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Major Broadcasters Hit With $12M Payola Fine

kdawson posted more than 7 years ago | from the pay-for-play-no-no dept.

Music 222

Gr8Apes writes with a just-breaking AP story reporting that the FCC is wrapping up a settlement in which four major broadcast companies would pay the government $12.5 million and provide 8,400 half-hour segments of free airtime for independent record labels and local artists. The finish line is near after a 3-year investigation. An indie promoter is quoted: "It's absolutely the most historic agreement that the independent community has had with radio. Without a doubt, nothing else comes close."

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How is this "news for nerds"? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18254244)

Oh, wait, I forgot this was anti-RIAA-political-agenda-dot now.

Re:How is this "news for nerds"? (4, Funny)

twostar (675002) | more than 7 years ago | (#18254294)

What about "music" nerds? How come it always has to be about "computer" nerds? Can't we be inclusive and support all the nerds of the world?

Independent Music? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18254444)

Yeah these jerk off major broadcasting networks need to play more independent music! Wait...independent artists want to be featured on mainstream radio. I guess the new way to be original and independent is to be, quoting many "independent" music listeners I talk to, corporate whores to commercial radio. Contradiction...too...strong....

Re:Independent Music? (1)

Harinezumi (603874) | more than 7 years ago | (#18254590)

The whole point of this story is that in theory at some point in the near future bands might no longer have to whore themselves out to the big corporate labels in order to get airplay. While they may still end up whoring themselves directly to the radio, at least they'd be able to take the pimps out of the equation.

Re:How is this "news for nerds"? (1, Funny)

ak3ldama (554026) | more than 7 years ago | (#18254494)

No.

Re:How is this "news for nerds"? (4, Insightful)

DigitAl56K (805623) | more than 7 years ago | (#18254522)

This is perhaps the most exciting news that I've heard in the past month, if not substantially longer, with regards to the media. It actually made me sit back and think "wow..." in near disbelief.

Slashdot runs articles on the MPAA and RIAA all the time. I personally could not be happier that independent artists are going to get some mainstream airtime, and I hope it inspires a change in the way that people choose to consume content - perhaps learning the value in seeking out lesser known artists instead of spending their cash on whatever happens to be pushed through more commercialized channels.

One of the benefits of technology and the Internet is that they lessen the gap in quality of product (for lack of a better term) and exposure that can be achieved between enthusiasts and large well funded commercial entities. This is an excellent opportunity for the best of these artists to be recognized through alternate channels.

It is absolutely news for nerds. Best of luck to all those who benefit from the free airtime :)

Re:How is this "news for nerds"? (4, Insightful)

hackstraw (262471) | more than 7 years ago | (#18254890)

This is perhaps the most exciting news that I've heard in the past month

This is perhaps yet another example of the old boss being the same as the new boss.

So, we have media cartels that through payola, DMCA, and copyright do whatever they want, and now the government comes in and says. "We've been nice to you, now you have to pay some extra protection so something bad does not happen to you".

The media cartels are still there. Payola just got temporarily more expensive. DMCA is still here, and nothing is different.

I would much prefer if there was an actual free market. The entertainment business has gotten absolutely horrible, where entertainment is the lowest priority, and legislation and money is the priority today.

I remember when bands could fill up football stadiums in the 70s, 80s, and early 90s. Today, its tough to sell out a 10,000 to 20,000 venue, and when that happens, its an older band playing their greatest hits from a decade or more ago.

All of this crap has stifled creativity. I don't think creativity is down in the human gene pool, I think the ability for creativity to come out is practically illegal.

Re:How is this "news for nerds"? (5, Insightful)

danpsmith (922127) | more than 7 years ago | (#18254926)

I hope it inspires a change in the way that people choose to consume content - perhaps learning the value in seeking out lesser known artists instead of spending their cash on whatever happens to be pushed through more commercialized channels.

Don't get too high on the hype. If the people I know are any indicator there are two types of music listeners, and one is about 10x more popular than the other:

  • People that actually enjoy music - These people actually like music for music's sake, they enjoy the composition, the content, the lyrics, the entire package. They generally enjoy the concept of art as an abstract thing and enjoy the self-expression, creation and craft involved with such works. Music to them is a type of masterpiece in the same way it is as other things (painted art, literature, etc).
  • People that enjoy music that fits needs, be it popularity, etc. - These people, and I honestly do think that they constitute more of the majority of listeners these days, aren't particularly concerned with quality. They want dancing music, or they want music with lyrics that relate to an ex-boyfriend or girlfriend that pisses them off or other utilitarian type listens. They use music as a way of relating to others in that they like what's popular because it is popular, either in general or in their particular little group. These type of people generally only like either what's popular or one particular type of music or what they've been exposed to repeatedly. Music isn't something new to be discovered, it's a social phenomenon upon which they build their friendships and status. People in this category generally don't like anything that's not already part of their peer group or they haven't been introduced to by a member of their group, or their particular form of popular music exposure.

Leaving generalities behind, I honestly think that people will not necessarily change what they like simply because a popular radio station has to play some alternative music. In fact, I think you'll find that people actually do prefer Britney Spears squealing out a couple of crappy songs to anything alternative in some cases. The truth is that for far too many people, music isn't music for music's sake. It's a means to a goal, it's an end in some form. They have a stake in it other than the enjoyment of it itself.

Every now and then you'll get a band like The Beatles or Led Zeppelin that can innovate and still remain popular, however, it's not usually the case. In most cases the public gets exactly what it craves: bland repeat crap from the same five artists because they can't wrap their brains around anything new or different. At least this public, this generation. Maybe I'm just too cynical and the people I hang around are dullards that don't appreciate different music. But it sure seems like that's the majority of people from my angle.

