Tuesday, September 11, 2018

SABC annual report 2017/2018: The top must-know take-aways for its TV channels, radio, web presence, SABC News, SABC Sport, app plans, complaints, HD upgrades and more.

The SABC's 142-page annual report for 2017/2018 is filled with important minutiae ranging from it's TV channels' performance, their under-performance and reach; to its radio stations, its web presence, SABC News viewership, a breakdown of its SABC Sport coverage as well as its app plans, complaints, injuries on duty, and its staggered transition to high definition broadcast.

The beleaguered South African public broadcaster described as "commercially insolvent" has posted a loss of R622 million for the 2017/2018 financial year with the country's Auditor-General (AG), Kimi Makwetu, saying he can't determine whether the cash-strapped South African public broadcaster remains a going concern.

Bongumusa Makhithini, SABC chairperson, in his annual report overview, said the SABC's financial position remains "under severe pressure", with the SABC still paying for "years of ineffective leadership", while it must urgently "play catch-up" on the technology front to reach audiences.

Audience declines at SABC2, SABC3
The SABC in its annual report says "the continued perception of SABC’s instability held by most of its trading partners led to a decline in revenue. Other factors contributing to revenue under-performance were the audience decline of SABC2 and especially SABC3".

The SABC in the financial year had amortisation of programme, film and sports rights of a whopping R1.7 billion - something it labels a significant loss item.

The loss line item "impairment of foreign and sports content" - which is part of the SABC's fruitless and wasteful expenditure since the broadcaster bought stuff it didn't show - amounted to R1.67 million.

That is still a lot, but is down from R2.7 million the previous year.

The SABC says that looking forward at the future of its TV service, it will be "creating a portfolio of content that can live across platforms, accessible to all South Africans and creating a disruption in the market place as it seeks to remain audience-centric in an increasingly fragmented market".

"Its stable of brands will consciously connect with existing and lapsed viewers on their terms as we begin to transform into a content media hub and not just a broadcaster."

Nomsa Philiso, who was acting SABC CEO and is the SABC's group executive for television, says in the broadcaster's annual report that the SABC's 5 TV channels reaches on average 28 million viewers per month: SABC1 - 25.856 million, SABC2 - 24.993 million, SABC3 - 21.148 million, SABC News (DStv 405) - 3.878 million and SABC Encore (DStv 156) - 4.259 million.

SABC1 fell short on its percentage of current affairs programming mandated by the broadcasting regulator. The SABC gave no explanation in its report for this.

SABC2 fell short on its children and educational genre mandates, the SABC says in its annual report.

These shortfalls are blamed of being the result of schedule disruptions to accommodate events of national importance and sports coverage. "Due to the time at which these events take place the impact was greatest on children and educational programmes."

The SABC says SABC3 exceeded all its genre quotas for the period under review. During the year SABC3 however fell short in its delivery on languages other than English, as mandated by the broadcasting regulator, Icasa, in terms of the channel's target for broadcast in minority languages. The SABC blamed schedule disruption.

The SABC in its annual report 2017/2018 says "SABC1 remained the most popular television channel in the country, averaging 37% prime time audience share and 27% across the performance

"SABC2 ended the financial year with a 13% share of prime time audiences, while SABC3 enjoyed 4% share."

"For the period under review, 17 out of 20 of South Africa’s most watched television programmes were carried on SABC channels and all of the top 15 were SABC shows. Uzalo, a SABC1 flagship property, was 2017/18’s top show followed by Skeem Saam, Generations: The Legacy and Muvhango.

While the SABC said it achieved Icasa's local content quotas, the Auditor-General in its audit said it was "unable to obtain sufficient appropriate audit evidence to support the reported achievement of the targets".

"This was due to inadequate technical indicator descriptions and proper performance management
systems and processes that predetermined how the achievement would be measured, monitored and reported."

The AG said the same about the SABC's claims of radio genre targets, and the SABC's number of provincial programmes.

The SABC says it reaches a combined average of 28.328 million radio listeners per week.

The SABC annual report 2017/2018 notes a 24% decline in the percentage of visitors to its web sites. SABC website views fell 24% during the year, with the SABC saying its "old and outdated websites are not attracting audiences".

