The SABC isn’t dead yet


NPR is kind of the like the SABC of the USA. Wow, lots of acronyms there. Let me re-write: National Public Radio is like the South African Broadcasting Corporation of the Unites States of America. NPR produce some fantastic programming which you can download anywhere in the world via iTunes or simply from their website. Unlike the SABC who think that good radio and TV is to have a panel discussion, NPR come up with interesting ways to keep people interested in news, sport and current affairs.

Your typical SABC current affairs show is to have a presenter in studio, the producer then combs the press releases for the day and calls the respective spokesperson on the phone. Said presenter and guest talk for 3-4 minutes and the issue is done. Not very creative and certainly not very interesting to listen to.

In March of this year, National Public Radio (NPR) revealed that by the end of 2008, 23.6 million peoplewere tuning into its broadcasts each week. In fact, NPR’s ratings have increased steadily since 2000, and they’ve managed to hold on to much of their 2008 election coverage listenership bump (with over 26 million people tuning in each week so far in 2009), unlike many of their mainstream media counterparts.Compared to cable news, where most networks are shedding viewers, and newspapers, where circulation continues to plummet, NPR is starting to look like they have the future of news all figured out. Or at least, they appear to doing a lot better at it than the rest of the traditional media.But what is NPR doing differently that’s causing their listener numbers to swell? They basically have a three-pronged strategy that is helping them not only grow now, but also prepare for the future media landscape where traditional methods of consumption (TV, radio, print) could be greatly marginalized in favor of digital distribution.

So it seems that should the powers that be get their heads out of their asses and actually stop worrying about their retirement, something good might actually come out of the SABC.
Another thing to look at is that NPR supplies news to small radio stations. In South Africa, we need more small radio stations. The big guys in the market at the moment won’t take the SABC’s news because of political slant and its history. Should ICASA stop being so pedantic about handing out licenses, then those smaller stations need a valuable news gathering resource. This is where the SABC can supply programming, news and info.
It’s not brain surgery but it seems like no one is thinking here again.

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