This Bodes Ill: Australian Radio Stations Shutting Down Their Webcasts

One of the frustrating things about running a radio station is the rules, regulations and fees involved in offering a stream on your website.  In Canada, web streams that are simulcasts of the over-the-air broadcast are covered by something called Tariff 22A, which means no additional fees are required.

Where it gets weird is when you want to stream music independent of what’s coming off your transmitter.  The last time I looked, the fees for something like this were TWENTY TIMES higher than OTA broadcasts.  Plus there are onerous rules on tracking each song played on a per listener basis.  This shuts down innovation and choice.

For example, I’d love to be able to offer my Secret History of Rock Show on an on-demand basis through this website.  You’d think that I’d just be able to post the produced digital file–the same file that’s distributed to affiliate radio stations across the country–connect it to a “play” button and Bob’s your uncle.  But nooooooooooooo.

To offer my show on demand would require me to take the show that was mixed and produced for radio and break it into is constituent parts (songs and voice/production) and post each file separately.  Instead of just one digital file, I’d have dozens–for just one show.  And then there’s matter of playing them all in the right order.  At the end of each month I’d have to file a report detailing how many listens each individual song from every single show had. And then I’d have to pay a fee based on those listens.

It can be done, but ripping apart a radio show like this ruins the flow and continuity of the production–and it takes hours and hours and hours to do it.  It’s just not worth it.

I bring this up because there’s a terrible disconnect between what consumers want on radio station websites and what those websites are allowed to provide under the current rules.  And it’s not just Canada.  Other nations have their own challenges when it comes to broadcasters vs. rights holders.

In Australia, 200 radio stations were schedule to yank their streams in protest of some new fees levied a year ago. Details on that battle at RAIN.


Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

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