Five of Central Wisconsin’s most-listened-to radio stations will stop playing music between 8am and 9am on Thursday, February 18, to raise awareness about a music performance tax that’s being considered in Congress. The special informational broadcast during that hour is being called “Operation Save Our Stations” because of the dramatic change the new tax would force on local radio stations.
The Music Performance Tax would force radio stations to pay record labels for the music they broadcast. In this difficult economy, a new tax would cripple the local radio stations and change what listeners hear.
The “Operation Save Our Stations” music-free broadcast will originate from the Midwest Communications Broadcast Centre at 557 Scott Street in Wausau. There will also be live coverage from outside the Rib Mountain Municipal Center, where Rep. David Obey (D-Wausau) will be meeting with local officials. Congressman Obey supports the new tax on radio broadcasters.
The live broadcast will be heard on WIFC (95.5-FM), WOFM (94.7-FM), WDEZ (101.9-FM), WSAU (550-AM and 99.9-FM) and WRIG (1390-AM). The broadcast will feature WIFC morning hosts Dave Kalloway and Stacey Cole. Other Midwest Communications radio personalities will also take part. Listeners will be invited to call and discuss the changes that they would hear if radio stations face new taxes. Listeners will also be urged to call Congressman Obey and Senator Russ Feingold.
Some facts about the proposed Radio Performance Tax:
• The Music Performance Tax has already passed the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives Judiciary Committees, and is pending for floor action in both chambers.
• Senator Russ Feingold (D-WI), a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, voted in favor of the new tax on broadcasters in committee. Senator Herb Kohl (D-WI), also a Judiciary Committee member, voted in support of local broadcasters. Congressman Obey supports the new music performance tax.
• Radio stations already pay for the music they broadcast through rights fees paid to the songwriters associations (ASCAP and BMI).
• A new tax on broadcasters would have a major impact on employment at area radio stations.
• A new tax on broadcasters would affect music variety on the radio. Many stations would drop music formats in favor of talk or sports programming. Other stations may “go dark” and shut down their transmitters.
• Radio stations would be less likely to play new music if there was a tax on unknown, unproven recording artists. Radio is where most music fans hear new music.
• Most of the large record companies that would benefit from the music tax are foreign-owned.
• There are no assurances that money from the new tax would actually reach the artists and performers. The tax would go to the record labels, who are the license-holders of the recordings.
Radio stations have long enjoyed a mutually-beneficial relationship with the music industry. Radio stations have given record companies billions of dollars worth of free promotion of recorded music, allowing record companies to sell music, concert tickets, and music-related merchandise to fans. Radio broadcasters would like that relationship to continue as it is now, without a crippling music performance tax.
More information about this issue is available at: