Senator Russ Feingold (D-Wisconsin) has announced plans to move forward with his legislation (first introduced last year) that would investigate alleged anti-competitive behavior by radio/concert giants, namely, Clear Channel Communications. The announcement came yesterday at the Future Of Music Coalition policy summit yesterday (January 7) held in Washington, DC.
According to Billboard, Feingold has been convinced by arguments made by artists, small promoters, and indie radio stations, alleging that Clear Channel has used its massive holdings to stomp out competition and dodge ownership rules. The result has been a loss of "localism" in programming, shrinking playlists, soaring ticket prices, and a "shakedown system" of monetary demands to have a new single even considered for an add. Feingold was quoted as saying, "When teenagers start coming up to me and talking about the rising cost of Phish tickets, something is really wrong."
Feingold may have also scored a major ally in his battle against the "radio giants" in the form of the chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, Senator John McCain. Feingold hinted that McCain may actually sign on as a co-sponsor of the bill, dramatically increasing its chance at passing in a Republican-controlled congress. Capitol Hill insiders have reported that McCain is planning to hold a hearing on these issues soon.
I'm sure some of you know this, but it was the US government who made it possible for companies such as Clear Channel to gain a stranglehold on radio/concert promotion in the first place when they passed the Telecommunications Act of 1996. That act loosened FCC restrictions on a number of factors that had governed the way the broadcast industry operated for almost 62 years. I'm sure that arguments were made by, hmm, let's seeÖ artists, small promoters, and indie radio stations at the time the Telecom Act was being pushed through congress some seven to eight years ago, but no one cared to listen. Aren't politics fun, class?