Flemish artists are calling for the introduction of a fixed quota for Dutch language repertoire with the public broadcaster VRT’s radio stations.

This week, there is a strong local presence on the Flemish charts. The current Ultratop chart for Flanders has 10 domestic singles in the top 20 singles. However, recently-founded Flemish performing artists association VLAPO is calling for protection of Dutch language repertoire.

"For many years now, we have seen that our public radio is reducing airplay attention for [Flemish language] domestic artists," says Luc Appermont, the media personality who heads VLAPO. "For a public broadcaster, paying attention to all kinds of music is essential."

VLAPO wants the Flemish Media Minister to implement a quota for Dutch language repertoire to be included in the new management contract between the government and the Flemish public radio broadcaster.

"The current management agreement with the VRT already includes a number of recommendations to promote domestic repertoire," comments Flemish Media Minister Geert Bourgeois, who backs the VLAPO initiative.

"We plan to introduce an index count,” he says, “to measure the exact amount of Dutch language music with [VRT channels] Radio1, Radio 2 and Radio Donna. The commitment to devote at least 20% of radio airtime to Dutch language music will certainly remain part of the new management contract."

The Flemish Media Council has calculated that the VRT's full service channel Radio 1 plays only 6% of domestic repertoire, half of which is broadcast between midnight and 6am.

VRT claims that the broadcaster's combined radio stations include 20% of domestic productions, although there is debate about what constitutes a Flemish act. Both Hooverphonic and dEUS, for example, are Flemish bands, and included as such in the 20% measurement, but don't sing in their native language.

Patrick Busschots, managing director of Universal Music Belgium, supports the VLAPO campaign, although he says his artists have not always needed a quota to succeed. "Despite the lack of airplay support on the government subsidized radio stations, Christoff's ‘Zeven Zonden’ is entering the top of the charts, and Laura Lynn continues to sell many records," says Busschots.

Christoff is at No. 3 in the album chart and No. 10 in the singles chart with the album title track (ARS/Universal), while Lynn and Frans Bauer are at No. 3 on the singles chart with "Als Ik De Lichtjes In Jouw Ogen Zie" (ARS/Universal).

In the South of Belgium, the French language government issued a defined quota in 1997: the public broadcaster RTBF must broadcast 40% of French language music across its radio channels, with a minimum of 30% per channels, while commercial stations must air at least 30% of French repertoire.

"To fine tune this obligation, the government also stipulated that at least 4.5% of the French language music must be produced by local artists," adds a spokesman from the regulatory body CSA (Conseil Superieur de l'Audiovisuel) assigned with the verification of the language quota.

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