Friday, September 26, 2008

Pandora listeners - where does Congressman Joe Baca stand on H.R. 7084?


You may not have heard of Congressman Joe Baca, who is my Congressman and whom I recently featured in Empoprise-IE after government watchdog groups wondered whether Rialto's "home of Joe Baca" signs constituted an improper election endorsement.

I wonder how Baca feels about the National Association of Broadcasters.

From the Pandora Blog:

September 26, 2008

Listeners we need your help... NOW!

After a yearlong negotiation, Pandora, artists and record companies are finally optimistic about reaching an agreement on royalties that would save Pandora and Internet radio. But just as we've gotten close, large traditional broadcast radio companies have launched a covert lobbying campaign to sabotage our progress.

Yesterday, Congressman Jay Inslee, and several co-sponsors, introduced legislation to give us the extra time we need but the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB), which represents radio broadcasters such as Clear Channel, has begun intensively pressuring lawmakers to kill the bill. We have just a day or two to keep this from collapsing.

This is a blatant attempt by large radio companies to suffocate the webcasting industry that is just beginning to offer an alternative to their monopoly of the airwaves.

Please call your Congressperson right now and ask them to support H.R. 7084, the Webcaster Settlement Act of 2008 - and to not capitulate to pressure from the NAB. Congress is currently working extended hours, so even calls this evening and over the weekend should get answered.

The central congressional switchboard number is: (202) 225 3121

Or to look up your representative, visit:

If the phone is busy, please try again until you get through. These calls really do make a difference.

This is a fork in the road. Only massive grassroots opposition will keep us from another 50 years of top 40 radio. It's time to take a stand and break the stranglehold of broadcast media on radio.

Thanks so much for you ongoing support.


Founder, Pandora

And yes, I just quoted an entire blog post, but I don't think Pandora will mind.

Of course, you always need to make sure that Pandora isn't pulling the wool over our eyes and claiming that H.R. 7094 is one thing when it's really another. What if H.R. 7084 is really a bill that institutes tax penalties on foreign Internet music services that are owned by major media companies?

Unfortunately, the text for H.R. 7084 hasn't hit yet. And I couldn't find any statement from Rep. Inslee about lack of competition in the music market. But Inslee's statements about consolidation in the news market seem to indicate a philosophy:

Mr. Speaker, the previous speaker alluded to a financial crisis we are now in that has occurred in part because of greed and avarice and incompetence and perhaps fraud, but it's also arisen because of the lack of an honest, tough regulatory system to rein in those abuses that has been most unfortunate during the last several years. It's happened sort of in the dead of the night, and it points out the need for Uncle Sam to provide a regulatory system that really stands up for hardworking Americans.

And I come to talk about one of those things that we need, which is a regulatory system to make sure that Americans have access to multiple sources of information so that we can make studied, reasoned decisions about public policy. And unfortunately, under the Bush administration, which I must say has not done a heck of a job in regulating the financial services industry the last few years, has also not done a heck of a job recently in providing a regulatory structure that would give Americans access to multiple sources of information in our news outlets.

Specifically, what I'm concerned about, I'd like to talk about tonight, is the Federal Communications Commission, under this administration, has attempted to allow greater consolidation in our media outlets which basically reduces the sources and multiple diverse sources of information that Americans receive, and this has happened in the dark of the night. I'd like to address this problem tonight.

Many of my colleagues have advocated against the consolidation of our news outlets because we know having multiple sources of information is healthy for public debate. It's absolutely intrinsic to a functioning democracy, and that's why we were outraged when the FCC voted last December to lift a ban on one company owning a daily newspaper and a broadcast station in the same market, too much consolidation.

FCC Chairman Kevin Martin claimed that the new rules applied only in our Nation's biggest markets. Unfortunately, we found out that that was simply not the case. The new rules contained enormous loopholes that would allow companies to easily obtain permanent waivers that would allow this illicit and unnecessary consolidation in our media markets.

Now this process has also lacked transparency. Americans have not had a fair shake to weigh in on this decision. Prior to the vote, the FCC held six town hall meetings during the course of the year. And even though the FCC gave little notice, thousands of people showed up to express concerns about what the Bush administration was doing here.

