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Weekly AUDIO NEWS for March 7, 2001
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Never-Ending Napster News - In an attempt to stop the major record labels from proceeding with more legal actions against their free digital downloads site, Napster announced that it will remove around 1000 MP3 files that have been free up until now. (Many of these are different versions of the same tune.) They also announced a complex proposal that will parcel out one billion dollars to the major and independent labels and songwriters over the next five years. They plan to relaunch this summer with a pricing plan something like TV cable providers: basic downloading plans for $3 to $5 a month and premium memberships for $6 to $10 a month allowing unlimited downloading. Napster says their research shows their 64 million users are willing to pay.

Ondine Label Offers Classical Downloads - One of the first small classical labels to offer music downloads on their website is the Finnish firm Ondine. They now have the complete Eighth Symphony by Rautavaara available in the live performance with Wolfgang Sawallisch conducting the Philadelphia Orchestra. Their address is Naxos also offers downloads and plans to eventually offer their entire huge library on the Net.

Legal Victory for Cable TV Biz - Regulations on cable TV companies that had for years discouraged mass ownership and encouraged more variety of channel offerings have been struck down by a federal appeals court. The result of lifting these "cable concentration caps" is that the two largest cable operators - AOL Time Warner and AT & T - will now be free to drop more channels that they don't own in favor of services in which they own an interest and therefore don't have to pay as much for. (For example, offering only American Movie Channel instead of or without also offering the superior Turner Classic Movies because they own an interest in the first and would have to pay for the second.) There will also be even larger cable monopolies - AT&T may even be freed from having to divest itself of MediaOne, which would have given it control over more than 40% of the cable and satellite TV market. Not only is this step similar to the deregulation of on-air broadcasting by the FCC, but due to this decision the FCC is now considering the elimination of similar restrictions on commercial broadcasters.

- John Sunier

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