Remembering The Day SA Launched It’s First TV Transmissions In 1976… Happy 41st Anniversary SABC


South Africa’s leading broadcasting firm, SABC marks its 41st anniversary of TV transmission. Until January 1976, SABC was a radio service.

By 5th May 1975 however, South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) had started test transmissions in Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban.

SABC started a regular, countrywide television service on 5 January, 1976.

Back then, there was only one channel which operated in both English and Afrikaan languages. For that reason, the airtime was evenly divided between the two languages.

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Wikipedia records that before the TV transmissions, there were three main SABC radio stations: the English Service (later known as Radio South Africa), the Afrikaans Service (later known as Radio Suid-Afrika and Afrikaans Stereo) and the commercial station, Springbok Radio.

Courtesy of imperialism did you know that South Africa was one of the last countries in the world to get a regular television service?

The apartheid government frustrated all efforts to introduce TV transmissions. They prevented the initiative for years for reasons best known to them.

To that respect we have the likes of H.F. Verwoerd and Dr Albert Hertzog condemning the introduction of TV transmission in South Africa.

H.F. Verwoerd, a Psychology and Philosophy scholar, Afrikaans newspaper editor-in-chief and SA’s 7th Prime Minister placed the TV side by side to atomic bombs and poison gas.

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Dr. Albert Hertzog, Minister for Posts and Telegraphs (1958-1968) said that television would come to South Africa “over [his] dead body”.

Hertzog denounced TV and described it as,

“Only a miniature bioscope which is being carried into the house and over which parents have no control. It’s the devil’s own box for disseminating communism and immorality”.

“South Africa would have to import films showing race mixing; and advertising would make [non-white] Africans dissatisfied with their lot.”

SABC launched a subscription-funded television service in 1986. SABC had a monopoly on free-to-air television until the launch of e.tv in 1998.