This week’s Eastern Eye paper is reporting that the BBC Asian Network has been accused by some in the music industry of ignoring Pakistani tunes on its radio shows.
The popular radio station is funded by the BBC in order to serve the British Asian community. But from a snapshot of its recent playlists, Eastern Eye found that songs by people of Pakistani descent ��� either British-Pakistani or Pakistan-born ��� hardly get an airing on the station.
Eastern Eye obtained a list of the Asian Network�۪s last 22 playlists, to the week ending 28th October. It showed that only about 5% of songs on them were by artists of Pakistani descent. The songs were by artists including Jinx, Sona Family and Mustafa Zahid.
Individual producers do play Pakistani music outside the official playlist. But what makes the revelations damaging to the Asian Network is that the playlists are drawn up directly by its management.
Eastern Eye’s finding has led some music industry experts to pour scorn on Asian Network’s management for not ensuring that Brit-Pakistani and Pakistani music was played on the nationwide station.
The radio station claims that it primarily plays music to suit its target audience, 16-35 year-olds, rather than enforce quotas on how much Indian or Pakistani music it plays. Mohammad Ayub, head of Britain�۪s most established record label, Oriental Star Agencies (OSA), said: “I am very disappointed and very surprised that they are ignoring Pakistani artists because the BBC Asian Network is based in Birmingham, where the majority of Asians are Pakistani.”
Umer Sheikh, who is the CEO of Strum TV and a consultant for EMI Pakistan said: ���I�۪m deeply disturbed and uncomfortable about what the
BBC is doing. “I�۪m also very surprised because artists from Pakistan are having a huge impact on Bollywood and influencing artists around the world.”
A spokesman for the High Commission for Pakistan in Britain said: “I am concerned to hear this. The BBC needs to live up to its international reputation of being impartial and fair in its treatment.”
Some experts are worried that Pakistani influenced music has been sidelined because of the station�۪s increased use of black music. More
than a third of the songs on the past 22 playlists are by non-Asians.
A statement from Asian Network said that a dispute with some record
labels about royalty fees had an effect on Pakistani output. Envy
Roma came to an agreement this month with BBC and PRS while the
dispute with Hi-Tech is ongoing. But the two biggest providers of Pakistan influenced music to Britain are Moviebox and OSA, which have
allowed the radio station to play their catalogues in the past 22 weeks.
Multi-million selling stars Ali Haider, a Moviebox artist and OSA�۪s
Rahim Shah have not made it onto the Asian Network�۪s playlist for the past two weeks despite releasing albums this month.
The BBC statement also said: “Artists of Pakistani origin receive consistent rotation on the daytime playlist at a significantly higher level than the five per cent that you have mentioned.
“The foremost British-Pakistani artist Riz MC is actually performing
at our Electric Proms special.
“Three artists on our Uni Tour line-up this year are of Pakistani origin: Sona Family, Roach Killa and Imran Khan.
“The following artists has been awarded the status of Future Friction, a weekly feature where Bobby Friction shines a spotlight on new Asian music talent: The Kominas, Nosheen, Pakarmz, Sin, The Karachi Kid aka Waqar Illa, D-Boy, Sef, Riz MC.”
Eastern Eye arrived at its per cent figures by adding the number of times a song by Brit-Pakistani or Pakistani musician appeared on a single playlist. This method was repeated on each of the 22 playlists. The cumulative number of these songs was then divided by the total number of songs on the 22 playlists.