TV channels B4U Music and ZEE Muzic have come under fire by British Asian record labels for not paying them fees for playing their artists’ music.

The latest issue of Eastern Eye, out tomorrow (Friday 12th December) is running a cover story on this latest Asian media debacle.

The Performing Rights Society (PRS), the body responsible for collecting and paying royalties, has been trying to get the Indian music giants to sign up with them and then pay up in future.

A PRS spokesperson said: “We are actively trying to licence B4U Music and ZEE Muzic. Unfortunately, this process is taking longer than expected.”

Brian Engel Publishing, who represents labels including Oriental Star Agencies and Moviebox has said that if talks break down again, the situation will end up in court.

Muhammad Farooq, director of Oriental Star Agencies, claims he has been sending letters to PRS for three years complaining that B4U Music and ZEE Muzic are not registered.

The story added neither ZEE or B4U explained why they are not licensed with PRS. While ZEE Muzic has repositioned its channel to a completely Bollywood offering, B4U Music is still quite heavy with the number of Brit-Asian music videos it playlists.

A B4U Music spokesman said the negotiations with PRS were “privileged and confidential”.

A ZEE spokesman said: “We hardly play any private music videos. A record label can buy air-time sales as part of a package. We play their music videos.

“There are no royalties issues as far as we know, since most of the record labels send letters along with the videos saying they are giving us the rights to play the videos for free.”

Independent record labels have expressed their concern at this move, which they have said is proving a blow to the British-Asian music scene. Some have gone on to say that if this agreement is not reached soon, the labels could be forced to close down.

Tariq Yousuf is CEO of Utopia Music, told Eastern Eye he was paid 19,000 by MTV so the channel could play ‘Baby: Dil Deewana’ for three months, but claims he was forced to give the track to B4U Music for free.