Feeds

Music licensor seeks to block Pandora from running a radio station

Application just a 'bargaining chip' in fight for lower royalties

Build a business case: developing custom apps

Updated The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) has filed a petition with the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to block Pandora from running a terrestrial radio station, claiming that to allow the streaming music service to do so would not serve the public interest.

Pandora acquired the radio station in question – Box Elder, South Dakota's KXMZ-FM – in June, and has been operating it under a local programming and marketing agreement with the FCC since the tenth of that month.

But according to ASCAP's complaint, Pandora failed to meet FCC requirements that it disclose its full ownership and demonstrate that it meets the agency's rules about foreign ownership of radio stations.

"Moreover, Pandora's acquisition of KXMZ would not serve the public interest," the petition states. "Pandora's public statements lay bare its plot: to use KXMZ as a bargaining chip in Pandora's quest to obtain lower royalty rates for its online music streams."

The streaming service has certainly made no bones about why it sought to purchase the station. For months, Pandora has been battling it out with ASCAP over what it claims are discriminatory license fees that wrongly advantage traditional, terrestrial broadcasters over internet ones.

Even some of Pandora's online competitors have been able to pay the Radio Music License Committee (RMLC) rates because their parent companies also own traditional radio stations, Pandora assistant general counsel Christopher Harrison wrote in a June editorial at The Hill.

"This acquisition [of KXMZ] allows us to qualify for the same RMLC license under the same terms as our competitors," Harrison wrote.

But ASCAP argues in its petition to the FCC that flouting music-licensing rules is not a legitimate motive for operating a radio station.

"Pandora is acquiring KXMZ for use as a bargaining chip in its ongoing dispute with ASCAP over performance royalty rates," the petition claims, "not because Pandora wishes to undertake an 'obligation to provide programming responsive to the needs and interests of the residents' of Box Elder, South Dakota, the Station's community of license."

ASCAP isn't the only one that questions Pandora's claim that its royalty payments should be lower, either. In June, the surviving members of famed psych-rock outfit Pink Floyd argued in an open letter that while Pandora paints itself as a victim, it has actively lobbied Congress for an 85 per cent reduction in music royalty payments, something the Dark Side of the Moon rockers described as an "artist pay cut."

"You don't hear grocery stores complain they have to pay for the food they sell," the Pink Floyd members wrote. "Everyone deserves the right to be paid a fair market rate for their work, regardless of what their work entails."

ASCAP's petition asks the FCC to reject Pandora's application for a terrestrial radio license on the grounds that its application is "defective" and that "Residents of KXMZ's service area will be left to suffer the consequences of a licensee who has no desire or intention to serve their local needs."

It's unclear how long the FCC might take to weigh ASCAP's request. ®

Update

Late on Monday a Pandora spokesperson responded to The Reg's request for comment, saying, "We are reviewing the filing and will respond per the standard procedure. We have confidence in the process and strongly believe in our legal position. Our purchase of KXMZ will better serve the community by offering a broader selection of music and artists customized to local tastes. We look forward to providing an enhanced listening experience to the community."

Next gen security for virtualised datacentres

More from The Register

next story
Video of US journalist 'beheading' pulled from social media
Yanked footage featured British-accented attacker and US journo James Foley
Microsoft exits climate denier lobby group
ALEC will have to do without Redmond, it seems
Caught red-handed: UK cops, PCSOs, specials behaving badly… on social media
No Mr Fuzz, don't ask a crime victim to be your pal on Facebook
Barnes & Noble: Swallow a Samsung Nook tablet, please ... pretty please
Novelslab finally on sale with ($199 - $20) price tag
Ballmer leaves Microsoft board to spend more time with his b-balls
From Clippy to Clippers: Hi, I see you're running an NBA team now ...
Kate Bush: Don't make me HAVE CONTACT with your iPHONE
Can't face sea of wobbling fondle implements. What happened to lighters, eh?
Amazon takes swipe at PayPal, Square with card reader for mobes
Etailer plans to undercut rivals with low transaction fee offer
Assange™: Hey world, I'M STILL HERE, ignore that Snowden guy
Press conference: ME ME ME ME ME ME ME (cont'd pg 94)
Call of Duty daddy considers launching own movie studio
Activision Blizzard might like quality control of a CoD film
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Top 10 endpoint backup mistakes
Avoid the ten endpoint backup mistakes to ensure that your critical corporate data is protected and end user productivity is improved.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Rethinking backup and recovery in the modern data center
Combining intelligence, operational analytics, and automation to enable efficient, data-driven IT organizations using the HP ABR approach.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.