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Music Licensing

Volume 798: debated on Thursday 13 June 2019


Asked by

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what recent discussions they have had with Phonographic Performance Limited regarding that body’s increasing of the tariff for their Specially Featured Entertainment licence from July 2019.

My Lords, I beg leave to ask the Question standing in my name on the Order Paper. In so doing, I make reference to my interests set out in the register.

My Lords, the Government have had no discussions with Phonographic Performance Limited about this tariff. Collecting societies are private commercial organisations, and the Government play no role in setting their licence tariffs. However, dissatisfied businesses may have recourse to the Copyright Tribunal, a specialised court that adjudicates on the price and terms of copyright licences. I understand that the British Beer and Pub Association and UKHospitality intend to make reference to the Copyright Tribunal on this issue.

I thank the Minister for his reply, and I am pleased that this matter has been referred to the Copyright Tribunal since my Question was tabled. It is estimated that the proposed new tariff will cost the hospitality industry an additional £49 million each year—an increase that is simply unaffordable for many operators. PPL collected £250 million last year and raked off £35 million in admin fees, paying its CEO over £750,000. Does the Minister agree that a better way to provide increased payments to copyright holders is for PPL to cut its own expenditure?

My Lords, it is not for me to comment on the pay of the CEO of PPL; this must be a matter for the members of that organisation. However, I think all agree it is important that PPL, and PRS for that matter, get the best deal for all its members—performers, composers and others who own a copyright—and make sure they get the appropriate amount of money they are owed for us hearing their music.

My Lords, does the Minister agree that there is a major danger of misunderstanding what is proposed and what is involved here? The new tariff does not apply to grass-roots live music venues. It is designed to be fairer to small venues using recorded music. It will be phased in for other places and the beneficiaries will be many currently underpaid performers and artists.

My Lords, the noble Lord makes a very useful contribution. I stress that this is about ensuring that those artists, performers and others receive the appropriate reward for their work.

My Lords, I am sure this House will agree that artists, especially the less well-known ones, should be paid fairly if their music is played in public. What, if any, are the expected consequences following the delay in implementing the new specially featured entertainment tariff—SFE—which was meant to be implemented on 1 July? Does he know when the subsequent independent review by the Copyright Tribunal will be completed?

My Lords, I am not going to comment on a case that is about to be before the Copyright Tribunal; that would not be right or proper. Nor can I help the noble Lord on the first part of his question. As I made clear earlier, it is important that these collective management organisations—CMOs—provide the best possible service for their members and negotiate in a proper and fair way with the hospitality organisations that want to use their music.