Posts Tagged ‘Gordon Smith’

Roundup: The Performance Rights Act

June 16, 2010

The Performance Rights Act (PRA) has been a frequent topic here on the Radio 2020 blog ever since its inception, and with good reason. The legislation as it stands could have massive negative repercussions for the radio industry at all levels. Among other things, the new royalty structure will almost certainly result in the labels revisiting their contracts with artists if it passes — not something many have considered. This is only one of many ramifications that will rear their ugly heads if the PRA gets passed.

Let’s take a quick trip in a time machine and revisit my prior postings on the subject. For the benefit of our readers, here is a nice array of data on the subject. These posts range from October 2009 to the present and are presented oldest to newest in this list.

The Performance Rights Act is a very serious issue and it could still go one way or the other, so please educate yourself on the subject. Make an informed decision and let your Representative know your views!

Image: D. Reichardt / CC 2.0

Royalty Bill’s Chances Fading

November 30, 2009

Washington Research Group Concept Capital‘s Paul Gallant says in a new report that chances of the Performance Rights Act passing have downgraded from a 60% likelihood to 40%. The Performance Rights Act would force radio stations to pay royalties for playing music on top of the usual array of song writer royalties that have always been paid.

This is good news, but one cannot help but look askance at it. After all, the House and Senate Judiciary Committees have both approved the legislation in recent months, and a meeting was held between broadcasters and record labels to discuss a possible compromise. Both of these occurrences would seem to denote victory rather than failure for the “performance tax”. So why do we have better odds now?

FMQB boils it down to a few simple statements:

[…] why the possibility is less likely, first saying that broadcasters are doing an effective job of building opposition to the legislation. The NAB has gotten 27 Senators and 253 House members to sign a resolution opposing the Performance Rights Act. Secondly, broadcasters have gotten traction with arguments that a new fee could have damaging consequences for a large number a radio stations – particularly in a difficult advertising environment – and that a disproportionate share of endangered stations are minority-owned.

But wait, there’s more. As RadioInk observes the political angles to all this have quite an impact on these odds as well:

Gallant also notes that members of Congress are “typically more sensitive to broadcasters’ policy agenda” as elections near, and points to the leadership of new NAB President/CEO Gordon Smith, who joined the organization officially late last month. Though he notes that Smith is restricted from lobbying directly for another year, Gallant writes, “We view his stature, bipartisan reputation, and skill set as a new and positive factor for broadcasters in the radio royalty battle.”

There, now that you see the basic reasoning, it makes perfect sense. But that does not mean we in the industry can rest on our laurels; the fight isn’t over yet! In the world of politics, there is always the chance of some surprise last-minute deal or maneuver by the opposition. Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and House Judiciary Chairman John Conyers (D-MI), the bill’s sponsors, continue to spare no efforts to pass this potentially damaging piece of legislation.

Then there is the Local Radio Freedom Act, which is also winding its way though the halls of government. It declares that “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”. This piece of legislation is gaining ground and needs your support, especially now that support for the PRA seems to be waning.

You can follow both bills online easily on Open Congress:

Image: billselak / CC BY-ND 2.0

Reps. Conaway and Green: Champions of Radio

November 6, 2009

conawayThere is a discussion of the Performance Rights Act (PRA) scheduled for November 17 on Capitol Hill.  Among the invited participants are National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) President/CEO Gordon Smith and Joint Board Chair/Commonwealth Broadcasting President/CEO Steve Newberry, as well as representatives of label-backed pro-royalties group musicFIRST.

Of course, there are two members of Congress not invited who would like to attend and add their own views to the mix: Reps. Mike Conaway (R-TX) (pictured) and Gene Green (D-TX). The two radio supporters  have penned a missive to  House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers (D-MI) asking to participate in the dialogue.

Here is an excerpt from that letter I found on RadioInk:

Green and Conaway write, “We are the lead sponsors of H. Con. Res. 49, the ‘Local Radio Freedom Act,’ a resolution supported by more than 250 of our House colleagues that opposes any new financial burdens on local radio broadcasters. We have serious concerns that legislation imposing a new royalty on local radio stations, particularly in this economic climate, will be tremendously harmful to radio stations and their employees, local communities that rely on radio, and recipients, such as charities and nonprofits, that receive free airtime for their causes.”

