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National Carnival Commission (NCC) has been given until today to pay outstanding royalties and accreditation fees to T&T Copyright Collection Organisation (TTCO) on behalf of mas bands. This, according to the head of TTCO, Dr Vijay Ramlal, who spoke in an exclusive interview yesterday. Last Friday, NCC was given a 72-hour ultimatum to meet the request, which expires today, or else necessary actions would be taken. Ramlal said TTCO held two meetings concerning the issue—one with the heads of NCC and the other with NCC’s legal representative, Dharmendra Poonwassie, where Poonwassie was given a letter requesting certain information regarding previous arrangements for royalty payments for mas bands from 2007 to 2010.
Making reference to the letter, it stated that if the NCC did not adhere to the deadline, TTCO had advised their client on the course of action available to them to have this matter properly ventilated and/or adjudicated upon. He explained, however, that TTCO found that NCC was “dragging their feet” on the issue and thus served NCC a notice to comply within 72 hours. Ramlal added that TTCO also had to negotiate with NCC for 2011 royalties and all other accreditation procedures. He said organisations like NCC would now have to obtain certain licence to stage events that included mas performances.
Ramlal said according to the law, NCC, National Carnival Bands Association (NCBA) and any other Carnival organisations had no legal authority to collect royalties and accreditation fees for mas bands. “They are not collecting agencies and they could no longer operate in the way they did in the past...TTCO is the only legal entity in the world that could negotiate royalties and accreditation fees for the mas bands,” he added. He said the system under which entities like NCC was operating could no longer continue as the system of collection was undermining the value of Carnival. The TTCO has about 153 mas bands under its organisation.
Chairman of the NCC, Kenny de Silva, said: “It’s a legal situation and we must be guided by that. “The board has to receive a report from Poonwassie in how we should move forward,” he added. De Silva confirmed that Poonwassie and TTCO met on the issue. He said, however, that since it was a legal matter, he could not comment.
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