In the pre-reality show era, musicians looked forward to the day they could be called a “radio artiste". Having attained that exalted status, some would even announce the achievement prominently on their visiting cards. The prestige associated with becoming a radio artiste at the time was probably the same as winning a talent hunt is for aspiring musicians today.

Clause-bound: Begum Akhtar at an AIR recording session. Hindustan Times

Clause 8c states that AIR can release the material it records in any format by paying an amount not exceeding ... (the) basic fees (that it pays) to the artist. Indeed, AIR has released a lot of archival material commercially, some with stellar performances but poor production value. But it has defaulted on its own contractual terms several times. One such case is that of veteran tabla player Shashikant Shridhar Mulye. Mulye is featured on the DVD and CD releases of AIR recordings by Pandit Bhimsen Joshi, but three-and-a-half years after the launch, he is still waiting to be paid. In a display of scant respect for artistes, his letters to Prasar Bharati and the directors of Mumbai and Pune AIR stations remain unanswered. Mulye’s is by no means the only case and one can only hope that the government amends the Indian Copyright Act and persuades its broadcasting corporations to be fair to artistes.

Write to Shubha at