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Distribution information guide: Community radio

This information guide explains how the licence fees we collect from community, SBS, narrowcast, Māori, student access and low power FM radio stations are paid out as royalties.

Community radio, SBS radio, narrowcast radio, Māori, student, access and low power FM

Where does the money come from?

APRA AMCOS collects licence fees from Australian community, SBS and narrowcast radio stations and New Zealand Māori, Student, Access and Low Power FM stations. In total there are around 270 community radio stations, 100 narrowcast radio stations and 130 Māori, student, access and low power FM stations.

Licence fees from commercial and national radio stations in Australia and New Zealand are collected and distributed separately.

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

Because of the nature of these services, overall licence fees are relatively low. It is not cost effective for APRA AMCOS (and oftentimes the radio station) to collect and process direct census data listing every song broadcast on their station. APRA AMCOS therefore makes royalty distributions using sample and analogous data for community radio and analogous data for narrowcast radio and low-power FM.

Australian Community Radio:
APRA uses three separate sources of sample data for community radio.

  1. Selected individual stations with an annual licence fee of more than $4,000 provide APRA with electronic or manual reports of broadcast music, 4 weeks each year.
  2. Broadcast music information from Amrap (Australian Music Radio Airplay Project) Pages software, covering broadcast on a further 25% of community radio stations.
  3. Community Radio Network data covering approximately 40 separate syndicated weekly music programmes.

For songs used in sponsorship announcements and community service announcements, 4.35% of the total revenue from community radio stations is allocated on an analogous basis to the Australian commercial radio pool for music in advertisements.

SBS provide us with detailed electronic reports of the songs they broadcast across their radio stations on a full census basis. In some instances a sample data set is provided.

Very few advertisements are broadcast on SBS radio, therefore this information is not captured. Members are encouraged to contact APRA AMCOS as and when they are made aware of their music being broadcast on SBS Radio as part of an advertisement, community service announcement or news and weather themes.

Australian Narrowcast Radio and New Zealand Māori, Student, Access and Low-Power FM:
Narrowcast radio and Low-Power FM (which are essentially the same type of broadcast service) is handled differently. APRA and AMCOS licence fees (where relevant) are added to the Australian/NZ commercial radio pool as appropriate, apart from identified foreign language narrowcast radio stations in Australia where their royalties are added to the community radio pool.

New Zealand Māori stations and student access radio stations provide a sample data set.

AMCOS Royalties:
The very small AMCOS portion of licence fees from these services is distributed using the same information as is provided to APRA.

How are songs matched to the data APRA AMCOS receives?

The songs reported in the sample data are matched to the vast repertoire of songs in our database. Analogous distributions are added to the relevant distribution pool, where matching has already occurred.

For the SBS data we receive for foreign language broadcasts, where the corresponding territory has copyright laws in place and an affiliated performing right society established, 25% of the information is analysed (1 week out of 4 weeks of data per month) due to the manual nature of this work.

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.

Royalties are distributed via distribution pools (or by copying datasets) that are most similar in terms of a licensee’s music content. This method is used when Direct Allocation or Sample reporting is impractical.

royalties are distributed via a representative sample of performances (which may be in relation to a particular licence scheme, licence scheme or group thereof), where it is inappropriate, unfeasible, or not economically viable to provide a Direct Allocation.