Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Clear Channel and NPR share a program

The outrageous new rates for US internet radio company royalties has managed to unite the yin and yang of American radio: National Public Radio and Clear Channel are leading a call for the Copyright Royalty Board to think again:

Jonathan Potter, the executive director of the Digital Media Association, which represents major online companies affected by the decision, asked that the judges specifically allow a per-tuning-hour approximation measure for paying the royalties.

Potter also asked the judges to clarify a $500 annual fee per broadcasting channel, saying that with some online companies offering many thousands of listening options, counting each one as a separate channel could lead to huge fees for online broadcasters.

NPR argued in its filing Monday that the new rules would have "crippling effects" on public radio's ability to meet its mandate of serving the public interest, and it also objected to the $500 per-channel minimum fee.

A group of commercial broadcasters including San Antonio, Texas-based Clear Channel, the largest radio company in the country, also asked for a reconsideration of key parts of the ruling, saying that the methods used to calculate the fees were faulty.

The only people who seem to think that setting rates at a level which will totally kill off the medium are, erm, SoundExchange, who make their money from collecting the fees:
SoundExchange, an entity that collects royalties from digital music broadcasters and distributes them to rights holders, has said the ruling was fair and that the rapid growth in advertising revenues from online music broadcasting would more than allow webcasters to cover the new fees.

SoundExchange haven't really worked through their thinking here: they believe that because the total advertising take from internet radio is an estimated half a billion, that means that a total royalty rate of less than half a million leaves a profit. However, the new rates means that every service will have to pay at least five hundred dollars - but many (probably most) internet broadcasters are hobbyists or small-scale, and few of those will be making five hundred bucks a year from advertising.

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