Between STELA (Satellite Television Extension and Localism Act) reauthorization, continued speculation about the broadcast television spectrum auction and performance rights issues for radio, Washington, D.C. is a busy place for broadcasters.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT)

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT)

On June 10, the Senate Judiciary Committee introduced a “clean” STELA reauthorization bill that would simply extend the expiration date of current STELA legislation to December of 2019.  STELA allows satellite providers to retransmit distant broadcast signals and some hope to use it as a vehicle to bring about retransmission consent reforms.  The NAB applauded the “narrow” reauthorization bill.  Things are slightly different in the House which seeks several changes but none of them would be considered “major” retransmission reform.

The FCC is conducting online webinars today through Friday to discuss the Report and Order regarding the auctions released on June 2.  In the webinars, FCC staff will further explain and take questions on the Report and Order.  According to the FCC, the webinar will cover three main aspects: the “no risk, high reward opportunity for broadcasters to voluntarily participate,” how the auction will actually work and lastly, an explanation of the repacking process.  Interested parties can get more information about the webinars here.

Despite the “Local Radio Freedom Act,” which opposes any new performance fee for radio stations having more than 220 co-sponsors in the House, talks of a performance tax on radio stations remains a topic of conversation in the Beltway.  In the first of two House Judiciary Committee hearings held earlier this month, representatives from the recording industry gave their testimony which is recapped here.
This week NAB Joint Board Chair Charles Warfield along with representatives from Sirius/XM and Pandora will get their chance in front of the committee.

The argument hasn’t changed since the talks of a new performance royalty began.  Artists believe they should be paid by radio stations when their songs are played.  Radio stations, in general, believe that the millions of dollars in promotion generated by radio stations playing an artist’s song are more than just compensation for the music.  Stay tuned to our Facebook and Twitter feeds for a recap of the second hearing for “Music Licensing Under Title 17” as well as any other breaking news affecting broadcasters in Washington.