BUSINESS & TECHNOLOGY NEWS: Metallica Offers Downloads of Live Shows From Current Tour

(CelebrityAccess News Service) – CinemaNow Inc, a leader in IP-based video-on-demand distribution and technology, and nugs.net enterprises LLC, a digital media distribution company focused on live music, have finalized an agreement with Metallica to make concert recordings from its new tour available for download on the newly launched Web site, www.LiveMetallica.com.

As part of the agreement, Metallica fans will be able to download audio of entire shows from each stop on the first leg of Metallica's North American tour, which kicked off March 2 in Phoenix, AZ, within days of the band's performance. www.LiveMetallica.com will offer high quality, unedited soundboard recordings of all shows in standard MP3 and CD-quality FLAC files via a state-of-the-art delivery system powered by CinemaNow's PatchBay technology solution and nugs.net's live concert download services. All download files are compatible with Windows, Mac and Unix, allowing for maximum flexibility and ease of use. Once downloaded, shows can be burned to disc, transferred to portable players, or played through a computer. Each show also comes with printable booklets, tray inlays, and labels for fans that elect to burn the files to CD. The cost for each two-plus hour show is $9.95 for MP3s and $12.95 for higher-quality FLAC files. These are the same prices currently offered on similar live music services such as Phish's LivePhish.com and LiveDownloads.com, which features The String Cheese Incident and other bands.

"This is the next logical step in a process that began back in 1991 when we first implemented the 'Taper Section' at our shows, where the fans were encouraged to bring in their own gear to record the show, and then take home their very own 'bootleg' of the concert they had just seen," said Metallica's Lars Ulrich. "This technology will enable our fans to get the best possible recording of the show, without having to hold a microphone in the air for the entire night!"

"Metallica's success and longevity can be directly attributed to the band's dedication to their loyal fans," said Curt Marvis, chief executive officer of CinemaNow. "The launch of www.LiveMetallica.com is proof of the power of technology to directly link a band and its fans. As the breadth and popularity of content-on-demand applications continues to grow, we are confident that PatchBay's versatility will allow us to further expand our leadership position in this emerging marketplace." –Jane Cohen and Bob Grossweiner

DeLay Supports Tougher TV Indecency Fines

WASHINGTON (AP) — House Majority Leader Tom DeLay told broadcasters on Tuesday that he supports harsher penalties for those who air indecent material.

DeLay, addressing the annual legislative conference of the National Association of Broadcasters, said legislation to raise the maximum fine for indecency from $27,500 to $275,000 would soon reach the House floor.

"Congress should speak clearly on this issue and not allow the bill or the debate to get bogged down by extraneous issues of regulatory retribution," said DeLay, R-Texas.

He also told the broadcasters he will fight attempts to lower the new limit on how many TV stations a company can own.

DeLay's comments came after Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle, D-S.D., said Senate Democrats will try to get Congress to limit companies to owning TV stations that reach 35 percent of the viewing public, down from the 39 percent cap lawmakers approved in January.

Daschle and Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., both said they hadn't seen the bill raising indecency fines and could not take a stand on it.

The broadcast industry is under pressure from the Federal Communications Commission and lawmakers to reverse what they say is an increasing trend toward indecency on the public airwaves.

An NAB indecency forum scheduled for March 31 plans to discuss reinstituting a voluntary code of conduct and agreeing only to run family-friendly shows between 8 p.m. and 9 p.m. Eastern time.

"We all have a good sense of what needs to be done," said Susan Lucas, vice president and general manager of KVUU-TV in Las Vegas. "Most professional groups police themselves. Broadcasters can do the same thing."

FCC Commissioner Kevin Martin said the commission should consider drafting voluntary guidelines but would prefer that the broadcasting industry acts instead.

"Whenever the industry can take steps on its own, that's far preferable to any governmental action," he said.

The threat of further federal action to address indecency helped bring 350 broadcast executives to the NAB's annual legislative conference Tuesday. NAB President Edward O. Fritts said it was the largest turnout ever for a conference that has been held for more than two decades.

Following his speech to the NAB, Daschle said Senate Democrats would try to amend some unspecified piece of legislation to roll back the ownership cap. He said he also would try to roll back other media ownership rules adopted last year by the FCC, including a provision allowing companies to own newspapers and broadcast stations in the same community.

"We have to reduce the concentration of ownership," he said.

The Republican-controlled FCC adopted the rules on a 3-2 party-line vote. They were challenged in court and have been put on hold to wait for a decision from the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia. Oral arguments were heard last month.

The FCC initially enacted a 45 percent cap. Both houses of Congress voted to reduce the cap to the current 35 percent, but agreed to the 39 percent limit after President Bush threatened to veto a giant spending bill.

