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Radio Quotas for German Songs?

Sunday, October 28, 2007 - 01:04 PM


Originally uploaded by wnyc

France isn't the only European country that has tried to encourage native-language music on the radio. For the past five years, Germany has been considering a radio quota for German-language music and music produced in Germany. If turned into law, this would be similar to France's policy, wherein native-language music must constitute at least 40 percent of programming.

A bit of background: In December 2004, the Lower House of the German Parliament passed a resolution calling for a voluntary self-regulation by radio broadcasters: roughly 35 percent of the pop or rock music broadcast should be either German-language or Germany-made. About 500 German musicians lobbied for this bill, arguing that it would serve to stimulate the German music industry and generally provide greater variety on the radio (not surprisingly, English-language pop music is everywhere here). The bill's opponents felt it was an excessive regulatory restriction and some voiced concerns about its nationalistic overtones.

At least a couple of musicians we've spoken with have another beef with this: if the current practice becomes mandatory it may hurt German musicians who wish to tour abroad more. After all, as CD sales decline, touring is becoming a much larger revenue source for musicians. And given that English is spoken throughout the West, a band would be limiting its potential audience by writing lyrics only in German, even if it does help them get more radio play at home. Then again, maybe there is an interest in German lyrics internationally: there was a brief time in the mid-80s when Americans were busy grooving to the German version of Nena’s "99 Red Balloons" and the latest songs by Falco. -- Brian Wise


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