National Association of Broadcasters Signs On to Support Music Modernization Act

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With the powerful trade association and lobby group's concerns addressed, it is now backing the bill as it faces review in both houses of Congress.

Music copyright owners have addressed the concerns that the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) had over the Music Modernization Act and now has the powerful trade association and lobby group onboard to support the legislation as it faces review in both houses of Congress.

According to a joint statement from the NAB, ASCAP and BMI, "the agreement resolves NAB's concerns with the potential introduction of new evidence into the rate-setting process while preserving ASCAP and BMI's ability to seek meaningful compensation from the growing digital marketplace. Our three organizations have enjoyed a long, unique and successful relationship, and as a result, we were able to work together to find a path forward on this important legislation that is fair to all parties."

While the main thrust of the legislation is to create a blanket mechanical license and an agency to administer it, which hopefully would benefit music publishers, songwriters and digital services, other ingredients in the proposed legislation would adjust how rate court judges are chosen and the standards by which rates are set. With regard to the latter ingredient, the act would repeal section 114(i) of the copyright law, which states that rates paid to record labels for sound recording performances should not be used as a consideration in setting rates for the public performance of musical works. In other words, it would now allow such information to be used as evidence during rate determination trials.

While the digital streaming services didn't object to that repeal and were willing to allow master recording performance rates to be considered as one of the factors in determining rates for music publishing licensing, the NAB had a problem with it. Consequently, the repeal is now limited and will not affect terrestrial radio and simulcasts, sources say.