The online streaming battle – CRA v PPCA

Staff Writer

On Friday when Commercial Radio Australia announced that nearly 200 regional radio stations would be shutting down their online streaming, the PPCA released a statement. Today, CRA have hit back with their own release.

In part the statement from PPCA said :-

"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.

"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.

"CRA also 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.

"This is simply a matter of commercial negotiation between the billion dollar commercial radio industry and the thousands of Australian artists and record label that PPCA represents.

"The billion dollar commercial radio industry has enjoyed the advantages of expanding into online markets by simulcasting their broadcasts, but has ignored its obligations to recompense those who create the content they rely on. The terms and conditions of the final licence scheme are yet to be determined by the Copyright Tribunal.

"The 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.

"PPCA has tried many times to engage CRA in open and amicable negotiations to resolve this issue and will continue to do so.

"PPCA has never been interested in pursuing anything other than a fair and commercial outcome. Sadly, CRA seems prepared to penalise regional radio listeners while demanding an outcome that is not supported in legal or political processes in Australia or around the world."

Read the full PPCA statement.

Today, Commercial Radio Australia have released their own statement to 'clear up some misconceptions circulating.'

CRA CEO Joan Warner says, "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.

"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.

"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.

“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.”

In PPCA's statement, they said 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."

CRA says this statement is incorrect.

"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."

Read the full CRA statement.


See our previous articles

SCA shutdown regional streaming
Regional radio to shutdown streams at midnight

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