Performance Rights Bill Introduced; Reaction Is Swift
February 4, 2009 at 12:27 PM (PT)
The Performance Rights Bill was introduced in both the Senate and House TODAY, and reaction from both sides came quickly and in strong words.
NAB Urges Congress To Oppose Record Label "Bailout"
NAB Pres./CEO DAVID REHR urged lawmakers to oppose legislation introduced TODAY that would force radio stations to pay a new "performance fee" to the recording industry for music aired free on the radio. The legislation, introduced in the House, is supported by the RECORDING INDUSTRY ASSOCIATION OF AMERICA (RIAA). A measure opposing TODAY's Congressional action is expected to be introduced shortly.
Radio broadcasters are not the reason the recording industry is losing money, and it should not be the industry to fix it.
"Local radio broadcasters consider this fee a 'performance tax' that will not only harm your local radio stations, but will threaten new artists trying to break into the business as well as your constituents who rely on local radio," wrote REHR. "Although the proponents of H.R. 848 claim this bill is about compensating artists, in actuality at least half of this fee will go directly into the pockets of the big record labels, funneling billions of dollars to companies based overseas."
"Although the big record labels have seen their revenues decline over the last decade, local radio broadcasters are not the reason the recording industry is losing money, and it should not be the industry to fix it," wrote REHR.
To read a version of REHR's letter to House lawmakers, click here.
50 State Broadcaster Associations Also Express Opposition
State broadcast associations representing all 50 states, as well as PUERTO RICO and the DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, also issued a resolution today expressing opposition to a performance tax. Read that letter here.
musicFIRST Coalition Pleased With Introduction Of Bill
Meanwhile, THE MUSICFIRST COALITION commented, "TODAY marks the beginning of the end for corporate radio’s loophole," said MUSICFIRST Executive Director JENNIFER BENDALL, upon introduction of the Performance Rights Act in the Senate and House of Representatives.
"It’s unfair, unjustified and un-American that artists and musicians are paid absolutely nothing when their recordings are played on AM and FM radio. Music is their work, their livelihood. They deserve fair pay for air play," BENDALL said. "Artists and musicians across America thank Senator LEAHY, Representative CONYERS and their colleagues for introducing bills that will close the corporate radio loophole."
The COALITION claims the Performance Rights Act will close a provision of America’s copyright law that allows AM and FM radio stations to earn $16 billion a year in advertising revenue without compensating the artists and musicians who bring music to life and listeners’ ears to the radio dial. The bipartisan bill was introduced in the Senate TODAY by Senator PATRICK LEAHY (D-VT), chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and Senators ORRIN HATCH (R-UT), DIANNE FEINSTEIN (D-CA), BOB CORKER (R-TN), and BARBARA BOXER (D-CA); and in the House by Representative JOHN CONYERS (D-MI), chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, and Representatives HOWARD BERMAN (D-CA), DARRELL ISSA (R-CA), MARSHA BLACKBURN (R-TN), JANE HARMAN (D-CA), JOHN SHADEGG (R-AZ), and PAUL HODES (D-NH).