Media Monday Bulletin - SABC news lose viewers; Info Bill oral submissions; Red Bull “Jesus” ad

Posted: 19 March 2012 | News - Newsletter | Categories: Policy Submissions, Media Freedom and Performance

Here is what’s on the menu this Media Monday:

·         SABC news’ viewership woes

·         MMA to represent the “media’ sector at POI Bill oral submissions – hmmm...?

·         Red Bull ad ruffles Christian feathers

Why is SABC news losing viewers?

The Sunday Times newspaper reported yesterday that “(t)he SABC has lost over one million viewers across all three channels in the prime-time news slot in the past six months.” The newspaper reported that this was according the audience ratings by the South African Advertising Research Foundation (Saarf). But what can be attributed to these audience losses?

The public broadcaster’s spokesperson, Kaizer Kganyago, said the slight drop in audiences could be attributed to a changing media landscape. Kganyago also indicated that existing players have expanded their channel offerings, thus also tapping into the SABC’s audience strongholds. By this he was referring to the introduction of Mzansi Magic by subscription pay-channel DStv, which he says has introduced low-tier bouquets, competing directly with the SABC.

But media expert, Arthur Goldstuck, Managing Director (MD) of World Wide Worx, felt the decline in audiences was directly linked to poor content, which he said was a result of lack of leadership at the SABC and lack of vision by the broadcaster.

The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) also voiced its opinion on the state of viewership affairs at the SABC. The union said it was “not surprised by these developments as the SABC, particularly its television component has long ceased to be a public broadcaster and turned itself into a self-promotion propaganda instrument for certain factions.” Serious allegations right there, hey? But we can’t quite get deeper into that as we don’t know the basis of their allegations. Perhaps this is something Media Monitoring Africa (MMA) could do some research on to determine whether the allegations are founded or not.

The union also congratulated the million viewers or so who have rejected the public broadcaster’s propaganda and moved to competing free-to-air television channel, Also something that advocates of public broadcasting like The SOS: Support Public Broadcasting Coalition may not like, but hey...

Back to the SABC though, where have its viewers gone? Definitely not to print media as both newspapers and magazines have recorded a decline in readership. So where have they gone to –, radio, or social media maybe? Maybe you can tell us: why are you not watching SABC prime time news anymore? What do you want changed for you to watch SABC news again? Would it help if, for instance, instead of good old news bulletins they have a Morning Live-type of programme in the evening? Would you watch then? SOS: help the public broadcaster get its viewers back! Send us your views, comments and suggestions on Facebook and Twitter...

The chosen 18 to make Info Bill oral submission

The Protection of State Information Bill (aka Info Bill or secrecy bill) continues to be a hotly-contested issue, especially between government and the ruling ANC on one hand, and the media and civil society groups on the other. After being voted on in Parliament the Bill then made its way to the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) to deliberate on. The NCOP decided on a public consultation drive on the Bill, receiving in the process around 293 written submissions. The NCOP ad hoc committee on the Bill will next listen to the final hearings on the Bill in the form of oral presentations expected to start on 27 March 2012.

Eighteen organisations have been shortlisted to make the oral presentations, with only two “media-related” submissions included in the shortlist, thanks to ANC MPs’ insistence. This resulted in the South African Editors’ Forum (Sanef) and MMA being shortlisted to represent the media sector in the oral submission process. Other organisations were excluded because their names contained the words “media” or “press”, such as Print Media SA and Media Institute of SA.

But MMA does not represent the media sector as it is a watchdog NGO that monitors ethical and fair journalism for the advancement of human rights issues. What that means then is that Sanef will be the lone media voice to speak on behalf of the media at the hearings. The ANC reportedly also tried to exclude the Right2Know Campaign from the list of organisations that will make presentations.

The long and short of it is that there will be more hearings on the Information Bill. Haven’t there been enough processes on the Bill already? Isn’t the process being overly prolonged? Some of us are beginning to loose track of what is happening with the Bill and when, and hope that does not ultimately translate into apathy around the Bill. And we also hope this lengthy process is not some sort of a tactic for people to loose interest - or is it? What do you think? Facebook and Tweet us your thoughts...

Red Bull’s “Jesus Walks on Water” ad sparks Christian uproar

Energy drink maker, Red Bull, decided to shake up things a little bit with a campaign that would probably give it wings over the Easter period. Little did they know that the campaign will cause an uproar that would see the South African Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) receive nearly 400 complaints, and calls for the ad to be cancelled by the SA Catholic Bishops’ Conference (SACBC). Or maybe Red Bull knew the campaign would cause the uproar, and went ahead with it intentionally, for a public relations (PR) spin off.

Red Bull eventually succumbed to pressure and was on Thursday reported to have dropped the ad but it goes without saying that the massive PR spin off they received in the space from the ad being aired on Monday evening until the ad was dropped was huge. Was it intentional? Maybe! If it was, bravo to them and the ad agency they used for achieving intended results. But of course, some don’t see it as such, saying that Red Bull may have just put itself on the other side of the line where Christians get mocked, and that Red Bull may not be seen as a company making fun of Jesus, but of Christians for following him.

But one Media Matters team member indicated that the whole thing may have just been an intentional PR stunt as the ad lacked what Red Bull is and has always been about – the wiiings! The ad has the “Red Bull gives you wiiings” line but has no flying or wings in it. Kind of dry, isn’t it? So, that may have been intentional then – move away from the conventional Red Bull way of doing things, cross the line, ruffle a few (read many) feathers, thus be on everyone’s lip metaphorically as many were talking about it on social networks, and eventually be on everyone’s lip literally as the spin off turns into sales. But anyway, we’ll leave it to you to give us your views on the campaign and it being pulled ultimately. Facebook and Tweet us your views and comments...