The Executive Director of The Radio Music License Committee (RMLC) has responded to a Jan. 3 action by songwriters rights and royalties organization BMI by restating the facts of its dispute but otherwise refrained from commenting on the matter.
In an e-mail response to a Jan. 3 query from RBR + TVBR sent late Friday (1/6), Bill Velez called the RMLC’s fee negotiation “fairly pro forma every five years or so,” which explains why RMLC did not issue an official release in response to BMI, which filed an action in Federal Rate Court to set interim fees for radio stations represented by the RMLC while the two parties negotiate the terms of a new five-year deal beginning this year.
This is designed to set an interim rate agreeable to both BMI and the RMLC.
Velez says there is “a different twist” this time around.
“The RMLC is seeking an interim fee at a rate of 1.4% of revenue, reflecting the perceived dip in BMI’s market share, while BMI has petitioned the rate court for a continuation of the status quo rate of 1.7 % of revenue,” he notes. “The court will rule on it, and we will move forward to a determination of final fees for the license term 2017-2021.”
An “interesting side note,” Velez adds, is that effective Jan. 1 (and until such time as the rate court judge rules on an interim fee), some 7,500 stations who have elected to be represented by the RMLC may elect to withhold payment to BMI.
Some 1,100 stations that reportedly opted to sign license extension agreements directly with BMI must continue to pay at the 1.7% rate until the judge rules on an interim fee rate, he says.
BMI contends that the RMLC has proposed an interim rate well below BMI’s previous deal, “the effect of which would have a significant impact on the royalties BMI pays to its songwriters, composers and music publishers,” the rights organization claims.
BMI is represented by a group of attorneys from Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy LLP.