi driver Noor Alam (played by Sagar Arya) and follows the journeys of his six passengers to an unspecified coastal town in the Gulf.
Nancarrow commented, "This play is unique, both in terms of who has written it and the way in which it has been created. It comes from the heart of the Arab world and it tells stories and creates characters we don't often have the chance to hear. Radio drama is a wonderful, intimate medium which allows this to happen."
The British Council and the World Service are currently also running their 11th International Radio Playwriting Competition which takes place biennially and aims to seek out new international talent. Entries for this have to be in by the end of this month.
BBC International Playwriting Competition web page:
2009-03-10: The US radio and recording industries squared up to each other on Wednesday at a House Judiciary Committee on the Performance Royalties Act that would introduce performance royalties for terrestrial broadcasters in the US where they have - unlike most other countries - been exempted on the basis of the promotional value of airplay.
The hearing was opened by Committee Chairman Michigan Democrat John Conyers, a supporter of the act, who commented that the "current situation involving recording artists, musicians, is not one that we can be very proud of. We hear a song on the radio, someone singing or playing the melodies, who receives absolutely no compensation. Some would have us believe the artists are being done a great favour by being played at all." He pointed to other audio platforms that do pay a performance royalty and said radio's exemption "doesn't make much sense."
Texas Republican Lamar Smith was also in favour but pointed out the economic difficulties currently faced by the radio industry and expressed support for a third-party study to formulate legislation on royalties.
former Judiciary Committee Chairman California Democrat Howard Berman, who when in the post pushed for performance royalties, in his comments attacked the approach of the US National Association of Broadcasters (NAB), saying, Continually saying no is not a productive way to accommodate real issues."
The first witness before the hearing was Smashing Pumpkins frontman Billy Corgan was the first witness, speaking on behalf of the MusicFIRST Coalition that wants royalties introduced: He said the issue was one of "fundamental fairness" but also acknowledged the value he had gained from radio play.
"I was able to find an audience, in no small measure, because of the long support of my music by terrestrial radio," said Corgan but he then went on to comment, "Not everyone who hears a song on radio buys a ticket or a T-shirt. Some just listen" thus providing a reward to the station and its advertisers but not the artists involved.
" if a station plays a song, both the author and the performer should be paid," said Corgan. "These particular performances must have value to the stations or they wouldn't be playing them."
Support for royalties was also expressed by Paul Almeida of the AFL-CIO.
Opposing the introduction, Larry Patrick, Managing Partner of media brokerage company Patrick Communications LLC and also a radio owner through Legend Communications, which operates 14 Wyoming radio stations, said he had "been a part of the radio industry for 40 years, and I can tell you that over the course of my career, I have never seen what the radio industry is currently experiencing. The economic downturn is having a significant and devastating effect on local radio. But as bad as the current local radio landscape is, it will deteriorate even further and more dramatically if H.R. 848 were to be enacted."
" having watched the industry for 40 years," said Patrick, "I can sit here and tell you that the new fees that will be levied under H.R. 848 will do significant damage to local radio stations across the country. Any further station costs will push even more stations into tripping their loan covenants and more workouts. Station owners will further reduce staffing and services which will only hurt their local listeners, while enriching the big music labels."
He noted that the recording companies had suggested that an annual flat fee of USD 5,000 would not harm small market operators and continued, "I'm a small market radio operator also and I know how much this will hurt. And I know hundreds of small market radio owners who barely make USD 25,000 a year from their stations. To pay this fee, even a USD 5000 fee, stations could have to eliminate covering high school sports, local origination and would reduce their staffing further. Any additional fees also threaten their ability to provide emergency services that are so critical to the thousands of small towns across the country."
"If this bill is enacted," he concluded, "it will put at risk an industry that employs nearly 106,000 people across America. I am not overstating the situation when I say that such extraordinary fees imposed on local radio stations in light of the current economic plight of local radio could be absolutely devastating. The recording industry is living in a fantasy world that is divorced from the critical depressed financial position in which almost every radio station finds itself today."
Steve Newberry, NAB Radio Board Chairman and President and CEO, Commonwealth Broadcasting Corporation, noted that he had testified beforehand against the Act and continued, "I can tell you that since I last testified before this Committee, the sharp economic downturn has intensified my concerns about this bill and the impact it will have on local radio stations across America."
"At its heart, this bill," said Newberry, "attempts to create a conflict between artists and radio stations where no conflict exists. In reality, local radio has been supporting the music industry for decades. Which is why it boggles my mind that a bill that is supposed to be about benefiting artists, takes 50 percent of the performance fee and puts it into the pockets of the big four record labels, most of which are not even American companies. The record labels actually walk away with more money under this bill than do the featured artists."
Newberry then went on to say that "The real problem, which this bill does not address, is between the artists and these mega-record labels. Artists, often find themselves in such difficult financial straights because of the one-sided, unfair contracts they signed with their record label. "
"Free radio airplay is the best friend of artists and record labels," said Newberry adding that if the Act were passed "local radio stations will be forced to cut services or employees, may be forced to move from a music format to a talk format, or may be facing bankruptcy" leading he suggested to a "financial disincentive to play music" and also to play safe, meaning less exposure "for emerging young artists" and a decrease in the "diversity of music on the radio."
|Coinciding with the hearing the NAB launched another advert campaign opposing the idea of performance royalties: It says that "Radio is where listeners discover new music and new artists" and continues, "It's where the artists you love got their big breaks. But the record labels are pushing a bill that would levy a fee or 'performance tax' on the music local radio plays. That means radio stations will inevitably play less music and stop taking chances on unknown artists. The performance tax- bad for radio, bad for music".
Beneath is a purported top 100 listening showing the same (unidentified) music as having been in the top 16 ranks for the past 52 weeks.
2009-03-10: Sirius XM has reported 2008 pro-forma (as if the merger of Sirius and XM had taken placed on January 1, 2007 and excluding the effects of stock-based compensation and purchase accounting adjustments) revenues up 18% on 2007 at USD 2.44 billion with total subscriber number up 10% at just above 19 million whilst for the final quarter its pro-forma revenues were USD 644 million, up 16% on a year earlier and had "Positive Pro Forma Adjusted Income From Operations."
Subscriber acquisition costs (SAC), as adjusted, per gross subscriber addition improved by 16% to USD 70 from USD 83 for final quarters of 2008 and 2007, respectively, a decrease the company said was "primarily driven by lower retail and OEM subsidies due to better product economics."
It also noted general and administrative costs in the quarter down 20% on a year earlier - down from 12% to 8% of revenues - reflecting lower merger costs and post-merger savings whilst engineering, design and development costs were down 27%.
CEO Mel Karmazin commented in a release, "In the fourth quarter 2008, the company's first full quarter of combined operations, Sirius XM made remarkable financial progress. For the first time in company history, we reached positive pro forma adjusted income from operations of USD 32 million, as compared with a loss of USD 224 million one year ago. Fourth quarter 2008 revenue of USD 644 million grew 16% over the year ago quarter while total cash operating expenses declined by 22%, a clear demonstration of our focus on improving profitability."
"Despite challenges in the overall economy and in the auto sector," he added, "we look forward to continuing to deliver on the synergies of the merger. We are also very pleased to report that we have closed the second and final phase of the previously announced investment by Liberty Media Corporation. These transactions resolve the uncertainty surrounding the company's and its subsidiaries' debt maturing in 2009."
Overall Sirius XM's reported net loss for the quarter was down nearly 40% - from a USD 405 million loss in 2007 to a USD 249 million loss in 2008 whilst for the full year it was down from USD 1.25 billion to USD 902 million.
Previous Liberty Media:
2009-03-10: Saga Communications has reported final quarter 2008 operating revenues down 7% on a year earlier to USD 34.9 million whilst for the full year revenues were down 2.8% to USD 140 million but has delayed filing its net income figures because it has not yet finalized the fourth quarter non-cash impairment charge and its related tax impact, a figure that it says "could be significant."
In its earnings release it highlighted increased free cash flow - up 17.3% to USD 18.9 million for the year and up 42% to USD 5.9 million for the quarter. Operating income for the quarter was down 21.2% to USD 6.0 million e4xcluding impairment charges and down 11.6% for the year to USD to USD 24.7 million.
On a same-station basis net operating revenues for the quarter were down 7.2% to USD 34.7 million with operating income down 21% to USD 6.0 million with full year net same station net operating revenues down 7.2% to USD 34.7 million and operating income down 12.6% to USD 26.6 million.
Within the figures reported radio revenues in the final quarter were down 9.7% to USD 29.76 million with same-station radio revenues down 11% to USD 29.61 million whilst for the full year reported radio revenues were down 4.4% to USD 121.1 million with same station radio revenues down 5.2% to USD 119.1 million. Saga's TV operations' reported and same station revenues in the final quarter were up 13% to USD 5.1 million whilst for the ear they were up 8.4% to USD 18.9 million.
Saga also said that during the year it has bought back 899,601 shares of stock for a total purchase price of USD 19.2 million whilst in the final quarter it bought back 378,412 shares for a total purchase price of USD 7.4 million. It noted that the share repurchase numbers have been adjusted for the Company's January 29, 1 for 4 reverse stock split.
Saga was due to release the figures on Wednesday but surprised investors by releasing them a day earlier and cancelling its scheduled teleconference: Its shares ended Tuesday down 3.17% to USD 3.05.
2009-03-10: Australian MPs and Senators have attended a briefing on the rollout of DAB+ digital radio in the country's metropolitan areas, receiving an upbeat message from speakers at the event in Canberra.
Senator Stephen Conroy, the Minister for Broadband, Communication and the Digital Economy, said the Australian government was "looking forward to the successful switch on of digital radio services in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth and will liaise with the industry on planning for regional digital services" whilst Joan Warner, the CEO of industry body Commercial Radio Australia, said digital radio would provide opportunities for a range of new and additional facilities.
