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Two Washington, DC area radio stations failed to comply with public disclosure rules for ads opposing the Performance Rights Act, the musicFIRST Coalition told the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). The stations, owned by iHeartmedia (formerly Clear Channel), played spots furnished by the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) opposing the Performance Rights Act. musicFIRST inspected the stations’ public files and found no record of these broadcasts and nothing about the stations’ anti-Performance Rights Act activity.
“We only checked these two stations,” said Jennifer Bendall, executive director of the musicFIRST Coalition, “and found that they failed to meet their obligations under their broadcast licenses. We are two for two. How many other stations failed to file?” iHeartmedia (formerly Clear Channel) has previously refused to air ads from musicFIRST.
“iHeartmedia (formerly Clear Channel)’s actions are further evidence of how corporate radio groups and stations are violating their public interest obligations,” Bendall said. These new developments are included in reply comments filed by musicFIRST in the FCC’s review of charges that radio stations across the country refuse to air musicFIRST ads, threaten artists who support the effort to create a fair performance right on radio and continue to run misleading ads produced by the NAB – all in an effort to further their own private commercial interests.
“These are political ads covered by the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act and FCC regulations,” Bendall said. “They must be disclosed. Local stations don’t get a pass on their public interest obligations because the ads were furnished by the NAB.” musicFIRST filed its petition with the FCC in June. Since then, radio broadcasters have continued to boycott artists and musicians who exercise their 1st Amendment rights.
The owner-operator of KXIT in Dalhart, Texas told the FCC, “I have removed all songs of artists that are part of musicFirst and will not play their songs for now.” Radio station WICB in Ithaca, New York, dropped Aimee Mann from its playlist. The station posted a message on Mann’s message board that reads in part, “since you support musicFIRST, WICB hereby drops Aimee Mann and Til Tuesday from our playlist like a bad habit.”
“Our message to the FCC is clear,” Bendall said. “We respect a broadcaster’s right to oppose the Performance Rights Act. But we cannot tolerate broadcasters’ use of the public airwaves to stifle debate, threaten artists and musicians and undermine the public interest in pursuit of their narrow, private business interests.” AM and FM music radio stations earn billions in advertising revenue every year without compensating the artists and musicians who bring music to life and listeners ears to the radio dial. Every other radio platform – internet radio, satellite radio and cable TV music channels -pay a fair performance royalty. And AM and FM music radio stations that stream their over-the-air signal online pay a fair performance royalty for the online program.
The Performance Rights Act has been approved by the House Judiciary Committee by a lopsided, bipartisan 21-9 vote. A hearing on the bill was held by the Senate Judiciary Committee in August. A broad range of organizations, including the Property Rights Alliance, the National Consumers League, Free Press, the American Federation of Musicians of the United States and Canada (AFL-CIO), the Parents Television Council, The Recording Academy, the Music Managers Forum, the Institute for Policy Innovation, the American Association of Independent Music, and individual music managers have filed comments with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in support of the musicFIRST Coalition’s request that the FCC investigate radio broadcasters.