ARIA boss dismisses commercial radio’s ‘hysterical claims’

The Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA) and the Phonographic Performance Company of Australia (PPCA) have provided submissions in support of an amendment to the copyright legislation that would require commercial radio stations to pay higher fees to the creators of the Australian music they play.

In addition, an open letter of support from over 500 Australian recording artists, including Daryl Braithwaite, Paul Kelly, Kate Ceberano, and the Hoodoo Gurus, has been submitted.

The amendment aims to remove restrictions limiting the Copyright Tribunal’s ability to determine the amount payable to rights holders in sound recordings, referred to as ‘caps’. Commercial Radio Australia has claimed the removal of these caps would be unfair, and make the commercial radio business untenable.

Currently, recording royalties are capped at 1% of commercial radio revenue and 0.005c per head of population for ABC Radio. As the PPCA points out, Australia is the only country in the world with this sort of copyright law, and commercial radio earns around $1 billion in advertising revenue and pays only $4.4 million in copyright fees for the use of sound recordings.

ARIA and PPCA CEO, Annabelle Herd, sent the following comment to Mumbrella:

“Despite CRA’s hysterical claims, the rate paid is negotiated and decided upon by both CRA and PPCA.

“International record labels cannot charge whatever they want as is being falsely claimed. If the rate isn’t agreed upon, it is instead settled by the Copyright Tribunal, who also set the rate for TV and many other industries who require copyright: none of whom have gone out of business.

“There are substantial measures in place to prevent an extortionate rate being applied to commercial radio. There is a reason there is no other cap like this in any other type of copyright in Australia.

“The bulk of the fees paid by radio to ‘musicians’ is paid to songwriters, not recording artists, last year CRA paid just $4.4 million for the use of sound recordings despite turning over around $1 billion.

“PPCA royalties go to the registered artists and rights holders of the sound recording itself, Senator Pocock demonstrated this disjuncture perfectly: At the moment, we have odd examples where if a station plays ‘Khe Sanh’, songwriter Don Walker will be paid a greater royalty than Jimmy Barnes.

“This is not an example of bullying from international record labels, nor It is an example of PPCA withholding royalty fees from the artists themselves as is suggested, the 10% figure CRA suggests PPCA ‘may’ pay to artists is completely baseless.

“This is a push from Australian recording artists and industry professionals for fair pay on par with legislation around the world, supported by over 500 Australian artists in a n open letter. When around 50% of Australian artists are signed to independent labels it simply isn’t fair to claim this is a matter of large global businesses running interference in local affairs.”

Since publishing the above quote, Commercial Radio Australia chief Ford Ennals has taken issue with Herd’s wording, telling Mumbrella: “It is unfair to label anyone ‘hysterical’ when, quite frankly, people’s jobs are potentially on the line.

“This issue is a matter of critical importance to the future of local radio stations, particularly in the regions.

“PPCA keeps referring to this $4 million figure but commercial radio is already paying nearly $40 million a year in total music fees.

“PPCA wants to nearly double these fees which would leave sections of the industry in a dangerously unsustainable position.”


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