French authors rights society Sacem has reported collections of 755.9 million euros ($1.02 billion) in the financial year ending Dec. 31, 2006, a decrease of 0.2% on 2005.

"This is the first time since 1992 that collected revenue decreases from one year to another," emphasized Sacem president/CEO Bernard Miyet, at a June 26 press conference in Paris.

The loss is mainly attributed to a 10.2% decline income from CD and DVD mechanical rights, down to 132.3 million euros ($178 million) and representing 17.5% of Sacem's overall revenue.

Revenue from digital media, which rose 23% to 1.7 million euros ($2.3 million), only represented 0.1% of the society's global income.

Income from live performances jumped 13% to 57.8 million euros ($77.7 million). Revenues from audiovisual (broadcast TV and radio) are up 0.8% to 261.3 million euros ($351.4 million), still representing Sacem's main income (34.6% of overall revenue).

Revenue from private copying declined 4.6%, to 49.7 million euros ($66.8 million), representing 6.6% of the overall revenue.

Private-copying levies are imposed on the sales of a range of electronic hardware and blank media formats, the proceeds of which are distributed by the society to authors and publishers.

On March 29, 49 organizations from the French music and entertainment sectors defended their rights to the levies, in the face of lobbying from hardware manufacturers to encourage the European Commission to abolish them.

Miyet said Sacem remained "totally firm on private copying," denouncing the "cynicism" of manufacturers, who "take the best advantage of creative works but want to restrain their financing."

Last week, the French Commission on Private Copying decided after almost two years of heated debate that three new devices would be subject to the taxation: USB memory sticks; multimedia cards; and external hard drives used for consumer-only purposes.

Thierry Desurmont, VP of Sacem directoire, estimated the total additional income from these new private-copy levies could be between 15 million euros ($20 million) and 20 million euros ($27 million).

The possible taxation of music-enabled mobile phones will be part of further discussions, he added.

In terms of revenue distributed by Sacem, figures are paradoxically on the upward trend, with the society distributing 613.2 million euros ($824.8 million), up 0.8% from 2005. The explanation lies in revenue distributed in 2006 mainly coming from revenue collected in 2005. The average administrative cost rate reached 15.48% in 2006, compared with 14.97% in 2005 and 15.75% in 2004.

Speaking about the future of Sacem, Miyet added that his society and Spanish and Italian authors' rights societies (SGAE and SIAE) were still working on setting up the joint venture announced at last MIDEM. The joint venture is designed to offer pan-European publishing licenses to digital and mobile services.