Just before Christmas, the Board and its preliminary advisory committees met for the last time in 2022. Each year, the focus of the December meeting is on budgeting for the following year. Not least because the pandemic is now over, revenues are set to increase again in the 2023 budget.
Budget and cost deductions for the year 2023
The effects of the pandemic seem to be slowly overcome now and the various exploitation sectors have taken a positive direction again in the meantime, or have remained stable. In terms of revenue, the 2023 budget already matches the 2019 results. An increase in costs must also be budgeted for in the coming year. This is due to investments in the IT area on the one hand, and salary adjustments as a result of inflation on the other hand; for the first time in over 20 years, SUISA is granting its employees partial inflation compensation. Salaries were raised by 1.75%.
Related to the cost issue is the question of how high the cost deductions must be in the following year in order to cover administrative expenditure. The Board has decided to keep the cost deductions unchanged: a maximum of 15% for performance and broadcasting rights and for online uses (video, websites); the rate remains at 10% for online distribution of audio recordings.
The budget for 2023 as requested by the Executive Committee was unanimously approved by the Board of Directors.
Overall editorial revision of the distribution rules
The Executive Committee requested that the Board ratify a revision to the distribution rules. It includes putting the chapters into a new sequence as well as a purely editorial revision of the provisions.
The changed order of the chapters in Part I of the distribution rules corresponds to the logic of the processes at SUISA: First of all, it is stated who is entitled to claims, in what proportion and on what basis these claims exist (chapters 1 and 2 in unchanged order, previous chapter 6 as new chapter 3). Chapter 4 continues to deal with the explanation of the various distribution categories, which are fed by SUISA’s tariffs on the basis of the principles described in the new chapter 3. Finally, chapter 5 presents the breakdown of tariff revenues into the various distribution categories, from which the actual distribution to the individual works is then made via the calculation of work remuneration described in the new chapter 6 (chapter 7).
All other changes are purely editorial, i.e. without material effect. Some old-fashioned phrases have been modernised and sentences have been rephrased or summarised for better comprehensibility. In the French-language as well as in the Italian-language version additionally some translation errors and similar deficiencies were corrected.
The Distribution and Works Committee (VWK) unanimously approved the revision of the distribution rules at its meeting on 25 October 2022. The Executive Committee then requested the Board to approve the proposed changes to the distribution rules. The Board also unanimously ratified this request on 20 December 2022. The amendments shall enter into force upon approval by the Swiss Federal Institute of Intellectual Property and the Office of Economic Affairs in the Principality of Liechtenstein.
Termination of the COVID-19 support measures
In the spring of 2020, the Board of Directors decided on a support package to alleviate income shortfalls among members. As a result, on the one hand, the rules for advance payments were relaxed and, on the other, support payments for members were made possible. Members could now receive advances upon request equal to 100% (instead of 80%) of the average distribution amount for the previous five years or two years, whichever was less. In addition, the process to offset the advance against future distribution amounts of the rightsholders, which took place for the last time at the April 2022 Board meeting, was suspended until 30 June 2023. From 1 July 2023, the normal advance payment rules will apply again.
Apart from being able to draw advances, members affected by COVID-19-related losses could apply for support payments. These were paid from the COVID-19 Relief Fund (CHF 1.5 million, approved by the 2020 AGM), as well as from the Pension Fund for Authors and Publishers (UVF). To date, payments of around CHF 400,000 have been made from the COVID-19 Relief Fund and around CHF 180,000 from the Pension Fund for Authors and Publishers in support of members.
The “COVID-19 Taskforce” convened by SUISA in 2020, consisting of Board members Marco Neeser, Christian Wicky and Zeno Gabaglio, has now recommended that the Board propose to the General Meeting in June 2023 that the COVID-19 Relief Fund be cancelled. Both from a legal and an accounting perspective, it would also be appropriate to allocate the freed-up money to liabilities from settlements. The Board unanimously followed this recommendation. However, support payments from the Pension Fund for Authors and Publishers will remain possible.
In addition to the budget, the Board also approved the SUISA organisation chart. The structure remains the same, only the position of Head of Legal Services has been filled with a new person. The successor to attorney-at-law Dr. iur. Bernhard Wittweiler, who had held this key position since 1994 and is going to enter into his well-deserved retirement in the near future, will be succeeded by attorney-at-law Dr. iur. Oliver Schmid.