The way musicians and composers are paid for music used within TV shows is causing controversy as 2019 comes to an end.

Broadcaster Discovery Networks is under fire in the US for a new policy regarding composers working on shows for its channels, which include Discovery Channel, Animal Planet and Food Network.

“Beginning in 2020, they must give up all performance royalties paid for US airings, and that they must sign away their ability to collect royalties on all past shows on its networks,” reported Variety, suggesting that this could mean an 80%-90% drop in income for those musicians.

The policy relates to royalties collected by Ascap, BMI and Sesac, with Discovery reportedly keen to switch to ‘direct source licences’ instead – buyouts, essentially.

Discovery’s response to the criticism about this: “Our 8,000 hours of original programming a year drives enormous economic value to the global music community. We compensate countless composers and musicians for their valued contributions, and will continue to do so.” The news follows recent coverage of Netflix and other streaming services’ desire to buy out music rights too. That trend spreading to broadcast TV is worrying for composers.

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