Saturday, March 24, 2007

Solar Power Interview with GSMA

Did you know that 60% of the cost of running a mobile phone network in Africa goes in trucking diesel fuel out to base-stations. This interview with Dawn Hartley of the GSMA looks at solar power solutions, which may well be of interest to some reporters in the field.


469 pounds is a lot to pay for a recorder. Yes it is cheaper than the HHB Sennheiser, but it is also considerably more expensive than the other handheld recorders we've seen. The good news is that the recordings are clean, and you can even get away with using the built-in mike, though politicians may be wary of speaking into something the size of a mobile phone. But the internal memory is either 512 or 1 GB and with MPEG-2 compression (or just WAV) that means very short recording times. That's a pain if you switch the thing on to record a press conference in WAV format and it lasts for more than 40 minutes. Memory full? Have to dump it to a PC before you can continue. Come on guys - haven't we learned anything from the photo camera market? Please lets use removable flash memory - it is cheap enough now.

Overall, I'm disappointed. Decided not to buy..

Reciva 2.0

I was interested to see a demo of the next phase of software to be put in a series of wifi radios being rolled out in the UK and elsewhere. There are other companies working on the same thing, but Reciva have managed to stay ahead by offering a database of some 5000 stations which automatically loads into the receiver.


I had a fascinating talk with Dawn Hartley of the GSMA development fund who are doing some fascinating work with mobile phones in developing countries. I am even more convinced now that many of these ideas will merge with broadcasting, especially in Africa.

Vizrt Mobile at 3GSM

Vizrt has some very clever ideas for both the broadcast and mobile market. (Full Disclosure - I have done some consultancy for this Norwegian firm). They seem to have cracked the problem that graphics and subtitles look terrible on most mobile phones. Its only now that I have a chance to post these interviews - done in a different style to the 3GSM productions.

Friday, March 23, 2007

The Day the Music Died?

According to the Radio and Internet Newsletter, the US Copyright Royalty Board (CRB) has just announced its decision on Internet radio royalty rates, rejecting all of the arguments made by Webcasters and instead adopting the "per play" rate proposal put forth by SoundExchange(a digital music fee collection body created by the RIAA).
RAIN says the rates that the Board has decided on, effective retroactively through the beginning of 2006. They are as follows:

$.0008 per performance 2007

$.0011 per performance 2008

$.0014 per performance 2009

$.0018 per performance 2010

A "performance" is defined as the streaming of one song to one listener; thus a station that has an average audience of 500 listeners racks up 500 "performances" for each song it plays. The minimum royalty fee is $500 per channel per year. There is no clear definition of what a 'channel' is for services that make up individualized playlists for listeners.

For noncommercial webcasters, the fee will be $500 per channel, for up to 159,140 ATH (aggregate tuning hours) per month. They would then have to pay the commercial rate for all transmissions above that number.

Participants are granted a 15 day period wherein they have the opportunity to ask the CRB for a re-hearing. Within 60 days of this final determination, the decision is supposed to be published in the Federal Register, along with any technical corrections that the Board may wish to make.

Basically, that wipes out any chance of profit for niche radio networks on the web. The advertising they are able to command will never be enough to pay those bills in 2007, let alone in 2010. And remember these fees are simply the performance rights and do not include money that goes to the original composers.

It is also not clear whether these sorts of rights would apply if music was streamed to mobile phones, like on the DMB/DVB-H type networks being rolled out in Europe.

So what will this mean? A mass migration of US webradio services to servers outside the US? A great boost to non-RIAA music like that found on Podsafe music network? I think it just means that US radio stations will kill their Internet radio services for the time being until these lunatics realise they are truly throttling the music business. Hopefully it means European music stations now have a chance of a global audience. Radio is certainly scoring a series of own-goals.