Thursday, June 4, 2009

PRA, R&R, Local radio freedom and Lewis & Floorwax

So, terrestrial radio looks to have won this current battle (but not the war?) over performance royalties, while performers won't see a dime for their performance on terrestrial radio. What a mess. Yesterday, June 3, 2009, the NAB (National Association of Broadcasters) got more than 220 members of the House of Representatives to back the non-binding Local Radio Freedom Act. Basically, with over 220 representatives signing on, it is virtually assured that there won't be a vote on the Performance Rights Act in the House, this year.

In the meantime, however, terrestrial radio still pays if they are streaming content online; Internet based radio pays, and satellite and cable based stations pay. And in many cases, the performance royalties tied to internet based broadcasts has proven to be cost prohibitive for many hobbyists and small revenue operators ... and for some larger commercial concerns as well, based on the fact that Jack FM in Denver is no longer streaming online.

Interestingly, we in radio are not guaranteed the RIGHT to play some one's music on-air. That "right" is really a license, supplied by the owner of the underlying composition (not the recording of the performance itself, as I understand it). So what would happen, I wonder, if those who own the recording of the performance were to say, "no pay, no play?" Probably nothing, really, since most performers today seem to be writing AND performing their own songs .. and as long as they belong to one of the performance rights organizations (ASCAP, BMI, SESAC), they're entitled to receive songwriter/publisher royalties ... but if you're not listed as a co-writer, you're screwed.

So, the PRA (Performance Rights Act) is done (at least for now) --- R&R (Radio and Records) is done (and gone) --- and radio is increasingly LESS locally produced and is LESS local in content (musical or otherwise). So then, the question is, where in the Local Radio Freedom Act does it give control of radio back to local operators, managers, and announcers/djs? Where in any bill on the hill is there a provision for less network consolidation in programming? Or, does anyone even care anymore? and how much longer do we have to tolerate Lewis & Floorwax anyway? Good grief, we're not prepubescent twits who still enjoy potty-humor ... are we?

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