War over Royalty Payment

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Jijiwa

Broadcasting Organisation of Nigeria and Independent Broadcasters’ Association of Nigeria fight with Copyright Society of Nigeria over payment of royalties for broadcast music

By Anayo Ezugwu  |  Dec. 23, 2013 @ 01:00 GMT

THE ongoing battle between the Independent Broadcasters’ Association of Nigeria, IBAN and the Copyright Society of Nigeria, COSON, over payment of royalties for broadcast music by radio and television stations in the country has assumed a new dimension. The Broadcasting Organisation of Nigeria, BON, in solidarity with IBAN, has banned the airing of the musical works of some musicians in the country over copyright controversy.

Abubakar Jijiwa, BON chairman, said the organisation decided to suspend the works of the artistes from being aired on any of its affiliate broadcast stations across the country with effect from December 15. He said the action was in solidarity with the IBAN, which has been waging a running battle with members of the COSON, for some time over copyrights.

Tony Okoroji, COSON, chairman
Tony Okoroji, COSON, chairman

Jijiwa urged some of the affected artistes, who may not be members of COSON but have their names wrongly listed among those banned, to contact BON on or before December 15, to have their music reinstated. He warned other members of the group that their music would also be withdrawn or suspended on or before that deadline.

He, however, insisted that BON was not at war with the community of Nigerian artistes and musicians and explained that the agency resolved to take the step following COSON’s attitude of hostility, antagonism, grandstanding, intemperate language, veiled and real threats, and harassment of broadcasting stations.

The lists of the affected artistes include D’ Banj, Inyanya, Olamide, Dr Sid, Sammie Okposo, Banky W, WizKid, Olu Maintain, 9ice, Sunny Neji and Flavour. Others are Chidinma, Rugged Man, Keffee, Midnite Crew, Eldee De Don, M I, Azeezat, Jazzman Olofin, Ice Prince, Jesse Jagz, KC Presh, X Project, Asha and Onyeka Onwenu.

Few hours after the announcement of the ban by BON, some artists under COSON, like 2 Face Idibia, 9ice, MI, Azeezat, Ill Bliss, Wunmi Obe, Dizzy K. Falola and representatives of Burna Boy, Sound Sultan, Dammy Krane, Sir Victor Uwaifo, Ice Prince, Sunny Neji, met at the Whitehouse Hotel, Ikeja, to decide their next line of action over the outrageous decision of BON and IBAN. They urged authors, composers, songwriters, artistes, performers, publishers, record label executives, owners of sound recordings to ignore the IBAN email. “No self-respecting right owner of the Nigerian music industry should sell his/her birth right by sending an email to BON or IBAN to request that they play his/her music,” they said.

However, the Performing Musicians Association of Nigeria, PMAN, has expressed disgust over the recent development spearheaded by the BON and IBAN to ban music contents from some musicians on all media platforms. The body called on BON and IBAN to reverse the ban immediately in the interest of the artistes. Kevin Gabriel, PMAN president, said the ban was very unfair, demeaning and discouraging.

Mba
Mba

“We all know that these same artistes who have helped to build the Nigerian music industry, Africa’s biggest entertainment export to the world, are the same people that are now being victimised. With this action, PMAN foresees a situation where this ban will, rather than encourage those with musical talent to hone their craft and join the success story of the entertainment industry, reverse the case. We see a situation where the bulk of the material that will be circulated on Nigerian airwaves will be foreign materials, celebrating alien artistes instead of embracing home-grown talents and our cultural heritage,” he said.

He said COSON, in its own right by the mandate given it, acts as a collecting society for these artistes, helping to monitor and collect royalties entitled to them. “As a collecting society, COSON has acted as a shield to these artistes, protecting their intellectual rights. BON and IBAN are arguing that the tariffs and standards presented to them by COSON should be defended and agreeable with them, but we know that the ban is not the best invitation to the negotiating table. If this ban is sustained, and 80 percent of the music played on the various media platforms are foreign materials, and if these media houses are paying the royalties owed to these foreign artistes, thereby sidelining Nigerian music, we should ask if we are supporting or failing them.”  In light of this, PMAN demanded that the ban be reversed and that the affected parties and stakeholders in the industry sit down for a dialogue to reach a favourable agreement that will benefit all.

Meanwhile, the Nigerian Broadcast Commission, NBC, has pledged to intervene in the ongoing battle between Nigerian terrestrial television stations, and Nigerian musicians. Emeka Mba, director general, NBC, said his agency would intervene in the long-drawn tussle over payment of royalties for broadcast music. He said that based on the long list of Nigerian artistes affected by the purported ban by BON and IBAN, he did not see how the stations could meet their local content obligations and that such a situation was of serious concern to the NBC.

According to him, Article 3.13.2.2 of the Broadcast Code issued by the NBC says, “For the purpose of free-to-air broadcast, Nigerian music shall constitute 80 percent of all music broadcast.” Mba assured that a joint effort would be made by the NBC and the Nigerian Copyright Commission, NCC, to resolve the issues.

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