David Rehr’s pen pals


You'd never know it's the summer doldrums in Washington, particularly if you're trying to keep up with NAB President/CEO David Rehr. He's been blanketing the city with mail lately, firing off a letter on XM/Sirius to the FCC, another letter on the DTV transition to the Senate Commerce Committee, and yet another letter on streaming audio royalties to no less a dignitary than President George W. Bush.

Rehr told Kevin Martin and the other Commissioners that late XM/Sirius promises are "…designed to dress up the proposed merger-to-monopoly as a benefit to the public. But you can't make a silk purse from a sow's ear." He said in the final analysis the two companies were trying to form a monopoly, and that "such promises are hollow because in pursuit of their own self-interest, XM and Sirius are willing to bend the law and reinterpret any promises to suit themselves instead of the American public."

To Dan Inouye (D-HI) and other members of the Senate Commerce Committee, Rehr fired off a letter detailing 12 strong measures the NAB is taking. "The goal of our campaign is for no consumer to lose access to free local television programming after February 17, 2009 due to a lack of information about the DTV transition." As for motivation, if nothing else, broadcasters would like to recoup the 5B they've already spent building digital operations. He said the transition is the NAB's single highest priority.

President Bush confessed recently that he had no idea what the battle over streaming royalties was about. Rehr took it upon himself to explain. He said that the recording industry is effectively asking for a performance tax, and urged the President to oppose such a system. "The existing system is the epitome of fairness for all parties: free music for free promotion." Free spins equal record sales, and there is no reason to change this long-standing symbiotic relationship.