Gov’t Confirms Delay in Paying Musicians Royalties

  • DBS billed P9.7 million but only paid P5.6 million
  • Other users decline to be licensed indicating that tariffs are too high


Kanye South MP Abraham Kesupile recently asked the Minister of Youth Empowerment, Sport and Culture Development, Thapelo Olopeng, if he was aware that local artists were not paid royalties since 2016 despite their music being used during Bot50 Celebrations- while other ministries delay payments despite music being used in liquor bars, shops and planes.
Asked to state reasons for delays, Thapelo Olopeng said the question should be redirected to the Ministry of Investment, Trade and Industry which the Copyright Society of Botswana (COSBOTS) falls under.
Assistant minister of Investment, Trade and Industry Biggie Butale in 2016 said artists would be paid that July for music works played from April 2015 to September 2015 and in December 2016, for musical works played from October 2015 to March 2016. Royalty distributions were delayed for two payments cycles being April 2016 to September 2016 and October 2016 to March 2017.
Butale went on to say these unfortunate delays were due to late payment by licensed users, mainly the major broadcast houses, which include the Department of Broadcasting Services (DBS), Yarona FM and Gabz FM. “DBS delay in payment was mainly due to disagreement on the formula used by COSBOTS. This has led to an outstanding balance of P17.8 million due from DBS. Efforts have been made for the parties to resolve their dispute. However, in early February 2018, COSBOTS paid out royalties for use of works during the period of April 2016 to September 2016 after receiving payments from the DBS in November 2017,” he pointed out.
Butale pointed out that COSBOTS had billed the Department of Broadcasting Services P9.7 million which took into account the increased use of local content by the Department of Broadcasting Services. Unfortunately, the department only paid P5.6 million, thus lowering the royalties that could have been paid out for the period. “It is true that all ministries and government departments except the Botswana Police, Botswana Defence Force (BDF) and the Botswana Prisons Service, have not paid royalties at all despite COSBOTS having been engaged to pay. This includes large music content consuming ministries such as the Ministry of Youth Empowerment, Sport and Culture Development and the Ministry of Health and Wellness.”
The non-compliance happens despite the consistent exploitation or use of copyrighted musical works by a number of government departments and ministries. This affects COSBOTS’ ability to collect and remunerate artists on time and according to the use of their works, Butale said the reasons for non-compliance according to the minister of Trade includes the fact that COSBOTS has human resource constraints to collect royalties from institutions and users’ lack of knowledge about their obligation to pay royalties.
“Despite limited resources to create awareness, COSBOTS has encountered resistance from some of these users who ostensibly question its authority to license and collect royalties on behalf of its members. Other users decline to be licenced indicating that tariffs are too high. In this regard, COSBOTS is reviewing its tariffs,” Butale concluded.