Music publishers warn Spanish society they’ll dump it if it keeps up TV ‘scam’

An international collective of music publishers have fired a warning shot in the direction of Spanish collection society SGAE – announcing that if the PRO continues to operate a so-called “scam” dubbed ‘The Wheel’, they will sever ties with it for good.

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.

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

According to global music publishing trade body ICMP, the scam is ‘detrimental to the vast majority of Spanish authors and to all foreign ones’.

ICMP adds that ‘music publishers who have had the courage to take a stand against [SGAE], have had to endure ongoing discrimination and intimidation’.

“ICMP and individual music publishers are being forced to consider unilateral actions [against SGAE]. This may include finding alternative licensing options in order to protect their repertoire in Spain.”

Today (June 11), ICMP – whose members include Sony/ATV, UMPG and Warner/Chappell – has publicly told SGAE where to stick its scam, while expressing frustration at a perceived lack of action from the global collection society community.

In a statement, the group said: “[SGAE] is returning to its inappropriate and unbalanced television broadcast distribution scam by rejecting the decision of the WIPO Arbitration Panel to which it is bound… In light of this situation, which has been going on for years and which SGAE’s governing bodies seem unable and unwilling to solve, ICMP and individual music publishers are being forced to consider unilateral actions.

“This may include finding alternative licensing options in order to protect their repertoire in Spain.”

Furthermore, ICMP has seemingly critizied CISAC – the global umbrella organization for PROs – for its inaction over the matter.

“The ICMP Board is concerned about the lack of firm action coming from the collective management community to address the seriousness of this situation,” continued the ICMP’s statement.

In February, CISAC announced that it was investigating allegations related to The Wheel.

It is currently unclear what action CISAC is requesting from SGAE – and whether SGAE will be suspended from its membership.

ICMP Chair, Chris Butler (pictured), commented: “We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again. It’s time for the collective management community to work decisively towards a definitive solution.

“If they don’t, we will have no choice but to look at alternative licensing options.”Music Business Worldwide

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