|Arbitron’s back in court
Arbitron sues Saga Communications for pirating data in Milwaukee.
The federal suit alleges that around September 2010 “and continuing throughout at least the years 2011 and 2012, defendants’ management and employees regularly obtained copies of Arbitron’s copyrighted audience estimates which were reproduced and circulated among its personnel.” Arbitron’s suing both Saga and its Milwaukee subsidiary, Lakefront Communications. It says that not only did people at stations like classic rock WKLH (96.5) use its data for “setting advertising rates…and making programming decisions.” Arbitron also claims that Saga based paid Arbitron-related bonuses for ratings performance. Saga has remained outside the Arbitron system in both its PPM markets (like Milwaukee, Columbus and Norfolk) and its diary markets (like Des Moines). This is the first infringement suit lodged by Arbitron since it caught Gannett’s WKYC-TV, Cleveland using its stuff in a sales kit where the station was repping Pandora. It’s worth noting that the Saga lawsuit doesn’t contain examples of Saga memos or other documents. The three exhibits are lists of Arbitron copyrights. Saga CEO Ed Christian tells this NOW newsletter that “We have referred this to our intellectual property law firm for study.”
ESPN signs out-of-market deals with five NFL teams for Sunday afternoon games – but…
This is a more limited deal than you might think, when you see the team names. Those are the New York Giants and Jets, New England Patriots, Miami Dolphins and Pittsburgh Steelers. The Sports Business Journal had the story over the weekend, plus the explanation of Senior VP Tim McCarthy – “We cannot air in a market where there is an existing game in that market. If the Redskins are playing in Washington at 1pm and we have a 4pm game, we can air at 4pm. We can’t air at 1pm….We’re not going to go head-to-head with an existing NFL club.” The clubs themselves control their Sunday afternoon rights. Dial Global, Compass Media Networks and Sports USA have most of the NFL teams under contract – probably 27 of the 32. ESPN just signed the other five, but it will probably take years to build up the kind of weekly package it wants. ESPN’s McCarthy adds that “The real value of getting into this business is that it is a space that we have not been in.” But this first year of the deal may see fewer than a dozen Sunday afternoon games from ESPN. Remember that Dial Global has the NFL’s nighttime games (Sunday night, Monday night and Thursday night) along with the playoffs.
Sequester squeezes the FCC on spending – but Congress still tells it to raise nearly $340 million in fees.
As Friday’s Notice puts it, “the sequester effectuated by the Budget Control Act of 2011 reduces the agency’s permitted Fiscal Year 2013 salary and expenses expenditures by $17M to $322,844,000. However, that Act does not alter the congressional directive…to collect $339,844,000 in regulatory fees.” That’s a kick, huh? The FCC’s combined Notice and Further Notice seeks comment on the amount of next year’s fees, and also on how to reform the fee-setting process. The Commission bases its fees on the amount of staff time needed for processing, as well as on class of license and population served. Those fees are going up, by as much as 7.5%, for licenses regulated by the Media Bureau. But as Harry Cole writes at CommLawBlog, the agency is “laying out two sets of possible fees” for the fiscal year that begins this Fall. And basically, it finds that the Media Bureau (radio and TV) is one of the divisions that’s going to pay a larger percentage, compared to, say, the International Bureau. But that would be phased in, with a proposed 7.5% cap this year. Check the FCC’s two cojoined notices here.
Another thing – no checks, please.
It’s a “discontinuance of paper and check transactions beginning October 1, 2013,” says the FCC. This isn’t just its idea, but something you’ll see across the federal government. The Treasury Department is helping federal agencies implement the OMB (Office of Management and Budget) Open Government Directive. Starting October 1, the FCC won’t accept paper checks – even cashier’s checks. Same for the hardcopy paper forms that accompany the regulatory fees. It’s all shifting to credit cards and electronic filing. Washington’s hoping that this improves another problem – overdue payments. Like any business, the FCC has delinquent customers, and one of its new ideas is to transfer collections to the Treasury Department sooner. Currently it waits for 180 days from the date of delinquency. Henceforth, that will change to “the end of the payment period…much earlier than it now does.” Expect this new policy to be phased in over the next two fiscal years.
