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Anti-Performance Tax Resolution Introduced

Meanwhile, Clear Channel calls performance royalty a ‘record company bailout.’

A resolution was introduced in the Senate this week opposing a performance royalty to be paid by terrestrial analog and digital radio stations to record labels each time a song is aired.

Sens. Blanche Lincoln, D-Ark., and Roger Wicker, R-Miss., introduced the measure, which is similar to a House resolution introduced last year by Reps. Gene Green, D-Texas and Mike Conaway, R-Texas.

The National Association of Broadcasters says the House version has more than 200 supporters. S. Con. Res. 82 recognizes the promotional value of free radio airplay, said NAB.

“Congress should not impose any new performance fee, tax, royalty or other charge relating to the public performance of sound recordings on a local radio station for broadcasting sound recordings over the air, or on any business for such public performance of sound recordings,” reads the measure.

The MusicFirst Coalition, which represents record labels and their artists, supports opposing bills on the issue, the “Performance Rights Act of 2007,” which it says would close a “corporate radio loophole” in the copyright law that exempts terrestrial radio from a performance fee.

Radio argues that it already pays ASCAP, BMI and SESAC for the right to air music and that airplay benefits anyone associated with a song and their labels.

The RIAA argues that radio doesn’t pay enough and that broadcasters should pony up just like satellite radio, cable radio and Internet broadcasters. The labels say creation of a fair performance right would compensate the lead performer, background singers, studio musicians and copyright holders when their songs are broadcast on AM and FM radio.

Clear Channel, meanwhile, supports the resolution opposing what it termed a “record company bailout.”

Andy Levin, executive vice president of law and government affairs & chief legal officer for Clear Channel Radio, stated: “This issue is not about fair compensation — far from it. It is a blatant attempt by the record companies to pump up their failing business model by getting Congress to redistribute income from our industry to theirs.”