Breaking News - July 24, 2003
House Approves TV Cap Rollback

Senator Ernest Hollings
In what the Los Angeles Times called a "sharp and stinging rebuke" for "expansion-minded conglomerates [and] FCC Chairman Michael K. Powell," the House of Representatives voted 400 to 21 in favor of a spending bill that will effectively keep the TV ownership cap at 35 percent of the country’s viewers. "The level of support against these rules is cutting across ideological views in a way we haven't seen in a long time," Andy Davis, a spokesman for Senator Ernest Hollings (D-SC) told the Times. Hollings co-sponsored the rollback measure that is now before the Senate.

The vote follows earlier votes in the House and Senate, all of which have had comparable results. The measure was pushed through by attaching language to an appropriations bill that would fund the Commerce, State, and Justice Departments. The bill now moves back into the Senate and will be combined in conference with other similar bills that have already been passed. The White House continues to maintain that it will veto any bill that includes a roll-back of the June 2 FCC rules.

As a result of the recent votes, and if the cap roll-back is ultimately achieved, both Viacom (CBS) and News Corp. (Fox) may have to sell off some of their TV stations. Each of the companies has recently expanded their broadcast holdings, anticipating a relaxation in the rules, which were set to take effect this fall. Viacom reaches about 39 percent of all households and would have to sell as many as 13 small stations to comply with the roll-back while News Corp. reaches about 38 percent and would have to sell six stations.

Teens And Young Adults Spend More Time On Web Than With TV Or Radio

A new study, commissioned by Yahoo and conducted by Harris Interactive and Teenage Research Unlimited, says teens and young adults spend more time on the Internet than they do watching TV. The study, which asked 13- to 24-year-olds a series of questions about their media habits, found that they spend 16.7 hours a week online (not including e-mail) and only 13.6 hours watching TV. The group also spent 12 hours a week listening to the radio.

''This has been a trend that's been building,'' Pew Internet & American Life Project Director Lee Rainie told USA Today. ''This has been a generation that has grown up with these multiple technologies." The study also confirmed what other research had previously revealed – 13-24’s likes to multitask, watching TV while they instant message, write email, and surf the Web. ''The reality is the media landscape has changed,'' Yahoo’s Wenda Harris Millard told USA Today. ''It's not that it's about to change. It has.'' The study, conducted in June, included an online questionnaire with 2,618 respondents and a focus group.

Arbitron’s "Promised Incentive" Stops Response Rate Bleeding In Top 10 Markets

The good news from Arbitron is that its new "promised incentive for return" program stopped response rate bleeding in the Spring survey in the top ten markets. Response rates were steady at 29 percent in both Spring ’02 and Spring ’03 in the top 10. The bad news is that consent rates continued to tumble in the Spring, down 2 percent from last Spring in the top 10, and off 3.1 percent in markets 11-25.

Arbitron introduced "promised incentive" – a cash bonus for returning a usable diary -- in Fall ’02 for Black and Hispanic households in the top 10 markets. That caused return rates to jump 1.9 percent in top 10 markets. However, with a 2 percent drop in consent rate, the resulting overall response rate in top 10 markets remained flat at 29 percent.

In markets 11-25, where "promised incentive" hasn’t been introduced, the average response rate dropped from 33 percent in ’02 to 31.2 percent in ’03. The average metro response rate across the top 25 markets for Spring ’03 was 30.3 percent, down 1.1 points from last Spring.

With consent rates continuing to plummet, Arbitron is testing offering a premium just for saying "yes" to taking part in the ratings survey. If successful, it will implement "promised incentive for consent" in 40 markets (the 25 lowest response rate markets, the balance of the top 10, and the 10 metros embedded in these markets.)

Average Metro Response Rates for Top 25 Radio Metros
Spring 2003 vs. Spring 2002

Response Rate
Consent Rate
Return Rate
Top 10
Rank 11-25
Top 25

Copps Asks Congressional Committee To Help Him Change FCC Rules

Speaking before the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, And Transportation on Wednesday (7/23), FCC Commissioner Michael Copps asked Congress for help in "taking down the structural bars to media consolidation." Copps’ agenda was laid out in the following parts: An Effective License Renewal Process, Community Discovery, Eliminate Indecency On The Airwaves, Minority and Female Participation, DTV Public Interest and Independent Programming.

