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Take a radio trip back in time

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To celebrate World Radio Day on 13 February, Ford South Africa highlights some rock and pop music milestones over the past several decades.

From in-car AM to FM radio, eight-track tape players to cassette tape decks, in-car CD players to iPods and beyond, we’ve come a long way in how we listen to music in our cars.

To celebrate World Radio Day on 13 February, Ford South Africa highlights some rock and pop music milestones over the past several decades. And classic rock aficionado Benjy Mudie, host of ‘The Jukebox on 702’, takes us on a trip down memory lane, sharing some of his favourite memories of listening to music on the car radio.

1950s

“Back in the late Fifties, when I was a young boy, whenever Bill Haley and His Comets’ ‘Rock Around The Clock’ used to come on the radio, I remember my dad turning it up and pointing to the big dial of the car clock.” – Benjy Mudie

13 February 1950 – Peter Gabriel is born. One of the founders and original lead singer of Genesis, he goes on to have a successful solo career. In 1987, the now-iconic video for his song ‘Sledgehammer’ rakes in a record nine MTV Video Music Awards, still the most wins for a single video in the VMAs to this day.

1960s

“My dad loved muscle cars, and in the early Sixties he had a red Ford Fairlane 500. When The Beatles’ ‘She Loves You’ used to come on the radio, I remember we kids used to scream out the “yeah, yeah, yeah” part of the chorus.” – Benjy Mudie

13 February 1961 – Frank Sinatra launches his own label, Reprise, under Warner Bros Records. Although he vows he will never sign any rock artists, Reprise will go on to become the home of many influential US acts, including Neil Young, Jimi Hendrix, Joni Mitchell, and The Beach Boys.

13 February 1967 – The Beatles release the double A-sided single ‘Strawberry Fields Forever / Penny Lane’ on Capitol Records in the US, which peaks at #1 on the charts.

1970s

“When I worked in the EMI stores in 1974 and 1975, I had an old, fawn-coloured Ford Prefect that my folks helped me buy. It had an eight-track and radio combo, with four large and loud speakers that blasted LM Radio until it was shut down by the Frelimo government in 1975. The song I remember turning up whenever it played was The Who`s ‘Won’t Get Fooled Again.’ – Benjy Mudie

13 February 1972 – Led Zeppelin is forced to cancel a concert in Singapore when officials won’t let them off the plane because of their long hair.

13 February 1973 – Elvis Presley takes ill during a concert in Las Vegas. He is attended to by Dr Sidney Bowers, who is later gifted with a white Lincoln Continental (produced by Lincoln, a division of the Ford Motor Company), in appreciation for his services.

13 February 1974 – Robbie Williams is born. In 1990, the then-16-year-old is the youngest member to join Take That. After he quits the boy band in 1995, he goes on to have a hugely successful solo career, becoming the best-selling British solo artist in the UK, with a record 18 Brit Awards under his belt, and also the best-selling non-Latino artist in Latin America.

1980s

“In 1981, I remember AC/DC’s ‘Back in Black’ ruling the airwaves. During my time working for WEA Records (later Tusk Music), I listened constantly to radio in the car, flipping through the dial, checking what WEA tracks were being played by each station. The one I heard the most in 1983 was éVoid’s ‘Shadows’, which was a huge buzz for me as they were hometown friends of mine (I played bass in the original band), and I had signed them to WEA.” – Benjy Mudie

13 February 1982 – Pink Floyd’s album ‘The Dark Side of the Moon’ marks 402 weeks in the charts. Released in March 1973, the now-legendary album has racked up more than 1 500 weeks on the Billboard chart – a record that has yet to be broken, and continues to sell around 8 500 copies a week.

13 February 1988 – Michael Jackson buys a ranch in California which he names Neverland, after the fantasy island in the story of ‘Peter Pan’, about a boy who never grows up. Neverland becomes the artist’s private residence, and the grounds contain, amongst other things, his own amusement park and petting zoo.

13 February 1989 – The Brit Awards is hosted by Sam Fox and Mick Fleetwood. Winners include Phil Collins for British Male Solo Artist, Annie Lennox for British Female Solo Artist, Erasure for Best British Group, Fairground Attraction’s ‘First of a Million Kisses’ for Best British Album, Bros for British Breakthrough Act, Michael Jackson for International Male Solo Artist, Tracey Chapman for International Female Solo Artist, and U2 for Best International Group.

