Union Protests Network's Use of Prerecorded Material

Media - Claudia Peschiutta

The American Federation of Television and Radio Artists is preparing to do battle with Clear Channel Communications Inc. because of the company's practice of filling radio airtime with prerecorded material.

The union fears that "crossutilization" using on-air talent from one station in multiple markets will lead to fewer jobs and bring up compensation issues for DJs who are used to create exported programming.

Union officials say that Clear Channel officials have turned down AFTRA demands to keep staffing at a certain level. Clear Channel also has refused limitations in their use of voice-tracking and crossutilization, said Paul Worthman, head of the union's local broadcasting department. The negotiations involve 50 AFTRA members at KFI-AM (640) and KOST-FM (103.5).

Clear Channel's apparent refusal to voice-tracking limits would contradict the stance taken just a few weeks ago. When AFTRA filed an unfair labor practices charge against Clear Channel in October for using an out-of-state disc jockey to replace a laid-off KOST DJ, the company agreed to take the Portland, Ore. personality off the air and bring on a local talent.

"We are now in for a real fight to protect and maintain jobs and working conditions at Clear Channel," the union told members in a statement sent out last week. The message also revealed that AFTRA is considering a "full-scale public campaign to expose the impact of Clear Channel's program on the radio industry in L.A.," and that it is "joining with other opponents of Clear Channel's egregious corporate practices."

Clear Channel announced Thursday it had terminated 48 employees at 45 stations in California, due, in part, to "technology advances combined with duplication of roles in a consolidated environment." Worthman said the layoffs affected only one employee at the six stations AFTRA represents in L.A.

Roy Laughlin, a regional vice president for Clear Channel in Southern California, declined to comment.

The union plans to meet in January with all the L.A. radio employees it represents to discuss voice-tracking and other topics.

"We're dealing with this not only with Clear Channel," Worthman said. "The issues are issues that concern everyone in radio in L.A."

AFTRA filed an unfair labor practices charge against the San Antonio-based company in October after an out-of-state disc jockey was used to replace a laid-off DJ at KOST. The union quickly withdrew the charge after Clear Channel agreed to replace the Portland, Ore. DJ with a local on-air personality.

Tribune Fights FCC Ban

Tribune Co. came out swinging in its fight to sway the Federal Communications Commission to repeal a cross-ownership ban that prohibits the company from owning the Los Angeles Times and KTLA-TV Channel 5 in Los Angeles. Under the current rules, Tribune could come under FCC scrutiny when KTLA's license expires.

Tribune argued in a 78-page filing submitted to the FCC last week that the ban which bars one company from owning a broadcast station and a daily newspaper in the same market is unconstitutional and limits diversity.

"Never before has the media marketplace been so fragmented and so clearly incapable of domination," Tribune argued in its filing. "This competitive marketplace, not the Rule, is the best guarantor of diversity."

Tribune's filing came during the first of two comment rounds that the FCC is holding on the cross-ownership ban. The commission is expected to make a decision by mid-2002 on whether or not to do away with the ban.

Shrinking Show

The California Cable & Telecommunications Association is looking for ways to boost attendance at the 2002 Western Show after suffering a sharp decline in attendance at this year's annual industry gathering.

The show, which ended its four-day run at the Anaheim Convention Center on Nov. 30, attracted 17,000 attendees, down from last year's record-breaking 30,000-plus.

Association Chairman Bill Rosendahl said the event was a success, given a weakened economy and the drop in tourism generated by the Sept. 11 attacks. Though there were fewer attendees and only 300 exhibitors (vs. last year's 400), the show made more than $2 million thanks in part to exhibitor deposits and early registration fees.

"We feel, under the circumstances, that we did extraordinarily well," said Rosendahl, vice president of political affairs for Adelphia Communications.

Making the List

Val Maki, senior vice president for Emmis Communications Corp. in L.A., was ranked No. 2 on Radio Ink magazine's "50 Best General Managers in Radio" list.

Just behind was Clear Channel's Laughlin, general manager of KIIS-FM (102.7), at No. 4. Nancy Leichter, vice president and general manager of KKBT-FM (100.3), was No. 38.



Staff reporter Claudia Peschiutta can be reached at (323) 549-5225 ext. 229 or at cpeschiutta@labusinessjournal.com.


Roping in Listeners?

Country-music station KZLA has been making a big advertising and promotions push to reverse a year-long ratings decline.

In recent weeks, the station has offered listeners everything from a date with model Fabio to a Lexus picked out by singer LeAnn Rimes. KZLA also created some buzz by announcing that it was "going black" and playing promos featuring soul singer Isaac Hayes. The stunt kicked off a KZLA giveaway of Clint Black guitars and CDs.

"We're trying to do a lot of things that get us noticed," said R.J. Curtis, the station's operations manager. "We had a disappointing spring and a flat summer (in the ratings)," he said. "We definitely want to live in the Top 10. We don't just want to visit that neighborhood."

While KZLA has a loyal base of listeners, the station has to work hard to bring in new people who may have some misconceptions about country music, he said.

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