Category Archives: May 2017

Congressional Support to Maintain Tax Deductibility for Advertising

Over 100 members of Congress have voiced their opposition to changes in the tax deductibility treatment of advertising as expenses. The legislators sent a letter to House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), with Reps. Kevin Yoder (R-KS) and Eliot Engel (D-NY) as leading signatories, asking that they “maintain the current tax treatment of advertising as a fully and immediately deductible business expense.”

The letter asserts that any “measure that would tax advertising – and therefore would make it more expensive – cannot be justified as a matter of tax or economic policy…. Advertising has been accorded the same treatment as all other regularly occurring business expenses, such as employee wages, rent, utilities and office supplies, throughout the 114-year life of the tax code.”

NAB President/CEO Gordon Smith said, “The National Association of Broadcasters thanks Representatives Yoder and Engel and the bipartisan group of 124 House members who have signaled strong opposition to a job-killing tax on advertising. Across America, advertising is an engine for economic growth that creates and supports millions of high-paying jobs. Advertising on local radio and TV stations and broadcast networks supports popular entertainment and provides listeners and viewers with trusted sources of news. In order to sustain our nation’s economic recovery and growth, it is imperative that tax laws continue to allow advertising expenses to be fully and immediately deductible.”

“We are grateful that so many Representatives in Congress have joined in this letter to acknowledge the important role advertising performs in our marketplace today,” said The Advertising Coalition Executive Director Jim Davidson. “Advertising does so much more than sell goods and services. It keeps our radio stations, newspapers, websites, television and cable broadcasts running and provides open access to information.”

Report Recommends FOIA Review

The State of Michigan Law Revision Commission is considering a report that recommends Legislative review of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). The report does not include any recommended changes to the law, but, suggests the Legislature consider new definitions in the act based on recent court rulings. Among the language reviewed in the report, the law does not include as public bodies, committees formed by local governments, nor does it include elected local officials. The report notes that the law does not include electronic documents as “writing.” The report recommends the Legislature consider other forms of storage, such as flash drives, as legitimate ways to return records.

The law also appears to use “granted” and “fulfilled” interchangeably, though the Court of Appeals ruled last year that they are not synonymous and that an agency must actually produce the requested records in the time allowed, not merely approve the FOIA request. If an agency does not comply and a court finds there was bad faith, the law provides for fines between $2,500 and $7,500.  However, that does not indicate what an “occurrence” means and how that determines how many times a fine can be imposed. The board also declined to issue an opinion on whether the Legislature should create an entity to monitor access to records, but says the Legislature should review the issue.

Pai Proposes To Add Blue Alerts To EAS

Chairman Ajit Pai

On May 19, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai announced a proposal to add an alert option to the nation’s Emergency Alert System (EAS) to help protect our nation’s law enforcement officers.

Called a “Blue Alert,” the option would be used by authorities in states across the country to notify the public through television and radio of threats to law enforcement and to help apprehend dangerous suspects. The Chairman unveiled the proposal at an event hosted by the Department of Justice announcing the nationwide rollout of the National Blue Alert Network.

“As we have learned from the very successful AMBER Alert initiative for recovering missing children, an informed public can play a vital role in assisting law enforcement,” Chairman Pai said. “By expanding the Emergency Alert System to better support Blue Alerts, we could build on that success – and help protect those in law enforcement who risk their lives each day to protect us.”

Blue Alerts can be used to warn the public when there is actionable information related to a law enforcement officer who is missing, seriously injured or killed in the line of duty, or when there is an imminent credible threat to an officer. As a result, a Blue Alert could quickly warn you if a violent suspect could be in your community, along with providing instructions on what to do if you spot the suspect and how to stay safe.

Chairman Pai’s proposal would amend the FCC’s EAS rules by creating a dedicated Blue Alert event code so that state and local authorities have the option to send these warnings to the public through broadcast, cable, satellite, and wireline video providers.

Suzanne Goucher, EAS representative for the National Association of State Broadcast Associations (NASBA) said “the new code would be voluntary, so if states or stations didn’t want to use the new code for Blue Alerts, they could still use LEW, Law Enforcement Warning, for other incidents/situations.”

House Holds Hearing on Modernizing EAS

On May 20, Representative Greg Walden, (R-OR), Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee (and a former broadcaster), led a hearing on modernizing America’s emergency alert system.

