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GPs face crackdown on playing radio or TV under licensing laws

GP practices are being warned against playing music or TV in waiting rooms unless they purchase licences at a cost of hundreds of pounds as a company responsible for collecting royalties for artists has started a crackdown on the unlicensed playing of copyrighted music.

To legally play recorded music in public, business owners have to arrange and pay for a license from the companies PPL and PRS for Music, both organisations which collect fees to pay royalties to copyright-holders of music.

PPL said costs of a license will depend on whether music is played in patient waiting rooms, treatment rooms, or staff work areas. The fee for music in a waiting room is currently £119.15 per annum irrespective of size or the number of seats but would be more if there was a TV playing music videos whic, according to its website, would cost at least £275 a year.

Meanwhile PRS for Music charges per seat in the waiting room, with recorded music license fees costing £80.86 if the waiting room has no more than nine seats, growing by £7.93 per seat. The PRS annual license fee to play telephone on-hold music starts at £115.63.

Although this has been the law since 2003, PPL has been on a mission to crack down on the playing of music in public without a licence since September, LMCs have warned.

YORLMC wrote: ‘[A]s of 1 September 2014, the music licensing company PPL intends to licence more proactively [meaning] practices that have a radio or TV in their public areas are likely to need a PPL licence in addition to a PRS licence.’

However, it flagged up that practices can purchase CDs of background music that do not require any broadcast licences at a one-off cost of £36 each from AKM music, including albums such as ‘The magic and wonder of Christmas’, which promises ‘not the usual traditional carols but enchanting Disney style music that perfectly creates the magic of Christmas’.

PPL head of public performance Sarah Mitchell said: ‘[A]cross the UK more and more businesses and organisations are investing in their customer experience. Music is a key part of that, and we believe that it can hold a host of benefits for staff and customers alike. All we ask is that anyone choosing to play recorded music to their staff or customers is properly licensed, ensuring that all those that invest their time and talent in playing recorded music are paid fairly for their work.’

The news comes as a fresh blow to patients in waiting rooms after GPs were recently advised to only supply ‘older’ and ‘serious’ magazines because recent magazines focusing on light entertainment and celebrity gossip were at high risk of being stolen by patients.

Readers' comments (9)

  • The law is the law and ignorance is no excuse for breaking it.

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  • John Glasspool

    WE always had a live band playing at my practice.

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  • Honestly I think this is fair enough. We should be paying this.

    As far as I think - we do not play music or TV in the waiting room.

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  • Surely everyone knows this anyway. When we built our new surgery in the early 90s we purchased PPL and PRS licences. A few weeks later we had a visit from a man with a clipboard who asked if we realised we needed a licence. We waved the paperwork in his face and his response was "well you aren't on my list"

    It shows this is not a new issue.

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  • GPs face crackdown on 'existing'

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  • Hazel Drury

    Had this just this week. The bill was £140 from PPL (not £115). We already had PRS license so PPL was news to me.
    My stance now is that if punters want music they can bring an mp3 player. It's not like I'm trying to attract new business.

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  • Maybe NHS england could do NHSE fm,It could have messages about virtual general practice,dont get ill,dont go to A&E.They could use their pr budget, pipe it into every orifice in the uk,get everyone on message,play subliminal messages tell people they are not ill.wouldnt it be lovely and we could have it as part of our contract to the nhs!

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  • We can't play music even though a radio can be anyones anywhere why not in waiting room

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  • I have a therapy practice and play soft relaxing music in the background. The clients love it and often tell me how much is helps relax them. However, I buy royalty free tracks from a variety of sources and music producers for this purpose. They are a one off payment to the musician with no recurring fees, and certainly no license.
    I know you are not in the business of attracting new business Hazel @ 12.07 8-1-15, but a quiet relaxing waiting room environment with soft, soothing music, is certainly a better place to be mentally than the jangling local radio station or the TV where you have no control over what is broadcast.

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