The 39 percent limit allows Viacom Inc. and News Corp. to keep all of their television stations; both had exceeded the 35 percent cap because of mergers and acquisitions. Viacom's CBS aired last month's racy Super Bowl halftime show, which was produced by another Viacom subsidiary, MTV.

Fritts declined comment on the media ownership rules.

Meanwhile, the National Cable and Telecommunications Association, responding to a letter from FCC Chairman Michael Powell, said the cable industry would begin airing a series of advertisements to let parents know how to block unwanted programming. Information also will be sent to cable customers in their bills.

"We believe these steps will help cable customers identify the wide array of programming options from which their families can choose and the many tools available to help them be responsible television viewers," cable association president Robert Sachs wrote to Powell.

——

On the Net:

National Association of Broadcasters: http://www.nab.org

Federal Communications Commission: http://www.fcc.gov

National Cable and Telecommunications Association: http://www.ncta.com

Tower Records Gets Final OK On Loan

WILMINGTON, DE (AP) — The parent of Tower Records stores Friday won final bankruptcy court approval of a $100 million line of credit to carry it through a fast-moving Chapter 11 reorganization.

U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Peter J. Walsh said he would sign off on the finance arrangement for Sacramento, Calif.-based MTS Inc., which submitted a prepackaged plan of reorganization when it filed for bankruptcy Feb. 9.

There were no objections to the loan deal, an amendment to the record retailer's existing loan from CIT Group/Business Credit.

MTS earlier this month said the reorganization plan would reduce existing debt by $80 million.

MTS has been restructuring for some time, but sought bankruptcy protection to shed excess leases and revamp its debt structure.

Tower Records, the pioneering U.S. record retailer that invented the music megastore, was launched with a single store in 1960 and soon became recognized worldwide for its in-store concerts and a big selection of both popular and obscure music.

New Labor Contract For Touring Theatricals

(CelebrityAccess News Service) — The League of American Theatres and Producers, Inc. (the commercial trade organization for Broadway and touring Broadway in the United States and Canada) and the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (the Union representing theatrical stagecraft across the United States and Canada) reached an agreement on December 22 (nine days prior to contract expiration) for a new three-year agreement on their "pink contracts," which cover stagehands, wardrobe personnel, make-up artists, hair dressers, and motion picture operators on touring Broadway shows as well as in New York.

The agreement calls for increases in minimum scale rates, health contributions, holiday pay and expanded annuity benefits for IATSE members. Also included for the first time is an alternative touring arrangement that allows touring shows that meet certain criteria to tour on a contract that includes reduced minimum salaries, expense reimbursement (per diem) and other modified terms. The alternative arrangement will be in place for 18 months — through June 30, 2005 — at which point the parties can elect to examine the arrangement to ensure that it is doing what the parties believe it will do — expand the opportunities for touring Broadway and encourage more touring product under union agreements, with more employment for IATSE members with better working conditions.

According to Jed Bernstein, president of the League of American Theatres and Producers, Inc., "I would like to commend the negotiating committees for both the League and IATSE on their hard work and success in achieving a contract that is mutually beneficial and that will enable all parties to continue to bring the best of live theatre to touring venues, as well as in New York. I believe this contract will serve the industry well."

IATSE Vice President and Chairman of the Union's bargaining committee Mike Sullivan said, "I am confident that the new agreement will mean more work for our current members and enable us to offer the benefits of IATSE membership to an expanding group of touring employees. Also of great significance was our ability to preserve all our members' health care benefits. Few unions have been able to achieve such a goal in these time of rising health care costs."

The agreement was effective January 5, 2004. –Bob Grossweiner and Jane Cohen

Dion's Role In Chrysler Ads To Be Reduced

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. (AP) — DaimlerChrysler AG says it's reducing Celine Dion's role in the advertising for its Chrysler unit.

The singer has a three-year, $14 million contract with Chrysler. She appeared in a widely used ad campaign last year.

"We're just moving into an exciting new direction," Chrysler spokesman David Barnas said. "I'm not at all saying she wasn't a good fit."

Chrysler's new commercials will focus more on the product, Barnas told The Detroit News for a story in Thursday's editions.

Dion will appear in a new series of Chrysler public service ads aimed at promoting child safety. Shooting began Monday for the ads, which will debut March 25 with the joint sponsorship of the National Safety Council. They won't mention Chrysler by name.

The 2002 contract with Dion included Chrysler sponsorship of her nightly show at Caesar's Palace Las Vegas. Barnas said that will continue.

"She just did not connect with (DaimlerChrysler) or their brands," said University of Detroit Mercy marketing Professor Michael Bernacchi. "It just wasn't a good match."

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