The hosting provider for local online radio stations, including Two Oceans Vibe and Ballz Radio, has been accused of lying about their listener figures.
The claims come from IT security analyst Shaun Dewberry in a post, entitled "The Truth Behind Streaming Internet Radio in South Africa", made on his blog.
"2Oceansvibe Radio now states they have up to 60 000 listeners an hour. Ballz Radio, after two months online, claims in the region of 51 000 listener between 12 and 6pm," read an excerpt.
"In my professional (and personal) opinion, I state that there is only one explanation for these proclaimed levels of listenership – they are complete fabrications. Utter nonsense. Lies, even."
Dewberry points the finger at statistics provided by hosting company NetDynamix, used by the online radio stations for streaming.
NetDynamix uses a tool called "Shoutcast" to distribute streams to the listeners, Dewberry elaborates.
"The majority of Shoutcast streaming radio stations are listed on Shoutcast.com. Every public Shoutcast server publishes their listenership to this directory.
"The largest have 12 000 listeners maximum at any time. If the biggest stations in the world only have 12 000 listeners, how can two start-ups (2OceansvibeRadio and Ballz) in bandwidth-starved Africa have tens of thousands more listeners than that?"
Dewberry points to Port Elizabeth online radio station KingfisherFM as an example, saying that the station only had 1000 listeners in December 2011, growing to 20 000 by March.
"This 'growth' occurred at the same time they changed streaming hosting provider to NetDynamix."
Dewberry has since clarified who is to blame for the issue.
Reaction from stations
Ballz Radio host Darren Scott interviewed Dewberry on the show, calling into question the analyst's post.
The article has since attracted the attention of NetDynamix, with the firm's lawyers sending a letter to Dewberry.
"All of these statements are highly defamatory of our client who enjoys an un-impeached reputation in the industry," read an excerpt from the letter.
The letter goes on to demand that Dewberry remove the post, as well as related social media postings.