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BON Ban Goes Messier: Nigerian Artistes Fight Back

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Artistes and other stakeholders count their losses as a ban on their music due to copyright dispute lingers, JAYNE AUGOYE writes
The ongoing feud between the Copyright Society of Nigeria, the alliance of the Independence Broadcast Association of Nigeria and Broadcast Organisation of Nigeria is taking a toll on the Nigerian music industry.

Since the ban on the airplay of works of 96 Nigerian music artistes was pronounced on December 4. A huge void has been created with regards to the contents on air at Nigerian radio and television stations.
The ban was conveyed in a press release jointly signed by Sonny Adun and Guy Murray-Bruce who are IBAN Chairman and Secretary respectively.

The dispute also appears to be detrimental to the operations at the affected radio and TV stations. This is because most operators are having a hard time trying to adhere to the 60 per cent local broadcast content for open television and 80 per cent local broadcast content for radio – as stipulated by the Nigerian Broadcasting Commission.
For terrestrial TV stations, it is business as usual. Since the task of reflecting a minimum of 20 per cent local content in their programming as ordered by the regulatory body is a no brainer. The banned songs and videos have found solace on these stations.

2face_PSquare_DBanj_BankyWWith more than 100 artistes under the COSON watch, 85 per cent of who are popular acts, there is no gainsaying that the bulk of music airplay is suffering decline. For anchors of solely Nigerian music programming content, this is nothing but a bad time.’
The affected artistes include big names like 2face Idibia, D’banj, Omawumi, Onyeka Onwenu, Inyanya as well as other upcoming acts. Also affected are Iyanya, Olamide, Dr Sid, Sammie Okposo, Banky W and Wizkid,

Several radio stations like Lagos -based, Inspiration FM constantly justify their stance in form of public announcements which are replayed at close intervals. The media outfit s have also gone a step further asking non-members of COSON who want their songs to be placed to come forward.

On the contrary, a school of thought is of the opinion that the ban is a welcome development and blessing in disguise. The concerned people say it is the much needed breather from the ‘over saturation of the Nigerian airwaves from commercial and empty music”.

For Olusegun Leigh on Twitter, the up-and-coming artistes now own the day. His tweet read, “Every up-and- coming artiste out there should take advantage of this COSON/BON rift. This is the time to get the airplay you have always wanted.”
While on-air-personality, Gloria Maduka, says she does appreciate the struggle among the affected parties, the public outcry is a pointer to the enormous power indigenous music content wields in the Nigerian broadcast circles.
She says, “You can just sense that listeners want the Nigerian flavour so much that now they say radio is boring and complain about our music selection. It has also made my job harder to some degree.

“Not only do these songs get me going, I have also lost the motivation to bring artistes on my show, because I can’t play their songs as well.
“I feel a resolution should be reached soonest because Nigerian music has become a huge part of our culture. When that is taken away a huge chunk is taken away.”

Other presenters called on thephone also stated that the clampdown was affecting their jobs in no small measure. Not undermining the BON/IBAN/COSON struggle, they all echo and pray that the impasse be resolved in no time.

The affected acts also appear unfazed in the midst of the storm. At a recently held forum at the Club Rumours, Ikeja Lagos, which had the likes of Banky W, 2Face Idibia, 9ice, Sound Sultan, MI, Ill Bliss, Wunmi Obe, Obiwon and 2Shotz, in attendance as well as representatives of other stars, a 10-point resolution was reached.

It was contained in a statement signed by singer, Azeezat Allen who is a COSON director. The artistes threatened to massively boycott upcoming events to be organised by members of IBAN if the situation is not resolved by the Nigeria Broadcasting Commission, NBC. They listed the Headies Awards and Rhythm Unplugged as the events which may experience their wrath.

Gospel singer, Sammy Okposo,  charged COSON to be on top of its game by being transparent and accountable. He said, “The idea behind COSON is right and good for the Nigerian music industry but I must say that until proper accountability and transparency is made by COSON, I do not think this whole idea of collecting royalties for airplay on behalf of artistes will work.”

Commenting on the ban slammed by BON on all COSON members, Okposo said it was not the best decision and called on media houses to continue to play his music and that of every other Nigerian artiste.

“There can be no vacuum in life. The implication of the ban is that foreign music will once more rule our airwaves as was the case in the past and this has cultural implications for Nigerians as a people,” he noted.

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