The South African Music Rights Organisation (SAMRO) has denied reports that it is one of the organisations being investigated by the SABC for corruption in its dealings with the state broadcaster. This follows reports stemming from a briefing given by Sully Motsweni, head of SABC’s compliance and monitoring and chair of the Auditor General task team, to the National Assembly’s Portfolio Committee on Communications.
She was reporting to parliament on actions taken by the SABC to investigate abuses uncovered by Auditor General Terence Nombembe in 2009.
SAMRO was listed as one of the organisations being investigated. But the it says this allegation is “incorrect, confusing and misleading. SAMRO is neither under investigation by the SABC nor the South African Police Service. In fact, the investigation referred to is a criminal case opened by SAMRO into the conduct of an external supplier contracted to the SABC”.
In a statement, SAMRO said that in 2009, when it calculated the broadcast distribution of royalties due to music rights holders, an anomaly was detected in the cue sheets submitted by the SABC 1 music programme, Music Lounge. SAMRO and the SABC then investigated the matter, and found evidence that there had in fact been “fraudulent activity” in the returns for the programme.
“The SAMRO team spent time at the SABC, viewing episodes of the show, to confirm the details of the music rights holders and works played during the television broadcast of the programme. There is evidence that false cue sheets had been submitted by the programme producer, who, it would appear, had purposefully failed to reflect all the music that had been included in the broadcasts,” it said in the statement.
SAMRO subsequently appointed a law firm to assist in drawing up a prima facie case against the implicated production company, and opened a criminal case in May 2010 with the commercial crimes unit at the Brixton Police Station. The case is being investigated by the police, and is under review by the Special Investigations Unit.