Following the House Judiciary Committee several weeks ago the Senate Judiciary Committee passed a bill that would close a loophole in copyright law that would prevent record companies from demanding royalties for playing their music on the air. The MusicFirst coaltion, a lobbying group for the record industry issued a statement saying,

“Today we are one step closer to righting a wrong that has existed since the early days of radio; one step closer to winning the fight for fundamental justice that has been waged by countless artists and musicians over the last 80 years. We are making unprecedented progress,. Two congressional committees have now approved a bill to create a fair performance right on radio. We ask broadcasters and the new leadership at the NAB to join with us."

Don't look for that "joining" to happen soon.  Today, the NAB released the results of a study showing 75% of Americans don't agree with the idea of charging radio...they issued this press release......

A clear majority of Americans oppose legislation backed by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) that would force local radio stations to pay an additional fee for every song aired free to listeners, according to a poll released today by the National Association of Broadcasters. The poll reveals that 75 percent of participants do not support a performance fee levied on radio stations, and 85 percent recognize the promotional value radio airplay brings to artists and their music.

The poll comes as Congressional opposition continues to grow. Sen. James Inhofe (OK), has become the most recent lawmaker to express opposition to the record label-backed legislation. Currently, a bipartisan group of 251 House lawmakers and 26 U.S. Senators oppose a performance tax on local radio stations.

The poll, conducted August 24-31, 2009, randomly surveyed 1,000 likely voters nationwide to examine America's attitude toward the performance tax debate. Participants were questioned on their knowledge of the proposed legislation, and were given additional information about the issue from a May 6 article published by The Wall Street Journal.

The referenced Wall Street Journal article stated that the legislation "would force radio companies to pay royalties [fees] of as much as $500 million a year to record labels and artists whose music they play." The article went on to say that "any additional expenses could send [radio companies] one step closer to financial restructuring." After being provided with these excerpts, poll participants were asked whether they would "favor or oppose the performance fee, requiring local radio stations to pay a fee for every song they play". Results showed that 60 percent "definitely opposed," 12 percent "probably opposed" and 3 percent "leaned opposed."

As part of the survey, 85 percent of those polled agreed with the statement that read, "Songs played on the radio help drive music sales, generating record sales annually for performers." Results here showed that 64 percent "strongly agreed" and 21 percent "somewhat agreed" with the statement.

Commenting on the study NAB Executive Vice President Dennis Wharton said, "This survey demonstrates that the more Americans know about a proposed performance tax, the more likely they are to they oppose it. Simply put, a performance tax is bad for free, local radio. It's bad for radio's 235 million weekly listeners. And it's bad for the legions of new and legacy artists whose careers were launched and nurtured by free radio airplay."

The survey, commissioned by NAB, was conducted by Wilson Research Strategies, a Washington, DC-based firm.

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