MMTC fighting PRA “civil rights” claim


Seeking to avoid endorsements of the Performance Rights Act (PRA) like that adopted recently by the NAACP, the Minority Media and Telecommunications Council (MMTC) is urging members to set the record straight and get the word out that “civil rights” will not be advanced by bankrupting Black and Spanish radio.

“MMTC, in the strongest way, encourages our fellow civil rights organizations to oppose Performance Royalty legislation (H.R. 848 and S.379) and NOT to sign onto letters and other documents supporting it,” states an Action Alert from the organization.

“We have conservatively estimated that this legislation would throw at least a third of minority owned stations over the cliff into bankruptcy. The National Association of Media Brokers (NAMB) agrees, adding that ‘the imposition of a performance royalty on over-the-air broadcast stations will be crippling to the broadcast industry in general, and be particularly devastating to minority broadcasters and other new entrants to the industry.’ Misinformation is circulating in the civil rights community suggesting that the legislation will not harm minority radio. In fact, Black and Spanish radio would be hit the hardest by this legislation because these stations face the greatest challenges – weaker signals, advertising discrimination (NUDs and NSDs), EEO non-enforcement, and minority undersampling by the leading radio audience rating service. The Performance Royalty legislation would require the Copyright Royalty Tribunal (CRT) take minority ownership into account in setting rates. That provision is well intentioned but meaningless. The CRT cannot set lower rates for minority radio without congressional findings, an Adarand study and, probably, appellate litigation,” the MMTC stated.

The Action Alert notes that a Congressional Budget Office (CBO) report released last month said that rates charged to commercial radio stations under PRA could be “substantial” yet indeterminable. MMTC estimates that that the revenue loss would be at least 6%, maybe more, and further limit the access to capital of minority broadcasters.

“Supporters of the legislation have loosely thrown about the term ‘civil rights.’ But in NO sense is there any civil rights purpose in destroying Black and Spanish radio,” MMTC said in its appeal for other civil rights groups to learn the facts and not endorse PRA.

RBR/TVBR observation: Obviously the NAACP endorsement of PRA was the result of proponents getting there first and claiming the “civil rights” high ground for the foreign record labels hiding behind US minority artists. The truth is quite the opposite and the NAACP is now in the disgraceful position of having adopted a resolution which has the effect of urging the destruction of Black radio in the United States.