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DCMS to tackle confusion over entertainment facilities

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport is planning to clarify the definition of “entertainment facilities” under the Licensing Act 2003 after lobbying from musicians’ representatives, the licensed trade and licensing authority officers.

According to Andrew Grimsey, a solicitor at Poppleston Allen, the current regime means that whilst incidental music is exempt, the provision of entertainment facilities to allow such incidental music to take place never has been.

This has led to “the nonsensical situation in which a pianist could be playing background music in a smart restaurant, where the music he plays is exempt, but the piano itself is licensable”, he said.

Another problem with the current regime is that the provision of musical instruments themselves has come under the same statutory definition of more controversial entertainment facilities. “Thus, a music stand or a grand piano currently falls to be treated by the licensing regime in the same way as a dance floor or a 600 watt amplification system,” Grimsey added.

Launching a consultation last week, the DCMS proposes:

  • Excluding the provision of musical instruments from the definition of entertainment facilities in the 2003 Act, and
  • Clarifying that entertainment facilities are not separately licensable if they are used solely for the provision of incidental music.

There is a caveat to the exemption, however – anything that amplifies the music will still be licensed as an entertainment facility.

Grimsey said: “The reality is that even with the existing flaws in the legislation, most licensing authority enforcement officers have taken a common sense and practical view. This new consultation is an attempt by DMCS to restrict the few officials who do not take such a sensible approach, and in that respect it is partly successful.”


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