September 24, 2020

The board of directors of the SGAE ceases its president, José Ángel Hevia | Culture

The board of directors of the SGAE ceases its president, José Ángel Hevia | Culture

Several writers have left the SGAE in recent years. They left for another entity, Lady, fed up with a management that was more than debatable. And, also, a plot that is too repetitive, always equal to itself. Because José Ángel Hevia, who was dismissed Wednesday by the board of directors, is the fifth consecutive president who is not able to finish his term. The curse of the throne of the SGAE, in addition, seems to worsen: the reign of Hevia just has lasted a little over three months, the shortest of its predecessors. The government of the entity, meeting in extraordinary session, has approved with 22 votes in favor and 12 against the motion of censure against the president, due to a situation that several members of the board of directors consider unsustainable: they no longer have confidence that Hevia can lead them with balance or, above all, avoid intervention by the Ministry of Culture, a sword of Damocles increasingly heavy on the shoulders of the SGAE. The successor is expected to be named today: Antonio Onetti, José de Eusebio and Pilar Jurado are the main candidates.

Hevia was elected president last November, to rescue the SGAE from the quicksand and internal fights, where she had been trapped for months. He promised peace, truce and negotiation, which seemed to be fulfilled for about two months. Until the umpteenth crisis broke out, which worsened precisely as a result of the Minister of Culture, José Guirao, delivering to the National Court on February 15 a document asking the judge for authorization to take control of the SGAE during at least "six months". The text also proposes the "removal of the government" from the entity, replaced by a management commission, which casts serious doubts on the room for maneuver of the successor of Hevia and, in general, of the board of directors.

The National Court has already admitted the petition last week and gave SGAE 10 days to present its allegations. The hourglass began to run just as 18 members of the board, that is to say, the majority of the managers, forced with their signatures the convocation of a meeting to throw Hevia away. A few days later, the four vice-presidents of the entity (Onetti, Fermín Cabal, Teo Cardalda and Clifford Williams) circulated a document inviting concord, without even naming the president. Three managers assure that the "impulsive" style and little given to look for agreements of Hevia have contributed to its fall. As well as the shadows on his income: the overwhelming majority of the bagpiper's collection proceeded in recent years from the music broadcast at dawn on television, which is under ethical and, in some cases, legal suspicion.

On the one hand, the justice investigates the presumed fraud of the wheel, by which partners of the SGAE and employees of several public and private channels entered millions filling the early morning programming of musical themes, which no one listens but they add up to 40% of the total of television payments to the entity. On the other hand, night music has opened a schism between hundreds of artists, including Hevia and 13 other members of the board, who claim their legitimacy, and another front of partners who feel cheated and criticize an "unfair" cast. In reality, it is, above all, a conflict between companies: the multinationals against the chains and their own musical publishers. In the middle, of course, money: television is the main source of income of an entity that annually collects about 300 million euros.

Meanwhile, night music has generated more movements. The deontological commission of the SGAE accused Hevia and 13 other members of the government of a possible conflict of interests, while even the Congress has taken action on the matter: the new Intellectual Property Law limits the income that a strip can generate television time to a maximum of 20% of the total.

Added to this are the great challenges facing SGAE: the renegotiation of fees for the use of its repertoire; the modernization of its antiquated identification and distribution system; the arrival of other rivals, including private ones, to the market of copyright management; or the new directive prepared by the EU on copyright.

While the challenges accumulate on the table, the SGAE devours another president and it prolongs an unstoppable crisis since the Civil Guard detained the then responsible, Eduardo Bautista, in 2011 – he will sit on the bench for alleged misappropriation. From there, Anton Reixa fell, ceased by the board itself, as Hevia; José Luis Acosta, who ended up resigning; and José Miguel Fernández Sastrón, forced by internal fights to advance the call for elections. Hevia won them, and promised that a new era had arrived at the SGAE. But the entity finally opted for the same script as always: the deja vu.


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