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Bruce, Caroline

Why I Approve of Exclusivity Clauses in Internet Radio

Over the past few months, there has been a fair bit of talk, some of it very bitter and inflamatory, about the use of exclusivity clauses by owners of Internet radio stations. I have been wanting to speak out about it for quite some time, but felt a need to better formulate an opinion before expressing it. This is my own, unsolicited article, and if I'm going to have an opinion, it's probably best that I make it well-grounded before doing so.

When the subject first came up in a sense relevant to me, I was undecided on the matter, I was on the fence. I saw the logic behind it, but I wasn't entirely sure I agreed with stringent implementation of such a claus. I have since made up my mind on the subject of exclusivity, and am now completely behind it.

First, what do I mean by an exclusivity claus? I'm refering to the owner of an Internet station proclaiming that, while a  broadcaster broadcasts on that station, they are not to (a) broadcast on any other station, or (b) advertise programming (via public mailing lists, social networking, etc.) from another station. It has nothing to do, as has been falsely suggested, with simply listening to programming from other stations.

Sounds harsh, doesn't it? "You're with my station, you'd better swear undivided loyalty to me." It may sound that way, but that's not what it's about at all.

Those of us who broadcast for an Internet station are part of a team. As one broadcaster of many on the station for which I work, my show is no less important than the next person's show, but neither is it more important. We're all equals, and we all deserve the respectful treatment of our teammates, as they deserve our respect.

So imagine for a minute that you and I are broadcasting together on a radio station. We'll call it Ketchup FreeFlow Radio. Now let's say I also have a show or two on MustardUpTheMusic Radio.

Now let's say that John Smith has a show on Mustard. I'm part of the Mustard team, so I advertise. "Everyone tune in to John's JamItInYourEar Jamboree", I tell them. But wait, your show on Ketchup airs at exactly the same time as John's. So what I am, in effect, saying, is this: I'm on two teams, but I want you to choose the Mustard team over the Ketchup team. I'm supporting John's show, but not yours. Now let's take it a step further. Let's say my show, or part of my show, happens to be on at the same time as your show. "Tune in to me, tune away from that other guy [you]," I'm saying. How is that going to make you feel? Are yu going to want to support me if I'm trying to take listeners away from you? ow can we be expected to work toeterin acrimony under  such circumstances?

And you can't expect to keep your integrity intact while making all kinds of exceptions. If team players are equals among equals, you have to say this is how it is, this is how it is for everyone, and that's it. That way, everyone who works at KetchupFreeFlow knows that they can support their fellow broadcasters, knowing that their fellow broadcasters will support them, or at the very least, that their fellow broadcasters aren't going to try to draw listeners away from them.

So that's why I fully and whole-heartedly support exclusivity clauses in Internet radio and why I oppose exceptions.

Comments

Hi Bruce, while I agree in principle with what you say, the broadcasters are volunteers and as such, should be able to do what they wish in terms of internet broadcasting on other media outside of their broadcasting time.
If one was being paid by the station it would be a different matter.

Stuart.
So you have no problem with two people on the same station vying for the same listeners at the same time?
No, not at all. If the broadcaster(s) is good enough, people will tune in anyway, regardless. Bottom line, exclusivity clauses in a voluntary project such as the one you are working on are simply wrong, in my opinion of course!