We reported ASCAP is protesting Pandora’s plan to buy KXMZ(FM) in the Rapid City, S.D. market from Connoisseur Media. The Internet audio service is already LMA’ing the facility, located in Box Elder, S.D.
ASCAP alleges Pandora is buying the facility to the tune of $600,000 to lower its music licensing fees and has asked the FCC to dismiss the sale application.
Pandora now calls ASCAP’s allegations a “blatant attempt to draw the FCC into a private dispute” concerning music performance royalties. The Internet audio service says only the federal court has jurisdiction in the case.
As to ASCAP’s claims that Pandora can’t serve the public interest as a first-time station owner, Pandora says it’s already serving listener’s needs in the KXMZ service area and has reviewed “actual listening habits” of 42,000 Rapid City area residents who already listen to Pandora each month so that it can program music that “more accurately reflects” their interests than traditional music surveys or focus groups can. Pandora tells the commission after the station sale the company is “committed to continue and expand upon KXMZ’s public service.”
Pandora tells the agency the company plans to retain the “entire local KXMZ staff.” At least three Pandora employees manage the KXMZ sales and will continue to do that after the deal closes, it says.
Additionally, ASCAP’s claim the Pandora has not fully disclosed its ownership is “meritless,” and based on old data as well as on a “superficial analysis” of the structure of investment companies holding Pandora stock, the company tells the FCC.