Memorandum submitted by British Music
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
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.