Panel dials in performance royalty

Bill passes House Judiciary Committee

WASHINGTON -- The Performance Rights Act has cleared its first hurdle as the House Judiciary Committee voted 21-9 Wednesday to send the bill the full House for a vote.

After a contentious three-hour hearing in which three amendments to HR 848 were offered, only one of the amendments -- which reduced the fees to small broadcasters -- was embraced.

In a surprise turn welcomed by broadcasters, Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., reversed her support for the bill, which would impose performance royalties on terrestrial radio. She acknowledged that she has been heavily lobbied by broadcasters as recently as Tuesday night, receiving phone calls from Salem Christian talk station KKLA-FM Los Angeles, among other stations. She was concerned about the financial impact on broadcasters in general and minority broadcasters in particular.

Waters was in favor of one amendment offered by Rep. Daniel Lungren, R-Calif., that sought to delay voting on the act by six months while a study on the economic impact of the measure was conducted.