The Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) announced new quotas at the end of March 2016 concerning radio play of local artists’ music, which show an increase in radio airtime for local musicians.
Following the social media rants of local jazz musician, Don Laka, such as a tweet from Laka’s account: “METRO FM and 5FM are [WREAKING] CULTURAL HAVOC. They are largely responsible [for] the SA YOUTH IDENTITY CRISIS,” ICASA released a regulatory quota addressing dissatisfaction about the lack of local music aired on radio.
The outcome of the new quota is that “A holder of a public sound-broadcasting service licence must ensure that after 18 months from the date of gazetting of these regulations, a minimum of 60 percent of the musical works broadcast in the performance period consist of South African music,” said ICASA in March 2016.
ICASA also said, with regard to commercial radio stations, that “a minimum of 35% of the musical works broadcast in the performance period must consist of South African music.”
A Government Gazette article from 23 March 2016 suggests that “this quota [will] be implemented in stages as this will ensure that the audiences do not experience a sudden change in their experience of the radio station.”
Also addressed in the Gazette article is that the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC), who handles the majority of South Africa’s radio stations, has “the view that 70% is high and will lead to loss of audiences. This proposed quota will hinder the growth of the public broadcaster.”
ICASA also issued a penalty that could commence should anyone not abide by the new quota’s regulations, namely a fine “not exceeding” R5 million or 10 percent of the licensee’s annual turnover “for every day or part thereof during which the contravention continued.”
Despite the increase in quota percentages, it does not reach the 70% reach for which advocates were hoping.
Don Laka, a leading advocate of the cause, took to Twitter to voice his views on the changes in quota percentages.
“ICASA THE ‘DEVIL’ OPPRESSING OUR ARTISTS, it wants 35% quota not 60%, THEY[‘RE] CARELESS [A]BOUT THE IMPOVERISHMENT OF ARTISTS,” said Laka on his Twitter page (2 April 2016).
Additionally, Laka tweeted: “#METRO FM IS BREEDING YOUNG AMERICAN WANNA BE’S by rejecting our music in favour of America[n] music.”
Laka also told Cape Times, “The biggest stumbling block and oppressor of our music not to be played is ICASA with its unpatriotic behaviour, by regulating in favour of foreign music.” Laka also said, “We have sufficient content in all the genres to commit to a 100% quota.”