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Radio Issues Gain Congressional Support

- Performance Tax, AM Radio

Local Radio broadcasters have garnered additional support from the Texas Congressional delegation for two of the industry’s key issues, a measure to preserve AM Radio in vehicles and another to prevent the imposition of a new music royalty on stations.

Performance Tax

Rep. Lance Gooden, R-Terrell, is the latest Texan in Congress to sign on as co-sponsor of HConRes 13, The Local Radio Freedom Act, which opposes efforts by the recording industry to force local Radio stations to pay a new royalty to record labels.

The proposed performance royalty – dubbed a Performance Tax – requires congressional approval and would add to the hundreds of millions of dollars in music royalties that stations across the country already collectively pay to songwriters and other artists.

Artist royalties continue to soar with the addition of GMR to the ranks of performance rights organizations like ASCAP, BMI and SESAC, just as a historic increase in streaming royalties collected by SoundExchange has further strained local stations’ operations.

Gooden’s support brings to 24 the number of co-sponsors from Texas – the most of any state. Texas Radio broadcasters are encouraged to thank current supporters and to contact lawmakers who have not yet confirmed their support for the Radio-friendly measure.

Where Texans in the U.S. House Stand on a Performance Tax

Overall, the resolution has bipartisan support from 194 House members, 26 short of the needed majority of 218. Its Senate companion, SConRes 5, has 22 co-sponsors.

AM Radio

Rep. Morgan Luttrell, R-Houston, serving his first term in the House, was the latest Texan to sign onto the AM Radio for Every Vehicle Act, which is being championed in the Senate by Texas’ own Sen. Ted Cruz.

The measure has drawn 34 co-sponsors in the Senate and 158 co-sponsors in the House since it was filed just three and a half months ago, an impressive tally in a such a short period of time that’s been fueled by record levels of constituent concerns and grassroots lobbying by local Radio broadcasters.

The issue is extraordinarily bipartisan, with Cruz’ political polar opposite, Sen. Ed Markey, D-Massachusetts, partnering with him to advance the measure in the upper chamber where the 34 co-sponsors are made up of 17 Republicans, 16 Democrats, and one Independent.

Of the 159 House sponsors, 84 are Republicans and 75 are Democrats.

Where Texans in the U.S. House Stand on the AM for Every Vehicle Act

The Senate version of the bill is further along in the process where it’s been heard in committee and ordered to be reported favorably as substituted. The House version is being vetted by three different committees and was heard in the Energy & Commerce Committee in June.

Provisions of the AM4EVA! Bill (HR 3413/S 1669)

  • Require the Secretary of Transportation, within one year of enactment, to issue a rule under which motor vehicles made or imported into the US would be required to include an installed device, as standard equipment, that can receive AM radio (including analog) signals and play AM content;
  • Ensure that AM is conspicuous to the driver in vehicle dashboards; 
  • In the period between enactment and prior to the Transportation Secretary issuing the new rule, require motor vehicles that do not include AM radio to be labeled as such to consumers in a clear and conspicuous manner; and
  • Direct the GAO to report on whether an alternative communication system for delivering EAS alerts exists that is as reliable and resilient as AM broadcast stations.

Year-End Outlook

The AM Radio legislation needs to pass both chambers to take effect and will likely have to be added to a spending bill to do so, while the Local Radio Freedom Act needs to just garner majority support in the House to stall efforts to pass a Performance Tax.

With all the congressional spending bills still in flux as House Republicans intent on making huge cuts to various programs push for a temporary government shutdown by week’s end, it’s far from certain when a vehicle for the AM Radio bill will present itself.

At this time, all eyes are on late December when lawmakers typically push through agreements at the last minute.

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

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