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SABC radios to play 90 per cent local music

The South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) has commenced a radical music quota system where all its 18 radio stations will play at least 90 percent of South African music.

The public broadcaster says the move, which was taken after extensive consultation with music industry representatives, will fully reflect the styles of local music on offer, and promote South African culture and heritage.

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

SABC apes Nigerian media and DJs who play nearly 100 per cent of music from Nigerian artistes. In Kenya, the reverse is true.

Night clubs, TV and radio stations –and Kenyans in general- prefer music from Bongo (Tanzanian), Kwaito (South African), Nigerian, Jamaican and American artistes, something that leaves many Kenyan artistes impoverished.

There is, however, a policy that requires media houses to play at least 30 per cent local content which has largely been ignored.


Meanwhile, South African musicians have welcomed the 90 per cent quota.

“It’s so funny because we were actually gunning for 60% and when he mentioned 90% I stopped talking, it’s been such an emotional day that actually tears were running down my face. If you really love your country and you want the development of the South African music and look at every South African who has been nominated or won a Grammy what kind of Music have they been playing? That’s it!” Jazz Musician Don Laka, told eNCA.

The BBC quoted South Africa’s hip-hop star Slikour describing the quota system as the music industry’s version of “Nelson Mandela coming out of jail”. About 30 million people tune in to the 18 SABC radio stations every week.

The ruling African National Congress (ANC) has also backed the idea. Acting spokesperson Khusela Sangoni Eyewitness News:

“The decision that 90 percent of the music played on SABC radio stations will be local music will go a long way to empowering South African artistes and promoting African culture, locally, and throughout the world.”