Re:How is this "news for nerds"? (3, Interesting)

Gr8Apes (679165) | more than 7 years ago | (#18255384)

I too believe that the majority of people don't care about their music. The reason "oldies" stations work? Most people appear to get "stuck" in their listening habits somewhere between 16 and 25, and then only listen to their "comfort music". Rarely are new tracks, much less actual new types of acts, added to their repertoire.

It's why there's so much trash on the radio now (besides payola, etc). The marketers have figured out that spoon feeding the same tripe to the young immature and uncritical listening audience allows them to churn "new" artists as needed maximizing their profits.

Re:How is this "news for nerds"? (1)

42Penguins (861511) | more than 7 years ago | (#18255342)

Welcome to state radio, comrades. Up next, our government mandated indie music selection!

Re:How is this "news for nerds"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18254548)

Thank you, Whiny Nerd. Of all the Spice Nerds, you are my favorite.

                                        -- Yours in Nerdness,
                                            Anonymous Nerd

What I want to know (4, Funny)

overshoot (39700) | more than 7 years ago | (#18254256)

... is how Clear Channel and the Big Five are going to neuter this so that they technically comply but don't mess up a good thing.

Re:What I want to know (4, Insightful)

bizitch (546406) | more than 7 years ago | (#18254536)

Easy - they will give the indie labels plenty of air time ....

Sunday morning around 2am-ish

Re:What I want to know (1)

mrchaotica (681592) | more than 7 years ago | (#18254708)

Nah, some people are still out then (that's not "Sunday morning;" that's still just late "Saturday night!"). Make it 5:30-6 AM Sunday morning, and you've got it about right.

Re:What I want to know (1)

iminplaya (723125) | more than 7 years ago | (#18254820)

Probably right. The only indies will be the Sunday morning church music. That should cover their obligation.

Re:What I want to know (5, Funny)

Ripley (654) | more than 7 years ago | (#18255370)

Easy - they will give the indie labels plenty of air time .... Sunday morning around 2am-ish
For example, Sunday March 11, 2007 from 1:59 AM to 3:01 AM.

Re:What I want to know (1)

Aqua_boy17 (962670) | more than 7 years ago | (#18255376)

Right. One hour each Sunday morning when there's a DST change from 2 to 3 am. Sounds like a fair deal to me. "Okay folks, let's settle in an listen to...Oops, looks like our time's done here for the Indie segment, now back to our regularly scheduled Clear Channel programming".

Re:What I want to know (1)

toleraen (831634) | more than 7 years ago | (#18254568)

From the sounds of it they just have to fund a college radio station for 25 weeks. The details of the 8400 segments are pretty lacking so far...just kind of sounds like they need to give them some radio waves. I'm betting radio isn't really going to change at all as a result of this.

Re:What I want to know (5, Insightful)

pfhlick (900680) | more than 7 years ago | (#18254748)

The FCC is just patting themselves on the back for letting the big four broadcasters off the hook and making a little cash as a sideline. It's a bunch of garbage. They will commit airtime to 'independent' acts, wait for some cream to rise and mine them as best they're able. People who listen to commercial music radio get exactly what they're asking for: 20 minutes of ads to 40 minutes of recycled singles from the 80s, 90s, and beyond! Radio will stay the same. The music industry has been aware for some time that the only way to get the common slob to keep buying the same rehashed "new sensation" garbage is to bribe the broadcasters to beam it directly into the cars that they're slavishly dependent upon. Radio stations will continue to broadcast feeds from 1,500 miles away on autopilot, 24 hours a day, with some fresh indie flavor thrown in for the rebellious young americans. They will continue to bombard you with ads for auto glass repair and continue to not serve the communities they're located in. Switch it off, it's a setup.

Re:What I want to know (1)

517714 (762276) | more than 7 years ago | (#18255098)

How about, "We get paid to play this song." announced before each song - of course, the language would be slightly more obscure. It meets the FCC rules, and lets the radio station take payola. If one reads the article carefully, you will note that there is more posturing than substance in the FCC statements.

Re:What I want to know (1)

Dachannien (617929) | more than 7 years ago | (#18255116)

8400 half-hour slots divided among dozens of radio stations and hundreds of days in the year amounts to practically never knowing when and where the broadcasters are going to play something other than the Mafiaa-dictated playlists.

Re:What I want to know (1)

flitty (981864) | more than 7 years ago | (#18255148)

P.S. A little OT, but the "leaked" NIN songs that are hitting the internets were found on jump drives in places where NIN was coming on Tour, and "rebel" stations are playing some of the songs early, "we'll show those record companies".

Uh. Yeah. Right. You are totally independant.

Very cool... (3, Funny)

RyanFenton (230700) | more than 7 years ago | (#18254258)

The fine was nothing, considering the scope of the industries involved. But the air-time for independent broadcasters should be a cool twist.

At the very least, it'll be fascinating to hear how the broadcasters will transition to the 'punishment' broadcasts...

"This is wacky bob and the fizz signing off - up next, it's a half-hour of something we don't want you to hear, and we don't get paid for. So, um, enjoy!"

Ryan Fenton

Re:Very cool... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18254322)

"This is wacky bob and the fizz signing off - up next, it's a half-hour of something we don't want you to hear, and we don't get paid for. So, um, enjoy!"
Oh, you leave out the alternative, what goes on today: "This is wacky bob and the fizz signing off - up next, it's a half-hour of the same goddamn song over and over and over again."

Seriously, how many times did you here that fucking piece of trash "Ridin' Dirty" before it made you want to hang yourself?

Re:Very cool... (1)

99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) | more than 7 years ago | (#18254402)

Oh, you leave out the alternative, what goes on today: "This is wacky bob and the fizz signing off - up next, it's a half-hour of the same goddamn song over and over and over again."