They go on to cite the inclusion of Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Henry Waxman (D-CA), a proponent of the new royalties, and other House members not currently on the judicial committee as a precedent for their inclusion. I’m sure that the recent Neilsen studies, showing that radio has a greater audience than the Internet, will add some fuel to the fire on both sides. The musicFIRST people will see an even bigger pot of gold to shoot for at the end of their legislative rainbow, while our side has more solid proof of the reach and value of airplay.

Just take a look at Business Insider‘s Chart of the Day for a great visual representation of the numbers from the study. For more depth, there is also an interview on Media Life with Lorraine Hadfield, managing director of global radio measurement at The Nielsen Company, about “why radio remains ubiquitous, why listening is higher at work than at home, and why not everyone has an iPod.”

With newly verified data showing radio to reach 77%  of adult listeners (64% for the Internet), we have a clear illustration of how pervasive radio is. Our medium continues to hold the crown as the number one discovery mechanism for music, something the labels are well aware of.

Image: Mike Conaway / Public Domain: Govt.

New NAB Boss Gordon Smith’s Introductory Speech

October 1, 2009

nabradioThe new top dog at the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB), Gordon Smith,  gave his first public speech since taking the helm.  The setting was the 2009 NAB Radio Show opening address held at the Pennsylvania Convention Center in Philadelphia.  Here are his words as the crowd heard them that day:

It is an honor and a privilege to stand before you as the incoming president and CEO of the National Association of Broadcasters.

I’ve been fortunate to meet with many of you and learn more about the challenges you face, and the opportunities that lie before you in this digital age.

It’s both an exciting and a challenging time for the broadcasting business, and I plan on hitting the ground running as your president and CEO to ensure your voices continue to be heard back in Washington, D.C. As a member of the Senate, I worked across party lines to get legislation passed. Now, my politics are the interests of the National Association of Broadcasters, which translates into serving radio and television broadcasters and the American people.

Having served on the Senate Commerce Committee, I’m familiar with the issues that impact America’ s local broadcasters. I am also keenly aware of, and amazed by, the public service that you provide to your communities each and every day. In towns big and small, broadcasters provide their communities with national and local news, deliver informational programming, report vital emergency information and offer unparalleled entertainment choices. You are the glue that connects your friends, family and neighbors to each other.

As broadcasters, you take seriously your responsibility to be a fundamental resource for your local communities and your commitment to providing public service. That is an awesome responsibility.

To call oneself a broadcaster is truly answering to a higher calling. It’s knowing you’ve been entrusted with the public’s airwaves, and recognizing that what you report and air impacts the lives of your viewers. You serve your communities in remarkable ways, improving the quality of life and fostering the principles of localism.

And it’s going to be my job to make sure policymakers and the rest of America understand the many ways broadcasters give back to their communities.

America’s local radio and television stations are integral parts of the towns and cities they serve.

Broadcasters’ contributions to their local communities are diverse, enormously valuable and make a major impact on towns and cities all across the country-in large part because each individual station has the latitude to serve their audience’s unique and specific needs.

But many of the legal and regulatory challenges broadcasters face in Washington, D.C., such as the performance tax and the Satellite Home Viewer Extension and Reauthorization Act — or SHVERA — can affect your ability to support your communities and innovate to meet the demands of today’s rapidly changing media landscape.

As Charles [Warfield, NAB Radio Board president] mentioned earlier, you have a dedicated team of professionals working to ensure you are represented in Washington, D.C., and I cannot wait to join them. But as a former Senator, I know that it is the commitment from association members — the grassroots strength of the NAB — that makes an incredible difference. You must continue to come together to fight for the future of broadcasting.

