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RAIN 8/6 late edition: NAB releases proposed broadcast royalty terms

Posted on: 08/06/2010


Following a meeting with its board in response to music industry efforts to gain a royalty for on-air play of copyright recordings, the NAB has publicly released “proposed terms under consideration” for a settlement — several of which have implications for online radio.

H.R. 848, the “Performance Rights Act,” which would compel broadcasters to pay royalties to the owners of copyright recordings they play, is in the House now. Though more than enough members of Congress have pledged to vote against the bill, the NAB fears it could be tacked on to a far less controversial, non-partisan bill and get passed (a real danger in a lame-duck Congress). It’s generally accepted that broadcasters would rather craft a deal in which they can negotiate terms than have Congress foist terms on them.

Radio-Info reports the NAB’s five points of its proposed terms. Those that pertain directly to Internet radio include:
(1) Permanent removal of Copyright Royalty Board jurisdiction over rates for both terrestrial and streaming.
(2) Streaming rate reduction from current rates.
(3) AFTRA issues to be resolved on ads that air on webcasts. (Which, as Radio-Info explains, is “important since the extra AFTRA fee for streaming discourages many stations from airing ads produced by union talent.”)

Broadcasters now await the music industry’s counter-proposal.

Read Radio-Info’s full coverage here.

While it’s logical that only NAB-member broadcasters would be eligible for any settlement between the music industry and the NAB, the “Internet-only” radio community could benefit as well. A manageable, reasonable performance royalty for radio would stand in stark contrast to the onerous, disproportionate rates under which webcasters like Pandora and AccuRadio currently operate, making the disparity that much clearer to lawmakers and voters.

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