SABC on its readiness for 2010 FIFA Soccer World Cup

Sports, Arts and Culture

31 May 2010
Chairperson: Mr B Komphela (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The South African Broadcasting Corporation briefed the Committee on its readiness for the 2010 FIFA World Cup.  The Corporation highlighted its general state of technological readiness, scheduling issues, the overall national role of the Corporation as envisaged with regard to the World Cup, and the perceived broadcasting legacy.  Additionally, the Corporation told Members about branding and marketing techniques to be used before and during the tournament and mentioned its plans to extend the broadcast to rural areas.  The Corporation emphasised that it would broadcast all 64 games of the World Cup live on television and on radio, in all eleven official languages.

Members asked about gender representation on the Corporation’s presenter panel, contingency plans in case of electricity failures, and the role of Radio 2000 in broadcasting the tournament and which languages would be used in the television broadcasts.  A Member was especially concerned about the controversial change of broadcast venue from Nasrec to the Sandton Convention Centre.  Members also asked about inappropriate programmes broadcast close to the time of the tournament and about the showcasing of other African competing nations.

Meeting report

 

South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC). Briefing
Mr Peter Kwele, General Manager: 2010, SABC, said that the SABC saw its overall national role as a broadcaster for total empowerment of South Africa’s citizens.  The SABC achieved this through eighteen radio stations, three television channels and other media platforms such as the internet.  Through its programming, the SABC aimed to restore the SABC’s integrity and public confidence, improve awareness about the World Cup and the history of soccer, and improve knowledge about the South African Football Association, Government investment, South Africa, and Africa’s socio-economic and political profile. The SABC also aimed to increase support for the South African National Team and be recognised as a world class broadcast service that would achieve an increased audience share. 

With specific relation to the 2010 World Cup, the strategic objectives were to create a 2010 broadcast legacy for the SABC by improving the minimum broadcasting standards and technology, ensure that every South African had access to the World Cup through relevant programming on the SABC platforms, create a bond with the listeners by delivering the build-up campaign and tournament matches using all South Africa’s eleven official languages, and champion and reflect the nation’s readiness in the build-up to the 2010 FIFA World Cup and galvanize the nation to support the national team.

The journey of preparing for the World Cup began in 2004 when the SABC conducted a project study of the 2006 World Cup in Germany and began infrastructure development.  In 2009 SABC covered the Confederations Cup as well as the World Cup draw in South Africa and, in the build-up to the tournament in 2010, the SABC promoted public support for African teams and began the final preparations for the tournament.

The programming themes of 2010 reflected a growth in interest in the World Cup.  Specific themes included South African patriotism, encouraging sustaining livelihoods through showcasing job opportunities, the social ills of xenophobia and racism, highlighting preparedness for the World Cup and the heritage of football, the links between spirituality and football and showcasing the rest of Africa.  The need to manage audience flow would be especially important in order not to lose those viewers who were not interested in football.  Besides the 64 live matches, highlights and repeats of the game would be complemented by alternative viewing on channels not screening football.  Radio schedules also reflected a desire to balance extensive coverage of the World Cup with magazine and music shows being aired at the same time as live matches.  All matches would be broadcast live on radio, in all eleven official languages.

As to production objectives, the SABC saw the World Cup as an opportunity to emerge as a broadcaster of world class status by delivering the ultimate broadcast experience for both television and radio listeners.  The production would be centred at the SABCs 2010 FIFA World Cup Sportainment Centre, located at the Sandton Convention Centre.  The reason for selecting this location was the ease of access for VIPs, dignitaries and former players who would be based in the area during the tournament.  The space that would be utilised was 1 800 square metres, which would be large enough for both an indoor and outdoor production.  Pictures of the set design were shown to the Members.

The On Air Talent Strategy of the SABC called for representation from competing countries.  In the light of this, the SABC had hired an impressive line-up of local, international and African presenters and panellists.  The marketing that the SABC had embarked on before the tournament was designed to give the SABC a competitiveness and distinctiveness.  The “FEEL IT…It Is Here!” campaign was very successful in inspiring a positive spirit amongst South Africans and Africans before the tournament.  Images of the SABC branding for the World Cup were shown to the Members.  All the branding centred on the fact that the SABC was broadcasting all the 64 games on three television and eighteen radio stations in eleven languages.

The SABC was instrumental in establishing Public Viewing Areas (PVA) as a meeting place for lovers of the game and thereby reaching out beyond the traditional consumers of football.  This would ensure that every South African had access to the World Cup in a medium and cultural relevance of their choice.  The SABC would be covering 47 PVAs in their live broadcasts and would also contribute to FIFA Fan Fest’s in all the host cities.

