Exclusive: Clear Channel Working on Song-Swapping Technology

Clear Channel is working on a technology that would replace songs in streamed content with a different song while accounting for the different in song lengths, according to a patent application recently filed with the U.S. Patent Office. Clear Channel declined to comment.

The application describes a technology that alters streaming content by substituting a different song for the one being played by a radio station. After the substituted song has been played, the "downstream" radio station resumes playing. The technology employs a "variable buffer delay" to account for the difference in lengths between the substituted and replaced songs.

The technology would alleviate problems that arise when a networked radio station shares programming with another. The application explains that content for one broadcast station may include songs or advertisements pertinent to one audience but not for the audience of another broadcast station. Another scenario finds content in a transmission from one radio station may content undesirable for the diverse audiences of the radio stations carrying the transmission. While a station could swap out its own advertisements -- they run the same length of time -- it's not feasible to swap out songs.

According to the application, some radio stations have attempted to resolve the problem by blacking out content from a stream or simply not streaming at all. Thus, a technology that would allow songs to be swapped out would create a better user experience and encourage more radio stations to receive programming from other stations.

The application does not specify if this technology would be employed on iHeartRadio, Clear Channel's Internet radio service that carries terrestrial radio broadcasts and also offers personalized streaming a la Pandora. iHeartRadio streams broadcasts from Clear Channel's 850 stations around the country as well as stations from the Cumulus, Emmis and Cox Media Group networks.

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