21:49 PM

NPR, DiMA ask for relief from new royalty rates

At the urging of the RIAA-associated SoundExchange organization, the Copyright Royalty Board earlier this month assigned a per-song royalty rate for internet broadcasting and a $500 minimum per-channel fee.

Now webcasters big and small are going to court to contest the ruling, AP reports.

Under a previous arrangement, which expired at the end of 2005, broadcasters and online companies such as Yahoo Inc. and Time Warner Inc.'s AOL unit could pay royalties based on estimates of how many songs were played over a given period of time, or a ``tuning hour,'' as opposed to counting every single song.

Jonathan Potter, the executive director of the Digital Media Association, which represents major online companies affected by the decision, asked that the judges specifically allow a per-tuning-hour approximation measure for paying the royalties.
Potter also asked the judges to clarify a $500 annual fee per broadcasting channel, saying that with some online companies offering many thousands of listening options, counting each one as a separate channel could lead to huge fees for online broadcasters.

NPR said the new rules would have ``crippling effects'' on public radio's ability to serve the public. Clear Channel was among the companies complaining about the new rules.

NPR says they will appeal the ruling, even as it asks the board to reconsider.