The Chairman, Broadcasting Organizations of Nigeria (BON) Mallam Abubakar B. Jijiwa has requested all broadcasting organizations operating in Nigeria to fully engage with Copyright Society of Nigeria (COSON) to ensure payment of royalties for the musical works and sound recordings broadcast by them. According to Mallam Jijiwa, who is the Director General, Voice of Nigeria, the law is clear that every broadcasting station must pay for the music it uses and as law abiding institutions all broadcasting stations in Nigeria should endeavour to comply with the law. Jijiwa also said that the issue of who to pay to no longer arises as the Federal Government has made it clear that all broadcast organizations in Nigeria should pay royalties for music and sound recordings to Copyright Society of Nigeria (COSON).

Mallam Jijiwa was speaking to the Chief Executives of Broadcasting Organizations in the country on Thursday, September 16, 2010 at the 53rd General Assembly of BON which held in Awka, Anambra State.

Also addressing the BON General Assembly, COSON Chairman, Chief Tony Okoroji, recounted the many years of struggle to get musicians in Nigeria and music industry stakeholders to be properly compensated for their labour. Said Chief Okoroji to the broadcast industry CEOs, “since the government gave COSON the mandate to operate in May, we have engaged the key users of music in Nigeria in continuous dialogue. We have taken the COSON Stakeholders Forum around the country and used different media to discuss the issues with all concerned. We did not jump on anyone neither did we harass anyone. We have been very professional about our mandate. The time has finally come for everyone to do their duty. We have respected the users of music long enough. We now expect you to reciprocate that respect.

Chief Okoroji went on to announce that come October 1, 2010, the era of free music on Nigerian air waves and in public places will be gone forever. He also informed the CEOs that COSON has mandated Olusola Adekanola & Co, one of the nation’s foremost indigenous firms of chartered accountants to use their nationwide infrastructure and every tool in the tool box to collect the money due to long suffering Nigerian musicians and other stakeholders in the music industry.

Chief Okoroji reminded the CEOs that while he had honoured the invitation of BON to address the General Assembly, the responsibility of meeting the legal obligations of ensuring that their stations operate with valid copyright licences belonged to each station and not the Broadcasting Organizations of Nigeria. He advised that regardless of whatever assessment has been made of any station, it is better for the station to immediately engage with COSON in good faith negotiations rather than hiding its head in the sand hoping that the issue will go away.

It will be recalled that the Hon. Minister of Information & Communications, Professor Dora Akunyili had in July also asked all broadcasting stations nationwide to respect the rights of owners of copyright in music and sound recordings by paying appropriate royalties to COSON.

In Chief Okoroji’s delegation to the BON General Assembly were Mr. Adekunle Adewunmi of Olusola Adekanola & Co, Mr. Chinedu Chukwuji, Acting General Manager, COSON and Hon John Ewelukwa Udegbunam, National President, Music Label Owners & Recording Industries Association of Nigeria (MORAN) one of the key leaders in the music industry and a Director of COSON.