Radioshow Headlines for 11-26-04

These are the media news headlines as read on the 11-26-04 edition of mediageek. The headlines include these stories: Democracy Now Coming to UPTV; Chicago Access Network Faces Opposition from Comcast; Federal Government Windfall in FM Spectrum Auction.

Democracy Now Coming to UPTV
The television version of the daily progressive news program Democracy Now should be airing soon on Urbana Public TV. That’s due to a tentative OK given by the Urbana City Council on Nov. 22 to changes in UPTV policies that will allow the acquisition and airing of series programming distributed by satellite.

The Council also endorsed a separate resolution directing Mayor Satterthwaite’s administration to begin live weekday broadcasts of “Democracy Now!,” on UPTV between 7 and 8 a.m., starting no later than Jan. 3.

The Council still has to give final approval to both of these resolutions at its December 6 meeting.

The anticipated airing of Democracy Now on Urbana’s public access TV channel brings to a close a half-year long effort to get the program on air. Local resident Randal Cotton led the effort, which gained the support of the Urbana Public TV Commission but not the mayor, who Cotton has accused of blocking the addition of Democracy Now to UPTV’s schedule.

The TV version of Democracy Now airs on over 100 public access and broadcast stations across the US, in addition to Free Speech TV on Dish Network and Link TV on Dish and DirecTV. The radio version airs on hundreds of stations, including Champaign-Urbana’s WEFT, weekdays at 4 PM, and Moscow Idaho’s KUOI, weekdays at 8:30 AM.


Chicago Access Network Faces Opposition from Comcast

Chicago’s Public Access TV network, CAN-TV, is facing opposition from Comcast Cable over a funding ordinance for the network that has the support of Mayor Daley’s administration. If passed, the ordinance would require Comcast to increase the level of funding that it gives CAN-TV, from 58% to 65% of CAN’s total budget.

The ordinance achieves this boost by a small increase in the amusement tax paid by Comcast subscribers that amounts to less than $2 per year.

Comcast claims that the increase would put it at competitive disadvantage with satellite TV, even though the company serves nearly 85% of pay TV subscribers in Chicago.

The funding increase for CAN is necessary due to the failure of a small competing Chicago cable company to come through with required funding.

Funding for Chicago Access Network is required under the franchise agreement contract between the city and its two cable companies.

A vote on the funding ordinance was delayed until the Chicago City Council’s Dec. 1 meeting.


Federal Government Windfall in FM Spectrum Auction.

The Federal Communications Commission just completed an auction for 258 FM broadcast licenses, netting the federal government over $147 million dollars. Only one public or community broadcaster won an auction. Public Radio station WGBH in Boston won a FM broadcast license for Cape Cod with a $3.9 million bid.

The most expensive bid was won by College Creek Broadcasting for a stationin Mesquite, NV, for $7.1 million. College Creek was the biggest spender in this auction, winning licenses in cities like Cheyenne, WY, and the cities of Hazleton, Aberdeen and Ashton in Idaho. An auction for a station in Troy, Idaho, 12 miles West of Moscow, was won by Pacific Empire Radio for just under a half million dollars. The most expensive bid in Illinois was for a station in St. Anne, Kankakee County, for over $2 million. The second most expensive license was for a frequency in Normal, for just a little less than the one in St. Anne.

Prior to the approval of spectrum auctions by Congress, full-power FM broadcast licenses were free, save the costs of doing engineering surveys and obtaining legal counsel. However, after the telecommunications act of 1996 which removed the limit on the total number of stations any one company may own, the value of FM licenses on the open market skyrocketed, leading Congress to want to get in on the action.

Now, new FM licenses in the commercial band will only go to the highest bidder. These licenses are only in small markets, since the nation’s largest radio markets have almost now open frequencies left. The largest radio markets to gain a new station license in this auction were the cities of Kenova, WV, Wahiawa, HI and Pacific Junction, IA, all in regions with populations of about 200,000. The licenses in these markets were won for between $2 and $6 million.

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