The BPI is downplaying reports that it has raised the ire of its independent label membership by handing the majors a cut-rate subscription.

The BPI's budget was unanimously approved last week at the trade body's council meeting, which included a reduction in revenues subscriptions by more than 30%, Billboard.biz has learned, reflecting a reduced financial input from the majors.

The four majors provide "top-up" funding after the indie community's membership has been collated. The cost of membership for indie labels will remain £75 ($150) plus 5% of their revenue from PPL, the neighbouring rights body which collects performance royalties on behalf of labels and performers.

"The relationship between the BPI and the indie sector is fantastic, and that's why our membership has grown," BPI CEO Geoff Taylor tells Billboard.biz. "And there has been absolutely no protest. The bar on indie subs is already set so low so as many companies as possible can join. That's recognized by our indie membership and that's why it's growing." The BPI currently counts roughly 400 indie members, including Dramatico, Moshi Moshi Records and Greensleeves Records.

Taylor denies that the reduction in subs was the result of pressure from the majors, or indeed from EMI chairman Guy Hands, who recently wrote and distributed a damning letter in which he suggested there wasn't enough room for the BPI, IFPI and RIAA.

Also at the BPI council meeting, the trade body agreed to merge its independent and international committees. "It was a sensible thing," says Taylor, "seeing as international is a service really for the indies, it made sense to have the one committee."

The development follows a changing of the guard at both committees, with international manager Matt Glover exiting to take a role with venues giant AEG, and former Sanctuary Group's London-based senior VP of international sales and marketing Julian Wall joining the BPI as director, independent member services. Wall succeeded Jon Webster in that role, which was created early 2005 in tandem with the BPI Independents Committee to champion its indies members' needs. Webster, a former managing director of Virgin Records U.K., is now CEO of the Music Managers Forum.

For the year ahead, the BPI has identified revamped strategies for a handful of core areas of activity, explains Taylor, which include new pushes on Internet piracy, communications and government affairs.