Monday, July 21, 2014

'The SABC forsakes its role as South Africa's public broadcaster' - Die Burger editorial.

Die Burger Afrikaans newspaper on Wednesday 16 July carried this editorial opinion piece translated in full, below, regarding the SABC blatant and shocking marginalisation of Afrikaans TV programming on public television:


"The news that the SABC wants to move its Afrikaans television programmes and news bulletins to SABC3 from the current SABC2 channel - which far fewer people can access - creates understandable distress.

This beggars belief. It is not normally the case that an organisation that is being smothered by a tsunami of bad publicity chooses to exacerbate the problem.

In the past few days the SABC has been dealt two crushing blows. 

The first was the public reaction to the permanent appointment of Hlaudi Motsoeneng as chief operating officer (despite the damning indictment of him by the Public Protector); the second was the revelation that the chairperson of the SABC board, Ellen Tshabalala had enhanced her CV - just as Motsoeneng had done.

In itself this would have resulted in any organisation under competent management taking a decision not only to investigate those under a dark cloud of suspicion but to delay or negate any further controversial decisions.

But no, the SABC resolutely continues with its decision to move its Afrikaans television news bulletins to a channel which cannot be accessed by the majority of people in areas of South Africa where the dominant language is Afrikaans.

Who is the most detrimentally affected by this decision? Afrikaans speaking people in rural areas, coloured and white, who cannot afford to subscribe to DStv. 

By taking such injudicious - or perhaps deliberately malicious - steps the SABC nullifies its duty as public broadcaster. 

But more than that: the Corporation which should be creating unity, through this step, creates division. In so doing it negates its calling.

It is ironic that, in so doing, the SABC has turned its back on a potentially valuable audience and created a gap in the market which will quickly be filled by the market forces of demand and supply. 

Other institutions will profit from this while the public broadcaster staggers under its growing debt.

The SABC's problems are far broader and deeper than just this poor decision. Its point of departure should be to remove Motsoeneng from his post and to thoroughly investigate Tshabalala. Only then can the question of reconstruction be considered."