Radio Royalty Fees Have Uphill Battle

The music industry may have a tough time getting Congress to pass any legislation that would levy performance fees on radio and TV broadcasters for air play. More than half of the members of the House of Representatives have signed on to the National Association of Broadcasters-sponsored resolution opposing House legislation that would clear the way for such fees.

As of Tuesday (June 24) 219 of the 435 House members signed on to Local Radio Freedom Act (H.Con. Res. 244) — a non-binding resolution that declares that paying the fees would be burden to small and large broadcasters alike.

“Today’s announcement sends a powerful message to foreign-owned record labels that Congress is not falling for their bogus campaign to blame local radio stations for their financial woes,” said NAB executive VP Dennis Wharton. “NAB thanks those members of Congress who appreciate the fact that free radio airplay of music generates untold millions into the wallets of performers and record labels. We will continue to educate policymakers on the devastating impact this RIAA tax would have on America’s hometown radio stations.”

RIAA’s Mitch Glazier earlier this month brushed off the resolution. He called it “meaningless” because it is non-binding as a law and is nothing more than a “feel-good” statement.

Performance fee proponents counter that the legislation takes into account small broadcasters. “Corporate radio says it is concerned about small radio stations; so is musicFIRST. That is why the bill musicFIRST supports includes accommodations for small, public and religious broadcasters. Most radio stations would only pay a flat, affordable annual fee set by Congress to clear the performance rights for all the music they use. We love mom-and-pop radio stations and want to make sure that they survive and thrive. But giant conglomerate radio groups are doing quite well. One company alone is up for sale for $20 billion. That’s more than the entire music industry. These big companies can’t hide behind the mom-and-pops.” said Doyle Bartlett, executive director of RIAA-backed musicFIRST coalition.