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Clear Channel Shuts Down Streams

Clear Channel responds to AFTRA’s demand for high streaming fees by shutting down its Internet broadcasts.

Responding to AFTRA’s demand for streaming fees three times that of on-air spots, Clear Channel has suspending all Internet streams. Listeners attempting to access any Clear Channel station on the Internet now hear only this message: “Due to continuing uncertainty over rights issues related to the streaming of radio broadcast programming over the Internet, including issues regarding demands for additional fees for the streaming of recorded music and radio commercials, we and our advertisers are forced to temporarily disable our streaming. We apologize for the inconvenience of this interruption. We are working with both our advertisers and the Recording Industry Association of America to find a solution to those problems as quickly as possible so that we can resume our streaming.”

AFTRA’s move last week to collect penalty fees of up to 300 percent for spots using union talent which hadn’t been specifically cleared for Internet use has caused hundreds-if not thousands-of stations to discontinue streaming on-air signal. The move by Clear Channel is the first group-wide action, and may lead to decisions at other stations or groups to suspend online signals. In addition to the threat from AFTRA, broadcasters have been battling the RIAA over the payment of performance royalties to record companies for streamed audio, in addition to the ASCAP, BMI and SESAC payments.