UT pols ask Congress to back off tax


The vast majority of legislators in the state of Utah have fired off a letter to their Washington federal delegation asking them to side with local broadcasters and turn down the RIAA’s request for performance royalties. They said the fees would be “an unbearable burden on these local businesses,” and added, “The effect will be to force these stations to import national programming and do away with local hosts in order to cover the added cost of business. Some in the industry insist they will be forced to convert longtime traditional and local music stations to syndicated talk or news formats in order to avoid the new fees.” 96 of 104 state legislators signed the letter.

The letter went to Senators Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Robert Bennett (R-UT), and Representatives Rob Bishop (R-UT), Jim Matheson (D-UT) and Jason Chaffetz (R-UT).

After noting that record companies seem to acknowledge airplay has intrinsic value by constantly pleading with radio stations to play their recordings, the legislators concluded, “It is our position that this dispute between the radio and music industries should be settled between the two parties without government interference, especially considering the economically challenging times we currently face. Our bottom line is we wish to prevent further loss of local jobs in the radio industry, and the increasing nationalization of radio programming.”

RBR/TVBR observation: The interesting person in all of this is Hatch, who has done some recording and has indicated several times that he thinks a performance royalties bill should be passed. We’d have to observe the sad fact that the presence of a conflict of interest in this case is questionable, as his works are not exactly a mainstay on the playlists of any radio format that we are aware of. We will only note that the very conservative Hatch is on the exact same page as the very liberal Patrick Leahy (D-VT), illustrating how this legislation cuts across all party and ideological divides.