The Sacrifices of World Cup Mania

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KAE ON FRIDAY By Kae Matundu-Tjiparuro One can only appreciate NBC TV’s airing of one of the world’s leading sports – soccer – currently on in Germany, with mixed feelings. There is no denying that the World Cup finals are a big event – even for Namibians. And one recognises that a substantial section of the Namibian population loves soccer if they are not in fact soccer-crazy. It is also important to remember that a majority of our population may not be privileged by access to DStv, One Africa television antennas or decoders for other satellite services; all vying to beam the world cup matches onto our TV screens and into our homes. Thus the NBC is filling a vacuum that many in our society would find hard to come by. One may be thankful for that. However, the other side of the coin to this seemingly benevolent service supplied by the NBC’s decision-makers is the apparent assumption that everything at the moment starts and stops with the World Cup. A case in point is the relegation of the popular daily soapy ‘When You Were Mine’ that follows the eight O’clock television news bulletin. Come the World Cup, this soapy, which, judging by the prime slot it has been allotted, testifies to its primacy in the NBC’s TV programming, all of a sudden has been consigned to oblivion. Thousands of viewers and loyal NBC license holders have, putting it mildly, been dumped. The omnibus Cup showing on Sundays to which the NBC has doomed hordes of its soapy’s viewers and fans, does little to hide the sheer lack of sensitivity of the NBC powers-that-be to these important clients. I may not have been privy, as are these thousands of NBC loyalists, to the considerations that informed the NBC programmers to forsake thousands of their loyal supporters, albeit temporarily. But what I know is that the decision to suspend this soapy for as long as the World Cup lasts, until 9 July – a whole month – is programming of the worst kind. All of a sudden this soapy, which, no denying it, has won the NBC thousands of Namibia dollars in advertising revenue from companies seizing on this prime time slot, and an unwavering crowd of license holders, is shifted onto the backburner of the public broadcaster’s programming. And this is done for the trivial World Cup finals that only happen once every four years. It is only a month before the NBC thinks of their soapy’s fans. Does it expect these fans to commit their undivided loyalty to it after being left in the wilderness? My layman’s sense of good programming would have guided me towards ending the season of this soapy on a suspense note with the World Cup approaching – at least for a month. In this way, with the World Cup euphoria gone, one would have been guaranteed a loyal viewers corps untainted by World Cup mania. Alternatively, and its not too late, the NBC can do justice to both the soapy’s fans and football followers by prioritising the matches it shows live. Not all matches carry equal attraction to warrant showing them live. Thus for now, the NBC can at least show the ‘big’ matches that feature only on some of the days of the week and then show the soapy on the evenings when no ‘big’ match is featuring, and when we move towards the quarter-finals where every match may be considered ‘big’. Then it could think of putting its soapy’s followers on the altar of sacrifice as it has done already. By the way, these are only friendly pedestrian thoughts that the NBC can ignore, unless it thinks its soapy viewers are worth the trouble – if not, its perils. In the meantime, may the soccer lovers enjoy their favourite teams. And for the lovers of Poloma et al it means hanging in there until their public broadcaster has mercy on them one day when the World Cup are no longer Namibia’s daily diet.