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BBPA and BHA win major victory in long-haul PPL tribunal case - £15 - £20 million refunds won for the industry

22/10/09


The BBPA and the British Hospitality Association have secured a major victory that could save the industry five million pounds a year – with £15-£20 million now owed in refunds. In the long-running PPL copyright dispute, the Tribunal decision on the tariffs for the playing of music in public areas in pubs, bars, restaurants and hotels has seen the charges reduced dramatically, in some cases by nearly 80 per cent.


The Tribunal has ruled in favour of the two organisations on almost every single issue at stake, with overall charges to be cut by a half. It is understood that PPL are going to appeal the decision. At a hearing on 15th October, the BBPA and BHA pressed strongly for full refunds for all those who have had to pay over the odds since 2005 to play music. The Tribunal agreed and has ordered PPL to make repayments. Should the collecting society appeal, however, then these repayments will be delayed pending the outcome of the appeal. In recognition of the practical challenges faced by PPL in organising the repayments, the Tribunal did not award interest and did not require repayments to those PPL licensees that are owed less than £50 in total.


Licensees will be able to claim refunds based on their own calculations of what they are owed, or they will be able to ask PPL to make the calculation for them. Refunds of the excess fees paid since 2005 by hospitality businesses will run to millions of pounds.


The new Tribunal Tariffs will now be brought into effect as soon as possible and implemented upon renewal of PPL licences. The Tribunal has allowed PPL only a 10 per cent all round increase plus RPI. For example, a hotel, pub, restaurant or bar playing CDs/tapes or radio/TV with an audible area of just under 400 square metres would be paying £464.80 for its licence this year under the new PPL tariff, but the Tribunal decision has reduced this to around £110. Premises with under 50 square metres audible area and which play only 'traditional' radios and TVs will pay about £55.


The dispute began when Phonographic Performance Ltd (PPL) raised tariffs for playing music in bars, hotels, restaurants and pubs by up to 403 per cent in 2005/06. In October 2005, the BHA and the BBPA persuaded the Government to refer the tariff to the Tribunal, but a first hearing in November 2007 led to an appeal on jurisdiction issues to the High Court last October, which was also won by the two bodies.


In recognition of the trade associations having been successful on the substantive matter of the value of the tariffs, the Copyright Tribunal said that they were “clear winners” in the case and awarded them 50% of their costs.


Brigid Simmonds, BBPA Chief Executive comments:


“This is a major victory for the industry – not to mention the fully justified prospect of refunds for overpayments in recent years. I’d like to thank everyone right across the hospitality sector who has worked so hard to reverse these indefensible charges. It’s been a long struggle, but worth it, given today’s total victory. We will be doing everything we can to ensure that any appeal case is heard quickly, so that the matter of repayments can be settled as soon as possible.”


Martin Couchman, Deputy Chief Executive, BHA, comments:


"This successful result shows how much time and effort the industry needs to spend when it fights damaging decisions made by public monopolies. The fact that the Tribunal says we are the clear winners shows how justified we were to fight the case."


Notes to editors:

The British Beer & Pub Association is the UK’s leading organisation representing the brewing and pub sector. Its members account for 98% of the beer brewed in the UK and own nearly two thirds of Britain’s 54,000 pubs.


The British Hospitality Association is the national trade association of the hotel, catering and leisure industry, representing more than 40,000 establishments with over 340,000 rooms and employing over 500,000 people.


Resources

» PPL Tariffs