Representatives from Save our SABC (SOS), the TV Industry Emergency Coalition (TVIEC), the Department of Trade & Industry (DTI), the Department of Arts and Culture (DAC) and the National Film and Video Foundation (NFVF) addressed a large industry gathering at Johannesburg’s Atlas Studios on 9 May.
Convened by the South African Screen Federation (SASFED), a large portion of the meeting was devoted to public broadcaster SABC’s financial crisis, which has resulted in non-payment to producers of commissioned work. TVIEC’s Levern Engel told how Endemol South Africa, producer of SABC3’s popular soapie Isidingo, had to resort to withholding tapes of new episodes to force payment out of the SABC. As per a list submitted to the TVIEC by producers, the SABC owes an amount of approximately R10m.
Kate Skinner spoke about how SOS is working on new legislation for the SABC and mobilising the industry to submit nominations for a new and/or interim SABC board, should the strong likelihood of the current board being dissolved transpire. An area of concern for SOS is that, barring insanity or a criminal record, there are very few criteria for the disqualification of board members. SOS believes that no board member should be involved in government. A list of names for nomination is required by the end of May.
NFVF CEO Eddie Mbalo, while acknowledging the recent problems with the current board, stressed that the SABC’s biggest problem was in its management and in corruption.
Nadia Sujee and Julia Nzimande of the DTI brought to stakeholders’ attention that the DTI incentive for film and TV production, while not under threat of closure, is not being used to optimum effect by the industry. Consequently, for the financial year 2008/2009, an amount of R73m was returned to the Treasury.
The issue of intellectual property rights (IP), specifically as it relates to the SABC-commissioned research into IP best practice around the world, came under the spotlight. While the research has been in the SABC’s hands for several months, the broadcaster has made no moves to change its terms of trade, which sees it retain 100% of rights of any commissioned work.
Transformation and whether the industry requires a Transformation Charter was discussed in depth, with Mbalo pointing out that the industry needs to be professionalised before a Charter can be put in place. It was generally acknowledged that very little transformation had occurred in the industry since the country’s first democratic elections in 1994.
An update on the beleaguered Film Resource Unit, whose inventory is now in the hands of the Department of Arts and Culture, was given, as was SASFED’s dealings with the also beleaguered Media Advertising Printing Publishing Packaging-Sector Education Training Authority (MAPPP-SETA).
Board members of the Sithengi Film & TV Market, Faith Isiakpere and Firdoze Bulbulia, committed to staging a market this year in Johannesburg, but not before September. They called on input from the industry regarding the structure and focus of the revived Sithengi.
SAFED’s annual general meeting takes place in mid-June and the outgoing board – Rehad Desai, Dan Jawitz, Catherine Meyburgh and Michael Lee – suggested that nominations for the new board be submitted before the AGM. There was discussion around expanding SAFED membership from just full members and associate members to “Friends of SASFED’.
It was noted that the Black Filmmakers Network (BFN) was keen to join SASFED but only on condition that SASFED include a Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) component in its constitution and in its membership criteria.
For a full report of the meeting see the June issue of Screen Africa.