Royalties

Following on the heels of the introduction of a Senate resolution opposing the adoption of a performance right for AM/FM airplay, a companion resolution was introduced in the House on Tuesday. The proposed Local Radio Freedom Act came with bipartisan support with Reps. Kathy Castor (D-FL) and Steve Womack (R-AR) as principal cosponsors. The resolution also includes the names of 75 other House members.

The language of the Local Radio Freedom Act mirrors the previous version by explicitly recognizing the “mutually beneficial relationship” between local radio and the recording industry, including the “free publicity and promotion” that performers receive and use to sell music and concert tickets. It also says that changing the law to create a new performance right for AM/FM would lead to thousands of local radio stations suffering “severe economic hardship” if any new fee is imposed. And rather than shy away from the fact that the resolution is not a new idea, it embraces its legacy. “For nearly a century, Congress has rejected repeated calls by the recording industry to impose a performance fee on local radio stations for simply playing music on the radio,” it says.

The resolution was signed by a majority of House members during the previous congressional session to effectively block any bill pushed by the music industry to create a radio royalty. The introduction of the new version kicks off a fresh round of lobbying by the industry to add to the list of names to head-off any attempts by the music industry to secure a performance royalty.

The National Association of Broadcasters welcomed the support from Capitol Hill. NAB President Gordon Smith said those who signed the Local Radio Freedom Act are “standing with their hometown radio stations against a devastating performance royalty.”

A similar resolution has also been introduced in the Senate where Senators Martin Heinrich (D-NM) and John Barrasso (R-WY) are the lead cosponsors. The Senate version also has the support of six other lawmakers.

"For decades, free radio airplay has promoted performing artists and their music, launched the careers of countless performers, generated unparalleled revenue for record labels and served the millions of listeners who tune into their local radio stations every day,” said Smith. “We appreciate the bipartisan lawmakers in the House and Senate who have voiced their support for preserving the mutually beneficial relationship between broadcast radio and the music industry."

The resolutions arrive before advocates to change music copyright law have even introduced any proposals in the 117th Congress. Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) and Senator Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) previously introduced the Ask Musicians for Music Act, or AM-FM Act. But by the time a majority for the anti-royalty resolution was secured last July, both the House and Senate versions of the AM-FM Act had failed to secure any cosponsors. Neither Nadler nor Blackburn have said whether they plan to reintroduce their legislation. Nadler remains in charge of the pivotal House Judiciary Committee, and one radio lobbyist expects he will try again.

In the 116th Congress, Local Radio Freedom Act resolutions were introduced in the House of Representatives and Senate. The House resolution gathered support of the majority of House members last July. The Senate version eventually had the backing of 28 cosponsors.

So far this year the 77 House cosponsors of the Local Radio Freedom Act include:

Rick Allen (R-GA-12)

Mark Amodei (R-NV-2)

Jodey Arrington (R-TX-19)

Don Bacon (R-NE-2)

Troy Balderson (R-OH-12)

Jim Banks (R-IN-3)

Joyce Beatty (D-OH-3)

Gus Bilirakis (R-FL-12)

Mike Bost (R-IL-12)

Brendan Boyle (D-PA-2)

Mo Brooks (R-AL-5)

Anthony Brown (D-MD-4)

Cheri Bustos (D-IL-17)

Andre Carson (D-IN-7)

Buddy Carter (R-GA-1)

Kathy Castor (D-FL-14)

Steve Chabot (R-OH-1)

Tom Cole (R-OK-4)

James Comer (R-KY-1)

Jim Costa (D-CA-16)

Rick Crawford (R-AR-1)

Rodney Davis (R-IL-13)

Debbie Dingell (D-MI-12)

Tom Emmer (R-MN-6)

Dwight Evans (D-PA-3)

Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA-1)

Virginia Foxx (R-NC-5)

Mike Garcia (R-CA-25)

Bob Gibbs (R-OH-7)

Vincente Gonzalez (D-TX-15)

Paul Gosar (R-AZ-4)

Kay Granger (R-TX-12)

Glenn Grothman (R-WI-6)

French Hill (R-AR-2)

Richard Hudson (R-NC-8)

Bill Johnson (R-OH-6)

Fred Keller (R-PA-12)

Mike Kelly (R-PA-16)

Andy Kim (D-NJ-3)

Ron Kind (D-WI-3)

Adam Kinzinger (R-IL-16)

Annie Kuster (D-NH-2)

Bob Latta (R-OH-5)

Al Lawson (D-FL-5)

Stephen Lynch (D-MA-8)

Tom Malinowski (D-NJ-7)

Thomas Massie (R-KY-4)

Patrick McHenry (R-NC-10)

Dan Meuser (R-PA-9)

Seth Moulton (D-MA-6)

Markwayne Mullin (R-OK-2)

Greg Murphy (R-NC-3)

Devin Nunes (R-CA-22)

Steven Palazzo (R-MS-4)

Chris Pappas (D-NH-1)

Dean Phillips (D-MN-3)

Bill Posey (R-FL-8)

Hal Rogers (R-KY-5)

David Rouzer (R-NC-7)

Bobby Rush (D-IL-1)

Gregorio Sablan (D-MP-AL)

Kurt Schrader (D-OR-5)

David Scott (D-GA-13)

Mike Simpson (R-ID-2)

Van Taylor (R-TX-3)

Tom Tiffany (R-WI-7)

Michael Turner (R-OH-10)

Fred Upton (R-MI-6)

Jeff Van Drew (R-NJ-2)

Filemon Vela (D-TX-34)

Tim Walberg (R-MI-7)

Bruce Westerman (R-AR-4)

Joe Wilson (R-SC-2)

Rob Wittman (R-VA-1)

Steve Womack (R-AR-3)

Don Young (R-AK-AL)

Lee Zeldin (R-NY-1)

And the Local Radio Freedom Act's eight Senate cosponsors so far include:

John Barrasso (R-WY)

Mike Crapo (R-ID)

Steve Daines (R-MT)

Joni Ernst (R-IA) Maggie Hassan (D-NH)

Martin Heinrich (D-NM)

Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH)

Jon Tester (D-MT)