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musicFIRST calls out NAB’s hypocrisy in new FCC filing

01 October 2021

Washington, DC, October 1, 2021 — The musicFIRST Coalition and the Future of Music Coalition (FMC) are taking a stand against further corporate consolidation in the radio industry and calling out the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) for making hypocritical arguments to federal regulators and lawmakers.

musicFIRST and FMC made this argument to the Federal Communications Commission in a “reply comment” filed on Friday. The coalitions’ comment comes in response to the NAB’s recent comment asking the commission to raise the Local Radio Station Ownership Caps, allowing large corporate broadcasters such as iHeartRadio and Cumulus to gobble up even more local stations.

“The NAB’s hypocrisy truly knows no bounds,” said Congressman Joe Crowley, Chairman of musicFIRST. “They ask the FCC and Congress to change the rules to make sure broadcasters are compensated when others make money off their content, but they won’t extend the same fairness to the artists whose music they exploit to line their pockets. They want one set of facts for themselves and a different one for everyone else — and we’re not going to let that stand.”

While musicFIRST and FMC agree with the NAB that the media marketplace has undergone significant transformation in recent years, they do not believe the NAB should be allowed to continue talking out of both sides of their mouths whenever it suits their own policy interests — and yet it keeps happening.

Broadcasters want fair compensation for their own content…

When broadcasters ask the FCC to relax the broadcast radio ownership rules or seek to persuade Congress to pass the Journalism Competition and Preservation Act, they claim that:

Broadcasters have lost significant audience share due to changes in consumer behavior

Broadcasters deserve fair compensation for their content when it is used by online platforms to generate advertising revenue

Federal regulators and lawmakers must step in to change the rules so broadcasters are fairly compensated for their content and can thrive in a changing media landscape

… but hypocritically refuse to provide fair compensation to artists for their music.

But when the NAB goes to Congress to oppose the American Music Fairness Act — which would require broadcasters to pay artists when they play their music on AM/FM radio — they tend to sing a very different tune, disingenuously claiming instead that:

Broadcasters provide recording artists with the same promotional value as they did decades ago

Recording artists deserve no compensation for their music when it is used by broadcasters to generate advertising revenue

Congress should not update the law to ensure artists and music creators are fairly compensated for their content and can thrive in a changing media landscape

Broadcasters can’t have it both ways.

Both sets of facts can’t be true at once. Broadcasters can’t claim to be hemorrhaging listeners and standing up for fair compensation for content creators when it suits them, only to turn around and tell artists that they don’t deserve the same fair compensation for their own content because broadcasters are providing them so much “promotional value” by exposing their music to a (by their own admission) rapidly shrinking pool of listeners. It’s hypocrisy, plain and simple — and the FCC should not let it stand.

“As the FCC conducts their quadrennial review, it should take note that the NAB’s arguments in support of relaxing the broadcast radio ownership rules and passing the Journalism Competition and Preservation Act on the one hand, and its arguments against the American Music Fairness Act on the other, cannot simultaneously be true,” said Crowley. “Just like you’re not allowed to maintain contradictory positions before the courts, the FCC should not allow the NAB to maintain contradictory positions before federal policymakers — especially when one set of those positions is being used to support policy changes that will negatively impact media competition, in direct opposition to the public interest.”

For more information, please visit the musicFIRST website at www.musicfirstcoalition.org or follow the coalition on Twitter at @musicFIRST.

About musicFIRST
musicFIRST works to ensure music creators get fair pay for their work on all platforms and wherever and however it is played. We rally the people and organizations who make and love music to end the broken status quo that allows AM/FM to use any song ever recorded without paying its performers a dime. And to stand up for fair pay on digital radio — and whatever comes next.


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