A general view of the South African Broadcast Cooperation (SABC) Head Office in JHB.
- The SABC is gearing up to announce its video streaming service before the end of the year.
- The public broadcaster held the SABC 2022 Summer Content Showcase in Fourways, Johannesburg, earlier this week.
- Executives said the SABC is trying to simplify how it interacts with production companies regarding content proposals and commissioning.
The SABC has been losing the race against video streaming services. It is apologising for being “slow-moving” and promises to update its commissioning operations radically and speed up the process of dealing with local content proposals. All this as it gets ready to announce its SABC+ video streaming service before the end of this year.
SABC executives who went on a promotional roadshow across the country the past month, on Wednesday held court at Langham Estate in Fourways, Johannesburg, at a SABC 2022 Summer Content Showcase.
Merlin Naicker, head of SABC video entertainment, said the public broadcaster is restructuring to “gear ourselves up for the future” with the SABC’s new “e-commissioning portal” that was launched two weeks ago.
“You no longer have to submit seven written copies of your proposal to the SABC. You log on to the website. We’ve put the commissioning button on the homepage. You click on that button, register, and then you’ll start to receive information from us as we issue briefs out to the industry going forward,” Naicker said.
Naicker said the 85-year-old organisation has an “ambitious task” to become “faster, more agile”.
The SABC, currently with no appointed board, now wants to respond to content proposals it has received within 21 days as it battles the likes of pay-TV channels and the influx of streamers all courting local producers and spending millions on crafting local content.
“We are gearing up to respond to you as content creators within 21 days as to whether we’re going to proceed with the concept that you’ve submitted to us. Then we’re also gearing up for OTT. At this stage can’t say too much, but we’ll be announcing a couple of things before the end of the year.”
Naicker said the SABC is about to do away with its so-called “unsolicited window”, meaning that production companies will now be able to pitch content proposals to the broadcaster all year round.
“You will now be able to bring ideas to the SABC pretty much 365 days of the year. So there’s no window anymore. As soon as you’ve got a good concept, you can log on to the website and submit that to us for review.”
Lala Tuku, SABC head of local productions, said that “in terms of the SABC being left behind”, the broadcaster has “had to wake up to what’s happening around us, even in terms of our acquisition of content”.
“We are changing the way that we are encouraging producers to work with SABC. You can come in; we can co-produce together; we encourage producers to find partners; we look at presales,” she said.
Tuku, who recently joined the SABC from Clive Morris Productions, said, “In my previous life, I was a producer, and so I really can come into the SABC, understanding some of the frustrations that industry has had”.
“It’s really up to us to see, in terms of being agile, what does that mean and how do we make the SABC attractive for producers to work with? How do we quickly make sure that we can be attractive looking at those processes, making sure we’re not boxing people in terms of content?”
“We had a roadshow that was opened recently,” Tuku said. “We were descriptive in terms of what we’re looking for, but we called it an ‘open brief’, meaning the producer could come forward and say, ‘This is the content that I’m thinking of”. So it wasn’t an RFP where we then are prescriptive of where it would sit, the timeslot and so forth.”
“We’re really looking forward to producers engaging with us robustly and going, ‘This is how we want to respond to the market and to the audience’ because the content consumption patterns have definitely changed. While we were left behind, here we are.”
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