South Africa is celebrating 10 years of freedom — and the SABC, as the national
broadcaster, has been in the forefront of communicating the new order to the nation, and
facilitating this major transformation to true democracy. To be able to do this successfully,
the SABC itself had to transform from a state broadcaster to a public broadcaster
accountable to all the people of this country… to your SABC! The decade since 1994 has
been a proud one for the broadcaster — this article focuses year-by-year on a host of
achievements, accolades and ―firsts‖ notched up by SABC people, programmes, projects
and products in an historic decade.

Setting the scene for the SABC’s future

1993 was a watershed year for the SABC with the appointment of its first dem ocratically elected
Board. Dr Ivy Matsepe-Casaburri, today the Minister of Communications, headed the Board,
which was tasked with kick-starting the complete restructuring of the national broadcaster.

By June 1994 the SABC‘s view on its future role as a public broadcaster was spelt out in a
series of documents entitled ―Delivering Value‖ that was submitted to the Independent
Broadcasting Authority (IBA). The basic principle of these documents was that if the SABC were
to become a legitimate institution and a respected vehicle in society, it had to deliver
programmes of value efficiently and effectively to the communities, and it had to be publicly
accountable for its performance. The documents marked the crucial shift in the direction of the
SABC, and were favourably received.

The first black CEO

The SABC‘s first black Group Chief Executive Officer, Zwelakhe Sisulu, was appointed on 12
September 1994, taking over management of the corporation from Wynand Harmse, who had
been the GCEO for the past six and a half years. This ushered in a new phase of the SABC‘s
journey to transformation.

Introduction of an editorial code

In 1994 an ethical code for the SABC‘s editorial staff was, for the first time, developed through
wide consultation with media people and organisations. It committed the SABC to the honest,
contextualised reporting of the facts in a relevant, objective manner, free from bias,
discrimination, and commercial, party-political and personal interests.
The biggest broadcasting challenge

In April 1994 the transforming SABC was faced with its greatest challenge — Election ‘94 was
the biggest, most complex broadcast by the SABC since the inception of television in South
Africa. It involved 1 400 members of staff drawn from all sectors of the SABC, 35 remote
broadcasting points, international link ups, and nearly six days of solid broadcasting. Millions of
viewers and listeners tuned in to it in live wall-to-wall broadcasts. On radio, election coverage
was in all the official languages on 11 public broadcasting stations, and on TV in the seven main
languages on two channels.

Embracing the World Wide Web

The SABC became an information supplier on the Internet in October 1994. The main aim was
to publish electronically the SABC programme schedules and general information to the world at
large on the Internet. This service ( was lauded by SABC viewers in particular,
and people around the world in general.

                                                        Breaking the hold of international
                                          The international isolation to which the SABC had been
                                          subjected to for so long was broken as the corporation
                                          was welcomed back at international forums, as a
                                          member into a number of organisations and — by way
                                          of bilateral agreements — by other broadcasters both
in Africa and overseas. A highlight was the fact that the SABC hosted the 35 th annual general
assembly of the Union of Radio & Television Associations in Africa (URTNA) — the first time
that this important broadcasting forum met on South African soil. Some 150 delegates from 31
African countries and 20 observer nations attended the conference, held at Broadcasting Centre
in Johannesburg from 12 – 19 May 1995.

RWC 1995 — an early first for the SABC

For the first time, the SABC entered the international sports broadcasting arena when South
Africa took up the enormous challenge of hosting the 1995 Rugby World Cup and the SABC was
appointed as host broadcaster. During one exciting and tense month between 25 May and 24
June the event was beamed to two and a half billion people in 120 countries. This was the first
major sporting event to be held in South Africa since the country‘s return to the international
sporting community under a democratically elected government. Statistics of World Cup
broadcasts showed that 10,5 million South Africans watched the final test match between SA
and New Zealand.

Testing the water with African languages on a “white” TV channel

In March 1995 the breakfast show on the then TV1 channel, GMSA (Good Morning South
Africa) added African language headline bulletins to its daily line-up. Public reaction to the
addition was very favourable.

A first step to changing the face of SABC radio

To enable SABC radio‘s national English language station to play a part in the nation-building
process, Radio South Africa was repositioned and relaunched on 1 March 1995 with a new
name (SAfm), a new mission and a new strategy. The launch of the new station was a first step
towards dramatically changing the image of the SABC‘s radio portfolio.

A wider range of religious programmes introduced

Religious programmes on SABC services became more representative of all the faiths in South
Africa by broadcasting Muslim, Hindu, Jewish and African faith devotions from May 1995.

Reaching for the stars…

Satellite broadcasting was introduced to South Africa on 2 October 1995 when transmission of
the SABC‘s then three television channels TV1, CCV-TV (―Contemporary Community Values
Television‖) and NNTV (―National Network Television‖) and 11 public radio stations was
switched to the PAS-4 KuBand satellite, to augment the terrestrial transmitter network. This
made reception of these channels and stations available to everyone in South Africa, no matter
where they lived, providing they had access to satellite- receiving equipment.

The first provincial breakaways
The second big election broadcast for the transforming SABC was the community elections on 1
November 1995. An important difference in these election broadcasts was that coverage was
handled by the provinces rather than from Johannesburg as had been the case previously. To
this end, 1 300 radio and television staffers and about 30 outside broadcast units throughout the
country were linked to the SABC‘s nerve centre in Auckland Park, Johannesburg.

