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Archive for May, 2010

Local Broadcast Sales schedule changed to June 15th

Thursday, May 27th, 2010

How to Get Your Voicemails Returned with Dan O’Day
June 15th at 1pm EST
LBS Broadcast Sales Webinar

In this first of two June Broadcast Sales series webinars, Dan O’Day, Radio Sales Expert, teaches you how to leave voicemails that command the attention of your advertisers, instead of getting deleted.

To watch a preview video and register, visit:
http://bit.ly/LBSBroadcastSalesWebinar

And remember, even if you can’t watch live, all webinars are archived by the end of their broadcast day at  www.localbroadcastsales.com.

Congress Considers Updating Communications Act

Tuesday, May 25th, 2010

From Bloomberg.com

By Todd Shields

May 24 (Bloomberg) — Democrats in the U.S. House and Senate said they will consider proposals starting next month to update the law that has regulated telephone, cable and broadcast companies for the past 14 years.

The lawmakers will begin “a process to develop proposals” to revise the 1934 Communications Act, which was last rewritten by Congress in 1996, leaders of two committees said today in an e-mailed statement. Senator Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia, chairman of the Commerce Committee, and Representative Henry Waxman of California, chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee, are starting the process, according to the statement.

A drive to rewrite the law in 2006 died in the Senate after Democrats objected that it lacked rules on net neutrality, which would bar Internet service providers from interfering with subscribers’ Web traffic.

Net neutrality has re-emerged as a policy issue. A U.S. court in April said the Federal Communications Commission lacks authority over Comcast Corp.’s Web practices, sparking debate over the agency’s power to regulate Internet service providers.

“We applaud the congressional leadership call for proposals to update the communications act,” said Walter McCormick Jr., president of US Telecom, in an e-mailed statement. Members of the Washington-based trade group include the largest U.S. telephone companies AT&T Inc. and Verizon Communications Inc.

The commission declined to comment on the Rockefeller and Waxman statement, Jen Howard, an FCC spokeswoman, said in an e- mail.

FCC Authority

FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski on May 6 claimed authority under a part of the act written for telephone networks. Republican lawmakers said he improperly sought to expand regulation.

Today, 74 House Democrats told Genachowski in a letter that they have “serious concerns” about his proposed regulatory framework and urged him to await “direction from Congress.” Separately, 37 of the 41 Senate Republican members in a letter today urged Genachowski to “abandon” his proposal.

Genachowski in a blog posting on May 6 said the agency was ready to advise Congress if its “leaders decide to take up legislation” to “clarify the statute and the agency’s authority.”

Efforts in Congress can be “complementary to the efforts of the FCC, not a substitute for them,” said Whitney Smith, a spokeswoman for Senator John Kerry, a Massachusetts Democrat, in an e-mailed statement.

“It is time to engage in a methodical and thoughtful process to update our communications laws,” Smith said.

Royalty Compromise Talk Grows Louder.

Tuesday, May 25th, 2010

-From Inside Radio

There’s no cease-fire, but talk of a royalty compromise grows louder with some broadcasters now believing a deal could be worked out to the industry’s benefit. They say it could settle several pending issues with the record labels, ASCAP and BMI.

NAB president/CEO Gordon Smith told Inside Radio last month he’s fighting the performance royalty battle on two fronts: lobbying on Capitol Hill to defeat the Performance Rights Act while simultaneously having conversations with the RIAA about a potential compromise. Last week, Emmis Communications CEO Jeff Smulyan said he would support diverting to labels and artists a slice of royalties that radio already pays to songwriters as part of “a global settlement.” While Smulyan is the first to voice such an opinion, he’s apparently not a lone wolf. “A number of us have been talking about this, that we’ve been overpaying ASCAP and BMI and maybe there’s a germ of a solution in bringing them all together,” he tells Inside Radio. A “deal we can live with” would save the radio industry millions of dollars in lobbying fees, Smulyan notes. “It takes up a lot of political capital.”

But other group heads steadfastly oppose any compromise. As face-to-face meetings between the two industries continue, several different potential solutions have moved on and off the table. They include reshuffling streaming royalties to a song-tagging revenue share to ways the relationship between the two industries can be strengthened. While the tenor of dialogue has come a long way from the “I’d rather slit my throat than negotiate” stance of Smith predecessor David Rehr, it’s unclear if a compromise will be struck.