"As more national conglomerates gobble up local stations, we need a process to ensure that licensees are serving their local communities," said Copps. "As one part of this effort, we should establish an effective license renewal process under which the Commission would once again actually consider the manner in which a station has served the public interest when it comes time to renew its license."

On fighting indecency, Copps cited three initiatives he wants put in place. First, a proceeding to consider if increasing consolidation is tied directly to increasing indecency. Secondly, Copps brought up the recent indecency charges against WKRK/Detroit (FMQB 4/3), and suggested that "we need to send some of the more outrageous transgressions to administrative hearing for license revocation." Third, Copps would like to see the broadcasters tackle the issue themselves, and suggested a TV summit addressing the issue.

Claiming that consolidation will impact minority viewpoints, Copps asked the committee to "undertake and expeditiously complete a proceeding to increase opportunities for minorities and women." He also proposed a proceeding to examine independent programming.

New Bardic Records Label To Be Distributed By Sony

Three executives with music and Wall Street experience have formed Bardic Records, a label focusing on up and coming bands. The new label will be distributed by RED, a division of Sony. Bands that achieve success with Bardic will be handed off to Sony.

"I see our role as to look at talent very early, identify if there is growth, and nurture it along," Jack Ponti, President of Visigoth Entertainment Holdings, Bardic's parent company, told the New York Post. Ponti’s partners are former Lehman Brothers head of Leveraged Sales, Europe Francois Pham-Quang, and former head of the now-defunct Soulife Recordings Akbar Shamji.

Ponti told the Post that artist development costs are hurting the labels financially. Bardic plans to offer signed artists monthly stipends instead of large signing advances.

DC-101 Morning Show Sidekick Arrested

WWDC (DC-101)/Washington Elliot In The Morning sidekick Flounder was arrested this morning after a morning show bit got out of hand.

An account of the incident was posted on the Clear Channel Modern Rocker’s Web site. "This morning we sent Flounder and Kyle down to Filene’s Basement for the huge wedding dress sale and the outcome could not have been predicted by anyone. After Flounder walked behind a TV camera, he was told to leave the mall by security. Within minutes metropolitan police officers arrived and dragged Flounder to the ground. During the confusion, an officer’s lip split open and started to bleed. Once Flounder was handcuffed he was put in a police car and taken to be booked. More details tomorrow..."

Contacted by FMQB, DC-101 PD Buddy Rizer commented, "We don’t have all the facts yet, but we’ll be glad to talk about it when we do."

In Brief

Modern Rocker WPLY (Y100)/Philadelphia has had former Opie & Anthony producer Rick Delgado sitting in with Preston Elliot and Steve Morrison’s morning show this week… Cumulus has completed its acquisition of Nashville stations WSM and WWTN, and Huntsville, AL stations WZYP, WUSX, WVNN and WUMP from Athens Broadcasting… With Keola coming to nights at CHR KBKS/Seattle, Jeff Connell moves up from overnights to late nights and traffic anchor Kristin "Kaci" Aitchison moves to overnights… New Wave Broadcasting teams up KQMQ/Honolulu midday jock Jon E. Blaze and Rocker KPOI Promotions Director Keola "O-Dogg" Okudara for nights at ‘POI… Modern Rock WARQ/Columbia, SC night jock Moose exits… Country WCYK/Charlottesville, VA morning co-host Angie Logan has been named PD for Sister WUMX and CHR WHTE… CHR KLZR/Lawrence, KS PD/morning co-host Courtney Aita moves to middays. Ashleigh joins ‘LZR for mornings…Former KCDU/Monterey, CA personality Lori London is now co-hosting mornings on CHR KDND/Sacramento… Former Capitol Records Senior VP R&B Promotion+Marketing David Linton has been hired as a consultant for Big3 Records… Former Viacom Radio Division President Al Greenfield joins Synergy 2000 Inc. as an executive consultant… The Washington Times reports that D.C. has joined Boston and Chicago in canceling this year’s AIR AwardsNielsen BDS will begin monitoring songs played on ten Music Choice music formats, including R&B, Hip-Hop, Rock, Alternative, Country, and Rap.

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Jon Zellner
EVP/Programming Operations

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