Anti-PRA Sen. Ben Nelson goes to bat for radio


The bipartisan Local Radio Freedom Act has come back, in both the House and the Senate, a legislative resolution that can be seen as an antidote to the Performance Rights Act. And one of the sponsors, Sen. Ben Nelson (D-NE) has gone above and beyond the call of duty, issuing a ringing endorsement of the radio broadcasters he seeks to protect.

Nelson, who introduced the bill in the Senate along with John Barasso (R-WY), said, “Congress should not impose taxes on small businesses in Nebraska and nationally which would threaten their financial viability,” Senator Nelson said. “Across rural Nebraska, local radio stations provide a unique link to local news, weather and entertainment which should not be jeopardized by new taxes from Washington.”

Nelson described the bill on his website, citing the age-old relationship between the radio and music industries that the latter is putting under attack due to unrelated internet-generated problems with its business model. Nelson said that the intent of LCRA is to “…help protect the symbiotic relationship that has existed between the broadcasting and sound recording industries for more than 80 years. In this relationship, the record labels allow the performance of music by local radio stations for free, and the radio stations provide the studios’ artists with free exposure and promotion. The artists are introduced to the public, build their fan bases, and get free over-the air advertising for their records, concerts and merchandise. At the same time, local radio stations build listener bases and are able to charge advertisers, which allows the stations to provide local news, sports and weather to listeners for free. This information is crucial during local emergencies or natural disasters.”

The Senator added that there is more than common business sense involved. There is local business in his own state. “There are 177 broadcast radio stations in Nebraska, which provide 843 full-time jobs and contribute $36.5 million per year to the state’s economy,” his staff noted on the Nelson’s website.

Nelson quoted a letter he received from Nebraska Broadcasters Association President Mary Riemenschneider, who wrote: “Congressionally mandated performance fees on free, local radio broadcasters would jeopardize local jobs, prevent new artists from breaking into the recording business and harm the public service we do every day. … As we work to escape one of the worst recessions in the history of the United States, now is not the time to hit local radio with new additional financial costs.”

RBR-TVBR observation: Remember awhile back when the music lobby was tossing around the threat of mounting some kind of harassment campaign until they get their PRA way? With that threat in mind, we’d like to know if and when any radio station is hit with a license renewal challenge brought in some way, shape or form by the music industry.