SABC boss Hlaudi Motsoeneng came in for a drubbing from leading lights in the Indian community at a meeting on Monday, called to discuss the future of Lotus FM.
The introduction by Motsoeneng of a rule that 90% of music played on SABC channels be local has cost it listeners and advertisers, the meeting agreed, with calls for more public consultation on the matter.
Former eThekwini council Speaker Logie Naidoo did not beat about the bush on the rule.
”It’s absolute nonsense. Hlaudi-what’s-his-name was described as the Mahatma Gandhi of music. The station is losing its listenership,” Naidoo told the meeting at the Kendra Hall in Greyville, Durban.
The rule ignored the reality that there was a dearth of local talent and that they could not sever their ties with India, he said.
Naidoo said although artists would be happy about the rule, they should be able to also see the impact it had on radio stations.
He went on to dismiss the argument of the SABC not being a commercial, for-profit entity as “nonsense”.
He said the SABC had to, at worst, be able to make enough money to “stay afloat”.
Other members of the audience took a more hardline view.
One said the rule was an attack on the Indian community.
Selvin Govender said the problem with the rule was that black music was being played on Indian radio stations, but Indian music was not being played on black music stations. Govender said the problems at Lotus FM were part of a greater attack on the Indian community, which was being discriminated against. Govender left the hall a few minutes after making his statement.
Dr Mickey Chetty said although the percentage was problematic, he said the issue could be resolved.
He said the rule was a step in the right direction and that artists could actually make a living from the music. And it was not a totally negative thing.
President of the Hindu Maha Sabha and chairman of the meeting, Ashwin Trikamjee, pointed out that he had heard Indian music being played on other radio stations.
He said the issue he had was the lack of consultation on the decision. He said Lotus FM, founded in 1983, had been run with considerable input from the community, which was not only in KwaZulu-Natal but in Gauteng as well.
He noted that during Diwali, the 90/10 rule had been scrapped.
He said there had been an exodus of listeners which had been accompanied by advertisers. Trikamjee also insisted the audience come up with solutions to the problem.
One of the suggestions was by Vishal Maharaj, who said Lotus FM should be ditched and radio frequencies should be freed up so there could be radio stations that could play Indian music and they should have the option to choose.
He said trying to save Lotus FM was tantamount to “flogging a dead horse”.
The chief executive of Megazone Radio said they had already experienced an upsurge in listeners since the changes began at Lotus FM.Other audience members suggested there should be a committee that would be representative of the Indian community which would include people from Christian, Gujarati and Muslim backgrounds among others.
The Daily News has previously reported on the 90% local content announced by the SABC.
Motsoeneng had also raised the ire of listeners when he suggested, at a meeting of traditional leaders, that Lotus FM’s name be changed.
The SABC boss, however, said he had been quoted out of context.