I think the call for a membership plebiscite on the NAB terms sheet doesn’t take into account the fact that a large percentage of the radio membership of the NAB was, indeed, consulted before this vote.
The Radio Board is made up of group ownership representatives and elected members like myself. Over 40% of the radio membership of the NAB is represented by the group representatives. After the August Board meeting, most of the elected Directors returned to their districts to solicit member station’s input and thoughts.
As a Texas representative, I stood in front of the Texas Association of Broadcasters Convention and outlined the issue as I understood it. I gave my email address and asked for input. Then, in September, I canvassed 100% of the radio membership of my district with a letter asking for ideas on how we should proceed.
At the last board meeting, the discussion among the elected Directors centered on input we received from out constituent stations, so I know many other Board Members did the same thing I did.
Just because there was no election in the pages of a trade magazine does not mean we cast our votes in a vacuum. If they replied to my request for input, I know exactly where the member stations in this district stand on the issue and there are strong feelings on both sides.
We all took away different messages from the discussion of these terms. Personally, I cannot make a logical argument for paying the RIAA for airplay that benefits the artists so directly. But this is a decision that will not be made based on what’s right, but on politics. And with a view to the political world, I voted to put this issue behind us with terms that radio could live with and would ‘buy’ us some benefits.
To assume the Radio Board didn’t consult our 6,000+ member stations is false. The hundreds of group owned stations had direct representation, and the rest of us consulted in the best tradition of constituent representation: We asked our member stations and then voted our best judgment informed with their concerns.
Ben Downs, NAB Radio Board District 18, Texas
Bryan Broadcasting VP/GM