FCC Commissioner Jonathan Adelstein is curious what the term means, and believes the commission should learn more about it as part of its local broadcasting inquiry.
In a speech before the Federal Communications Bar Association this week, Adelstein said, "We should explore the serious allegations of 'payola.' ... Today payola could mean influencing artists and musicians to play at certain concerts or in certain venues that benefit radio broadcasters. It could come in the form of lunches or cocktail parties where music companies must pay thousands of dollars just to talk with radio programmers from increasingly consolidated companies."
He cited Clear Channel, which decided six months ago to stop working with independent music promoters. Adelstein said it's unclear what actually resulted from that decision.
"We need to find out what changes have taken place, and whether that company's experience can serve as a model for others."