MRC Backs Religious Lawsuit Against NPR-Favoring Government Rate Scheme

May 14th, 2024 11:50 AM

The Media Research Center is calling on the federal government to stop discriminating against religious broadcasting companies and right-leaning talk radio.

On Monday, MRC filed an amicus brief this week in support of the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF)’s petition for the U.S. Supreme Court to hear a case pertaining to religious broadcasting companies challenging the Biden-led Copyright Royalty Board (CRB), which is a federal entity responsible for regulating royalties and copyright licenses.

In the brief, MRC argued that the CRB violated the First Amendment religious liberty and free speech rights by not providing the same deal to religious broadcasters it entered into with leftist National Public Radio (NPR).

The legal battle began in 2021 after the CRB inexplicably refused to extend a favorable NPR deal, including low fees, to the National Religious Broadcasters Noncommercial Music License Committee (NRB), a non-profit representing various religious communicators and broadcasting companies.

The ADF wrote in February that the CRB established a statutory license for companies, including NPR and NRB, to pay royalties to the copyright holders of songs played on their stations.

Instead of offering the same rates granted to NPR, the CRB demanded that religious broadcasting companies pay 18 times the royalty fees of NPR if they have over 200 listeners. This was in contrast to the CRB's deal with NPR, a secular, taxpayer-funded company at the center of controversy for bias.

Related: Here Are the Best & Worst Moments From the House NPR Hearing with MRC’s Graham

“Here, the Board created a content-based, tiered rate structure that required religious broadcasters to pay far more than NPR stations to communicate with an audience above a mere 218 people,” the MRC brief read, alluding to the notable discrepancies in the deals offered to NPR and the NRB.

Further addressing the court, the MRC wrote that this discriminatory practice “forces religious broadcasters to pay royalty rates 18 times higher than those to which NPR will be subject.”

The religious broadcasting companies took the CRB to court in 2021. Regrettably, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit ruled in favor of the federal government.

“This unlawful discrimination forces some noncommercial religious stations to stay small and restrict their listener reach so they can afford to stream online,” the ADF added. “The Copyright Royalty Board is violating federal law and the U.S. Constitution, and so we are urging the Supreme Court to take this important case and rule on the side of religious liberty and free speech.”

Conservatives are under attack. Contact your representatives and demand that Big Tech be held to account to mirror the First Amendment while providing transparency, clarity on hate speech and equal footing for conservatives. If you have been censored, contact us using CensorTrack’s contact form, and help us hold Big Tech accountable.