Letter to SAMPRA Members

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Dear SAMPRA Members,

We thank you for remaining steadfast and refusing to be used as fair game during the current battle that we are facing as an organisation. Some of you have made us aware of the fact that you’ve been contacted by IMPRA urging you to apply for membership. This is a desperate act by IMPRA to gain you as members, since they have already claimed to be representing you.  The SABC also knew that they were donating artists’ royalties to the wrong organisation. Now that there’s a huge backlash against their shenanigans, they want you to help them get out of the mess they find themselves in.  

The following are facts IMPRA and the SABC have not disputed:

  1. SAMPRA has provided all necessary documentation to the SABC to prove its ownership of 93% repertoire. The SABC has refused to give SAMPRA any documentation to support its decision of allocating 75% of royalties to IMPRA;
  2. SAMPRA has proposed, to the SABC and IMPRA, that independent auditors should be appointed to audit the SABC’s playlists to determine ownership of repertoire. The SABC has ignored SAMPRA’s offer. Why is the SABC not willing to subject itself to independent auditing to verify repertoire ownership if the SABC is doing the right thing?
  3. SAMPRA has been very transparent in negotiations with the SABC, but the SABC’s transparency has been as clear as mud;
  4. SABC has shown complete disregard of copyright legislation;
  5. SAMPRA appealed to the Department of Communications (“the DoC”) to intervene in the saga. The DoC notified the SABC at the end of May 2018 that the DoC would have a meeting with the SABC to discuss this issue. The SABC decided, two days before the meeting with the DoC, to make an announcement and pay IMPRA. Why did the SABC rush to make an announcement two days before the SABC was scheduled to meet with the DoC on this matter? What was the rush? Was the SABC trying to frustrate the DoC’s intervention?
  6. All other broadcasters have been licensed and have paid SAMPRA on the basis of the requirements of copyright legislation and the verification of repertoire ownership. The SABC, the public broadcaster, is the only one that has refused to do things the right way. Why?
  7. SAMPRA is the only Needltime Rights society that has been processing and distributing royalties to record companies and recording artists since 2014. So far, more than R200m has been distributed. The SABC is the only broadcaster whose royalties have not been received because they refuse to abide by the law and regulations. Does the SABC believe they would solve the problem by donating money to an organisation that represents less than 5% of artists, and is now begging artists to join them?
  8. SAMPRA is the only Needletime Rights society that has licensed all broadcasters (except the SABC because they refuse to be licensed) and thousands of retail shops, restaurants, bars, buses, etc.;
  9. SAMPRA is the only Needletime Rights society that has the necessary infrastructure, knowledge and experience to process and pay royalties to deserving record companies and artists. We do not pay only the featured artist. We pay all artists that made a recorded contribution to a track that earned royalties;
  10. SAMPRA’s royalty statements, per earner, are readily available on request to rightholders who have earned royalties in distributions done thus far.

 This matter is far from over, and IMPRA’s celebrations are hollow. We are doing things according to the prescripts of the relevant legislation and regulations. That is why we are taking the SABC to court. At the end, the SABC will have to pay us the full amount owed to us.

We urge you to stay true to the course with us, as we continue to fight for what is right and to ensure that we get what is due to all of us.  Should you have any queries or concerns, you are more than welcome to reach out to us.


Pfanani Lishivha

SABC Once Again Undermines SAMPRA and the Livelihoods of South African Artists


 7 June 2018 | Yesterday it was announced that for the first time ever, the SABC will pay Needletime royalties to artists through the Independent Music Performing Rights Association (IMPRA). IMPRA will be receiving 75 percent of the R22 million earmarked for distribution to artists and producers.

While the South African Music Performance Rights Association (SAMPRA), the collective management organisation that administers Needletime rights on behalf of recording artists and record labels, would like to commend the SABC for finally taking the steps to pay the royalties that are the bread and butter of performing artists, it questions why the SABC has decided to split the share of royalties 25-75 in favour of IMPRA – especially when the matter still lies with the courts.
“We have, on more than one occasion, presented documentation to prove to the SABC that we own more than 90 percent of the repertoire. The SABC has purposefully ignored this information and decided that they will pay 75 percent of the royalties to IMPRA instead of at least 90 percent of the royalties to SAMPRA,” says SAMPRA CEO, Pfanani Lishivha.

Lishivha continues, “Our repertoire contains more than 90 percent of all the tracks played by radio stations, including SABC radio stations, across the country. We are, of course, taking this matter to the courts.”

SAMPRA can’t help but question the SABC’s decision and action to pay over money to IMPRA when there hasn’t been a ruling yet.

“The SABC has created the impression that SAMPRA doesn’t want to be paid by the SABC or has delayed payment. This is incorrect. We argue that payments should be made in accordance with the playlist. All the playlists indicate that we own at least 93 percent of the songs that the SABC and other commercial radio stations have been playing. Why then has IMPRA, who owns less than 10 percent of all songs broadcast in this country, been given the bulk of the payments due to our artists?” Lishivha asks.

This has forced SAMPRA to take legal action against the SABC. “We need to do all we can to ensure that the royalties that are fairly owed to performers and producers are paid to the correct artists and record companies,” concludes Lishivha.

This follows on from news last year that the SABC owes artists millions of rands in outstanding royalties for air play across more than 18 of its radio stations.