These election broadcasts introduced for the first time ever on television simultaneous
broadcasts in nine provinces, and in 11 languages. In this way, the SABC catered for each
province‘s individual needs with provincial breakaway, or

opt-out broadcasts, giving viewers a taste of what dedicated regional TV could be like. In fact,
these pioneer breakaway programmes set the scene for the introduction of regional television
broadcasts in 1996.

In addition, for the first time in South Africa, the SABC used the information super-highway, the
Internet, to bring the community elections to audiences in the rest of the world. This enabled
anyone with access to the Internet on his or her computer to call up a database covering almost
every single angle to the community elections.


There is little doubt that 1996 stands out as one of the most important in the history of the
SABC. For one, it will be marked in the annals as the year in which the SABC's programme of
transformation, started in 1993, culminated in breaking the mould of its apartheid past, with the
relaunch of its TV and Radio portfolios.

One of the major achievements of the ‗nineties transformation was planning and creating new
television channels to replace those launched under the full banner of the grand apartheid era of
20 years before. The new channels, known as SABC1, SABC2 and SABC3, went on air on 4
February 1996. They were the result of much research on public opinion, and were in line with
the SABC‘s commitment to deliver full-spectrum services to all South Africans. Part of this
historic change was the inclusion, for the first time, of all 11 official languages in the TV
programme schedules, and the introduction of regional breakaway programmes.

Introducing the new face of the SABC

The new TV channels — named SABC1, SABC2 and SABC3 — were introduced to the world on
4 February 1996, during a launch party the country had been talking about for weeks! This took
place at the Waterkloof Air Force base before 3000 invited guests. VIPs included then President
Nelson Mandela and celebrity overseas guests Blair Underwood (from LA Law), Robert
Guillaume (from Benson), Malcolm-Jamal Warner (The Cosby Show), singer Stevie Wonder,
entertainer Shari Belafonte, and O J Simpson lawyer Johnnie Cochran. Almost a thousand local
broadcasting and show business personalities attended. The proceedings of 90 minutes were
broadcast live over all three channels simultaneously, drawing an audience of some three million
viewers. The evening culminated in a magnificent fireworks display.

These new channels were to be the visible face of the SABC‘s commitment to transform from a
commercially driven state broadcaster to a programme and audience driven public broadcaster.
In launching the new channels, the SABC became the first of the mainstream media to redirect
itself to serve the needs of the new South Africa.

Pioneering regional TV

The SABC pioneered regional television broadcasting on 5 February 1996 when it introduced
Cape at Six in the Western Cape, Mopani targeting the Northern Province and Mpumalanga,
and, in June of that year, KZN-2-Nite in KwaZulu-Natal. These programmes broke away from
SABC2‘s national network on weekdays to broadcast news and information specifically focused
on, and in the languages of, the targeted provinces.

 (Note: During 1999 the regional split programmes were discontinued after funding from the
government was stopped. However, the SABC retained the regional programme for the Northern
Province, Mopani, at its own cost. This, too, was later discontinued).

A major scoop for TV News

On 9 May 1996, Television News scored a major scoop in its maiden transmission of the
programme Parliament Live, when it broadcast the withdrawal of the National Party from the
Government of National Unity. The introduction of this programme, broadcast live from
parliament while it is in session, was a first for Africa.

The AstraSat experiment

On 15 July 1996 the SABC launched two analogue-based satellite TV channels, AstraPlus (an
entertainment channel) and AstraSport (a sport channel). The AstraSat consortium which in July
was wholly owned by the SABC, controlled them. The AstraSat channels were planned as the
vanguard of a proposed full-scale pay TV bouquet. However, this did not materialise and the
SABC discontinued its AstraSat analogue satellite channels on 28 February 1998.

Selling off six radio stations

As part of the deregulation of the airwaves the IBA‘S Triple Inquiry Report had also
recommended that the SABC sell six of its regional radio stations to private enterprise. In line
with this the SABC took another step on the restructuring road by advertising the affected
stations for sale in the Sunday press on 14 January 1996. The advertisements invited
prospective buyers to register their interest in the stations, by contacting Investec Merchant
Bank Limited, which has been appointed to handle the sales. The sales of the stations were
finalised in September.
Introducing the new SABC Radio to the world

The sale of the six regional stations cleared the way for the SABC to introduce its repositioned
radio portfolio to the world. Therefore, on 28 September 1996, some 50 000 people packed
Johannesburg's Athletics Stadium to attend the glittering launch of the SABC's new Radio
portfolio. The line-up of the 16 radio stations, complete with new names and new identities,
finally broke the mould in which SABC Radio had been cast since its inception in 1936, and
completed the visible transformation of the corporation from a state broadcaster to a public
service broadcaster accountable to all the people of South Africa.

A first: an annual report in every official language

In 1996, the SABC made history on the publication front when it published its Annual Report in
all 11 official languages of the country. This project constituted the largest and most challenging
publication project yet undertaken by the corporation.

The SABC puts its art treasures on public display

On 18 September 1996 more than 1 000 people attended the first-ever public exhibition of
selected works from the SABC‘s corporate art collection. The exhibition remained open for a
three-week period at Broadcasting Centre in Johannesburg. The collection, started in the 1950s,
comprises more than 700 works and is valued at several million rands.

SABC broadcasts the first Kora Awards

On 19 September 1996, the SABC beamed the first Kora All Africa Awards from the Standard
Bank Arena in Johannesburg to 500 million people in 70 countries. Forty-four of Africa‘s best
musicians competed against each other in 10 categories. The top award for Best African Artist of
the Year went to Papa Wemba of Zaire.