"With DAB+ enabling additional audio streams plus the use of text, graphics and animation as well as features such as pause and rewind, digital radio will offer exciting enhancements to radio listeners," she said, adding that after the metropolitan rollout the next step was to start planning for digital services in regional Australia.
"The industry is committed to ensuring all Australians are able to access this enhanced form of free to air radio broadcasting via digital technology and the first step is ensuring that spectrum is made available across Australia for this purpose," she continued. "Radio broadcasters want to ensure that allocation of appropriate spectrum is a high priority for the Federal Government and that the allocation of spectrum for digital radio will take precedence over reallocation or sale of spectrum for new services such as wireless internet or mobile telephony and other uses."
Regional members of the body were invited at the end of last year to express interest in a DAB+ trial and so far CRA has received expressions of interest from Bathurst Broadcasters, Macquarie Southern Cross Broadcasters,Coastal Broadcasters, Austereo, ARN , West Coast Radio Pty Ltd, North East Broadcaster Ltd, Rich Rivers Radio and Tab Corp:. Confirmation is awaited from the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) as to where suitable spectrum can be made available for the trial.
Previous Commercial Radio Australia:
2009-03-10: The Democratic National Committee seems to be convinced that tying the Republicans to host Rush Limbaugh will favour them politically and have put on their website five slogans that they consider the top five- all featuring a play on the word "Rush" from the responses they received to a request to "submit a slogan to put on our billboard in Rush Limbaugh's home town."
They are now asking for votes as to which of the five should be selected from:
"Americans didn't vote for a Rush to failure"
"Hope and change cannot be Rush'd"
"Failure is not an option for America's future"
"We can fix America, just don't Rush it"
"Rush: Say yes to America" "
Limbaugh when we last checked had not noted the contest on his website.
Democrat National Committee - Limbaugh billboard page:
2009-03-10: CBS Radio has announced that it is to ditch its current K-Rock format on WXRK-FM, New York, in favour of a top 40 station "92.3 NOW FM", which will launch at 17:00 ET tomorrow, a move that follows a similar change in Los Angeles where last month it dropped talk on KLSX-FM in favour of top 40 AMP Radio.
As in Los Angeles, the move pits the new format against an established Clear Channel station - KIIS-FM in Los Angeles and Z100 (WHTZ-FM) in New York.
K-Rock launched in 1985 when WKTU-FM was flipped to an album-oriented rock format and hired Howard Stern as its morning host a year later. After various changes including a switch to modern rock in 1996, it was killed in December 2005 following Stern's last broadcast before he headed off to join Sirius Satellite Radio and launched as talk-format "Free FM" -WFYN-FM.
The new format lasted only two year and K-Rock was resurrected in May 2007 playing alternative and heavy classic rock: In December last year its format was shifted to focus more on classic hard rock.
CBS Radio says the new station will be "More than just an over-the-air radio station 92.3 NOW will also be a digital and mobile destination where audience members and fans alike can stay socially connected through a variety of applications, interactive features and networking opportunities." It is to launch with a run of 10,000 commercial-free songs, the same launch tactic that was adopted for AMP radio.
Dom Theodore, Vice President of Contemporary Hit Radio Programming, CBS Radio, who will initially programme the station, added in a release, "For the first time in nearly 30 years, New York now has a choice for hit music. With 92.3 NOW FM we're breaking the mold of the traditional radio station and creating a pure multi-media companion for today's music fans." Theodore, who has launched several Top 40 stations across the country, will direct the programming for 92.3 NOW FM."
Don Bouloukos, Senior Vice President and Market Manager, CBS Radio New York, added, "Our assets in the country's No. 1 market include among them the best known brands in the business. From the most listened to news and sports stations in the country, to the classic sounds of WCBS FM and the adult contemporary styling of Fresh 102.7, CBS Radio offers something for everyone in the market - including young adults who are using the radio to discover today's most popular music as featured on 92.3 NOW FM."
The switch is one of series of moves by CBS Radio to target the 18-34 demographic. As well as the Los Angeles switch it has also launched Hot 95.7 in Houston, 105.1Jamz in Phoenix, and re-launched B94 in Pittsburgh.
2009-03-09: The US National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) has claimed that it has "refuted" the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) arguments in favour of a "performance tax"-NAB's term for performancy royalty charges - in a new analysis.
The study (online as a 91 kb 21-page PDF) is headed, "SHOULD THE U.S. LEAD OR FOLLOW?
Why Other Countries' Imposition of a Tax on the Performance of Sound Recordings Does Not Justify Such a U.S. Tax"
It begins with a summary that says the "American recording and broadcasting industries are the most successful in the world (RNW comment: This will of course explain why the NAB keeps referring to the foreign-owned recording industry: It does not have the same problem with broadcasting since laws prohibit foreign control of broadcasters, something the big US broadcasters oppose in other countries) due in no small part to the mutually beneficial relationship that exists between the two industries.)
It then continues on to note that the recording labels and performers have "for decades" sought radio airplay regarding such promotion as the 'holy grail' of the recording industry, and local radio broadcasters have sold advertising time when they play and promote that music for free. This reciprocal "free airplay for free promotion" relationship has served both industries well for decades, as evidenced by the fact that the U.S. is the most significant exporter of music and the largest territory for recorded music sales."
After noting that one reason radio has been an effective promotional tool is the absence of a "performance royalty" it goes on to say that other countries offer less protection for sound recordings than the US and that in many of them the "broadcasters that pay the highest fees to record companies are, or have been, government-owned or subsidized. "It then makes the statement (one that would probably have Hollywood wishing for a quick execution of the authors but factually correct in our view) that "layering a new payment requirement onto the compensation system that already exists would do nothing to advance the economic policy behind copyright law,
which is not to reward the labour of authors, but rather to promote the progress of science and useful arts for the good of the public" and then goes on to say that "the U.S. recording industry is larger than that of the U.K, France, Germany, Canada, Australia, Italy, Spain, and Mexico combined, all of which have performance fee regimes." (RNW Note -according to the CIA World Factbook total GDP of around the same as the US, whilst in 2005 recorded music retail sales in the USD totalled around 4.78 billion compared to around 4030 billion for the eight countries named).
As regards the lesser "protection for sound recordings" it highlights longer copyright protection in the US - 95years compared to 50 years (RNW comment: An area where the authors appear to arguing for the recording industry, which gained the extra period through lobbying not promotion for the good of the public).
The report also notes the considerably higher per capita funding for public broadcasting in other countries and subsidies to support local artists and goes on to comment" The fact that some governments choose to subsidize their own national recording industries by granting performance fees and paying royalties from government-owned or subsidized stations clearly indicates how inappropriate such a system would be for the U.S." (We presume the authors clearly feel that, for example, agricultural subsidies in the US are also inappropriate).
It also says that in many foreign countries the fee revenues from radio are "Disproportionately Allocated to Record Labels and Highly-Successful Artists" (but does not give figures to the US)" and that "The recording industry in the U.S. - with no performance fee - is twice the size of that of next-largest Japan, and larger than most major European countries combined" (RNW Note: The US population is some 303 million, that of Japan around 127 million so what does the comparison with Japan indicate? That the US industry is larger but not as smartly led?).
The report concludes in part that "The U.S. model is unique and it works The fact that the laws of some foreign jurisdictions provides for a performance fee in sound recordings does not justify imposition of such a tax in the U.S., where the proliferation and dissemination of music far exceeds other countries."
"The existing U.S. model of "free airplay for free promotion" has served the recording and broadcast industries well for decades. The vast majority of listeners identify FM radio as the place they first heard music they purchased. With an audience of 235 million listeners a week, there is no better way to expose and promote sound recordings. A new performance tax would take this mutually beneficial system and transform it into an unfair, one-sided scheme that financially benefits only the recording industry - to the detriment of local radio stations and their listeners. There is nothing in the way that other countries subsidize their recording industries that can justify such a result."
As for the NAB, yet again its use - read perversion of language - for propaganda purposes is contemptible and the organization - if US politicians have any regard for evidence as opposed to lobbying clout - is worse than useless.
As it happens we think that the argument for performance royalties cannot be gainsaid in principle but that if the RIAA wins the fight it will be a pyrrhic victory since there is no realistic prospect of significant continuing income from US radio in the current economic climate but there is the prospect of severe damage to the radio industry together with a switch away from music formats.
What we would welcome is an intelligent (No place for NAB then in these discussions!) consideration of what copyright and patent law should be for in terms of the overall public interest and the best way to achieve those ends. We suspect the RIAA would run a mile from this were the broadcasters to start pushing for such a debate.
NAB paper (91 kb PDF)
2009-03-09: Arbitron has moved its corporate headquarters from New York to Columbia, Maryland, where the company has its research facilities: The company will retain a New York sales office.
Arbitron President and CEO Michael Skarzynski, who has been based in the Columbia office since his appointment in January, commented of the move, "I want to live and work where the operational core of our business resides. Columbia is home to Arbitron's state-of-the-art research campus and it's important for me and our executives to work in the same location as the teams who are creating new solutions for our current customers and new services for our expanding markets."
He added, "The efforts of the State of Maryland and Howard County to foster a positive environment for local businesses were important factors in our decision to make Columbia our home base. We look forward to furthering our partnership with the state and the county as we grow our business and contribute to the local community and economy."
The company made no comment concerning implications for staff or costs.
2009-03-09: UK media regulator Ofcom in its latest broadcast bulletin again upholds no radio complaints but does uphold two TV standards complaints and gives details of a further case where the complaint was not upheld and upholds a TV fairness and privacy complaint, partly upholds a further complaint and gives details of three further cases where TV fairness and privacy complaints were not upheld.
In addition to the above Ofcom also listed without details 341 TV complaints against 174 items and 57 radio complaints against 23 items- 34 of them against two Chris Moyles shows on BBC Radio 1 - that it did not uphold or were considered out of its remit: This compared to 288 TV complaints against 161 items and 15 radio complaints against 15 items that were listed in the previous bulletin.
