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STELA, Performance Tax gain further scrutiny in DC

Two major policy concerns for TV and Radio broadcasters continue to command Congressional attention even as DC slowly marches toward another five week August vacation.

Last week, the House Judiciary Committee echoed its counterpart in the Senate chamber by approving a straightforward reauthorization of STELA absent any changes to the retransmission consent system, DMA structure, Pay-TV basic tier lineups or JSA ownership attributions.

All eyes now are on the Senate Commerce Committee where lame-duck chairman Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-West Virginia, is expected to soon lay out his proposal which is widely expected to be laden with such provisions and more – a veritable Christmas wish list for the Pay-TV industry.

Though Rockefeller and his staff are keeping quiet for now, he also is expected to attempt in some way to undo the Supreme Court’s recent Aereo ruling.

If this speculation bears out, it will be markedly different even from the House Commerce Committee’s current agreed-upon language that is generally palatable to broadcasters, save language addressing JSA/SSAs that is even more extreme than the new rules recently adopted by the FCC.

NAB and broadcasters throughout the country are marshalling forces to educate lawmakers during the upcoming August recess of the damage such changes would do to local viewers and stations’ ability to serve them.  Details were emailed to TAB members July 14.

Similarly, radio broadcasters are preparing to combat the record labels’ efforts to intimidate lawmakers who have signed on as co-sponsors of H Con Res 16, The Local Radio Freedom Act.

As reported in The Hill, musicFirst – a front group for the foreign-owned music label conglomerates – is using social media and buying newspaper ads in the districts of Radio’s congressional supporters.  The ads attempt to push lawmakers to renege on their commitment to support local radio stations and their communities by opposing new performance fees, taxes, royalties or similar charges on local Radio stations.

The Performance Tax is just one of many issues related to music copyright being studied by Congress which will be the subject of a special session at the TAB Annual Convention & Trade Show Aug. 6-7 in Austin.

While no music copyright legislation will pass Congress this year, broadcasters must develop a thorough understanding of the myriad issues and entities in play to effectively combat an escalating assault on the industry and – especially – continue to engage lawmakers to ensure they understand the potential impact of some of the proposals under consideration.

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

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