WATCH | It's just not Kif: SA band calls for boycott of SABC over royalties

22 October 2019 - 07:02 By Anthony Molyneaux

The boycott of SABC radio by South African band The Kiffness over outstanding royalties boiled over on Saturday morning, when a 5FM DJ abruptly stopped a song by the group during a live broadcast.

That's according to a tweet on Saturday afternoon by The Kiffness frontman David Scott, who says he is owed close to R100,000 in needle-time royalties from the public broadcaster.

Scott started a petition in September, calling for South African musicians to put pressure on the SABC to pay the royalties owed to them.

The broadcaster, with its 18 radio stations, including 5FM, Metro FM and Ukhozi FM, confirmed it owed about R250m in royalties to local musicians. The cash-strapped organisation has not paid royalties since 2015.

For the 2018/2019 financial year, the SABC reported yet another year of losses, in the region of R500m. The government had to step in, granting it a R3.2bn bailout in September to rescue the broadcaster and settle some of its debts. 

Pfanani Lishivha, CEO of one of the country's royalty collection bodies, the SA Music Performance Rights Association (Sampra), has supported Scott and his petition, saying: “What Scott is doing is correct, because it is part of our members rising up.”

Lishivha said Sampra, which represents an estimated 20,000 South African musicians, is owed R100m in royalties by the SABC. 

“All the other broadcasters, commercial broadcasters, in the country have been paying us. It's only the SABC who haven't paid. Maybe the SABC should stop using our members' music and let's see how they'll survive,” said Lishivha.

The SABC brought in R1.6bn in advertising revenue in the 2018/2019 financial year. Without SA music, which contributes to 79% of music played on its radio stations, that revenue could be severely affected.

“I'm making a stand,” said Scott in a video interview with TimesLIVE. “Other musicians are starting to see that this money also belongs to them. It's time we band together and say to the SABC, 'without us, you don't exist'.”

SABC spokesperson Vuyo Mthembu said it is well known that the SABC has undergone a period of financial difficulty. “This financial difficulty affected the organisation to maintain payments to suppliers and content providers,” she said.

“The SABC does have a payment plan in place to address these and other outstanding debts. The first portion of government funding ... which has been received, will be utilised accordingly and the settling of outstanding payments remains a priority for the organisation. There is a payment plan in place to deal with outstanding debts owed to suppliers, content producers and royalties stakeholders.”

No dates have been given as to when royalty agencies and musicians will be paid by the broadcaster.

Scott, meanwhile, said he will continue to boycott the SABC until it pays the outstanding royalties and is calling on more musicians to join him.

“I've made the call: I won't send my new stuff to 5FM or any SABC stations,” he said.

“It’s sad, because I like the DJs at 5FM and want to maintain my relationship with them, but it’s not their fault, it’s their bosses fault. If people aren't paying me for my worth, I'll go to the next place.”


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