The British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) has had a “frank exchange of views” with PPL over the music royalties collection body’s planned increase in fees for its Special Featured Entertainment (SFE) tariff, writes Michelle Perrett. PPL is consulting on plans to increase its SFE fees, which apply to events where sound recordings are a main attraction such as DJ sets, by 10-fold for the average pub, and up to 4,000% for the largest nightclubs. BBPA director of pubs and leisure Martin Rawlings said discussions with PPL were likely to be ongoing for some time. PPL presented the BBPA with research that it claims proves pubs are underpaying for playing music. Rawlings said: “We are nowhere near a resolution with PPL as we are so far apart. We will look at this research carefully and respond in due course. “We don’t want to go down the legal route and we would much rather settle.” The BBPA and the British Hospitality Association successfully took action on behalf of pubs, restaurants and hotels over PPL charges. Last year, they won a High Court ruling rejecting an appeal brought by PPL over the charges for the playing of background music in pubs, bars, restaurants and hotels. The two trade associations pursued the case in a protracted legal battle. The court victory entitled pubs, hotels and restaurants across Britain to receive up to £20m in refunds from PPL, and saved pubs around £6m per year in new charges. Meanwhile, licensee Jeff Smith, of the Red House in Sheffield, is setting up a campaign calling on publicans to stop playing music from bands registered with PPL in protest at the fee hikes.

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