Now in its fifth week, the Italian record industry's showdown with RNA, a group representing 10 leading commercial radio networks, has taken a new turn.

On May 7, the stations stopped playing new releases, both Italian and international, sent to them by the overwhelming majority of the country's record labels. Now, the labels claim that the stations have started playing new tracks by international artists, although the boycott still applies to new releases by local artists.

The boycott follows a legal dispute between the stations and SCF, the broadcast and neighboring rights collecting society, which represents 95% of Italy's labels. Other labels are represented by AFI, which has a separate agreement with RNA.

The dispute is over the percentage of revenue that RNA stations should pay to SCF. Under a previous contract, which expired in 2006, the stations paid 1%, but SCF would like to increase this to at least 2%, which, they say, would be in compliance with Italian and EU law. When the stations declined, SCF took them to court individually and the first hearings were held in March of this year.

RNA proceeded to ask labels and artists to sign a waiver on broadcasting rights for new releases. Although some individual artists signed, the labels refused and RNA began its boycott.

Regarding this latest development, Enzo Mazza, president of major label representative body FIMI says, "This is disturbing, especially when we consider that local repertoire accounts for at least 50% of sales in this country. This is most damaging."

Mario Limongelli, president of indie label representative body PMI adds, in a statement, "We are stunned by this news. We'd like to think it's not true, but,
based on what labels are telling us, it clearly is. The radios are now hurting only Italian repertoire."

IMPALA, the European indie representative group, had declared its support for PMI's members and other Italian labels and called on RNA to accept the broadcasting rights percentage rates stipulated by EU law.

Lorenzo Suraci, president of the Milan-based RTL 102.5 network, and a leading member of RNA, tells Billboard.Biz that his station is still playing new Italian releases.

"This presumed boycott of new Italian music does not exist," he says. "RTL 102.5 continues to play Italian and international music, both new and old. When it comes to choosing music, our only point of reference is the millions of listeners who follow us every day. I'm sorry that such conjecture and interpretation should be seen as influencing our editorial autonomy."