FCC examining broadcasters in music fee row
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. regulators have launched an inquiry into whether certain broadcasters are refusing to air the music of artists who demand to be paid when their songs are played on the radio.
The Federal Communications Commission reviewed a June petition by a music coalition that accuses radio stations of skipping songs of artists who support legislation aimed at paying royalties to artists.
According to an official notice dated on Friday, the agency is seeking public comment on the petition until September 23. The FCC customarily seeks comment on proposals for new or amended rules, but petitions received on a wide variety of subjects are also published for public comment.
The coalition, called musicFIRST, also said in the petition that some broadcasters are refusing to run advertisements that support the legislation.
Jennifer Bendall, musicFIRST executive director, said broadcasters are using public airwaves to "stifle debate, threaten artists and musicians and undermine the public interest."
At a Senate hearing last week, the music coalition said U.S. broadcasters are getting a free ride when playing music and that the United States is one of a handful of countries that does not pay artists when their songs are played on the radio.
The FCC should look into whether broadcasters are "engaging in a pattern of threats and intimidation against artists to chill their speech and participation in the political process," the group said in its petition.
MusicFIRST, which includes the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), said artists whose songs are played on the Internet and satellite radios are compensated.
RIAA members include Vivendi SA's Universal Music Group, Warner Music Group Corp and Sony Corp's Sony Music Entertainment. Continued...