The SABC has just announced a somewhat radical decision to carry 90% local content across all 18 of it’s radio stations, with immediate effect.

The SABC says it took the decision after extensive consultation with music industry representatives.

Spokesperson Kaiser Kganyago says, “We believe that the SABC is the custodian of our culture and heritage and we need to do that.”

Kganyago said this will be taking place for the next three months while the SABC assesses the reception by the public and how it’s going to move forward in terms of the final percentage.

The report stated that majority of the focus would be on kwaito, jazz, reggae, and gospel.

Some South African musicians say the decision to prioritise local music on all SABC radio stations will not only give local artists more exposure and royalties but could also promote local entrepreneurs and record labels.

Whilst the almost overnight decision to scupper every major content strategy of some major radio stations smacks of political grandstanding in a conveniently close election period, the actual move should be lauded as both brave, and bullshit.

Social media has exploded with snarky commentary and threats to boldly follow Beyonce to other stations, the decision to move towards local artists as primary content, is actually more in line with the SABC assuming a responsible roll as a genuine public broadcaster than ever before.

https://twitter.com/pthlela/status/730409632850706432

Let’s not forget that the ratio of local to international artists as an average was probably closer to 25% / 75% across the spectrum of stations, and by definition it would be tricky to argue how playing Adele 50 times a day was contributing to upliftment in Alex, the roll of a public broadcaster should be exactly that… to faithfully serve it’s paying public.

“Public Broadcasters are not by definition commercial platforms.”

A quick hop over the seas would see that the BBC faithfully broadcast a variety of culturally relevant offerings broadcasting everything from Welsh Choirs to Scottish poetry readings – leaving the independent commercial stations to concentrate on Westlife and Sam Smith, so why should the SABC not follow suit?

The average South African artist will spend hundreds of thousands of hours on their craft, gigging in dingy bars and headlining local festivals, all the time contributing to the coffers of the country by diligently paying taxes (well..most of them…) so why not provide them a platform to be exposed to a broader audience?

I need to clarify I actually don’t agree with the apparent knee-jerk decision in the way this decision has clearly been bulldozed into play, almost overnight, as I can see commercial carnage heading swiftly to the balance sheets of an already beleaguered broadcaster.

Contractual commercial relationships will undoubtedly become strained given the obvious change in listener demographics on some of the more commercially aligned stations, and importantly very little of this dramatic effort to increase local airplay will result in direct revenue trickling back to the local artists.

The airplay remuneration model is a microscopic component of an artists income but the added exposure can do no harm in raising profiles, increasing awareness and generally boosting a local industry that both entertains and employs.

“So I for one, say well done. Well done to a draconian chaotic terribly run parastatal, that even for all the wrong (political) reasons may just have moved a step closer to actually fulfilling its’ mandate as a public broadcaster, to serve a public desperately disappointed in the majority of self-motivated moves the government make on a daily basis.”

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Brent Lindeque
About the Author

Brent Lindeque is the founder and man in charge at Good Things Guy.

Recognised as one of the Mail and Guardian’s Top 200 Young South African’s as well as a Primedia LeadSA Hero, Brent is a change maker, thought leader, radio host, foodie, vlogger, writer and all round good guy.

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