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RMLC and SESAC Settle Rates Suit

Nearly three-year battle over performance rights ends

The Radio Music License Committee has settled with music licensing entity SESAC and stopped its antitrust suit. The agreement covers radio play of music protected under SESAC’s license.

Highlights of the agreement include a freeze on SESAC rates at 2015 levels until 2016–2018 rates are negotiated; binding third-party arbitration per rate disagreement; consolidation of SESAC’s differing broadcast radio, HD Radio and streaming licensing structure into one unitary license; modifying SESAC licensing specifics to make them more aligned with ASCAP and BMI; and reimbursement of RMLC legal fees by SESAC. SESAC will not pay any legal damages.

RMLC Chairman Ed Christian said, “Litigation is always a last resort, but the RMLC felt compelled to file this lawsuit in order to impose some rate setting parameters upon SESAC that would mirror the antitrust consent decree process that has been in place with ASCAP and BMI for decades and that has achieved equitable license fees for the industry.”

SESAC Chairman and CEO John Josephson said, “With this settlement, we’ve secured commercial arbitration for the next 22 years as the basis for setting SESAC’s license fees for commercial radio stations represented by the RMLC. This guarantees a level playing field in establishing the fair market value of our creators’ musical works for the broadcast radio industry.”

A release from SESAC added, “Settlement of the RMLC litigation will allow SESAC management to pursue the company’s previously announced strategy under its new leadership team of a simplified and more efficient, multi-right, multi-territory licensing model utilizing an ongoing focus on information technology and data science to meet the developing needs of music users, distributors, writers, composers, publishers and other stakeholders.”