Trade bodies from across the hospitality industry have united to oppose proposals from music licensing company PPL to institute fees increases in its Specially Featured Entertainment (SFE) Tariff.
The trade bodies said the proposed increases for the tariff, which covers playing music at discos, pubs and nightclubs, were "excessive" and unfounded.
The tariff has traditionally been negotiated by the Bar Entertainment and Dance Association (BEDA), but BEDA has been joined to fight the increases by the British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA), the British Hospitality Association (BHA) and the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR).
In their submission, the bodies said: "The changes proposed to the structure of the SFE Tariff would render it unfair and more complex to administer. If there has been any material change to the market, this should lead to a reduction in the current SFE Tariff, not an increase."
The four organisations were also critical that PPL did not seek the views of industry prior to releasing a consultation.
The BBPA and the BHA have also successfully taken action on behalf of pubs, restaurants and hotels over PPL charges in the recent past. In 2010, a High Court ruling rejected an appeal brought by PPL over the charges for the playing of background music in pubs, bars, restaurants and hotels.
Brigid Simmonds, BBPA chief executive, said: "There are simply no grounds for the proposed increases, which will affect tens of thousands of hospitality businesses. At a time of economic hardship for pubs, we do not need these additional pressures. PPL are at risk of abusing their monopoly position as the sole provider of copyright recorded music in the marketplace. We hope they will listen to the wide range of voices on this issue, and we would welcome further dialogue with them as soon as possible."
"Martin Couchman, deputy chief executive of the British Hospitality Association, said: "PPL's proposals, if implemented, would have a serious impact on many of our hotel and restaurant members. Holiday packages including discos and dinner dances, on which many hotels depend, would be particularly badly affected."
By Neil Gerrard
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