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June 25, 2007
Capital Public Radio takes a stand

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When listeners click on the “listen live” Web links for Capital Public Radio stations Tuesday, hoping to hear classical music on KXPR (88.9 FM) or news and jazz on KXJZ (90.9 FM), what they will hear instead is a recording that explains how online broadcasting is being threatened.

It's part of a nationwide effort in which many radio stations that stream music will observe a “Day of Silence” to protest stiff increases in music royalties - established by the Copyright Royalty Board in March and scheduled to go into effect on July 15.

Congress is currently debating the Internet Radio Equality Act, which would overturn the royalty board’s ruling.

We first reported on the ruling in April in the Media Savvy column and posted a report about the protest last week.

It is spearheaded by such Web radio heavy hitters as Live365 and Los Angeles public-radio giant KCRW, but it also includes many smaller streaming audio sites.

“If this goes into effect, it’s going to seriously affect our music programming because the royalty rate will be 250 percent what it is now,” says Carl Watanabe, station manager at KXJZ and KXPR.

Roseville's Jeff Scammon, founder of Wild West Radio, also will go silent on Tuesday. Scammon had previously said he would continue broadcasting.

And KVMR (89.5 FM), a Nevada City public radio station, is joining the effort. Sacramento's KQEI (89.3 FM) will keep streaming but will post an on-screen message to users about the royalty debate.

Meanwhile, nearly all local commercial stations plan to keep streaming.

“We don't see the wisdom in penalizing our listeners,” says John Geary, general manager of Sacramento’s Entercom stations, which include 98 Rock (KRXQ, 98.5 FM) and KWOD (106.5 FM).

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