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News 28 Sep 16

Sound of Serbian Music May Vanish From Macedonia

After much Macedonian music went off air in Macedonia in a dispute over copyright, Macedonian TV and radio stations now face another ban - on playing music from Serbia.

Sinisa Jakov Marusic
BIRN
Skopje
Serbian pop singer, Zdravko Colic. Photo by Wikimedia Commons/Zvonko

The Serbian Music Authors’ Organization, SOKOJ, has said it will ban Macedonian TV and radio stations from playing music by their members from October 1 - out of solidarity with their Macedonian counterparts from the Musical Copyright Society of Macedonia, ZAMP.

Like ZAMP, SOKOJ says  it is outraged by the decision of the Macedonian authorities to grant a licence to a new association in Macedonia, SOKOM MAP, to collect songwriters’ and performers’ fees from TV and radio broadcasters.

SOKOJ agrees with ZAMP that the new regulations in Macedonia will result in performance fees dropping below the minimum sum that members can accept.

“This tariff is .... only symbolic and is several times lower than the tariffs in Europe,” SOKOJ said.

The dispute between ZAMP and the Macedonian Culture Ministry begun last year when Macedonia's parliament adopted changes to copyright law that significantly cut the performance fees of songwriters and performers.

The dispute escalated last month when ZAMP, which represents some 6,000 Macedonian authors, imposed a ban on airing Macedonian music, accusing the Culture Ministry of trying to undermine musicians' work and cut their earnings.

This has put much Macedonian music off air. Most stations are afraid of ending up in court, although by law at least 40 per cent of music output must consist of work by Macedonians.

The threatened ban on playing Serbian music will mean even more hardship for local broadcasters, as many of them are struggling as it is to replace Macedonian tunes with songs from neighbouring countries.

The Culture Ministry and the new association, SOKOM MAP, last month dismissed ZAMP's accusations but the ministry said it was working to set things right with ZAMP.

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