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Public radio: No Webcast changes for us for now

National Public Radio and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting say they expect no disruptions in their music streams thanks to a temporary agreement with the music industry over elevated fees set to kick in Sunday.

The latest on the Internet radio saga bears some positive news for people who like to stream music from public radio's online presence.

Recall that starting on Sunday, new federal rules requiring higher royalty payments to the music industry from Webcasters--commercial and non-commercial alike--are scheduled to take effect. In recent days, Internet radio outlets have been stepping up negotiations with SoundExchange, the nonprofit entity charged with collecting the fees, over compromises aimed at blunting the increases' impact.

Now public radio says it has reached at least a temporary agreement with the record industry.

Thanks to a "productive" meeting with SoundExchange on Friday, National Public Radio and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting "are confident that public radio stations can continue their music streaming operations for the next three months as good faith discussions are ongoing about the structure and amount of the ultimate fee," NPR spokeswoman Andi Sporkin said in an e-mail message Friday night.

Sporkin said CPB has offered SoundExchange a payment believed to cover what it owes starting July 15, and the group has accepted that money.

"At this time, public radio stations will continue music Webcasting without a limit to visitors to their Webstreams or changes in their current operations," she said.

Meanwhile, large and small commercial Webcasters are still attempting to reach a final agreement with SoundExchange over the rates they owe, with those discussions expected to heat up again early next week. Some low-budget Webcasters have already shut down their operations out of fear they wouldn't be able to afford the new payments. Other industry representatives, including Pandora founder Tim Westergren, say they've been encouraged by the tone of the most recent negotiations and aren't planning to go silent come Sunday.

Check out our FAQ for more information on the conflict and the ongoing discussions.