SABC to air Covid-19 messaging during prime-time shows

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People queue to receive their Covid-19 vaccine.
People queue to receive their Covid-19 vaccine.
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  • CovidComms SA wants messaging around Covid-19 to reach as many people as possible.
  • SABC will air CovidComms SA's Covid-19 public service announcement during prime time shows.
  • They hope the messaging will counter misinformation.

To amplify messaging around Covid-19 and counter misinformation, CovidComms SA has partnered with the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) to air public service announcements during prime time shows.

As part of an awareness campaign about the looming fourth wave of the Covid-19 pandemic, the SABC will broadcast and amplify CovidComms SA content during prime time shows, like Uzalo and Generations.

CovidComms SA was formed with the help of volunteers last March when the country was first placed under lockdown.

So far, they have produced more than 200 information products, many of them in at least six South African languages, in an attempt to empower as many South Africans as possible.

READ | Vaccination drive: 'We desperately need better government communication'

Speaking on Friday morning, Chris Vick, from CovidComms SA, said they aimed to offer information that might lead to the prevention of new infections and to more people getting vaccinated.

Vick said:

What we really need is prime time viewers to be exposed to vital public health messages. We have been in discussion with a number of media houses about what we are calling a prime-time challenge. We are calling on broadcasters, in particular, to make prime time slots available at no costs, or at least a significantly discounted rate.

"SABC has responded particularly well and has offered us, at significant discounts on TV and radio, airtime. We believe, to make the commitment really meaningful, we need corporate South Africa to come on board and to support the flighting of our fourth wave material on high visibility platforms across the commercial media," he added.

Vick said prime time messaging will assist in reaching audiences like men who the health department has said are not taking up the vaccine.

He said they also had a commitment from 150 community newspapers with a reach of 4.2 million people to distribute CovidComms SA content at a discounted rate.

Madoda Mxakwe, SABC Group CEO, said the public broadcaster saw it as its duty to ensure that credible information about the pandemic was available.

"At the heart of it is the need to advance [the] national interest. It is very expensive to do this because, as the SABC, we always have to ensure that we display we are doing it because it is the right thing for the country. We've had to discount quite heavily.

"We will do digital insertion of some of the key Covid-19 messages. We will be using some of our bigger properties like Uzalo so that the reach from an audience point of view can be over 10 million," he added.

If you come across Covid-19 vaccination information that you do not trust, read Covid-19 vaccine myths debunked: Get the facts here. If you can't find the facts you're looking for, email us at the address mentioned in the article and we will verify the information with medical professionals.

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