Today, the Federal Communications Commission published public comments on a petition filed by the musicFIRST Coalition. The original petition claims that certain radio stations are boycotting artists because of their support of a Public Performance Right for terrestrial (over-the-air) broadcasts. It also alleges that the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB), has been airing "misleading" ads about the Performance Right, and that member stations have refused to accept paid commercial messages from musicFIRST -- a group including labels, musicians' unions, SoundExchange and hundreds of musicians.
MusicFIRST executive director Jennifer Bendall stated, "Our message to the FCC is clear. . . we respect a broadcaster's right to oppose the Performance Rights Act. But we cannot tolerate broadcasters' use of the public airwaves to stifle debate, threaten artists and musicians and undermine the public interest in pursuit of their narrow, private business interests."
Groups and individuals filing comments on the pro-Performance Right side include the Music Managers Forum, the American Association of Independent Music, Free Press and Paul Porter. On the anti side is the NAB and several broadcasting companies.
FMC has long supported a Public Performance Right for traditional radio, because, among other things, it would compensate performers and sound copyright owners (usually the labels, but sometimes the artist) for over-the-air broadcasts of their work. Currently, just songwriters and publishers are paid for traditional radio plays -- the performer gets nada. Meaning, if you hear Aretha Franklin's version of "Respect" on an over-the-air station, only the estate of Otis Redding (and his publisher) gets paid.
It's important to remember that a Performance Right already exists for digital plays, including satellite radio, webcasts and those music-with-no-video channels at the high end of your cable TV dial. Just about every industrialized country on the planet has a performance right for traditional broadcasting, but the US (along with North Korea, China and Iran) does not. For more info, check out our Public Performance Right fact sheet.
Although FMC didn't file during in this round, we do intend to file reply comments when the FCC solicits them. Click here to see all of the the currently submitted comments.