Radio News ®

Labels scream over CCU price hike

Record labels are upset over a move by Clear Channel (N:CCU) to hike the promotion fees it collects from independent record promoters. According to the Los Angeles Times, Clear Channel has sharply increased fees for its major market Urban stations. For example, KHHT-FM Los Angeles is now collecting $2K for each song added to its weekly playlist. The indies told the Times that rates have gone up by 20-100% at 42 Clear Channel Urban stations across the country.

With the indies having to pay more, they're charging the record labels more. But while they're complaining about the cost, it appears that the labels are still paying up.

The Times article quotes Clear Channel Mark Mays telling the labels, "Please, don't make the payments," but then quotes Peter Hart of Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting as saying the fee increase indicates that CCU is "not serious" about cracking down on the indies.

The Times pegs the company's take for deals with indies in all formats at $15M-20M for 2002.

RBR Observation:

The LA Times simply doesn't get it. (Nor does Mr. Hart, for that matter.) Clear Channel isn't being "inconsistent" by raising fees for letting indies access its music research and PDs while Mark Mays keeps telling the labels that they should stop wasting money on the indies. Clear Channel will keep raising rates until the labels stop paying the indies. Then the whole dirty indie business will dry up and go away - - and radio will be better for it.

CCU meetings bump Jewish holy day

Rosh Hashanah begins at sundown today, and that's apparently creating a crisis of conscience for some Clear Channel managers who've been attending this week's corporate meetings in Las Vegas. No work is permitted on this, one of the holiest days in Judaeism. So, does one fly home early and risk offending the big bosses? Or does one stay in Las Vegas while the family goes to synagogue? We hear that most of CCU's Jewish managers are staying in the desert.

Arbitron seeks Advisory Council nominees

Arbitron (N:ARB) has send out eligibility certification forms to its radio station clients - - the first step in electing five new representatives to the Arbitron Radio Advisory Council. Nominees must hold the rank of GM or higher and be involved in the daily operation of a qualifying station. The new members elected will serve on the council for three years, beginning in January.

The seats up for election this year are: AC, continuously measure markets only; AOR, non-continuous markets; Black/Urban, all markets; Country, non-continuous markets; and News/Talk, non-continuous markets.

RBR Observation: The Arbitron Advisory Council has never been as visible and active as its been lately. That's not going to change, since there are many more questions to be asked and answered about Arbitron's plan to switch from diaries to the Portable People Meter.

AURN offers special 9/11 CD to affiliates

As a service to its affiliates, American Urban Radio Networks (AURN) is forgoing all commercial inventory on 9/11 and offering affiliates a variety of quotes, PSAs and remembrances in their place. All will be delivered via a CD, which also contains.

"We have a number of different things. Through our news, we will be covering all the major events there of the day. We've got reporters on each of the scenes. We'll have live cut-ins and a couple special 9/11 newscasts by themselves at 7:25 and 8:25 AM and 4:25 and 5:25 PM," explains Jerry Lopes, AURN President of Program Operations and Affiliations at American Urban Radio. "A couple of other things we're doing: we are providing the stations free CDs-on this day we've relinquished our commercial inventory and we've asked the civil rights leadership to deliver special messages on this occasion and we've extended invitations from everybody from Jesse Jackson to Louis Farrakhan. And on that day, we'll be running in place of our commercials their special messages of remembrance. In addition, we have a host of celebrities and artists doing other remembrances themselves. What they remember about 9/11, ranging from Cedric the Entertainer to Samuel L. Jackson to the Isley Brothers to Stephanie Mills; folks from shows like Girlfriends' Khalil Kane, Antwon Tanner from Boston Public, a host of folks doing their own sort of remembrances."

He adds, "Most Urban stations are music-intensive. We'd like to have them be able to commit to this project and stay within format, and to be able to play these gentle drops and remembrances throughout the day. We're not doing a four-hour special where we're asking folks to dump away from their programming."

Non-affiliates who want the CD can contact AURN Affiliate Relations at 412-456-4098 or 1-800-456-4211 x4098.

AURN also announced ( 8/21) special coverage on the first anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks: "Operation We Remember." Coverage have a heavy focus on African Americans from AURN's White House Correspondent April Ryan's exclusive interviews with National Security Advisor Condolezza Rice and First Lady Laura Bush to the Black firefighters in New York who have talked to AURN talk show queen Bev Smith about risking their lives to save lives. With coverage planned from coast to coast, AURN's entire programming operations will take a part in providing this historic national urban perspective. NY coverage will be provided by Eric Williams; Capitol Hill talk and interviews on Bev Smith's show, and Allegra Battle will be on the scene in Western PA where the fourth hijacked plane went down.

