SOUTHPORT, UNITED KINGDOM
John and Marion King, owners of the Birkdale Guest House bed and breakfast, will retire September 30. The final straw, they say, was being billed a performance fee for televisions in their guest rooms. The fee is demanded by both the Performing Right Society (PRS) for Music Limited and Phonographic Performance Limited. While it amounted to just over £50 a year, the Kings, who already license the TVs in their guestrooms, asked, “What’s the point of paying for a hotel TV license if you can’t provide a TV without paying again?” They said it would be proper to charge a licensing fee if they were charging admission, but having to pay for music in the background of commercials and programs was over-the-top. PRS representatives defended the fee, saying music is powerful in shaping quality of life, and creators deserve proper compensation. A new law defines “public performance” as any music played outside a domestic setting.