The RIAA and the Radio Industry are fighting over a bill in Congress called the Performance Rights Act. The main purpose of this bill is to force radio stations to pay artists for the music that they play on the air. For years radio has not had to make these payments because the logic was that radio play helps promote sales of music but now the two industries, both in decline, are fighting about whether those rules should change.
A surprising move in the negotiations over this bill has been the idea put forward that in return for paying artists, the government would require all cell phones sold in the United States to include an FM radio which would increase the audience for Radio. Cell phone manufacturers (whose industry we should point out is not in decline) are not thrilled about being pulled into this mess.
The Consumer Electronics Association, whose members build the devices that would be affected by such a directive, is incandescent with rage. “The backroom scheme of the [National Association of Broadcasters] and RIAA to have Congress mandate broadcast radios in portable devices, including mobile phones, is the height of absurdity,” thundered CEA president Gary Shapiro. Such a move is “not in our national interest.”
I say, “why stop there?” There are many other industries in the United States that could use additional funds.
The telegraph business is not as healthy as it used to be. Is it time to build a telegraph into every cell phone as well?
Since television is losing market share to computers and the internet why doesn’t Congress require that all computers have a television tuner?
The post office is certainly having a hard time making ends meet, perhaps we should require Americans to print out and mail each email.
Or… Perhaps Congress could keep their hands off my cell phone.