ASCAP Election Petition Signature Requirement Jumps To 1,587 From Only 25 in 2002

By • October 22, 2010

ASCAP has announced that the number of signatures of voting ASCAP members necessary for independent candidates who wish to petition to be placed on the ballot for the upcoming Board of Directors election is 1,587, a huge increase from the 25 signatures necessary as recently at 2002.

The steep increase in signatures is due to language created by the ASCAP Board that, after decades of only requiring 25 signatures to gain a spot on the ballot, ties the number of signatures to the total number of ASCAP writer members, despite the fact that only voting writer members – a fraction of ASCAP’s total membership – can sign the petitions.

The language was created by the ASCAP Board after prominent board member Doug Wood was elected after gathering 25 signatures in 1998 and has had a chilling effect on the ASCAP election petition process. Since the rule was created, no ASCAP member has successfully gathered the required signatures to gain a place on the ballot by petition, leaving only handpicked “opponents” selected by the ASCAP Nominating Committee, a group handpicked by the ASCAP President, to run against incumbents. The writer “opponents” selected by the Nominating Committee have a dismal track record – since the signature rule change was enacted, every incumbent ASCAP writer board member who has run for re-election has been re-elected.

While the ASCAP Board has slammed the door on the petition process to all but perhaps wealthy members who have the time and money to finance a major signature drive, other controversial aspects of the ASCAP election process have raised concerns with members:

* No way to verify voting members. Since 2002, language created by the ASCAP Board has removed access that members gathering signatures previously had to the membership roles to verify if a person signing a petition is actually an ASCAP voting member or not.

* “Opponents” given almost no time to campaign. While incumbents have many months prior to the election to promote themselves, the handpicked “opponents” are announced only a few weeks before the ballots are sent out, giving them very little time to campaign or promote themselves to the membership before the voting period begins.

* Secret vote counts. ASCAP has refused to release the vote counts of recent elections to members.

* Secret number of voting members. ASCAP has steadfastly refused to release the number of voting members in the organization, saying that number is “irrelevant.”

* Votes are based on income – some members have 100 votes, many have zero. Since votes are awarded based on the amount of domestic royalty income a member has, those who benefit the most from the current ASCAP payment system are able to keep Board members in place who favor their music. This is especially important considering at ASCAP one minute of music can be paid at a rate over 30 times higher than other music in the same time period on the same television channel

Unconfirmed reports indicate that the ASCAP Board is considering modifying some of the election rules for the upcoming election, and Film Music Magazine will provide updates should the ASCAP Board choose to change any of the election rules.

Comments

By JohnK on October 22nd, 2010 at 11:07 am

Wow. This article is very disturbing. But not surprising, since the people in power make the rules, and those rules keep them in power. Pretty clever, really. (Can’t let those nasty jingle writiers, music library and independent film composers have a decent share of our juicy ASCAP credits, can we now?) Long live, Doug Wood! You’re our only hope!

By William on October 23rd, 2010 at 5:37 am

That’s amazing. Is there anything these guys won’t do to keep themselves in power?

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