This blog post is available in English and Welsh. The translated version is available below.

My name is Rhodri Talfan Davies and I’m the Director of BBC Cymru Wales. In light of the recent news stories which have been written about the dispute between musicians and composers that currently affects our programming on BBC Radio Cymru, this blog provides an update on the subject.

The BBC is in ongoing talks with Eos – the new collecting society for Welsh language musicians and composers - to discuss the current dispute over royalties paid for music played on Radio Cymru. There has been some useful progress but I suspect discussions still have some way to go.

In the meantime, I wanted to explain where we are and why resolving the issue is proving so challenging.

The heart of the dispute dates back to a new policy on rights that was introduced in 2006 by the Performing Rights Society (PRS). It led to a very significant cut in the income that Welsh language composers and artists received for having their music played in public venues like shops and clubs (these are called 'public performance rights').

PRS' decision to cut these rates – they said less Welsh language music was being played in public than they had previously estimated - had nothing whatsoever to do with the BBC. But Eos is now seeking to secure a substantially improved deal for an entirely different set of rights: the so-called 'broadcasting rights' that are funded by the BBC. For Eos and its members, an improved broadcasting deal would at least offset some of the losses they experienced as a result of PRS' policy change in 2006.

And this brings us to the crux of the current dispute. Everybody agrees that Welsh language music is important. Everybody agrees that we need to find a way to help improve support for new Welsh language music. The real question is how we do this and, importantly, what scale of support the BBC is able to provide.

A number of letters we have received over recent days - from groups like Cymdeithas yr Iaith and Cylch yr Iaith - have spoken out in support of the musicians and have urged the BBC to settle the matter urgently. These letters often demand that the BBC must pay a fair rate for the music.

There is only one right answer to that plea: of course we will pay a fair rate.

The BBC has always been committed to agreeing a fair deal - and it is why we have made a series of unprecedented offers to Eos that we believe fairly reflect both the commercial and cultural value of this important repertoire. We have also offered a process of formal mediation, led by a jointly-appointed independent expert.

But it is also important to stress that, in such a challenging financial climate for all public bodies, our continued support for Welsh language music cannot be secured at any price. We cannot fix some of the big challenges facing Welsh language music single-handedly, and it would not be a reasonable use of the licence fee to do so.

So I want to assure everybody that is concerned about the current dispute that despite some of the more garish headlines over recent days there is no lack of sensitivity or understanding of the issues within the BBC, either here in Wales or in London.

We want to settle this matter and we want to get back to doing what we do best: championing and supporting music in all its forms. But we can only do this with a deal that is reasonable and sustainable - a deal that is fair to musicians and licence-fee payers alike.

That is what everybody is focused on achieving.

Fy enw i yw Rhodri Talfan Davies a fi yw Cyfarwyddwr BBC Cymru Wales. Mae’r blog hwn yn rhoi diweddariad ar yr anghydfod presennol gyda cherddorion a chyfansoddwyr sy’n effeithio ar ein rhaglenni ar BBC Radio Cymru, yng ngolau rhai o’r straeon newyddion sydd wedi eu cyhoeddi yn ddiweddar ar y pwnc.

Mae’r BBC mewn trafodaethau sy’n parhau gydag Eos – y gymdeithas casglu newydd ar gyfer cerddorion a chyfansoddwyr Cymraeg – i drafod yr anghydfod presennol ynglŷn â breindaliadau am y gerddoriaeth sy’n cael ei chwarae ar Radio Cymru. Cafwyd rhai datblygiadau defnyddiol ond rwy’n amau bod dal peth trafod eto i’w wneud.

Yn y cyfamser, roeddwn i eisiau egluro lle ry’n ni arni a pham bod datrys y mater yn profi mor heriol.

