Battle royal on Capitol Hill


The Performance Rights Act will be marked up in the House Judiciary Committee today (Wednesday). For some time, the Capitol Hill oddsmakers have considered the bill a near lock to get through the committee headed by John Conyers (D-MI). But it will likely face stiffer opposition if it makes it to the floor of the full House. The NAB has signed up nine more legislators opposing the measure.

RBR/TVBR learned that Rev. Jesse Jackson was meeting one-on-one with Conyers last evening to deliver the concerns of African-American and other minority broadcasters that the measure will put many of them out of business if it becomes law. Nevertheless, the betting is that the bill will be passed out of committee and then broadcasters will have to take the fight to the House floor.

The bill would take cash from radio stations and distribute it among rights holders (50%), featured artists (45%) and nonfeatured artists (5%), a program that would be administered by SoundExchange [this corrects yesterday’s report in RBR].

The news signatories to countermeasure the Local Radio Freedom Act include Elton Gallegly (R-CA), who happens to be a member of Judiciary, and Ruben Hinojosa (D-TX), Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Timothy Walz (D-MN), Tom Perriello (D-VA), Brad Miller (D-NC), Russ Carnahan (D-MO), Ken Calvert (R-CA), and Earl Pomeroy (D-AL).

In addition to its new squadron of supporters on Capitol Hill, NAB was touting Country singer Carrie Underwood, who recently took out a full page ad in “Country Aircheck” thanking radio for propelling her career. It read, “Thank you country radio for 10 #1 singles in a row. In my wildest dreams I never thought this would happen. I have you to thank.”

RBR/TVBR observation: The biggest challenge in marketing music is to get it exposed. People won’t buy it if they haven’t heard it. Peer to peer is an important way to learn about music (and it’s an internet model that got recording companies into trouble in the first place), but that one-on-one exposure has limited affect at the cash register. The best way to market music is still to get airplay. Since recording companies are hell-bent to deny this, maybe more radio stations will start trying to fill the local news vacuum that ailing newspapers are leaving, allowing the recording companies to fend for themselves.