Australian commercial radio argued streaming was covered by broadcast tariff, but Court finds otherwise

Monday, August 19, 2013 - 2:55pm

Australia's High Court has denied commercial broadcasters there permission to appeal lower court decisions compelling radio to pay royalties for both broadcasting music and streaming.

Commercial Radio Australia is the national industry body representing Australia's commercial radio broadcasters. The PPCA is the recording companies' collecting society. The two have been pitted against one another in the matter of whether simultaneous online streams indeed constitute a separate use of recorded music. 

A 2012 court decision actually found in favor of the CRA, which maintained that online simulcasts were within the definition of "broadcast" in Australia's Copyright Act. The PPCA has held that online performances should be subject to a separate tariff. A Federal Court overturned the CRA's earlier victory, and Australia's High Court now agrees.

Read more in The Register here.

CC-created iHeartRadio to compete with Pandora in Australia and New Zealand

Monday, August 5, 2013 - 10:55am

ARN, the Australian Radio Network, has launched digital music service iHeartRadio in Australia and New Zealand. Of course, iHeartRadio is the online radio platform created by U.S. media giant Clear Channel.

Like the service in the U.S., the Australian iHeartRadio will offer live radio streams, a custom radio feature (a la Pandora), and reportedly more than 850 playlists curated for moods or activities called "Perfect For" channels (a la Songza).

All of ARN's broadcast stations are available as live streams on iHeartRadio now. On September 23, iHeartRadio will add ARN's "American sister stations and New Zealand’s TRN" stations, for a total of more than 900 live station streams, reports B&T.

The service is free to use for listeners, with limited advertising. The live radio streams will still contain the on-air ads of the stations, but aside from audio and video pre-rolls, the online-only features will be ad-free (as in the U.S.).

"ARN is one of the last radio networks to bring a music streaming service to market," writes B&T. "DMG Radio Australia partnered with Rdio in August last year and Songl, a joint venture between Southern Cross Austereo and DMD, launched in beta in March."

U.S.-based wecasting leader Pandora is also in Australia and New Zealand. AdNews reports Pandora will meet its target of one million Australian users in the coming months, and will soon introduce advertising to the streams.

Read more in B&T here; and in AdNews here.

Legal analyst says Australian court ruling might mean an end to radio streaming

Tuesday, February 19, 2013 - 12:20pm

An Australian legal analyst says a new court ruling in that country will result in vastly higher royalty rates for online radio streaming, and may quash it altogether.

Radio broadcasters in that country pay for broadasting copyright sound recordings, and currently pay an additional 1% for streaming their on-air content.

The Phonographic Performance Company of Australia (PPCA) is Austalia's counterpart to SoundExchange in the U.S. -- the body that represents sound recording copyright owners, and collects and distributes royalties when those copyrights are used. Last week Australia's Full Federal Court ruled in favor of the PPCA, declaring that online simulcasts of broadcast radio is outside the definition of a broadcast, and thus require a separate license.

The author (a University of Canberra law student named Karl Schaffarczyk) writes, "Given recent PPCA demands of huge increases in licence fees for other users of recorded music, a likely scenario is that many broadcasters will simply stop making their content available online."

Read his article at The Conversation here.

Pandora adds first new markets since 2007 outside the U.S.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012 - 12:15pm

Pandora has gone live Down Under.

The leading webcaster in the U.S. is "fully live" in Australia and New Zealand, with both the web-based player and fully-functioning mobile apps for Apple and Android devices. The launch marks Pandora's first official entry in nations outside the U.S. since the company limited listening to home nation in 2007. 

In July (coverage here), Pandora "beta launched" in the two countries, but streaming only to desktop listeners (no mobile) -- but with the aim of a fully-mobile service. Holden will be the first car company in Australia and New Zealand to offer full compatibility with Pandora via its new Holden MyLink infotainment system.

"This is especially important in Australia and New Zealand," according to Pandora's press release, "which are among the world's most mobile-centric societies."

To accompany the launch, Pandora created "genre stations of Australian- and New Zealand-specific music," and has hired a local Managing Director for the new markets. Jane Huxley most recently led digital efforts for Fairfax Media, one of Australia's largest diversified media companies (Australia and New Zealand-based newspapers, magazines, radio and digital media).

You can see Pandora's Australia Genre Stations here, those for New Zealand here, and download the app for those markets here.

CC partner Australian Radio Network to fire up iHeartRadio platform in 2013

Thursday, October 11, 2012 - 11:20am

Clear Channel's online radio platform, iHeartRadio, will launch in Australia and New Zealand, the broadcaster announced today.

The Australian Radio Network (ARN -- which is a joint venture between APN News & Media and Clear Channel International) will launch the service -- and add its own stations to the iHeartRadio range of listening options. The service will launch in Australia and New Zealand next year.

ARN has a "dual brand" strategy - a MixFM and Classic Hits music stream in Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and Brisbane. ARN reaches over 4 million listeners, and is one of the leading broadcasters in the 25–54 demographic in Australia.

Text-to-audio app SoundGecko looking to "reinvent the radio with personalized information"

Wednesday, July 18, 2012 - 1:20pm

SoundGeckoA new service from an Australian start-up transforms articles from the web into a radio-like experience. SoundGecko, from Melbourne's 121cast, automatically transcribes print articles from the web and outputs an audio mp3. Their free iPhone app even plays these transcribed articles back-to-back, essentially creating a personalized news audio stream.

"Our vision is to reinvent the radio with personalized information and entertainment," said 121cast's Long Zheng.

Give SoundGecko a URL -- by sending it to a special email address, pasting it directly into SoundGecko's website, or via Chrome extension -- and the service delivers an mp3 recording within 30 seconds to your email address, or to the service's iPhone app, or pushes the file to a linked Dropbox or Googe Drive account.

"Since our soft launch we've had hundreds of users requesting nearly a thousand articles," Zheng told The Verge.

"I have been testing the service over the past few days and although it isn't perfect," writes The Verge's Tom Warren, "I found that the text-to-speech voice is great for when you want to simply sit back and listen to an article during a commute."

Our own experience with the app is similar. Here's how I've used the service over the past day: while browing the web, I used the SoundGecko Chrome extension to send a variety of interesting articles -- which I didn't have time to read just then -- to the service. Then this morning on the train, I fired up SoundGecko's iPhone app and listened to my articles in one continuous radio-like stream.

It was overall a very smooth and exciting experience, though as Warren writes, it isn't perfect (yet). But 121cast has a few ideas on how to improve the experience, including possibly hiring professionals to "read out the most popular URLs" (on-air talent?).

Apps for Android, Windows Phone and Windows 8 are on the way. SoundGecko is currently free to use, though the company is mulling putting caps or perhaps premium features.

You can find SoundGecko here and The Verge's coverage here.

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