Latest NewsIndigenous leaders call for minimum commercial radio airplay quota

Indigenous leaders call for minimum commercial radio airplay quota

Political leaders and Indigenous artists gathered in Montreal on Tuesday to demand that the CRTC introduce a five per cent minimum quota for Indigenous music content on commercial radio.

The demand is based on the recommendation of the Mémoire sur le contenu musical autochtone (Memorandum on Indigenous Musical Content), the result of a public consultation conducted last summer, spearheaded by Indigenous record label Makusham Musique, in collaboration with Innu Takuaikan, the Innu First Nations band government in Quebec. It found that 94.83% of the 312 Canadians surveyed believed a percentage of Indigenous music content should be imposed on commercial radio stations in Quebec and Canada, expressing that they almost never hear Indigenous music on the radio. Roughly 129 survey participants (+41%) were members of an Indigenous community.

Among those on hand for the unveiling of the study were Mike “Pelash” McKenzie, Chief of Innu Takuaikan Uashat mak Mani-utenam; Ghislain Picard, Chief of the Assembly of First Nations Quebec-LabradorMathieu McKenzie, Director of Public Relations and co-owner of Makusham Musique; and Innu singer-songwriter Florent Vollant, best known as a member of Canadian folk rock duo Kashtin.

“Although the Indigenous music industry is booming in Canada, the presence of our artists in commercial radio remains an occasional occurrence,” said Mathieu McKenzie, in a statement. “The memorandum we are unveiling today demonstrates how endangered Indigenous languages truly are, and why their preservation is essential. In fact, it is a concern that is shared by the vast majority of survey respondents, whether Indigenous or non-Indigenous. Respondents generally agree that a 5% Indigenous music quota should be imposed on commercial radio stations.”

“Indigenous music must take its rightful place on all broadcasting platforms, especially on commercial radio,” added Chief Mike “Pelash” Mckenzie. “Music is a universal language that contributes to creating ties between peoples and allows us to tell our story, by bringing our vision of the world to life. Across Canada, Indigenous musical artists are ambassadors of their Nations, and their work enriches Canadian society as a whole. Their art actively contributes to keeping our languages alive and perpetuating the millennial teachings of our Elders.”

A CRTC spokesperson confirmed receipt of the Memorandum on Indigenous Musical Content, saying that in order to be considered it will have to be presented through a process of consultation. 

“This issue is related to a change in policy and will be examined in the upcoming consultations related to Bill C-11 (if and when it receives Royal Assent) and in the Indigenous Broadcasting Policy Review,” the commission spokesperson told Broadcast Dialogue, in an email response.

The commission’s Radio Review, unveiled in early December, laid out an expectation that commercial radio broadcasters include Indigenous music in their playlists without setting specific quotas, noting it continues co-development on a new Indigenous Broadcast Policy with the public consultation phase upcoming.

Upon release of the Radio Review, the CRTC said a follow-up proceeding would seek comments on Canadian content development, including how to ensure better contributions to Indigenous and diversity initiatives.

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Connie Thiessen
Connie Thiessen
Connie has worked coast-to-coast as a reporter, editor, anchor and host at CKNW and News 1130 in Vancouver, News 95.7 and CBC in Halifax, and CFCW Edmonton, among other stations. With a passion for music, film and community service, she led News 95.7 to a 2013 Atlantic Journalism Award and regional RTDNA award for Best Radio Newscast. More recently, she was nominated for Music Journalist of the Year at Canadian Music Week 2019. To report a typo or error please email -

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