The SABC this week borrowed pages from the playbook of North Korea, where images of unfinished buildings are banned, and dance and praise songs to its dear leader fill the airwaves.
The public broadcaster this week got its own “Thank You, SABC” appreciation song, giving thanks to the broadcaster for chief operating officer Hlaudi Motsoeneng’s new 90% local music rule. The song is by poet Mzwakhe Mbuli and comes complete with Hlaudi-praising chorus singers.
The SABC promised that a music video and download of the song would be made available this past week, but it was not.
Shown during a short performance on SABC2’s Morning Live, the praise song contains lyrics like “SABC, they’re showing their love to us” and “Hlau-di, Hlau-di, Hlau-di, Hlau-di, thank you SABC”.
While the SABC announced last week that it has raised its royalties rate from 3.2% to 4% it – along with Primedia and Kagiso Media – hasn’t actually paid a cent in royalties to artists for years. Artists are owed millions in unpaid needle time. The SABC again promised that it would start actually paying artists but can’t say when.
While the SABC claims there have been no complaints from its listeners on its 18 radio stations, furious Indian Lotus FM listeners gave Motsoeneng an earful during a disastrous call-in interview, slamming him as “the most arrogant man” they’ve ever heard.
The train wreck Newsbreak interview last Saturday afternoon started with Motsoeneng censoring Lotus FM presenter Genevieve Lanka live on air when she said she wanted to read listeners’ comments, and mentioning that the majority of Lotus FM listeners, who now have to listen to Mandoza and Afrikaans music, don’t like the change.
“I don’t want people of the SABC – especially you – you don’t have evidence of what you are saying, so I don’t think we should allow that to happen within the organisation,” said Motsoeneng, who banned her from reading listeners’ comments.
“I don’t want you to read me what you have been reading.”
A caller started to cry on air, calling Motsoeneng “arrogant” and saying that “whoever implemented this hasn’t even given the public a chance to find out if this is what listeners want”.
“This quota is taking us back to the days of apartheid, when we, as the Indian community, were oppressed,” she said as she sobbed. “We must now listen to everything else,” she said.
Motsoeneng was repeatedly asked how he arrived at his 90% rule and what market research was carried out but failed to give any clear answers.
“Actually, everybody’s excited, including the politicians, Parliament, everybody,” said Motsoeneng. “Indian community, those who do not accept it, they shall just move on and accept it. It’s 90% local music.”
Another male caller slammed “the crazy 90:10 ratio”, saying “I have never, ever on the national broadcaster ever heard such an arrogant individual as Motsoeneng. He reminds me of the apartheid era.”
Motsoeneng said: “I don’t think it’s all Indian people ... who are opposing this move. It’s just the callers. And it doesn’t mean that when the callers call, that they represent the majority of the Indian community.”