Headline News from Aug. 26 Radioshow

These are the news headlines as read on the Aug. 26 edition of the mediageek radioshow: CBC Lockout Continues, Workers Make Their Own Media; Stern Might Get Early Boot Over Indecency; FCC Approves Multicast Satellite Must Carry in HI & AK.

CBC Lockout Continues, Workers Make Their Own Media
The lockout of English-language workers at the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation is still going on, and now the striking laborers are making media of their own. An internet radio station has been set up at the labor news website LaborStart.org. The station is broadcasting a two hour loop of programs produced by the locked out workers, including reports from picket lines across Canada. In Vancouver workers have set up another internet station called Studio Zero on the sidewalk in front of the CBC studios in that city.

The dispute between the workers and CBC management primarily concerns the CBCÂ’s desire to hire more so-called contract workers, who are not permanent and do not enjoy the benefits of permanent workers..

Much of the CBCÂ’s English-language news and public affairs programming on radio and TV has been replaced by programming from the BBC. Viewers and listeners are starting to complain about receiving programs that have little coverage of Canada, and the striking workers are saying that bringing in the British content is just a form of electronic strikebreaking with scab programming.

The BBCÂ’s own unionized workers seem to agree with their Canadian brethren. A joint communiqué by Britain’s Broadcasting Entertainment Cinematograph and Theatre Union and the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) argues that “the BBC’s support for a broadcaster who has locked out its staff rather than talk to them can only make CBC management bolder, and will probably lengthen a dispute that should never have happened in the first place.”

Some BBC journalists, the statement says, “have sought advice about withdrawing permission for their material to be used if it is going to be used by CBC.”

Some locked out CBC radio producers have turned to college stations as an outlet for continuing the production of their shows.

As the lockout drags past two weeks, there are no signs that talks between CBC management and the union will resume anytime soon, and Canadians continue to be without their most popular news programs.

Stern Might Get Early Boot Over Indecency

On last weekÂ’s show I mentioned that radio host Howard Stern had been telling listeners that he believes that his program might be in the FCCÂ’s radar for an indecency fine again. The radio industry journal FMQB reports that Stern is correct in his suspicions, saying that the FCC enforcement bureau is investigating a complaint of indecent material during the Feb. 4, 2005 broadcast of the Howard Stern Show.

Another indecency fine could spell an early end to SternÂ’s broadcast radio career before he begins broadcasting on Sirius satellite radio in 2006. ThatÂ’s because SternÂ’s corporate boss, Viacom, signed a consent decree with the FCC in 2004 wherein the company agreed that:

“”If a Viacom-owned station receives a Notice of Apparent Liability for a broadcast occurring after the Effective Date which relates to violation of the Indecency Laws, all employees airing and/or materially participating in the decision to air such material will be suspended and an investigation will immediately be undertaken by Viacom.”

The FCC has not issued an indecency fine since December of 2004, but all indications are that a queue of indecency complaints is about to be acted upon at the agency, and a Stern fine may be the first and most high profile of the bunch.

FCC Approves Multicast Satellite Must Carry in HI & AK
Earlier this year the FCC ruled that cable companies would not be required to carry the multiple-channels of content that TV broadcasters are able to transmit within their single digital television signals. In effect that means stations will have to negotiate directly with cable operators for carriage of channels that are in addition to their main primary service.

But the situation might turn out to be different for satellite TV.

One indication is that on Tuesday Aug. 23 the Commission ruled that that satellite companies DirecTV and EchoStar Communications must carry all of the “multicast” digital channels that broadcasters transmit in Alaska and Hawaii. The agency also ruled that satellite companies must carry their high-definition programs.

The decision applies narrowly to Alaska and Hawaii because of special language in last year’s Satellite Home Viewer Extension and Reauthorization Act. These two states are treated differently because they are not part of the contiguous 48, and have unique topography that make reaching remote areas with traditional broadcast signals difficult or impossible.

The FCCÂ’s decision passed by a 3 to 1 vote. Outgoing Republican commissioner Kathleen Abernathy voted against Chairman Kevin Martin and the CommissionÂ’s two democrats.

Industry observers believe this decision is one example of MartinÂ’s differences from previous chair Michael Powell. Martin voted against Powell on the cable must-carry decision.

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