British corporate regulator the Office of Fair Trading has given the green light to a proposed merger of Britain's three collecting societies representing performers.

British corporate regulator the Office of Fair Trading has given the green light to a proposed merger of Britain's three collecting societies representing performers.

The OFT's decision, confirmed today (May 3), follows a submission put forward in early March by the largest body, Phonographic Performance Limited, to form a single entity with U.K. performers organizations Assn. of United Recording Artists and Performing Artists' Media Rights Assn.

Those plans will now require ratification from the respective societies' members. AURA and PAMRA are expected to announce details of extraordinary general meetings in the coming days. PPL will seek approval at their upcoming annual general meeting.

PPL, the longest-established of the three bodies, collects performance rights on behalf of 3,000 record company members and licenses from more than 40,000 performers. The initiative would see AURA and PAMRA transfer the mandates of their 18,000 members over to a new integrated service at PPL.

If the merger goes through, performers interests would be centralized in a restructured PPL. The body would aim to efficiently recover broadcast and public performance income, in particular from those collecting societies abroad that have yet to pay U.K. performers.

"I am absolutely delighted about this development," comments Fran Nevrkla, chairman and CEO of PPL, in a joint-statement issued today. "British performers deserve a better quality of service and the new structure will make it possible for us jointly to deliver just that."

Stephen King, chairman of AURA, warmly welcomed the proposed new structure. "This unprecedented collaboration between performers and PPL is the first step in a revolution which will cut administration costs and drastically improve collection of overseas income for all U.K. performers, and I am proud of the part we at AURA have played in making this happen," he said in the statement.

"This really is great news for performers," added Gerald Newson, chairman of PAMRA.

An OFT spokesperson says its full decision will be published over the next couple of days.