BBC Wales music dispute: Interim ruling on EOS payments

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BBC Wales has been told to continue paying a £10,000 monthly fee to a Welsh language music body until a royalties dispute is resolved.

The interim ruling secures the licence for BBC Radio Cymru to continue playing music from artists signed to the rights group EOS.

The station cut its hours and replaced some pop with other music at the start of the year due to the dispute.

The Copyright Tribunal made the interim ruling as it considers the matter.

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The facts in this case are complex and many are in dispute”

End Quote Copyright Tribunal panel

The tribunal panel said it hoped to deliver a final order on the dispute before the end of 2013.

EOS allowed the BBC a temporary reprieve in February but wanted the interim payments to almost treble.

But following an interim hearing, the Copyright Tribunal panel said the £10,000 fee should remain unchanged until it makes its final ruling.

"The facts in this case are complex and many are in dispute," said the panel.

'Widely divergent views'

"The parties have widely divergent views on what a reasonable licence fee should be - the BBC says it should be £100,000 per annum and EOS says it should be £1.5m per annum.

"We are not in a position to pre-judge the final outcome of this matter and cannot now conclude with any certainty what the final fee may be."

The tribunal said there were concerns that if it agreed to a much higher interim licence fee and then later fixed the payments at a lower level in the final judgement, EOS would have to pay back a large sum.

"The evidence suggests there is a risk that EOS will not be able to repay to the BBC any amount which is overpaid," stated the tribunal panel.

"We have concluded that the balance of justice is best served in maintaining the status quo."

Responding to the decision, a BBC spokesperson said: "Today's interim decision by the Copyright Tribunal is the first step in an independent legal process that will result in a final substantive decision later this year.

"In the meantime our focus remains on reaching an outcome which is fair to Welsh language musicians and the licence fee payer."

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