Friday, July 27, 2007

Will you be David Rehr's pen pal?

Was National Association of Broadcasters head David Rehr humming the Box Tops’ version of “The Letter?” My guess is that it was the Arbors' cover.

Rehr spent Wednesday and Thursday firing off letters to President George W. Bush, the FCC, and the Senate Commerce Committee.

Let’s go straight to Rehr’s letter to Bush.

It was in response to a question asked of him earlier in the week, when he was visiting Opryland in Nashville.

The major labels, which all have Nashville offices, sent their minions to a press conference in hopes of tricking our Commander-in-Chief, into delivering a pro-music biz soundbite.

One of the label weasels got to ask whether he believed artists should be paid royalties for radio airplay.

Being unfamiliar with the issue Bush replied, “Help! Maybe you've never had a President say this? I have, like, no earthly idea what you're talking about. Sounds like we're keeping interesting company, you know? Look, I'll give you the old classic: contact my office, will you?”

That one got Rehr’s blood fire-brewed like a Stroh’s.

Bush added, “I like listening to country music, if that helps.”

Except the Dixie Chicks.

Rehr’s letter was to familiarize Bush on his battle with the major label’s lobby group, the Record Industry Association of America (RIAA) against their proposed statutory “performance right” royalty to artists that would force radio to pay for music played on the radio.”

Rehr wrote, “On behalf of the 6,900 radio station members of the NAB, I am writing to ask that you oppose this effort. Not only would this new performance tax upend the longstanding mutually beneficial business relationship that exists today between record labels, recording artists and broadcasters, but it would have a serious financial impact on broadcasters that could affect their ability to serve their local markets."

Stop right there.

Did he really think that Bush would understand the gist of his letter?

You can hear Bush’s response.

“Huh?”

Rehr’s next epistle – five pages long - went to FCC Chairman Kevin Martin. He urged the FCC not to support a merger between rival XM and Sirius satellite radio companies.

Among other things, he accused XM and Sirius of basing “their merger on a public relations campaign, slogans over substance, (and) promises without proof.”

Regardless of where one stands on this merger issue, the NAB’s just as guilty of slogan’s run as satellite radio.

Wasn’t it Rehr’s group that came up with, Sirius + XM = Monopoly – Do the Math, Hollow Promises, and Merger to Monopoly, among others?

In fact, he had to be cautioned. Rehr, who used to head the National Beer Wholesalers Association, wanted to use these slogans:

When you say terrestrial, you said it all.

For all you do, this terrestrial radio is for you.

Where there’s life, there’s terrestrial radio.

Terrestrial radio- It won’t slow you down.

If you got the time, we’ve got the terrestrial radio.

Terrestrial radio – it doesn’t get any better than this.


Proving why he’d never make a good copywriter, Rehr said of the merged satellite company’s plans to offer its format channels a la carte, “These new concessions are nothing more than a shameless attempt to curry the favor of the government regulators.”

He added, "No matter what promises Sirius and XM may offer, they are not sufficient to overcome the resulting harms to consumers when a monopoly is created by the Commission. In addition, XM and Sirius’ track record at the Commission shows that such promises are hollow because in pursuit of their own self-interest, XM and Sirius are willing to bend the law and reinterpret any promises to suit themselves instead of the American public."

Memo to David Rehr: The last time I checked the NAB had one of the strongest PACs on Capitol Hill.

Rehr’s best line was, “The merger parties’ argument that satellite radio and local radio are interchangeable is nonsense. If the two services were truly substitutable products, why would anyone pay $12.95 a month if they could get what they want free from local radio stations?”

The fact is they can’t.

And David, did you have to mention that there are those who are so fed up with terrestrial radio that they’re willing to plunk down x-amount of dollars for a satellite radio receiver and pay the monthly thirteen buck fee?

Doesn’t that say there’s a need for their service?

Someone’s got to proof read the boy. Either that or Rehr ought to stay off the suds until after he writes these letters.

Does he still get free samples from the beer companies he used to rep?

We now move on to his third letter. This one, to the Senate Commerce Committee, was an attempt to defend the so-far botched task to inform the public on its analog-to-digital (HD) TV transition.

Congress allocated $5 million to launch the campaign. The Einsteins at the FCC, NAB, and the National Telecommunications and Information Administrator are collaborating on the project.

Is that too many cooks or too many kooks?

Those not PAC’d by the NAB in Congress believe that TV viewers are neither prepared nor aware of the analog-to-digital switch that takes place on February. 17, 2009.

The SCC claims 60 percent of the public are not aware of the looming transition.

The NAB prefers to call them plebeians.

Their campaign snubs the elderly, poor, and non-English speaking citizens - those least likely to know of the change.

A 2005 Government Accountability Office report revealed that over 20 million U.S. households rely solely on over-the-air television and forty percent of those households include at least one person over 50.

"The time to act is now; before the digital transitions devolve into a digital disaster," said Sen. Daniel K. Inouye, (D- Hawaii), the committee chair. "We must work together to ensure that no citizen is left behind in the transition to digital television."

