Washington - Dec. 18, 2007 - Members of the Senate and House Judiciary Committees introduced legislation to end an exemption for radio stations to pay a performance fee for playing music over the air. The House version of the bill was introduced by Reps. Howard Berman (D-CA) and Darrell Issa (R-CA). Companion legislation was offered in the Senate by Sens. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Orrin Hatch (R-UT).
Both bills would provide an option for stations to pay a flat rate for the use of the sound recordings. According to Senator Hatch, "There is a symbiotic relationship between musicians and broadcasters. You can't have one without the other, and both make significant contributions to our culture and economy. We need to recognize performance rights, and we want to ensure this legislation is fair to both the broadcasters and the artists."
The bill supporters note that webcasters and satellite radio pay the performance royalty while terrestrial radio stations do not.
The NAB quickly noted that House Concurrent Resolution 224, introduced in October, states, "Congress should not impose any new performance fee, tax, royalty or other charge relating to the public performance of sound recordings on a local radio station for broadcasting sound recordings over-the-air, or on any business for such public performance of sound recordings." That resolution currently has the support of 119 members of the House of Representatives.