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College Radio Opposition to Performance Rights Act

In his excellent post yesterday, Matthew talked about the latest news on the Performance Rights Act. Just as an addendum to that, I wanted to point out some of the specific concerns that college radio stations have over this proposed legislation. An article yesterday on, “Radio Stations Threaten to Switch to Talk, Shut Down,” discusses the Wisconsin radio landscape and specifically covers the concerns that one college radio station has expressed. According to the piece:

The folks in the DJ booths don’t have much sympathy.  Commercial and college radio stations across Wisconsin say the bill could severely damage their businesses.

“The real problem is the recording industry. They are greedy, rapacious people,” said Dave Black, general manager of WSUM, the UW student radio station.

Black says many college stations in Wisconsin could close if Congress imposes the fees on them.  He says WSUM receives enough funding to stay open.

As College Broadcasters, Inc. (CBI) has argued, not only are the fees of concern to small broadcasters and college radio stations, but the related record keeping requirements could also be more labor-intensive than many student stations can handle. CBI is working to try to stop this bill with a letter writing campaign among other strategies. As a part of that effort, a few weeks back a letter was sent to Congress that was signed by more than 80 student stations who are opposed to the proposed legislation.

It’s sad to think that stations might be so adversely effected by the bill that they’d consider shutting down or going “all talk.” But, it wouldn’t surprise me. A lot of scary things are happening in the non-commercial sector in our current economy. One college’s administration even gave the excuse of fear over potential FCC fines as a one of the reasons for shutting down their FM signal (but I bet the prospect of getting a big influx of cash from possible suitors like public radio and religious groups had the school salivating even more). It’s too bad that not all universities appreciate college radio’s important role in the community and the power of free, terrestrial broadcasts.

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