Wisconsin Senator Russ Feingold Tries To Make Radio Listenable Again

Are you tired of hearing the same songs, in the same generic radio formats over and over again on the radio, even when you go to another town? Senator Russ Feingold wants to do something about it. His new bill, entitled the "Competition in Radio and Concert Industries Act," hopes to prevent further consolidation in the radio industry, help encourage small and independent radio stations, and eliminate "payola," or the act of a record company secretly paying a radio station to play their music. According to a posting at Slashdot, Senator John McCain is expected to sign on as the billis cosponsor. The Act, from Senator Feingoldis Web site:

Outline of the Competition in Radio and Concert Industries Act

Section 1: Title: The Competition in Radio and Concert Industries Act

Section 2: Findings and Purpose

To promote the values embraced by the First Amendment to the Constitution through diverse radio programming based on local input. This bill also helps facilitate better service to local communities by increasing competition in radio programming, content, radio advertising, concert venues, and concert promotion.

Section 3: Prohibit the use of radio to reduce public access to diverse radio and concert programming

This section prohibits any entity that owns radio stations, and concert promotion services or venues from acting in an anti-competitive manner. This section directs the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to revoke the license of any radio station that uses its cross-ownership of promotion services or venues to discriminate against musicians, concert promoters, or other radio stations.

Section 4: Enhanced scrutiny of further consolidation in radio

This section requires the FCC to scrutinize the effect of national and local concentration on independent radio stations, concert promoters and consumers. This section also prevents any upward revision of the limitation on multiple ownership of radio stations in local markets.

Section 5: Review of use of privately-controlled audience measurement systems for determination of local markets of radio stations

This section requires the FCC to ensure that any measurement of local radio markets is independent of and not subject to manipulation.

Section 6: Modification of attributable interest in radio stations and limitations on local marketing agreements

This section closes a loophole in the local marketing agreement regulations to ensure that any station that receives a significant amount of its play lists or advertising from another station is considered under the local ownership cap.

Section 7: Modification of regulations on announcement of payment for radio broadcast

This section closes a loophole in the FCC regulations covering "payola" – pay-for-play – to ensure that radio station broadcasts are not improperly influenced by the payment, whether directly or indirectly, to the licensee of any radio station unless an appropriate sponsorship identification announcement is made.

Section 8: Limitation on suspension or waiver of rules

The FCC may suspend these rules only when it determines that there is a compelling justification.

Section 9: Annual reports

The FCC is required to issue an annual report on compliance with these rules and industry practices. It is required to consult independent sources and to solicit public comments.

You can get more information at Russ Feingoldis Web site.