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Strait Leads Country Music Award Nominations; FCC Reaches Payola Settlement Deal with 4 Major Radio Broadcast Companies


The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame will induct its class of 2007 on March 12 during a black-tie ceremony in New York. This year's inductees include the Ronettes, Van Halen, R.E.M, Patti Smith and Grandmaster Flash & the Furious Five. Artists are eligible for induction to the Rock and Hall of Fame 25 years after the release of their first recording. Introductions will be handled by Jay-Z (Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five), Pearl Jam's Eddie Vedder (R.E.M.), Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards (the Ronettes), Rage Against The Machine singer Zach de la Rocha (Patti Smith) and Velvet Revolver (Van Halen).

The 2007 South By Southwest (SXSW) festival will begin on March 14. Held annually since 1987 in Austin, Texas, the 5-day event offers dozens of music industry panels and workshops, plus nightly concerts at more than 50 venues. The Who's Pete Townshend will give the keynote address on opening day. More than 1300 artists will perform at this year's SXSW.

Librarian of Congress James H. Billington has added 25 sound recordings to the National Recording Registry. The National Recording Preservation Act of 2000 requires that recordings be culturally, historically or aesthetically significant and at least 10 years old to be added to the Registry. The number of recordings being preserved for all time now stands at 225. The oldest of this year's additions is Cal Stewart's 1904 rural comedy "Uncle Josh and the Insurance Agent." The most recent is Paul Simon's 1986 album Graceland. Others include The Carter Family's Wildwood Flower (1928), Cole Porter's "You're the Top" (1934), Carl Perkins' "Blue Suede Shoes" (1955), the Ronettes' "Be My Baby" (1963) and the Rolling Stones' "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction" (1965).

Nearly 37 million viewers cast their votes for the 12 American Idol finalists following March 6 and 7 performances. The six male contestants heading into the final rounds are 28-year-old Chris Sligh from Greenville, South Carolina; 29-year-old Philip Stacy from Jacksonville, Florida; 25-year-old Blake Lewis from Bothell, Washington; 22-year-old Chris Richardson from Chesapeake, Virginia; 28-year-old Brandon Rogers from West Hollywood, California; and 17-year-old Sanjaya Malakar from Federal Way, Washington. The six female finalists are 29-year-old Melinda Doolittle from Brentwood, Tennessee; 19-year-old Stephanie Edwards from Savannah, Georgia; 27-year-old Lakisha Jones from Fort Meade, Maryland; 24-year-old Haley Scarnato from San Antonio, Texas; 22-year-old Gina Glocksen from Naperville, Illinois; and 17-year-old Jordin Sparks from Glendale, Arizona. The 12 finalists will show their diversity throughout the rest of the season by performing to a specific weekly theme. Theme week in previous American Idol seasons have paid tribute to Barry Manilow, Country music, disco, 1960s music, and Motown artists, to name a few. The 2007 American Idol winner will be announced on May 23.

A payola settlement has been reached between the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and four major radio broadcast companies. Clear Channel Communications Inc., CBS Radio, Entercom Communications Corp. and Citadel Broadcasting Corp. will pay a combined $12.5 million. They also made separate deals to give 8400 half-hour blocks of free airtime to independent record labels and local artists. FCC Commissioner Jonathan Adelstein told the Washington Post, "This is the largest collective fine in the history of American broadcasting. It wipes payola off the radio dial." Payola, which is defined as radio stations accepting cash or substantial gifts from record companies in exchange for airplay for their artists, became illegal in the late 1950s.


New albums scheduled for release on March 13 include "From Nothin' To Somethin'" by Fabolous and "Don't Tell Columbus" by Graham Parker.


George Strait leads the nominees for the 42nd annual Academy of Country Music Awards. The Texan received eight nominations, including Top Male Vocalist and Entertainer of the Year. Other leading nominees include Brooks & Dunn with seven mentions, Rascal Flatts with six, Carrie Underwood with five and Big & Rich with four nominations. The Academy has also announced that Brooks & Dunn will receive the 2007 Academy of Country Music/Home Depot Humanitarian Award. This year's Academy of Country Music Awards will be presented in Las Vegas on May 15. (Complete list of nominees available at