Civil rights groups question performance tax


The Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, Rainbow PUSH Coalition and the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law want House Judiciary Chairman John Conyers (D-MI) to slam on the brakes before considering H.R. 848, a bill creating a broadcast performance royalty. They say it could be devastating to minority media.

The organizations pointed out that minority media is a critical resource when it comes to helping the minority populations participate fully in America’s democracy. It is particularly important in keeping people informed and to help drive the vote.

“However, passage of H.R. 848 would eviscerate this remaining, powerful resource,” said a letter signed by Rev. Jesse Jackson, Sr. and Barbara Arnwine. They called for a “thoughtful public hearing on the consequences this legislation would have on minority radio broadcast ownership and service to minority communities before any official Committee action is taken.”

IN a letter sent directly to Conyers, the Leadership Council asked that he “delay any immediate action” on H.R. 848 “until the impact of the bill on women and minority broadcasters has been fully explored.” It explained, “We are concerned that the Performance Rights Act as it stands may actually limit media diversity. We urge you therefore to delay any immediate action on H.R. 848 and to conduct an additional hearing to fully air the issues that we and others have raised.”

Meanwhile, the NAB took its case to the Capitol Hill newspapers. See their ad here:

RBR/TVBR observation: Some members of Congress say they want to help musicians earn a living, but instead they’re going to try to ship cash from broadcasters overseas to international conglomerates at a time when broadcasters are living hand to mouth. This is especially galling when Congress hasn’t lifted finger one to examine the putrid relationship between the labels and the musicians.