State Associations Talk to Members About Royalty - Radio World

State Associations Talk to Members About Royalty

Reaction varies; no immediate apparent consensus on local level
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Early reviews appear mixed among members of state broadcast associations regarding what’s under discussion between NAB and record labels regarding performance rights.

Emphasizing that no agreement had been reached, the National Association of Broadcasters last week put forth a list of discussion points, a move seen as notable given the organization’s previous public resistance to even negotiating. Members of Congress had pushed the two sides to negotiate the issue.

Now state broadcast associations are explaining details to their members.

Sharon Tinsley, president of the Alabama Broadcasters Association, told Radio World the organization hosted a conference call this week on performance rights and may host another next week for those who missed it.

“There were some outspoken broadcasters who feel the industry should not compromise,” Tinsley said. “They believe the relationship between radio and record labels has not changed and that the labels should look elsewhere to make up their revenue losses. At the same time, there are folks willing to review the deal points and consider possible outcomes.” She characterized the reactions as mixed.

It’s too soon to give a thumbs up or down on the proposal, said Tinsley; broadcasters want to first hear more about what NAB has in mind.

Jim du Bois, president and chief executive officer of the Minnesota Broadcasters Association, said the NAB has kept state associations well informed on the issue. He said it’s important for associations to continue to educate their members about the debate and help them to understand the dynamics behind the negotiations.

He said that while NAB and state associations remain united in opposition to the PRA legislation before Congress, “the industry stands a better chance of crafting a more palatable resolution to this issue if we negotiate in good faith with the recording industry.”

Don Hicks, president and chief executive officer of the Missouri Broadcasters Association, told Radio World he hadn’t received feedback yet from members on the issue.

Religious broadcasters are watching the debate too. In a National Religious Broadcasters newsletter this week, Robert Powers, head lobbyist for the NRB, writes that in past lobbying visits to Capitol Hill, NRB has asked for support on the Local Radio Freedom Act and essentially asked for a “no” vote on any new music fees. He wrote: “We are winning on this issue.” Yet, he said, Democratic leaders in the House and Senate remain committed to aiding the music industry; Powers thinks the recent discussion of “creative measures” to get new fees implemented is the fruit of their pressure.

NRB President/CEO Frank Wright, who met with Smith not long before the NAB Radio Board meeting, stated, “While NRB remains firmly opposed to the establishment of a new performance royalty, I applaud the efforts of NAB President Gordon Smith in working for reform of the deeply-flawed process embodied in the Copyright Royalty Board.”

MusicFirst, meantime, has not confirmed whether the terms as stated by NAB would be acceptable to the organization. Asked for his reaction to the list, coalition spokesman Marty Machowsky stated: “We look forward to Congress completing work in 2010 to create a performance right on radio that is fair to artists, musicians and rights holders — and fair to radio.” NAB has reiterated its opposition to the current bill.

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