We’re hoping you, our loyal newsletter subscribers, can take a few minutes today to fill out a quick survey and tell us a little about yourselves, what issues are important to you, how you feel about our policy positions, and how our website can be more useful to you.
The survey is both confidential and anonymous and you’re free to skip any questions along the way. The whole survey takes less than 5 minutes and would be enormously helpful to us. After all, the more we know about you, the better we can give you the information you need. Thanks!
The FCC continues to debate potential changes to existing media ownership rules, including the rules that govern how many radio stations any one company can own in a given market. In December 2006, FMC issued a major report entitled "False Premises, False Promises: A Quantitative History of Ownership Consolidation in the Radio Industry" which examined the impact of radio consolidation on the music community.
Radio study’s most recent press:
Bad Radio Hurts Musicians
Cara Jepsen, Illinois Entertainer, January 31, 2007
Rogue Waves; A new report cuts through the static on the radio industry
John Nova Lomax, Houston Press, January 11, 2007
10 Years Later, Radio’s Business as Usual
Paul J. McLane, Radio World, January 17, 2007
On January 16, FMC filed the entire report as part of our reply comments in the current media ownership proceeding. Our reply comments also vigorously questioned the arguments for further deregulation, represented primarily in comments by the NAB and Clear Channel. You can read our reply comments here:
FMC Reply Comments in FCC Media Ownership Hearing 06-121
FMC also continues to participate in the public debate. One of the oft-cited arguments against media consolidation revolves around a night in January 2002 when a train derailed in Minot, ND and discharged a cloud of poisonous anhydrous ammonia. Clear Channel, which owned six of the local radio stations, had neglected to maintain an off-hours contact for their stations, which led to the failure of the local emergency communication system to warn citizens about the disaster. Author Eric Klinenberg starts off his new book "Fighting for Air: The Battle to Control America’s Media" with a recounting of this story and its fatal results, where one person died and dozens were injured.
On January 10, Slate.com’s Jack Schafer questioned whether the tragedy in Minot recounted by Klinenberg was a result of media consolidation.
FMC’s Peter DiCola responded swiftly to Shafer’s article, posting a fact-filled rejoinder that was posted at Slate.com on January 10, 2007:
Peter then expanded his response for The Huffington Post
We’ve also been tracking Congress’ interest in the ongoing media ownership debate. With a leadership change in Congress, the FCC has recently been called up to Capitol Hill to account for their actions on a variety of issues. On February 1, all five FCC commissioners appeared before the Senate Commerce Committee, where a number of leading senators questioned the current process for reviewing media ownership rules and expressed concern about the potential for further relaxation of current ownership regulations.
Senate Dems Push FCC for Tighter Controls
Senate Democrats pressed the Republican-controlled FCC to place tighter controls on media ownership, public-interest broadcasting and television violence.
Charles Babington, Washington Post, February 2, 2007
Senate Democrats badger FCC boss on Net neutrality
A much-anticipated face-off Thursday between a key Democratic-dominated U.S. Senate panel and the Republican-controlled FCC confirmed lingering tensions over the government’s role on issues like Net neutrality and media ownership.
Anne Broache, CNET, February 1, 2007
The commissioners will appear before the House Commerce Committee in the coming weeks, where chairman John Dingell is expected to have similarly tough questions for the commissioners.
Meanwhile, the media ownership rulemaking process marches on. The FCC has committed to holding an additional 4 formal hearings, and Commissioners Copps and Adelstein will be appearing at unofficial hearings across the country throughout early 2007, including an official hearing in Harrisburg, PA on Friday, February 23 and an unofficial hearing with Commissioners Adelstein, Copps and McDowell in Columbus, OH on March 7. To learn more about how you can participate in this event and others, visit http://www.stopbigmedia.com.
