PRA shot down in the press


A technology magazine believes that the recording industry’s attempt to get itself a bailout on the back of broadcasters is disingenuous, particularly since they have to stand an old argument on its head to make the case for the new performance royalty it wants to charge. The magazine is Techdirt. It references a major tool in the RIAA bag of tricks: “how it changes the story to flip things around to its advantage over and over and over again.”

The current argument is that radio stations should pay a performance royalty to level the playing field with other forms of audio distribution. If satellite and internet outlets are paying these fees, why aren’t broadcasters?

The problem is that back in 1995, when RIAA wanted satellite and internet outlets to start paying performance royalties, it argued that the fee was necessary since these venues were not the same as broadcasting.

Techdirt says putting a price tag on the airing of a recording would tend to make radio stations more conservative about playlists than they already are. Program directors know that the push buttons on car radios make it easy to escape from one station to another for any reason, and are loathe to do anything that might offend a large segment of the audience, like play untried and untested music that they might hate.

Techdirt concludes, “As we’ve seen time and time again, if the RIAA supports it, it’s not good for consumers. It’s not good for musicians. It’s not good for anyone but a small selection of record labels. Hopefully, Congress recognizes this for the pure money grab it is and shuts it down.”

RBR/TVBR observation: As is detailed in another article in this issue, the lone remaining satellite operator, with no direct competitor, is simply raising rates to accommodate rising royalties, hoping the move doesn’t cost too much in the way of lost subscriptions. Radio, of course, cannot do that.