HL Deb 30 October 1956 vol 199 cc1184-8

After Clause 27, insert the following new Clause:

Exercise of jurisdiction of tribunal in relation to diffusion of foreign broadcasts

(".—(1) Where, on a reference to the tribunal under this Part of this Act relating to licences to cause works to be transmitted to subscribers to a diffusion service in the United Kingdom, the tribunal is satisfied—

  1. (a) that the licences are required wholly or partly for the purpose of distributing programmes broadcast, from a place outside the United Kingdom, by an organisation other than the Corporation and the Authority, and
  2. (b) that, under the arrangements in accordance with which the programmes are broadcast by that organisation, charges are payable by or on behalf of the organisation to another body, as being the body entitled under the relevant copyright law to authorise the broadcasting of those works from that place,
the tribunal shall, subject to the next following subsection, exercise its powers under this Part of this Act as the tribunal may consider appropriate for securing that the persons requiring the licences are exempted from the payment of any charges for them in so far as the licences are required for the purpose of distributing those programmes.

(2) If on such a reference as is mentioned in the last preceding subsection the tribunal is satisfied as to the matters mentioned in paragraphs (a) and (b) of that subsection, but it is shown to the satisfaction of the tribunal that the charges payable by or on behalf of the organisation as mentioned in paragraph (b) of that subsection, —

  1. (a) make no allowance for the fact that, in consequence of the broadcasting of the works in question by that organisation, the persons requiring the licences may be enabled to cause those works to be transmitted to subscribers to diffusion services in the United Kingdom, or
  2. (b) do not adequately reflect the extent to which it is likely that those persons will cause those works to be so transmitted in consequence of their being so broadcast.
the last preceding subsection shall not apply, but the tribunal shall exercise its powers under this Part of this Act so as to secure that the charges payable for the licences, in so far as the licences are required for the purpose mentioned in the last preceding subsection, are on a scale not exceeding that appearing to the tribunal to be requisite for making good the deficiency (as mentioned in paragraph (a) or paragraph (b) of this subsection, as the case may be) in the charges payable by or on behalf of the organisation broadcasting the works.

(3) Thu preceding provisions of this section shall have effect, with the necessary modifications, in relation to applications under this Part of this Act as they have effect in relation to references thereunder.

(4) In this section "the relevant copyright law", in relation to works broadcast from a place outside the United Kingdom, means so much of the laws of the country in which that place is situated as confers rights similar to copyright under this Act or as otherwise relates to such rights; and any reference to works includes a reference to adaptations thereof.")

5.27 p.m.


My Lords, this Amendment is concerned with the exercise of the jurisdiction of the tribunal in relation to diffusion of foreign broadcasts. It is a new clause, and it is designed to protect relay companies from paying copyright fees in respect of foreign programmes picked up and relayed to their subscribers in cases where the foreign broadcasting authority have paid a copyright fee which covers the United Kingdom relay audience. I beg to move that this House doth agree with the Commons in the said Amendment.

Moved, That this House doth agree with the Commons in the said Amendment— (Lord Mancroft.)


My Lords, I am sorry that the noble Lord, Lord Mancroft, has stopped short in his explanation because. if I read this clause correctly—and let me say here and now that I support it; I think it is very necessary—the latter part of subsection (2) is expressly designed to overcome some of the fears that have been expressed by the relay associations, fears that there will be double payment. Perhaps your Lordships would not mind looking at it. It means this. If the composers are being paid a percentage by one organisation—let us say the B.B.C.—they will not be able to demand a second payment. They will have to come under the jurisdiction of the tribunal who can authorise the making up of any deficiency. If there is no deficiency, there will be no payment. I think that is a very wise provision, arid if I read this clause correctly it has been put in to safeguard the relay companies against those things about which they have expressed fears —for example, that the composer and author may get two royalties, or more than the fair royalty that he would otherwise receive. I think that my explanation is right. That is my reading of this clause.

May I say one word upon the whole subject of this tribunal? The idea of introducing a tribunal into copyright law originated, as your Lordships will remember, from this side of the House. When we discussed television copyright some few years ago (Lord Mancroft will remember this), we had many disputes in the House, even before the Copyright Committee's Report was before your Lordships for discussion. I have always thought that this tribunal provided the correct method for giving some court of appeal to those who thought they were being charged too much and also to those who thought they should not pay anything at all.

May I ask the noble Lord this question? I want to go back to this matter of the licence with regard to the right of reproduction of a gramophone record where the author or composer is paid a statutory royalty. He is paid 6¼ percent. of the retail price. That is laid down in the Statute: it is in this Bill. Why did not the Government bring the Tribunal into that matter—the Tribunal to have the power to fix the fees or to be the arbitrator to hear appeals against fees —instead of setting up the cumbersome machinery there is in the Bill of a public inquiry if the composer wants to increase his royalties, and then an Affirmative Resolution after a statutory instrument has been placed before both Houses of Parliament by the President of the Board of Trade? It appears to me that the Government want to find a sledge hammer or a huge machine to deal with what should be a matter of commercial sense. There has to be an Affirmative Resolution—not even a Negative Resolution, which I understand the Government do not like at all.

I wonder whether the noble Lord can give me an answer. I should have thought the Tribunal would be the ideal body to decide this point, because, after all, what is a royalty on a recording but a fee for a copyright that is going to enable a performance to be given? What is the difference between a copyright fee on a recording and a copyright fee for a broadcast? I hope at some time the Government will consider that that aspect of this Bill might conic in for amendment. if there is a very good reason why this matter is kept separate and not included in a like clause, perhaps the noble Lord will be kind enough to tell me.


On the first point the noble Lord raised, he is quite right about the avoiding of double payment. I did touch on this matter in my opening remarks about Clause 2 and I did not want to reiterate it. On the point about the 64 per cent. I will be quite frank with the noble Lord. I do remember that we discussed it a long time ago, either on the original Bill or on the Committee stage. It is so long ago that I have forgotten what the reason was. I know that there was a good reason and I was wholly convinced at the time. I think we considered that the Tribunal was not technically equipped to do the calculation on the 61 per cent. and it would be confusing their terms of reference and their purpose. I have to check my memory as to what it was.


I think the noble Lord will recollect that when the Government became converted to the idea of the Tribunal it had a rather narrower conception of its duties, and perhaps that was the reason. But, of course, the duties of the Tribunal have been considerably widened from those which were first conceived. Perhaps the noble Lord is right.


We are now going off on a wrong tack. What the noble Lord is saying is perfectly true. but he will remember the 61 per cent. was fixed by Parliament. I wonder whether the idea may have been that it was a had thing to put before the Tribunal something which was as a figure statutorily fixed. The rates they will be discussing in their proper role now as a Tribunal will not have been fixed by Parliament. The 6¼percent. was. I think that was the reason.


The bad thing was that Parliament put up the machinery of Parliament to fix 61 per cent. on the price of a gramophone record. I should have thought that that matter would be the subject of negotiation between the gramophone record manufacturer and the composer, with a Tribunal to arbitrate if they could not agree. However, I am grateful for the noble Lord's reply.

On Question, Motion agreed to.