The ongoing battle against the Performance Rights Act is really heating up. A coalition of Broadcasters and civil rights leaders penned a joint letter to United States Senate Judiciary Committee Chair, Patrick Leahy (D-VT).
Radio Ink quotes the letter as saying:
“Minority and women-owned radio stations speak directly to our communities and are a cherished resource that must be nurtured and protected. Therefore, we respectfully urge the Senate Judiciary Committee to ensure proper due process by conducting a thoughtful public hearing on the likely consequences this legislation would have on minority and female radio broadcast ownership and service to minority communities before any official committee action is taken on this legislation.”
[…] “Should the court strike down Section 5 of the Voting Right Act — the Justice Department’s main enforcement tool against discriminatory changes affecting elections — the chief remaining resource to ensure that minority communities can participate fully in the democratic process will be the continued engagement of minority radio broadcasters to drive turnout. However, passage of S. 379 would eviscerate this remaining, powerful resource. Minority communities will be ignored by elected officials, advances in civil rights progress will be rolled back, and future gains will be uncertain at best.”
As someone with a bit of community radio in my background, I am well familiar with the medium’s reach when it comes to trying to get voters to the polls. I’ve seen it on the commercial level in mainstream radio as well. Rock The Vote anyone? Bueller?
Radio is part of community, and helping keep that community informed and engaged is a vital part of its purpose. As women-owned, African American, and Hispanic stations mobilize, we need to remind ourselves why this is important. The social implications as well as the economic ones should give pause to any supporter of the Act if they really look at the entire picture.
The issue is quite divisive. Strange bedfellows abound and allies are at odds in Congress over the issue. Radio Business Report comments on this as well in their exploration of the legislation authored by U.S. Rep. John Conyers (D-MI):
It was almost surreal to see civil rights crusaders pitted against each other, as Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) became the chief critic of Conyers’ legislation and aligned herself with, of all people, Rep. Dan Lungren (R-CA).
Let us hope the mobilization continues. The Performance Rights Act has overcome one hurdle, but there are still opportunities to stop it before it becomes law. Check out NoPerformanceTax.org for more info!