Discovery Policy on Performance Royalties


Dear SCL Members,

Earlier today, the letter below was sent to the CEO of Discovery Networks. Initiated by the SCL, it was cosigned by eight domestic and international organizations on behalf of their music creator members.

The response from Discovery was swift and positive, indicating Discovery’s intention to return to the “traditional PRO model.”

While we applaud this decision, the SCL intends to continue its discussion with Discovery to ensure this policy reversion applies to all delivery platforms, and will report further developments as they arise.

Ashley Irwin
SCL President

January 23, 2020

To the Attention of Mr. David M. Zaslav

Dear Mr. Zaslav,


We write as the President and the Music Rights Chair of the Society of Composers & Lyricists (SCL). Our organization and its predecessors have championed the rights of composers and lyricists who write music for film and television for over 70 years.

The reason we are reaching out is that there have recently been reports in the press, as well as from our members, regarding changes to the policy of the Discovery Networks and its associated channels with respect to the payment of performance royalties for music utilized in the programs being transmitted.

After consultation with the three major performing rights organizations (ASCAP, BMI and SESAC) it appears this “new policy” precludes composers from collecting the writer’s share of performance royalties, rejecting a customary practice that has existed for over 100 years. With upfront fees at historic lows, these performance royalties represent the majority of a composer’s income.

The SCL and the undersigned organizations therefore request an opportunity to meet with you and open a dialogue directly so that not only might we understand the reasoning behind the implementation of a policy so impactful to our constituents’ livelihoods, but that in providing a better understanding of our situation, you might reconsider this decision and return to the status quo.

We thank you in advance for your consideration and look forward to a response at your earliest convenience.

Most sincerely,

Ashley Irwin                                        Garry Schyman
President                                            Music Rights Chair

Alliance of Women Film Composers (AWFC)
Association of Music Producers (AMP)
The International Council of Music Creators (CIAM)
Music Creators North America (MCNA)
Songwriters Association of Canada (SAC)
Screen Composers Guild of Canada (SCGC)
Songwriters Guild of America (SGA)
Songwriters of North America (SONA)