Help WCLN-FM Fight an Unfair and Potentially Debilitating Performance Tax

A Message from Dan DeBruler, Christian Listening Network's General Manager

The House Judiciary Committee recently held hearings on the so-called "Performance Rights Act" (H.R. 848), otherwise known as the "Performance Tax."

If enacted, this bill would require WCLN-FM and other broadcasters to pay sound recording royalties on all recorded music. This would be in addition to the royalty payments we already pay to composers and publishers. WCLN-FM has already discontinued its free Internet streaming after huge hikes in the fees to record companies, which funded a third party to lobby Congress on their behalf.

For many decades, the law has recognized that record labels, artists, and local radio stations have a symbiotic relationship. Radio airplay generates billions of dollars in music sales. Artists benefit by selling CDs, concert tickets, and other merchandise. Radio stations like WCLN-FM introduce the work of musicians working in many different genres to over 235 million people per week. The proposed Performance Tax ignores these simple facts. It would transfer massive amounts of money from WCLN-FM and other stations to large record companies, most of which are foreign owned.

Moreover, the financial impact of the Performance Tax could be devastating—especially at a time when the advertising that supports WCLN-FM and its Christian music programming is at an all-time low due to the recession.

Therefore, we ask that you write or e-mail your United States representative in support of an opposing resolution—the "Local Radio Freedom Act" (H. Con. Res. 49). A sample letter is given below.

Help WCLN-FM and other broadcasters. Express your support of the Local Radio Freedom Act. And please—do it today.

Thank you,

Dan DeBruler

Find out who your representative is by visiting the House of Representatives website and entering your state and Zip Code.

Sample Letter

Dear Representative XYZ:

Our nation is experiencing one of the worst economic downturns since the Great Depression. Businesses, especially those that are locally owned, are facing mounting challenges that can hinder success and prevent economic viability. As you and your colleagues in Washington work to pull our nation out of this economic slump, the big international record labels are pushing an initiative that was introduced in Congress — H.R. 848 and S. 346 — an initiative that could put some of the more than 106,300 radio jobs in jeopardy and reduce diversity in station ownership. Locally, this would have a severe effect on our Christian music station, WCLN-FM, which for 15 years has served the area with fine music and community service.

Called a performance tax by some in the industry, this legislation would require local radio stations to pay a performance royalty to the record labels. Even though local radio stations already compensate composers and publishers for the use of music, provide free airtime worth billions of dollars to promote performers and their music, and pay the big record labels if they stream over the Internet, the labels want more.

While the foreign-owned record labels are looking for a bailout from local radio, in the current economic climate radio stations both big and small are already struggling to stay afloat. Even without the performance tax, radio stations both big and small have announced layoffs all across the country. 106,300 radio jobs translate to almost $7 billion in annual payroll; salaries which help inject money back into the economy. Adding another fee to an already struggling industry would ensure those numbers will plummet.

I strongly urge you to support the opposing resolution, the “Local Radio Freedom Act” (H. Con. Res. 49), that was introduced in February. Time is of the essence. Jobs are at stake. An industry and a source of positive, family programming on the radio in North Carolina hang in the balance. Please support the “Local Radio Freedom Act” (H. Con. Res. 49).


[Sample letter based on one provided by the Free Radio Alliance.]