Decline in SABC TV News viewing, website views up
The SABC in its annual report notes that "SABC News broadcasting on terrestrial platforms contributed 60% of the top ten news broadcasts on free-to-air (FTA) TV in South Africa during the period under review.

This represented a 10% decline from the previous year due to the decline in
popularity of one of the live properties".

The SABC says SABC News bulletins on SABC1, SABC2 and SABC3 "commanded between 12% and 14% of all viewing by FTA audiences". Current affairs programming was consistent at 8% of all television viewing.

At the end of the 2017/18 financial year, traffic on the SABC News website showed steady growth ending the year at 875 000 page views. The SABC's SABC News YouTube channel reached 10 million views in March 2018 from an average monthly performance of 5 million views.

SABC Sport
The SABC included a pie chart in its annual report to show the breakdown of sports coverage in percentages during the 2017/2018 year.

The SABC says the chart depicts the number of minutes afforded to each sport/genre.

Coverage of soccer at 49% of total time, dominates with almost half of all time given to sport broadcasts going to football coverage.

The SABC said the high percentage of cricket at 41% is due to the time of play which is made up of nine tests, nine ODI’s and five T20’s, "however soccer still dominates on all SABC platforms".

South African rugby and boxing got a measly 1% of total airtime, less than the 3% given to mixed martial arts coverage. The SABC says "during the period under review, the SABC experienced financial challenges and as a result all outbound cricket and rugby events could not be broadcast on TV."

High definition upgrades
The SABC says in its annual report that "all stakeholders were consulted including local producers on the commencement of content delivery in high definition (HD) as of 1 July 2017".

"The interim HD infrastructure setup for studios 3, 4 and 5 were put in place with major changes to control room and floor equipment. The installations included IP Digital Video Switchers, HD monitoring systems and HD camera chains for the studio floor as part of the adoption of the SABC HD delivery standard."

"The in-house productions of Generations and Muvhango started preparing for transition of the recording of their productions into full HD during the period under review."

"During the 2017/18 financial year, the transmission technical support team defined the best configuration for the play-out of SD and HD content."

"This informed a decision to also have all the scheduled media ingest for broadcast on 16:9 aspect ratio transmissions for the final control centre (FCC)."

"The SABC3 final control centre was switched from SD to HD on 22 March 2018. This is a major accomplishment in the division’s efforts to improve the on-air quality for SABC TV channels. The division aims to convert the rest of the final control centres to HD concurrently with the implementation of the new Pebble Beach automation in the new financial year."

"Projects for the next financial year include: a multi-channel play-out facility to cater for additional TV channels on DTT, and other carriage agreements, News Studio 10 and 12 replacement, replacement of Studio 1 and 2, and the acquisition of five outside broadcast (OB) vans."

SABC apps coming in 2019
The SABC says in its annual report that "in the 2019 fiscal the SABC will be pursuing an over-the-top (OTT) strategy with the aim of offering a range of audio, video and text-base content".

"The aim of the SABC OTT is to offer the content centrally over the internet through mobile applications giving more options on how and when to consume the content."

The SABC said a total of 1 684 direct complaints were received.

During the 2017/18 financial year, 115 complaints against SABC services were received by the Broadcasting Complaints Commission of South Africa (BCCSA). Of these complaints, 109 were dismissed and 6 were upheld.

Of those upheld, the SABC were ordered to pay a combined R30 000.

SABC1 was fined R10 000 for airing a vulgar song during the live broadcast of the Metro FM Awards.

SABC2 was reprimanded for not putting additional warnings when broadcasting sensitive episodes of 7de Laan; and SAfm was reprimanded for airing a story that promoted illegal conduct. This was a clip wherein an SABC journalist said that his late friend had committed insurance fraud.

Metro FM news was warned not to repeat the offence after airing a misleading story that implied that a woman had disrupted former president Jacob Zuma’s speech in Kliptown; and SABC1 was fined R20 000 for the broadcast of Casper Nyovest's concert without the appropriate on-screen

The Advertising Standards Authority of South Africa (ASASA) ruled against the SABC in a case over SABC TV Licences and ordered the SABC to withdrew a sexist advert.

During the 2017/18 financial year, the SABC had 7 disabling injuries on duty, with no fatalities, in its total workforce of 3 444.