The country’s FM spectrum is congested, and attempts to free up some of the spectrum for new players is proving difficult
How large is your radio market both in terms of number of radio stations (public and private) and overall advertising revenue (in USD)?
Approximately 300 stations across all three tiers of the regulated sector — public, commercial and community. The amount in terms of advertising revenue is about R4.5 billion (US$315,950,220)
Is your radio market growing in terms of new players in radio or audio starting up in 2021?
Yes — podcasting is increasing rapidly. Spotify has enjoyed substantial growth.
Has your radio audience grown over the COVID pandemic, and how does it look now?
Audiences have remained stable, but time spent listening has increased substantially.
How has radio advertising revenue performed over the same period?
Revenues have declined but are gaining momentum as restrictions lift and we get closer to the release of the new currency data.
What is the most important new opportunity that radio stations in your market are pursuing in terms of investment in capital and human resources?
From a BRC point of view, the most important opportunity is catering for total audio products and solutions — predominantly OTT and streaming on various platforms and in various formats. Programmatic buying then comes into play and radio forms part of the digital ecosystem and then receives a portion of the digital spend pie. Further to this, measurement will become paramount and increasing frequency and granularity of data will move radio closer to TV and digital measurement.
Commercial radio services are also diversifying content through podcasts, some of which are sponsored by various companies as an alternative means to increase audience engagement.
What seem to be the most challenging technological, programming, strategic and/or sales goals among radio owners in your market?
There are diverging views in the market on the adoption of new technologies such as digital sound broadcasting technologies. However, it is encouraging that there is a licensing framework in place.
How advanced is your market in terms of the transition of FM radio operators into audio streaming, audio on demand and digital radio such as DAB or DRM?
The licensing framework has only recently been finalized and the regulator has not yet opened applications for DAB/DRM licenses. Commercial radio stations have begun investing in podcasting.
What regulatory body oversees radio in your country?
Are there other noteworthy radio industry organizations in your country? If so, who are they?
NCRF — National Community Radio Forum
Gary Whitaker, CEO of the Broadcast Research Council of South Africa