MANY television viewers in the Northern Cape who do not have access to SABC3 due to poor signals, will no longer be able to watch the Afrikaans news as well as many other Afrikaans programmes.

This follows a recent decision by the SABC to move prime-time Afrikaans programmes from SABC2 to SABC3.

According to the public broadcaster, SABC television channels are undergoing an overhaul.

New television soapies and other programming have been introduced and the changes are across channels and time schedules, SABC spokesman Kaizer Kganyago said.

He denied that the move had anything to do with Afrikaans language programmes.

“The SABC is not doing away with Afrikaans programming . . . we believe in granting all languages a platform across our television channels. The SABC subscribes to the Broadcasting Act to ensure all languages are treated equally.”

There were no Afrikaans news bulletins during the soccer World Cup, which the SABC indicated was a temporary arrangement until the tournament ended.

Most areas in the Northern Cape, Free State, Eastern Cape and Western Cape have no access to SABC3 owing to poor signals, and will not be able to view the Afrikaans news bulletin.

Kganyago added he had yet to hear a complaint about viewers in the four provinces not being able to view popular soapie Isidingo, which is aired on SABC3.

The decision by the SABC to move Afrikaans programmes from SABC2 to SABC3 has been slated as illegal by the Freedom Front Plus.

“The move was illegal because the Afrikaans community did not have any say in an administrative decision which largely harms them”, party leader Pieter Mulder said.

The public broadcaster had shown disregard of the constitutional guarantees about the country’s languages, he said.

“The move will deny Afrikaans speakers in the whole of the Northern Cape, Eastern Free State, Eastern Cape and large areas of the Western Cape the opportunity to watch Afrikaans news or programmes such as 50/50 and Fokus in Afrikaans. It is a serious question as to why these viewers still have to pay costly TV licences while they don’t receive any services in Afrikaans.”

The DA has also called on the Minister of Communication, Faith Muthambi, to explain the SABC’s plans for Afrikaans programming.

“Reports have suggested that the SABC is planning a wholesale move of Afrikaans programming away from SABC2 to SABC3. Such a move could be in violation of the SABC’s own editorial policies since it would deny many rural Afrikaans communities access to programming in their language of choice,” DA spokeswoman on Communications, Veronica van Dyk, said.

She pointed out that SABC3 was not as widely available in rural areas as SABC2. “This is especially problematic in the Northern Cape, where vast areas of the mostly Afrikaans-speaking province do not have access to SABC 3.

“The Minister must clarify the situation by making the SABC’s proposed new programming schedule public: what programmes will move to SABC3; what time will the programmes appear on SABC3; what programmes will replace the Afrikaans programming on SABC2; what is the rationale for moving these programmes; how does the SABC justify this decision in light of SABC3’s weak footprint in the Northern Cape; and will the proposed move take place?”