Barbadian Finance minister Chris Sinckler’s call for 60% Local Music on radio leaves a would-be media house in tears of laughter!
OK so here is the thing. The Minister of Finance, in his budget speech, came out with something totally unrelated to his portfolio and something which does not fall under his ministry, when he called on local radio stations to play 60% local music.
As an interested party to this let me firstly state the obvious. The Broadcasting Act and Regulations are administered by The Barbados Broadcasting Authority, not The Ministry of Finance.
Secondly, The Broadcasting Act states that stations are required by law to play 60% local music UNLESS dispensation is given by the Minister responsible (Who at the moment is the Prime Minister). HOWEVER, CBC and Starcom get around this by lumping together all of their stations output and overall can demonstrate they comply. For example Love 104.1 plays very little but it is made up for by Hott 95.3 and VOB 92.9 FM. Now this is fine if you are a company holding multiple licences, but unfair on entities like Mix 96.9 and 90.7 BBS-FM who do not.
Thirdly, until the Broadcasting Authority apply ALL of the rules equally it is grossly unfair to criticise just one aspect. What about the part of the act which states that a decision should be submitted to the minister responsible within 4 weeks of an application being made? How can it be that Paradise FM submitted an application and heard nothing regarding an interview date until we asked the Prime Minister to intervene 9 MONTHS later? and once the interview took place, Slam (who were interviewed the same day) were on air before we even got the courtesy (Once again after we approached the Prime Minister) of a response to phone calls, emails, letters and faxes? And still we wait! as do Starcom who have been trying to get a TV licence for over 25 years!
Now onto the issue of 60% local music, there is simply not enough and certainly not enough of a good enough quality, to prevent radio stations having to play the same thing every day. I have no problem with trying to help improve the local music market and as such have spoken with a lot of the top producers and artists and their managers, but what has to be realised, and this will not go down well with the Culture Ministry, is that outside of the Caribbean things like Soca and Calypso are simply not played on mainstream radio stations and are a specialised market. In fact in trying to set up Paradise FM we conducted surveys of tourists at various hotels on the island asking what they thought local music was (Reggae and Steel pan) and how many listened to local radio while on holiday here (Very few, and most for a very short time as they did not “get it“).
Artists who have left Barbados in the last few years and have gone onto major international success (Rihanna and Shontelle) have had their hits singing POP, Vita Chambers is carving out a name, singing POP, Kite have had their songs on many US TV shows under INDIE, if local artists want to be commercially successful they need to diversify, which is why we applaud people like Threads of Scarlet and Standing Penance who together with Roadhouse are showing that Barbados can ROCK, Nexcyx and South 11, Jae Johansen and Simon Pipe are also more Alternative and I still believe 5 or 6 years after it’s original release that Kimberley Inniss ‘s hit My Hips could still become a worldwide hit, IF remixed as a HOUSE/DANCE track. The way for local bands and artists to do this is to think outside the Soca/Calypso box and record music which will sell commercially outside the island, and given a licence Paradise FM can be their biggest help!
I make no secret that we don’t want to play 60% local music (Although we will comply if it gets us a licence, but hope the Minister responsible will give us the dispensation). The reason for this is that our target audience (Tourists) don’t get it and dont want it! Barbados’ biggest competition for the British market is The Canary Islands and Spain in general. The National language is Spanish, however, the Spanish Government recognises that in order to stay on top you have to give the tourists what they want, so in Spain you will find over 50 English language radio stations. Six weeks ago the Prime Minister of Tenerife, went on record in the press praising the benefits of having stations like Coast Tenerife and OasisFm Tenerife broadcasting to the tourists and keeping the island in peoples minds through their online streams and encouraging repeat visits, THAT is what WE want to do for Barbados!
Next year the British market will be very difficult for everyone, with the Olympic Games being held in London and a lot of people who would normally go abroad staying at home, that is why the Government need to act NOW and help get Paradise FM on air by December!