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Performance Rights Issue Is Back

Rep. Watt tells House Judiciary Committee he plans to introduce a bill before the August congressional recess

The other performance rights shoe has dropped.

North Carolina Democratic Rep. Mel Watt told colleagues at a House Judiciary Committee hearing this morning he intends to introduce legislation to require radio stations to pay performance royalties. Watt plans to introduce the bill before lawmakers recess in August.

NAB opposes what it characterizes as a performance tax. NAB EVP Communications Dennis Wharton said the trade group continues to support private, company-by-company deals between broadcasters and record labels.

Gearing up in anticipation of performance rights issue reemerging in Congress, NAB has been lobbying for passage of the Local Radio Freedom Act. The nonbinding resolution introduced earlier in the House and Senate opposes “any 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.” One hundred fifty-four lawmakers support the bill, according to the trade group.