Dear NRBNMLC Broadcaster:
To those that attended the meeting we held in February at NRB – thank you! Our annual meetings are valuable not only for updating you, but also for the one-on-one’s we had before and after the event.
Before we move deeper into the year, and for the benefit of those who were not at NRB, we felt it important to summarize where we are with challenges facing your committee.
During 2016-17, your Committee visited Capitol Hill to inform key Congressional members of our disappointment with the outcome in the 2015 Web IV streaming rate proceeding. Although the Copyright Royalty Judges made the determination, we dwelt primarily on the shabby treatment received from SoundExchange. You may recall that during that proceeding, SoundExchange, representing the Recording Industry, implied they would negotiate a direct deal with us, as they did with NPR and CBI. A direct deal would have allowed us to avoid the expense of a full trial. Just prior to the trial prep deadline, SoundExchange discontinued negotiations with us (but not with NPR and CBI). This left your committee with only one option: conduct a full trial and pay the price while our secular counterparts walked away with directly negotiated deals and minimal trial costs. We hope SoundExchange is made to be accountable for its past unprofessional behavior, and we suspect our meetings on Capitol Hill have placed a spotlight on its monopolistic practices (SoundExchange is a pure monopoly, instituted by the government but in practice is accountable only to the recording industry).
The Copyright Royalty Board (CRB) is a 3-judge panel that conducts webcaster sound recording rate proceedings every five years. Dubbed “Webcaster V” (Roman numeral V meaning the number of webcaster proceedings since streaming began), CRB will commence Web V in 2019 and, if the past is any measurement, it will continue for the better part of two years. Broadcasters (commercial and noncommercial) who stream and digital music services square off against SoundExchange, the collective and enforcer for recording industry royalties. In Web IV, noncom broadcasters represented by NRBNMLC saw the court nearly double the rate that stations with large web audiences must pay. We were prepared to appeal this decision, but backed away after calculating the cost.
A Multi-Front Battle
We are afraid that many NRBNMLC stations do not realize the numerous fronts we are guarding in an effort to protect their future viability.
During the past two years, we have negotiated broadcast licensing deals with ASCAP, BMI and SESAC. We are currently negotiating with GMR for a streaming license. If lawyers and travel are involved (and they always are), the costs of conducting these proceedings are quite high – too high for just a few to cover.
Approximately two years ago we announced that, in order to adequately prepare for Web V, we must raise an additional $100K each year leading into the proceeding. Now, less than a year before Web V begins, we are not near that level.
If you have not yet contributed generously, now is the time to do so. We do not charge our members a representation fee, but we do expect all stations who benefit to support this agenda.
Web V, like its predecessor proceedings, will be expensive. Please help us with a generous contribution.
Scott R. Hunter
4880 Santa Rosa Road, Camarillo, CA 93012
(805) 482-7290 • www.nrbmlc.com