Page last updated at 07:09 GMT, Tuesday, 17 March 2009

Local music quota call for radio

Grant Nicholas of Feeder
Feeder's Grant Nicholas said it was a good way of giving local bands airtime

A music fan is campaigning to get more local music played on radio stations.

Leon Vincent, 23, and friends have set up a web petition calling for radio stations to devote at least 10% of airtime to local artists.

To encourage up-and-coming bands, the performer should also not have had a UK top 20 album previously.

Mr Vincent, from Pontardawe, Swansea whose petition has the support of some AMs, has set up a website to help venues find and book bands.

His petition says: "Imagine one in 10 songs on the radio being an artist/band that have yet to have a UK top 20 album and are from the area that the radio station is broadcast.

"There are thousands of bands in the UK that get no radio coverage and deserve some.

Local music scenes

"Hearing a local band on the radio will increase the amounts of people going to their gigs and help the struggling pubs and venues. "

BBC Radio 1 DJ Bethan Elfyn said she thought it was a "really interesting" idea.

"One in 10 seems like a lot, but 10 records could be about an hour in some chat-based shows," she said.

"I think it's a good idea and would really support the local music scenes."

Feeder lead singer Grant Nicholas, from Newport, said it sounded a good way of giving local bands airtime but added it was important to retain good quality music.

"I think it's a good idea but I'm not sure about one in 10," he said.

DJ Bethan Elfyn
Radio One DJ Bethan Elfyn said the idea was 'really interesting'

"I know how hard it is to get things on the radio so anything like that will help but you've got to ensure the standard is quite high."

But Steve Barnes, senior programmer for UTV Radio - which owns Swansea Sound and The Wave - said such a quota would be more difficult for commercial radio stations that are "self-supported and self-funded".

"At the end of the day I've got an audience to try to uphold and advertising revenue to secure. It's far easier to go and ask a non-commercial radio station [to do this]," he said.

"Swansea Sound already has a 12-hour minimum Welsh language provision each week and The Wave has a slot on Thursday night where we encourage unsigned artists to come on air."

Mike Wright, of Wrexham community radio station Calon FM, agreed it would be easier for non-commercial radio stations.

Precedents

"We've got a different remit to commercial stations. We've not driven by that same criteria - we can be more left field," he said.

"I think it would help local music. There's a good music scene in Wrexham."

There are precedents for quotas such as in France, where to avoid airwaves being swamped by English-language artists from Britain and the USA, a percentage of songs played must be in the French language.

Eleanor Burnham AM, who is supporting Mr Vincent's petition, said pubs and communities in general could benefit.

"Wales has a proud musical history and I think it is a shame that when I switch on local radio I rarely hear any local songs," she said.

Youth service

"By supporting local bands we are creating interest and vibrancy in the community while also stimulating businesses where gigs are played, such as local pubs, which are going through a hard time with this current financial crisis. "

A BBC spokesman said: "BBC Cymru Wales believes it is already doing a great deal to help new, unsigned and local bands get their music played on radio

"BBC Radio Cymru plays music by Welsh bands from all over Wales every day, especially on our youth service C2 every evening during the week.

"BBC Radio Wales plays a wide variety of music, not just from Wales, but from all over, and from several decades, which we believe serves the needs of our audience," the spokesman added.

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