Legislators leery of royalties


Perhaps we were a bit premature in our recent comments on the prospects of performance royalties in Congress. If your perspective is limited to the Subcommittee on Courts, the Internet and Intellectual Property, you’d think legislation making them a reality is a mortal lock. However, the NAB has been busily assembling a lengthy bipartisan roster of reps who oppose new royalties, and that effort is within votes three of a floor majority. The senate effort is less far along.

At the close of the week, seven more reps indicated they would support the Local Radio Freedom Act (S. Con. Res. 82), which would prevent any "new performance fee, tax, royalty or other charge" for music played over the radio. The additional supporters takes the total to 215, nearly half of the 435 whole of the House. Included among the newcomers are Bob Etheridge (D-NC), Ben Chandler (D-KY), Michele Bachmann (R-MN), Steve Israel (D-NY), Andre Carson (D-IN), Michael Burgess (R-TX) and Cliff Stearns (R-FL).

13 senators are now aboard. The newcomers include Johnny Isakson (R-GA), James Inhofe (R-OK), Chuck Hagel (R-NE) and John Barrasso (R-WY).

RBR/TVBR observation: This is one of those issues that springs forth from time to time like a cicada uprising. The catalyst this time is the failure of the recording industry to stay on top of the internet wave, and its subsequent attempted cash grab from any source it can think of. It’s most prominent and short-sighted attempts are its willingness trash its age-old content/promotion arrangement with broadcasters along with alienating its own customer base with lawsuits. If NAB is able to help shoot this down in 2008, it deserves a nice round of applause, since the committee responsible for the legislation seems perfectly ready to move forward with it. But watch out – even if it’s driven underground this year, it’s sure to rise again in the future.