“Pay up!’


At the time of going to press, the TV Industry Emergency Coalition (TVIEC) was mobilising support for a national protest march on 4 June against public broadcaster SABC’s financial and management crisis. The SABC has failed to meet its financial obligations to producers of commissioned programming, resulting in the closure of some companies and threatening the industry at large.

Although the TVIEC, which represents 80% of the local content on air in South Africa, was scheduled to meet with SABC management on 2 June, it was adamant that the march would still proceed. It was planned that at the march a memorandum would be presented to the SABC demanding it honour existing payment obligations, renegotiate terms of trade,  increase budgets in line with inflation and allow content creators intellectual property rights. The memorandum also called for accountable and responsible management, the cutting of bureaucracy and wasteful spending, and mandated industry representation on the board.

As at 28 May, the exact amount owing to producers by the public broadcaster was still unconfirmed. Said TVIEC’s Levern Engel: “Eight weeks ago we requested that the SABC compile a list of monies owing. We’re still waiting and until we get the list it is impossible to calculate the exact amount. So I can’t confirm the estimates that have been quoted in the press. In the meantime, some payments have been made. But I must note that at all the meetings we’ve had with the SABC since 12 April, their CFO [Robin Nicholson] has been conspicuously absent.”Screen Africa was unable to reach SABC spokesperson Kaiser Kganyago for comment prior to deadline.

Kgomotso Matsunyane of the TVIEC protest march committee said that the main aim of the march was to make it as effective as possible. “We’ve emphasised that this is not just a producers” march and have received the most amazing support from actors, crew, musicians, etc. So many people have volunteered their time. While it’s challenging organising an event of this size, it’s a piece of cake compared to working with a SABC budget.”
Read more in the June 2009 issue of Screen Africa


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