Musicians group praises FCC Payola settlement

[Future of Music Coalition Statement]

The consent decree reportedly agreed upon today by the FCC will be an important step toward opening up commercial radio to music released by independent labels and local bands. Beyond the reported enhanced enforcement provisions that are said to be part of the consent decree itself, Future of Music Coalition is pleased that the broadcast industry has voluntary adopted the "Rules of Engagement" - basic guidelines that spell out how independent labels and commercial broadcasters can work together in the future.

"Payola has existed since the days of piano rolls and sheet music. What was once an aberration became standard industry practice when radio was consolidated in the last ten years. We're encouraged to see the FCC and the broadcast industry work together to eliminate a practice which undermines the meritocracy that should be the public airwaves," says Jenny Toomey, executive director of Future of Music Coalition.

Future of Music Coalition's Policy Director Michael Bracy states: "For seven years, FMC has worked to document and combat the practice of payola. We have urged the FCC to work with artists and labels to build a basic framework for how the local independent music community can interact with the commercial radio industry. We've also demanded a credible oversight plan that ensures the negotiated framework can be enforced in a way that will lead to true reform. We're glad to see that the FCC has brokered an agreement that attempts to address these problems."

FMC applauds the ongoing leadership of FCC Commissioner Jonathan Adelstein, US Senator Russ Feingold and NY Governor Eliot Spitzer that brought about this resolution. In particular, we also want to recognize the work of the American Association for Independent Music (A2IM), especially Don Rose and Peter Gordon. Over the past months, they have worked doggedly to educate the FCC about the challenges facing the independent music community and participated actively in crafting today's announced agreement.

"We also appreciate the efforts of the large broadcasting chains to negotiate in good faith with the independents to find an enforceable, middle-ground framework that will hopefully lead to more opportunities for independent music to reach commercial airwaves. While it is yet to be seen whether this agreement truly leads to a significant increase in airtime for local and independent music, we are cautiously optimistic that adoption of the 'Rules of Engagement' sends a strong signal to programmers and disc jockeys that commercial radio can indeed welcome music from thousands of other artists and bands that are loved by critics and fans that dominate non-commercial radio right now, but are virtually absent from commercial stations," says Jenny Toomey.

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