Berman: Investigate Clear Channel


Rep. Howard Berman (D-Calif.) is calling on the Department of Justice and the
Federal Communications Commission to investigate the business practices of Clear
Channel Communications Inc., he wrote Monday to Attorney General John Ashcroft
and FCC chairman Michael Powell.

'To the extent that your respective agencies have jurisdiction to do so, I
believe you should investigate and fully prosecute any violations of the
antitrust laws or FCC regulations in the above-referenced circumstances,' he

According to Berman's letter, those circumstances include Clear Channel's
reported practice of not playing recording artists who do not use Clear
Channel's concert-promotion service, and of requiring record companies to pay
before playing the songs of their artists.

'These allegations, if true, have obvious, negative implications for
consumers, both through higher concert-ticket prices and reduced selections of
broadcast music,' Berman wrote.

He is also concerned about reports that Clear Channel uses third-party
companies to buy and hold radio stations for it while it waits for the FCC's
regulatory regime to change.

'I believe you should fully investigate these `warehousing' and `parking'
allegations and, if true, should prosecute any violations of law,' Berman

'These acts may be illegal in and of themselves, and they are likely to
exacerbate the negative effects, outlined above, that consolidation has had on
recording artists, copyright owners, advertisers and consumers,' he