Musicians in the country have asked local broadcasters to borrow a leaf from the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) in the promotion of local content on their television and radio stations.
SABC recently passed a resolution that all of its 18 radio stations should start playing 90 percent South African music.
And also last week, SABC increased its royalty payments on radio to collecting societies from three percent to four percent of its revenue‚ a week after announcing that its 18 stations will play 90 percent local music.
SABC made this announcement after meeting various collecting societies to establish a forum to discuss issues affecting the broadcaster and the music industry to ensure equity and transparency in royalty matters.
SABC chief operating officer Hlaudi Motsoeneng said the move was meant to stimulate the music industry‚ through creating jobs and unearthing new talent.
“The SABC also wants to restore the dignity of creatives to move away from a situation of creatives in the music industry dying as paupers,” he said.
In Malawi, all the licensed 78 radio stations and 26 television houses are required to devote 60 percent of airtime to local content, including music.
However, the Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority (Macra) admits that broadcasters do not adhere to the requirement.
Musicians Union of Malawi (MUM) president Reverend Chimwemwe Mhango said the musicians’ body wants between 80 and 90 percent local content on radios and TVs.
“We have been talking about this issue for a very long time. It’s unfortunate that other countries head and we follow,” he said.
Broadcasting more local content on radios and TVs is said to promote Malawi’s music identity, cultural values as well as increase loyalties for artists.
Mhango said Malawi has a lot of local content in music and movies which are side-lined by the TV and radio stations. He said Macra needs to have a mechanism to make sure that the 60:40 percent quota is adhered to.
“The problem is that Macra has the machine for monitoring, but they are not following up to enforce the policy. Our estimates indicate that foreign content enjoys 70 percent of airtime.
“It’s MBC [Malawi Broadcasting Corporation] television which is doing great on the promotion of local movies whereas Luso TV is good on music. However, most TVs like Zodiak are devoting most of the time to foreign music. On radio, it’s Zodiak which is excellent,” observed Mhango.
Afro-pop musician Dan Lufani, widely known as Dan Lu, says local music is eclipsed by foreign ones no matter how good it might be.
“Our music can become famous and break borders if it can be played more on our stations. That is the way to create celebrities in Malawi.
“The more music is played the more people think that it is good,” said Dan Lu.
Zodiak Broadcasting Station (ZBS) managing director Gospel Kazako said the station has deliberate policies aimed at promoting local music. He said that is why 90 percent of their programmes are broadcast in Chichewa.
He, however, said the station is looking forward to the day viewers will start paying broadcasters for them to produce more local content for television.
Macra acting communications manager Clara Mwafulirwa could not be reached for comment as she was in a meeting.
However, Macra director of broadcasting Zamdziko Mankhambo told our sister newspaper, Weekend Nation, that the institution is aware of the low quantity broadcast by local stations.
He said: “All licensed broadcasters are required to make sure that foreign content does not exceed 40 percent of their programming and this applies to music as well. However, we are aware that most of them are not adhering to this requirement.”
He said the institution will “soon crack the whip”, saying: “Be assured we’ll continue monitoring the broadcasts and taking action to enforce compliance.”n