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(From Financial Mail)
Byline: Sasha Planting
SOAPY SOLUTION GETS TO THE SOUL OF SA'S SOCIAL ISSUES by Critics of soap operas can be forgiven for describing them as trivial, senseless and of little social value. But the role of "soapies" is beginning to change and it's largely through the pioneering efforts of one SA soap opera. Soul City, whose seventh series is in production, is the longest-running drama on SA TV. It reaches around 20m South Africans - 70% of SA's adult population - and enjoys as much brand recognition among its target audience as Coca-Cola. In the decade of its existence, the series, which is supported by a radio and print campaign, has dealt with at least 15 health and development issues, including mother and child health and abuse, TB, smoking, alcohol, small business development, land reform and housing. HIV/Aids is a constant thread through all six series. And the message is bang on target. Research conducted by Markdata reveals that most South Africans get their HIV/Aids information from TV and up to 67% cite Soul City as …