Net radio gets 60 more days to fight fee hike

Web radio stations have 60 more days to try to reverse a ruling that many say will shutter thousands of Web radio broadcasters. A rate increase against Web broadcasters will not go into affect May 15, as expected. Instead Web broadcasters will have until July 15 to pay up. Web radio supporters see this as good news giving them more time to fight the rate hike.

The Copyright Royalty Board made a rule official on Tuesday that forces commercial Internet radio stations, regardless of their size, to pay a new, higher flat fee to the record labels each time a song is played. Because the final ruling on the rate increase was issued in May, not April as originally expected, by law the Web broadcaster do not have to pay until 45 days after the end of the month the rule is issued, according sources at the Copyright Royalty Board.

Royalty rates for Web-casters - starting retroactively at $0.0008 per song in 2006 will climb to $0.0019 per song in 2010. That nearly triple the amount of royalties Internet radio broadcasters pay to copyright holders for playing a song, says Jake Ward, spokesperson for SaveNetRadio.

Ward says Web broadcasters need this time to re-double their efforts to fight the rate increase. Ward and others are pinning their hopes on legislation that has been introduced to Congress that will nullify the CRB's rate hike.

"This Titanic rate increase is simply untenable for many Internet radio broadcasters," said U.S. Reps. Jay Inslee (D-Wash.). Inslee and Don Manzullo (R-Ill.) filed the legislation last month that could reverse federal Copyright Royalty Board (CRB) rule issued May 2.

Ward says that the Inslee-Manzullo bill, called, Internet Radio Equality Act, has already received enormous support in Congress with 33 co-sponsors.

It's widely believed a similar companion bill will be introduced to the Senate by Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Senator Sam Brownback (R-KS) within weeks.

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