For seven years, FMC has worked to document and combat the practice of payola. Now, in the wake of Eliot Spitzer’s investigations in New York State, the FCC may finally take action in an attempt to resolve these widely acknowledged problems, in the form of a brokered agreement between the agency and the commercial broadcasters. FMC is very concerned that any Consent Decree negotiated by the FCC and the broadcasters will be a failure unless it includes:
FMC applauds the ongoing leadership of FCC Commissioner Jonathan Adelstein and Senator Russ Feingold, among others, as this issue reaches a major decision point. A formal announcement from the FCC is expected any day.
FMC’s full statement on a potential payola settlement can be found at:
Senator Feingold Calls of Strong Consent Decree on Payola
FMBQ, January 31, 2007
What Can Money Buy?
Anonymous sources have suggested that the FCC will soon announce a settlement with four major radio broadcasters over payola.
Dan Mitchell, New York Times, January 27, 2007
Ever wonder what an orphan work is? Want to know why HD Radio should matter to you? Can’t understand why weâ€™re talking about media ownership AGAIN?
Here’s your chance to get answers to all those questions as well as a brief, no frills overview on the following topics:
The Upcoming Full Power Non-Commercial Radio LIcense Window
Low Power FM Radio
Public Performance Right for Sound Recordings
If you have suggestions for additional fact sheet topics, let our Outreach Director Jean Cook know jean [at] futureofmusic [dot] org.
What began as a regulatory headache for Apple - multiple European nations urging Apple to make their iTunes system interoperable with others - has become a full-blown debate about how the digital music world should function.
As has been widely reported, Steve Jobs recently posted an open letter on the Apple website calling for the four major labels to sell their music without DRM restrictions.
Open Letter from Apple’s Steve Jobs: Thoughts on Music
The RIAA and a number of major record labels responded:
Music Industry Group Fires Back at Apple
Alex Viega, Associated Press, February 8, 2007
PC World, February 10, 2007
EMI May Sell Recordings Online With No Anti-Copying Software
Jeff Leeds, New York Times, February 9, 2007
Here’s an excellent analysis of Steve Jobs’ meta-strategy in calling for an end to DRM:
Jobs Plays Pragmatic Politics
Digital Music News, February 7, 2007 (free registration required)
A recent report that captures music industry opinions on DRM:
Music execs criticise DRM systems
Jupiter Report finds that almost two-thirds of music industry executives think removing digital locks from downloadable music would make more people buy the tracks.
BBC News, February 15, 2007
Interestingly, the Jobs letter is just one of the elements in an ongoing debate about DRM.
On January 7, Senator Dianne Feinstein reintroduced the PERFORM Act. On its face, this bill attempts to address concerns voiced by the recording industry about new devices being marketed by satellite radio companies - Sirius and XM - that permit subscribers to record their digital radio programming. The recording industry is worried that consumers would use these devices to automatically search for, record, and store individual songs, all neatly tagged with metadata, thus reducing the likelihood that they would buy an artist’s album.
The PERFORM Act would require satellite and Internet radio providers to restrict the ability of listeners to record and play back individual artists or songs. If passed, all audio services—webcasters included—would be obligated to implement "reasonably available and economically reasonable" copy-protection technology aimed at preventing "music theft" in order to use the blanket compulsory license. This means webcast stations that make use of the statutory license would not be able to stream in the streaming MP3 format, which is today’s standard.
There are two problems with this. First, imposing a DRM regime on webcasters and satellite radio providers ignores the remarkable growth of digital radio on an open platform, and the new licensing revenue streams they have created for recording artists, songwriters and labels. To date, SoundExchange has paid out over $53 million to thousands of artists and record labels. How many internet radio stations would cease webcasting if they were required to implement a copy-protection technology, and what would this mean for future digital performance royalties?
Second, it negates artist choice. If some artists want to release their songs with copy protection, they should be allowed to do so. If other artists do not like DRM, they are free to distribute it without restrictions. But the PERFORM Act would remove this choice by requiring a DRM standard be applied to an entire mode of digital performances.
FMC believes artists and labels are better served when we choose licenses over locks. At a moment when the recording industry is debating the efficacy of any DRM system, we think artists, the recording industry, and the consumer technology groups would be better served by working together towards a licensing solution that ensures the compensation of creators and the continued growth of innovative technologies, not one that would stifle an emerging marketplace and curtail new licensing revenues for creators.
