save internet radio

I’m in pre-mourning for net radio. I’ve seen the financial numbers on the 2006-2010 rates for webcasters and they don’t work. Appeals are exhausted now, and absent a deus ex machina like Congress whipping up emergency legislation in a jiffy — legislation which powerful industries oppose — there is about to be mass extinction of webcasters.

Things are pretty hosed when something as wonderful as Soma FM disappears in a flash because an obscure panel of judges who work for the library comes down off the mountain with a crazy whole-hog rewrite of the ground rules for an entire industry.

Don’t fool yourself — the only internet radio which will survive will be so thickly encrusted with ads that it makes Times Square look like a monastery, and any webcaster without the sales muscle to get top-dollar rates isn’t even going to have the option to sleaze up like that.

And forget really high-quality playlists generated just for you via machine learning algorithms fed a steady diet of raw information about your listening habits — the new rules set a $500 per station minimum. You would need to generate at least $500 a year for your webcaster just to break even on the up-front costs. From now on every unique set of tastes costs extra, just like with over the air broadcasting. You’ll get pre-programmed stations and be grateful.

So fucking save net radio, goddammit.

I know this comes off as overwrought, but I feel really sad about this.

Pointers to related stuff:

Radio and Internet Newsletter has a great Fisking related to the bill.

Wind In The Wire explains the situation.

Broadcast Law Blog goes over the procedural background, including this nugget:

The Board concluded that the rapidly escalating rate was justified as it brought the statutory services closer to the interactive services as the advertising market grows over the next few years.