Posts Tagged ‘Obama’

Roundup: The Performance Rights Act

June 16, 2010

The Performance Rights Act (PRA) has been a frequent topic here on the Radio 2020 blog ever since its inception, and with good reason. The legislation as it stands could have massive negative repercussions for the radio industry at all levels. Among other things, the new royalty structure will almost certainly result in the labels revisiting their contracts with artists if it passes — not something many have considered. This is only one of many ramifications that will rear their ugly heads if the PRA gets passed.

Let’s take a quick trip in a time machine and revisit my prior postings on the subject. For the benefit of our readers, here is a nice array of data on the subject. These posts range from October 2009 to the present and are presented oldest to newest in this list.

The Performance Rights Act is a very serious issue and it could still go one way or the other, so please educate yourself on the subject. Make an informed decision and let your Representative know your views!

Image: D. Reichardt / CC 2.0


Minority Radio Seeks TARP Funds

August 7, 2009

moneyPierre Sutton, the head of Inner City Broadcasting Corp, assumed his place in the pulpit of the NY Daily News recently to state his case for requesting TARP funds to assist minority broadcasters, radio in particular.

His opening salvo states that many low income and minority households have been “stranded” by the digital TV transition. I can certainly see it, especially now with the economy being in its current state of chaos. If you’re having trouble making the rent, then a DTV converter is probably out of the question, a situation more and more Americans find themselves in each day. (I’m not sure which program it was, but I overheard a snippet on NPR this morning saying the unemployment rate was verging on 10%.)

Sutton waxes eloquent on why minority broadcasters should receive assistance when every business out there is already hurting:

Because these radio stations – which serve a vital and underappreciated role – have been suffering economic body blow after body blow in the current crisis.

First, banks and other lenders are becoming de facto owners of the nation’s airwaves, driving out diversity of all kinds.

Second, Arbitron, whose ratings determine where advertisers buy airtime, has initiated a new method of measuring audiences that we believe dramatically undercounts minority stations’ listeners.

Third, advertisers across the board are cutting back their buys on minority radio. That’s especially true of the troubled auto industry, long a leading advertiser on black stations.

[Read the whole column here.]

He goes on to suggest that the situation can be remedied by dipping into the Troubled Asset Relief Program, the much contested TARP you’ve heard on the news. In an August 5 meeting between minority broadcasters and senior Obama administration officials, Susan Crawford (special assistant to the president for science, technology, and innovation policy) is quoted by John Eggerton at Broadcast and Cable as saying:

“Millions of Americans rely on over-the-air broadcasting, she told a Minority Media & Telecommunications Conference in Washington. “The administration understands the important role traditional terrestrial broadcasting continues to play,” she [Crawford]  said, pointing to the high radio listenership of minorities as one example of that importance.

The administration “seeks to encourage opportunities for minorities and women to own radio and television stations,” she said, adding: “We support the expression of diverse viewpoints as fundamental to the health of our civil society.”

Since everyone is hurting, and the courts don’t like singling out any one ethnic or social group, it is difficult to see how the administration can extend a helping hand to Blacks and Hispanics alone, as much as it might want to and as much as they may need it.Perhaps something can be worked out between broadcasters and lenders, with the administration acting as mediator, to at least keep creditors at bay for a specified period of time – enough time to get the broadcasting business righted. Sort of like troubled mortgage relief.

It will be to everyone’s advantage for that to happen, because if the lenders decide or are forced to take over the stations, they will not know how to run them and their value will plummet further than they already have.

Businesses of all types are going into receivership right now, and those businesses are what provide the advertising revenue for radio stations. Those that are not in financial distress are curtailing their ad spend furthering the down trend. Perhaps the method proposed by RBR or something similar could be the answer to the issue Sutton poses. It might also be only part of the puzzle. Continued embrace of Internet and mobile technologies are an additional way to generate additional revenue, and if approached correctly, create community in the process.
It is a thorny issue, and one that bears watching.
Image: amagill / CC BY 2.0

Obama On The Air

January 21, 2009


I’m writing this on the morning of January 20, Inauguration Day. In the background, I keep switching between NPR and a variety of commercial stations, listening to the stupendous array of coverage this historic moment is accruing.

