The Local Radio Freedom Act: It’s Vital



What would your reaction be if I said that the topic of this post is the potential loss of $400 million to $7 billion for our industry and how to hopefully avoid it? Good, I’m glad I have your attention now.

For over eight decades now, the music industry and radio have had a mutually profitable relationship, free radio promotion balancing the free content produced by the music industry.  Legends and fortunes have been made by many artists in this time as radio has driven likely fans to the check out counter albums/tapes/CDs in hand.  The fact of radio’s sheer reach drives this star making quality and the profits that come with it.

Unfortunately, the RIAA seems to now be taking issue with traditional broadcast in the same way that it has battled with streaming media (many examples of which are traditional radio stations that have expanded onto the web).

Now, as a new Congress assumes their seats in our nation’s capitol, the RIAA has set their sights on a new version of this relationship. One in which radio pays for the “privilege” of acting as a promotional medium for their artists’ works. As with the brouhaha about streaming, this is becoming a legislative battle.

In that face of a crumbling economy, this is dire news indeed. It could well deal more long- and short-term damage to the industry than anything the recession has provided so far. A direct tax of this nature would have ramifications throughout the industry. Staffing and formats would be majorly reconsidered. The entire business model would be subjected to a “ground up” rethinking as the fundamental axioms of the way we do business changes. In combination with the current economic factors, the prospect is frightening.

Here is a crucial call to arms from  Greater Media President/CEO Peter Smyth in his  “Corner Office” column this month (go read the whole thing, he is far more eloquent than I) :

We cannot assume that someone in Washington is going to ride to our aid; no industry group can fight this battle by itself.  It is going to take personal involvement by each of us, regardless of our job title, to let our local representatives in Congress know just how important it is to stop this ill-advised legislation.   Take a moment today to write or call your Congressional Representative’s office.  Ask them to co-sponsor the “Local Radio Freedom Act” (H. Con. Res. 244), which is being introduced in the US House of Representatives.    Tell them what it means for your industry, your job, your future.  For more specific background information, or to check and see who your local representative is, go to

It is not often that I relay a “call to arms” here. That is not the purpose of this blog. This piece of legislation, however, is something that can have a wide ranging and deleterious impact on our industry. Since one of our parent groups, the NAB, is supporting the effort, I feel it is perfectly appropriate to send out the call from this platform as well.

The Local Radio Freedom Act, make your voice heard about it today!

Photo courtesy of empirical perception, used under its Creative Commons license


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