Do we really have enough content?

By Rosalia David

THE festering resentment by local artists over their music being ignored by broadcasters in favour of American and Nigerian music is of course not unique to Namibia, considering that similar complaints have been heard in other African countries, such as Kenya and Gambia.

It is indeed a good proposal to have 70% of local content on all broadcasters to ensure that local musicians have a solid income to survive from but on the other hand we need to sit down and ask ourselves if we are really able to release content that can satisfy listeners or viewers.

Let us start by looking at our film industry. How often do Namibians produce films worth watching that make headlines or that have attracted international audiences? Why are we still struggling to get our content aired on major broadcast channels, such as Mzansi Magic?

As much I am in favour of more local content, I think an increase in the local music quota on the airwaves should be based on research and consultation with the public, thereby ensuring that radio stations respond to listeners’ needs.

Let us take Radiowave or Cosmos for example, what kind of local content would they want to play to meet the demand of their listeners? If they have to stick to a 70% local content requirement, chances of losing their audiences are high.

Frankly speaking, I feel like the industry is still crawling in the sense that it needs to reach a point where it can compete with the international market. Of course we do have plenty of content in a few genres to commit to a 70% quota, such as house music and kwaito but people need variety.
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I definitely support the idea of playing more local content during this time, as many creatives are going through financial distress and more airplay would increase the royalties that are paid out to them towards the end of the year.
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My concern is that we may not have enough quality local content to sustain the 70% quota after the present crisis has passed, but I am sure we can start somewhere – instead of enriching the already rich through payment of large amounts in royalties that leave the country year in and year out.