Michael O'Rielly
FCC Commissioner Michael O'Rielly

The FCC Eyes The Majors Over Payola

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WASHINGTON D.C. (CelebrityAccess) — The FCC has formally requested information from the major labels about their current “mechanisms” the labels have in place to prevent payola-like practices from taking place.

The request, which came in the form of a letter from FCC Commissioner Michael O’Reilly, seeks information on a number of aspects of payola from Warner Music Group, Sony Music Entertainment, and Universal Music Group.

In the letter, O’Reilly notes that the Recording Industry Association of America declined to provide information following a similar request in September when it claimed it “was not in a position to survey its members’ anti-payola practices and submit responses collectively.”

O’Reilly goes on to express concern over recent media reports and consumer complaints that suggest the “persistence of payola.”

“Even the most cursory review of consumer complaints and assertions provides cause for concern regarding the persistence of payola. And, in recent months, some artists have responded forcefully against accusations of payola. which speaks to the seriousness of the issue. Yet, there is no shortage of accusations that financial enticement is in some cases driving chart rankings, album and song sales, and commercial success,” O’Reilly wrote.

O’Rielly’s request specifically seeks to examine the if of arrangements exist between the labels and radio broadcasters that amount to payola, including artist appearances and performances with implied benefits for the broadcaster or label.

The letter also asks about the label’s training regime for payola prevention practices, and what measures are in place to allow label staffers to report violations.

Additionally, he inquired if the labels have directed radio broadcasters to include on-air warnings during broadcasts about such deals in accordance with the payola laws.

O’Rielly’s letter requests the labels to respond to the request for information by the end of February 2020.


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