Tune into SABC hear­ings

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - COMMENT -

I HEARD from ac­quain­tances that the SABC is to con­duct pub­lic hear­ings, can­vass­ing sug­ges­tions on fu­ture ed­i­to­rial pol­icy and gen­eral pro­gram­ming, which in­cludes lo­cal con­tent, ed­u­ca­tional and re­li­gious pro­gram­ming and so on.

Ap­par­ently, the pub­lic hear­ings have not been well at­tended, partly be­cause the SABC has been typ­i­cally lax in ad­ver­tis­ing the process, es­pe­cially via its tele­vi­sion sta­tions, which surely have a sub­stan­tial reach.

The SABC has, how­ever, given an as­sur­ance that it will take proper cog­ni­sance of pub­lic sen­ti­ment flow­ing from the hear­ings, so it is vi­tal that as many peo­ple as pos­si­ble make use of this plat­form, oth­er­wise we will have to en­dure the ab­ject pub­lic broad­cast­ing we de­serve due to lazi­ness and ap­a­thy.

I urge all proac­tive telly view­ers and ra­dio lis­ten­ers to timeously make a com­pre­hen­sive writ­ten rep­re­sen­ta­tion to the rel­e­vant e-mail ad­dress, which is ed­i­to­rial@sabc.co.za. Please note that this fo­rum closes on De­cem- ber 12. Re­spon­dents should en­deav­our to be ob­jec­tive and even-handed about this vi­tal cri­tique.

They should give credit where it is due, but also strongly cas­ti­gate in­com­pe­tence where nec­es­sary.

Of­ten it is only the ven­omous group of moan­ing min­nies, who are only happy when be­ing mis­er­able, that loudly make their neg­a­tive views known while, of course, the many un­bi­ased view­ers and lis­ten­ers who are ap­pre­cia­tive of the qual­ity as­pects, are silent, thus giv­ing the sta­tion tsars a de­cid­edly un­bal­anced per­spec­tive.

By way of ex­am­ple, there is a small group of only three or four ob­nox­ious call­ers who dom­i­nate the Talk Ra­dio com­ment open lines on SAfm with an avalanche of whinge­ing.

In my opin­ion, SAfm is one of the SABC’s rare jewels, with an ad­mirable pro­gramme pot­pourri and ex­cel­lent and gen­er­ally un­bi­ased pre­sen­ters who en­lighten the pub­lic on per­ti­nent so­cial and po­lit­i­cal is­sues. They pro­vide a bal­anced per­spec­tive, not shirk­ing from the ne­ces­sity to talk truth to power in the pub­lic and pri­vate sec­tors, but also pro­vid­ing rare praise for the many gov­ern­ment pos­i­tives.

The SABC board should be strongly made aware of the gross de­fi­cien­cies in SABC TV though, where dire pro­gram­ming and ex­cru­ci­at­ing cross-chan­nel multi-re­peats still pre­vail, and the chronic short­age of qual­ity cur­rent af­fairs de­bate shows.

How on earth do the pro­gram­ming palookas at SABC jus­tify ditch­ing Siki Mgabadeli’s new sea­son of The Big De­bate, and al­low­ing e.tv to snatch it, and then dis­ap­point­ingly bury­ing it in their closed DStv eNCA for­mat?

As Jus­tice Malala says, “What a pair of losers”, which aptly ap­plies to both the SABC and e.tv when there is such a dire need for qual­ity po­lit­i­cal and so­cial de­bate on our mass-au­di­ence na­tional tele­vi­sion.

All of us have our par­tic­u­lar tastes, and it is the re­spon­si­bil­ity of ev­ery con­cerned broad­cast me­dia afi­cionado to de­vote a lit­tle time to make Aun­tie SABC aware of what we de­mand from a pub­lic broad­caster.

It might not lis­ten and fail to ad­here to sug­ges­tions, but at least the proac­tive mi­nor­ity will have done its civic duty to at­tempt to im­prove the ail­ing pub­lic broad­cast en­vi­ron­ment, a sec­tor which is a vi­tal part of the Fourth Es­tate, and of mass pub­lic en­ter­tain­ment.

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