As from July, international dramas like Desperate Housewives, Lipstick Jungle and Prison Break will be stripped on SABC3 and shown in the 9pm drama slot on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays.
“This means that viewers will get to see entire series in a shorter space of time, rather than weekly episodes over a long period. We’ve decided to go this route as we’ve noticed that people who hire TV series on DVD like to watch episodes in bulk,” explained SABC3 Communications manager Gesh Conco, at the SABC3 press screening in Johannesburg on 9 June.
SABC3 viewers will already have noticed that more and more Afrikaans language programmes, like Kompleks, Die Wat Stom Is and DeKat, are being introduced into the channel’s schedule. Likewise, more Afrikaans characters are being introduced into the predominantly English soapie, Isidingo.
“SABC3 has identified that there is a niche market for Afrikaans viewers and it’s one that the channel has not really tapped into before,” stated Conco.
Screen Africa asked Conco where this strategy left the English speaking viewers of the channel, who now have much less English programming on offer, despite being SABC3’s primary market. He responded: “This is a valid point but remember that all Afrikaans programmes have English sub-titles. Furthermore, our schedule is not cast in stone. If this does become an issue with our English viewers we’ll have to address it. We generally give new schedules about four weeks to settle before we evaluate their impact. It’s all about monitoring the trends.”
Some new local programmes were highlighted at the screening, namely the business magazine programme Africa INC., which takes a look at how black economic empowerment is working in South Africa. It is presented by respected journalists Siki Mgabadeli and Nikiwe Bikitsha and will be broadcast from Tuesday, 16 June in the 8pm slot.
There is also the magazine show Hatch, which looks at all aspects of functional design, from tea cups to motor cars to houses in a box. Presented by producer and business woman Grace Meadows and Zane Gillion, the show aims to get to the bottom of the best designs in South Africa. The half-hour show airs from Sunday, 5 July in the 11.30 slot.
A documentary-soap, Man, was presented at the screening but will only be broadcast in October. It features four South Africa men, of different races and sexual orientations, talking about what it means to be a man. It evolves as a debate between the four men.
A new slot is being introduced into the popular and long-running lifestyle show, Top Billing. Former presenter Basetsana Makgalamele will participate in a book club slot called, Bassie and Friends.
Several stars from Isidingo, including Robert Whitehead and Meshack Mavuso, were on hand at the screening to present titillating snippets of upcoming storylines. Head writer Ilse van Hemert noted that the stories move very quickly over the next three months so viewers won’t be able to skip episodes and keep up.
In terms of international feature films to be shown over July, August and September, a whole batch of “Festivals” will be shown – Batman, Superman, Back to the Future and Lord of the Rings. In August, to coincide with Woman’s Day, festivals featuring top female stars like Julia Roberts, Sharon Stone, Kim Bassinger, Michelle Pfeiffer, Sandra Bullock and Renee Zellweger will be broadcast.
It was announced that the channel is updating its website but no launch date was given.