Cape Town - Thousands of authors and composers whose music is broadcast on SABC TV and radio can now be assured of receiving their royalty fees as the SABC begins to clear a backlog of debt. The SABC had fallen behind in its payments amid its own financial challenges.
By September 30 2019, it owed SAMRO a total of more than over R160 million. Now a slew of musicians will finally receive funds owed to them after a payment plan has been established.
This is a victory for local artist The Kiffness who has been a vocal proponent of the SABC paying what is owed to artists. Earlier this year the opinionated muso said he was "done with the SABC" because of non-payment. Channel24 reached out to The Kiffness (David Scott) who said: "It's a step in the right direction, but I now have to claim my money from SAMRO...So I'll believe it when I see the money in my bank account."
The You Say You Love Me hitmaker also lamented SAMRO's "archaic" payment system and said he's preparing for an "uphill battle."
The SABC has paid 35% towards reducing this long outstanding debt to the Southern African Music Rights Organisation (SAMRO), which is responsible for collecting royalty fees and distributing them to more than 19 000 SAMRO members, who rely on royalties to sustain their livelihoods.
The public broadcaster has committed to honouring monthly payments as agreed with SAMRO and by April 2020, the outstanding debt will be settled in full and current financial year invoices will be up to date.
Commenting on the royalties payout saga, in a statement to Channel24, SABC Spokesperson, Ms Vuyo Mthembu said: "The SABC can confirm that it has paid SAMRO a substantial portion of the monies owed to the organisation. There is a payment plan in place which the SABC is committed to, as the public broadcaster is cognizant of the fact that musicians rely on royalties over and above performances, to make a living and artists need to receive what is due to them. The SABC remains committed to making a meaningful contribution to the arts industry at large".
SAMRO's interim CEO Ditebogo Modiba expressed her thanks to the SABC for prioritising these payments in recognition of the impact that it has on the industry's sustainability since it is a crucial source of income for many South African artists.
In a statement released to the press, she said: "Honouring their commitment to us reflects their understanding of the importance of paying for their license, which ultimately benefits our members. This is still a challenge when dealing with some other licensees, and the SABC, despite its financial challenges, has proven to be a positive example in complying with this,".
She added: "All of the money received from the SABC will be used to secure the payment of royalties to our members, which is our primary and core function."
(Photo: Tyler Walker/Big Red Photography)