Initial reports that SABC radio stations, 5FM and MetroFM, would be exempt from the unilateral 90% local music quota, suddenly instituted by the public broadcaster on Wednesday, are not true. The commercial stations will also be subject to the new directive announced by chief operating officer, Hlaudi Motsoeneng, earlier this week. Both have no choice but to comply with the decision.
News of Motsoeneng’s bombshell dominated social media conversation, 25AM reported. A total of 16 475 conversations were recorded on Twitter, with 92% stemming from South Africa. Using its Marketingcloud Social Studio technology, the online media agency said 90% of the reaction to the news was positive, boosted in particular by artists such as AKA welcoming the move. Negative comment was mainly over the impact on 5FM and Metro FM, with people thinking listenership of these stations would be killed.
Reporters awaiting a statement from 5FM were disappointed when the SABC announced that all media queries had to be directed to the broadcaster’s spokesperson, Kaizer Kganyago. The Media Online has done so, but has not yet received a response to its questions on issues such as advertising and sponsorship.
But sources at the SABC said 5FM has been hard hit by the decision. For example, it can no longer broadcast its Top 40 in its current format. The popular show will be gone come Saturday but sources said the station was working on a way to reformat the chart show. Some advertisers, too, are reportedly unhappy over the sudden change and the station has already had campaigns pulled from the station.
The station reportedly didn’t manage to completely fulfil its new obligations on the first day of the new mandate, which was Thursday. Staff had to scour the archives to ensure they had enough material to broadcast. The decision could also affect 5FM’s support of international concerts and events, one of the prime platforms it uses to engage with its audience.
Community radio representative, The Media Connection, said while it applauded the decision, the SABC had made a “misstep” in not consulting with listeners beforehand.
This was why, said business development director, Nkopane Maphiri, “there have been mixed reactions, and some of them not so positive”. Maphiri said community radio had been “playing well above the prescribed quota of local music for as long as community radio has been alive and with great success, because it’s been the choice of the listeners in the community that the radio stations serve”.
“The SABC as a public broadcaster may have unintentionally alienated a wide net of its listeners by disrupting the healthy mix of international and local blend that their discerning listeners are accustomed to – with no consultation and no warning,” said Maphiri. “The next few months will reveal what impact SABC COO Hlaudi Motsoeneng’s decisions has on audiences of SABC stations across the board. Local talent needs that recognition, but so too do the opinions of the listeners who tune in every day.”
The big winners, say insiders, will be Primedia’s Highveld 94.7 and Kagiso Media’s Jacaranda FM. Radio audiences wanting to listening to international hit songs and artists will have to find a new home – or simply ignore radio in favour of streaming music of their choice.
Head of Kagiso Media, Nick Grubb, welcomed the announcement. “As a significant local content producer across all media types, Kagiso Media welcomes this move by the SABC. Developing the local music and content industries requires a number of contributing initiatives, supported by platforms and access,” Grubb said.
“We hope this leads to increased demand for local content and we consistently track this demand across all of our channels so we can give audiences what they want,” he added.
Grubb said Kagiso Media supported the proposed legislative revisions to local content regulations for radio “which will increase our minimum content percentage and add to the many initiatives we already have in play to support local artists”.
Image: 5FM DJ/ Facebook
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