The country's largest radio group announced Wednesday that it will stop accepting
payments from independent promoters seeking airplay for new songs.
Although Clear Channel Communications Inc. has denied crossing any ethical
boundaries, the company conceded that pressure from lawmakers and public
perception that the practice was a modern version of illegal pay-for-play
schemes convinced them not to renew expiring promotion contracts.
"We now recognize that these relationships may appear to be something they're
not," Clear Channel president and chief operating officer Mark Mays said. "We have zero tolerance
for pay-for-play, but we want to avoid even the suggestion that such a practice
takes place within our company."
Following criticism of the practice by critics of media concentration and
prominent lawmakers, Clear Channel insisted that promoters paid the company for
its proprietary market research and not to win placement of new songs on the play
lists of Clear Channel stations.
The company's decision "is a step in the right direction," said Sen. Russ
Feingold (D-Wis.), who has introduced legislation to ban pay-for-play.
Nevertheless, he added, Congress should pass legislation banning pay-for-play
Clear Channel is the second major radio group to publicly renounce payments
Cox Radio stopped accepting the payments in October.
Senate Commerce Committee chairman John McCain (R-Ariz.) said questions regarding other
Clear Channel practices remain, such as allegations that the 1,200-station group
often refuses to air music by artists signed with competing concert promoters.
"While not responsive to all concerns raised about Clear Channel, it appears
to be an important step in addressing artists' concerns about pay-for-play," McCain said.