Radio stations protesting rate increases

May 14, 2009 1:45:56 PM PDT
Some radio stations in town are upset with federal lawmakers. They are worried that a proposed bill will put them out of business. [SIGN UP: Get headlines and breaking news sent to you]

Right now performers don't get paid when their songs are played on over the air on radio, but a bill in Congress would change all that. The controversy in Houston lies with minority owned radio stations. They say a member of Congress they always supported has now turned her back on them.

At Houston's Praise 92.1, DJ Robert Washington and his listeners are doing something out of the ordinary. They're calling a member of Congress to urge her to vote against a bill.

Praise and its sister stations in Houston are worried about House Bill 848. If passed it would require over the air radio stations to pay additional performer royalties, something they say they can't afford.

"A radio station like this, just starting off, we can't afford to pay more, we're already taking pay cuts and everything else," Washington said.

Across the country, minority owned radio stations have launched a campaign to call members of congress to urge them to vote against the bill. In Houston, the target is Congresswoman Sheila Jackson-Lee who is a co-sponsor of the bill.

"The stations that are going to hurt the worst, which are the minority owned stations, these are the stations that helped her get into the office," said Majic 102 Promotions Manager LaToya Turner.

But the congresswoman and other supporters say they're only trying to be fair saying:

"The law that permits our gospel artists, R & B, Hip Hop, jazz and other good musicians from getting just compensation has not been changed since 1909. I strongly believe that this is the fair and equitable way to solve this issue and look forward to working with my friends in the broadcasting industry."

But the radio stations here say they provide a valuable service to the artists by promoting their songs and they just wish their local congresswoman supported their view.

"It's more money we don't have, to sum it up," Washington told us.

The bill overwhelmingly passed the committee. It now heads to a full House vote and there's a companion Senate bill as well.

- Read the Bill

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