Will The NAB Agree To A Performance Rights Tax In Exchange For Having RIAA Support Mandatory FM Radio In Mobile Phones?
from the rearranging-deck-chairs dept
We’ve discussed, for quite some time now, the ridiculousness of a performance rights tax on radio. This is the attempt, by the record labels, to get radio stations to pay performers for advertising and promoting their music. This is clearly not needed, because in the real world, without this, record labels already know that radio play is valuable: it’s why they keep running payola scams. For them to try to then legally mandate that money should flow in the opposite direction is downright ridiculous. In what world does the government make someone pay to promote someone else?
After years and years fighting this, we should have known that the NAB would come up with some ridiculous idea in the end. The NAB, which represents broadcasters, is almost always on the wrong side of policy debates (that’s what happens when your job is to protect a dying industry), but on this one issue we agreed… until now. Rumors are circulating that the NAB is willing to cave on performance rights, if the RIAA, in exchange, supports a totally wasteful plan to require FM radio receivers be placed in mobile phones, MP3 players and other digital devices. Now, everyone involved says no deal is done yet, but there are multiple indications that this is exactly where the conversation is heading.
The NAB tries to defend this by comparing FM radio — a dying technology — to federal mandates on digital television tuners. That, of course, was entirely different in so many ways. It involved attempts to move the country forward to a new technology, not mandating an obsolete one. It also was done for a very specific reason: to try to recapture tons of valuable spectrum that could be put to much more valuable and practical use. Mandating FM tuners is just a waste of time and money in a quixotic attempt by broadcasters to prop up FM radio. My mobile phone has an FM receiver today, and I’ve never even looked at it. Some manufacturers have chosen to put this technology into devices today — and that’s fine, if they choose to do so. But, mandating it as part of a backroom political deal? No thanks.