Lawmakers Re-Introduce Radio Freedom Act


House lawmakers this week re-introduced a resolution that serves as a counter to the American Music Freedom Act, a proposal that would adjust royalties paid out to artists when music plays on traditional radio as it does on streaming and satellite services.

The Local Radio Freedom Act (LRFA) would codify a position by Congress to not impose a new performance tax, royalty, fee or other type of financial charge on local radio stations. It would also apply to businesses where recordings are played for a public performance.

Nearly 120 House lawmakers on both sides of the aisle co-sponsored the LRFA, according to a statement sent by the National Association of Broadcasters on Monday.

“As a former broadcaster, I understand the important role local radio plays in the lives of Arkansans and Americans,” Rep. Steve Womack of Arkansas, a principal co-author of the recent incarnation of the LRFA, said in a statement. “From round-the-clock news to entertainment, listeners and communities rely on broadcasts for a variety of needs. But rising fees are making it increasingly impossible to afford operations. It’s essential Congress work to protect the viability of these small businesses. My introduction of the Local Radio Freedom Act is fundamentally about ensuring people have stations to tune into when they move their dial.”

“I am proud to support our local radio stations that provide vital programming and essential services across the Tampa Bay area and the country, particularly during natural disasters and emergencies,” said Rep. Kathy Castor of Florida, another principal co-sponsor of the bill. “The Local Radio Freedom Act reaffirms Congress’s support for local radio stations and opposes new fees or taxes on local, free, broadcast radio which could jeopardize those very services upon which so many rely. Many communities have suffered the loss of local newspapers, and we cannot let that happen to local radio we depend on.”

Not surprisingly, while the NAB opposed the AMFA, the trade group supports the latest introduction of the LRFA.

“NAB applauds these 119 original co-sponsors of the Local Radio Freedom Act for supporting local radio listeners and stations in their districts,” said NAB President and CEO Curtis LeGeyt. “Broadcast radio provides a unique and irreplaceable service to listeners free of charge. While foreign record labels seek to line their pockets at the expense of local radio, listeners and artists, we appreciate the lawmakers standing shoulder-to-shoulder with their local radio stations in firm opposition to a new performance fee.”

MusicFIRST is the coalition backing the new performance fee on traditional radio stations. Last week, the group praised the re-introduction of AMFA, though it isn’t clear that either it or the LRFA will gain enough support by lawmakers to pass this time around.

“It’s clear that the movement for music fairness continues to gain momentum, bringing us closer than ever before to ending Big Radio’s ability to deny artists the fair pay they deserve,” former Representative Joe Crowley, who now serves as the chairman of MusicFIRST, said in a statement last week. “[The] House and Senate [re-]introductions of the American Music Fairness Act is evidence of that. We thank Senators Padilla and Blackburn and Representatives Issa and Nadler for their leadership in the effort to secure economic justice for our nation’s music artists and creators, and look forward to working together to drive continued progress in the coming months.”


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