Lawmakers Urge Hearing On Royalties And Minority Radio
WASHINGTON -- May 8, 2009: Members of the Congressional Black Caucus and Congressional Hispanic Caucus have written to House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers to ask that he consider holding a hearing on the potential impact of a performance royalty on minority-owned radio. The Judiciary Committee may soon vote on the Performance Rights Act, which would impose a performance royalty on broadcast radio under an as-yet-undetermined structure. There is a similar bill in the Senate.
The letter to Conyers, signed by Reps. Andre Carson, Henry Cuellar, Al Green, Chaka Fattah, Solomon Ortiz, and David Scott, says the lawmakers have been contacted by African-American and Hispanic radio owners and executives who believe a performance royalty "threatens the survival of minority-owned radio."
The letter continues, "During their visits and meetings, these radio broadcasters revealed how a new performance royalty may harm local radio stations, particularly small and minority-owned station, which have seen their revenues shrink in light of the current economic crisis. They further noted that a performance royalty may threaten the diversity of voices in the urban radio community and may also lead to job losses or the closing of minority-owned radio stations."
The lawmakers say that African Americans and Hispanics "are already underrepresented in radio ownership, and it is important to understand the impact on minority-owned radio stations as we evaluate legislation that seeks to establish a new performance royalty." They write, "We need to ensure that African-American and Hispanic radio remains a viable voice. We cannot ignore the important role it plays in helping to shape the message to and image of our communities. For these reasons, we ask that you consider conducting a minority-radio-focused hearing that would detail how a performance royalty may impact minority radio broadcasters."
Conyers also heard this week from civil rights groups the Rainbow PUSH Coalition, the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, and the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights asking for a hearing on the performance royalty and minority radio.
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