While NU107 was gasping for its last breath some months back, I wrote a series of blog posts suggesting that the best way for a niche-audience Philippine radio station was to go online – this way you eliminate the costs associated with running a broadcasting facility (the transmitters, the studio, etc) and concentrate on producing content. Second, by going full-on digital, you recapture the listeners that music radio has lost to digital media – i.e. iPods and internet audio streams.
A lot of people thought that NU 107 was still a great brand and that the only reason why it didn’t do well financially was crappy sales and marketing. But translated to other media, the brand and concept still had great value. So why not bring NU online?
Mike Pedero, a broadcast legend and founding father of stations NU107, 99.5RT, XB 102, Citylite 88.3, took note of my posts on Facebook and my blog and wrote back that the idea was not too far fetched. In fact, he pointed out that he was actually hatching a plan to revive the formats of some of these radio stations of days gone by on the internet.
Here’s what Mike wrote in a comment on my blog on December 8, 2010:
“Jim, we’re working on it. We’ve made headway and had some people interested in doing it online and in other media. We’ve yet to put together our automation computers. It will be more exciting than you think. Watch out for it. Regards“
I waited a couple of months with bated breath, and it looks like that day has come. After a few teaser posts made by Francis “Brew” Reyes on his Facebook accounts, a couple of Facebook pages came to light: PinoyTuner and Digradio.ph.
(Updated Note: Not so fast!! Looks like my previous conclusion was mistaken, as you can see from the comments after this post. Yes Mike Pedero did have that idea, and yes he is working on a digital radio station, but he is NOT the guy behind Pinoytuner or DigRadio, as he explained in the comments section below.)
Reyes had done a few Ustream test broadcasts at home so it was apparent he was rehearsing for something. But as the links on the Facebook pages showed the whole scenario was coming to fruition. Based on a little online detective work in just the past couple of hours, here is what I’ve picked up. Hopefully more details will emerge in the next few days that I can write about here.
Pinoytuner.com is an audio streaming portal containing original “internet radio” programming – these are programmed specifically for digital consumption, these aren’t streams of radio broadcasts originally beamed to the airwaves. It currently features three channels:
DigRadio – a modern rock radio format which features ex NU107 DJs as jocks. Apart from playing music, the on-air personalities provide commentary, jokes, and all the usual DJ stuff. Ex-NU DJ Francis Reyes is the programming director/station manager for this baby. Joining Reyes are former NU jocks Cyrus, Shannen, Trish, Kim, Evee, and April, all reprising their old NU personas for this gig.
Jazzistas – a contemporary jazz format that brings to mind the old Citylite 88.3. And to pump up that nostalgia factor, we heard that Pinky Aseron, known as that silken voiced “Pinky” on Citylite is behind this channel.
TCMA – This is short for The Classical Musical Authority. I thought this was a Classical station at first, similar to Classic.FM. However, it turns out that its definition of “Classic Music” is more like pop and rock oldies from the 80’s and 90’s. For example, when I tuned in, I heard A Flock of Seagulls and Falco. In other words this is 80’s-era 99.5 The Rhythm of the City or your Maximum Music Authority all over again.
Who’s behind Pinoytuner? The About section lists the owner as a Singapore-based company called StratuscastPte Ltd. – and a short Google search turns up the company’s Linked In profile:
Stratuscast Private Ltd. is a Singapore-based company specializing in web design and consultancy, mobile applications, and operates a web portal known as http://www.pinoytuner.com. The site offers a wide array of Philippine entertainment features—from music to films to TV shows to sports to broadcast streaming. It is envisioned to be one of the major promoters of Philippine entertainment in the Web.
The officers of Stratuscast Pte are listed as “Paul H. – Director”, and “George M. – Director and Vice President of Marketing”.
“George M.” is none other than George Mercado – who also goes by the radio handle “George Boone,” who you might remember from stations like 99.5RT, LS-FM, KISSFM, Kool 106, and others. Back in the late 80’s, he put up Broadasia, which produced the website TunogPinoy.com – an internet radio venture that was probably ahead of its time. Broadasia was funded by Ajonet Holdings, an internet company that also acquired MP3Manila, another defunct music venture.
One interesting thing about Stratuscast is that in the “Content Disclaimer” section of the Pinoytuner website, it lists the following statement
You further recognize and agree that STRATUSCAST PTE LTD adheres to the internationally known principle of “safe harbor” doctrine.
I’m guessing that this is some sort of legal cover for broadcasting copyrighted material over the Internet. Philippine radio stations pay annual hefty sums to FILSCAP for the rights to air music over the air. Startuscast might be paying some form of global license for broadcasting its music programming now, but just in case a song slips through the cracks, there is the safe harbor doctrine.
The Safe Harbor doctrine protects websites from litigation against copyright infringement lawsuits and is one of the elements of the US DCMA (Digital Millenium Copyright Act). If there is a complaint about copyright infringement, the site should do a takedown of the content immediately.
In the online world, the potentially infringing activities of individuals are stored and transmitted through the networks of third parties. Web site hosting services, Internet service providers, and search engines that link to materials on the Web are just some of the service providers that transmit materials created by others. Section 512 of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) protects online service providers (OSPs) from liability for information posted or transmitted by subscribers if they quickly remove or disable access to material identified in a copyright holder’s complaint.
In order to qualify for safe harbor protection, a service provider who hosts content must:
* have no knowledge of, or financial benefit from, infringing activity on its network
* have a copyright policy and provide proper notification of that policy to its subscribers
* list an agent to deal with copyright complaints
What’s next for Pinoytuner? The site lists “Beta” on the logo at the moment. An obvious business model for this type of site is online advertising, but that may not generate enough revenue for long term operations – I’m speculating the next step is to find various distribution channels and charge the carriers. Pipe this programming through mobile using a Pandora or Spotify model, broadcast through cable TV, maybe provide in-house music for buildings and shopping malls.
It might be the ultimate irony to hear NU programming being used to provide elevator music, but if it provides a way to keep niche music programming alive, who’s to judge eh? More on this story as I get wind of more developments.