South Africa: SABC Complain of Losing Viewership to Pay Channels


Increasing numbers of people able to afford pay channels such as DStv, Top TV and Mnet are causing the SABC to lose viewers, the public broadcaster complained in Parliament last week.

SABC Chief Executive Lulama Makhobo said with rising living standards, poor people who would traditionally be watching SABC, were beginning to now buy pay to view television packages.

Makhobo, flanked by a high ranking team, were before the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Communications to outline their three year strategic plan for the organisation.

She said there was an increase in demand for local content from new market players such as Top TV and Mzansi Magic, production companies were becoming more powerful and the battle for intellectual property was "intensifying", she said.

In order to keep a strong foothold in the market, she said they would need to present compelling programming as they migrated into the digital broadcasting.

To minimize audience losses in the highly competitive market place, the broadcaster aimed to maintain a 58 percent average TV share by 2014/15 through quality productions, and is planning to roll out 18 new channels in the digital landscape.

Depending on funding, the broadcaster projected to launch 12 new channels in the next three years with six of them, including a 24- hour news outlet, scheduled for roll out in the 2012/13 financial period.

Makhobo defended the quality of staff at the broadcaster, saying they were skilled at their work. She said the SABC would not shed jobs, but streamline their workforce in preparation for the launch of the digital channels which would require more human resources.