State-owned broadcaster, Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC) is apparently still failing to pay artists royalties worth over $600 000. This comes in the background of a $600 000 debt (of royalties) backdating to 2009 that the broadcaster has been struggling to pay off for some years.
Zimbabwe Music Rights Association (ZIMURA) and ZBC have been at loggerheads for many years following the latter’s failure to pay royalties for their four radio stations and two television stations on time. The Zimbabwe Music Rights Association (ZIMURA) is an association of composers and publishers of music that was established to protect certain aspects of the rights of Zimbabwe author members granted to them under the copyright law.
In 2012, musicians took ZBC to court claiming the state broadcaster owed them over $700 000 of unpaid music royalties. On the situation of royalties, Zimura director Polisile Ncube said;
ZBC owes us above $600 000 and they wanted to pay $42 000 towards the debt but we refused because the amount was too little to distribute to our members.
A contract existing between ZIMURA and ZBC states that 10 percent of net advertising revenue generated by ZBC should be paid as royalties to musicians.
To prevent artists from withholding their artwork, ZBC entered into payment plan arrangement with ZIMURA to pay off the debt. Mr. Ncube went on to say;
We have, however, agreed on a payment plan with ZBC.
Zimbabwean musicians who are already reeling from the effects of piracy and poor show attendances due to the harsh economic conditions in the country are now demotivated to produce more art because of ZBC’s reluctance to pay their royalties. At some point, musicians were getting a measly 20 cents for each song played on the radio. The situation as a whole is unfortunate as it prejudices artists who work hard to put material out there.