SABC unveils line-up


SCREEN AFRICA EXCLUSIVE….The main point to emerge from public service broadcaster SABC’s presentation to the trade on 14 April in Johannesburg of the forthcoming line-up for its three channels is a new look for SABC3, which has suffered from an unstable schedule for years.

“It’s no secret that SABC3 has been dogged with problems for the past three years,’ said newly appointed SABC3 Acting General Manager Ed Worster. “The channel has been plagued by serial underperformance across all key areas – declining audiences, declining revenue and brand integrity erosion. We’ve had an unclear channel proposition and underinvestment in local content.

“Our turnaround strategy is to restore SABC3’s competitiveness. We want to achieve an audience share of 16% in LSMs7-10 and be the number one terrestrial channel by the end of the 2011 fiscal year.

“SABC3 now has a new robust channel proposition and improving the quality of content is key. We have created time pillars for programming, such as the 7.30pm to 8.30pm slot for example, as well as better planning around cricket tournaments. There are 42 days of cricket at the end of each year that SABC3 has to accommodate for the annual international cricket tour.’

According to Worster, there are five pillars in the SABC3’s turnaround strategy: understanding the audience; compelling programming; streamlined schedule; big marketing opportunities; and sales effectiveness.

“We can guarantee the trade that SABC3 will now have a stable schedule. SABC3 audiences are media savvy and have access to pay-TV so they don’t accept mediocrity. Over the next six months there will be a lot of work done behind the scenes at the channel and we plan to re-launch in September / October this year. We will soon start rolling out a new marketing campaign to this end,’ said Worster.

He stressed that local content was a key pillar for the channel. However, the only new locally produced programme announced for this quarter is a documentary series, Tales from the Edge. Worster said that further commissions were on hold until the SABC executive and board finalised the broadcaster’s turnaround strategy.

SABC3 audiences are already aware that the popular, long-running lifestyle show, Top Billing has been moved to Tuesdays at 7.30pm. They can also look forward to new sets, new characters and new storylines in SABC3’s soapie, Isidingo. The daily talk show, 3Talk with Noeleen, is set to become more interactive and the channel’s News bulletins will have a more international look and feel.

There is a big push towards advertiser funded programming (AFPs) at the SABC in general (not surprising considering the broadcaster’s financial crisis and reduced commissioning budget). SABC3’s AFPs are Life’s a Journey, Hello Doctor, Green Line, Media Matters, Food with Friends, Expresso, and Hooked on Travel.

Worster ended his presentation by saying that SABC3 has three wishes: to keep its viewers, to keep its advertisers, and to show both viewers and advertisers that the channel cares.

SABC1 Mzansi fo sho Acting General Manager Leo Manne noted that SABC TV reaches 85% of the South African adult population on a weekly basis. Over five million people choose to only watch SABC, which equates to one in six people in South Africa.

“We know that the trade has expressed lots of concern about the number of repeats on SABC channels since the crash of 2009. You can be reassured on that score – all the channels are working on reducing repeats,’ said Manne.

He spoke about the strength of the SABC1 Mzansi fo sho brand and said the channel focused on local and authentic stories, with a core target market of LSM 5-8. “Being a youth brand, we are relaunching our on-air look for the first time in six years and have a new Mzansi fo sho face. This supports our Reloaded campaign.’

SABC1 shows highlighted at the presentation were Runs House, Make Your Move, Jozi Maboneng, Class Act, Dance Your Butt Off, Ses’khona, Intersexions, and I Am Mzansi, a series of documentaries by young South Africans. In May the channel will broadcast the MTN SAMA Awards, which celebrate the best of South African music, and the PSL Awards.

The channel has three AFP proposals – My Own Restaurant, Hustle 101 and Rize Mzansi – that are looking for sponsorship.

SABC2 Acting General Manager Pulane Tshabalala confirmed that the channel will broadcast the Tri Nations Rugy Tournament in July and the Rugby World Cup in September. “We are a channel to be proud of – a channel for the nation that offers cutting edge programming for LSMs 5 – 10. On a weekly basis over 21 million viewers tune into our channel. SABC2 programming is Sesotho, Tswana, Afrikaans, Venda, Tsonga and English.

“Our breakfast show Morning Live has been on air for 10 years and the environmental series, 50 / 50 will be back for a new season,’ she said.

Colour TV is a new locally produced variety show aimed at SABC2’s Coloured audiences.


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