Cable price hike
Industry on receiving end of boost in rates by Copyright Office
By Paige Albiniak -- Broadcasting & Cable, 10/22/2000 8:00:00 PM
The U.S. Copyright Office last week formalized an industry agreement that will increase the amount of royalty fees cable operators pay to carry distant TV signals on their systems.
That was just one of three developments on the copyright front last week; the other two deal with a pending decision on audio streaming and an attempt by some content providers to get more buck for their bang.
To carry distant signals-wgn-tv, for example-without having to get permission from every program provider, cable operators pay approximately $130 million a year into a pool collected by the Copyright Office. That money is then divided among program providers, which include commercial broadcasters, public broadcasters, all sports leagues except the National Football League (which airs games only broadcast networks so it does not have a right to collect distant-signal royalties), syndicators, devotional (religious) programmers and Canadian programmers.
Last summer, all the parties negotiated a settlement on how cable operators would pay the royalties. The Copyright Office in September requested comments on the settlement, but none came in by the Oct. 12 deadline, signaling that all parties had signed off on the agreement. The Copyright Office turned the final rulemaking in to the Federal Register at the end of last week, making it official.
The deal codifies a complex formula that requires cable operators to pay fees based on a percentage of gross receipts they collect from subscribers who receive distant TV signals. The deal also raises the limits on what classifies an operator as small, medium or large. A cable operator's size is determined by an operator's gross receipts.
The Copyright Office this week also plans to announce its decision on whether radio broadcasters should pay additional copyright fees to play music over the Internet.
A federal court in New York also is considering the issue, which the National Association of Broadcasters and the Recording Industry Association of America are disputing. NAB says broadcasters should not be charged additional fees if they broadcast their radio signal over the Internet; RIAA disagrees.
Finally, the Copyright Office last week began to work out a dispute between the Motion Picture Association of America and a new group called the Independent Producers Group, whose members include Abrams Gentile Entertainment, Beacon Communications, Litton Syndications, Jay Ward Productions and the United Negro College Fund, among others.
The dispute is over how money from the 1997 cable copyright pool will be distributed.
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