July 28, 2020

BMI President & CEO Mike O’Neill Champions Consent Decree Reform

BMI President & CEO Mike O’Neill participated today in an industry workshop organized by Makan Delrahim, Assistant Attorney General for Antitrust, US Department of Justice, to discuss consent decree reform. O’Neill highlighted the four key protections that BMI and ASCAP put forth to facilitate an orderly transition to a free market, including a path to ultimate termination of the decrees. He also highlighted the need to avoid Congressional regulation of performing rights. A full transcript of his remarks can be found here.

O’Neill also provided the following caution to the industry:

“We have to be vigilant.

As we’ve seen, some organizations are using this moment to their advantage. Unregulated parties and licensees are using this review of our consent decree to try to increase regulations on BMI and ASCAP, not for the benefit of songwriters and composers, but we believe for their own benefit. Frankly, this is just amazing to me and completely contradictory to what the DOJ is trying to do overall with consent decrees.

Issues like 100% licensing, length of songwriter contracts and similarly situated licenses are coming into play. Issues that are more about regulating the marketplace through our consent decrees than the actual consent decrees themselves.”

Mike Steinberg, BMI’s Executive Vice President of Creative & Licensing, took part in a subsequent panel on alternative licensing options.  Steinberg made the case that the free markets, and not the consent decrees, spark innovation, competition and the ability to even further meet the diverse needs of our songwriters, composers, publishers and licensees.

Stuart Rosen, BMI’s Senior Vice President and General Counsel, will take part tomorrow in a panel on Licensing to Music Users. He will highlight how BMI and ASCAP’s proposed changes to their decrees will provide pro-competitive benefits for the entire marketplace.

The goal of the DOJ’s workshops, being held today and tomorrow, is to discuss the BMI and ASCAP consent decrees, two of the country’s oldest, and how the music and entertainment industries have evolved since their creation while the BMI and ASCAP consent decrees have remained woefully outdated. BMI thanks Mr. Delrahim and the DOJ for continuing to shine a spotlight on this important issue.