CMOs: Why artistes got Sh41m out of Sh114m as royalties

By Stevens Muendo | 3 months ago
MCSK Chair Lazarus Muli (seated from right), Chairman KAMP Anthony Karani, Eduardo Waigwa, Vice-chair PRISK and other stakeholders of the CMOs address the media. [Elvis Ogina,Standard]

The deregistration of three artistes collective management organisations by the Kenya Copyright Board has been quashed by the High Court.

The court allowed the Music Copyright Society of Kenya (MCSK), Performers Rights Society of Kenya (PRiSK) and the Kenya Association of Music Producers (Kamp) to continue operating until November 3, when their application challenging the deregistration will be heard.

This comes even as the three admitted that their members got less than half of the collections as royalties, one of the issues that saw their regulator, the Kenya Copyright Board (Kecobo), seek to deregister them last week.

At the time Kecobo Executive Director Edward Sigei said: ‘‘The decision was arrived at after the CMOs failed to meet conditions stipulated in the provisional licenses set out by by Kecobo directors in April 2021."

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Among the conditions was allocating 70 per cent of revenue for royalty payment. The board accused the CMOs distributing only Sh41 million out of the Sh114 million collected. 

Displeased with the decision to revoke their licenses, the CMOs filed an urgent application before High Court Constitutional and Human Rights Division in Milimani High Court.

The matter was certified urgent and Justice Weldon Korir set aside Kecobo’s decision pending the hearing of the case in November.

Speaking during a joint press conference yesterday, the CMOs admitted that only 35.9 per cent had been distributed to artistes leaving Sh79 million to go to operational costs.

The associations argued that due to the impact Covid-19 has had on the industry, they had fallen short of the Sh300 million expected collection, affecting its operations.

ALSO READ: Do the Math: Artistes demand to know how Sh152 million was distributed

They singled out closure of entertainment and hospitality places and Covid restriction measures in the PSV sector as factors that led to dismal earnings.  

“We are experiencing serious challenges in terms of the tariffs that was negotiated by the regulator and the ministry of ICT. We are operating within a very harsh environment precipitated by Covid-19 and this is affecting our collections.

"This industry is worth Sh2 billion but we are barely scratching the surface and that is why we are urging for a level playing ground so as to help serve our members well,” said Njoroge Mbugua, Kamp CEO.

“We are asking the government that we go back to the drawing board and look at all the issues affecting the industry so that at the end we can solve the issues. We believe that we have that window to engage the government as no one wants to misuse royalties made for our members. We have reduced our operations to reducible minimums and what we now need is support from the government to get back to where we were. We are willing to engage,” said the MCSK chairman Lazarus Muli.

The regulator had initially moved to court in July seeking orders to bar the three CMOs from operating and accessing their bank accounts. 

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