Saturday, September 29, 2018

SABC denies rumours that scandal-damaged Real Talk on SABC3 is cancelled, says TV division is in a planning cycle and that no ideas around programming have been finalised.

The SABC on Saturday denied rumours that the scandal-riddled weekday talk show Real Talk on SABC3 is cancelled.

The SABC refuted the rumours that started on Friday on the same day that South Africa's broadcasting regulator held a public hearing in a case about the secret "paid-talk" controversy that earlier this year not just derailed and massively damaged the show but also inflicted reputational brand and credibility damage on the show and SABC3.

On Friday the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa) held its hearing in a case brought by the SOS Coalition and Media Monitoring Africa (MMA) after the SABC and Real Talk, produced by Cheeky Media, did secret and non-disclosed pay-for-play interviews earlier this year.

In December 2017 the SABC and Cheeky Media broadcast two episodes on SABC3 in which host Anele Mdoda interviewed and fawned over the caustic and controversial former minister of social development, Bathabile Dlamini as well as her publicist Lumka Oliphant for which the department paid and SABC took payment, without disclosing to viewers that they are watching paid for "talkomercials".

Taking payment from politicians for interviews, as well as taking payment for interviews without disclosing it to the public are against the SABC's own editorial policy. The SABC board got involved and met about the serious lapse that damaged the SABC's integrity.

Neither Real Talk, Anele Mdoda or SABC3 ever directly addressed the controversial issue on air although a Real Talk producer said most brands pay to be on the show.

After the SABC admitted its mistake, the SOS Coalition and MMA lodged a complaint with the Complaints and Compliance Committee, in terms of section 17C of the Icasa Act of 2000, against the SABC as a violation of sponsorship regulations.

The public hearing on Friday gave rise to rumours later during the day on social media that Real Talk is cancelled.

Earlier in the week, in parliament Nomsa Philiso, the SABC's group executive for television, said that the struggling SABC3 channel will reposition itself yet again and will focus on "strengthening our talk".

Asked if Real Talk on SABC3 is cancelled, SABC spokesperson Neo Momodu in response to a media enquiry from TVwithThinus denied that Real Talk has been dumped and said that nothing about future programming on SABC3 or the SABC's other TV channels has been finalised.

"The SABC TV division is currently in its annual strategic review and planning cycle," said Neo Momodu.

"Whilst there may be a myriad of ideas and proposals on the table for all programming based on their current and future expected performance, to date nothing has been finalised. The strategies are currently undergoing internal approval processes".

Meanwhile SABC insiders and industry insiders - all with direct knowledge of how the SABC3 channel works - told TVwithThinus they have heard nothing and know nothing about a Real Talk cancellation.