PPCA and CRA still at loggerheads after Tribunal hearing

Grant Broadcasting’s executive director Grant Cameron, has told Radio National the extra cost to his company would be more than $1 million a year for the company’s 51 stations around Australia.

The record companies, represented by the PPCA this week applied in the Copyright Tribunal for a timetable to pursue a final scheme for exact online simulcast of free to air radio broadcasts.

The final hearing date has been set for March 2015.

The PPCA’s preferred scheme, which they are expected to aggressively pursue, is based on a high cost per track, per listener, per listening episode, per stream approach to replace the current flat fee interim scheme.

“In spite of the PPCA’s public statements that they are willing to engage in open and amicable negotiation, they are obviously not satisfied with the interim scheme and at the first opportunity have once again taken the legal route through the Tribunal,” said Commercial Radio Australia (CRA), chief executive officer, Joan Warner.

 “The interim scheme itself is not the issue, in spite of the PPCA trying to set it up as some sort of smokescreen for their real agenda. The issue is the significant financial risk an interim licence imposes on a station. If the record companies are successful in having the high cost scheme imposed on radio, and it is backdated, the financial liability accrued could be crippling. In addition, stations will be hit with another cost – the cost of setting up a complex reporting and compliance system.”

 “The reality of the interim scheme is that it is not “just a $100 a month” as the PPCA persistently and incorrectly states. The interim scheme for a radio station in Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, Brisbane, Perth, Geelong, Sunshine Coast, Gold Coast and Newcastle is up to $3,125 per quarter per station and in other smaller regional areas is $312 per quarter per station – plus a requirement for three separate sets of reports being kept so fees can be backdated for their preferred high cost final scheme.”

In a media release, CRA stated that all radio stations – commercial, ABC, SBS and community stations – already pay a fee to the record companies (PPCA) for the music played. In addition, they pay copyright fees to the composers’ collecting body (APRA) and commercial stations pay a spectrum licence fee to the Government for a broadcast licence.

Only 42 commercial radio stations have taken out the interim licences at the 31 January deadline, with nearly 200 opting to not take a licence and those that have applied have indicated they are reviewing the situation on a regular basis and may also consider switching off.

According to the CRA, in another attempt to confuse the issue, the PPCA has erroneously compared the rights for an exact online simulcast of a live free to air broadcast with sporting events. “What they do not acknowledge is that an exact online simulcast of a live free to air radio broadcast, which in itself does not attract any additional revenue, is not at all comparable. Organisations taking online sports rights monetise these rights in many different ways.”

“In addition, radio stations differ significantly from internet-only services in that radio endures heavy compliance and cost burdens not borne by internet-only operators. Radio stations pay not only copyright fees, but ongoing spectrum licence fees. Radio stations are heavily regulated, have local content requirements, have Australian music quotas, carry high broadcast transmission costs plus local talent and content development costs,” said Ms Warner.

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