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RAIN 3/25: In satellite royalty appeal, judge questions legitimacy of CRB

Posted on: 03/25/2009

CRB’S CONSTITUTIONALITY AGAIN CHALLENGED IN SAT RADIO ROYALTY APPEAL

The Copyright Royalty Board’s constitutionality was again challenged in a U.S. Court of Appeals hearing yesterday, this time during the oral arguments surrounding satellite radio’s royalty rates. Royalty Logic questioned whether the CRB was constitutional last week during webcasters’ appeal (RAIN coverage here).

In the Internet radio hearing, webcasters are appealing royalty rates they see as too high. Interestingly, in the satellite radio hearing, SoundExchange is appealing royalty rates they see as too low. Internet radio’s per-performance royalties were determined using the willing buyer/willing seller model, whereas satellite radio’s percentage-of-revenue rates were decided on using the 801(b) standard of the Copyright Act.

One of the Appeals Court judges raised the question of the CRB’s constitutionality in the satellite radio hearing, “by asking if the Copyright Royalty Judges were properly appointed and indirectly asking if their decision would have any validity if the constitutional issue was found to exist,” attorney David Oxenford reports (here). “Even if the Court was to find that the Board was not properly appointed, there are questions as to whether the existing decisions should nevertheless be allowed to stand, while blocking new decisions until a new appointment scheme is found.” Oxenford sees Congress possibly becoming involved, which would raise a whole separate mess of issues.

In any case, Oxenford notes that “the decision of the Court in these cases may be many months away.”

WEBCASTERS EXPERIENCE OVERALL GROWTH IN FEBRUARY

Most webcasters’ listenership grew in February according to Ando Media’s Webcast Metrics. CBS, yet again retaining its #1 spot, posted an AQH of 185,735 compared to January’s 171,196 (6AM – 8PM, Mon to Fri). Clear Channel came in second with 152,169 AQH, up from 140,745 last month. AccuRadio, Bonneville Corporate and EMF Corporate all climbed a spot from January. Some new names in Ando’s Top 20 for February include Fox News Radio in the 18 slot and Journal Broadcast Group at 19.

“It’s interesting to note that the ratio of AQH to Cume (turnover) is consistent among many of the top performers in the ranker, with a few exceptions,” writes Jennifer Lane in her Audio4Cast blog (here). “AOL’s Radio streams contribute lots of Cume to CBS’ number, but those listeners are not necessarily converting to long listening sessions, while Clear Channel and Citadel, who are likely converting lots of broadcast listeners to online listeners, are getting longer listening sessions from their online listeners.”

The February Webcast Metrics Top 20 chart for 6AM to 8PM, Monday-Friday is below. For larger versions, as well as the Monday-Sunday chart, click here. January ratings are in RAIN here.

LAST.FM RADIO TO CHARGE SUBSCRIPTION FEES TO COUNTRIES OUTSIDE US, UK AND GERMANY

Last.fm radio listeners located outside the United States, the United Kingdom and Germany will soon have to pay €3.00 a month to tune in. Everything else from Last.fm, including track scrobbling and recommendations, will still be free for all users. “In order to keep providing the best radio service on the web, we need to ask our listeners from countries other than USA, UK and Germany to subscribe for €3.00 per month,” writes Richard Jones on Last.fm’s blog (here).

MUSICFIRST: 75% OF STATIONS WOULD PAY PERFORMANCE ROYALTY OF $5k OR LESS PER YEAR

MusicFirst, the record industry lobby group focused solely on establishing a recording performance right in broadcast radio, said Tuesday that if the Performance Rights Act passes through Congress many stations would be eligible for discounts. The group said 75% of radio stations would pay $5,000 or less a year in royalty payments because they earn less than $1.25 million a year. “That’s about $420 a month,” said Jennifer Bendall, executive director of the musicFirst coalition. The lobby group put together a state-by-state chart listing which stations were eligible for the $5,000-or-less discount.

Critics of musicFirst would point out that those remaining 25% — the stations ineligible for a small broadcaster discount — would pay significantly more than $5,000 a year. These 25% are perhaps the real targets of the record industry’s royalty proposal, not the 75% smaller stations. For more, check out R&R’s coverage here.

977MUSIC ADDS POINT SYSTEM TO REWARD LISTENERS FOR TUNING IN

977Music has launched a points reward program which will trade prizes for listenership. Listeners earn points by listening to the site’s Internet radio streams, and can use those points to win concert tickets, video game systems, airline tickets and cash. For more, check out 977Music’s press release here.



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