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FCC Seeks Comments on musicFIRST Petition

Radio Stations Threatening Performers, Refusing to Run Ads and Misleading the Public

WASHINGTON D.C.  (Aug. 10, 2009) --- The Federal Communications Commission is seeking comments on the petition filed by the musicFIRST Coalition. The petition details how radio stations across the country refuse to air musicFIRST ads, threaten artists who support the effort to create a fair performance right on radio and continue to run misleading ads produced by the National Association of Broadcasters - all in an effort to further their own private commercial interests at the expense of their public interest obligations.

"We are pleased that the FCC has taken the first step in response to the musicFIRST petition," said Jennifer Bendall, executive director of the musicFIRST Coalition. "Since we filed the petition in June, corporate radio's spokespersons have not only confirmed the charges made in the petition, but boasted that they will continue to use the public airwaves to misinform policy makers and the public and punish artists and musicians for speaking out in support of a fair performance right on radio while refusing to run musicFIRST's ads."

The FCC is seeking comment on these actions and, according to the FCC notice, "whether and to what extent broadcasters are engaging in a media campaign, coordinated by NAB [National Association of Broadcasters], which disseminates falsities about the PRA [Performance Rights Act]."

The musicFIRST coalition recently released the ad Clear Channel and other radio groups and stations across the country do not want you to hear. The 30-second script features Motown legend Duke Fakir of the Four Tops. After reviewing the script for more than six weeks, Clear Channel told musicFIRST NO!

"Clear Channel's decision to decline our ad, yet continue to run their own ads with half truths and misinformation about a fair performance right on radio is further evidence of how corporate radio groups and stations are violating their public interest obligations," said Bendall.

Radio stations must ensure that their private interests, including their private financial interests, do not interfere with their obligation to serve the public. The musicFIRST petition notes that the use of a broadcast license to further a licensee's personal economic interest is particularly egregious where it results in the skewing and distorting of a public debate.

"Our message to corporate radio is clear," Bendall said. "We respect your right to oppose the Performance Rights Act. But we cannot tolerate your use of the public airwaves to stifle debate, threaten artists and musicians and undermine the public interest in pursuit of your narrow, private business interests."

AFTRA is a supporting organization in the musicFIRST coalition. Last month, AFTRA National President Roberta Reardon and AFTRA National Executive Director Kim Roberts Hedgpeth sent the NAACP a letter on behalf of the membership praising the organization for its support of the Performance Rights Act.

"AFTRA has fought for the right of every artist to receive fair compensation for their work," Reardon and Hedgpeth stated in the July 21 letter. "H.R. 848 will ensure that every artist who contributes to a sound recording is compensated when their musical work is broadcast over terrestrial radio. Our union's membership of over 70,000 performers and broadcast journalists includes more than 14,000 recording artists and singers who make their living from creating sound recordings.

"As most of these artists piece together a living from a variety of income streams, a performance right is invaluable to their ability to support themselves and their families and to provide for income during their retirement years," the letter stated.

To read the entire letter and the FCC's musicFIRST public notice, go to [I’m looking for the PDF document for this. It is not found on the masked AFTRA site]

People who love music understand that creativity, talent and hard work are required to bring it to life. The goal of the musicFIRST (Fairness in Radio Starting Today) Coalition is to ensure that aspiring performers, local musicians and well-known artists are compensated for their music when it is played both today and in the future. Of all the ways we listen to music, corporate radio is the only one that receives special treatment. Corporate radio has a free pass to play music - refusing to pay even a fraction of a penny to the performers that brought it to life. The musicFIRST (Fairness in Radio Starting Today) Coalition is committed to making sure everyone, from up-and-coming artists to our favorites from years-ago, is guaranteed Fair Pay for Air Play. For more information on the musicFIRST (Fairness in Radio Starting Today) Coalition please visit

Supporting organizations include: American Association of Independent Music (A2IM), American Federation of Musicians (AFM), American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA), Christian Music Trade Association (CMTA), Music Managers Forum - USA (MMF- USA), The Latin Recording Academy, The Recording Academy, The Rhythm & Blues Foundation, Inc, Recording Artists' Coalition (RAC), Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), Society of Singers, SoundExchange and Vocal Group Hall of Fame.