radio

Gov't policy paper acknowledges radio's "competitive advantage" over digital services regarding royalties

Thursday, August 1, 2013 - 10:40am

The U.S. Department of Commerce yesterday issued a policy statement that, among other things, supports the idea that U.S. broadcasters "enjoy a competitive advantage over emerging digital services" since they're not obligated to pay performance royalties for recordings.

"Pureplay" webcasters have long argued for parity for the licensed use of copyright recordings. While U.S. broadcasters have no obligation to pay sound recording copyright owners or performers, Internet-, satellite-, and cable-radio operators pay royalties which can amount to a majority of their revenues. Both broadcasters and newer digital forms of radio pay for the use of musical compositions.

The Department's Internet Policy Task Force paper reiterates the Administration's support for a broadcast "performance right" for sound recordings. A press release announcing the paper says it also "supports congressional or regulatory attention to determine how best to rationalize rate-setting standards for different types of music services; reform music licensing, particularly the mechanical license for musical compositions..."

The paper itself is here; the press release is here.

Rep. Mel Watt (N.C.-D) told colleagues last week he plans to introduce a bill that would recognize a performance right for sound recordings on radio, with the hopes of encouraging broadcasters and copyright owners to reach marketplace aggreements. More in RAIN here.

Local media personalities to host Boston Herald Radio, which leverages paper's journalism resources

Monday, July 29, 2013 - 1:10pm

One week from today the Boston Herald will launch its own live (weekdaily 6a-6p) news and talk online radio station.

Boston Herald Radio will focus on news, talk, and sports for the Boston area, leveraging the journalism and technology of the major daily newspaper. Former Boston-area radio and television personalities like Jeff Katz, Jon Meterparel, Jen Royle, and Michael Graham will host daily shows. Herald reporters and editors will provide news throughout the day. Other elements from the newspaper (reviews, political and business reports, style and food segments, and pro, college, and high school sports) will be featured as well, reports Talkers Magazine.

[Pictured is Herald Editor-in-Chief Joe Sciacca (left) and Herald COO Jeff Magram in the new Boston Herald Radio studio.]

Rival paper The Boston Globe owns the online alternative rock music-centric RadioBDC, operated by former WFNX staffers (RAIN coverage here). (WFNX.com was an online-only station operated by the Phoenix Media/Communications Group in conjunction with alternative media newspaper the Boston Phoenix (see RAIN here). The paper and the station both shut down in March.)

Boston Herald Radio will use Backbone Radio technology, including its "Talk Radio" multi-line Internet-based phone system. The system allows for multi-caller and screening capability anywhere an Internet connection is available (meaning, outside the studio).

Talkers Magazine quotes Boston Herald publisher and president Patrick J. Purcell: "Internet radio is exploding and it makes sense that the Herald rounds out our multimedia platform with talk radio programming. It's perfect synergy."

Boston Herald Radio will be available on the newspaper's website, TuneIn Radio (site and apps), and via dedicated mobile apps.

See Talkers Magazine's coverage here. Read more from the Herald itself here.

As news of new AM/FM royalty bill hits, CC announces latest revenue share deal with indie label

Thursday, July 25, 2013 - 12:40pm

Several sources are reporting that North Carolina Representative Mel Watt (D) (pictured) said today he will soon introduce new legislation to require U.S. broadcasters to pay royalties for their broadcast use of copyright sound recordings.

Watt told colleagues at a House Judiciary Committee hearing this morning he plans to introduce a bill before the House recess next month.

The National Association of Broadcasters immediately responded. EVP Communications Dennis Wharton called the legislation "a new performance tax that would kill jobs at America's hometown radio stations while diverting millions of dollars to offshore record labels." The NAB supports a non-binding resolution in both chambers of Congress, called the Local Radio Freedom Act, opposing charging radio for the recordings they play.

Unlike other forms of radio (Internet, satellite, cable) -- and unlike broadcasters in most other parts of the world -- U.S. terrestrial radio is not obligated to pay the copyright owners for the use of sound recordings they broadcast (only for compositions). Broadcasters do pay these royalties for online streaming.

