Hlaudi Motsoeneng glad Nathi Mthethwa wants more local content on SABC: 'It is my legacy'

05 May 2020 - 18:02
By Cebelihle Bhengu
Former SABC COO Hlaudi Motsoeneng.
Image: SIMPHIWE NKWALI Former SABC COO Hlaudi Motsoeneng.

Former SABC COO Hlaudi Motsoeneng has responded to sport, art & culture minister Nathi Mthethwa's call for the public broadcaster to support local content rather than give royalties to international artists.

On Monday, Mthethwa briefed the media on how his department is planning to assist sports people and artists who are unable to generate an income due to the Covid-19 pandemic and lockdown.

A R150m relief fund was set aside to address their needs, but Mthethwa said the SABC needs to consider playing more local content on its platforms so local artists can benefit from the royalties.

Speaking to TimesLIVE on Tuesday morning, Motsoeneng, who implemented the controversial 90/10 policy at the SABC radio and TV platforms, said he still stands by it.

“Content transformation is something I would die for like those who died while fighting apartheid. Ninety percent meant that the majority of South Africans would have benefited more from royalties than international artists.”

The policy cost the SABC millions in advertising revenue and audiences for SABC3 and commercial radio stations Metro FM, 5FM and Good Hope FM.

TimesLIVE reported that former SABC acting CEO James Aguma told parliament in 2017 that the 90/10 local music quotas cost the broadcast company R29m in radio revenue and R183m on television.

Motsoeneng disputed this as propaganda meant to discredit his efforts, and lamented that local talent was not allowed enough time to produce quality content.

“The 90/10 rule did not affect advertising, South Africans were simply not given opportunities to produce quality content. I'm glad that people now realise its importance, it is my legacy and I'm proud to have played my part.”

SA is on day 40 of the lockdown, with the eased rules under level 4. Motsoeneng says that had his policy been adopted, artists would not be in a position where they have to rely on the Covid-19 relief fund to make ends meet.

He also said that as a state-owned entity, the SABC should not have to engage the government about prioritising local content on its platforms. The government, as its main funder, must instruct the SABC to “do the right thing,” says Motsoeneng. 

“It is late to engage the SABC during this crisis but it must happen. Why plead with the SABC to play local content? Why not instruct them? The difference between me and other leaders is talking. They talk, I implement. They keep talking while people need solutions.”