Along with heavy coverage in AURN News Reports throughout the day, AURN's : "Operation We Remember" will be fed in morning and afternoon drive, live

via satellite to over 330 news affiliates. Coverage will be guided by AURN Director of News and Public Affairs Tene Croom and AURN News Anchor Gerry Scott.

Beasley stations to observe moment of silence on 9/11

Beasley Broadcast Group announced 9/5 all 42 of its stations across the country will observe a moment of silence, beginning at approximately 8:45 a.m. EDT on 9/11 to honor the victims of last year's terrorist attacks.

"We are sponsoring this moment of silence out of respect for the victims of last year's tragedy and to help our listeners reflect on this solemn anniversary," commented George Beasley, Chairman and CEO. "As with last year's efforts to raise funds, organize blood drives and lead public awareness campaigns after the attacks, we are proud to dedicate our station resources in service to our communities."

In addition to this corporate-sponsored moment of silence, each Beasley station or market cluster will observe the anniversary in a variety of additional ways.

Specific examples of these activities include:

WXTU-FM in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania will run commercial free from 6:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. EDT, mixing music with pre-recorded sound bites from listeners and country music stars answering the questions, "Where were you on Sept. 11th?" and "How has it affected you?" The station also updated its "Fallen Heroes" CD, which features sound bites and several patriotic songs, including Alan Jackson's "Where Were You" and Toby Keith's "The Angry American," to raise money for the families of Philadelphia-area firefighters and police killed in the line of duty.

WPOW-FM in Miami, Florida is running commercial-free all day. The station's web site will also carry the pictures and names of every individual who perished in the attacks.

Beasley's three-station cluster in Las Vegas, Nevada will go commercial free beginning at 5:45 a.m. PDT for 9 hours and 11 minutes. Patriotic songs will be played throughout the day, interspersed by a series of short vignettes using news audio sound bites from September 11, 2001, pre-recorded patriotic messages from listeners and live listener responses.

WRXK-FM and WJBX-FM in Ft. Myers, Florida will honor local police officers and firefighters by periodically inserting into regularly scheduled programming their pre-recorded comments along with their special music requests.

In Greenville-Jacksonville-New Bern, North Carolina, three of Beasley's six stations - WSFL-FM, WMGV-FM and WIKS-FM - have organized a morning vigil to take place at a local park involving area firefighters. At the vigil, firefighters will be spraying red, white and blue water into the Neuse River, and at approximately 8:45 a.m. EDT, a giant American flag will be unfurled from the Neuse River Bridge.

All of Beasley's Augusta, Georgia stations - WAJY-FM, WKXC-FM, WSLT-FM, WGAC-AM, WRDW-AM, WRFN-AM, WCHZ-FM, WGOR-FM and WTEL-AM (WRDW Simulcast) - will be promoting a "Headlights On All Day" campaign to inspire listeners to engage in an act of community solidarity.

WFLB-FM and WUKS-FM in Fayetteville, North Carolina - home of the U.S. Army's Fort Bragg - will host veterans on-air throughout the day as guest speakers. The stations will also open up call-in lines to listeners who want to share their thoughts and feelings on the day. Beasley's entire six-station cluster will also dispatch remote vehicles and station personnel to the Airborne and Special Operations Museum at Fort Brag, where they are hosting a bell to be rung to honor victims of the attacks.

Rowdy Yates to be a guest host of American Country Countdown

KILT-FM Houston disc jockey Rowdy Yates has been named host of ABC Radio Networks' American Country Countdown with Bob Kingsley. Yates' first show will air 7-11 a.m. on Sept. 15 on KILT. Yates' day job, the "Rowdy Ride Home, "airs 3-8 p.m. Mondays through Fridays on KILT.

Judge shuts down Aimster/Madster

Illinois federal judge Marvin Aspen ruled 9/4 that the Madster file-swapping site, aka Aimster, cease online activities relating to file trading in the next few days. The legal victory comes just a day after Maryland judge ruled that Napster could not sell its remaining assets to Bertelsmann AG (RBR e-paper 9/4). Madster declared bankruptcy in March.

