Friday evening saw the circulation of a modified version of the Music Modernization Act that will be fast-tracked in the Senate.
The vote could perhaps occur this week (potentially as early as today) without a debate on the Senate floor. This is possible due to a procedural trick known as ‘hotlining’ that allows a quick vote and bypasses normal review processes.
According to early reactions to the modified Act, the new version incorporates none of the demands of Sirius XM Satellite Radio, with little time for them to react given the fast-tracked process. The new bill does reflect changes proposed by Senator Ron Wyden and Blackstone Group, however, and if successful the new bill will move back to the House of Representatives where it has to be approved in its modified form.
The biggest difficulty for the hotlined measure is that in order to skate through this legislative process it must be approved by all 100 Senators. The last count marked the support of more than 73 senators and the bill’s backers are confident of a unanimous vote.
Sirius XM could try to derail its passage given Sirius’ dissatisfaction with elements of the prior version that had remained unchanged. The company’s major focus was on altering the current system of royalty requirements for radio platforms: traditional broadcast radio stations continue to receive exemptions on broadcast recordings under the MMA while Sirius would not, a major benefit to traditional stations.