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Tech trade groups blast performance rights compromise

A coalition of trade groups is calling on Congress to reject a compromise in a long-simmering policy dispute between broadcasters and the music industry over performance rights that would require mobile device makers to include an FM radio receiver in every handset.

In a letter to the leaders of the House and Senate Judiciary committees delivered Monday, the heads of six trade associations, including wireless group CTIA and the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA), waded into an issue that had hitherto held little interest for them.

But earlier this month, the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) unveiled the sketches of a compromise legislative framework that it has been developing with the MusicFirst Coalition, a group that includes the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) and other trade organization.

Under the proposed legislation, radio stations would be responsible for paying limited royalties -- capped at 1 percent of revenue but less for many smaller stations under a tiered system -- to performers for playing their songs on the air, a concession the NAB has been unwilling to make throughout the long-running debate.

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