Musicians in the country have threatened to take legal action against State-funded Malawi Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) to force it to honour its outstanding debt in broadcasting remuneration which is in excess of K100 million.
The artists, who attended the Copyright Society of Malawi (Cosoma) annual general meeting (AGM) on Wednesday at Grace Bandawe Conference Centre in Blantyre, unanimously agreed to seek legal redress, having exhausted all possible means in trying to recoup the fees which have accumulated over the years.
According to an annual report from the Cosoma secretariat for the year 2018 collection of broadcasting user fees remains the biggest challenge for the society with the public broadcaster the biggest culprit.
As of June 30 2018, Cosoma was owed in excess of K182 million, the bulk of which being money not remitted by MBC. During this financial year, the society has only collected K36 609 175. 00.
The report further states: “Efforts to get the outstanding debt paid, which have included meetings with management and seeking intervention of the parent ministry, seem not to yield expected results.”
It is in view of the foregoing that the musicians have agreed to try a new route with the hope of forcing the State broadcaster to pay the fee which has heavily affected Cosoma’s ability to remit royalties to its members in good time and adequately.
Musicians Union of Malawi (MUM) president the Reverend Chimwemwe Mhango said it is time they tried out something new in trying to have the outstanding fees settled, having tried several altenatives.
“We have exhausted all we felt we could do as musicians and as members of Cosoma to try and negotiate with the government and the State broadcaster to ensure that the millions of kwacha be paid out. Because of that, we just have to let the law take its course,” he said.
Mhango said the next step now is to meet the ministry, not for any discussions, but just to inform them of the membership’s planned action.
He said: “We cannot go against what the general membership has agreed. We will obtain that injunction and ask MBC to pay within a stipulated number of days. If they do not abide then we will use the courts to bar them from playing our music until they honour the debt.”
Cosoma senior licensing officer Rosario Kamanga said it is important that the two institutions get to a point where the whole debt is completely cleared because the money belongs to artists who, to a good degree, rely on it for their livelihood.
There was no immediate reaction from MBC. n