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Upton, Walberg, Dingell Among 77 House Members to Support Bipartisan Local Radio Freedom Act in 117th Congress

L-R: U.S. Reps. Fred Upton (R-6), Tim Walberg (R-7) and Debbie Dingell (D-12)

Michigan’s U.S. Reps. Fred Upton (R-6), Tim Walberg (R-7) and Debbie Dingell (D-12) were among the 77 bipartisan cosponsors of House Resolution in support of the Local Radio Freedom Act introduced this week in the Senate.

For more than a decade, broadcasters have rallied allies in Congress to proactively take a stand against a performance right on over-the-air use of music. According to to a recent report in InsideRadio, it is a strategy that has consistently proven successful and, unsurprisingly, has again begun to play out again in the 117th Congress.

On Monday (5/3), Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-NM) introduced the Local Freedom Radio Act (S.Con.Res.9) with seven bipartisan co-sponsors. While not a law, the act is a nonbinding resolution opposing adoption of a bill that would create a performance fee, tax, royalty, or other charge on broadcasters.

The 2021 Local Radio Freedom Act mirrors the previous version by explicitly recognizing the “mutually beneficial relationship” between local radio and the recording industry, including the “free publicity and promotion” that performers receive and use to sell music and concert tickets. It also says that changing the law to create a new performance right for AM/FM would lead to thousands of local radio stations suffering “severe economic hardship” if any new fee is imposed. And rather than shy away from the fact that the resolution is not a new idea, it embraces its legacy: “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,” it says.

The House Resolution followed on Tuesday (5/4) with Reps. Kathy Castor (D-FL) and Steve Womack (R-AR) leading the effort as principal cosponsors. The resolution (H.Con.Res.33) also included the names of 75 other House members, including Upton, Walberg and Dingell.

Absent from the Senate Resolutions list of cosponsors were Sen. Debbie Stabenow and Sen. Gary Peters. The Michigan Democrats also have added their names to similar bills introduced in previous Congressional sessions.

Upton, Walberg and Dingell have been among the cosponsors of similar House Resolutions in the past. They were joined in the 116th Congress by current Reps. Bill Huizenga (R-2) John R. Moolenaar (R-4).

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