It’s “unlikely” that the proposed fee hikes for pubs that host DJ and disco nights from music royalties collection agency PPL will be reduced - despite a consultation with the industry, writes Gurjit Degun. In an exclusive interview with the Publican’s Morning Advertiser (PMA), sister title to M&C Report, to be published next week, PPL chief executive Peter Leathem said that although the organisation is open to the proposed fees moving “in both directions”, he “suspects” they won’t decrease. “From what we’re seeing at the moment, it is unlikely that they will go down in the consultation process,” he said. “But we’re obviously open to look through and be given a better picture of why it’s going to be unaffordable for so many premises.” Last year, PPL said it will be increasing its Specially Featured Entertainment fees by up to 4,000%, and the PMA reported that a number of operators fear that it could force many late-night bars to close. Intertain, the 39-strong Walkabout operator, said its PPL bill would rocket from £150k to £7m a year. Leathem acknowledged that the consultation process has “united” pub trade bodies that are often in dispute with each other. The industry has already raised between £250,000 and £300,000 for a fund to challenge the proposed fees. He said: “There can be times when the industry might be fighting itself on the pub tie and things like that, this [the consultation] can help people unite. It’s an opportunity for the trade bodies to unite everybody and say, ‘PPL is the enemy’. “But sometimes what is missed is that what we are delivering is a fantastic product that enhances pubs in so many different ways and you can get it all from one transaction with PPL.” Leathem said that it is not PPL’s intention to close down venues: “We’re not trying to close bars. It’s a relatively minor price point for either the day-to-day running of a pub or the events that they’re putting on. It may be that the operating model has got to where an increased price is difficult to take, but if the business can’t continue, there’s a number of reasons why that would be.” The consultation is open until the end of 2012 and PPL has pledged not to bring in any new fees this year.