XHLNC to become a repeater for KUSC-FM LA

Califormula's Classical XHLNC (XLNC-1)/Tijuana/San Diego is dropping its programming to become a repeater of Classical KUSC-FM LA. XLNC-1 has encountered controversy for interfering in parts of the LA area with Pacifica's KPFK-FM.

Most NY stations lower on revenue, says Duncan's

Not surprisingly, the NY Daily News reports the new figures from Duncan's Radio Market Guide for NYC indicate overall market revenue was down in 2001 15.4%. Only one station in the top 20-WAXQ-FM-went up.

Here's the rankings, with figures given in millions. The number in parentheses is where the station ranks in audience size, according to the latest Arbitron survey. (n/a)=switched formats.

STATION 2001 2000
1. WLTW (1) $56.3M $60.6M
2. WFAN (tie 15) $51.4M


3. WINS (7) $48.3M $56.6M
4. WXRK (13) $46.4M $61.2M

5. WHTZ (tie 3)

$41.3M $49.4M
6. WKTU (14) $39.6M $47.8M
7. WQHT (2) $39.7M $42.3M
8. WCBS-AM (12) $38.5M $47.8M
9. WSKQ (tie 5) $37M $39.8M
10. WCBS-FM (tie 5) $36.7M $42.8M
11. WPLJ (17) $32M $38.5M
12. WAXQ (tie 15) $27.3M $26.7M
13. WRKS (tie 8) $23.9M $31.3M
14. WQCD (11) $23.1M $27.7M
15. WBLS (tie 8) $22.2M $25.6M
16. WABC (tie 8) $20M $22.1M
17. WNEW (22) $19.3M $21.5M
18. WOR (20) $18.6M $20.8M
19. WTJM (n/a) $16.5M $26.8M
20. WPAT-FM (18) $15M $15.9M
21. WQXR (19) $14.2M $15.7M
22. WBBR (tie 30) $10.3M $13.6M
23. WCAA (21) $8.7M $8.4M
24. WADO (23) $6.7M $6.6M
25. WYNY (n/a) $4.9M $6.4M
26. WLIB (24) $3.7M $4.2M

Ave Maria Radio sets pledge drive

Domino's Pizza founder Tom Monaghan's Ave Maria Radio, a Catholic broadcasting service operating WDEO-AM Detroit and WMAX-AM Saginaw, MI is set for its first on-air pledge drive on 9/9-9/13. With a goal of $250K the fund-raising campaign will solicit pledges each day of the drive, between 7a and 8p.

Westwood One and extend alliance

Westwood One and have extended their programming and promotional agreement. SportsLine will continue to produce sports feeds several times a day for WW1/CBS Sports affiliates, as well as pre-game, halftime and post-game updates and scoreboard reports for WW1/CBS's live sports coverage and airing "NFL Today" and "NFL Sunday" weekly football shows.

Arbitron/Edison Media release Internet 9

When compared with traditional media, one out of five Americans feel that the Internet is the "most essential" medium to their lives, according to a new study by Arbitron and

Edison Media Research: "Internet 9: The Media and Entertainment World of Online Consumers."

Among the findings:

  • Americans chose the Internet and TV (34% and 35%, respectively) as the most "cool and exciting" medium. Nearly half (46%) of 12-to-34 year-olds chose the Internet, with 29 % choosing TV as the "most essential" medium to their lives.

  • Weekly "Streamies" - those who have watched or listened to streaming media online in the past week - bought more than one and a half times the number of compact discs in the past year than the average American.

  • Record numbers of Americans continue to consume Internet audio and video. As of July 2002, an estimated 83M Americans have now experienced Internet audio or video. The number of people who have listened to audio or watched video online in the past month grew slightly from the prior year - from 37M in July 2001 to 38M in July 2002.

  • Streamies are very concerned about recent industry turmoil. Among weekly Streamies, half are aware of the digital rights controversies that have caused several webcasters to cease streaming. Two-thirds of monthly Streamies indicate that they are upset about not being able to listen to canceled Internet audio webcasts and a similar number support action by Congress to help Internet audio webcasters afford to continue streaming.

  • Streamies displayed more interest than ever before in paying for online content. In July 2002, nearly a quarter (22%) of Internet audio Streamies - an estimated 16M Americans - indicated that they would be willing to pay a small fee to listen to the online audio channel they currently listen to the most. In comparison, only 14% were interested in paying a fee in January 2002.

