Thursday, July 3, 2014

SABC admonishes: 'Don't call us Yama Repeats'. Public broadcaster says new content is in the works at the SABC.

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"Don't call us Yama Repeats".

So says the SABC, tired of viewers chastising the South African public broadcaster for the heaps of repeats, rebroadcasts and old programming shown on SABC1, SABC2 and SABC3.

The SABC's top TV executives told South Africa's TV critics, journalists and advertisers at the SABC's Post 2014 World Cup programming Upfront that it would like to see the South African public stop calling the SABC "Yama Repeats".

"There's big plans for new content going forward, new content that's currently in the works at the SABC," says Leo Manne, the general manager for TV channels at the SABC.

"So across all three TV channels we're completely committed to ensuring that we invest a lot more money in local content. Not only because it works for us from an audience delivery point of view, but it's the right thing to do in encouraging the local TV market and film industry to move forward and grow".

"We have been negotiating and we have successfully negotiated lengthy, long term deals with a lot of our international distributors - particularly for movie content".

"Where we're in a position now - and we haven't been for a very long time - where we're able to commit specific movie titles per slot, per TV channel, at least six months in advance," says Leo Manne.

The SABC is implementing major changes to the schedules of SABC1, SABC2 and SABC3 from after the 2014 World Cup ending 14 July, such as moving the bulk of Afrikaans content to SABC3, changing SABC2 to a "family channel" focused around nation building, and drastically changing SABC1's primetime schedule which will now offer 100 percent local content.

"Coming out of the World Cup we're in a position to offer fresh, five new dramas in weekday primetime on SABC1. We've been labeled 'Yama Repeats' as SABC1 and we had to address it in terms of the contribution we make to the TV production industry, especially around dramas," says Maijang Mpherwane, SABC1 channel head.

"Around the situation around 'Yama Repeats' it is a pity that we are not able to go to a public platform and explain your schedule strategy decisions all the time to people," says Leo Manne.

"With the World Cup schedule starting in mid-June, there was no way that we could start a new series of dramas at the end of May, then interrupt it for a month of World Cup and then start a new schedule after that".

"So we had to, everything considered, go into a repeat mode for that month and a half period, and then come back and introduce these brand new schedules for the SABC," says Leo Manne.

"People see what they want to see and it's a problem that we can't go out there and explain some of these decisions to everybody out there".

"So there was a reason for the repeat period of a month and a half. It wasn't because there was no content or that there was no planning from a SABC Television point of view. We have this tournament that sits smack in the middle of your fiscal  that you need to account for and plan around," says Leo Manne.

"It's also a matter of being criticised because you're the best and people expect the best from you," says Maijang Mpherwane.

"There is no broadcaster out there in the world that doesn't schedule repeats. We have to schedule repeats. In order to balance costs you have to".