Junk food galore on SABC, says TV Diet report

2014-02-09 06:00

Is your TV feeding you toxic snacks, junk food or healthy treats?

The second TV Diet report, released by Media Monitoring Africa (MMA), provides some clues. The report covers programming offered by the SABC between August and October last year – and the news is not great.

More than half of what the public broadcaster is dishing up is junk food: soaps, sitcoms and violent American shows – the equivalent of coffee, sweets and ice cream.

TV Diet is a unique approach monitoring TV programming by equating it to food.

Its rating of TV shows ranges from deadly poison (negative gender stereotypes) and hard drugs (extreme violence) all the way through to salads and fruits (educational shows and documentaries).

The good news is that the SABC does not offer any deadly poison. The bad news is that across all three channels, 56% of the shows broadcast are junk food.

Only 15% is healthy food – lean chicken or fish (edutainment, news, actualities) to salads and fruits. More bad news is that SABC appears not to be meeting its local content quotas.

Here’s how the channels fared:

SABC 1’s menu

There’s no deadly poison here, however hard drugs (extreme violence) have been found. Still, SABC1 fares best of the three.

Programming that is the equivalent of sweets or ice cream accounts for 46% of what’s on SABC1 but 45% of the shows lean towards healthy food (grilled fast food to salads or fruits).

SABC2’s menu

No deadly poison and minimal hard drugs were found on the SABC2 menu and the channel has 38% health food on offer. But over 55% of its content is junk food with a mix of alcohol or cigarettes (reality shows) and fried fast foods (mild or simulated violence).

SABC3’s menu

The public broadcaster’s most commercial channel is also its unhealthiest. SABC3 has the highest proportion of hard drugs, alcohol or cigarettes and fried food – 15%, and the highest proportion of junk food – 67%.

The channel has the lowest dose of health food at 20%.

Local dishes and repeat problems

The SABC does not appear to be meeting its local content quotas – unless you count repeats as 100% original new programming, which the regulator, Icasa, doesn’t.

However, the report observes that almost half of the local dishes served by the SABC channels lean towards healthy foods (a combination of grilled fast food, pasta dishes, lean chicken or fish and salads or fruits).

The report recommends that “the SABC should therefore encourage local dishes as they tend to be healthier options for local programming”.

» Rate your TV viewing at tvdiet.co.za

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