Tuesday, April 28, 2015

SD Radio: Report..Pandora To Get Foreign Ownership Waiver

  • FCC chairman Tom Wheeler has asked fellow commission members to give Pandora (NYSE:P) a foreign-ownership stake waiver that would lower performance royalties. 
  • ASCAP accuses Pandora to trying to create a loophole. 
Pandora Media’s efforts to buy a South Dakota radio station in order to pay lower music royalties is advancing before U.S. regulators.

Bloomberg Business is reporting FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler has asked fellow agency members to give Pandora a waiver it sought of a foreign ownership rule.

The FCC action would clear the way for Pandora to acquire the license of Top40  KXMZ 102.7 FM in Rapid City, SD.

Pandora is trying to pry advertising dollars and customers away from traditional radio fast enough to pay for rising royalty costs for songs. Congress is contemplating bills that could increase how much Internet radio pays for the music it plays.

Pandora pays agencies such as the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers, or ASCAP, and Broadcast Music Inc., which represent rights holders such as songwriters and composers, to use songs for its service.

By buying KXMZ, Pandora is trying to create “a loophole,” said Richard Reimer, senior vice president with ASCAP. Pandora would pay lower rates designed for online services of radio stations, Reimer said.

KXMZ 102.7 FM (50 Kw) Red=60dBu Local Coverage Area
Pandora said it’s within the FCC’s 25 percent foreign ownership limit, but can’t show compliance because privacy rules mask the identities and nationalities of shareholders, according to the FCC. The company based in Oakland, California, asked the FCC to let foreign investors hold as much as 49.99 percent voting interest and 100 percent equity interest.

Wheeler told broadcasters April 15 the agency is exploring whether to ease limits on foreign ownership of U.S. broadcasters, potentially boosting investment.

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