“As we move forward, we want to make sure that our first responder community, and the citizens they serve and protect, have access to the latest technologies. And, we want to make sure that it is an evolving force, not something that is simply locked in place,” said Walden.

Broadcasters made their case for the importance of advanced emergency alerts via the new next gen ATSC 3.0 standard and the necessity for the FCC to approve NAB’s request, along with noncommercial broadcasters and tech companies, to roll out the new standard on a voluntary basis.

Sam Matheny, Chief Technology Officer for the National Association of Broadcasters told lawmakers: “All NAB members, the thousands of free, local radio and television broadcasters in your hometowns, take seriously their role as the most trusted source of news and emergency updates. Whether it’s preparing listeners and viewers for the coming storm, directing them to needed supplies and shelter during the disaster, or helping towns and cities rebuild in the aftermath, local stations are part of the communities they serve. And, local radio and TV stations are sometimes the only available communication mediums in an emergency when cell phones and wireless networks fail. In fact, a new poll was released by Morning Consult, reaffirming that broadcasters are the number one medium that the American People turn to in times of emergency, by a factor of nearly four to one.”

“This unique combination of trust and reliability is why, in addition to our ongoing, comprehensive news coverage of emergencies, broadcasters form the backbone of the Emergency Alert System (EAS). EAS connects over-the-air broadcast radio, television and cable systems to communicate critical safety information to the public during sudden, unpredictable or unforeseen events. These capabilities can be enhanced by a station’s voluntary upgrade to Next Gen TV, which will enable significant life-saving advances in emergency communications. One need look no further than the recent and tragic fire in Gatlinburg, Tennessee, or the destruction caused by Hurricane Sandy to appreciate the vital role of a reliable communications infrastructure during a time of crisis. ”


Busy Times for Broadcasters and the MAB

Debbie Kenyon

By: Debbie Kenyon, MAB Chairman and Senior VP/Market Manager, CBS Radio Detroit

This has been quite a year legislatively. There are attacks on FOIA, claims of “Fake News,” Performance Royalty, National Ad Tax and the Spectrum Auction. The National Association of Broadcasters has done a terrific job keeping these issues at bay and we thank them.

Did you know that the NAB is the first to admit that they depend on strong state associations like the MAB to help with the grassroots lobbying efforts? A lawmaker trusts the NAB completely, but always wants to know, “What do my local broadcasters think about this?” Enter the MAB.

The MAB is well known among the Michigan Congressional Delegation. MAB schedules individual meetings during the Call on Congress in DC, as well as in-district Congressional meetings to discuss issues identified by the NAB. Because of these meetings and the overall lobbying efforts, many of our Congressional delegation have signed the Radio Freedom Act and three have signed a letter urging Congress to continue to treat advertising as an essential business expense.

The MAB board will continue to meet one of our core missions of advocacy. We need your help to do so. In order to speak with authority for the state, we need your station to be a member of the MAB and air the Public Education Messages (PEP). Though we do not lobby with the PEP funds, it helps fund our other missions, including continuing education and training, Legal Helpline, P1 Sales, and Broadcast Compliance Service, just to name a few. To date 98% of TV stations and 76% of all radio stations in the state are members of the MAB. Lets try to make that membership 100% of all Michigan radio and television stations.

In its 68 years of existence, the MAB is one of the most respected state broadcast associations in the nation and is a model for other states. President Karole White has been at the helm of MAB for just a little less than half of that time. Along with her excellent staff she has helped the MAB board build a strong organization with ever stronger advocacy efforts and member services.

It has been my honor to serve as Chairman this year and I look forward to seeing all of you at the MAB summer Advocacy Conference and Annual Meeting August 22-23 at Crystal Mountain Resort, Thompsonville.

Annual EEO Public File Report Deadline for Stations in Michigan

June 1, 2017 is the deadline for broadcast stations licensed to communities in Arizona, the District of Columbia, Idaho, Maryland, Michigan, Nevada, New Mexico, Ohio, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wyoming to place their Annual EEO Public File Report in their public inspection file and post the report on their station website.

In addition, a certain group of these stations, as detailed below, must electronically file their EEO Mid-term Report on FCC Form 397 by June 1, 2017.

