Report: Spitzer To Pursue Record Labels

Inquiry launched into majors' radio practices.

New York State Attorney General Eliot Spitzer, who has confronted the financial services industry over its business practices, is now turning his attention to the record industry's influence over the public airwaves, the New York Times reports today (Oct. 22).

Citing several unnamed sources involved, the newspaper says that the prosecutor is taking aim at the music industry's practices for influencing what songs are heard on the radio.

The report says that Spitzer has served subpoenas on the four major record companies -- Universal Music Group, Sony BMG Music Entertainment, EMI Group Plc and Warner Music Group.

The companies were not immediately available for comment.

Spitzer is seeking copies of contracts, billing records and other information detailing their ties to independent middlemen who pitch new songs to radio programers in New York State, the New York Times says.

The inquiry encompasses all the major radio formats and is not aiming at any individual record promoter, the report says, citing its unnamed sources.

According to the report, broadcasters are forbidden from taking money or any value in exchange for playing a specific song unless they disclose the transaction to listeners.

But one questionable practice used by the music industry is independent promoters paying radio stations annual fees to obtain advance copies of a station's playlists. The promoters then bill record labels for each new song that is played, the report added, which costs the record industry tens of millions of dollars each year.

Representatives for Spitzer's office were unavailable to comment early today.

-- Reuters
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