Thursday, June 04, 2009

Save Your Radio (in translation)

Visit most commercial radio websites, and you'll see a banner and link enjoining you to SAVE FREE RADIO!

Performance royalties, which radio stations have never paid, are about to be leveled at them. Now what you won't hear is that this is the end of a long campaign. When the SoundExchange (funded by and representing the major labels) went after the nascent satellite radio industry, commercial radio stood on the sidelines and cheered (anything to kill the competition). 

Having established the precedent, the SoundExchange then hit Internet radio stations. Again, commercial radio sat by, hoping that the royalty rates would be enough to kill off these upstarts. 

So now, the SoundExchange makes the case that every other music broadcaster is paying these fees, why not radio? So now we're finally seeing some action. Go to the website and read the manifesto. Here's my annotated version.
Tired of the negative press they’ve received from suing college kids and grandmothers, the major record companies have now turned their sights on your local radio stations.

[Actually, they aimed (and bagged) satellite radio and Internet radio first -- but the NAB wasn't interested in this fight then]

The foreign owned record companies
[Those damned foreign major record labels! There's Sony/BMG (Japan), EMI (the UK), Warner Music (the US, oops), and Universal Music (also US, oops again). Um, OK so half the majors are foreign. That's close enough.] 

are spending millions of dollars lobbying Congress
[Because, you know, no was else -- like the NAB -- ever spent millions of dollars lobbying Congress. It's just not fair.]

to pass a bill that would establish a “performance tax”
[That phrase is in quotes for a reason. It's not a tax, it's a royalty payment. By using the word "tax" they conjure up the image of money pouring into the the government that no one will ever seen again. Actually, it will pour into the record labels where the artists will never see it again.]

- forcing local radio to pay for the music that is currently provided to you, the listener, free of charge.
[Well, unless you count having to listen to eight commercials in a row as paying a price in pain and suffering.]

Like all businesses, radio stations across the country are struggling to stay afloat - over 250 stations have been forced off the air in the last year alone.
[You'd think commercial breaks with eight ads in a row would help keep the doors open. Hm!]

If passed, this bill would guarantee many more stations would fail, and those that survive would not be the stations you recognize today.
[That is, if you're one of the diminishing audience that hasn't already jumped ship for Internet radio, Slacker, Pandora, podcasts, or even satellite radio.]

It is you, the listener that will feel true impact of this tax
[This time without quotes, notice.]

most as it would ensure a decline in the diversity and quality of programming you expect and deserve from free radio.
[Wow. Where's that station with the diverse and quality programming? I'd listen to that! Playing the same short playlist of market-tested tunes over and over is neither diverse nor especially quality.]

Free radio needs your help in opposing the major record companies’ money grab!
[Those damned labels! Fortunately, sprawling media conglomerates like Clear Channel and Infinity are the antithesis of money-grubbing corporations. Um, well.]

You can help stop the major record companies, and keep government bureaucrats from deciding the price of the music you enjoy by signing onto our petition.
[I'm not sure how we got here. Who's getting the money, again? The greedy record labels or the government bureaucrats?]

This petition will be delivered to your representatives in Washington.

You can contact your Senators and Representatives directly by calling the Capitol switchboard at (202) 224-3121. To find out who your Senators and Representatives are, click here. Call your Members of Congress today, and tell them to oppose the performance tax,
[No quotes again.] 
by co-sponsoring the “Supporting Local Radio Freedom Act”.
[Nicely phrased. Especially from said big media companies that have turned most stations into echo chambers for their syndicated and automated programming. Now if the bill required that a local radio station have real live announcers that lived in the area, a news team that covered local news, and played music by local artists, I'd be actively campaigning for it myself.]

Together, we can ensure that free radio continues to serve your local market with the highest quality service and programming.
[ROFL. Especially as they wrote it with a straight face. So explain to me how Ryan Seacrest serves my local market. Or Rush Limbaugh, or Dr. Laura, or -- you get the idea.]
The time to put the genie back in the bottle was when the cork started to wiggle loose. It's a little late, now. And if the most compelling argument they can come up with is to misrepresent a royalty paid to publicly-held companies as a tax paid to the government -- well. That speaks volumes, doesn't it?

 - Ralph

Day 59 of the WJMA Podwatch

1 comment:

  1. I do not agree with the big companies charging for everything, why they do that.