Town Hall Meeting Sounds Off On Radio Controversy

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More than 300 people packed into to Texas Southern University's education auditorium to listen and learn about the future of local radio.

"We've enjoyed a mutually beneficial relationship with artists for many years, and that being playing the records and making hits for them, and them selling records," said Doug Abernathy, Regional Vice President of Radio One.

But, that relationship is in jeopardy should the Performance Rights Act pass in the legislature. The bill would require AM-FM radio stations to pay royalties to artist for the songs they sing on their airwaves. Right now, only songwriter and publishers are paid such fees.

"It's only a fee that goes into one central pot in the United States government run by Sound Exchange and they immediately pass it to these artists. So these young artist can continue to thrive and so that aging artist can have the ability to pay for health care." Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee.

Congresswoman Jackson Lee supports the bill and is helping to push it through the House. She believes the piece of legislation would especially help older performers who were not properly compensated in the earlier days of their career and whose music continues to entertain people today.

"It's just a matter of working out a few little details and it is all fair. It should have happened 80 years ago," said Abdul "Duke" Fakir.

Fakir was a members of the legendary Motown group - The Four Tops. He said, he's been waiting for this bill since before it was even a consideration.

Internet, cable, and satellite radio stations already pay artists performance royalties, and while they provide music just like AM-FM radio stations do there is one big difference.

"I-tunes, cable television, etc… have a completely different business model than what happens at a radio station - those guys charge you a subscription fee," said Abernathy.

Radio stations owners are concerned the additional fees could spell financial ruin for smaller and minority owned stations.

Next month, on July 9th Congresswoman Jackson Lee said she will hold a hearing in Washington D.C. to discuss the Performance Rights Act and trends effecting local radio.

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