CEA head compliments radio while assaulting PRA FM chip deal


Consumer Electronics Association head Gary Shapiro authored a post at Fox Forum last week protesting the sudden appearance of his constituents as a third party to the radio and label battle over the Performance Rights Act. As you might expect, it wasn’t pretty, but at least he had a few nice things to say about radio.

Shapiro’s piece appeared in the Fox Forum section at foxnews.com.

Shapiro correctly noted that the current dispute began as the labels went on a desperate cash hunt after the internet came along and wreaked havoc on their business model.

He noted that the labels decided airplay was losing value as a promotional vehicle. “But now the RIAA argues that the shift from over-the-air to online music listening means that such publicity is not valuable, and stations should start paying a fee for each song they play.”

At this point, Shapiro came down strongly in favor of radio’s position. “The logical solution is to let radio stations play only that music that copyright owners allow them to, which would settle the debate over whether radio stations provide promotional value. They clearly do.”

He later added, “I value the radio industry and want it to survive these tumultuous times.”

His point was that the two industries, both facing difficult times and searching for answers, should not be allowed to drag his industry into the mix by order of the government. He actually demonstrated a sense of humor while making his point. “But why stop with an FM chip in cell phones? Why not require them in pillows, bicycles, all new home construction and in computers? Just where does this absurdity of government intervention stop?”

RBR-TVBR observation: Shapiro believes that the public safety argument for an FM chip in cells is empty, since radio and TV are both available over the internet. But the point is, disasters often include power failures that wipe out all kinds of media, and over-the-air radio is often the last medium standing during an emergency. The argument, unlike some dams and dikes we’ve heard about, holds water.