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FCC Commissioner Asks RIAA to Investigate Payola Allegations

FCC Commissioner Asks RIAA to Investigate Payola Allegations 1

In an official letter despatched Wednesday, FCC commissioner Mike O’Rielly requested the Recording Trade Affiliation of America (RIAA) to research allegations of payola within the music trade. 

“To the extent that payola is currently occurring within the industry, I am writing to ask for your help in ensuring that the practice be discontinued,” the letter reads.

Payola — the apply of exchanging cash or items with radio stations to safe airplay for artists — was the topic of a Congressional investigation in 1960 that ended the profession of iconic American disc jockey Alan Freed. Following the investigation, Congress amended the Federal Communications Act to require broadcasters “to disclose if airplay for a song has been purchased.”  

In 2004, an investigation by then-New York legal professional basic Eliot Spitzer turned up in depth proof of the apply, leading to an settlement by the main file labels together with a number of radio chains to pay thousands and thousands of {dollars} in settlements.

Whereas the 1960 investigation was seen as having little impact on curbing the apply, O’Rielly’s letter suggests it was extra profitable than is often believed.

“In the time since the law was passed, the recording industry has made great strides in curtailing the practice,” he continues, “and it is my sincere hope that recent allegations are being overstated or misrepresented.”

The RIAA didn’t reply to Billboard‘s request for remark.

Although O’Rielly doesn’t explicitly reference a particular press report relating to payola, Rolling Stone printed a widely-read investigative piece final month that discovered the apply continues to be regularly used within the file trade in the present day, albeit in several varieties that exploit loopholes within the present legislation — together with utilizing third-party file promoters to bribe radio DJs and programmers. In 2015, Billboard printed a narrative on payola’s (or “playola’s”) prevalence within the streaming area, although FCC rules that prohibit the apply solely cowl radio and tv broadcasts.

The RIAA final tried a payola investigation in 1985, with the group passing a decision suggesting it “fund and, by way of its basic counsel, direct a personal investigation to find out” whether or not the apply continued. That try proved unsuccessful due to pushback from a few of the RIAA’s member corporations, however with yesterday’s letter, O’Rielly is clearly seeking to get the ball rolling once more.

“Your Association’s members supply content to both traditional over-the-air broadcasts and streaming platforms and possess broad insight into the industry,” O’Rielly’s letter continues. “As such, your Affiliation is uniquely located to survey the practices of your trade and reply to press reviews relating to alleged practices to be able to assist decide whether or not allegations of non-disclosure are literally occurring.”


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