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Civil Rights Groups Ask Pelosi To Look Into Performance Rights Act

WASHINGTON -- May 15, 2009: Spanish Broadcasters Association Director Francisco Montero, Minority Media and Telecommunications Council Exec. Director David Honig, and Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law Exec. Director Barbara Arnwine have written a joint letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi asking her to "ensure that additional thoughtful analysis and deliberation is permitted" before the Performance Rights Act is voted on by the full House.

The bill, which is sponsored by House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers (D-MI), was approved by the committee earlier this week, over the objections of civil rights groups that wanted a hearing on the potential effects of the bill., which imposes performance royalties on broadcast radio, on minority-owned radio stations.

The letter says the law "would disproportionately harm present and future minority radio broadcasters and their listening communities" and could "have an equally devastating effect on the civil rights advances we as a nation have made and will be able to make in the future."

The signers say that Conyers disregarded their due process requests as the committee passed the "harmful legislation," and ask Pelosi to "ensure that these issues and all policy implications are fully vetted before this legislation is scheduled for consideration on the House floor."

The letter says HR 848 "would lead to severe reductions in sustaining and public service programming" and could bankrupt as many as one-third of all minority-owned radio stations, adding that the Judiciary Committee's "apparent attempt to rush this bill through the committee process and onto the floor ignore the fact that this bill imposes significant changes on radio broadcasters without any consideration for the corresponding policy changes in other committees." For example, says the letter, there has been no examination by the Commerce Committee of whether radio should be compensated for the value of airplay and promotion or examination by the FCC of stations' continued ability to serve the public interest, nor has the Ways and Means Committee looked at reinstituting the minority tax certificate.

Montero, Honig, and Arnwine write, "HR 848 is not ripe for floor consideration. We sincerely hope you will ensure that additional thoughtful analysis and deliberation is permitted before it is scheduled for floor consideration."

(5/18/2009 9:42:29 AM)
>>The signers say that Conyers disregarded their due process requests as the committee passed the "harmful legislation,"<<

Why should this surprise anyone? They'll pass this because they know it'll ensure big money donations from the big name artists in future campaigns. They also know those who oppose this aren't going to vote Republican, so why worry about what they think?

- Scott Todd

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