The South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) is exploring yet another avenue to secure funding for the State-owned broadcaster. The TV license might be on the way out (taking a raft of debt with it) but there’s still advertising revenue. The only thing about that? The SABC isn’t getting enough of it, in the SABC’s opinion.
What’s the answer to that? Better programming? Investing in improving services to end-users? Clawing back some of the money wasted on clueless executives? Of course not. The State-owned broadcaster is asking ICASA to put a cap on how much advertising paid-for broadcasters can accept.
Salvation for the SABC?
ICASA recently invited comments from stakeholders, like our government broadcaster, as well as Multichoice (DStv) and eMedia (eTV), and smaller entities. The document up for discussion is the Independent Broadcasting Authority (Advertising, Infomercials and Programme Sponsorship) Regulations 1999, which governs advertising and sponsorship on media platforms in South Africa. There was, of course, a considerable amount of looking out for oneself in the responses.
The SABC has a very specific amendment in mind when it comes to rules governing television advertising in South Africa. The entity has written it and everything. The underlined sections are the proposed changes, which would permit ICASA to “…develop regulations to ensure that it [the SABC] remains financially sustainable.”
“Subscription broadcasting services may draw their revenues from subscriptions, advertising and sponsorships, however, with respect to any one subscription broadcasting service, in no event may advertising or sponsorship, or a combination thereof, be the [largest source of annual revenue.] more than 25% of the total television advertising revenue in the Republic or such lesser percentage as may be prescribed by the Authority. The Authority shall also prescribe detailed requirements for compliance with such regulations and the monitoring thereof.”
The State-owned broadcaster appears to be taking chances, however. ICASA found that “…this Inquiry process is focused on section 55 of the ECA, which is about scheduling of advertising infomercial and programme sponsorship. Section 60 (4) of the ECA falls outside the scope of this Inquiry.”
But eMedia, they of eTV fame, also has objections to Multichoice’s dominance in the advertising sphere. Media Monitoring Africa (MMA) suggests the creation of a Media Sustainability Fund in South Africa. And Multichoice itself has a few issues it’s concerned with.
The satellite broadcaster blames competition from “…unregulated on-demand services, loss of advertising revenue to online advertisers and tough economic and operating conditions” following COVID for issues that it is experiencing.
Are you going to get fewer ads on DStv, though? Probably not. ICASA has a new set of draft regulations pending, but the SABC probably isn’t going to get its wish. Not on this point, anyway.
“The Authority’s position is that the Advertising Regulations are drafted in such a manner that they strike a balance between the broadcasters’ financial revenue while protecting consumers.”