Boucher wants royalty negotiations


House Telecom Subcommittee Chairman Rick Boucher (D-VA) used a DC gathering of broadcasters Tuesday to call for them to negotiate with RIAA on acceptable terms for performance royalty fees. NAB is having none of it.

Boucher is one of the authors of the legislation which established performance royalty fees for Internet streaming and he is none of those in Congress who is of the view that an end to broadcast radio’s exemption from the fees is inevitable. He noted that a measure to impose performance royalties on AM and FM radio stations appears to have the votes to pass the House Judiciary Committee and – in his view – would pass the House.

The National Association of Broadcasters will not be racing to get a seat at the negotiating table. “NAB has great respect for Chairman Boucher, but we would submit that the real negotiation should take place between the record labels and recording artists. After the record labels have renegotiated all the abusive deals they have forced on artists, they should come see us,” said NAB Executive Vice President Dennis Wharton.

RBR/TVBR observation: Under the current law, the rate is zero. Why would broadcasters be stupid enough to negotiate to change that?

As for Boucher’s claim that a performance royalty bill would pass the House this session, he may not have heard that Rep. Charlie Rangel, the powerful Chairman of the Ways & Means Committee, is officially opposed to the bill. The opposition is getting stronger, not weaker.