Major publishers request to remove catalogs from Spanish society SGAE

Warner/Chappell, Sony/ATV, Universal Music Publishing Group, BMG and Peermusic have reportedly requested to remove their catalogs from Spanish collecting society SGAE.

The move follows a warning shot from the music publishers earlier in June when they threatened to sever ties with the PRO over a so-called “scam” dubbed ‘The Wheel’.

On Friday, some of the leading companies in the sector took this warning one step further, sending letters to SGAE asking to remove their catalogs over the ‘mistreatment’ of international repertoire in relation to broadcast rights, according to Spanish news title El Pais.

The requests mean that music by some of the world’s biggest artists could no longer be licensed for broadcast on TV in Spain by SGAE from 2019. (SGAE is believed to have a a six-month cooling off period in its deals.)

Collectively, the companies who are now vetoing SGAE represent nearly 60% of broadcasting music rights in Spain, including artists such as Bruce Springsteen, the Rolling Stones, Lady Gaga, Radiohead, Jay-Z, Enrique Iglesias, Beyoncé, Led Zeppelin and Buena Vista Social Club.

SGAE has been reprimanded in recent months by a WIPO Arbitration Panel, following allegations that some of its domestic members hatched a dodgy plan with bosses of Spanish TV networks.

“Our repertoire receives about 1% of the collection [from TV Stations in Spain]. It’s a joke.”|

Santiago Menéndez Pidal, Warner/Chappell (pictured)

‘The Wheel’ sees music owned by certain SGAE members suspiciously played throughout the night on some Spanish TV channels – meaning the relevant rights-holders can lay claim to large chunks of performance royalty payouts.

The SGAE members are often listed as the composers of these songs, with the relevant TV stations listed as publishers; the two parties then share in the subsequent royalties.

Millions of Euros are believed to have been paid out as a result of ‘The Wheel’ — El Pais reports that the fraudulent income counts for 70% of the money SGAE receives from TV channels, despite reaching barely 1% of the audience.

“Our repertoire, however, receives about 1% of the collection. It’s a joke,” said Santiago Menéndez Pidal, who is General Director of Warner/Chappell for Spain and Portugal.

El Pais reports that the publishers say if the situation improves before January 2019, they may reconsider their position.

They are calling for the Ministry of Culture to intervene and for SGAE’s President José Miguel Fernández Sastrón to step down.  

In addition, the publishers propose to start a new entity that manages broadcast rights in Spain, and could seek to withdraw further rights from the SGAE in the coming years.

SGAE’s offices were raided by Spanish police in June in relation to the plot.

Music Business Worldwide

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