U.K. Review of PRS for Music Finds '90s Processes Are 'No Longer Relevant'

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A government review of U.K. collection society PRS for Music has concluded that a number of “market remedies" introduced twenty years ago at the behest of the Monopolies and Mergers Commission (MMC) are no longer relevant.

The review was carried out by the Competition and Market Authority (CMA) and followed a consultation last year looking into a series of measures and organizational changes imposed in the mid-'90s by CMA’s predecessor, the MMC.

Those undertakings included allowing members to self-administer their own live performing rights and altering the structure of the society’s appeals board. Other changes implemented at the time were separating the organization’s chairman and chief executive roles and a simplified annual report that contained aggregated details of members’ overseas earnings.

Today, the CMA has provisionally decided that those measures “are no longer required” on the grounds that the forthcoming EU Collective Rights Management Directive will effectively address the same “areas and concerns.”

In response, PRS for Music Chief Executive Robert Ashcroft welcomed the CMA’s decision and shares the organization’s view that “these undertakings are now no longer required and should be released.”

“We are operating in a much more competitive and complex environment than in the late 1990s largely due to the technological changes in the last 20 years particularly in the online world,” he went on to say. “This means that we have to work even more effectively to deliver our services and royalties to members as well as compete against new and emerging players.”

The CMA will now run a public consultation with a view to reaching a final decision in April.

All 28 EU member states, including the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Netherlands, Spain and Sweden, have until April 10 to implement the EU Collective Rights Management Directive. It places a number of requirements that collecting societies, such as PRS, must meet to “ensure a high standard of governance, financial management, transparency and reporting.”


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