Local music quotas: A hit and a miss

Don Laka
Don Laka

Not everyone is happy with SABC Chief Operating Officer Hlaudi Motsoeneng’s decision that radio stations must feature 90% local music


A DJ at an SABC radio station, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told City Press this week that staff were shocked and surprised when they received an email from their station managers on Wednesday at 4pm, informing them of the changes.

MediaOnline reported that on Thursday, the 5FM DJs didn’t manage to completely fulfil their new quotas and the staff had to scour the archives to ensure they had enough material to broadcast.

The frustrated DJ to whom City Press spoke says 5FM can now no longer broadcast its Top 40 in its current format. The popular show will be gone come Saturday, but other insiders said the station was working on a way to reformat the chart show.

Although 5FM DJs have not spoken publicly about their frustrations, they are struggling. The DJ said they received the media statement like everyone else. “We didn’t see this coming. No one was informed or consulted, but I guess we have no choice but to comply with the decision.”


Jazz legend Don Laka (58) is the man hailed for saving the South African music industry billions of rands.

After 33 interviews on Thursday with local and international media, he’s a happy man. “For the very first time I’m feeling like a South African,” he said.

The local music rights campaigner independently researched the issue and found that between 1994 and 2010, the SABC spent more than R2 billion on royalties for international music.

Earlier this year he claimed that 15 000 local jobs were lost in the local music industry because local stations weren’t playing the music of local musicians.

Many slammed him as a bitter old man.

“If you don’t get airplay, it affects you as an artist,” he said. “You don’t get a show or get booked. It results in local artists dying as paupers. I was not doing this for me; I was fighting for the youth of South Africa.”

He worked full time on the project for four months and compiled a document for the SABC in which he listed musicians’ concerns and asked for 80% local airplay.

In the same document, he said that SABC radio stations played jazz for just two hours on a Sunday, or 96 hours a year.

Despite his efforts, even he was surprised by this week’s events.

“When Hlaudi Motsoeneng broke the news to me on Wednesday, I almost had a heart attack,” he says.

Laka is now urging up-and-coming artists to submit their music to the SABC offices every Tuesday to get their share of the airwaves.


Gilfillan says the UN Conference on Trade and Development figures for creative licensing in 2012 show an “overwhelming dominance of copyright export by the UK and the US – a whopping $134 billion [R2 trillion] between the two of them”.

“South Africa has a negative balance of copyright,” he said, adding it paid $2.1 billion in copyright each year and “we export R63 million”.

“We are the largest importer of copyright in Africa and we are ignoring what we have,” said Gilfillan.

“In short, democracy has brought about a cultural binge in South
Africa to such an extent that it is excessive and well in need of being brought to heel.”

Gilfillan said that if South Africa cut its consumption “of the Anglo-Saxon repertoire by 90%, the owners would not notice”. That’s how much of the global market they dominate.



YFM programming manager Tshepo Pule says the station “is not affected and has never been affected by decisions made by the SABC, even when they poach our talent”.

“When it comes to music, we have an amazing team that keeps us at the forefront of music. If anything, the SABC generally follows our lead on what’s hot.”

Pule says his station doesn’t need quotas to play South African music.

“YFM has the best listeners in South Africa. We have the best young radio talent and music in South Africa. ‘Losing’ is not in our vocab.

“The SABC is busy foraging through their archives to fill their quota.”

Kaya FM

Kaya FM managing director Greg Maloka says the station welcomes the increase in local content by the public broadcaster.

However, he says “the SABC has gone beyond what is required of it by the Independent Communications Authority of SA”.


What effect do you think Motsoeneng’s new 90% rule will have on local radio?

SMS us on 35697 using the keyword SABC and tell us what you think. Please include your name and province. SMSes cost R1.50

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