WRAL-TV Business Manager Helps Clarify Music Reporting

WRAL-TV Business Manager Helps Clarify Music Reporting

WRAL-TV Business Manager Jill Morris had an article published in the July 2000 edition of the Music Reports, Inc. (MRI) newsletter. Entitled “From Blanket to Per Program: One Station’s Journey,” her story dealt with WRAL’s experience of converting from blanket licensing to per program licensing (PPL).

Morris volunteered information on how our station has coped with the new way of reporting when at the Broadcast Cable Financial Managers (BCFM) Annual Meeting in May. A speaker from MRI was making a presentation on how to convert. Morris said, “Since I was in the throes of a conversion myself, I found myself wanting to interrupt him to give him real life examples of what he was trying to explain to the audience.” She approached the speaker after the presentation and offered her experience. He took her up on the offer and invited her to write the article that has now been published in the MRI newsletter.

For those of us unfamiliar with music reporting, here is a bit of background information provided by Morris. TV and radio stations pay licensing fees for the music that they play on the air. These fees go to the composers and recording artists. Therefore, every song played must be reported so that the proper fees can be paid and so that the proper composers and artists can be paid. ASCAP and BMI are the two major societies with which artists register to handle copyright and licensing fees.

In order to avoid a lot of paperwork, television stations have historically paid a blanket fee. The fee is very expensive but insures the station pays one fixed amount per year to play however much music at whatever time they want. WRAL has typically opted for the blanket fee. Morris explained, “Recently ASCAP and BMI, under pressure from television stations, have come out with a new licensing method called per program licensing (PPL). For TV stations that are affiliated with CBS, ABC or CBS and air a lot of locally produced programming, . . . it is advantageous financially to convert their license to PPL from blanket.”

To convert to PPL means an increase in paperwork — every piece of music aired must be recorded, including the composer, the CD, the publisher, etc. — and TV stations have been reluctant to convert to the new system. MRI developed a new, much simpler reporting system to make the conversion easier. Stations report their music usage to MRI, who then reports to BMI and ASCAP, thus making complying with regulations easier.

Once again, a WRAL employee has made the extra effort to help the community.

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