Category Archives: Legislative Update

‘CLASSICS’ Act Seeks Royalties for Pre-1972 Recordings

Congressmen Darrel Issa (R-CA) and Jarrold Nadler (D-NY) have introduced legislation to bring sound recordings made before February 15, 1972 under the federal copyright system that governs post-1972 recordings. The Compensating Legacy Artists for their Songs, Service, and Important Contributions to Society Act (CLASSICS Act) would uniformly treat the digital transmissions of both pre- and post-1972 recordings so that artists and labels receive the same royalties regardless of when the recordings were made.

The bill sponsors say it closes a long-standing gap in federal copyright law and serves as an update to the pre-1972 treatment of the Fair Play Fair Pay Act, a broader music licensing bill introduced by Congressman Nadler. The Fair Play Fair Pay Act would not only create a radio performance royalty but would also require stations to pay royalties on songs recorded before 1972. In addition to Issa and Nadler, Congressmen John Conyers (D-MI), Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), Tom Rooney (R-FL) and Ted Deutch (D-FL) cosponsored the legislation. All were original cosponsors of the Fair Play Fair Pay Act.

Justice Department to Meet with Journalist Group Regarding Subpoena Guidelines

According to a report in the Hill, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) is scheduled to meet with the non-profit journalism organization The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press to discuss the agency’s rules on whether to subpoena reporters who receive classified information.

The meeting will focus on creating new subpoena guidelines.  The group previously worked with former Attorney General Eric Holder when the Obama Administration updated its guidance on issuing subpoenas in 2015.

Radio to Pay 60 Percent Less In Royalties to SESAC

According to an Inside Radio report, the radio industry will pay less in royalties to SESAC under an agreement reached in an independent binding arbitration with the for-profit performance rights organization.

Under the agreement, stations will pay 60 percent less than what SESAC had been charging on its rate card. The settlement retroactively covers the period from Jan. 1, 2016 through Dec. 31, 2018.

In a statement, the Radio Music License Committee (RMLC )called the arbitrators’ decision a “significant favorable step in the right direction” for the radio industry, since it brings SESAC’s license fees and rate structure more into line with the rate formulas used by American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) and BMI.

The settlement also includes SESAC transitioning to a percentage-of-revenue license structure rather than its traditional rate-card approach.

Post-Incentive Auction Window Opens for Modifications by Repacked TV Stations that Can’t Build on Their Assigned Channel

According to a report by Broadcast Law Blog, the FCC announced the first of the post-auction filing windows for TV stations that have to move from their current channels as a result of the post-spectrum auction repacking.

The first window, open from August 9 to September 8, is for a limited number of TV stations that fall into two classes: (1) 25 repacked stations that were granted a waiver of the July 12 filing deadline for applications for initial construction permits because the FCC agreed that those stations were unable to construct the facilities that the FCC assigned to them when they were repacked; and (2) any repacked station or any other station entitled to protection that is predicted to experience a loss of population served in excess of one percent as a result of the repacking process.

Read more here.

Bill Seeks Royalties for Pre-1972 Musical Works

According to a report in RadioWorld, legislation has been introduced to establish copyright protections for performances of pre-1972 musical works. Congressmen Darrell Issa (R-CA) and Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) are sponsoring H.R. 3301, named “the Compensating Legacy Artists for their Songs, Service, and Important Contributions to Society (CLASSICS) Act.”

According to Congressman Issa “this is an important and overdue fix to the law that will help settle years of litigation and restore some equity to this inexplicable gap in our copyright system.”

Viewer Protection Act Introduced

U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee Ranking Member Frank Pallone (D-NJ), and 10 cosponsors formally introduced the Viewer Protection Act, H.R. 3347, legislation aimed to address any funding or timing insufficiencies relating to the upcoming post-incentive auction repacking.

The Viewer Protection Act aims to ensure that full-power television broadcasters, radio stations, low power television stations, television translators and MVPDs are all covered for eligible repack expenses and authorizes an additional $1 billion to cover those collective costs.  The bill also requires the FCC’s Media Bureau to modify the 39-month repack timeline where additional time is needed due to reasons outside the station’s control.  Additionally, it authorizes $90 million for consumer education relating to the repack.

Michigan Congresswoman Debbie Dingell (D-12) cosponsored the bill. The legislation has been referred to the U.S. House Committee on Energy and Commerce.

Snyder Urged to reject Microsoft White Space Proposal

The MAB reached out to Gov. Rick Snyder and members of the Michigan Congressional Delegation urging the lawmakers to reject Microsoft’s attempts to secure free TV spectrum for a nationwide channel (aka ‘white space’) to use for unlicensed devices. Microsoft is asserting that it is urgent that the FCC reserve a vacant UHF white space channel in every market nationwide before the repacking is finalized.

The National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) also filed comments with the FCC stating that the Microsoft proposal to grant access to 18 MHz of TV spectrum for unlicensed use, should be denied as it will cause direct and immediate harm to translators and low power television stations displaced by the spectrum repack following the incentive auction.

In even a best-case repacking scenario, the capacity simply does not exist to successfully accommodate all of these broadcast television station moves. By design, the incentive auction is already shrinking the broadcast television band and there will not be enough spectrum to keep all broadcast television translators and LPTV stations on the air. This disproportionately harms diverse, niche and rural broadcast viewers that are served by translators and LPTVs.

Broadcasters are not alone in opposing this move. A number of rural and agricultural organizations, including National Assoc. of Wheat Growers, National Assoc. of State Departments of Agriculture, National Black Growers Council, National Farmers Union, and Rural & Agriculture Council of America wrote a letter to the FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai in opposition to the Microsoft proposal.  “Our members rely heavily on local broadcast stations to stay up to date on the important issues in our communities and the rest of the country,” the letter stated. “When local broadcast stations go dark, rural communities are deprived of a vital source of information that is essential for managing our day-to-day lives.”

Join Us for the MABPAC Fundraiser!

The MAB Political Action Committee (MABPAC) would like to invite you to our annual Summer Fundraiser at the beautiful Crystal Mountain Resort. The event will feature a reception at the Mountain Top along with private Clipper Chairlift Rides with the breathtaking views of the surrounding area.

We will also be joined by the expert specializing in ballot proposal to discuss predictions for the upcoming 2018 elections and political climate in Michigan and across the country.

Don’t miss this opportunity to ask your campaign related questions and listen to the insiders’ forecast for the 2018 election cycle.

WHAT:  MABPAC Summer Fundraiser at  Crystal Mountain

WHEN: Monday, August 21 from 6 p.m. – 8 p.m.

WHERE: Crystal Mountain Resort, Thompsonville, MI

Transportation will be provided by the MABPAC

Tickets: $200 per person

Reserve your spot by clicking HERE.
Questions? Contact Elena Palombo at Palombo@michmab.com or 517-484-7444.

Thank you and we hope to see you the Crystal Mountain Resort!

NOTE: In accordance with the Michigan Campaign Finance Act, only personal payments/checks are accepted. NO Corporate checks, please.

NAB: Microsoft White Space Proposal Harms LPTVs, Translators

The National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) filed comments with the FCC stating that a Microsoft proposal, that the company be granted access to 18 MHz of TV spectrum for unlicensed use, should be denied as it will cause “direct and immediate harm to translators and low power television stations displaced by the spectrum repack following the incentive auction.”

The NAB stated that “Microsoft is asking the commission to grant it spectrum for free, with no buildout requirements or service requirements of any kind — substantially better terms than winning auction bidders received.”

The association added that it does not object to unlicensed operations in the TV band as long as those operations do not cause harmful interference to licensed television services, deprive viewers of television service, or stifle innovation in the broadcast band.

Pai: $1.75 Billion is Not Enough for Spectrum Repack

According to a report in Broadcasting & Cable, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai testified in front of the Senate Commerce Committee that the agency does not think that the $1.75 billion Congress set-aside for the post-incentive auction repack will be sufficient. The agency’s current estimate is that it will take $2.1 billion to cover broadcasters’ moving expenses.

Pai stated that while the estimates may change, in order to hold broadcasters harmless in the move as provided by the auction enacting legislation, Congress would need to appropriate more funds.