Internet Broadcasters Hope To Avoid New Fees

KNOXVILLE — Radio stations that broadcast over the Internet are hoping to avoid paying fees based on how many people are listening.

A group of stations have asked a federal appeals court in Washington, D.C. to rule that a Philadelphia federal court and the U.S. Copyright Office were wrong to charge Internet broadcasters a fee for each person who listens, instead of the standard royalty for each song played.

The head of the University of Tennessee broadcasting department said there are two different kinds of Internet radio stations, and that makes a difference in the new fee payments they must make.

“One category is the people who just play music on the web, they don’t broadcast over the air,” Moore said. “The other category is the radio stations that already broadcast over the air, and simultaneously transmit their programming over the Internet. Those Web-only stations will be paying less money than the stations that simulcast their signal, perhaps half as much.”

Moore said large broadcasting companies can pay the new fees, but the small organizations may have trouble paying.

“Non-commercial radio broadcasters like student radio stations and public stations don’t have much money to begin with,” Moore said. “The keeping of records to determine the fee payment is a very burdensome ordeal, and it may be too expensive to continue.”

Broadcasters have advised the federal appeals court that per-listener fees should not be applied to Internet radio, because people listen to it just like regular broadcast radio, instead of illegally downloading songs from services like Napster.

The Copyright Office established a royalty rate of 0.07 cents per listener per song in June.