Wyden defends digital royalty rate parity


U.S. CongressSen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) has introduced the Internet Radio Fairness Act of 2012 in the Senate, and stated his belief that if enacted, it would actually increase income for musicians by building the internet audio platform.

Wyden was speaking at a conference held by the Future of Music Coalition.

He said that changing technology has forced change in regulation since the advent of recorded music, and that it was time for a change again. His simple goal is to have royalty rates for satellite, cable and internet audio outlets set under the same protocols. At the moment, internet rates are set under different standards and are much higher than those paid by the other two platforms.

It is Wyden’s belief that the playing field needs to be leveled so as not to favor one platform over another. He thinks that the greater exposure musicians will receive from a robust internet platform will more than make up for any revenues lost due to being compensated at a lower rate.

Wyden’s staff posted the following remarks upon his introduction of the bill in the Senate: “Senator Wyden is introducing the Internet Radio Fairness Act (S.3609) to remove the regulatory shackles preventing Internet radio from being commercially viable. He is interested in your ideas on how to expand the music marketplace in ways that promote innovation, music diversity, and better compensation to artists.”

RBR-TVBR observation: IRFA seems to have legs. It has been coming up on a recurring basis despite the fact that legislators were recently engaged in re-election activities and are now focused on a lame duck session dominated by preventing a plunge off the fiscal cliff.

Meanwhile, we haven’t heard a peep about the competing royalty bill put forth by Jerrold Nadler (D-NY). The Nadler bill goes right after AM-FM radio, so its relative obscurity of late is a good thing for most readers of this space.

The good thing about the bill Wyden has introduced, and which was initiated by Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) is that it stays away from AM-FM. Leading internet audio outlet Pandora agrees with this approach because in the view of its leader Tim Westergren, attaching AM-FM to the bill will deprive the digital platforms of a clean reckoning of rates and doom the legislation to endless lobbying and ultimate failure.