Radio slips in Web stream

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The advertisers and media buyers that acted to squelch an early rush to Web streaming of local radio station broadcasts are perfectly right to have done so. As with Napster, just because it can be done on the Internet-right now-doesn't mean it should be done.

It's no surprise some big radio station operators want to experiment with this new distribution

pipeline as soon as they can. There's no doubt that distribution of radio programming by the Internet, and by satellites, has the potential to greatly change the radio landscape. Nor is it likely that advertisers can block the radio business from evolving, or necessarily want to. But it's a complicated business world, and advertisers are correct to insist that all the ramifications of Web streaming be examined because their advertising is involved.

Behind the current advertiser resistance to Web streaming of radio stations are very legitimate concerns about talent costs. Advertisers and agencies, who last year endured a prolonged strike by commercials actors, already know that talent unions see Web streaming of radio ads as another "use" of an actor's work and want additional compensation for it. Weighing the very experimental and uncertain benefits from Web streaming of radio stations against the virtual certainty of more wrangling over talent fees, it's not hard to see why advertisers are saying "wait a minute."

There are other potential issues as well. Advertisers like local radio stations because they can tailor messages and promotions to specific geographical markets. Does the nationwide-make that worldwide-reach of the Web represent for advertisers additional value or just unwanted complication?

Before radio station owners jump back into the Web stream, they need to sit down with advertisers. They have plenty to talk about. M

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