  • Monthly Streamies are more educated and affluent than average consumers. More than half (57%) have a household income over $50K, compared to 38% of the total population. Nearly half (45%) have a college degree or higher level of education compared to 32% of the total population.

KSBJ-FM reaches fans with "ClicknPrint" tickets

KSBJ-FM Houston, and Extremetix announced the Houston stop of the Festival Con Dios (10/26), a combination of alternative Christian music, extreme sports, shopping, and more, with the first time convenience of tickets via the Internet through Extremetix's, "ClicknPrint" Tickets.

Festival Con Dios is the traveling festival that made the cover of Newsweek and includes performances by 12 Christian Alternative bands.

Elliot to be syndicated in Richmond, as well

The rumor (RBR e-paper 8/29) is looking to be true: WWDC-FM Washington morning man Elliot Segal will reportedly be syndicated soon on CCU's WRXL-FM Richmond. Not long after Dee Snider was canned from WMRQ-FM Hartford ( 8/27), the former Twisted Sister founder was also off morning drive at WRXL. Segal moved to DC101 three years ago from the WHTZ-FM NY Morning Zoo.

Pirate sentenced to 15 months

Pirate operator William Flippo of Jupiter, FL was fined $25K and 15 months in jail after being convicted on eight counts, including unlicensed operation and causing intentional interference to amateur radio communications.

AOL Time Warner to reorganize AOL; de Castro vulnerable?

AOL Time Warner will announce a reorganization of its AOL unit in the next 10 days, the first changes under the service's new management. The business affairs department, at the center of DOJ and SEC investigations into accounting for advertising revenue, will be disbanded and its employees will be reassigned to other units. The announcement comes after AOL Time Warner placed Don Logan, former chief of its Time Inc. magazine unit, in charge of the company's Internet, publishing and cable-television units in July and last month hired former USA Interactive exec Jonathan Miller as America Online CEO.

It's being speculated who Miller will retain in the top management tier. In April, now former AOL COO Bob Pittman appointed former AMFM Radio President Jimmy de Castro as AOL President. But de Castro's standing remains a question now that Miller has taken the reins. Meanwhile, AOL Vice Chairman Ted Leonsis has taken a more visible role in the company by making appearances in the media to promote AOL.

RBR observation:

de Castro has remained largely off the media RADAR screen for most of his tenure at AOL, all while the other execs fought a bloodbath amidst free falling stock prices. Teflon Jimmy should be OK regardless-if he goes, he will likely take a huge severance package with him.

KABC-AM LA will unveil "Towering Memories" sculpture

KABC-AM LA commissioned artist David Haskells to create the eight-foot sculpture, which will be dedicated as part of the city's 9/11 ceremonies. It will be placed on the mall of LA's Kenneth Hahn Hall of Administration. The sculpture is shaped in the form of the twin WTC Towers and bears the names of the 3,031 victims of last year's terrorist attacks. KABC will broadcast the ceremony live from downtown.

"September 11th is a day to honor the memory and sacrifices of the innocent and the brave who perished in the terrorist attacks," said KABC President/GM John Davison. "KABC is proud to dedicate Towering Memories to the victims, surviving family members and to the people of Southern California. We hope the sculpture will serve as a site for people to visit, view and to remember."

Group heads present at NAB Broadcast Financing conference

Dickstein Shapiro Morin & Oshinsky's annual financing conference at the NAB Radio Show is set for 9/12 and will moderated by Deutsche Banc Alex. Brown analyst Drew Marcus. Present will be Cumulus' Lew Dickey, Entercom's David Field, Susquehanna's David Kennedy, Hispanic Broadcasting's Mac Tichenor, Saga VP/CFO/Treasurer Sam Bush, Backyard Broadcasting CEO Barry Drake and other execs.

The panel discussion will focus on the financial challenges of the radio business, with participants assessing the current state of the industry and what lies ahead.

Microsoft unveils Windows Media 9 Series platform

In a star-studded evening at the Hollywood and Highlands Complex in LA (9/4), Microsoft chief Bill Gates unveils the company's new (beta) Windows Media 9 Series platform. During the keynote address attended by more than 1,000 media, technology and entertainment execs, Gates was joined on stage by film director James Cameron; Sir George Martin, the legendary producer, known for his work with the Beatles; and musician/actor LL Cool J.

