SABC TV news viewership takes a plunge

Cape Town – Viewership of the SABC's flagship TV news bulletin has plunged, with the public broadcaster's main English TV news bulletin on SABC3 at 18:30 that has shed more than 222 417 viewers in just one month according to the latest South African TV ratings.

Meanwhile the SABC's Xhosa, Zulu and Sesotho TV news bulletins in November also shed viewers with SABC2's Sesotho news no longer one of the channel's top 20 most watched shows. 

The embattled SABC is being battered by a barrage of shocking daily revelations about alleged corruption, fraud, mismanagement, censorship, and undue political editorial interference that's been rocking the loss-making corporation, while scandals have engulfed its controversial bosses James Aguma and Hlaudi Motsoeneng.

Meanwhile an ongoing SABC inquiry by an ad hoc parliamentary committee into the SABC board, heard shocking testimony the past few weeks about the blatant flouting of corporate governance at the SABC where scandal after scandal keeps dominating the headlines and damages what's left of the SABC's brand reputation.

The SABC's flagship TV news bulletin saw more than 222 417 viewers flee in just one month as it audience rating (AR) dropped from 922 152 in October to 699 735 in November.

It is the second lowest number of viewers for the SABC3's prime time TV news bulletin since June this year when Hlaudi Motsoeneng abruptly ordered his 80% local content decree for the SABC's only commercial TV channel.

Since then SABC3's ratings collapsed as viewers rejected all of the badly produced local shows suddenly rushed to the channel's schedule the past few months - causing a knock-on effect on its news ratings.

Last week SABC journalist Lukhanyo Calata testified before the SABC inquiry in parliament that decisions like this damages the SABC news division's credibility and reputation.

Calata was one of the so-called "#SABC8" journalists who were fired for protesting the SABC's abrupt censorship decision earlier this year to no longer show visuals of the destruction of property during public protests. 

The SABC lost a labour court case and was ordered to reinstate seven of the journalists.

Xhosa, Zulu and Sesotho TV news viewership also down

The SABC's Xhosa and Zulu news bulletins, both on SABC1 also showed a drop – although percentage wise more marginal – from October to November.

The Xhosa news fell from 4.15 million viewers (12.2 AR / 35.7 share), losing more than 348 137 viewers to 3.8 million viewers (11 AR / 33.8 share) in November.

The Zulu news shed more than 321 752 viewers, and dropped from 4.07 million viewers (11.9 AR / 35.8 share) to 3.75 million (11 AR / 33.8 share) viewers in November.

On SABC2, viewership of the Afrikaans TV news bulletin managed to remained steady at 1.48 million viewers (4.3 AR / 15.3 share) despite debilitating timeslot changes for it and Afrikaans soap 7de Laan of which the viewership fell another bit in November to 1.81 million viewers – it’s second lowest viewership number this year.

The SABC's debilitating timeslot change of the Sesotho news on SABC2 to 18:30 in July has also hammered this TV news bulletin's ratings.

Going from 1.36 million viewers in July and plunging to 1.15 million viewers in October, SABC2's Sesotho TV news bulletin in November totally dropped out of SABC2's top 20 most watched list, which means it got somewhere less that 1.13 million viewers.

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