Legislation Against Performance Tax Gathers Steam

While last month the U.S. Copyright Office unsurprisingly reiterated its longtime call for new performance royalty payments to be levied against radio broadcasters, many Members of Congress have again certified that they don’t agree with a performance tax. 

The Local Radio Freedom Act (H.Con.Res.17/S.Con.Res.4) was introduced last week by Rep. Michael Conaway (R-TX) and Rep. Gene Green (D-TX) in the House of Representatives and Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY) and Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) in the Senate.  This bill opposes “any new performance fee, tax, royalty, or other charge relating to the public performance of sound recordings on a local radio station for broadcasting sound recordings over-the-air, or on any business for such public performance of sound recordings.”  Already it has attracted the bipartisan support of 120 Representatives and 5 Senators.

NRB opposes a performance tax as a new and unwarranted burden on many Christian radio broadcasters.   Musicians receive free airplay by radio, boosting recognition and sales of their work.  However, advertisers, sponsors, and program syndicators pay for placement on radio because of the substantive benefits they receive from over-the-air (OTA) carriage.  The demonstrable value of radio airtime is ignored by many advocates of a new OTA performance tax.

  • Read the 2013 NRB Board of Directors’ Resolution opposed to a performance tax.

By Aaron Mercer, Vice President of Government Relations

Published: March 6, 2015

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