Cablers Urge B’cast Rights Fees

Broadcasters should not be exempted from paying performance rights royalty fees for their use of sound recordings, the National Cable Television Assn. said in a letter this week to Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah).

Hatch has offered legislation authorizing record producers and performers to collect a fee every time a digitally recorded song is transmitted on cable services such as DMX and Music Choice. The bill targets digital rather than analog transmissions, since it’s believed there is a greater revenue loss threat from home taping from music transmitted digitally.

Some 60 companies have established a performance right for sound recordings, and Hatch claims the bill is needed to help the U.S. catch up with its trading partner to ensure better protection for U.S. artists. The bill has strong backing from the Recording Industry Assn. of America.

NCTA president Decker Anstrom told Hatch that cablers don’t oppose a performance right for sound recordings. However, he said it is “troubling” that broadcasters will be exempted from paying fees even after they switch to digital transmission.

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