It is not just here in the States that the excitement is raging. All over the world, people are paying more attention to this passing of the torch than any prior election I can think of. Of course, radio is at the forefront of the coverage. Andy Carvin and others from NPR are actively Twittering the proceedings in addition to the ongoing radio coverage, showing once more the evolution of radio into the digital medium. (Follow Andy on Twitter at @acarvin.)

But that’s not all.

The BBC reports that in Northern Ireland a radio station in Moneygall has changed its name temporarily to “Obama FM.” “It’s kind of a tenuous link – it’s his great, great, great grandfather from Moneygall,” station director Alan Swan said.

Barack Obama made his last radio address as President-elect on the 8th of this month. As he prepares to take office, that final address has been transcribed and posted in a number of places. Here is a link to the transcript on the Los Angeles Times website. (I chose the LA Times because they also include the YouTube video of this address.)

As the unprecedented crowds stand in the utter chill of Washington, D.C., waiting for history to be made, the coverage via Internet-driven media is staggering. Of course, along with that comes the realization that the digital infrastructure may not be up to the challenge. Additional cell towers and broadcast vans are still being rolled out as the mobile companies attempt to prepare for the stupendous amount of text and pictures that have already begun to inundate their infrastructure. Speculation on how long it will take Twitter to become overloaded and display its legendary “Fail Whale” has been rampant since at least last night. Nicholas Deleon over at Crunch Gear has the latest.

This brings me to my favorite thing about radio:  it is not part of that particular discussion. As long as there are transmitters, there is no need to worry about bandwidth or cell tower issues. Granted, if you are streaming your radio signal, you may experience problems but broadcast is blithely unaffected.

Today we make history, and today radio is the single most reliable and easily implemented way of sharing it.

See you Thursday!

Photo courtesy of Neeta Lind, used under its Creative Commons license

Radio Marks MLK Day With Support of Obama’s Call To Service

January 15, 2009


History is made every day, come rain or shine. This year, we start off with a variety of history being created before our eyes, both good and ill. From the global economic downturn to the inauguration of the first African-American President of the U.S., we are surrounded by events of massive scale and import as we enter 2009.

For most Americans, the inauguration of President-elect Obama is the biggest of these. With less than a week left before he assumes his position and duties, the buzz is omnipresent. The fact that Inauguration Day is the day after Martin Luther King Day creates a lovely symmetry showing how far we have come as a nation. Granted, we still have a long way to go — trust me, I live in New Orleans. After the past three years, the role of race here is common knowledge. Still, to see this occur in an age when many people’s great grandparents were slaves is momentous.

As he prepares to assume the seat of Commander-in-Chief, our future President has put out a call to Americans to commit to community service. As someone who has always done so myself, I applaud this, and so do the people behind Radio2020. The National Association of Broadcasters* has put out its own call to action in support of the President-elect and is urging stations across the U.S. to air special King Day PSA’s from Dr. King’s birthday on January 15 through King Day itself on January 19.  (The PSA’s were created by the Corporation for National and Community Service.)

Radio Online shares this from David Rehr, the NAB President and CEO:

“Local radio stations are among the most committed public servants in America and are uniquely positioned to reach millions of listeners in this important call to action,” said NAB President/CEO David K. Rehr. “NAB salutes the legacy of Dr. King, and we encourage citizens nationwide to give back to their local communities in his honor.”

I know that I plan on putting in some time in addition to my usual efforts.  Even more than most communities, we understand the need for this sort of service; it is the backbone of what is bringing us back from the brink Katrina almost pushed us over.

*The NAB, RAB and HD Radio Alliance are the forces behind this blog, for more read our About page.

Photo courtesy of satomiichimura, used under its Creative Commons license

Thriving Due To Opposition: Talk Radio

December 23, 2008


There is one element in particular of the broadcast industry that is quite looking forward to President-Elect Obama taking office on the twentieth of next month: Talk Radio Producers and Announcers. Following eight years with their team in charge, these announcers are now changing their stance from defense to offense. And in a medium where emotions run high and audio spectacle is common, being the “underdogs” will, most predict, be advantageous from a ratings standpoint.

As noted in Brian Stelter’s article in  The New York Times:

Hours after Mr. Obama’s election, the country’s most popular radio host, Rush Limbaugh, was talking about the “rebirth of principled opposition.”

Sean Hannity, the second highest-rated host, quickly cast his afternoon show as the home of “conservatism in exile.”

