Frequently Asked Questions
Yes and no. If you’re an ABC, CBS, NBC or Univision affiliate, your network has a network license with ASCAP, BMI and SESAC but that license only covers performances of music contained in the network shows. As one of those affiliates you still have plenty of programming that is not “network” and your licenses with the PROs cover performances of music in your “non-network” programming and announcements. Other networks, such as Fox, CW, MyNet, Cozi TV or TBN, do not have network licenses from the PROs. For affiliates of these networks and for other independents, your licenses with the PROs cover all of your programming (even the network shows).
In short, the relationship is like this:
PRO licenses a business
the business plays music and the business pays PRO
PRO pays the composer/publisher for the music
that was played by the business
U.S. copyright law entitles the owners of copyrights in musical compositions to control the public performance of their copyrighted music. When television stations broadcast programs containing copyrighted music, they are making public performances of the compositions and, subject to few exceptions, need a performing rights license. Producers of television programs and commercials usually do not pay for the music performance rights that stations need. Since most television programs and commercials contain copyrighted music from one or more of the PROs’ repertories, having a license with all three PROs provides protection from copyright infringement risks. If your station could license all of the music contained in its broadcasts directly from the copyright owners or through the suppliers of the programming and commercials, you would not need PRO licenses, but we are not aware of any station that attempts to license 100% of its music directly.
The TVMLC and ASCAP have agreed upon terms for new license agreements effective July 1, 2019. These terms are confidential and ASCAP will be distributing the license agreements to the stations. The TVMLC staff is available to discuss the terms of your stations’ license agreements with you should you have any questions once you receive the documents.
The current license agreements with BMI began January 1, 2005 and end December 31, 2017. Prior to that date both parties begin negotiation of new licenses for the industry. The period January 1, 2005 – December 31, 2012 was resolved through litigation and the fees paid during that time were final as of the finalization of the licenses. For the period January 1, 2013 – December 31, 2017 the industry fees for each calendar year was $78,650,000.
On November 4, 2009 an antitrust class action lawsuit was filed by a group of broadcasters against SESAC claiming that SESAC had illegally overcharged stations for many years beginning in 2006. TVMLC provided financial support for that suit. The suit was settled at the end 2014 resulting in a refund to our stations totaling $42,500,000 to reimburse them for previous overpayments to SESAC.
For 2016-2035, the Committee and SESAC will negotiate successive four-year blanket and per program “through to the viewer” performance licenses. If the parties cannot reach agreement, the license terms and fees will be resolved by arbitration. The licenses will cover stations’ primary channels, multicast channels, website and other means of digital distribution.
The SESAC blanket and per program licenses that run from January 1, 2016 – December 31, 2019 have recently been finalized and have the following industry fees:
2016: $25,000,000 (plus a $400,000 administrative fee for per program stations)
2017: $30,000,000 (plus a $500,000 administrative fee for per program stations)
2018: $34,000,000 (plus a $500,000 administrative fee for per program stations)
2019: $36,000,000 (plus a $500,000 administrative fee for per program stations)
Because the recently negotiated 2016 fee is lower than that paid by the industry in an interim license, SESAC will provide a refund to the stations of $2.3M in the aggregate in proportion to their interim fee.
1 – Look at your ratings and market size. If they increased the past year, then your fees will increase and if they decreased, then your fees will decrease.
2 – Call us and we will help you with your budgeting.