Move towards mandatory local content in media
Radio and television stations could soon be forced to play more local content as part of a strategy to stem the outflow of royalties from Jamaica for playing foreign works, while at the same time giving a fillip to homegrown talent.
"We want to look and to consider a minimum content rule," Anthony Hylton, the minister of industry, investment and commerce, said in Parliament on Tuesday.
"The discussions have already begun, but how they will result is something I cannot predict at this stage... I do hope that we can come to some understanding around that," he added.
The minister made the disclosure following a call in Parliament from Olivia 'Babsy' Grange, spokesperson on Culture for the opposition Jamaica Labour Party (JLP), for Jamaica to consider such a measure.
"Canada has a requirement for a minimum of 30 per cent Canadian content to be played on radio and to be shown on television. We don't have that," Grange said, as she contributed to a debate on the Copyright Act. "This is something that I would ask the Government to take a look at."
Grange argued that Jamaica is in danger of spending more on royalties than it collects, because it imports more music than it exports.
"Our radio stations play more foreign music and our cable/TV show far more foreign television shows than locally produced content. So what will happen is that we will, in fact, be paying out to foreign copyright holders in foreign exchange for the continued use of foreign works in Jamaica, while our own rights holders will only benefit up to the 50, 70 or 80 years that exist in other countries," she said.
Singer Nadine Sutherland told The Gleaner that she is in full agreement with the suggestion to have more local content played on Jamaican airwaves.
"It is 33.3 per cent of Jamaican music that is playing on radio. I have no problem with foreign songs, but I have a problem when good local songs can't get played," Sutherland said.
Sutherland, who counts Action (a duet with Terror Fabulous) among her hits, said the amount of foreign content in local media is so high that she knows all the American songs on the Billboard charts word for word.
"That is like cutting off our creators and our products. We cannot say it is because we are not producing good products. There is a whole coalescence of problems that is creating this, but a lot of countries have put regulations in that make sure that at least a certain percentage of the music created in that country is being played on radio,: she said.
"We have to protect our culture and protect our creativity. We have to make sure that people here are making the money."