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Ad clash leads to dead air

By GREG AUMAN

© St. Petersburg Times, published April 27, 2001


Many fans looking for out-of-town radio broadcasts online in recent weeks have found that the Internet, for now, is a station they can't pick up.

Almost across the board, local radio stations are playing it safe and opting against streaming their broadcasts on their Web sites.

The reason is a conflict generated by the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, which added a clause to commercial contracts in November stating that performers would be paid more for radio commercials aired online.

Unlike radio markets, it's difficult to quantify a station's online audience. The AFTRA contends that because it is a "worldwide distribution," its performers deserve to paid beyond local usage.

WDAE-AM 620 pulled its "listen live" link from 620wdae.com last week, with fans now redirected to a page that explains the decision to "temporarily disable our streaming." Brad James, the station's program director, said Thursday he receives a "sprinkling" of complaints each day in calls and e-mails.

"I'm comfortable it's going to be resolved in our favor," said James, who warns it could be 3-4 months until that agreement is reached. "I'm all for people making talent fees, and I've done voiceovers throughout my career, but this seems a little ridiculous."

James said the only problems he had encountered were in WDAE's broadcast of Tampa Bay Storm games, and that was solved when the team's official site, tampastorm.com, picked up the broadcasts without advertising.

It's less of an issue at WQYK-AM 1010, which has never streamed its broadcasts because of an Infinity Broadcasting Corporation policy. Now that the rest of the industry is following suit, the company's unpopular policy looks like keen foresight to some.

"We've taken a lot of heat about not streaming, but now it looks like the right thing," said Jeff Ryan, WQYK's program director. "Everybody was chastising us, asking, "Why aren't you streaming Bucs broadcasts?' and now to see this, it puts a smile on my face. We were doing the right thing."

Nationally syndicated shows such as The Jim Rome Show have avoided the controversy by selling Web-exclusive advertising for their online broadcast, and the recently-launched ESPNradio.com still is broadcasting Dan Patrick and friends as well.

TID-BYTES: After drawing more than $150 in heavy draft-weekend bidding, rookie cards of quarterback Michael Vick are plateauing around $70-80 on eBay.com. Pacific produced only 1,000 cards. The card for FSU's Chris Weinke, which comes autographed, is in the $30-$40 range. ... A poll at NFL.com has asked fans which team had the best draft. Of 47,000-plus voters, 34.9 percent chose the San Diego Chargers. The Bucs were not among four options, though strangely, the Redskins were, drawing 6.1 percent. ... Lightning captain Vincent Lecavalier, in Europe for two weeks to play in the 2001 IIHF World Hockey Championships, is checking in with a diary every other day at tampabaylightning.com. Wednesday's opening entry has the obligatory greeting to sunny Florida, pointing out that the weather is "great, but a little bit cold." Today's low in Stockholm: 39 degrees.

- If you have a question or comment about the Internet or a site to suggest, send an e-mail to staff writer Greg Auman at aumanac1@aol.com.

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