The government is turning its eyes away from the European situation just long enough to give an ear to the sad state of network music this side of the Monroe Doctrine boundary line. Congressmen don't even need the help of Dr. Gallup to sense that Jeanie's light brown hair has turned gray in the last two months, and Old Black Joe has long been a member of the angelic choir. Just to make sure he stays there, the government has decided to start a criminal anti-trust suit against ASCAP, but those who think that this may mean tuneful radio music again are in for a long wait.
This fight is nothing that Santa Claus brought with him last Christmas. The networks have been cursing under their breath at ASCAP since 1932, but a few months ago they balked out loud at a demand for five per cent of the broadcasters' commercial business. ASCAP, they said, was charging unfair flat rates. It was paying eighty per cent of the writers' incomes to twenty per cent of the writers. It was a union. It was a monopoly. It was a new kind of musical big bad wolf. But hadn't the broadcasters' revenue doubled? Hadn't they sunk a juicy $4,000,000 into BMI? Couldn't BMI become a bigger union and a badder monopoly?
In the ears of the public, neither is right. But the government completed an agreement with BMI last Monday whereby BMI said they would be good and "refrain from practices condemned as undesirable by the government." So ASCAP is liable to be ushered into court on March 5 for "unlawful conspiracy in keeping music off the radio," and "exploiting composers by preventing them from selling their music except on terms of a self-perpetuating board of directors." But then, ASCAP has visited the Supreme Court four times before, and has won every time. They're getting used to it. So hold on to your hats; we haven't gotten to the fifteenth round of this fight by a good many punches.