Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Performance Rights Act and College Radio

Last week the Performance Rights Act (HR 848) passed in the House Judiciary Committee: step one before heading to the House of Representatives and the Senate. The Future of Music Coalition writes about their support for this act, which will link royalty fees to radio performances, arguing that it's important for musicians to be fairly compensated royalties for their work.

Yet, at the same time, many broadcasters (big and small) are concerned about this legislation. In response to this bill, there was a "Save Black Radio" rally in Detroit. According to an article from the Detroit News:

"The committee approved by voice vote a 'manager's amendment' by Chairman John Conyers, D-Detroit, to try to address critics -- including Radio One Inc. -- who contend the bill threatens the survival of minority and women-owned stations during rocky economic times...

About 200 marchers joined local radio hosts Mildred Gaddis and Reggie Reg outside of Conyer's office in Detroit, chanting, 'No to the bill on the hill,' and, 'Save black radio,' as supporters honked as they passed. Branding the new fee a 'tax,' many critics argued it could destroy small broadcasters, including minority and women-owned stations that provide valuable diversity on the airwaves."

Additionally, as this article in the Paradise Post points out, small independent radio stations and college radio stations may find it challenging to pay the proposed annual fees, currently set at $1,000 for college radio stations (strangely, this is more than the $500 fee for broadcasters with less than $100,000 in revenue).

At the same time, an opposing resolution, "The Local Radio Freedom Act," is gathering support in Congress. According to an article on Radio Ink,

"The Local Radio Freedom Act reads, '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.'"

As College Broadcasters, Inc. (CBI) has argued, not only are the fees of concern to small broadcasters and college radio stations, but the related record keeping requirements could also be more labor-intensive than many student stations can handle. CBI is working to try to stop this bill with a letter writing campaign among other strategies.

So, definitely monitor the developments around the Performance Rights Act and the Local Freedom Act and if you have a strong opinion, then let your voice be heard with your representatives.

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