ASCAP Creates New Petition Signature Policy; Still 1,000% Increase From Signature Requirement in 2002

By • October 28, 2010

After years of criticism, the ASCAP Board announced yesterday a new policy that “requests” the ASCAP Nominating Committee “give serious consideration” for inclusion on the Board of Election ballot to members who are able to gather the signatures of 250 voting members. However, the new policy represents a 1,000% increase from policy 8 years ago where only 25 signatures were required for a guaranteed spot on the ballot– a policy that resulted in the election of Doug Wood as an ASCAP Board member.

The current ASCAP writer board includes songwriters as well as composer representatives Doug Wood, Richard Bellis, Bruce Broughton, Stephen Paulus, and songwriter/composer Dan Foliart. The Board gave no justification or reasoning for the selection of 250 as the signature requirement for the “request” to the Nominating Committee, other than to point out the “large number of signatures” the current petition policy requires. On a positive note, the new policy compares favorably to language created by the ASCAP Board in 2002 that is still in place and has resulted in the current requirement of 1,587 signatures of voting members on a member petition to ensure a spot on the ballot unless a candidate is an incumbent or is handpicked by ASCAP’s Nominating Committee, a committee appointed by the incumbent ASCAP President.

ASCAP’s election policies, including keeping vote counts secret, giving petition gathering members no way to verify if a signature is from voting member, keeping the number of voting members a secret, committees of selected members working behind closed doors choosing handpicked “opponents” only a few weeks before ballots are sent out giving them very little time to campaign, and the draconian petition signature requirement language created in 2002 have resulted in the re-election of every ASCAP incumbent board member who has run for re-election since 2002.

In a statement Thursday, apparently referring to Film Music Magazine coverage of ASCAP election policy, ASCAP stated:

“Contrary to some reports, with each new Board term there is nearly always turnover in its membership.”

[Editor’s Note: In fact, Film Music Magazine has never said there was “no turnover” in the Board – we have simply pointed out that since the signature requirement was increased by language created by the ASCAP Board in 2002, no incumbent board member has been defeated. What ASCAP doesn’t say in their statement is that 100% of the writer board “turnover” since 2002 has been the result of incumbents choosing not to run or not being able to run. We stand by our statement: since the petition signature increase in 2002, no incumbent ASCAP writer board member who has run for re-election has been defeated.]

Film Music Magazine will continue to provide coverage of the ASCAP Board election process.

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