Colorado Public Radio, Colorado Symphony resume partnership

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The Colorado Symphony and Colorado Public Radio have resumed their longstanding partnership three months after parting ways over a disagreement about payment and editorial input from the symphony.

“We’re glad to return to the airwaves with our longtime partner,” Colorado Symphony CEO Jerome Kern said. “This is an informal agreement that we will review at the end of every season.”

CPR stopped airing symphony performances as of Nov. 30, ending an arrangement that had been in place since 1999. At the time, Kern said that the orchestra’s arrangement with CPR seemed unfair because it both provides content and pays for more than $90,000 in underwriting from the network.

Prior to the split, Kern made a counter-proposal asking for concessions including mentions of the symphony’s website, promotion of concerts and airings of interviews with guest conductors.

CPR, however, sought to stick to its existing agreement and balked at allowing the symphony to weigh in on editorial decisions about interviewees. Such a practice would breach the organization’s firewall between news and underwriting, the network said.

But CPR and the symphony continued to talk, said Sean Nethery, CPR’s senior v.p. of programming. Eventually, both sides agreed to continue as they had in the past, with CPR receiving the symphony broadcasts free of charge and allowing no influence over coverage. Airing of symphony performances will resume Saturday.

“We’re just working together again,” Nethery said. “Basically, we talked about doing some more concerts and said, ‘Let’s do it.’”

The agreement gets the symphony’s content in front of CPR’s audience without tying the symphony into a long-term, unpaid deal, Kern said. The symphony has stopped purchasing underwriting, however.

“There’s no animosity,” he said. “It’s just that the formal agreement was outdated. This is just fine, informal and non-exclusive. We can put our content out where we like, and we’ll continue to explore other options.”

The symphony also announced Tuesday the launch of a streaming service for its performances, recorded at the symphony’s Boettcher Concert Hall. The service will be free for the 2014-2015 season and feature only audio, but next season it will move to a subscription-based model and offer video webcasts and concerts on demand.

“The Colorado Symphony is everybody’s orchestra,” Kern said in the statement. “Online streaming is just one of many ways we’re making our music accessible to a wide audience, which is a vital part of our mission.”

Correction: An earlier version of this story said that Colorado Public Radio had exclusive rights to the symphony’s performances under the old agreement. The agreement has always been nonexclusive.

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