The Third Annual Homelessness Marathon will begin at 7pm EST today, Tuesday January 25th. It will air on more than fifteen radio stations heard in more than twenty cities. For a list of participating stations go to www.homelessnessmarathon.org
Host "Nobody" will broadcast from a site outdoors in Champaign, Illinois for fourteen (14) hours overnight to dramatize the plight of those with nowhere to go in the cold. The temperature is predicted to get down to zero degrees.
The local public-access radio community is excited and cautiously optimistic about this week's Federal Communications Commission ruling that it would begin to license noncommercial low-power (under 100 watts) FM radio stations in May.
"It's a good thing," says Stephen Proviser, founder of Radio Free Allston and director of the citywide Citizens' Media Corp. The ruling will allow two categories of small stations (up to 10 watts and up to 100 watts) to broadcast legally in the spaces between larger stations' frequencies.
"It's still a secondary service, subject to the overwhelming power of the larger stations," says Proviser, noting that the new stations must be two channels (or frequency decimal points) away from existing commercial stations.
Mid-sized market radio broadcaster Citadel Communications Corp. said that its Citadel Broadcasting Co. agreed to buy Bloomington Broadcasting, the owner of 20 radio stations in five mid-sized markets, for about $176 million cash.
Citadel Broadcasting is the principal operating unit of Bloomington, Illinois-based Citadel Communications Corp. Upon completion of this and other pending transactions, Citadel will own or operate 136 FM and 60 AM radio stations in 42 mid-sized markets.
Citadel will add WKLQ-FM, WLAV-FM, WODJ-FM and WBBL-AM in Grand Rapids, Michigan, the nation's 66th largest market; WOMG-FM, WTCB-FM, WLXC-FM and WISW-AM in Columbia, South Carolina, the nation's 88th largest market; WKOS-FM, WQUT-FM, WGOC-AM, WJCW-AM and WKIN-AM in Johnson City-Kingsport-Bristol, Tennessee, the nation's 95th largest market; WOGT-FM, WSKZ-FM and WGOW-AM/FM in Chattanooga, Tennessee, the nation's 102nd largest market; and, WBNQ-FM, WBWN-FM and WJBC-AM in Bloomington, Illinois, the nation's 230th largest market.
Britain's EMI Group Plc and Time Warner Inc said they were merging their music businesses to create the world's top record company, worth $20 billion, with a powerful presence on the Internet.
"This reduces the number of top labels to four, which puts even more power over music distribution in the hands of a few," said Kevin Hause, an analyst with International Data Corp.
While the LPFM system has been modified drastically from the original proposal, the FCC has voted in favor of establishing a Low-Power FM service in America!
Kennard voted Yes, Ness voted Yes, Tristani voted Yes, Powell voted partial No, and Furchtgott-Roth voted No.
We must wait for the official documents on this vote for the full rules and regulations, but here are some notes captured from this morning's historic meeting:
LFPM would be a non-commercial - educational service with only core regulatory requirements.
There would be two classes - LP100 and LP10.
LP100 = 50-100 watts with maximum height above average terrain of 30 meters, estimated 3.5 miles service radius.
LP10 = 1-10 watts with maximum height above average terrain of 30 meters, 1-2 miles service radius, LP10 would be granted after initial round of 100 watt licenses.
There will be no LP1000 as it was determined to not be in the public interest.
LPFM broadcasters must protect all existing stations from interference and city-grade signal of any new or modified full-power. LFPM would have no protection outside city grade contour and must accept interference from new or modified full-power. The FCC would do away with 3rd adjacent channel protection and LFPM would have no protection from interference.
The FCC would prohibit ownershop by any current broadcaster or other entity with attributable interest in any media subject to ownership rules.
Locally = for first 2 years only local entities can hold licenses and only 1 station in any community.
Nationally = a 1-license cap for first 2 years, after this a 5 station cap and then after 3 years a 10-station cap on ownership.
Local chapters of national entities can own stations that would not count towards any limits of the national organization.
Same charcater qualifications as full-power.
Illegal broadcasters would not be allowed to own LPFM stations unless they ceased broadcasting when first notified of illegal station.