Previous Ofcom Complaints Bulletin:
2009-03-09: According toThe Australian, the country's commercial radio industry, following the Australian Broadcasting Corporation's delay to its launch of DAB+ digital radio - it is to launch five channels (Radio National, Triple J, NewsRadio, and Classic FM plus three music services that are currently only available via the Internet -dig Radio, dig Country, and dig Jazz ) -because it missed confirmation deadlines for funding for equipment and infrastructure, has quietly followed suit and is also delaying its rollout, which was due on May 1 in the country's five capital cities - Adelaide, Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney.
The ABC is now due to launch in July with the major consumer launch event in August (See RNW Mar 4) and the paper says that although a promotional campaign will begin next month as scheduled the radio industry now only expects to begin testing new signals in May.
It quoted Austereo's director of technologies and chairman of the Digital Technical Advisory Committee Des DeCean as saying, "We're still bringing our first services on in test mode in late April and the rest coming through in May. We've always talked about it being a unified approach and we feel the ABC brings completeness to the suite of radio services; likewise SBS, which addresses so many different sectors. We're comfortable with where we're going."
He added that progress in building the infrastructure was on track.
The delays, says the paper, suited the ABC's plans to introduce a larger suite of digital products after results of its triennial funding submission are known in May and it quoted ABC Radio head of development Russell Stendell as saying, "We've got a few other things on the books that we've proposed to Government. After the budget comes down, we'll take stock and work out what we'll do after the initial launch phase."
The Australian says the ABC is expected to offer a sports channel that would allow Local Radio to continue broadcasts during cricket and football coverage and an urban or other spin-off channel from Triple J.
Amongst the commercial players, Austereo chief executive Michael Anderson confirmed that its music network would add another digital channel to its new "radar" channel, which is now test-broadcasting unsigned music and DMG Radio Australia will start two new channels with other networks expected to each launch at least one station.
Amongst receiver manufacturers Pure Australia expects to have 11 products available by August priced between AUD 199 and AUD 1,000 (USD 125-630) and the Australian says his company's prospects are being boosted by the unwillingness of major manufacturers to produce receivers until there is a large market, a decision that also may hold back take-up of the medium.
Previous ABC, Australia:
The Australian report:
2009-03-08: The most significant news concerning the regulators last week was US President Barack Obama's nomination of Julius Genachowski as the new Federal Communications Commission (FCC) chairman (See RNW Mar 3): Elsewhere it was a matter of more routine developments.
In Australia, the Australian Communications and Media (ACMA) posted just one radio announcement, a proposal for various changes to improve Perth area radio reception.
The proposals include making a new FM frequency available for two translators for 6PR to improve reception in the southern and northern urban outskirts of the licence area.; a transmitter site relocation for community radio station 6NME; updating of the site information for commercial radio station 6PER; a change to antenna height for community radio stations 6SON and 6RTR; and a change to the polarisation of commercial radio station 6IX translator service.
6PR would gain transmitters in Carabooda (maximum ERPs of 500 W (Directional)) and Rockingham (maximum ERPs of 100 W (Directional) and 6NME would be allowed to share the TVW7 mast site with TX Australia at Bickley but since this could increase the potential for interference with the signal of commercial television service ABSW5, Bunbury, conditions have been imposed and test transmissions will take place for six months from last month
In the case of 6PER it was allowed to increase its antenna height but from a site with a lower elevation in2002 and the licence plan is to be modified to align with the station's current facilities.
In the case of 6SON licensee Good News Broadcasters needs to replace its existing 95 metre antenna tower, which is more than 20 years old, and it is requesting a change to increase the height to 116 metres, a change that could cause interference to commercial TV services in Bunbury and Jurien relating to which conditions have been placed on the licensee. In addition Arts Radio, the licensee of community FM radio broadcasting service 6RTR, requests a change in their antenna height from 95 m to 116 m and to be allowed share the Good News Broadcaster Inc. transmission site. This move could interfere with a Bunbury commercial TV service and appropriate conditions have been placed on the licensee.
In the case of commercial station 6X-AM, it has already been given temporary permission to change the polarisation for their FM translator in Wanneroo, from horizontal to vertical, to minimise reception interference with channel 10 (television) and it is proposed to make this change permanent.
In Canada, radio-related postings from the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) included (In order of province):
*Approval of application by Drayton Valley Word of Life Center Church and Ministries for a broadcasting licence for a 50 watts English-language, non-commercial religious low-power FM.
*Approval of application by Four Senses Entertainment Inc. for an 881 watts Hot Adult Contemporary English-language commercial FM in Whistler. The application was opposed by Rogers Broadcasting Limited, licensee of CISW-FM, Whistler, and CISQ-FM, Squamish, on the basis that its ability to continue to access local advertising in the Whistler market is a critical component of its ability to maintain the level of service it currently provides from the stations.
It also contended that the Four Senses application betrayed a lack of understanding of the market and said most of its advertising is booked on Friday nights and at the weekend relating to the areas popularity as a tourist destination, adding that this did not translate into any significant increase in the potential audience for local radio.
Four Senses contended that it station could be viable without also serving Squamish and the CRTC commented that the new station would add local programming diversity and also serve to repatriate out-of-market tuning to Vancouver stations whose signals are available through local transmitters, It added that it did not consider it would have an undue negative effect on Rogers' stations. The applicant also committed itself to making contributions to Canadian content development totalling just over CAD 21,500(USD 16,800) over seven years.
*Approval of application by Astral Media Radio G.P. (Astral Media Radio (Toronto) Inc. and 4382072 Canada Inc.) to convert CKCR-AM, Revelstoke, to an 800 watts Adult Contemporary FM.
The CRTC noted that the station, which Astral acquired when it took over Standard Radio, had been found to be non-compliant with the requirements of the Regulations regarding the broadcast of Canadian category 2 musical selections for a second time and that its licence had been renewed for only two years in 2008. It decided that the new licence should b run for the same period - to the end of August 2010.
Approval of application Northern Lights Entertainment Inc. for authority to acquire the assets of CKIQ-FM, Iqaluit, from Nunavut Nalautinga Ltd. The value of the deal is CAD 185,000 (USD 144,000) plus 75% of the good accounts receivable at closing making by the Commission's calculations a total of CAD 491,500 (USD 382,700).
Northern Lights had requested exemption from the Commission's tangible benefits policy but the CRTC rejected this and required a payment of just under CAD 29.500 (USD 22, 9000 - 6% of the transaction total) over the next seven years.
In Ireland the Broadcasting Commission of Ireland (BCI) has advertised the FM licence for Dublin City and County currently held by Q102, whose contract is due to expire in 2010 (See RNW Mar 5) and in the UK Ofcom has posted its February Radio Broadcast Update.
It included a note of the handing back of Barrow Broadcasting Company Ltd's Abbey FM licence; agreed format changes for Midwest Radio that would allow local programming from either the Yeovil or Shaftesbury licence areas; a deferment of a decision on a request from The Local Radio Company to co-locate its Durham FM operation at the site of its sister station, Sun FM in Sunderland on the basis that that the co-location issue and issues of localness more generally - may well be addressed in or around the forthcoming Digital Britain report and/or possible subsequent consultations; and DAB multiple changes in which The rock-format Arrow station will be replaced on the Central Scotland Multiplex with Gold London's classic hits service.
The update also included change of control reviews for Imagine FM, Stockport, and Star, Cheltenham, both of which were nodded through.
Ofcom also noted receipt of a request from Bauer to be allowed to carry music on its Liverpool speech station City Talk 105.9 (See RNW Mar 3) in relation to which it has launched a public consultation with a deadline for responses of March 31 and pre-advertised the Macclesfield FM licence currently held by Silk FM Ltd that expires in May next year.
Declarations of intent to apply have to be submitted to Ofcom by April 1 together with a non-refundable fee of GBP 5,000 (USD 7,000) plus a deposit of GBP 20,000 (USD 28,000) that will be refunded on receipt of a valid application in response to a subsequent re-advertisement of the licence. If only the current holder submits a declaration of intent it will be invited to re-apply but if no declaration is received the licence will not be re-advertised.
In the US as already noted Julius Genachowski has been nominated as Federal Communications Commission (FCC) chairman: the agency is also seeking comment on the bidding procedures to be followed in its FM Auction 79, scheduled to start on September 1. Comments have to be submitted by March 20 and Reply Comments by April 1.
In South Carolina, the FCC has granted an application to assign the licence of WPAL-FM, Ridgeville, from Charles W. Cherry, Receiver for Gresham Communications, Inc., to Caswell Capital Partners, LLC.
Gresham had filed a petition to deny the application and reconsider the agency's earlier assignment from Gresham to the receiver, made following a South Carolina court-ordered sale to satisfy a judgment against the former licensee, Gresham.
Gresham had argued that the court had improperly ordered the attachment of the licence and that this and the judicial sale of the licence violated the Communications Act of 1934, as amended.
It also argued that the state court order conflicted with a prior federal court order that enjoined it and its president William Saunders from transferring or disposing of the Station until a judgment for copyright infringement has been satisfied.
The FCC agreed in part, noting that the State Court Order is inconsistent with the Commission's policy prohibiting attachment of a Station license and that the Court acknowledged that a licensee does not hold any property rights in the license itself.
It also noted that the only asset that was identified and levied upon was the FCC licence and said it considered the Court's attachment of the WPAL-FM license exceeded its authority and to this extent its order is void ab initio as violative of the Act and Commission policy.
However, it added, the Commission in cases of bankruptcy or receivership, does permit trustees or receivers to hold licenses on a temporary basis pending disposition of station assets and said it found no reason to overturn the staff's action granting the Involuntary Assignment Application.
In Florida, the agency rejected a plea from Spirit Radio of North Florida, Inc. to reconsider its April 9, 2008, letter denying Spirit's waiver request and dismissing as unacceptable for filing its minor modification application to change the antenna height and location of its non-commercial educational WWLC-FM, Cross City, Florida.
