Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Chill words for the music industry

Commercial radio in the UK is looking to cut its costs - and is targeting transmission and copyright costs. Especially copyright costs, says Radio Centre chief executive Andrew Harrison:

"Copyright fees total around £60m for the sector. The current arrangements are up for renegotiation as from 2008.

"This will be a tough negotiation but, from drawing comparisons with how copyright fees are levied in other countries around the world, it may well be an area where we are able to find a more favourable balance."

In other words: they don't want to pay as much for music anymore.

Mind you, the record companies might feel they have a slightly stronger bargaining position on this one - Capital Radio can't suddenly swap to putting out more speech if they suddenly lose rights to music.

Harrison also hopes that the BBC licence fee settlement might work in their favour, too:
"The BBC now finds itself under considerable cost pressure. Their ability to buy the biggest and best in terms of talent is significantly reduced," he added.

"Most of the on-air BBC talent started in commercial radio before being lured over by big salaries. Our biggest competitor has been tamed - slightly."

"Most" of the on-air talent? Is that true? And of the names - like Moyles - who did leave the commercial networks to join the BBC, how many had a Jonathan Ross style package dangled in front of them compared with the numbers who just fancied working for a broadcaster who doesn't use such strictly formatted shows?


2 comments:

Andrew said...

They could always play more ads. Or even "innovate", by getting sponsors to make sponsored songs to promote their brand. Wasn't there a dance mix of a Coca-Cola jingle in the 90s which hit the charts?

We could see lager/mobile phone companies assembling groups of session musicians, letting the stylists loose on them and getting them to record "indie rock" songs whose titles/choruses incidentally reiterate the brand jingles.

James said...

There's something a bit sad about the line "Our biggest competitor has been tamed - slightly". Rather than aspiring to be better, they seem to be celebrating the competition being held back. It's a bit like going on a victory lap after a race in which the only other runner died halfway around.

You're right about the BBC's way with talent. Like their music policy, I think their strength is in spotting the good up-and-coming presenters and giving them the freedom they need, rather than handing them a stack of 'reads' and demanding that the link at 9:15 lasts 45 seconds and appeals specifically to the male 25-30 audience. Sure, they have a bad habit of hiring big names too, but that doesn't always work out (look at the reviews Davina McCall got when she stood in on Radio 2 recently). I think Annie Mac is a great example of what they do best. She joined as a broadcast assistant, was given a Thursday-evening slot to try her hand at presenting, did a fine job of it and now presents the coveted Friday-night slot.

By the way, did you see last week's story in which the heads of commercial radio wrote to Ofcom, asking to be let off that pesky 'being local' requirement? They suggested that their smaller local stations should only need to broadcast locally for three hours a day, with the remaining 21 hours filled with syndicated programming across the country.

Next week they plan to buy the nation's network of libraries, then complain that lending books isn't profitable and ask the government if they could maybe just have a couple of shelves of books and turn the rest of the buildings into wine bars and crack dens.

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