Radio Stations Say Bill Could Put Them Out of Business

Measure would require stations to pay artists for their music

Radio stations are spearheading an effort against federal legislation that would require radio stations to pay for the music they air.

Announcements on North Texas radio stations are urging listens to contact their congressional representatives in defense of "free radio."

"All of the major artists that have become big artists today are there because radio supported them," said J.D. Freeman of Clear Channel Radio.

But supporters of the measure say performing artists should be paid when their music is played on AM and FM radio.

"We support them on the air by playing their music, by promoting their music," Freeman said. "When they come to town to do a concert, we promote the concert, so from that standpoint we think that we've had a very good relationship with the artists over the years."

Some of Clear Channel's announcements say the Performance Rights Act could men the end of free radio. Freeman said legislation could drive smaller broadcasters, and minority broadcasters in particular, out of business.

"You get into a lot of where there's a middle or smaller-market broadcaster who is running on fairly thin margins right now -- if there's another tax that comes to that radio station, there's a possibility they won't broadcast music," he said. "There's a possibility they could go to talk, or there is also the possibility they could go out of business."

Some North Texas listeners agreed that radio -- not the artists -- should prevail.

"The artists are getting paid by their CD sales, their ticket sales, their clothing, all that stuff," radio listener Cassie Jaskula said. "I think the radio kind of does them a service by getting their name out there, getting their songs played -- people getting to know their music and liking it."

The bill is out of committee and could come up for a vote at any time by the House of Representatives.

The Local Radio Freedom Act, a countermeasure, has also been introduced. It would outlaw any new fee, tax or charge for music on local radio stations that are free to listeners.

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