As you may recall, I recently noted that Talk Radio has now surpassed Country Radio to become the most popular format in the nation. As polarized as American politics have become since 9-11, this is hardly shocking. Additionally, almost every day sees some event that makes political history, presenting an ongoing goldmine of material for pundits.

With 2,064 News Talk stations in the US, there is a lot of airtime that needs filling, and following a standing trend, this is handled more and more by syndication of the big names. Mr. Stetler’s article provides a great analysis of the current state of things in which he notes the icons of the format  are being signed up for the next round:

Five of the most popular syndicated names in news-talk radio — Mr. Limbaugh, Mr. Hannity, Glenn Beck, Michael Savage and Laura Ingraham — signed new contracts in the last 12 months, all but guaranteeing that they will be rallying listeners for the duration of Mr. Obama’s four-year term. Mr. Limbaugh’s landmark contract, announced in July, promised a total of $400 million through 2016.

Check out the full piece. It’s about two pages long and packs a walloping amount of info into the space. Having much more room that we do here, he is able to provide a fascinating look into the workings and logic of Talk Radio and the opportunities looming before it. Good stuff!

Photo courtesy of AMagill, used under its Creative Commons license

Election Day!

November 4, 2008

So here it is. After months of rhetoric, polemic, and vitriol, the race for the White House culminates today! NPR is providing comprehensive coverage here, Bloomberg’s election coverage will run across radio/print/tv, and bloggers around the world will be frantically typing away on their keyboards as the votes are tallied.

President George W. Bush has gone on the radio to share his final comments on the election in his weekly radio address to the nation. Of course, the Democratic response hit the airwaves shortly thereafter. In Northern Colorado, Regent Broadcasting is preparing for  the event by making all five of their radio stations commercial free the day after election day. According to interviews with their Operations Manager, it is a show of thanks for sticking with the stations during the election ad mania of the past few weeks.

As both sides of the political divide marshal armies of litigators ready to contest any perceived inconsistencies in the process, the average voter prepares for what could well be several hours in line waiting to cast his or her ballot. I wonder how many of them will be listening to the radio through their mobile device or mp3 player?

All the while in the background, the High Court revisits the concept of obscenity in broadcasting, with potentially far-reaching repercussions.

Go vote! Be part of the process!

Photo courtesy of Edu_Tuourist, used under its Creative Commons license

One Week From The Election and Radio Is Rocking!

October 28, 2008

It is one week until Election Day, the one spelled with capital letters. In one week, the U.S. will decide whether John McCain or Barack Obama will be at the helm for the next four years. It is a weighty and intense time, particularly once you take into account the fact that this is one of the most contentious and significant elections in the nation’s history.

So, during this amazing election cycle, happening in the age of digital information systems and the Internet, where does radio stand? Jill Lawrence at USA Today thinks it stands in a very solid position and I am inclined to agree.

“Radio was all but given up for dead,” media analyst Evan Tracey says. “We’re going back to the future.”

Radio ads are cheap to make and run, and easy to target. Obama and McCain ads run the gamut from stem cell research and taxes to Iraq and trade, on stations aimed at blacks, Hispanics, conservatives, evangelicals, news and sports junkies, and hunters.

As Election Day nears, independent groups are making closing arguments and imploring people to vote. In AFL-CIO ads on urban and Spanish stations in 16 cities, celebrities such as rapper Ludacris advise listeners to bring ID to the polls and stay in line even after closing. The American Federation of Government Employees, in a national buy, urges people to disregard race and gender in deciding their vote.

An astounding array of ads have been broadcast, including a historic amount of Spanish language ones. What makes things even more interesting is the independent groups noted in the quote above. In addition to the campaign ads, there are a plethora of special interest groups, organizations, non profits and others that are purchasing air time to get their views across to the working man.

Ms. Lawrence provides quite the overview on how radio is being leveraged by a multitude of groups this election season. Give it a look, seeing who is spending what always makes for an interesting view. Auto makers are getting serious, for instance:

The United Auto Workers union is spending $3 million in six states on TV and radio ads about jobs and health care. “Radio is a very good medium to reach people who work for a living, going back and forth to their jobs,” UAW spokesman Roger Kerson says.

Image courtesy of EricaJoy, used under ts Creative Commons license