House Judiciary Committee Pushes Performance Tax Bill

As we reported last week, the House Judiciary Committee held a hearing on the American Music Fairness Act, (H.R. 4130).  The legislation would impose a performance fee on the free over-the-air transmission of music.  Broadcasters already pay performers for streaming music.  We also pay songwriters and publishers through BMI, ASCAP and now GMR.

This legislation stands in direct contrast to the Local Radio Freedom Act (H. Con. Res 33).  The Local Radio Freedom Act is a Congressional resolution affirming that local radio stations should not be subject to performance fees for music that is transmitted over the air to listeners for free.

New NAB Chief Curtis LeGeyt represented broadcasters.  He did an outstanding job in very difficult situation.  Frankly the hearing was very one-sided, with four witnesses, including Gloria Estafan, testifying in favor performance fees.  While several broadcasters offered to testify, Mr. LeGeyt was the only broadcast witness.

The Local Radio Freedom Act H Con. Res. 33 has approximately 210 co-sponsors.  Members of the New York Delegation supporting the legislation are Rep. Andrew Garbarino, [R-NY-2]; Rep. Chris Jacobs, Rep. John Katko [R-NY-24], Rep. Nicole Malliotakis, Nicole, Rep. Gregory Meeks [D-NY-5], Rep. Tom Reed [R-NY-23], Rep. Elise Stefanik, [R-NY-21], Rep. Claudia Tenney [R-NY-22] and Rep. Lee Zeldin [R-NY-1].

The American Music Fairness Act has 31 co-sponsors.  Members of the New York delegation supporting the legislation are Rep. Jamaal Bowman, [D-NY-16], Rep. Adriano Espaillat, [D-NY-13], Rep. Brian Higgins [D-NY-26], Rep. Gregor Meeks [D-NY-5], Rep. Jerry Nadler [D-NY-10] and Rep. Thomas Suozzi [D-NY-3].

We continue to oppose the American Music Fairness Act.  While the legislation contains some exemptions for the smallest stations, a significant number of stations would see their royalty payments increase dramatically.  Now is not the time to add additional expenses on to radio stations.

While no date has been set to vote on the bill, we expect House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-NY) will try to push this bill through the Judiciary Committee.  We will watch this bill closely.

To watch the hearing and see the testimony submitted at the hearing click HERE.


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