Huh? Federally Funded and Chartered Public Radio Monopoly Needs “Monopoly” Protection From Songwriters?

The federally funded NPR has joined with major broadcasters and tech behemoths to form the  MIC-Coalition.org   One of the stated purposes of the organization is to keep songwriter performing rights organizations under the “temporary” 1941 DOJ  anti-competitive consent decrees.   Here is what the MIC Coalition website says:

The U.S. Department of Justice is reviewing the antitrust consent decrees that govern the Performing Rights Organizations (PROs) ASCAP and BMI, the organizations that license songs and collect royalties on behalf of rights holders like songwriters and publishers. These consent decrees promote fair music licensing while protecting music users, venues where music is played and music distributors from the anticompetitive behavior inherent to the PROs.

Notice that they don’t mention anywhere that ASCAP and BMI are non-profit “unions” of songwriters (songwriters produce goods so it’s not technically a union but more like a farm cooperative). It would sound a little different if NPR’s DC lobbyists explained that one minor detail, right?  They don’t. This is pure demagoguery,  so much for NPR’s much lauded reputation for fair reporting.

And That is really too bad because this isn’t an idea brought to you by the rank and file NPR journalist .  This is something that the real smart folks in the DC corporate headquarters dreamed up. You know the folks who do the real work.

Tellingly another important detail goes unreported. There are four competitive  “unions” of songwriters.   None of which have more than a 50% market share.  Meanwhile Pandora has more than a 70% market share.  Google/Youtube IS the online video monopoly and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting… well it’s a government chartered and funded public broadcasting monopoly ($445 million dollars in 2015).

I don’t understand this. I guess you need to be real Washington DC smart to understand why it’s necessary for the DOJ to protect monopolies from organizations of songwriters.

This entire effort by NPR national corporate headquarters is completely puzzling. No good will come to the NPR affiliates from this effort.  It’s simply tarnishing the NPR brand.  And isn’t that gonna hurt when the next pledge drive comes?

1) Public broadcasting stations already pay royalty rates much lower than commercial broadcasters.

2) Artist’s routinely and willingly support NPR stations by giving them rights to recordings in perpetuity. See NPR performance Contract.

3) Most of NPR’s programming expenses are in it’s executive salaries and non-musical programming. Further reducing artists royalties would make little difference.

4) Most of the financial benefits of royalty reductions would go to NPR’s corporate competitors.

5) Taxpayers give over $445 million a year to support public broadcasting.

What gives NPR? Why the corporate sell-out?

About Dr. David C Lowery

Platinum selling singer songwriter for the bands Cracker and Camper Van Beethoven; platinum selling producer; founder of pitch-a-tent records; founder Sound of Music Studios; platinum selling music publisher; angel investor; digital skeptic; college lecturer and founder of the University of Georgia Terry College Artists' Rights Symposium.

One thought on “Huh? Federally Funded and Chartered Public Radio Monopoly Needs “Monopoly” Protection From Songwriters?

  1. Can one imagine what Teddy Roosevelt would say had he been alive to see how the well intended anti trust laws he championed had been turned in to a means of government forced extortion?!

Comments are closed.