Washington, DC (December 21, 2007)–Over-the-air radio broadcasters in the US are not required to pay performance royalties for the music they play, unlike their counterparts in the rest of the world. Legislation introduced on December 18 proposes to change that and also bring radio into line with internet, satellite and cable broadcasters in this country.
Senators Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Representatives Howard Berman (D-CA) and Darrell Issa (R-CA) jointly introduced legislation that would ensure AM and FM radio fairly compensate artists when their performances are broadcast over the air. The bill, which must next go to committee, follows recent testimony from GRAMMY-winner Lyle Lovett and singer songwriter Alice Peacock at a Senate Judiciary Hearing on the issue in November.
“Aspiring performers, local musicians and well-known artists should be compensated for their music when it is played on the radio, both today and in the future,” said Tod Donhauser, spokesperson for the musicFIRST (Fairness in Radio Starting Today) Coalition. “For more than 50 years AM and FM radio has received a free ride; today Senators Leahy and Hatch and Representatives Berman and Issa, among others, have introduced legislation that would finally close the ‘Corporate Radio Loophole’.”
Under the proposal, small commercial stations would pay only $5,000 per year. Noncommercial stations such as NPR and college radio stations would pay only $1,000 per year. Stations that make only incidental uses of music, such as talk radio stations, would not pay for that music, and religious services that are broadcast on radio would be completely exempt.
The National Association of Broadcasters and the Free Radio Alliance are vehemently opposed to the proposal, and are standing behind the Local Radio Freedom Act (H. Con. Res. 244). That legislation was introduced in late October by Reps. Gene Green (D-TX) and Mike Conaway (R-TX) and is now backed by 127 members of the House of Representatives.
“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,” reads House Concurrent Resolution 244.
Free Radio Alliance
National Association of Broadcasters