They highlighted new innovations such as high-definition video at six times the resolution of DVD, the first 5.1-channel surround sound streaming audio, and a faster, more-television-like experience. Windows Media Player 9 Series also offers a new "Smart Jukebox" feature to make managing digital media collections effortless; built-in access to a broad choice of music and video subscription services; built-in enhanced CD-burning features and support on more than 170 devices, including DVD players, portable music devices, car stereos, Pocket PCs, next-generation wireless handsets and digital audio receivers. In addition, compression innovations in Windows Media Audio and Video 9 Series can reduce bandwidth costs by 20% for audio and as much as 50% for video

QinetiQ becomes a DRM member

QinetiQ, one of Europe's largest science and technology solutions providers, has joined the DRM Consortium. DRM is made up of 75 broadcasters, network operators, manufacturers and researchers from 29 countries who have created a digital system (also called DRM) forshort-wave, AM and long-wave with the ability to use existing frequencies and bandwidth across the globe. QinetiQ, formerly the bulk of DERA (Defence Evaluation and Research Agency) was formed 7/01, as a result of the UK government's Public Private Partnership plan. QinetiQ will undertake extensive technological studies then implement and manage solutions for the UK Ministry of Defence, for other government departments and commercial customers. QinetiQ is a leader in RF propagation analysis and prediction with the impact of the atmospheric environment on communication, radar, navigation and surveillance systems.

Willie Nelson headlining KZLA-FM Country Bash

Emmis' Country KZLA-FM LA announced 9/5 the "2002 KZLA Country Bash," an all-day music festival with more than 14 country music acts including Willie Nelson, Lonestar, SHeDAISY, Phil Vassar, Sara Evans, Mongomery/Gentry, Pat Green, Chris Cagle, Cyndi Thomson, Shannon Lawson, Darryl Worley, Emerson Drive and local artists, Fanny Grace and Hank Floyd. The event features two stages, an interactive festival area, games and a sponsor midway. This year's Bash will be at the Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre in Irvine, Calif.

Tickets for the KZLA Country Bash will go on sale this Saturday, Sept. 7 at 10:00 A.M.

CPB Divvies Up Digital Dollars

The Corporation for Public Broadcasting has decided how to allocate $45 million allocated by Congress to help noncoms make the digital transition. Of the total, radio gets $5 million to cover costs incurred in FY 2001 and FY 2002.

Earlier this year, CPB awarded digital conversion grants in excess of $12.5 million to 26 public television stations, and $2.5 million to the Public Broadcasting Service for the first phase of a new digital distribution traffic system.

"These recommendations are the result of months of intense effort to allocate limited funds to address the very different needs of radio and television public broadcasters," said CPB President/CEO Robert Coonrod. "They represent an industry-wide consensus that recognizes the different timelines, technologies, and costs of the television and radio conversions."

Following adoption an IBOC (now called HD Radio) standard, expected later this year, $3.5 million would go to convert public radio stations in 13 seed markets. (The seed markets are Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, Chicago, Seattle, Miami, Boston, Dallas, Denver, Atlanta, Detroit, Las Vegas, and Washington.)

One million dollars would go towards engineering development, conversion, and testing of up to four public radio AM stations, to provide solutions for daytime and night-time AM operations and resolve potential AM signal propagation issues.

[email protected] Plus debuts

AOL's Netscape has debuted its [email protected] Plus 175-channel webcast service, slated to replace its Spinner Internet radio. The service offers the 100+ Spinner channels and streams a handful of radio stations, including KCRW-FM LA, WOXY-FM Oxford/Cincinatti, WDST-FM Woodstock, NY, WFMU-FM East Orange, NJ and KPIG-FM Monterey/Santa Cruz.

The service also has AP News Radio, Sporting News Radio and 17 "celebrity-programmed" channels by artists like N'SYNC, Creed, Diana Krall, the Goo Goo Dolls, and James Taylor.

Netscape's early "[email protected]" service was launched in May.

NBC buys Paxson station in Boston burbs

Even while awaiting an arbitrators ruling in their partnership dispute, NBC and Paxson Communications (A:PAX) have managed to conduct some business. General Electric's (N:GE) is paying Paxson $26M for WPXB-TV (Ch. 60), licensed to Merrimack, NH in the northern reaches of the Boston market.

Paxson has been seeking to raise $100M from selling off some non-core assets, and WPXB fits the bill. It doesn't even carry the PAX network, but rather Valuvision's (O:VVTV) Shop NBC. PAX airs in Boston on WBPX-TV (Ch. 68).

