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They said it: Broadcasters are talking out of both sides of their mouths

12 June 2019

Last week the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) was on Capitol Hill arguing against the reauthorization of the Satellite Television Extension and Localism Act (STELA) in House and Senate hearings.

As a background, STELA is a piece of legislation that allows satellite TV companies to license and transmit broadcasters’ content to underserved markets through use of a compulsory license.

As a coalition representing music creators, we don’t necessarily have a dog in the TV content fight. But when the number one opponent of a performance right for music played on AM/FM radio is petitioning Congress to protect TV content on various platforms, it is our duty to call out the hypocrisy.

While appearing before committees in the House and Senate, Gordon Smith, president of the NAB, stood up for TV content creators. In the direct quotes below he is using the same points we make for a performance right on radio, but here he’s advocating for TV content. It appears that Mr. Smith took a page out of our own book!

“What we’d appreciate is the opportunity to negotiate in a free market for rates for our work.” – Gordon Smith, NAB

As music creators, we want a seat at the table too. We would like businesses to get consent to use our content, and when they use it, we want to be paid fairly for it. The NAB is denying us of that right while all other music listening services are paying artists for their work.

“Where others try to sell our product to their advantage, we are entitled to retransmission consent.” – Gordon Smith, NAB

If the NAB feels entitled to payment for TV content, why do they not extend that same concept, fair pay for work, to music content aired on terrestrial radio?

“The time has come to stop subsidizing billion-dollar satellite companies.” – Gordon Smith, NAB

Broadcast radio, a $17 billion-dollar industry, is making a lot of money from music content, and without having to pay music creators for it, they’re essentially getting it for free, the very definition of a subsidy.

All of this doublespeak begs the question, why is the NAB picking winners and losers? Mr. Smith stood up for TV content creators while leaving music creators in the dark. musicFIRST believes all content creators deserve fair pay for their work.

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