For more information, please read the advisory from Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP here. (PDF download via MAB)

Traffic Director Tips: Joni Reed (Black Diamond Broadcasting/Cheboygan)

(L-R) MAB’s Denise Weston, Black Diamond’s Joni Reed and Lynne Peck.

Joni Reed is Traffic Director for Black Diamond Broadcasting’s WMKC-FM, WGFM-FM, WQEZ-FM and WCBY-AM.  Joni works with Traffic and Billing Director Lynne Peck and both are based at the company’s Cheboygan, Michigan location.  Joni has been in traffic for 10 years.

Joni:  I started at the radio station 11 years ago, and sent out the billing before I was actually a traffic director. Within a year or two, I became a traffic director.  As we have several stations, we would print all of the invoices, go through them, sign and notarize, then fold and keep them in alphabetical order, adding each station’s invoice, so we could mail them all together for each client.

Later, we started printing monthly statements, so we added that into the same process.

Recently we were bought by Black Diamond Broadcasting, adding 2 more stations to our overall billing group.  During the transition of adding them to Marketron, we got some information from the trainer about something available. You can earmark all your invoices that have special instructions, or are co-op, as you enter your orders in ‘Remarks’ in the Header Field.  After you create your batches and post them, you can create an invoice report for the day of your invoices and when you print them, all the orders that you earmarked as special will print first and the rest will be in alphabetical order for you!

For us it has been a great time saver. We only have to pull out the agency invoices as the agency statements print at the end of the statement batch, but the agency invoices print in alphabetical order by agency.

We will NEVER GO BACK!!!! Can’t believe we didn’t know this earlier! We have A LOT of ‘special’ people, so it has saved time in more ways than one.

Hope this helps someone else save time!


WCMU Honored with Michigan Community Action Award

(L-R)  John Stephenson, Executive Director of the Northwest Michigan Community Action Agency; Amy Robinson, WCMU News Director; Rick Westover, WCMU Program Director; Ken Kolbe, WCMU General Manager; and Kate White, Michigan Community Action Executive Director.

WCMU’s “Warm Hearts, Warm Homes” campaign has received the 2017 Community Service Award from Michigan Community Action (MCA). The award was presented May 9 at a special ceremony at the State Capitol in Lansing.

“Warm Hearts, Warm Homes” is a partnership involving WCMU, Consumers Energy and Isabella Bank that provides home-heating assistance to families in need. The December 2016 campaign raised $68,000 to help pay heating bills for residence in central and northern Michigan.

The generosity of WCMU Public Radio listeners during the five-day campaign triggered a dollar-for-dollar matching donation from Consumers Energy and Isabella Bank who worked with Michigan Community Action to distribute the funds to those in need.

“Michigan Community Action has helped more than 10,000 families in each of the last three years keep warm,” Rick Westover, program director of WCMU, said. “The combined generosity of Consumers Energy, Isabella Bank and CMU Public Radio listeners allowed MCA to continue to meet the growing need for home-heating assistance in our listening area.”

This year’s Warm Hearts, Warm Homes campaign brings to $138,000 the funding provided for help with heating bills during the last three years.

“Thanks to MCA for the “Warm Hearts, Warm Homes” recognition, but it’s the feedback and generosity of our listeners that provides warmth in our hearts,” said Westover.

Listener feedback:

Atlanta: “I’m on social security and keep my thermostat at 60, but I know there are people worse off than me, I’m willing to help with what I can.”

Petoskey: “I am a beneficiary of the energy assistance program through the NMCAA. I cannot express enough my gratitude for this program, which is helping my family keep warm this winter.”

Saginaw: “I love the Warm Hearts idea. It’s so important to help low income residents – these heating funds always run out at the end of the winter”

Podcasts Are Different From Radio Shows…and It Matters

Seth Resler

Editor’s Note: The views and opinions of this article do not necessarily reflect those of the MAB. Contact the MAB for information on the MAB’s official editorial policy.

By: Seth Resler
Jacobs Media Strategies

As I work with different radio stations across the country, many of them dip their toes into the podcasting pool by repurposing their on-air shows as on-demand shows. The results are often less than spectacular.

