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Chriss Scherer Scherer has been the editor of Radio magazine since 1997. His experience in radio includes work as chief engineer at stations in Cleveland (WMMS-FM, WHK-AM, WZJM-FM, WJMO-AM...more

Archive for December, 2008

Remembering the Buzz About the Sat Radio Merger

Remember when the idea of a merged satellite radio provider was seemingly the only items of news for radio? The New York Times recently ran a story about the ongoing woes of the company.

When the merger was the top story, the NAB opposed it. No, it more than opposed the merger, the NAB waged a war against it. Unfortunately for the NAB, it lost that very visible war. But as I expected, the merger of the two satcasters has had a minimal affect on terrestrial radio.

The combined company has a huge debt, and apparently it needs to refinance that debt in 2009. Howard Stern is considering retirement when his contract expires. It looks like Sirius XM just can’t catch a break.

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The RIAA Gets Smart on Pirates

After years of bad publicity for suing teenagers and hapless Internet users, the Recording Industry Association of America is trying a new approach. Its going to work with the Internet service providers to impede the illegal activity.

Based on a plan being developed in France, a user gets three chances to illegally share a file. At that point, the RIAA tells the ISP, which can then forward the warning or directly as the user to stop. If the user continues, the warnings continue. The RIAA wants the ISP to reduce the user’s data rate the practice continues, eventually stopping the service altogether.

This sounds like a gentler approach, and it makes the ISP look like the bad guy, not the RIAA. Almost any change will help the RIAA at this point.

Regardless, thwarting efforts to stop song piracy will always make the record label or the RIAA look bad. For the individual, it’s a petty crime worth a few cents. I understand the RIAA plan so for. Lot and lots of pennies here and pennies there add up to big bucks. I believe artists are due to receive their share for their work. Taking single moms and teenagers to court makes them an example to discourage others from doing it, but it hasn’t seemed to make a difference.

It also does not help that the royalty process in general has bruises of its own with artists reporting that they never received royalties that were negotiated on their behalf.

I expect this debate to continue for some time. And as the Internet continues to grow and online social networking becomes more common than actually putting on shoes and socks and engaging in face-to-face interaction, enforcing copyright laws and collecting on royalties is only going to become more challenging.

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Prolific? Yes. Profitable? No.

I receive regular updates from Media Monitors about top radio advertisers. We don’t post the info at Radio magazine because it’s not really tech related. It’s also covered just fine in the management outlets.
Some companies purchase a great deal of radio advertising. Walmart and Geico are two that come to mind. A recent Media Monitors list ranked the biggest radio advertisers of 2008, and the names aren’t really surprising, although there is some false hope in one. Here’s the list:

Rank Advertiser # spots (millions)
1. HD Digital Radio Alliance 1.69
2. Walmart 1.64
3. Geico 1.56
4. Verizon 1.24
5. Home Depot 1.22

It’s good to see HD Radio being promoted so heavily, but at the same time, there’s no money changing hands for these ads. Stations are committed to running the spots, but the volume of unsold inventory also raises a flag for our struggling economy.
The news is a mixed message. Good for HD Radio. Telling for radio advertising.

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Help Wanted: Honest FCC Commissioner

We already knew that there were problems at the FCC. Now, some members of Congress have affirmed that belief. Read about it here:

radiomagonline.com/currents/house-report-investigates-fcc-problems-martin-1210/

Unfortunately, it is likely that little will be done. Once Obama is sworn in, a the commission will have a new chairman.

Activate EAS: I have a hangnail!

I don’t really have a hangnail, but read on and you’ll see that something that silly could be in an upcoming EAS message.

We posted a news item in the Radio Currents today. The following message was sent on Dec. 4, 2008, in the Lubbock, TX, area:

BULLETIN – EAS ACTIVATION REQUESTED
Civil Emergency Message
Texas Emergency Management Agency Lubbock Texas
Relayed By National Weather Service Lubbock TX
531 PM CST Thu Dec 4 2008
The following message is transmitted at the request of the Childress Office of Emergency Management.
At 530 PM this evening officials with the Childress Office of Emergency Management and the Childress Banking Center are advising bank customers to be aware of a telephone scam being conducted in the Childress area. The scam involves either a recorded telephone message or a live person calling who represents them self as an employee of either the Childress Banking Center or Wellington State Bank. The scam requests specific information about your personal accounts. You are advised to be very wary of any calls requesting information about your personal accounts. The banks do not make calls such as these. If you have given out any information that may have compromised your accounts you should contact your bank immediately.

Civil emergency? Really? When life is at risk — even a single life — it makes sense to use EAS. When property is involved, it becomes a problem to decide if an activiation is warranted. To me, this was an inapprorpiate use of EAS. This should have been run on the local news stations, not as an EAS mesasge.

What’s next? Attention citizens: there are bad people in the world! Don’t talk to strangers. Lock your doors when you leave the house. Brush and floss twice daily.

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