AER 2013 conference held in Brussels

AER recalls that commercial radio is mainly local and regional, delivers services of general interest and requires easier licensing for the use of music

The Association of European Radios (AER) held in Brussels its 2013 Annual Conference on February 27th.  Opening the conference at the European Parliament, Stefan Möller (AER President) recalled that “Radio is indeed the world’s first social media in history. 80% of the EU population on average listens to radio for at least 2 or 3 hours per day”. He then asked “In a world where information and media streams hit you here, there and everywhere: what is the place for radio media? Where does its strength lie?” Quoting Julian Treasure from the Sound Agency, Mr. Möller explained: “Radio is your trusted guide!” Indeed, “the strength of radio lies in the well planned and produced mixture of talk, stories, entertainment, news, music and surprises. In today’s online world it is so easy to get lost and be misled: Radio is your trusted guide!”

Opening the first session on commercial radio’s public and personal value, Marian Harkin MEP (ALDE, EMPL) declared that “local radio connects me to Irish voters, and connects Irish voters to me.” She was supported by John Purcell (Independent Broadcasters of Ireland Chairman) who presented how vivid and close to the people commercial radio is in his home country: “Independent radio in Ireland is just 24 years in existence and since its inception has become an essential part of the daily lives of the people of Ireland.” David Lloyd (Orion Media Programme and Marketing Director) described radio as “the medium which tells them of the cause – touches people – and tell them how to take part. And in between the great entertainment, reminds them again and again.” The session was concluded by Marko Eichmann (Planet Radio Programme Director) who showed that commercial radio can also be the medium bringing people’s passion to fruition: with the German radio award winning competition of his station, the most creative listener was offered a shop in a mall to sell his self-designed goods. He also illustrated the extensive and very reactive use commercial radio is making of social media linking the listeners to their favorite radio programme.

During the following panel session, Petra Kammerevert MEP (S&D, CULT), Amelia Andersdotter MEP (GREENS / EFA, ITRE), Dennis De Jong MEP (GUE / NGL, IMCO), Cecilia Wikström MEP (ALDE, JURI), Colette Bouckaert, head of Office of Jean-Marie Cavada MEP (EPP, CULT), Maria Martin-Prat (European Commission Head of Copyright Unit) and Julia Maier-Hauff (AER Secretary General) exchanged views on the Proposal for a Directive on collective management of authors’ rights and related rights in a passionate and good humoured debate. Ms. Kammerevert opened the debate welcoming participants to the AER Conference and outlining the background of the debate. Whilst most MEPs agreed on the fact that it is essential to establish a level-playing field amongst different entities managing rights and that one-stop-shops are key in this context to allow legal platforms to grow online, there was a fierce discussion regarding cultural diversity and the possibility to enable competition in the field of rights’ management. Julia Maier-Hauff recalled that collecting societies are important partners for radios and that re-aggregation and easier licensing of music rights is paramount for radios. Regarding the governance of collecting societies and their subsidiaries, she added that any rights user should receive information at least on tariffs, the licensing conditions, administrative requirements and the destination of the monies received and that dispute resolution mechanisms should be established as appropriate in every Member State in order to prevent abuse of a dominant position by any entity providing access to music rights.