Macedonian music silenced over copyright spat

Karolina Goceva performing on stage Image copyright EPA/GEORGI LICOVSKI
Image caption Broadcasters are required to give airtime to Macedonian musicians like Karolina Goceva, but at the moment they cannot

Television and radio stations in Macedonia have been forced to stop playing tracks by the country's musicians because of a dispute over copyright, it's reported.

The Musical Copyright Society of Macedonia, known as ZAMP, has banned the music of its 6,000 members being broadcast in protest at what it says is government meddling, Balkan Insight reports. The organisation, which has been around since 1947, is unhappy that the culture ministry has granted a licence to a new rival association, called SOKOM-MAP, to collect artists' fees from broadcasters. It describes the association as "an instrument in the culture ministry's hands", something SOKOM-MAP denies.

The spat means TV and radio programmes can't play any Macedonian music for the time being - which has left broadcasting bosses with another dilemma. By law, 40% of their musical output must be by Macedonian artists, so filling the airwaves with foreign music would fall foul of the rules, as would any decision to ignore the ban. "Either way, we risk legal repercussions and steep fines," one radio editor tells the website.

Media companies have now written to the government pointing out that complying with the law will be impossible until the dispute is resolved. The culture ministry that it's pondering how to proceed and won't comment in the meantime, except to say that ZAMP had made "harsh accusations" against the ministry.

Balkan Insight explains that this is the latest development in a months-long dispute, which started with a new law limiting the amount broadcasters had to pay ZAMP for using music made by their members.

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