First, our congratulations to the winners in this year's Radio and Production Awards. It's nice to have an award that's judged by peers in the industry. We're very happy with the concept.
This was our first year of entering your awards and though I found many of the finalists entertaining, our experience here has been the same as in our statewide awards contest in Wisconsin.
Which brings me to my question. How is it that so many "rip off" spots using copyrighted music and sound clips can continue to win awards while many other originally written and produced spots don't see the light of day?
Several years ago, our station put policy in force to stop the use of copyrighted material in our production ads for clients, and use them cautiously in promo pieces. As many articles in Radio and Production have cautioned... the practice of using copyrighted material is illegal and can result in legal action. And it's clear that most stations would not go through the time, effort or expense of actually licensing the material they are using. Yet these ads comprise a significant portion of the finalists in your awards.
Shouldn't the illegal use of copyrighted material have some weight when it comes to judging commercial material for awards?
I believe that it should.
Timothy W. Bremel
Creative Services Director
You bring up a question we've tackled here before. Unfortunately, the answer hasn't changed over the years. People still illegally use copyrighted music under their commercials, and they win awards. If they passed a law that said RAP should investigate every entry we receive and validate whether music rights were properly secured, we'd immediately raise the entry fee to $200 to afford the detectives. (More likely, we'd simply cease to present the awards.) To the people that vote for the winners and feel as you do, I suggest they cast their "stop breaking the law" vote by voting only for spots that don't use music you "think" may be illegally used (and, hopefully, you're not voting against someone who actually paid for the rights). To the people that submit entries with illegally used music, I wonder if they feel as good about their award as someone who didn't rip off someone else's material in order to win. Thank you for your thoughts and your questions. They're valid. Perhaps by asking these questions regularly, fewer people will support this practice, and fewer people will gain from it.
And we get this letter in the continuing responses to Mr. Mel's article "Greed Kills" in the Jan. '97 issue:
Dear Mr. Mel,
Hearty congratulations for telling it like it is.
The FCC has decided that it is OK for financial engineers to run the radio industry into the ground. Thankfully, The Department of Justice is standing guard; making sure competition exists in every industry. Cincinnati, Rochester, and Charlotte deals that were modified or put on hold give hope that congress may yet stop the madness. Just wait until those politicians who voted for the Telecommunications Act need radio for their reelection campaigns and find spot rates 60% to 70% higher than last year for no other reason than to cover the obscene debt load forced on GM's.
If you or any of your readers want to get more involved, you can call DOJ's Merger Task Force at 202-307-0001 or send a fax to 202-307-5802. See what happens when the world's largest law firm goes to work for you.
Concerned Media Advisor