Staff had dismissed the applications after a staff engineering review showed that it failed to comply with rules concerning to third-adjacent channel in respect of WUFT-FM, Gainesville, Florida.
Spirit had recognized the violation but claimed that the overlap was minimal and claiming that a waiver had been granted in a similar prior case.
FCC staff rejected this argument and the FCC found that Spirit had not shown errors or omissions that warranted reconsideration.
Previous Licence News:
ACMA web site:
BCI web site:
CRTC web site:
FCC web site:
Ofcom web site:
2009-03-07: A public funeral service for conservative radio host Paul Hervey, said to be the "most-listened" to host in the US, is taking place today in Chicago, the city from which he launched his national career.
Harvey died in Phoenix where he had a winter home (See RNW Feb 28) and the service is to be held at the downtown Fourth Presbyterian Church.
2009-03-07: Sydney 2GB host Alan Jones, whose show was top in the city for the 140th time in the most recent ratings, has returned to hospital, this time for surgery and skin cancer grafts.
Jones was off air in July last year while he received treatment for prostate cancer (See RNW Jul 21, 2008) and also had another operation in December to remove a benign brain tumour. He has previously been treated for skin cancer three years ago and his current condition is said not to be serious. He is expected to be back on air on Monday.
2009-03-06: Regent has announced final quarter 2008 broadcast revenues down 5% to USD 23.7 million with the whole year figures down 1.6% to USD 96.3 million but its overall loss, thanks to significantly reduced impairment charges was cut from USD 103.1 million to USD 2.11 million for the quarter (from USD 2.69 to five cents per share) and from USD 102.6 million to USD 46.1 million for the year (From USD 2.69 to USD 1.19 per share): Impairment charges in 2007 were USD 163.6 million but in 2008 they were USD 67.6 million.
President and CEO Bill Stakelin commented, "During the past year, we continued to diligently execute our strategy, while taking steps to reduce our costs and preserve our cash flows."
He continued, "As a result of our strong station brands, growing online presence and deep relationships with local advertisers, our results for the fourth quarter significantly outperformed the industry, marking the 19th time we have done so in the past 20 quarters. In fact, for the full year 2008, Regent same station revenue was down 1.3% compared to the industry which was down 9.0%, indicating a 770 basis point out-performance. The current environment remains difficult due to the national recession, but our value proposition to advertisers has never been stronger. In the year ahead, we will continue to implement our business plan to further build and capitalize on our interactive platform, strengthen our presence across our clusters and maximize our financial performance."
Regent also noted that although it was in compliance with all its debt covenants at the end of 2008, it is "currently working with its lenders to amend the Company's credit facilities to maintain compliance with various debt covenants through 2009" and that "If such amendment is not completed prior to the filing of the Company's Form 10-K, there would be uncertainty regarding the Company's ability to achieve compliance with its debt covenants."
This it noted "result in an audit opinion which would contain 'going concern' language."
It also noted that reported results for the fourth quarter do not include any additional tax asset valuation allowance for the Company's deferred tax assets but that it going concern language is required in the audit opinion, the Company would need to increase its tax asset valuation allowance by approximately USD 73.3 million, which would have the effect of decreasing the income tax benefit by such amount.
This it says would materially change the Company's 2008 results as reported herein. Net loss and loss per share for the fourth quarter and full year 2008 would be USD 75.4 million, or USD 1.93 per share, and USD 119.0 million, or USD 3.06 per share, respectively.
2009-03-06: Sirius XM has announced the closing of the second-phase of recently announced investment of USD 530 million by Liberty Media in the company (See RNW Feb 17) and has issued Liberty with 12.5 million shares of new preferred stock convertible into 40% of the common stock of Sirius XM.
CEO Mel Karmazin said of the completion, "We are excited to have closed the second and final phase of our investment agreement with Liberty Media. It is an example of the confidence our lenders and Liberty have in our business model. These transactions resolve all of the uncertainty surrounding the company's and its subsidiaries' debt maturing in 2009. Having addressed our near-term financial obligations, we remain focused on continuing to deliver on all the promise of the merger of Sirius and XM -- a more efficient company offering the best programming through new packages to more subscribers."
Sirius XM also announced that its subsidiary XM Satellite Radio has amended and extended its existing USD 350 million credit facilities: XM's existing term loan and revolving loan have been rolled into a single term loan facility and as previously agreed, Liberty has purchased USD 100 million aggregate principal amount from the lenders.
On the programming front Oprah Radio, formerly Oprah & Friends, has now launched on Sirius XM -it is on XM channel 156 and available on Sirius channel 195 as part of "The Best of XM" package.
Sirius XM President and Chief Content Officer Scott Greenstein commented of the launch, "With the channel's re-launch and expanded live programming we expect Oprah Radio will now reach even more people with its message of motivating people to live their best lives. On the unique platform of satellite radio, Oprah Radio -- powered by Oprah Winfrey and her unparalleled team of experts -- offers Sirius XM listeners extraordinary inspiration and information daily."
Previous Liberty Media:
2009-03-06: The UK Local Radio Company has reported a loss of GBP 6.9 million (USD 9.7 million) for the year to the end of September 2008 and is to issue new shares in an effort to raise up to GBP 1.51 million (USD 2.1 million) before expenses, action that is part of a restructuring that chairman Anthony Gumbiner says the directors believe is "critical if the business is to remain solvent." The company is also proposing to revert to calling itself Radio Investments Ltd.
The share issue will be an open offer of up to 604,813,314 New Ordinary Shares at 0.25 pence per share on the basis of 42 Open Offer Shares for every 5 Existing Ordinary Shares that would be underwritten up to just under GBP 865,000 (USD 1.21 million) by Hallwood (Gumbiner's family investment company that is registered in the British Virgin Islands and is owned by the Jersey-based Hallwood Trust) , up to a further GBP 200,000 ( USD 281,000) by Rhys Davies (The managing director of Glendower Partners Limited, and up to a further GBP 20,000 (USD28,100) by Jason Bryant : The company notes that if its sale of Jazz FM (See RNW Jan 8) goes through by the end of this month the underwriting requirement will fall and Hallwood will reduce its commitment to GBP 353,000 (USD 497,000).
Hallwood, which currently owns just above 28% of TLRC's shares, will also take up its full entitlement of shares under the offer and the company notes that if Hallwood were issued with its full entitlement of shares under the offer and it Rhys Davies also satisfy their underwriting obligations - and on the basis that the Jazz FM sale has not been completed - Hallwood and Rhys Davies would own just below 90% of the company's issued share capital and would have to make a general offer to all other shareholders but that the Takeover Panel has been consulted and has agreed, subject to the passing on a poll vote by the Independent Shareholders of a resolution on the matter, to waive this requirement.
The other shareholders include UKRD's Chairman Trevor Smallwood who earlier this month bought some 11 million shares, taking his holding and that of UKRD - which bought just above 9% of TLRC last month - to more than 25% of the TLRC total. Sellers included Aim Realisation Fund Limited, which had built up a holding of more than 9% of the total but now no longer holds a notifiable interest.
Despite the economic woes of UK commercial radio -TLRC noted that industry body The Radio Centre now estimates that the industry as a whole is loss making (See RNW Feb 18) - TLRC says its directors continue to believe in the long-term strategy of owning local radio stations and local media assets.
"The Directors", it continues, "intend to continue to support the Group's stations in regions where the Group has a strong presence and will also consider acquisition opportunities in areas where the Group already has a presence and where the Directors believe the Group can successfully operate these services at lower cost."
It also commented "There are widely differing views as to how long the current recession will last, but the Directors are confident that when economic growth stabilises, the Company is well-placed to benefit from any growth in advertising spend. In addition, the core of the Group's business is local advertising, and local advertising revenues have been shown to be more robust than national advertising revenues in any downturn."
The company said that last year had been "extremely challenging " and had produced a "disappointing set" of results: Overall it made a loss for the year from continuing operations of GBP 5.61 million (USD 7.89 million ), lower than the 2007 loss of GBP 7.9 million ( USD 11.1 million - a loss of 7.79 pence per share compared to a loss of 11.3 pence per share). The 2008 loss overall, including goodwill impairment charges, was GBP 6.9 million ( USD 9.7 million).
TLRC's cash reserves fell from GBP 2.468 million to GBP 566,000 (from USD 3.47 million to USD 796,000) during the year and the final quarter its local revenues were down 3% year-on-year whilst national ones were down 18%. It sold six loss-making stations in June last year and recently sold two of its freeholds for GBP 620,000 ( USD 872,000).
Previous Local Radio Company:
2009-03-06: Emmis has cut 7.5% of its work force, a total of 91 full time and 14 part-time positions across all its divisions and cut the pay of remaining employees by 5% in the latest large-scale cuts at US radio: Those ousted include Chicago WLUP-FM midday host Erin Carmen and sportscaster Bruce Wolf; WKQX-FM program director Marc Young and former WKQX morning co-host Jim Lynam; and Indianapolis WIBC-FM afternoon host Dave "The King" Wilson who had been in the slot since 1995.
Emmis VP/Rock Programming and KSHE-FM, St. Louis Program Director Rick Balis will take over programming for WLUP and KPNT-FM, St. Louis PD Tommy Mattern will programme Chicago's WKQX.
The Chicago Tribune in its report quoted a memo to staffers from Emmis Chicago VP & Market Manager Marv Nyren blaming the economy for the move and saying, "Facing the ongoing challenges of a struggling media sector and turbulent economy, earlier today Emmis took a series of steps to better position it for shifting global and industry realities. Those steps included a workforce reduction of 7.5 percent, which included the elimination of 91 full-time and 14 part-time positions across its Corporate, radio, and publishing divisions. Notified employees received generous severance packages and other support."
