This year’s BIGSOUND conference in Brisbane has sparked a review of Australian radio’s quota laws.

During the panel ‘Why is it Important to Program Australian Content?’, triple j’s Nick Findlay, Hit 105’s Jack Ball, MTV’s Monique Bour and James Cheatley from ‎Screen Producers Australia discussed the importance of local content on our airwaves.

Among the comments that local streaming services should have to abide by local content quotas on major playlists, it was said that Sydney commercial stations are missing their mandated local content quota by 10% or more, according to radio data provided to local indie label body AIR.

During the panel AMRAP Manager Chris Johnson also chimed in from the audience with some insights into the current system’s inadequacies.

bigsound panel 2017The Why is it Important to Program Australian Content? panel at BIGSOUND 2017

This is of course compounded by the absence of the Australian Music Performance Committee (AMPCOM), the independent body which oversaw Australian music quota compliance on commercial radio.

As revealed by TMN AMPCOM “quietly wound up in the last year”.

However, APRA AMCOS called AMPCOM an “ineffective mechanism” as it wasn’t able to monitor the CRA’s compliance with the commercial radio code of practice.

In a statement to TIO, APRA AMCOS noted they are working to verify the accuracy of local content reports from Australia’s commercial radio stations, including those under Nova, Southern Cross Austereo and the Australian Radio Network.

While local quotas differ across the networks – SCA’s 2DayFM has to play 25% Australian content between 6am and midnight on their primary channels – APRA AMCOS has proposed to review the available data itself, in the absence of AMPCOM.

APRA AMCOS told TIO it plans to review local commercial content quotas using data contained in Commercial Radio Australia’s annual report (due for release this month), along with data provided to it from independent sources, and its own data; radio stations provide APRA AMCOS with data so it knows which songwriters and publishers to pay.

“Commercial Radio Australia (CRA) is due to provide the industry with a detailed report regarding its members’ compliance with the local content quotas under the Code of Practice in November,” APRA AMCOS said. “APRA AMCOS proposes to review CRA’s upcoming report extremely carefully against both its own data, as well as the information independently provided to it, to try and ascertain whether any commercial radio stations are indeed in breach.

“Under the current Commercial Radio Code of Practice, any complaints regarding CRA members’ non-compliance with the Code need to be made directly to the individual broadcaster,” the statement read. “While this remains one course of action, APRA AMCOS will continue to lobby the ACMA for an independent review mechanism with the necessary authority and audit provisions to ensure commercial radio stations’ compliance with the CRA’s Code of Practice.”

TIO will be following up with APRA AMCOS after the release of CRA’s annual report this month.