The former chairman of the House Commerce Committee, Rep. John Dingell, opposes the proposed performance fee on radio favored by the major record labels.
In a speech delivered at the NAB State Leadership Dinner in Washington this week, the Michigan Democrat — who remains on the committee as chairman emeritus — said he was concerned such a fee would be of less benefit to recording artists than to record labels.
"Further, recording artists and record labels have profited handsomely for years from the free publicity they get from broadcasters, a mutually beneficial relationship that a performance fee will destroy," said Dingell. "Lastly, and perhaps most practically, it seems ridiculous to me to impose a new punitive fee on broadcasters during this time of recession, especially as broadcasters have seen their revenues decrease by up to 40 percent over the past several years."
Dingell has ties to broadcasters and singled out WDIV in Detroit and Karole White, the head of the Michigan Broadcasters Association, for their friendship.
He also expressed concern over proposals to reallocate analog TV spectrum for wireless broadband use.
Speaking earlier at the State Leadership Conference, Rep. Rick Boucher, D-Va., chairman of the House Subcommittee on Communications, Technology and the Internet, told broadcasters it's time to talk to the record labels.
The musicFirst Coalition, which is in favor of a performance fee for copyrighted music that stations air, has been represented mainly by artists and record labels. This week the lobbying group added civil rights, women's rights and activist groups to its cause.