Exposed! Copyright Society of Malawi (Cosoma) has for over a decade now been using averages to demand money to pay as royalties to musicians from radio/television stations instead of the official system of using royalties log sheets.
Every six months, Cosoma collects money from radio/television stations in form of tariffs depending on number of times each radio/television station plays each song and this money is paid to musicians as royalties at the end of the year.
Systematically, this money is calculated using the music log sheets kept at the radio/television stations. These sheets show the number of times each song was played and the stations are supposed to pay the tarrifs depending on the number of times they played the songs. This also helps to determine how much each musician is supposed to be paid. But, according to Nation Online investigations, this system died a long time ago and the association is using averages to demand the tarrifs from the radio stations.
A spot check carried by the paper revealed that most radio stations have a specific amount of money which they pay after a fixed period of time as royalties to musicians. These amounts are settled on average by Cosoma.
NoL has found out that two radio stations (names withheld) pay K200 000 (about $1 200) as royalties to Cosoma every six months, but records at the stations indicate that if the log sheets were used, they would have paid more than double that amount.
When approached on Wednesday, Cosomaâ€™s assistant licensing officer Thomas Chirambo refused to comment on the matter, saying there are many issues surrounding collection of tarrifs.
â€œI did not know that some radio stations pay a fixed amount. Actually, I am not in the office right now and the issue of tariffs is broad. We also face a lot of challenges, such as late payments by these radio stations, so I cannot comment on this right now,â€ said Chirambo.
When NoL contacted MIJ FM radio offices in Blantyre, it established that Cosoma rarely visits the station to collect the log sheets.
Chief broadcaster at the station Deus Sandram confirmed this and said once the log sheets pile up, MIJ sends them to Cosoma.
â€œPerhaps Cosoma is overwhelmed by the amount of log sheets we fill in. MIJ, for instance, fills in over 900 filled log sheets per month and over 5 000 in 6 months. Multiply this by the number of radio stations in Malawi and you will find that they have a lot of work to do, which might be the reason they use averages to charge radio stations,â€ Sandram explained.