Senator Barrasso: Radio Booster

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225px-Sen._John_Barrasso_Official_Portrait_7.17.07One of the chief sponsors of the Local Radio Freedom Act, Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY), was a surprise guest at Friday’s Radio Luncheon at the Philadelphia National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) Radio Show. His pledge to fight the RIAA’s push for collecting royalties from broadcast radio was greeted with excitement by the crowd according to all reports.

The former orthopedic surgeon joined Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-AR) in introducing S. Con. Res. 14 in this session of Congress. This is the Senate counterpart to H.R. 848 in the House of Representatives, both entitled the Local Radio Freedom Act. The  resolution now has 23 co-sponsors, bringing the total supporter count to 25. While encouraging, these numbers are far from the majority support that the Local Radio Freedom Act enjoys in the House.

Radio Business Report shares some of the quotes from that day:

“Radio does so many wonderful things in our communities,” said Sen. Barrasso. And he doesn’t want to see that diminished by a new financial burden for local broadcasters.

“I’m going to continue to fight to ensure that your voices are heard,” he vowed, to great applause and a standing ovation.

Barrasso began, by the way, with a tip of the hat to a former colleague, the new President and CEO of the NAB, sitting a few feet from the podium. Barrasso said it had been a loss to no longer have Gordon Smith in the Senate, but that he is “a great gain for the NAB.”

While the first reaction is elation, we must be vigilant; the battle is far from over. Right now, as observed by the Radio Business Report, supporters of the proposed royalty structure are scanning incoming bills looking for that piece of must-pass legislation that they can try to tack performance royalties onto. Then it is simply a matter of eroding the broadcaster support for the Local Radio Freedom Act in the face of a perceived larger issue. Students of government will hardly be surprised by this approach; it happens frequently in our nation’s capitol.

So the news is good, but we are not out of the woods as yet. Keep contacting your local senators; they need to have it firmly impressed upon them just what is at stake here!

The United States Congress image above is in the public domain.

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