May 13, 2009

Cathy Hughes and Radio One Ready to "Save Black Radio" in Detroit

A rally to "Save Black Radio" is scheduled to take place today, May 13 in front of Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) office in Detroit. Conyers won't be there; He will be inside the Capitol heading the House of Representatives Judiciary Committee meeting on Wednesday morning, where the bill may pass through committee.

Cathy Hughes, CEO and Founder of Radio One is seeking to call attention to the Performance Rights Act and how it will affect many African-American owners. Hughes claims this bill could “put many black owned radio stations out of business and force others to abandon their commitment to provide free music, entertainment, news, information and severely affect money losing formats such as gospel and black talk.” In a letter on Radio One Detroit websites, she encourages listeners to call and email Rep. Conyers.

Radio One Detroit is encouraging its listeners to gather at Conyers' office with talk host Mildred Gaddis of WCHB-AM, Tune Up of WDMK-FM (105.9 Kiss FM) and Reggie Reg of WHTD-FM (Hot 102.7) in a demonstration against the proposed legislation. The bill (House Bill 848) if passed would allow for the recording industry to charge up to 50% of revenue to radio stations in order for them to play music.

So far, there has been only one hearing on the bill and that hearing did not have any black ownership representation. Black radio owners and community leaders including Rev. Jesse Jackson, Rev. Al Sharpton, Dick Gregory, Tom Joyner and Cathy Hughes have all been flatly refused by Conyers for opportunities for a hearing on this matter.

Since February, Rep. Conyers has proposed some changes in the wording and royalty rate of the initial bill including exemptions for smaller broadcasters. "It's bullsh*t!" said Radio One CEO Alfred Liggins III. "All the minority owned stations are in major metropolitan areas. Seventy-five percent of all African Americans live in top 50 markets, so those stations do bill over $1.25 million annually. There will be only a very few stations that meet those exemptions." Liggins says that of the 53 stations in the Radio One portfolio, "only about three will be exempt. That threshold is going to capture 90% of all the revenue in the industry. Conyers is trying to hide behind doing something for small broadcasters and, at the same time, getting done what he wanted to do." -Source R&R and AllAccess

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