Sources says there have been five to six face-to-face discussions with both parties developing a greater understanding of the other’s concerns and objectives than before the PRA was first introduced. “It’s no secret that key members of Congress have asked the NAB and the RIAA to have talks but the NAB remains unalterably opposed to the bill that was passed out of the House and Senate judiciary committees,” NAB EVP Dennis Wharton says.

MusicFirst spokesman Marty Machowsky says: “We support creation of a performance right on radio that is fair to artists, musicians and rights holders, fair to other radio platforms that already pay a performance royalty, and fair to radio.”

What’s New This Week at LocalBroadcastSales.com

Monday, May 24th, 2010

As the broadcast industry continues to evolve, sales training has never been more important. Why not carve out 2 minutes in your weekly sales meeting for some targeted training from LocalBroadcastSales.com?  It’s FREE to MBA members!

 This week Stephen Warley gives tips on targeting museums

http://www.localbroadcastsales.com/pages/articles-items/niche-verticals-museums583.php

 And don’t forget LBS’ nextwebinar on June 8th at 1PM: Online Video Advertising: It’s More Than Just Pre-Rolls

Learn more at:  http://bit.ly/LBSDigitalSalesWebinar

 As always, webinars are archived for use at any time. 

 Contact Jordan Walton at the Massachusetts Broadcasters Associations at jordan@massbroadcasters.com to get started with your username and password.

FCC And FEMA Announce Workshop on 21st Century Emergency Alerting

Friday, May 21st, 2010

Meeting will be broadcast live on www.fcc.gov/live:

Washington, D.C. – The Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC’s) Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau (PSHSB) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA’s) National Continuity Programs (NCP) today announced they will hold a workshop on 21st Century Emergency Alerting: Leveraging Multiple Technologies to Bring Alerts and Warnings to the Public. The workshop will be held on Thursday, June 10, 2010, from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. in the Commission Meeting Room (TW-C305).

The workshop will highlight the status of and relevant details related to the Integrated Public Alert and Warning System, including the Next Generation Emergency Alert System (EAS) and the Commercial Mobile Alert System. This public meeting will also provide FEMA, the FCC and other Federal partners an opportunity to gather feedback on outstanding issues related to these systems, the upcoming National EAS test, and the FCC’s upcoming inquiry proceeding on next generation alerting.

The workshop will be open to the public; however, registration will be limited to the seating available. Those individuals who are interested in attending the forum may pre-register on-line at http://www.fcc.gov/pshs/event-registration.html. Those who pre-register will be asked to provide their name, title, organization affiliation, and contact information. Individuals may also contact Deandrea Wilson at Deandrea.Wilson@fcc.gov or 202-418-0703 regarding pre-registration. The deadline for pre-registration is Tuesday, June 8, 2010.
Audio/Video coverage of the meeting will be broadcast live with open captioning over the Internet from the FCC’s web page at www.fcc.gov/live. The FCC’s web cast is free to the public and does not require pre-registration. Reasonable accommodations for persons with disabilities are available upon request. Please include a description of the accommodation you will need. Individuals making such requests must include their contact information should FCC staff need to contact them for more information. Requests should be made as early as possible. Please send an e-mail to fcc504@fcc.gov or call the Consumer & Governmental Affairs Bureau: 202-418-0530 (voice), 202-418-0432 (TTY).
For additional information about the meeting, please contact Susan McLean by email: Susan.McLean@fcc.gov or by phone: 202-418-7868.

MBA Joins Resolution Against “Performance Tax”

Friday, May 21st, 2010

The Massachusetts Broadcasters Association has signed on, along with the other fifty states, to a resolution in opposition to any new “performance tax.”  The full text of the resolution can be read below.