I want to commit to you, that you also have a new president and CEO who is dedicated to advocating on behalf of all broadcasters and focused on providing the best service possible to our members. Too often in Washington, D.C., we’re defined by labels. The label I want to be defined by now is chief advocate for America’s broadcasters. The issues that we face are many, and I know that there are challenges ahead. But with input from our leadership and our members, we will focus on growing our strengths, improving our weaknesses and always serving as the premier advocate for America’s radio and television stations.

One of our great strengths is the value that we provide as free, over-the-air broadcasting. And we must continue to drive the rollout of innovative platforms to deliver your content and demonstrate the great possibilities of radio and television.

Charles spoke about the Radio Heard Here campaign and building a strong future for radio by embracing new technologies. And we’re moving forward with these many initiatives like FM capable cell phones, HD Radio and Internet streaming.

These are all very exciting opportunities and it’s really encouraging to see radio come together and innovate in this digital age. And while I know this is a radio crowd, there is also much to look forward to with the advent of digital television. There are many doors opening for television broadcasters with the acceleration and development of mobile digital television products and services. It’s amazing to think we will be able to watch live TV anywhere we are. Mobile digital television will transform the way we watch television.

Advances in technology are giving broadcasters opportunities to find better, more innovative ways to deliver the high-quality content and services that local communities expect and deserve. The ability of broadcasters to operate in a marketplace free of unnecessary regulation will only help to accelerate the development of new broadcast technologies.

You will be hearing more from me about these issues in the months ahead, so stay tuned.

It is exciting to see that broadcasters have their eyes on the future, and there are strong plans today to build a stronger tomorrow. I know that many of you are trying hard to survive in this challenging economy. I know it hasn’t been easy. But even in these difficult times, you are still there for your communities — always there to assist and provide a lifeline during times of crisis.

That is something you should all be proud of. And that’s one of the many reasons I’m proud to be here standing among you today.

This is a strong industry with a bright future. And I am very excited to be a part of it. It is not only an honor to stand here among you — it is also an inspiration. Thank you for having me here today. I look forward to serving as your president and CEO and can’t wait to get started.

Image: NAB Radio Show logo / Fair Use

Former Senator Smith Takes the Reigns at the NAB

September 22, 2009

225px-Gordon_Smith_official_portraitEver since David Rehr announced that he would be leaving his post as the CEO of the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB), there has been much discussion about who would replace him in the position. That mystery has now been solved with the announcement of former Oregon Senator Gordon Smith as the new man at the helm.

On November 1, Mr. Smith will take the reigns as the new President and CEO of the organization. For those who wonder about his political ambitions, here is a pertinent quote from the man himself on the subject, via Matthew Daly at the Associated Press:

Smith, who has been rumored as a possible candidate for Oregon governor next year, said he will stay out of politics for the time being.

“The only cure for political ambition is embalming fluid,” he joked, adding: “My politics now are to advance the interests of radio and TV broadcasters.”

As the ongoing battle over music royalties rages through the nation’s capitol, I’m sure that we are all pleased to see this position filled. That’s especially true considering that Mr. Smith served on the Senate Commerce Committee, which is the panel that oversees all broadcast-related legislation, during his Washington terms.

A wide variety of news sources have quoted Mr. Smith’s comment in response to being picked up for the position:

“I am honored to have been selected as NAB’s new president and consider this an opportunity of a lifetime,” said Smith in a statement. “As radio and television stations embrace new technologies and new business opportunities, I look forward to articulating to public policymakers the unique and positive role played by local and network broadcasters in the fabric of American society.”

As someone with a record of reaching across party lines, Mr. Smith could well be the person needed to broker arrangements between the broadcast and music industries, especially with his experience on Capitol Hill to draw upon.

Any way you cut it, the filling of this position is one that will be good for morale across the industry. With the current changes caused by the evolution of mobile devices and the Internet, as well as the “performance tax” debate going on in the Senate and the House of Representatives, the determination of a leader is important.

I’d like to join the other members of the radio industry in welcoming Mr. Smith to the NAB. Ihope that he has a long and successful tenure!

[Transparency note: This blog is a joint project of the NAB, RAB, and HD Radio Alliance.]

Image: Gordon Smith Official Portrait via Wikipedia