Mae gwraidd yr anghydfod yn dyddio nôl i bolisi newydd ar hawliau a gyflwynwyd yn 2006 gan y Gymdeithas Hawliau Perfformio (PRS). Arweiniodd hynny at doriad sylweddol iawn yn yr incwm a dderbyniai cyfansoddwyr ac artistiaid Cymraeg am chwarae eu cerddoriaeth mewn llefydd cyhoeddus fel siopau a chlybiau (mae’r rhain yn cael eu galw’n ‘public performance rights’).

Nid oedd penderfyniad y PRS i dorri’r cyfraddau hyn yn ddim i’w wneud gyda’r BBC o gwbl – fe ddywedodd y PRS bod cerddoriaeth Gymraeg yn cael ei chwarae yn llai aml yn gyhoeddus na’r hyn a amcangyfrifwyd yn wreiddiol. Ond mae Eos nawr yn ceisio sicrhau cytundeb llawer gwell ar gyfer set o hawliau cwbl wahanol – sef yr ‘hawliau darlledu’ sy’n cael eu hariannu gan y BBC. I Eos a’i aelodau, byddai cytundeb darlledu gwell o leia yn lleddfu rhywfaint ar y colledion a brofwyd ganddyn nhw o ganlyniad i newid polisi’r PRS yn 2006.

Daw hyn â ni at wraidd yr anghydfod presennol. Mae pawb yn cytuno bod cerddoriaeth Gymraeg yn bwysig. Mae pawb yn cytuno bod angen i ni ddod o hyd i ffordd o helpu i wella’r gefnogaeth ar gyfer cerddoriaeth Gymraeg newydd. Y cwestiwn mawr yw sut ry’n ni’n gwneud hyn, ac yn bwysicach, faint o gefnogaeth all y BBC ei darparu.

Mae nifer o’r llythyron a dderbyniwyd yn ystod y diwrnodau diwetha – gan fudiadau fel Cymdeithas yr Iaith a Cylch yr Iaith – wedi bod yn gefnogol o’r cerddorion ac wedi annog y BBC i setlo’r mater ar frys. Yn aml, mae’r llythyron yma yn mynnu y dylai’r BBC dalu pris teg am y gerddoriaeth. Un ateb sydd i hynny: wrth gwrs y gwnawn ni dalu pris teg.

Mae’r BBC wastad wedi bod yn ymrwymedig i gytuno ar gytundeb teg – a dyna pam ry’n ni wedi gwneud cyfres o gynigion digynsail i Eos, sydd yn ein barn ni yn adlewyrchu’n deg gwerth masnachol a diwylliannol y repertoire pwysig yma. Ry’n ni hefyd wedi cynnig proses gymodi ffurfiol o dan arweiniad arbenigwr annibynnol a benodwyd ar y cyd.

Ond mae’n bwysig hefyd ein bod yn pwysleisio, mewn cyfnod ariannol mor anodd i bob corff cyhoeddus, na all ein cefnogaeth barhaus i gerddoriaeth Gymraeg gael ei diogelu ar unrhyw bris. Gallwn ni, ar ben ein hunain, ddim datrys rhai o’r sialensau mawr sy’n wynebu cerddoriaeth Gymraeg, ac ni fyddai’n ddefnydd priodol o arian y drwydded i wneud hynny.

Felly dwi am sicrhau pawb sy’n pryderu am yr anghydfod presennol nad oes diffyg sensitifrwydd na dealltwriaeth tuag at y materion hyn o fewn y BBC, naill ai fan hyn yng Nghymru neu yn Llundain, er gwaetha rhai o’r penawdau lliwgar yn ystod y diwrnodau diwetha.

Ry’n ni eisiau datrys y mater ac ry’n ni eisiau dychwelyd i wneud yr hyn ry’n ni’n ei wneud orau: hybu a chefnogi cerddoriaeth yn ei holl arddulliau. Ond gallwn ni ond gwneud hynny gyda chytundeb sy’n rhesymol a chynaliadwy - cytundeb sy’n deg i gerddorion a’r rhai sy’n talu ffi’r drwydded.

Dyma beth mae pawb am ei gyflawni.

