The National Association of Broadcasters found itself the topic of an article in Capitol Hill newspaper Politico, on grounds that it is irking members of Congress in both parties for its opposition to the Local Community Radio Act and the Performance Rights Act. NAB is a little surprised, since it has been trying to offer compromises on both bills.
The Politico article for the most part did not name names, and quoted only anonymous sources. But those sources suggested that the NAB should think about getting out of the way of the two bills, and keep its powder dry for the possibility of a major battle over retransmission consent in 2011.
It may be a fact that LCRA has a relatively low level of importance to broadcasters, but it is certainly anything but the case when it comes to PRA. It goes without saying that NAB would quickly catapult to crisis status among its radio membership if the PRA bill as currently written were to make it into law.
One person allowed his name to be used for the Politico piece: NAB’s Dennis Wharton. He pointed out that NAB was not actively opposing LCRA, and that as far as it was concerned the bill was two relatively minor tweaks away from receiving any kind of resistance from the organization.
Wharton also pointed out that NAB has been engaged in good-faith and productive negotiations with the music industry over PRA. The proposed agreement hinges on the tricky introduction of radio chips on mobile phones, bringing in a third industry that strongly opposes the idea. Wharton noted that the NAB took the next step in getting radio and music from here to there and that currently the ball is in the music industry’s court.
So it figures that the NAB may be a little surprised to be coming under criticism now, as it is working to make progress on both issues, including the consideration of the implementation of a performance royalty that marked an about-face in the NAB’s age-old opposition to the concept at great political cost within the NAB’s own rank and file
At least one source did acknowledge that the NAB is more willing to work and play nicely with others, particularly since former President/CEO David Rehr was replaced by current incumbent Gordon Smith.
RBR-TVBR observation: The NAB has always had to negotiate a very tricky path. It is often difficult enough balancing the conflicting policy goals of its own membership, much less navigate the treacherous political waters of Capitol Hill. And few issues have kicked up as much controversy as PRA.
We’re curious – it still doesn’t look like PRA is going anywhere legislatively, although it might – but sponsor John Conyers (D-MI) effectively advertised its undead status by getting it on the House calendar. The question is this – is radio still adamantly opposed to the NAB deal after a fresh reminder of the possibility of the much worse PRA bill being enacted? Space is provided below for your comments. Don’t hold anything back!