musicFIRST Whines to FCC After Spots Rejected

In comments filed with the FCC, musicFIRST says two Washington, DC, area radio stations failed to comply with public disclosure rules for ads opposing the Performance Rights Act. The stations, owned by Clear Channel, allegedly played spots furnished by the NAB opposing the Performance Rights Act. The group inspected the stations' public files and found nothing about the stations' anti-Performance Rights Act activity.

In a filing with the Commission, NAB says the request for Declaratory Ruling urging the FCC to intervene in the legislative debate over the Performance Rights Act is beyond the FCC's authority and contrary to the First Amendment. NAB also noted that musicFIRST failed to participate in the proceeding it initiated by filing any comments. And the commenters supporting MusicFIRST failed to provide any legal or specific factual basis that could justify an FCC investigation.

One commenter alluded to a purported instance of "artist intimidation" by a student run station, WICB-FM, at Ithaca College but did not provide any detailed information for the public record. "This lack of an evidentiary record reaffirms that the Petition is merely a public relations vehicle, rather than a serious request for legal relief -- particularly in light of the fact that MusicFIRST chose to issue a press release focusing on WICB, rather than submit comments for the Commission record."

NAB also pointed out that if the Commission were to take any action based on this record, it would violate its own precedent and fundamental principles of due process -- principles that include adequate notice and a genuine opportunity to explain.

"Ironically, MusicFIRST and its supporters complain," says the FCC filing "without justification, that their speech has been suppressed, while at the same time seeking government action to suppress broadcasters' speech. Several commenters supporting the Petition seemed to suggest that censorship is somehow acceptable if it targets speech with which they disagree, and called on the Commission to impose an unprecedented access right for PRA advocates."


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