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  • Comment number 5. Posted by DafyddM

    on 23 Jan 2013 12:03

    I thank Arwel M for apologising and accept his apology. I will answer the other points one by one:

    1. I will not benefit financially or in kind when the directors of Sain sell their shares. I am an employee.

    2. I said PRS change their distribution policies not their rates - there is quite a difference.

    3. Welsh composers were paid in line with PRS's policies at the time - that is not being 'overpaid', and Yes - I do have figures to substantiate the accusation of the losses incurred before PRS employed Welsh speaking staff. I would be happy to share these with Arwel M. I am easily contactable through Sain, but maybe Arwel M prefers to hide behind his nom de plume.

    4. Eos' current negotiations are about broadcast rates, and not the public performance analogies. Eos is in constant discussion with PRS about the public performance analogies. Its not quite as simple as 'taking legal' action. That should always be a last resort. Eos is not trying to fill the gap in income resulting from the drop in analogies, with broadcast income. Eos is trying to raise the broadcast income to fairly reflect the commercial value of the works, in straight, unhindered commercial negotiations.

    5. The BBC licence fee has been frozen, but the BBC's income has increased as more households take up a licence. BBC's total income increased from £3.513billion in 2011 to £3.606bl in 2012 - an increase of around 3%. The reason for the cuts is that the BBC now has to finance the World Service - a decision made by Jeremy Hunt. By the way the BBC had a surplus of £249m last year.

    6. Paying '...over the odds’ is subjective. Many composers (not just Welsh) have complained about the PRS's rates. I refer Arwel M to the Select Committee on Culture, Media and Sport - Fifth Report, 22 July 1999. “PRS has a de facto monopoly over the administration of performing rights.”

    7. Sain's catalogue accounts for around 30% of Welsh language repertoire - hardly a monopoly!

    There are many more points made by Arwel M that I would raise issue with, but I don't believe that these columns are the right place for that. I don't purport to be Sain's CEO - I am! Again, if and when the directors decide to sell their shares, then I will not benefit financially or in kind. It might be that Arwel M has difficulty in not applying his own values and principles to others. All of Eos' board members are contributing their time and effort to this cause voluntarily, without remuneration for travel or other expenses. We appreciate your applause.

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  • Comment number 4. Posted by Arwel M

    on 21 Jan 2013 12:24

    I apologise to DafyddM that the facts regarding his rôle at Sain are erroneous. This is what I had been told by sources I trusted.

    I retract that accusation absolutely.

    Dafydd M. Roberts is Sain's Chief Executive. Will he / you stand to make any financial gain whatsoever from the (eventual) sale of the company? In the corporate world, it's very rare for the Chief Executive of a company to not benefit from that company's sale - whether directly or in kind. Hence the original point.

    Regarding the rest of DafyddM's reply: PRS do change their rates regularly - generally according to changes in audience figures vis a vis RAJAR figures and their own research regarding analogies payments.

    I'm surprised to read DafyddM question whether or not PRS 'overpaid' Welsh language composers due to over estimating the amount of Welsh language music (i.e. Radio Cymru) being played by its licensees on premises where licenses were due. That was the main reason PRS gave for the change in rate.

    Does DafyddM have objective figures - and a time period - to support his claim that "hundreds of thousands of pounds of royalties were lost due to incorrect registration and processing"?

    Should the license fee payer be held accountable for that discrepancy? If PRS made an accountable error, then take legal action to secure the 'lost' monies. The BBC and the license fee payer weren't responsible for that.

    The license fee payer will not be asked to pay more because the license fee has been frozen by the current government - which has lead to the loss of 100's of jobs at the BBC. However Eos are asking for more of the current license fee to be paid to Eos members than was paid to PRS - at the expense of other services the corporation provides.

    The BBC, via its board and the regulatory bodies who analyse its workings in minutiae - especially over the last 3 years, is constantly re-evaluating its priorities and commitments under the Charter.

