Radio Stations One Step Closer to Pay Performance Taxes


Senators Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Representatives Howard Berman (D-CA) and Darrell Issa (R-CA) introduced legislation that would ensure AM and FM radio fairly compensate artists when their performances are broadcast over the air. This proposed legislation would correct a loophole in current copyright laws by removing the broadcaster exemption. This would assure that all radio platforms are treated equally and pay a performance royalty to artists. As you know, satellite radio, cable radio channels, and Internet webcasts all pay a royalty for the use of music; AM and FM radio receives the only exemption.

A couple highlights of the proposed legislation:

  • The proposed legislation accommodates small broadcasters and others to assure balance and fairness to broadcasters and artists. Over 75 percent of all commercial radio stations and over 80 percent of all religious stations would be covered through the planned accommodation.
  • Small commercial stations would pay only $5,000 per year;
  • Noncommercial stations such as NPR and college radio stations would pay only $1,000 per year;
  • Stations that make only incidental uses of music, such as “talk radio” stations, would not pay for that music; and
  • Religious services that are broadcast on radio would be completely exempt.