NAB negotiations can only lead to a bad compromise

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I am a 17 year veteran of radio, Regional Manager for a small rural broadcast company, Noalmark Broadcasting Corporation and General Manager for my local six station cluster. I was the 2009 – 2010 President of the Arkansas Broadcasters Association and I serve on the Small Market Advisory Committee for the Radio Advertising Bureau. I applaud the NAB’s willingness to have discussions with the PRA crowd. However, this is a bad deal! Any final compromise that looks like this one is bad news for the radio industry. Unfortunately this is the proverbial “camel’s nose under the tent” and to entrust the funding formula to Congress is a mistake of major proportions.


Let us not forget, this is not nearly as much about making sure Sam Moore gets paid as it is about propping up an industry that technology left in its dust years ago.  I can see how the RIAA had a real issue with Napster and other free pier to pier sharing services. That is theft of an actual product. However, we are not Napster. We are terrestrial over the air radio which has made huge stars out of every secretary, waitress, truck driver and ex-con who got a record deal and could sing.

The problem is not radio, the problem is the business model. In mid 90’s you couldn’t book a rental space in Nashville because BNA, Curb, et al were too busy throwing lavish parties (anyone remember Mindy McCready’s ceremony where her label gave her a platinum belly button ring for going platinum) and signing contracts worth tens of millions of dollars with unproven artists! Even then the “old timers” in the music business were warning their industry not to go over board. Instead of listening to them, they bought them out and now we are down to four major labels.

Should this be enacted, it will be single greatest transfer of wealth from the radio industry to foreign owned companies in the history of the business. I’m sorry, but just because the fees are so-called permanent, it doesn’t make me feel any better. What if I worked out a deal with Eric Clapton, Sheryl Crow and a few other member of the Recording Artists’ Coalition and promised to go RIAA Headquarters, find SVP Mitch Glazier and kick Mitch in the groin… And to convince Mitch it would be okay I said to him “Don’t worry Mitch, I will only show up to do this once a year and never any more than that!”

Come on; let’s get real: The problem is the record label and a business model that is better suited for steamboats and horse drawn carriages than an industry trying to compete in the digital age.

–B.A. “Sandy” Sanford, C.R.M.C., GM/Noalmark Broadcasting Corp. El Dorado, Arkansas. [email protected]


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Carl has been with RBR-TVBR since 1997 and is currently Managing Director/Senior Editor. Residing in Northern Virginia, he covers the business of broadcasting, advertising, programming, new media and engineering. He’s also done a great deal of interviews for the company and handles our ever-growing stable of bylined columnists.