SABC reassures indie producers


South Africa’s independent production sector can take comfort from the fact that public broadcaster SABC, which recently admitted it was R780m in deficit, has committed to meeting its contractual obligations for 2009. The SABC is adamant that it is merely facing a short term cash flow problem and not bankruptcy.

Industry representatives under the umbrella of the Television Industry Coalition last week met with the SABC to air concerns on outstanding and missed payments. The Coalition comprises the South African Screen Federation (SASFED), Independent Producers Organisation (IPO), Black Filmmakers Network (BFN) and The Producers Alliance (TPA), and non-aligned producers and includes equipment suppliers and facilities representing many of South Africa’s most popular shows.

The SABC agreed to transparency and consultation with the Industry of its plans going forward to ensure that it manages the situation.

Said Coalition spokesperson Rehad Desai: “The meeting has cleared things up and we look forward to a relationship of mutual trust between us and the SABC. The coalition has people that we are accountable to and we are happy to be able to report back to them from this meeting that the SABC  is committed to deliver on their commitments.”’ said Rehad Desai, spokesperson for the coalition.

Chairperson of the SABC Board, Kanyisiwe Mkonza acknowledged the challenges currently being faced by the organisation but assured the industry that the public broadcaster believes the health of the local production industry and that of the SABC is clearly intertwined and views the independent industry as a key stakeholder. Mkonza expressed her wish for constant engagement between SABC and the industry and her commitment to locally produced content.

The Coalition welcomed her comments and agreed to a formal meeting with the board with a view to providing mutual insights on the challenges facing the sustainability of the independent sector and the SABC.

The industry acknowledged the SABC budget constraints and agreed to work together in finding common solutions regarding the SABC’s funding model and the industries growth and sustainability. Overall, there was a common understanding that both the SABC and industry share a common destiny and that both parties seek a relationship that is based on a sustainable mutually beneficial partnership.

SABC Acting GCEO Gab Mampone emphasised the fact that the situation that the organisation finds itself in is symptomatic of the global economic situation. Being reliant on the advertising revenue has meant that the SABC could no longer expect to receive the kind of revenue it had initially projected.

“The SABC had projected revenue of 14% but given the current market condition that can no longer be possible” said Mampone. He also noted, in particular, the decline of revenue from the fast moving consumer goods (FMCG) market. “The credit crisis has also resulted in major studios changing terms of trade increasing the upfront payments on content rights. All these things coming together at once have resulted in the cash flow crisis that the organisation currently finds itself in.”


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