Not to steal thunder from the Live Earth event, or to rain on a parade, but there is something interesting to note about this event and the coverage of it as it relates to the satellite radio sector, the merger between Sirius and XM, and the position of the NAB.
The NAB has stated many times now that they provide “local coverage”, and serve “local” communities. They make these statements in an effort to convince those who will listen that satellite radio competes with terrestrial radio, but terrestrial radio does not compete with satellite radio. An event such as this clearly demonstrates that many forms of media are competing for the ears of consumers.
Those that follow this sector are well aware that both Sirius and XM have extensive coverage of the Live Earth event. In fact, coverage is available in many ways…including terrestrial radio. To be fair, terrestrial radio should cover this event. News an information is part of their business. However, one must acknowledge that a consumer is not very likely to be listening on satellite, on terrestrial radio, on television, and over the internet all at the same time. Indeed, these various services are competing for your ears.
Live Earth, is a massive endeavor to put on 9 concerts in 9 different countries all in the name of being more earth conscious. A great cause, a great event, and hopefully it will have great results. This event is deserving of all of the coverage it can get.
What is terrestrial radios role in Live Earth? Premiere Radio, a subsidiary of Clear Channel, covered the events and stations were offered the ability to pick up the feed. How many terrestrial radio stations participated? 148 stations from 39 states as well as the District of Columbia. Seems like pretty extensive coverage. It also points out some distinct points:
1. Terrestrial radio does indeed have a national footprint, and indeed is competing for the ears of listeners. While this was already demonstrated with nationally syndicated shows, and terrestrial radios $200,000,000 per year internet radio business, an event such as Live Earth demonstrates this very clearly and precisely.
2. What about the 11 states that had stations that did not participate. Rural states with consumers that have been pointing out that terrestrial radio is not meeting their needs have a shining example in the lack of coverage from terrestrial radio stations.
3. Terrestrial radio has the ability to be national at any given time. HD radio makes that concept more of a reality.
The Premier Radio website actually boasts of their national/international footprint, and boasts a list of very familiar shows and radio names as part of their service:
"Premiere Radio Networks, Inc., a subsidiary of Clear Channel Communications (NYSE:CCU), syndicates 90 radio programs and services to more than 4,600 radio affiliations and reaches over 190 million listeners weekly. Premiere Radio is the number one radio network in the country and features the following personalities: Rush Limbaugh, Jim Rome, Casey Kasem, Ryan Seacrest, Glenn Beck, Bob (Kevoian) & Tom (Griswold), Delilah, Steve Harvey, Whoopi Goldberg, Blair Garner, George Noory, Maria Bartiromo, Ty Pennington, John Boy and Billy, Matt Drudge, Art Bell, Donald Trump, Big Tigger, Bob Costas and others. Premiere is based in Sherman Oaks, California, with 13 offices nationwide.
Founded in 1987, Premiere began in Los Angeles with a $30,000 investment. Within the first year, the company produced three shows and recorded advertising billings of $2.1 million with approximately 250 affiliates. Today, Premiere produces 70 programs with annual billings in excess of $330 million.
Premiere purchased Mediabase in 1991. This research component of Premiere monitors music on more than 1,800 radio stations in 175 U.S. and Canadian markets, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. In addition to providing vital airplay information to the music industry, the company provides its research to nearly 1,700 affiliate radio stations on a barter subscription basis."
Local radio is a wonderful thing. It does have a function, and keeps people informed. However, the airtime dedicated to “local” is not as vast as the NAB would have you believe. Yes, markets have local talk radio, but often those very stations carry national shows. Yes, a local DJ can tell you about a traffic jam between songs, but that bit of localism is surrounded by music and commercials, which more than dominate the DJ talk in terms of on air time.
Simply stated, the competition goes both ways.
Position - Long Sirius, Long XM, No Position Clear Channel -IMOJB-