The SABC goes on show for the first time

On 22 November 1996 some 20 000 visitors attended the first-ever National Public Broadcaster
Show, organised as a three-day ―open house‖ event at Broadcasting Centre in Johannesburg.
The top 100 logos selected from some 15 000 entered in a national competition to find a new
corporate identity for the SABC, were on display and the public was invited to vote for one of the

The proof was in the pudding

On 22 November 1996 the SABC received the Black Management Forum's "Most Progressive
Company of the Year award" in recognition of the corporation's dedication to training of its
personnel, application of corrective action in terms of race and gender, as well as the allocation
of contracts that enhance black economic empowerment.

The impact of the McKinsey recommendations

On 10 March 1997 SABC management announced that it had accepted the cost-cutting
recommendations of the international consultancy group McKinsey, who had been appointed to
guide the corporation in the next phase of its transformation, and in finalising its Resources
Review programme. These recommendations would, when implemented, see the corporation
achieve major savings and increase its revenue. On the downside, the SABC had to shed 1 400

As part of the McKinsey recommendations the SABC ceased to fund the National Symphony
Orchestra (NSO) which cost R15 million a year to maintain. The decision was taken in line with
the corporation‘s efforts to channel all its resources to its core areas of competency. The
orchestra gave its final performance under the umbrella of the SABC on 27 November 1997.

A big bonus for South African viewers

SABC3 scored a major bonus for South African viewers when, on 21 March 1997, the channel
was given the rights, free of charge, to a live broadcast of the last South African concert of the
Irish super group U2. The concession was made in honour of Human Rights Day. About 64 000
people packed the Johannesburg Stadium for the concert, which featured the world‘s biggest
video screen.

A first for SA radio on American web sites

On 29 September 1997 the SABC announced a partnership with American music legend and
entertainment mogul Quincy Jones, through which Ukhozi FM and Radio Metro became the first
South African radio stations to be aired to America‘s 51 million Internet users via the Q-Radio
web site. The core of the deal allowed Q-Radio to broadcast programmes of the two stations,
offering South African musicians a window of opportunity onto the American market. For the first
time, Americans were able to access the Internet and receive South African music, culture and

A world first… from an aircraft in flight!

In a world first for the SABC, a segment of the television game show Win ‘n Spin was broadcast
live from an SAA Boeing 737 aircraft in flight over Gauteng on 11 March 1997. The Guinness
Book of records was informed of the achievement.

Accolades for SABC’s coverage of the TRC

Fourteen SABC journalists covering the hearings of the Truth & Reconciliation Commission
(TRC) won the SA Union of Journalists‘ 1997 Pringle Award for outstanding journalism — the
first time this award had been given to broadcasting journalists. The SAUJ gave them the award
for the ―intensity, quality and consistency‖ of their coverage.

A dramatic upgrading of soccer on TV

On 20 February 1997 the SABC unveiled a plan to upgrade the coverage of soccer dramatically
on television, ending a history of the corporation‘s not presenting soccer to its full potential. R30
million a year was to be invested in the project aimed at offering South Africans world-class
soccer coverage.

The ―new-look‖ coverage, with the slogan ―Inspiration for the Nation‖, introduced a wealth of new
progammes. Resultant highlights were that the SABC1 programme Mabaleng became the first
Saturday sports programme in South African broadcasting history to make a substantial profit;
the World of Soccer, also on SABC1, attracted sponsorship of R5 million; and Laduma, on
SABC2, raised the standard of live soccer coverage to new heights.

And sports contracts for Africa...

A year in which the SABC secured long-term sports rights to major events:

• three years of all the national soccer league events
• five years of Formula 1racing
• the 1998 Commonwealth Games in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
• 1998 World Cup Soccer
• three years of national team cricket played in South Africa
• three years of World Cup Golf.

A joint initiative for educational broadcasting

In a move to bring meaningful education to the nation, the SABC and the national Department of
Education launched the Lifelong Learning Educational Broadcasting Service on 27 February
1997. This initiative co-ordinated the educational programmes of the SABC on both radio and
television to ensure that they are of the best quality and that they fitted in with the new national
educational goals.

Truly the people’s broadcaster

For the first time since the start of its transformation, the SABC exhibited as a corporation at the
1997 Rand Easter Show in Johannesburg. The SABC‘s stand won a gold medal, and was
awarded the Witwatersrand Agricultural Society Designer Grand Challenge Cup for the most
attractive gold medallist display at the show. By the time the show ended, several hundred
thousand people had visited the stand and had spent some R40 000 buying SABC mementos
ranging from T-shirts to videos of favourite programmes.

The SABC also launched a series of provincial roadshows aimed at making contact with
audiences at grassroots level. The people of Mpumalanga were the first to experience such an
―SABC Week‖ at the 1997 Lowveld Show in Nelspruit. It featured the corporation‘s award-
winning Rand Easter Show exhibition stand, and the biggest musical concert yet held in the

A new corporate look

The SABC unveiled its new corporate identity on 4 November 1997. The logo was the outcome
of four years of work which began in 1993 when the SABC‘s first democratically elected Board
took office, and the corporation took its first steps towards transforming from an apartheid-era
state broadcaster into a public service broadcaster accountable to all the people of South Africa.

In the search for a new corporate identity a conscious decision was taken to let the people of
South Africa — the viewers and listeners — take ownership of their broadcaster. To this end, a
nation-wide competition was launched to design a new logo. It drew some 15 000 entries. A
panel of judges then whittled these entries down to a top 100 selection. The public was then
invited to vote for their favourite design… and they indicated a preference for a concept that
clearly showed the SABC to be part of Africa.

