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Small businesses and musicians get more transparency

COSBOA acknowledges the ACCC’s decision to grant reauthorisation for five years to the royalty collection society APRA AMCOS under conditions. COSBOA is pleased to see conditions requiring more transparency but believes there is a risk these requirements will not lead to any significant changes without stronger intervention.

APRA AMCOS will now be required to publish the "relevant economic analysis" behind its methodology for calculating its licence fees; publish details of distribution of licence revenue; and publish an annual transparency report which includes information on its operating costs, distribution to members, and amounts paid to and received from overseas.

COSBOA CEO Peter Strong today said “It’s excellent to see that the ACCC has listened to concerns expressed by COSBOA, the Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman, and other groups. It’s well past time that APRA AMCOs is forced to be transparent about how it distributes the money from music licences, as well as how it decides how much to charge businesses in the first place. Now it will have to justify why Australia’s music licence fees are so much higher than the rest of the world’s. Hopefully making it more accountable to its members will lead to more fairness for small bands and artists.

“The fact that APRA AMCOS has had to be told to do this is problematic. Can it be trusted to implement these proposals in good faith? It has been told to be transparent in the past but hasn’t achieved those aims. We have seen this happen with other monopolies where the recommended regulation looks good on paper but then ends up not achieving any change.”

COSBOA is calling for stronger intervention.

Mr. Strong said “APRA AMCOs should only be given reauthorisation for one year. It should prove to relevant industries – the music industry in particular – that it has actually changed and that it is truly transparent and in touch with its members before any further reauthorisations are issued. If APRA AMCOs doesn’t change then a completely independent body run by representatives from its stakeholders (such as the small business sector and the music industry) should be set up to monitor its behaviour and hold it accountable.”

There is also concern that the conditions set by the ACCC do not address the problem of the lack of competition in the area of royalty collection and distribution.

Mr. Strong added “Another potential outcome of this review is that the Productivity Commission could be tasked with researching ways to create competition in this important sector.”

All in all, it remains to be seen whether this royalty collection society will reform as a result of these recommendations.

Mr. Strong concluded “The current reporting process for APRA AMCOs essentially involves looking into a mirror. We need it to report to its members and stakeholders.”

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