Advocate General opinion in Kanal 5 and TV 4 v STIM

ECJ Advocate General opinion (about 25 pages in French, translated from Slovenian; no English version) in a dispute between the Swedish music copyright collection society STIM and the Swedish television broadcasters TV 4 and Kanal 5.

The copyright collection society currently sets royalties for TV 4 and Kanal 5 as a percentage of income. Separate royalty rates for advertising and subscription income are set by reference to the proportion of airtime devoted to music, using a banded structure.

In the case of the State-funded broadcaster SVT, which has no advertising or subscription revenues, the music royalty is calculated on the basis of a notional advertising income and an estimate of the proportion of airtime devoted to music.

In the case of smaller broadcasters, royalties are based on audience figures and the proportion of airtime devoted to music.

TV 4 and Kanal 5 complained to the Swedish competition authority but their complaints were rejected. They took the matter to the relevant Swedish tribunal, which referred four questions to the ECJ about the application of Article 82. The questions seek advice on whether particular methods for the calculation of royalties would be abusive: the claimant broadcasters are asking for a prohibition on categories of hypothetical methods, not a decision specific to STIM's current method.

TV 4 and Kanal 5 argue that royalties calculated by a method such as STIM's are abusive because:

The UK intervened, arguing that the questions to be determined were whether charges are sufficiently linked to use and whether public and private broadcasters compete with each other, and that both were matters were for the Swedish court rather than the ECJ to decide.

The Advocate General proposes that:

Note on ECJ Advocate General opinions

For further information or advice please contact Franck Latrémolière.

Filed under Article 82, ECJ/CFI, Media.

Reckon LLP is an economics consultancy with expertise in data analysis, economic regulation and competition law.

About Reckon