FM radio stations to pay for songs

Private-own FM radio stations in Burma have reached an agreement with artists over a copyright system that will allow musicians to receive royalties each time their songs are played.

Under the one-year royalty contract, signed last week by the state-run Myanmar Music Association’s deputy director Myint Aung and officials of six private FM radio stations – Mandalay FM, Shwe FM, Paddamya [Ruby] FM, Pyinsawaddy FM, Cherry FM and FM Bagan – each radio play will be ‘bought’ for 400 kyat (US$0.40), which will then be divided up between the performer and the band, the songwriter, the producer, audio technicians and the MMA.

But government-owned FM stations – Yangon City FM and Naypyidaw’s Padauk Myay FM – did not sign the agreement.

Maung Maung Latt, director of the MMA, said the radio stations were paying the artists 450 kyat per each song in April, May and June this year under a test programme. The new payment came into existence on 1 July.

“The MMA will not demand fees from the government broadcastings but only from private broadcastings,” said Maung Maung Latt.

Prior to the agreement, no royalties for song plays were paid to the artists, but the MMA believes now “is the right time” to abide by international standards. But some individual stations had already paid a fee to artists: Mandalay FM paid 1200 kyat (US$1.2) per song, 200 kyat (US$0.2) of which went to the MMA the remaining 1000 kyat (US$1) divided between the singer, the songwriter and the producer.

Burma still uses the Burma Copyrights Law enacted under British colonial rule, which ended in 1948. But after joining the World Intellectual Property Organization, the government’s Ministry of Science and Technology and the Ministry of Information have been jointly drafting the Intellectual Property Act and Copyrights Act.

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