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Pinoy artists: Preference for foreign music hurting OPM

Despite the wealth of musical talent in the Philippines, foreign artists and composers still took the lion’s share of royalties from the use of their songs by radio stations and other businesses in 2014, a artists' group said Monday.

The Filipino Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers, Inc. (FILSCAP) on Monday lamented the poor implementation of the executive order mandating the radio stations to play at least four Original Pilipino Music (OPM) songs every hour, which it said has affected the revenues earned by Filipino artists.

According to FILSCAP general manager Mark Alciso, "out of FILSCAP’s total local royalty collection (in 2013) which was distributed in 2014, 75% (or about P35 million) was distributed as royalty payment for foreign compositions while 25% (or about P12 million) was distributed as royalty payment for local compositions."

"FILSCAP is the government-accredited collective management organization for music creators and copyright owners whose primary mandate is to license and collect the license fees for the public playing and broadcast of the compositions of its members and the members of its affiliate societies abroad," Alciso also said in an email to GMA News Online.

At the House committee on basic education and culture’s hearing on House Bill 4218, or the proposed OPM Development Act, Alciso said the disparity between the royalties for foreign and for local compositions " shows that the play of foreign works is really predominant.”

The bill, authored by Ifugao Rep. Teddy Baguilat, seeks to strengthen Executive Order 255 by granting tax credits to radio stations that play at least four OPM songs per clock hour.

Preferential treatment

Executive Order 255 signed by former President Corazon Aquino in 1987 requires all FM radio stations to play a minimum of four OPM compositions per hour. Violators face a fine of P100.

Singer and songwriter Ogie Alcasid, president of the Organisasyon ng Pilipinong Mang-aawit (OPM), said the bias for playing foreign music is commonplace in the country.

“There is preferential treatment for foreign music. You can only just turn on the radio to recognize that,” he said.

Alcasid’s colleague, singer and composer Jim Paredes, noted that he has yet to know of a radio station's being penalized for violating EO 255. He proposed increasing the number of requisite OPM songs radio stations should play every hour from four to six, or possibly eight. FM radio stations play an average of 12 songs per clock hour.

“I think radio is a beacon of culture and taste. To promote culture, we should really listen to local songs in the radio. It promotes nationhood,” he said.

Equity fees

But more than granting tax incentives to radio stations that play more OPM songs, Filipino artists said the equity fee for foreign artists who perform in the Philippines must be regulated to compensate for the income lost by local performers due to the absence of audience and sponsors.

Under the memorandum of agreement signed by OPM and Asosasyon ng Musikong Pilipino (AMP) with the Bureau of Immigration, foreign performers or their local sponsors only need to pay P5,000 per show for each foreign singer or performer who will use any local venue.

“So if Mariah Carey comes here and earns $500,000, we can only collect P5,000,” Paredes quipped.  

Singer Dingdong Avanzado said that while he is supportive of the cultural contributions brought by the influx of foreign artists in the country, Filipino artists also need to be “given preferential rights over any foreign act.”

HB 4218 will require foreign artists to pay Reciprocal Equity Fees equivalent to the amount that will be charged to a Filipino artist performing in the country where the foreign performer is from. The fee will be collected before the foreign artist is allowed to perform in the Philippines.

Independent musicians, for their part, also blasted the bill. — BM/ELR, GMA News