DOJ Decides to Keep Music Licensing Consent Decrees Intact

The Antitrust Division of the U.S. Department of Justice recently decided to keep intact the federal consent decrees by which the major performing rights organizations (PRO’s), ASCAP and BMI, are regulated. While music industry interests argued that the consent decrees were outdated and in need of reform for songwriters and composers, broadcaster advocates expressed thanks for the agency’s conclusions after its in-depth review. By loosening the current music licensing landscape as the PRO’s desired, broadcaster representatives warned in a recent letter that “day-to-day operations of local radio and television broadcasters would be significantly disrupted.” In the same spirit, in a hearing last year before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee’s Antitrust Subcommittee, Bonneville International’s Mike Dowdle, speaking for broadcasters, highlighted the anticompetitive nature of the U.S. music marketplace in which ASCAP and BMI control more than 90 percent of the public performance rights.  He said the consent decrees, which allow broadcasters to pay royalties for full rights to use songs in the PRO’s portfolio, “serve as antitrust lifelines.”

  • Find more information about this most recent DOJ determination in Broadcasting & Cable here.
  • Learn more about this and other music licensing issues on the site of the NRB Music License Committee.

By Aaron Mercer, Vice President of Government Relations

Published: July 29, 2016

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