Regional radio network Grant Broadcasters axes online simulcasts after High Court fee ruling

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Grant Broadcasters has axed all live streams for all 50 of their radio stations across Australia after a Federal Court decision earlier this year that saw internet simulcasts of radio broadcasts no longer covered by existing licenses.

“A recent Federal Court ruling has found that the simultaneous transmission of a radio broadcast over the internet is not a broadcast, and as a consequence, music licensing issues mean that this radio station is no longer able to offer this free streaming service,” according to a message posted on their live stream pages.

“We apologise for this inconvenience but would strongly encourage you to contact the
Federal Minister for Communications Malcolm Turnbull or your local Federal Member of Parliament to express your concerns.”

In February, the Federal Court ruled that internet simulcasts did not meet the definition of a “broadcast” under the Copyright Act, and therefore not covered by the existing licences by radio stations across the country. An appeal by Commercial Radio Australia failed in August.

This meant that radio stations will need to have a separate licence in order to play music on any internet simulcast, and at market rates. Previously, radio broadcasters were able to use the “one percent cap” in the Copyright Act to minimise their royalty payments to just one percent of gross income.

“It confirms radio stations must pay a licence fee for streamed music and we hope to move quickly to work out a fair and proper licensing deal. We look forward to working with radio to establish equitable arrangements,” Dan Rosen, the head of the PPCA – the non-profit organisation tasked to collect royalties for artists – said when the appeal was rejected.

However, Grant Broadcasters took issue with the rates provided by PPCA – saying that they wanted regional broadcasters to pay the same rates as their metro counterparts.

“When we were presented with the license for PPCA requirements, the rates and scales for stations operating in regional markets were exactly the same as those for metros,” Group Director of Programming and Content David Rodgerson told Radio Today.

“As a regional operator, Grant Broadcasters made the decision that it is beyond our market’s financial capacity to support and pay for the service.”

via Mumbrella