Do we still need radio these days

German quota on the radio
The endless debate

Should radio stations be obliged to play music in German? Artists, politicians and editors have been arguing about a statutory German quota for 20 years - although this may have long been superfluous.

Since the mid-1990s, there has been repeated discussion in Germany about a statutory quota for German-language music on the radio. Proponents of the quota criticize the fact that radio stations played predominantly English-language music. German musicians, especially young artists, would be disadvantaged as a result. Opponents see the quota as a form of state tutelage and an interference in the freedom of broadcasting.

"German hustle and bustle"

In an interview with the news magazine The mirror German singer-songwriter Heinz Rudolf Kunze initiated the public discussion in 1996. Although he is a friend of Anglo-American music and “disgusting” himself even in front of the quota, “the flood of foreign music and also foreign trash” ensures that the German offspring are no longer heard. Established musicians like Herbert Grönemeyer agree with his demand for a quota, but it is precisely the less well-known bands that Kunze wants to give more attention to who turn against him. Sven Regener from the Berlin band Element Of Crime is reminiscent of the dictatorial GDR, in which a quota of 60 percent applied to local music. The Hamburg pop band Blumfeld declares in a statement "that we are still not available for such populism and patriotism of any kind". The rock group Tocotronic later expressed a similar opinion, describing the German quota as a form of “German turmoil and homely feeling”.

Judgments of taste mix in the discussion

Economic arguments exacerbate the debate when the music industry slips into a crisis after the turn of the millennium. In 2002, for example, the conservative Bavarian ruling party CSU called for more opportunities for German music producers. Private initiatives such as the German Language Association (VDS) also criticize an insufficient proportion of German-language music on the radio and campaign for the quota.

In 2004 the parliamentary groups of the Social Democratic Party (SPD) and the left-liberal party Bündnis 90 / Die Grünen supported the quota by a majority. Judgments of taste mix in the discussion. The Green politician Antje Vollmer complains about the monotony of the radio program, "the toothless" and "the unspeakable format radio". The German Bundestag imposes a voluntary commitment on radio stations to play 35 percent German-language music, if possible. But the appeal mostly falls on deaf ears with the broadcasters.

The French-style quota - a role model?

Proponents of the quota often refer to France: Since 1994, radio stations have had to allow around 60 percent of the season to European productions and a total of 40 percent to French productions - half of which must be new releases. The law goes back to the then Minister of Culture Jacques Toubon, who wanted to protect the French language from Anglicisms and also justified the introduction of the quota with the fact that the production of French music had declined in previous years. To this day, the quota is controversial in France: private radio stations in particular are resisting the legal regulation, others believe that the law makes the success of local artists thanks to them. "Without the quota, we would not have had such diversity for more than 20 years," says the French company Sacem, which represents the rights of more than 100,000 musicians.

Dispute over the "Helene quota"

In Germany, the debate continued in February 2015: Franz-Robert Liskow, a politician from the conservative Junge Union in the north-east of the country, called for "more German music and especially hits" on the radio, as the German music industry has been more and more German in recent years Produced songs. Liskow therefore proposes a quota of 30 to 35 percent of German music, to which the broadcasters should in turn commit themselves. Since he is committed to being a fan of the most successful German pop singer Helene Fischer, his proposal is making the rounds under the term "Helene Quota".

The criticism is not long in coming: The head of a music editorial office from North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW), for example, holds against it, German hits met with little approval from the audience. The proportion of German-language pop music has grown even without a statutory quota, and artists like Mark Forster or Andreas Bourani are becoming increasingly popular.

Do we still need the quota today?

In fact, there are increasing numbers of votes that reject the quota, since German pop music is popular today anyway. “No one would be more surprised if German pop music echoed at them when they switched on the radio,” she wrote Southgerman newspaper 2012. The globalization of the music market has led to a monoculture of mainstream pop, but German artists countered this with national diversity. The German language is also represented in all genres - whether hip-hop, punk, rock or pop.

The statistics confirm this popularity: According to a report by the Federal Association of the Music Industry, eight of the top 10 albums in the official German annual charts in 2015 were in German, 60 percent of the top 100. In addition to Helene Fischer, the most successful artists include pop singer Sarah Connor, DJ Felix Jaehn and rapper Cro. Radio stations, it is said, mostly hardly reflected this. At least from an economic perspective, they no longer have to, because German-language music has long since made it back into the middle of society on its own - without the quota.

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