He added, "Not one of these people lost their jobs for performance issues. This is just because of what's going on in the economy, and we've got a fiscal responsibility to try to continue to perform."
The Indianapolis Star in its report on the cuts noted that they followed two other rounds of cuts in its radio division last year that saw 29 full-time and six part-time employees ousted in October and 46 go in February.
In other US radio business Wilks Broadcasting has now closed on the deal, announced in December (See RNW Dec 22), to buy three Denver stations from CBS Radio for USD 19.5 million. CBS sold KWLI-FM, KIMN-FM, and KXKL-FM as part of its planned exit from midsize markets.
Chicago Tribune report:
Indianapolis Star report:
2009-03-05: Latest Australian radio ratings, whose release was delayed partly because of weather conditions that led to more than 200 deaths in fires (See RNW Feb 21) show Macquarie Radio Network's Sydney 2GB breakfast host Alan Jones, who was formerly with 2UE, holding on to his ratings crown in Sydney where he has now topped 140 surveys.
He took a 17.6% share, up from 16.1% in the previous survey, with ABC 702 second in the slot with 13.0%, up from 11.1%. Austereo's 2-Day was third at breakfast in Sydney with 10.1%, down from 10.2, and commercial talk rival 2UE, now owned by Fairfax Media, lost share in fifth place - down from 6.7 to 6.5.
Overall in Sydney 2GB held onto the top rank with 13.3%, up 1%, followed by ABC 702 with 11.4%, up 2.3%, and 2-Day with 9.8%, down 0.1%.
Elsewhere, apart from Melbourne where 3AW which was up 1.5 to 15.9 regained top rank, the leaders held on to their top rankings with 5AA in Adelaide down 0.1 to 14.7%; DMG Australia's Nova in Brisbane down 1.3 to 13.6%; and Mix 94.5 in Perth down 1.1 to 15.4%.
Austereo highlighted "solid results" from its Today and Triple M networks, noting that in four out of the five markets it had retained its fop ranking FM position and Chief Executive Officer Michael Anderson said they showed that the networks were "staying steady and looking forward to the year."
"Looking ahead there are many challenges to the year but survey one launches both networks off to a great start," he added whilst chairman Peter Harvie made a more general point about the medium, commenting, "Significantly, at a time when general media industry reach is under some pressure, radio has increased audiences in all capital cities. It is also appropriate to acknowledge the great communication contribution made by ABC and commercial news and talk radio in the recent Victorian bushfire tragedy."
City by city, the top stations were (previous ratings % share in brackets):
*Adelaide: 5AA with 14.7 (14.8) - same rank; ABC 891 with 12.9 (11.0) - up from fifth; SAFM with 11.3 (12.5) -same rank.
*Mix 102.3 with 11.2 (12.7) was down from second to fourth whilst 5MMM with 10.8 (9.5) dropped rose from sixth to fifth overtaking Nova 91.9, which was down from fourth to sixth, with 8.5 (12.1).
*Brisbane - Nova with 13.6 (14.9) - same rank; B105 with 11.4 (12.0) -same rank; ABC 612 with 10.9 (9.2) up from sixth to third.
*Triple M with 10.6 (10.9) - was down from third to fourth, remaining ahead of 97.3 FM which dropped a rank to fifth with 10.6 (10.9) followed by 4BC which fell from fifth to sixth with 8.1 (9.4).
*Melbourne - 3AW with 15.9 (14.4) - up from second; ABC 774 with 11.4 (10.3) - up from third;
Fox FM with 11.9 (15.6) - down from top rank;
* Nova 100 with 8.3 (8.9) remained fourth and Gold FM with 7.2 (7.3) remained fifth with MIX 101.1 remaining sixth with 4.6 (5.5), the same as Triple M with 4.6 (5.0).
*Perth - MIX 94.5FM with 15.4 (16.5) - same rank; 92.9 with 13.2 (13.6) - same rank;
ABC 720 with 12.1 (11.8) - same rank.
*96 FM with 10.4 (10.3) - remained fourth followed by 6PR which remained fifth with 9.2 (9.8) and Nova, which remained sixth with 8.9 (9.5).
*Sydney: 2GB 13.3 (12.3) - same rank; ABC 702 with 11.4 (9.1) - up from third;
2-DAY with 9.8 (9.6) - down from second;
*Nova with 7.8 (8.2) remained fourth, followed by 2CH with 6.7(5.7) and up from eighth and 2UE with 6.7 (5.2) which was formerly sixth; and WSM in seventh, down from fifth with 5.9 (8.2) and MIX 106.5 which fell a rank to eighth with 5.1 (6.9).
Previous ABC, Australia:
Previous Australian ratings:
Previous Fairfax Media:
Previous Macquarie Radio Network:
2009-03-05: The BBC is to re-name its Southern Counties Radio, which launched in 1968 as Radio Brighton but took its current name in 1994 following expansion to serve the whole of Sussex plus Surrey and North East Hampshire, as BBC Radio Surrey.
A service for Surrey had been launched in 1991 as an opt-out of BBC Sussex, broadcasting from a Guildford studio, and carrying Sussex programmes between its own local output.
The stations were combined in 1993 and then renamed BBC Southern Counties Radio in 1994 and in 1997 the station was re-launched with three breakfast shows and music was introduced to the daytime schedule.
The new station will launch on March 30 with a new mid-morning host Danny Pike, and the station's managing editor Nicci Holliday said the name change was "part of the BBC's efforts to better reflect the needs of our communities."
The announcement she added, "marks the culmination of a yearlong project for our station developing content that is relevant to the two very distinct counties we serve. It also fits in with the roll out of the new branding for the whole BBC Local Radio service."
"We now provide dedicated weekday breakfast and drive time programmes for listeners in Surrey as well their own specific travel service and news bulletins. Plus sports fans can also follow their local teams on the split frequencies. And so by rebranding as BBC Surrey our name now reflects what we do. Anyone familiar with the station's history will know that BBC Sussex and BBC Surrey are not new names. However, unlike previous arrangements, the name change announced today acknowledges that both should be equal while recognising the counties' individual personalities."
2009-03-05: Citadel-owned ABC Radio Networks has told affiliates that it is to fill the slots previously taken up with the late Paul Harvey's "News & Comment" and "The Rest of the Story" following Harvey's death last weekend (See RNW Feb 28) with programming from Gil Gross and Doug Limerick.
Gross will host the five-minute morning slot used by "News and Comment" plus the 15-minute weekday and Saturday midday broadcasts whilst Limerick will take over the afternoon Rest of the Story slot.
Gross who has been in radio for three decades including a spell as host of "The Gil Gross Show" for CBS is a long-time fill in host for Harvey.
Limerick is currently the Weekdays 06:00 to 11:00 ET staff anchor for ABC News Radio.
2009-03-05: The Broadcasting Commission of Ireland (BCI) has advertised the FM licence for Dublin City and County currently held by Q102, whose contract is due to expire in 2010.
Applications for the service - to be primarily music-driven, targeting the 35-55 age group - have to be submitted by noon on April 21.
2009-03-04: This week we start our look at print comment on radio with two conservative hosts - one. Paul Harvey, who died at the weekend, who has warm memories in a wide range of publications and the other Rush Limbaugh, who is attracting a much more mixed reaction: Some of the emphasis may be down to not speaking ill of the dead but probably not all of it.
First Paul Harvey and we opt for Aaron Barnhart's memories under the headline "Remembering Paul Harvey, the invisibles' man."
He starts by writing, "There was a time in my life when nothing excited me so much as a Paul Harvey news and comment. I wasn't riveted by the opinions, even though I was more conservative than I am now. It was just that, in the media universe of Montana in the 1970s, no one invested the news with such thrilling vigour and optimism as Paul Harvey."
And later contrasting Harvey in his prime with today's hosts: "Never again will conservative values be espoused by a major media figure who doesn't feel the immediate need to rip viciously into those who believe differently -- though Paul Harvey was a backer of Joe McCarthy. Never again will rural ways be celebrated so sincerely as superior to city ways -- though Paul Harvey became rich and famous broadcasting from the heart of America's third-largest metropolis.
"One reason I like writing obituaries is that it's often the one and only opportunity for a media writer to ignore all the criticism and second-guessing and just flat-out appreciate someone, no apologies. And if you get caught up in the contradictions of Paul Harvey, you miss this chance to appreciate a type of broadcaster who has gone away and is not coming back."
And one more except - for the rest follow the link - "In the years before Rush Limbaugh, this midday missive to the faithful allowed him to become hugely influential and, at the same time, hide in plain sight.
As Aufderheide wrote in '83, "He may get showered with grateful attention by the likes of the American Legion, and construction industry moguls may pay him big money to speak at their conventions, and the account managers at various advertising agencies may pray nightly for his continued health. But look to the history books, to the clip files, to the studies of the power of mass-media news, and the man who strolls the top of AM radio's ratings charts is nowhere to be found. ...
"But he is not after a place in the history books, especially those of historians who focus on the public and the political. His authority derives from being the voice of invisible Americans, the representative of their emotion in the face of cruel and complex pseudorationality."
Harvey also managed to get an obit in the left-leaning UK Guardian (To Limbaugh it would be much more than left leaning but we write from an international perspective not the narrow bigotries of many of Limbaugh's enthusiasts judged on the basis of comments they put out.)
Its obituary by Michael Carlson termed him an "Influential conservative American radio host" and it commented of his style, "Harvey's delivery, with its staccato rhythms and long pauses for effect, echoed the manic punchiness of Walter Winchell, but leavened by the calm midwestern tones of Walter Cronkite. It recalled his family tree of Baptist preachers, and US traditions of pitchmen and hucksters. The pauses allowed his audience to prepare for the impact of the point he wanted to make; he said he aimed each broadcast at his sister-in-law in St Louis. Harvey wrote and delivered his sponsors' adverts himself, selling them with the same sincerity as his folksy world-view. "I am fiercely loyal to those willing to put their money where my mouth is," he quipped. "Some days the best news is in the commercials."
