Cape Town – Hlaudi Motsoeneng’s 90% local diktat for the SABC’s radio stations, that also forces its language and culture specific stations to play local music its listeners don’t want to hear, is causing havoc with a station like Lotus FM that has seen its audience base plummet by a whopping third in just four months.
While the controversial SABC executive Motsoeneng’s edict in June for 90% local music airplay on the SABC’s radio stations, followed by 80% local content for SABC3 from July, was welcomed by some artists, listeners and viewers have fled.
Besides increasing local music needltetime, SABC radio stations were also forced to ”cross-pollinate” their playlists with for instance Lotus FM catering to the Indian community in KwaZulu-Natal and the Afrikaans RSG forced to play kwaito music.
Meanwhile the Sotho catering Lesedi FM in the Free State for instance has to play Afrikaans music which is not what listeners tune in for. On television, SABC3’s entire new local programming offering in primetime that was rushed to air has been an expensive ratings flop for the public broadcaster with none of the new shows attaining enough viewers to make it into the channel’s list of top 20 most-watched shows for July or August.
The past four months SABC listeners and viewers have been responding by tuning the dial and using their remote controls to flip switch away from SABC channels – something that will have a detrimental impact on SABC advertising revenues.
Business Day reports that in the four months since their radio station started sounding dramatically different, a station like the SABC’s Lotus FM listenership, who loved to listen to their Bollywood music, plunged by 130 000 (33%) from 390 000 to 260 000.
Meanwhile private commercial and community radio stations like East Coast Radio, Radio Hindvani and Radio Islam saw their listenerships surge as people tune their radios to new frequencies where they find the music they want to listen to.
In an interview on LotusFM in May, Motsoeneng slammed Lotus FM listeners during a call-in interview show and said “South Africans are not Indians only. All of us are South Africans. Indian community who don’t accept it, they should just move on.”
Listeners responded and did just that – with advertisers who used to advertise on the SABC, following their target market elsewhere. Advertisers say the SABC no longer pulls their target market to for instance Lotus FM and they’ve pulled their ad campaigns accordingly.
SABC spokesperson Kaizer Kganyago didn’t respond to media enquiries.
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