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WASHINGTON – The House finalized key committee assignments this week, including the appointment of Rep. Howard Coble (R-N.C) to the chairman’s seat in the powerful Courts and Intellectual property subcommittee which oversees copyright law.

“We are excited that Rep. Coble will be chairman,” said Jennifer Bendall, senior vice president, Recording Industry Assn. of America. “He is familiar with our industry and is ready to hit the ground running,” she added.

Coble has already promised to hold hearings this spring on the licensing of musical works to bars and restaurants by ASCAP and BMI. Last year, there was an effort in Congress to exempt bars and restaurants from license fee obligations. RIAA opposes that effort.

The new subcommittee chairman also got good marks from Motion Picture Assn. of America prexy Jack Valenti. “I’m absolutely confident that (Coble) will give serious attention to the intellectual property issues confronting his committee,” Valenti said, adding, “He is a staunch supporter of America’s greatest trade asset: motion pictures and television,” Valenti said.

Also this week, the House Telecommunications Subcommittee finalized its lineup, adding four Republicans and five Democrats. As already announced, Rep. Billy Tauzin (R-La.) will chair the subcommittee, replacing Rep. Jack Fields (R-Texas), who has retired. The new Republican members are: Steve Largent of Oklahoma, Nathan Deal of Georgia, James Rogan of Washington and John Shimkus of Illinois.

New Democrats on the subcommittee are: Gene Green of Texas, Karen McCarthy of Missouri, Thomas Sawyer of Ohio, Albert Wynn of Maryland and Eliot Engel of New York.

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