Press release

CMA reviews Performing Right Society undertakings

The CMA is launching a review of undertakings given by the Performing Right Society (PRS) following a competition investigation in 1995/6.

Crowd at a concert

The PRS is one of the two main collecting societies for music in the UK. It licenses musical works and administers the royalties when they are played in public or broadcast, for example on the radio or television.

Following a Monopolies and Mergers Commission (MMC) investigation, the PRS gave undertakings in 1997 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 decision to review the undertakings follows a Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) consultation in July, which sought views on whether to carry out reviews of 13 sets of market and monopoly remedies that had been put in place by the CMA’s predecessors prior to 2005. The CMA expects to launch further work following this consultation in the coming months. This consultation formed part of its commitment, set out in its 2015/16 annual plan, to commence a systematic review of existing merger, market and monopoly remedies.

The CMA has decided there are grounds to review the PRS undertakings. This is due to internal changes made by the PRS; legislative changes including the forthcoming implementation of a new EU Directive covering collective rights management; and wider changes in the music industry including the growth of online and digital music including downloads and streaming.

This review will only be considering whether there are changes of circumstances relevant to the undertakings such that they should be varied, released or retained - it is not examining wider issues relating to the PRS or performing rights in general.

The CMA expects to publish an issues statement for consultation next month setting out the main areas of focus in this work and providing details of the administrative timetable including a deadline for comments to be received by the CMA. Interested parties with evidence relevant to the subject matter of this review of undertakings can contact the team using the following email address:

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. 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 markets cases.
  4. Enquiries should be directed to Rory Taylor (, 020 3738 6798).
Published 20 November 2015