NPR Goes Public With Effort to Protect Internet Radio

My fellow NPR contributor Stacy Bond says,

Folks like me who rely on Internet streaming to listen to great public radio stations like KEXP in Seattle or KCRW in Los Angeles – may be disheartened by the recent ruling by the Copyright Royalty Board (CRB) requiring public broadcasters to pay the same (outrageous) royalties as commercial broadcasters, and charging them back-pay.

Luckily, an updated a public broadcasting advocacy site will now allow the public an opportunity to tell congress how they feel about the CRB ruling.

Some background:

Currently, internet streaming provides music that isn't pre-programmed (via payola to corporate entities like Clear Channel or Infinity Broadcasting), but that instead results from actual music-loving dj's digging through the stacks and selecting what they enjoy and want to share.

These low-budget stations' way of doing things is in danger now due to the recent ruling by the Copyright Royalty Board (CRB).

The ruling "exposes public radio stations that stream their musical content to huge increases in royalty payments and threatens to drastically curtail the programming diversity found on public broadcasting websites. This decision treats public broadcasters the same as commercial entities and saddles public radio stations with inappropriate and unachievable requirements.

Additionally, because the CRB's decision requires public radio stations to pay royalties on a per song/per listener basis, it directly contradicts public radio's public service obligations and mission. In a very direct way, the CRB decision penalizes public radio stations for their service to the public. The more of the American population [public stations] reach, the larger the royalty payments."

To help protect non-commercial broadcasters and give them an even playing field with the likes of clear channel, visit the site and make your voice heard.


Previously on BB:

  • Internet radio crisis: an overview, from SomaFM's Rusty Hodge
  • Internet radio crisis: Newsweek's coverage

    Reader comment: Andy Mardesich plugged in the name of at least one lawmaker on this site and found support status information that was out of date. He says,

    It looks like the site is
    more accurate in terms of indicating the status of reps who do or do not currently support the bill. I wrote to point this out, and they replied to say
    they're "upgrading" soon.

    Matthew J. Kelly says,

    It should be noted that that NPR's position on internet radio is entirely consistent with its earlier opposition to low-power FM radio, which, in association with the National Association of Broadcasters, it helped kill several years ago. The Low Power Radio Act of 2000 (sponsored by Senators McCain and Kerry) would have allowed neighborhoods and local communities to set up and operate their own non-commercial community radio stations, something that was (and is) really needed in places like rural America. NPR opposed it, claiming such stations would interfere with existing public radio stations, a claim many, like myself, found a little less than credible. While I'm glad NPR's on board with the fight to protect internet radio, questions will remain for me as to its motives.