Sunday, December 03, 2006

Small Streamers Going Away?

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, 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...


Anonymous said...

AMEN. Well said, OMW. But what can we, the innocent consumer, do about these antiquated rules and thinking? I'd certainly think that artists would want their product played/heard by as many listeners as they could possibly reach. I mean, if we can go out to our car, or turn on the radio at home, and listen to a station, why shouldn't we be able to pull it thru the internet stream, as well. This is completely senseless. The Feds have erred big time with regard to internet regs.

I'm with you, however. I won't buy their music, I won't go to their overpriced movie releases, etc. I'll find the CHEAPO way to screw them over, as they've done to us again and again. Payback is sweet. RISE UP, consumers! Take back your entertainment! EEEEE-HAWWWW (imitation of that Dem nut)

Anonymous said...

Amen brother. Between DRM,Congress and the RIAA, I sure am grateful for software apps like MacTheRipper as well as my local library. The record labels can kiss my pink Irish ass. I feel so sorry for terrestrial radio, especially the non-comms, small markets and those with a passion to work for them.

Anonymous said...

So all small stations non-commercial such as 88.9 does this include 91.5 and the college stations such as JCU,ZIP,ETC.

Anonymous said...

Whoa, did you see Wayne and Tracy put Melissa Mack in her place before the Coffee Quiz? Melissa was talking about how exciting the Browns game was, and asked them if they watched it. There was an awkward silence for a few seconds, then Wayne, with a straight face, said, "Alright."

By the way, I am the person who first reported on Melissa Mack. During her first introduction on Thursday morning, Andre said she'd be on the Fox 8 team for a long time.

I have a rant about Pat Butler from WTAM. I don't understand how he can be straight and serious in the morning with Bill Willis and WKYC, but in the afternoon and during the contest show, he's an unprofessional pervert. The guy is such a slime bag during Trivisonno that I want to change the channel when he comes on.

Anonymous said...

Do I need to say more about this. Sunday Oldies Jukebox. Well I see were back to this again.

This comes one week after my post about Sunday Oldies Jukebox.

Not Surprize by this at all.

Anonymous said...

I'm not in the industry but I'd sure like to find out who all the individuals that are responsible for these actions are - congress people and SoundExchange so I can give all of them, individually, a piece of my mind and potentially get them out of office for making these boneheaded decisions! Who's getting paid off here? Bunch of political scum!!

VODood said... or

Russion PAY music site.. although you don't have to pay much :0)

Technically you're paying for the music, so it's not "stealing" or file sharing. U.S. record companies are in a tizzy over it but can't do anything. It's another country afterall.

MasterCard and Visa have suspended service to Alltunes. But if you get an account with you can use the aforementioned. The money goes into an account that can be used by both. Russians... pretty smart, lol!

I purchased Jackie Wilson's box set, 77 songs, for $9.

And, the Russians are going to offer FREE music downloads via those sites (which are really one in the same). However, the FREE downloads can only be used with a special player, and cannot be shared or burned to a cd.

Anonymous said...

OMW please give us an uptake on this situation with streaming are others i.e. CSU,JCU,91.5 ALL GOING SILENT VIA THE WEB STREAMING??? And the shot at at SOJ UNCALLED FOR,AND MELISSA WITH WAYNE/TRACY IS NOT THE TOPIC AND WHO CARES ABOUT THE COFFEE QUIZ.

Anonymous said...

I love the station just not Sunday Oldies Jukebox the issue I have is the staff and the quailty of there program that they play. They just don't get it right. I don't know how many time I have to tell the listern this. That WMJI is a lot better then Sunday Oldies Jukebox and the best thing about it is WMJI is on 24/7 as for Sunday Oldies Jukebox I think that program is on maybe 3 hours maybe.

Anonymous said...

It is SO PATHETIC that small and non-profit stations will be forced off the net by....GREED! That same good 'ol greed that ruined commercial radio, the US automobile industry, Enron, Tyco, yada yada yada.
The US is so far behind Europe in the new technology because of just this kind of limited thinking and...GREED.
In England, the BBC is already talking about turning off their FM analog stations because the Brits and their broadcasters have so quickly embraced digital radio. I went into a big box store and asked to see a digital receiver, and was told they're all digital because the channel numbers read out on the display. Oh yeah, we're there, all right.

Anonymous said...

I can't call WMJI an oldies station anymore. It's obvious: the WMJI of today is NOT the WMJI of 1997. Or of 1992.

What the station is today, well, you might as well just call it "Mix 105.7," if that. It's a disconcerting thing to hear 80's tracks be added, when WMVX played (and is STILL playing) them to death.

- Nathan Obral

Johnny Morgan said...

Couple things:

1. To the SOJ hater. Get the facts straight, and then get over it.

2. Chuck, is being shut down by the Russians. Its continuing existence in the face of Russian do-nothingness was hampering the Russians' admission to the World Trade Organization.

Story here:

Johnny Morgan said...

One more thing...

This shut down of the web stream is NOT just the Sunday Oldies Jukebox, but also that of The Alternation at FM 88.9.

If some smaller broadcasters can spare the time to catalogue meticulously, fill out the required SoundExchange documentation, and pay the licensing fee (which is also increasing), they can continue to stream.

However, if they choose not to do those things that are required under the SoundExchange agreement, they are open to liability for the due amounts, retroactive to January 1, 2006.

Also, a failure to do so--in open non-compliance with copyright law--is subject to consideration by the FCC of a licensee's fitness to broadcast.

And this is all on top of copyright infringement fees, defaulted licensing fees, etc.

It's bad news and has NOTHING to do with what a certain station broadcasts.

Here's an idea: why doesn't WMJI's owner open up its substantial pocketbook and help out these non-comm broadcasters? Why doesn't the NAB help out these non-comm broadcasters with a deal?

I think we all know the answers to those. Thank God I'm just a lawyer...I couldn't live with myself at night if I was a broadcast owner.

Pat Cloonan said...

Once upon a time, no one could own more than five TV, seven AM and seven FM stations. It meant that no one could get a stranglehold on broadcasting. It also meant smaller outlets were more likely to be found and to thrive. While the Internet could reopen a once-thriving market, the odd selection of what laws to enforce and what laws to ignore and what laws to abolish and what conditions to impose has given us instead the FM 88.9 situation. Deregulation has given us the Clear Channels and CBS Radios and so forth and put the broadcast lobbyists in their pockets. Overregulation of the Internet will help kill what independent radio is left. Sadly, there is no way to put the genie back in the bottle. And it does not matter what party is in Congress, what party is in the White House.