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RMLC Reaches Temporary Deal With ASCAP, BMI

Rate court sets fees, but expect retroactive ruling later

The group that negotiates music licensing fees with performing rights organizations for much of the radio industry has reached agreement with ASCAP and BMI on temporary fees to be paid by radio operators.

The Radio Music License Committee said the temporary fee would be a 7% discount from 2009 station music license fee levels. The lower fee goes into effect Jan. 1 and will be reflected in January ASCAP and BMI monthly billing.

There has been no negotiated settlement between the RMLC and ASCAP on long-term fees, so the U.S. District Court in New York will determine interim and permanent fees for the new contract period, according to the RMLC. The rate court process may take one or more years.

Rate talks between RMLC and both ASCAP and BMI reached an impasse, which is why RMLC petitioned the rate courts in New York. When the court eventually issues a ruling on the final fees, they will be retroactive to Jan. 1. The new, temporary fees and the court’s interim fees will be adjusted accordingly, said the RMLC.

“It is unfortunate that the gap in our respective positions was so vast that it made it virtually impossible to reach a voluntary agreement as to new licenses commencing in 2010,” said RMLC Chairman and Saga Communications CEO Ed Christian.

“That being said, the rate court exists for this very purpose and we remain confident that the RMLC can achieve a further rate reduction during the interim fee phase of the proceedings.”