As I understand as part of one of their settlements the RIAA had to provide a certain value worth of music to public institutions like libraries, so they took the settlement as an opportunity to unload and write off a lot of junk they had in warehouses. One library reported receiving twelve copies of Will Smith's abortive attempt to have a music career. If the RIAA is so unconcerned about their image that they will do things that blatant I think we can look forward to radio stations playing a half hour of the the worst drek they they can find, over and over and over again, so it does not drive people to better music.

Re:Very cool... (1)

bladesjester (774793) | more than 7 years ago | (#18254554)

One library reported receiving twelve copies of Will Smith's abortive attempt to have a music career.

You mean to have a music career *again*. He had a music career before he started acting. Given the age of most people on slashdot, though, you might be too young to remember The Fresh Prince and DJ Jazzy Jeff.

Re:Very cool... (1)

Deagol (323173) | more than 7 years ago | (#18254646)

You mean to have a music career *again*. He had a music career before he started acting. Given the age of most people on slashdot, though, you might be too young to remember The Fresh Prince and DJ Jazzy Jeff.

Indeed. Everyone had that damned album on my street -- it was quite the nightmare.

Re:Very cool... (1)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 7 years ago | (#18254712)

He still put out a bunch of music that sold pretty well after his TV career. He seems to have at least one hit song with each movie he puts out, like Wild Wild West, and Men In Black. Not my style of music, but it makes the top 30, so somebody must be listening.

Re:Very cool... (1)

C0rinthian (770164) | more than 7 years ago | (#18254940)

Does he write the hits, or does some studio house writer?

Big difference.

Re:Very cool... (1)

EastCoastSurfer (310758) | more than 7 years ago | (#18255316)

IIRC, him and DJ Jazzy Jeff did their original stuff. Not sure why anyone would fault Will Smith for doing what he does though. He went to Hollywood, looked at what sells and did just that. I'll try to dig it up, but there is a quote of him talking about patterns of movies that made a lot of money. Something like they needed aliens, action, bit of romance, bit of comedy, so he set out to make those, at least in the beginning.

Re:Very cool... (5, Insightful)

xerxesVII (707232) | more than 7 years ago | (#18254430)

Simple. They'll do one of two things (or probably both):

1. These half-hour blocks will be aired somewhere between midnight and six a.m.
2. They won't say that this is something they're required to do. They'll crow about how cutting edge and forward thinking they are.

Re:Very cool... (2, Insightful)

robkill (259732) | more than 7 years ago | (#18254678)

Or...

Each of the major broadcast networks will syndicate a single show of independent music through their syndication subsidiary (Clear Channel: Premiere Radio Networks, Cox: Cox Syndication, CBS: Westwood One) to each of their local affiliates.

Let's face it. Your standard big radio station formats (classic rock, Top 40, country) don't lend themselves to independent music. Some of the rock stations in big cities can focus a one or two hour show on the local music scene, but most large commercial stations aren't interested in promoting small independent acts from other markets, especially if the act doesn't tour and appear in that station's coverage area.

Re:Very cool... (4, Funny)

nine-times (778537) | more than 7 years ago | (#18255198)

...but most large commercial stations aren't interested in promoting small independent acts from other markets, especially if the act doesn't tour and appear in that station's coverage area.

That's funny. I didn't realize that the broadcasters were in the business of promoting bands. I thought they made their money selling advertising, and therefore tried to find good music to keep listeners. So does that mean record companies are paying broadcasters to promote these bands?

By the way, what's payola?

Re:Very cool... (1)

porcupine8 (816071) | more than 7 years ago | (#18255224)

Don't forget all the Jack FM formatted stations (in addition to the dozens actually named Jack, there are Bobs and Mikes and Dougs and others that don't have silly names but still use the "ipod on shuffle" format). It'd be incredibly easy for them to slip indie stuff in, since their slogan is "We play anything(/everything)" anyhow. These stations are pretty hot right now, and growing - I'll bet they're where a lot of this ends up.

Re:Very cool... (1)

EraserMouseMan (847479) | more than 7 years ago | (#18254466)

I wonder what qualify as a "local artist." I could see radio stations running some cheesy "Have all your highschool friends call in and sing songs they made up during class" program. Which would not promote any real local or independent talent.

Re:Very cool... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18254900)

Here in Seattle the local Entercom and ClearChannel stations already play way too much Nirvana. They won't need to change a thing.

Way too little (2)

zoomshorts (137587) | more than 7 years ago | (#18254270)

And far too late. Fine them out of existance.

Re:Way too little (5, Insightful)

Orange Crush (934731) | more than 7 years ago | (#18254368)

And far too late. Fine them out of existance.

Screw fining them. Revoke their broadcast licenses. The spectrum "belongs" to the public. They're granted exclusive use of little slices of the spectrum in exchange for playing by our rules (well, the FCC's rules, anyway). Break the rules, and your spectrum goes to somebody who will make better use of it.

Re:Way too little (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 7 years ago | (#18255186)

Nice idea, but it will never happen. While the radio and broadcast industries have to sign that they will not exercise property rights and that they spectrum can at any time be reallocated, in practice that has yet to happen in any notable manner. The FCC seems to be more concerned with free speech happening online and nipples than how the media ownership is distributed.

waah mommy (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18254446)

Yeah but you gotta give props to this guy: "In a statement Monday, Commissioner Michael Copps said pay-for-play `cheats radio listeners and will not be tolerated.' Radio, he said, is `supposed to be our pipeline to exciting, local undiscovered acts -- not more nationalized pablum from big media companies.'"

That's "Commissioner" as in FCC Commissioner. So hey, maybe the feds are on the right track for once.

