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Consumed by Fake News

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Communications Deputy Minister Pinky Kekana has called on radio broadcasters to deal with the issue of fake news.

Kekana made the call when she was addressing the Radio Days Africa Conference held at the University of Witwatersrand on Wednesday.

Radio Days Africa was hosted by the Wits Radio Academy under the auspices of the University of the Witwatersrand Journalism Department.

Held in association with Radio Days Europe, the conference has become the premier gathering of radio leaders and influencers on the African continent.

The Deputy Minister told delegates from the public, community and commercial radio stations from across Africa, that how they distribute content was very important.

“Our journalists must be very careful of not flooding our people with fake news because by the time we come back to our people to give them the correct facts and context, people shall have been consumed by what was fake and it is a very bad way of misinformation and very unfortunate of journalism.

“We don’t want to sensor anybody but we also don’t want our people to consume wrong information. It is important to be factual and also important to make sure that our people get the correct information. The advent of technology should strengthen journalism not weaken it,” Kekana said.

76% tune into radio

Kekana also noted that radio remains an important part of South Africa’s cultural, social and economic landscape, with approximately 76% of the adult population tuning into the radio every day.

Although radio’s popularity as measured by its reach and audience hours has been relatively stable over recent years, Kekana maintains that radio is changing.

She said the radio industry is in the midst of a significant period of transformation driven by a shift in technology to digital and by changes in the way listeners are consuming music and other content.

“Over the past two years or so the DAB (Digital audio broadcasting) + discussion has featured quite extensively in gatherings like these. Correctly so, DAB+ is a game changer. It provides our citizens with better quality radio, and from a government perspective, its helps us broadcast important emergency messages on all channels simultaneously.

“From the perspective of the consumer, DAB gives listeners access to a broader selection of channels from commercial broadcasters and the SABC. More channels inevitably mean more competition to create the best possible radio content, benefiting listeners,” she said.

Digital transformation

Turning to digital migration, Kekana said there is no way one can talk about the future economy without talking about digital transformation, sectors, companies and workers.

She said digitization cannot be considered just for the sake of it, but it must be considered as a means of making life better for businesses, citizens and society.

She thanked the broadcasters, manufacturers and other stakeholders across the radio sector and other industries for the support given to ICASA and Sentech during the trial period [digital migration].

“The next phase of our journey may require all the representatives present here today to contribute with their time and expertise and support the work of government on the rollout of technology and equipment, preparing the market, assist with the Coverage and Spectrum Planning and join Government Radio Policy task groups.

“The needs of listeners drive all of our actions on digital radio and I would like to encourage consumers to hold and enrich our current policies to help us assist vulnerable groups in society. In essence, I am saying digital radio should help us answer such questions,” the Deputy Minister said.

Earlier in the day, radio presenters from various radio stations including Kaya FM, shared their experiences in the radio broadcasting and how they attract more listenership. – SAnews.gov.za