Beasley joins the movement to have executive comp approved on a yearly basis.
Cumulus shareholders just voted in favor of annual votes, too – though it’s an advisory vote only. Same with the Beasley vote at last Thursday’s annual meeting, but in both cases, the companies accept the will of the shareholders. Also at the Beasley meeting, eight members of the board were elected. Those are founder George Beasley, plus Bruce, Caroline and Brian Beasley, along with Joe Cox, Allen Shaw, former Granum and Greater Media exec Herb McCord and former FCC Chairman Mark Fowler.
When it comes to baseball’s Opening Day – the Yankees are winners.
You can see why CBS Radio’s WCBS (880) was eager to keep the Yanks last Fall, even if 2013 is just a one-year extension of relationship. Arbitron’s Chris Meinhardt crunches the opening day age 6+ cumes for Major League Baseball flagship stations and finds the Yankees in the clear lead, with an estimated cume of 581,500. But the Cincinnati Reds, in a much smaller media market, are #2 – at 343,600. The team’s decades-long partnership with Clear Channel’s WLW (700) keeps paying off. While New York’s #2 team, the not-so-amazing Mets, were third on the list, bringing 264,900 folks to CBS Radio’s WFAN (660). If you’ve watched the numbers of CBS’ all-sports Detroit “Ticket” WXYT-FM (97.1) the last few years, you won’t be surprised that its carriage of the Tigers makes it #4 on this cume list. While Tribune’s WGN Chicago (720) is #5, featuring the Cubs. Close behind – Cumulus-owned KNBR Francisco (680), with the reigning World Series Giants. (Remember that KNBR shot to #1 in age 6+ AQH share in the latest PPMs.) Meinhardt changes lenses for a different view of opening day – viewing the shares (not cume) for 25-54 men. This time we see more night games, and that’s an important factor, and some of the up-and-coming teams like the former doormat Pittsburgh Pirates (#5 on the list with a 23.2 share for CBS’ KDKA-FM/93.7) and the Washington Nats (a 12.3 share for CBS’ WJFK-FM/106.7). At the top of the 25-54 men share list – The Milwaukee Brewers. They pulled a crushing 40.8 share for Journal Broadcast Group’s WTMJ (620).
“The magic number for the Yankees is $13 million per year.”
Before we get to Arbitron’s other just-released crunch of radio sports play-by-play, let’s stay with baseball and the New York Yankees – where Daily News columnist Bob Raissman looks at 2014 and beyond. You just read that the Yanks and WCBS (880) are on a one-year extension of their deal, and that kept John Sterling and Suzyn Waldman in the broadcast booth. But Raissman says this could – once again – be their last year calling Yankees baseball. Bob says Disney’s “ESPN 98.7” WEPN-FM could be interested in the next contract, though it “skews to a younger demographic that’s not gaga for baseball.” Bob says “Yankee moles suggest there are other interested outlets, too.” But the number the team wants to see is $13 million a year. A couple of years ago, the bidding field presumably would’ve included Merlin Media – but its former all-news station at 101.9 is now CBS Radio’s WFAN-FM. So you wonder if the Yankees will have the all-out bidding war they really want. Complicating the picture – the fact that the rights for the rival Mets, heard on “Fan” WFAN-AM/FM (660/101.9), are also up for grabs. Presumably CBS wants to nail down both the Mets and the Yanks.
The NBA’s regular-season (radio cume) champ – the Los Angeles Lakers.
