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When Congressmen come knockingā€¦

 - House, Senate in recess April 29-May 7

Congress is in recess the first full week of May so stations may find some lawmakers, particularly House members, swinging by for interviews touting legislative measures they’re advancing. As they outline their agendas and community concerns, 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.

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, long advanced by the record labels. A recent “Grammys on the Hill” lobbying effort in DC garnered much attention but not a single new co-sponsor for the record industry’s bill that would enact a performance royalty for radio stations.

But the labels are relentless and continue to resort to misrepresenting that stations “pay not one cent” for music, ignoring the hundreds of millions of dollars that radio stations collectively pay 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

On the TV side, 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.

While no legislation changing the system is in play, the Pay-TV behemoths have compelled their former lobbyist, now FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler, to try to undo the system by regulation – either by repealing the exclusivity rules or changing the “good faith negotiation” construct.

TV Relocation Fund, Repack

Congress allocated $1.75 billion to the FCC to ensure that TV stations not selling out in the spectrum auction are fully reimbursed for expenses related to the resulting spectrum repack. The FCC is attempting to reclaim more spectrum than that budget will support, so Congress may need to increase that fund – by how much won’t be known until this fall.

The 39-month repacking timeframe will certainly need to be expanded because of the huge number of stations that will likely have to move – about 1,200 according to some industry experts – and the shortage of equipment manufacturers, tower crews and engineers.

Legislation addressing these concerns will likely be folded into an appropriations bill, so the House Appropriations Committee members listed below will tackle these issues this fall.  TAB already has alerted them to our concerns.

  • Rep. Kay Granger, R-Arlington
  • Rep. John Carter, R-Round Rock
  • Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Laredo
  • Rep. John Culberson, R-Houston

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

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