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Promo vs. payday

MTVi touts visibility in push for lower royalties

WASHINGTON — The recording biz said Tuesday that MTVi Group can well afford to pay a new royalty to artists and labels for music streamed on the Internet, and that the U.S. Copyright Office shouldn’t be suckered into thinking otherwise.

MTVi, the world’s leading Internet music company, with 22 sites, is among the Webcasters and broadcasters urging the copyright office to set a lower royalty rate than that proposed by the Recording Industry Assn. of America.

The two sides are battling it out before a three-member arbitration panel. MTVi Radio veep Brad Porteus testified Tuesday, saying there is a “powerful” promotional aspect to Internet streaming, and that this should be factored in when determining the royalty rate. He said some artists have “begged” to be included on MTVi sites, which include MTV.com, VH1.com and Radio SonicNet.

“Radio airtime has driven record sales for decades. The Internet is no different,” Porteus testified.

When it came time to question Porteus, attorneys for the RIAA pointed to press releases touting MTVi as the world’s leading streaming venture — in other words, stable and financially secure.

Deep-pocketed parent

Likewise, attorneys showed the arbitration panel other documents proclaiming Viacom, MTV’s parent company, as the world’s leading entertainment and media platform. MTV is majority owner of MTVi.

RIAA attorneys also submitted documents in which Porteus was quoted as saying that Internet radio sites are far less expensive to get up and running than traditional radio stations.

In debating the new royalty rate, Webcasters and broadcasters have argued that the Internet is a risky business, and hence, the rate should be lower to account for this.

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