THE BIG DEBATE BURSTS BACK - WITH REDI TLHABI

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

SABC cuts Afrikaans; reduces the Afrikaans in environmental magazine show 50/50 which must now be 80% English after move to SABC3.


The SABC has ordered Afrikaans to be further cut down in the environmental magazine show 50/50 from what it used to be; the programme must now be broadcast 80% in English according to orders from the South African public broadcaster.

The SABC returned 50/50 for a new season to the public broadcaster but moved it from its longtime home on SABC2 to SABC3 and also significantly reduced the traditional amount of Afrikaans heard in the show.

Production company Clive Morris Productions that produces 50/50 for the SABC has significantly cut the Afrikaans in the magazine show on SABC orders.

50/50 also moved from SABC2 to SABC3 which has the smallest broadcasting footprint of all the SABC's three terrestrial TV channels - meaning that the least number of TV viewers who want to watch the SABC or a SABC TV channel can actually keep watching it.

Three decades ago when 50/50 started on the erstwhile TV1 of the SABC, the entire programme was in Afrikaans which over the years steadily eroded - first to half, and now to a very small percentage.

In response to media enquiry the SABC tells TV with Thinus that "the move from SABC2 to SABC3 has been informed by both the TV business unit strategy and SABC3's new channel proposition".

"It is important to note that 50/50 is first and foremost an environmental programme," says the SABC. "The language split has been revised to English 80% and 20% Afrikaans."

"The increase in the English language deliver forms part of the fundamental plan to make the programme more accessible, more inclusive and to attract a broader spectrum of South African audiences," says the SABC.

The broadcaster didn't explain how moving 50/50 to a smaller TV channel with a much smaller reception and reducing the language a large part of the traditional core audience watched it in on the broadcaster is making it more accessible

In the whole of the Northern Cape for instance there is only one transmitter broadcasting SABC3, which means only people living in and around Alexander Bay can now watch 50/50 if they wanted to.

"50/50 has been on-air for many years and this is part of the evolution process for the programme," says the SABC.

"We also shy away from our content being identified by our audiences only by language, but rather the actual programme and the message it carries to the viewer," says the SABC. "50/50 has undergone a revamp aligned to the channel and the TV network business strategy with South African viewers in mind."

Earlier the year the SABC also ordered the traditionally Afrikaans soap 7de Laan on SABC2 to undergo changes which will also result in a reduction of the percentage of Afrikaans heard on the show in 2015 as well as significant on-screen changes.

The SABC also moved the Afrikaans TV news bulletin, Nuus om 7 - the broadcaster's sole Afrikaans terrestrial TV news bulletin - in mid-July from SABC2 to SABC3.

The SABC initially claimed and told viewers in promos that it's only temporary, while the SABC told the press and advertisers that the move will be permanent.

After announcing that the Nuus om 7 will move permanently to SABC3 at a programming upfront and in a video presentation and documents handed to the press, the SABC denied it and said the move is temporary, only to suddenly be informing viewers on the air that it is indeed moving permanently.

The move was planned as a permanent move and since the beginning of the year already.

Then suddenly, after saying that the SABC "listened to viewers" the Nuus om 7 moving back earlier this month to SABC2 and its old timeslot.

Zandile Nkonyeni, SABC TV head publicist, told Netwerk24 that SABC3 has changed its "channel proposition". "It's also not so much lead by language, but is lead by a group of people with similar mindsets" she said.

"Every programme that you find, whatever genre, on SABC3 it will not be language skewed. It will not be to a specific people who speak a certain language but it will be for a South African that can tune in and will understand what is being spoken about on that language," said Zandile Nkonyeni.

Zandile Nkonyeni said "Afrikaans as a language is still very much existent within the SABC".