    Do those priorities and commitments include paying over the odds to a cabal of songwriters who are using rhetoric and jingoism - but little in the way of objective figures - to pressurise the BBC into using more of our license fee to pay them?

    When the PRS rates were more favourable to the Welsh language artists now represented by Eos, where was the criticism of the "neo-monopolistic arrangement" that PRS had with the BBC?

    DafyddM's appraisal of PRS as a body, and its relationship with the BBC, would appear to be based entirely on what Sain gained, or lost, according to that relationship.

    I find it ironic that DafyddM and Eos have bandied about terms like "neo-monopolistic" when one of the reasons that we are at this crux point (I say 'we' as a license payer) is because Eos - courtesy of the massive Sain back catalogue - has a near monopoly on music played on daytime Radio Cymru - which means that it can act in this - some would say - belligerent fashion.

    Finally, it's interesting to note that despite my "ill-informed" initial post, DafyddM - purporting to be Dafydd M. Roberts, Chief Executive of Sain and one of Eos' chief negotiators - can only find one point - of the many I raise in my original post - to question -- and although I apologise for the incorrect technicalities of that point, I'd suggest that the precedent for Chief Executives to benefit from company sales is there - and that if this is not the case for Dafydd M. Roberts and Sain, then I applaud his magnanimity.

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  • Comment number 3. Posted by DafyddM

    on 18 Jan 2013 17:47

    At first sight Arwel M seems to have a depth of knowledge on this subject, but is, in fact very ill-informed. As someone who has worked "...as a head of business, in a corporate environment (nationally and internationally) for two decades" it should be easy for him to check who the directors of Sain are. If he had taken this trouble to check his facts, he would have seen that I am not a director, nor do I hold any shares in Sain. Neither am I a songwriter, but as a member of a band who has arranged some traditional folk tunes I must admit to reaping in around £30 a year from PRS (before the cuts!). He is right to say that I have a vested interest - yes - Sain has had to lose 10 members of staff because of the drop in royalties. My vested interest is in keeping the staff in employment. As a "head of business etc. etc.,,," he should appreciate this.

    Welsh composers were not 'overpaid'. They were paid according to the PRS distribution policy at the time. PRS tends to vary the policy quite often. Maybe they were underpaid before then? In fact before PRS employed a Welsh speaker hundreds of thousands of pounds of royalties were lost due to incorrect registration and processing. Paperwork for songs that were unintelligible to monoglot staff were thrown into the 'residual files' where the revenue was to be distributed pro rata between other members. Even now the PRS needs 100 man hours to cleanse its data base in order to provide Eos and the broadcasters with a valid list of repertoire that's now controlled by Eos.

    The negotiations between Eos and the BBC are meant to result in a straight commercial agreement between licensor and licensee. Eos believes that there is an economic value to the song that couldn't be realised under the PRS's policies, as they are geared towards the mainstream repertoire. The BBC are also protecting the 'bulk buy' blanket agreement with PRS, and so this neo-monopolistic arrangement is stifling free and open negotiations. No TV Licence payer will be asked to pay more. Any licence agreement will come out of the £3.6 billion that the BBC receives every year. How they spend the £3.6bl is up to the BBC, but in light of recent pay-outs, maybe they should look at their priorities and values, and their commitments under the Charter.

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  • Comment number 2. Posted by Arwel M

    on 15 Jan 2013 12:40

    Could goldenoldieson45rpm give reasons for each of the figures they quote? Rather than expecting us to read between the lines.

    Is the Radio Cymru budget of £12m a fair, or unfair, budget in their opinion?

    Does the % of Welsh music airplay on RC quoted mean music with lyrics sung in Welsh, or music from Welsh artists / labels etc.? Or does it mean the proportion of music, per se, on Radio Cymru?

    Is the figure quoted regarding "% of Radio Cymru budget paid to Welsh musicians" above / beyond the payments PRS have made (up until 1st Jan) this year? Or in addition to those royalty payments?

