Battle Between Internet Broadcasters and Music Licensers Heats Up With Helms’ Move In Senate

Battle Between Internet Broadcasters and Music Licensers Heats Up With Helms’ Move In Senate

The war between radio stations and the recording industry has hit another snag, this time in Congress. U.S. Senator Jesse Helms (R-NC), a former radio broadcaster himself, used a procedural move to stop passage of a bill that sets up new fees for radio broadcasters who run a stream of their stations over the Internet.

The House passed the measure a few weeks ago, setting up discounted fees, but Helms insists the fees are not low enough. The lack of legislation could mean that the Library of Congress will enact rates which it determined, the original plan when the recording industry first challenged station streaming a few years ago.

Helms made the move to stop the bill from passing the Senate because he believes the rates are too cumbersome for small broadcasters.

For the time being, station such as WRAL-FM have put their streaming on hold. Broadcasters say that because they collectively pay more than $350 million in fees to music licensers ASCAP and BMI and the Internet stream is the same as their broadcast that they should not be forced to pay additional fees.

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