Re:Way too little (1)

zoomshorts (137587) | more than 7 years ago | (#18254588)

Fining them to death is the best way. Removing their license, merely allows one of their cronies
to aquire the same frequency and start all over. Take the money out of the business with MEGA fines.

The FCC board of commissioners are appointed, in this case by BUSH. The same with the SEC(security and Exchange Commission)
and look what they allowed to happen, the re-emergence of the Bell(AT&T) monopoly. Just wait a few years and they will be
back as the only telco.

What makes you think Bush appointees are anything but Bush puppet/sympathizers/co-conspirators?

Re:Way too little (1)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 7 years ago | (#18254934)

And Clinton signed the DMCA. Please both parties have been tools of the the entertainment industry forever.
Please find me someone that isn't.

Re:Way too little (1)

Gr8Apes (679165) | more than 7 years ago | (#18254956)

Wait a few years? It's here - the AT&T/Verizon telco choice. If you get to choose which one serves you, you're one of the less than 1%ers. The rest of us don't have a choice.

Cell phones are also shrinking down, we now have AT&T(/Cingular), Verizon, T-Mobil and Sprint/Nextel.

Radio is down to 4 companies, effectively, and one of those, ClearChannel, also owns 33% of XM (a main reason I'm not an XM subscriber).

They've already paid their settlement, unknowingly (4, Interesting)

Radon360 (951529) | more than 7 years ago | (#18254308)

Large broadcast companies probably have paid a higher price in loss of listenership, as their tired, weary, and limited playlists have driven more and more people to alternatives such as iPods, MP3 players and satellite radio.

Sure, go ahead, fine them, order them to allocate time to new acts, that's a small loss they can see on their balance sheets in comparison to the difficult to calculate loss of listenership.

Re:They've already paid their settlement, unknowin (1)

zappepcs (820751) | more than 7 years ago | (#18254744)

You are absolutely correct. I stopped listening to broadcast radio several years ago. In fact, it was the moment I hooked up my stereo to a laptop and began listening to Internet based radio. All the music you want, none of the fscked up talking. Its cheaper than XM, better than the cable company alternatives, and has much more choice.

At this point, I'm happy to report that I no longer know anything about any of the local radio stations.

Re:They've already paid their settlement, unknowin (1)

Gr8Apes (679165) | more than 7 years ago | (#18255312)

Large broadcast companies probably have paid a higher price in loss of listenership, as their tired, weary, and limited playlists have driven more and more people to alternatives such as iPods, MP3 players and satellite radio.


Sure, go ahead, fine them, order them to allocate time to new acts, that's a small loss they can see on their balance sheets in comparison to the difficult to calculate loss of listenership.

They'll now have 2 targets to blame their losses on - piracy (MP3s) and FCC actions.

12.5? (4, Insightful)

mastershake_phd (1050150) | more than 7 years ago | (#18254316)

$12.5 million and provide 8,400 half-hour segments of free airtime for independent record labels and local artists

A paltry $12.5? Isnt it great when a company gets fined less than it probably made by committing the offense. Its called a cost benefit analysis, basically if crime pays they commit the crime. 4,200 hours of independent/local music sounds good though. I wonder who gets to pick who gets the time.

Re:12.5? (1)

Radon360 (951529) | more than 7 years ago | (#18254450)

My guess is that the timeslot will be 5am on Sunday morning, right before all the religious and other public service/education programming. I think it would be a hoot to order them to block out a half-hour segment of prime afternoon drive time, commercial-free, as punishment.

Between 6am and midnight.. (2, Informative)

unity (1740) | more than 7 years ago | (#18254802)

The LA Times had some more details in their article yesterday:
http://www.latimes.com/business/la-ex-payola5mar06 ,1,2865175.story [latimes.com]

The relevant part:
"In a separate agreement, the radio companies have agreed to set aside 8,400 half-hour segments of free airtime over the next three years for local and independent artists. The segments would have to air between 6 a.m. and midnight."

Re:12.5? (1)

fmobus (831767) | more than 7 years ago | (#18254480)

That pretty much happens all the time. It's difficult to precisely calculate big-company profits in such schemes. The plaintiff may have asked for the correct value, but court analysis and stuff changed the value or something like that.

Most profit in cases like this are almost impossible to calculate, not even the evil company knows how much they made on this technique alone.

But yeah, I believe the made much more with payola bussiness (although I don't for how many years of payola they are getting fined, for I haven't RTFA).

Re:12.5? (1)

kalirion (728907) | more than 7 years ago | (#18254520)

4,200 hours of independent/local music sounds good though.

Now divide this by the number of radio stations owned by the broadcasters....

Re:12.5? (1)

garcia (6573) | more than 7 years ago | (#18254596)

I want to know if that 12.5 million dollars is going to be used to fund programs that the FCC shouldn't be in charge of in the first place -- like indecency. Their job is to control dividing up the spectrum, not what is or isn't acceptable to put on it.

Corporate power must be recorded and challenged. (2, Insightful)

jbn-o (555068) | more than 7 years ago | (#18255414)

Not only is there no real punishment for these corporations, the linked article is itself an indicator of a deeper problem: it is carefully written so as to avoid painting any of the businesses as illegal actors where adequate, democratically-arrived-at remedies ought to be applied. There is no simple and clear declaration akin to what one /. poster wrote: "The recording companies are illegally paying off radio broadcast networks to get exposure for their music." nor anything as short and simple as the /. headline in this thread, "Major Broadcasters Hit With $12M Payola Fine".

