Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY), one of the chief sponsors of the Local Radio Freedom Act, was a surprise guest at Friday’s Radio Luncheon in Philadelphia. He fired up the NAB Radio Show crowd with his vow to fight RIAA’s efforts to collect performance royalties from radio stations.
Barrasso, an orthopedic surgeon who has served in the Senate since 2007, joined Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-AR) in introducing S. Con. Res. 14 in this session of Congress. It is the Senate companion to H.R. 848 in the House, both titled as the Local Radio Freedom Act. The Senate resolution now has 23 co-sponsors, bringing the total supporter count to 25, which is still well short of the majority support the companion measure has in the House.
While he’s never been employed full time in broadcasting, Barrasso does have a radio background. He noted in his brief speech on Friday that he’d voiced radio health reports in Wyoming for 25 years before he was sent to the Senate.
“Radio does so many wonderful things in our communities,” said Sen. Barrasso. And he doesn’t want to see that diminished by a new financial burden for local broadcasters.
“I’m going to continue to fight to ensure that your voices are heard,” he vowed, to great applause and a standing ovation.
Barrasso began, by the way, with a tip of the hat to a former colleague, the new President and CEO of the NAB, sitting a few feet from the podium. Barrasso said it had been a loss to no longer have Gordon Smith in the Senate, but that he is “a great gain for the NAB.”
RBR-TVBR observation: It’s always nice to hear from your friends on Capitol Hill. But here’s what’s really needed: more of them. We heard two important things repeated several times last week, publicly and in private. First: Home state broadcasters are more effective than NAB’s Washington lobbyists in explaining to their senators and congressmen just how devastating a Performance Tax would be to local radio stations and their service to their local communities. Second: Don’t assume that the battle is over because a majority has signed on to the Local Radio Freedom Act in the House. RIAA’s backers are on the lookout for a piece of must-pass legislation that they can try to tack performance royalties onto and peel off enough current supporters of broadcasters to get it enacted into law.