Twitter Praised 90% Local Content, Public Tuned Off

In yet another glaring example of how social media trends are not reflective of the general public's sentiments, the SABC's bold move to implement the 90% local content on its radio platform has been met with disdain by the general public. 

In just 2 weeks, the public broadcaster is feeling the pinch of its radical move's consequences. For starters, people are tuning off. According to one of my sources, this past weekend has seen the lowest  listenership decline for a few SABC stations.

I am also told that advertisers are not pleased. While many were initially on board with the changes, hoping it would spark a patriotic movement they can ride on, now the negative comments and tuning off of listeners is making advertisers uneasy. 

One of the biggest complaints from listeners is that the 90% quota is seeming a Throwback quota as many of the local songs being played are old tracks. While the public has shared their appreciation and admiration for some of these classics, many have pointed out that they are not interested in hearing the same 20 year old song everyday. 

Another common complaint is around the dominance of Hip Hop songs on the playlists. Granted, the genre is very popular right now but the genre does not fair that well on stations such as Lesedi, Motsweding, Ligwalagwala, etc. 

The other arisen problem is that of fitting the songs into the programme themed format that the listeners are used. With every station, there are programs that are tailored for specific listeners and genre of music. Unfortunately, be it because of lack of enough quality local content or sheer unsuitability, some of these programmes have had some major problems packaging their shows. 

In a move that was expected but none the less shocking, just this past weekend SABC's largest radio station Metro FM backtracked on the 90% quota and pulled back to 50%. This after the SABC COO, Mr Hlaudi Motsoeneng, sternly and repeatedly said there won’t be any exceptions for any SABC radio stations and that the move to 90% local music is permanent.

That the SABC's number 1 station is the first to breakaway from that pledge speaks volumes about the future and success of the quota. At the end of the day, this is a business. Without the support f the advertisers, the radio station can not continue with the quota. To win the advertisers over, the stations have to keep the listeners interested. 

Mr Motsoeneng's drive to push local content is admirable. In many ways, he is a hero for the cause. Fail or succeed, his endeavour will go down in history as one of the most bold moves ever made to empower local artists in South Africa. That said, more needed to be done to make sure the public is on board with this. 

Nobody wants to be bullied into accepting anything. The SABC needed to ease into this. It should not have been about the headlines but the ground work. The buzz counter word since the introduction of the quota was "IMPRACTICAL". While I don't subscribe to that notion, I fully get where that sentiment comes from. 

It is not impracticality that would hinder the success of 90% local content, in my opinion. It is the lack of engagement. The SABC should have accompanied this quota with a marketing drive that engaged the people NOT TWITTER. They needed to get out there and let the people know why they are doing this and why it is important. 

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