Carlson also commented, "Although he became the model for later rightwing talk radio hosts such as Rush Limbaugh, and the shock-jock ethos, Harvey eschewed divisiveness for its own sake. He never regretted supporting McCarthyism in the 1950s ("There was a dirty job to do and it took a roughneck to do it.") He was not bound by party loyalty - his criticism of Richard Nixon, after the US invasion of Cambodia in May 1970, was qualified by saying: "Mr President, I love you, but you're wrong."
He was not all sweetness and light though - Carlson notes that last year during the presidential campaign one commentary imagined General David Petraeus, the architect of the US troop surge in Iraq, telling Chelsea Clinton: 'I fear Osama, I fear Obama, and I fear your mama.'"
On next to Limbaugh and the Los Angeles Times that in an opinion piece urged that he should stand for office not merely pontificate. After noting that White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel had identified Rush Limbaugh as "the voice and the intellectual force and energy behind the Republican Party" - not meant as a compliment - it went on to suggest that "maybe Limbaugh ought to accept Emanuel's tribute at face value and run for public office. It's not as if Americans won't vote for entertainers. Arnold Schwarzenegger is governor of California, and Minnesota may soon be represented in the U.S. Senate by "Saturday Night Live" alumnus Al Franken -- who is also the author of "Rush Limbaugh is a Big Fat Idiot." And a history of drug addiction isn't a disqualification for holding public office. Ask Patrick Kennedy.
"It would mean a pay cut, but if Limbaugh really wants Obama to fail what better way to accomplish that than run for Congress, where he could vote against Obama's anti-capitalist schemes?"
The reader' responses were generally hostile - one wrote," If he ran for office he would be torn to shreds. His ideas would not stand up to open debate. Just try to call into his show with a different point of view than his. Only the like minded are allowed to express their ideas" but not all: Another read, "Of late, the mainstream media has promoted Rush; so for the first time I decided to search and listened to his talk and realized that he makes a lot of sense. I guess he just got one more listener" and then there was the cynical line in one comment "Fast and loose with facts isn't a disqualifier. In fact, it's probably a plus."
And still with the Los Angeles Times, another opinion piece, this time from another right-winger, Jonah Goldberg who supported Limbaugh's hope that Obama fails because of his professed policies, defended the host, and criticized the Democrats attacks on him as but he did have a perceptive section relating to criticism of Limbaugh from both right and left.
"Just because the Democrats' shtick is old and often dishonest," he wrote, "doesn't mean it's tactically dumb. Limbaugh and other right-wing talkers are popular with a third of the country. Fairly or not, they turn off moderates and self-described independents (and, for the left, conservative talk radio is the font of all evil). Most politicians would prefer to have 70% of the public on their side at the cost of losing 30%, even if that requires being less than fair to the 30%.
And then: "The more interesting war on Limbaugh comes from the right. My National Review colleague John Derbyshire has written a thoughtful article for the American Conservative disparaging the 'lowbrow conservatism' of talk radio. His brush is a bit too broad at times. Some right-wing talkers, such as Bill Bennett and Dennis Prager, can be almost professorial. Michael Savage, meanwhile, sounds like the orderlies are about to break through the barricades with straitjacket in hand. Derbyshire is nonetheless right that conservatism is top-heavy with talk-radio talent, giving the impression the right is deficient in other areas and adding to the shrillness of public discourse."
And yet another Los Angeles Times opinion piece, this time from Meghan Daum, who would from most of her writings seem to be anything but a listener to conservative talk. Bemoaning the death of CBS Radio's KSLX-FM, she wrote, "For those of us who like to listen to people rant, whine and talk about their gastrointestinal problems on the radio, the last week has been a sad one in Southern California. KLSX, which had been the region's only all-talk FM station since 1995, abruptly changed its format to Top 40 music "
She went on to poke fun at CBS Radio's description of the new station as an "on-air, online, on-site and mobile audio destination " and then reverted to comment on her listening to KSLX - " until last week, I probably spent more hours listening to KLSX every day than to the combined sounds of my friends, family members and various birds and leaf blowers outside. Back when Howard Stern aired on KLSX, I listened to him in the mornings and then toggled between the station's other offerings and NPR for the rest of the day. In 2006, when Stern went to satellite radio and Adam Carolla filled his slot, I listened not just religiously but, as some readers may recall, evangelically."
And a kick with the praise, "It was mediocre at best and, at worst, jaw-droppingly insipid. But that, ironically, may have been its most seductive quality. For all its ribaldry and supposed shock value, the station was more a sedative than a stimulant." Again for more follow the link.
On then to listening suggestions starting with a range of listening from BBC Radio 4 and World Service- as much as anything because of that range.
First The World Service and this week's Digital Planet (A podcast or stream) and discussion on surveillance in modern society and some reasoned argument from Cory Doctorow that what may be happening in many cases is to create more haystacks round the needle -seeming to be doing something but in fact by gathering too much information making it more difficult to assess what is important.
Also from World Service we suggest the Documentary Archive and "Third Agers - Part One" in which in a four part series, Jane Little meets Third Agers from four continents to find out what it is like to be old and the first programme meets some extraordinary women who've given old age a whole new meaning.
Then to BBC Radio 4 and another podcast with "Start the Week" that on Monday discussed amongst other things equality in society - also a feature in the "Moral Maze" on the station this week - fashion, and nostalgia.
Los Angeles Times - Daum:
Los Angeles Times - Goldberg:
Los Angeles Times on Limbaugh standing for office:
Kansascity.com TV Barn - Barnhart on Paul Harvey:
UK Guardian - Carlson on Paul Harvey:
2009-03-04: Cox Radio has joined the ranks of US radio companies reporting a significant fall in revenues in the final quarter of 2008 - they were down 13.1% to USD 99.4 million with full year revenues down 7.8% to USD 410.2 million - making a loss in the final quarter and year due to write-downs.
In Cox's case a third quarter net loss of USD 52.1 million became a loss of USD 357.3 million with full year net income of USD 1.87 million in 2007 turning to a loss of USD 404 million in 2008 (From a loss of 57 cents to a loss of USD 4.45per common and diluted share in the quarter and from net income of UD 2 cents to a loss of USD 4.80 for the full year). The figures included impairment charges of USD 601.6 million and USD 117.1 million during the fourth quarters of 2008 and 2007 respectively. For the full year 2008 impairment charges totalled USD 749.3 million compared to USD 117.1 million in 2007.
Station operating income was down 36.4% in the final quarter of 2008 to USD 29.55 million and down 18.3% for the year to USD 146.2 million and an operating loss of USD 77.8 million for the final quarter of 2007 became a loss of USD 574.5 million with the year's figures moving from operating income of USD 25.6 million to a loss of USD 628 million.
Cox notes that within the figures local revenues for the quarter were down 14.4% and national revenues were down 10.3% whilst other revenues, which include Internet and other non-traditional revenues, were down 9.4%.
Cox put the reductions down to "the current economic downturn", a matter that CEO Bob Neil referred to at the start of the company's conference call when he commented that the company had "faced one of the most challenging operating environments in our history due to the nationwide recession and advertising downturn."
He was more upbeat about Cox's performance compared to is competitors noting that its 13.1% revenue fall compared to a 16% fall in its markets and added, "I am proud of our station clusters that once again outperformed our markets where they do business, reflecting the strength of our brands and our strong salespeople."
He was also fairly upbeat about radio's audience noting that satellite radio had so far cost "an awful lot of people an awful lot of money for no return" and that internet radio providers such as Pandora had yet to prove that they can be financially viable.
Neil also brought up the issue of the Performance Rights Act, the attempt by the recording companies to get performance royalties paid by terrestrial US stations, which are exempt from them unlike radio companies in most countries and the satellite and internet companies.
Regarding this he took the chauvinistic line by noting that it was being pushed by the internationally-owned record labels (RNW comment: As we have noted before the ownership is to a large degree because US owners sold out - in other words American business could not hack it compared to the competition: We wonder how US broadcasters would fare were foreign ownership not prohibited whereas they are able to own broadcasters in many countries and have lobbied to be allowed to elsewhere).
Cox described the possible charges as a "tax"- the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) dropped that incorrect description in its latest release (See RNW Mar 3) - commenting, "We see this as a tax that will obviously harm local stations and damage our business at the worst possible time, during this unprecedented economic downturn "and adding that it would hit artists trying to break into the business.
2009-03-04: Financial approval hold-ups have led the Australian Broadcasting Corporation to delay its launch of digital radio services, due to have started along with the country's commercial radio services in Australia's capital cities Adelaide, Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney - -on May 1: It now expects to launch them in July.
The ABC's Acting Director of Radio Kate Dundas said a delay in funding confirmation for equipment and infrastructure prevented an earlier rollout adding that the Corporation wanted its digital offerings to be "media rich services" taking advantage of the facilities that DAB+ can offer.
Initially the ABC plans to broadcast eight services each in city - its local service plus Radio National, Triple J, NewsRadio, Classic FM plus three music services that are currently only available via the Internet -dig Radio, dig Country, and dig Jazz.
Dundas said the corporation wanted to see what audiences wanted and after it found the results of its triennial funding submission it would be in a clearer position to see what additional digital services it could air.
The commercial industry meanwhile is to start its three phase digital radio advertising campaign on all Sydney commercial stations early next month.
Following a meeting between the industry and receiver retailers and manufacturers, Joan Warner, chief executive officer of industry body Commercial Radio Australia (CRA), said the commercial radio industry and retailers were on track with the on-air campaign, commencing in April, to promote the switch on of digital radio services to listeners.
"With nearly 80% of Australians listening to commercial radio each week, it is important that we let our listeners know about digital radio, that digital radio is coming, and provide good on-air support to the retailers who will be stocking receivers," she said, adding, "Retailers are excited about the interest digital radio will generate in the audio retail market during what is one of the toughest retail environments in many years."
