Press release

CMA decides to release PRS undertakings

The CMA has decided to release undertakings given by the Performing Right Society (PRS) which date back to 1997.

This follows the provisional decision which was published in March.

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 Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) announced in November 2015 that it would carry out a review of the undertakings which followed a 1996 Monopolies and Mergers Commission (MMC) investigation. In 1997 the PRS gave undertakings allowing its members to administer their own live performing rights, as well as making other commitments over its corporate governance and the provision of information to the Office of Fair Trading (now the CMA).

The current review has been considering whether there has been a change of circumstance such that the undertakings are no longer appropriate and should be varied, released or retained. The review has not been examining performing rights in general or any wider issues.

After carefully considering responses to the provisional decision, the group of independent CMA panel members carrying out the review has decided that the EU Collective Rights Management Directive (the Directive), and the corresponding UK Collective Management of Copyright (EU Directive) Regulations 2016 (the Regulations) will be effective in addressing the areas covered by the undertakings. The group has therefore decided that the undertakings are no longer required.

The UK Regulations came into force on 10 April 2016 having been laid in Parliament on 25 February 2016. The Regulations introduce 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 final decision and other information relating to the review can be found on the PRS case page.

Notes for editors

  1. The CMA is the UK’s primary competition and consumer authority. It is an independent non-ministerial government department with responsibility for carrying out investigations into mergers, markets and the regulated industries and enforcing competition and consumer law. From 1 April 2014 it took over the functions of the Competition Commission and the competition and certain consumer functions of the Office of Fair Trading.
  2. The CMA has a statutory duty under the Fair Trading Act 1973 and the Enterprise Act 2002 to keep under review undertakings and orders. From time to time, the CMA must consider whether, by reason of any change of circumstances: undertakings are no longer appropriate and need to be varied, superseded or released; or an order is no longer appropriate and needs to be varied or revoked.
  3. The CMA group reviewing the PRS undertakings comprised Simon Polito (Chair), Anne Lambert and Philip Marsden.
  4. For information on the CMA see our homepage, or follow us on Twitter @CMAgovuk, Flickr and LinkedIn. Sign up to our email alerts to receive updates on reviews of orders and undertakings.
  5. Enquiries should be directed to Rory Taylor (rory.taylor@cma.gsi.gov.uk, 0203 738 6798).