I'm not trying to suggest this is new; during the run-up to the Iraq war the stenographers at the New York Times repeated government propaganda to far worse effect (Common Dreams [commondreams.org] , PDF excerpt [democracynow.org] ). I'm saying that we do ourselves a disservice by letting our contempt dull our shock because we need to point out when corporate leaders behave illegally and we need to tell the corporate reporters when punishment is minimized ($12M is referred to as a "large cash settlement" despite no single payout greater than $4M) and buried (the list of corporate settlements is buried in the piece).

Cool (1)

iminplaya (723125) | more than 7 years ago | (#18254338)

Now the night shift will have something to listen to...during their half-hour lunch "hour" anyway.

Just the broadcasters? (5, Insightful)

Zeek40 (1017978) | more than 7 years ago | (#18254362)

Why aren't the Music Labels who are offering the payola being fined as well? If the police see a drug deal, both the buyer and the seller will be arrested. How is this any different?

Re:Just the broadcasters? (5, Informative)

Otter (3800) | more than 7 years ago | (#18254434)

This is the FCC, not the police. They don't have any authority over the labels.

Re:Just the broadcasters? (4, Funny)

HungWeiLo (250320) | more than 7 years ago | (#18254492)

How is this any different?

I don't try to pawn my VCR for $10 at 2am to get my Britney Spears fix?

Re:Just the broadcasters? (1)

parliboy (233658) | more than 7 years ago | (#18254730)

Because that's not where the illegal act takes place.

If the music label pays for airtime, that's advertising. If the record company reports it as an unpaid play, that's payola. That's the moment of illegality.

Re:Just the broadcasters? (1)

SydShamino (547793) | more than 7 years ago | (#18254892)

If the record label gives the station 100 iPods to pass out to customers on the day a new song releases, that's not payola. If station employees take home 5 of those iPods, that's payola.

Call the IRS and the FTC (1)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 7 years ago | (#18254968)

I would love to see this payola was reported on the record companies taxes and to the stock holders.

They were fined. (1)

pavon (30274) | more than 7 years ago | (#18255306)

This fine is by the FCC. It is their job to regulate the use of the spectrum, and thus they only have jurisdiction over those who license the spectrum. The major labels have been convicted of payola and fined for it. The charger were brought forth by Eliot Spitzer on behalf of the state of NY - see here [law.com] and here [msn.com]

If the police see a drug deal, both the buyer and the seller will be arrested.
But they both get their own day in court. This is the same thing.

"pay the governemnt"? (0)

AlHunt (982887) | more than 7 years ago | (#18254378)

Why should they pay the government $12.5M to the government? Has the government been harmed?

Please don't expect me to believe the government pissed away $12.5M investigating this case (unless they did it from their offices at the Maui Hilton). If the industry pays the money then it should be used for some related worthy purpose, not to fill the coffers of wasteful government agencies.

Re:"pay the governemnt"? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18254508)

They said it was a three-year investigation, and lawyers are expensive...

Re:"pay the governemnt"? (3, Interesting)

MindStalker (22827) | more than 7 years ago | (#18254574)

Yes... 3 year investigation.
10 employees who get paid 100K each
is 3 million dollars over 3 years.

Plus air travel and other crap. Government spends a million just wiping its butt, thats just what happens with large entities that have no direct income for their actions.

Re:"pay the governemnt"? (2, Funny)

Paulrothrock (685079) | more than 7 years ago | (#18254576)

News flash: We're the government. This is another $12.5 million we won't have to pay in taxes.

Re:"pay the governemnt"? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18254662)

> This is another $12.5 million we won't have to pay in taxes.

What a charmingly naive view.

Re:"pay the governemnt"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18254686)

News flash: We're the government. This is another $12.5 million we won't have to pay in taxes.



Good one. Should I try the fish?

Re:"pay the governemnt"? (1)

SnotBob (970745) | more than 7 years ago | (#18254644)

"unless they did it from their offices at the Maui Hilton"

At least now Paris Hilton has more money to produce another album.

Re:"pay the governemnt"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18255002)

yeah, like to blueo2.com

this explains how lindsay lohan got on the radio (1)

Shivetya (243324) | more than 7 years ago | (#18254380)

I do remember reading articles related to the NY settlement that stations were paid or coerced into playing her album. Too many bands are foisted upon us and most listeners don't even realize it. Still long term I doubt it will have that much impact, the record companies will come up something similar that fits in the rules.

Hell, CDs are still essentially price fixed, and how long has that been going on?

Who listens to this crap, anyway? (2, Insightful)

ghoti (60903) | more than 7 years ago | (#18254414)

From TFA:

Radio listeners weary of hearing the same songs over and over may have something to cheer about

Huh? Ever heard of that dial thing on your radio? You don't need the government to step in and change the programming, just put down the Slurpee for a second and change the station. It's really no wonder ClearChannel et al are taking over the entire market when people can't be bothered to vote with their dials. There are still lots of alternatives, find them while they still exist and support them!

Re:Who listens to this crap, anyway? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18254560)

What's the point in spinning the dial if most of the stations I can spin to are owned by Clear Channel??

Re:Who listens to this crap, anyway? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18254688)

Have you ever even turned on a radio? Theres a country station, an urban station, a classic rock station, and a newer rock station. Perhaps a classical station and a bunch of religious/talk radio stations. You call that variety? The day I hear drum and bass, house and jungle on my drive time commute, is the day that the evil cartels will be broken.

Re:Who listens to this crap, anyway? (5, Insightful)

Radon360 (951529) | more than 7 years ago | (#18254734)

Some time ago, this was a valid remedy for substandard programming. The biggest reason being that FCC regulations prohibited an entity from owning more than one station in a market area. That has since changed. Now you have large broadcast conglomerates that own several stations in a market. Sure, they don't want to compete against themselves, so they typify each station with one of their "researched" genre formats (i.e. A.C./Top40, Country, Urban/Rap, Alternative, 70's/80's etc.).

