NAB To Internet Radio's Rescue

The National Association of Broadcasters has finally gotten religion.

After months if not years of silence, the lobby group for terrestrial radio announced it is coming to the aid of Internet streamers.

Here's how the NAB told the world yesterday:
"NAB is reviewing details of Rep. Inslee's bill, which would overturn the Copyright Royalty Board's disappointing decision to dramatically raise fees for companies that stream music over the Internet. We will work with Congress to craft a solution that helps ensure the survival of a fledgling audio platform."
Rep. Jay Inslee's bill looks to reverse the recent Copyright Royalty Board (CRB) decision that could put all but the largest Internet broadcasters out of business due to its burden. Inslee's legislation would put Internet streamers on the same pay basis as satellite radio, but not terrestrial radio which pays a noncommercial rate. Go figure.

But the satellite radio rate is better than what's looming over the Internet radio business right now. Deadlines for royalty payments have been extended and everything is in place for a compromise.

Having the powerful NAB on the side of Internet broadcasters is major.

The NAB, after all, is the group that brought you consolidation over ten years ago when it used its mighty lobbying clout to engineer a secret last minute addition to the Telecommunications Act of 1996. That move enabled the consolidation that has just about singlehandedly ruined radio.

I guess the NAB figures it owes us one.

And this is a good one.

And it's a good one for them.

Desperate record labels are going to be looking for more generous compensation from everyone including terrestrial broadcasters as their business continues to tank. In other countries there is precedent for higher royalty fees. So the NAB is helping itself and its radio station members as it helps Internet broadcasters.

I don't know about you but I was offended by the term NAB used in their press release when they described Internet radio as a "fledgling audio platform". Hell, the only reason it's fledgling is because it has been in a battle for its economic life over royalty rates for years. That doesn't really create stability or set the atmosphere right for growth.

When universal WiFi is available, Internet radio will be the next radio.

See, another reason why the National Association of Broadcasters might want to be seen as useful to this "fledgling" group.

To loosely quote former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld (I'm holding my nose here), you have to fight with the army you have and the army of lobbyists at the NAB is the only army Internet broadcasters have.

Everyone has a horse in this race.

Internet streamers because it is their future that's being negotiated.

Terrestrial radio because other countries collect a lot more in royalties from radio than is collected here in the U.S. It could be worse, in other words and it is beneficial for the NAB to stand for lower royalty fees.

And the NAB itself -- trade association to an industry on the decline while the next growth business is actually the one they are helping.

Isn't unselfish cooperation a wonderful thing?
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