It was a disappointing post-season for Kobe Bryant and company, but they continue to be a marquee draw for Disney-owned flagship KSPN. They’re the only team in Arbitron’s analysis of the 82-game season to cume over 100,000 persons, age 6+. The cross-town Clippers, who played much better than usual, pulled an average 22,500 cume persons for CBS Radio’s KFWB. You’d expect the largest markets to have an advantage on cume, and Arbitron’s Chris Meinhardt says the New York-area Knicks (80,900 for Disney’s WEPN-FM) and Nets (73,600 on CBS Radio’s WFAN-AM/FM) are next on the list – though the Knicks do a better maintaining their audience in terms of share. Because of scheduling and the lengthy NBA season, its games sometimes get diverted to an overflow station, and Arbitron finds that fans often don’t make the switch in stations. Changing radio flagships can make a difference, too – listenership to the Portland Trail Blazers was cut in half following the switch from Alpha’s “Game” KXTG to Clear Channel’s KEX. As for the core sports audience of men 25-54 – the station winners by share (not cume, this time) are CC’s WMIL Milwaukee (a 10.0-share with the Bucks), CC’s WOAI, San Antonio (a 9.8 with the always-competitive Spurs) and CC’s WTAM Cleveland (a 9.7 with the Cavaliers).
Weekend formats and branding –
• Another “Rush Radio” brand vanishes, this time in Greensboro. Two months ago Clear Channel nabbed the former Boston calls of WTKK and re-branded its Raleigh-market talk station away from Rush Radio. Now its “Rush” station in the North Carolina Triad follows suit. WPTI, Eden (94.5) is now simply known as “The Piedmont’s Talk Station.” The lineup still includes Rush Limbaugh from noon-3pm – but not the 24/7 “Rush” branding. The lone remaining "Rush Radio" appears to be WRNO, New Orleans (99.5) - which was also the first one.
• “Nash FM” kills off a Wolf, a Hawk and a Bear, as Cumulus spreads its newly-sprouted brand outside of New York City. Some Cumulus stations have been salting the “Nash” name, but what happened late last week in five smaller markets was a wholesale re-branding. Like New York City-market WNSH (94.7), they’ll hang their hats on the name “Nash.” The markets are Appleton-Oshkosh-Green Bay, where former “Wolf” WPCK/WPKR (104.9/99.5) are Nash-ified. Des Moines, where KHKI (97.3) is no longer a “Hawk.” Lexington, Kentucky, where “Bear” WLXX (92.9) has been de-clawed. Boise, where KQFC (97.9) is now “Nash.” And Albany, Georgia, where “K-Country 104.5” is replaced by the Nash branding package. Later this year, expect a “Nash” country lifestyle magazine, video content, and other material built around the proprietary Cumulus brand.
• The “99 Hits” country simulcast ends in Potsdam, New York, not far from Quebec (as the crow flies). New owner Tim Martz changes formats on both stations he just acquired from the Kyle Family’s St. Lawrence Radio - WPDM/1470 and WSNN/99.3. The AM’s gone all-sports, using CBS Sports Radio Network. While the FM is now “B99.3, Hits of the 80s,” says the local North Country Now. Martz originally planned to retain the country music on FM, but GM John Winter says they did the research and found a general area with five country stations, so “the audience is really fragmented.” On the AM, they’ll keep offering local news, wrapped around the sports. Martz paid St. Lawrence Radio $225,000 in a deal brokered by Dick Kozacko (January 28 NOW Newsletter).
• Great Falls, Montana will enjoy a second helping of many public radio shows, “with the arrival of a Yellowstone Public Radio signal in the Electric City.” That’s from the Great Falls Tribune, which observes the regional network’s debut on a local translator at 89.5, thanks to a frequency swap with somebody interested in its translator in Story, Wyoming. Great Falls already had somewhat similar programming on Montana Public Radio’s news/variety KGPR (89.9). That station simulcasts KUFM, Missoula (89.1). The newcomer’s an extension of news/classical KEMC, Billings. Yellowstone Public Radio is an old hand at translators – it owns nearly 30 of them, in Montana and northern Wyoming. It also operates full-power FMs in Bozeman, Miles City and Sheridan, plus Billings.
