Update on the SABC dispute

Dear SAMPRA Members,

On 6th June 2018, the SABC made an unfortunate announcement that it had taken an illogical decision of paying 75% of the 2014/15 royalties to an organisation that represents less than 10% of recording artists and record companies. We responded by indicating that we would take legal action against the SABC.

We have sent a letter of demand to the SABC, and we are demanding not less than 90% payment of the royalties for the 2014/15 financial year. As stated before, we are confident that our repertoire on the SABC’s playlists across all their radio stations is not less than 90%. Whether the SABC responds negatively or they ignore our demands will not stop us from proceeding with legal action.

We have provided the SABC with the necessary documentation to prove our ownership of not less than 90% repertoire. The SABC has refused to give us any documentation to support its decision of allocating 75% of royalties to IMPRA. In court, the SABC will have no choice, but to demonstrate how and why they decided to donate royalties due to SAMPRA members to IMPRA.

In terms of section 8(5), the Regulations on the Establishment of Collecting Societies in the Music Industry (2006), a needletime distribution plan is supposed to be submitted to the Registrar of Copyright for approval before any distribution is done. We have informed the Registrar of Copyright that the SABC made a payment to IMPRA when there was a dispute between the SABC and ourselves on the payment calculation of these royalties. We have, therefore, officially written to the Registrar to implore them not to approve the IMPRA distribution plan, when and if IMPRA submits one for approval, pending the finalisation of this matter.

We believe, amongst others, that the SABC payment to IMPRA violates section 8(5)(a) of the Regulations which states that a distribution plan shall not provide for arbitrary or discretionary distributions. It goes without question that an organisation whose entire repertoire is less than 10% of the music performed by South African music users, but has been paid royalties due to rights holders it does not represent, will resort to arbitrary and/or discretionary distributions. Moreover, section 8(3) of the Regulations states that a collecting society shall distribute the amounts collected in a manner to reflect as nearly as possible the actual use of sound recordings and protected performances covered by the repertoire under its administration. The SABC payment to IMPRA violates section 8(3) since IMPRA has been paid for sound recordings and performances NOT covered by the repertoire under its administration.

In its communication to its few members, IMPRA disputed that they have been contacting you, our members, to apply for membership because they have collected your SABC royalties without your mandate. But most of you have been contacting us in the last four weeks indicating that you’ve been contacted by IMPRA to apply for membership because IMPRA has collected your royalties from the SABC when you are not signed with them. We, once again, thank for you for refusing to be used as fair game in the SABC/IMPRA game.

Finally, we would like to thank all music users, including commercial radio stations, that have abided by the legislation and Regulations and paid us. Their compliance with the law has led to SAMPRA distributing more than R230m of needletime rights royalties in the last five years.  The SABC is the only broadcaster whose royalties have not been received because they refuse to abide by the law and Regulations.

For more information on copyright compliant music users, please visit www.sampra.org.za/licensed-music-users.

Should you have any queries or concerns, you are more than welcome to reach out to us.


Pfanani Lishivha

Chief Executive Officer

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