(*Updated info follows this post.) Sometimes you have to say, “WTF?” when it comes to the National Association of Broadcasters.
Just as Pandora and all of web radio became optimistic about a passage of a bill that would lead to a manageable royalty and fee structure, the NAB stands up and throws a wrench in the whole thing on the premise that they are trying to protect radio. Maybe radio as it was not as it will be.
Here’s the skinny. As reported by many outlets yesterday including Kurt Hanson’s Radio and Internet Newsletter, the “Webcaster Settlement Act of 2008 (H.R. 7084)“ authorizes SoundExchange, on behalf of copyright owners and performers, to negotiate an alternative royalty agreement before the end of the year with any Internet radio service, for a term beginning in 2005 and extending for as long as 11 years.”
As recently as Friday afternoon, rumors had surfaced that the NAB was trying to block it. Prompting a call to action by Pandora founder Tim Westergren.
“After a yearlong negotiation, Pandora, artists and
record companies are finally optimistic about reaching an agreement on
royalties that would save Pandora and Internet radio. But just as we’ve
gotten close, large traditional broadcast radio companies have launched
a covert lobbying campaign to sabotage our progress.
I’ve never made a secret that I love broadcast radio, but it’s hard not to agree with statements like “This is a blatant attempt by large radio companies to suffocate
the webcasting industry that is just beginning to offer an alternative
to their monopoly of the airwaves.“, In fact, Kurt Hanson’s blog post echos the dismay of many real radio people in his bog post. It is truly “astounding”.
It’s time to learn, every time radio or rather, those that say they represent it’s interests, seek to impede the growth of online outlets, they are stopping radio from benefiting from what it can do best! Provide content and drive an audience to it.
For the zillionth time; Radio is changing. Much of what radio has done well in the past can help it do well in the future on multiple platforms…platforms that are in their infancy. Stop trying to kill the baby in the crib while operating under some delusion that you are protecting the industry.
I have to make a phone all. Do you?
*Cooler heads have prevailed. According to CNet,
the NAB dropped their efforts to eliminate the bill after a Saturday
night meeting with Rep. Howard Berman (D-Calif.) that addressed some of
the groups concerns. When NAB’s efforts stopped, the bill was able to pass
unanimously through the House.
The NAB has
expressed that they will not oppose the bill when it moves to the
Senate. This due to Berman’s agreement to extend the NAB’s own negotiation window with SoundExhcange until Feb 15.
Congress is expected to adjourn on Monday, and the Webcaster Settlement
Act enables Internet radio stations to reach an agreement with the
music industry while Congress is out of session.