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July 17, 2007
FMC Files Complaint Against Clear Channel
Payola, or pay-for-play, is a scheme by which inducements such as money are used in exchange for preferential treatment and value such as airplay. So far so good. Now the question is: if I have to give up money you would ordinarily pay me in order to get on the air, is THAT payola?
That seems to be the assertion at the heart of the Future of Music Coalition's complaint against Clear Channel. FMC's Justin Jouvenal sent me a copy of their extensive release on the topic. The text of the FMC's complaint is also on their site.
Attentive readers may recall that I posted a note on Clear Channel's practices a couple weeks ago based on a story broadcast on NPR. The problem was that no other media were covering the story, which seemed to be that Clear Channel were attempting to get around the terms of a payola-case settlement.
Earlier this year Clear Channel settled a payola case with the FCC. They paid some fines and agreed to provide free air time as a form of compensation for independent artists whose music had been shut out by the payola scheme. However, it turned out that artists wanting to upload their MP3s to be played during these free broadcast hours had to agree to give up income that would normally have been theirs for airplay. The FMC is asking the FCC to issue a declaratory judgment that this arrangement is functionally equivalent to the artists paying for their songs to be played.
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