PPL Radio licensing in 2018: What you need to know

PPL attended the Radio Academy’s Radio Festival 2018 as part of our industry outreach in May, sponsoring the Festival Hub with our friends from PRS for Music.

PPL currently licenses over 1,800 radio services, ranging from the BBC and commercial stations, through to community, student and hospital stations. PPL also licenses a number of different types of online radio and audio services.

Whether you’re looking to know more about traditional stations or what types of online audio uses PPL collects for on your behalf, we’ve compiled a useful guide for you here.

BBC Radio

BBC Radio stations, as well as their catch-up and internet simulcast services, are licensed under a blanket licence with PPL that covers all the BBC’s public service broadcast activity.

The BBC has been licensed by PPL since 1935 and is PPL’s largest broadcast licensee, with over 60 radio stations and a listen-again service available on BBC iPlayer.

Commercial radio

PPL works with over 350 commercial stations including Capital, Heart, Absolute and Kiss to ensure the performers and recording rightsholders who get played, get paid. We do this through licensing the stations to include recorded music within their Ofcom-licensed AM, FM, DAB or DTT (Freeview) broadcasts and internet simulcast services.

Commercial radio stations generally pay licence fees that are calculated on a share of their broadcasting revenue (for example, from advertising or sponsorship), with the smaller stations paying a minimum fee for each platform that they use to broadcast. The vast majority of stations are required to provide PPL with details of each track included within their broadcast so that licence fee income can be distributed to performers and recording rightsholders appropriately.

Community radio, student radio and hospital radio

In addition to commercial stations, the UK has a strong network of radio stations operating on a not-for-profit basis. These include community radio that targets a particular local area or age group, student radio broadcasting internally within schools or colleges to their students during term time, and radio stations within hospitals broadcasting directly to a patient’s bedside. Some of these smaller services pay a flat fee to cover their use of recorded music throughout a calendar year. Others pay the greater of a ‘per platform’ minimum fee or a percentage of advertising and sponsorship revenue.

In January 2017, PPL and PRS for Music launched a joint licence for community radio stations, which is the first joint radio broadcast licence introduced by either society.

Online radio services

PPL also licenses linear internet radio stations, which are typically operated by hobbyists, amateur DJs and community or specialist interest groups. The vast majority of these stations pay a flat fee to PPL. Larger internet radio stations pay on a ‘rate per track per stream’ basis. This means that these stations pay a fee to PPL that is directly linked to how many recorded music tracks are listened to by their listeners.

It is now easier than ever for this type of radio station to purchase a PPL licence to cover its use of recorded music – the majority of internet radio licences are available to purchase via the PPL website.

As well as the linear, more traditional type of internet radio station, PPL can also license customised radio stations, where listeners can pause a stream or skip a limited number of tracks. Listeners may also be able to influence the music tracks heard in a stream (for example, by ‘liking’ or ‘disliking’ a particular track when they hear it).

PPL can also license ‘listen-again’ or ‘catch-up’ services. This type of service allows users to listen to a radio programme at a time that suits them, and pause and skip through the programme. As with the linear and customised radio stations mentioned above, licence fees are linked to how long users listen to the programmes available, with a ‘rate per listener hour’ payable.

If you have any queries about the use of your recorded music on any radio station, you can contact our Member Services team at memberservices@ppluk.com.