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Music Creators to iHeart: Give Us Equal Time on Your Radio Stations to Discuss AM/FM Payment Legislation

29 November 2022

Corporate Broadcasters Are Abusing Their Government-Granted Radio Airwaves to Run Misleading Ads in an Attempt to Derail Legislation to Pay Artists When Their Music is Played on AM/FM Stations, Despite New Polling Showing Continued Public Support

Washington, DC, November 29, 2022musicFIRST – the voice for fairness and equity for music creators – today accused iHeartMedia and other corporate broadcasters of abusing their government-granted radio airwaves by airing the equivalent of millions of dollars of ads opposing bipartisan legislation that would finally pay artists when their music is played on AM/FM radio.

In the interest of fairness, musicFIRST is demanding that the corporate broadcasters offer “equal time” so artists can run their own advertising about the American Music Fairness Act (AMFA) — a landmark piece of legislation that would end a century’s old injustice by granting creators performance royalties for AM/FM radio plays. A new survey shows that the American people support this request, with respondents saying that broadcasters should have to offer equal time to artists by a greater than 4-to-1 margin.

“iHeart and other Big Radio broadcasters are willing to spend untold millions of dollars on lobbyists and a misleading nationwide advertising campaign — all to deny artists and other music creators a slice of the multi-billion-dollar pie of revenues these corporations make from playing their songs,” said Congressman Joe Crowley, Chairman of the musicFIRST Coalition. “It’s craven that they’d rather spend their millions to block legislation than just pay the creators themselves. It’s time for iHeart to release their stranglehold on their airwaves and give artists equal time to set the record straight.”

Broadcasters have run ads across the country opposing the American Music Fairness Act, balanced legislation that requires large broadcast corporations to pay performance royalties to creators while protecting local radio by including broad exemptions for small, college and non-commercial stations.

“Let’s face it. iHeart and other broadcast corporations are a Goliath, with seemingly limitless money to lobby Congress and strongarm thousands of radio stations across the country into spewing falsehoods about this important legislation,” said Crowley. “Given that these publicly owned airwaves were granted to broadcasters by the American people, it’s outrageous they are now using them to achieve their own selfish ends. They must grant airtime to creators to counter these falsehoods.”

According to a new national poll of 1,087 U.S. adults commissioned by musicFIRST, Americans continue to stand with artists in the fight for music fairness — and in their call for equal time on the airwaves. 

Roughly 6 in 10 respondents (59%) say they would support Congress passing a new law that would require broadcasters to pay artists when their music is played on AM/FM radio — such as the AMFA. Only 15% would not support such a law.

A majority (56%) agrees that broadcasters’ spending on lobbyists and radio ads attacking the AMFA is an inappropriate use of funds, and believe that money should instead go to artists for the use of their music on AM/FM radio. Conversely, only 13% say this is an appropriate use of that money.

A similarly strong majority (58%) of respondents say that if broadcasters are going to use their government-granted radio airwaves to run ads opposing the AMFA, they should also have to give equal time to ads produced by artists — while only 13% disagree. That’s a greater than 4-to-1 margin in favor of equal time for artists.

Broadcasters have embarked on the nationwide advertising campaign because they are alarmed by the progress music creators are making on Capitol Hill. The American Music Fairness Act is poised for action when Congress returns in December to complete its work. The legislation — introduced in the House by Reps. Ted Deutch (D-FL) and Darrell Issa (R-CA),  and by Sens. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) and Alex Padilla (D-CA) in the Senate — offers a common-sense approach to ensuring music artists receive compensation for the use of their work. It will finally require large broadcast corporations to pay performance royalties to creators for AM/FM radio plays, just as all other digital and streaming platforms do. Notably, the bill protects local radio by including broad exemptions for small, college and non-commercial stations, which would enable these stations to play unlimited music for no more than $500 per year — or less than $2 per day. 

A fact sheet about the bill’s provisions is available to download here.

For more information, please visit the musicFIRST website at www.musicfirstcoalition.org and follow the coalition on Twitter at @musicFIRST.

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About musicFIRST
musicFIRST works to ensure music creators get fair pay for their work on all platforms and wherever and however it is played. We rally the people and organizations who make and love music to end the broken status quo that allows AM/FM to use any song ever recorded without paying its performers a dime. And to stand up for fair pay on digital radio — and whatever comes next.

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