Day of Silence Arrives, Key Broadcasters Remain Missing

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A large number of internet radio providers are now darkening their broadcasts, part of a concerted protest against increased royalty requirements.

But the absence of a number of big-name providers threatens to dilute the impact of the effort.  The Day of Silence participation list includes heavyweights like KCRW, Live365, RealNetworks, MTV, Yahoo, and Pandora, as well as a broad number of smaller broadcasters.  But a number of prominent internet broadcasters are standing aloof, most notably AOL Radio, Clear Channel Radio, and Last.fm.

Larger broadcasters will face a less serious financial impact from the  rate changes, though philosophical differences are shaping the decision of at least one standout.  “It’s in no one’s interest to let online radio die,” said Last.fm cofounder Felix Miller in a recent company blog.  “But people want to make money from their music. And we want to pay artists for the music we play. It’s only fair.”  Last.fm is a UK-based company, though it faces similar royalty issues.

The participating consortium is now suspending normal programming to outline the ramifications of a hiked rate structure, and guide listeners towards action.  “During the Day of Silence, webcasters will urge their listeners to contact their Congressional representatives and ask them to support the Internet Radio Equality Act and preserve the future of internet radio,” said Jake Ward, spokesman for the recently-created SaveNetRadio Coalition on Monday.  The Act, a bipartisan bill, has been gaining steam but remains far from passage weeks ahead of the royalty deadline.  The increased rates, pushed heavily by SoundExchange and approved by the Copyright Royalty Board, will go into effect for US-based broadcasters on July 15th.