Phonographic Performance Ltd., the collecting society for the U.K.'s record labels and performers, has clinched a groundbreaking agreement with Britain's commercial radio stations, to allow recorded music to be downloaded with radio programs for the first time.

The agreement with RadioCentre, who represent the majority of U.K. commercial radio stations, comes amidst soaring popularity for downloadable "podcasts" of radio programs. The U.K's public broadcaster, the BBC, does not yet have a similar deal for its radio stations.

Previously, only speech programs could be downloaded by listeners on to podcasts, with many popular music and entertainment programs forced to re-edit shows to remove the music before offering them for download.

Under the new deal, which began a 12-month trial April 1, RadioCentre's members will be able to include up to 30 seconds of music per track in the download versions of their programs. The 30 seconds excludes music with voiceovers.

"This is a first for radio in the United Kingdom and a significant opportunity for [our] members," said RadioCentre's CEO, Andrew Harrison, in a statement. "In today's changing media landscape, flexible licensing for new-media activities is the only way forward."

A spokesperson for PPL -- which represents 3,500 record companies and 40,000 performers -- declined to disclose the rates the radio stations will be charged.

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