Student Life Archives (2001-2008)

KWUR to face fees for webcasts

Webcasts of KWUR 90.3 FM, Washington University’s own campus radio station, have reached audiences as far away as Australia, Brazil, and France. But this could all change.

With Congress enforcing the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998, KWUR, along with other college radio stations around the country, is facing difficulties with upcoming fees that were imposed by the act. The purpose of the act is to help combat the money lost by online pirating.

Jim Hayes, faculty advisor for WU student media groups, disagrees with the requirement that college radio stations should pay the fees. He said that campus stations do artists a favor in playing their songs on the radio and the web by giving them the exposure that commercial stations otherwise would not.

KWUR first started webcasting in 1999. Currently the station pays $75 annually to BMI internet division, a music licensing company, for this privilege. The fees would be high for KWUR, which receives most of its funding from the Student Union fund. The fees are broken up into different sections-an ephemeral fee to broadcast, a fee for each listener over the web, and a charge of 0.02 cents per song played. However, the costs don’t stop there.

The Digital Millennium Copyright Act is now requiring stations to pay for past web broadcasts as well. The specific amount that KWUR would owe is not yet officially known, but estimates place the amount in the range of $8,000. Hayes is hopeful that the University will help with part of the extra costs.

Additional requirements include submitting a program log to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) with not only the title, duration, and artist of the song, but also the artist’s label, who is accessing the song over the web, and these listeners’ IP addresses. Hayes calls this an act of “Big Brother” and dislikes these additions because they invade listeners’ privacy.

KWUR is also applying for a temporary experimental license from the FCC to upgrade its signal from ten watts to one hundred watts. Currently the signal only encompasses a three to four mile radius. With the license, the station would be able to cover an eight-mile radius and reach such areas as St. Louis City, St. Louis County, Clayton, University City, and Maplewood.

Senior Pat Koziol, KWUR DJ, hosts his own show called Virtuous Humor. “It would be a huge boost not only to radio, but Washington University in general to have that kind of community outreach,” he said.

The temporary license is a trial run for KWUR to prove that with the increase in wattage, the station will not bleed into other stations’ signals and that KWUR’s equipment can handle the upgrade. The experimental license would last for two years and afterwards the station would apply for a regular one.

Senior Nitin Bhojraj, KWUR general manager, doesn’t believe that there will be any problem with KWUR interfering with any other signal, even though the University of Missouri at St. Louis’s station KWMU is four kilohertz away from KWUR on the dial. KWMU is associated with National Public Radio (NPR) and operates at one hundred thousand watts.

KWUR has the paperwork filled out, but is hoping to cushion its application with a petition. The station wants to collect around two thousand signatures from students and from members of the community.

DJs are currently collecting signatures from the Loop area, and once school starts there will be tables set up around campus to collect student signatures. The application and petition will be mailed away during mid-September and if the temporary upgrade request is granted, KWUR will be able to broadcast at one hundred watts by March 2003.

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