In recent weeks, broadcasters have intensified their campaign to lobby Congress to prevent any compensation to artists whose songs are played on local radio. They have found several cosponsors willing to sign onto their Orwellian-named Local Radio Freedom Act.
It’s truly stunning that broadcasters can keep a straight face as they tell musicians, “You’ll get nothing and like it.”
After all, as broadcasters continue to demand that musicians be grateful for the exposure that radio gives them, they at the same time, insist that they’re not being fairly compensated by pay-TV providers for broadcast programming.
A Nielsen has found, “more than 95 percent of Americans” watch TV via cable, satellite or IPTV. So if promotion is so important to musicians, then shouldn’t the broadcasters be thrilled with reaching 95 percent of the U.S. TV audience. Especially when it’s incredibly difficult to watch broadcast TV via an antenna.
As broadcasters claim that paying musicians will result in lost jobs and call royalties an “unfair tax,” they’re demanding bigger and bigger retransmission consent fees. In recent days some of the biggest broadcasters have bragged to investors about their increasing quarterly earnings due to higher retransmission consent fees. CBS Les Moonves – who famously said of royalties to musicians, “The idea that we have to pay them to put their music on our radio stations is absurd” – even boasted about the reverse retransmission consent coming back to New York.
Moonves may think performance royalties are absurd, but he has no problem demanding them from pay-TV customers. Could broadcasters like Moonves be any more hypocritical?