[DEBATE] : SABC drama , the soapies go down the plug-hole
dominic.tweedie at gmail.com
Sat May 16 22:08:20 BST 2009
Plug pulled on soapies
Cash-strapped SABC can't pay bills of R40 million
Kashiefa Ajam, Saturday Star, Johannesburg, 16 May 2009
The future of the country's most popular soapies and dramas hangs in
the balance this weekend.
The SABC has failed to pay nearly 20 production houses more than R40
million, and now many of the smaller ones have had to lay off staff to
Two months ago, the affected companies formed the Independent
Producers Organisation (IPO) to negotiate and communicate with the
SABC after the broadcaster's executives told them plainly that there
was no money to pay them.
Instead SABC managers promised to make it up the following month.
The situation became so serious that the producers of Isidingo,
Endemol, threatened to "walk out with their tapes" on April 30. But
that night the broadcaster found some money to make a payment.
Colin Howard, line producer for Afrikaans soapie 7de Laan, told the
Saturday Star the soapie had been forced to pay its cast and crew from
its overdraft facility.
"April was the first month that the SABC missed a payment. (Because we
made use of the overdraft) we were only able to pay staff 80 percent
of their salaries.
"We received full payment this week and were able to pay the staff the
outstanding amount," Howard said.
Meanwhile Generations' producer, Friederich Stark, said unlike other
Independent Producers, who have not received payment or have received
late payment from the SABC, the popular soap opera currently doesn't
"even have a production contract, let alone a contract number, in
order to be able to invoice the corporation for payment.
"For the past almost four months we have been bankrolling our script
development process, and for the past almost two months, the
production of the series.
"Our contract was not renewed timeously by the SABC because of an
'internal bungle' and because the corporation wanted to renege on the
terms and conditions in respect of renewals stipulated in our past
production agreements with them. It is indeed a sorry state of
affairs," Stark said this week.
Earlier this week, the Sowetan reported that actors with SABC1's
Emzini Wezinsizwa had lashed out at the public broadcaster after it
declined a proposal to recommission the comedy.
The series has an average viewership of 1.8 million and competes
favourably with Generations.
But the SABC's head of drama, Khethiwe Ngcobo, said SABC1 did not
think the comedy was good enough to be recommissioned.
IPO chairwoman Desiree Markgraaff said the major concern was that the
SABC was not paying companies according to the contractual agreements.
Instead of negotiating with them on payment, it was simply keeping
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