Radio stations battle to play online

ACE Radio stations across the south-west have removed their online streaming services as part of a refusal to pay musicians and record labels for the right to use their music on the internet.
The stations — 3YB, Coast FM, 3HA, 3CS and Mixx FM — have joined a boycott by Commercial Radio Australia (CRA), which is at war with the Phonographic Performance Company Of Australia (PPCA) over licensing fees on digital simulcasts.
General manager of 3YB and Coast FM Peter Headen said it was a case of double-dipping from the PPCA.
“We’re already paying PPCA to play music ... through the radio station and we don’t see it as any different (when we stream it online),” Mr Headen said.
“At this stage they want us to take out an interim licence to continue to stream the radio station, then it will go to a ruling and if (PPCA are) successful we will have to pay an undisclosed amount that’s backdated.” He said the streaming licence also came with an “onerous” reporting system.
The PPCA provides licences covering the recording and music videos of a song and redirects the money raised to recording artists and record labels.
According to a press release, the PPCA argues that streaming is “a separate and additional use of PPCA members’ content to drive increased listener numbers”.
“Last year the High Court of Australia confirmed what every other country takes for granted — that the internet simulcast right is a separate right that needs to be paid for by commercial radio,” the PPCA statement said.
“We reject CRA’s claim that a simulcast licence results in ‘double dipping’.
“What PPCA is seeking is no different to every other major Australian sporting code or content industry which has a traditional and digital revenue stream.”
The CRA issued a statement in response stating that the PPCA was detrimental to listeners. “The radio industry maintains the internet is simply another distribution mechanism for live and local free-to-air content, as are analogue radios, digital radios, car radios and FM radios in mobile phones,” CRA said.
“As the PPCA fees are already based on a percentage of gross revenue earned by commercial radio stations, this insistence on a second higher fee long term is more than double dipping and threatens the continuation of listeners being able to access their local stations online when it suits them.”
More than 200 regional radio stations have pulled their streams down as the battle continues.
Mr Headen said Ace Radio was encouraging its listeners to contact their local member of parliament.
“We’ve had people ring up, especially the younger generations, who have taken to their phones to stream (the station), and people at work who stream it through their computers,” he said.
“We’ve had a lot of calls asking what happened.”

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