In what is being touted as the largest single licensing deal in radio history, ASCAP and the Radio Music License Committee (RMLC) announced Oct. 18 a $1.7 billion agreement covering commercial radio s

NEW YORK -- In what is being touted as the largest single licensing deal in radio history, ASCAP and the Radio Music License Committee (RMLC) announced Oct. 18 a $1.7 billion agreement covering commercial radio stations' over-the-air performances and simultaneous streaming of more than 7.5 million musical works.

The agreement finalizes license fees for the period from 2001 to 2003 and establishes new licenses for 2004-09.

The deal, approved by U.S. District Court Judge William Conner as a negotiated settlement between the parties, replaces a fee schedule based on stations' revenues with a set payment schedule. This arrangement eliminates the uncertainty of a revenue-based system for both the radio industry and ASCAP members, as well as creating a more streamlined administrative process.

"Separating royalty fees payable from radio station revenues has been a goal of the RMLC for many years," says Keith Meehan, executive director of the RMLC, which represents most of the nearly 12,000 commercial U.S. radio stations. "With this agreement we have now accomplished that with both of the major performing rights organizations."

BMI and the RMLC reached an agreement in 2003, covering license fees from 1997 to 2006. SESAC negotiates directly with radio stations, says Meehan.

"Effective negotiation avoided the heavy cost of litigation for both sides and resulted in an agreement which can only serve to strengthen the longstanding partnership between America's leading creators of music and their most valuable customers," says Vincent Candilora, ASCAP's senior VP/director of licensing.