Select Committee on Culture, Media and Sport Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence


Memorandum submitted by the Musicians' Union

  We attach below the Musicians' Union's comments on public service broadcasting. I hope that the Select Committee find these useful. We would be pleased to expand on these comments should the Select Committee wish us to.

  We briefly comment on two matters that we would wish to pursue further with the Committee. There is first the reference to defining and providing "public service" broadcasting. We have for decades been one of the organisations that has supported the concept of public service broadcasting, by which we have meant a service that is accessible to all in the community and that is not solely concerned with minimising costs and maximising income (commendable though these objectives might be for some enterprises) but has larger social objectives such as cultural provision, education, information, entertainment, and not least to champion fair business practice and respect for creators' rights. It has always seemed to us that one characteristic of such a service is that it produces a significant part of its programme output, thus nurturing the country's creative talents. It does not, that is to say, merely recirculate recorded material, whether sound recordings or audio visual material, produced by and reflective of commercially dominated industries. With the rapid and widespread development of multichannel digital broadcasting coupled with on-demand delivery through global networks it becomes, from the musician's point of view, more necessary than ever to distinguish "public service broadcasting" from other media. We have, in the WIPO discussions, sought to persuade governments to separate 'near on-demand' channels from "traditional" broadcasting.

  We have secured an exclusive intellectual property right, the "making available" right, both in the 1996 Performances and Phonograms Treaty (WIPO) and in Directive 2001/29/EC for on-demand supply by digital interactive services. We do not yet have such a right for broadcasting, since the provisions for that service were designed when 'public service broadcasting' was the norm. There is now, of course, a growing number of multi-channel delivery systems—for example for commercial records—which provide to the consumer a service that is almost the same as an interactive service. It would be, in our view, entirely inappropriate for these services to have the same preferential treatment in the matter of intellectual property rights as do the public service broadcasters.

7 December 2001

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