Wyden-Brownback ‘Internet Radio Equality Act’ Introduced in the Senate

2007-05-10 18:34:31 –

WASHINGTON, May 10 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — Legislation introduced by Senators Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Sam Brownback (R-KA) today would save Internet radio from a recent royalty hike that threatens to bankrupt the industry. The Internet Radio Equality Act would vacate a Copyright Royalty Board (CRB) decision to increase fees webcasters pay to play music online by a devastating 300 to 1200 percent. Companion legislation (H.R. 2060) introduced in the House of Representatives on April 26th, by Congressman Jay Inslee (D-WA) and Don Manzullo (R-IL), has already garnered the support of more than 60 cosponsors.

SaveNetRadio.org, a national coalition of webcasters, recording artists, listeners and record labels applauded the bill’s introduction, expressing their gratitude to Senators Wyden and Brownback for their leadership at this critical time for the Internet radio industry and the millions of Americans who listen online every day. “Since the CRB’s ruling, Internet radio listeners, webcasters and the artists they promote have joined together to urge Congress to prevent this vibrant industry from going silent on July 15th,” said Jake Ward, a spokesperson for the SaveNetRadio campaign. “On behalf of Internet radio’s 70 million monthly listeners, thousands of webcasters, and the incredible diversity of talented artists it supports, we commend Senators Wyden and Brownback for their understanding of Internet radio’s importance and for their leadership in taking the steps needed to save it.”

Other members of the SaveNetRadio coalition offered their support for the Internet Radio Equality Act:

The Roots Music Association, an international organization representing more than 2200 independent artists and labels, headquartered in San Marcos, Texas said, “we are very pleased by the introduction of the Internet Radio Equality Act in the Senate today. Internet radio has become the lifeblood for so many independent artists that depend on the promotional accessibility it provides niche roots based genres. This legislative solution is the last best hope for the future of Internet radio, and we fully support it.”

Tim Westergren, Founder of Pandora, one of the country’s leading Internet radio webcasters, commended the legislation, saying, “we are grateful for Senators Wyden and Brownback’s introduction of the Internet Radio Equality Act. Their support shows an understanding of the invaluable exposure that Internet radio provides to emerging artists, as well as an acknowledgment of the diverse listening experience it offers to music lovers. We are hopeful that, with the Senators’ support, this promising industry will finally be treated fairly so that it can continue to grow.”

Outbound Music, a Christian webcaster and retailer said, “we are delighted to see the Internet Radio Equality Act introduced in Senate today. Internet music programming reaches millions of listeners who are not within range of Christian broadcast stations. With the passage of this bill, we can rest assured that our spiritually edifying content will continue to reach as wide an audience as possible while allowing fair compensation to artists and affordable rates to webcasters.”

Lisa Mathews from the critically acclaimed band Milkshake offered her support of the Internet Radio Equality Act saying, “Milkshake makes original rock music for kids, and kids-at-heart. When it comes to radio, there just aren’t many venues for Children’s Music via the traditional radio stations. Webcasters provide an outlet for kids and parents to hear new music — music that is pretty much ignored by traditional radio. For me the value is undeniable. I should pay them for the service they do — I really should. The least I can do is keep their rent low, and be fair when it comes to royalties.”

Ian Rogers, VP and GM, Yahoo! Music, said, “Internet radio has empowered and benefited artists and music lovers alike by removing the physical limitations and barriers that once separated musicians from their fans. The recent royalty rate increase threatens to limit the potential of net radio as an outlet for musicians, option for music lovers, and a business for webcasters. The Internet Radio Equality Act strikes the appropriate balance between compensating artists for their work and allowing this industry to grow. We applaud Senator Wyden and Senator Brownback for their leadership and urge congress to take notice and action.”

Grammy nominated artist, SONiA said, “Internet Radio allows artists like myself in every imaginable form to sing and be heard around the country and around the world. And because my music is now frequently heard on Internet Radio I am maintaining a successful career that would be impossible without this open medium. The tendency is to build a cage, because maybe that is how it was done in the early days of broadcasting. The Internet Radio Equality Act is the only way that thousands of artists can be heard, and I am one of them.”

The Internet Radio Equality Act would vacate the CRB’s decision and set a 2006-2010 royalty rate at the same level currently paid by satellite radio services (7.5% of revenue.) The bill would also change the royalty rate- setting standard used in royalty arbitrations, so that the standards applying to webcasters would align with the standard that applies to satellite radio royalty arbitrations. The bill also re-sets the royalty rules for noncommercial radio such as NPR stations that offer Internet radio music.

For more information on the SaveNetRadio coalition visit http://www.savenetradio.org/

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