Yet again, the big broadcasters – ABC, CBS, NBC and FOX – have been shown to be hypocrites when it comes to paying “fair value” for content. Despite regularly lambasting pay-TV providers for supposedly inadequate compensation when retransmitting supposedly free television, broadcasters sing a different tune when it comes to paying for content they use.
Every year the broadcasters demand billions in retransmission consent fees from cable and satellite providers. In fact, total retrans fees are projected to hit $9.3 billion in 2020, up from less than $2 billion only a few years ago. However, the same broadcasters refuse to pay “fair value” to musicians whose music is played on broadcast radio stations. CBS CEO Les Moonves summed up the industry’s stance: “The idea that we have to pay them to put their music on our radio stations is absurd.”
Mr. Moonves may find “fair value” absurd, but the real absurdity is the continued fleecing of American consumers by big broadcasters.
Today, Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) and Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-CA) reintroduced the “Protecting the Rights of Musicians Act,” which was brought to a standstill by broadcaster lobbyists last year. The Act will deny the right to grant retransmission consent to a television broadcast station if the owner of that station also owns an FM or AM radio station that is not compensating musicians for their work.
Congressional Democrats and Republicans have shown a willingness in recent weeks to work together to pass meaningful legislation. The “Protecting the Rights of Musicians Act” is another opportunity for bipartisan success. Let’s see if the broadcasters stand in the way or keep singing from their hymnbook of hypocrisy.