Call for more transparency by APRA heard by ACCC

The Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman, Kate Carnell is pleased by the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission’s (ACCC) proposal for improved transparency around the Australasian Performing Rights Association’s (APRA) operations, but says more needs to be done to ensure small business artists and venues are treated fairly.

“The ACCC has clearly heard our concerns over the lack of transparency with regard to APRA’s reporting obligations,” Ms Carnell said.

“We are encouraged by the regulator’s proposal to grant authorisation for a further five years with conditions that require APRA to be far more transparent about licence fees and the way it pays royalties to members.”

As part of the proposal, APRA would be required to publish information about how it calculates licence fees, produce a plain English guide to its distribution policies and to publish an annual transparency report with information on rights revenue, operating costs and payments to members.

“While these measures are a step in the right direction, we believe the requirements need to go further,” Ms Carnell said.

“APRA must also be required to disclose in detail exactly what licence fees cover, for example artists on streaming services are not necessarily covered by APRA’s licence.

“In our follow-up submission to the ACCC, we will again raise the need for comprehensive community radio coverage, so that emerging Australian artists whose airplay is mostly through alternative channels such as community radio, internet radio and other broadcasters are paid the royalties they are entitled to.

“We will also re-submit our view that APRA must ensure licence fees provided to venues are tailored for actual use, rather than capacity.

“These and a number of other issues are critical to the future of Australian small businesses and need to be addressed before the APRA licence is re-issued.”

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