All sides of radio royalty debate to testify in House subcommittee hearing tomorrow

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Issue Date: 
Jun 5 2012 - 11:35am

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CongressThe U.S. House of Representatives Subcommittee on Communications and Technology will hold a hearing tomorrow on "The Future of Audio." Witnesses to testify include Pandora founder and Chief Strategy Officer Tim Westergren, along with representatives from the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA), CTIA, RIAA, NAB and others.

The hearing will take place tomorrow at 10:15AM Eastern.

Westergren's testimony will focus on the "severe and fundamental problem" facing Internet radio. "We are subject to an astonishingly disproportionate royalty burden compared to these other formats [AM/FM radio and satellite radio]," his written statement says. "The inequity arises from the fact that Congress has made decisions about radio and copyright law in a piecemeal and isolated manner... It is time for Congress to level the playing field and to approach radio royalties in a technology neutral manner."

Gary Shapiro, President and CEO of the CEA, will offer a similar argument: "No one source should be given preferential treatment over all others. For this reason alone, we do not agree that Congress should take any action favoring broadcast radio over any other source of audio."

Cary Sherman, Chairman and CEO of the RIAA, will also argue that broadcasters pay a performance royalty.

Arguing against platform parity will be Steven W. Newberry, President/CEO of the Commonwelath Broadcasting Corp., speaking on behalf of the NAB. He will argue broadcast radio should continue to be exempt from paying performance royalties because of its impact on local communities and other government regulations it must adhere to, but from which webcasters are exempt.

Jeff Smulyan, Chairman, President, and CEO of Emmis Communications will testify in favor of regulation that puts FM chips in cellphones. CTIA VP Christopher Guttman-McCabe will argue that instead of regulation, FM chips in cellphones "should be driven by consumer preference." He will also request a "light touch" from Congress when it comes to other matters, like spectrum.

Other witnesses to testify include Ben Allison, the Governor of the New York Chapter of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences and David M. Israelite, President/CEO of the National Music Publishers' Association.

You can find more information about the hearing here.

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