Media Tuesday Bulletin: SABC’s hour-long news; Universal Channel error; And, Varsity News survey

Posted: 9 April 2013 | News - Newsletter | Categories: Race, Xenophobia and Ethnicity, Media Freedom and Performance

And here’s what we have this Media Tuesday:

  • SABC’s hour-long news: yay or nay?
  • Did The Universal Channel really make a mistake?
  • The Varsity News survey that sparked a social media row

What do you make of SABC 3’s new 60 minutes news?

The month of April every year usually signals the time for some major shake-ups in the broadcasting media industry, in April 2013 proved to be no different. Pick of the changes was the announcement by the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) of changes to, among others, its flagship news bulletin.

The SABC announced that it’s News @ 7 bulletin on SABC 3 would lose its name and move to the 18:30 timeslot, and would, most importantly, expand from a 30-minute to a 60-minute bulletin on weekdays. According to Television Audience Measurement Survey Ratingspublished by the South African Audience Research Foundation , the SABC 3 News @ 7 competitor’s eNews Prime averaged two times more than News @ 7 in terms of audiences. Thus, the SABC’s move could be seen as an attempt to woo viewers back.

However, the SABC said that the decision was taken in response to their viewers who felt that the broadcaster’s tv news broadcasts were short, and also in order to allow more opportunity to give coverage to stories from respective provinces.

News about the SABC’s future plans about its flagship news bulletin was met with mixed reactions on our Facebook post last month. Fast-forward to today, the new format SABC 3 news bulletin has gone for a full week, having started on Monday, 1 April, and is into its second week.

And now that the new format has been unveiled and you had the chance to watch and see how it looks like, what is your impression of it so far? Have you been watching it? Does the new format work for you? What do you like or dislike about it, and why? Do you have any suggestions and tips on how it could be improved?

Send us your comments on Facebook and Twitter and tell us what you think.

The Universal Channel’s Mandela obituary: was it really an “error”?

You probably heard the news about former South African President Nelson Mandela being admitted to hospital due to a lung infection at the end of last month. You probably also noticed the media attention the former statesman’s hospital admission created, right? It’s also very likely that you heard that Madiba has since been released from hospital on April 6 ending his nine-day hospitalisation.

You must have also heard about what we would like to pick up on, regarding uTata’s hospitalisation. Yes, the infamous “technical error” that one broadcaster committed, resulting in the airing of Madiba’s obituary.

We are talking about The Universal Channel on subscription pay-television platform DStv, which aired a mini obituary, titled Remembering Madiba 1918 – 2013, at least twice on Tuesday 2 April 2013. This is said to have caused some panic as it suggested that Madiba had passed on. The channel has since apologised for broadcasting the obituary, saying it was due to a technical error.

Technical errors do happen (like the SABC neglecting to turn up the volume on the translations during the Brics summit), but do you believe this was a “genuine” error on the part of The Universal Channel’s instance? Do you take the channel’s apology and feel that it is a genuine apology?

The channel also indicated in its apology that it holds obituaries ready for every major statesman in the world just as other international broadcasters do. What is your view on this practice from a media ethics perspective and from a moral perspective?

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The Varsity News race poll that caused a storm (in a tea cup)

The University of Cape Town (UCT)’s student newspaper, Varsity News became the centre of a race row last week when it published an opinion piece about love and race. The piece titled “Is Love Colour Blind?”, explored interracial dating and surveyed 60 students, 10 each from White, Coloured, Indian, East Asian, “Mixed” (biracial), and Black racial groups.

A pie-chart accompanying the piece, titled “UCT votes on the most attractive race”, surmised that 38 percent of students apparently thought whites were the most “attractive” race, followed by coloureds, and Indians.

The campus title has since apologised for the piece and the accompanying chart following social media outrage. The piece had also attracted criticism from the Young Communist League , which  even lodged a complaint with the Human Rights Commission. UCT’s Student Representative Council and the ruling African National Congress (ANC) also criticised the article as offensive.

However, the South African Institute of Race Relations (SAIRR) saw the positive in  publishing the survey results, saying that it provided an insight into a real issue. SAIRR even went to the extent of criticising the varsity publication for apologising for it.

Given these varied views on the issue, we would love to know what your thoughts are on the survey. What was wrong with the article or the survey, which caused the outrage? Was it that the survey touched on the sensitive issue of race or was it the way the survey was carried out? Was much of the outrage about the newspaper publishing the survey, or on the subject matter? Was the newspaper wrong to publish the article? Was it right to apologise for publishing the article? Why should the newspaper not have published it?

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