NAB 2013

Music To Stations’ Ears And Bottom Lines

NAB Show attendees get a rundown of what new misic licensing contracts from BMI and ASCAP will mean for broadcasters.

Television stations as a whole will pay less this year, and can expect incremental increases through 2017, to BMI and ASCAP for rights to air music in programming under recent agreements with performance rights organizations.

Speaking at the NAB Show in Las Vegas on Wednesday, Will Hoyt, executive director of the Television Music License Committee, and Tribune Assistant General Counsel Chuck Sennet explored the nitty-gritty of the new BMI and ASCAP agreements — and what they mean for broadcasters.

The agreements’ most immediate impact is a reduction in fees TV stations pay for using music in their programming.

TV stations as an industry this year and in 2014 will pay ASCAP a blanket licensing fee of $91.5 million, 3% less than 2012. That amount will increase to $92 million in 2015 and 2016. The industry’s 2013 payment to BMI, $78.65 million, is down 8% from 2012. That annual fee will remain the same through 2017.

The industry has not had an agreement with SESAC, the other performance rights group, since the last one expired at the end of 2007. A lawsuit filed in 2009 by a group of broadcasters claiming the SESAC violated federal antitrust laws is still working its way through the courts.

Starting in 2015, stations will be able to get an “adjustable-fee” blanket license, which would give broadcasters free credit for each ASCAP performance that has been licensed directly from the copyright holder or programming source. A similar license will be available to stations airing BMI music beginning in 2014. However, the terms of those licenses have not yet been formalized, the panelists said.


Sennet says the Television Music License Committee has several goals, including “reasonable license fees for our stations with pricing option for what they use. They can take the blanket fee option or tailor their use,” he said.

The committee also has negotiated licenses that cover ASCAP and BMI music in programming broadcast over-the-air, on digital channels, streamed on websites or delivered via mobile, wireless or other digital platforms.

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