'This is an important deal': PRS For Music seals new BBC blanket licence agreement

PRS For Music

The long-running dispute between the BBC and PRS For Music and the MCPS has been resolved with a new deal for the corporation’s blanket licence, Music Week can reveal.

The dispute had been sent to the Copyright Tribunal in 2017 after the two collection societies had failed to agree terms with the BBC and its commercial arm, BBC Worldwide. But the application was dismissed last month after the parties agreed a confidential settlement.

“This is an important deal for PRS For Music and for our members,” said Andy Harrower, director of licensing, PRS For Music. “We have enjoyed a long relationship with the BBC and are pleased to have agreed terms which ensure that PRS and MCPS members continue to be fairly rewarded whenever their music is used on the BBC’s television, radio and on-demand services.”

For the BBC, head of music licensing Nicky Bignell said: “The BBC is happy to have secured terms with PRS and MCPS to agree music rights across all of its public services. The agreement means that the BBC is able to deliver its popular and much-loved content to audiences in ways in which they enjoy, whilst providing value for money for the BBC licence fee payers. 

“The PRS and MCPS are valued partners to the BBC and we recognise the value that their members’ music brings to the BBC,” she added. “There is an overwhelming consensus within the UK music industry that the BBC is hugely committed to music. Our support via BBC Music Introducing, the eight-week BBC Proms season, our radio networks, the launch of BBC Sounds, as well as our commitment to music TV, makes the BBC a unique partner to the UK music industry. 

“We look forward to working together once again with the PRS and MCPS in the years to come.”

One factor in the previous deal breaking down was the BBC’s use of music in commercial activities through BBC Worldwide, with rights-holders particularly concerned over use of their copyrights internationally. It’s not clear how precisely that’s been resolved but the BBC said: “The terms of the deals are confidential, but we also have arrangements in place for BBC Studios to continue exploiting our well-loved programmes around the world under commercial licences.”

Earlier this year, PRS CEO Robert Ashcroft spoke to Music Week about the dispute, saying: “What we’re doing is saying, ‘The world is changing rapidly around us, things are getting more international, online is becoming more important’. Simply extending the way we’ve done business in the past is a difficult thing to negotiate. Everybody has different points of view about how to handle the new world as it develops.”

PRS won a case against ITV in July 2016, when the Copyright Tribunal rejected the commercial network’s attempt to cap its payments at the 2013 rate. An ITV appeal against the ruling was rejected in February 2017.

BBC Music Copyright won the Sync Team – Broadcaster Music Department award at the 2018 Music Week Sync Awards last month.

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