Sheriffs confiscated office furniture and cars from the state-owned radio Malawi Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) over unpaid music royalties, writes Samuel Makaka.

The long-running issue reached a climax recently when the Blantyre High
Court ordered MBC to pay the Copyright Society of Malawi (Cosoma ) MK35
million with interest of MK2 million. The full bill amounted to MK43
million (just over US$250 000) of which MBC had initially paid MK8

After the High Court order, Cosoma asked sheriffs to
impound two vehicles and all office equipment from MBC’s business
department to force the organization to pay up quickly.

applied for a court injunction to prevent Cosoma impounding their
property. The court granted the broadcaster relief but ordered them to
pay 10% of the debt. But MBC failed to comply immediately and as a
result the sheriffs went ahead and impounded the property.

MBC public relations officer, Edith Tsilizani, said she felt very bad at the way Cosoma had dealt with the issue.

know the issue of royalties is a new phenomenon in Malawi and when
Cosoma told us that we had to pay all that money in return for the
music we had been playing on our station, it was not easy because of
financial constraints. Cosoma should have understood our situation as
it was not deliberate that we could not pay them all that money at that
time, but we nevertheless promised to pay them in installments,”
Tsilizani complained.

Parliament enacted copyright laws in 1994
forcing all broadcasters to pay music royalties to Cosoma who in turn
distribute the money to musicians.

MBC has since paid the 10% and got back its property, after agreeing to pay MK2million a month.

However, has established that a month has now passed but the
public broadcaster has not yet paid its installment.