Artists rally around petition for SABC to pay R250m royalty debt

David Scott from The Kiffness has called on the SABC to pay artists R250m in royalties owed to them.
David Scott from The Kiffness has called on the SABC to pay artists R250m in royalties owed to them.
Image: The Kiffness Instagram

Several South African artists, including Parlotones frontman Kahn Morbee and DJ Mark Stent, have called on the SABC to pay R250m in royalties allegedly owed to musicians in the country.

The online petition was started by The Kiffness musician David Scott after the SABC received a R2.1bn bailout from government.

Communications minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams announced last Friday that the state would transfer R2.1bn of the R3.2bn it promised the broadcaster - and said the balance will be transferred when the broadcaster meets all the funding preconditions set by the Treasury.

Scott claimed that the SABC has not been paying artists "needletime" royalties and calculated the amount owed to be around R250m.

He previously announced that he was boycotting the broadcaster and refused to let the public broadcaster play any of his music until it starts paying artists. He then started the petition to raise awareness of the issue.

Scott said he aimed to "remind" the SABC that they still owe the following amounts to the various royalty collecting agencies:

  • Southern African Music Rights Organisation (Samro): R125.8m;
  • South African Music Performance Rights Association (Sampra): R104.2m;
  • Association of Independent Record Companies (Airco): R8.8m;
  • Recording Industry of South Africa (Risa): R3.3m; and
  • Composers, Authors and Publishers Association (Capasso): R6m.

"I pay my TV license, though I don’t even watch SABC. But I do it anyway because it’s the law. So now I, along with the South African public, call on the SABC to return the favour by paying their outstanding R250m royalty licenses," he said.

"You can’t use 'we’re broke' as an excuse; you literally have R2.1bn now.

"Private stations do it. Restaurants do it. So should you. To quote you: 'It’s the right thing to do'."

Over 4,200 have already signed the petition, including numerous prominent SA artists.

Morbee added his signature to the petition but did not comment. 

"I'm an artist and I deserve to be paid rightly for my music," Stent wrote on the petition.

Singer Tasha Baxter added: "It's the right thing to do."

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