ASBFEO pushes for more transparency from APRA

The Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman, Kate Carnell has said that if the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission (ACCC) re-authorises the Australasian Performing Rights Association’s (APRA) operations, it should be limited to a year-by-year basis until APRA can be more transparent about its activities and provide better coverage to all businesses.

“The ACCC has heard our ongoing concerns over the lack of transparency with regard to APRA’s current reporting obligations,” Ms Carnell said. “We are not convinced there has been adequate improvement in this area and have today issued a notice to APRA to provide more information about its operations and coverage.”

While the detail of APRA’s operations remains unclear and its coverage of businesses unsatisfactory, the ASBFEO believes that the ACCC should refrain from re-authorising APRA for a five-year period and instead proceed on an annual basis.

The ACCC will hold a pre-decision conference on the re-authorisation on 19 July. In the meantime, the ASBFEO stated that it welcomes comments by small businesses, including artists, impacted by the operations of APRA and OneMusic.

It is noted that in follow-up submissions to the ACCC regarding the issue, the ASBFEO has asked that APRA be required to disclose in detail exactly what licence fees cover, for example, artists on streaming services are not necessarily covered by APRA’s licence. It also raised the need for comprehensive community radio coverage so that emerging Australian artists whose airplay is mostly through alternative channels such as community radio, internet radio and other broadcasters are paid the royalties they are entitled to.

The ASBFEO stated that it is also re-submit its view that APRA must ensure licence fees provided to venues are tailored for actual use, rather than capacity.

Ms Carnell said, “These and a number of other issues are critical to the future of Australian small businesses and need to be addressed before the APRA licence is re-issued.”

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