Sen Feinstein’s press release on PERFORM Act
Senators aim to restrict Net, satellite radio recording
Music industry backs the effort, but digital rights groups say it would erode users’ music-listening freedoms.
Anne Broache, CNET, January 12, 2007
Will the Perform Act Kill Online Radio?
WFMU’s Beware of the Blog, January 22, 2007
The 11th Annual Millennium Music Conference will be held February 15-18, 2007 at the Radisson Penn Harris Hotel & Convention Center in Camp Hill, PA. The three day conference will feature panels, clinics, workshops, mentoring & demo listening sessions as well a music business trade show. And the four nights will be crammed with showcases by original acts.
Walter McDonough, one of FMC founders and general counsel (and heart-broken New England Patriots fan) will be giving the keynote address on Saturday, February 17, 2007 at 5:15 pm. If you happen to be near Harrisburg, PA that weekend, it’s a great opportunity to hear him speak and attend an exciting conference.
We at FMC believe that network neutrality is the most important issue that musicians will face in 2007. Because it’s such a vital issue to the future livelihoods of musicians, we’re pleased to be participating in the ongoing debate during the Freedom to Connect conference in Washington, DC on March 5 & 6, 2007.
The goal of Freedom to Connect is to frame government telecom and Internet policy initiatives - such as the Network Neutrality debate - in terms of freedoms, rights innovation and the public good rather than incentives for big companies, and how much competition is too much.
This year, Freedom to Connect features sci-fi author Bruce Sterling, Vermont Governor Jim Douglas explaining his Vermont e-State initiative, FCC Commissioner Jonathan Adelstein, Musician Howard Levy (founding member of The Flecktones), Yale Law Professor (and FMC advisory board member) Yochai Benkler, and two dozen other leading thinkers from technology, law, public advocacy, the arts and peer creativity applications like Second Life.
Learn more at http://freedom-to-connect.net
Take advantage of the special FMC discount by registering at the following link by Wednesday, February 21: http://tinyurl.com/29m82t
Did you miss us at the International Association for Jazz Education, Chamber Music America and Association of Performing Arts Presenters conferences in New York? Not to worry! We recorded most of the sessions, and are hoping to post them on the website in the coming months. In the meantime, check out the blog we put together for APAP on how creators and presenters can better use new technologies like Flickr, YouTube, MySpace and RSS feeds to connect with audiences: http://apapcreatingculture.blogspot.com.
FMC was also excited to send a delegation to Memphis this January to attend the third annual National Conference for Media Reform, organized by Free Press. In addition to meeting tons of amazing and inspiring activists from every corner of the globe, FMC’s Jenny Toomey and Michael Bracy appeared on panels addressing payola, media ownership, and effective advocacy.
MP3’s of these panels are available here:
FMC enjoyed the programming-packed three days, connecting with fellow activists, and the great barbeque, and we’re looking forward to the next conference.
FMC IN THE NEWS
Fans, labels are split on unlocked music plan
by Alana Semuels and Michelle Quinn, Los Angeles Times, February 8, 2007
Indie Music Takes on the Majors
Indie labels are forging new alliances to set better prices in the digital marketplace and to advocate for a payola solution.
by Eliot van Buskirk, Wired, February 5, 2007
Radio & Records’ Publisher’s Profile on FMC’s own Jenny Toomey
by Erica Farber, Radio & Records, January 19, 2007
DIGITAL RIGHTS MANAGEMENT
Sony settles with FTC in rootkit case
Proposed agreement includes barring Sony BMG from installing copy protection software on CDs without users’ consent.
by Dawn Kawamoto, CNET News.com, January 30, 2007
With Arrest of DJ Drama, the Law Takes Aim at Mixtapes
by Kelefa Sanneh, New York Times, January 18, 2007
What the Canadian Government Really Things About Net Neutrality
by Michael Geist, February 7, 2007
Donate to the Future of Music Coalition!
Secure online donations are accepted at any level at https://www.futureofmusic.org/donate.cfm