Radio and smaller media growing

When you visit the website of Limpopo-based radio station Capricorn FM, the first thing you will see is the station’s modest announcement that it acquired a whopping 1,5-million listeners in just 10 months of its existence.

“As a new entrant in the market, we focused on being innovative and fresh and assumed a leadership position from launch date,” says Simphiwe Mdlalose, the station’s chief executive. He had promised the station’s investors that they would have at least one million listeners in the first 12 months of operation. “True to its word, Capricorn FM reached that goal in record time, with two months to spare,” the station says.

The South African Advertising Research Foundation (Saarf)—which provides information on the media and South Africans’ general consumption patterns—says the station has achieved “stellar results”.
The Radio Audience Measurement (RAM) survey done in Polokwane shows that the station has 1,5-million listeners. It remains second to Thobela, with whom it shares the 3,3-million radio-listening public in Limpopo.

Most (89%) of the station’s listeners are in Limpopo; the rest are in Mpumalanga. Claire Welch from Saarf pointed out that “Thobela FM [still] has the largest share of time spent listening in Limpopo, but this share has decreased since the emergence of Capricorn FM”. She said these figures also mean that “people are sharing their time between the two stations” and that “43% of Thobela listeners also listen to Capricorn FM”.

Most of the station’s listeners are based in small towns, villages and rural areas and most (55%) of the listeners are male; more than three-quarters (78,3%) are in the Living Standards Measurement (LSM) categories 1 to 5.

Another big player on the radio scene is Gagasi 99.5, which has increased its weekly audience to 1,9-million.

Kaya FM’s listenership has declined from 4,7% to 4,1%, with about 1,3-million listeners. Much of these losses happened in the Reef and the Vaal areas of Gauteng.

Johannesburg radio station Talk Radio 702 has also grown in the past year. The talk station’s audience of 343 000 in the survey of October 2007 has now grown to 552 000. More significantly, its coverage of issues, for instance the xenophobic attacks earlier this year, has become pace-setting and comprehensive.

When former defence minister Mosiuoa Lekota announced that he was serving the ANC with divorce papers, he did so at the station’s studios.

“Growth has now reached levels where it is significantly improved year on year,” a Saarf statement says.

In the print media the Daily Sun has breached the five million readership mark. The paper now reaches 16,4% of the South African adult population, up from 15,3%. A lot of growth is happening in Limpopo.

DStv is scoring significant successes in a market in which’s market share has gone down by two percentage points to 57,7% and SABC 1, 2 and 3’s reach is stable.

Saarf says of DStv: “The platform is still enjoying real growth, as seen in the rise in its subscriptions.” DStv boasts a total audience of more than 4,7-million.

Percy Zvomuya