The High Court has dismissed an appeal lodged by ITV against a 2016 ruling from the Copyright Tribunal which held that the broadcaster should pay increased royalties to PRS for Music, a collection society which carries out the management of rights on behalf of its members, who are predominantly songwriters, music publishers and composers.
The dispute has been ongoing since 2014, when both parties were unable to reach agreed terms of the licence to be in effect for 2014 to 2017. The broadcaster had sought to cap the payment fee at £23 million per annum which was the rate for 2013. ITV eventually referred the matter to the Copyright Tribunal. This prompted PRS for Music to raise its administrative fees for members in 2015 for a period of one year in order to cover the costs associated with defending ITV's claim.
The increased fees appear to have been worth it, given that the Copyright Tribunal set the fees payable to PRS for Music at just over £24.07 million as the revised base royalty rate for 2014. The Tribunal then expanded on this and gave its own formula for calculating the royalty fees due in subsequent years. Under the approved formula, any royalty fee will now account for an increase in the viewing figures of ITV and by any percentage change in the Retail Price Index.
Given the more generous formula for fees approved by the Tribunal, ITV's appeal to the High Court came as no surprise. However, the High Court has rejected the arguments but forward by ITV. In reaching its decision, the High Court made clear that the tribunal had not made any error of law in reaching its decision and therefore ITV's appeal could not be successful.
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