RESOLUTION OF THE FIFTY STATE BROADCASTERS ASSOCIATIONS, INCLUDING THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA AND THE COMMONWEALTH OF PUERTO RICO, IN OPPOSITION TO A NEW “PERFORMANCE TAX”

WHEREAS, the recording industry wants Congress to mandate, for the first time ever, a public performance obligation for the over-the-air broadcast of recorded music delivered, free of charge, to the listening public by our Nation’s local radio stations so that the recording industry can extract from such stations billions of dollars on top of the wealth already enjoyed by the record labels and their performers;

WHEREAS, this proposed, public performance obligation is regarded by local radio stations as the equivalent of a Congressionally mandated “performance tax” proposed for the sole benefit of the recording industry;

WHEREAS, local radio stations already contribute as much as $2.4 billion in value annually to the record labels and their performers by promoting their recorded music, their concerts, their merchandise and their careers to an average of 239 million listeners per week;

WHEREAS, the “performance tax” will (i) undermine radio broadcasting’s first-responder, lifeline, alerting and informational role in every community in America, and (ii) frustrate the goal of increasing program diversity as well as minority and female ownership in broadcasting by:

a. Forcing local radio stations that have already cut their operating expenses to the bone either to change from a music to a talk format in order to avoid foreclosure and going dark;

b. Forcing local radio stations that must remain music-based to survive, to further reduce news departments, eliminate even more jobs, reduce their hours of operation or air less costly syndicated programming in lieu more expensive locally originated programming; 

c. Forcing local radio stations to abandon niche music formats in favor of formats that appeal to the largest audiences with the greatest revenue generating potential, thereby reducing program diversity and narrowing the opportunities for new artists through free airplay; and

d.   Imposing a new, unbudgeted operating cost that could place many local radio broadcasters in breach of their financing covenants and thus in default under their loans, and that could prevent newcomers to broadcasting from being able to obtain financing;

WHEREAS, the record labels and performers possess no equitable justifications for placing at such substantial risk both our Nation’s commitment to competition and diversity in broadcasting as well as our Nation’s local, first responder radio stations:

a. The record labels and performers have repeatedly admitted how critical local radio stations are to the welfare of the recording industry and their performers:

“If a song’s not on the radio, it’ll never sell.” – Mark Wright, Senior Vice President, MCA Records, 2001   “It is clearly the number one way that we’re getting our music exposed. Nothing else affects retail sales the way terrestrial radio does.” – Tom Biery, Senior Vice President for Promotion, Warner Bros. Records, 2005.

See Attachment A hereto for more testimonials confirming the extraordinary value  contributed by local radio stations to the recording industry;

            b. Congress has looked at the issue of performance fees at least three times previously (1971, 1976 and 1995) and concluded that such fees would jeopardize “the mutually beneficial economic relationship between the recording and traditional broadcast industries” (House Report 104-274, 1995); and

            c. The record labels and their performers do not need a government “bailout” at the expense of local radio stations. In fact, the U.S. recording industry, with no “performance tax,” is larger than that of the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Canada, Australia, Italy, Spain and Mexico combined, all of which have “performance tax” regimes; and

            d.  Furthermore, there are no pools of funding at radio stations to draw from to pay these “performance taxes.”

WHEREAS, there are no public policy justifications that would support placing at such substantial risk our Nation’s commitment to competition and diversity in broadcasting and our Nation’s local first responder radio stations:

a. The fact that music license fees are paid to ASCAP, BMI and SESAC by local radio stations does not justify a “performance tax” for the recording industry because the composers are generally not promoted whereas local radio stations routinely promote performers by name, as well as their songs, concerts, and merchandise to the great advantage of performers;

b. The fact that fees are paid by subscription-based technologies, such as satellite and Internet radio, to the record labels and performers does not justify a “performance tax” on local radio stations because (i) as Congress has itself found Internet and satellite radio providers threaten the sales of recorded music through digital downloading whereas local radio stations enhance sales without posing such a threat, and (ii) subscribers actually pay those providers for the recorded music delivered into their homes, offices and vehicles; in contrast, local radio stations air the music for free; and

c. The fact that some foreign countries acknowledge a performance right in the over-the-air broadcast of recorded music does not justify a new “performance tax” on local radio stations in the United States because

            (i) performance fees in foreign countries actually benefit government-owned stations to the detriment of privately-owned stations (the former enjoy increasing government subsidies while the latter do not enjoy any subsidies) and have resulted in fewer radio stations (less outlet diversity) and fewer distinct formats (less content diversity);

            (ii) “performance tax” revenues from radio stations in foreign countries are disproportionately allocated to record labels and highly-successful artists; and

            (iii) the subject of performance rights cannot be properly evaluated without taking into account other related issues, e.g., durations of copyright protections (95 years in the U.S. and only 50 years in Canada and many European and Asian countries) and piracy enforcement; and

