A group of television broadcasters have filed a class-action anti-trust complaint against SESAC, according to the Television Music License Committee, a non-profit organization which represents 1,200 local television broadcasters in negotiations on music licensing fees with performance rights societies.

According to the Television Music License Committee press release on the court documents, SESAC had previously negotiated licenses for local television stations through the TML Committee, but in 2008 it decided to license broadcasters individually.

The complaint alleges that all stations are compelled to pay SESAC the price it demands for a license because they can't control what music is used in its programs and commercials.

Unlike ASCAP and BMI - which operate under voluntary consent degrees signed in 1941 and amended in 1950 after the U.S. Department of Justice sued ASCAP for violations of the Sherman Antitrust Act - SESAC is not subject to the consent decrees and can negotiate individual licenses, which the Committee believes results in fees that are in excess of what would be reasonable under an industry-wide license.

The complaint was filed in the U.S. Southern District Court of New York by Weil, Gotshal & Mangles LLP on behalf of Meridith Corp. Scripps Howard Broadcasting, Channel 7 of Detroit, Tampa Bay Television, Hoak Media of Nebraska and others.

While a spokesman for the TML Committee confirms the suit was filed today and even provided a copy of the suit, it didn't have a court stamp on it, showing when it had been received. He says that will follow in a day or two.

SESAC was unavailable for comment and didn't immediately return a phone call.