Johannesburg - Touch HD, the online digital radio station owned by Thabo “Tbo Touch” Molefe, is rumoured to be battling financially – after barely two years in operation.
However, Molefe has denied the allegations, saying people must adapt to the new business model or leave.
City Press has learnt that Touch HD’s hosts were recently informed via email to source their own sponsorship for their shows, and if they fail to do so they will have to amicably cut ties with the station.
“The [hosts] were told they will get 35% of whatever amount is agreed upon and the rest will go to the station – this is exploitation. The only shows that aren’t affected are breakfast and afternoon drive because they have secured their own sponsors,” said an insider.
Three well-placed sources have corroborated the story.
The source said essentially, “Touch is using these young kids with radio dreams to make him money because if you don’t dance to the music he shows you the door”.
“I just hired 18 videographers on my new video-on-demand streaming platform called THD. How am I battling when I am launching THD later this year?” he asked.
“Just because some people are not part of a new business model, it doesn’t mean Touch HD is struggling. Like any business, if you don’t bring value within the company, you will not be considered on their new business model.
“When I was working for the SABC, after every six months, as freelancers we would go to performance evaluation. After that I would make sure I pull up my socks to bring more advertising on my show, hence I was always on my A-game.”
Touch HD received positive feedback last year, it even reached 1 million connections.
But it seems things are no longer rosy, according to sources.
“The talent turnover at the station is ridiculous. It’s so bad that the hosts don’t have a basic salary.
“The only staff that has a basic salary is the management, content and technical producers. This is exploitation,” said one source.
The station has a commercial army, whose mandate is to find sponsors.
“Touch HD had a potential to succeed because it had the perfect business model. The problem is that [Tbo Touch] doesn’t know how to manage people. Working at Touch HD was toxic,” said a former employee.
One of the hosts who left the show after the new changes was popular socialite and blogger Thulasizwe “LaSizwe” Dambuza. Dambuza confirmed he had resigned, but denied it was because of the new changes.
“The reasons related to my resignation are not related to any acquiring of sponsorship, but to pursue other interests pertaining to my brand and to focus on television prospects and my YouTube channel,” said Dambuza.
He added that he was paid a salary as and when expected per the contract that was between himself and the station.
Some of the talent that has left the station includes Thembisa Mdoda, Nina Hastie and DJ Carpo.
Molefe said the brand was expanding from audio to a visual platform and not everybody has the capacity to fit on that platform.
“But I am excited, we are developing and growing,” he said.
The video-on-demand streaming THD is set to be launched in October, and costs about R45 million.
THD will compete with rival services like Naspers’ Showmax, currently run by MultiChoice, Netflix and other subscription-based streaming services.
“I am excited about this new model because it’s a model that will accommodate the future and incubate a video/TV platform, which is where digital is heading.
“We have more accomplishments coming, while there are challenges ahead of us,” said Molefe.
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