The UK’s Global Radio “faces the music” and a possible $50 million loss on the purchase of the rival GMG group. That’s The Guardian’s John Plunkett carefully (and intelligently) writing about Global founder Ashley Tabor’s 70 million pound ($106 million) deal for the radio group owned by the Guardian. The problem is the Competition Commission’s unexpectedly tough requirement to divest eight stations from the merged group, “in a limited buyer’s market.” Tabor, the son of racehorse owner Michael Tabor, had planned to spin just three. Veteran observer Plunkett says “the stark reality for Ashley Tabor and his fellow investors is that they will be lucky to recoup half the 70 million pounds it cost to buy GMG Radio.” That’s on top of Global’s 2008 purchase of GCap Media and Chrysalis radio for much more – a combined 545 million pounds. The Global strategy is to create national brands like Heart (adult contemporary) and Capital (Top 40) and control costs. Plunkett estimates that Global’s average weekly reach is now 19.3 million people, for a 15.6% share of the national audience. That makes it the UK’s largest commercial broadcaster, though it still trails the BBC.
Cumulus uses a workplace-wellness provider named WellNet, and it says the approach needs real buy-in and engagement. Its president Keith Lerner says “traditional workplace wellness barely scratches the surface…done right, [it] requires the integration of clinical data, wellness, health coaching and work flow.” And it needs “senior-level support and a high degree of employment engagement in healthy behaviors.” All of that should, theoretically, support employee health – and help contain health care costs. But Reuters says a new RAND Corporation report due this week will say that such programs so far have “only a modest effect.”
Arbitron defends the PPM (and its morning drive estimates) - Friday's NOW newsletter carried a "Worth Reading" item about a Harker Research posting. You may remember the headline - "Harker wonders whether PPM carriers really do rise later in the morning." Here's what Arbitron's Jon Miller, Director of Programming Services, adds to the Harker blog - "First, the article may lead readers to believe that PPM estimates are based on panelists who comply based only on 8 hours of motion. The 8-hour requirement is actually the minimum amount of motion per day in order to be counted in the ratings, and in reality, the average amount of motion time is far higher...more like 15 hours per day during the work week. Also, the PPM is capturing exposure all the time, even when it’s not in motion (e.g. listening to a radio in the bedroom in the morning).” Miller says "We've spent a lot of time looking at the morning drive ratings differences between the diary and PPM, and believe strongly that PPM compliance is not the reason for the differences." Read Jon Miller's full posting here.
Take 2 – The correct link for Friday’s “Worth Reading” story about Sean Ross handicapping the “Summer Song of 2013” is here. We’re only at the beginning of Summer, but Sean’s asking if there’s “a winner already,” in Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky.”
Mary Frances Bragiel signs off as evening news anchor at Cumulus-owned talk WLS, Chicago (890) to cross over to government work. Chicagoland Radio & Media says radio/TV veteran Bragiel is the third evening news anchor WLS has lost over the last two years, following Lise Dominique and Monica DeSantis. They both joined Merlin’s former “FM News 101.1.” Bragiel starts next week as the communications director for Illinois State Treasurer Dan Rutherford, based in Chicago. Lest you doubt the value of internships, here as the college Spring semester ends and many interns start new gig - Mary Frances broke into the business after interning at Chicago's WGN. From there, she worked her way through small-market TV and back to Chicago.
Shari Sterenbuch got her start in the promotion department at New York City’s WKTU and worked her way up to Director of Promotions for the entire Clear Channel cluster – CHR “Z100” WHTZ, classic rock “Q104.3” WAXQ, AC “Lite 106.7” WLTW, urban “Power 105.1” WWPR-FM and rhythmic AC ’KTU. Now she’s left the fold to join Dial Global as Senior Director of Marketing, reporting to VP/Marketing Suzy Schultz.