The last public hearing the FCC held was in my hometown of Seattle this last November. Along with Senator MARIA CANTWELL, I called on Chairman Martin to give the public at least 4 weeks' notice prior to a town hall meeting. Well, clearly in an effort to reduce public response, they gave us about 4 days' notice. Nonetheless, 1,000 citizens showed up to express a relatively unanimous opinion against any more media consolidation, against the position the FCC was advocating.

However, the FCC Chair did not listen to those people. I know this because it turns out--I thought this was a little embarrassing for the FCC chairman--it turned out he had written an op-ed piece for the New York Times in favor of further possible consolidation and submitted it to the paper even before he got done with the hearings. And then he came out to Seattle and purported to be listening to the Americans. He'd already formed his opinion and had written an op-ed about what he was going to do. It wasn't a very fair process.

This is in part why I had introduced bipartisan legislation prior to the vote calling on the Commission to conduct its ownership proceedings with greater transparency and to deal with the crisis in minority and female ownership of broadcast stations. It's shameful that people of color own just 3 percent and women 5 percent of our Nation's TV stations.

Following the December vote, the Senate introduced and passed a resolution of disapproval in May by a nearly unanimous voice vote. This enjoyed broad bipartisan support. We know where Americans stand on this issue. They do not want to continue the increasing consolidation in the media market.

I've introduced a resolution of disapproval. We have over 50 cosponsors. We're going to run out of time to get this bill passed this year, but I want to congratulate the public whose vigorous opposition to this consolidation has allowed our voices to be heard. There have been no new major media mergers that have taken place in the broadcast industry while we have been fighting this battle.

I want to congratulate people for fighting this effort, and we will continue our efforts into the next Congress.

It stands to reason that if Congressman Inslee objects to consolidation in one market, he might not be happy about consolidation in another market. And I'm right; back in July 2007, SaveNetRadio issued this press release with extensive quotes from Inslee. An excerpt:

Mr. Speaker, I come to the floor of the House this evening to discuss the potential loss of Internet radio by Americans, a tremendous service that, because of Internet software and musical geniuses, 70 million Americans now enjoy the ability to listen to music by Web broadcasters over the Internet....

Unfortunately, I have to inform the House that that service may be gone in a matter of a few weeks if we don't reach a resolution of a, frankly, wrong decision decided by the Copyright Royalty Board. What I am disturbed to report to my colleagues is that some time ago, March 2, 2007, we had a decision by a Federal agency, the ramifications of which would be to shut down the ability of Americans, on a realistic basis, to continue to enjoy Internet-based radio.

And the National Association of Broadcasters? They're keeping a stiff upper lip.

We hear that radio is obsolete, that it's not adapting fast enough to the digital age. We hear that listenership and revenues are declining. We hear that people don't value radio as they once did. But what we're not hearing enough are the stories of radio's successes.

And there are many.

Radio connects, informs and inspires an estimated 235 million listeners each week. And what we rarely hear is that number is up 3 million listeners from last year. That's a vast universe that we are touching.

Now I want to share a clip with you, that may send you back a few decades.

That song, "Video Killed the Radio Star," was released in 1979. And it captured what many people were feeling at the time about radio.

Throughout the years, some people thought radio would fade away.

First eight track tapes, then cassettes, then music videos and CDs - every time innovation occurred, the end of radio was predicted. But this song was released almost 30 years ago, and radio is still strong.

Millions of people listen to the radio every single day. People spend more time with radio than on the Internet and reading newspapers. There is an exciting world of opportunity before us. It is the beginning of a new era for radio.

And many of you have already started to embrace the possibilities. But in order for us to move forward and build a successful future we cannot continue to operate as we have in the past. We must stop listening to the negativity and false messages, many of which come from our own people. And we must commit to spreading the positive news about radio.

So if broadcast radio is so strong, then they need not fear Internet radio, should they?

So I contacted Congressman Baca.

Dear Congressman Baca,

I join many Internet music lovers in asking your support for H.R. 7084, the Webcaster Settlement Act of 2008. As a listener to services such as, Pandora, and Yahoo! LaunchCAST, I would like to give Pandora and similar services time to negotiate licensing agreements that would allow them to continue to broadcast. Your support is urgently needed.

blog comments powered by Disqus