The National Association of Broadcasters spent $2.83 million lobbying Washington during the third quarter. Q3 spending was up 30% from second quarter and 40% from a year earlier. Federal disclosure filings say the trade group continues to focus its efforts on issues such as radio royalties and media ownership limits, as well as newer issues including cannabis advertising, potential changes to daylight savings time, and issues related to the accessibility of radio receivers in the dashboard. So far this year, NAB has spent $7.56 million lobbying Congress as well as the Federal Communications Commission and other federal agencies. If current spending patterns hold, it is likely it will outspend last year’s lobbying total of $8.13 million, per disclosure filings.
Several radio groups also continued to work alongside the NAB. That included iHeartMedia, which spent $1.2 million during the third quarter. Its lobbying efforts typically track pretty closely with what the NAB is working on for the industry, and that remained the case this year with new rules regarding foreign ownership disclosures and AM revitalization part of its lobbying efforts. With radio’s biggest digital business, iHeart is also focused on issues including data privacy and streaming royalties.
Other broadcasters that spent on lobbying during the third quarter included TelevisaUnivision ($310,000), Urban One ($20,000), Hubbard Broadcasting ($30,000), and Cox Media Group’s parent company, Cox Enterprises, which spent a total of $770,000, although its spending was typically not focused on broadcast issues.
The Safe Advertising Coalition – the year-old organization created by a group of nearly two dozen state broadcast associations to get the government to allow cannabis ads onto radio and TV – spent another $50,000 on Washington lobbying during the third quarter, bringing its total to $150,000 so far this year.
It was not just commercial radio that was busy lobbying in Washington. Disclosure filings reveal NPR spent $40,000 during the third quarter, the same as it spent in both Q1 and Q2. SiriusXM held the line at $90,000, the same as it spent in the prior two quarters.
Among the new media companies, Spotify increased its lobbying budget to $220,000 in the third quarter, making it the third consecutive quarter the streamer upped its spend in Washington. Spotify says its efforts were related to music licensing, copyright oversight, and content moderation issues.
RIAA Pulls Back Again After Record-Setter
The fight over a radio performance royalty is far from over. But the Recording Industry Association of America downsized its spending in Washington during the third quarter. The move is noteworthy since it spent $2.1 million on lobbying during Q1, the most ever for the RIAA. But it pulled back in the second quarter, allocating $1.7 million. And now in the third quarter, disclosure filings show that total slid to just under $1.6 million.
Just like the NAB and its member companies, the RIAA also gets an assist from its members’ own lobbying efforts. Disclosure filings show Universal Music Group spent $430,000 – which was also less than what it spent in Q1 and Q2 – and Sony Music Entertainment, which shelled out $280,000, similarly pulling back from what it spent in the two prior quarters.
Other music industry groups also continued to be active. The National Music Publishers Association spent $263,000 during the third quarter.
The three big performance rights groups were also spending in Washington. ASCAP invested $110,000, BMI spent $80,000, and SESAC spent $100,000. And SoundExchange, the collections agent for digital music use, spent $260,000 on its lobbying efforts.