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SABC looks to BBC, CNN as inspiration

Dispatch

JOHANNESBURG — The South African Broadcasting Corp. has launched a multimillion-rand advertising campaign to woo viewers, as it prepares to divide into commercial and public arms by year’s end.

“A strong national broadcaster forms the backbone of a country’s media,” said SABC group sales and marketing director Mark Jakins. “We want the SABC to become to the South African public what CNN is for Americans and the BBC to the British.”

It kicked off the “Your SABC” campaign Aug. 8 with two-minute commercials screened simultaneously on all three of its channels during primetime.

“The message we want to convey is that the SABC belongs to everyone,” he said. “We accept that we are no longer in a monopolistic position and that we have to focus on consolidating our market share.”

Jakins would not disclose the cost of the campaign, but conceded it was “substantial.” The production bill alone stands at $800,000.

He said threats to the broadcaster included the growth of regional and independent radio stations, independent TV station e.tv and “ridicule, criticism and speculation in South African tabloids.”