The K164million has been accumulating since 2011, according to MBC Director General Aubrey Sumbuleta.
Presenting the cheque payment of K51.4million at Mount Sochi Hotel in Blantyre, Sumbuleta said he was pleased that the broadcaster and the musicians in the country were starting the year on a clean slate.
“We are closing a chapter that has not portrayed a very good picture of MBC and musicians in the country, and we are beginning a very new chapter. And paying in advance for the year 2019-2020, we are extending an olive branch to musicians in the country that let us forget the past and move into the future,” said Sumbuleta at a function to present the money to the association.
He said the journey to settling the debt started in July last year when the public broadcaster had invited members of the Copyright Society of Malawi (Cosoma) Task force to draft a road-map on how MBC was going to settle the arrears.
“During that meeting, we had promised to settle the debt within six months. We made an undertaking that we will finish by January 2020. And here we are fulfilling the promise. It is my hope that this good relation will grow from strength to strength,” he said.
Going forward, Sumbuleta said: “Having cleared the arrears and paying in advance the 2019-2020 royalties, we will be engaging the musicians in a number of projects MBC is going to announce in few months coming.”
Taking his turn, MBC Board Chairperson Reverend Daniel Gunya appealed to the musicians to receive the broadcaster’s gesture as an encouragement to do more.
“Go and be innovative. MBC is here to give you a platform,” said Gunya.
Receiving the payment, Musican Union of Malawi (MUM) president Gloria Manong’a called upon other media houses to emulate MBC’s example.
“We have come to the last chapter of this matter. MBC has opened a way that we should continue working together without any grudges. We can only urge other media houses to follow this example set by our mother broadcaster,” she said.
Concurring with her, former Mum president Reverend Chimwemwe Mhango apologized to MBC for leading musicians in the country to wage a verbal war against the broadcaster over the matter.
“We came out guns brazing against MBC, only to realise that all it needed was a friendly path to resolve this matter. We took a wrong path, only to be shocked that it was MBC itself which initiate the dialogue while we were buzy making noise in the media. The most beautiful thing about it all is the fact that MBC has lived to its promises from the word go,” said Mhango.
He then commended MBC for the recently held GreenFest, saying the broadcaster has set a platform for musicians in the country to contribute positively to the country.
Also reacting to the news was Mum chair of trustees, Whyclif Chimwendo, who said MBC has handled the royalty issue beyond their expectation.