AFTER the popularity of the temporarily suspended SABC 1 soapie Generations, the little known Skeem Saam was put on the prime time 8pm slot to allow the production of something but after almost four weeks the soapie has hit accumulated millions of viewers giving the public broadcaster headaches on what will happen to their original plan of flighting Generations at the beginning of December.
â€œWhen it was on the 6: 30 pm slot it was watched by about 3,5 million people we were getting about and the question on everybodyâ€™s mind is what in the one week it was watched by more than 7,7 million people and the question people are asking all the time is what are we going to do about it. Is Generations going to be left there or allocated another slot versus Skeem Saam going and the answer I always give them is lets cross the bridge when it comes,â€ says SABCâ€™s Kaizer Group Communications general manager Kaizer Kganyago, adding that that the change is going to be the biggest thing that will be happening at the public broadcaster over the festive season.
â€œGenerations, which has been running on SABC 1 for the past 20 years, has an audience rating was 23, and then Skeem Skaam were expecting to go to 18 but in the first week it went to 21, so you can see the difference is only 2 which shows that the two are almost in the same league and for us this is something that has become a little bit problematic,â€ adds Kganyago with a rueful smile.
Kganyago adds that both soapies have a good story line but that the 8pm prime time slot as a significant bearing on its popularity.
â€œ Now people are clamouring to advertise around Skeem Saam because it has a good slot and a good story line and its going to be a big problem,â€ says Kganyago that if Generations were put at midnight during the graveyard slot, maybe not so many people would watch it.
Generations, which has been running for the past 20 years, stopped showing after 16 actors were fired afterÂ a payment dispute with their production company.
But whatever the slot the new Generations will be put it, it is something that a lot of viewers are curios about and Kganyago is still confident that they will keep the viewers.
â€œI canâ€™t say much about the new storyline as the production company is keeping everything close to their chest but we expect that they will come out with something that will keep the viewership levels high.â€
â€œEverybody is waiting eagerly to be able to compare whether its going to be worth it or not because of the controversy and its up to the production houses to come up with something really good, and I am sure they will be able to come up with something maybe even better.â€
â€œWe are also waiting eagerly and we need to judge whether its something that is worth it and can compete with Skeem Saam,â€ saying he is not bothered by reports that the fired actors want to come up with their own show.
â€œThis is a free country as you know but we cannot dictate to the production company what we want is for them to put up a quality production so we can get revenue from the money we have invested.â€
SABC, which reaches about 27 million people a day is also investing more into producing more local content.
Kyanyago says the public broadcaster says its shifting its focus on producing local content in its bit to promote SAâ€™s local cultures, and has increased its budget by R100 million in the previous financial year.
â€œWe are not only talking about soapies but we have consumer programs, programs like Khumbula Ekhaya, which is quite popular and as much as they are entertaining they are also informative, which speaks to our mandate, as public broadcaster.â€
â€œWe are going to be increasing our budget every year, on local content, though itâ€™s a little bit expensive to generate local content but we do it,â€ says Kyanyago adding that this applies to African programming too.
â€œSABC is very aware that this country has people from other countries and we are doing our best incorporate them even in the programmes we have, â€œ adds Kyango when asked about the growing number of shows that have people sometimes speaking in Shona like Ihawu, (on Thursday evenings), which features Zimbabwean born actor Leroy Gopal.
Meanwhile SABC says programming will remain the same during the Christmas period especially on TV, while radio is going to focus more on entertainments and less on the news aspect. As part of its public service, SABC will open a telephone line for students to phone in and get their results.
â€œSometimes you find that people are away during the festive season and cannot physically go their school. lets say you are in Zimbabwe and who is attending school here and at the time you donâ€™t have access a newspaper but you can Â contact the SABC online or through the phone,â€ he explains adding that details of specific programs will be released nearer to the festive season.