Broadcasters may be forced to shell out Rs 1-1.5 lakh for every song that is sung by the contestants in musical talent hunt shows like Indian Idol or Sa Re Ga Ma Pa, and they are not liking it at all.

Asking for transparency in functioning, leading broadcasters like Zee TV, STAR, Sony and others have taken a strong objection to a proposed move by the Ministry of Human Resource Development (HRD) to amend the existing Copyright Act without consulting them. Under the proposed changes, even news broadcasters may also have to cough up a similar amount for every telecast of matches and old clippings.

Currently, broadcasters do not pay any such fees. The amendments would cause financial losses to the broadcasters while benefit the music companies and their agents immensely, said the Indian Broadcasting Foundation (IBF), the apex body for all broadcasters. “The I&B ministry did not seek our comments in this matter which is likely to impact all broadcasters,” said Jawahar Goel, president, IBF. According to IBF, neither the HRD ministry nor the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (I&B) had taken any feedback from the broadcasters on the several proposed amendments to the Copyright Act. These included tinkering with the “fair use” provisions of Section 52, insertion of Section 33A and changes in Section 31 among others.

“News channels, which enjoy constitutional protection in respect of free speech and expression are likely to be most severely hurt by any tinkering with the ‘fair use’ provisions of the existing Section 52 of the Copyright Act,” a letter by IBF to the I&B ministry said. The “fair use” provision of Section 52 of the Copyright Act allows broadcasters to reproduce popular songs and music using their own orchestra, especially in music competitions (Indian Idol, Sa Re Ga Ma Pa, etc) without having to pay any royalty to the music companies. IBF said, this “fair use” provision was likely to be removed under the proposed amendments.

As per Avnindra Mohan, Essel Group’s Executive Vice President and Head of corporate affairs, “Once the amendments are made to the Copyright Act, the music companies could demand any amount (Rs 75,000-100,000 per song) for two-three minute usage and in some cases the demand could go as high as Rs 1.50 lakh. This is wrong and one-sided as there is no provision for redressal,”

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