The referral of a bill to amend Australia’s long-standing copyright laws covering music broadcasts for review by the Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee has been welcomed by the commercial radio industry.
Senator David Pocock’s private member’s bill, which seeks amendments to the Copyright Act that would remove the 1% cap on copyright fees for sound recordings broadcast on air, has been referred to the Committee for review by June 2024.
Commercial radio believes the proposed removal of the cap will severely damage the radio industry, undermining one of the major platforms for the promotion of Australian music.
Ford Ennals, the chief executive officer of industry body Commercial Radio & Audio, said the bill was designed to increase payments to the multinational record labels, not Australian artists.
Every year, the Australian commercial radio industry pays royalties and fees totalling about $37 million to Australian music artists. About $30 million goes directly to artists through APRA royalties, with a further $2.5 million paid to PPCA for the right to simulcast music online.
Mr Ennals said the cap was established to provide a safeguard for local radio to ensure that the separate fees collected by the record labels, represented by the PPCA, did not rise to unsustainable levels.
“We welcome the Senate committee review as we know that it will demonstrate how the removal of the cap would be a win for the multinational record labels. It will shine a light on how little of the existing PPCA fees actually go directly to artists,” he said.
“Australians and commercial radio love Australian music and everyone supports the view that Australian artists deserve a fair go. But the unintended consequences of passing this bill could be fewer commercial radio stations on air and less Australian music being broadcast, and fewer opportunities for Australian artists to get their big break.
“At the same time, we’d have to go to Government and say ‘we can’t fulfil your Australian music quotas because we are being asked for an unreasonable amount of money to pay for Australian music.’ The net effect of that would be wholly negative for Australian music.”
“The bill is just a blatant attempt by the multinational record labels to bully more money out of Australian commercial radio,” Mr Ennals added.
“We look forward to providing evidence to the Committee on the value of the cap in protecting a valuable platform for Australian music.”