SABC attacks MMA over research findings

2012-09-07 09:30 Cape Town – The SABC has gone on the defensive and has launched an attack on Media Monitoring Africa's (MMA) report findings.

The SABC said that it finds it "disappointing that the organisation chose to make public findings that are based on dubious methodological methods that were conducted in isolation".

The SABC said the MMA's only intention with the research study was "simply to grandstand the SABC".

The MMA's research found that the SABC is awash in repeats, soap operas and not meeting its language mandates.

The MMA decided to analyse the SABC's schedules between April to mid-May and watched all of the news bulletins after which it compiled the scathing research findings indicating that over 20% of the SABC's programming are repeats, with soap operas dominating and the quality of news and language diversity suffering.

"There is no basis for the criteria assumed by MMA in assessing the corporation's performance," said the SABC in a press statement.

"The SABC operates within the ambit of licence conditions, regulations and legislation wherein the criteria is fully set for assessing the SABC's performance," said the public broadcaster.

Research was self-serving

The SABC said the research conducted by MMA "was self-serving and never sought to test the SABC's performance against the regulatory requirements set by the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa) - the only authority and legitimate body with genuine power to assess the performance of the broadcaster".

The SABC said the broadcaster has implemented an intensive turnaround strategy to ensure the organisation's sustainability in the future.

"The report claims to be assessing quality and diversity of content, but failed to provide authentic and researched criteria that has been benchmarked against any source of authority. The criteria utilised remains MMA's opinion of what should go into news or content schedules," says the SABC.

"The most interesting part is that the MMA did not consult with the SABC as a subject of the research and also did not consult or do any audience survey," says the SABC.

[The MMA in its research finding however note that it did try, but was unsuccessful in obtaining final control centre (FCC) sheets from the SABC.]


According to the MMA research, although English is only spoken as a first language by 8% of the population and the SABC is required to broadcast in all official languages, English dominates in SABC programming (76%).

A massive 65% of all locally produced content broadcast by the SABC is in English. The next biggest languages trailing far behind are Afrikaans at only 6% and Zulu (5%), Xhosa, Sotho and Tshivenda (3%).

According to the MMA research, SABC1 uses 28% of its broadcasting time for repeat programming, SABC2 uses 21% of its airtime for repeats and SABC3 allocates 15% of its broadcasting time for repeats.

Furthermore only 41% of the content on SABC3 is local. That means that almost a quarter - 21% of all broadcasting time on the SABC - is devoted to rebroadcasts.

Public forum

The SABC said "the methodology applied in determining percentages on genres and languages is flawed and has no basis in the license conditions or regulations".

The MMA invited the SABC to the public forum held on 31 August where the research findings were announced, but the SABC declined.

"Given that prior consultation with the SABC on matters raised in a public forum did not take place, the SABC felt it could not participate in the forum to discuss the findings of the report as requested by the MMA," said the SABC.

"It is clear from our review of the document that the intention was simply to grandstand the SABC.

"It is of grave concern that MMA, which is supposedly an industry leader in its field, despite acknowledging its own limitations in the research, continued to make the report public."