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Airwaves: June 22, 2007

Problems in Radio Web Land

Webcasters around the country are preparing a "Day of Silence" in protest of increased fees from the Copyright Royalty Board next Tuesday, June 26th.

Thousands of small webcasters -- people or companies who stream musical programming on the internet -- are expected to participate, and supporters are hoping that the big guns such as Yahoo, Live 365 or even MTV will turn their internet streams off that day as well.

At issue is the amount that webcasters must pay in royalties for the right to air copyrighted music. The CRB wants to raise fees as much as 300 percent for large webcasters and up to 1200 percent for small ones over the next three years. Barring action from the government, webcasters say, they will be forced out of business.

Legislators at the federal level are working on bills in the House and Senate to set aside the hike and set royalties as a percentage of revenue, much the same as was done in 2002 when the CRB tried to hike fees last time. The bills are collectively called the Internet Radio Equality Act, and many webcasters and listeners are urging support of these bills.

Merger Problems

XM and Sirius may believe a merger is in the best interests of their companies and of consumers, but Congress believes otherwise: 72 members, including 47 Democrats and 25 Republicans, have sent a letter to the FCC opposing any merger.

Station Problems

Watching a high school student rocking out with an iPod, I asked the young man what he was listening to. Rapper Eminem, was the answer, from one of his first CDs. I was a bit surprised he was listening to an older album, so I asked what radio station he listens to when he is not listening to his iPod.

"I don't listen to the radio," was his response. He just didn't see the point. He actually seemed a bit surprised I even asked him about radio, as if he never listened.

Quite a change from my days in high school, when my friends would stay up all night listening to Jim Ladd on KMET (I was the weird one who stayed with AM top-40 as long as I could). I wonder why no one in the radio business seems to care ... or do they feign not caring to get around the fact that they really don't know what to do?

Speaking of AM Top-40 presents this week an hour each of Casey Kasem and Charlie O'Donnell on the original KRLA (now KDIS, 1110 AM) from June 16, 1967. This is the era of Los Angeles top-40 radio when KHJ (930 AM) dominated, KFWB (980 AM) left the format for news, and KRLA kept things interesting by trying a few formatic experiments.

A small donation is required for listeners who have not donated an exhibit at the site ... my favorite place on the internet.


Copyright © 2007 Richard Wagoner and Los Angeles Newspaper Group.

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