An open letter to Cathy Hughes

Paul Porter breaks it down:

Few are in the position to empower, organize and inform millions of people that are thirsting for content, information and representation. Black radio needs voices now more than ever. Rush Limbaugh, is a prime example of a business plan that not only is financially rewarding but changes direction in American culture.

… Ms Hughes, you have that power. For the past few months, your voice has been heard on over fifty of your stations, in a series of two to three minute announcements, 10 to 12 times daily. Those who have not heard the announcements (www.RealityRadioonline.com) might guess the subject might be health care, the economy, education or maybe a response to the racist attacks by Tea Baggers, Birthers, Glenn Beck or Fox News on President Obama.

Instead you aimed your microphone in opposition to HR 848, The Performance Rights Act. You have berated members of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) for months, without even a minute of an honest debate. The truth is Ms Hughes, you have pushed that button because you knew you could. Mainstream media rarely covers any issue except black on black violent crime. If Sean Hannity or Bill O’Reilly railed on distinguished CBC members like John Conyers, Sheila Jackson-Lee or Hank Johnson, Black radio and press would be outraged. Al Sharpton, Tom Joyner and Michael Baisden would be defending the CBC members you have furiously attacked. But for now their voices are silenced only because their allegiance to you. Power often brings a free pass.

Fear tactics seem to be today’s replacement for news and information. Unfortunately, the listeners you are licensed to serve continue to get your commentary with only entertainment news. While in DC, you made your mark as the “Queen of information”, branding “Information is Power” on your flagship station WOL-AM.  News content is none existent in a world where a Black adult is 25 times more likely to hear a syndicated music host like Tom Joyner or Michael Baisden. Syndication on Black radio has increased at an alarming 343%, while white music syndication has decreased in the past ten years. The “less is more” philosophy basically adds up to controlling the messengers.

Your voice for the first time has become an example of Black media telling Black America a series of distortions. The Truth is the HR 848 would not kill Black radio, 80% of Black owned radio stations would pay a mere $5,000 or less royalty fee. What you have failed to mention in “Reality Radio” is a tax goes to the government. The “PRA” would help thousands of musicians and singers to be paid a royalty, just like the songwriters have been paid for decades.  HR 848 is simply a civil rights issue. HR 848 is not about Jay Z or Beyonce the few millionaires, it’s about Ron Smith, the guitarist from Frankie Beverly and Maze who continues to keep your listeners entertained in the hybrid of music only formats that Radio One and most broadcasters deliver everyday.

Only the US, China, North Korea and Iran don’t pay radio royalties to performers and musicians. I do understand protecting your bottom line, but doing the right thing and stating facts is not an option.

The marriage between the recording industry and radio continues to bring in tens of millions of dollars yearly in commercials, summer jams, jam jams, free concerts and record company giveaways. The musical attack on young minds is another issue, but more importantly the recording industry marriage has allowed a profitable way to often satisfy stakeholders while forsaking content for young listeners. In 2008, Radio One claimed 137 million in profits for 53 stations. The Performance Rights Act is passed the worst case scenario guesstimate would cost  5 million in royalties, not bad at all saying that music makes up 85% of programming.

Black America is starving for representation on a myriad of issues, I hope you decide to focus your energy, influence and voice on any issue that might help the listeners that you are licensed to serve. …

Ouch. Read the whole thing here.

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