The abrupt cancellation of SABC's live youth talk show Shift took a lot of viewers and tv critics by surprise, myself included. It made no sense that a show that was performing well for SABC1 could simply be yanked off air without any explanation.
Produced by LCAT Television Productions for the SABC's SABC Education division, the hour long talkshow covered topical issues from the worlds of entertainment and entrepreneurship to politics, health and education.
Naturally, when something like this happens we owe it to you the viewers to get the answers and I managaed to get some from the SABC. I spoke to Nomsa Piliso, Head of Television, and she was very candid and open about discussing the issue.
According to Piliso, with the SABC looking to revamp their content and give platform to new shows that came with pitches made through their RFP, producers of the Shift were asked to re-pitch for the slot.
While Shift was performing relatively okay for SABC1 in their timeslot, the SABC was looking for fresh ideas and the talkshow would have had to compete with the new pitches sent in for talkshows. As such, when the producers of the Shift re-pitched for the slot they unfortunately failed to put forward a better pitch than the show that eventually got them booted.
Sadly after 14 seasons on Thursday 2 February, Shift aired their last episode and the 11:00 timeslot Mondays to Thursday on SABC1, was taken over by Daily Thetha.
Honestly, I love this. For a long time producers and certain production companies have been too complacent in their positions because they knew they had a relationship with the SABC so they could just sit on the laurels and they will still keep their shows on air. Clearly that period is over!
This is not an indictment on the competency of Shift. It is, however, a wake up call to industry producers the SABC had to make. It happens. In the US popular show like Ugly Betty got canned simply because it was not meeting certain expectations set by the channel.
I am stating this again; I am excited about the future of South African television. This new direction the SABC is taking will invigorate the industry and open doors for more innovative ideas. Let's just hope this is a wake call to everybody... put your best foot forward or step aside for others who can do better!