|As noted on the Home Page, the Television Music License Committee represents full power commercial local television stations in the United States in their negotiations for industry-wide music public performance rights (see the Copyright Basics Tab for more detail on music performance rights). We have negotiated licenses with ASCAP and BMI since the 1940’s (see the History tab for more details).
FROM REVENUE BASE TO REDUCED FIXED FEE AND PER PROGRAM
In the earliest versions of these licenses, stations paid fees as a percentage of their revenues. In the early 1990’s, after decades of negotiation and litigation, the TMLC was able to get ASCAP and BMI to provide stations with an industry-wide fixed fee license accompanied by a meaningful per program license. This per program license allows some stations to achieve significant reductions in fees paid to ASCAP and to BMI by direct or source licensing the music used in local and syndicated programming. Over the last 15 years, these two changes taken together have accounted for over a billion dollars of savings when compared to what stations would have paid under the previous revenue-based industry licenses.
ALTERNATIVE FEE BLANKET LICENSE (AFBL)
More recently, the Committee has negotiated blanket licenses with BMI and ASCAP that will allow stations to provide a formula for crediting stations for individual direct or source licenses, rather than requiring them to direct or source license all of a particular society’s performances within a program in order to get any credit. This new rate was designed to assist stations that do not qualify for reductions under the current per program license. This new license fee for BMI takes affect on July1 of 2014 while the ASCAP license rate takes affect in January of 2015.
REDUCED ASCAP AND BMI BLANKET FEES
In agreements negotiated with ASCAP and BMI in 2012, new license fees were agreed to through 2016 and 2017 respectively. These negotiations resulted in blanket fees for ASCAP and BMI of $170.2 million in 2013 increasing to a total of $170.7 million in 2016, the last year of the ASCAP license agreements. BMI’s license extends through 2017 at the same fee of $78.7 million from 2013-2017. Thus, total ASCAP and BMI fees for 2013 are 13% less than the total fees for 2003, the reduction in blanket fees from 2004-2013 amounts to more than $100 million. Reductions in the factors used in both the BMI and ASCAP per program formula will lead to additional savings for the industry. These reductions are in addition to the opportunity provided by the new alternative blanket licenses described above.
The Committee negotiated industry-wide agreements with SESAC from 1997 through 2007. In 2008, SESAC decided to negotiate directly with stations rather than continuing to negotiate with the Committee. Since SESAC is not subject to a consent decree, as ASCAP and BMI are (see the History tab for background and the PRO/ASCAP and BMI tabs under Consent Decree for details), stations are forced to negotiate individual licenses with SESAC in order to protect themselves from copyright infringement, many times at fees that are in excess of what the Committee believes would be reasonable under an industry-wide license.
In November of 2009, a group of television broadcasters instituted a class action suit against SESAC claiming violation of antitrust law. The TMLC agreed to fund the litigation costs for the suit. Discovery in this trial has been completed and the trial should take place in late 2013 or in 2014.
MUSIC SURVEYS & IMPORTANCE OF STATION PARTICIPATION
TMLC began measuring music performances in local television in 2005 and has continued these surveys periodically through 2011. These surveys are based on a statistical sampling of local station programs to determine the size and changes in audience weighted minutes of music and are critical for our negotiations and any required litigation with the PROs. These studies use a randomly selected station sample as the basis for calculating the value of performances in local television. It is extremely important that the stations randomly selected provide the information requested as these studies have provided us with the information required to reduce blanket fees in recent years.
ASCAP/BMI BLANKET FEE ALLOCATIONS
TMLC is also responsible for allocating the industry-wide ASCAP and BMI blanket license fees negotiated by TMLC. The allocation methodology, which is subject to a Federal Court’s review, is based on a combination of television market size and individual audience ratings within each market. These monthly charges are calculated on a calendar year basis.
ASCAP CONTRIBUTION ADJUSTMENT
In addition to the annual monthly allocation of these fees, the TMLC calculates an ASCAP adjustment applicable to December of each year. That adjustment rewards stations that fully support the Committee through contributions and penalizes those stations that do not contribute. This court approved adjustment is designed to equitably distribute the cost of operating the Committee among all of the stations that qualify for the industry wide licenses negotiated by the TMLC. Charging additional fees to those stations that contribute less than the industry average funds the ASCAP credits to those stations that exceed industry contribution averages.
The dropdown menu to this tab provides you with information concerning the staff at the TMLC, the voluntary members on the Board of the Committee and lists of stations and groups that have provided financial support to the Committee.