THE BIG DEBATE BURSTS BACK - WITH REDI TLHABI

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Off-again, on-again Dr. Phil suddenly back on SABC2 again - although it's anybody's guess whether viewers even care anymore.


The then-there, then-pulled, then-back, then gone-without-a trace Dr. Phil is back again (for now) on SABC2 although it's anybody's guess whether SABC2 still has any audience left bothering, or knowing to tune in again to watch Phil McGraw dispense pop psychology in his talk show.

The SABC and SABC2's deplorable handling and scheduling disruption of Dr. Phil the past year and a half during which it actually completely lost the rights to the show and the lack of continuous - or any - communication about it to keep viewers informed has seen interest and the audience who knew and who tuned in on weekdays at 12:00 completely evaporate.

Since Monday this week Dr. Phil is back in the 12:00 timeslot on SABC2 but viewers haven't returned.

After the long, yet again absence of the American weekday talk show which is now suddenly back at a random date, nobody cares anymore.

It is as much a result of viewers no longer willing to invest in a show that might again just suddenly disappear, as well as the erosion legacy in viewer loyalty the SABC and SABC2 caused by constantly starting and stopping the show without saying what's going on.

"SABC2 is pleased to announce to our viewers that after a lengthy absence from the TV screens, Dr. Phil returns on Monday 28 April," SABC2 said in a statement. "The show retains its longtime slot of 12:00 from Mondays to Thursdays," the channel said.

SABC2 however didn't explain why Dr. Phil is back now, why it erratically comes and goes, and no promises that Dr. Phil won't just disappear without any notice or explanation again. SABC2 didn't give any clear reason in response to a media enquiry asking why the show is back and why it was gone "for a lengthy absence".

Dr. Phil saw another two fake starts - a fake late 2013 schedule insertion which didn't pan out, as well as again empty promises in 2014 which then also came and went.

The SABC and SABC2's problems with Dr. Phil stems from contractual problems which the SABC caused and remained the cause of, according to insiders.

Payment issues delayed new episodes and a new season, and the SABC also didn't keep records of episodes played and failed to provide detailed records to the international distributor regarding playout of episodes, making them reluctant to continue offering the show to the SABC - at least not until the SABC got its shoddy books in order.