The House Judiciary Committee is poised to "mark up" (vote on) HR 848, the Performance Rights Act, this Wednesday, May 13.
With HR 848 currently boasting 41 co-sponsors, and the opposition movement claiming formal support from 184 Representatives who have signed on to H Con Res 49, the Local Radio Freedom Act, the future of this legislation is currently wide open.
Both sides have been jockeying for position and more support. Opponents of the performance right received a huge boost from the Hill itself, when members of the Congressional Black Caucus and Congressional Hispanic Caucus wrote to Judiciary Chairman John Conyers, seeking another hearing on the issue, one which would focus specifically on how a performance right would affect minority broadcasters. Outside groups, including the Rainbow PUSH Coalition, the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law and the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, have also sent letters of opposition to Chairman Conyers. But the timing of this first formal vote comes at an awkward moment for the NAB, due to the recent departure of CEO David Rehr.
On the other side, Rep. Conyers might move to curry more support for the bill. Radio and Records is reporting that Conyers will attempt to bring opposing Representatives into his camp by easing the bill’s impact on small, mainly community-oriented broadcasters. Conyers will apparently propose a $500 annual fee for "small broadcasters", though that term has not yet been defined. (Earlier definitions as applied to the "Small Webcaster" exemption to an analogous webcast-related performance right defined a "small broacaster/webcaster" as an entity with gross annual revenues below $1.25 million).
Stay tuned for more updates.