It must be said at the outset that of all the various forms of media modern technology has endowed us with, television is the most voracious beast of them all. The box literally devours content.
And the hungry maw of the box in the corner is inexorably tied to two major sources – money generated from advertising and rising viewership, factors which are joined at the hip.
The decline in the fortunes of the SABC have been traced back to the unilateral decision of a 90% local content rule by the public broadcaster implemented by discredited former chief operating officer Hlaudi Motsoeneng in 2016.
While this was not the only travesty visited on the SABC during what parliamentary hearings have shown to be a singularly toothless and inept board during Motsoeneng’s reign – the news content was skewed and censored as another prime example – viewership began to nosedive and advertising revenues began to haemorrhage at an alarming rate with losses of R411 million reported for the 2015/2016 financial year.
Now it appears that the 90% rule is to be scrapped, effectively meaning the public broadcaster has to start rebuilding its credibility and audience from a base ravaged by the recent past. No easy task for anyone.