SABC news bulletin extended to an hour

2013-03-30 12:58

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SABC has announced that its prime time English news bulletin on SABC3 will be extended from half an hour to an hour from April 1. Instead of starting at 7pm the news will now start at 6.30pm and run until 7.30pm.

The public broadcaster says that it has made the decision in response to feedback from viewers, who asked for more in-depth news coverage when canvassed during the Make Your Voices Heard campaign in August last year.

“Following this engagement, the results indicated that, among other things, our viewers felt that our television news broadcasts were too short. In order to address this issue, a decision was taken to extend the English news bulletin to one hour,” SABC spokesperson Kaizer Kganyago said.

The scheduled 6.30pm shows on the channel, generally repeats of American and local sitcoms, will be moved to SABC1 to accommodate the longer bulletins.

Kganyago says that there are no plans to rebrand the SABC3 news nor to bring in new presenters.

“Other aspects of viewer feedback will be phased in over time,” he said. “This was a change we could implement quite quickly.”

The extended bulletin will allow for more focus on provincial news, said Hlaudi Motsoeneng, the SABC’s acting COO, in a statement.

“As a public service broadcaster, our various programming has to continuously reflect the needs and wants of our audiences. This decision was not taken lightly and we are cognisant of the fact that more work needs to be done, and this is but one step in that direction,” Motsoeneng said.

The Make Your Voices Heard campaign was initiated in line with the broadcaster’s licence agreement, which calls for regular audience feedback. Media responded cynically to it as SABC had not undertaken such campaigns in several years. Viewers have, in the past five years, been particularly vocal about the number of repeats being screened on SABC channels.

Now Motsoeneng is hoping to turn public perception around: “We want the people to know that this is their SABC, and their opinion and input are highly valued and we will continue to engage them on various issues regarding the corporation.”

Embattled SABC CEO Lulama Makhobo will launch the new bulletin on Monday.

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