Clear Channel Resumes Streaming Radio Broadcasts

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Clear Channel Worldwide plans to resume streaming broadcasts of its radio stations on the Web after pulling streams this spring over a commercial contract dispute.


The San Antonio company said the 250-station rollout, which will start in July, is possible because of a new partnership with Hiwire Inc., Los Angeles. With Hiwire's ad insertion technology, Clear Channel stations can replace broadcast ads with streamed audio ads that it can target to specific listeners.


When it pulled the streams this spring, Clear Channel blamed the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists' contract requirement to pay talent used in radio Web commercials 300 percent more than traditional fees. Some radio companies continued to stream their broadcasts because they partnered with technology companies to automatically delete ads that used AFTRA talent.


Emmis Communications, which also pulled its stations' streams this spring, has not said when it would resume the streams. An executive at ABC Disney reportedly said the company expects its stations' streams to be up late this month or in early July.


The Clear Channel deal makes the company the largest radio entity committed to using streaming ad insertion, which could produce an estimated 1 billion ad impressions in the first year, according to Hiwire.


"To generate advertising revenue through streaming, you need critical mass," said Warren Schlichting, CEO of Hiwire. "Adding 250 Clear Channel stations to the Hiwire network brings our ad serving reach to over 40 percent of the streaming audio market."


The online audience, meanwhile, has not stopped listening to radio stations' streaming music and talk formats. In fact, the MeasureCast Radio Index for the week of June 4 through June 10 reported an 18.6 percent increase in hours streamed by online broadcasters.


However, because of the traditional radio companies' absence online, 16 of the top 25 streaming radio stations were Internet-only stations.


"A lot of people have found alternatives," said Sven Haarhoff, spokesman for MeasureCast Inc., Portland, OR. "People who want to find music will find something else."


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