This article is no longer available. For more information on this topic, see IBOC Digital Radio Rules Become Effective – Some Stations Lead the Way on Multicasting
We’ve recently written much about Internet radio, digital radio, digital television and all sorts of new technologies to electronically deliver media content. But the grandfather of all electronic media – AM radio – still provides significant service. A recent Petition for Rulemaking suggests certain technical changes to increase the service provided by these stations. In particular, the proposed changes would…
Should artists waive their rights to performance royalties in order to get airplay on broadcast or Internet radio stations? That questions has come to the fore based on a click-through agreement that Clear Channel included on a website set up to allow independent bands to upload their music for consideration for airplay by its stations. While artist groups, including the Future of Music Coalition, condemned that action, there are always two sides to the story, as was made clear in a segment broadcast on NPR’s Morning Edition, in which I offered some comments. As set forth in that segment, artists may be perfectly willing to allow unrestricted use of a song or two in order to secure the promotional value that may result from the airplay that might be received. For the broadcaster or Internet site seeking such permission, getting all rights upfront may well be an important consideration in deciding whether or not to feature a song – especially in the digital media.
Critics of the waiver made much of the fact that the site was set up at least partially to meet Clear Channel’s informal commitment made as part of the FCC payola settlement to feature more independent music, even though that commitment was not a formal part of the settlement agreement. (See our summary of the payola settlement, here). Even to the extent that the informal commitments made by the big broadcasters encompassed making time available to more independent musicians, the critics ignore the fact that the companies do not need any waiver of any sound recording performance royalty in connection with the over-the-air broadcast of those songs, as there currently is no public performance right in a sound recording for over the air broadcasting (though artists and record lables are now pushing for such a royalty, see our story here). Thus, the use of the waiver was only for the digital world – which was not covered by the FCC’s jurisdiction over payola promises or the promises to increase the use of independent music. So, effectively, the company is being chastised for trying to minimize their costs on giving the music even greater circulation through their digital platforms than they initially promised.Continue Reading Musicians Trade Waiver of Royalty Rights in Exchange for Exposure – Maybe Not Such a Bad Idea
In our recent summary of the Commission’s order on Digital Radio, we wrote about the Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that raised specific proposals to adopt new rules regulating the public interest obligations of radio broadcasters. These proposals included the possible requirements for a standardized disclosure form for a stations public service programs, limits on a station’s ability to originate programming from locations other than the station’s main studio, and possible limitations on the current ability of stations to operate without manned studios. A recent Commission decision reminds television broadcasters that there is another proceeding – one six years old – that proposes many of the same restrictions on television broadcasters. Does the recent mention of this proceeding that so closely parallels the recent radio proposals indicate that some action may soon be forthcoming on the TV proceeding?
The TV proceeding was mentioned in an FCC decision released last week rejecting Petitions to Deny that had been filed against a number of license renewal applications for television stations in Wisconsin and Illinois alleging that the stations had not adequately served the public interest through the broadcast of issue responsive programming, especially programming covering election issues. In rejecting those Petitions, the FCC stated that its ability to second guess the editorial discretion of a licensee was limited by the First Amendment and by the Communications Act’s prohibition against broadcast censorship. In this case, the FCC said that the showing made by the Petitioner was not sufficient to demonstrate that the stations had not served the public interest of their communities. However, the decision noted that the Commission was considering quantitative standards for evaluating the public service of broadcast licensees, citing to the long-pending rulemaking proceeding, and implying that the evaluation of these licensees might have been at least somewhat different had these proposed standards been in place.Continue Reading Enhanced Public Interest Requirements for TV Too?
The FCC today issued the long-awaited text of its decision on Digital Audio radio – the so-called IBOC system. As we have written, while adopted at its March meeting, the text of the decision has been missing in action. With the release of the decision, which is available here, the effective date of the new rules can be set in the near future – 30 days after its publication in the Federal Register. With the Order, the Commission also released its Second Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, addressing a host of new issues – some not confined to digital radio, but instead affecting the obligations of all radio operations.
The text provides the details for many of the actions that were announced at the March meeting, including authorizing the operation of AM stations in a digital mode at night, and the elimination of the requirements that stations ask permission for experimental operations before commencing multicast operations. The Order also permits the use of dual antennas – one to be used solely for digital use – upon notification to the FCC. In addition, the order addresses several other matters not discussed at the meeting, as set forth below. Continue Reading FCC Issues Rules on Digital Radio – With Some Surprises that Could Eventually Impact Analog Operations
Two long awaited broadcast items seem to be missing in action at the FCC. Both the final rules on digital radio ("HD radio") and the Commission’s Notice of Proposed rulemaking on using FM translators to fill in gaps of the signals of AM stations, while expected quite a while ago, have still not been released by the FCC. The digital radio item, adopting rules on digital radio, eliminating the need to file for experimental authority for multi-channel FM operations and allowing AM stations to operate digitally at night, was adopted by the FCC at its meeting in March, yet the final text of the decision still hasn’t been released. As the text has not been released, the effective date of the new rules has not been set. Those AM stations ready to kick on their nighttime digital operations continue to wait.
As we explained in our previous posting on this matter, here, the digital radio order also contains a Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, addressing issues such as the public interest obligations of broadcasters on their multicast digital channels. That was one of the items that was supposedly delayed the action that finally occurred at the March meeting, and perhaps it is delaying the release of the text of the order in this proceedingContinue Reading Radio Items Missing In Action at the FCC
In a recent press release, Clear Channel Communications announced an agreement with mSpot Radio to provide the programming of over 100 Clear Channel radio stations to mobile phone users. Interestingly, this announcement comes in he thick of the battle over the new royalty rates for the streaming of music on the Internet. In recent pleadings…
This article is no longer available. For more information on this topic, see FCC Issues Rules on Digital Radio – With Some Surprises that Could Eventually Impact Analog Operations
In July, we wrote about that the FCC was about to adopt final rules for over-the-air digital radio. But these expected final rules were pulled off the agenda of the FCC July meeting, and they remained in limbo for the last six months. Finally, today, the FCC announced that it will consider these final rules at…
At the NAB Broadcast Leadership Conference in Washington today, Congressman Ed Markey, Chairman of the House of Representatives Telecommunications and Internet Subcommittee of the Energy and Commerce Committee, announced that the subcommittee would hold hearings on the state of radio. These hearings would examine not only over-the-air radio, but also Internet radio…