The SABC discusses ‘tough decisions’ and forthcoming initiatives

Following the axing of 7de Laan on SABC 2, the South African public broadcaster has announced that more shows will be facing cancellation. According to Lala Tuku, head of programming for video entertainment at the SABC, SABC is examining their whole TV lineup across SABC 1, SABC 2, and SABC 3. The SABC acknowledges that it is now concentrating on producing smaller programmes with reduced production costs due to revenue and budget constraints.

The long-running Afrikaans show 7de Laan has been cancelled, and the national broadcaster announced last week that it will air its final episode on December 26 after 24 seasons. As the broadcaster struggles to raise viewership, the SABC now claims that no programmes are safe, and more cancellations are expected to follow.

7de Laan was the most watched Afrikaans television programme in South Africa, yet it’s facing termination. It was the second most watched programme on SABC 2 in June, with 1 191 198 viewers tuning in. With 1.43 million people, it barely outperforms the long-running Venda soap Muvhango in terms of audience.

When asked if other SABC 2 programmes would be cancelled, Tuku responded, “Absolutely.”

“We’re busy with a new strategy for the channel. We’re investigating viewership patterns, reviewing old programmes, and the landscape is changing. To remain competitive, we need to make decisions which are [both] popular and less popular”, Tuku stated.

“Yes, but we have to remain globally competitive and maintain a high standard. The production cost is, however, very high, and the viewership figures influence advertisers”.

Tuku claims that the removal of programmes is related to the broadcaster’s imminent declaration of yet another yearly financial shortfall that will be greater than R1 billion.

“I wish more South Africans would watch the SABC so that we can produce more local content. Advertising income is our revenue. That’s why difficult decisions are now being made. 7de Laan is one of them.”

Tuku points out that popular programmes with widespread appeal and strong brand recognition, such as Pasella and Top Billing, have also been previously terminated. “I’m currently working to try and revive some of these programmes, like Isidingo, and that makes me excited”, Tuku said.

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