Of course, each one of these formats are based upon listenership tuned in, on average, 20 minutes at a time. So what happens? They put a handful of "popular songs" into heavy rotation so that there's a good chance that it will play during some 20 minute window. And, of course if the research works in one market, then why not apply it to all of the conglomerate's markets. The result, any particular format is pretty much homogeneous across their span of coverage. Stations begin to lack individuality (outside of their personalities and callsign sweeper).

So what about the independents? Well, if they grow enough listenership in a market, they become ripe for a buyout by "big radio". One would think that new independent stations would come in to replace them, but you need to remember that "licenseable" spectrum is finite. At some point, there are no free channels left to assign, and this has already been the case for a long time in larger markets.

Re:Who listens to this crap, anyway? (1)

yodleboy (982200) | more than 7 years ago | (#18254824)

what's the point? pick a genre or format. every station that fits it plays the same tracks. the only real basis for comparison anymore is who has the least annoying dj(s).

Re:Who listens to this crap, anyway? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18254854)

I just want to point out the fallacy of your argument. Living in a rural area (Nebraska, then moving to Kansas) we had a very limited number of FM stations. When Clear Channel came through (1995 I believe, when I was in Nebraska), they bought ALL the stations. The only ones left were AM, which were all talk radio and sports broadcasts (some classical, country, but not my cup of tea). The FM stations left went from a rotation of maybe repeating a song every other day to repeating everything at LEAST 3 times a day.

If you aren't in a major market, you are forced to live with Clear Channel, and the crap they have. Of course, not having to listen for or worry about traffic reports means I don't listen to the radio anymore.

My point it, unless you are in an urban area, the ONLY alternative for music from Clear Channel are MP3's, CD's and (old car) tapes. I would enjoy having a radio station back that plays good music again, instead of pushing crap down our throats.

One last case in point: A group of friends and I all called up the station for a week solid, from home, work, everywhere, to request a song (Triangle Man, TMBG) from the "Rock" station. It was a group of 60 people calling several times a day, we finally started getting the answer that they just would not play that song. That is what clear channel is doing, no requests anymore (unless it's on their pre-scheduled playlist).

Variety (3, Funny)

QuietLagoon (813062) | more than 7 years ago | (#18254422)

You mean we may now actually have some musical variety on the airwaves?

No (1)

overshoot (39700) | more than 7 years ago | (#18254530)

You mean we may now actually have some musical variety on the airwaves?
If I had mod points I'd mod this one "ROTFLMAO Funny."

They pay the radio stations? (2, Interesting)

phorm (591458) | more than 7 years ago | (#18254436)

generally defined as radio stations accepting cash or other consideration from record companies in exchange for airplay.

I thought that radio stations paid the record companies a license fee in order to broadcast their music? Can somebody in the industry (or with knowhow) clarify how this works?

Yes, they do (3, Informative)

overshoot (39700) | more than 7 years ago | (#18254586)

I thought that radio stations paid the record companies a license fee in order to broadcast their music? Can somebody in the industry (or with knowhow) clarify how this works?
No, they are only required to pay the composers. The artists get nothing, which is why so many of them write their own (mediocre at best) material rather than cover something better. That, and they use the records and airtime to get fans for concert gigs, which is where the real money is.

Now, "Internet radio" is something else. They have to pay per play not only to the composers but to the record labels, and they pay handsomely. Of course, the artists still don't get anything but at least we're being protected from the horrors of radio over the Internet.

"independent" labels (4, Insightful)

gEvil (beta) (945888) | more than 7 years ago | (#18254518)

I worked for a brief while in the music industry and can tell you that this won't mean a thing. The airtime that will be devoted to independent labels will get sucked up by independent imprints and offshoots that still very much bow to their corporate overlords. There are quite a few "independent" labels out there that are run by someone in the A&R department at a major label. Consider it their "hobby" record label. However, quite often they have agreements whereby the major label that the "independent label" owner works for has first rights to signing any bands that the "independent" label managed to dig up. Labels like this are just another cog in the machine, and I assure you this is where the majority of that airtime will be going...

Just what we need... (1)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 7 years ago | (#18254582)

...indie bands being heard on mainstream radio stations so that they can be "discovered" by major labels and have their music stripped from them in exchange for exhorbitant amounts of money and their very souls.

I would prefer to have to keep searching for unknown indie music groups rather than have them fed to me, thank you.

Re:Just what we need... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18254888)

There's plenty of indie bands that get picked up by a major and don't 'sell out.' If anything, it just seems that way to the snobby, it's-only-cool-if-you-don't-know-about-it music hipsters. I'm personally psyched whenever I see a great indie band (usually underexposed) get some exposure. I heard Bloc Party (granted, a pretty popular band as far as indie goes) on NPR the other day and squealed with glee.

Point is, publicity isn't always a bad thing and doesn't always = selling out. Since the popularity of the internet and p2p, indie music is getting more exposure than ever, and if anything, the music is getting better because of it.

Marketing for Lemmings (4, Insightful)

rlp (11898) | more than 7 years ago | (#18254622)

Let me get this straight. The recording companies are illegally paying off radio broadcast networks to get exposure for their music. At a time when the number of listeners to broadcast radio is in decline. At the same time, they're trying to kill off Internet radio, satellite radio, and trying to strong-arm their main on-line distributer - Apple. Oh, yeah - and don't forget lawsuits against their customers. Either the heads of marketing in the recording industry have large short positions in their own company, or else there's a serious need to start drug testing.

Re:Marketing for Lemmings (1)

nuzak (959558) | more than 7 years ago | (#18254696)

> At the same time, they're trying to kill off Internet radio

Because they don't control it.

