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Feingold Goes After Payola (Again)

Feingold Goes After Payola (Again)

Sen. Russ Feingold, D-Wis., introduced a bill to increase prohibitions against payola and put distance between companies that own radio stations and concert venues.
The senator noted he has in the past introduced legislation “to address ownership consolidation and the anti-competitive practices common in the industry.” The new bill focuses on what he calls “the anti-competitive practices, whether they occur at a radio station group of a handful of stations or one that owns thousands of stations.”
He said one corporate owner of stations and concert venues “sets up a situation where the same corporation that is negotiating a contract for an artist to perform at its concert also controls the lifeblood of that artist’s success – airplay of his or her songs. The result can be intense pressure on artists to play radio station-promoted shows and, often, to do so for less than the normal rate.” Feingold did not mention Clear Channel by name, though that corporate broadcaster currently owns both concert venues and radio stations; it plans to spin off its entertainment business.
The Radio and Concert Disclosure and Competition Act of 2005, stated Feingold, requires that transactions with entities like record labels, which might have an interest in influencing airplay, be made by stations on an “arm’s length basis.” Stations would have to keep records of such deals and make them available to the FCC for inspection.
In addition, S. 2058 significantly increases penalties for payola violations, from the current $10,000 to $50,000, and allows the FCC to consider revoking a station’s license. The bill requires radio stations to disclose all receipts of payments or consideration that could be used as a front for payola along with a list of the songs played every month, broken down by label and artist.
AFTRA and the Future of Music Coalition support the measure.