More broadcasters weigh in on PRA negotiations


Now that details of the potential structure of a deal between the NAB and musicFirst on Performance Rights legislation have been made public, radio broadcasters have been digesting the news and trying to decide whether it is worth pursuing such a settlement. There is vehement rejection in some quarters, but also plenty of broadcaster interest in the getting a deal done.

From early on Radio One founder and Chair Cathy Hughes had been front in center in the fight against the Performance Rights Act (PRA). She took to the company’s airwaves in Detroit and Atlanta to berate Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) – Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee and chief sponsor of PRA – and committee member Rep. Hank Johnson (D-GA) for trying to kill black radio. And they fired back in kind on Capitol Hill. Johnson accused Hughes and CEO Alfred Liggins (her son and an NAB Radio Board member) for using their radio stations to, in his words, “promote this misinformation.” He also charged that syndicated host Tom Joyner had been “employed to spread hysteria.”

So, has Hughes changed her mind about PRA based on the new developments?

“No – but without discussions there can be no progress – so I am glad both sides are talking!” said Hughes in a brief email to RBR-TVBR.

In today’s Only On RBR-TVBR section you’ll read a much harder stance from broadcaster Chuck Harder, who brands the record labels a “foreign cabal” and says NAB should not get “snookered in” to negotiations with them. Click here to read his Viewpoint.

Taking quite the opposite view is former Katz Radio President Gordon Hastings, now President of ghhManagement, although he admits he no longer has a personal stake in the outcome.

Jeff Smulyan is right on target. He understands risk versus reward and the concept of getting a benefit out of this rather than simply negotiating how much money to pay.  I have said all along; see my blog at, that this situation can be an opportunity for radio to get some new traction in the marketplace. The radio industry-artists and labels have always been great partners and I remain convinced that they are best positioned to work together for mutual benefit. Do not discard the concept of an exclusive radio window for new releases. A great way to drive radio audience and record sales and it does not cost anyone a nickel. Nothing new here!  Radio did it when it was the only show in town and it worked well for everyone. Glad to see the NAB taking a look at a new approach,” Hastings told RBR-TVBR.

Several broadcasters have posted comments, some anonymous, on RBR-TVBR’s PRA stories denouncing the idea of cutting any deal on PRA. “NAB to Radio: DROP DEAD” was one such comment.

“Prediction:  If the NAB continues going down this road, there will be many more news, talk, and sports stations along with many fewer NAB member stations,” said another anonymous commenter.

RBR-TVBR observation: As we noted ahead of last Friday’s special NAB Radio Board meeting, “it will take a broad consensus of radio owners to move forward” on a PRA deal with musicFirst. That consensus does not yet exist, but many broadcasters are not rejecting the possibility of making a deal. They still have to be convinced by the NAB leadership that doing so makes sense for the radio industry.

RBR-TVBR Publisher note: What is needed right today?  The hot buzz word – Transparency by the NAB officials from the top down.

Transparency:  from the NAB on how quickly they came to this decision and by secretly ushering key radio group heads to NAB HQ last week and also the same with the NAB Radio Board last Friday.

According to sources which RBR-TVBR has various email to confirm, there is the lack of Transparency with the conference call to all State Broadcaster Associations which on the call they, State Association heads with their legal counsel, were told by NAB President Gordon Smith to keep the conference secret because the NAB Radio Board was yet to be notified. 

One State Association president stated in an email which RBR-TVBR has a copy – stated in part,… “I’m dismayed that he’s (NAB’s Smith) swearing us to secrecy, because he’s calling this teleconference prior to discussing the particulars with his own Board of Directors…”

There is a lot to digest by all broadcasters – from your NAB Radio Board member in your district – to all State Broadcaster Associations.

That is why RBR-TVBR is calling for complete – ‘Transparency’ in every respect by the NAB officials from the top down.

Radio Broadcaster’s – What’s your take? We welcome your comments below. If you are interested in making a longer comment for publication, please send it to [email protected]. Please include your name, title and company affiliation. Also a photo of yourself if possible.

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