The FM radio industry in India these days is in the news for two issues primarily – the imminent Phase III of licensing and the royalty tussle with the music industry.
The confusion over statutory licensing being a part of the Copyright amendment bill 2010 seems resolved with sources close to the information and broadcasting ministry confirming to Sound Box that statutory licensing would be included. This move comes after the ministry met the radio operators and television channel representatives to discuss the repercussions.
In April, the human resources ministry had said it was reconsidering the inclusion of statutory licensing clause in the copyright amendment bill 2010, ruffling quite a few feathers. It goaded the Association of Radio Operators of India (AROI) president Anuradha Prasad into writing a letter to the Information and Broadcasting minister Ambika Soni, listing the undesirable impact of the changes. Following the letter, the ministry sought a meeting with the players concerned.
In a talk with Sound Box, Prasad had shared that radio players have no issues sharing revenues with the creative fraternity, but would prefer one window licensing rather than dealing with two bodies.
She further said, “The royalty cost is bleeding the radio industry and we would like statutory licensing to be in place with a revenue share model. Entering into revenue share deals will not decrease our content cost, but will make the system more transparent.”
In the interim, the Copyright Board had passed a resolution instructing radio stations to pay two per cent of net advertising revenues as music royalty. So, are radio stations following the order, we ask Prasad. “Although the Board had passed the two per cent order, some music companies have challenged it and the litigations are getting sorted out. They are asking for any amount of money and we are paying them, as we need their content. Many radio players have burnt their fingers and closed down their stations. But the radio industry cannot be shut down at the behest of the music industry,” she said.
While some music companies have challenged the interim order issued by the Copyright Board, the the Supreme Court has recently ruled against the decision of Delhi High Court challenging the right of the Copyright Board to grant interim compulsory license.
But this Supreme Court judgment would be handicapped if the Copyright amendment bill, 2010 sees light of the day which empowers Copyright board to fix an interim tariff in case of tariff disputes.
Keep reading this space for more updates on this conundrum.