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"Radio does not need to listen to the FCC. It needs to listen to the street."
—-Tony Brummel, Victory Records

PAYOLA PAYOFF=INDIE PLAY?

Radio Broadcasters to Reportedly Make Payments and Contributions of $10 Million, with Possible Guarantees for Indie Airplay
The nation's four largest radio chains would make payments and other contributions valued at about $10 million under a proposed settlement of a year-long probe by the FCC into pay-for-play claims.

While the Commission’s three Republicans have backed less-punitive terms, Democrats Jonathan Adelstein and Michael Copps have been pushing for tougher concessions, with the proceedings still pending.

The investigation centers on claims that radio stations owned by Clear Channel, CBS, Entercom and Citadel Broadcasting have accepted cash or gifts, known as payola, from major music labels in exchange for playing their releases.

Under settlement terms proposed several weeks ago, the broadcasters would devote $7 million of airtime to independently produced music. The radio giants also would pay $3 million to a fund for the National Association of Broadcasters to provide training to member stations to stop payola.

The probe grew out of an investigation by former New York attorney general Eliot Spitzer that has resulted in settlements with the four major music labels, as well as Entercom and CBS Radio, which agreed to pay $4.2 million and $2 million, respectively.

Those payments just cover violations by radio stations in New York State.

"I would hope there would be significant penalties and a long-term commitment to weave independent music into playlists in the FCC deal,” says Future of Music Coalition’s Michael Bracy, an organization which supports independent artists.

Independent artists say payola squeezes them off the radio dial because they can't compete with the major labels’ payoffs. The practice also deceives consumers into believing song selections on the radio are based on their appeal to listeners, Spitzer said last year.

Indie reps and radio experts aren’t so sure the FCC rulings will work out the way Spitzer would’ve hoped.

Victory Records’ Tony Brummel states: 'Nothing will change as it pertains to independent labels getting their records on the radio. The play lists and the charts tell the story. Spitzer's crusade sealed our coffin.The FCC will proceed to bury it. Victory was the #1 Independent Imprint and #2 Independent Label on the year-end charts. This did not happen because radio is playing our artists. It happened because people on the street buy our records. It is an absolutely disgusting and unfortunate situation. Radio does not need to listen to the FCC. It needs to listen to the street.'”

Added Jacob Media’s Dave Beasing: “Creating bureaucratic requirements misses the whole point. Music should be chosen on its merits and appeal, and for no other reason. Ask any Canadian broadcaster. Government regulation of music choices has two effects: It weakens radio's appeal, and sends broadcasters looking for loopholes.

"Broadcasters probably should consider more product from small labels. But you can't force that to happen. Look throughout history. When has government regulation of artistic taste ever been what's best for the people or the artists?"

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