SABA TV channel here soon

Original African content
The Southern African Broadcasting Association introduced its television channel.
Adam Hartman
The Southern African Broadcasting Association (SABA) officially introduced its SABA TV channel on Friday in Swakopmund.

The channel could start broadcasting throughout the SADC region as soon as August. SABA is a membership based organization representing public service broadcasters and other broadcasting organizations in the Southern African Development Community region. Namibia's NBC is not just a member, but its director general, Stanley Similo, is also the president of SABA.

During the soft-launch event, the chairwoman of the SABA content committee, Celliwe Dlamini, said that there was already 98 700 hours of original content produced within the various member states, and showcased by the various public broadcasters. Through SABA, that African content, will be available for all members. "We have enough original content including news, education and entertainment for more than a year's viewing. It's Africa telling its story to the world."

The director general of the Tanzania Broadcasting Corporation, Ayub Rioba Chacha applauded the progress made by SABA, and said that it was time for the African narrative to be given and heard by Africans. "For too many years, Africans learned about their own continent, from the viewpoint of Western media." He added that the image of Africa was always portrayed through wars, poverty and pestilence, or wildlife scenes from the Serengeti, or general African cultural caricature. "We have so much more than that! There had been attempts for decades to realise a African broadcasting platform, but the attempts never saw the light. SABA TV can learn from the mistakes made to ensure that this time such a vision will see the light."

Similo told Erongo 24/7 that a decade ago, there was the idea by SABA (which was established in 1993) to start a SADC TV channel, which eventually led to the beginning of the 'Eye on SADC' news programme which is broadcasted through the region's public broadcasters. But they wanted more. "We wanted a channel that will speak to broadcasting content that is coming from all the public broadcasters within the region. 'Eye on SADC' is already a news program, but now we have come to a point where we are ready to launch SABA TV channel, of which 'Eye on SADC' will be one programme amongst many others. It was not just about a brand, but ultimately the type of content that SABA TV will bring."

He explained that SABA TV would form part of each public broadcaster's available channels - for instance, in Namibia, four public channels are available; three of which belong to NBC, while the fourth would go SABA TV.

As for content contribution, he said that once the channel is up and running, proposals for content will be sought locally - from within the region. Until then, and for now though, SABA TV will predominantly concentrate on content which is already available from the public broadcasters. "There is a lot of content that members do not see of each other. With SABA TV, this content will now break through borders, and people will be able to enjoy shows from member states in the comfort of their home in another part of the region."

Similo said that there were still some technicalities to iron out before SABA TV could go 'live' as from August.