Broadcasters deserve to be compensated when their content is
used for profit by other corporations. That was the message, greeted by loud
applause, of Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) to a National Association of
Broadcasters audience Tuesday at the association's members' annual pilgrimage
to the Hill and FCC.
Leahy is chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, whose
oversight includes copyright issues.
He called it a testament to their work that broadcast
content was in such high demand, and the reward for that hard work should be
theirs. He pledges to stand up for those rights.
He did not specify any threats to that model, though
broadcasters would cite fights with Aereo and Dish or the use of that content.
Leahy also praised broadcasters for being a source of news
and comfort following the Sandy Hook shootings, saying "we wept and
prayed, sometimes with broadcasters." That said, he praised broadcasters
for being part of the conversation about violence, specifically for their
announced participation last week in a cross-industry effort to promote the
ratings system and other parental controls.
Leahy was among a trio of legislators addressing the
audience of some 500 broadcasters from around the country. The others were Rep.
Gene Green (R-Tex.) and Sen. Orrin Hatch (R- Utah). The common theme of their
brief addresses was that broadcasters are an important asset because of their
local focus and first informer status in emergencies and that incentive
auctions must be voluntary and not undercut free over-the-air TV.