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Performance Rights in the Wind?

Radio Board meets amid talk of 'talks' and 'progress,' but NAB remains opposed to current bill

NAB Radio Board members plan to talk Friday about performance rights.

Congress has long urged the trade association to talk with the record labels. While discussions have taken place, as we’ve reported, apparently the talks are becoming more serious, with a possible deal in the works, based on multiple news reports.

If true, the trade group has a lot of persuading of members to do. The association and stations have opposed what they consider to be a “tax” on stations that already pay labels to air copyrighted music.

In a late-planned meeting, NAB Radio Board members are gathering at the group’s Washington HQ to discuss the issue. Said to be under discussion, according to various reports, is whether music stations would pay a royalty based on market size; a royalty break on streaming fees for broadcasters; and the labels’ support in leaning on wireless carriers to include FM chips in cellphones.

Possibly lending a sense of some urgency to the talks is the political calculus involving the fall elections. While the performance rights legislation is not on the voting calendar for the House or Senate, some broadcasters apparently fear labels could have the clout to get it attached to an unrelated, larger bill, like an appropriation measure, at the end of this session.

An NAB spokesman said there’s been progress made in the talks with the RIAA but there is no agreement, and the trade group remains opposed to the bill in its current form.

“NAB will oppose any proposals that are not in the long-term best interests of our membership. Any agreement would have to be approved with the backing of the NAB Radio Board,” Dennis Wharton told Radio World.