Anti-Royalties Resolution Resurfaces

An National Association of Broadcasters-backed resolution to oppose “any new performance fee, tax, royalty or other charge” on local radio stations resurfaced on Capitol Hill Thursday (Feb. 12) and debuted in the 111th Congress with 110 signatures from House members representing both political parties.

Billed as the “Local Radio Freedom Act” and introduced again by Rep. Gene Green (D-Texas) and Mike Conaway (R-Texas), the effort is a shout-out to other members of Congress that signers of the resolution reject the recording industry’s notion that terrestrial radio should make payments to performers and artists from broadcasting their recorded efforts over the airwaves.

The bill debuted with nearly a quarter of the 435 House members’ signatures, double the number of members who initially signed a similar resolution during the 110th Congress.

“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,” says House Resolution 49.

The bipartisan effort, unveiled during a lunchtime Capitol Hill event hosted by the Free Radio Alliance, is expected to be duplicated by a Senate version of the resolution within the coming days or weeks.

The resolution comes a week after the Recording Academy held a well-attended Grammy Town Hall event in Los Angeles to discuss and inform performers about RIAA-backed legislation introduced earlier in the week in Washington that would permit a fee schedule to be set for broadcasters’ payments.

“NAB applauds reps. Green, Conaway and their House colleagues for their commitment to ensuring that America’s 235 million weekly radio listeners have continued access to free, local radio,” NAB executive VP Dennis Wharton said. “The undeniable fact is that RIAA’s plea for a record label bailout will put thousands of radio jobs at risk and threaten the economic viability of a recording artist’s greatest promotional asset.”

But the resolution immediately drew fire from the other side. Jennifer Bendall, executive director of musicFIRST, the D.C.-based lobbying arm for artists and performers and the recording industry seeking the new fees, said, “The NAB resolution should be recognized for what it is — a last ditch effort to save corporate radio’s loophole in copyright law,” Bendall said.