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Ouch: 21 to 9

Amendment may signal the ultimate outcome

Twenty-one representatives on the House Judiciary Committee sided with performers and record labels today, with only nine coming down on the side of radio.

NAB sounds pretty confident it has the votes in the big chamber to fend off its latest boogeyman under the bed, namely a performance royalty. But I think you can sense where things are going on the Hill by the success of an amendment from John Conyers to structure a royalty so that smaller stations don’t get whomped as much as had been feared. I suspect that approach will find a lot of favor among legislators who are unsettled by the idea that broadcasters should get a free pass on this whole issue.

(Conyers offered up a sliding fee scale under which the lowest-grossing stations would pay $500 each year. That kind of number is going to make it harder for the smallest broadcasters to argue they’ll go out of business if a royalty passes.)

Broadcasters had best not be counting their chickens just yet, despite the bipartisan support NAB said it sensed in the opposition even in losing this round.