Music industry coalition slams CBS in programming battle

Radio broadcasters are not required under current law to compensate recording artists, musicians and music labels for playing the sound recordings of their songs, unlike digital and satellite radio stations. On Capitol Hill, broadcasters have fought against attempts by Congress to make them pay a performance right to artists and labels. 

MusicFIRST said CBS's blackout of TV and Internet content on Time Warner's service is "hypocrisy, plain and simple" since the media giant's radio network has pushed back against paying artists and labels for playing their work over-the-air.

The members of the musicFIRST coalition include groups that support a performance right, such as the Recording Industry Association of America, SoundExchange, American Association of Independent Music and The Recording Academy. 

But Dennis Wharton, a spokesman for the National Association of Broadcasters, pushed back against musicFIRST's claims. Wharton said the coalition is ignoring the fact that cable TV and local radio employ different business models.

“The big distinction that musicFIRST conveniently ignores is that one business model – local radio – is free to the public, while the other business model – cable TV – is not," Wharton said in an email. "When pay TV companies resell broadcast programming for massive profits, it’s not unreasonable for local TV stations to ask for fair compensation for that valuable content.”

CBS and Time Warner failed to reach an agreement for how much the cable company should pay to carry the TV network's content. Because of this ongoing dispute, millions of Time Warner subscribers in New York, Los Angeles, Dallas and other U.S. markets have been unable to access the network's programming.

CBS has also blocked access to its online video for Time Warner subscribers, even if they do not subscribe to its TV service. Lawmakers, such as Rep. Jim McDermott (D-Wash.) and Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.), have made complaints to the Federal Communications Commission about CBS's actions.

This post was updated at 1:38 p.m.