> satellite radio

ditto.

> and trying to strong-arm their main on-line distributer - Apple.

hat trick.

Perfectly logical when you're looking at an industry that has no ability to deal as an equal. They want total control or nothing. And they have congress to ensure that the latter option isn't available.

Re:Marketing for Lemmings (4, Insightful)

rlp (11898) | more than 7 years ago | (#18255054)

The recording companies are distributors. Musicians supply them with music that they then sell to retailers like Apple, Wal-Mart, etc. These in turn sell to the public. They've grown used to controlling every aspect of the distribution process and as a result grabbing the bulk of the revenue generated.

If you look at the history of American railroads in the nineteenth century, it was similar. They controlled distribution of goods and in many cases could charge what they wanted. Farmers, manufacturers, retailers, and consumers suffered, but had no alternative. At least till technological development changed things (trucks and highways). Then suppliers and consumers had a way of bypassing the rails, and did so. Eventually the rail companies adapted (mixed mode transport) and even prospered.

Like the railroads, the recording industry is trying to maintain control. And now the environment is changing. Unlike the rails, the recording industry appears to be unable to adapt and determined to shoot themselves in the foot ... repeatedly ... with large caliber weapons.

Re:Marketing for Lemmings (1)

mrchaotica (681592) | more than 7 years ago | (#18254908)

What you don't realize is that, according to their plan, all that doesn't matter. Marketing doesn't matter. Radio doesn't matter. "Customers" (What are they? Surely you mean "consumer whores," right? Or "sheeple," at the least...) don't matter.

So what does matter? Increasingly draconian copyright laws matter. DRM (especially ubiquitous DRM, like how Microsoft is pushing, e.g. WMP adding DRM to ripped tracks by default) matters. Payola between the labels, radio stations, and (DRM'd) hardware and software makers matters. So what is this goal? Why, it's simply to force everyone to pay them for music, because they have no other choice. This is accomplished by removing all access to independent music and (eventually) bribing the government enough that it institutes some kind of compulsory music tax so that you have to pay whether you're listening or not. And, of course, if you're not buying "enough" of their dreck, it obviously means you're a "pirate," which gives them grounds to sue...

That scenario, right there, gives record label execs wet dreams. It must be the goal they're working towards, because it's the only thing that makes sense (from their twisted perspective).

What about Air America? (1)

gfxguy (98788) | more than 7 years ago | (#18254806)

I know this is going to be considered a troll - I listened to Air America when it was on Sirius, and I don't want to disparage it, but how come they can pay to be carried on certain radio stations, and record labels can't pay to have songs from their artists carried on radio stations?

Don't get me wrong, I want to listen to the independent labels and artists, I want to get wide exposure to new (to me) music, but frankly if we live in a free market, don't we need to accept the bad with the good?

They can pay, but they can't lie about paying (2, Interesting)

paladinwannabe2 (889776) | more than 7 years ago | (#18255014)

Me paying you to play my song is advertising. Me handing you money under the table to play the song, then you claiming that you're picking the songs 'you like best' or that 'the audience demands' is fraud, deceptive advertising, and probably tax evasion.

No one's saying they can't pay to have their songs played. We're just saying they can't lie about doing so.

Re:What about Air America? (1)

mrchaotica (681592) | more than 7 years ago | (#18255030)

...frankly if we live in a free market, don't we need to accept the bad with the good?

Radio spectrum is limited and regulated by the government. Therefore, -- and I want to make sure everyone gets this, because I'm tired seeing it needing to be repeated -- RADIO IS NOT, AND NEVER COULD BE, A FREE MARKET!

Re:What about Air America? (4, Insightful)

DeepHurtn! (773713) | more than 7 years ago | (#18255104)

"Free markets" only have a chance in hell of actually functioning anything like the fantasies of neo-liberal economists if consumers have the resources to make informed decisions. Payola blatantly violates that, by turning the song into nothing more than a paid advertisement for price-fixed pieces of plastic and presenting it as if its placement on the Top 40 is the result of requests or other measures of popularity. Oligopolies are the enemy of the free market because they can make backroom deals like this out of the public eye that distort the market.

Besides, these companies do not have an inherent right to broadcast at all. You, as an American, own the airwaves, NOT the broadcasters; they are using a public resource for private gain, and part of that deal is that they owe something to the public. Asking them to kindly not lie out of their teeth in order to enrich a few people's pockets doesn't seem like much to ask, eh?

Finally, I don't think you, as an American citizen, *need* to accept anything! As a citizen, aren't you theoretically part of the body politic...? Are you not, in theory at least, participating in your country's sovereignty, in fact the ultimate basis for that sovereignty? Are you really happy to surrender that sovereignty to entrenched business interests? If so, what's the point of Democracy at all? Government for the people, by the people, and all that jazz?

Re:What about Air America? (3, Informative)

IthnkImParanoid (410494) | more than 7 years ago | (#18255308)

From wikipedia:

Under United States law, 47 U.S.C. 317, a radio station always has had the ability to play a specific song in exchange for money; however, this must be disclosed on the air as being sponsored airtime, and that play of the song should not be reported as a "spin". Some radio stations report spins of the newest and most popular songs to industry publications, which are then published. [...]On influential stations (and particularly on television) payola can become so commonplace that it becomes difficult for artists to get their records/videos played without offering some sort of payment.

There you go. My opinion: if radio stations were allowed to accept money for non-advertising plays of songs, only people who could pay would ever be broadcast, which is an abuse of a government granted monopoly.

