French public radio broadcasters are facing a raise in the license fees they pay for performance rights to labels and artists.

The fees will be increased in some cases from Jan. 1, 2009, a government-led commission has ruled.

Since 1987, the rate was set at 4.45% of radio stations' broadcast income; the new system introduces progressive rates from 4% to 7%, in accordance with the stations' revenue. It will progressively be applied starting Jan. 2009 and be fully applicable in Jan. 2012.

Public radio in France currently carries advertising, although President Sarkozy has proposed to scrap commercials on state-owned radio and TV networks. The public broadcasters’ funding would come from a tax on the privately owned channels and a levy on the sales of computers, televisions and mobile phones.

The so-called "remuneration equitable" is collected from broadcasters by umbrella group SPRE and then distributed to artists and record labels through their respective collecting societies: Spedidam and Adami for artists, SPPF and SCPP for record companies, including the four majors. Rates are set by a dedicated commission chaired by government representative Gilles Andreani.

The new revenue scheme applied is similar to the one decided for privately held radio stations on Oct. 15, 2007.

In separate statements, the SCPP and SPPF praised this decision although stressing the level of remuneration of artists and labels remained lower than the corresponding fee collected by authors and composers. SPPF is now calling for a raise in public performance licensing fees.

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