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Broadcasters Tag For Microsoft's Zune
REDMOND, WA -- September 8, 2008: More than 450 radio stations belonging to Clear Channel, CBS Radio, Beasley, Bonneville, Citadel, Cox Radio, Emmis, Entercom, and Greater Media are now tagging their songs with RDS technology for Microsoft's Zune portable media player, and more stations will be coming on board soon.

The "Buy From FM" song tag is an encrypted digital code that identifies a specific song. The code is embedded in an analog FM broadcast, and when a listener "tags" a song, it can be purchased and downloaded to a Zune immediately (if the user is in a WiFi hotspot) or queued for later purchase. The technology isn't Zune-specific, and other consumer electronics manufacturers may decide to offer the feature as well.

"Radio's decision to push the digital envelope doesn't mean that our analog broadcasts need to be left behind," said Clear Channel Radio President/CEO John Hogan. "Clear Channel Radio will have 450 stations live with RDS song tagging at launch. And we applaud Microsoft's leadership and shared commitment to making cutting-edge entertainment experiences available to the masses."

Buy From FM is obviously comparable to the iTunes Tagging feature rolled out earlier by Apple with the support of several major broadcasters, and encoding for iTunes Tagging will continue. But Buy From FM works with analog FM, while iTunes Tagging is an HD Radio product, and Buy From FM-tagged music can be downloaded to the Zune over the air, while iTunes Tagging requires an iPod to be first docked with a compatible HD receiver, then hooked up to a computer that has the iTunes Store. And iPods, of course, do not have built-in radio tuners.

"We are thrilled to be part of bringing music tagging to Zune listeners," said Emmis Chairman/CEO Jeff Smulyan. "This is the next step in the evolution of radio: providing our listeners with the ability to download music instantly." Said Entercom CEO David Field, "We are moving toward a future where music discovery, purchase, and fulfillment is a convenient and seamless experience."

Bonneville CEO Bruce Reese said, "The combination of encrypted digital code with Microsoft's Zune and the outstanding products our stations broadcast daily, we are now able to give consumers a fully integrated digital experience. It offers instant for our listeners who tune in daily to hear their favorite music and the possibility of new discoveries that happen when each song is played."

Cox President/CEO Bob Neil said, "The connection between the music discovery radio has always provided, and its resulting sales, make this interactive radio feature a natural for the radio industry." "This innovative technology is yet another compelling example of how radio is embracing today's interactive world," said Greater Media President/CEO Peter Smyth. "We are thrilled to be able to offer our listeners the opportunity to further interact with our stations through tagging and ultimately purchasing their favorite music."

A Kelton Research study funded by Microsoft found that 61 percent of people discover new music by listening to the radio, and Zune GM/Global Marketing Chris Stephenson said, "Radio is one of the primary ways people discover new music, which is why we have built an FM tuner into every Zune portable media player. "The leadership of these radio broadcaster has played an integral role in enabling millions of Zune users to tag and purchase songs directly from FM radio."

Buy From FM tagging will be included in the new 16-gigabyte ($199) and 120-gigabye Zunes ($250) that will be in stores on September 16, and older Zunes can be upgraded to include the new feature. Zune Pass subscribers can download or stream unlimited music for $14.99 a month, or any user can buy songs by the track. Also, the Zune Marketplace music store is now directly accessible from a WiFi hotspot or home wireless network.

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