FCC Seeks Comment On MusicFIRST Petition

The Federal Communications Commission is seeking public comment on an allegation by the musicFIRST coalition that claims radio broadcasters are threatening and intimidating artists who support performance royalties for airplay.

The musicFIRST coalition has filed with the FCC a petition that alleges radio stations are refusing to air musicFIRST ads, stimulating the FCC’s request for public comment.

“We are pleased that the FCC has taken the first step in response to the musicFIRST petition,” executive director Jennifer Bendall said in a statement. “Since we filed the petition in June, corporate radio’s spokespersons have not only confirmed the charges made in the petition, but boasted that they will continue to use the public airwaves to misinform policy makers and the public and punish artists and musicians for speaking out in support of a fair performance right on radio while refusing to run musicFIRST’s ads.”

Dennis Wharton, executive VP of the National Association of Broadcasters, told Dow Jones Newswires the NAB would use the FCC inquiry to comment on the distortions raised in the petition.

“Contrary to suggestions in the petition, broadcasters are under no obligation to carry everything that is offered or suggested to them,” Wharton said.

The NAB claims it is under no responsibility to pay performance fees for playing artists’ music. It argues providing airplay to artists promotes the music and the NAB already pays royalties to songwriters and producers.