NAB position on TV spectrum opposed by music interests


In what may be the epitome of ulterior motive moves in the ongoing discussion of voluntary television spectrum auctions, groups representing elements of the music industry have fired off a letter to the Supercommittee criticizing broadcasters for resisting the auctions.

American Federation of Musicians, the Recording Academy, SoundExchange and the Music Managers Forum have fired off a letter indicating their support for auctions.

“The National Association of Broadcasters has lobbied against incentive auctions and has consistently advocated that any such auctions must reimburse stations for any business costs associated with compliance,” they wrote. “Given the NAB opposition to radio broadcasters paying their fair share owed to artists for their work, it requires turning a blind eye to irony to embrace the NAB’s position that they shouldn’t pay their own business costs. It’s like a bank robber complaining about his ATM fees.”

Broadcasters who are forced to move in a channel repacking program would see such moving costs not as a voluntary business expense but rather as one imposed on them by the government.

The groups said their stake in the issue was that greater adoption of broadband would help musicians who use the internet to sell their wares.

NAB’s Dennis Wharton expressed amazement that the groups which have very little interest in television spectrum would take the time to enter the fray, believing that their real motive was to hit broadcast over the unrelated issue of performance royalties on radio. “By coupling a TV spectrum issue with an unrelated performance tax on radio stations, the music industry sets the standard for grasping at straws. This is a Hail Mary pass that deserves to fall incomplete.”

RBR-TVBR observation: What’s next, a bird-watching society weighing in on television spectrum because of alleged avian tower fatalities? Seriously…

We will take this opportunity to point out that musicians selling downloads over the internet still need to have their music exposed, and radio airplay remains the best way to get that exposure. If people don’t know about it, they won’t search the web for it, and if they don’t find it they can’t buy it. Musicians and radio should be cultivating each other, not banging heads.

Don’t take our word about radio’s value – the National Association of Recording Merchandisers, who should know a thing or two about this particular topic, have just weighed in on the topic with a study of their own.