NAB goes to war over performance tax


Key Washington radio stations and Capitol Hill news organs are being used by the National Association of Broadcasters to head off attempts by the recording industry to extract cash for airplay on the nation's radio stations.

The ads contrast US broadcasters with international recording companies. The radio spot, which is running on key news and talk outlets including WTOP-FM (where RBR staff have heard it), WMAL-AM, WTNT-AM & WWRC-AM, makes this point: "For decades, radio has been promoting new music free of charge, contributing to the growth of new stars and new genres of music. But the big international record labels have a problem. They haven't kept up with the times. Now they are asking Congress to tax local radio stations to subsidize their failing business model to the tune of billions of dollars."

The print ad adds to the NAB's argument: "A new performance tax would severely limit the ability of stations to deliver new music, news and public service messages to their listeners, simply to put more money in the pockets of giant international record companies." It's running in Roll Call, Congress Daily and The Politico.

SmartMedia observation: Nobody disputes that broadcasters benefit from use of recording industry product. What's mystifying is the sudden inability of the recording industry to recognize how broadcasting returns the favor. What's next? Are we going to turn music radio into a shopping channel? If it's too expensive to play music, will radio stations be forced into a pay-for-play format? It should be perfectly legal, as long as each song is prefaced by an announcement like "And now, that great new band, the Airplay Seekers, brought to you by Brand X Records." Before the recording industry forces broadcasters into an equal and opposite reaction, they should consider the advantages of maintaining the status quo.