I was very amused when I saw this story posted on the website of a local TV station. 28.3 million people watched American Idol while only 15.1 million watched the Grammys as the two shows went head to head last year.
Part of the explanation for this result is tied to what New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer was doing at the time.
According to the AP,
'Payola' investigation targets national radio conglomerates
Feb. 9, 2006 12:00 AM ALBANY, N.Y. - New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer said Wednesday that he has subpoenaed nine of the nation's largest radio conglomerates in his "payola" investigation of major artists and songs. He claims they got airtime because of payoffs by recording companies.
"A lot of the major songs have been implicated in this and it showed how pervasive the payola infrastructure had become," Spitzer said. "Major artists, major songs were sent up the charts through improper payments to buy spins on the air that translated into sales."
The companies that have received subpoenas control thousands of stations nationwide, including Clear Channel Communications Inc., Infinity, which now operates as CBS Radio, Citadel Broadcasting Corp., Cox Radio Inc., Cumulus Broadcasting Inc., Pamal Broadcasting Ltd., Entercom Communications Corp., Emmis Communications Corp. and ABC Inc., according to court records filed by Spitzer.
Two major recording companies agreed last year to settle their parts of the investigation. Warner Music Group Corp. agreed last year to pay $5 million, and Sony BMG Music Entertainment agreed to pay $10 million.
Artists and writers are not targets, Spitzer's office said. In fact, they have supported the investigation and provided several complaints to assistant investigators.
"Cox Radio has cooperated fully with Attorney General Spitzer's investigation," said Bob Neil, president and chief executive of Cox.
Jason Finkelberg, general manager of Pamal Broadcasting, based in Beacon, N.Y., said he knows of no payola being practiced.
Spitzer has relied on civil laws in the payola case because the criminal laws are more specific and difficult to violate.
The radio probe involves Jennifer Lopez's I'm Real and John Mayer's song Daughters. Songs by other artists are also being examined.
Today, payola is in the form of direct bribes to radio programmers, including airfare, electronics, iPods and tickets.
What this all means is that the songs that are playing on the top 40 are not up there because people like those songs, but are there because label execs are bribing the DJ's to play particular songs. That explains how REO Speedwagon became popular....