February 29, 2012 / 5:00 AM / 7 years ago

EU songwriters urge antitrust probe of broadcasters

BRUSSELS, Feb 29 (Reuters) - Songwriters from 28 European countries urged EU antitrust regulators on Wednesday to investigate broadcasters, including the British Broadcasting Corporation, Mediaset and British Sky Broadcasting , for allegedly making unfair music publishing deals.

The European Composer and Songwriter Alliance (ECSA) said in a formal complaint filed with the European Commission’s competition division that the broadcasters had breached EU antitrust rules.

“The terms of publishing agreements into which composers are coerced by some of Europe’s largest and most prominent broadcasters are far less fair than what could be secured in a truly free and open market,” ECSA said in a statement.

It said composers were frequently forced to assign the copyrights to their music to a publishing company owned by the production company or broadcaster as a pre-condition prior to being given a commission.

“This complaint represents what is at stake for the independent community of composers and songwriters and why it matters, not only to the composers, but also the threat to quality and diversity of talent among younger, less well-known composers and songwriters which these practices pose,” said ECSA Chairman Alfons Karabuda.

Other broadcasters named in the complaint include TF1, ZDF Digital Medienproduktion GmbH, RTL Group, SAT 1, ARD, Rat Pack Filmproduktions GmbH, The Studio Hamburg Group, Grundy UFA TV Produktions GmbH, Rai Radiotelevisione Italiana S.p.A., NTR, RTL Netherland, DDB Amsterdam, Sky1, ITV Studios Limited, ITV plc and Zodiak Media Group.

ECSA represents more than 12,000 composers and songwriters.

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