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BMI and Local TV Stations Announce New License Agreement

Posted in News on April 7, 2002

BMI and the Television Music License Committee (TMLC) have negotiated new final music license agreements providing local broadcast television stations with the public performance rights to BMI’s repertoire of approximately 4.5 million musical works.


Shown at the signing are (l-r): John Shaker, BMI Senior Vice President, Licensing; Catherine Nierle of Post-Newsweek Stations and Co-Chair of the TMLC; and Chuck Sennett of the Tribune Company and Co-Chair of the TMLC.
photo: Denise Truscello

The agreements run from April 1999 through December 2004. The parties agreed to a settlement for the April 1999 through December 2001 period that will be paid by local television stations over the next three years along with their newly agreed to fees.

Stations licensed on a blanket basis will pay their allocated share of an $85 million annual blanket base fee. Stations also may choose a per program license agreement, and will pay their allocated share of a $98.1 million per program base fee.

Under the new agreements, stations can webcast locally produced news and news-based public affairs programming on a live or archived basis from their Internet sites. Stations’ digital television signals are also covered in the agreements.

“We have worked hard with representatives from the local television industry to create an agreement that fairly compensates BMI songwriters, composers and music publishers and encourages our television customers to use BMI works for the purpose of increasing their viewership,” said BMI President & CEO Frances W. Preston.

“The new BMI local TV agreement gives our customers the stability of final fees and the flexibility to choose the best license for their stations. We were mindful of the economic atmosphere in the local television industry,” said John Shaker, BMI Senior Vice President, Licensing. “While both revenue and viewership have been reported as down, the increase in fees negotiated reflects the well-deserved recognition of the increased value of BMI’s repertoire.”

“On behalf of more than 1,000 TMLC represented stations, we are pleased that we were able to reach a negotiated agreement that provides favorable blanket license fees for all stations while preserving the stations’ ability to control their music license fees through the per program license. Managing the music in their locally-produced programs as well as in pre-clearing, where they can, the music in syndicated programs provides per program licensed stations the opportunity to reduce their music license costs,” said Catherine Nierle, Co-Chairman of the TMLC.

The TMLC’s other Co-Chairman, Charles Sennet, said: “Our new BMI agreement provides fair compensation to BMI for their share of the music we broadcast on local television. This was and will continue to be the focus of our negotiations with all music performing rights organizations. In addition, we are pleased that our agreement with BMI anticipates changes in technology, including our transition to digital broadcasting and the use of streaming video to make our news and public affairs programming available to viewers over the Internet.”

Both organizations credited the Committee’s Executive Director, Jack Zwaska, who died in February, as the moving force behind the new agreement. “Jack worked very hard to bring the two sides together on important issues. He was a very effective executive and negotiator,” said Mr. Shaker. “Jack was very proud of this deal because it represented a new direction in negotiations between our industry and the performing rights organizations,” Ms. Nierle and Mr. Sennet said, in a joint statement. “This new agreement is a tribute to Jack’s leadership and vision.”

BMI will be mailing stations the new agreement and contract information shortly. Stations can get more information by calling their BMI representative at 800-258-5813 or the TMLC at 202-452-0004. Stations can also obtain Local TV license agreements and a Q&A brochure from the Licensing area on BMI’s web site.

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