7/25/13: NC Rep. Watt says he'll introduce a new radio royalty bill before August recess

Paul Maloney
July 25, 2013 - 12:40pm

Several sources are reporting that North Carolina Representative Mel Watt (D) (pictured) said today he will soon introduce new legislation to require U.S. broadcasters to pay royalties for their broadcast use of copyright sound recordings.

Watt told colleagues at a House Judiciary Committee hearing this morning he plans to introduce a bill before the House recess next month.

The National Association of Broadcasters immediately responded. EVP Communications Dennis Wharton called the legislation "a new performance tax that would kill jobs at America's hometown radio stations while diverting millions of dollars to offshore record labels." The NAB supports a non-binding resolution in both chambers of Congress, called the Local Radio Freedom Act, opposing charging radio for the recordings they play.

Unlike other forms of radio (Internet, satellite, cable) -- and unlike broadcasters in most other parts of the world -- U.S. terrestrial radio is not obligated to pay the copyright owners for the use of sound recordings they broadcast (only for compositions). Broadcasters do pay these royalties for online streaming.

The music industry in recent years has stepped up efforts to, in its terms, "correct" this "historical anomoly" and strongly supports Congressional action to require royalties for AM/FM radio. Meanwhile, operators of new forms of radio, saddled with sound recording performance royalties amounting to large percentages of revenues, say broadcasters' exemption makes fair competition impossible.

The NAB says is supports "private, company-by-company negotiations that are driven by the free market," for the use of recorded music. Today Clear Channel announced it has reached an agreement with indie music label Innovative Leisure "that will enable Innovative Leisure's artists to share in broadcast and digital revenue." It's the latest of a series of deals struck by Clear Channel (and a handful of other broadcasters) with independent label groups. Though the terms are never made public, it's understood that, in exchange for a discount (or waiver) on streaming royalties, the radio groups will pay a small royalty for on-air play of the label's music (which they call a "share of advertising revenue").

Paul Maloney
July 25, 2013 - 12:40pm

Entercom president and CEO David Field yesterday sent employees a "midyear update" in which one of his very first points was the announcement of the creation of a new Director of Audience Digital Engagement position, and the appointment of Kim Reis to it.

Field will keynote RAIN Summit Orlando on September 17. He sent the letter as follow-up to Entercom's management gathering in Minneapolis.

In it, Field described Reis' role to "work full-time as a resource to our PD’s and air talent to enhance their effectiveness across all digital and social media platforms."

Read "A Midyear Update From David Field" here. Get more information on RAIN Summit Orlando (and take advantage of the $99 early bird registration, which ends Wednesday) here.

Paul Maloney
July 25, 2013 - 12:40pm

Broadcast group Townsquare Media announced this week it's expanding its portfolio of music and entertainment-focused web properties with the addition of six online communities.

The deal has Townsquare acquiring indie rock site Pretty Much Amazing, music and pop culture site Dangerous Minds, and social publishing platform and female-focused entertaiment community Wetpaint. Townsquare has also added Consequence of Sound, Potholes in My Blog, and Tiny Mix Tapes.

Townsquare owns and operates 241 radio stations, over 250 companion websites, an e-commerce business called SeizeTheDeal.com, and stages approximately 500 annual live events in small and medium-sized U.S. markets. The company says its collection of music and entertainment sites already attracts over 50 million U.S. monthly unique visitors.

In June Townsquare acquired former AOL assets The Boot, The BoomBox, NoiseCreep, and ComicsAlliance, as reported in RAIN here.