Tuesday, June 26, 2007

'Day of silence' for US web radio


Web radio broadcasters across the US will hold a "day of silence" on Tuesday in protest at plans to hike royalty payments when music is played online.

The plan - due to come into force on 15 July - could cost webcasters around $1bn in additional administration fees, protesters claim.

The protest is being organised by the SaveNetRadio Coalition, whose members include Yahoo, Viacom and RealNetworks.

It is hoping the day will raise public awareness of the issue.

Bankrupt industry

The decision to impose the fees was made by a panel of judges who threw out requests to overturn an earlier ruling.

The sharp rises in royalty fees could be "fatal" to the nascent industry, a coalition of web broadcasters has claimed.

"These proposals will bankrupt the industry," Jake Ward, a spokesman for the SaveNetRadio Coalition told the Reuters news agency.

The increases could represent a 300% rise in current payments and the plan is to eventually charge royalties every time an online listener hears a song.

Public and commercial broadcasters claim the decision will force cuts to services used by an estimated 50 million people.

The decision to increase fees was made by the Copyright Royalty Board (CRB) which reviewed an earlier decision to increase royalty fees collected from web broadcasters.

Kim Roberts Hedgpeth of the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA) said the new payments rewarded the "creativity, talent and hard work" of musicians.

But a broad coalition of internet broadcasters, headed by the US broadcaster National Public Radio (NPR) and including Yahoo and AOL, objected to the increases......

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