Big changes coming to SABC2 and SABC3

2018-09-27 23:00

Cape Town – The SABC says it will re-energise SABC2's prime time offering and is yet again going to reposition SABC3 to try and lift these two channels' viewership and audience share as part of a new turn-around plan to stem and reverse the ratings slide these channels experienced the past few years.

Nomsa Philiso, the SABC's group executive for television, on Tuesday told parliament that the SABC is working at reversing the viewership slides at its SABC2 and SABC3 TV channels.

Gerhard Pretorius is the SABC2 channel head, and David Makubyane, the SABC's general manager for TV channels is currently the acting SABC3 channel head.

"Our overall objective is to strengthen the [channels] network because what we do not want is a cannibalisation of our 3 TV channels competing against each other. So at any given time we need to ensure that the audiences remain within the SABC stable. So we need to be investing more money on the key properties, especially in prime time slots," said Philiso.

"SABC2 also had its own problems from 2014 coming this way – it has had 6 major schedule changes – so it has dropped some of its share and would like to see a targeted increase from a 13% share to 15%."

"We are also looking at some of the key properties that are under-performing in the prime time timeslots on SABC2 and we are also going to be reviewing those."

"From a SABC2 point of view we really want to continue to entrench the positioning of SABC2 as a family channel, which is really focused on nation-building and social cohesion."

"We want to make sure that from a scheduling point of view, we create stability, because if we do not have stability, commercial sales isn't able to sell. As you know we sell 14 weeks in advance, so any chance that is unexpected for us, is a direct revenue loss."

"So if we've got a funeral to cover to put on SABC2 it simply means that money's lost."

Philiso said "in programming there are some of our key pillars – key programmes that are starting to decline – and we're looking at those to see how we can re-energise them and give them new energy."


"We also want to make sure that SABC3 is positioned as a premium space for advertisers to reach specific, particularly economically mobile audiences which ordinarily are perceived – and I use the word perceived – to be a DStv subscription market," said Philiso. 

"We do believe that it's a market that we're able to, or should be able, to claw back."

She said "in terms of SABC3 we want to continue to reflect a diverse racial grouping and also put in from a programming point of view, look at reality, we want to look at new dramas, and we also want to have magazine shows that are more of an emotainment nature where we are going to be able to talk about self-improvement of people because that's what sells at the moment".

"We also want to strengthen our talk, in terms of social cohesion as well. We're also looking at various partnerships, particularly in the children's block for SABC3 because children unfortunately in the television space is one of the least-invested genres and it's a pity because I think it's one of the important sectors.


"The model that we've always spoken about to say that we do 100% commissioning isn't sustainable, but it also doesn't work well for the producers. Producers want to be able to own some of the intellectual property – and in that way we are then able to on-sell these properties and find other revenue opportunities downstream."

"Also to get into the distribution market so that it's not only properties that live within the South African market."

"In terms of content exploitation, we are looking to diversify the rights so that when we acquire the programming, we also make sure that the producers own some of the rights so that they also have the responsibility to expand this."

"We're also looking at a new way of charging for our channels in terms of carriage fees and a lot of people have expressed an interest in having access to our channels," she said. The SABC wants the broadcasting regulator Icasa to change the so-called “must carry regulations” so that pay-TV operators like MultiChoice, StarSat and Deukom are not just forced to carry the channels but are also forced to pay carriage frees. 

Philiso said "from a content acquisition perspective we're looking at as we bring in the money we start to create [programming] stock because one of the biggest issues is that we don't have stock."

"Essentially we produce to transmission which is not very viable," she said. "We should commission platform-agnostic content because it's not just about television anymore, we have to life on all the platforms."

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