Clear Channel says Indy problem was misunderstanding


The four radio companies caught up in the infamous New York payola dragnet agreed to provide 4.2K hours of airtime for musical acts signed to independent labels. Suddenly Clear Channel, good for 1.6K of the hours, found itself under fire for allegedly attempting to cut the artists out of royalties.

Saying it never intended to harm independent artists, CCU has waived the waiver. The Future of Music Coalition had charged that a Clear Channel policy appeared to require "local, unsigned and independent musicians to grant a royalty-free right and license to the music upon submission to the radio programmers, which would appear to violate the voluntary agreement they entered into following the settlement."

FMC called it an alternative form of payola, and quickly found a champion on Capitol Hill in the person of Russ Feingold (D-WI), who promptly fired off a letter to four radio group CEOs involved in payola consent decrees seeking information on the how the terms were being met.

According to FMC, the clause artists were asked to sign off on was this: "You grant to Clear Channel the royalty-free non-exclusive right and license, in perpetuity (unless terminated earlier by You or Clear Channel as set forth below) to use, copy, modify, adapt, translate, publicly perform, digitally perform, publicly display and distribute any sound recordings, compositions, pictures, videos, song lyrics, still images…"

The Dallas Observer says this clause has been dropped. According to Reuters, Clear Channel says it never had any other intention than to fulfill its part of the bargain with the FCC and was not intending to profit from its relationship with the artists involved. "This is a perfect example of no good deed goes unpunished," said CCU's Andrew Levin.