Pandora Secures Broadcast License for FM Radio Station

The popular music streaming service Pandora secured FCC approval last night to begin broadcasting music on the FM dial, at least in Rapid City, South Dakota. After paying $600,000 for Rapid City’s KXMZ station, Pandora’s license to broadcast suffered through a lengthy delay because of a provision in the Communications Act that forbids foreign entities from owning broadcast radio stations. The license was finally green-lighted by the FCC on Monday night. The move is a small part of a clever plan by Pandora to reduce the amount it pays out for music it broadcasts online and through its mobile app. ASCAP, a company that manages performance rights for artists, charges less for companies that own broadcast stations to play music, even when that music is played through a digital service.

The FCC’s approval of Pandora’s broadcast license has been a bitter subject across the music industry. ASCAP offered arguments against the move, going largely ignored, and has been very vocal in the press about Pandora’s intent. The National Music Publishers Association’s chief, David Israelite called Pandora’s purchase of the station “cynical and shameless,” and concluded “now, there can be no doubt that Pandora has declared war on songwriters .”