WHEREAS, targeting local radio stations with a “performance tax” would violate principles of fundamental fairness without (i) including the numerous other businesses which use recorded music for their customers and (ii) taking into account the one-half billion dollars paid annually by local radio stations to composers (and an increasing number of performers) and music publishers through ASCAP, BMI and SESAC:

a. The recording industry is using a divide and conquer approach for its legislative strategy that leaves out other businesses, such as bars, restaurants and hotels, which, under the recording industry’s own logic, should contribute their share to any “performance tax” pool sought by the recording industry;

b. Without all potential contributors included, it would be impossible to determine the reasonableness of the “performance tax” pool sought by the recording industry or a fair allocation of liability among contributors; and

c. Since the value of the work of a performer is inextricably intertwined with the value of the work of the composer whose work is being performed, logically their relative worth in relation to a performance should be examined with the effect that compensation under music licenses should be re-examined in connection with any compensation that would flow from a “performance tax” if such tax were imposed.

Resolved this 20th day of May, 2010, by the fifty (50) State Broadcasters Associations named below, including the District of Columbia and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, That Congress should not impose any new performance fee, tax, royalty, or other charge relating to the public performance of sound recordings on a local radio station for broadcasting sound recordings over-the-air, or on any business for such public performance of sound recordings.

Alabama Broadcasters Association, Alaska Broadcasters Association, Arizona Broadcasters Association, Arkansas Broadcasters Association, California Broadcasters Association, Colorado Broadcasters Association, Connecticut Broadcasters Association, Florida Association of Broadcasters, Georgia Association of Broadcasters, Hawaii Association of Broadcasters, Idaho State Broadcasters Association, Illinois Broadcasters Association, Indiana Broadcasters Association, Iowa Broadcasters Association, Kansas Association of Broadcasters, Kentucky Broadcasters Association, Louisiana Association of Broadcasters, Maine Association of Broadcasters, MD/DC/DE Broadcasters Association, Massachusetts Broadcasters Association, Michigan Association of Broadcasters, Minnesota Broadcasters Association, Mississippi Association of Broadcasters, Missouri Broadcasters Association, Montana Broadcasters Association, Nebraska Broadcasters Association, Nevada Broadcasters Association, New Hampshire Association of Broadcasters, New Jersey Broadcasters Association, New Mexico Broadcasters Association, The New York State Broadcasters Association, Inc., North Carolina Association of Broadcasters, North Dakota Broadcasters Association, Ohio Association of Broadcasters, Oklahoma Association of Broadcasters, Oregon Association of Broadcasters, Pennsylvania Association of Broadcasters, Radio Broadcasters Association of Puerto Rico, Rhode Island Broadcasters Association, South Carolina Broadcasters Association, South Dakota Broadcasters Association, Tennessee Association of Broadcasters, Texas Association of Broadcasters, Utah Broadcasters Association, Vermont Association of Broadcasters, Virginia Association of Broadcasters, Washington State Association of Broadcasters, West Virginia Broadcasters Association, Wisconsin Broadcasters Association, and Wyoming Association of Broadcasters.

MA Broadcasters Petition FCC Opposing Retransmission Consent Changes

Wednesday, May 19th, 2010

Yesterday, the Massachusetts Broadcasters Association joined with many other State Broadcasters Associations in vigorously opposing the rulemaking effort by a number of cable and satellite television operators and others to persuade the FCC to radically change, through governmental fiat, the negotiating dynamics of the Congressionally-mandated, market-driven negotiating process by which television stations exercise their must carry/retransmission consent rights.  We pointed out that, not surprisingly, the MVPDs want the FCC to change those dynamics in ways that will benefit them, and severely prejudice the television broadcast industry, in all future retransmission consent (“RTC”) negotiations.

The Associations stressed that the Petitioners are urging the FCC to grant every MVPD mandatory interim carriage—the equivalent of a “compulsory signal carriage license”—in circumstances where an MVPD and a television station are unable, for any reason, to reach agreement on the terms and conditions of a renewed or extended retransmission consent agreement before expiration/termination of the then current RTC agreement.  Under such “license,” the MVPD would have the right to continue carrying the station’s signal (and thus all of its programming), on the frozen terms and conditions of the former RTC agreement for as long as it took the FCC, and presumably the courts, to finally decide if one of the parties had acted in bad faith.  During that period, the television station could not charge the MVPD additional consideration for the right to retransmit the station’s signal even if the station, as is likely, was incurring higher and higher programming acquisition costs.  Such “licenses” would be automatically available to any MVPD that took the position that it was negotiating in good faith and would last as long as it took the FCC and the courts to decide if that was true.

