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Rep. Blackburn: “Fair Pay for All Creators Shouldn’t be a Gamble”

25 March 2014

Washington, D.C. – Today, during the House Energy & Commerce Committee’s markup Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) stood up for music creators by highlighting the current unfair system where AM/FM stations use musicians’ work without paying a cent. Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-CA) echoed the shamefulness of status quo.

Rep. Blackburn offered an amendment that would prohibit payments from satellite companies for the use of television programming to broadcasters who own radio stations unless such radio stations pay music creators for the use of their songs.

Below is an excerpt of Rep. Blackburn’s statement and Rep. Eshoo’s comments:

Rep. Blackburn: “Broadcasters have told this Committee repeatedly that retransmission consent payments are fair because cable and satellite stations make millions by retransmitting local broadcast content. . . . On the other hand, when it comes to music, the same broadcasters (many who own both TV and radio stations), sing a completely different tune. They defend a system where their AM/FM stations use musicians’ work – and make millions off it – without paying a cent. . . . 

When Kenny Rogers “The Gambler” is played on internet radio or satellite radio, Kenny gets paid, but when it is played on AM/FM radio, he gets nothing. And NAB’s radio members won’t pay Kenny Rogers for his recording of The Gambler, but they come before this Committee and demand to be paid when the TV movie of the Gambler is retransmitted. Fair pay for all creators shouldn’t be a gamble.”

Rep. Eshoo: “You put this out under sunshine, it’s not a fair model at all. . . . This is diminishing what these artists produce.”

musicFIRST Executive Director Ted Kalo issued the following statement in support of Rep. Blackburn’s amendment:

“For far too long broadcasters have leveraged the special interest status quo to perpetuate a system where they stand alone among radio platforms in not paying performers. This is the beginning of the end of the broadcasters’ special interest status quo. To be clear: music creators will seize every opportunity to correct this government sponsored taking of music creators’ intellectual property. The broadcasters are on the wrong side of history and logic here – refusing to pay for music but demanding to be paid when their own programming is retransmitted. And the music community stands together urging them to abandon their stale talking points before time and technology pass them by.

musicFIRST applauds one of the best friends music creators have ever had, Rep. Marsha Blackburn, for reigniting this effort, and Rep. Anna Eshoo for standing with her.”

After offering the amendment, Rep. Blackburn withdrew it at the Chairman’s request but pledged to continue the fight for fair pay for music creators.

Please find the video of the markup with Rep. Blackburn and Rep. Eshoo’s comments here.

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