The music industry in recent years has stepped up efforts to, in its terms, "correct" this "historical anomoly" and strongly supports Congressional action to require royalties for AM/FM radio. Meanwhile, operators of new forms of radio, saddled with sound recording performance royalties amounting to large percentages of revenues, say broadcasters' exemption makes fair competition impossible.

The NAB says is supports "private, company-by-company negotiations that are driven by the free market," for the use of recorded music. Today Clear Channel announced it has reached an agreement with indie music label Innovative Leisure "that will enable Innovative Leisure's artists to share in broadcast and digital revenue." It's the latest of a series of deals struck by Clear Channel (and a handful of other broadcasters) with independent label groups. Though the terms are never made public, it's understood that, in exchange for a discount (or waiver) on streaming royalties, the radio groups will pay a small royalty for on-air play of the label's music (which they call a "share of advertising revenue").

PPL to U.S. radio: Pay royalties, or block UK streams

Tuesday, July 23, 2013 - 11:30am

Inside Radio reports today UK-based music licensing company and performance rights organisation PPL has contacted several U.S. broadcast groups to insist they pay royalties for UK stream listening, or block the streams altogether. According to Inside Radio, Cox Media Group is one of the groups that received the letter.

Broadcasters like Clear Channel, Emmis, and CBS Radio indeed take measures to prevent non-U.S. streaming. In fact, the PPL says no U.S. radio group has approached the organization for a license. While Pandora blocks UK listening, U.S. operator Live 365 is PPL-licensed to stream to UK listeners.

According to the news source, only the largest radio groups have been contacted by PPL -- so far. PPL spokesman Jonathan Morrish did say the organization plans to send similar letters to other American broadcasters as part of a "broader PPL project."

Morrish said his group is "merely ensuring that services that are streaming in the UK are correctly licensed... Any overspill received outside the U.S. would not therefore be covered by the U.S. statutory license and instead separate licensing arrangements would need to be made."

While generally broadcasters aren't interested in streaming to foreign listeners their advertisers aren't interested in reaching, one exception Inside Radio brings up is overseas-based U.S. military audiences.

More in Inside Radio here.

Pandora opens local sales office in Boston, but broadcasters say it's not competition

Tuesday, July 9, 2013 - 12:20pm

Pandora has just opened a local ad sales office in Boston, its 29th after other markets like New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles. Boston's local advertising market is valued at about $15 billion.

But as the leading webcaster looks to tap in to local radio advertising budgets there, some broadcasters maintain that since Pandora isn't "radio," it's not competition to them.

"Pandora doesn’t compete directly with broadcast radio nationally or locally because it’s not radio in the real sense of the word," Clear Channel national sales president Tim Castelli told The Boston Globe.

According to Triton Digital's Webcast Metrics, Pandora's audience places it in, or near, the top 10 in radio in major U.S. markets.

Read more in The Boston Globe here.

NYT blogger discovers the joy of radio, via apps

Monday, July 8, 2013 - 12:45pm

Blogger Jenna Wortham, writing for The New York Times' Digital Diary, has apparently discovered radio.

After years with an iPod and streaming music, she's (re)disovering how radio can be "fun and communal in a way that streaming music hasn't been in years." Naturally, to feed her new hunger for radio, she downloading apps!

"The appeal of the radio isn’t the music selection," Wortham wrote. Rather, "it’s the human element that draws me in, knowing that someone is selecting songs for you."

It's a strength broadcasters often tout -- the sense of community local radio can create. The core of digital services' strength, the very "solution to the problem," is to make music and radio personal. You needn't suffer lowest-common-denominator programming, because digital technology can make something intended solely for you and enjoyed solely by you. (Certainly services have social elements and "crowd wisdom" features, but these are ultimately intended to enhance the signular listening experience.)

Could digital music services' customization of programming really amount to isolation, and thus be not a feature but a flaw? Do digital services need to address "the communal experience of listening to music together" (as Wortham describes it)?

Read more in The New York Times' Bits here.

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