KCRW Solicits Backers to Fight Online Regulations

by Claudia Peschiutta

KCRW-FM (89.9) is urging its listeners to join the fight against proposed rules and royalties for online radio.

The Santa Monica public radio station has sent an e-mail to thousands of listeners saying: "We are concerned about future royalties, onerous record-keeping requirements, our ability to add more streaming channels and the ability of our colleagues in non-commercial and commercial radio to continue on the Internet."

The campaign is in response to an arbitration panel's decision on how much Internet radio services should have to pay performers and record companies for playing their music.

The proposed song fees would require Internet-based stations to pay $1.40 for every 1,000 listeners while broadcast stations with online services would pay 70 cents per 1,000 listeners. The rates are being appealed by record labels, Webcasters and others. The Librarian of Congress is expected to rule on the matter next month.

"We're hoping that (this campaign) will have some influence because this is a terrible situation," said Will Lewis, a management consultant for KCRW. "We don't know how we're going to be able to report the kind of reporting they want."

The station streams news and music on three channels. Its streaming is covered under a blanket license negotiated by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting that runs until 2004.

Hooray for Hollywood

The Academy Awards posted their lowest ratings in years last month, but the presentation and its accompanying local pre-shows proved popular with Angelenos.

The Oscars averaged a 37.3 rating on KABC-TV (Channel 7), up from 36.7 last year. The station's pre-show, hosted by film critic Roger Ebert, KABC news anchors Marc Brown and Laura Diaz and others, averaged a 9.3 rating, a jump from last year's 6.7.

"There was more interest in the movies this year," said Bill Burton, KABC's director of programming, advertising and promotion. "There was some more suspense as to who would win."

The pre-show on KTLA-TV (Channel 5) got an average rating of 5.7, vs. 3.7 in 2001. That show was hosted by KTLA entertainment reporters Mindy Burbano and Sam Rubin and Lynda Lopez of New York sister station WPIX-TV.

KTLA Programming Director Gracelyn Brown attributed the ratings increases to interest in the Kodak Theatre, the new home of the Oscars.

So Long Simon?

The McDonald's promotional game scandal that came out of Simon Marketing Inc. last year may end in the closing of the L.A.-based firm's parent company.

Simon Worldwide Inc. announced plans to liquidate its holdings, "possibly through bankruptcy proceedings," in a recent filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

The Wakefield, Mass.-based company lost its McDonald's Corp. and Philip Morris Inc. accounts and other business following the arrest of a Simon Marketing employee in August on suspicion of embezzling winning McDonald's game pieces. Simon Worldwide said it planned to cut its workforce to 46 employees by the end of the second quarter.

The company's stock has been trading at less than $1 per share since the scandal broke and it was at 10 cents a share last week. Simon Marketing officials did not respond to requests for comment.

Crazy for Soccer

What the Super Bowl is to English-language networks, the World Cup is to Univision.

The Spanish-language network this year plans to offer additional live coverage of the international soccer tournament with live broadcasts of 56 of the 64 games. Sister network TeleFutura will offer live broadcasts of the remaining eight games and repeats of the 56 games airing on Univision. Galavision, Univision's cable network, will air World Cup highlights.

L.A.-based Univision Communications Inc.'s local stations are KMEX-TV (Channel 34) and KFTR-TV (Channel 46). Univision provided Spanish-language coverage of the past six World Cup contests. The 1998 World Cup final game between Brazil and France attracted more than 4.3 million Hispanic viewers.

The 2002 FIFA World Cup will be held from May 31 to June 30 in Japan and South Korea.

Media Marketing

Staying close to home could make PROMAX & BDA;'s annual media marketing and promotions conference a success this year, despite an industry-wide downturn.

The event is being held in L.A. this year and organizers have already lined up some big entertainment industry names for the four-day conference and exhibition. Jamie Kellner, chairman and chief executive of Turner Broadcasting System Inc., is set to give a keynote address.

NBC Entertainment President Jeff Zucker, Fox Television Entertainment Group President Sandy Grushow and John Wells, former president of the Writers Guild of America (West), will be part of an television industry panel. The international conference will be held June 26-29.

In Other News...

The Southern California Broadcasters Association and the Print Interactive Radio and Television Education Society are hosting a conference for nonprofit groups and public relations firms on Wednesday in Universal City. KTLA Director of Community Affairs Ray Gonzales will moderate the workshop... Maria Elena Salinas, co-anchor of the "Noticiero Univision" newscast, was made a dean's speaker and named a distinguished international scholar by the Goizueta Business School at Emory University in Atlanta.

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

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