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Distribution information guide: Commercial free-to-air TV

This information guide explains how the licence fees we collect from commercial free-to-air TV networks are paid out as royalties.

Where does the money come from?

APRA AMCOS collects licence fees from all Australian and New Zealand commercial free-to-air television networks and stations for the broadcast of its music (including in local and overseas television shows, films, promos and advertisements). In Australia this includes Networks 7, 9 and 10, their regional affiliates such as Prime, WIN and Southern Cross and their digital sister channels such as 7TWO, 7mate, 9Gem, 9Go! and 10Peach. In New Zealand this includes TVOne, TV2, TV3, FOUR. And while Maori TV is not a commercial television service we apply the same distribution practices.

It should also be noted that the data we receive from commercial television stations is also used to allocate royalties from many of our public performance licence schemes.

Licence fees from other Australian free-to-air TV stations such as ABC and SBS, and Pay TV in both Australia and New Zealand are collected and distributed separately (see specific Guides).

What information does APRA AMCOS use to determine who should be paid?

Commercial free-to-air TV networks/stations provide us with detailed electronic records of all the songs used in film and television productions they broadcast (cue sheets). They also provide us with detailed information about the date and time of broadcast. For the larger stations (both in terms of population reach and licence fees) we receive these records on a full census basis, meaning we receive 100% of all broadcast information, for smaller stations (e.g. regional affiliated stations) and secondary channels, a sample data set may be used, for example one full week of detailed records are provided for each month.

We also use Music Recognition Technology (MRT) to monitor the songs and compositions used in advertisements broadcast in capital cities. For advertisements broadcast in regional areas, we rely on Jingle Reporting Forms submitted directly by our members.

How are songs matched to the data APRA AMCOS receives?

Programming reported by the station is directly matched to the cue sheets (or in the case of promos, songs) that we hold in our database. Data from the cue sheets and other reports tells us who should be paid. APRA employs an internal sample methodology so that approximately 25% of programming that does not auto-match is researched by APRA AMCOS staff and the musical work information in our database is updated.

For MRT, our members may submit sound recordings to us to be uploaded to our MRT partner’s database. These songs are registered with APRA at the time they’re submitted, so that when broadcast information is reported to us the songs can be matched automatically. Songs reported in MRT data which weren’t submitted by our members can still be matched to the songs in our database, for inclusion in our distributions. For Jingle Reporting Forms members also register their ownership when they’re submitting the form.

Key terms used in our Distribution Rules and Practices document

The Copyright Act refers to compositions, musical scores in the form of sheet music, broadsheets or other notation as musical works. Lyrics or words to a song are considered literary works. When we refer to songs, we are referring to all the elements of a musical/literary work protected by copyright.

Cue sheets:
A cue sheet is a record of all songs used in a film and/or television production. APRA AMCOS is provided with cue sheets for all locally produced programs broadcast in Australia and New Zealand and this information is used to distribute royalties for the public performance of the song.

Full census:
the licensee provides complete reports detailing all songs played, broadcast or streamed.

Licence fees are distributed via a representative sample of performances where it is inappropriate, unfeasible or not economically viable to provide a Direct Allocation.

Music Recognition Technology (MRT):
A digital ‘fingerprint’ of each piece of music is created when it is used. This fingerprint is then compared to the digital fingerprints of many millions of musical works housed in a third-party fingerprint database. This database also contains each work’s metadata (that is, the names of writers, performers, recording details etc.) enabling the owners of each matched work to be identified and paid accordingly.

In terms of royalty payments, a jingle refers to any music used in advertisements, including commissioned songs and compositions, general songs and compositions and production music.