PPCA disappointed at streaming shutdown. CRA disappointed with PPCA

The PPCA has not taken kindly to regional stations pulling the plug on streaming, rejecting CRA’s claim that a simulcast licence results in ‘double dipping.’  Joan Warner has hit back at the PPCA saying “commercial radio stations are being asked to take out another licence for the same broadcast and for content for which they already pay.”
A statement by the PPCA says the collecting agency is “disappointed by Commercial Radio Australia’s decision to impact regional radio listeners” and “regrets that CRA has chosen to deprive regional listeners of local programming.”
The PPCA says the dispute is “a matter of commercial negotiation between the billion dollar commercial radio industry and the thousands of Australian artists and record label that PPCA represents. What PPCA is seeking is no different to every other major Australian sporting code or content industry which has a traditional and digital revenue stream… CRA
conveniently ignores the fact that currently its members have the benefit of a broadcast licence fee calculated on the basis of a statutory licence fee cap which has not been revised since 1969.”
CRA’s Joan Warner says there are some misconceptions that need to be cleared up:
“Let’s be clear that commercial radio stations already pay a fee to the record companies for the music we play. In addition, we pay copyright fees to the composers’ collecting body. Aside from the two lots of copyright fees we already pay for music played, we pay a spectrum licence fee to the Government for our broadcast licence, we are heavily regulated, we have local content requirements and high transmission costs for the broadcasts.
“Regional commercial radio stations are not as the PPCA describes a ‘billion dollar commercial radio industry.’  They are locally run, are integral parts of their local communities and provide local news, information and entertainment to communities.”
Commercial radio stations were worried that if they signed up to the PPCA’s proposed ‘interim agreement’ (see our earlier report), it would be the thin edge of the wedge that would commit them to even higher fees in the future.
The PPCA says the terms and conditions of the interim licence scheme negotiated between CRA (on behalf of its members) and PPCA were “agreed after lengthy negotiations between PPCA and CRA, and were subsequently considered and then confirmed by the full Copyright Tribunal in December 2013. It is disheartening to PPCA to see that, despite the extensive negotiations and considerable concessions made to reach a reasonable and commercial interim arrangement, some of CRA’s members have instead elected to shut down their internet simulcasting services.”
Warner disagrees with the PPCA’s view, saying: “These radio stations are protecting against the future massive financial liability their services may incur if the PPCA gets the high cost scheme it has repeatedly said it wants and also has payments backdated – which it has also indicated it will pursue. That is why they have had to switch off their simulcast.
“The PPCA argues that commercial radio stations are the same as ‘internet broadcasters’ and are equating local radio broadcasts with sporting events. As noted above, internet only services do not pay spectrum fees, are not heavily regulated, have no local content obligations and do not already pay multiple times for the right to play music, as local radio stations do.
“That is the difference between a radio station that holds a licence and an internet broadcaster broadcasting a sporting event who does not.  Commercial radio stations are being asked to take out another licence for the same broadcast and for content for which they already pay.”  
The PPCA says: “Last year the High Court of Australia confirmed what every other country takes for granted – that the internet simulcast right is a separate right that needs to be paid for by commercial radio… The payment of fees for internet simulcasts is not a new concept and has been in place internationally for many years. We reject CRA’s claim that a simulcast licence results in ‘double dipping’ – this is a separate and additional use of PPCA members’ content to drive increased listener numbers.”
Warner says the PPCA is not correct in its comparisons:
“The PPCA also attempts to make comparisons internationally.  One that PPCA neglects to mention is that in the USA, radio stations are not required to pay any copyright fees to record companies for broadcast.
“Exact online simulcasts themselves do not attract additional revenue.  Not only would the PPCA’s preferred final scheme impose a second and higher fee, it would require local radio businesses to incur significant financial costs to put in place the sophisticated system needed to comply with the PPCA’s preferred high cost scheme.”
Warner says the PPCA’s assertion that last year the “High Court of Australia confirmed what every other country takes for granted – internet simulcast right is a separate right that needs to be paid for by commercial radio,” is simply incorrect.
According to Warner: “The High Court did not hear this case and therefore made no decision on this matter. In 2010, the PPCA took the commercial radio industry to the Federal Court to attempt to change policy that had been in place for 10 years that said radio simulcasts were part of a radio station’s broadcast.  The PPCA lost.   In 2012 the PPCA appealed.  In 2013, the Federal Court of Appeal made no policy comment on whether an internet broadcast was part of a radio broadcast, rather they ruled on the literal meaning of the determination.  The PPCA won the appeal. 
CRA then sought special leave to the High Court.  The High Court refused to hear the case as it was not regarding a specific legal point.  In the third quarter of 2013, the PPCA initiated legal action in the Copyright Tribunal which is where the current legal matter continues.” 
The radio industry maintains the internet is simply another distribution mechanism for live and local free to air content, as are analogue radios, DAB+ digital radios, car radios and FM radios in mobile phones. This insistence by the PPCA on a second higher threatens the continuation of listeners being able to access their local stations.
The PPCA says it has tried many times to engage CRA in “open and amicable negotiations to resolve this issue, and will continue to do so.” It says the Copyright Tribunal is the “appropriate and expert mechanism to resolve any copyright dispute in Australia, and will take into account the merits of the arguments of both parties in determining a fair and commercial rate.”
It ends its statement with a swipe at Commercial Radio Australia, saying: “CRA seems prepared to penalise regional radio listeners while demanding an outcome that is not supported in legal or political processes.”

Read the full PPCA statement here.
Read the full CRA statement here.

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