The television landscape in South Africa was revolutionised in 2004 when ICASA enabled the long-awaited arrival of small-scale, locally-based television stations. Today these community broadcasters have a cumulative reach of over 14 million views per month.
After ICASA had brought out its enabling legislation in 2004, a group of NGOs active in the media sector got together in Cape Town to mobilise resources to set up a local community TV station. Their initiative resulted in the establishment of Cape Town TV, which was then branded on air as CTV.
The organisation was formally launched in 2006 and began broadcasting in 2008, so next year will be its tenth year on air. This anniversary will be marked with a re-branding of the channel as Cape Town TV, as a means to strengthen its identity as a metropolitan station which reflects the concerns of Capetonians.
“Cape Town TV is often compared to commercial TV channels but we offer a completely different value proposition. The mandate for community TV stations is to support social development, including aspects such as democracy, human rights and freedom of expression. Training is another aspect of the station’s activities and every year we train around 50 previously unemployed youth in television production skills,” says station director, Karen Thorne.
“Over the past decade Cape Town TV has built up a loyal audience who see the value of these socially-oriented objectives as a differentiator to mainstream television with its emphasis on entertainment. Our audience values the contribution that Cape Town TV makes to improving their lives through the delivery of relevant information as well as providing a platform for the people of Cape Town to address the issues that concern them.”
Reaching the people of the Western Cape
Cape Town TV is the only TV channel which directly addresses the people of the Western Cape. Headquartered in the trendy and cosmopolitan suburb of Observatory, the channel has two functional television studios which produce talk shows and a daily news service. It also has an OB van to cover external events and ENG crews who go out to cover events in the field.
For businesses wishing to reach the local Cape Town market or those further afield who are interested in what’s happening in the city, Cape Town TV offers very cost-effective advertising packages as well as production facilities to make low-budget ads.
“We have disproved the myth that television advertising is too expensive for SMMEs. Television is a highly effective advertising medium because of its audio-visual nature and we offer ad packages that compete very favourably with other media reaching our audience. Furthermore our audience participation mechanisms ensure that members of the public are able to shape and create media for themselves,” says channel head of sales, Erinn Williams.
One of the inhibiting factors for adspend on the channel has been the issue of getting accurate audience figures. Williams explains that although base data is available from Nielsen TAMS and AMPS, some community TV channels don’t show up on software such as Arianna and Telmar because they don’t pay for the grabber service. Cape Town TV has only recently been able to address this issue and have grabbers installed at Nielsen, but accurate figures will only be available from August this year.
Still, according to the available TAMS data, the channel has a predominantly African audience of around 74%, followed by coloured, then white and Indian. The audience profile is somewhat older, 25+ to the over-50s, clustered in the LSM6-9 sectors with strong showings in the adult medium income bracket (R2 500 – R7 999) and adult high income (R8 000+).
The channel naturally has a strong presence in the Western Cape, but its DStv reach also gives it large audiences in Gauteng and KZN. Monthly views have remained fairly constant over the past six months at around 2.5 to 2.8 million per month, with a high in April of 2 927 022.
Cape Town TV has an attractive mix of programming that keeps audiences coming back for more. The channel has a popular documentary strand which runs in the evenings after 9pm, as well as its in-house youth and music shows. Content is also created by more than 20 local independent producers who make shows around sports, entertainment, culture, cooking, Cape lifestyles, social issues and religion.
Quality international content is also on offer, from the highly informative Al Jazeera English international news to TED Talks, classic movies, and regular factual and actuality shows.
Says Williams, “As we enter our tenth year on air we have better viewership data, a proven track record and a strong emotional connection with our Cape community. As a non-profit organisation dedicated to social upliftment Cape Town TV offers a sound platform for CSI spend that will be of direct benefit to people in our information-intensive society.
“Television in Cape Town is alive and well and we look forward to a bright future as we prepare to enter our tenth year of operations.”
Mike Aldridge is the Broadcast Manager at Cape Town TV.