College broadcasters object to tax


The recording companies may think they’re cutting a break for noncommercial stations attached to institutes of higher education, but that’s not the way they see it. College Broadcasters Inc. joined with the Free Radio Alliance in contacting members of Congress to try to head off the Performance Rights Act.

CBI believes there is noting so “special” about the “special accommodations’ being offered their type of station. In its letter to Congress, CBI said, “That ‘special accommodation’ is between a $500 and $1,000 annual fee applicable to each noncommercial station. In the context of record industry profits, company executives might believe their proposal to be reasonably low. But in the real world, those proposed fees represent large portions of annual budgets for student-operated radio stations.”

The underlying costs may be worse for college stations. “Without belaboring the details, contentious proceedings to achieve that mandate have been ongoing since 2002, and the onerous requirements already adopted by the CRB have had the unfortunate effect of causing some student-operated services subject to the statute to cease operations due to disproportionate recordkeeping costs.”

This is coming at a time when educational institutions are facing increased costs and decreasing financial support, with similar challenges facing students and their families. “Now is not the time to impose new fees on our small stations principally to benefit foreign-owned recording labels. The record industry executives clearly do not understand student-operated radio, which is obvious in the proposed legislation.”

The students are well aware that their own airplay is highly treasured by artists. “Artists clamor for airplay on educational radio stations in a very aggressive manner, suggesting that airplay alone is of great relative value for the fledgling artists that are the mainstay of educational radio. Artists and record labels are already highly compensated for the use of their music through the immense promotion that student-operated radio presently collectively provides. Any claim that artists and record labels are not now being compensated for the performance of their material is disingenuous, and upsetting the longstanding mutually beneficial relationship between artists and educational radio stations could ultimately harm artists.”

RBR/TVBR observation: If the performance royalty goes through, it will be time to start selling the 3:00 commercial. If the labels want to promote a good or service, they can buy the time to do so just like everybody else.