SABC 2 shakes things up


SABC2 has had a facelift, with a new “You Belong” tagline. Debashine Thangevelo caught up with Leo Manne, the channel’s new general manager, and Pulane Tshabalala, the scheduling manager, to find out what prompted the change…

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250213. SABC Headquarters in Auckland Park, Johannesburg. SABC General Manager Leo Manne.
Picture: Dumisani Sibeko250213. SABC Headquarters in Auckland Park, Johannesburg. Pulane Tshabalala SABC Scheduling Manager.
Picture: Dumisani Sibeko

IN this cut-throat industry, where new channels are launched on the DStv platform and another pay-TV broadcaster – TopTV – has entered the entertainment fray, free-to-air channels are feeling the sting of the competition.

And SABC2 has taken measures to reassert itself, with a new look and the old “Feel at Home” slogan changed to “You Belong”.

Pulane Tshabalala, the channel’s scheduling manager, shed light on how long the makeover had been in the pipeline.

“It’s a process we started at the beginning of last year. Why the need to rebrand?” she said.

“SABC2 has been the channel for the nation for the past five years. And that brand position was based around SABC2 embracing the multi-culture in this country, celebrating our unity… and it came straight after our democracy in 1994 and it was very much relevant to the time.

“Now we are going towards the 20 years of democracy… a lot has changed. And SABC2 needs to reflect that change. We felt it was the perfect time to reinvent ourselves and acknowledge there has been a change in the country, therefore in their lives, therefore a change in their attitude.”

Leo Manne, the newly appointed general manager, expanded: “We accept that any major brand in the country, whether it is a TV brand or a cool drink, has to stay relevant. That is what the team at SABC recognises.

“It was important, like Pulane says, with the changes happening in the industry – and it is no secret how competitive it is becoming – for SABC2 to stay relevant.”

Aside from expanding on the various stages they have jotted down for the launch, Tshabala touched on how the changes are going to be implemented in the new look.

She said: “First, we recognise that you can’t just change the packaging and not look into the content. We want our on-air look to reflect our viewers. We’re looking at our content to see that it aligns with our new look, new vision and new strategy.

“But changing the content is a process. It is something we are vigorously working on with our content partners, international partners and local producers.”

While the change will be implemented over time – especially with local shows getting a revamp, from sets to scripts – Tshabalala said the channel was also acquiring new content.

“We are refreshing some of our branded shows like Afro Café. On the international front, we are looking at new content.

“However, our strategy is to speak to viewers outside our borders. We will be introducing a new soap at the end of March called Lies That Bind, it is a Kenyan soap. Outside of that, we have other soaps from those borders.”

Manne placed more emphasis on how this fitted in with the new pay-off line.

“‘You Belong’ can be interpreted in a lot of different ways, in that you find expression in content primarily. And one of the major things this country has had, and it has found an unfortunate expression through, is the xenophobic violence a few years ago.

“With the Afcon, there were certain teams that Bafana Bafana played and there were more Ethiopian or Nigerian fans… and you realise you have pretty much the whole continent in South Africa. And how do we serve their needs as well?

“That African content says, South Africa you belong to the continent, and those Africans in the country, you belong in this family.”

Also in the pipeline are three solid Afrikaans dramas and a new travelogue talk show that will fill the Pasella slot.

Change is afoot and Manne and Tshabalala are confident the nation will embrace it.

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