Local Content Quota Sweeps Across SABC | The Good, The Bad and Hlaudi

To say the SABC's Chief Executive Officer, Hlaudi Motsoeneng is a determined man, would be an understanding. In his unprecedented stance to change the landscape of South African broadcasting industry, Motsoeneng has implemented what can only be described as a BOLD step, starting with SABC3. 

For years SABC3 has languished in the abyss of confused identity but today, with a press conference to boast, the SABC's top brass set a plan that, if I achieved, will make the history books. You know what happened over the week with Days being canned and the subsequent presser that happened today to introduce new shows.

Let me skip all that and jump into my opinions about all this. 

The Good...

Change sometimes requires drastic measures. You just have to take the plunge! Shocking as this seemingly rash move by the SABC to overhaul its channels and ditch international tv content for local material is, we need this. 

How are we to get used to local content if we don't see it on our screens? How are we to build a viable and competitive industry if we do not have enough content to pit against each other?

The SABC introducing an 80% local content quota is a good thing. What I also love from what I learned at the presser today is that the SABC has also introduced a pilot model. That means; shows that do not perform well will be pulled to make room for other productions. I have been asking for this for years because it does up the standard.  

The other very positive thing is that complaints that the SABC will only be  regurgitating talent are not entirely accurate. While faces like that of Khanyi Mbau and Phat Joe will make their way to SABC3, the reality is that 3 of the 5 shows announced will have new faces. 

At the press conference, SABC TV Channels GM Maijang Mpherwane pointed out that the SABC wants to develop talent and retain it within the organisation. Many of the known faces you will see on SABC3 will not only be on air talent but they will be producers as well. 

For instance, Khanyi Mbau will be producing 'Weekend Edition', also Siv Ngesi will host and produce host his show, Jou Ma Se Chef. This is a good thing for the industry. the success of the shows these 'celebrities' are part of will also benefit them financial and their long term prospects. 

The Bad ...

Every drastic step in life or business comes with risks. As someone who enjoyed watching Survivor on SABC3, I am disappointed that it is gone and I am not the only — this could jeopardise the channel's bottomline if audiences do not embrace the new changes.

The SABC needs to improve its communication channels with the public and the media. Had the SABC informed the media about the sudden changes prior to sending changed schedules out, none of this hysteria and misinformation would have occurred. 

The perception of arrogance and disregard for the needs and interests of the viewers only prevails when there is no communication between the two parties. 

Hlaudi ...

Say what you will about the SABC COO but you can not accuse him of being a coward. The man knows how to sell his vision and stand by his convictions, much to the dismay of many who are not fans of his bull-in-the-china-shop approach to transformation.

As someone who has always seen himself as an outsider in this industry, I get him. He is not as polished as many would prefer and he somewhat uses his position and bravado to assert his power amongst all these snooty people in the industry. But, it works for him, so what?!

Without Hlaudi's 'just do it, I don't care who's feelings get hurt' attitude towards transformation, we would still be sitting with a situation where four white owned production companies are the only companies benefiting from working with the SABC.

Black entertainers need Hlaudi, because without Hlaudi, we are all just faces on TV and magazines but our white bosses are the ones making money. Young creatives need Hlaudi, without Hlaudi many would never get an opportunity to see any of their ideas or creative work would never see the light of day unless they adhere to couch-casting and all these other unsavoury means to get ahead.


My case is this; we need this change. We have been complaining about our industry not being open enough, not having enough shows, our Awards shows only focusing on same production houses, etc. Now the industry will have 100s of local shows to watch, like, hate, or whatever.

Our industry will get competitive and that can only elevate the game. I am excited about this. Much as Mzansi Magic has been trying, DSTV is expensive and majority of South Africans needed an affordable English medium local content driven channel. SABC3's new programming could be it.

Let's give it a chance. It will be so much fun to be able to have a conversation about shows that we all have access to. 

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