Artistes paid $5K per month to clear debt

HARARE - State-run Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC) is currently paying an average of $5 000 per month to liquidate its legacy debt which stood at $478 080 as at April 31, Broadcasting Services deputy minister Thokozile Mathuthu has said.

Mathuthu told the Senate last week that the monthly payments were part of an agreement between the national broadcaster and Zimbabwe Music Rights Association (Zimura) which collects royalties on behalf of musicians.

“It is true that ZBC has a legacy debt with regard to the payment of royalties, which it is currently trying to settle.

“Please note that in some months, the national broadcaster pays up to $10 000 as it is committed to ending the debt,” she said.

If the current payment plan is maintained, the national broadcaster will take up to eight years to clear royalty arrears.

Mathuthu added that Zimura and ZBC had also agreed to revise downwards the percentage of the revenue payable to musicians.

“In a meeting held in 2016 between ZBC and Zimura, it was agreed that the national broadcaster should pay off the legacy debt first and then a new agreement for the payment of royalties will be drawn up.

“It was also agreed that the royalties rate of 10 percent of revenue which was agreed upon during the Zimbabwe dollar era was too high, unrealistic under the US$ regime and not in tandem with regional trends.

“The agreed new royalties rate is 2,25 percent of revenue and this will be implemented once the legacy debt has been run down. The new rate is in the range of what other regional broadcasters are paying,” she said.

In a related development, the Broadcasting Services deputy minister described the country’s digitisation programme as “on-going.”

“ZBC is currently in the process of digitising the radio studios . . . replacing analogue equipment with digital equipment.

“It is work in progress whose completion can only be determined by the availability of funding to finish the project,” Mathuthu said.

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