A confidential market research survey has found that South Africans
think the South African Broadcasting Corporation treats government
officials with kid gloves and tends “to cover up” government’s
wrongdoings, writes Adriaan Basson in the Mail&Guardian.

The Mail & Guardian has a copy of a report, titled Qualitative Overview of Current Affairs Programmes, compiled by research firm Plus 94 in March 2007. It was commissioned by Snuki Zikalala’s news and current affairs division.

and listeners from all language groups were interviewed in focus groups
conducted in eight provinces during January and February. The major
findings include:

  • It was expected of the SABC’s news and
    current affairs programmes to “fight the cause of the citizens” even if
    it meant “touching the nerve and shaking up the political, economic and
    other prominent social programmes”;
  • Talk shows, sports
    programmes and some documentaries were defined as current affairs
    programmes and regarded as better than most of the SABC’s news
    offerings; and
  • Only the investigative programme, Special Assignment, was seen as “above board” regarding credibility.

report recommended that the SABC undertake marketing campaigns to
promote its news offerings. This would help strengthen the credibility
and trust that the SABC’s news and current affairs division “so
importantly needs”.

Zulu-language speakers felt that political
issues were toned down “to the extent that even the lack of commitment
to reach closure on issues was seen as ‘a sign of some external
[government] control’”.

The SABC’s current affairs credibility
was thought “not to be convincing and perceptions of external control
persisted”. Zulu viewers saw Special Assignment as the “only truly credible offering on board”.

“The truth must be told, we are not fools,” a Durban focus group remarked.

Click here for the full report, posted on M&G Online.