Pandora says Net radio vote is too close to call

Web radio stations engage in last-minute lobbying of lawmakers before Congress is set to vote on a bill that could mean life or death for the services.

Update at 5:50 p.m. PDT: The House actually did weigh in on the bill on Saturday, passing it unanimously by a voice vote.

Proponents of Web radio stations are predicting a very close vote in Congress on a bill that they paint as life or death.

The House of Representatives is set to vote Sunday on the Webcaster Settlement Act, which would allow Web radio stations to negotiate with the music industry for a royalty rate lower than what Congress mandated last year.

Companies like Pandora are seeking a reduced rate and say that they simply cannot afford to keep operating with the higher rate.

The bill was scheduled to go to the House floor Saturday morning but was postponed twice. Meanwhile, the National Association of Broadcasters, which opposes the bill , was also using the extra time to sway lawmakers.

Because the bill is being considered under a suspension of rules, it will require a two-thirds majority to pass.

Asked which way Congress was leaning, Pandora founder Tim Westergren said it is too close to call.

"NAB is gunning full bore to kill the bill," Westergren said. "It's become a straight up battle between NAB lobbying might and constituents. Calls from listeners have been raining in since last night. (It's) touch and go."

 

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