Federal Legislative Issues for Television & Radio
PRESERVING LOCAL RADIO
Radio Performance Fees Should Not Be Increased
New York’s radio stations provide news, entertainment, and life-saving information to consumers free of charge. Local radio stations are vital to local economies and help stimulate jobs across the Empire state. In the last few years, the big recording companies have tried to change the law and impose a new performance tax on local radio stations for airing music. Of course, the new fees paid would go to the big record companies. Stations already pay a blanket-licensing fee for playing music. Moreover, playing music provides free promotion to the big record companies and artists. A new performance fee could financially cripple local radio stations and harm the New Yorkers who rely on radio, local economies, and jobs.
PRESERVING LOCAL TELEVISION
Retransmission Consent Helps Preserve Local Television
For more than three decades, federal copyright law allowed cable operators to take local TV signals off the air at nearly zero cost to them, and then retransmit these signals to consumers for significant fees. Like the anchor stores in a mall, highly popular local television stations served as the backbone of the cable business. In 1992, Congress decided to balance this unfair practice and allow local stations to negotiate with cable operators (and later satellite services) for the right to retransmit programs from local television stations. This free-market system has worked well, as more than 99% of all negotiations are successful and fees for broadcast programs account for less than 2% of the local cable bill.
In an intensely competitive marketplace, retransmission consent revenues allow local television stations to continue providing local news and top-quality programs. This not only helps cable subscribers, but it ensures that those consumers who rely exclusively on an antenna to receive local television stations, will continue to receive their favorite news and entertainment programs.