Regional radio stations pull online streams due to licensing issues, metro stations might be next

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Image: Fod Tzellos/Flickr (Creative Commons)

Image: Fod Tzellos/Flickr (Creative Commons)

Within a couple of weeks, you might not be able to listen to your favourite radio stations online. After being unable to come to a new licensing agreement with the music industry, nearly 200 regional radio stations will end their live simulcasts with all metropolitan stations threatening to go dark as well.

The stations – represented by Commercial Radio Australia – join Grant Broadcasters in ending their radio simulcast. Grant Broadcasters, which own 50 radio stations across the country, ended their streams in September.

The issue stems from a Federal Court decision issued in February last year that ruled that internet simulcasts did not meet the definition of a “broadcast” under the Copyright Act, and therefore not covered by the existing licence.

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.

According to Commercial Radio Australia, broadcasters are ending their streams today because they were ordered to apply for an interim simulcast licence by January 31 and they fear that the simulcast fees might be “back dated” to the start of the licence.

“Should the PPCA (the peak music body) be successful in having the Tribunal endorse their preferred high cost scheme, radio broadcasters are concerned that simulcast fees may be back dated to the start of the interim licence and the financial liability amassed by radio stations would be cost prohibitive, particularly for regional stations,” according to CRA.

While it is unlikely the ABC and SBS will switch off their online simulcasts, it is unknown what community radio stations will do.

Join the Conversation

  • Wave FM in Wollongong is already gone, i98 might follow tonight. Shame this change has happened, and really hope it doesn’t hit the ABC hard.

  • Anonymous

    The CRA needs to launch an advertising campaign about this streaming issue to be aired on radio stations across Australia as well as setting up a website like CBAA did for their ‘Commit To Community Radio’ when their community digital radio stations were under threat of going off the air and set up a online petition.

    The PPCA’S claims about internet radio isn’t a broadcast are wrong/incorrect/misleading in this day and age. the Federal Government needs to step in and tackle on about this streaming issue. Internet Radio (Including ABC/SBS/Community-Narrowcast/Online Only stations) are dying unless action is taken right away. Broadcasters are upset, annoyed and frustrated by this PPCA decision.

    i Strongly Urge your readers of this article to write to your Local Member Of Parliament and the Communications minister Malcolm Turnbull to express your concerns.
    The furture of radio is digital/online and they can’t be left behind

  • Jayme Doran

    I hope Metro Stations don’t turn off their streams (there will be complaints from listeners if they do) I will be listen to less radio otherwise and stations are upset. The Federal Government needs to step in and say that streaming is considered a broadcast talk stations are not affected as they don’t play music that often. I strongly urge you to contact your local federal member of parliament and the communications minister Malcolm Turnbull to raise your concerns. I’ve raised the issue on radio today, Mumbrella and techgeek and i’m not happy with their decision. The listerners, stations and advertisers will feel the pain. The PPCA claims are wrong and outdated in this day and age. Action must be taken quickly to ensure that streaming returns to the affected stations and those can continue streaming online.

    Until most stations resume streaming and action is taken against the record companies R.I.P. internet Radio