Thursday, July 17, 2014

How the SABC lied about the drastic scheduling changes implemented on SABC1, SABC2 and SABC3.

The SABC indicates in a 15 page internal memorandum how its TV market share has dropped from 100%in 1976 to 49% in 2013

The SABC lied to millions of affected South African TV viewers when saying the move of the public broadcaster’s only Afrikaans TV news bulletin to SABC3 is "temporary" and that it would return to SABC2 on 14 July, and is lying again saying drastic schedule changes to SABC2 and SABC3 has nothing to do with Afrikaans.

Viewers are fuming and are confused over not just the major programming shift of programmes from SABC2 to SABC3 but also where programmes moved to on SABC3, where various shows are now on SABC2, and what the new timeslots are.

Meanwhile millions of TV households in South Africa can no longer watch the SABC's sole Afrikaans TV news bulletin or shows like Pasella, 50/50 or current affairs show Fokus along with any Afrikaans drama series.

SABC3's signal footprint is the smallest of the SABC's three TV channels and cannot be received by millions of viewers who simply don't get the analogue terrestrial signal.

According to parastatal signal distributor at least 8 million South African TV households don't have satellite TV or pay-TV on which the SABC's TV channels are carried digitally. 

These households' TV reception depend on whether they live close enough to a possible terrestrial transmission tower broadcasting SABC1, SABC2 or SABC3 or any combination of these. 

While the SABC told advertisers and sponsors last month that the Afrikaans TV news, drama slot and the bulk of Afrikaans TV programming will be moving from SABC2 to SABC3 permanently from after the 2014 FIFA World Cup, the SABC told the public the move of the Afrikaans news is only temporary.

 The SABC issued a statement about the "temporary changes" in June, and kept broadcasting on-air promos in which the SABC specifically told viewers they would be able to see the Afrikaans news again on SABC2 at 19:00 from 14 July.

On 14 July the SABC announced the Afrikaans TV news is staying on SABC3 and in the 19:30 timeslot, as well as the other permanent programming moves and scheduling changes.

Earlier this week the SABC said the drastic and already controversial schedule changes has nothing to do with Afrikaans.

TV with Thinus has an international memorandum from the SABC – the motivation for the SABC's TV schedule changes – sent on 30 June by the SABC's general manager for TV channels, clearly showing that the SABC2 and SABC3 changes are specifically related to language, Afrikaans viewers, and the ratings performance of the SABC's Afrikaans programming.

The internal SABC memorandum contains extensive market research about Afrikaans media consumers, Afrikaans viewers and the viewing patterns and viewership ratings of Afrikaans viewers which forms the basis of the motivation of the SABC to move the Afrikaans news and other programming to SABC3. 

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

The SABC also knew that SABC3 is also not as widely received as a terrestrial broadcast TV signal as SABC2 but calls it "a current minor challenge" in the memorandum.

Leo Manne, the SABC's general manager for TV channels, wrote in the 15 page memorandum that "the roll out of both digital terrestrial television (DTT) and direct-to home (DTH) within a year will ensure that any areas not covered by our current transmitter network are filled".

"This current minor challenge though cannot and should not deter the SABC from protecting its current business".

In media enquiries TV with Thinus asked the SABC whether the broadcaster wants to comment on the memorandum and its content or explain anything about it. 

The SABC was asked why the broadcaster in TV promos told viewers the Afrikaans news would return when the broadcaster knew it wasn't the case, and how the SABC wants millions of TV households to see the programming that moved on SABC3 if they don't and have never had access to the channel. 

The SABC declined to provide answers to these and other questions.