THE decision made by SABC head Hlaudi Motsoeneng, that 90% local content must be played on the public broadcaster’s 18 radio stations was devoid of public consultation with the Indian community.
Giving local talent a platform on which to have their work aired is non-negotiable. The local content produced is of high quality. Music must be given recognition at school level where real talent identification can take place. Teachers who are highly skilled, while at the same time passionate about music, must be instrumental in leading the thrust towards filling the local music gap. This is a gradual process that cannot be rectified by policy. A one-size-fits-all strategy will not be practical. Lotus FM is a vernacular radio station catering for the needs of the Indian community. Most of the content is sourced in India, mainly because of the Bollywood and Kollywood movies. Listeners identify with songs by watching the movies. With Lotus FM, like the 17 other radio stations, listeners have the freedom of choice.
Listeners choose Lotus FM because they want to listen to music in their vernacular. Their choice of Indian radio stations is very limited. If the SABC is serious about dictating 90% local talent, it needs to play a role in providing resources like recording studios for the artists. Recording a single track and booking a studio can set an artist back almost R50 000. Entrance into the music industry must be made easy without any impediments to discourage potential artists.
Only time can tell whether this unilateral undemocratic policy will be relevant to all radio stations. I wait in trepidation for the next six months to see if I will be writing about the success or demise of this current policy.