    What real relevance has Rhodri Talfan Davies' salary got to do with this discussion? Is Eos' purpose to negotiate a fair rate for its members, or is it a subterfuge to bring down capitalism?

    The PRS make radio royalty payments based entirely on audience figures / the analogy rates determined for that particular station. It's not their role - as a rights collection & distribution agency - to subsidise (any) language.

    The BBC offer us the "unique" Welsh language station (it's not entirely a music station, by any means) which is substantial evidence of the BBC's preparedness to support the Welsh language. As a Welsh license fee payer I'm concerned that Eos are trying to use the current 'weak' position of the BBC to extort more money out of us (license fee payers).

    I'm a Welsh learner and a advocate for the language - however trying to use the public's money - in such a strong arm fashion, to prop up the language demonstrates a lack of political nowse and a complete lack of respect for the Welsh license fee payers - the vast majority of whom, it has to be remembered, do not speak Welsh.

    Bryn Fôn will speak in the Welsh Assembly later today. Get an independent auditor in to measure his earnings over past decades, as a Welsh artist who has earned very little airplay outside Wales (despte many other Welsh language artists having done so), and compare his radio related income with a Welsh band who sing in English. He is one of a select few who have benefitted - and I would argue disproportionately - from the erroneous PRS rates prior to 2008.

    When people underpay income tax (as Welsh language artists were overpaid PRS royalties - see paragraph 5 above), they have to pay back any discrepancy to HMRC. Both bodies are handling public money. Perhaps the aggrieved Eos board - trying to preserve their disproportionate income at a time when there have been huge wage cuts, especially in the public sector - would do well to remember that when they're arguing for more money.

    They may feel that they have public feeling on their side, but - in my anecdotal experience in northeast Wales - their manoeuvrings are seen for what they are: a selfish attempt to prise money from the license payer to make up for the change in PRS payments since 2008.

    For the likes of Cymdeithas Yr Iaith and the language campaigners - I appreciate it is impossible to quantify / measure the positive influence that Welsh language music brings to the language as a whole. It's interesting - and important to note, I think - that during the peak boom time for such artists, with regard PRS payments, the number of people who speak Welsh fell according to the most recent census data.

    It could be argued, then, that there is no equivalence between the amount of money paid to Welsh language artists and the propagation / preservation of the language.

    What cost to the language all of the negative press and in fighting highlighted by this argument? A minority with a vested interest trying to force the public's hand - when fair rates of pay have already been decided by a professional body according to audience figures - causes more resentment against the Welsh language and a perceived gravy train for a small cabal with vested interests in profiting from the language, than it does a positive press.

    Finally, why isn't it more widely know that one of Eos' chief negotiators - Dafydd Roberts, the head of Sain and its significant back catalogue - is known to be selling the company. The Eos statements on their blog stress independence, but Roberts has the strongest vested interest imaginable in these negotiations. He stands to benefit more than anyone else should the vastly inflated rate - or anything near it - be agreed, because that - in one move - will exponentially increase the value of the company he is selling.

    I've worked as a head of business, in a corporate environment (nationally and internationally) for two decades. I can't think of an equivalent situation - where a business head with a significant personal interest in an outcome has been allowed to make an argument for public money, unchallenged.

    I'd also like to state that the BBC have been far too slow to respond to this. The statement above should have come out weeks ago. And it should include clear and easy to interpret figures so that the public can make their own minds up about whether Eos' demands are fair or not.

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  • Comment number 1. Posted by goldenoldieson45rpm

    on 11 Jan 2013 20:12

    Radio Cymru budget £12million
    % of Welsh music airplay on RC - 40%
    % of RC budget paid to Welsh musicians - 1% (£100,000)
    Rhodri Talfan Davies remuneration £148,000
    That PRS compare the unique Welsh Language music station RC as equal to BBC Radio Bristol for royalty purposes is a cultural travesty which the BBC are happy to support it seems..

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