CRA chairman and Austereo chief executive Michael Anderson, who also attended the meeting, commented, The industry is excited about the opportunities digital radio offers and is gearing up for an unprecedented marketing and promotional campaign highlighting the benefits of digital radio for listeners."
Regarding the delays by the ABC and SBS (Special Broadcasting Service) in starting their transmissions, Warner said a major event would be staged in all five capital cities in August once the two public broadcasters were on the air in digital.
Previous ABC, Australia:
Previous Commercial Radio Australia:
2009-03-03: US President Barack Obama has now officially nominated Julius Genachowski to take over as the next chairman of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).
In the official White House release, the President comments of the nomination, "I can think of no one better than Julius Genachowski to serve as Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission. He will bring to the job diverse and unparalleled experience in communications and technology, with two decades of accomplishment in the private sector and public service. I know him as the son of immigrants who carries a deep appreciation for this country and the American dream; and as the proud father of three children working with his wife Rachel to be responsible parents in this digital age."
Responding to the nomination, acting FCC Chair Michal J. Copps commented, "President Obama has made an excellent choice in announcing his intent to nominate Julius Genachowski to be the next Chairman of the FCC. Julius has the knowledge, experience and dedication to lead this Agency forward as we tackle the many challenges confronting the country - and the Commission. I look forward to the prospect of working with him on a communications agenda focused on serving consumers and the public interest. He will find here a talented and energized team of public servants committed to precisely this goal. I wish him a successful Senate confirmation."
The nomination was also welcomed by the remaining commissioners. Democrat Jonathan S. Adelstein commented, "He is the right person at the right time for the job. His leadership, experience and intelligence will serve him and the American people well, as he takes the helm of the FCC during this pivotal time for our country and the agency" and his Republican colleague Robert M McDowell said Genachowski would "bring a valuable perspective to the Commission with his experience not only in government but also in the private sector" and US National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) President and CEO David K. Rehr termed it a "superb choice."
Genachowski met the President when both were at Columbia University and they became friendly at Harvard Law School. After graduating he had spells clerking at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit and the Supreme Court and later was General Counsel of the FCC under Chairman Reed Hundt, leaving the post to go into business where his experience included eight years with Barry Diller's IAC/Interactive Corporation.
More recently he was heavily involved in The President's Internet campaign and in advising the then candidate on telecommunications and technology- he was Chairman of the Technology, Media and Telecommunications policy working group that created the Obama Technology and Innovation Plan. Genachowski favours ownership rules to promote diversity in media.
2009-03-03: Westwood One has announced an in-principle re-financing deal under which its existing lenders will refinance all its long-term debt of some USD 241 million and it will end up with it being controlled by Los Angeles-based private equity firm The Gores Group, LLC, which is already the largest stockholder in the company.
The refinancing deal would give the lenders USD 25 million in cash, a series of new senior secured notes in an expected aggregate principal amount of USD 117.5 million - expected to mature on July 15, 2012 - and 25% of the pro forma equity in Westwood One.
The company adds that as part of the refinancing it is contemplated that entities managed by Gores will purchase for cash USD 25 million of new preferred stock and guarantee or otherwise provide credit support for a USD 20 million subordinated term loan and a USD 15 million unsecured revolving line of credit: Consummation of the refinancing will leave Gores with around 72.5% of Westwood One's equity and existing common stockholders would be left with around 2.5% of the outstanding equity of the company.
Westwood One President and CFO Rod Sherwood said of the arrangement in a release, "The refinancing is an essential part of our turnaround plan. We appreciate that our lenders, Gores and our other investors, continue to value our business and recognize the opportunity for long-term growth. A successful completion of the refinancing will allow us to continue to focus on delivering superior content and service, cost effectively, to Westwood One customers."
Before joining Westwood One Sherwood was CFO, operations, of The Gores Group: He moved into his current position in October last year after Thomas Beusse was ousted (See RNW Oct 20, 2008). The Gores Group had already invested USD 100 million in Westwood One at the time and his appointment seemed to presage an intention to take complete control.
Under him Westwood One has re-organized its management and sales and is consolidating its Metro Traffic operations. It was de-listed in November last year (See RNW Nov 18. 2008) and now trades over the counter.
Previous Westwood One:
2009-03-03: Bauer Radio has asked UK media regulator Ofcom to be allowed to air music on its Liverpool station City Talk 105.9, currently the only commercial talk station outside London in the UK.
The station current format describes it as "A 24-hour speech station with news, sport, features, documentaries, advice, phone-ins and discussion for the Liverpool area" and Bauer is asking that this be changed to "A service of speech and soft pop-led music programming focused on the interests of the people of Liverpool and surrounding areas. The service will be 100% speech during peak times, focusing on news, information, features and discussion. During the rest of weekday daytime there will be a mix of speech and soft pop-lead music. The station may share programming with Magic 1548 and Radio City at other times."
In its request Bauer warns that if the change is refused it may "eventually need to close" , a fate that befell Scotland's only commercial talk station when UTV closed Talk 107 in Edinburgh (See RNW Dec 17, 2008)
It won the licence with an all-speech bid in November 2006, competing against nine other bids (See RNW Nov 10, 2006)
Ofcom, notes that its Radio Licensing Committee has withdrawn the "two-year rule" that prohibited requests for format changes within two years of winning a licence and that City Talk is the first station to apply for a substantial change of Format following the lifting of the rule. It has now started a consultation concerning the proposals with comments having to be submitted by the end of this month.
Bauer in its application contends that the majority of listeners who are tuning in for "all speech" during daytime are doing so either in afternoon drive or at breakfast time and notes that it proposes no change at these times. It adds that research conducted by City Talk since the station's launch has shown strong demand for a music and speech mix on the station outside the slots noted.
Bauer Media's MD Radio (Strategy and Development) Travis Baxter said they considered the proposals would "keep a significant part of the original character of the station intact" and increase listener choice whilst securing the future of the station.
2009-03-03: The US National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) says to quote the heading to its release that nine more lawmakers have expressed "opposition to RIAA's (Recording Industry Association of America) performance fee" taking to total supporting The Local Radio Freedom Act that would prohibit such charges to 135.
It adds that support for the Act increased following a Radio Ink interview with country music singer Brad Paisley in which he speaks of the impact that radio stations have had on his career.
The move comes as artists have been lobbying lawmaker to support the Performance Rights Act that would authorize performance charges for terrestrial broadcasters.
RNW comment: The most significant thing about this release in our view is not that some more support has been garnered for the move or that an artist has commented on the impact radio has had on his life and career but that the NAB dropped its previous - inaccurate - description of a performance royalty as a "tax" and now calls it a fee. The question that arises is why? And of course whether an over-delayed conversion to using the language a little more accurately will spill over into other NAB actions?
2009-03-02: Clear Channel Media Holdings has reported final quarter 2008 revenues down 14% to USD 1.61 billion with full year revenues down 3% on 2007 to USD 6.67 billion: In the final quarter it notes that the fall would have been only 11% excluding the effects a decrease of USD 55.2 million because of foreign exchange movement whilst full-year figures contained a USD 62.6 million revenue increase due to foreign exchange movement.
Operating expenses were up - by 3% to USD 1.2 billion in the final quarter when they would have risen by 7% had it not been for a USD 47.6 million movement in Foreign Exchange expenses and by 5% for the year as a whole to USD 4.7 billion
The bottom line was further hit by a fourth-quarter pre-tax impairment charge of approximately USD 5.26 billion, which took it to a USD 4.99 billion loss, which compares to income of USD 228.3 million for the same period in 2007. The impairment charge was made up of some USD 1.7 billion on its FCC licences and USD 3.6 billion to reduce goodwill.
For the full year the impairment charge meant that income before discontinued operations went from USD 793 million in the black to a loss of USD 4.6 billion.
Overall the company recorded a net loss of just under USD 5 billion in the quarter compared to net income of USD 320.6 million a year earlier and a net loss of jus above USD 4 billion for the year compared to net income of USD 938.6 million (Per share figures it points out are not meaningful because of the effects of the company's takeover by private equity interests Bain Capital and Thomas H. Lee).
Commenting on the figures CEO Mark Mays said, "Although CC Media Holdings revenues were down in 2008, our radio and outdoor businesses performed well compared to their sectors."
He added, "These are challenging times which have taken their toll on many of our advertisers. However, macroeconomic conditions will continue to present a stark reality where disciplined focus on working with our advertising partners, cost containment and the flexibility to adjust to change are essential. Most importantly, we are so appreciative of the tremendous efforts expended by our employees to meet the demands of these difficult times."
Within the figures, radio revenues were down 13% to USD 788.8 million in the quarter with outdoor down 16% to USD 785.5 million, other up 10% to USD 59.4 million and eliminations down from USD 31.9 million to USD 24.9 million.
For the full year radio was down 7% to USD 3.294 billion; Outdoor was up marginally from USD 3.382 billion to USD 3.289 billion; others were up 1% to just under USD 210 million and eliminations were down marginally from USD 126.8 million to USD 104.4 million.
OIBDAN for radio was down 40% in the quarter to USD 203.8 million, for outdoor it was down 49% to USD 161.5 million and for others down 3% to USD 8 million with the overall figure after Corporate - which had a loss of USD 63.9 million compared to a USD 40.2 million loss a year earlier - down by a little more than half - from USD 624.8 million to USD 309.4 million.
Full year OBIDAN was down 17% to USD 1.170 billion for radio, down 20% to USD 811.4 million for Outdoor, down 26% for others to USD 23.6 million and down overall 21% to USD 1.8805 billion.
Of radio Clear Channel commented that some 43% of its broadcasting revenue fall was in the final quarter with both local and national revenues down "a result of overall weakness in advertising."
It also noted that its operating expenses were down - by just above USD 11 million - during the year but adds "Partially offsetting the decline was an increase in severance of approximately USD 32.6 million, an increase in bad debt expense of approximately USD 17.3 million and an increase in programming expenses associated with the Company's national syndication business."
