|City||Box Elder, South Dakota|
|Broadcast area||Rapid City, South Dakota|
|Slogan||"Today's Best Hits Without The Rap"|
|First air date||March 12, 2008|
|HAAT||137 meters (449 feet)|
|Owner||Pandora Media, Inc.
(Pandora Radio LLC)
KXMZ (102.7 FM) is a radio station serving the city of Rapid City, South Dakota owned by Pandora Media, Inc., through licensee Pandora Radio LLC. Licensed to Box Elder, South Dakota, the station broadcasts a hot AC format under the name "Hits 102.7".
The station became the subject of notoriety in June 2013, when the owners of the internet radio service Pandora announced a deal to purchase the station as a loophole in its disputes with music publishing societies over royalty payments. The deal was approved by the Federal Communications Commission on May 4, 2015 and was consummated on June 9, 2015.
Attempted purchase by Pandora
The internet radio service Pandora Radio had historically been in conflicts with ASCAP and BMI over increasing royalty rates for internet radio licenses relating to the service. Pandora had filed a lawsuit against ASCAP in November 2012, alleging that the collection society was charging Pandora higher royalty rates for internet radio than those negotiated by the Radio Music License Committee (a group of broadcasters which includes iHeartMedia, Inc., owners of the competing service iHeartRadio, along with Cumulus Media and CBS Radio), thus giving terrestrial radio broadcasters preferential treatment. Pandora also believed that it should also be charged lower rates directly from ASCAP because it had reached separate licensing deals with Sony/ATV Music Publishing and EMI Music Publishing.
On June 11, 2013, Pandora Media, the parent company of Pandora Radio, announced via a letter posted on the website of The Hill newspaper by Pandora's assistant general counsel, Christopher Harrison, that it would acquire KXMZ from Connoisseur Media for an undisclosed amount. The purchase of the station serves as both a strategic move and a publicity stunt; Pandora believed that acquiring a terrestrial radio station would allow the service to receive the same internet radio license that the Radio Music License Committee had negotiated, while drawing attention to the fact that broadcast radio stations do not need to pay such royalties. At the same time, Pandora also announced that it was filing a motion in a federal district court claiming that ASCAP was violating an antitrust consent decree issued by the Department of Justice. Alongside the preferential treatment of terrestrial radio companies, Pandora accused ASCAP of violating the decree by allowing its members to individually pull their content from its blanket license, but refusing to indicate which songs would be affected when re-negotiating with a company who did so, leaving Pandora liable for copyright infringement.
Pandora also stated that the acquisition would be used as a way to apply its music personalization insight (such as the Music Genome Project) to terrestrial radio; under its ownership, KXMZ will broadcast music tailored to reflect local listening habits as gauged by the Pandora service, which the company claimed is used by over 42,000 users in the Rapid City market.
The move was criticized by David Israelite, CEO of the National Music Publishers Association, who declared that Pandora was now "at war with songwriters," and had lost its credibility because it was resorting to "lawsuits and gimmicks" to make its point. However, a member of Public Knowledge praised the move, by stating that it was "a perfect example of the twisted incentives and strange results we get from a music licensing system that is based on who wants a license instead of just what they want to do with the music they’re using."
The purchase application was filed to the FCC on June 20, 2013. The application includes a copy of the sale agreement indicating that Pandora will pay US$600,000 for the station, as well as a local marketing agreement showing that Pandora began operating the station on June 10. However, ASCAP filed a petition to deny the acquisition, arguing that the acquisition would not serve KXMZ's public service obligations because of Pandora's intent for the station as a "bargaining chip" for royalty payments, and also alleged that Pandora did not provide enough information about its ownership structure to prove that less than 25% of the company was owned by foreign interests. On January 14, 2014, the FCC said it was no longer processing the application, ruling that Pandora failed to "demonstrate adequate support for its foreign ownership compliance certification."
Pandora continued to pursue FCC approval, and on May 4, 2015, the FCC announced that it had approved the sale of KXMZ to Pandora, ruling that "it would serve the public interest to permit a widely dispersed group of shareholders to hold aggregate foreign ownership" above 25%. The purchase was consummated on June 9, 2015.
- Federal Communications Commission (2015-05-04). "Declaratory Ruling FCC 15-52" (PDF). Retrieved 2015-05-04.
- Sisario, Ben (2015-05-04). "F.C.C. Allows Pandora to Buy South Dakota Radio Station". The New York Times. Retrieved 2015-05-04.
- "Pandora buys FM radio station in a wily move to fight music labels". The Verge. Retrieved 13 June 2013.
- "Pandora Sues ASCAP for Lower Rates". Billboard.biz. Retrieved 13 June 2013.
- Harrison, Christopher (June 11, 2013). "Why Pandora bought an FM radio station". The Hill.
- "Pandora Buys Radio Station to Qualify for Rivals' Terms". Bloomberg L.P. Retrieved 13 June 2013.
- "CEO of top music publishers' trade group says Pandora is at war with songwriters". The Verge. Retrieved 13 June 2013.
- Griffin, Jodie. "Why Internet Radio Royalties Led Pandora to Buy an FM Radio Station". Public Knowledge. Retrieved 14 June 2013.
- "FCC 314 - APPLICATION FOR CONSENT TO ASSIGNMENT OF BROADCAST STATION CONSTRUCTION PERMIT OR LICENSE - File No. BALH - 20130620ABJ". Federal Communications Commission. 2013-06-20. Retrieved 2013-07-02.
- "FCC Shelves Pandora's Bid For South Dakota Radio Station". Billboard.biz. Retrieved 12 February 2014.
- "Music licensor seeks to block Pandora from running a radio station". The Register. Retrieved 12 February 2014.
- Official website
- Query the FCC's FM station database for KXMZ
- Radio-Locator information on KXMZ
- Query Nielsen Audio's FM station database for KXMZ