        The Associations demonstrated that neither the Communications Act nor the Copyright Act grants the FCC the statutory authority to impose either mandatory interim signal carriage or arbitration in connection with must carry or retransmission consent negotiations.  The Commission has repeatedly acknowledged that fact.  For good reason, a change in the law is not warranted.  We showed that adoption of the Petitioners’ proposals would lead to (i) substantially fewer mutually successful, timely RTC negotiations; (ii) substantially more FCC-based litigation; (iii) the loss of RTC-related compensation that television stations need to continue to produce and otherwise acquire increasingly expensive and responsive local, syndicated, and network informational and entertainment programming, including sports and other types of compelling programming; (iv) a weakening in the ability of television stations to compete and survive against the combined subscription/advertising-based model of cable and satellite MVPDs; and (v) as a  result of the diminished capacity of the television broadcast industry to compete vigorously in the marketplace for programming, an acceleration in the already strong trend of sports and other types of compelling programming migrating from free local over-the-air television to pay TV. 

The Associations also asserted that informed subscribers, not governmental intervention, is the only lawful and otherwise appropriate way to address potential MVPD service disruptions of the type complained of by the Petitioners.  Their wails of distress on behalf of MVPD subscribers are no more than cries of self-interest from MVPDs more worried about losing subscribers to over-the-air viewing or to competing MVPD providers than about arming their subscribers with timely information about RTC negotiations and informing those subscribers of their options for ensuring they will be unaffected by the MVPD’s loss of a particular station’s programming.  We pointed out that MVPDs are in the best position to eliminate subscriber uncertainty by beginning RTC negotiations well in advance of the RTC expiration date and by providing their subscribers with timely and truly helpful information the subscribers can use to prepare to implement an over-the-air antenna option and/or switch to an alternate MVPD provider if they wish.  In short, we make clear that if subscribers face programming disruption, it is caused by deliberate decisions on the part of MVPDs to keep their subscribers in the dark during negotiations, and not by television stations exercising their statutory rights in those negotiations.

In concluding, the Associations urged that, as the Petitioners have failed to demonstrate any need to “fix” the current retransmission consent process, much less addressed the harm that their proposals would create, the rulemaking sought by the Petitioners should not proceed, and their petition should be dismissed or denied in its entirety.

STELA Passes House

Thursday, May 13th, 2010

After six months of temporary extensions of existing law, Congress has approved a five-year reauthorization of the Satellite Television Extension and Localism Act (STELA), extending the licenses used by satellite companies to December 31, 2014.

 The final bill was the result of more than a year of negotiations, hearings, markups and more negotiations. At the outset of the process, several key priorities were identified:  ensuring that the bill did not lead to an erosion of retransmission consent rights; preventing harmful modifications of television DMAs; and the promotion of local into local in all 210 markets. Broadcasters achieved each of these priorities. 

 The bill will now need to go to the President for his signature.

STELA passes Senate

Monday, May 10th, 2010

 The U. S. Senate has cleared a 5-year reauthorization of the satellite bill. The Satellite Television Extension and Localism Act (STELA) was agreed to by unanimous consent Friday.  This legislation now moves to the House of Representatives, as early as next week.  

 Due to the length of time it has taken for Congress to pass the bill; there are tweaks to the multicast dates. The effects of those tweaks are as follows: 

 •         Network affiliated multicast stations existing as of March 31, 2010 (previously Dec 31, 2009) are protected from duplicating distant network signals for subscribers signed up after Sept, 30, 2010 (previously June 30, 2010.) 

•         Network affiliated multicast stations commencing after March 31, 2010, but before December 31, 2010, are protected from duplicating distant network signals for subscribers signed up after December 31, 2010.     

 Treatment of network affiliated multicast stations commencing after December 31, 2010 stays the same and those stations will obtain immediate protection from duplicating distant network signals for all subscribers signed up after they commence broadcasting.