NAB Hits Airwaves With Case Against Radio Royalties

The National Association of Broadcasters ratcheted up the war Tuesday (April 21) on a potential radio performance royalties bill. As Congress reconvenes following a two-week break, the NAB welcomed members back by buying radio airtime on a pair of influential stations in the nation’s capital to drum up support for its anti-Performance Rights Act campaign.

Billed as “Don’t Feed the Fat Cat,” the 60-second spot goes was placed on Bonneville International’s WTOP and Citadel’s WMAL. WTOP is a ratings leader and was, according to BIAfn measurements, the sixth-largest revenue generating radio station in America in 2008.

Meanwhile, NAB said it has picked up the support of another 15 lawmakers who have signed on to The Local Radio Freedom Act, a nonbinding shout-out by Congress in opposition to efforts to pass the musician-performer-backed legislation. The NAB reports that the effort now has 173 signors.

“NAB is delighted by the growing, bipartisan opposition to the performance tax,” said NAB executive VP Dennis Wharton. “Members of Congress aren’t buying the ludicrous RIAA implication that record label business woes are somehow being caused by radio stations playing music. Bolstered by this new ad, we are cautiously optimistic Congress won’t impose a new fee that would decimate radio stations facing the worst advertising recession since the Great Depression.”

But the coalition pushing passage of the measure, musicFirst, scoffed at the NAB’s support, responding that eight influential House committee chairman have gotten behind the pending legislation including Rep. George Miller, who heads the House Education and Labor Committee, and is now a co-sponsor of the bill.


“The growing support for this bill within the leadership of Congress shows just how powerful the case is for reforming this archaic loophole in the copyright law,” said Jennifer Bendall, executive director of the musicFIRST Coalition. “These are some of the most respected and powerful leaders in Congress and they are speaking with one voice to say that artists, musicians and rights holders deserve to be fairly compensated when their music is used to generate billions of dollars in revenues for corporate radio.”

Below, read the “Don’t Feed the Fat Cat” ad copy:

Once upon a time, the Record Label Fat Cat gorged on rich, tasty profits he got from music sales through radio. The radio played the music. The people bought the music. And the Fat Cat got fatter and fatter. At least, he did, until he ate up all his profits. Now he wants to tax the radio to see if he can taste a few more profits, by biting the hand that feeds him.

But, that’s not so good for radio. It’s even worse for music and listeners. And it’s not a very happy ending to the story. The Record Label Fat Cat is fat enough. Let’s take the Performance Tax off his plate. If you want the real story of the Performance Tax, go to NoPerformanceTax.org.

Don’t feed the Fat Cat.