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Performance Royalties Back On The Table

WASHINGTON -- January 23, 2009: In a letter sent earlier this week to fellow members of the House of Representatives, Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers (D-MI), Committee on Foreign Affairs Chairman Howard Berman (D-CA), Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), and Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) tell their House colleagues, "In the coming days, you will likely be presented with a resolution supported by radio broadcasters, which advocates protections for the radio industry but in effect denies performers payment for their work. While the resolution will be framed in terms of preventing a 'tax,' 'fee,' or 'burden' on local radio stations, in reality, the only payment broadcasters would be required to make would be for the use of someone else's property."

The letter urges lawmakers not to co-sponsor the resolution, which, it says, is designed to "prevent a fair compromise on the issue of compensating another person for the use of their property."

The letter asks House members to consider supporting the Performance Rights Act, which, it says, will be reintroduced in this Congress. The PRA, says the letter, "presents a fair and balanced approach that does not affect establishments and venues, provides major accommodations for small broadcast stations (75% of all stations) to protect against hardship, and provides outright exemptions for religious and talk radio. It will not tax or burden broadcasters, but rather will establish balance between those who create music and those who play it for the health and future of both industries."

The letter also claims the bill "appropriately accounts for any promotional benefits in the rate that will be set" and calls radio's exemption from performance royalties "an accidental and unjustified subsidy, which amounts to government-sanctioned unfair competition."

NAB EVP Dennis Wharton said in a statement on the letter, "It is implausible to suggest that a government-imposed bailout of foreign record labels estimated to cost up to $7 billion would not cause serious economic harm to U.S. radio stations. The media business faces the worst advertising economy in decades, and thousands of loyal, hard-working people have lost their jobs in radio the last few months. If Congress wants to ensure more job losses and put at risk the countless charitable and public-service efforts of local radio stations, passing the performance tax would be the best recipe."

(1/26/2009 8:30:05 AM)
Great comment, Jim, but unfortunately this bunch is an absolute sucker for anyone who charges unfairness.

- Scott Todd
(1/26/2009 5:05:30 AM)
As a former radio DJ of 27 years, it never ceases to amaze me how lawmakers miss the true meaning of a radio station in respect to music.

Listen up ... radio stations PROMOTE the music made by musicians and writers. They don't sell it. That is up to ITunes, stores that carry CD's, etc. When a song is sold, the musician and song writer gets a cut. When a musician has a concert, people buy tickets, and the musician gets a cut. That is how they make their money.

Just because a radio station plays a song - promoting the artist and song - that station should not have to pay for the right to promote what they believe their audience wants to hear.

Record companies send CD's and recordings of the artists on their label to stations in the hopes that the stations will play the songs on their air. It doesn't make sense that the station should then turn around and pay to play what the record people are sending them asking for airtime.

The next thing we're going to hear is that radio and TV should pay to play commercials that promote their clients refrigerators, cars, and toilet bowl brushes.

Wake up, lawmakers ... you're being used in a scam that has gone on way too long.

- Jim

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