Press Corrections: Pod/Godcasting

A couple of noteworthy but skewed articles published this week. USA Today picked up on the FM translator spectrum trafficking scandal and, like the caricature of journalism that it is, talked with “both sides” for “equal time.” This allowed Radio Assist Ministry/Edgewater Broadcasting president Clark Parrish the chance to tell some tall tales unchallenged.
Parrish claims the call for an investigation into his trafficking operation is “sour grapes.” He says he plans to start a new nationwide religious broadcast network via FM translator, which may rebroadcast American Family Radio (another translator-monger). And, most importantly, the small number of construction permits he’s sold to others (for $800,000+) were just chaff – leftover permits he’s since decided not to build as part of his network.
Just one sentence on the Radio Assist Ministry web site mentions building “a network in Michigan,” hardly a national endeavor. That means at the very least that the thousands of other construction permit applications RAM/EB filed were filed so they could later be sold. Several facts support this conclusion: the timing of RAM/EB’s incorporation (RAM in late 2002, EB during the 2003 translator filing window itself) and the market-positioning Parrish et al. engaged in – including the marketing of permits before they were actually in hand – are but the two reddest flags in the pile.
Perhaps the worst error in Paul Davidson’s story was the statement that the FCC is investigating Clark Parrish and his deals. While the FCC has imposed a six-month freeze on further application-processing from the 2003 translator window, it makes no mention of the petition that invoked it, and expresses no concern about the behavior of certain applicants that initially provoked the petitioners. To press the FCC to investigate this problem is what filing comments now with the agency is all about (Use 99-25 for the Proceeding number).
Secondly: futurist-about-town Xeni Jardin writes about the impending launch of “open source radio” station KYOU (1550 AM) in San Francisco. The first-blush wow factor is pretty obvious: “new media” arrives to supplant the old, how cool is that? Pretty cool, so long as you ignore how KYOU (Infinity/Viacom) perverts the podcast model.
Podcasting is cool because it allows individuals to completely circumvent the middleman and potentially serve large audiences with amazingly uncomplicated syndication technology; KYOU will have a stable of producers to screen all podcasts for airplay approval. Podcasting is cool because it’s content-rich and advert-lite; KYOU’s format boils down to: podcasts with advertising. Podcasting is cool because it encourages the distribution of content outside the bounds of traditional copyright schemes; KYOU’s terms of use give Infinity/Viacom “the royalty-free, worldwide, perpetual, irrevocable, non-exclusive right (including any moral rights)” to use and profit from anything uploaded to the station while waiving the rights of the creator.
Oh, and if you’d like to listen to KYOU online, that’s only possible through Radiomat, Viacom’s streaming hub for its news/talk stations. Radiomat requires you to supply a name, e-mail address, and zip code to listen, and then in Windows Media Player format only. None of it sounds very “open source” to me.
In the end, Infinity may have figured out how to make money of a weak-signal station with basement ratings – think of how much it will save by using free programming.