Fran Nevrkla, chairman/CEO of British record industry collecting society Public Performance Limited, lashed out at its music licensees, citing their "sheer deceit" and asking for fair and decent busin


LONDON -- Fran Nevrkla, chairman/CEO of British record industry collecting society Public Performance Limited, lashed out at its music licensees, citing their "sheer deceit" and asking for fair and decent business practices.

Speaking at PPL's annual meeting June 7, Nevrkla said that collecting societies are expected to be "well managed, efficient, transparent, accountable and cost effective as well as user friendly."

He said that unfortunately, the same "stringent requirements and expectations" do not seem to apply to a vast number of music users to whom PPL licenses recordings.

Nevrkla said licensees should provide "full accounting without any fiction, full payment and on time, not when someone feels like, if ever!"

He added "many of our licensees behave honorably and are a pleasure to deal with, both in the broadcasting and public performance sectors. Far too significant a portion, however, not just a tiny minority, leaves an awful lot to be desired. I am sure that the Copyright Tribunal and other authorities, both in the U.K. and in Brussels, would be shocked by the degree of avoidance, evasion and sheer deceit which we have to face on a regular basis."

Nevrkla declined to give specifics, but sources at PPL say that his outburst is due to increasing frustration with the organization's inability to get proper payment from licensees. "Music must be paid for and the rate must be fair and reasonable," said Nevrkla in his speech.

PPL collects fees for the performance of music in public places and from broadcasters on behalf of record labels and performers. It counts more than 3,000 record company members and licenses from more than 200,000 venues.

In 2004, PPL collected fees from the use of 600,000 active tracks. PPL's total licensing revenue for 2004 reached £82.7 million ($155.7 million). The society reports distributing £71.5 million ($134.6 million) to its members in 2004.

Meeting attendees voted a change in the organization's constitution to alter the number of representatives sitting at the board, following the Sony BMG merger. As a result, instead of having five representatives from majors, five from indie labels, three from performers and four from PPL's management, the new board will consist of four representatives from majors, four from indie labels, four from performers and four from PPL.

During the meeting, Liu Guo Xiong, president of Beijing-based government-controlled rights body China Audio-Video Assn., said it was close to making a reciprocal agreement with PPL. This would bring to 21 the total number of agreements PPL has with foreign collecting societies.

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