The SABC has seen its fair share of tumultuous times over the past 30 years, from the heydays of financial abundance, to government bailouts and mass retrenchments. From 80% local content to refusing to broadcast protests.
The folks at Auckland Park can be believed when they say they have really seen it all.
The one thing we have seen through all the chaos, is that the SABC continues to be an important platform for marketers who want to talk to the majority of South Africans. Most of our citizens don’t care about the liquidity of the SABC, or their most recent ad-sales performance. They are more concerned that they will be able to watch Generations tonight at 8pm or tune into Ukhozi FM and hear Nongcebo during their morning commute.
And here is where the SABC has continued to deliver.
The audiences that the SABC delivers are significant, which makes it a CRITICAL partner to the marketing and media industry.
The advertising and marketing industry, for all its digital transformation is still massively reliant on ‘the Corp’. A quick look at advertising spend measures like Ad-Whizz (AdDynamics) shows the SABC is one of the biggest revenue generators. The income that the SABC alone produces is arguably bigger than the total print, OOH and cinema industry combined.
From an audience perspective – looking at the top 10 Radio stations in South Africa – eight of the top 10 are SABC stations. Ratings are one-way traffic. Top 10 ratings against most audiences will be dominated by the SABC.
So the platform continues to deliver.
As an industry, one could argue, that the SABC is a media owner that we all NEED to do well. When the SABC does well, we reach our objectives, our clients make money, and we move forward. When the SABC falters, the knock-on effect is huge.
As an industry, we need to agree that it is in all our best interest to ensure that the business prospers, but for the SABC to prosper, they need our support.
How do we do this?
As an industry we need to continue to engage with the hierarchy at the SABC. They are going through a tough time at the moment, but Madoda Mxakwe and the management team believe they are steering the business to more sustainable and profitable waters while making their way through the COVID storm (like the rest of us). We have found them to be very open to engaging, always having a willing ear to hear us. Let’s work with them on building their business. We are inadvertently all shareholders of the business.
Patience through the storm
This is a tough one, but let’s try and keep working with the team as they adjust. Most recently – there were a large number of retrenchments, and consolidation of their units. They are moving to becoming a “hybrid sales team” that will sell across Television, Radio and in the longer term will include all their powerful digital assets. Let’s support the SABC in this with whatever training, insight and feedback we can.
But why should we, you might ask?
Here is the reality! Once the SABC has turned the corner financially, it becomes less of a tax burden on the total fiscus. This is a good thing. With some right sizing measures in place, hopefully the ship will be set to sail into a profitable future.
In the meanwhile, know that tens of millions of our country men tune into their TV and Radio stations every single day. The SABC is the only source of news, entertainment and education for so many people. I remember growing up as a child and the influence that William Smith had explaining complicated math problems to thousands of students still sits with me today and it was on SABC TV.
Surely it would be a good thing for all South Africans to have the opportunity to watch all sport live and for free? Well, with a right sized, profitable SABC, this can become a reality. It can only contribute to more national pride and unity – which our country so desperately needs.
To quote King Henry V – “Once more unto the breach” my fellow countrymen. A strong, healthy, profitable, well run SABC is good for us all.
Let’s jump in and get it done.
Richard Lord is media and operations director at Meta Media, South Africa’s newest media agency, and part of the IPG global network. At Meta Media we don’t just look at the numbers, we dig deeper, we look for the story behind the story. We find the “so what” to give our clients the edge, to provide real solutions based on real insights. We are real, we are authentic. We are curious.
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