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Radio Music Royalties Return to Play

Resolution to oppose more royalties introduced; music industry fights sponsorship

The fight over music royalties is heating up in Congress.

The Local Radio Freedom Act has been introduced in both the House and Senate with more support than it had at introduction two years ago, according to NAB. The resolution opposes any potential legislation that would impose new performance royalties on broadcast radio stations for music airplay.

Texas Representatives Michael Conaway (R) and Democrat Gene Green (D) are the principal sponsors of the resolution in the House, which will have co-sponsorship from 94 lawmakers. Sens. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) and Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.) are the principal sponsors of S. Con. Res. 4, the Senate resolution.

NAB President/CEO Gordon Smith said local radio airplay has “jumpstarted and sustained the careers of countless musicians and record label moguls,” for decades. NAB supports the LRFA, which he says opposes “a job-killing performance royalty that would damage the No. 1 platform for exposing new music.”

The music industry has a different view of the issue; This week, musicFirst noted that four lawmakers — Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), John Conyers (D-Mich.) and Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) — urged their colleagues to oppose the LRFA, noting in a letter that the resolution “impedes future debate, it stifles innovation, and it will continue to maintain an unfair playing field.”

The actions come as radio and television broadcasters are visiting Washington this week for the NAB State Leadership Conference. Today, they planned to visit individual congressional offices.