NBC holds a right of first refusal on any station Paxson wants to sell in the top 50 markets. Someone else wanted to buy WPXB, but NBC exercised its right and mtched the $26M offer. NBC doesn't currently own a station in the Boston market.

RBR Observation:

Bud Paxson still has $39M to go to get to his $100M target for non-core asset sales. He recently sold KPXF-TV (Ch. 61) Fresno, CA (TVBR 7/30) to Univision (N:UVN) for $35M.

Moody's sees Gray as stable

Moody's Investors Service has affirmed its debt ratings for Gray Television (N:GTN) and assigned similar ratings to the company's proposed new $100M bond offering (TVBR/RBR 9/4) and $450M in new bank loans. The rating service says the rating outlook for Gray is stable.

Moody's notes that the new bank agreement is contingent upon Gray securing at least $225M in new capital, so it will still be leveraged below six times (debt to EBITDA) after closing its $500M purchase of Benedek Broadcasting and KOLO-TV Reno for $41.5M. "The acquisitions are expected to be financed prudently with a $275 million contribution of common equity," Moody's added.

"Following the acquisition, Gray's ratings will continue to be constrained by the company's high leverage and thin cash flow coverage of interest and capital expenditures, the likelihood that the company will continue to acquire opportunistically, and the challenges associated with the integration of 16 new television stations (including the most recently announced KOLO-TV acquisition) which double the company's revenue base. Additionally, over the next few years, Gray's capital expenditures will be unusually high as the company is obliged to upgrade its facilities for digital television ($30 million+ over the next 3 years)," Moody's analysts wrote.

"The ratings also reflect a lack of diversity in the company's television portfolio which, even when including the Benedek stations, is still dominated by CBS (15 of 29 stations, about 55% of broadcast cash flow)," Moody's said. But it added, on the plus side, that Gray's stations tend to be dominate in their markets and that the same is true of the Benedek stations being acquired.

Moody's ratings for Gray:

  • a B3 rating on its new $100 million guaranteed senior subordinated notes due 2011
  • a Ba3 rating on the proposed $75 million senior secured revolving credit due 2009,
  • a Ba3 rating on the proposed $375 million senior secured term loan due 2010,
  • confirmation of the B3 rating on Gray's existing $180 million of senior subordinated notes due 2011,
  • confirmation of the Ba3 rating on Gray's current $250 million of senior secured bank facilities,
  • confirmation of the B1 senior implied rating,
  • confirmation of the B2 issuer rating.

"The rating outlook is stable."

BET announces 9/11 programming

BET announced 9/5 it will provide a week-long series of special news and public affairs programming chronicling the 9/11 tragedy from an African-American perspective. On the morning of 9/11, the network will present a 90-minute special report entitled "September 11th: Telling Our Stories," including live coverage from its Washington studios and Ground Zero in New York beginning at 8:30 a.m. ET. The special will be co-anchored by Ed Gordon, host of BET Tonight and BET Nightly News anchor Jacque Reid. The broadcast will feature statements and comments from BET employees; observance of the national "moment of silence" at 8:46 a.m. when the first plane hit the World Trade Center; and the reading of the names of victims live from Ground Zero. The network will be commercial free during the live portion of the broadcast from 8:30 a.m. - 9 a.m., but will air commercials during the pre-taped segment from 9 a.m. - 10 a.m. According to network news executives, the goal is to present viewers with a unique look at how people of color were affected by the tragedy.

Lund named VP/Sales at WNBC-TV

Mark Lund has been named VP/Sales at WNBC-TV NY, effective 9/ 16. Lund was previously SM for Viacom's WBZ-TV and WSBK-TV Boston.

China implements clampdown after pirates hack national broadcasts

China has launched (9/5) a nationwide clampdown on satellite networks in the wake of a string of pirate broadcasts on state television by the banned Falun Gong spiritual movement. The campaign, ordered by the Ministry of Information Industry, aimed to curb the illegal use of satellite broadcasting equipment and "harmful interference," the official Xinhua news agency said.

Although the report did not mention Falun Gong, the orders come roughly one week after the outlawed group hijacked a network in a city near Beijing and aired 70 minutes of propaganda. The broadcasts, the latest in a string of high-tech stunts in a propaganda blitz by the group, come at a highly sensitive time before a pivotal Communist Party Congress due to start on 11/8. Falun Gong members have also tapped into cable channels in other Chinese cities several times, and from 7/23-7/30 interrupted satellite transmissions.

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