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Covid-19 mass media campaign should be aired during TV prime time, says SOS Coalition

Picture Henk Kruger/African News Agency (ANA) Archives

Picture Henk Kruger/African News Agency (ANA) Archives

Published Aug 12, 2021


WITH the Covid-19 fourth wave looming in South Africa, several organisations have called on the government to launch a mass media campaign aimed at informing citizens of the benefits, safety and availability of the vaccine.

The SOS Coalition, which represents trade unions and TV production sector organisations, said in a joint statement on Wednesday that the campaign should be aired during prime slots as it was the best way to reach the most people.

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“Recent surveys have shown uncertainty and resistance to getting vaccinated. One of the ways we think this can be tackled is via a mass media campaign,” said the coalition.

The call to the government is backed by the South African Screen Federation (Sasfed), the Health Justice Initiative, C19 People’s Coalition, People’s Vaccine Campaign, Media Monitoring Africa, Right to Know, the Independent Producers Organisation, Section 27, Open Secrets, and Freedom of Expression Institute.

Airing public health messaging during prime time could deal with misinformation around vaccine hesitancy and reduce confusion.

“Misinformation, hesitancy, confusion and lack of credible advice… (are) hampering the recovery, leading to needless deaths, economic devastation and ensuring that the virus has reservoirs of unvaccinated individuals in which to create new and more dangerous mutations,” said the organisations.

While the national lockdowns may have impacted advertising revenues, the SABC, as the country’s public broadcaster, bore the greatest responsibility to inform citizens about the Covid-19 vaccine, said the SOS Coalition

Social media could also be a tool for relaying accurate Covid-19 information. The organisations hold that platforms such as Twitter, Facebook and YouTube should contribute free advertising space to reach more people, more often.

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“Credible, effective content is already available and more can be generated quickly. As content creators, we can assist. We can offer studios, cameras, edits suits and other resources pro bono. But if that content does not reach the majority of the country who say they are unlikely to get vaccinated, then it will be useless.”

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