COSON MEETS WITH BROADCAST COMMISSION IN ABUJA OVER COPYRIGHT PAYMENT
A delegation of the Board of Copyright Society of Nigeria (COSON), the nation’s sole government approved collective management organization for musical works and sound recordings on Thursday, March 10, 2011 met for several hours with the leadership of the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) at the commission’s headquarters in Abuja.
At the head of the COSON delegation to the meeting was the society’s Chairman, Chief Tony Okoroji, who informed the leadership of the NBC that since the approval of COSON in May 2010, the society had engaged broadcasting stations in Nigeria in continuous discussions through the well attended COSON Stakeholders’ Forum that has been held by COSON in different parts of the country. He reiterated that the subject of music copyright payment was frontally addressed at the General Assembly of Broadcasting Organizations of Nigeria (BON) held in Awka in September, 2010, which assembly was addressed by COSON. He reminded the NBC leadership of the much publicized request of the former Minister of Information & Communications, Prof. Dora Akunyili, that all broadcast organizations in the country obtain appropriate copyright licenses from COSON for the music they broadcast.
Chief Okoroji observed that COSON has made concerted efforts to work with the broadcast industry in a respectful and professional manner. According to the COSON Chairman, “While some of the stations have engaged COSON honestly and concluded licensing agreements, some other stations have used every trick and excuse in the book to avoid their responsibility to pay for the music content they deploy in breach of the broadcast code, the Copyright Act, international broadcast traditions and the right of artistes and investors in the music industry to earn a living from their investment”. He said that the time had come for all recalcitrant stations to be visited with the full sanctions provided under the law. In the words of Chief Okoroji, “As the regulator of the broadcast industry in Nigeria, it cannot be your wish that the infringement of the copyright of thousands of songwriters, composers and owners of copyright in sound recordings by your licensees continues unabated under your watch”
Another member of the COSON delegation, Ms. Onyeka Onwenu warned that except urgent action is taken by the NBC to ensure the compliance of its licensees, individual artistes and right owners will soon mobilize themselves in hundreds to protest the abuse of their works and the insensitivity of the recalcitrant stations, with consequences that no one can predict.
In response, Engr Yomi Bolarinwa, Director-General National Broadcasting Commission said that the nation’s broadcast code has zero tolerance for the broadcast of unlicensed content and that a breach of that aspect of the code may result in sanctions that include the suspension of the license of a broadcasting station. He promised that within a period of two weeks, the NBC would take necessary actions to ensure that its licensees understood their responsibility to obtain authorization for the music content broadcast by them. Engnr Bolarinwa was insistent that it will no longer be business as usual.
Among the top managers of the NBC present at the meeting were Mr. Tom Aliu Chatta, Director, Broadcast Policy and Research; Mr. Ahutu Joseph Otoni, Acting Director, Management Services; Mr. Mark Ojiah, Secretary to the Commission and Mr. Awwalu Salihu, Head, Public Affairs. Also on the COSON team was renowned music producer, Mr. Laolu Akins.