Welsh Radio Station Forced To Play Classical Music, English Songs After Royalty Talks Stall
from the trading-away-reputation-for-$$$ dept
Another battle between artists' representatives and an outlet for these same artists to be heard has resulted in… one less place for these artists to be heard. Radio Cymru, the Welsh arm of BBC Radio, has cut its broadcast day by two hours and drastically altered its playlist after losing its right to use a catalog of 30,000 Welsh songs.
Classical music and hymns are replacing rock and pop on BBC Radio Cymru as the deadline for a rights deal with leading Welsh-language musicians passes.
The right to broadcast the songs of 331 Welsh-language musicians and music publishers rests with Eos – the Welsh word for nightingale – from today.
The BBC said Eos had rejected a substantial offer to settle the dispute shortly before Christmas. As no agreement was reached, Radio Cymru has implemented changes to its broadcasting hours and programme content.
BBC Cymru Wales said in a statement on Monday it was “very disappointed” an agreement had not been reached and confirmed Radio Cymru programmes would be affected.
“Radio Cymru's commitment to support and develop Welsh music is a longstanding one – and we have listened carefully to the concerns of Welsh-language composers and artists during this dispute,” the statement said.
Once again, the desire to make a cash grab has overwhelmed the desire to be heard. And it always seems to be “representatives” of the artists that keep cutting ahead in line to get their hands out first, often at the expense of the very artists they “serve.”
Unsurprisingly, the pernicious acts of another performance rights group is behind Eos' search for a “fair price.” Having been screwed by an old Techdirt favorite, Eos is now attempting to force the BBC make up for PRS' actions.
The musicians broke away from the Performing Rights Society (PRS) to join a new agency, claiming they were being short-changed for their work. The dispute arose from a change by the PRS in 2007 which many Welsh language artists claim cut their royalty payments by as much as 85%.
Rather than attempt to get PRS to pay this “fair share,” Eos has decided to go after the broadcasters who had nothing to do with the severe slashing of royalty payments, which fell from £1.6m in 2007 to £260,000 in 2009. Eos is acting on the recommendation of research paper published in 2009 that presented a way to generate (or at least ask for) nearly 10 times the going rate per minute of broadcast time.
The report says artists who broadcast on BBC Radio Cymru receive 49p for every minute of airtime, collected by PRS. However, it says Radio Cymru is treated like an English local radio station, rather than a national broadcaster
The report argues that if the station was available on the UK DAB network of digital stations, artists would earn £4.71 per minute, nearly ten times as much. It said a Welsh-based royalties agency would be aiming to bring back in something more like the larger DAB royalties fees.
“Welsh language repertoire – Radio Cymru relies on that for its broadcasting,” pointed out the report's joint author, Deian ap Rhisiart. “If the whole composers and publishers en block declare they are terminating their membership with the PRS, then the BBC haven't got any choice but to deal with them – that's the scenario.”
At that point, a spokesman for BBC Wales (quite logically) claimed that this was a dispute between PRS and its Welsh members, and that these two entities should attempt to solve it on their own. Unfortunately, Welsh artists decided it would be better to set up their own organization and tangle with the BBC directly. The end result? An outcome that overreaching rights organizations all over the world are familiar with: no additional income and the loss of an outlet.
So, in a quest for “more,” Welsh artists have ended up with less (at least temporarily) exposure and the very real potential of finding themselves vilified by the same listeners who used to consider themselves fans. Rather than go after PRS for screwing Welsh artists, Eos decided to pass the screwing along to Radio Cymru, pricing itself out of the market and depriving itself of a useful promotional tool.