On January 27, 2012 the Federal District Court for the Southern District of New York approved a settlement reached after a nearly two year debate over the fees the Radio Music License Committee (RMLC) would pay for the privilege to air the approximately 8.5 million songs in the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) arsenal. The battle between the 10,000 or so radio stations verse the 425,000 songwriter, composer and music publisher members began when the previous agreement expired on December 31, 2009.
The agreement allows the radio stations to pay a yearly fee based on their revenue in exchange for the right to play the songs of the members in the ASCAP, without infringing the copyright laws. The original agreement had radio stations in the same market divide the fee and pay the same amount regardless of their yearly revenue. So some stations that were not profit making or did not bring in a large revenue would be paying the same fee as large revenue stations. This fee also increased each year of the agreement with the expectation that revenue would be increasing in the broadcasting industry, however that was not the case. RMLC argued the current fees were unreasonable given the economic state. The court agreed with them and approved a $75 million refund based on the fees paid in 2010-2011 (after the expiration of the previous agreement). They also approved a new formula for the ASCAP fees. The stations will now be paying 1.7% of â€śrevenues subject to fee from radio broadcasting.” They were also given more rights regarding new media, such as performance on their websites, where before they would have to obtain a different license from the ASCAP. Talk radio fees will have a different format. Since they use a minimal amount of music, they will be paying on a per performance basis.
This agreement is considered a win for the radio stations who have been arguing they have been overpaying for years. This will ensure their fees until 2016, when this agreement expires and the committees will begin debating again.
For more information visit www.radiomlc.org.