Chris Moerdyk

ANC should pay for the SABC

2013-02-11 08:28

Chris Moerdyk 

When the ANC released its full set of Mangaung resolutions late last week, it made no bones about the fact that the SABC should be given more money.

Quite apart from the fact that I believe the South African public is sick and tired of seeing its taxes continually pumped into the bottomless pit of the SABC, the resolutions adopted by the ANC demonstrate a complete lack of understanding of what viewers want.

"Government funding must be ring-fenced to be targeted towards public programming," the party said in its newly-released full set of resolutions.

The ANC also criticised the content shown on SABC.

It said that programming which supported education, health, poverty, rural development, crime prevention, and other social priorities were minuscule compared to programming which was entertainment-based.

"Local content quotas need to be reviewed for all tiers of broadcasting. Raising the production levels and values of the South African content will in turn require collaboration by the various governmental entities that are active in the cultural creative industries space."

According to a News24.com report, in 2009, the SABC received a bailout of more than R1bn.

Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan last year urged the SABC to reduce its staffing complement and cut costs as it continued to service the 2009 bailout granted by a private bank.

The Treasury has signed sureties to save the SABC from its R800m deficit.

The ANC's vision for the SABC is almost identical to that practiced by the Soviet Union in the old days of rigid communist rule.

What the ANC fails to understand is that in any society that calls itself even vaguely democratic viewers really don't want to see endless documentaries aimed at how they should live their lives. They want entertainment.

If the ANC bothered to have a look at what the most popular programmes are on television right now they would see that soap operas sand reality shows topping the list. All of which suggests that the most popular shows on television all involve entertainment - escapism and voyeurism.

If the SABC had to blindly follow the ANC's wish list in terms of radio and TV content there is absolutely no question that listenership and viewership would fall faster than the heaviest of lead balloons.

From a financial point of view, bankrolling any form of mass medium is horrendously expensive. I would suggest far more expensive than the SA economy could afford.

The ANC should start listening to reason; they should start listening to their own finance minister and most of all they should listen to the public of South Africa.

The ANC's vision for the SABC is naive, ill-considered and nothing more than an expensive pipe-dream. Their Managing resolution is based on the emotional frustration of a feeling of lack of complete control.

The only hope for the sustainability of the SABC is for it to concentrate on commercial viability and the only way that will happen is if the public of South Africa is given what they want to see and hear.

 But, if the ANC want things their way, I suggest they pay for it. Because I'm sick of it.   

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