Public radio broadcasters in the U.S. are coming to grips with the announcement from Tom and Ray Magliozzi that they plan to retire from Car Talk, one of National Public Radio’s most popular (and lucrative) programs, this fall.
“Click and Clack, the Tappet Brothers” have been doing the show for 25 years. Although they’ll be done, Car Talk itself will remain on the air with shows assembled from the archives (one of the producers, a former colleague of mine, says they’ve got wide discretion to pick and choose what will air and when).
There’s been some controversy over whether it makes sense to actually keep running Car Talk since all the content will be rehashed. Ira Glass, founding producer of This American Life (a program that, ironically, NPR declined to syndicate), thinks airing reconstituted shows makes for bad programming precedent on NPR more generally. Continue reading “NPR: Where New Ideas Go to Die?”
Interesting news out of Saga Communications, a broadcast conglomerate with more than 100 stations in nearly 30 markets. Saga has decided to limit its online-streaming presence to the stations it owns in the top 100 markets.
For those stations that will stream, Saga plans to cap listening geographically, limiting online access to those who actually reside in the stations’ on-air coverage area. In addition, Saga may implement a 90-minute time limit for online listening: listeners will be prompted to click something to continue the stream after the initial session. If they don’t respond, they’re done.
Considering that the majority of Saga’s stations are outside the top 100 markets, this is a significant diminution of the company’s online streaming presence. Saga claims the cost of streaming is prohibitive, as it spends $800,000 per month to provide station streams, while the revenue it generates from them is paltry. Most of this money goes to pay performance royalties on the music it streams.
Contrast this with the actions of radio’s biggest player, Clear Channel, over the last year. Clear Channel’s building what it hopes to be the go-to portal for streaming broadcast radio stations in iHeartRadio.com. Not only has it repositioned its broadcast properties to act essentially as billboards for the company’s online presence, but it’s entered into several agreements with other broadcasters (both commercial and noncommercial) to aggregate their streams exclusively through its portal.
Clear Channel is also taking steps to attempt to control the cost of streaming royalties. Earlier this month, the company broke from the rest of the radio industry, striking a deal with the Big Machine Label Group to pay the first-ever performance royalties for broadcast airplay. In exchange, the company gets a discounted rate for streaming royalty payments to the label. Continue reading “Broadcasters Still Ambivalent About Streaming”
A proposal by Geo Broadcast Solutions to use FM booster stations to originate programming in a networked configuration attracted a paltry dozen comments to the FCC. None of the country’s major commercial or noncommercial broadcasters filed their thoughts on “ZoneCasting,” although those who did comment unanimously supported the idea and urged regulators to move forward with a rulemaking proceeding to allow this radical new use of boosters. Continue reading “Tepid Response to ZoneCasting's Petition for Rulemaking”
On June 6, the House of Representatives’ Subcommittee on Communications and Technology held a hearing on “The Future of Audio” – an open-ended, quasi exploratory affair covering several subjects. Of note was the testimony of Jeff Smulyan, the President and CEO of Emmis Communications.
Emmis, in conjunction with iBiquity Digital Corporation and Intel, unveiled a prototype smartphone with FM-HD reception capability at the National Association of Broadcasters’ annual convention in April. The NAB itself has publicly acknowledged that getting FM reception into phones is its number one legislative priority this year. Continue reading “Broadcasters Begin Push for Radio Chips in Phones”