A Radio Victory on Capitol Hill


capitalThe Local Radio Freedom Act – “Congress should not impose any new performance fee, tax, royalty, or other charge relating to the public performance of sound recordings on a local radio station for broadcasting sound recordings over-the-air, or on any business for such public performance of sound recordings.”

As of Wednesday 220 members of the U.S. House of Representatives have signed on to the Local Radio Freedom Act, a substantive step forward indeed! While non-binding, the resolution still sends a clear message of disapproval to the supporters of HR 848, known as the Performance Rights Act.

Lets see some comments on the Performance Rights Act from Kansas via TMC.net:

Strong opposition Cliff Shank, president and owner of Ad Astra Per Aspera Broadcasting, Inc., which owns FM stations KSKU 94.7, KNZS 100.3 and KXKU 106.1, said he is “100 percent” opposed to the new legislation.

“It’s something that really makes me angry,” he said. “For the entire history of radio, there has been a great win-win situation where we play the performers’ music for free and in return basically give them a free commercial. They become popular, sell lots of music, and become millionaires and billionaires.” Shank, who is a past chairman of the board for the Kansas Association of Broadcasters, added that instituting a performance royalty for stations, which already pay a royalty to song authors and composers, is both a bad idea and unethical.

Evidently, I am happy to say, our elected representatives agree with him. Now let’s hope that the NAB and other groups rallying support in those hallowed halls continue the great job. It is fantastic news, but not cause for complacency. A full vote on HR 848 is not an impossibility, even though its chances of passing are lessening.

Nonetheless this is fantastic news. As a huge fan of local radio I am glad to see a bright spot on the horizon. It is certianly cheering others as well. Kristen Letsinger, a freelance journalist writing for KnoxvilleBiz.com shares the local Tennessee perspective on the news:

“I consider this a great victory for especially small radio stations all across the United States, and for local programming, and for independent radio station businesses in general,” said Ed Brantley, vice president and general manager for Knoxville country music station WIVK. “I think the House of Representatives is doing the right thing, and we’re all just very excited about this.”

While not a roadblock to the Performance Rights Act, the resolution sours the climate for it. Hopefully this will send a clear message to the backers of the bill preventing them from seeking a full vote at this time. If we can continue to keep people and stations engaged on this issue I believe that the common sense of our arguments will win out in the end.

Note (via RadioInk): The Senate version of the Performance Rights Act, backed by Sens. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Orrin Hatch (R-UT), has not had any hearings as yet in the Senate Judiciary Committee, which Leahy chairs. Meanwhile, the Senate version of the LRFA has been adding support, as six more Senators have signed on, bringing the resolution to 12 co-sponsors.

Photo courtesy of Allie_Caulfield, used under its Creative Commons license


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