Southern Cross Austereo has found a loophole in the PPCA streaming dispute.
With such a large network, SCA has the ability to leverage its metro streams across its more than 70 regional stations, so that regional listeners can at least hear some content on the regional station streams.
When Regional commercial stations decided to switch off their streams last week, Metropolitan commercial stations paid the PPCA’s required interim fee and remained on line, for now. radioinfo was told that metros would review that position weekly as the dispute continues.
Since SCA has paid for its main metro stations to continue streaming, the company has presumably concluded that it has the right to stream that service anywhere covered by the PPCA licencing agreement, all over Australia, and to the world, since the internet is borderless.
When radioinfo listened to several SCA regional stations, we heard the Classic Rock Digital station being played on some Local Works network stations, and Today Metro stations such as B105, 2Day, Fox, etc being streamed on the Today Network regional stations.
Sea FM Gold Coast relayed B105, and listeners heard their favourites Hamish and Andy and the Bump show, along with the other Brisbane originated B105 shows.
On the Gold Coast’s Gold FM, the company’s digital radio station Classic Rock Digital was streaming online.
The regional station websites displayed text saying streaming would commence shortly, and a pre-roll audio message told listeners:
“We are sorry but the digital stream for this radio station is currently unavailable… in the meantime, please enjoy one of our partner stations.”
The feed then cuts to one of the capital city stations.
In a delicious irony, the PPCA’s case hinges on simultaneous internet streams not being defined under the Broadcasting Services Act as ‘broadcasting services.’ Without that definition, it could be considered that there is no longer a need to serve local communities with online streaming within the BSA’s defined broadcast licence area. In that scenario, who cares what program they get, as long as the PPCA fee is paid.
In fact, when radioinfo monitored the streams today, many programs which would have been heard on regional station streams, such as Hamish and Andy and The Bump Show, were heard anyway, because they are national shows broadcast from the network’s capital city stations.
PPCA lawyers will be left scratching their heads at being out-manoeuvered, but are bound to strike back at this tactic if possible. Meanwhile, other broadcasters, without the benefit of a large network of metro and regional stations, may also be scratching their heads at the move, which could give SCA stations an advantage over other regional broadcasters in competitive markets.
If listeners click through for an explanation of why the local station is streaming a different program, they can read this Q & A.