Photo: Fairfax Media/Getty Images
Big Radio Aims To Take Small Business Aid Under New Stimulus Bill
Big Radio is trying to enrich their organizations by draining federal stimulus funds meant for struggling small businesses that are trying to survive during this unprecedented and unpredictable pandemic.
On May 15, the House of Representatives passed the Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions (HEROES) Act. While the $3 trillion stimulus bill includes multiple creator-friendly provisions – such as another round of direct payments and extending the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) benefit of $600 through the end of the year – the bill would offer major radio stations direct financial assistance.
"There is a difference between supporting vital local news outlets and billion dollar broadcast conglomerates, especially given that these enormous [terrestrial] radio conglomerates refuse to compensate recording artists for using their music."
Under the legislation, Big Radio and broadcasting companies would be eligible for Paycheck Protection Program loans, which were originally intended to keep small businesses afloat during this tough economic time. Rather than saving funds to help your favorite mom-and-pop restaurant keep their lights on, Big Radio will instead take the limited federal relief money and increase their staggering corporate wealth if this bill is enacted into law.
While many believe that this House-passed legislation is ‘dead on arrival’ in the Senate, the worry remains that the upper chamber could adopt a similar negotiating proposal to aid Big Radio.
Along with A2iM, the Future of Music Coalition, and SoundExchange, the Recording Academy released a statement condemning this provision in the HEROES Act, stating, “there is a difference between supporting vital local news outlets and billion dollar broadcast conglomerates, especially given that these enormous radio conglomerates refuse to compensate recording artists for using their music, in contrast with satellite radio and streaming services that do pay.”
The statement concludes with the sober recommendation: "With so many people in need at this time, let's keep the focus where it should be: small businesses and workers, not on big broadcasters."
Instead of bailing out Big Radio, Congress should focus on passing relief for the true small businesses—including the smallest of small: artists, songwriters, producers, and creators struggling with the pandemic. One such step would be passing the AM-FM Act, a bipartisan and bicameral bill that would require radio stations to ask permission and negotiate a fair market rate before playing a creator’s music. You can add your voice to the chorus of support for the AM-FM Act by contacting your Members of Congress today and urging them to support this necessary legislation.