As of today, all 18 SABC radio stations have been mandated to play 90% local music, as part of what the national broadcaster calls a campaign to promote more local content.

This format will run over a period of three months, as announced by SABC spokesperson Kaizer Kganyago yesterday, to trial how it’s received by listeners, which will then inform a final decision on how to balance airplay between local and international music.

“It is part of a bigger thing, you’ll remember that three weeks ago we announced that we want to go more into local content, not only music, we announced four new channels that will cater for the languages that are spoken in this country,” Kganyago said in an interview on SAfm this morning.

Kganyago added that this is a clear indication of the national broadcaster’s commitment to local content and that it believes it has a responsibility to reflect the different cultures represented in the country.

While stations like Ukhozi FM, Motsweding and other vernacular stations may not struggle much with the drastic change as they already cater to black audiences and local music already receives a lot of airplay; others, like 5FM, which cater to more urbanised listeners whose tastes are a heavy mix of international and local music, may have a tougher time with the trial.

According to Kganyago, the SABC actually would’ve loved to have 100% local music receiving airplay, but considered the fact that we do live in a global community and therefore decided on 90/10 balance.

Listeners have been weighing in on the matter on Twitter from early this morning, using the hashtag #LocalMusic, with mostly positive reactions.

Kganyago noted that all genres of music will be played and that music from older legends will also be incorporated.

South African musician, Don Laka, who’s always been an advocate for local music receiving more airplay on radio stations, applauded the SABC for the move, adding that radio stations in the US and UK, where he’s lived and toured before, largely play 100% of their local music.

“We’re not totally closing the door for them [international artists], the 10% is there and it should stay like that… Our arts has come back home [sic] and this is where it should be.”

On the quality of music that should be played on air, Kganyago said it’s a very important factor and that local artists should now dig deep into their creativity and produce quality material worth listening to.

[Image – CC Wikimedia Commons]