Rep. Mel Watt Introduces New Performance Royalty Bill
September 30, 2013

As expected, Rep. Mel Watt (D-NC) has introduced a new Performance Royalty bill into the House of Representatives. The "Free Market Royalty Act" would create a performance right for AM/FM radio.

The musicFIRST Coalition has released a statement, with Executive Director Ted Kalo praising Watt's new legislation. Kalo says, "The Free Market Royalty Act signals accelerating momentum for an AM/FM performance right and fair pay for music creators on all platforms. Like the 2009 Performance Rights Act, which passed both the House and Senate Judiciary Committees with broad, bipartisan majorities, this bill would end the decades old government taking of music creators’ performance property rights. It would, once and for all, establish a performance right for sound recordings broadcast over-the-air. The musicFIRST Coalition has been flexible in supporting a variety of approaches establishing a terrestrial right, including the 2009 bill, the 2012 Interim First Act, and this legislation. After saying no to each and every approach to date, the broadcasters have run out of excuses."

He added, "We believe the current statutory license system is a benefit to music creators and services, and we support the current system. But those services who benefit most from it are its greatest critics, and those broadcasters who use the ‘market’ as a dodge to thwart a performance right have done the most to undermine a true, free market. Thank you again, Congressman Mel Watt, for your continuing leadership on behalf of artists and music creators."

On the other hand, the NAB has released its own state, opposing Watt's Free Market Royalty Act. NAB EVP of Communications Dennis Wharton says, "NAB respectfully opposes the legislation, and appreciates the support of 183 members of Congress who stand with America's hometown radio stations against the offshore record labels. NAB believes market-based negotiations like the recent Warner Music-Clear Channel accord demonstrate that this issue is already being addressed in the free market. This legislation would impose new costs on broadcasters that jeopardize the future of our free over-the-air service."

In the same released the NAB announced that five additional Members of Congress have signed on as cosponsors of a resolution that opposes "any new performance fee, tax, royalty, or other charge" on local broadcast radio stations. The Local Radio Freedom Act is now currently co-sponsored by 171 Members of the House and 12 Senators. These five members are Reps. Kevin Cramer (R-ND), Scott DesJarlais (R-TN), Richard Hanna (R-NY), David Valadao (R-CA) and Kevin Yoder (R-KS).

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Jon Zellner
EVP/Programming Operations

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