Earlier this year, MusicFirst, a lobbying group that is run by the RIAA and pushing for a special tax on radio stations for daring to promote songs, came out with its latest in a long list of bizarre claims, demanding that the FCC investigate the fact that radio stations were supposedly boycotting
musicians who supported the Performance Royalty tax. There were numerous problems with this claim. First, we thought it was rather hypocritical of MusicFirst to demand that radio stations play these artists, when it was the very same
MusicFirst that was also claiming that radio was "a kind of piracy"
for playing the music of these very same artists without paying a performance tax.
So, apparently if a radio station does
play these artists, it's piracy. If it doesn't
play these artists, it requires an FCC investigation.
Beyond that, MusicFirst failed to note that many of the artists topping the charts (including the Black Eyed Peas, who topped the charts at the time) were some of the most outspoken artists in favor of this tax. If there was some big conspiracy to not play these artists on the radio, someone forgot to tell... well... pretty much every radio station around.
That highlighted the third problem: MusicFirst didn't happen to point to any radio station that actually did this. The only one that could be dug up was a small high school
radio station that had publicly boycotted artists supporting such a tax (which would have shut down the radio station), but only did so for one month
and that month happened two years ago
, and was a clearly supported expression of free speech.
And that brings up the final point. The recording industry has no right to demand that radio stations play certain artists. A radio station is free to play whatever artists they wish and run whatever commercial they wish. This is a pure free speech issue, and it's quite troubling that the recording industry is targeting radio stations when they have no right over this.
Based on all of this, you would hope that the FCC would simply laugh off the petition... but tragically, it's opened up a consultation on the matter
and is asking for public input (found via Michael Scott
). The article linked here goes through all of the First Amendment questions raised by this, and notes (thankfully) that the FCC seems to recognize those issues as well. But, if that's the case, why even bother holding this investigation in the first place?