Thursday, July 17, 2014

BREAKING. Afriforum launches petition to keep Afrikaans TV news and Afrikaans programming on SABC2 after shocking move.

Afriforum has launched a petition to gather public support and names for a campaign to keep the SABC's only Afrikaans TV news bulletin and other Afrikaans language programming on SABC2 after the public broadcaster unilaterally moved it to SABC3 which has the smallest footprint of all the TV channels making it inaccessible for millions of South African TV households.

The SABC lied to viewers broadcasting on-air promos telling them the Afrikaans TV news - the SABC's sole TV news bulletin in this language would return to SABC2 on 14 July at 19:00. Instead it moved permanently to SABC3 at 19:30 and out of reach of millions of South Africans who don't get the channel.

Earlier this week the SABC lied and said the dramatic programming and schedule changes on SABC2 and SABC3 doesn't have anything to do with Afrikaans.

However an internal memorandum sent on 30 June by Leo Manne, the SABC's general manager for TV channels, contains extensive market research about Afrikaans media consumers, Afrikaans viewers and the viewing patterns and viewership ratings of Afrikaans viewers.

The internal memorandum shows that the shift of the Afrikaans programming from SABC2 to SABC3 is indeed motivated and related to language, Afrikaans viewers, and the ratings performance of the SABC's Afrikaans programming.

It's also clear from the internal SABC memorandum that the content schedule shift was planned since last year when the SABC held a content summit.

Afriforum has started a petition to which people can add their name by SMS it to 45343 at the cost of R1 per SMS. The petition can also be filled in for free online.

According to Alana Bailey, the deputy CEO of AfriForum, the organisation is being inundated with complaints from angry viewers who live in areas where SABC3 cannot be received.  This includes areas in the Northern Cape, Western and Eastern Cape, as well as the Eastern Free State.

"The SABC's comments that Afrikaans is not being targeted and that thorough research had been undertaken before the changes were made, have no credibility," says Alana Bailey.

"A responsible public broadcaster without an ideological agenda against language and media freedom will actually ensure that programmes are broadcasted on the channel with the largest footprint in the areas where a specific language group is in the majority".

"It would ensure compliance with the public broadcaster's mandate and would make business sense too, as the Afrikaans market is about 31% of the total South African market.  With a much smaller exposure to this market, advertisers are sure to seek other advertising platforms".

New times at which programmes are being shown on the SABC elicit many complaints as well, says Alana Bailey. "These changes all serve to create the impression that every effort is being made to harass Afrikaans viewers".