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28th August 2020


SBPA urges Government to reverse ban on music, which has seen pub sales plummet by as much as 20%

The Scottish Beer & Pub Association (SBPA) has today said the ban on background music is having a devastating impact on the country’s pubs, with increased likelihood of closures and job losses as a direct result of the policy.

It is urging the Scottish Government to reverse its ban on music and sound from TV in pubs, to help boost their businesses as they try to recover post-lockdown.

The Scottish Government updated its guidance covering the sector on the 14th August to ban hospitality premises from playing music, including background music and sound from a TV.

The policy has had a severe impact on Scottish pubs, with some seeing an immediate drop in trade of over 20% since the ban came in – on top of the fall in trade they are already facing as they recover post-lockdown.

SBPA CEO Emma McClarkin said:

“The ban on music and sound from TV in pubs has seen trade plummet across Scotland, to the point where it is simply not viable to stay open. Takings are down as much as 20% since the ban came in.“Not only is it hammering the recovery of our sector, but there is evidence to suggest the policy is having the opposite of its desired effect. A lack of commentary at football matches makes it harder to control customers watching the game. Customers seeking privacy in their conversations are more likely to lean in and whisper. Rather than go to their local, people are gathering at home where safety measures are not in place.

“There is an easy middle ground to be had here, where responsible pubs can be allowed to create an atmosphere and ambience that makes them what they are, whilst controlling noise to a level which doesn’t require customers to shout.

“Music adds to the ambience and atmosphere of the pub. Without music our venues are losing more of their soul.”

Louise MacLean from Signature Pubs based in Edinburgh said:

“The music ban is having a direct impact on our business and in some venues trade is moving in the wrong direction. We strictly adhere to all social distancing and the restrictions to trade which has affected the atmosphere in bars prior to the music ban. Customers don’t want to go to venues that are silent and awkward so inevitably our takings are down.

“We understand the concern about noise but we would happily work with Scottish Government officials and set decibel levels to create a welcoming atmosphere within acceptable limits. Otherwise the future for bars in Scotland looks bleak as autumn approaches and inside spaces become more important.

“Hospitality denotes warmth, ambiance and welcome not cold, clinical and sterile. Let the (soft) music play! We can do this safely.”


For more information please contact Paul Togneri: