Australian radio stations shutting off webcasts over licensing fee increase (UPDATE)

Commerical-Radio-Australia 300wUPDATE: Yes they did.

Those 200 commercial radio stations in Australia, which threatened to turn off their online simulcasts in a licensing dispute, did it. (See below)

“We’ve stopped streaming because of the greed of the multi-national record companies,” said Joan Warner, head of Commercial Radio Australia (CRA).

The broadcasters’ group advocates for government intervention. Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull is backing away. “I don’t think the government should be regulating where it doesn’t have to … that’s a matter between the rights-owners of the music and the radio stations.”

CRA is attempting to whip up public support for the stations by tweeting a graphic which reads: “All Australians should have the right to listen to their favourite radio stations online.”

The Phonographic Performance Company of Australia, representing music labels, is “disappointed.”

A news report from Australian media outlet mUmBRELLA indicates that about 200 commercial radio stations in Australia will shut off their Internet webcasts to avoid paying additional licensing fees levied a year ago. The stations have been streaming their broadcast signals on the Internet during an interim period since last February. That interim period ends, and the new licensing period begins, at midnight of January 31 (Australian time, of course).

The new statutory licensing fee for webcasts was decided by the Australian Copyright Tribunal, and instituted by a federal court ruling. That ruling was the result of a lawsuit brought by a music-label lobbying group, the Phonographic Performance Company of Australia (PPCA).

Radio stations are resisting the additional licensing cost applied to Internet simulcasts that are identical to the terrestrial signals. Quoted remarks by Joan Warner, head of Commercial Radio Australia, compare Internet listening to clock-radio listening and car listening — in other words, one of many convenient listening options for the same content and the same presentation. Joan Warner also indicated that the licensing judgment last February stopped some stations from beginning a webcast.

At the time of this post, it is 90 minutes past the midnight deadline in Australia.

Brad Hill