Dear NRBMLC Friends,
As we begin the year 2020, we can count our blessings for progress made and learn from some of our setbacks in 2019.
Web V: For noncommercial NRBNMLC, 2019 was difficult as we faced a monumental proceeding to renew our digital sound recording royalty rate. “Web V” is the informal name for the 2019-20 webcaster proceeding before the DC-based Copyright Royalty Board (CRB). Your committee attempted direct negotiations with our opponent in the case, SoundExchange, but this did not happen (at least not yet). After the negotiating phase was over, NRBNMLC was required to file its “direct case” in September 2019. It was a successful filing and we finished the year unencumbered with debt.
Recently, there have been signs that a possible negotiation directly with SoundExchange might still occur. However, because the Web V trial phase begins mid-March, we must prepare our trial case now—which includes depositions and witness prep. As you might expect, the cost of a trial could seemingly rocket out of reach.
ASCAP: Your committee has been having fruitful talks with ASCAP since early 2019 on both commercial and noncommercial licenses. ASCAP has received our proposal and promises they will likely have a counter-proposal to us soon. As the radio industry moves further to digital, reaching good results on streaming and webcasting fees is critical.
BMI: Commercial licensing talks with BMI were suspended some three years ago. Since BMI has recently reached a compromise with our general market counterpart, the RMLC, we may see them back at the table in 2020. On the digital noncommercial side, BMI and NRBNMLC have exchanged proposals and we are hopeful for a deal in 2020.
Global Music Rights (GMR): After nearly two years of discussions, GMR left the table early in 2019 to focus on its anti-trust proceedings with RMLC. As a result, both commercial and noncommercial negotiations with GMR remain on hold until their dispute with the RMLC has progressed sufficiently. When that occurs, your committee could be back at the table with GMR.
You should now be asking how all this is getting paid for. On the noncom Web V case, NRBNMLC was blessed by a benefactor that has so far helped us stay in the proceeding. This will not continue indefinitely. Noncommercial NRBNMLC must still raise $250,000 on our own.
We’ve shared this before, but assuming there are already 400 stations financially involved in supporting Web V means that 1,000 stations are not. $250K spread among 1,000 stations breaks down to $250 per station!
NRB 2020: Your committee will have an “official” presence at the NRB Convention in Nashville on Wednesday, February 26. We will have two sessions – both on Wednesday, starting at noon. At that session, we will be hearing from several experts, including Janet McHugh, Television MLC Director. Several TV station members within the NRB should make a point to join us there. Check your conference schedule for the time and location. And spread the word to your broadcast colleagues!
As you can see from the above, 2019 was exceptional for us. We praise God for this help! But that should encourage no one sit to this one out. If you expect to benefit from our efforts, please consider donating or increasing your existing contribution to this committee. Do not stand on the sidelines and wait for the CRB to set rates at SoundExchange’s bidding. Please send a pledge form with your contribution. Show your committee you are in this fight!
Scott R. Hunter