British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) chief executive Brigid Simmonds has called for a voluntary code of practice governing how fees are collected from pubs for recorded music. She made the call at a meeting in Parliament last night in response to the plan by PPL, the music royalties collection agency, to ratchet up fees for its Specially Featured Entertainment (SFE) tariff that could see charges for some outlets rise by up to 4,000%. Speaking at a panel to discuss plans to impose minimum standards for collection societies, Simmonds said codes of practices should be introduced “as a mater of urgency”. The code should force groups to: 1) Consult with a wide range of stakeholders and conduct compulsory negotiation over plans to alter tariffs. 2) Have transparent reporting of income, collection and distribution of fees. 3) Have robust complaints procedures for individual licensees; for example, an independent ombudsman. Simmonds said: “I welcome the proposals in the Hargreaves Review for codes of conduct containing minimum standards to govern collecting societies. We support collective licensing but believe that the inevitable monopolies that result do need greater controls.” The event in Parliament was organised by Consumer Focus and the Parliamentary Internet Communications and Technology Forum, and chaired by Eric Joyce MP. A coalition of trade bodies — including the BBPA, Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers and the Bar, Entertainment & Dance Association — have stumped up £200,000 to fight PPL’s proposals to change the SFE tariff. There has already been a minor victory in this campaign with the consultation extended until the end of the year and PPL shifting back the proposed implementation date from April 2012 to January 2013. Last week The Publican’s Morning Advertiser, sister title to M&C Report, reported that a number of operators face huge rises in SFE fees under the current plan. For example, Walkabout operator Intertain’s PPL bill would rocket from £150,000 to an eye-watering £7m a year.