Johannesburg - The decision to end the run of the “Gareth Cliff Show” on Comedy Central was mutual, online radio host Gareth Cliff said on Friday.
“We mutually agreed to surrender the TV show. We (CliffCentral) felt it was fragmenting our audience rather than consolidating it,” he said.
“It was an interesting thing to do. I have no regrets. It was also experimental and we created a new medium Ä radio on TV. It's not been done in this country to any success.”
Comedy Central announced the decision to end the show's television run on Wednesday.
Cliff's manager Rina Bloomberg - who with him co-founded the online radio platform CliffCentral, which formed the basis of the show - criticised the way the decision was reported.
“What I was disappointed about was that it created the perception that CliffCentral was closed,” she said.
“We're still dealing with clients today... who think we're gone... We (CliffCentral and Comedy Central) were actually saying the same thing.”
Cliff said the reporting had sought to make the decision look like a fight, when actually there was no “grumpiness” between the parties.
Asked about his departure from radio station 5fm at the end of March, before CliffCentral came into being, Cliff said he had resigned.
“It wasn't a mutual decision. I left,” he said.
“Rina is a strategic thinker and we'd been planning for about two years, 'What's next?', you have to think of that.”
Bloomberg said: “We always knew this (CliffCentral) would be next, but when is the right time? And (at) 5fm, for the last 10 years, Gareth's been on an annual contract, and paid hourly.”
While they were not certain that this was the right time to launch the new platform, they had decided to do it.
They said CliffCentral was sustainable, and “very much so”.
Cliff was not sure of the new platform's listenership yet. They were looking at the figures for the first time now.
“We don't want to commit arson on our business by releasing something that we are not 100 percent sure on,” he said.
He felt the advantage of online radio, versus normal radio, was that CliffCentral was not hamstrung by “irritating” regulations.
“I think people are crying out for a different kind of offering and more and more the internet is where you are finding exactly what you want,” he said.
With CliffCentral having filled its line-up between 6am and 6pm, its next step was to expand into night time, which offered a different audience. It would also look at the weekend.
Asked about the current state of commercial radio in South Africa, Cliff said he felt it was becoming its own worst enemy.
“It's just that radio itself is becoming a difficult vehicle because it is over-commercialised, I think,” he said.
“You have news, traffic, weather, sport in bulletins that are sponsored, that are complex... Radio is packed with stuff that isn't necessarily for the audience.
“Now (on the new online platform), everything you are hearing is almost 100 percent pure content, which is something radio can't do.”