To be frank, I didn’t expect to be asked to testify at the XM-Sirius hearing – Public Knowledge hasn’t been much involved in media consolidation issues (unless you consider net neutrality to be one). But my indignation over the National Association of Broadcaster’s hypocrisy in opposing the merger and our concern that the merger could be conditioned on some sort of audio flag or other tech mandate for digital radio probably helped to get us the nod.

My written testimony discussed these issues, but a briefing document I received just prior to the hearing calling efforts to require the industry to pay a performance right to artists and recording companies a “tax

A little background: the Copyright Act requires all radio services to pay a fee to songwriters every time they play one of their songs. Everybody pays this – webcasters, satellite radio and over-the-air broadcasters. However, only broadcasters do not pay a similar fee to the the record companies and artists when they broadcast those same songs.

The rationale behind this exemption has always been that broadcasters “pay