Huge improvements needed – SABC boss

2012-02-09 09:37

Massive content improvements are needed at the SABC, said the public broadcaster’s new group chief executive, Lulama Mokhobo.

Mokhobo described the SABC as “an organisation whose core is fractured but is on its way to healing”.

The SABC’s new boss announced her plans for the beleaguered broadcaster during a live sit-down interview on SABC2’s Morning Live breakfast show.

She said that the SABC “needs to refocus on what South Africans want to see and hear”.

“As a public broadcaster there is nothing that says you cannot produce exciting content, riveting content that people want to make an appointment with their TV sets to watch. There is nothing that says that.”

Really bad patch
“When I look at some of the programmes, I get a sense that people are just putting them together because they are going to get a cheque at the end of the month.

“Sometimes I think there hasn’t been any real thought-process going into TV content.”

On the advertising industry, there has been reluctance to advertise, she said.

“We’ve come out of a really bad patch where so much was said about the organisation – and the lack of stability at top management level.”

She said: “I understand where the advertising industry was coming from. Now we have no excuse. I’m here. I’ll soon have my full team of executives.”

Government loan
“I see the SABC as an organisation that never has to raise an overdraft – let alone raise a government loan guarantee.

“And just to give you a heads-up, the SABC is planning to get out of the government loan guarantee fairly soon.”

On the production side, Mokhobo said: “There are quite a number of pressure groups that have been very upset with how the SABC has managed South Africa’s production sector.

“I have no doubt in my mind that we’ve got to treat them as partners – with a great deal of respect.”

She said she is amazed at how committed the SABC staff are “regardless of what’s been going on at the top level” and that she is walking into an organisation “whose core is fractured but is well on its way to healing”.

24-hour news channel

On the SABC’s envisioned 24-hour news channel – that will cost R289 million over the next three years to set up and operate, and which initially had a faltering premiere date of April 2011, then October 2011, and has now been pushed to sometime this year – Mokhobo said the new starting date will be announced soon.

She said the start date of the channel, which will be one of SABC’s 18 new digital TV channels for digital terrestrial television, will be made known “in the not too distant future”.

The SABC sees the new 24-hour news channel as a key driver of the broadcaster’s turnaround strategy.

“There has been a lot of really hard work going on behind the scenes. I’m excited at the prospect.

“I have a broad idea of what the content is going to be like. Because it’s going to be a 24-hour news channel, it will focus on news, current affairs and quite a bit on key documentaries.”

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