Artists' 90% airplay demand unreasonable- Parliament

Entertainment
Artists' 90% airplay demand unreasonable- Parliament
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The ICT Committee of Parliament has labelled the demands of artists for 90% of their content to dominate the airwaves in Uganda as unreasonable.

They argue that talent is globally recognized based on its quality rather than its origin.

"The proposal for 90% of songs to be Ugandan is both impractical and unreasonable. Talent is judged universally by its quality, and thus Ugandan music must strive to match international standards to receive adequate airplay. Media content is driven by consumer interests, and the market operates in a liberalized manner," stated Tony Ayoo, Vice Chairperson of the ICT Committee.

Ayoo emphasized that Ugandan music needs to appeal to consumers who dictate market trends and airplay preferences.

"The suggested 90% music airplay quota may face opposition from consumers as it could be seen as unfair and an infringement on their freedom to choose content and entertainment," he added.

Minister of State for Energy and Mineral Development (Minerals) Phiona Nyamutoro expressed optimism that implementing the proposed amendment would streamline various aspects of the music industry, including financing, digitization, and ensuring that Ugandans benefit from their creative endeavours.

"It's disheartening to witness underemployment while striving to address the pressing issue of youth unemployment in the country," she said.

In 2023, a dispute arose among artists regarding the percentage of local content on Ugandan airwaves, with one faction advocating for 90% coverage and another for 70%, warning against potential backlash from foreign nations.

The Uganda National Musicians Federation, led by Eddy Kenzo, petitioned Parliament for a 90% airtime allocation to Ugandan music on radio and TV stations to promote local content and bolster the music industry's development. However, this proposal garnered mixed reactions from the public, with some deeming it unrealistic and questioning the quality of local music.

Similarly, the Uganda Music Association, under Cinderella Sanyu, accused the government of exacerbating conflicts within the industry and urged Parliament's ICT Committee to intervene and end state interference.

Artists further highlighted challenges in repatriating royalties from foreign platforms due to restrictions on international payment gateways like PayPal, exacerbated by the recent ban on cryptocurrencies by the Bank of Uganda.

The musicians also raised concerns about the high cost and slow pace of internet in Uganda, hindering their ability to upload content efficiently and compete globally. They called for amendments to the Copyright and Neighbouring Rights Act 2006 to adapt to technological changes and ensure fair compensation for artists.

Additionally, the artists proposed imposing a tax levy on devices used for reproducing copyrighted works, with proceeds to be shared equally between the government and rights holders.

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