Thousands of authors and composers whose music is broadcast on SABC TV and radio can now be assured of receiving their royalty fees as the SABC begins to clear a backlog of debt.

The SABC had fallen behind in its payments amid its own financial challenges, and by 30 September 2019, it owed SAMRO a total of R160.4 million.

The SABC has paid 35% towards reducing this long outstanding debt to the Southern African Music Rights Organisation (SAMRO), which is responsible for collecting royalty fees and distributing them to more than 19 000 SAMRO members, who rely on royalties to sustain their livelihoods.

The public broadcaster has committed to honouring monthly payments as agreed with SAMRO and by April 2020, the outstanding debt will be settled in full and current financial year invoices will be up to date.

SAMRO’s interim CEO Ditebogo Modiba expressed her thanks to the SABC for prioritising these payments in recognition of the impact that it has on the industry’s sustainability, since it is a key source of income for many South African artists. “Honouring their commitment to us reflects their understanding of  the importance of paying for their license, which ultimately benefits our members. This is still a challenge when dealing with some other licensees, and the SABC, despite its financial challenges, has proven to be a positive example in complying with this,” Modiba said. “All of the money received from the SABC will be used to secure the payment of royalties to our members, which is our primary and core function.”