FCC Commissioner Michael O’Rielly has reached out to some major music companies to ask what they are doing to protect against payola, the exchange of something of value for broadcast airplay. The radio broadcast industry has had some scandalous episodes of payola in the past.
O’Rielly also noted that current restrictions don’t apply to streaming or internet radio.
Last September, O’Rielly contacted the Recording Industry Association of America to ask about reports that possible violations of federal antipayola laws and regulations, but was told the he needed to reach out to the companies individually.
He has now done so.
In letters to the heads of Sony Music Entertainment, Universal Music Group and Warner Music Group O’Rielly said that “even the most cursory review of consumer complaints and assertions provides cause for concern regarding the persistence of payola.”
O’Rielly, who is not fan of government overregulation, said he was not saying payola restrictions were perfect, including that they applied to radio but not to streaming, internet radio or podcasts.
He said that “asymmetry” clearly impacts the radio industry’s financial well-being and perhaps even “long-term sustainability.”
He also said that compliance is tough given that radio companies deliver content “via multiple platforms and methods.”