A leader in transformation

On the human resources front, the SABC proved itself a leader in the field of transformation. It
had set itself the target of achieving a ratio of 50% black (African, Indian and Coloured) to 50%
white people in its staff complement by the end of 1997 — it achieved, this ratio a month ahead
of the target date when, on 1 December 1997, the national personnel corps lined up as 1 585
black and 1 585 white staffers exactly! This is indeed something to be proud of taking into
consideration that, when the corrective action programme was begun in 1993, the staff ratio was
only 27% black to 73% white.

Integration of the TBVC broadcasters

During March 1998, integration into the SABC of the broadcasters of the former ―independent
homelands‖ of Transkei, Bophuthatswana, Venda and Ciskei was completed. This followed the
abolition by Act of Parliament of these broadcasters and the transfer of their services and
facilities to the SABC and to signal distributor Sentech. Transkei Radio was integrated into the
national full-spectrum station Umhlobo Wenene FM, Radio Venda was amalgamated with
PhalaPhala FM, and Radio Mmbatho became part of Motsweding FM. Radio Thohoyandou in
the Northern Province was closed down.

On 1 March the former homeland broadcasting structure, comprising the television station Bop-
TV and the radio stations Radio Bop and Radio Sunshine, became part of the SABC stable, but
were not integrated into existing SABC services.

They remained separate channels and retained their brand names. They were to be funded by
the state and managed on behalf of the state by the SABC, pending decisions on their future.

The integration of these broadcasters was the last step in a transformation process started in
1996 when the Former States Broadcasting Reorganisation Bill was passed in Parliament.

(* Update: in accordance with a directive from government, the SABC in 2003 closed down the Bop
Broadcasting stations. Radio Bop, Radio Sunshine and Bop TV ceased broadcasting on 31 July

SABC Television’s first real competition

This came on 1 October 1998 when South Africa‘s first independent free-to-air television
channel,, started broadcasting. This set the scene for SABC TV to face its first real
competition since television was launched in this country in 1976.

A first journalism internment programme

In an effort to train skilled manpower for the SABC‘s news services, the corporation launched its
first journalism internment programme on 2 February 1998 to train new talent for broadcasting
journalism. Fifteen candidates were enrolled for the six-month internship that consisted of
practical work and theory sessions aimed at giving cadets a thorough grounding in all the
aspects of radio and television journalism.

New ground in sports broadcasting

The SABC won the rights to televise the 1998 Commonwealth Games in Kuala Lumpur,
Malaysia, to millions of viewers worldwide. The Games broke new ground in sports broadcasting
when, in an innovative move to ensure

a financially successful production without stinting on the quality of the broadcast, a cleverly
designed set gave the impression that the broadcasts were coming from Malaysia when, in fact,
the bulk of the production effort was coming from Broadcasting Centre in Johannesburg. This
enabled the SABC to send a smaller, highly skilled production team to Kuala Lumpur to source
and filter content.

A first TV Licence symposium for world broadcasters

The SABC initiated and hosted South Africa‘s first ever international symposium on television
licences. This was held in September 1998 and attended by representatives of public
broadcasters in 15 countries, from Africa to Europe and Japan. The objective was to gather
information on the funding models of African and international broadcasters with a view to
improving the SABC‘s television licence fee collection system.

A world record-breaking launch
The SABC, in conjunction with MultiChoice, launched two pay-TV channels (SABC Africa and
Africa-2-Africa) on 16 November 1998, triggering the entry of the national broadcaster into the
digital market. Of interest is the fact that once the agreement had been reached with
MultiChoice, the SABC mounted the operation and launched the two channels in a world record-
breaking six weeks!

A new Broadcasting Act

The most important development influencing the transformation of the SABC in 1999 was the
new Broadcasting Act, No 4 of 1999, which came into effect in May, and was set to irrevocably
change the face of broadcasting in South Africa. It had very specific requirements concerning
the SABC as the national broadcaster, namely that:

• as an international norm, the public broadcaster be governed by a Broadcasting Charter and
that the broadcasting regulatory authority monitor compliance with the charter.
• the SABC‘s organisational structure be realigned to include two operational entities, a public
broadcasting service and a public commercial broadcasting service.
• the SABC become a limited liability company with a share capital as contemplated in the
Companies Act, and that the state hold 100%          of the shares in the corporation.

A first School TV service for South Africa

One of the most exciting events in educational broadcasting was the SABC‘s introduction, in
January 1999, of South Africa‘s first direct educational broadcast to schools. This School
Television service was aimed at providing systematic curriculum support for Curriculum 2005
and remedial support for matriculants. This included broadcasting and non-broadcasting
material, printed matter, and teacher training and support. The School TV service was
introduced through a structured partnership with the Department of Education and exceeded all
expectations in its pilot year.

A broadcasting first to track missing children

In a broadcasting first, SABC1 in July 1999 launched Missing Kids, an on-air campaign to help
find some of South Africa‘s thousands of missing children. The programme has consistently had
an impressive success rate, with some 85% of children featured on the programme being found.

An exciting broadcasting business venture

NewsBreak, a joint venture with Vodacom, was launched in June 1999 to broaden public

access to SABC news and information. This service offered audio news bulletins via telephone,
and meant that anyone with access to a telephone could dial in any time, 24 hours a day, to get
the latest available news for the cost of a telephone call. At the end of 1999, callers were also,
for the first time, able to access matric results by entering a valid exam number. This was
followed in March 2000 by the introduction of a Wireless Application Protocol (WAP) news
service that allowed users to telephone in and download short text news stories.

