As we’ve been reporting, there has been a movement in Washington to get more money into the hands of local radio operators, in the next round of federal funding, to help them deal with revenue losses as a result of the pandemic. Now, several music organizations are calling language in the HEROES Act a bailout for Big Radio.
SoundExchange, the American Association of Independent Music, the Future of Music Coalition and the Recording Academy issued a statement about the draft HEROES Act put forth by House Democrats. While the organizations do acknowledge that “truly” local broadcasters who serve their communities deserve support, language in the proposal ” essentially greenlights a warrantless Big Radio Bailout for every massive broadcaster within the multibillion dollar industry who can lay claim to a smaller station within their portfolio.”
The organizations specifically call out iHeartMedia, Cumulus and Sinclair stating that if those companies receive any federal funding it will be the small independent broadcasters who get hurt. “The stunningly broad language would divert assistance away from true community outlets in favor of the same mega corporations that have been laying off thousands of local employees in a wave of consolidation. Truly small, non-commercial and community radio stations shouldn’t be forced to compete with huge companies for limited payroll assistance.”
The groups say that there’s a difference between supporting vital local news outlets and billion dollar broadcast conglomerates, “especially given that these enormous radio conglomerates refuse to compensate recording artists for using their music, in contrast with satellite radio and streaming services that do pay. With so many people in need at this time, let’s keep the focus where it should be: small businesses and workers, not on big broadcasters.”
Even though House Democrats plan to vote on their proposal today, The HEROES Act has no chance of passing as is. Both Republicans in the Senate and the President oppose the plan, calling it a Democratic wish list. Yesterday bi-partisan legislation was proposed in the Senate that may have a better chance of passing.