Minter & Associates, LLC

 

IMPORTANT LINKS

Testimony Before the U.S. Congress House Judiciary Committee - http://judiciary.house.gov

Statement of Kendall Minter Chairman, Rhythm & Blues Foundation Before the Committee
on the Judiciary On "Trends Affecting Minority Broadcast Ownership" July 9, 2009 Chairman
Conyers, Members of the Committee, I would like to thank you for inviting me to
testify to day on issues affecting minority broadcast ownership. My name is
Kendall Minter and I am the Chairman of the Rhythm & Blues Foundation.

The Rhythm & Blues Foundation was established some 20 years ago and continues to serve
today as the sole organization worldwide that provides emergency financial assistance to
pioneer rhythm and blues artists as well as honoring and recognizing the achievements
of those legendary artists and preserving the genre known as rhythm and blues.

There is no doubt of the significant progress made by minorities in the broadcast industry,
but there is also no doubt about some of the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead.
I look forw ard to addressing some of these today.

One of those issues is the concern that Arbitron's PPM system is under- representing
listeners for certain stations. We understand broadcasters' interest in receiving an
accurate accounting of listenership in order to receive the proper payment from advertisers.

Arbitron's people meters certainly may create an unfair burden for younger trending stations,
due to the size of the PPM unit. Many younger and fashion conscious find the unit cumbersome.
A technology addition to PPM that could include coverage to a cell phone could help level the
playing field, and this Committee and the FCC should look into the effectiveness of this device.

We stand with broadcasters on this point because we believe a simple axiom: the use of
someone else's property should be appropriately compensated. When a broadcast signal
is being used, the broadcaster should be appropriately compensated for that use. In that light,
we sincerely hope that we can count on broadcasters to acknow ledge our right to be compensated
when they use our property. Just as advertisers should pay the appropriate amount to
broadcasters when broadcasters play our music to draw an audience, broadcasters should
share a very small portion of that revenue with the creators of the music that provides that
revenue source for them.

And just as broadcasters would like Arbitron to accurately represent the numbers of listeners
of their stations, we call upon minority broadcasters to accurately represent the effect
that H.R. 848, The Performance Rights Act, would have on them. This legislation is NOT
the end of black radio. It is the beginning of fairness for minority artists, including so many
of the artists we represent at the Foundation, so we can all grow together. And it is the
beginning of the true symbiotic relationship between creators of music and the stations
that use their valuable work, so that we can be in business together as real partners.

I also want to take this opportunity to address the issue of consolidation and its effect on
the diversity of the music broadc asted. Diversity of music is ensured by diversity in
ownership of stations – the ability of different stations representing the broad array of tastes
within our community to select their own playlists and accommodate the preferences
of their local listeners. Unfortunately, we have seen an increasing amount of consolidation
within the broadcast industry, as large radio corporations sw allow up those small individual
stations that have provided us the diversity we need.

More alarming to those of us who champion the accomplishments of black artists and
their contributions to our culture, is the consolidation that has occurred within the
black broadcasting community. Big radio corporations now threaten to destroy any gains
minorities have made in our communities by watering down and homogenizing their
program ming. That's unfortunate for aspiring black artists, and it's unfortunate for consumers.
Since the mid 90's song rotations have quadrupled.

In the past, a top ten song would play every 4 hours at best, totaling 35 to 40 spins
in a seven day period. Today the corporate playlists order the play of top titles every 60 to 70
minutes, totaling at times and amazing 140 spins of the same songs in a 7 day period.
Black radio is the most syndicated music format in the country. Black adults are 25 times
more likely to hear syndicated music programming than white adults. What syndication
effectively does is silence opinions, local news, information and music. The very essence
what made black radio special to hundreds of communities has been taken away through
consolidation by big radio corporations. The FCC gives licenses to broadcasters to serve
local communities. Consolidation has made that task for black radio more difficult. Consolidation
has also had an effect on artists by allowing massive campaigns of misinformation to be
spread when it is in the financial interest of the big radio corporation.

This Committee has overwhelmingly approved H.R. 848, the "Performance Rights Act." This legislation
would help minority artists finally get compensated for their work by corporate radio interests.
Giant companies who own the airwaves directed at black lis teners have for months now been
using the public airwaves entrusted to t hem by the government to oppose this bill for
their own financial interests. A series of misleading and inaccurate 3 minute commercials
airing 10 to 12 times a day on over 50 stations owned by just one company is proof of how
public opinio n and even Congress can be swayed when listeners get limited or misinformation.
The slanted and skewed promotion against H. R. 848, is a candid example of how consolidation
and limited ownership basical ly equates to an on air dictatorship, aimed only at profit and the
bottom line.

Chairman Conyers, you have worked hard to provide many accommodations to small
broadcasters, including minority-own ed stations. We thank you for your tireless work on
behalf of the thousands of minority arti sts who created and made successful the music art
form wh ich has become not only the sound of modern American music, including t he music
we hear on the black-owned stations we are discussing today, but has also influenced
the shape of music throughout the globe. We thank you for your ongoing efforts
to include minority broadcasting representatives to ensure they have a voice in these discussions.

We look forward to working with you – and with our broadcasting brethren – in the months ahead.


