RMLC FILES PETITION FOR RATE DETERMINATION AGAINST ASCAP AND BMI
For Immediate Release
Nashville, June 15, 2022 –
Today, the Radio Music License Committee filed a Petition for the determination of reasonable license fees against ASCAP and BMI in a consolidated proceeding before a single judge in the federal district court for the Southern District of New York. In doing so, the RMLC has invoked a provision under the Music Modernization Act that ends the historical requirement for one designated judge to hear all ASCAP-related claims and a different judge to hear all BMI-related claims. For years, ASCAP and BMI have each argued to the RMLC that their respective share of music performances on RMLC member stations was larger than the other’s share; and the RMLC looks forward to addressing ASCAP’s and BMI’s radio “market share” claims before a single judge.
The petition filed by the RMLC is based on provisions of both the ASCAP and BMI antitrust consent decrees that entitle licensees who are not able to secure a negotiated resolution of ASCAP and BMI license fees to obtain a determination of reasonable license fees from the court. RMLC seeks a determination of fees and terms for the license period January 1, 2022 through December 31, 2026.
RMLC and BMI Reach Interim License Agreement commencing January 1, 2022
The BMI industrywide license for the term 2017-21 expired on December 31, 2021. The parties have now agreed to an interim license commencing January 1, 2022. The interim license effectively rolls over the terms of the expired license until the parties negotiate a new agreement. Once a new license is reached, either through negotiation or court adjudication, the interim license fees may be retroactively adjusted to reflect the new license terms and rate. In the meantime, station operators should continue to make payments to BMI, as billed by BMI. Operators should also submit their 2021 revenue reports to BMI immediately, if you have not already done so.
April 22, 2020
I am pleased to inform you that the RMLC and BMI have reached agreement on the terms of a new license agreement that covers the period January 1, 2017, through December 31, 2021. The RMLC Board of Directors voted overwhelmingly to support this new license, which was negotiated by our Executive Committee and outside counsel at Latham & Watkins.
This license preserves the scope of rights contained in the BMI-10 license for over-the-air broadcasts, stations’ simulcast streaming and website activity, and HD multicasting. Here are some of the highlights of the new agreement:
- Going forward, for terrestrial broadcast/simulcast transmissions, a 1.78% of revenue fee structure will apply, less a standard deduction of 12%. Digital revenues are subject to an increased deduction of up to 30%, compared to 25% under the old license.
- Retention of the per program (or program period) license applicable to many talk-formatted stations, with a base fee of 0.31% of revenues, less the same standard deductions detailed above.
- Continued rights coverage to accommodate our industry’s “new media” platforms related to Internet websites, smart phones, and other wireless devices.
- The settlement entails a one-time $5 million litigation fee to be paid by the industry to BMI by December 31, 2020. The industry-wide allocation of this fee will be tied to station amounts that were payable to BMI for calendar year 2019, on a straight pro-rata basis. You can expect to receive a statement from the RMLC for this assessment in short order.
BMI will immediately offer the new license to the industry in electronic format only. Operators should plan on submitting the 2019 annual revenue report to BMI, and any corrections to the 2017 and 2018 annual revenue reports, by July 1, 2020. Upon receipt, BMI will issue a true-up invoice related to 2017-2019 license fees. Note that failure to timely submit the 2019 annual report may result in BMI imposing harsh fines.
While the RMLC certainly would have preferred to report a rate decrease, our constituents need to bear three things in mind: (i) during the course of negotiations, BMI was able to substantiate that its affiliates’ radio spin share had increased relative to ASCAP’s; (ii) the 1.78% headline rate is in line with what the industry has paid to ASCAP and BMI for decades; and (iii) the percentage-of-revenue license structure means that fees will adjust along with station revenues during these uncertain economic times.
Should you have any questions concerning this matter, please feel free to contact the RMLC c/o Bill Velez, Executive Director. Phone: (615) 844-6260 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
BMI AND THE RMLC SETTLE RATE DISPUTE
NEW YORK (January 30, 2020) — BMI (Broadcast Music Inc.) and the RMLC (Radio Music License Committee) have reached an agreement in principle to settle their ongoing rate dispute, entering into a new multi-year deal covering the 2017-2021 period. The new license carries a rate that reflects the strength of BMI’s repertoire and its share of radio spins, which is higher than any other Performing Rights Organization.
Mike O’Neill, President & CEO, BMI, stated, “We’re pleased to reach an agreement with the RMLC that reflects a much more appropriate value for our affiliates’ music. While litigation is sometimes a necessary step, our preference is always to work out an amicable solution with our licensing partners while continually keeping the best interests of our songwriters top of mind. BMI looks forward to working with the RMLC to improve transparency in the marketplace and enhance the flow of information between our two organizations.”
Ed Atsinger, Chair of the RMLC, stated, “We are happy that our impasse with BMI has reached an amicable conclusion. The radio industry believes strongly that songwriters should be compensated fairly, and with BMI’s support, we hope that this deal will assist others in the music licensing community in determining fair rates for everyone on both sides.”
In addition to the new agreed-upon rate, which is retroactive to 2017, the RMLC has agreed to a one-time payment to BMI for litigation fees. The new agreement also clarifies and preserves the platforms that are covered by the scope of the license and associated revenue, including over-the-air broadcasts, as well as the stations’ simulcast streaming, podcasts and HD radio.
The final deal implementing the parties’ agreement in principle in a mutually acceptable long-form agreement is subject to the Court’s full approval.