Press release

CMA provisionally decides to release PRS undertakings

The CMA has provisionally decided to release the Performing Right Society (PRS) from undertakings dating back to 1997.

A band performing on stage

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 wider issues relating to the PRS or performing rights in general.

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 provisional decision and other information relating to the review can be found on the PRS case page. The CMA will consider responses to the provisional decision before reaching its final decision.

Anyone wishing to comment on the provisional decision should do so in writing, by 5pm on Friday 22 April 2016. Please email, or write to:

Peter Hill
Project Director
PRS Undertakings Review
Competition and Markets Authority
Victoria House
Southampton Row
London WC1B 4AD

Separately, the CMA has also completed its review of 71 old structural merger remedies by publishing its final decisions to retain the undertakings in the two remaining cases. These decisions and full details of the whole project can be found on the remedies review 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 (CC) and the competition and certain consumer functions of the Office of Fair Trading, as amended by the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act 2013. The MMC was the CC’s predecessor organisation.
  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 consists of Simon Polito (Chair), Anne Lambert and Philip Marsden.
  4. The list of cases published on 26 March 2015 contained 76 structural merger undertakings. The number of remedies reviewed was ultimately reduced to 71, after the CMA either combined overlapping cases together or uncovered facts that meant a review was unnecessary.
  5. For information on the CMA see our homepage, or follow us on Twitter @CMAgovuk, Flickr and LinkedIn.
  6. Enquiries should be directed to Siobhan Allen (, 020 3738 6460).
Published 23 March 2016