How to identify the Truly Wicked

Easy: they’re the ones who wish to force something on you, at your expense, whether you like it or not. See, for instance, “Obamacare.”

See also the National Association of Broadcasters and the Recording Industry Association of America:

Music labels and radio broadcasters can’t agree on much, including whether radio should be forced to turn over hundreds of millions of dollars a year to pay for the music it plays. But the two sides can agree on this: Congress should mandate that FM radio receivers be built into cell phones, PDAs, and other portable electronics.

Disturbingly enough, that’s considered a compromise:

A bill percolating in Congress, the Performance Rights Act, would rationalize performance rights in the US; satellite radio and webcasters currently pay full performance fees to labels or artists, but radio does not, thanks to a longstanding exemption in copyright law.

The bill has already passed out of committee in both the House and Senate, but it is vigorously opposed by the broadcasters; they argue that radio provides valuable promotion to artists and shouldn’t have to pay. Congress tried to force two of the main lobbying groups, the National Association of Broadcasters and musicFIRST (RIAA is a member), to hash out a solution last November. None was forthcoming, but talks have continued since then and are now close to completion.

The two sides hope to strike a grand bargain: radio would agree to pay around $100 million a year (less than it feared), but in return it would get access to a larger market through the mandated FM radio chips in portable devices.

So we’re caught in the middle of their pissing contest. Is it too much to ask that they keep their filthy liquids out of my personal business?

Probably. It’s definitely too much to ask that they keep them away from Congress, which routinely basks in golden showers of attention, and which never met a mandate it didn’t like.

Oh, and why only FM? It couldn’t be because people who listen to those horrid talk shows on AM would immediately recognize this as a classic piece of rent-seeking, could it?


  1. Donna B. »

    18 August 2010 · 8:26 pm

    Wonderful! One more feature that I don’t want and won’t use on my cell phone but will have to pay for.

  2. CGHill »

    18 August 2010 · 9:42 pm

    Hell, even Matthew Yglesias sees this as rent-seeking, and he’s probably never even seen an AM radio.

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