RNW Comment: If we read this correctly it means that it trimmed its expenses by some USD 11 million but its other expenses were up by around USD 50 million. Some partial offset! More than certainly!
Previous Clear Channel:
Previous Mark Mays:
2009-03-02: Arbitron has announced today multi-year agreements with GAP Broadcasting (GAP and Gap West) to provide it with diary-based radio ratings in 17 markets in Arizona, Louisiana, Montana, Oklahoma, Texas, Washington, Wisconsin and Wyoming.
The agreement covers Shreveport where Arbitron already provides year-round markets and includes software services for all stations in the 17 markets and Arbitrends monthly rolling-average reports for Shreveport: It does not cover seven smaller markets where GAP, which is controlled by funds managed by Oaktree Capital Management, operates stations but that that are not surveyed as part of Arbitron's syndicated local market radio ratings services.
The markets covered are GAP markets in Lake Charles and Shreveport, Louisiana; Lawton, Oklahoma; Texarkana, TX-AR in Texas and Arizona; Abilene, Amarillo, Lubbock, Lufkin-Nacogdoches, Odessa-Midland, Tyler-Longview; and Wichita Falls, Texas plus GAP West markets in Billings, Montana; Duluth-Superior, Minnesota/Wisconsin; Tri-Cities (Richland-Kennewick-Pasco) and Yakima in Washington State; and Casper and Cheyenne in Wyoming.
GAP West President Erik Hellum said in an Arbitron release that they had considered competing services and "Arbitron is the only one that surveys all the markets we require, has long-standing relationships with radio advertisers and agencies while providing real value in terms of training and support that will help us generate local ad revenue" while GAP President George Laughlin said he was "pleased with the plan and commitment that Arbitron is undertaking to enhance the quality of the diary ratings in our GAP markets" and added, "I am counting on Arbitron's training team to help my sales staff generate new revenues from local direct advertisers in all my rated markets."
2009-03-01: Last week again saw the regulators in general having a quiet time as regards radio with the main news coming from the US where amongst its actions the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has extended until the end of May the deadline for Sirius XM to implement its voluntary agreement when the Sirius-XM merger was approved to make 4% of its audio channels available to third parties (See RNW Feb 27).
There were no radio postings from Australia or Ireland and only a few from Canada where the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) radio-related decisions included:
*Approval of application by Sun Country Radio Ltd. to acquire the assets of CKKO-FM, Kelowna, from Sun Country Cablevision Ltd. as part of a corporate reorganization. CKKO FM, whose licence was granted in March last year, is not yet on air.
Refusal of application by Diffusion Laval Inc. to remove from the licence of French-language commercial CFAV-AM the condition of licence requiring it to contribute CAD 8,000 (USD 6,300) a year towards the promotion of Canadian artists.
The CRTC noted that under its revised policy it has replaced the requirement for the promotion of Canadian artists with a new Canadian content development (CCD) regime and that the licensee following financial losses by the station wanted to move immediately to the new regime and make a CAD 500 (USD 390) financial for the fiscal year to the end of August when the station licence expires.
The application had been opposed by the Association québécoise de l'industrie du disque, du spectacle et de la vidéo (ADISQ) on the basis that the contribution was a factor in the award of the licence in 2003: It contended the condition should remain until the end of the licence term and noted that the licensee was in non-compliance with regard to the contributions.
The CRTC noted that when control of the station from Diffusion Laval Inc. to Placements P Marchand Inc. was approved in 2007 it had said the terms would remain but had made an exception to its policy requiring a tangible payments benefit of 6% of the value of the transaction because of the losses.
The CRTC took the view that the requirement to promote Canadian artists should be taken seriously when applying for licences and only subsequently changes in most exceptional circumstances. It rejected the request/
In the UK, Ofcom also had a quiet week as regards radio although it did award four new community licenses (See RNW Feb 25) and posted its latest Broadcast Bulletin in which it upheld no radio complaints (See RNW Feb 23).
In the US the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has, as already noted, delayed until the end of May the deadline for Sirius-XM to make 4% of its audio channels available to third parties (See RNW Feb 27) and also posted its latest US licensed broadcast station numbers, showing an increase of 142 year-on-year and up 68 since the end of September (See RNW Feb 28).
The FCC was also involved in various enforcement actions, the one which caught our eye most being on the Princess K Fishing Corporation that had initially been issued with a Notice of Apparent Liability for forfeiture (NAL) of USD 8,000 after it falsely activated an Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon, leading to the despatch of an aircraft to locate the craft and cost around USD 35,000.
The company had appealed on the basis of inability to pay and that it should not be held responsible for the acts of one of its employees who, according to its version, had been told to take care of a bag containing a unit that had been replaced and had thrown it into the sea, thus activating the alarm. The FCC dismissed the latter argument but reduced the penalty to USD 6,000 on the basis of ability to pay.
Other penalties included:
*USD 7,200 forfeiture to Wayne State College, licensee of KWSC-FM, Wayne, Nebraska, for failing to maintain the station's public file. The FCC had initially issued an NAL for USD 9,000 after finding that several years of issues/programs lists were missing from the station's public inspection file.
Wayne State had argued for reduction or cancellation because it records of the issue-oriented programming broadcast by the Station during the previous license term but failed to document it in the form of issues/programs lists and took immediate corrective action upon learning that it was not in compliance with the Commission's public file Rules and implemented new measures to ensure future compliance. It also argued on the basis of the effect of the forfeiture on its ability to continue full-time operations and on the basis of a history of compliance.
No documentation was provided to justify a reduction on financial grounds and the FCC dismissed the other arguments but reduced the penalty to USD 7,200 on grounds of a history of compliance.
*USD 3,000 forfeiture to Saga Communications, licensee of WTAX-AM, Springfield, Illinois, for failing to maintain the station's public file. It had been issued with an NAL for this amount to which it responded with a request for cancellation because it was "unaware" that the issues/programs lists were missing from the public file. The FCC rejected the argument and confirmed the full penalty.
In radio licensing decisions the agency:
*Granted request from Living Proof, Inc. to approve settlement agreement and its application for a new non-commercial educational FM in Big Pine and rejected petition to deny from Stephen Kalish and also the University and Community College System of Nevada. The university said the station would cause interference to its translator station in Bishop, California, and Kalish accused Living Proof of falsely certifying that it would comply with local public notice requirements and also misrepresented that he was engaged in settlement negotiations with Living Proof and the University.
Living Proof claims that its defective local public notice was attributable to a "scrivener's error" and that it subsequently published a correct notice and in a joint Request, it and the University asked for dismissal of the University Petition, approval of the Joint Request and grant of the Living Proof Application, as amended to substitute Channel 212 for the originally requested Channel 214 to avoid potential interference to the University's translator station.
The FCC accepted Living Proofs' explanation concerning the local public notice as plausible and said other allegations did not amount to misrepresentation. If granted the request and CP.
*Set aside modification applications from New Inspiration Broadcasting Company, Inc., licensee of KKLA-FM, Los Angeles, and Mitchell Media, Inc., licensee of KMRJ-FM, Rancho Mirage, that were granted in January this year and returned the applications to pending status.
Granted petition for reconsideration of earlier dismissal of application from the Seminole Tribe of Florida for a new non-commercial educational FM at Big Cypress: The application had been rejected as unacceptable for filing but the FCC granted the tribe a waiver and reinstated the application, accepting an assertion that the proposed station's 60 dBµ contour would cover 47 percent of the Tribal population within the BCR, only 3% short of the 50 percent coverage threshold required, a percentage that in this case amounts to only 24 persons.
Florida and Georgia:
*Granted the applications to involuntarily assign the following stations from Tama Radio Licenses of Tampa, FL, Inc. to receiver Scott Savage:
Florida - WHJX-FM, Baldwin; WTMP-FM, Dade City; WTMP-AM, Egypt Lake; WJSJ-FM, Fernandina Beach; WSJF-FM, St. Augustine Beach.
Georgia - WFJO-FM, Folkston; WSGA-FM and WTHG-FM, Hinesville; and WSSJ-FM, Rincon.
Dr. Glenn Cherry, former Chief Executive Officer of Tama, had filed an Informal Objection to the Assignment Applications, saying that an allegation of "premature assumption of control of the Tama licenses" was currently under investigation by the FCC Enforcement Bureau and that it agency should review the progress of this investigation before acting on the assignment application.
The FCC noted that the Enforcement Bureau had released an order and Consent Decree terminating the investigation and said that Cherry had not raised a substantial and material question of fact warranting further inquiry. It granted the assignments
*Dismissed, noting that it was filed too late, petition for reconsideration of denial of informal objection to renewal of licence of Pittsburg State University's KRPS-FM, Pittsburg.
*Dismissed an application from by Christian Family Network, Inc. to renew the license of expired FM Station DWOLY (AM), Battle Creek, and the concurrently filed request for Special Temporary Authorization to continue station operations pending consideration of the renewal application.
The licensee had been told in June 2006 that the licence, which should have been renewed by October 2004, had expired and authority to operate the station terminated. The station did not respond until these filings in January this year, providing provides an exhibit detailing its attempts to file a license renewal application and its attempts to contact Commission staff when it was unable to do so
The FCC pointed out that it could only consider late-filed petitions if the petitioner shows that its failure to file for reconsideration in a timely manner resulted from "extraordinary circumstances and said this was not the case here, rejected the request and ordered that the station must immediately cease operations.
*Granted application from New Jersey Public Broadcasting Authority for construction permit for a new non-commercial educational FM station in Bernardsville, New Jersey, and rejected mutually exclusive application from World Revivals, Inc. for a new NCE FM in Chatham. World Revivals had claimed that NJPBA does not have permission to use the proposed transmitter site, and that current local policies prevent NJPBA from obtaining such permission.
The FCC found that World Revivals had not made its case and granted the NJPBA application.
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