A former congressman is once more urging terrestrial stations to start paying recorded royalties in the wake of the release of the iHeartMedia and Cumulus Media Q2 2022 earnings reports, which reveal that the businesses generated improved revenue and net profits for the quarter.
This critique, which particularly refers to royalties for music played on AM/FM stations, is the most recent step in a debate over radio royalties that has been going on for years. Terrestrial stations in the US do not pay for the recordings themselves, only for the usage of underlying compositions.
Big radio has fought hard to maintain the existing system for understandable reasons while music industries have long tried to change the law. The bipartisan American Music Fairness Act (AMFA), which would require broadcasters to pay for the use of masters, was introduced in 2021 and garnered support from the AFL-CIO in June of 2022. In recent years, a number of radio-royalty measures have surfaced.
Despite a widely recognized attempt, the legislation has not yet been passed. In May 2021, lawmakers reintroduced the (also bipartisan) Local Radio Freedom Act.
The latter proposal, which has the support of the National Association of Broadcasters, highlights the alleged promotional advantages of traditional radio (for rightsholders and artists) and even goes so far as to say that Congress shouldn’t impose any new performance fees, taxes, royalties, or other fees related to the public performance of sound recordings on local radio stations.
iHeartMedia reported yesterday that it had earned over $954 million over the three months ending on June 30th, up approximately $92.4 million from the same time in 2021. This is taken into account, among other things, the lengthy radio-royalty battle.
In addition, iHeartMedia reported a 194.64% year-over-year rise in quarterly operational income, coming in at $82.7 million. It also stated that its net income had increased from a loss of $31.96 million in Q2 2021 to a profit of $15.18 million for the same period in 2022. Cumulus Media, on the other hand, reported a 5% YoY revenue increase for Q2, and its net income increased to $8.7 million from a net loss of $5.9 million.
As was already mentioned, former U.S. Representative Joe Crowley, chairman of musicFIRST, a group supported by the RIAA that seeks to secure recorded royalties for AM/FM plays, has commented on iHeartMedia’s Q2 2022 financial results and reiterated his support for the previously mentioned AMFA.
“Greedy broadcasters are blatantly exposing their hypocrisy once more. iHeart and Cumulus boasted to Wall Street about their profits during their quarterly earnings calls this week, according to Crowley in a statement that was almost 120 words long.
On Capitol Hill, they complain to politicians about how they can’t afford to pay music producers even a single cent when their music is aired on AM/FM radio at the same time that they are highlighting their tremendous profit growth.
“It’s past time that we stopped supporting Big Radio’s revenues at the expense of deserving musicians. It’s time for Congress to take a stand for artists and the majority of Americans by enacting the American Music Fairness Act as soon as possible, which will force multi-billion dollar radio conglomerates to pay their fair share. Simply put, it’s the correct thing to do, he said.
The National Association of Broadcasters didn’t appear to have immediately responded to the remarks as of the time of writing, despite the fact that the group earlier this week released statements on the passing of sportscaster Vin Scully and Congresswoman Jackie Walorski.