The Internet radio company ramped up their lobbying efforts over the past year, and they're moving full-steam ahead on the messaging front now that the Internet Radio Fairness Act is on the table. Non-paying Pandora users are subjected to occasional advertisements in between songs, and now one of the regular ads features Pandora founder Tim Westergren making a personal plea to listeners to support the legislation.
The House bill was introduced by Reps. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, and Jared Polis, D-Colo., and by Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore. in the Senate. In short, it would direct the Copyright Royalty Board to set Internet radio royalty rates using the same standard it uses for setting rates for satellite and other digital radio. (Yes, those providers pay way less than Internet radio does).
The go-straight-to-the-people tactic Pandora's using is nothing new. For all the bolstering of its Washington game that Pandora's done this year, this is the same strategy they employed back in 2007 when they faced new rates that Westergren has described as "disastrous." They directly called upon the Pandora faithful to write to their lawmakers (Pandora users usually give the company their email addresses and zip codes), and eventually Congress intervened.
According to the Center for Responsive Politics, the politicians whose campaign committees received the most money from Pandora employees or lobbyists in the 2012 cycle are: Rep. Frank Sensenbrenner, R-Wisc., whose campaign committee received $12,500; Rep. Howard Berman, D-Calif., whose campaign committee received $17,500; and Chaffetz, whose committee received $2,000.
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