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Musicians cry foul on media houses’ failure to pay royalties

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By Sam Banda Jnr:

Musicians Union of Malawi (Mum) President Reverend Chimwemwe Mhango has appealed to media houses to pay their broadcast royalties to benefit musicians in the country.

The call comes following Mum’s observation that some media houses owe Copyright Society of Malawi (Cosoma) millions in broadcast royalties thereby denying musicians a chance of earning something from their sweat.

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“Musicians spend a lot to record these songs and, with piracy on the ground, the other area they rely on in terms of earning something is royalties. You cannot just be playing our songs without paying for them. So some media houses play our songs and then decide not to pay royalties,” Mhango said.

He alleged that Malawi Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) was the biggest culprit.

Mhango said they have been on Cosoma’s neck to collect royalties owed by different media houses but he indicated that things have been tough.

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“We are planning to take action on this. Why should we be suffering when we are owed huge sums of money by media houses such as MBC? We are tired of all this and we have been frustrated for a long time,” Mhango said.

Cosoma Senior Licensing Officer, Rosario Kamanga, could not be drawn to comment on the issue but admitted that they are owed a lot of money in royalties by media houses such as MBC —which is the biggest contributor of royalties.

Some musicians have called on Cosoma to engage the media houses so as to collect the royalties.

“We are spending a lot of money on production songs and then you have to promote the songs. Things are tough. This is why some musicians are not forthcoming when it comes to producing songs. The market is just not good. We thought we would be assisted through royalties but the system is also a problem,” gospel singer Nyaradzai Dube said.

Cosoma said in its December 2018 report presented during its Annual General Meeting that broadcasting remains the copyright body’s major contributor to the licensing income at K63 million.

In the report, Cosoma says collections remain a challenge especially with the public broadcaster as evidenced by receipts of only over K36 million.

As of June 30 2018, Cosoma was owed K182, 541,296 in broadcasting remuneration.

Cosoma says in the report that its efforts have not yielded the expected results.

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