Music industry: Investigate radio practices


Groups representing recording artists, record companies, songwriters,
merchandisers and consumer advocates want the government to take a hard look at
how consolidation has affected the radio industry.

In a statement to be delivered to Congress and the Federal Communications
Commission Friday, 10 independent industry groups urged "the government to
revise the payola laws to cover independent promotion to radio, to investigate
the impact of radio consolidation on the music community and citizens and to
work to protect noncommercial space on both the terrestrial radio bandwidth and
the emerging Webcasting models."

On top of that, Sen. Russell Feingold (D-Wis.) is working on legislation to
be possibly introduced in June that would reform radio, a staffer confirmed.

The groups are wide-ranging and include the Recording Industry Association of
America, the American Federation of Musicians, the American Federation of Television and
Radio Artists, the Association for Independent Music, Future of Music Coalition,
Just Plain Folks, Nashville Songwriters Association International, the National
Association of Recording Merchandisers, the National Federation of Community
Broadcasters and the Recording Academy, which is a part of the National Academy
of Recording Arts and Sciences.

The fact that the groups are coming together to make such a strong statement
is testament to how odious they are finding the behavior of some radio-station
owners, particularly Clear Channel Communications Inc.

The groups are upset by payola-like practices in which artists and record
companies pay for radio-station promotions in return for airtime for favored

But they also want the FCC to investigate how vertical integration in the
radio market has forced up the prices of concert tickets and made it difficult
for nonaffiliated artists to book tours.

"Today, for the contemporary hit-radio/top-40 formats, only four radio
station groups -- Chancellor [Media Corp.], Clear Channel, Infinity [Broadcasting Corp.] and Capstar -- control
access to 63 percent of the format's 41 million listeners nationwide," the
statement said. "For the country format, the same four groups control access to
56 percent of the format's 28 million listeners."

"Today's statement makes abundantly clear that artists, songwriters, labels
and retailers are united in opposition to large broadcasters' claim that
consolidation has improved commercial radio," said Mike Bracy, director of
government relations for the Future of Music Coalition. "Rather, commercial
radio is anti-artist, anti-competitive and anti-music fan."