PRA Town Hall meeting: Deal is attempt to control the process


NAB President Gordon Smith led a squadron of key association executives in the effort to explain the state of negotiations with musicFirst and RIAA over the Performance Rights Act. The group constantly reassured participants that nothing concrete was on the table, nor would there be anything without industry backing. But Smith also said that it was far better to “shape the future” than to have the future imposed unilaterally.

In addition to Smith, NAB participants included Joint Board Chair Steve Newberry, Radio Board Chair Caroline Beasley, Immediate Past Radio Board Chair Charles Warfield, and Executive Vice President of Radio John David.

The group continually reassured the radio industry that it was not moving ahead by itself. As Newberry put it, “do you want to continue down the interstate or do you want to get off the exit ramp?” meaning should NAB continue to talk with mF or break it off and fight?

That said, they did push, however gently, for acceptance. Smith said, “We would fail in our fiduciary duty to you if we didn’t tell you what opportunities are there that you could literally bank on for the future.”

Warfield noted a Marci Ryvicker estimate that PRA as currently written could cost the radio industry up to $2B annually. The group pointed out that composer royalties amount to $500M annually. They suggested that a performance royalty of about $100M, which is what a 1% rate would produce according to estimates, doesn’t look so outrageous against that backdrop.

They noted that the initial discussions, which officially started in November 2009 but began in earnest in February 2010, started with mF looking for 8%. They talked that down to 1% and began adding benefits on the other end, including deals on streaming rates, an internet deal with AFTRA, getting FM chips on cell phones, and writing CRB entirely out of radio’s regulatory script.

RBR-TVBR observation: NAB wants to know what the radio industry thinks. So do we. RBR-TVBR is the perfect vehicle for radio professionals to weigh in. We know that many of our readers asked questions today, and many more were tuned into this historic event. Our website is at your disposal. Thank you in advance for using it!

RBR-TVBR note: See RBR-TVBR Exclusive: Cell phones might sell Radio on PRA this report explains the value to all parties involved.