Electronic filing for licenses with estimated start of accepting applications in May. Applicants would have a 5-day filing window with a 30-day advance notice.
No auctions since it is non-commercial - educational.
In cases of mutually exclusive applicants a point system for broadcasters weighted in favor of applicants most likely to serve local needs would be used with 1 point for at least 2 years of community presence, 1 point for longer hours of service, and 1 point for 8 hours of locally-originated progamming. Voluntary time-sharing and successive license terms would be tie-breakers.
Eight-year licenses (same as full power).
No transfers of licenses.
Must keep political rules and files.
Same rules on indecency, obsecenity and sponsorshop identification.
No in-studio rules, ownership reports or public inspection files.
Must pass along Emergency Alert System messages but not encode them.
The Boston Globe is reporting a multitude of instances where Senator John McCain has used his influence to get results from the FCC, which his Committee oversees. Please read the whole article at the link above.
Days before Senator John McCain joined hands with Senator Bill Bradley last month to decry the noxious influence of special interest campaign donors, McCain pressured the Federal Communications Commission to vote on an issue that cleared the way for a major contributor to his presidential campaign to buy a Pittsburgh television station.
McCain, in his bluntly worded Dec. 10 letter to the FCC, did not urge a vote favoring the contributor, Paxson Communications. But he acted at the request of the company's lobbyist, during a period when he used Paxson's corporate jet four times to travel to campaign events -- where he almost always attacks monied special interests.
McCain's intervention in the case drew a speedy, scolding response from William E. Kennard, the FCC chairman, who deemed the Senator's letter "highly unusual'' and suggested it was inappropriate. The Senate Commerce Committee, which McCain heads, oversees the FCC.
Angela J. Campbell, the attorney who represents opponents of the sale to Paxson, went much further, asserting in an interview yesterday that McCain's action was improper, unethical, violated FCC rules barring such contacts on pending FCC matters, and appeared designed to assist a major contributor.
"Senator McCain said, 'Do it by December 15 or explain why,' and the commission jumped to it and did it that very day. The senator's intent was for the FCC to grant the transfer of the TV license, said Campbell, a Georgetown University law professor. McCain's intercession, she added, ''may well have tipped the decision.''
A spokesman for the senator, noting that McCain often sees the FCC deliberative process as molasses-like, said there was no connection between Paxson's political support for McCain -- $20,000 in two concentrated doses from Paxson and its law firm -- and his intercession with the FCC.
But McCain's close ties to Paxson were abundantly clear on the key dates surrounding the FCC decision. The day before he sent the Dec. 10 letter, McCain used Paxson's jet for a trip from New York to Florida. The day after the letter, he took the company jet from Florida to Washington. The campaign reimbursed the company at first-class airfare rates -- well below the actual cost of the charters.
Representative Michael Oxley (R-OH) has introduced a bill that could kill the LPFM issue. Ironically titled "Radio Broadcasting Preservation Act of 1999" the bill is otherwise known as HR 3439. The basic premise of HR 3439 is:
"To prohibit the Federal Communications Commission from establishing rules authorizing the operation of new, low power FM radio stations."
Of course, NAB President/CEO Eddie Fritts applauded the bill and called the FCC's LPFM actions a "misguided initiative." Not only that, Fritts and the NAB have issued a letter (pdf format) to all NAB members urging them to get their Representatives to sign the bill. You make the call as to if the letter is full of truth or scare tactics.
Perhaps Oxley's bill should come as little surprise -- look at who gives money to Oxley:
Co-sponsors on the bill so far are:
Cliff Stearns (R-FL): representing areas north of metro Orlando, including Gainesville and Ocala, plus western portion of metro Jacksonville
Barbara Cubin (R-WY): representing all of Wyoming
Robert Ehrlich (R-MD): representing areas north and east of Baltimore, including Timonium and Dundalk
Vito Fossella (R-NY): representing Staten Island and part of Brooklyn
Harold Rogers (R-KY), who represents the southeastern quarter of Kentucky
Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ): representing areas south and southwest of New York City, from Long Branch to New Brunswick . Representative Pallone is the first (and so far only) Congressional Democrat to oppose Low Power Radio.