The world’s first globalcast

At the end of 1999, the SABC joined forces with a network of 30 international broadcasters for
the world‘s first globalcast during the hours

leading up to New Year 2000. This Millennium Day broadcast began at midnight on 31
December 1999 in the Pacific and continued around the world on an hourly basis until midnight
reached the other side of the Pacific 24 hours later.
Broadcasters in each of the 24 time zones broadcast an hour-long celebratory programme to the
rest of the world. Not only did the SABC‘s audience have access to the millennium celebrations
across the world, but the broadcaster used this unique and historic opportunity to showcase the
sub-continent and its people to the biggest television audience ever.

A first-ever 25-hour radio party!

In its special Millennium broadcast, national music station 5FM presented listeners with a first-
ever 25-hour radio party that spanned the world during an on-going Millennium Dawn broadcast
featuring celebrations over five continents. The station also counted down the minutes to the
year 2000 from Cape Town to an estimated 40 million listeners around the world.

Backing a global initiative for blind people

The SABC in 2000 threw its weight behind ―Vision 2020: The Right to Sight‖, a global initiative to
eliminate avoidable blindness in the world by 2020. The SABC committed itself to providing
airtime free of charge to the South African National Council of the Blind and its associate bodies.
The media launch of this campaign to English-speaking Africa took place at the SABC‘s
Johannesburg headquarters on 19 April 2000.

Introducing TV news for deaf viewers

The SABC is aware that for many physically disadvantaged citizens its services are their sole
source of information. The SABC therefore in 2000 opened up the world for the estimated five
million South African deaf and hard of hearing with the signing of daily early-evening news
bulletins, as well as weekly signed programmes produced specially for deaf viewers. These
programmes also promote the advancement of a South African national Sign language.

Expanding the new-media services

The SABC expanded its new-media services by launching, in June 2000, a new news web site, Just eight months later, by February 2001, the new service reached the
milestone of a total of two million page impressions. The site now registers about 300 000
impressions a month. It is the only South African news web site that offers regular TV news
bulletins, video and audio clips.

Introducing 3-D programmes on television

SABC3 introduced 3-D programming in South Africa in September 2000. In a two-pronged
initiative, it screened 14 Olympic highlight packages, together with three one-hour specials, all of
which displayed the best of 3-D technology. The Olympic highlights were produced daily using
special 3-D production facilities, and relayed via a satellite link-up direct from Sydney, Australia.
Viewers needed special 3-D glasses to enjoy the programmes.

Testing the waters of radio for the KhoiSan

In a first move to bring radio to the isolated KhoiSan people of the Northern Cape, the State of
the Nation address by the President was broadcast directly from Parliament over loudspeakers
to the community at Schmidtsdrif on 4 February 2000, and translated into the !Xu and Khwe
languages of the community. This was to be the precursor of a full radio service for the
community. This station, XK-FM, went on air on 18 August 2000. It broadcasts seven days a
week, and has about 5 000 listeners.

A world first multimedia venture
Internet and satellite options have created new platforms for signal distribution and effectively
opened a world of opportunity that removes traditional boundaries from the broadcasting mix.
Increasing numbers of hits on radio station web sites indicate the value of this medium for
listeners who require transcripts of programmes, broadcasting schedules and information on
advertising rates, or who tune in to the Internet for audio streaming.

In this light, Afrikaans broadcaster RSG‘s venture into full-scale multimedia broadcasting was a
world first for a radio station. This project allowed the station to broadcast simultaneously over
the radio, on television and the Internet. It went on air on 1 October 2000 and brought RSG‘s
studio to television screens in homes and to computer monitors all over the world.

An Antarctic invasion

National music station 5FM engineered the world‘s first-ever live commercial radio broadcast
from the Antarctic when DJ Mark Gillman broadcast his breakfast show from the cold continent.
For this venture 5FM harnessed web technology during the ―Mark Gillman Antarctic Invasion‖
project to stream audio and video simultaneously onto an Internet platform via a satellite link
from Antarctica. 5FM registers a phenomenal three million Internet hits monthly, making it one of
the biggest sites on a South African platform.

An oral record of the TRC

On 13 April 2000 the SABC launched an oral memoir of the Truth and Reconciliation
Commission (TRC) — a CD collection called South Africa‘s Human Spirit. The six-hour CD set is
based on recordings and award-winning radio stories compiled by SABC news and current
affairs teams during the Truth Commission hearings at which survivors — victims, perpetrators
and others — testified about gross human rights abuses since 1960. In the CD documentary
well-known musicians, storytellers, poets, former political prisoners, exiles and most of the Truth
commissioners thread the story of South Africa‘s past with music, song, poetry and commentary.

Morning Live live from the tracks

In a world first, the SABC2 breakfast show Morning Live was broadcast live from the Trans-
Karoo express passenger train during 2000.

SABC’s news programmes rated tops

To ensure that the SABC remains on track with news that is up to date, relevant and credible,
regular research is done. Interesting findings from a major research project conducted in all the
provinces at the end of 2000, showed that almost 91% of the adult population of South Africa
rated news and information emanating from the SABC as ―most believable‖ About 77% rated the
electronic media as the most objective source of news, and 71% mentioned the SABC
specifically. About 90% were confident that SABC news is unbiased.

World music community hails release of SABC archive music

The SABC released the second set of five double CDs in its ―African Renaissance‖ music series
onto the international market in mid-2001. This followed rave reviews the first CD set received in
the music industry press after its international release in 2000. The ―African Renaissance‖
collection is a 20-volume CD set containing traditional African music gleaned from the SABC‘s
vast music archives. The set contains more than 200 tracks of songs and music encompassing
a variety of styles representing all the African traditions in the country.

