Grover Norquist: Don’t Call a Radio Royalty a “Tax”

Uber tax fighter Grover Norquist and Kelsey A. Zahourek, of the Property Rights Alliance, call out broadcasters for using the word “tax” to describe the royalties musicians and record labels are seeking from radio stations for playing their songs over the air.

They give support to the idea of the Performance Rights Act but not the means. They argue that musicians should be entitled to compensation when their songs are played on the radio. They just don’t think that the government should be the one to mandate it, and that the market should work it out.

They write in Roll Call, “Just as dishonest as calling a tax a fee or fine, so too is it wrong to
apply the word “tax” to a royalty payment. Creating the negative
perception that this legislation creates a new tax may be convenient in
the short term and assist opponents in gaining political support; in the
long run it is incredibly unhelpful to those who work to reduce the
burden of government on our everyday lives.”

Unlike just about everything on Capitol Hill these days, the debate over the Performance Rights Act crosses party lines. It was supported by President Bush’s administration and is supported by Obama’s. Conservative and liberal lawmakers can be found among the ranks of the supporters as well as its staunch opponents. Both sides claim that this is about jobs, and pushing back against big business. (Monopolistic broadcast groups on one end, greedy record labels on the other). But it’s hard not to see that both camps are struggling with the rapid changes in the marketplace.

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