The F.C.C. officially announced today that it has reached a settlement with a number of broadcasters over allegations that they were engaging in payola — paying record stations to play their music.
The terms have been widely reported over the last month, but it’s worth taking a look at some of the details again. To resolve the allegations, CBS Radio, Citadel Broadcasting Corporation, Clear Channel Communications, Inc. and Entercom Communications Corp. have agreed to pony up $12.5 million and provide more than 4,000 hours of air time to local and independent artists. They will also face tighter regulations.
- Maintain a database containing a record to identify all items from record labels that exceed $25
- Maintain a company hotline for employees to call the Compliance Officer to obtain advice and report violations
- Appoint a Corporate-level Compliance Officer who is responsible to ensure compliance with the Consent Order, and all sponsorship identification laws
- Designate a Compliance Contact for each market
- Conduct annual training for all programming personnel and supervisors
Sure we would have liked more air time for independent artists, but all things considered this is a historic day in the fight against payola. Payola and radio consolidation have turned commercial radio into a bland, homogenized format that largely ignores independent musicians and whole genres of music such as jazz and bluegrass. This agreement signals a possible new direction for commercial radio and more options for radio listeners.
“Unfortunately, payola has become as common a feature of commercial radio as shock jocks and 18-song sets. It is an encouraging that the F.C.C. and broadcasters are working together to root out a problem that keeps deserving, independent bands off the public airwaves,” said Jenny Toomey, executive director of the FMC.
Here’s a link to FMC’s full press release.