Bringing world-class cricket to the people
In a major coup for cricket fans‘ rights, the SABC was awarded the exclusive radio and television
broadcasting rights to all the global ICC cricket tournaments until 2007. Putting cricket on such a
scale on the public broadcaster paves the way to making the sport accessible to all the viewers
in South Africa. National Minister for Sport Ngconde Balfour said the deal between the SABC
and the United Cricket Board of South Africa had shown the way to other sporting codes that
sport is a national asset.

New ground for SABC News

SABC News broke new ground in 2001 when it broadcast an interview with President Mbeki on
a wide range of different platforms. For the first time ever, an interview with the President was
broadcast live on 11 public service radio stations, one television channel and webcast on Audio clips of the interview became available almost immediately on the News-
on-Demand telephone service and on the Internet site.

SABC branded as one of SA’s “most admired”

The SABC was named as one of South Africa‘s most admired brands in the 2001 Markinor
survey of brand awareness, trust and loyalty. Top of the list was Coca-Cola, with Telkom and
Eskom in joint second place and SA Breweries in third place, followed by Pick ‗n Pay, Edgars,
the SABC, Toyota, Standard Bank and the OK Bazaars. The Markinor survey is done annually
on behalf of the Sunday Times. Respondents in the survey were asked which South African
companies they admired the most, and which company name immediately sprang to mind when
a particular product was mentioned.

Broadcasting from a yellow submarine...

The SABC scored another radio first in September 2001 when the 5FM breakfast show, hosted
by Mark Gillman, was broadcast live from an SA Navy submarine submerged off the False Bay
coast. The programme was broadcast from SAS Umkhonto at a depth of 12 m. Any lower and
the broadcast would not have been possible since microwaves, needed for the broadcast, do not
travel through water. At 12m the radio antenna is still above water so the signal could be relayed
via a network of radio towers to the 5FM studio in Johannesburg.

Madiba’s speeches on CD, thanks to the SABC

In November 2001 the SABC launched a compact disc featuring various speeches by Nelson
Mandela, the man who became South Africa‘s first democratically elected President. Entitled
―The Voice of Mandela‖, the CD consists of famous speeches Madiba made during the apartheid
years and after his release from prison in 1990. Highlights are excerpts from the infamous
Rivonia trial in 1964 and the speech he made when he was released on 11 February 1990 after
spending 27 years in jail.

SABC brings radio to 5 million more

Almost 5 million people who, two years ago, had little or no access to radio reception can now
listen to an SABC radio station on the crystal clear sound of FM. By mid-2002 the SABC‘s two-
phase plan to expand its terrestrial transmitters to achieve this, culminated in the switch-on of
the last of 13 new transmitters.

This made radio reception possible for some 600 000 people in remote areas of KwaZulu-Natal
for the first time.

In all, the two-phase plan will expand the FM network to reach an additional 4 789 870 people in
rural areas.
More choices on SABC’s information line

In 2002 SABC News launched an automated financial indicators service on the audio news-on-
phone service Newsbreak 082 152 that it runs jointly with Vodacom and Marketel. This gives
users further choices — ranging from breaking news and sports news to weather bulletins and
academic results — on one of South Africa‘s top information lines. The new service provides a
continuous, quick and up-to-the minute summary of the top 20 financial indicators in one
telephone call, in order of popularity.

Presidential praise for AU launch broadcasts

The SABC received Presidential praise for its broadcasts around the launch of the African
Union, in Durban, in July 2002. These were beamed to TV audiences around the world, making
it possible for international viewers to watch history in the making as the Organisation of African
Unions was dissolved to make way for the 53-nation African Union. Writing on the Internet about
the launch of the African Union, President Thabo Mbeki said ―our public broadcaster, the SABC,
worked to discharge its obligatory responsibility accurately to inform both our people, and the
peoples of Africa, about the proceedings and issues at the formation of the African Union.
African leaders spoke of telephone calls they received from their citizens who had watched the
proceedings in Durban, thanks to the satellite broadcasts of the public broadcaster. Our
continent‘s leaders were pleased that the masses of our people could be present at the birth of
the AU in our part of Africa‖.

Accolades for SABC’s handling of WSSD broadcasts

The SABC received accolades from all over the world for its professional and efficient handling
of its responsibilities as official host broadcaster, on behalf of the United Nations, of the World
Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD). The summit, the biggest yet on the African
continent, took place in Johannesburg from 26 August to 4 September 2002. It attracted some
65 000 delegates and more than 100 heads of state to South Africa.

As host broadcaster, the SABC put at the disposal of the United Nations a range of broadcasting
facilities and production services to cater for the needs of the more than 1 000 media
representatives from all parts of the world to cover the summit. The continuous WSSD coverage
— 26 hours of live radio and TV programming was broadcast across all media on a daily basis
for the duration of the summit — ranks as one of the biggest broadcasts of its kind yet for the
SABC. It was particularly complex in that the summit covered three main venues. More than 450
SABC staff members and freelancers manned the broadcasting sites for the duration of the

A world first: an HIV positive Muppet on SABC-TV

The SABC became the first broadcaster in the world to flight a Sesame Street-based
programme featuring an HIV positive Muppet. Takalani Sesame, the South African version of the
American Sesame Street, introduced the fluffy bear-like Muppet, called Kami, from 30
September 2002 to help children infected with, or affected by, HIV/Aids to understand the
disease. Kami has been formally appointed by the United Nations Children‘s Fund (UNICEF) as
a global ―Champion for Children‖. Kami‘s first appearance as a ―global champion‖ with UNICEF
was on 26 November 2003 when she helped launch a report detailing the impact of HIV/Aids on
children in Africa.
SABC appoints SA’s first San journalists

In 2002 the SABC appointed the world‘s first San radio news journalists, to do duty on XK-fm,
the Kimberley-based community radio station broadcasting in the !Xu and Khwe languages of
the KhoiSan people. The journalists compile seven daily news bulletins for the station, and
produce a current affairs programme. The contributions are compiled in Afrikaans as a ―bridging
language‖ between the !Xu and Khwe communities.

