For the past several years, broadcasters have been concerned about existing music licensing agreements. Our agreements with BMI and ASCAP are based on anti-trust consent decrees that have been issued by the courts. Last year the Department of Justice signaled that it may no longer support maintaining the consent decrees. Eliminating the decrees would dramatically alter music licensing in the United State and could end “blanket music licensing.” It could also lead to fractionalized licenses.
It now seems that the Department of Justice will continue to support the consent decrees that govern BMI and ASCAP. Assistant Attorney General Makan Delrahim stated the DOJ’s views on the future of ASCAP and BMI Consent Decrees:
“The Antitrust Division has considered carefully stakeholders’ views on all of these issues and recognizes that continuing disagreements exist among artists and within the music community regarding the benefits, drawbacks, and continued need for the ASCAP and BMI consent decrees. Continued review of, and stakeholder input concerning, the decrees remains necessary to ensure the decrees continue to satisfy their purpose to protect competition and do not act as an impediment to innovation.”
While continuing to support the consent decrees, the DOJ is looking at reviewing the decrees every five years:
“The ASCAP and BMI consent decrees should be reviewed every five years, to assess whether the decrees continue to achieve their objective to protect competition and whether modifications to the decrees are appropriate in light of changes in technology and the music industry. Factors that could weigh in favor of modification might include increased competition in the licensing marketplace, including increased direct licensing or technological developments that may affect the market.”
This is an important win for the industry and the NAB. NAB has been a strong supporter of the existing consent decrees.
To see the full statement of U.S. Assistant Attorney General Makan Delrahim click HERE.
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