If it walks like a duck…

duck_ad.jpgThe National Association of Broadcasters is launching its next salvo in their ongoing battle with the Recording Industry Association of America. This latest campaign is in response to an RIAA-backed effort to levy what NAB calls a performance tax on local radio stations for the airplay of music broadcast over-the-air.

This proposal is being promoted in Washington by The MusicFIRST Coalition, formed recently for just this purpose – collecting performance royalties from broadcast radio in addition to songwriter royalties. A story on the RadioINK web site describes a MusicFIRST draft document being circulated in lawmakers’ offices.

According to the document obtained by Radio Ink, the coalition is proposing changes to the law that would do away with broadcasters’ royalties exemption and have small commercial stations — “small” is not defined — pay a flat royalty rate of $5,000 per year, while noncoms and college stations pay $1,000 a year.

In addition to an advertisement that will run in several Washington, DC political publications tomorrow (11/13), suggesting that the new rates are in fact a new tax on local radio, the NAB is sending a stuffed duck to all Congressional offices today, along with a copy of the ad.

The NAB ad text reads:

If it walks like a duck, and swims like a duck and quacks like a duck‚Ķ well, you know…

The big international record labels are asking for a congressional mandate to force local radio stations to pay for promoting the labels’ artists, music and concerts. But they’d rather you not call it a tax, because no one likes to pay taxes.

You can’t change the facts.

By levying a new fee on radio stations ‚Äì which some analysts estimate could reach $7 billion annually ‚Äì Congress would be taxing the stations in their backyards to line the pockets of international record label executives. Taxing radio for promoting their music free of charge? That’s one idea that just won’t fly.

No performance tax on local radio.

Rep. Gene Green and Mike Conaway have introduced a resolution in the US House of Representatives (HCR 244) opposing such a tax, which has more than 50 co-sponsors from both political parties.

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About the Author

John Lawless

John had served as primary author and editor for The Bluegrass Blog from its launch in 2006 until being folded into Bluegrass Today in September of 2011. He continues in that capacity here, managing a strong team of columnists and correspondents.