1970 radio ban
|Date||23 May 1970– 24 October 1970|
|Also known as||1970 record ban|
|Participants||Federation of Australian Radio Broadcasters, Australasian Performing Right Association|
The Australian 1970 Radio Ban or 1970 Record Ban was a "pay for play" dispute in the local music industry that lasted from May till October. During this period, a simmering disagreement between commercial radio stations – represented by Federation of Australian Radio Broadcasters (FARB) – and the six largest record labels – represented by Australasian Performing Rights Association (APRA) – resulted in major United Kingdom and Australian pop songs being refused airplay. The government-owned Australian Broadcasting Corporation – which had its own copyright and royalty arrangement with recording and music publishing companies – did not take part in the dispute. The ban did not extend to releases by American artists. Some radio disc jockeys, such as Stan Rofe, defied the ban by playing songs according to their personal tastes.
Teen-oriented pop music newspaper Go-Set reported on the dispute: it interviewed affected musicians and its journalists argued for the removal of the ban. Once the ban was lifted, status quo ante resulted: APRA's record companies returned to supplying free promotional material and FARB's radio stations resumed playing their records.
During the ban some Australian musicians recorded covers of UK artists' hits on previously minor labels. The Mixtures, for example, recorded Mungo Jerry's "In the Summertime" on the Fable Label which was released in August. It peaked at No. 1 for nine weeks to be displaced by "Yellow River" – originally by Christie – which was covered by two Australian groups, Jigsaw (from Melbourne) and Autumn (from Sydney). Music charts from the period indicate that in the years immediately following the ban, there was a significant reduction in the number of Australian acts who scored major chart peaks.
The 1970 Radio Ban had its origins early in 1969, following the enactment of the new Copyright Act 1968, a group of recording companies – including most of the members of the Australasian Performing Rights Association (APRA) – decided to scrap a long-standing royalty agreement with commercial radio stations that dated back to the 1950s. The recording companies included five major overseas labels Polygram, EMI, RCA, CBS and Warner and Australia's leading local company, Festival.
APRA and the record labels demanded payment of a new levy for pop records played on commercial radio, claiming that they were providing free programming for radio stations, which had traditionally been supplied with free promotional copies of new records. The commercial radio lobby – represented by the Federation of Radio Broadcasters (FARB) – baulked at the proposed levy, arguing that they provided a large amount of free promotion for the records they played. The government-owned Australian Broadcasting Corporation – which had its own copyright and royalty arrangement with recording and music publishing companies – did not take part in the dispute.
In April 1970, teen-oriented pop music newspaper Go-Set reported on the dispute and interviewed musicians including former King of Pop Normie Rowe, who feared "it could be a major blow to the Australian scene". Other musicians expected the situation would be resolved. Radio disc jockey and Go-Set columnist Stan Rofe claimed discussions were progressing and the threat of a ban was over. Fellow columnist and compiler of the Go-Set National Top 40, Ed Nimmervoll, predicted that its charts would be compromised as local artists' record sales were dependent on radio play.
After negotiations between the parties broke down, in late May 1970, the recording companies imposed a six-month embargo on the supply of previously free promotional records to radio stations. In retaliation, FARB members boycotted all new major label releases by UK or Australian artists – but not by American artists – and refused to include records from these companies in their weekly chart surveys. This was a serious matter as there was only one Australian national pop chart – published by Go-Set – and most Top 40 charts were collated locally by individual radio stations in major cities and towns. Darryl Cotton, lead singer of pop group Zoot was concerned that the public would be unaware of new releases by local acts. Solo singer Ronnie Burns believed it would affect groups more than individuals, who had greater access to television shows. Another singer, Russell Morris, criticised the policy which led to the ban, "[the Government] didn't realise that the pop recording market is a very large and important industry". As from 30 May, Nimmervoll's charts in Go-Set were based on direct surveying of large record-selling stores instead of relying on radio stations' Top 40s. The ban did not extend to American artists on the same labels as UK or Australian artists. Some disc jockeys, including Rofe, defied the ban on their radio shows – he regularly played "Turn Up Your Radio" by The Masters Apprentices which had been issued by EMI in April. Rofe also championed the cause of Australian musicians in Go-Set by criticising mainstream media coverage of the dispute.
