Internet radio goes silent

Internet radio goes silent

Broadcasters stage mass protest against royalty hikes
Shaun Nichols in California, vnunet.com 27 Jun 2007

A huge protest has led to the temporary shutdown of some of the largest radio broadcasters on the web.

The Day of Internet Radio Silence is a coordinated effort by internet broadcasters to protest against proposed royalty hikes for music played over the internet.

The hikes were introduced in March by the US Copyright Royalty Board, and will take effect on 15 July. Many smaller internet broadcast companies have said that they will be forced to shut down.

Although the increases will hit small broadcasters the hardest, some of the largest broadcasting sites on the internet are joining the fight.

Companies such as Yahoo, MTV, Rhapsody and Pandora have all shut down their music feeds in a show of solidarity.

Yahoo Music general manager Ian Rogers explained the company’s position in a blog posting.

“The situation web-casters are in is simple: the new royalty rates are higher than the revenues anyone can hope to make from related advertising,” he wrote. “In other words, we all lose money on internet radio starting 15 July.”

Rogers named and shamed Clear Channel and AOL for being among the few online broadcasters not to participate in the protest. Neither company returned a request for comment from vnunet.com.

Users attempting to log in to Pandora were greeted with a letter from founder Tim Westergren urging listeners to contact their local members of congress in support of the Internet Radio Equality Act (PDF).

The legislation would restructure the royalty system to charge broadcasters a flat 7.4 per cent royalty fee on all profits.

Rhapsody and MTV replaced their music player windows with a graphic explaining the shutdown and a link to the SaveNetRadio Coalition website.

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