The SABC on Thursday rubbished claims it is preparing to “dump” almost all its Afrikaans language shows on SABC2 and move the language’s programming to SABC3.
This was after a blog titled “TV with Thinus”, reportedly written by a Thinus Ferreira, was published on Thursday claiming that Afrikaans was getting marginalised as a language on the SABC’s television stations.
“The Cape Town-based self-proclaimed TV critic Mr Thinus Ferreira’s article is questionable and is perceived by the SABC as a move to cause confusion and to some extent instigate racial and linguistic divisions,” spokesman Kaizer Kganyago said in a statement.
He said the broadcaster had not marginalised any language and would not do so in future. The SABC prescribed to the Broadcasting Act to ensure all languages were treated equally.
In the article, Ferreira states the decision to drop the shows was due to a TV programming language battle which had “become unsustainable” for SABC 2.
He said the broadcaster would permanently move its only daily Afrikaans TV news bulletin, Nuus om 7, from SABC2 to SABC3 once the World Cup coverage was concluded.
“It will also be the first time in 38 years that there won’t be any Afrikaans TV drama on SABC2 (the former TV1) since television began in South Africa in 1976,” the article read.
Kganyago said the broadcaster had revealed on 29 May how programming would be affected due to the World Cup.
“The Xitsonga, siSwati, isiNdebele, and Venda news have also been moved from SABC2, and there is no mention of this in Ferreira’s article.
“We strongly believe that all South Africans are equally important, and therefore Mr Ferreira’s statement saying Nuus om 7 became a ‘hurdle’ for SABC 2 is inappropriate and uncalled for.”
Kganyago said two of the SABC’s most watched shows, Leihlo la Sechaba and Generations, had also been moved due to the soccer tournament.
“This week, the most watched current affairs programme on SABC 2, Leihlo la Sechaba, will not be playing and it is rather disturbing that Mr Ferreira singles out only the Afrikaans programmes.
“One of our flagship programmes, Generations, has been moved to SABC 2 from SABC 1. If Ferreira’s argument was anything to go by we would have seen and recorded millions of complaints from Generations viewership,” Kganyago said.
He was puzzled why programming was an issue only when the Afrikaans shows were affected.
Democratic Alliance MP Gavin Davis said he had asked that the chairman of the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa) investigate the dropping of TV news bulletins during the World Cup.
He said the Tsonga/Venda, Siswati/Ndebele and Afrikaans news bulletins were reportedly bumped off the SABC this week to make way for the double-header group games being played at the time the news usually aired.
“The dumping of these news bulletins would appear to be in contravention of the SABC’s charter, its editorial policies, and its code of practice. The South African public has a right to stay informed about current affairs, in the official language of their choosing. The World Cup should not be allowed to deprive people of that right,” Davis said. — Sapa