Update on Don Manzullo Crusade to Keep Internet Radio Broadcasting Music

The following press release has been received by 16th district Congressman Don Manzullo:

Manzullo, Pandora Media Founder Discuss Latest Strategy to Keep the Music
Playing on the Internet

[WASHINGTON] The creator of the nation’s largest Internet radio station, Pandora, visited with Congressman Don Manzullo this week to thank him and discuss the next steps in the fight to save online music from its impending demise.

Tim Westergren, who launched the free Internet radio station in 2005 and now boasts more than 11 million listeners, came to Manzullo’s office earlier this week to discuss the importance of the Internet Radio Equality Act (HR 2060), which Manzullo and Rep. Jay Inslee (D-WA) introduced last year. The bill, which maintains the strong bipartisan support of 149 cosponsors, would vacate a Copyright Royalty Board (CRB) decision last year to triple royalty rates Internet radio stations must pay and instead put the rates at parity with satellite and cable radio.

“The current situation places innovative companies such as Pandora at a considerable disadvantage,” Westergren said. “More importantly, though, it harms a countless number of artists and millions of music fans who have come to know and love Internet radio over the recent months and years.”

Without a legislative change, the CRB decision threatens to shut down Pandora and other Internet radio stations that can’t afford to pay the enormous royalty rate hikes. Broadcast radio stations that “stream” music on the Internet – including National Public Radio – have also indicated they would halt their online music programs if the new rates hold. According to Nielsen Media Research, 70 million Americans listen to online radio each month.

“The Internet has provided us with amazing opportunities to enjoy music, and this unfair action by the Copyright Royalty Board threatens to take it all away,” Manzullo said. “Our legislation overturns the huge rate increases and sets up a system that is fair to Web casters, web users and the artists whose music we all enjoy. And most importantly, it will keep music playing on the Internet.”

In March of 2007, the CRB drastically increased royalty rates for webcasters – starting retroactively at $0.0008 per song in 2006 and climbing to $0.0019 per song in 2010. Though it costs only fractions of a penny per song, the change amounts to a 300 percent cost increase for the largest webcasters and up to a 1200 percent increase for smaller operations.

Shortly after the CRB’s decision last year, the Internet radio industry filed a lawsuit to prevent implementation of the rate hikes. Those rate hikes are on hold as the lawsuit goes through the appeal process.

Photo and cutline provided by Don Manzullo: “Pandora Media founder Tim Westergren shows U.S. Rep. Don Manzullo how to listen to the popular Internet radio station on a cell phone. Westergren met in Manzullo’s office to thank Manzullo for co-authoring legislation with Rep. Jay Inslee (D-WA) to protect Pandora and other music webcasters from huge royalty rate hikes that threaten to put Internet radio out of business.”

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