Picture: ISTOCK
Picture: ISTOCK

The Lotus FM pressure group and staff members are over the moon that the SABC has proposed dropping its 90% local content policy, imposed by Hlaudi Motsoeneng in June 2016.

The radio station has lost millions of rand in revenue since the decree came into effect — a move that sent the station’s listenership plunging from 390,000 people to 260,000 within four months.

Ashwin Trikamjee, president of the South African Hindu Maha Sabha and chairperson of the group Save our Lotus FM, said they were jubilant about the news that 90-10 local content policy could be relaxed from May.

"I am happy about this decision. I think it was a sensible decision taken by the board to save not only Lotus FM but other SABC radio stations and to bring the SABC back from the brink of financial collapse," he said.

"I think it is good to promote local content but [it must be] a long-term strategy. The problem with this one is that it was imposed so suddenly, without giving anyone a chance to plan and mitigate against the negative impact."

On Monday Mathatha Tsedu, deputy chairperson of the SABC’s interim board, said the broadcaster had lost hundreds of millions of rand due to "some stupid decisions", and the new board had a huge responsibility on its shoulders to turn around the fortunes of the SABC.

He said the SABC was facing a financial crunch that could require a bail-out from the Treasury.

Tsedu said the board’s recovery plan for the broadcaster included a proposal to reverse Motsoeneng’s 90-10 content policy.

"In terms of the 90-10 local music and 80-20 television quota decisions, the interim board has decided that it will review the decision, considering regulations by Icasa, the cost of implementing the decision and the governance around the directive made in this regard," he said.

SABC spokesperson Kaizer Kganyago confirmed that the broadcaster was reviewing the policy, amid financial and other problems.

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