Music Creators Create Noise over Liberty/iHeartMedia

Groups backing music creators and opposing media concentration have asked the Justice Department to reject what they said is John Malone's proposed purchase of iHeartMedia, the nation's largest radio station owner.

Justice is reportedly vetting a Liberty Media's proposal to boost its current stake in the radio/online audio giant to a controlling interest or ownership. 

In a letter to Antitrust Division chief Makan Delrahim, the Center for Digital Democracy, American Economic Liberties Project, Artist Rights Alliance, Institute for Local Self-Reliance, Open Markets Institute, and Public Citizen, said it should nix the deal.  

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They argue that the combination of iHeartMedia with Liberty's controlling stake in satellite radio service Sirius/XM (which now owns Pandora) and 33% stake in LiveNation/Ticketmaster would create a dominant non-streaming and streaming audio distribution giant with likely "catastrophic" consequences for competition. 

"For listeners, it will almost certainly mean fewer options, less diversity, and higher prices," they argued. And for artists, "[u]p and coming talent will face an even greater challenges cracking through shrinking nationalized playlists." 

"This merger will also be a setback in the struggle for fair economics for music distribution, as the new conglomerate uses its massive power to demand cut-rate, below-market royalty rates at the pain of being shut out across these major platforms altogether," they predicted, adding: "This unacceptable new proposal will put a broad array of music creators at a massive disadvantage in an arena that is already massively stacked against them. Please reject Liberty Media's bid to acquire any meaningful portion of iHeartMedia." 

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.