Washington, DC (May 15, 2009)–The controversial Performance Rights Act will go to the full House for a vote following a 21-9 decision by the House Judiciary Committee on May 13.
The bill would impose a royalty on behalf of the performers of music aired on the radio. Broadcasters already pay a publishing royalty to the songwriters.
“We were pleasantly surprised by the considerable bipartisan opposition to a performance tax, even in a committee where support for the record labels is strongest,” said NAB spokesman Dennis Wharton in a statement. “The NAB applauds these nine members for standing with America’s hometown radio stations, their 235 million weekly listeners and the yet-to-break artists who will lose their No. 1 promotional platform if this bill is enacted.”
A supporter of the bill, Jennifer Bendall, musicFIRST Coalition executive director, stated, “We applaud chairman Conyers and committee members for their work on the Performance Rights Act and for supporting artists, musicians and rights holders in their fight for fair compensation when their music is used by AM and FM radio stations. Our continued momentum in Congress is proof that it’s well past time to recognize the importance of fairly compensating the artists and musicians whose talent and hard work allows radio to generate billions of dollars in ad revenue each year. The Performance Rights Act will bring fairness to artists, musicians and rights holders and one that’s fair to radio and its counterparts.”
Legislation opponents question the imposition of additional levies, particularly on small broadcasters, such as minority-owned businesses, especially during the current economic climate. Proponents state they are seeking equity with the rest of the world, where, with the exception of China, North Korea and Iran, performance royalties are levied.
An amendment added during the three-hour debate would delay collections from broadcasters with annual revenues of less than $5 million for three years. Calls to distribute royalties directly to artists, bypassing the record labels, and for a six-month delay to allow further study of the potential impact were voted down.
National Association of Broadcasters