Congress asks NAB to PRA meeting


The heads of the two congressional judiciary committees fired off a letter to top brass that the NAB seeking a discussion of the Performance Rights Act, which has already been passed by both committees. NAB said it would certainly be willing to discuss the matter. Meanwhile, one new member in each house signed on to oppose PRA.

The letter from Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) went to NAB President/CEO Gordon Smith and Joint Board Chairman Steve Newberry.

RIAA-backed MusicFIRST is also invited to the meetings. According to The Hill, the letter state, “We request that your organizations, as representatives of the stakeholders most affected by the provisions of this legislation, enter into negotiations before this legislation is considered on the floor of either House. The negotiated resolution will be considered by Congress as it takes up passage of this Act. We will request a recommendation from Committee Members and staff resulting from the negotiations.”

Speaking for NAB, EVP Dennis Wharton said, “NAB is of course willing to talk with members of Congress on this issue and any issue that could negatively impact the ability of free and local hometown radio stations to serve our listeners. We would hope that any discussions would also include the nearly 300 members of Congress who oppose the RIAA-backed bill.”

New endorsers of the Local Radio Freedom Act, which opposes PRA, include Sen .Jim Risch (R-ID) and Rep. Glenn Nye (D-VA). LRFA is now supported by 252 members of the House lawmakers and 27 members of the Senate.

RBR-TVBR observation: Okay, let’s puzzle this out. You support a bill. You ram it through your committee with an easy majority. And the next step is – negotiate with the constituency that lost in your committee? Sounds like the floor is just a tad inhospitable to the bill.

There are now 252 members of the House who signed onto LRFA, far above the 218 needed for a simple majority. RIAA has been hoping that it could somehow convince some of them that PRA and LRFA are not mutually exclusive, but we suspect that the anti-PRA majority in the House is solid.

We would note that PRA’s fate in the Senate is far from obvious as well, despite only 27 declared opponents to PRA. The effort to promote LRFA there is much younger, and senators are much less likely to tip their hands in advance than are House members. As in the House, the Senate list of PRA opponents is bipartisan. Simply stated, the fact that opposition is not yet at a majority tipping point is not an indication that the bill could pass there.