SABC a “most loved” South African brand

The SABC was named one of the ten ―most loved‖ South African brands in the 2002 Markinor
survey of brand awareness, trust and loyalty. Top of the list was Telkom, with SA Breweries
and Eskom in second and third places respectively, followed by Shoprite/Checkers, Absa, Pick
‗n Pay, Standard Bank, Vodacom, the SABC and First National Bank. The Markinor survey is
done annually on behalf of the Sunday Times, and is aimed at identifying the 10 most popular
brands in various categories, as well as the overall most-admired companies operating in South
Africa. A new category this year focused on the most-loved homegrown brands.

This was the second consecutive year that the SABC featured in the Markinor survey in 2001 it
ranked as one of South Africa‘s ten most admired companies.

SABC brings the eclipse to the world

The SABC‘s top-class technical capacity and human skills were once again showcased to the
world on 4 December 2002 when SABC TV News‘s live feed was used to broadcast 2002‘s total
eclipse of the sun to millions of viewers around the world. An agreement between SABC2‘s
Morning Live breakfast show, the pay-TV channel SABC Africa and Reuters International, saw
the feed carried live for 33 minutes. This exposed Morning Live and its anchors to an
international audience, while providing excellent visual coverage and up-to-the minute reporting
of the solar phenomenon. The next total eclipse of the sun will take place 28 years from now.

SABC News now in every South African language

With the introduction of daily TV news bulletins in xiTsonga and TshiVenda in April 2003, the
SABC now broadcasts news on national television in every one of South Africa‘s 11 official
languages. Mainline bulletins are broadcast every day on SABC1 in isiZulu and isiXhosa, on
SABC2 in Sesotho, Setswana, Sepedi and Afrikaans, and on SABC3 in English. Briefer bulletins
— headline news — in previously marginalised languages are broadcast on SABC1 in siSwati
and isiNdebele, and on SABC2 in xiTsonga and TshiVenda.

In a move to extend current affairs programming on television to African languages, SABC News
introduced the interactive Asikhulume/Let’s Talk, broadcast on SABC1 on Sundays, from 19
January 2003. The audience-driven show deals with issues of the day, ranging from serious
subjects to light-hearted items.

On radio news and current affairs programmes are broadcast in each of the official languages,
plus the !Xu and Khwe languages of the KhoiSan peoples. This became a reality when, on 21
January 2003, the KhoiSan radio station XK-fm introduced its first current affairs programme,

The uniqueness of news on this radio station is that, because there is no written version of the
KhoiSan languages, the broadcast material is prepared in Afrikaans and translated on-air into
!Xu and Khwe.
SABC cameras in the Constitutional Court

Broadcasting history was made in mid-February 2003 when, for the first time, television cameras and
radio microphones were allowed into the Constitutional Court, setting the scene for live broadcasts
from the country‘s highest court, while it is in session. The pilot project was a trial run during the
court‘s first session for 2003.

SABC Africa relaunched on DStv

In a move to streamline its television broadcasts into Africa, the SABC in April 2003 merged its
two pay channels — news-oriented SABC Africa and entertainment oriented Africa-2-Africa —
and relaunched them as a single infotainment channel on the digital DStv platform. The channel
retains the now familiar name of SABC Africa, which has gained a reputation as the only 24-hour
news channel broadcasting from Africa to Africa, with a clear mission to tell the African story
from an African perspective. While flying the SABC Africa banner, the new channel has
absorbed many of Africa-2-Africa‘s top entertainment shows, giving it a streamlined, new-look
programme schedule with wider appeal. Viewers in 44 African countries and the adjacent Indian
Ocean islands, have access to the channel.

Editorial policies launched

In an important move to entrench the national broadcaster as belonging to the public, the SABC
on 25 April 2003 launched for public comment a package of draft editorial policies designed to
set the tone for the corporation‘s approach to public broadcasting. The policies have been
developed in terms of the Broadcasting Act. They cover areas such as the languages the SABC
broadcasts in, universal accessibility to its services, local content, how it decides what to air and
when, promises on religious and educational broadcasting, and guidelines on news and current
affairs programmes. This depth of consultation on editorial policy is believed to be
unprecedented for a public broadcaster anywhere. The campaign of public participation ran for
six months. The policies are officially effective from 1 April 2004.

Bop Broadcasting makes way for a new regional TV service

In accordance with a government directive, the SABC implemented the closing-down of Bop
Broadcasting to facilitate the introduction of a new television service to deliver indigenous
languages in the northern region of South Africa. This new service is to be one of two provided
for in the Broadcasting Amendment Act. Bop Broadcasting, comprising Bop TV, Radio Bop and
Radio Sunshine, ceased broadcasting at the end of July 2003. They were part of the
broadcasting assets and services of the former homelands.