JUST??? breaking? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18254842)

What's with the "just breaking" crap? I read about this in this mornings SF Chronicle!!! The paper kind... you know... the kind that they printed last night?

do existing local band programs count? (3, Insightful)

hguorbray (967940) | more than 7 years ago | (#18254974)

I'm sure that the media conglomerates will also just use existing local band shows to satisfy some of the hours required by the settlement....

However,

Our local san Francisco CC station KITS (Live105) has one of those shows, but actually they are already a better station than most ('fighting for alternative rock' is their current slogan)

  I think the SF Bay Area has more musical diversity than most places....
besides KITS we have KFOG (eclectic) and the college stations (the mighty KFJC, KSJS, KSCU and KSZU) and our weird, fringe broadcasters (KKUP, KALX, KPFA, KPFB).

indie rock, just as it's 80s predecessors college rock and punk in the 70s and underground music in the 60's has had a large impact on music in the past few years and as usual, the mainstream outlets have tried and will continue to fail to subvert and commoditize it because these movements thrive (esp like punk) by going against the mainstream. Kids will never (I hope) accept corporations telling them what is cool (except maybe apple).

Just because an indie label has a distribution deal with someone like sony/BMG doesn't mean that they are no longer indie...it works the same way in the indie film world.

-I'm just sayin'

Re:do existing local band programs count? (2, Informative)

PCM2 (4486) | more than 7 years ago | (#18255158)

Just because an indie label has a distribution deal with someone like sony/BMG doesn't mean that they are no longer indie...it works the same way in the indie film world.

Tell that to the folks that run 924 Gilman Street. [wikipedia.org] You got major label distribution, you don't play Gilman. It's a widely disputed policy, but it does make a certain sort of sense, to wit: By sticking to this policy, corporate interests do not get to infiltrate independent/alternative venues with "submarine" artists who will later be reared up to full major label status. Major labels and distributors aren't owed access to any venue or channel. They have the money to put their bands up at the standard pay-for-play venues, so let them do that, and not crowd out the true local scene from a $5-per-show venue like Gilman.

And BTW, I think you seriously overestimate the both the independence and the worth of a station like Live 105, which is owned by CBS Media. That station is pretty much the definition of corporate radio rock in the Bay Area right now.

Re:do existing local band programs count? (2, Insightful)

rhakka (224319) | more than 7 years ago | (#18255406)

I'm not sure how you think punk has "thrived" by "going against the mainstream". It did, until it thrived enough to make major interests interested. Then, post-Green day, we got the whole emo scene, which is basically "corporate punk" targetted at the teens that don't want to wear the country or urban uniforms and instead identify with angst ridden rockers.

And it sells very well. Kids very easily accept corporations telling them what is cool, as long as the corporation says the right things and has the right imagery in their ads. Look at skate culture.. used to be a bunch of small companies in garages making boards, and small runs of shoes/t-shirts. Now, they are all "real companies" and Nike, of all people, are doing very well in the clothing market, targetting this demographic.

Not to say that indie music doesn't have an impact. But all sub cultures that achieve some critical mass are gobbled up by big business, chewed up, and turned into a soulless pile of marketing hype and manufactured images. As soon as it becomes profitable enough to be worth it, it's inevitable. And then you wait for the "next thing" to come along, and that gets gobbled up.. and so on, and so on.

I think your glasses are pretty rose colored if your think the corps have "failed" to subvert ANY counter culture that has achieved any sufficiently large number of adherants.

Music is a farm system (2, Interesting)

cheezit (133765) | more than 7 years ago | (#18255044)

Ever notice how many acts start on smaller labels, prove their value, then get snapped up by the majors? This deal will undoubtedly result in the big companies adopting independent labels as de facto "minor league" holding areas. The focus for Sony et al will be on how to manipulate the allocation of the time reserved for independent labels to favor the "independent" labels that feed Sony.

I wouldn't be surprised to see artist contracts for the independent labels that designate a favored path for contract buyout---"sign with Sony Junior (an independent label) and if your contract is bought out by Sony, you'll get an additional 5% of T-shirt sales!"

"Just Breaking?" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18255114)

March 5, 2007, 2:52PM [chron.com]
Stations agree on anti-payola settlement

I saw this [chicagotribune.com] at 7:00 a.m. CST.

What is this "Chron dotcom" you link to? What's wrong with the New York Times or LA Times or the Dallas Morning News or Adweek or any of the other 365 articles that Google News lists? [google.com]

News for nerds... from the witless. Jesus H. Christ, people!

OK, now that the rant against the witless link is over, 12 million? That's only four million for each of the big 4. Chicken feed, chump change, part of their operating expense. It's only a PR ploy. Nothing to see here, move along...

Business as usual. FCC looking like it's doing its job, when IT AIN'T!

More importantly and perhaps less on topic, in a thread a couple of days ago [slashdot.org] some folks said that the major labels were the ones who sort the wheat from the chaff in music, and that is entirely correct. Correct, but wrong. It's correct because of payola, which is wrong.

The broadcasters themselves should be the ones who bring you the "good stuff". And there should be a hell of a lot more than four of them.

And we need a new slashdot, too.

Non-corporate stations? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18255168)

I mostly listen to a non-corporatized local station WBER http://wber.monroe.edu/ [monroe.edu] , they also stream on the internet. Good mix of alternative music - lots of new, refreshing stuff instead of the same old satellite feed.

Are there any others people can recommend on the internet? There also is a local Jazz station, but reception is spotty.

12.5 is not enough (2, Insightful)

DynamoJoe (879038) | more than 7 years ago | (#18255258)

12.5 million? They won't even put down their whiskey to sign that check. 4,200 hours of indie radio hurts them a little more - do they have to run it in drive time, or can they bury it in 2-hour shows early Sunday mornings?

It's all useless, though, since Broadcasters would admit to no wrongdoing. Let's have some punishment, people!

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