Wednesday, November 24, 2010
The SABC admits: ''Television is the ultimate democracy. We'll have to do something special to try and get viewers back.''
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The South African public broadcaster yesterday in parliament admitted that its lost it way and lost longtime viewers who, in growing numbers, are voting with their remote controls to no longer watch what the beleaguered SABC dishes up on SABC1, SABC2 and SABC3.
''How do we get and attrach audiences back to our platforms?'' was the rhetorical question from Robin Nicholson, the SABC's acting group CEO answering questions in front of parliamentary portfolio committee on communications. ''I don't want to disclose all of those here but getting audiences back does have to do with changing the schedules, change when programmes are on air; more Afrikaans on SABC3 may be an option,'' he said.
''Television is the ultimate democracy,'' said Robin Nicholson. ''It costs nothing to vote with your remote. You just push the button and you're somewhere else. We do understand that. As the SABC we understand that we'll have to do something special to try and get viewers back.''
''The SABC faces strong competition about retaining audiences,'' Robin Nicholson said, ''not just from community broadcasters such as SowetoTV (DStv 150) and Mzansi Magic (DStv 107). The best way to compete is to have the best programming. If other platforms are producing local South African content, it enriches us all.''
Regarding sport broadcasting Robin Nicholson said that sport rights cost the SABC R500 million a year in losses, ''so you have to find a new model to fund sport in South Africa rather than relying on the public broadcaster to do it.'' Regarding the SABC's self-named ''content hub'' where the broadcaster generates and procures TV content, Robin Nicholson said ''there's a lot of money tied up at things not working well [at the SABC].''
''Whether it's bad scheduling, bad programming, buying too much international content, commissioning the wrong local content, not delivering the audiences . . . the operating model is a really big thing for the SABC to get right to reduce its costs.''