Listening to my favorite local classical music station in the car the other day, I learned about some shenanigans being played on us by our government. this one bugged me more than most because it has the potential to effect me directly, and in a bad way.

A new law has been sneaking it’s way through the legislature that will force radio stations to pay royalties to music companies for every song they play. Amazingly, it seems to have great support. Once the music industry discovered they could legally charge Internet radio stations royalties, they set their sites on traditional broadcasters for more revenue. Using the sales-pitch of royalty equality, the “Performance Rights Act” (H.R.4789 , S.2500) was introduced in 2007.

What nobody seems to realize is this will effectively put all small, independent stations out of business (which was probably the idea, anyway). The capitol costs behind broadcast stations (land, antennas, amplifiers, studios, etc) are much higher than a internet stations (A server, microphone, and a comfy chair). This makes profit margins on broadcast stations are traditionally much smaller. Internet stations could adsorb the costs, regardless of royalty charge fairness. These are simply different business models. Larger corporate stations will be unaffected because they are already financially tied to music industry producers- no royalty money will actually change hands.

Luckily, the “Local Radio Freedom Act” was introduced to combat this threat (H. Con. Res. 244 ), and is slowly gaining strength. But, it doesn’t have the backing of the Performance Rights act. The National Association of broadcasters is fronting the Radio freedom Act. The Whole Music Industry is backing the Performance rights Act, and their pockets are very deep. These are the same people who gave us RIAA and the ability to imprison college students who download rock music.

Independent stations are a rare breed, and seeing them die would be a horrible loss. Worse, would be seeing national conglomerates take over their frequencies to push the same sanitized, generic, music-producer-approved pop programming. They tried this before through takeovers and buyouts. My community has learned this lesson watching Clearchannel Corporation grow like a virus. Now, the independents left must fight for their survival in the legislature, too. Give them the help they need. Contact your Representative soon, or live with Britney Spears on every station.

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