Thursday, June 26, 2014

SABC calls me a 'self proclaimed' TV critic; public broadcaster not happy with my stories (go figure).

The SABC calls TV with Thinus an online publication "which claims to do news and analysis on South African television".

The SABC says I am a "self-proclaimed" TV critic.

(I've been a TV critic for longer than 14 years - one of the longest serving, actively writing journalists and TV critics in South Africa covering television with the fearless Bianca Coleman of the Cape Times and the intrepid Tashi Tagg of TVSA. Nobody else has done this for longer and is still at it.)

The SABC is unhappy about two stories regarding the disappearance this week of the Afrikaans TV news on SABC2 and SABC3; as well as the move of Afrikaans language programming from SABC2 to SABC3.

I stand by my reporting, everything in it, all the quotes, all the information - PLEASE go read it for yourself.

The SABC calls the article(s) "questionable" and says the SABC perceives it as a move to cause confusion and that the reporting is "subjective". Yet the broadcaster says it "welcomes any critique on its work".

I take my work as a journalist who loves television, and as someone who has reported on it exhaustively for many, many years with insight, scoops and candour, extremely seriously.

I've always tried to be a real journalist, covering television on a real, honest and thorough way from a hard news perspective. (I first did financial reporting, then general hard news, before covering solely television).

A journalist's role is not to "cause confusion" - actually the opposite - to inform, to educate, to tell people what is happening, and why it matters.

I don't write for the SABC. Or for any TV channel, or for any show, any producer or any TV executive. I write for the viewer, the content maker, the TV lover, the person wondering where their show went - and when, or if it will be back.

I write for those without a voice - often subjected to the vagaries of powerful broadcasters, big operators, and those who have loud voices in a big industry and business called television broadcasting, but who don't often use those big voices very well in this medium called television.

The SABC can attack me as a TV critic. It's fine. I don't hate the SABC. I don't live in fear of any TV person or place; I don't need to feel loved or not loved by them. I love television and I love those who slog to make great television.

It's my work and my joy to watch it and tell about it.

Keep coming back and keep reading - tomorrow I will report on the SABC's dramatic TV scheduling changes which will be happening from July after the conclusion of the 2014 FIFA World Cup on SABC1, SABC2 and SABC3 and how that will be impacting all TV licence payers in South Africa - of which I am a fully paid up one.

Below is the SABC's statement in full:


Johannesburg, 26 June 2014-The South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) would like to express its misgivings on the article published today on TV with Thinus, an online publication, which claims to do news and analysis on South African Television. The Cape Town based self-proclaimed TV critic, Mr. Thinus Ferreira’s article is questionable and is perceived by the SABC as a move to cause confusion and to some extent instigate racial and linguistic divisions.

The article alleges that SABC will move its Afrikaans programming to SABC 3 in order to further marginalize the Afrikaans language. This is not a true reflection of the state of affairs, as the SABC has not marginalized any language and will not do that in the future. The SABC has an obligation as prescribed by the Broadcasting Act to ensure that all languages are treated equally.

It is further alleged that the Afrikaans news bulletin has been canned from SABC 2 with no forewarning to the viewers. The SABC refutes this allegation with the contempt it deserves, as the corporation revealed its 2014 World Cup broadcast plans in a press conference, on the 29th of May 2014 indicating how programming in general will be affected. 

 It is rather appalling that in his article, Mr. Ferreira says the viewer anger has flared up this week, whilst he was one of the Journalists who received the SABC media statement with a detailed schedule of all the temporary changes on SABC television programming which does not only affect the Afrikaans speaking community but other languages too. All the programme changes were further communicated directly to the viewers on air subsequent to the Press statement.

The Xitsonga, SiSwati, IsiNdebele and Venda news have also been moved from SABC 2, and there is no mention of this on Ferreira’s article.  We strongly believe that all South Africans are equally important, and therefore Mr. Ferreira’s statement saying “The Nuus om 7 became a ‘hurdle’ for SABC 2” is inappropriate and uncalled for.

This week, the mostly watched Sesotho Current affairs programme on SABC 2, Leihlo la Sechaba will not be playing and it is rather disturbing that Mr. Ferreira singles out only the Afrikaans programmes. This is viewed in a serious light as it indicates that his report is subjective and is intended to suit a certain agenda only known to him.

One of our flagship programme, Generations, has been moved to SABC 2 from SABC 1 if Ferreira’s argument was anything to go by, we would have seen and recorded millions of complaints from Generations viewership. It remains a puzzle why when Afrikaans programming is touched this then becomes an issue.

The SABC’s programme shifts are not a decision that is not well thought, there is always a strategic need informed by our market intelligence to shift programmes around when there is a need and we will not let any individual paint a different picture which is not necessarily informed by any substantial case or evidence.

In this particular case, the Afrikaans news and many other programmes were affected by the fact that the World cup matches were playing at the same time, thus, we used SABC 1 and SABC 3 channels to broadcast the matches.

The SABC welcomes any critique on its work in order to assist the organization to move towards the right direction, however, we do not appreciate malicious reporting that is aiming at polluting the democratic society that is established by all instrumental institutions including the SABC.