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It's Not A Fifties Flashback - Sony BMG Set To Settle Payola Charges

Reports in the Los Angeles Times (via The Tennessean) indicate that an 11 month investigation by New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer into radio payola (a term associated with 1950's radio legend Alan Freed) is about to start bagging the big music conglomerates, starting with Sony BMG.

Sony BMG Music Entertainment, the second-largest U.S. record company, is expected as early as Monday to agree to a settlement with New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer in an ongoing payola investigation, said sources familiar with the talks.

Representatives of Sony BMG and Spitzer declined to detail ongoing discussions, but sources said the terms of the settlement might include promises that Sony BMG would not engage in certain practices and fines that might exceed $10 million.

The sources requested anonymity because of the confidentiality of the discussions. Sony BMG is one of at least four record companies Spitzer subpoenaed last fall as part of his inquiry into whether music corporations are skirting payola laws by hiring intermediaries to influence which songs are heard on public airwaves. Should Sony BMG reach an accord with Spitzer, it would be the first settlement in the investigation. Insiders at other record companies said they expected that a Sony BMG settlement would spur other music corporations to agree to similar deals with Spitzer's office. Those executives said whatever fine Sony BMG might accept probably would also set the standard for other companies, which would be fined in proportion to each company's share of the U.S. market.

Everything old is new again.., In the case of payola, it was never actually eliminated, it just went farther underground - even the Mob was involved at one point...

While you're waxing nostalgic for the payola filled days of yore, check out Airchexx.com, a blog devoted to air checks from legendary and not so legendary DJ's of the past.

Comments (5)

It's obvious that music lab... (Below threshold)

It's obvious that music labels pay radio stations to play their music. Nobody in their right mind would play music that horrible voluntarily, let alone three times an hour ad nauseum.

I have no trouble finding heaps of great musical variety if I look hard enough. It seems that radio stations simply don't try - or maybe it's easier just to play what you're told and get a little cash on the side.

There's a couple of country... (Below threshold)

There's a couple of country music stations I can pick up around home -- but whose signals don't overlap by much -- that must not be popular enough to attract the bribes. But Atlanta's top country music station is a definite candidate, I think, for some investigatin'. Yeesh.

This is nothing new, I grew... (Below threshold)
Clash City Rocker:

This is nothing new, I grew up in radio and independent record promotion. The 50's and 60's the payola was cash, 70's and 80' it was drugs, 90's and 2000's was and is gifts from the indie promotors to the PM's of the stations, except the Clear Channel stations which work on a different system, CC actual chose the promoters they would deal with and they each had to ante up big cash to be one of the chosen few the CC would deal with.

Music on the radio? Yer ki... (Below threshold)

Music on the radio? Yer kiddin?...since when? Anytime I turn on the AM/FM radio nowadays all I ever hear are commercials. Oh, I get it...the music is in the jingles....silly me....

"Sony BMG is one of at l... (Below threshold)

"Sony BMG is one of at least four record companies Spitzer subpoenaed last fall..."

The industry is dominated, by some strange coincidence, by four record companies: Sony BMG, Warner Music Group, EMI and Universal.






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