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Do Other Countries Require Minimum Levels of Music on Domestic Radio?

The number of radio frequencies available to broadcasters in Canada are finite are therefore a scarce commodity.  What’s more is that they’re to be public property and thus subject to government regulation. Radio stations never own the frequencies on which they broadcast; they’re given a license to operate which has to be renewed after a period of years.

In exchange for being able to use a given frequency, a broadcaster must agree to the terms of use, of which there are many. One of the most important and inviolable in this country are the rules regarding Canadian content.

By law, any radio station that specializes in music-based programming must devote at least 35% of its playlist to songs that qualify as Cancon. Some stations are committed to 40% or even more because they doubled down when it came to community benefits when they were fighting for the license.

Something like Cancon is essential for our country lest we be overrun with material from our next-door neighbour, the largest exporter of popular culture in the world. And the Cancon rules have been most effective in creating a strong domestic music industry, which also manages to export an above-average number of superstars to the rest of the planet.

I’m sometimes asked if other countries have similar domestic music quotas for radio. The answer is “yes.”

  • Australia – 25%
  • France – 40%
  • South Africa – 40% (SABC, the national broadcaster, is 90%)
  • South Korea – 40%
  • Malaysia – 60%
  • Brazil – 70%
  • Nigeria – 80%

Anyone know of any other quotas in place? Incredibly, Ireland doesn’t have one.

(Via FYI Music News)

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

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One thought on “Do Other Countries Require Minimum Levels of Music on Domestic Radio?

  • As a fan of (too) many Aussie artists, I greatly appreciate their domestic content requirements when I listen online. Check that, when I was first visiting there in 1988. That trip has cost me untold dollars in purchases of music from Australia – with a lot of those purchases coming from Australia, as the albums are not available in Canada (or the U.S.). Thank goodness for the internet and online shopping. Don’t get me started about buying mp3s though. Too many of my Aussie favourites are not on iTunes in Canada (or the U.S.), and iTunes Australia will not let me purchase there because of licensing restrictions. That doesn’t help the fan or the artist when the music is geographically restricted. One big difference between Australian and Canadian radio, though: apart from the domestic requirement, the Aussies seem to play British and European artists before they play American ones. Score one for them not being next to the U.S.


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