Community sector leaders have expressed shock at the decision by the music licensing authority PPL to charge a fee of 1 per cent of community groups’ income to play recorded music in public places.
The Community Sector Law Monitoring Group, which examines legislation that will affect community organisations, said in a statement that it had believed it was in "productive negotiation" with PPL until it received a letter from it last month announcing its intention to levy the charge on community groups unless their income is under £10,000 per year.
Groups with incomes of under £10,000 will pay a flat rate of £42.
The CSLMG statement said sports groups were "not so far included in the decision" and could face higher charges.
"As far as CSLMG and its member organisations are concerned, no deal had yet been struck between PPL and the sector," the statement said.
An amendment to legislation introduced this year means that charity shops and community groups will have to pay for licences to play music from January 2012.
The amendment says public venues, including those used by charities and not-for-profit groups, will need licences from PPL in order to play music from records, CDs, the radio or television. PPL and PRS for Music, the association of composers, songwriters and music publishers, distribute royalties on behalf of composers, lyricists, music publishers, record companies and musicians.
In response to PPL’s decision, David Tyler, chief executive of Community Matters and chair of the CSLMG, has written to the licensing authority to say that the charges are "just a way of wringing more money out of small charities".
The letter said: "We have all invested considerable time and effort into substantiating our proposals for further improvements to a community buildings tariff, and we understood that you were considering them very seriously. As your letter makes no reference to our proposals, I now have to wonder whether this was really the case."
Update - due to a mistake in the production process, the following statement from PPL was omitted from the story:
A PPL spokeswoman said the organisation was "disappointed" with the comments made by CSLMG. The fee-charging scheme had been agreed between PPL and CSLMG, she said.
"PPL has had productive discussions with CSLMG, and other trade bodies within this sector, about how PPL should introduce this brand new licensing scheme," she said.