The Pride and the local-quota Prejudice

Articles, Industry
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“I tried” – Mail  & Guardian, 2017

While the news of Oppi-daisies 2017 nervously excites me – auspiciously underpinned by the blessings of the Brookings Institute, who project South Africa’s music industry to grow at a consistent annual rate of 4.4% – there is no denying it; eNCA said it first: “the music industry is suffering.”

It has been roughly longer than a year since former-SABC COO, Hlaudi Motsoeneng, announced a mandatory 90% local-content quota across all broadcast platforms on 11 May 2016. Artists, producers and promoters alike praised the “radical” decision, prophesying a resurgence of older South African bangers (like Johnny Clegg’s Impi); a bigger local exhibition space, granting a larger audience, increased royalty income; and general good market vibrations.
But now the corporation seems intent on taking it all back.

The recently enacted policy had been financially disastrous for the SABC, causing losses with “an impact of R29-million on radio revenue and R183-million on television revenue,” said SABC CEO, James Aguma in parliament.

The SABC is pinning it on Moetsoeneng, using his quota as a scapegoat for its current financial crisis. In a report examined by the City Press it was revealed that the broadcaster would be insolvent after it paid salaries in April – “We have only R104m available to pay creditors on March 31… requests for payment from the divisions are more than what is available”. The figures under Moetsoeneng were considered “not so good-looking” by acting-SABC CEO, Tseliso Ralitabo, who personally retains some essence of auspice within the SABC following the firing of Moetsoeneng. “That is an era that is behind us”, she concludes.
Relying predominantly on television advertisement revenue, which was significantly hampered by the lack of international interest following the 90-percent prescription, the SABC is seeking to regain global investment by removing the quota.

But is it solely down to bad foresight combined with benevolent intention? The Public Protector thinks not; providing a “bleak picture” of maladministration, deceit and financial mismanagement as additional sources of SABC-woe.

While Goodluck’s, Juliet Harding, may have seen the original quota increase as a form of “national pride” – “we need to stop thinking that because it’s local it’s inferior” – any pride instilled upon Moetsoeneng through his quota is made questionable by his accusations of false academic qualification, purging of staff and self-awarding salary increases.

For the local artist, ground has been lost – 5FM is going back to pumping the likes of Bruno Mars, and that relevant song that goes “I got bills, I gotta pay”, which I guarantee to make any artist ‘lit’. Despite the SABC promising a 60% local-quota, the summer fling with fame was fun. But like Cape Town’s weather, it seems our time in the sun has finally ended. Bring on the financial storms, seems we all have them.

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