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Flying in the Face of CARP

NMC/Radio and Records eChart main column as published in the 8/16/02 issue of R&R Dan Halyburton, Senior Vice President and General Manager of Group Operations at Susquehanna Broadcasting seems not to fear what may come of the CARP rulings - his company has restated their commitment to streaming their stations online.

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At the same time, he's signed on for the NAB appeal of the ruling, along with Bonneville, Clear Channel, Cox, Emmis, and Entercom. Clearly, this is a man interested in bringing his stations to everyone, no matter where they happen to be tuning in.

Far from cowing from the potential downside of the looming October 20th deadline, Halyburton is a broadcaster who has looked at the Internet from day one with a serious eye toward the future - a future which will include many more options for the listener than an FM radio. Positioning Susquehanna to take advantage of those options is tricky, since no one really knows what, if any, of those options are going to be profitable.

Halyburton is no wide-eyed cheerleader. At the recent Conclave gathering in Minneapolis, his comments about bandwidth, scalability, advertising and subscription models and a fair attitude about the RIAA and its members' agenda showed an aggressive yet thoughtful and balanced approach to streaming. "We all thought bandwidth was going to be plenty cheap by now, and it's not," said Halyburton. "Obviously, the model we thought we'd be working with in 1999 is not the model we've got, and we need to adapt to the reality we face. No one yet has been able to prove to me that if we ever got really popular that we wouldn't lose our shirt - and we need to be careful about how ramp this up."

Despite the threat of CARP fees that would drive the web efforts of almost every broadcaster on the Net into the red, Susquehanna just recently came out with a statement again confirming their dedication to finding new avenues for their content on the Web. He has a hidden advantage that some other companies don't: Susquehanna Technologies, also a part of the Susquehanna Pfaltzgraff family of companies, provides a number of pieces of the technology puzzle. You may be surprised to know that Martha Stewart, The US Air Force and Reba McIntire all have engaged Susquehanna to build and maintain their web sites. Susquehanna also has an in-house ISP, BlazeNet, and can deploy their stations' streaming efforts with an in-house team that spells speed-to-market.

All of this may be moot, for now, if the CARP ruling is upheld before the October 21st deadline for payment. Although it seems to be a zero sum game - if broadcasters cease to stream, then no money will flow - Susquehanna appears to have every intention of mining for gold among a pockmarked and uncharted Internet streaming business landscape.

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