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Performance Tax bill yields much press coverage, less support

New York Congressman Jerry Nadler’s bill that would impose a Performance Tax on local radio stations is getting substantial press coverage in Washington, DC, but lawmakers so far have been shy about signing on, with those weighing in on the issue at all siding with broadcasters’ competing Local Radio Freedom Act which opposes such a measure.

To date, 170 House members are co-sponsoring the pro-broadcaster H. Con. Res. 17, but radio stations should not be complacent and are urged to continue pressing their lawmakers who remain silent on the issue to sign on to the measure co-authored by Texas Reps. Mike Conaway, R-Midland, and Gene Green, D-Houston. The resolution needs majority support of at least 218, plus another 40 or so to put the issue to rest this session.

A list of Texas members of Congress who have not yet signed on, and their contact information, is available here.

Nadler’s bill, HR 1733, is cosponsored thus far by Reps. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., John Conyers, D-Mich., and Ted Deutch, D-Fla.  The measure would:

  • Expand the current limited performance right and compulsory license structure for sound recordings (administered through Sound Exchange) to local broadcast radio stations,
  • Impose the unfavorable Copyright Royalty Board (CRB) “willing buyer, willing seller” rate standard (which currently applies to rate settings for streaming services) to broadcast radio and satellite radio,
  • Direct the CRB to then set rates for stations that earn more than $1 million in annual revenues, and
  • Exempt certain categories of radio stations from this CRB rate setting regime and charge an annual flat fee, instead, ranging from $500 for any commercial broadcast station earning less than $1 million in annual revenues to $100 for public and college radio stations. Religious service broadcasts would be exempted altogether.

Separately, Blackburn and Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-Calif., have reintroduced an apples-to-oranges comparison bill that would prohibit a broadcaster from receiving retransmission consent payments if the company also owns a radio station that doesn’t pay royalties to performers. The new version of the bill adds language that blocks any mandate that would require FM chips to be implanted in mobile devices, despite the fact that no one has asked Congress to adopt such a mandate.

Questions?  Contact TAB's Oscar Rodriguez or call (512) 322-9944.

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