Grant Broadcasters drops online streaming after fee ruling

Grant Broadcasters

Radio station opwner Grant broadcasters has ceased simulcasting its radio broadcasts as an online stream after being asked for a separate licence fee to do so.

The move is a result of the Federal Court ruling in February that internet simulcasts of radio programs fall outside the definition of a “broadcast” under the Copyright Act and are therefore not covered by existing licences to commercial radio networks.

Commercial Radio Australia – the industry body representing radio company owners – appealed the decision but last month its bid was rejected.

The ruling will impact major players such as dmgRadio Australia and SouthernCross Austereo which provide online streaming services for their various stations, including NovaFM and 2DayFM.

The suit was taken to the High Court by the Phonographic Performance Company of Australia (PPCA), acting on behalf of recording artists and music labels.

In its judgment, the court concluded that when a radio station provides a simulcast of its standard AM, FM or digital broadcast, it is a separate communication to the public when examined under the definition of “broadcast” under the Copyright Act 1969 .

PPCA CEO Dan Rosen said in a statement: “This puts an end to the legal wrangling over payment for recorded music streamed on the internet. It confirms radio stations must pay a licence fee for streamed music and we hope to move quickly to work out a fair and proper licensing deal. We look forward to working with radio to establish equitable arrangements. For too long radio has had a free kick – driving listening audience numbers and profits via the internet while not paying artists fairly for use of their recordings.”

Any new licence for streamed music will not be bound by the statutory cap which limits the maximum amount commercial radio operators can be asked to pay for broadcasting music to just one per cent of their gross income. Any new music licence fees will be agreed by negotiation or set by the independent Copyright Tribunal.

Grant Broadcasters has apologised to listeners in a message replacing the streaming services.

The message reads:

“We apologise for this streaming service not being available at the moment.

“A recent High Court ruling has found that the simultaneous transmission of a radio broadcast over the internet is not a broadcast, and as a consequence, music licensing issues mean that this radio station is no longer able to offer this free streaming service.

“We apologise for the inconvenience but would strongly encourage you to contact the Federal Minister for Communications Malcolm Turnbull or your local Federal Member of Parliament to expect your concerns.”

Grant Broadcasters owns around 50 radio stations including the Sea FM, Power FM and Magic FM networks.

Commercial Radio Australia and Grant Broadcasters declined to comment.


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