During the ban, many UK hits like The Beatles' "The Long and Winding Road" and Mary Hopkin's "Knock, Knock Who's There?" gained only limited exposure in Australia. Some local artists released cover versions of UK hits; Melbourne singer Liv Maessen's "Knock, Knock, Who's There" debuted in the Top 10 in May with co-credit to Hopkin and Maessen. It eventually peaked at No. 2 in early August and earned Maessen the first gold record ever awarded to an Australian female artist. "In the Summertime" by The Mixtures was a cover of Mungo Jerry's hit which reached No. 1 in August for nine weeks. Melbourne band Jigsaw and Sydney band Autumn both had success with their respective versions of Christie's hit song, "Yellow River". "Yellow River" displaced "In the Summertime" at No. 1 in late October. For a short period, the ban had the inadvertent effect of putting more local musicians to air than ever before, and also opened the door to the 'underground' artists on previously minor labels such as Fable Label.
Music charts in the years immediately following the ban show there was a significant reduction in the number of Australian acts who scored major chart peaks. The Go-Set charts for 1972, for example, indicate that only two Australian acts (Colleen Hewett and Blackfeather) had national No. 1 hits; while in 1973 no Australian act scored a No. 1 hit.
- Kent, David Martin (September 2002). "Appendix 6: The Record Ban". The place of Go-Set in rock and pop music culture in Australia, 1966 to 1974 (PDF). Canberra, ACT: University of Canberra. pp. 265–269. Archived from the original (PDF) on 22 May 2015. Retrieved 20 November 2010. Note: This PDF is 282 pages. Retrieved 20 November 2010.
- Kimball, Duncan; Kruger, Debbie; Mac, Wayne (June 2003). "Radio – 2SM (Sydney)". Milesago: Australasian Music and Popular Culture 1964–1975. Ice Productions. Archived from the original on 25 November 2010. Retrieved 4 December 2010.
- Kent, David Martin. (2002)
- Kimball, Duncan (2002). "The Mixtures". Milesago: Australasian Music and Popular Culture 1964–1975. Ice Productions. Retrieved 19 March 2010.
- "The Record Ban". Go-Set. Waverley Press. 18 April 1970. p. 2.
- Rofe, Stan (25 April 1970). "The Tonic". Go-Set. Waverley Press. p. 19.
- Nimmervoll, Ed (25 April 1970). "Save the Top 40!". Go-Set. Waverley Press. p. 26.
- Meldrum, Ian "Molly" (25 May 1970). "Pop Speak Out". Go-Set. Waverley Press. p. 3.
- Nimmervoll, Ed (30 May 1970). "Go-Set National Top 40". Go-Set. Waverley Press. p. 26.
- Nimmervoll, Ed (30 May 1970). "Go-Set National Top 40 with Ed Nimmervoll". Go-Set. Waverley Press. Retrieved 28 November 2010.
- "Liv Maessen". Milesago. Retrieved 19 March 2010.
- Nimmervoll, Ed (29 August 1970). "Go-Set National Top 40 with Ed Nimmervoll". Go-Set. Waverley Press. Retrieved 21 November 2010.
- "Yellow River - Autumn". PopArchives.com.au. Archived from the original on 26 March 2010. Retrieved 19 March 2010.
- Nimmervoll, Ed (31 October 1970). "Go-Set National Top 40 with Ed Nimmervoll". Go-Set. Waverley Press. Retrieved 21 November 2010.
- "Go Set charts 1972". PopArchives.com.au. Archived from the original on 28 April 2010. Retrieved 19 March 2010.
- "Go Set charts 1973". PopArchives.com.au. Archived from the original on 29 March 2010. Retrieved 19 March 2010.