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PPCA: Still Marching to a Different Drum

It certainly looks like PPCA is way out of step with the rest of the World when it comes to internet streaming royalties for radio stations.

While they persist with their highly aggressive and antagonistic approach to Commercial Radio Australia (CRA) to try to push through their claim for what looks to be excessive royalty demands for simultaneous streaming, the rest of the world, it seems, is all about reducing the cost for radio stations to put their programs on the net.

In the U.S. during the past week, the Copyright Royalty Board came down with a determination on rates that knocked one third off the current charges that local radio broadcasters are paying.

On top of this, there’s no provision for automatic fee increases year on year; the rate will only go up in future by the US Consumer Price Index.

Common sense, it appears, has finally prevailed.

PPCA’s equivalent in the U.S., SoundExchange may not be entirely happy with the outcome, but they seem to have enough business acumen to understand that they’ll have to wait for the radio stations to build their streaming audiences, before they can profit widely from the royalties.

It’s a case of finally realising that you can’t get blood from a stone.

Nothing can be achieved by gouging the radio stations that the record companies rely on to promote their music and their artists.

Each party must co-exist in a symbiotic relationship.

That doesn’t seem to be the way of thinking here in Australia, where it seems everybody, but PPCA, understands that the streaming side of broadcasting is a major loss-maker, that has to be funded by the individual radio stations, and, it’ll probably be that way for the next ten to twenty years.

Streaming is just an ancilliary service that broadcasters offer to listeners so they can hear their favorite radio station on any technology of their choice - a case of moving with the times.

While PPCA doesn’t seem to care less whether streaming makes a profit for radio stations or not, any company that continues to suffer a loss in an arm of their business, tends to cut off that arm, if it doesn’t eventually turn a profit.

That is when everybody loses.

We saw what happened back in 2013 when PPCA, emboldened and brazen from their High Court appeal, made it clear they were ‘going for the farm’ on internet royalty payments from commercial broadcasters.

The immediate reaction from almost all Australian radio stations, particularly the regionals, was predictable.

They said en masse ‘we’re already losing money on internet streaming and PPCA’s threatened fees of at least $25,000 a station per year are going to make those losses a whole lot worse’.

The almost universal reaction from broadcasters was ‘lets turn our streaming off immediately before these PPCA’s demands kill us’ ….. and they did!

They got out of Dodge and right quick!

What the whole situation really comes down to is this.

If PPCA doesn’t take heed of last week’s U.S. copyright decision and appreciate, in pursuing their Australian case, that ‘greed really isn’t good’, then they may well do themselves and their artists a great deal of harm.

I’m betting that today the powers-that-be at PPCA are hoping the judge in the Australian Copyright Tribunal is already well into Christmas holiday mode and hasn’t been keeping tabs on the findings of her American counterpart.


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