Want to give your input on this bill? Contacting your elected officials is quite simple. Go to the Project Vote Smart website for all the contact info you might need! You can also call them toll-free at 1-888-VOTESMART.
Visit the Amherst Alliance site for more info, such as:
This is an URGENT matter. PLEASE do 3 THINGS -- as soon as you possibly can:
1. Contact your legislator in the House of Representatives IMMEDIATELY.
Let him or her know that you are STRONGLY OPPOSED to the Oxley/Stearns bill -- and/or to any similar proposals that would pre-empt or restrict the current FCC deliberations on Low Power Radio. Ask him or her to GO ON THE RECORD for Low Power Radio -- and against the Oxley/Stearns bill. Also let him or her know that you will keep track of what he or she does on this issue.
2. Contact each of your SENATORS also.
While action on Low Power Radio has been "bubbling over" in the House, the Senate has been quiet. This suggests the possibility of an "end run" by the NAB -- such as a quiet but deadly paragraph, slipped secretly into an obscure and/or complicated Senate bill, while the Low Power Radio movement focuses on the VISIBLE action in the House. We MUST make sure this doesn't happen. So PLEASE alert your Senators to this possibility. Urge them to GO ON THE RECORD as Low Power Radio supporters -- AND urge them to "keep their eyes open."
3. If you have connections to your local media -- or to any media, for that matter -- now is the time to activate those connections. David and Goliath stories don't get any better than this! Goliath is challenged by David on his own turf -- the FCC -- and, in spite of the odds, is brought to the brink of defeat. NOW Goliath bellows to Congress that his pending defeat should be erased before it happens! How much more drama can a story have?
Expect to be reading in the year 2000 about two developments, one technological, the other regulatory, that could offer new choices to the listening audience and provide some competitive challenges to the existing radio industry.
One is satellite-distributed radio... They expect to charge about $10 a month for the services, which could make their debut in late 2000...
The other is low-power or micro radio. The FCC is considering proposals to license small stations in unused portions of the FM band. Proponents say micro radio gives a voice to opinions and music not heard on commercial or large public stations. The radio industry says there's not a lot of room left, and signals from poorly run micro stations will step on existing stations. Micro radio advocates say the industry, which already is lining up allies in Congress to block any move by the FCC, just doesn't want the competition for listeners.
Of the two, satellite radio is probably the bigger competitive threat to radio as it exists today -- and if recent history is any indication, maybe not much of one at that. Radio has been through this before. Television didn't kill radio, but it certainly transformed it.
Cox Radio, Inc. announced that it has signed a definitive agreement with KHWY, Inc. to acquire the assets of KINE-FM, KCCN-FM and KCCN-AM, serving the Honolulu, Hawaii market for approximately $17.8 million in cash. In a separate transaction, Cox Radio also announced an agreement in principal to sell KGMZ-FM serving the Honolulu market to Honolulu Broadcasting, Inc. for approximately $6.6 million in cash. In conjunction with the sale of KGMZ-FM, Cox Radio will enter into a joint sales agreement with Honolulu Broadcasting whereby Cox Radio will manage the local, regional and national sales efforts for KGMZ-FM.
Cox Radio is the sixth largest radio company in the United States based on net revenues. Upon the close of all announced transactions, Cox Radio will own, operate, or provide sales and marketing services for 75 stations (56 FM and 19 AM) clustered in 15 markets.
Radio station group owner AMFM Inc. and CNET Inc., a San Francisco-based technology news and information company, are launching the country's first all-tech radio format.
CNET radio will debut on KNEW 910 AM in San Francisco and is expected to make a national appearance by the end of the year, the two companies announced. AMFM and CNET will share advertising revenues.
The all-tech radio format will include breaking news stories on technology and interviews with major industry figures. Stories will also be broadcast on CNET's online radio service and promoted on CNET's Web sites.
CNET produces news on computers, technology and the Internet for its own Web sites and for television. It also owns a 13 percent stake in NBC Internet Inc., the online arm of the NBC television network, currently valued at $494 million.
AMFM owns more than 440 radio stations in 100 cities. AMFM's pending acquisition by Clear Channel Communications Inc. of San Antonio, Texas, is expected to be completed this year. The combined company would become the largest owner of radio stations in the country with more than 800 stations.