At the Future of Music Coalition Policy Summit a couple of weeks ago, Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wisc.) said he would reintroduce legislation to “ban ‘the current shakedown system’ of payola, bar companies that own both radio stations and concert promoters from using their leverage to bully artists and record labels and strengthen the Federal Communication Commission’s radio merger review process.”
He did so yesterday:
- The bill’s introduction comes as the Senate Commerce Committee prepares to hold a hearing tomorrow on the problems of radio consolidation. Insiders say committee chairman Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) is expected to sign on as a co-sponsor of the bill soon.
Feingold will be the lead witness at tomorrow’s hearing. Others scheduled to appear include Clear Channel Communications chairman/CEO Lowry Mays, National Association of Broadcasters president/CEO Eddie Fritts, Recording Artists Coalition co-founder Don Henley, and Future of Music Coalition executive director Jenny Toomey.
Says Feingold: “Since originally introducing this legislation in June 2002, I have seen a groundswell of interest both in Congress and among artists, consumers, independent radio stations, and local promoters in restoring fairness to radio. My legislation will reduce concentration and crack down on anti-competitive practices, such as the new ‘pay to play’ system.” Feingold says the latter practice allows radio giants to “shake down the music industry.” [Billboard.com]