It appears that small stations are once again running into a roadblock when it comes to streaming audio, this time courtesy of the U.S. Congress, the federal court system and the folks at SoundExchange - the apparatus which determines royalties for web streaming.
And one of the first victims of the new guidelines and rates is right here in OMW Land.
Streetsboro City Schools-owned alt-rock/oldies WSTB/88.9 Streetsboro has announced that the changes will silence the WSTB Internet stream as of December 26th.
Quoting WSTB general manager Bob Long, from a letter posted on the front of the site for the station's "Sunday Oldies Jukebox":
Our decision to end streaming is based upon recent legal developments in the U.S. Congress and the Federal Court system. We will not be the only radio station to stop providing streaming audio to its listeners. By the end the year, many other stations currently streaming will also be going silent.
Bob tells OMW that while large commercial broadcast groups won't be affected, since they've cut their own deals with the SoundExchange folks, many smaller broadcasters - particularly smaller non-commercial outlets like WSTB - will likely join the Streetsboro station in removing streams.
The details behind this problem are rather complex. Bob passed along a virtual boatload of legal and technical documents that address it.
The upshot, though, is that the new guidelines mean the smaller non-comm stations have to not only pay a lot more, but spend many extra hours of staff time (paid or volunteer) to keep track of new reporting requirements. It's too much for many small stations to bear, both financially and in personnel resources, so they're going away on the Internet - again.
And now, we branch into a mini-editorial.
It becomes, by the day, harder to stick up for the music and entertainment industry. Their actions in regard to the Internet seem somewhat draconian, and small outlets like WSTB are often the losers - as are those listeners who use the Internet to catch up with stations like that.
At times, the music and movie industries, in particular, seem downright hostile to potential customers. They seem to perceive them as thieves just waiting to take money out of the pocket of artists. (Don't believe us? Just talk to Universal Music about why they extracted a PER PLAYER fee out of Microsoft for the company's new "Zune" music player.)
It's actions like these that make us want to totally divorce ourselves from the output of the Mega Entertainment Industry...online, offline or otherwise.
Stations like WSTB, a 680 watt class A outlet broadcasting from a Kent tower to nearby Akron and beyond, are just trying to extend their listening range and serve their alt-rock and oldies audiences. But they're also the ones who seem to get the shaft from the entertainment industry...