BBC Music Rights

OldSkoolGP

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Don't know if this has ever been talked about, but why does the BBC have license to use whatever music they want in Top Gear while the History Channel has to use reproduced knockoffs of songs for the U.S version of the show? Don't they have to pay some sort of royalty when they use the music from a movie like they do?
 

Amie8

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It's not magic, narf, it's money.

All the terrestrial broadcasters have similar arrangements. They don't have to ask permission up front (except in a few cases), but they pay retrospectively.
 

MWF

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For proper clarification your best bet would be to PM upyourego since he works for the BBC.
 

PWooster

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Would anyone else say the quality of the episode soundtracks has been declining? I used to love all the new-to-me music I'd hear on Top Gear but lately not so much. I wonder if there was a change in staff at the show.
 

teeb

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Don't know if this has ever been talked about, but why does the BBC have license to use whatever music they want in Top Gear while the History Channel has to use reproduced knockoffs of songs for the U.S version of the show? Don't they have to pay some sort of royalty when they use the music from a movie like they do?
The BBC has a "blanket agreement" with the music industry for audio.

Which means you can hear Seargent Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band on a BBC programme, but due to complicated legal reasons, you can't show a copy of the cover.
 

Cobol74

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Well they can, but only after a special negotiation and payment. It would not be part of the blanket deal.
 

Edward Marcus

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Adding to this conversation because I noticed Oldkool is in Madison, Wisconsin, USA. This is all music biz minutia but if you're interested, here it is. Are you watching Top Gear on BBC America or a foreign feed?

First, the use and distribution of any copyrighted music in a TV show (or any other medium) is subject to the permission of the copyright owner. This is theoretically true throughout the western world. However, BBC Television (UK) has the afore-mentioned blanket agreement with a British performing rights society called PRS. It grants BBC TV that permission for any music represented by PRS (which is a large amount, but finite). Now, this is only for broadcast in the UK. Instead of paying individual licences to each copyright holder, BBC TV pays a sum fee for this right and saves millions.

No broadcasters have such rights here in the States. So, prior permissions, usually accompanied by heavily negotiated fees, are required for using music here. Good old American supply and demand dictates that the more popular the song, the more expensive it will be to use. So, stating the obvious, that's why you hear "knockoffs" on the History Channel.

So here's where it all ties in: Though it's owned by BBC (UK), BBC America is an American network (just like History Channel) and BBC TV's UK blanket agreement doesn't cover broadcasting PRS music here. Chances are, if you're watching Top Gear on BBC America (or DVD), you're hearing some of the music originally broadcast on the BBC (UK), but you're also actually hearing a lot of knockoff music that's replaced the original music in editing. For practical or creative purposes, the producers will have wanted to retain as much of the original music they can afford - and they can probably afford a lot on Top Gear's budget. For instance, the theme song "Jessica" has become an iconic part of the show in the UK, so they were willing to pay the hefty licensing fees to preserve it here in the States. It's probably not so with some of The Stig's driving sequences.
 

Amie8

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I read somewhere this week that music copyright holders are not happy with this arrangement, accusing the major broadcasters of "bullying" them into allowing their music to be part of the PRS agreement. I suspect the bullying amounts to the BBC pointing out that any music falling outside the agreement won't get used at all, so the copyright holder won't get any payment, rather than the reduced one they get now.

I'd post a link to the story, but a) I can't find it and, b) it was pretty boring anyway.
 
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