As a media journalist and marketer, I have been covering and observing the sad SABC story for more than 40 years and that story has had the same dreary, frustrating, horrendously expensive and unsustainable plot year after year.
I cannot remember how many recovery plans the SABC has implemented with great optimism only for them all to end up in the dustbin of despair.
I am by no means surprised that our national broadcorping castration is in shambles again. Unable, once again, to see the wood for the trees. Refusing to learn from history.
This time it’s about insisting that the secret to recovery is getting rid of staff. Which is nothing more than an admission by the board and government that for the umpteenth time in decades, they actually haven’t the foggiest idea about the business of media. And especially the business of media in the modern world.
Trying to give a turnaround strategy momentum by getting rid of employees is wishful thinking, unbusinesslike and strategically superficial.
Yes indeed, the SABC might be overstaffed by global norms and standards and employee wages might well be above average but believing that cutting back on these is even a small part of solving the problem is nothing more than blundering about in the dark. Staff cutbacks will just create the completely mistaken impression that something positive is being done.
Solution is simple
It will achieve nothing more than freeing up a whole lot of money to be sunk back in to a big hole.
The solution is simple. And by no means rocket science.
Right now, the SABC has enormous revenue potential. In both radio and television terms it has the lion’s share of the consumer market. More than half the population of South Africa have no other access to news or entertainment other than through SABC radio and TV channels.
Its African Language Stations (ALS) are a goldmine.
The problem is that the politically correct, cadre-loaded board is simply not skilled enough to understand the basics of revenue generation opportunities available as we head into the third decade of the 21st century.
They still blather on about advertising revenue and licence fees. Two totally obsolete methods of making money.
The SABC board is stuck in the rut of the pre-digital age of commercial breaks and 30-second commercials.
Cutting jobs is ludicrous
Were it not for the fact that advertising agencies and TV production houses are still able to make fortunes out of TV commercials, there wouldn’t be a single ad on TV today simply because it does not make any marketing sense at all. (Except in the case of SABC TV 1 and the continuing penchant for lower economic groups to absorb TV and radio commercials.)
In a nutshell, the SABC board and the echelons of top management need to have the marketing skills and vision to be able to unlock the myriad revenue generation assets that sit, unused, unseen and undiscovered within the massive reserves of wealth potential that exist within the heart of the SABC.
So, what are all those things that the SABC should be doing? I could spend another half a million words talking about them but those would undoubtedly fall on deaf ears. It would need a majority of apolitical, savvy visionaries on the board of the SABC to even begin to unlock the wealth that is there for the taking.
By comparison, the very notion of cutting jobs as part of a solution, is ludicrous.
Chris Moerdyk (@chrismoerdyk ) is a marketing analyst and advisor and owner of Moerdyk Marketing with many years of experience in marketing and the media as well as serving as non-executive director and chairman of companies.
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