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RAIN 6/4: ABC brings online "Idol"-like contest to radio

Posted on: 06/04/2008

ONLINE TALENT SEARCHFAME GAMESCOMES TO ABC RADIO: ABC Radio Networks, trying to capitalize on the popularity of talent-based programs like “American Idol,” has partenered with Mere Music International to begin on-air radio syndication of “Fame Games”—a popular online competition between unsigned bands. Since its debut in 2006, the show has drawn 2.5 million listeners. In the national radio version, independent bands will submit tracks online to be judged and then played on-air. Listeners will then head online to vote for their favorite song, picking weekly winners and eventually a monthly victor. The show format resembles “American Idol,” in that a panel of judges discuss the music. ABC Radio Networks will being airing the segment June 30. It will run for three 15-week competitions. For more on “Fame Games” read the press release here.

CLAIM THAT JUDGES WEREN’T PROPERLY APPOINTED HAS BEEN SUCCESSFULLY MADE BEFORE: Royalty Logic’s argument in an Appeals Court brief that Copyright Royalty Board judges weren’t properly appointed (latest RAIN coverage here) echoes a recent case where the Supreme Court found that certain tax judges that were not appointed by a cabinet-level officer violated the Appointments Clause of the Constitution. As attorney and media legal expert David Oxenford explains, “the Court permitted Royalty Logic to brief the issue, and gave the DOJ the right to respond. However, the Court specifically did not make any determination as to whether it will consider the issue, as both the (Justice Department) and SoundExchange have opposed the Royalty Logic motion as having been filed too late to be considered in this proceeding.” At issue is is whether “Copyright Royalty Judges are ‘inferior officers’ of the Federal government who, under the Constitution, can only be appointed by the President, by the Courts or by the head of a Department of the government.” CRB judges are appointed by the Librarian of Congress (“technically,” Oxenford points out, “the Library of Congress is not even in the Executive Branch of government, but instead part of Congress”). Looking back into recent history, members of the Copyright Royalty Tribunal (which was replaced by the CARP structure during the Clinton administration, which in turn was replaced by the CRB) were indeed appointed by the president. Should the Court find the appointments unconstitutional, it’s possible that the webcast royalty determination would have to be re-heard, or perhaps Congress would step in to provide a new royalty-finding process, or even set the rates itself. Finally, in the matter of webcasters’ ongoing appeal of the rate determination, Oxenford reports that last week, the Department of Justice (which represents the CRB in defending its decision), filed its brief in opposition to the briefs of the webcasters, arguing that webcasters failed to show that the CRB decision was arbitrary and capricious or otherwise contrary to law. There’s lots more background on these matters in the latest entry to Oxenford’s Broadcast Law Blog (here).

NEW APP LETS PANDORA USERS LISTEN OUTSIDE THE BROWSER: Pandora announced yesterday (here) the availability of a downloadable desktop application (using Adobe AIR, which Pandora says should install along with the app) that makes their streaming stations available through the Windows tray or Mac dock. While handy for not losing your Pandora stream as you browse online, in order to support the visual advertising that supports the site, the application takes up a hefty chunk of screen space—too much for some users. Mark Hendrickson at TechCrunch feels the large size “robs the AIR application of all its value.” Pandora explains, “it’s not some tiny little widget. As nice as that would be, it would make it basically impossible for us to cover our costs with advertising.” To read more of Hendrickson’s thoughts on the application, read his article here.

FISHER: POWER OF PERSONALITY WOULD BENEFIT FUTURE RADIO: Internet radio draws listeners and fans through its ability to fill gaps left by terrestrial radio in the areas of content, interaction, and customization. But Marc Fisher, Washington Post columnist and author of “Something in the Air,” believes the domination of radio through the internet and other developing technologies will be the final nail in the coffin of radio personalities. In his “The Listener” swan song column, he reminisces about the former jocks and hosts of radio that made listening such an enjoyable experience for him. Fisher sees only humanless “automation” in online streaming services like last.fm and Pandora. While he acknowledges that “the old delivery systems will either die off or change functions,” he fears internet radio will share the same fate if it fails to let listeners develop “intimate obsessions with voices.” Human voices. Despite advancing technology and changing times, Fisher believes “the future lies in the past.” Read his full column here.

RADIO EXPERT GELLER OFFERS TIPS ON IMPROVING STATION SITES: Geller Media International president Valerie Geller offers some tips on how to optimize terrestrial radio station’s websites at RBR.com. Beyond the basic requirements of easy navigation, Geller suggests that radio stations offer content online not available on-air, whether its extended content (e.g. NPR offering full-length versions of shortened on-air interviews online) or “hyper-local” news coverage. “When you offer something that is unique, and relevant, [your website] can draw in new audiences.” For more of Geller’s ideas, read her full article here.

ILUV DELIVERS HD RADIO FOR LOW PRICE: Cnet recently reviewed the iLuv i168 HD Radio, revealing that for the loss of frills (such as iPod connectivity or remote control) you get HD radio for around $100. While the Cnet review still deems the price as “too much” for HD, its certainly moving in the right direction. Read the full review here.

LOU DOBBS COMES TO CELLECAST: The weekday program The Lou Dobbs Show will now be available on-demand on mobile devices through CelleCast after an exclusive distribution deal with Dobbs’ syndication company United Stations Radio Networks. CelleCast delivers radio programs to users free through voice calls in order to avoid data use charges (RAIN coverage here and here). For more read Radio Online’s coverage here.

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