Congress 2018

It has been unexpectedly quiet in Congress where advocates hope for action on a performance royalty on AM/FM airplay. No bill has been introduced so far, while broadcasters have been marshalling its supporters to head off such a threat. The list of members of Congress who oppose a radio royalty continues to grow, with 176 House members and 22 Senators now taking a public stand with broadcasters.

In recent weeks the list of House members has grown by 10 with Reps. James Baird (R-IN), Troy Balderston (R-OH), Anthony Gonzalez (R-OH), Mike Johnson (R-LA), Daniel Meuser (R-PA), Denver Riggleman (R-VA), Mac Thornberry (R-TX), William Timmons (R-SC) and Rob Wittman (R-VA) all adding their names to a resolution that says Congress shouldn’t impose a performance fee on local radio stations. And in the Senate, Joni Ernst (R-IA) added her name to a companion resolution.

The National Association of Broadcasters has pointed out that it has supporters on both sides of the political aisle in the performance royalty fight. But a tally of the numbers shows more Republicans have sided with local radio than Democrats. In the House, of the 176 lawmakers who have signed the resolution 129 are Republicans compared to 47 Democrats. And in the Senate, there are 16 Republicans versus six Democrats.

It’s not party affiliation that really matters, but rather numbers. And the radio industry would need 218 House members to effectively block any legislation proposing a performance royalty from moving forward.

Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), who has previously sponsored the Fair Play, Fair Pay bill that would create a performance right, hasn’t said whether he plans to reintroduce the legislation. His office has not responded to questions about whether he intends to put the bill back into circulation. Nadler is now the chair of the House Judiciary Committee and would be in a better position to advance the bill, however his Committee’s priorities have so far been elsewhere, primarily on oversight of the Trump administration.