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Two internet radio stations, one founded by former Jacaranda FM DJ and Supersport presenter Darren Scott, are accused of ripping off advertisers by inflating listenership figures.
Scott made headlines late last year when he was fired from Jacaranda and SuperSport after calling a colleague the k-word during a team-building event.
According to two reports, the radio stations Ballz Visual, founded by Scott, and 2oceansvibe have a fraction of the number of listeners they had claimed.
Rudolph Muller, editor at MyBroadband website, published findings which showed that the two stations had about 200 to 300 listeners tuning in each hour. This was a “far cry” from their claimed listenership, he wrote.
This follows last week’s release of an explosive report, The Truth Behind Streaming Internet Radio in South Africa, by IT specialist Shaun Dewberry, which called into question the number of listeners who tuned into radio stations online.
Muller found that Ballz Visual typically had between 200 and 300 listeners, compared to the 50 000 they had previously claimed.
The other station, 2oceansvibe, was also found to have about 200 listeners, compared to the 60 000 they had claimed.
NetDynamix, which provides listener statistics to these stations and other radio stations, had previously said the figures quoted in Dewberry’s report were not “a reflection of the bigger picture as the general public do not have access to all of our systems”.
It said last week that an external auditor would be appointed to confirm the accuracy of their numbers.
Chief executive Chris Grant did not respond to a request for comment yesterday.
Dewberry told Independent Newspapers he was pleased his original research had been confirmed.
“I would never have released the information unless I believed it was true. But it is always better to have someone else look at the numbers and verify them.”
Dewberry published the report on his blog last week and was inundated with both positive and negative reaction. “There is a growing hype being spread of streaming radio’s massive and escalating success as an alternative to terrestrial radio in South Africa,” the report read.
He singled out stations 2oceansvibe Radio and Ballz Visual Radio, which claimed to have thousands of listeners each hour.
“In my professional, and personal, opinion, I state that there is only one explanation for these proclaimed levels of listenership – they are complete fabrications. Utter nonsense. Lies, even.”
Dewberry accused NetDynamix of providing its clients with false information. “Their client radio stations are in turn feeding the media and advertisers with absolute nonsense and completely diluting the value proposition of internet radio in South Africa. A single entity is pumping a dangerous bubble for internet radio in this country and directly impacting on people’s livelihoods while ripping off advertisers.”
NetDynamix served legal papers to Dewberry, requesting him to take down the blog post within six hours. These were later withdrawn.
Seth Rotherham of 2oceansvibe said: “Due to gross inconsistencies between these audited figures and those given to us in the past by NetDynamix, we have decided it would be in the best interests of 2oceansvibe and its partners that we part ways with NetDynamix.”
He denied that it had made use of inflated listener numbers for any financial gain, saying the company had the same ad pricing structures since before the radio station joined its media stable.
Ballz Visual invited Dewberry and Muller to speak about their reports on air yesterday afternoon.