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Radio Ruckus over Fees (Posted On: Thursday, March 10, 2011)

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You’ve heard those announcements on the radio suggesting you tell your MP that you support Copyright Bill C-32.  What’s that all about?  It’s a long story…hard to tell in 30-seconds.  Even in 90 seconds, but I’ll try.

When I started in this business there was already a strong partnership between the music industry and radio.  We played the records they produced on the air.  Today, we live in a digital world.

Radio is still the number one promoter of new music in Canada.  In 2009, Canadian radio stations contributed over $50-million directly to Canadian artists and we paid another $64-million in copyright fees to authors, composers, publishers, record labels and performers for the right to play their music. That’s a five-fold increase since the year 2000.

Nowadays, we receive music files in digital formats from record labels.  Since 2001 we have been paying additional fees for the right to transfer music recordings to hard drives.  That has added $21-million to our tariffs…money that can flow out of Canada and is filtered through layers of bureaucracy before ever trickling down to any artists. Bill C-32 tabled by the Conservatives would give broadcasters an exemption from these additional tariffs for work we do to grease the wheel but produces virtually no revenue.

We’re saying that copyright law needs to protect the rights of creators of cultural content but we shouldn’t have to pay twice for one play.  And the fact is, these fees are cutting into our revenue to the extent that radio stations may have to cut back on the services we provide the public or even reduce staff.  The Block Quebecois, some Liberals and NDP members say that we’re looking for a free ride, but $115-million a year is no free ride.  I can tell you that rising copyright fees have seriously affected the performance of our company.  Bill C-32 needs to balance the needs of both artists and broadcasters and it needs to be passed soon or there could be changes coming to your local radio station.

Ross Kentner Commentary
Bayshore Broadcasting


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