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Senators Hassan and Barrasso Introduce the Bipartisan Local Radio Freedom Act

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Maggie Hassan (D-NH) and John Barrasso (R-WY) led their colleagues today in introducing the bipartisan Local Radio Freedom Act, which states that Congress should not impose new taxes or fees on locally owned radio stations.

“Granite Staters regularly tune in to their local radio station to catch up on the news around the state, listen to music and stories, and get weather and emergency alerts,” said Senator Hassan. “I am glad to stand with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle in supporting listeners and broadcasters alike. We will keep working to ensure that our local radio stations are able to continue providing vital information and entertainment to communities across our country.”

“People across Wyoming depend on local radio stations for timely information, news, and programming that have a direct impact on their lives,” said Senator Barrasso. “For more than 80 years, radio stations and the recording industry have enjoyed a mutually beneficial relationship: free airplay for free promotion. If forced to pay a performance royalty, broadcasters will have to make cuts to important programing in order to make ends meet. I’m proud to join Senator Hassan in reintroducing our bipartisan legislation to block any new performance tax on broadcasters across the country.”

"America's hometown broadcasters are grateful for the strong support of the LRFA in Congress, and we thank Sens. Hassan and Barrasso for leading the charge on this issue in the Senate," said National Association of Broadcasters’ President and CEO Curtis LeGeyt. "A new job-crushing performance fee on local radio stations would hurt stations' ability to provide their free, essential service in communities across the country. We appreciate the more than 150 members of Congress that have already signed onto this critical resolution this year and stood alongside broadcast radio and our tens of millions of listeners." 

The Local Radio Freedom Act is a bipartisan resolution that underscores the critical importance of locally owned radio stations to families, small businesses, and our communities, and it declares that Congress should not impose any new performance fee, tax, royalty, or other charges for locally-owned radio stations. It is cosponsored by Senators John Boozman (R-AR), Mike Braun (R-IN), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Susan Collins (R-ME), Kevin Cramer (R-ND), Mike Crapo (R-ID), Steve Daines (R-MT), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), John Hoeven (R-ND), Ron Johnson (R-WI), Angus King (I-ME), Cynthia Lummis (R-WY), Markwayne Mullin (R-OK), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Kyrsten Sinema (I-AZ), Dan Sullivan (R-AK), Jon Tester (D-MT), Roger Wicker (R-MS), and Todd Young (R-IN).

Read the full resolution here or below:

Supporting the Local Radio Freedom Act.

Whereas the United States enjoys broadcasting and sound recording industries that are the envy of the world due to the mutually beneficial relationship that has existed among these industries for many decades;

Whereas, for nearly a century, Congress has rejected repeated calls by the recording industry to impose a performance fee on local radio stations for simply playing music on the radio, as such a fee would upset the mutually beneficial relationship between local radio and the recording industry;

Whereas local radio stations provide free publicity and promotion to the recording industry and performers of music in the form of radio airplay, interviews with performers, introduction of new performers, concert promotions, and publicity that promotes the sale of music, concert tickets, ring tones, music videos, and associated merchandise;

Whereas committees in the Senate and the House of Representatives have previously reported that “the sale of many sound recordings and the careers of many performers have benefitted considerably from airplay and other promotional activities provided by both noncommercial and advertiser-supported, free over-the-air broadcasting”;

Whereas local radio broadcasters provide tens of thousands of hours of essential local news and weather information during times of national emergencies and natural disasters, as well as public affairs programming, sports, and hundreds of millions of dollars worth of time for public service announcements and local fund raising efforts for worthy charitable causes, all of which are jeopardized if local radio stations are forced to divert revenues to pay for a new performance fee;

Whereas there are many thousands of local radio stations that will suffer severe economic hardship if any new performance fee is imposed, as will many other small businesses that play music, including bars, restaurants, retail establishments, sports and other entertainment venues, shopping centers, and transportation facilities; and

Whereas the hardship that would result from a new performance fee would hurt businesses in the United States and ultimately the consumers in the United States who rely on local radio for news, weather, and entertainment, and such a performance fee is not justified when the current system has produced the most prolific and innovative broadcasting, music, and sound recording industries in the world: Now, therefore, be it

Resolved by the Senate (the House of Representatives concurring), That Congress should not impose any new performance fee, tax, royalty, or other charge—

(1) relating to the public performance of sound recordings on a local radio station for broadcasting sound recordings over the air; or

(2) on any business for the public performance of sound recordings on a local radio station broadcast over the air.