Back-office job losses are imminent at U.K. authors' body PRS for Music, which is due to unveil its results for 2009 within the next few days.

The cuts emanate from the transfer of the responsibilities of the collecting society's copyright department from PRS for Music's London offices to the Stockholm, Sweden-based headquarters of the International Copyright Enterprise (ICE), a joint venture with PRS for Music's Swedish counterpart, STIM.

ICE was launched in early 2007 as an attempt at creating a joint copyright database/service center to improve administrative capabilities for collecting societies in Europe.

In a statement, PRS for Music confirms that the work undertaken by the Copyright Department of PRS for Music will be transferred to ICE Services AB in Sweden.

A final date for the transfer has not yet been announced but the statement said that "an ongoing collective and individual consultation process has been underway with the affected employees for a number of months."

The statement added: "As part of this consultation process, PRS for Music is exploring opportunities elsewhere in the business for impacted employees, as well as potential relocation to ICE offices in Sweden."

Alan Kading, head of administration of London-based publisher Stage Three, is chairman of PRS for Music's operations group. "The decision to base the ICE back office in Stockholm will lead to around 80 redundancies in the U.K.," he tells

"The original plan was for the back office to be run by a service provider in Poland, which would have meant redundancies in the U.K. When the Poland option didn't work out the choice was between Stockholm and London," he adds. "Staff in London therefore had a chance of keeping their jobs, which sadly has not materialized."

It has taken a year for the final decision to be made, Kading adds, during which time, he admits, "staff morale has not been great" among those affected.

The decision is the first key move to have been announced since PRS for Music's new CEO Robert Ashcroft took over on Jan. 25.

Ice, notes Kading, "has been a long time in coming and has only just gone live," adding that there are some "system problems."

However, Ashcroft declares himself "very impressed" with ICE, having recently returned from a visit to the Stockholm-based operation which coincided with the system going live. "It's live, it's working and I was there to ask all the difficult questions," he says.

PRS for Music, Ashcroft notes, "has invested, along with our Swedish investment partners STIM, millions in ICE" in an ongoing effort to ensure "further transparency."

Former Sony Corp and Walt Disney executive Ashcroft is the fifth exec to head PRS for Music (or its previous incarnation, the MCPS-PRS Alliance) in the past five years. The society licenses performance, mechanical and digital rights for more than 60,000 members.

PRS for Music consists of two elements: the performing Right Society (PRS) and the Mechanical Copyright Protection Society (MCPS). It is due to announce its financial results for 2009 within the next few days.

Last June, just weeks before his unexpected departure, Ashcroft's predecessor as full-time CEO, Steve Porter, announced that MCPS faced a projected shortfall in its budgeted revenues of £4 million ($5.6 million) due to a sudden fall in interest rates (Billboard.Biz, June 26) and predicted a 10-15% reduction in revenue from recorded music sales in 2009.