With ‘Black is Here’  the South African public broadcaster seeks to rebuild its image and move on from its recent turbulent past.

On 4 June, the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) launched new branding and marketing campaign encapsulating a renewed desire to be transparent, accessible, pan-African and innovative.

With a black, simple design and the tagline “Independent. Impartial”, the SABC is working on a new narrative that steers away from the censorship accusations, editorial interference, staff dismissals, financial crises and structural issues that have riddled the public broadcaster for over two years. This long-term turmoil led to the dismissal of former CEO Hlaudi Motsoeneng for “gross misconduct” and was a blow not only to the broadcaster’s finances, but also its overall credibility and reputation.

“We had to go back and think about our recent past, the stuff that happened and issues of editorial interference that we raised and we had to think hard about how we’re going to change it,” said Phathiswa Magopeni, Group Executive of News and Current Affairs. “The black is coming from the positive meanings that we thought of, and the meanings that we’ve extracted are consistent with the values that we want to see in our newsroom, and that we are going to use to commit to the message that we’re sending to South Africans.”

Ultimately, the change of the brand reaffirms the broadcaster’s intention to go back to its public service media values and to restore citizens’ trust in its services and mandate.

“The rebranded SABC News reflects the courage to tell difficult stories, stories of marginalised communities to fit our universal service obligations,” said Kaizer Kganyago, Head Group Communications. “The transformation is further meant to directly reinforce the mandate of the SABC, which supports the provision of credible, relevant and compelling content that is accessible to all, while reflecting the South African citizen in their language, culture and background.”

The revamped SABC News will provide a line-up of new and old shows, with the new look including African-inspired artwork. This transformation will also occur internally, with the broadcaster training and working with a team that reflects the new line and is willing to adapt to new changes.

In other news:

  • In an attempt to address the recent set of crises at SABC, the current acting group CEO, Nomsa Philiso, announced an investigation with two commissions of inquiry that will look into past charges of editorial interference and sexual harassment allegations.
  • The SABC is undertaking a technical transformation into full HD coverage, switching the TV channels SABC1 and SABC3 TV to high definition. However, it is likely that South Africa will make the June 2019 deadline to completely switch off analogue broadcast signals across the country, as millions of households still need to make the switch. 

Header image: SABC Western Cape. Credits: Richard Tanswell/Creative Commons