70% local airplay “to happen soon”

  • Foreign content currently enjoys 60% while local gets 40% airplay
  • Musicians fragmented between BOMU and MUSUBO


Hardships resulting from the coronavirus have forced the Botswana Musicians Union (BOMU) to speed up its advocacy for 70% local music airplay across all private and public broadcasters in order to raise to raise the level of royalties paid to local artists.

“This is one area that we want to capitalise on,” said the president of BOMU, Phemelo Lesokwane, in an interview. “The Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture has already met with the Botswana Communications Regulatory Authority (BOCRA) as about increase the quota to at least 70 percent. We are to also meet with the Department of Broadcasting Services (DBS) to address the same issue because they are not regulated by BOCRA. This 70% local airplay initiative is something that will happen soon.”

Distributions by the Copyright Society of Botswana (COSBOTS) have shown that foreign content continues to enjoy massive royalties from Botswana public broadcasters. Out of the total P4.6 million distributable amount, local content creators received only P1.3 million or 28% of the total amount while international creators received P3.3 million.

Furthermore, at RB2 and Btv, top artists who received the highest playtime (seconds) throughout June 2019 and June 2020 were foreigners, namely Armand Dreval and Mike Posner. Local artists received more airplay only on RB1, which was dominated by Charma Gal, Nata Capricorn and Alfredo Mos.

Since MYSC announced that it would address artists as a collective through their respective associations and unions, Lesokwane said they had received an overwhelming number of new members, especially from rural areas. BOMU expects to register about 5000 creatives but currently has only 400 members. “The problem lies with a group of people who masquarade as a union who call themselves MUSUBO,” Lesokwane said. “This organisation is not in compliance and has been de-registered. They are the main hiccup delaying artist registration with the right organization.”

Not so, says the president of Musicians Union of Botswana (MUSUBO), Fumani Tekere, dismissing Lesokwane and saying they are fully compliant. “We are opting to not comment further on the matter because we have been going back and forth with this issue that is not benefiting the industry in any way,” Tekere said. “We are currently busy with projects that will benefit our members.”

Artists, on the other hand, question the value of joining unions which they say they have not realised. Lesokwane’s response to this is that BOMU is working on rebuilding organisations by adding funeral cover and legal service insurance for members in addition to general welfare of artists.

Lesokwane explained: “The future of the industry is currently blurred. We should try to diversify and migrate to digital platforms, selling our music online. It is time to invest in productions and videos that are creative to share with the world.”