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NAB Board Talks Music Licensing, Hybrid Radio

Members briefed on broadcast lobby’s move plans, too

Several regulatory topics affecting radio were discussed at NAB’s board meetings this week.

NAB President/CEO Gordon Smith, who recently signed a contract extension, said that given the challenging environment at the FCC and the flurry of legislative activity potentially impacting broadcasters, “There has never been more incoming fire, and it’s never been a more important time for unity” in broadcasting, according to a summary of the meeting.

NAB EVP Legal & Regulatory Affairs Jane Mago briefed the board on several music licensing issues, including the Copyright Office’s music licensing study, the Dept. of Justice antitrust division review of ASCAP and BMI consent decrees and the Copyright Royalty Board’s litigation of new streaming rates and proposed changes to CRB record-keeping and reporting requirements for streamed music.

Media ownership actions taken by the FCC, and the impact of consolidation on the regulatory environment also made it on Mago’s briefing list.

NAB EVP Government Relations Kelly Cole updated the radio board on performance tax and music licensing. Cole noted growing support (over a majority in the House) for the NAB-backed pro-broadcaster Local Radio Freedom Act and briefed the board on the proposed “Songwriter Equity Act,” according to the summary. She also discussed and sought feedback on legislation that would impose royalty payments for pre-1972 sound recordings.

The talks weren’t all legislative. NAB SVP Technology Lynn Claudy discussed NAB Labs’ activities related to all-digital AM testing, hybrid FM radio developments, including enhanced features of NextRadio and the industry’s increased adoption of the technology. NAB EVP Marketing Michelle Lehman informed attendees on NAB efforts to promote hybrid FM radio.

Finally, Michael J. Fiorile, vice chairman and CEO of The Dispatch Broadcast Group, updated the board on plans to relocate the NAB headquarters to a location closer to Capitol Hill.