In two big election day victories, the FCC approved both the usage of the white space spectrum for mobile broadband access and the Sprint Clearwire joint venture to expand WiMAX coverage. w00t, w00t! The decision for the white space spectrum was unanimous with one partial dissent from Commissioner Deborah Tate. This is a big blow to the National Association of Broadcasters et al. who have been vehemently fighting the use of this spectrum and a big win for the likes of Google, Microsoft, and Dell who have rallied behind FCC Chairman Kevin Martin in his support of the usage of this spectrum. ln the Sprint-Clearwire vote, the FCC also unanimously gave the go ahead to the merger of Sprint’s XOHM division with Clearwire in a move that will jumpstart WiMAX deployment. So there you have it folks, two flavors of wireless broadband access got a giant boost from the FCC on Tuesday.
Following our post from Saturday regarding the NAB’s efforts to prevent the Webcaster Settlement Act of 2008 from passing, here’s a quick update: Long story short, H.R. 7084 has passed through both Congress and the Senate. Woo! So what exactly does that mean? It simply means that Pandora and other internet broadcasters can continue to negotiate with SoundExchange and the RIAA with regards to fair royalties. Wait, huh? It’s just a bill that allows them to continue talking? That’s right folks – pretty funny how opposed the NAB was to this procedural bill, no? What a joke the NAB has become. But we digress… Kudos to all who took the time to reach out to their state reps and express support for the bill. Who knows – maybe the RIAA, SoundExchange and internet radio can actually come to an agreement!
At 11 am Eastern Standard Time this morning congress is scheduled to vote on a bill that, if defeated, will represent a major nail in Pandora’s coffin. In fact it’s not just Pandora, we’re talking about legitimate internet radio in general. The major opposition? Why it’s none other than the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB)! Surprise, surprise. The bill in question is H.R. 7084 (Webcaster Settlement Act of 2008); merely a procedural bill that would give Pandora, SoundExchange and the RIAA more time to come to a new agreement with regards to revising the royalty program currently in place. You know, the one that’s killing internet radio. From Pandora Founder Tim Westergren:
We were just starting to feel optimistic about getting close to a settlement. H.R. 7084 is a procedural bill that would extend the negotiation period and give us all the time we need.
The thing that’s so crass is that this bill is beneficial to broadcasters, it just gives us more time to reduce Webcasting fees. They [the NAB] know we’re running out of time and if they can kill the bill they can kill Internet radio.
It’s amazing how terrified the NAB has become of progress. This issue of course is that collectively, they know they have a terrible product. Does anyone listen to terrestrial radio anymore? For years the ratio of advertising to music has been a sick joke on popular stations. With the increasing popularity of Satellite radio and portable audio player-friendly inputs in car stereos we would hope everyone is on the road to moving beyond the dinosaur that is terrestrial radio. After all, you wouldn’t ride a donkey to get to work or use a handful of leaves to… Well, you know.
The House vote on H.R. 7084 is at 11:00 am EST this morning. If passed, it will go before the Senate on Monday. If you’re tired of cleaning yourself with leaves, give Congress a ring (202-225-3121) and tell your representative you support H.R. 7084.