KIIS-FM has owned the local airwaves for the past few years. But should it own our beaches too?
That's the question that local radio folks were asking last week after news surfaced that the Los Angeles County Department of Beaches and Harbors had proposed a two-year exclusive agreement with KIIS, giving the top-rated local station "exclusive promotional rights" to local beaches in return for a $96,000 "donation" to the county.
The proposal, which would have precluded other radio outlets from sponsoring events on county-operated beaches, provoked a barrage of complaints from rival stations, led by KROQ-FM, whose afternoon deejay Jed the Fish read portions of the proposed agreement on the air last week. After a tumultuous meeting last Tuesday, with representatives from four rival stations on hand testifying against the exclusive pact, the County Board of Supervisors voted to send the proposal back to the Department of Beaches for further study.
According to Larry J. Monteilh, executive officer of the board, the new proposal will include a clause calling for "the right of first refusal" instead of the original exclusivity clause. He added that it was "expected" that the board would meet again next month after other local radio outlets were given further notification of the proposal.
"I think the whole idea of giving the exclusive rights to the beaches to just one radio station is unfair to the whole community," said Paul Sansone, director of marketing and promotion at KPWR-FM ("Power 106"). "We have no problem with KIIS donating money to help keep up the beaches. But if everyone in L.A. has to listen to just one station to know what's going on at the beach, that's wrong. A lot of stations here have been doing charity events on the beach for years, but those efforts would be squashed by giving KIIS an exclusive."
According to a copy of the agreement, in return for its $96,000 fee, KIIS would be "officially designated" as the official station of the county's beaches and harbors, would gain "exclusive" rights to use the department's logo and trademarks and could install KIIS's logo on 155 beach-area lifeguard towers.
"We felt this was a very fair agreement," explained KIIS Station Manager Lynn Anderson-Powell. "It doesn't preclude another station having an event on the beach, but the station simply can't advertise it as an official station function. If the exclusivity provision is voted down, we won't lose anything. It's the county beaches that are going to lose the potential revenue."
Anderson-Powell said the proposed contract allowed for exceptions to the exclusivity provision, noting that KISS would happily allow a big-band station to hold an official concert at the beach. However, asked if KIIS would sanction a concert by rock rival Power 106, Anderson-Powell laughed, saying, "That's why we're paying nearly $100,000 to the county."
She also said that if the agreement is passed without a firm exclusivity provision, KIIS would have to rethink its offer. "It would certainly be less attractive," she said. "Why would a radio station pay an outrageous sum of money and not have an exclusive in return?"
Anderson-Powell insisted that county reps came to the station with the proposal, explaining that many other stations had been notified of the exclusivity plan. However, KROQ officials say they never received any official notification, while KPWR staffers said the documents they received never mentioned any exclusivity provisions.
"It's amazing to me that they could even consider doing this," said the Poorman, KROQ's official beach reporter, who was also at the hearing. "What they're saying is that even if KIIS wasn't using the beach, no one else could either, without their permission. Supervisor (Kenneth) Hahn said at one point in the meeting--where do you stop? Will the beach have an official magazine? An official newspaper? Could someone sponsor his chair? It's just wrong, no matter how you look at it."