Report: NAB Working Against Net Royalty Talks
September 26, 2008 at 3:34 PM (PT)
A tech blog in the CONGRESSDAILY website reports that the NAB is reportedly trying to squash a bill introduced by Rep. JAY INSLEE (D-WA) that would allow the long-running royalty renegotiations between music and Internet industries to continue. The bill authorizes label-backed digital royalty collector SOUNDEXCHANGE to negotiate an alternative royalty agreement before the end of the year with any Internet radio service.
Stopping the bill would let the current rates stand -- rates that Net radio interests contend are exorbitant and would essentially kill their business. "If they kill this, that means they're able to kill the negotiations," a source told the TECH DAILY DOSE blog.
Trying to block this bill is a slap in the [face] to all NAB members who believe that streaming is an important part of radioâ??s future
PANDORA founder TIM WESTERGREN described the alleged lobbying blitz as a "full court press" on the Energy and Commerce Committee. If broadcasters are successful, "the clock will run out on Web radio ... [the NAB is] "interfering in our business ... They're trying to cross over industry and kill a competitor."
NAB spokesman DENNIS WHARTON denied that the lobbying activity reflects their desire to not "compete with PANDORA and LIVE365. We compete with them every day." Rather, the NAB is concerned that Congress is "attempting to fast-track a bill introduced less than 24 hours ago that could have serious implications for broadcasters, webcasters, and consumers of music ... the NAB spent more than a year trying to work out an equitable agreement on webcasting rates, only to be stonewalled by SOUNDEXCHANGE and the record labels. We will continue to work with policymakers on a solution that is fair to all parties."
The blog quotes a House aide who believes the NAB is "trying to find a way to stop this bill that they in theory have supported" because it might detrimentally impact their looming Congressional battle against performance rights. "The bill puts into place a legal framework to let the [performance rights] deal go through," the aide said.
On the RAIN website, KURT HANSEN asserted that the lobbying "totally violates the spirit of what NAB CEO DAVID REHR said last week at the NAB RADIO SHOW -- e.g., 'NAB has been working to address the outrageous COPYRIGHT ROYALTY BOARD decision that dramatically increases streaming rates' ... Trying to block this bill is a slap in the [face] to all NAB members who believe that streaming is an important part of radio’s future."