Conyers Explains Performance Rights Act Support
May 20, 2009 at 7:50 AM (PT)
With pressure mounting, Rep. JOHN CONYERS, JR., attempted to explain last week, his ongoing support of The Performance Fee legislation, known as H.R. 848. "As everyone in this room knows, the Performance Rights Act is one of my top priorities this Congress," he said. "On one hand, I believe that the time is finally ripe for establishing some form of equity for recording artists -- allowing them to be paid fair compensation for their creativity. On the other hand, I am concerned about the economic impact this bill may have on broadcasters, particularly smaller broadcasters."
"I know times are tough, and it is not the intention or goal of this legislation to drive broadcasters into bankruptcy or to bring about a widespread consolidation of the industry," CONYERS continued. "That is why I have been, and remain, committed to finding a middle ground on this issue. I believe a number of steps we can initiate today will help us achieve this result:
"First, I -- along with a number of my colleagues -- will be offering a managers amendment that addresses several of the concerns that have been raised at our hearings and subsequent meetings. The Managers Amendment provides a number of accommodations, including delaying the bill’s effective date, reducing the royalty payments due, and insuring that the needs of small, minority, religious, and non-music broadcasters are taken into account.
"Second, TODAY’s markup is not the end of the legislative process, and I remain ready and willing to work with all interested parties in developing any necessary further accommodation, as long as they are willing to work with us in good faith.
"Third, I am requesting -- along with Ranking Member SMITH and Reps. JACKSON LEE, GONZALES and LUNGREN -- a GAO study to analyze the economic factors for radio broadcasters and performing artists and copyright owners related to this Act. This does not mean that we do not have enough information to move the bill forward at this time, but that as we move forward we can and should supplement the information available to the rate-making authority.
"Fourth, I plan to remain diligent in ensuring the vibrancy and competition available in the broadcast and other relevant markets. The last thing any of us wants to do is preside over a broadcast market that becomes more concentrated, and less diverse. I therefore plan to work with Subcommittee Chairman JOHNSON, Ranking Member SMITH and Subcommittee Ranking Member COBLE in planning hearings on this subject in the very near future. I understand this is an important an emotional issue for many. Creative rights go to the core of our cultural and intellectual health as a society. Broadcasters are a vital cog in our local communities and our political debates. I believe we can encourage creativity, while at the same time protecting the economic viability of local broadcasters, and I believe TODAY’s markup represents a good first step towards protecting both."