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Performance Tax, STELAR Expiration Top DC Agenda

TAB is advocating that Congress reject pleas by record labels to impose a Performance Tax on local Radio stations and to allow temporary satellite TV legislation that is no longer necessary but hurting viewers in some communities to expire as scheduled.

The issues top the industry’s federal policy agenda and are the focus of discussions today and tomorrow in the nation’s capital following the NAB’s Annual State Leadership Conference. Nearly 20 Texas broadcasters are slated to visit with their lawmakers among the state’s 38-seat Congressional delegation.

Performance Tax

Congressman Mike Conaway, R-Midland, once again is the lead Republican co-author of The Local Radio Freedom Act, also known as HConRes 20.  The resolution opposes efforts by the record industry to force local Radio stations to pay yet another royalty on top of the hundreds of millions of dollars the industry collectively pays already to songwriters, composers and publishers.

Rep. Kathy Castor, D-Florida, signed on as the new lead Democratic co-author after Rep. Gene Green of Houston retired in December.  Green and Conaway had served as joint authors of the resolution since the RIAA first introduced the issue in the last decade.

HConRes 20, filed last week, already has 118 co-sponsors, including nine from Texas which typically has led the nation in the number of co-sponsors. We lost seven of our 22 co-sponsors in 2018 because of retirements and our goal in DC this week is to help their successors understand our concerns, as well as secure renewals from other past co-sponsors.

Satellite TV Law Expiration

When satellite television companies launched 30 years ago and were struggling to gain a foothold in the media marketplace, they were temporarily given a significantly discounted copyright license to help them compete against the cable monopolies. This was a time when millions of Americans couldn’t receive their local broadcast stations over the air, from cable or from satellite.

Congress also allowed the struggling satellite companies to temporarily serve those households with a broadcast station outside the local community, typically from a major city, so viewers could receive their favorite network programming.

Now the marketplace has completely changed and the time is ripe for the law’s favorable treatment to finally expire. These satellite companies are multi-billion dollar media behemoths (AT&T-DIRECTV at $235 billion and DISH at $17 billion). Technology has eliminated the need to import out-of-market broadcast station signals to consumers, and satellites now deliver local TV stations to all 210 local media markets.

Despite these advancements, the satellite companies in some cases prefer to retain the below-market subsidy and just deny some viewers the local content they prefer.

Broadcasters have routinely supported the satellite TV legislation when it came up for renewal every five years since initial adoption, but technological advancements and the marketplace’s phenomenal expansion have rendered moot the special subsidy which always was intended to be temporary.

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

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