Inouye should’ve said, “Get the hacks out of the way!”

Non-digital TVs will require converter boxes once TV stations drop analog broadcasts entirely.

Rehr’s response was, “I get a little frustrated sometimes when people stand up and tell us all the things we should be doing.”

Testy, aren't we?

He called his analog-to-digital TV info campaign a “Herculean effort.”

Frail is more like it.

Credit Rehr for one thing. He resisted the temptation to mention HD Radio in his missives.

Maybe he’s come to grips with the fact that it’s the biggest stiff he’s seen since the beer industry tried to market fruit-flavored beer a few years back.

Like HD Radio, that product was such a stiff that chances are you never even heard of it.

Seems like there’s a lot of that going around.

-----

Rehr’s letter to Bush: http://www.nab.org/xert/corpcomm/pressrel/releases/072507_DKR_Bush_PerformanceTax.pdf

Rehr’s letter to the FCC: http://www.nab.org/xert/corpcomm/pressrel/releases/072507_DKR_Martin_XMSIRI.pdf

Rehr’s letter to Sen. Daniel K. Inouye and the Senate Commerce Committee: http://www.nab.org/xert/corpcomm/pressrel/releases/072507_SenCommDTV.pdf

14 comments:

PocketRadio said...

I thought it was Peter Ferrera who was the stooge:

"Where's Waldo - FOLLOW UP"

"Peter Ferrara was a stooge at Clear Channel, and he continues to be a stooge for this most stillborn of consumer products. Why doesn't he just form the Cassette Player Alliance? Might be less of a waste of time. HD Radio is an abysmal response to the competitive issues facing people who own terrestrial radio licenses today."

http://jacobsmedia.typepad.com/jacobs/2007/01/peter_ferrara_p.html#comments

And, here is a site that the NAB can be proud of:

"XM + SIRIUS = MONOPOLY"

http://xmsiriusmonopoly.org/

Also, I heard that the NAB is full of alcoholics - no wonder, it looks like HD Radio is going to fail:

http://hdradiofarce.blogspot.com/

Anonymous said...

Since both the RIAA and the NAB are headed by former "Bush pioneers" that raised significant dollars for their presidential campaigns I would expect that they are actually on the same side and just going through the motions for the industry. I cannot see the RIAA and the NAB at war. Are they just acting?

Anonymous said...

Radio will survive only if it recognizes that mass audience is over. Selective is the future. Forget cume. AQH is the selling point and only point to sell. We need more specialized and localized formats. Since radio is not willing to take that risk it is up to internet radio to become the new "FM." I had both XM and Sirius and renwed neither. Their playlists have tightened up. Any creative quality is gone. Satellite radio has turned out to be a major disapointment at a time when they should have gone in the opposite direction. Who cares whether they merge or not? They are both on their way to oblivion.

Anonymous said...

Where I live (Boston) TV stations are talking up HD TV with their brand new news sets and flashy production. At the same time, I have not heard the facts, the deadline date for digital crossover or anything else related to the change over. If I am not hearing it how can poor people who cannot afford cable get the message? My Hispanic friend tells me he has never heard a word on Univision about the change

Anonymous said...

I just read where the FCC is allowing a number of new AM radio stations? What is that all about? Since deregulation most stations are losing money or had to severely cut costs (i.e. people, vendors) to make budget. Hd radio only makes matters worse? I agree with an earlier comment you made about not enough advertising to go around. The broadcast industry has learned nothing. They cannot make money with what they have so they want more? Are they looking for a bailout from the government?

Anonymous said...

The royalty rate on both internet radio and terrestrial radio is wrong. If the artists think they will get paid I have a bridge to sell them. Both versions of radio SELL MUSIC. I have bought music heard on both radio delivery systems. This is basic extortion from a group that represents the theives of the music industry.

Anonymous said...

Rehr doth protest too much.

johnbfree said...

You mean the same guys who have run the radio and recording industries into the ground can't figure out how to fix it? Amazing!!! De-regulate and let TRUE competition return.

warning owl said...

rehr is taking care of radio only in its fight with the riaa. he is not doing any favors for internet radio royalty threats. if internet radio operators think they have a friend with rehr and the nab they are sadly mistaken.
radio will fight their own fight. internet radio has to fight its own.

Murphy said...

I'm one of those that got so sick of FM radio that I bought a Sirius system. At first I liked it and the selections were good. Eventually their playlists were shortened and the programming became "lowest common denominator" and that was the reason I had stopped listening to FM radio. Here we go again. SOS. I will not renew Sirius even at a discount. Instead I will replace the unit with a docking station for my new iPod.
What I don't understand is why these radio companies refuse to believe that their formats just plan suck. It wasn't always that way. I would still listen to FM radio if I had some real choices and stations had better playlists.
P.S. Even Howard sucks these days. I bought Sirius before Howard. I liked him better on FM.
I appreciate your blog and the opportunity to let us comment.

Anonymous said...

u know yr stuff

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