People may try to hate on the FCC, but indie and local artists will be getting a lot more love because of them. This week the Federal Communications levied the largest fine in history, $12.5 million, against the four largest radio conglomerates in the nation for payola practices. Clear Channel Communications, CBS Radio, Entercom Communications, and Citadel Broadcasting alleged received money, plane tickets, clothes, and a bunch of other expensive gifts from record companies to play songs on their stations.
But the big news is, in addition to paying the monstrous fine; the stations have agreed to set aside 8,400 half hour segments of free airtime for the next three years to dedicate solely to independent and local artists. The segments have to be aired between 6 a.m. and midnight.
"I think it’s a real breakthrough in the battle to wipe payola off the airwaves," FCC Commissioner Jonathan S. Adelstein told the L.A. Times. "If you take payola out of radio then music gets heard on the basis of merit, not on the basis of who’s got wads of cash backing the artist. That’s likely to make radio fresher and restore its vitality."