Maybe it was my weekend to be tough on press coverage, but this CNBC article continues the tradition of not mentioning the fact that McDonald's charges franchisees rent in addition to "royalties."
In fairness, many reporters cover a broad range of business and economic issues and can't be expected to understand every complexity of every business model. In this case, the blame falls on the many "experts" the reporter quoted. These people should have some vague idea of the differences between McDonald's and the typical franchise arrangement. But here again, none of these "experts" mentioned the huge rent factor in the McDonald's franchise.
The article does mention that an increase in royalties can be justified due to inflation. That just isn't valid. An increase in royalties happens automatically when the franchisee raises prices due to inflation. This increases income for the franchisor with no increase in overhead.
In some cases, inflation increases the franchisor's operating expenses related to those royalties. But that doesn't apply to McDonald's since the corporation has been reducing services to franchisees, hence the change in terminology to "royalties.