1990s

“In 1998 I started my own label, Fresh Music. That same year, local band Egyptian Nursery had a huge radio hit with ‘God`s Window’, and I always turned that up in my car, because they were my first signing.” – Benjy Mudie

13 February 1996 – Take That announce they are disbanding, prompting the UK government to set up counselling phone lines for distraught fans. Across the pond that same day, Tupac Shakur releases his fourth studio album ‘All Eyez on Me’. He will pass away in Las Vegas exactly seven months later.

Beyond 2000

“I still listen to car radio, but generally avoid the mainstream stations who play generic wallpaper pop. I mainly listen to Hot 91.9 for classic pop and soul, and Mix FM for classic rock. Plus every so often I dial over to Classic FM for chill tunes, and when I really feel I need some happy time, it’s Bollywood tunes on Radio Lotus. Although I host ‘The Jukebox on 702’, I never listen to myself.” – Benjy Muddy

13 February 2005 – Readers of ‘The Sun’ newspaper vote George Michael’s ‘Careless Whisper’ the greatest British pop single of the past 25 years.

13 February 2012 – Adele wins all six categories she is nominated for at the Grammy Awards.

13 February 2015 – Bob Dylan’s 36th studio album ‘Shadows in the Night’ debuts at #1 on Billboard’s Top Rock Albums chart, and #7 on the Billboard 200.

Ford SYNC

The sophisticated in-car infotainment systems available in new Ford vehicles today have almost 90 years of development behind them. And the latest generation of Ford Motor Company’s award-winning SYNC system is at the cutting edge of this technology.

Besides being able to tune into your favourite radio stations, or play your favourite music, it offers a myriad other features like voice-guided navigation, live traffic information, estimated travel time, and voice commands to make hands-free calls, read text messages through the speakers (SYNC even understands emoticons and popular abbreviations), send quick replies by selecting from a list of pre-set text responses, listen to voicemail, and climate control.

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VoD cuts the cord in SA

Some 20% of South Africans who sign up for a subscription video on demand (SVOD) service such as Netflix or Showmax do so with the intention of cancelling their pay television subscription.

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That’s according to GfK’s international ViewScape survey*, which this year covers Africa (South Africa, Kenya and Nigeria) for the first time.

The study—which surveyed 1,250 people representative of urban South African adults with Internet access—shows that 90% of the country’s online adults today use at least one online video service and that just over half are paying to view digital online content. The average user spends around 7 hours and two minutes a day consuming video content, with broadcast television accounting for just 42% of the time South Africans spend in front of a screen.

Consumers in South Africa spend nearly as much of their daily viewing time – 39% of the total – watching free digital video sources such as YouTube and Facebook as they do on linear television. People aged 18 to 24 years spend more than eight hours a day watching video content as they tend to spend more time with free digital video than people above their age.

Says Benjamin Ballensiefen, managing director for Sub Sahara Africa at GfK: “The media industry is experiencing a revolution as digital platforms transform viewers’ video consumption behaviour. The GfK ViewScape study is one of the first to not only examine broadcast television consumption in Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa, but also to quantify how linear and online forms of content distribution fit together in the dynamic world of video consumption.”

The study finds that just over a third of South African adults are using streaming video on demand (SVOD) services, with only 16% of SVOD users subscribing to multiple services. Around 23% use per-pay-view platforms such as DSTV Box Office, while about 10% download pirated content from the Internet. Around 82% still sometimes watch content on disc-based media.

“Linear and non-linear television both play significant roles in South Africa’s video landscape, though disruption from digital players poses a growing threat to the incumbents,” says Molemo Moahloli, general manager for media research & regional business development at GfK Sub Sahara Africa. “Among most demographics, usage of paid online content is incremental to consumption of linear television, but there are signs that younger consumers are beginning to substitute SVOD for pay-television subscriptions.”

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New data rules raise business trust challenges

When the General Data Protection Regulation comes into effect on May 25th, financial services firms will face a new potential threat to their on-going challenges with building strong customer relationships, writes DARREL ORSMOND, Financial Services Industry Head at SAP Africa.

