Tuesday, March 06, 2007

More From Gigi Sohn Of Public Knowledge

More From the Unmitigated Gall Department
Submitted by Gigi Sohn on March 1, 2007 - 5:18pm, www.publicknowledge.com

To be frank, I didn’t expect to be asked to testify at the XM-Sirius hearing yesterday – Public Knowledge hasn’t been much involved in media consolidation issues (unless you consider net neutrality to be one). But my indignation over the National Association of Broadcaster’s hypocrisy in opposing the merger and our concern that the merger could be conditioned on some sort of audio flag or other tech mandate for digital radio probably helped to get us the nod.
My written testimony discussed these issues, but a briefing document I received just prior to the hearing calling efforts to require the industry to pay a performance right to artists and recording companies a “tax” caused me to change my oral testimony at the last minute and express my outrage at the industry’s characterization of this issue and its refusal to pay artists what every other radio service pays. Remember, this is the industry that decries the proposed merger as a “government bail-out,” and said in its testimony that it “supports competition on a level playing field.” (Emphasis mine)
A little background: the Copyright Act requires all radio services to pay a fee to songwriters every time they play one of their songs. Everybody pays this – webcasters, satellite radio and over-the-air broadcasters. However, only broadcasters do not pay a similar fee to the the record companies and artists when they broadcast those same songs.
The rationale behind this exemption has always been that broadcasters “pay” by promoting records when they broadcast them. Even assuming that rationale made sense when broadcasters were the only game in town, it makes no sense in a world of 250 satellite radio channels, tens of thousands of Internet radio channels and other music streaming services, particularly when those other services pay this fee....read more: here

3/06/2007 07:20:00 AM

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