Performance Rights: Radio has watchdog posted in Appropriations


A popular way to get unpopular legislation enacted into law is to find a way to attach it on to some must-pass legislation. Such as an appropriations bill. The good news for broadcasters is that the chairman of a key Senate Appropriations subcommittee came out strongly against attaching the Performance Rights Act to any such bill.

Ben Nelson (D-NE) chairs the Legislative Subcommittee, which oversees the Copyright Royalty Board, which would administrate PRA if it ever makes it into law.

He addressed PRA while discussing CRB’s 2011 budget. “As a brief aside, I continue to hear from a number of organizations concerned about the performance royalties bill that would affect local radio stations,” said Nelson. “I make this brief note here only because of the Copyright Royalty Board’s potential role under this legislation. Along with many of my colleagues I continue to oppose this bill and would not support an attempt to attach such legislation to an appropriations bill whether it is this one or any of the others.”

RBR-TVBR observation: We know that PRA could not survive on its merits in the current House of Representatives, due to the plurality of supporters of the Local Radio Freedom Act.

There is no such obvious headcount available in the Senate. We know 27 support LRFA, but we don’t know how many support PRA or are simply not yet on the record one way or the other. But it is good to know a key legislator is minding the goal against any attempts to use legislative trickery to slip the bill through.