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Prepare to talk policy during Congressional recess

 - House, Senate off ‘til Sept. 6, McCaul speaking at TAB

With the national political conventions now history, Members of Congress will remain at liberty until Sept. 6 as they engage in re-election campaigns, nurture relationships with constituents or embark on family vacations.  Station executives should prepare now to advance key broadcast policy issues in the likelihood that some lawmakers will visit a station to talk up their campaign efforts or legislative initiatives they’re supporting.

At least one, Rep. Michael McCaul, the widely respected head of the House Homeland Security Committee, is spending a little of his time with Texas broadcasters at the TAB Annual Convention next week.  The Republican, whose district stretches from Austin to Houston, will discuss international terrorist threats and domestic security concerns with TAB Vice Chairman Ben Downs of Bryan Broadcasting.                                                           

Also on the Convention agenda is the NAB’s point man on FCC matters, Rick Kaplan, who will brief broadcasters on major and technical policy initiatives under consideration by DC insiders.

Broadcasters should be sure to take a moment to talk about the reporting and public service endeavors you’re undertaking to serve your shared constituencies. It’s also a prime opportunity to thank lawmakers supporting broadcasters on the following key issues.

Spectrum Repack/Relocation Fund

After months of lobbying by broadcasters, appropriations committees in the House and Senate last month signed off on language in their respective spending blueprints that sets the stage to extend the spectrum repack timeframe or boost the TV relocation fund if needed once the spectrum auction plays out this fall.

TAB secured the support of the state’s four members of the House Appropriations Committee for inserting the necessary language in the spending plans which began taking shape in February.  Texas TV broadcasters are encouraged to express their thanks to Reps. John Carter, R-Round Rock; Henry Cuellar, D-Laredo; John Culberson, R-Houston; and Kay Granger, R-Arlington.                                                                                                          

Neither Sen. John Cornyn nor Ted Cruz serves on the Senate Appropriations Committee.

Performance Tax

Texas continues to lead the nation in the number of House co-sponsors of the Local Radio Freedom Act which opposes adoption of a Performance Tax on Radio broadcasters, an additional royalty costing billions of dollars. 

The measure has long been advanced by international record labels which continue to misrepresent that stations “pay not one cent” for music, ignoring the hundreds of millions of dollars that radio stations collectively pay annually to BMI, ASCAP and SESAC, as well as the invaluable promotion and exposure that free on-air play provides performers.

Lawmakers to thank for opposing a Performance Tax

Retransmission Consent

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler announced on July 14 that the commission will not be taking any new regulatory actions on retransmission consent as a result of its lengthy investigation into its good faith rules.

Nonetheless, it’s always important to remind all lawmakers of the inherent fairness and effectiveness of the retransmission consent system. The process approved by Congress ensures that Pay-TV companies re-selling broadcasters’ programming compensate stations squarely in free market negotiations.

Resulting revenues are a huge driver in TV stations’ continuing expansion of investigative journalism and acquisition of expensive entertainment programming that is the most popular among constituents.

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