Sometimes you aren’t sure about telling people about something good in case it ruins it.  Usually in the case of a restaurant if you tell too many people about it, it can get too popular, lose its charm and authenticity and become rubbish.  In the current instance, I am thinking of a television programme.  My fear isn’t so much about the programme becoming too popular, rather I think if it continues to fly under the radar it may just stay on air.

I’m talking about 50/50, a programme so good SABC marketing people never think to advertise it as a clear example of what our public broadcaster can do.  Mind you I think it is a policy of SABC marketing not to advertise or market the excellent programmes and clever moves that do occur and are broadcast on SABC.  I’m not sure why, and I apologise to those at SABC marketing who think that you actually should promote and advertise the good things SABC has, but it seems our public broadcaster is not too good at communicating.

image50/50 Watch this programme!

SAfm has one of South Africa’s biggest radio personalities, Tim Modise, presenting AM Live, and they got Xolani Gwala back as well and yet I am still waiting for this to be advertised, or celebrated…Children’s news- SABC has it, the children we work with love it, yes it can be better but it is certainly worth cheering about.

Instead we are confronted on the highways with negative focused adverts for SABC news that say things like “Our facts and stories never lie.”  I’m no advertising expert but to me the moment you suggest lying or tell people you don’t, they will almost immediately think you are.  If I say don’t think of a pink elephant I don’t need to be a genius to know that you are thinking of one.  So much for helping to rebuild the credibility of SABC news.

In this context I guess its not at all surprising that 50/50 is not being avidly punted and promoted every chance they get by SABC, as its really good.  It has been going for more than 20 years and yet I know from various sources that they have to fight to keep it on air almost every year.  Again the logic, or absence of it, is astounding.

Sure it has some of those stupid moments of animals killings others, as though the brutality and gratuitous violence of nature should be seen during dinner but these are generally kept to a minimum.  Instead with 50/50 you have a programme that addresses a wide and diverse range of issues relating to conservation.  Conservation and green issues are relevant to all South Africans and as we have some of the most extraordinary natural species and landscapes it is something we all take in everyday whether we want to or not.

The programme is usually broadcast in a combination of English and Afrikaans but the subtitles make it easy for linguistically challenged people like me to understand.  The inserts are usually well conceived and fascinating to watch.  In the most recent episode I watched there was an item about bringing nature back into farming.  There was also a piece about wind-farms and local ownership by the community.  The pieces were informative and interesting.  I have also seen pieces about corruption in local government departments and interviews with experts.  The questions in interviews are hard and there are also follow-up items.  Viewer participation, especially when it encourages conservation, clearly seems to work based on the feedback they receive.  Their website offers you some idea of what they do and it is worth checking out

One of the other things that I really enjoy about the programme is that in-spite of them operating under the same conditions of sponsorship of many other programmes, sponsorship is seldom so crassly done, or given such unjustified prominence as it is in other local programmes like Top Billing.

50/50 is also one of the only programmes that also includes a gender dimension in some of its pieces.  There was one last year about the experience of rural woman farmers that clearly focused on gender and conservation.  There is always room for improvement, and perhaps entrenching an African language together with Afrikaans and English would help build a broader audience, but lets be clear –50/50 is a great example of the potential of our public broadcaster.

50/50is on every Monday night on SABC 2 19:30Watch it