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Big Brother is Listening For you

2007-03-06 22:09:47.166021+00 by petronius 2 comments

The news has been full of reports like this one about how the FCC is levying huge fines against radio station companies over payola. Amongst the items in the settlement will be half-hours of air time offered to independent music producers to showcase their work.

My problem is this: How does the FCC get the power to either encourage or discourage independent music? Is promoting garage bands a new form of public service? Yes, I know most radio is pretty putrid, but why is the mix and provenance of the music a Federal affair? This has been going on since the 50s, but I still don't get it.

[ related topics: Music Civil Liberties Radio ]

comments in ascending chronological order (reverse):

#Comment Re: A good question made: 2007-03-06 23:00:27.554956+00 by: m

The clear violations of the antipayola statutes have been a scandal for years. Suddenly, we have some very minor (not huge) fines to settle ongoing crimes many years in the making.

But this week there was an announcement that the US Copyright Office has announced new royalty rates for Internet Radio. These rates seem to have been set at a sufficiently ruinous level to kill IR -- higher than total revenues for most IR stations.

I suspect a connection between the two. The major players in the music industry get to kill off IR, and get a public hand slapping of a seemingly large magnitude to provide political cover. Culture, the public, and 99.9999% of all musicians lose.

#Comment Re: made: 2007-03-06 23:18:53.233437+00 by: Dan Lyke

This seems to me to be a perfect situation for independent labels to step up to the plate and announce reasonable license terms for "internet radio". Release the music with a license that allows it to get a lot of air play, serve up a little smack-down on the music cabal, and get some better music out there.

As for the fines... twelve million bucks between those five? They can probably pull it out of petty cash.

On the overall concept, I often wonder if we wouldn't be better off reserving large portions of the spectrum to "anyone can do anything they want" (like the 2.4GHz range) and selling off or leasing the rest as though it were property, pulling the FCC out of content and standards management altogether.