RAIN 11/6: Pandora's streaming royalty battle widens

Paul Maloney
November 6, 2012 - 2:00pm

Pandora has filed suit against ASCAP (the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers) in New York federal court, hoping to force the organization to grant it a "blanket" licensing fee for all of ASCAP's works.

The suit follows more than a year of negotiations in which the two sides were unable to settle.

Pandora is one of several webcasters, broadcasters, and technology groups supporting the Internet Radio Fairness Act in Congress, legislation advocates hope will lead to a reduction in the fees webcasters pay for the use of copyright sound recordings.

The fees webcasters like Pandora pay to ASCAP (and similar groups BMI and SESAC), on the other hand, involve copyright song compositions. The benefactors of such royalties are songwriters and publishers.

Pandora reportedly wants -- and ASCAP refuses -- the same terms as broadcasters. Earlier this year ASCAP reached a deal with the Radio Music Licensing Committee, which represents large broadcasters. The deal has radio broadcasters paying 1.7% of their gross revenue, minus deductions based on advertising commissions.

ASCAP and Pandora reached what was called an "experimental" accord on composition fees for the 2005-2010 term. Pandora's suit is for the term ending 2015.

Relatedly, Sony/ATV, a publisher with huge rights holdings, is pulling out of ASCAP to administer its own digital royalties (more here). This adds to webcasters' complications, as the group would be yet another organization with which to negotiate yet another fee. Though such a move should presumably reduce ASCAP fees, it's not known what it would mean for the overall amount webcasters pay to use copyright song compositions.

Read more in Bloomberg here.

Paul Maloney
November 6, 2012 - 2:00pm

Late last month we heard (our report here) the House Judiciary's Subcommittee on Intellectual Property, Competition, and the Internet would hold a hearing on Internet radio royalties. Billboard.biz now reports its sources say a hearing will likely take place at the end of this month, "on or around November 27, 28 or 29."

Lawmakers will hear testimony regarding on the Internet Radio Fairness Act, recently introduced to both chambers of Congress. The IRFA would require copyright judges to use the same "801(b)" standard in setting the royalty rates for Internet radio it uses for other forms of digital radio, like cable and satellite. Read more here. Billboard's sources say Pandora and a broadcaster will likely testify in favor of the bill, and SoundExchange and a recording artist will likely testify against.

The House bill, H.R.6480, is co-sponsored by subcommittee members Jason Chaffetz (R-UT), Darrell Issa (R-CA), and Zoe Lofgren (D-CA).

Read Billboard.biz here.

Paul Maloney
November 6, 2012 - 2:00pm

In its U.S. Mobile Local Media forecast for 2011-2016, media advisory firm BIA/Kelsey forecasts U.S. mobile local ad revenues to grow from last year's $664 million to $5.8 billion by 2016 -- a compound annual growth rate of 54.2%.

This is mobile advertising that is targeted based on a user’s location.

Locally-targeted mobile ads, as a percentage of the overall mobile advertising spend, will grow from 41% in 2011 to 58% in 2016, according to the report (see chart).

That percentage is actually down from an earlier forecast. "This was due to slower than expected advertiser adoption of location targeted mobile ads," BIA/Kelsey explains. "Though there’s exploding usage, representing supply (ad inventory), it hasn’t been met with the same demand (ad dollars), thus keeping mobile ad rates depressed."

BIA/Kelsely clients can access the full Annual U.S. Local Media Forecast 2011-2016 online here

Paul Maloney
November 6, 2012 - 2:00pm

Social radio technology platform Jelli has announced that it's brought aboard broadcast media expert and digital product strategist Fred Bennett as Chief Business Development Officer.

Bennett is a seasoned broadcast industry executive, experienced with new broadcast solutions and digital programs. He was President and General Manager of Metro Television and Senior Vice President, Affiliate Sales at Westwood One, and Vice President, Operations and Programming at Shadow Traffic. He served as General Sales Manager for Disney’s WABC Radio, New York, and was head of Pamal Broadcasting’s five station group, including its digital operation.

Jelli says the newly created position signals the company's "broadening partnership with radio for programming and advertising solutions that deepen engagement, deliver actionable audience insights and increase revenue."

The Jelli consumer experience "fuses group listening with game mechanics to make radio more social and fun. Listeners control radio playlists through real-time voting and game elements, via free iPhone and Android apps and web experience." The Jelli ad platform "enables real-time ad serving and listener engagement across social, mobile and broadcast platforms, creating unique insights for advertisers. Jelli is available online and on FM radio stations across the United States."