Senator Moves Ahead With Bill To Probe Radio Giants

Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wisc.) told attendees of the Future of Music Coalition policy summit yesterday (Jan. 7) in Washington, D.C., that he is moving forward with his legislation -- introduced last yea

Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wisc.) told attendees of the Future of Music Coalition policy summit yesterday (Jan. 7) in Washington, D.C., that he is moving forward with his legislation -- introduced last year -- that would investigate alleged anti-competitive behavior by radio/concert giants, including Clear Channel Communications, Billboard Bulletin reports.

Feingold said artists, small promoters, and independent radio stations have convinced him that Clear Channel has used its holdings to stifle competition and evade ownership rules, resulting in the loss of "localism" in programming, soaring ticket prices, shrinking playlists, and a "shakedown system" of money demands to have new recordings even considered for airplay. "Let's get real here," said Feingold. "When teenagers start coming up to me and talking about the rising cost of Phish tickets, something is really wrong."

Feingold hinted to Bulletin that he has convinced Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, to sign on as a co-sponsor of his bill, which would give the measure a much stronger chance of passage. "He gets it," Feingold said. "He gets it completely." Insiders say Feingold has convinced McCain, his long-time ally in successful campaign reform legislation, to hold a hearing on the issues soon.

Also at the summit, California state Sen. Kevin Murray (D-Montebello) said lawmakers in Georgia, Tennessee, and Texas may follow the lead of movements in California and New York in examining state rules regarding the fairness of artists' contracts with record labels.