That’s because while radio shows and podcasts are similar, they’re not the same. There are important differences between the two mediums. These differences make it easier to repurpose some radio shows than others. For example, public radio shows like Fresh Air, Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me! and The Moth can be published as podcast episodes with little or no changes, but five-hour commercial morning shows or music-driven radio shifts don’t work as well as podcasts.

Here are the key differences between radio shows and podcasts:

1. Mass Appeal vs. Niche Topics
Generally speaking, radio shows aim to cover a wide range of mass appeal topics, including sports, celebrity news and general interest topics. It’s common for radio stations to use the “morning zoo” format: a collection of likable hosts discussing popular subjects.

Radio stations do this because the audience they reach is already limited by two factors: the station format and geographic reach. When you’re a country station in Los Angeles or a rock station in Topeka, you don’t want to further whittle down to your audience by focusing on niche topics.

Podcasts, on the other hand, are not limited by station format or geographic reach, so they can focus on specific niches. While it makes no sense to launch a radio station that focuses on knitting in Los Angeles, a knitting podcast could be successful because it has the potential to attract knitters from around the globe.

Moreover, when people go to a “podcatcher” (a podcast listening app) to find a new podcast, they often search by topic. If your podcast covers a wide range of topics, instead of focusing on a specific area like beer or parenting or politics, it may have a hard time getting discovered.

Your station’s radio shows should be mass appeal, but its podcasts should focus on a specific niche.

2. Tune In Anytime vs. Listen From the Beginning
With radio, different people tune in at different times. As broadcasters, we never know whether a listener heard our last break, so we must constantly repeat elements, like the call letters.

But with a podcast, everybody starts at the same point: the beginning of the episode. This means that the first minute of a podcast episode is crucial, because that’s when listeners decide if they will commit to the entire thing.

Although listeners all start at the beginning of the episode, they don’t all start with the first podcast episode. As a listener, my first episode of Marc Maron’s WTF may be his 300th episode (the exception is serialized podcasts like, well, Serial, which set the expectation that listeners should start with episode one), Because people may start listening to a podcast with any given episode, the first 60 seconds of every episode should repeat the same basic information: What the podcast is about, what the episode is about, who the host is, etc.

3. Time Constraints vs. No Time Constraints
On a radio show, you’ve got time constraints. If you’re hosting a morning show with no music, you may have 45+ minutes per hour to fill, while the host of a music-driven show may have only a few minutes. With a podcast, you can make your episodes as long or as short as you want.

Which is a double-edged sword.

On the one hand, if you have tons of compelling content, you don’t have to worry about not being able to include it all.

On the other hand, there’s less incentive to edit your show down to just the best material because it’s so easy to upload everything.

4. Music vs. Right Issues
On the radio, we obviously play lots of music, but you can’t in a podcast because of rights issues (I’m not a lawyer, so if you want to quibble about the finer points of copyright law, go find somebody who is; but the short answer to the question, “Can I play Shakira in my podcast?,” is “No”),

This means that in a podcast, not only can we talk more that most of us do on the radio, we actually have to. When it comes to podcasts, broadcasters who don’t host talk shows probably don’t create enough on-air content to repurpose it as a podcast, so they’ll have to create some new audio content.

5. Fleeting vs. Long Shelf Life
On the radio, we do our break and then move on to the next one. Once a break is over, it disappears into the ether, never to be heard again, and we turn our attention to the next one. DJ breaks on the radio are disposable.

That’s not the case with podcast episodes. Years from now, people may listen to old episodes of Grammar Girl or Hardcore History. Podcast episodes can have a long shelf life. Of course, some contain content that is evergreen, while others tend to be more ephemeral. But unlike radio, they can all be listened to weeks, months, or even years later.

In fact, some podcasts don’t gain traction until long after their first episodes were published. My food and travel podcast saw its highest download numbers last fall — a year and a half after I stopped producing it! Creating podcasts that age well can be an effective long-term strategy, but it requires a different mindset for most radio broadcasters.

Podcast Movement
We’ve teamed up with the organizers of Podcast Movement to produce a special track at this year’s conference designed especially for radio broadcasters. The conference is in Anaheim at the end of August. Program directors, on-air talent and digital team members are invited to come learn how your radio station can thrive in the world of podcasting.  For more information, click here.

For more assistance on digital or social media, contact MAB Member Services at [email protected] or 1-800-968-7622.