TV Weighting Formula Changes - FAQ

The ASCAP Board of Directors recently approved changes to the Weighting Formula we use to determine royalties for television and all other audio/visual performances of our members’ works. These changes are designed to bring more fairness to the distribution system and to keep pace with changes in the industry. Read our announcement about the changes here.

Since announcing the changes, we have received a handful of questions from members. Here we will try to answer some of the most common questions:

1. What are the improvements and changes to ASCAP’s TV Distribution System?

    All Background Performances will now be treated equally. There will no longer be any difference in payment between a Background Vocal and a Background Instrumental performance. Both will be paid as "Background" by ASCAP.

    The length of Feature performances will have a greater effect on their value. Feature performances will no longer be separated into three tiers of payment (1-14 seconds at 25%, 15-44 seconds at 50% and 45 seconds and over at 100% of a credit). Features will be paid pro-rata for each second. We are increasing the duration threshold for the maximum payment from 45 seconds to 2 minutes in length. A feature of 2 minutes will be paid twice the previous maximum per performance under the old rules. Also, there will no longer be a multiple performance reduction for Features. Each performance of a featured work in a given program will be paid the full value of that performance.

    Performances of music in Infomercials or Paid Programming will receive 40% of the value of regular programming.

2. When do these changes go into effect?

    These changes will take effect in the June publishers’ and July writers’ distributions for 2012 which cover the 4th quarter of 2011 performance period.

3. Why did ASCAP make these changes?

    In a word, fairness.

    As stated by ASCAP President Paul Williams: “As a member-owned organization, ASCAP strives for a distribution system that is fair and transparent to its members. As music use grows and evolves in the marketplace, ASCAP must periodically review the payment system to ensure continued fairness. The Board of ASCAP deemed these changes to bring more fairness to the distribution system.”

    ASCAP is guided by a “follow the dollar” principle in the design of its payment system. This ensures fairness and objectivity by aligning payments for performances closely to the Licensing value they provide. These changes bring our distribution system more closely in alignment with our Licensing efforts.

4. How do these changes affect the payment of performances which were filed with ASCAP before the new rules went into effect?

    The same rules will apply to all performances. ASCAP has updated our cue sheet database so that those performances which were designated as “Background Vocal” on cue sheets processed prior to October 2011 will now be paid as “Background.” As a result, any cue sheets that had been processed before the change went into effect, and continue to have performances, will be paid the same as any new cue sheets that are processed.

5. Will these changes affect international distributions?

    No. The cue sheets we circulate to international societies will not change. In accordance with international standards, we send cue sheets designating usage as background instrumental, background vocal, visual vocal, or visual instrumental. As a result, there is no change to the cue sheets that we circulate to international societies.