RHYTHM AND BLUES FOUNDATION (www.rhythmblues.org)  
The Rhythm & Blues Foundation provides financial and medical assistance to Rhythm & Blues
artists of the 1940s through the 1970's, as well as a support system to help identify other sources
of assistance. Foundation grants have helped artists and their families cover the costs of
emergency needs such as prescription medications, dental work, hearing aids, hospital stays and
homecare, as well as assistance with burial expenses. To date, these programs have provided
support to over 500 artists in need. The Foundation has also paid tribute to and honored over
200 pioneer R&B artists and entrepreneurs for their achievements and contributions to the music
industry and general public. The Foundation archives and preserves the history of R&B music,
sponsors educational programs and awards scholarships to students. Kendall Minter is a
Founding Director of the Foundation and served as its Chairman since 2000.

SOUND EXCHANGE (www.soundexchange.com)   
SoundExchange is an independent, nonprofit performance rights organization that is designated by the U.S. Copyright Office to collect and distribute digital performance royalties for featured
recording artists and sound recording copyright owners (usually a record label) when their sound
recordings are performed on digital cable and satellite television music, internet and satellite
radio (such as XM and Sirius). SoundExchange currently represents over 3,500 record labels
and over 31,000 featured artists and whose members include both signed and unsigned recording
artists; small, medium and large independent record companies; and major label groups and
artist-owned labels. Kendall Minter is a member of the Board of Directors of SoundExchange
and represents the artists' constituency.

BESLA (www.besla.org)  
BESLA is an international organization of lawyers and other entertainment and sports industry
executives that supports a more diversified, expert and informed group of entertainment and
sports industry professionals. In 1980, a group of notable African-American attorneys met in
Philadelphia during the first annual Black Music Association Conference. They quickly
recognized the need to establish a mechanism for African-American attorneys in the
entertainment industry to share information, stay abreast of industry opportunities, sharpen their
skills and support each other in a highly competitive marketplace. Their vision led to the
founding of the Black Entertainment Lawyers Association (BELA) in 1980. As opportunities
expanded in the sports arena, the organization's name was changed to the Black Entertainment
and Sports Lawyers Association (BESLA) in 1986. From day one, BESLA members have made
a lasting imprint on the sports and entertainment industries. From holding corporate posts to
representing marquee talent, BESLA members have created a deep reservoir of influence,
resources and relationships that is unparalleled among professional legal organizations. Kendall
Minter is a Founder of BESLA and served as its inaugural Executive Director and later Chair of
its Advisory Board.

MUSIC FIRST COALITION (www.musicfirstcoalition.org)

The Music First Coalition is a group of musicians and copyright holders in the music community
who want royalties when their music is played over the radio. Royalty fees are paid from the
Internet, satellite radio and cable services, but not from the radio. The musicFIRST coalition is a
partnership of artists and organizations in the music community who support compensating
performers for their work when it's played over the air. Corporate Radio has had a free pass for
too long. It's time to level the playing field and promote fairness among all types of radio.

People who love music understand that creativity, talent, and hard work are required to bring it to
life. The goal of musicFIRST (Fairness in Radio Starting Today) is to ensure that struggling
performers, local musicians, and well-known artists are compensated for their music when it is
played both today and in the future. Of all the ways we listen to music, corporate radio is the
only one that receives special treatment. Big radio has a free pass to play music - refusing to pay
even a fraction of a penny to the performers that brought it to life. musicFIRST (Fairness in
Radio Starting Today) is committed to making sure everyone, from up-and-coming artists to our
favorites from years-ago, is guaranteed Fair Pay for Air Play.

LIVING LEGENDS FOUNDATION (www.livinglegendsfoundation.com)

The Living Legends Foundation (LLF) is a registered non-profit, tax-exempt organization first
founded in Los Angeles in 1991 and incorporated in 1992, by record industry icon Ray Harris
and radio programming legend Jerry Boulding. The organization has been funded primarily with
corporate contributions and individual donations. Initial funding was provided from the sale of
tickets to the first annual Living Legends Dinner, which was held on April 22, 1993 at the site of
the Impact Conference at The Bally's Casino in Atlantic City, New Jersey. The original purpose
of The Living Legends Foundation was to recognize and honor legendary music and radio
industry figures that have distinguished themselves by their contributions as trailblazers, trendsetter, teachers and/or mentors. The Living Legends Foundation is an organization
dedicated to recognizing those members of the entertainment industry whose efforts and
contributions have paved the way for many in the entertainment industry, especially, minorities
and women. Many of those opportunities are in the areas of recorded music, radio broadcasting
and retail (record stores). The LLF honors those unsung heroes whose efforts might otherwise go unnoticed. The LLF exists because of a need to recognize and promote the achievements of those
members of the radio, music and entertainment industries and to help secure their place in
history. Kendall Minter is a member of the Board of Directors of the Living Legends
Foundation and has also served this organization as its General Counsel.

Rhythm and Blues Foundation
www.rhythmblues.org

SoundExchange
www.soundexchange.com

Living Legends Foundation
www.livinglegendsfoundation.com

Artists House Music
www.artisthousemusic.org

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