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NABOB wins truce with Sony.

The National Association of Black-Owned Broadcasters' (NABOB) threatened boycott of Sony Corp.'s music division was averted by last-minute negotiations in January. NABOB's success in using negotiations to achieve a goal underscores the importance professional organizations play in winning a fair share for all African-Americans.

In mid-December, NABOB met with Sony to discuss practices that the organization perceived as discriminatory. NABOB alleged that the Japanese-owned company engaged in late distribution of new releases to black-owned and black formatted stations; had relatively low numbers of black employees; reduced the number of black senior-level executives; and did not advertise on black-owned or black-formatted radio stations.

"When we learned that many African-American radio stations did not receive the Michael Jackson single, Black or White...we felt it was a slap in the face," says James L. Winston, executive director and general counsel for NABOB. "It undermined the African-American radio market, so collectively, we decided to take action."

A second meeting with Sony's top executives in January aired differences between the two sides. According to LaBaron Taylor, vice president of Sony Software Corp., who helped coordinate the meeting, Sony agreed to take steps to make sure singles would no longer be "leaked." He also says that although "[Sony] does not advertise on radio as much as it has done in the past... we will review our marketing strategy."

Even with those developments, Sony officials contend that NABOB's allegations were actually inaccurate. They claim that the release of the Black or White single was unintentionally leaked by a program director on the West Coast who sent the single to his friends and other non-African-American radio stations in Washington, D.C.

Sony Music also claims that its overall employment of black, including the number of black executives, has increased since Sony's acquisition of CBS Records in January 1988. However, Sony refused to supply statistics to support their claims.

Lois Wright, vice president and corporate counsel for Inner City Broadcasting Corp. (ranked No. 38 on the BE INDUSTRIAL/SERVICE 100s), was relieved that the issue of distribution was resolved and a foundation for cooperation was laid. "It comes down to dollars and cents," says Wright. "We would lose money if this was done intentionally many times"
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Copyright 1992, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Title Annotation:National Association of Black-Owned Broadcasters
Author:Warren, Renee E.
Publication:Black Enterprise
Date:Apr 1, 1992
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