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Killing Music Radio

Tuesday, March 31, 2009  |  posted by Hugh Hewitt

The recording industry wants to break the decades old deal with music radio under which the radio plays the songs and the audience hears them and buys the music, first via records, then CDs, and now downloads. Now the recording industry wants all the free promotion but also a royalty on every play of every song.

If successful in the hunt for the new radio tax via Congressional mandate, the best brains of the music business will have killed music radio dead as formats change overnight to avoid the new expense in an advertising-challenged era. Good for talk radio, yes, but bad –very bad– for the medium generally.

One of the Republican sponsors of this very bad idea is an old friend, Representative Darrell Issa of California. We discussed the tax on yesterday’s show. The Congressman seems to believe that it can all be worked out, but this is another CPSIA moment-in-the-making, where the realities of a complex industry just don’t register with the lawmakers intent on tinkering with it on behalf of special interests, and who end up sideswiping and damaging scores of companies in the pursuit of a slogan. If the performance tax passes, thousands of radio station employees will be out of work, many stations will simply fold up or move to non-music formats, and the Congress will move on to the next big idea that sounded good at the time.

A new PAC has formed, TalkPac, to defend the business from the performance tax, localism rules and of course The Fairness Doctrine. If you like any part or all of the radio dial, join TalkPac.

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