Forbes looks at royalty battle


No new ground was turned, but Forbes did put something out there about the struggle between broadcasters and the labels over performance royalties for songs broadcast over the air. In the end, Forbes saw a majority of US Reps opposing a new royalty bill, and elections on the horizon – translating a broadcast win in 2010 and a renewed struggle in 2011.

Regular readers of this space are no doubt familiar with the outlines of the battle. The record companies are looking for cash anywhere they think they can find it – and that includes seeking royalty payment. Broadcasters continue to insist that each song played on the air is a free advertisement, and that is fair compensation for a station’s use of it as a component of its entertainment content.

The chairs of two judiciary committees, Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) each managed pass the Performance Rights Act, but neither version has moved any further, and Conyer’s version faces over 250 House members who are supporting a resolution opposing it, over 20 votes more than needed to send it to defeat.

Forbes says that legislators are not going to incite the ire of the NAB in an election year. But it says to watch out for 2011.

RBR-TVBR observation: This is going to be a tough issue, probably for a long time to come. We doubt it will be passed this year, but you just never can tell on Capitol Hill. If it doesn’t, it is almost sure to come up again later.

Also, we’re not so sure legislators are in awe of NAB. Has anybody ever heard anybody else wonder, in the heat of a local, or statewide, or even national election, what the NAB thinks?

We didn’t think so. Nobody is thinking NAB during an election.

We think that most legislators simply recognize the value that broadcasters bring to their local community, and understand their critical role in both providing news and information on a daily basis, and vital information during emergencies. So they defend and protect broadcasters. It’s as simple as that.