The South African Broadcasting Company (SABC) is a government owned television and radio broadcasting company in South Africa.
The enterprise, which has been around for quite a bit, was first founded in 1936.
The company’s radio division was first launched in 1936, while the television division launched in 1976.
SABC is currently available in Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland and Zimbabwe.
The company currently has two slogans. The first being – This is your SABC; and the second is – ‘Vuka Sizwe!’ which means Nation Arise.
The current Chief Executive Officer of the company is Solly Mokoetle while Ben Ngubane is the Chairman.
It currently has 19 radio stations and 4 television channels.
Like many companies, it has met many criticisms during its tenure.
One of the most prominent criticisms against the network is its pro ANC stance.
The network has been accused for acting as a mouth piece for the African National Congress.
This was glaring in 2014, prior to the 2014 elections when the network refused to air the campaign advertisements of the political parties opposing ANC.
In 2005, the network has had to defend itself from similar accusations when it did not broadcast coverage of the Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, the then deputy president, being booed off stage by members of ANC Youth League in their attempt to show solidarity with the then recently removed deputy president – Jacob Zuma.
e.tv, a rival broadcasting company, was responsible for calling SABC out for its ‘biased reporting.
The network retorted by stating they had no footage of the embarrassment of the deputy president because their camera man was not present at the time of the episode.
However, eTV released a footage showing the SABC cameraman filming the occurrence.
This is just few of many such instances.
These valid criticisms roared up again in 2015, after the annual State of The Nation Address when the network refused to show video clips that depicted President Zuma (and the African National Congress by extension) in a negative light.
Criticisms of the network pandering for the ruling party are not issues that were born recently.
Many of these complaints have been lodged as far back as 1948 when the ‘National Party’ was in power.
However, it is important to remember that the broadcasting company is state owned and as a result, it is controlled by the state and the ruling party.
The South African Broadcasting Company is now a staple in South African media with its radio stations, its TV channels (SABC 1, SABC 2, SABC 3, etc) and SABC news headlines standing out from their counterparts.
It was in 1923 that radio broadcasting began in South Africa with the backing of South African Railways. Three stations were created – the Durban Corporation, Cape Town’s Cape Peninsular Publicity Association and Johannesburg’s Association of Scientific and Technical Societies.
In 1927, these three were later merged to become the African Broadcasting company.
The African Broadcasting company was owned by a business man – I. W. Schlesinger up until 1936.
In 1936, SABC was created by an act of parliament and the African Broadcasting Corporation was sold to SABC. Thereby, establishing the corporation we are familiar with today.
Until Radio 702’s launch in 1980, SABC had a total monopoly on radio as it did with television from its debut until e.TV’s launch in 1998.
The network remained a radio service until it launched its first television channel in 1976.
When the television division first aired, it broadcasted only in Afrikaans and English. Soap Operas like ‘The Villagers’ were met with positive reception while shows like the ‘The Dingleys’ had a less than enthusiastic welcome.
Majority of the shows on the television channel (at the time) were from the United States; but due to apartheid, many production companies stopped trading with South Africa.
The network’s television division also produced grand end extravagant musical shows that featured the most prominent and popular South African musicians, bands, composers and orchestras.
The TV division was also applauded for the innovation found in the children oriented programming.
The launch of M-Net, a subscription based service, served as a challenge to SABC’s then monopoly of TV.
Later with the launch of e.tv, the network’s dominance was significantly fractured, prompting SABC to reorganize its programming and TV schedule.
This led to the development of channels like SABC 1, SABC 2, SABC 3.
The television division has over 30 million viewers while radio division has more 25 million listeners every week across its 18 stations.
SABC 1 has succeeded in reaching 89% of the population; SABC 2 has access to 91% of the population while SABC 3 only reaches 77% of the population (which is still pretty impressive).
Thanks to SABC’s popularity, it has now played a part in launching the careers of some of the biggest celebrities in South Africa today.