Tuesday, February 28, 2017

SABC COO Bessie Tugwana on why 7de Laan was moved to 6pm on SABC2: Now viewers 'can see it before anything else'.

The SABC told parliament it moved the popular Afrikaans soap 7de Laan on SABC2 to several different timeslots and now to 18:00 since this month so that now viewers can "see it before anything else" - despite the fact that millions of viewers are not home at that time to watch it.

Meanwhile TV executives are buzzing with several of them now openly wondering whether "the SABC is now trying to kill 7de Laan".

In the ongoing furore about SABC2's latest controversial schedule changes, the channel dumped the 7de Laan omnibus repeats on weekends three weeks ago without telling viewers in advance.

On Sunday afternoons 7de Laan lured around 1.1 million viewers - and its axing in terms of ratings is basically the same as if the SABC cancelled the soap Isidingo on SABC3 that gets 1.3 million viewers.

The SABC said viewers who have the luxury of the internet and broadband data can watch the show on YouTube.

Viewers also continue to blast the SABC for moving the Danie Odendaal Productions show to a new timeslot yet again after changing its timeslot just 7 months ago.

So far SABC2 has chosen to remain silent and ignore viewers' complaints, with the channel that isn't responding to any of the comments from the flood of viewers begging SABC2 to bring the 7de Laan Sunday omnibus back.

Ironically SABC2 channel head Gerhard Pretorius said on SABC2 at the beginning of February that the channel always listens to viewers and wants to hear from them.

On Tuesday, the Democratic Alliance (DA) MP Veronica van Dyk in the sitting of the portfolio committee on communications asked the SABC why it moved 7de Laan to 18:00 and to explain why it's not considering viewers, why it removed the omnibus on Sundays. and how viewers are supposed to catch up who can't see it at 18:00.

The SABC's acting CEO James Aguma said he can't answer the question.

The SABC's current acting chief operating officer (COO) Bessie Tugwana said 7de Laan was scheduled at 18:30 "which we subsequently moved to 17:00 and now its sitting at 18:00".

"7de Laan for the past year, we realised that it was declining audiences," Bessie Tugwana told parliament.

She declined to mention that it was the SABC's moves that caused the 7de Laan ratings collapse since mid-2016. The show's monthly viewership erosion in -mid2016 started and continued when the SABC first decided to tamper with its timeslot.

"7de Laan is a pillar for SABC. It's a programme that's viewed by many people who speak Afrikaans, black or white or coloured. Therefore we protect it."

"So the move was not to kill it. The move was to protect it. So at 6pm currently, there isn't much aggressive competition, first. Secondly, there was a concern that it was not in prime time.That is not so. Prime time is defined as between 18:00 and 22:00," said Bessie Tugwana.

"So it's still at prime time. What we've done, its something that audiences see before anything else. In prime time at 18:00."

'We will constantly be vigilant in terms of how its performing," she said.

In America, the world's most advanced TV market, prime time is actually defined as starting at 19:00.

Bessie Tugwana didn't explain why SABC2 doesn't want a 7de Laan omnibus repeat on weekends and took it away from viewers on Sundays.

Is the SABC trying to kill 7de Laan?
TV insiders - channel executives and executive producers of shows at channels and programmes competing with the SABC, SABC2 and 7de Laan - are now openly and in amazement wondering what SABC2's plan is with 7de Laan and wondering out loud "if the SABC is trying to kill 7de Laan?"

"What is their strategy? Why on earth would they be doing something like this?" asked a longtime Afrikaans TV programming executive.

"Is the SABC trying to kill off 7de Laan?" wondered one executive attached to a weekday Afrikaans soap. "Why the bad treatment?"

Viewers are vocal in their unhappiness.

So where exactly do your viewers belong? On YouTube?" asks SABC2 viewer Margaret van Tonder. "I hope you are taking note of how many people are disappointed in you, SABC2!"

This 6pm timeslot is just not working out!" says Neofabulous Ramafoko. "We've just come home from work, sorting dinner out, getting kids to bath, etc. 1pm we are at work so we can't see the repeat. As if that isn't enough: no omnibus!"

"The SABC is taking its viewers for granted," said Roberta Maluleka.