Radio Performance Royalty Bill Reintroduced -- With FM Chip Mandate Ban, Too
April 23, 2015 at 11:57 AM (PT)
HOUSE Energy and Commerce Committee Vice Chair MARSHA BLACKBURN (R-TN) and Ranking Member of the Communications and Technology Subcommittee ANNA G. ESHOO (D-CA have re-introduced the Protecting the Rights of Musicians Act, which would “condition the ability of broadcasters to opt for retransmission consent payments on whether radio stations they own pay performers for their music” with one new wrinkle -- prohibit the FCC from mandating radio chips for mobile devices.
“Broadcasters have repeatedly told us that retransmission consent payments are fair because cable and satellite stations make millions by retransmitting local broadcast content,” BLACKBURN said. “However, when it comes to music, the same broadcasters, many who own both TV and radio stations, sing a completely different tune. Our legislation seeks to modernize outdated law and put an end to a loophole that allows AM/FM radio to avoid paying musicians for their creative work
We have included language to prevent the FCC from extending this injustice through a potential federally imposed chip mandate for mobile devices. This is a basic issue of fairness that must be addressed
“Internet radio pays music creators fair market value for their performances,” she continued. “Satellite radio pays music creators for performances; Cable and Satellite TV/radio stations pay music creators for their performances. Everyone but AM/FM radio pays. Moreover, we have included language to prevent the FCC from extending this injustice through a potential federally imposed chip mandate for mobile devices. This is a basic issue of fairness that must be addressed and I look forward to working with Congresswoman ESHOO and moving this legislation forward.”
“Broadcasters receive billions of dollars annually when their local broadcast television programming is aired by cable and satellite operators, yet when it comes to the music played on their AM/FM radio stations, they refuse to compensate the creator of the music," ESHOO said. “This double standard is patently unfair.
“The Protecting the Rights of Musicians Act ensures that television broadcasters who opt for retransmission consent fees must also pay artists when their music is played on AM/FM stations, just as they are on Internet and satellite radio. And as more consumers use Internet radio, the bill ensures consumers aren’t locked into outdated technology mandates and can choose how they access local news and music on their mobile device.”
NAB: Opposes Bill, Supports Voluntary FM Chip Activation
In response, NAB EVP/Communications DENNIS WHARTON stated, "NAB respectfully opposes the legislation introduced today by Reps. BLACKBURN and ESHOO. This bill devalues the indispensable role that hometown broadcasters play in communities across AMERICA. We thank the 166 Representatives and 13 Senators who have co-sponsored the Local Radio Freedom Act and look forward to gaining more support for a resolution that recognizes the enormous promotional value radio airplay provides record labels and musicians."
Regarding the ban on FM chip mandates, NAB has repeatedly refused to support mandated FM chips in cellphones, but that wireless carriers should voluntarily activate FM chips that are already in these phones. "For public safety reasons alone, FM chips already in cellphones should be turned on," WHARTON said.
musicFIRST: Pay Up, Radio
On the other side, musicFIRST COALITION Exec. Dir. TED KALO issued the following statement:“One week after the introduction of the ‘Fair Play Fair Pay Act,’ the Broadcasters’ unjustifiable refusal to pay for the music they use is under increasing scrutiny in CONGRESS.
“The ‘Fair Play Fair Pay Act’ and the ‘Protecting the Rights of Musicians Act’ both show that CONGRESS is waking up to the Broadcasters’ games. How can they justify demanding billion-dollar payments for their TV programming when they refuse to pay a cent for music on the radio?
“And why should CONGRESS force smartphone makers to bootstrap technology introduced in 1933 onto modern cellphones? This would not only derail smartphone innovation, but also undercut the growing market for digital radio that pays all creators for their work."