Re: Video Clearance fees

Larry Adelman (
Wed, 29 Jul 1998 10:47:53 -0700

Kristine, Gary and Dan did a great job explaining how the cost of licensing music,
talent and archival footage often preclude the release of television programs on video.
As a distributor, we've been frustrated by this problem many times, particularly with
British and French productions. I just want to add two more considerations to their

Rights are not only licensed by market use - television, theatrical, non-theatric (i.e.
educational), home video, CD-ROM, Web, etc. - but by geography as well, e.g. "North
American" non-theatric. Each right cleared adds to the cost. The last thing
cash-strapped European television producers are thinking of is North American
non-theatric rights when budgeting their programs, particulary when the chance of
recovering those costs are slim save for universal blockbusters.

PBS has negotiated a blanket deal with music rights publishers (ASCAP, BMI, Harry Fox,
etc.) and - I believe - publishers of still pictures (though not archival footage), that
allows PBS to pay set (and minimal) fees for the public broadcast rights of all music
and still pictures used in programs they broadcast - hence freeing individual ptv
program producers of that cost and responsibility. But U.S. ptv program producers still
must clear any additional rights they want (theatrical, non-theatric, home video, etc.)
and, of course, overseas rights if they wish to market their shows in Europe and

As you can imagine, these fees add up quickly. A 60-minute historical documentary
filled with archival footage, stills, and music can easily spend $50,000 on rights


Larry Adelman
California Newsreel
149 Ninth Street
San Francisco, CA 94103
phone: 415.621.6196
fax: 415.621.6522