Performance tax: Critical mass attained


Five more members of Congress have signed on to the Local Radio Freedom Act, giving opponents of the John Conyers’ Performance Rights Act enough muscle to stop it before it gets to the line of scrimmage. The NAB pegs the number of supporters at 220 members, and notes that a number of senators have also jumped aboard. The magic number to get over the 50% hump in the House is 217.

The latest additions appear to be Alcee Hastings (D-FL), Ben Ray Lujan (D-NM), Allyson Schwartz (D-PA), Ron Kind (D-WI), Edward Royce (R-CA) and Bob Inglis (R-SC). One member was noted as having withdrawn from the list, Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX), apparently at the end of April.

Signing on in the Senate are Jeff Bingaman (D-NM), Kay Hagan (D-NC), Jon Tester (D-MT), Christopher Bond (R-MO), Judd Gregg (R-NH), Mike Crapo (R-ID), and Roger Wicker (R-MS).

“Today’s milestone stands as a testament to the tireless efforts of NAB staff, our state association partners, and grassroots efforts of stations across America,” said NAB Radio Board Chairman Steve Newberry, president and CEO of Kentucky-based Commonwealth Broadcasting. “But this fight on behalf of 235 million weekly listeners is far from over. Our continued success is dependent on radio broadcasters remaining engaged in building additional support in Congress, and in reminding lawmakers of radio’s unparalleled promotional value for both record labels and artists. We salute Reps. Gene Green and Mike Conaway and the 218 additional House members who recognize that the proposed record label performance tax stands as a dire threat to the future of free and local radio.”

The Resolution lists numerous synergies that broadcasters and recording companies have mutually enjoyed for decades, as well as the need to preserve local broadcasting as a viable local medium, since it is a key disseminator of vital information in times of emergency. It concludes by stating, “That Congress should not impose any new performance fee, tax, royalty, or other charge relating to the public performance of sound recordings on a local radio station for broadcasting sound recordings over-the-air, or on any business for such public performance of sound recordings.”

RBR/TVBR observation: There is no particular reason to believe that the number of co-sponsors will cap at 220. As we’ve been noting, it’s always looked like the level of supporter Conyers’ had for this bill in his Judiciary Committee was much higher than the level on the floor as a whole. Anyway, bills often get out of a committee, never again to see the light of day. With this development, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) may simply stick the bill in her pocket and forget about it.