Radio Legislative and Regulatory Issues
During the past two Congresses, some members of Congress, at the behest of the big record labels, introduced
a bill to impose a performance tax on local radio broadcasters. The Performance Rights Act would have imposed
a devastating new fee on local stations simply for airing music on the radio – airing the music that provides free
promotion to the labels and artists. A new performance fee could financially cripple local radio stations putting
jobs at risk, stifle new artists trying to break into the recording business and harm the listening public who rely
on local radio.
NAB works with the wireless industry and policymakers to promote consumer awareness and access to radio receivers in mobile devices. Virtually all smartphones are manufactured with hardware capable of receiving free FM radio signals. However, some major U.S. wireless carriers block this feature that can save consumers battery
life and data charges, while also providing a critical lifeline during times of emergency.
For decades, America’s hometown television and radio broadcasters have served as first informers by using their reach,
signal strength and newsgathering resources to deliver timely, accurate alerts and emergency warnings to the public. As
the primary communications medium for keeping local communities safe and informed during times of emergencies, local
broadcasters serve in an indispensable role as the backbone of the Emergency Alert System (EAS), now part of the
Integrated Public Alert Warning System (IPAWS).
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Virtually all states provide, either by statute or by judicial decision, protections to journalists so that they are not forced to reveal the identity of confidential sources. In federal courts, however, there is no uniform set of standards to govern when information about confidential sources can be sought from reporters. Broadcast journalists' ability to bring important matters to the American public has been put in jeopardy as numerous reporters have been questioned about their confidential sources or had their records subpoenaed in cases before federal courts.
Advertising revenue is critical to local TV and radio stations that rely on those dollars to serve local communities with vital news and information and high quality entertainment. As Congress considers initiatives that impact advertising, including restrictions on food marketing and a moratorium on television commercials for new medicines, it should avoid legislation that threatens free speech and increases federal agencies' authority to excessively restrict advertising on which local stations rely.
Local radio and television stations believe localism is best sustained by permitting broadcasters to compete effectively in the digital multichannel marketplace. Allowing stations to compete in the marketplace by reforming unnecessary restrictions would help them maintain economic vibrancy and the ability to serve their local communities in an ever-changing and competitive media landscape. Out-of-date restrictions on ownership of broadcast outlets that do not reflect current competitive realities in the digital age should be modernized.