PRA may be in play: Reported out of House committee


H.R. 848 The Performance Rights Act is one step closer to the House floor. It has been favorably reported out of the House Judiciary Committee, chaired by John Conyers (D-MI). Conyers is also the driving force behind the bill, which would establish a performance royalty which broadcasters would have to pay to recording artists and their labels. NAB is paying attention.

The bill is listed as reported out of committee and placed on the Union Calendar, Calendar No. 405.

From what we can gather, all that might mean is that the bill has moved from one state of limbo to another. The next step is at the discretion of House leadership, and RBR-TVBR sources at the House and in the Judiciary Committee could only say that nobody knows what will happen other than people who so far aren’t talking about it.

NAB’s Dennis Wharton told RBR-TVBR, “NAB is watching the waning days of the lame duck very closely to guard against a dark-of-night attempt to pass the bill that passed out of committee last year. Meanwhile, we continue to engage congressional leaders with our offer to resolve this issue once and for all, as was evidenced when our Board adopted the Term Sheet below at our October NAB Board meeting.”

Wharton included a link to the document for anyone needing a refresher on it.

It will fall on Conyers to push for his bill’s delivery to the floor for a vote. As RBR-TVBR reported, he does have the advantage of a PRA supporter in Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), serving her final days as Speaker.

That noted, time is short, and a majority of House members are signed on to an opposing resolution, the Local Radio Freedom Act, that urges rejection of PRA but unfortunately is non-binding.

The Senate Judiciary Committee passed its version of PRA in October 2009.

RBR-TVBR observation: Bills are written, bills move around, and sometimes they sneak their way into law hitchhiking on some other bill while nobody is paying close attention. It’s the reason the NAB has been concerned. But a floor vote does not appear to be in the cards for PRA right now.