Thursday, 18 April

GHAMRO licence withheld; unable to pay royalties this month, until further notice

Rex Omar

The Ghana Music Rights Organisation's (GHAMRO) licence has been withheld.

Consequently, musicians signed to GHAMRO will not receive any royalties this month, the organisation has indicated with much regret.

The Chairman of the organisation, singer-songwriter and composer Rex Omar gave an explanation at the Teachers Hall Complex in Accra today, Thursday, June 1, 2023.

“...GHAMRO’s operating license is being withheld by the regulator through the copyright office," he announced, adding: "As a result, GHAMRO would not be able to distribute any collection as it is unable to follow the collection mandate until the license is renewed..." 

This follows calls by singer and dancer Akosua Agyapong asking for the organisation's office to be closed. 

Rex Omar bemoaned that: “It is rather unfortunate that after the Attorney General’s Office Roadmap has almost been completed with the exception of an appealed case yet to be declared, GHAMRO is being asked to go back to start the recommendation of the Efua Sutherland Committee’s report…”

He stressed that GHAMRO has already fulfilled all the renewal conditions under Section 24 of the Copyright Legislative Instrument.

“In 2010," he narrated, "GHAMRO submitted all the requisite documentation for the renewal of its license in June, 2022. This is against a campaign from notable persons like Madam Akosua Adjapong that the organisation's certificate has not been renewed and that users should stop payments for the use of protected music which is regulated under law.” 

According to reports, the copyright office, through a letter dated Wednesday, 17 May 2023, has requested that the GHAMRO agrees to suspend its cases in court, re-adopt Prof Efua Sutherland’s Report and to readmit the dissolved Election Committee to organise new elections.

Mr Omar also said some GHAMRO officials have suffered physical attacks as a result of Ms Agyapong's campaign.

"Over a period of one year that our licence has been withheld by the regulator, these same disgruntled members, led by Akosua Agyepong, have been jumping from radio station to radio station, media house to media house, TV station to TV station, asking people, users, not to pay to GHAMRO," he said. "To the extent that some of our staff would go out and would be beaten – the regulator is aware of this and nothing has been done."

He revealed that, "under normal circumstances, GHAMRO distributes twice a year. So, this month, June, GHAMRO is supposed to distribute," however, the challenge is, the organisation has "not been able to collect so we cannot distribute". 

He said this is all "based on what is going on".

That said, he reiterated the "long term agenda of GHAMRO," is "to restructure the society along the tenets of a well-managed collecting organisation...". 

Myjoyonline reports that on the sidelines of the press conference, Thursday, Rex Omar assured GHAMRO members the leadership has written a petition to the Attorney General registering their displeasure about the directive.

He also indicated that although the organisation is barred from distributing royalties, it can still collect royalties and wait till their licence is renewed before issuance to rightful owners. 

| Four out of five of GHAMRO's directors (L-R): Rex Omar, Diana Hopeson, Abraham Kofi Boakye and Augustina Addison

For Akosua Agyapong's part, GHAMRO executives have long neglected and cheated musicians, in addition to misappropriating funds in their care.

In a recent interview noted by GhanaWeb, she spoke on some items in GHAMRO's annual report for 2021.

“The report also showed that they buy new cars and computers every year. But what really intrigues me the most is that those who collect the royalties (spinners) are paid a whopping GHS433,000 annually. How much is the musician who is the creator of the content even paid?” she quizzed.

Also, per the said report, she said, the organisation's executives received "GHS132,000 for refreshment and sitting allowance".

Meanwhile, she lamented, musicians such as the Highlife veteran Kwadwo Akwaboah Snr, who recently passed, disclosed to her that "he only received GHS250 as royalties". In comparison to the aforementioned GHAMRO budget, she, thus, asked, "what does that amount to, if not cheating?"

Akosua Agyapong has also raised concerns about the alleged lack of an official list of the members of GHAMRO even though it is said the organisation boasts of an estimated 4,000 subscribers.

Furthermore, Ms Agyapong has accused GHAMRO of non-compliance to recommendations enshrined in the organisation’s 2021 report. 

She is reported to have told Graphic Showbiz that an example is a requirement for GHAMRO to use 10 per cent of royalties collected for the welfare of rights holders.

However, “from the 2021 report," she said, "those who are managing the fund are paid GHS72,000 annually; yet, members in dire need don’t get assistance."

| Akosua Agyapong 

Rex Omar, meanwhile, sees Akosua Agyapong and co.’s allegations as “misleading information” and a “smear campaign to malign the management and directors of the organisation,” in hopes “to further their personal agenda”.

Source: Benjamin