Many more, Madiba

A total of 90 600 birthday calls… that is what former President Nelson Mandela received for his
85th birthday. In addition, that puts him right into the Guinness Book of Records. The record-
setting drive to celebrate Madiba‘s birthday with the most SMS and voice-messaging greetings
was the initiative of the SABC, in co-operation with service providers FoneWorx and Telkom.
The lines were opened on 18 July 2003 to people from all over the world — and more than 90
000 calls were logged.

The national broadcaster is corporatised

On 1 October 2003 the process to corporatise the national broadcaster (kick-started in 1999 by
the then new Broadcasting Act) was completed: on that date the SABC officially became SABC
Ltd, as it acquired the status of a limited liability company with the state holding 100% of the
SABC brings sport’s “Big 5” back to the people

In a coup to make coverage of sports of national interest accessible to the average person, the
SABC secured the South African broadcasting rights to five of the world‘s greatest sporting
events. These are the 2003 Cricket World Cup played in South Africa, the 2003 Rugby World
Cup from Australia, the 2003 All Africa Games from Tunisia, the 2004 Olympic Games from
Athens, the 2006 Fifa Soccer World Cup from Germany and the 2007 All Africa Games.

Not just hot air

The SABC facilitated broadcasts that ranged from the most complex such as that for the World
Summit on Sustainable Development to the curiously interesting. In this class fell, for instance,
broadcasting the SABC2 breakfast show Morning Live from a floating barge on the
Hartebeespoort Dam, and from a hot-air balloon suspended above the Pilanesberg Game
Reserve. It had earlier, in 2002, broadcast the programme live from the speeding Trans-Karoo
express train. This was believed to be a world first in broadcasting.

The best in digital technology

The SABC took a giant leap into the world of digital broadcasting when it took delivery of a fully
digitalised, state-of-the-art outside broadcasting unit. This acquisition — one of the most modern
in the world — cements the SABC‘s position as a leading broadcaster in Africa, given its
combination of skills and technology. The unit was unveiled to the South African public on 6
February 2003, and used for the first time two days later to broadcast the spectacular opening
ceremony of the ICC Cricket World Cup to an estimated 1,7 billion viewers world wide.

Innovations in electronic news gathering (ENG)

In a technological first for South Africa, SABC engineers designed a quick-response outside
broadcast vehicle for SABC News. Dubbed ―News on the Move‖, this impressive mini OB unit is
fitted with D-Cam digital wireless technology, and features a fixed point-of-view camera mounted
on the roof and controlled from inside the vehicle. Another camera is fitted in front of the
passenger seat. While rushing to a breaking-news scene, a journalist can report live with ―video-
on-the-move‖ commentary from his or her seat. The innovative ENG vehicle went into service in
May 2003.

Flying high

In another world first, Air Time employed technology for wall-to-wall tracking of 892 pigeons in a
ten-hour race over 555 km, giving a wingbeat-by-wingbeat account of their progress. These in-
flight visuals, obtained with the help of a helicopter, fixed-wing aircraft and microlights, were
simultaneously broadcast on television and streamed on the Internet.

Another first… an in-house staff magazine in Braille

In November 2003, the SABC published its monthly 42-page magazine for staff in a special
Braille edition. This was done to accommodate the SABC‘s four blind members of staff. The
SABC is now one of only three companies in South Africa to publish their staff magazines in

Historic Olympic deal

The SABC became the first broadcaster in Africa to secure the rights to broadcast both the 2004
Olympic Games from Athens, and the 2008 Olympic Games from Beijing.
SABC’s biggest musical event

The SABC faced its biggest musical challenge with the staging of Beethoven‘s freedom opera,
Fidelio, on Robben Island as part of South Africa‘s 10 Years of Democracy celebrations. The
performance involved a 47-piece orchestra, an 80-voice choir, nine vocal soloists and a range of
audience effects. All of these had to be faultlessly recorded for television while the opera was
broadcast live on national radio station SAfm. Some 84 microphones were used in the exercise.
Through a very complex path, the sound was fed to a mobile studio and a TV outside broadcast
unit, specially ferried to the island for the performance. All 84 music lines were then recorded
digitally for post-production remixing for the television transmission. And when the recorded
Fidelio was broadcast on SABC2, it was simulcast on SAfm! Another technological challenge to
produce a world-class sound mix well met!

Get ready for a re-play…

And as we mark a decade of democracy heralded in by South Africa‘s first all-inclusive
democratic general election in 1994, the scene is set for the country‘s third general election
under the new order. As the public service broadcaster, the SABC‘s news services will be key to
keeping the nation informed about events and developments around these important milestones.

For Election 2004 — with polling day on 14 April — the SABC will put an impressive team of
staff, infrastructure and technology into the field. About 600 SABC journalists and 200 freelance
contractors will cover the election campaign in the run-up to polling day, producing editorial
content for a range of election slots on radio and television to help South Africa‘s 21 million
registered voters to make informed choices at the polls. On polling day, and during the results
period, they will broadcast from all over the country. Direct access to results emanating from the
SABC‘s broadcasting infrastructure at the IEC‘s national election centre in Pretoria, will ensure
that listeners and viewers get the latest election news first on SABC.

10 Years of awards and accolades for broadcasting at its best

In the decade since 1994, SABC people, programmes, projects and products have won close on
2000 awards and accolades for broadcasting excellence. These were gleaned on many levels,
and on national and international platforms. There are not many organisations that can boast of
such recognition for the quality of their people, their skills and their product. All this makes the
SABC Proudly South African — and a people‘s broadcaster of which South Africa can be justly

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