Web Radio: 48 Hours to Black Sunday
I must admit that I'm kind of anxious to know what's going to happen to my favorite Internet radio streams on Sunday. Yesterday, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals refused to halt an increase in royalty and broadcasting fees that are scheduled to take effect on Sunday. The buzz among small Webcasters is that the new fees basically will shut them down. That's unfortunate - because there are a lot of hard-to-find niches on mom-and-pop Internet radio stations that can't be found on the traditional dial. But this is not the reason behind my anxiety.
My concern is what happens at the traditional commercial radio stations, the ones that still broadcast over-the-air in their geographic markets. You see, traditional AM and FM stations are exempt from the new fees put in place by the Copyright Royalty Board, an arm of the Library of Congress. However, those same stations are now widely streaming over the Web - and those streams ARE subject to the new fees. For a guy like me, who moved from California to DC just a couple of years ago, listening to the Sunday night show on my favorite station from back home is a nice way to stay connected to the life I left behind.
I suspect that I have no reason to worry. My station is owned by media giant Clear Channel Communications, which likely has the money to pay the fees. Clear Channel spokeswoman Jena Longo says the company has made its opposition to the fees known to the appropriate people but couldn't comment on what might or might not happen to those Web streams on Sunday.
I guess I'll find out soon enough.
UPDATE: It appears that Sunday won't be so black after all for Internet radio stations. A new bill was introduced in Congress last night that would give parties 60 days to continue negotiations. According to an update in the Radio and Internet Newsletter, SoundExchange Executive Director John Simson says there's no reason for small Webcasters to stop streaming on Sunday.
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