CNet earlier today broke a story about how the National Association of Broadcasters—traditional broadcasting conglomerates and others who think HD Radio is more vital than the internet—is trying to kill a brand new bill that could save Pandora and other web radio services. We've done some reporting of our own, and the situation does indeed seem dire. If you love your Pandora, here's what's going on, and how you can help save its very existence: Though we had previously feared the worst, Pandora honcho Tim Westergren told us today that he and other web broadcasters were about to reach a settlement with SoundExchange, the RIAA and the Copyright Royalty Board. They needed a bit more time, which would be granted by a new bill, HR 7084. Though the bill, introduced by Congressman Jay Inslee and others, only extends the negotiation period, Westergren told us that it's the clincher. "We've negotiating for over a year, but people on both sides are now feeling optimistic about getting a deal done," he says. "This bill is a signal of that. We need more time, but we're getting there." Enter the NAB, who issued the following statement to us and others from Executive VP Dennis Wharton:
NAB has concerns related to Congress attempting to fast-track a bill introduced less than 24 hours ago that could have serious implications for broadcasters, webcasters, and consumers of music. NAB spent more than a year trying to work out an equitable agreement on webcasting rates, only to be stonewalled by SoundExchange and the record labels. We will continue to work with policymakers on a solution that is fair to all parties.
The funny part about this, at least to Westergren, is that this bill and subsequent settlement would actually grant broadcasters lower fees on the internet, too. "If this falls apart, [NAB members] pay more for their webcasts, too," he says. "So there's only one interpretation, that they are trying to kill us." Man, Pandora, why is everyone out to get you? If you readers feel like forming up in Pandora's defense, tell your congressperson that you support HR 7084, aka the Webcaster Settlement Act of 2008. Congressional switchboard is (202) 225-3121, and you know your congressperson has a website, right? Since Capitol Hill is abuzz nights and weekends trying to stem the financial crisis, you can pretty much call at any hour and someone will answer. [Pandora]