Chairman, Copyright Society of Nigeria (COSON), Chief Tony Okoroji says the end appears to be near with respect to the crisis that engulfed the music and broadcasting industries in Nigeria over the payment of copyright royalties in the last quarter of 2013.
While addressing some musicians at COSON Headquarters in Lagos today, Okoroji said that a lot of progress has been made in the negotiations to break the deadlock between COSON and the broadcasting industry and that the negotiations which have gone on for several months may be nearing conclusion.
According to Chief Okoroji who has led the COSON team to the negotiations moderated by the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) with the support of the Nigerian Copyright Commission (NCC) said ‘Not for one minute have we forgotten that we represent the music industry and that we must represent the industry forcefully.
“What we say or do will have far reaching impact on the music industry in Nigeria for years to come. On the other hand, we are citizens of Nigeria and must search for that which is best for our country over the long run. We do not want to kill the broadcast industry but to work with it. We have therefore kept searching for areas of compromise without hurting the music industry which we represent’
Speaking further, Chief Okoroji said, “What erupted as a major crisis may indeed turn out to be the proverbial blessing in disguise for our country. For many years, Nigeria has run away from addressing this problem which has frustrated many and driven important investment out of our nation. There are many who had given up believing that this problem will never be solved.
Finally, we are sitting on the same table with the broadcast industry and important issues that affect both our music and broadcast industries are being ironed out. It appears like a miracle but it is happening. I give kudos to the leaderships of both the NBC and NCC for what we have achieved so far’.
On the status of the progress made in the on-going negotiations, Okoroji said that “Contrary to the propaganda in some quarters, COSON is and has always been open to negotiations. Anybody who deals with us will tell you that we are not that hydra-headed monster we have been painted to be. We are very responsible and sensitive to the challenges faced by users of music. We put all of that into considerations when negotiating copyright royalty fees.
The case is not different with the broadcast industry. We are still involved in a series of negotiations and I am certain that at the end of the day, all parties involved will be satisfied that we have solved a huge problem that has bedeviled our country.
He commended members of COSON around the country for their unflinching support to the society and assured them of the dedication of the Board to achieving the society’s mandate.
“I am particularly thankful to all those in the music industry who lent their voices in support of the stand of COSON when the COSON/BON/IBAN crisis became public. I am grateful to those who took part in this fight to bring sanity to our industry and to ensure return on the investment made in the music industry. There are those who believed that this crisis would break COSON. It has not. We are responsible for the future of creativity in Nigeria and we cannot afford to fail ourselves and generations to come”.
It will be recalled that in 2013, COSON instituted back to back multi-million naira law suits against some of Nigeria’s biggest broadcast stations including AIT, Ray Power, STV, Rhythm FM, Beat FM, Classic FM, Naija FM, Smooth FM, Brila FM, etc., with a threat to sue many more broadcast stations.
In response, Broadcasting Organizations of Nigeria (BON) and Independent Broadcasting Association of Nigeria (IBAN) announced the suspension of the broadcast of the music of nearly all the topmost musicians in Nigeria, all of them members of COSON on radio and TV stations across Nigeria. This resulted in massive public outrage across the country followed by an all-out media war between the music and broadcast industries. It took a major public pronouncement made by the NBC at the beginning of 2014, which pronouncement set up the COSON/BON/IBAN/NBC/NCC Joint Committee for tempers to cool and the on-going negotiations to commence.