CMA provisionally decides to release PRS for Music from 1997 undertakings

April 2016

Music publishing, broadcasting, internet



The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has published its provisional decision in its review of undertakings given by PRS to the Monopolies and Mergers Commission (MMC) in 1997.  The CMA has provisionally decided to release the undertakings. The PRS is one of the two main collecting societies for music in the UK. It licenses musical works and administers the royalties when such works are played in public or broadcast, for example on the radio or television.


The group of independent CMA panel members carrying out the review considers that the forthcoming implementation of the EU Collective Rights Management Directive will effectively address the areas and concerns covered by the undertakings. The group has therefore provisionally decided that the undertakings are no longer required.


This Directive, due to be implemented by each EU Member State by 10 April 2016, introduces a number of requirements that collective management organisations, such as the PRS, must meet – as well as various protections for their members. The requirements are intended to ‘ensure a high standard of governance, financial management, transparency and reporting.’


The CMA’s decision to review PRS’s undertakings is part of its wider review of the 76 existing market remedies that were put in place by the CMA’s predecessors prior to 2005, the key purpose of which is to reduce burdens on business by assessing whether any existing market remedies are no longer necessary. This systematic review forms part of the CMA’s Annual Plan for 2015/2016.


Robert Ashcroft, Chief Executive, PRS for Music, commented:


“We are pleased that the CMA has recognised the change of circumstance and shares our view that these undertakings are now no longer required and should be released”.

He added that: “We are operating in a much more competitive and complex environment than in the late 1990s largely due to the technological changes in the last 20 years particularly in the online world. This means that we have to work even more effectively to deliver our services and royalties to members as well as compete against new and emerging players.”


The CMA will now run a public consultation on the provisional decision with a view to reaching a final decision in April.

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