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The regulation – dubbed GDPR for short – is aimed at giving European citizens control back over their personal data. Any firm that creates, stores, manages or transfers personal information of an EU citizen can be held liable under the new regulation. Non-compliance is not an option: the fines are steep, with a maximum penalty of €20-million – or nearly R300-million – for transgressors.

GDPR marks a step toward improved individual rights over large corporates and states that prevents the latter from using and abusing personal information at their discretion. Considering the prevailing trust deficit – one global EY survey found that 60% of global consumers worry about hacking of bank accounts or bank cards, and 58% worry about the amount of personal and private data organisations have about them – the new regulation comes at an opportune time. But it is almost certain to cause disruption to normal business practices when implemented, and therein lies both a threat and an opportunity.

The fundamentals of trust

GDPR is set to tamper with two fundamental factors that can have a detrimental effect on the implicit trust between financial services providers and their customers: firstly, customers will suddenly be challenged to validate that what they thought companies were already doing – storing and managing their personal data in a manner that is respectful of their privacy – is actually happening. Secondly, the outbreak of stories relating to companies mistreating customer data or exposing customers due to security breaches will increase the chances that customers now seek tangible reassurance from their providers that their data is stored correctly.

The recent news of Facebook’s indiscriminate sharing of 50 million of its members’ personal data to an outside firm has not only led to public outcry but could cost the company $2-trillion in fines should the Federal Trade Commission choose to pursue the matter to its fullest extent. The matter of trust also extends beyond personal data: in EY’s 2016 Global Consumer Banking Survey, less than a third of respondents had complete trust that their banks were being transparent about fees and charges.

This is forcing companies to reconsider their role in building and maintaining trust with its customers. In any customer relationship, much is done based on implicit trust. A personal banking customer will enjoy a measure of familiarity that often provides them with some latitude – for example when applying for access to a new service or an overdraft facility – that can save them a lot of time and energy. Under GDPR and South Africa’s POPI act, this process is drastically complicated: banks may now be obliged to obtain permission to share customer data between different business units (for example because they are part of different legal entities and have not expressly received permission). A customer may now allow banks to use their personal data in risk scoring models, but prevent them from determining whether they qualify for private banking services.

What used to happen naturally within standard banking processes may be suddenly constrained by regulation, directly affecting the bank’s relationship with its customers, as well as its ability to upsell to existing customers.

The risk of compliance

Are we moving to an overly bureaucratic world where even the simplest action is subject to a string of onerous processes? Compliance officers are already embedded within every function in a typical financial services institution, as well as at management level. Often the reporting of risk processes sits outside formal line functions and end up going straight to the board. This can have a stifling effect on innovation, with potentially negative consequences for customer service.

A typical banking environment is already creaking under the weight of close to 100 acts, which makes it difficult to take the calculated risks needed to develop and launch innovative new banking products. Entire new industries could now emerge, focusing purely on the matter of compliance and associated litigation. GDPR already requires the services of Data Protection Officers, but the growing complexity of regulatory compliance could add a swathe of new job functions and disciplines. None of this points to the type of innovation that the modern titans of business are renowned for.

A three-step plan of action

So how must banks and other financial services firms respond? I would argue there are three main elements to successfully navigating the immediate impact of the new regulations:

Firstly, ensuring that the technologies you use to secure, manage and store personal data is sufficiently robust. Modern financial services providers have a wealth of customer data at their disposal, including unstructured data from non-traditional sources such as social media. The tools they use to process and safeguard this data needs to be able to withstand the threats posed by potential data breaches and malicious attacks.

Secondly, rethinking the core organisational processes governing their interactions with customers. This includes the internal measures for setting terms and conditions, how customers are informed of their intention to use their data, and how risk is assessed. A customer applying for medical insurance will disclose deeply personal information about themselves to the insurance provider: it is imperative the insurer provides reassurance that the customer’s data will be treated respectfully and with discretion and with their express permission.

Thirdly, financial services firms need to define a core set of principles for how they treat customers and what constitutes fair treatment. This should be an extension of a broader organisational focus on treating customers fairly, and can go some way to repairing the trust deficit between the financial services industry and the customers they serve.

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