Internet radio scandal aired

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iol scitech july 3 darren scott INDEPENDENT NEWSPAPERS File photo: Ballz Visual was founded by former sport presenter Darren Scott. Picture: Dumisani Sibeko

Cape Town - Internet radio stations 2oceansvibe and Ballz Visual have a fraction of the number of listeners they had claimed, according to two reports.

Rudolph Muller, editor at the 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 tuning into radio stations online.

Muller found that Ballz Visual typically had between 200 and 300 listeners, compared to the 50 000 it had previously claimed. 2oceansvibe was also found to have about 200 listeners, compared to the 60 000 it had claimed.

NetDynamix, which provides listener statistics to these 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 had said in a statement last week that an external auditor would be appointed to confirm the accuracy of its numbers.

Chief executive Chris Grant did not respond to a request for comment on Monday.

Dewberry told the Cape Times that 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 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 people’s livelihoods while ripping off advertisers.”

NetDynamix had served legal papers on Dewberry, requesting him to take down the blog post within six hours. These were later withdrawn.

2oceansvibe’s Seth Rotherham 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 2oceansvibe had made use of inflated listener numbers for any financial gain, as the company had the same advertising pricing structures since before the radio station joined its media stable.

Ballz Visual, which was founded by former sport presenter Darren Scott, had invited both Dewberry and Muller to speak about their reports on air on Monday afternoon. - Cape Times

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