Friday, March 30, 2007

That Olde Tyme Radio, Gone?

Could someone explain this one to me? Apparently some nozzle in the federal government decided that Internet Radio broadcasters weren't paying their fair share of costs for sending out music over the Internet. So, they've decided to increase the rates, drastically, at which the 'net broadcasters have to pay per performance. OK, so maybe they should have to pay more, after all, they've probably been paying less than everyone else for years, right? It's only fair.

Well, maybe not.

Now, granted that this comes from the site, which does have a vested interest in this whole situation. If it isn't true, I'd appreciate someone setting me straight. According to Live365, Internet broadcast stations will now have to shoulder the highest royalty payments. Satellite and cable radio pay about half the 'net broadcast rates, and old-fashioned AM/FM radio doesn't have to pay those royalties at all.

So, could someone explain to me how this works out to be fair? I would really like to understand.

Live365 has apparently always paid the rates expected of it for it's broadcasters. Unfortunately, these new rates will mean that it has to drastically roll back its support of niche genres. Right now, it has in the neighborhood of 260 different genres. If these rates come to pass, they will be reduced to about 10.

And do you want to bet that those stations will sound remarkably like the homogenized, bland offerings which we get to hear every day on broadcast radio?

When I was younger, OK, much younger, I loved to listen to recordings of old radio programs. Our local public library had a few copies of The Phantom, War of the Worlds, and I seem to remember even hearing some of the old Lone Ranger radio dramas. Imagine my pleasure when I recently discovered that Live365 had a whole genre devoted to these old radio dramas, comedies and so much more.

Unfortunately, like jazz, traditional folk music, and the occasional celtic reel, old radio plays aren't exactly in the mainstream. I'm guessing that shortly Fibber McGee, the Green Hornet, and my old friend Sherlock Holmes will once again fade from memory and all that will be left is the dull hum of a radio tuned to a station which no longer exists.

Perhaps you should give a listen before the final "off" switch is thrown.


Spencer said...

I wrote to my congresscritters. I got this (encouraging) reply from John Dingell:

Thank you for contacting me regarding the recent Copyright
Royalty Board decision regarding fees for Internet radio broadcasters. I
appreciate hearing from you.

As you already know, the Copyright Royalty Board issued a
decision that raises the fees that broadcasters must pay. In some
instances, Internet radio sites will have to pay almost 1000 percent more
than in previous years. Obviously this ruling could force many of these
broadcasters out of business, and severely limit the growth of new
Internet broadcasting ventures.

I am concerned about this decision because I believe strongly
that our media must have as many voices as possible and that there
should be tremendous competition between formats from television, to
radio, to the Internet. You should know that an appeal of this ruling has
been filed and that I will pay close attention to its resolution.

Unknown said...

Wow, Spencer, thanks for going to that effort and letting us know the response. Sounds like Dingell is at least making the right noises.