Joint Committee on The Draft Communications Bill Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence


Memorandum submitted by British Music Rights

  This paper records the comments of British Music Rights on the Communications Bill. A more detailed commentary will be produced before the deadline of 2 August.

  1.  OFCOM should exercise its powers in ways which will preserve and promote the value and diversity of creative content delivered by existing and new broadcast and on line services.

  2.  The omission of any references to creativity or intellectual property rights within the Policy Narrative is surprising when the economic value of music in broadcasts and the programmes themselves is based on IP rights. We suggest that this should be addressed in the Bill and could be developed under the theme of the Content Board.

  3.  We note the establishment of a Content Board, to advise OFCOM and with delegated powers of decision making. British Music Rights is concerned to ensure that the effect of the Content Board is to promote creativity and to avoid regulation through quotas and similar restrictive measures. We recommend that its remit be widened beyond issues of taste, decency and plurality to include consideration of the impacts on creators and their contribution to broadcast output. We suggest it would be helpful for an experienced composer of music for television to sit on the proposed Content Board.

  4.  The BBC and public service broadcasters are significant users of British music (commissioning music for TV, promoting live music, providing orchestral support and paying attention to all genres of music). Nevertheless there should be strict control, through the conditions set for approval of new and enhanced services, of the ability of the BBC to develop directly competing commercial services in broadcasting and educational area.

  5.  The Government should be mindful of the relationship between broadcasters and their creative partners, the music creators most of whom are freelance and self-employed. They rely for their income and salary on the royalties received for performance and broadcast of their music. Specifically it is important to ensure there is no exercise of power by broadcasters to deprive creative contributors to programmes of their rights, building on initiatives such as Code of Practice between the BBC, the British Academy of Composers and Songwriters and the Musicians Union in which the BBC confirms that assignments of publishing rights should not be a condition of commissioning.

  6.  OFCOM could have a role in spreading awareness of the importance of copyright. It should inform new service licensees and service providers of the need to obtain copyright licences for the music they use in their services.

  7.  We welcome the " competition" approach for regulation of new services and networks and the impetus this should give to accelerate development of demand and supply of music services.

  8.  To the extent there are rules on relaxation of media ownership, we suggest these should be strictly reciprocal.

  9.  We note the interest of our members in the decisions to be taken on must carry and radio licensing rules, which are due to be published later this year.


  British Music Rights is the consensus voice of British composers, songwriters, music publishers and their collecting societies. The members of British Music Rights are the British Academy of Composers and Songwriters, the Music Publishers Association, the Mechanical Copyright Protection Society and the Performing Right Society, which together represent over 35,000 composers and songwriters and 2,500 music publishers. British Music Rights represents the views of music creators on a wide range of issues, with a primary focus on communicating an understanding of the rights and responsibilities attendant upon creativity in the music business.

May 2002

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