Gene Burns, a classy and thoughtful host who could talk engagingly about fine cuisine as well as the finer points of political issues, died in San Francisco last Tuesday at 72. He made an impact in several big markets, such as Boston, New York and San Francisco (at KGO and KKSF) as well as Orlando. In 1984, Burns made a run for the presidential nomination of the Libertarian Party - and helped it gain new prominence. The Orlando Sentinel hears about Gene’s death from former Florida Democratic Party chair Bob Poe, who once produced Burns’ show on then-WKIS. Poe says “He set the town on fire. Whether you agreed or disagreed with him, whether you loved him or hated him, you really respected him.” Former KGO colleague Gil Gross is among those saluting Burn on Facebook. He was one of the four hosts ousted by Cumulus after it took over the former Citadel station in 2011. Bay Area blogger Rich Lieberman says “Mr. Burns was the epitome of what is so not radio today: the art of broadcast civility.” KGO ran a Sunday night tribute to Gene hosted by David Weintraub.
Michael Lynton is an extraordinarily busy guy – CEO of Sony Entertainment, and a board member of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Rand Corporation and the Harvard Board of Overseers. With all that load, he’s telling President Obama that “circumstances kept me from taking part in recent formal meetings” of the Broadcasting Board of Governors. That’s a problem, since he’s the interim presiding governor, a post he accepted after Walter Isaacson left in February 2012. Variety reports a finding by Chicago Sun-Times White House correspondent Lynn Sweet, about Lynton’s spotty attendance record. A State Department Inspector General report in January cited “the chronic vacancies and absences of board members.” For some time, there have been calls for the BBG to re-structure and to create a CEO position. The BBG oversees the activities of Voice of America, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Radio Sawa, Alhurra, Radio Free Asia, and Cuba-facing Radio and TV Marti.
Jim Zabel joked that he wanted to die in the pressbox of a game, “because it’s closer to heaven.” He darn near did it, passing away while doing show prep for his Sunday night gig on Clear Channel’s WHO, Des Moines (1040) – which isn’t bad for a guy who was 91 years ago. His statistics are pretty amazing – he called 6,100 sporting events, did 49 seasons of University of Iowa Hawkeye football (until a change in rightsholder) and earned an NAB Marconi award in 1993. He had a lifelong emotional attachment to his alma mater, joshing that he’d like to be buried in the Hawkeyes end zone. (Though that was during Iowa’s streak of 19 consecutive losing seasons, and the burial site was because “nobody would step on me.”) WHO, where the nonagenarian was still doing regular work, has a tribute to Jim Zabel here. The Des Moines Register remembers “a colorful play-by-play voice” – he was definitely a “homer” when it came to rooting for the home team – here. Here’s what Jim Zabel said in 1993 - “If you want to know what to put on my tombstone, just three words: I had fun."
Don’t be afraid to ask for more - This Paul Drew story is about negotiating. Ed Gursky attended one of Drew's programming seminars in the 1980s, and says "Paul advised us to seek more than expected, rather than just accept what was offered at first. Drew told the story of how famed DJ Dr. Don Rose was hired at KFRC San Francisco. The two had worked together at WQXI Atlanta in the 1960s. Dr. Don, then at WFIL Philadelphia, approached Paul at a convention, asking why he had never offered him a job at any of the RKO stations. (Drew was head of programming for the entire RKO group.) Drew replied that Rose had never expressed any interest, but would pass his name along. Shortly thereafter, mornings became available at KFRC. Paul put Rose in touch with GM Pat Norman and PD Michael Spears. A few days later, Drew received two phone calls back-to-back. The first was from Pat Norman, saying they had just hired Don for $60K/year, but they had been willing to go as high as $70K. The second call was from an ecstatic Dr. Don, telling Paul he had accepted KFRC's offer even though he would have settled for $50K. Paul's point was you'll never know how far the other side is willing to go, unless you ask. How many attendees recalled that story later in their own careers?" Got your own true story about the business? Email “You Can’t Make This Up.” The address is Tom@RTK-Media.com.
Ready for the new work-week? It’s not easy after a holiday weekend. This NOW newsletter can ease you back into it, so you’re ready to face the world (and the day). Thanks for keeping us in mind when you’ve got a job opening to fill, or when you want to reach this quality audience with advertising. Classifieds and advertising messages are the province of our Kristy Scott. She’s at Kristy@RTK-media.com or phone 818-591-6815. See you tomorrow - Tom