Business

Pirates prey on Irie FM — Schmidt

BY STEVEN JACKSON Business reporter jacksons@jamaicaobserver.com

Friday, April 11, 2014    

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IRIE FM marketing manager Brian Schmidt revealed that online pirates are profiting from the rebroadcast of that station's content.

These pirates operate globally at illegal radio stations or simply post content on popular social media sites without permission. Additionally these pirates also charge for advertisers.

"It is just theft and we have to understand that," stated Schmidt in response to a Caribbean Business Report query during a panel discussion on Tuesday at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel in Kingston.

IRIE FM, built on reggae music, remains one of the most popular radio stations locally. His comments were made at the Broadcast Commission of Jamaica's (BCJ) conference entitled The Future of Media & Regulation Conference. The conference explored innovations, trends and challenges in media. Irie FM recently launched its phone app for various platforms. It also offers paid subscription for the live streaming of its channel. Pirates ostensibly use this and other feeds to rebroadcast.

"There is a phenomenon called pirate stations for which we suffer from Florida, Tri-State Area, Japan, parts of Africa and so on. People are carrying our IRIE FM content online and collecting advertising revenues in those territories. So that is a concern," said Schmidt who is also vice chairman of Media Association of Jamaica.

The Cutting Edge and Stepping Razor programmes both hosted by philosopher-poet Mutabaruka are among the popular rips. For instance, the entire three-hour programme aired last week was already posted on YouTube by authors not affiliated with the station.

"People are carrying our content without permission," Schmidt stated.

Currently, internet policing remains outside the purview of the BCJ.

"We haven't taken a position on regulating the internet. I think that from a policy perspective however, there are broadcast-like services emerging on the internet and those will have to be examined and may come in for regulation. But there is consensus that it will be a different kind of regulation," indicated BCJ head Cordell Green at the conference.

The guest speaker, former Fox executive Neal Lemlein, indicated that regulating the internet remains difficult even in the developed market of the US.

"The Internet is a new frontier very much in everyone's focus...and the jury is still out on it," stated Lemlein also an author and film financier who worked in various capacities on 100 films including Star Wars.

"Its a terribly exciting time for media and professionals," Lemlein stated in his speech which highlighted data showing online content complementing TV and radio but hurting print media.

He added that US trends include Internet TV negotiating to stream entire cable channels online.

"These new Internet TV services, including Direct TV, Sony, Dish Network, Verizon, Apple and Amazon to name a few, will be quite different from traditional paid TV and internet TV as we know it. These players are in active negotiations with content producers for the rights to package channels for specific demographic groups," Lemlein stated. "Anything is possible... newly developed and personalised services will be accessible anytime from tablets, phones and PCs."

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