Britain's record company and performers collecting societies have taken formal steps to form a single body to represent U.K. performers. In a statement issued today (March 6), PPL said it has moved to

Britain's three collecting societies representing performers have taken formal steps towards forming a single body.

In a statement issued today (March 6), Phonographic Performance Limited said it has moved to merge its services with U.K. performers organizations Assn. of United Recording Artists and Performing Artists' Media Rights Assn.

British competition regulator the Office of Fair Trading has received the joint proposal and has invited third parties to comment.

PPL, the longest-established of the three bodies, collects performance rights on behalf of 3,000 record company members and licenses from more than 200,000 performers. The amalgamation, says PPL, would be in the "best interests of performers," ensuring that "costs are reduced, duplication of work is eliminated and income increased." None of the parties would comment on any staffing implications of the move.

London-based PPL added in the statement, "By centralizing the performer interests into a restructured PPL it will be possible, for the first time, to successfully recover broadcast and public performance income from the many overseas collecting societies that have yet to pay U.K. performers."

The initiative would see AURA and PAMRA transfer the mandates of their 18,000 members over to a new integrated service at PPL.

A new performer board will be established within PPL, controlled by performer representatives, to oversee the distribution of income and to secure the repatriation of overseas earnings.

Directors of both AURA and PAMRA are "strongly recommending the integration," according to PPL. The plan cannot move forward unless the three bodies' members ratify the plans and the OFT gives the green light.

A PPL spokesperson says its "too early" to discuss possible job cuts.

Today's announcement follows a Memorandum of Understanding signed in December 2003 by the three societies along with Equity, the Musicians' Union and the Music Producers' Guild.

Through that collaboration, AURA and PAMRA agreed to appoint PPL to handle their administrative operations and to act as the single "pipeline" to gather royalty collections from abroad.