SABC International goes bust

SABC International (Sani) has been scrapped by the public broadcaster—at least as the ambitious 24-hour international news channel was originally envisaged.

As of January 1 this year Sani was taken off the government-run-Sentech’s Vivid platform, where it had reached a handful of viewers since launching in March 2008.

An SABC statement on Thursday said the only place South Africans could see the channel now was on SABC2 between 8am and 8.30am or between 11pm and 5am on weekdays. The channel is also available on a limited broadcast in Washington, DC.

“Failure to deliver on projected audiences in line with levels of investments has prompted the scrapping of the deal,” the statement read.

SABC spokesperson Kaizer Kganyago declined to comment further on the channel.

The SABC has sunk hundreds of millions of rands into the project, which was expected to become the CNN of Africa.

The channel ran with an estimated annual operating budget of between R60-million and R100-million, plus set-up costs that included a new R45-million studio and 12 international bureaux estimated to cost R20-million each.

SABC pushed MultiChoice to pick up the channel, but the deal did not materialise. This left Sani to languish on Sentech, with ineligible viewership and decoding equipment that was near impossible to purchase.

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Tanya Pampalone

Tanya Pampalone

Tanya Pampalone is the executive editor of the Mail & Guardian, where she oversees print and digital enterprise and narrative journalism projects including eBooks and special editions, such as the popular end of year and annual religion issues. Tanya occasionally lectures on media ethics and editorial independence at the Sol Plaatjie Institute at Rhodes University in Grahamstown. In 2012, she won South Africa's top journalism award, the Sikuvile, for creative writing and was a finalist in the feature writing category. In 2013, Tanya was selected as the Menell Media Fellow at Duke University's Sanford School of Public Policy in the United States. Currently, she is on the editorial board of the Menell Media Xchange.Tanya has more than 20 years experience living and working as a writer, columnist and editor for magazines, newspapers and online publications in the United States, the Czech Republic and South Africa. She has a BA in journalism from San Diego State University and a master's in writing from the University of San Francisco. Her work has appeared in Chimurenga's Power Money Sex, Cityscapes, Empire, Food and Home, Los Angeles Reader, Mail & Guardian, Maverick, Newsweek, Prognosis, San Francisco Examiner and The-African.org, among others. Read more from Tanya Pampalone

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