Radio rally strikes back over royalty bill

Broadcasters are pushing back on a proposal in Congress to make radio stations pay royalties to artists and performers.

The Free Radio Alliance put on a rally yesterday at the Capitol South Metro station "to educate staffers about the pitfalls of the performance tax."

Representatives for radio stations from around the country walked the halls of the Capitol yesterday to tell lawmakers to oppose the Performance Rights Act, which they say will put financial strain on stations, especially small and minority-owned stations.

The "performance tax" has gotten a lot of publicity on the Hill this week. With the National Association of Broadcasters' state leadership conference happening, station owners have taken the opportunity to chat up members about their views. And the music industry has done the same, hosting a press conference Wednesday with singer Dionne Warwick to push for the bill. Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.), chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, compared the lack of a royalty for performers to slavery.

The Free Radio Alliance says radio airtime is free promotion that is key to singers' careers. In fact, they pointed out with posters, that's how they heard Dionne Warwick's songs in the first place. Imposing a royalty would only enrich big record labels, including those overseas.

Conyers says he hopes the bill will get to the floor this year. It has passed the Judiciary Committees of both chambers.

(photos: Free Radio Alliance)