A law is needed to get Chilean artists airplay on the national radio

SANTIAGO – Law requires Chilean national radio stations to play songs by national artists for at least 20% of their daily content, yet the amount of Chilean music available to listeners is slowly decreasing.

The proposal to mandate the inclusion of Chilean music on national radio was discussed by Congress for nearly a decade before being implemented in 2015. Known as the “20 percent Law,” it was originally introduced by then-President Michelle Bachelet, in an effort to help local musicians establish a more significant presence in the Latin American music scene. Initially the law succeeded, but has since had mixed results. In 2016, the amount of Chilean music heard on national radio rose to 25 percent. However, According to the Chilean Copyright Society, the amount decreased in 2017 to 22.5 percent. 

This could be partially due to less radio stations complying with the regulation, falling from 60 percent to 56 percent in 2017. But Juan Antonio Duran, General Director of the Chilean Copyright Society (CPS), said the decrease can be explained by a rise in the number of stations surveyed. A software program known as Vericast is used to scan and report on radio content.

“When we started measuring, the system considered 220 radio stations and now there are over 500,” Duran told said.  “Obviously, when we analyze the universe of radios that we’re verifying, the effect is that of a slight decrease, but the general impression is that there’s a climb, if we calculate the equivalence.”

However, the CPS study has come under scrutiny by other groups including the Chilean Broadcasters Association, which argues that the numbers are inaccurate because they only account for musicians who are officially registered with the CPS. Eduardo Martinez, president of the Broadcasters Association, told La Tercera that his organization has been unable to solve the existing discrepancy. “It’s something that happens mostly in the regions where there are many local artists that haven’t signed up with the CPS.”

Nevertheless, some have benefited from the law. Chile’s most popular songs and musicians saw drastic increases in the volume of radio traction; new and unknown artists, however, could not gain comparable visibility.

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