Copyright Tribunal decrees second streaming fee for CRA at percentage or ‘per stream’ rate

A three-year battle between Commercial Radio Australia (CRA) and the Phonographic Company of Australia (PPCA) over streaming fees has concluded with a partial victory for the radio industry.

Arbitrator The Copyright Tribunal of Australia ruled commercial radio stations will have to pay a second fee to radio simulcast shows, but at a lower rate than the Phonographic Company of Australia was hoping for.

Prior to the ruling, 200 regional radio stations had closed down their online streaming services because they couldn’t afford to pay the higher fee being asked for.

The new ‘hybrid’ scheme gives radio stations a choice of paying royalties per stream or as a percentage of revenue.

Despite previously accusing the PPCA of ‘double dipping’ in license fees, both the CRA and the PPCA have said they are content the disagreement has now.

PPCA“The radio industry is pleased this matter has now been concluded. The industry is currently reviewing the decision,” said Joan Warner, chief executive officer of the CRA.

A PPCA representative said: “PPCA is still reviewing the Tribunal’s published reasons and considering its position, but is very pleased that this longstanding matter is finally moving towards a conclusion.”

Under the new scheme radio stations will have the option either to pay for their simulcast as a percentage of gross revenue at 0.35%, or pay $0.00059 (0.059 cents) per stream.

The $0.00059 rate is a compromise after the proposed PPCA per stream rate was deemed “too high” by the radio industry, and the percentage of revenue rate proposed by the CRA as “too low” by artists.

Commercial Radio AustraliaThe report acknowledged the potential for selection bias, but also said any scheme that would attempt to find an equivalent payment from the two proposed methods would involve “unjustifiable and inappropriate assumption.”

The Copyright Tribunal also addressed the potential for simulcast growth, agreeing that the value could be added to the rates for simulcasting in the APRA-CRA Agreement in order to determine the revenue rates for simulcasting. When addressing the concerns the Tribunal said that “undue caution” was “inappropriate” and would “unreasonably undermine the value of the simulcast right.”

The scheme follows an interim licence that was introduced in late 2013, following a Federal Court ruling that internet simulcasts of radio programs were outside the ‘broadcast’ definition under the Copyright Act and were therefore not covered by existing licences.

Warner: Happy long running stoush has ended

Warner: An interim license would have been “prohibitive” for regional stations

At the time, CRA boss Joan Warner told Mumbrella that the move was a “major issue” for the radio industry, whereby record companies want stations to pay double for the same content. At the time she also mentioned concerns that the interim licence may be processed retrospectively and the financial cost would be “prohibitive” for regional stations.

Due to the long wait on a verdict, some regional radio stations resorted to accepting the interim licences in the last six months, to report natural disaster emergencies.

Southern Cross Austereo and other radio groups involved in the shutting of radio stations were approached but are unable to comment until the proceedings have ended.

The PPCA and CRA will return to the Copyright Tribunal in 28 days to discuss the next steps forward and to more specifically define the terms ‘gross revenue’ and ‘stream.’

The need for revised definitions come in the interests of determining what stream will require a fee and to re-assess the definition of “gross revenue” in the APRA-CRA Agreement which was argued out of date by the PPCA.

Zoe Samios


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