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Newberry, Fakir Debate Performance Right

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C-SPAN featured the performance rights issue for radio in its weekly series “The Communicators.”

NAB Joint Board Chairman Steve Newberry, president and CEO of Kentucky-based Commonwealth Broadcasting, and Duke Fakir, an original member of “The Four Tops,” debated the issue on Saturday.

The Performance Rights Act, a bill backed by the Recording Industry Association of America, would levy a new fee on terrestrial radio stations that air music free to listeners. The RIAA and musicFisrt, a coalition of labels and artists, say the bill would bring parity to the issue because if passed, terrestrial would pay a performance rights fee as satellite and Internet radio do.

Broadcasters oppose the bill, saying the fees would hurt stations already struggling financially in the tough economy and that the measure ignores the benefits that airplay bring to artists and their labels through exposure.

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