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Radio AM to FM: April 13, 2001

Webcasts Stopped

Internet simulcasts of broadcast radio stations have been curtailed in many areas due to a combination of events, replaced by a message that the the service has been temporarily disabled.

The reason? Actually there are two, but the main one centers on a little-noticed provision of the AFTRA Radio Commercials Contract in which advertisers must pay union talent three times the regular session fee if a commercial spot originally recorded for use on the radio is used on the internet.

The provision was in place as far back as October, 2000 but was not noticed until recently. As soon as the advertisers and ad agencies became aware, they told stations to block their commercials from airing on the internet, forcing them to pull their web simulcasts until a plan can be implemented to automatically remove such advertisements.

This action does not apparently affect web-only stations.

The second reason centers around the record industry, which is asking stations using web simulcasts to pay extra song licensing fees retroactive to 1998. Arbitration over the issue and related lawsuits is expected to begin in July; apparently through this action and its suits against Napster, the record industry doesn't want any new music reaching consumers.

Both issues threw a cold towel on internet radio, with most Los Angeles stations already pulling their webcasts and many others considering abandoning the effort. Internet streams rarely make money, and extra fees may just shut down the web simulcasts for good.

Still On

I thought the issues had turned off worldclassrock.com, the web version of what used to be on FM. Turns out it was sloppy code on the part of the web-page programmers. If you tried to access the site from Netscape, you received a "not found" error message. With Internet Explorer, it worked. That left many listeners unable to reach the web station for about a week, ending last Monday.

The station is still on and going strong, says programmer and personality Nicole Sandler.

Ac-Cent-U-Ate The Positive

I've spent enough time in recent weeks ... for now ... hyping what's wrong with radio. Now its time to turn the other way and highlight what's right.

Over the next few weeks, I am going to highlight what I think are the good things in radio, relating to programming, personalities, music selection, talk show topics, commercials ... anything. And while I already have my ideas, I'd like yours, too. Send me a letter or an email telling me what you like about radio. Not what you don't like, but what you like. I'll include as many comments as I can throughout the ongoing "series" that begins next week. Readers, personalities and station managers and employees are all welcome to send in comments.

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Copyright © 2001 Richard Wagoner and The Copley Press.

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