Corporate radio has the FCC playing their tune

[Industry Ears statement]

The consent decree reportedly agreed upon on Monday (3/5/2007) by the FCC once again shows the power of lobbyists in Washington, DC and the continued deteriorating power by the public and its best interest.

The agreement would in part stop the investigation that stemmed from a number of consent decrees between record companies and New York State over various pay for-play radio schemes. Clear Channel, CBS, Entercom and Citadel have agreed to pay a combined fine of $12.5 million and not admit guilt to the federal violation of payola.

The former New York State Attorney General Elliott Spitzer, now Governor made deals with four major record labels totaling $30.1 million, as well as with two broadcasters, CBS and Entercom, for another $6.25 million in his state-wide payola investigation.

Industry Ears is disappointed that the FCC settled their investigation before they even began; ignoring the severity of corruption in the music industry. Payola is no longer just the little guy getting a few bucks for a few spins on the radio-- the new payola is corporately overseen and driven-- a multi-million dollar business. The reported payola consent decree does nothing to slow radio and records commitment for the pay for play system, said Paul Porter, co-founder Industry Ears.

Under the FCC consent decree, broadcasters would agree to closer scrutiny in their dealings with record companies including limits on gifts, a promise to keep a database of all items of value supplied by those companies, the employment of independent compliance officers to make sure stations are following the rules and even a payola hotline for employees. In addition to the consent decree a separate deal with a group of independent record labels under the umbrella of the American Association of Independent Music has received a good faith agreement from the same broadcasters for free airtime.

Industry Ears President and co-founder, Lisa Fager states:

This sounds good on paper, but a good faith agreement is not enforceable by law. Who will hold broadcasters accountable? The RIAA gets the government to do more to poor college kids then the FCC does to billion-dollar broadcast corporations who have clearly broke federal laws and abused public airwaves. We demand a transparent full disclosure plan moving forward.

Industry Ears Recommended Payola Safeguards:

o Stations must make public file, public and transparent

§ Place public file online for public viewing and must be kept current

§ Must include every pay for play in public file

§ Public file must be part of the license renewal process (extend public file contents to every 8 years to match license renewal)

o License renewals for violators must have a hearing process

o Fines

o On-air announcements of pay for play in ALL dayparts

o Stations must use a third party payola education via mandatory seminars (payola is now limited to company handouts that only require a signature)

About Industry Ears

Established in 2004 by co-founders and media industry veterans Lisa Fager and Paul Porter; Industry Ears ( ) is a new generation think tank concerned with the impact of media on children and communities of color. IE is dedicated to addressing and educating communities about media policy through media education, literacy, research, advocacy, and continuous dialogue with industry stakeholders.

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