The technology plan for the World Cup would involve a requirement to broadcast all the 64 games in analogue and on DSTV and Vivid in Standard Definition (SD).  56 matches would be broadcast on SABC 1. The eight matches that took place at the same time as other matches would be broadcast on SABC 2.  Twelve matches would be presented live from the stadium, eight live from the PVAs and all 64 live from a studio at the SABC Broadcast Centre.  Production would be in High Definition (HD) and then converted to SD for broadcast on analogue, DSTV and Vivid.  Up to four HD Outside Broadcast (OB) vans would be used for the coverage of games from the stadiums and one OB van and one SD Multi-Purpose Unit would be on stand-by for unexpected events and productions.

Discussion
Mr M Dikgacwi (ANC) thanked the SABC for its efforts in getting South Africa ready for the World Cup.  He asked what plans were in place in the case of an electricity fault.

Ms Charlotte Mampane, Acting Chief Operating Officer, SABC, responded that a risk management plan was in place to deal with situations such as that of a power cut.  The SABC had recently had experience of such a case at Orlando Stadium and had dealt effectively with the situation so as not to disrupt the broadcast.  Generators would be on hand to mitigate this specific risk. 

Ms T Sanduza (ANC) said that she was concerned about the issue of broadcasting to the rural areas.  She asked what opportunities existed for the rural communities to view the tournament.

Mr Kwele responded that the Public Viewing Areas would allow for rural communities to follow the World Cup.  In addition, low power transmitters had been installed three years prior to the tournament in order to cater for such rural audiences.

Ms Sanduza asked what Radio 2000 was doing for the tournament.

Mr Mandla Soko, General Manager: Radio, SABC responded that Radio 2000 was owned by the SABC and had been licensed by Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) as a facility broadcaster, which would be used to cover events of national importance.  In this role, Radio 2000 had been designated as the World Cup’s dedicated radio station in South Africa.  After the tournament, Radio 2000 would broadcast events associated with gender issues, religion, the local government elections and any future sporting events.

Ms Sanduza said that there was not enough female gender representation in the studio for the analyses of games.  She said that two women amongst so many men was not a satisfactory state of affairs.

Mr Kwele responded that there were very few women who the SABC felt could analyse the game to an international standard.  The SABC would certainly try to use the World Cup to increase female interest in the game and improve the skills of female presenters.

Ms Sanduza asked why the television commentary would be conducted in only four languages.

Mr T Lee (DA) agreed with Ms Sunduza and said that every language must be treated equally.  He also asked why only four languages were being represented in the television broadcasts.

Ms Mampane responded that the SABC had only three television channels and that a simulcast on radio in all eleven official languages was the best approach to catering for all official languages.

Mr Kwele added that members of the public could still listen to their language of choice by tuning in to their radio station of choice.  Radio commentators would reflect all eleven official languages.

Mr Lee asked why 56 games would be broadcast on SABC 1 and eight on SABC 2.

Mr Kwele responded that a game would be broadcast on SABC 2 when there was another game at the same time on SABC 1. This would ensure that both games could be screened live.

Mr G Mackenzie (COPE) said that it had come to his party’s attention in April that the Nasrec Centre was originally designated to be the SABC broadcast centre.  The Sandton Convention Centre was charging R26 million as opposed to a much cheaper price quoted by Nasrec Centre.  He asked how the SABC accounted for this.

Mr Kwele responded that the arrangement with Nasrec had been made around the time of the Confederations Cup.  The lesson learnt from broadcasting this tournament was that a less sterile environment was needed from which to broadcast live.  In light of this, the SABC decided that the Sandton Convention Centre was the most appropriate place from which to broadcast.  The SABC had hired the venue from the World Legacy Group with which they had negotiated a rent-for-advertising deal.  This deal would allow the SABC to hire the venue in return for R14 million worth of advertising for the Group.

Mr Mackenzie asked what was being done to create a broadcasting legacy that would remain after the World Cup.

Mr Soko responded that international assistance had been sought to develop the capacity to broadcast such a high-level event.  This assistance would be present during the tournament but only until the quarter final stage.  At this time, the SABC would utilise local trained personnel to operate the broadcast.

Mr Mackenzie asked whether the SABC television channels would be highlighting places that might be of interest to visitors in South Africa and telephone numbers that foreigners could use in case of emergency.

Mr Soko responded that tourist areas in South Africa would indeed be promoted and that an emergency assistance snippet would be aired on both television and radio that would provide assistance for foreign travellers.

Mr J McGluwa (ID) said that he objected to watching documentaries about right wing politicians in an inappropriate time just before the World Cup.  He asked how these programmes were allowed to be broadcast.

Ms Mampane apologized for the inappropriate and inopportune broadcast of the documentary in question.  An investigation was taking place detailing how the documentary was allowed to be aired.

The Chairperson said that the SABC had done an incredible amount to illustrate South Africa’s readiness for the World Cup.  This was greatly appreciated by the people.  He asked how the SABC had gone about promoting the other competing African teams.

Mr Kwele responded that all African countries that would be competing had been showcased and that, in the case of South Africa being eliminated, attention would be focused on these African teams.

The Chairperson thanked the SABC for their insightful presentation and said that he was looking forward to watching a professional broadcast.

The meeting was adjourned.

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