Radio Currents Online - Ju1 2 - Jul 8, 2007


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No End to the Sat Radio Merger Comments
Washington - Jul 3, 2007 - The ongoing battle rages between the supporters and opponents of the satellite radio merger. Both sides continue to gather supporters for their arguments as well.

Recent financial analyst reports from Merrill Lynch, Morgan Joseph and Bear Stearns all show satellite radio as a good investment right now. These firms also have mixed opinions on the successful outcome of the merger proposal. Bear Stearns maintains that satellite radio sees continued competition from Internet and HD Radio.

The merger supporters gained another prominent name in their camp when Harold Furchtgott-Roth, the former FCC commissioner, released an economic review of the proposed merger. The satellite radio providers retained his services to prepare the report. His review includes the arguments that have already been presented, namely that satellite radio competes with all other forms of audio media.

The review goes on to explain that mobile and fixed communications markets continue to change, and viewing satellite radio as a static market is unreasonable. It also states that if the combined operator were to raise its subscription fee, subscribers would likely drop the service.

The NAB also issued its rebuttal to the Furchtgott-Roth report. The NAB report was written by Philip Napoli of Fordham University. This report maintains that satellite radio is its own distinct market for antitrust issues.


How Effective Was the Internet Day of Silence?
Jun 28, 2007 - On June 26, 2007, thousands of Internet radio stations across America turned silent in symbolic protest of the increase in royalty rates proposed by the Copyright Royalty Board (CRB). The proposal includes increases retroactive to January 2006. Internet radio broadcasters citing that these increases would decimate the Internet radio industry and put most Internet radio businesses off the air, turned off their streaming on June 26 in an effort to move listeners to contact their congressmen to support a counter proposed bill that offers more acceptable rates. Bridge Ratings conducted two studies in association with the Day of Silence to gauge the effect that this movement had.

The national sample of 3,000 persons 13+ was first asked if they normally listen to Internet radio in a typical week. 21 percent of the respondents said they listened, 79 percent said that they did not. This 21 percent is consistent with previous Bridge Ratings studies and is slightly higher than the 19 percent who said "yes" in a study earlier this year.

During the day on June 26, the designated Day of Silence, Bridge asked those who responded "yes", the following question: "Did you listen to Internet Radio or radio streamed on the Internet today?" Bridge asked the same question of the same participants the next day, June 27, when Internet radio returned.

Date June 26 June 27
  YES NO YES NO
  45% 55% 89% 11%

It appears that the Day of Silence had an effect on Internet radio listening, although many Internet radio listeners searched for other online programming that day anyway. When the entire sample of Internet radio listeners was asked if they found their primary Internet radio station silent on the Day of Silence, 62 percent of the respondents indicated that they had.

Bridge then asked the 62 percent who found their primary Internet station silent what action they took when they found that station silent. Of them, 72 percent found something else to listen to online, 23 percent didn't listen to Internet radio, and 5 percent answered "don't know."

The Bridge methodology used random digit dial telephone interviews, one person per household.


Business

Audemat-Aztec Expands French Headquarters
Merignac, France - Jul 2, 2007 - Audemat-Aztec has plans to build a new manufacturing facility to be added to its existing facilities. The facility addition is necessitated by the company's growth. The company has hired 25 new employees this year already.

The company has purchased an adjacent lot and is planning a separate manufacturing plant of approximately 9,150 square feet, which will will increase the available space by more than 50 percent. The building will include an environmentally friendly design and features.

The company has decided to comply with the ISO 14000 environmental management standards, which exist to help organizations minimize how their operations negatively affect the environment. Audemat-Aztec already complies with ISO 9001. ISO 14000 compliance entails increased recycling, use of more environmentally friendly materials and a high energy efficiency building. The ISO 14000 certification will occur in August 2007.


Five Alabama Broadcasters Deploy GSS Alert FM
Jackson, MS - Jun 28, 2007 - Five radio stations in Alabama are among the first in the state to deploy a local platform for Alert FM, an FM-based digital alert and messaging system. The Alabama Broadcasters Association joined GSS for this announcement and encourage local broadcasters to support the Alert FM system as a demonstration of their commitment to first responders, businesses and citizens.

Alert FM uses RBDS to send digital information via FM radio stations. Targeted alerts and messages are delivered by satellite to FM transmission facilities and can be received on Alert FM receivers and other mobile devices.


XM Adds Unique Interactive for Scrolling Messages
London - Jul 3, 2007 - XM Satellite Radio has implemented the Man DLS scrolling text software from Unique Interactive. The Man DLS scrolling text software will allow XM to provide sports scores, weather, news, music track and artist information, traffic and emergency alerts.

Unique Interactive already provides its scrolling text software for DAB, DTTV and DRM in the UK, Europe, Asia and Australia and for HD Radio in North America.


Merging Technologies Open UK Office
London - Jul 5, 2007 - Merging Technologies of Switzerland has opened a dedicated sales and support office in the UK. UK company Total Audio Solutions, which has been the exclusive distributor for Merging in the UK, will continue as a principal dealer for Merging's product line. Some of the Pyramix and Vcube support personnel from Total Audio Solutions have moved to Merging UK to ensure continuity of support for Merging's customers, and sales will be headed as before by Paul Mortimer.

Merging UK is a partnership between Merging in Switzerland, Paul Mortimer and Richard Bowen, a UK businessman with a background in the IT telecommunications. The new company will be run as an independent business fully supported by Merging staff.


Sales Call
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The British Broadcasting Corporation has chosen London-based Unique Interactive to provide the Man DLS display text and electronic program guide (EPG) data for its Digital Radio Mondiale (DRM) trial. The initiative is centered on BBC Radio Devon in Plymouth in southwest England.

Internet Watch

Sound Exchange Offers Cap On Minimum Royalty Fees
Washington - Jun 29, 2007 - Sound Exchange has proposed a voluntary cap on the minimum fees charged against royalties for sound recordings played on Internet radio. Sound Exchange proposed capping such advance payments at $2,500 per service.

Recently enacted regulations that go into effect on July 15 require each webcasting service to pay a $500 minimum fee "per station or channel" regardless of the overall number of stations/channels it streams. By making this offer, Sound Exchange hopes to address certain webcasters' concerns about their liability for per-channel minimums.

Sound Exchange has begun discussions with the Digital Media Association to determine the most effective means for implementing this policy as broadly as permitted under the law. "The idea that the per-channel minimum might have a disproportionate impact on certain Internet radio stations was never presented to the Copyright Royalty Judges," said Michael Huppe, general counsel of Sound Exchange. "Nonetheless, at the request of Congress, we are trying to work with the small subset of affected webcasters, and are offering this proposal in the hopes of addressing those concerns."

Sound Exchange is also currently in active negotiations with small commercial webcasters and non-commericial webcasters such as public radio and college stations to provide what the organization considers to be below-market rates under terms similar to those of previous years under the Small Webcaster Settlement Act. The minimum cap and non-comm webcasters proposal is being touted by Sound Exchange as a "good faith effort" to address the elements of the recent webcasting ruling that have the concern of Congress and individual webcasters.

Sound Exchange maintains that it simply wants to see artists and labels fairly paid for the music they provide while ensuring that Internet radio grows and flourishes.

"There's no question the new rates set by the Copyright Royalty Judges are fair and are reasonable in the current market. In proposing these various accommodations to webcasters (especially small and non-commercial webcasters), Sound Exchange has taken the initiative to attempt to address the concerns that have been raised by Congress and affected webcasters." Said John Simson, executive director of Sound Exchange.

It appears that Sound Exchange still doesn't understand that its actions are ensuring the failure of Internet radio.




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