Battle for artistes’ millions hots up

Friday, February 23rd, 2024 09:30 | By
Battle for artistes’ millions hots up
Photo collage of Kecobo chairman Joshua Kutuny, MCSK chief executive Ezekiel Mutua and Kamp chairperson Angela Ndambuki. PHOTO/Print

The Kenya Copyright Board (Kecobo) has raised a red flag over unaccounted money collected by three Collective Management Organisations (CMOs).

The intellectual property rights regulator has pointed to a possible embezzlement or theft of millions of shillings collected as royalties by the Music Copyright Society of Kenya (MCSK), Kenya Association of Music Producers (Kamp) and Performers Rights Society of Kenya (Prisk).

While addressing a press conference in Nairobi on Wednesday, Kecobo chairman Joshua Kutuny said there were disparities between the royalties jointly collected and distributed by the three entities.

He said Kecobo had established that a total of Sh249,687,212.80 was jointly collected from January to December 2023, but the three CMOs declared different numbers.

“While Kamp and Prisk declared a collection of Sh249 million and accounted for Sh61 million and Sh52.7 million, respectively, MCSK on its part declared receipts of Sh109 million, representing a shortfall of Sh26 million,” said Kutuny.

He added that cumulatively, MCSK declared total revenues of Sh139,295,094 comprising of Public Performance (Sh109 million) and Mechanical income (Sh30 million).

The regulator has now asked Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) and the Director of Criminal Investigations (DCI) to investigate the three CMOs.

Kutuny says upon review, his board found information presented was scanty and at variance with details on joint collection and monies received from foreign entities like PRS London, CAPPASSO and Google Ireland totaling Sh30 million were also not accounted for. According the regulator, Prisk accounted for Sh60 million and a royalty distribution of Sh7 million, with Sh3 million pending distribution.

Kamp accounted for Sh53 million. Of that amount, Sh5 million was distributed and Sh1.9 million royalty is pending distribution.

“MCSK could not account for Sh56 million. This amount comprises Sh26 million received from joint collection and Sh30 million from other CMOs abroad and Google Ireland,” said Kutuny.

In a rejoinder, MCSK chief executive officer Ezekiel Mutua accused Kecobo of malice, and that he would take a legal action for the offence.

He said while there was need for guidelines for the industry, the regulator had overstepped its mandate, while inciting artistes with intentions of sabotage while the distribution process was ongoing.

“I am ready to put my life on the line and I will stand by the truth. Let the chips fall where they may. That office (Kecobo) itself needs to be investigated and when we met with CS Aisha Jumwa, they were asking for money when it was established that only MCSK was ready to distribute the Sh20 million royalties. They stink to the core,” Mutua alleged.

On her part, Kamp chairperson Angela Ndambuki faulted and poked holes on the statements made by Kutuny, terming them as inaccurate.

“We have given our documents to Kecobo that supported Kamps position in terms of efficiency and effectiveness in terms of operations of the CMOs, which was not highlighted in the chairman’s statement. We are concerned that the correct position was not articulated and the numbers were not correct,” she said.

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