Radio Performance Tax Battle Rages On
The Bush administration has come out in support of the Performance Rights Act with the Department of Commerce stating that the legislation is “an appropriate and workable approach to providing compensation to recording artists and record labels for the transmission of their works by over-the-air broadcast stations.” Considering Bush’s
dead lame duck status, this endorsement is meaningless.
Recently, Nancy Sinatra, singer and daughter Frank Sinatra, and Tom Lee, president of the American Federation of Musicians (AFM), testified on behalf of the musicFIRST Coalition at a hearing before the Subcommittee on Courts, the Internet, and Intellectual Property on the Performance Rights Act (S. 2500 and H.R. 4789). Sinatra was continuing the work of her father who, in a letter to artists and musicians dated December 12, 1988, wrote, “We are of the opinion that legislation has not been enacted in part because recording artists have not been aware of the problem, while others with vested interests have lobbied heavily for the defeat of such legislation. We believe that with a unified effort from fellow recording artists, we may be able to pass such legislation.”
Thirteen senators and 215 House members are now on record in opposition to the record industry-backed effort. Sens. Chuck Hagel (R-NE) and John Barrasso (R-WY) became the 12th and 13th members of the U.S. Senate to co-sponsor the Local Radio Freedom Act (S. Con. Res. 82), which denounces the notion of a performance tax “benefiting the foreign-owned record labels.” To gain a majority of the 435-member House of Representatives, local broadcasters need only the support of three additional lawmakers.