The government is to have talks with private radio stations in a bid to include more Maltese music in their programming, Culture Minister Owen Bonnici said.

But Malta’s three state-owned stations were already meeting a 15 per cent quota set out in the government’s culture policy, Bonnici said.

“Of the Public Broadcasting Service’s (PBS) three radio stations, two are not only meeting the quota but doubling it,” the minister said. 

Bonnici’s comments come after a slate of artists and broadcasters called for local music to have more radio play, with data showing that only one in 20 songs played is Maltese. 

He said Arts Council Malta and the Culture Directorate will soon be having discussions with artists and radio stations about increasing Maltese content on private stations.  

“In terms of private stations, we will be having discussions through stakeholder forums and plan the way forward,” Bonnici said. “This is not something that should be imposed, in my opinion, but should be something that we (the government and stakeholders) cooperate on.”

Bonnici did not provide timeframes as to when the discussions would begin or end.  

A national culture policy published in 2021 proposed the introduction of a 15 per cent quota for homegrown music on the air for both public and private radio stations.  

Radio stations have the power to be a catalyst, introduce new music to their audiences and to be changemakers- solo artist Cheryl Camilleri

“Data reveals that only a small percentage of music aired on radio in Malta originates from Malta,” says the policy document. 

While the culture ministry is set to start talks with private stations, the three PBS stations are adhering to the 15 per cent quota, Bonnici said.  

Culture ministry data shows that 30 per cent of Radju Malta and Radju Malta 2’s music is Maltese. Fifteen per cent of music played on Magic FM is local.  

The latest statistics from the Performing Rights Society (PRS), dating back to 2019, show that just 5.4 per cent of all songs played across public and private radio stations were written by local songwriters. 

Last week, Times of Malta spoke to several artists and broadcasters who called for more local music to feature on Maltese radio stations.  “Radio stations have the power to be a catalyst, introduce new music to their audiences and to be changemakers,” solo artist Cheryl Camilleri said.  

Others said radio DJs should curate their playlists on merit alone. 

“Top 40 stations have included local music as part of their airplay but accepted songs should, in my opinion, sound good enough in terms of style, sound and production when compared to the other songs by foreign artists which are being played,” said Jake Cuschieri, host of Malta’s top 10 on Bay Radio.

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