Monday, June 29, 2009

DTI Film Production Incentives Rebates - Task Team Suggestions to DTI

The IPO/TPA/SASFED/DFA Joint Task Team met with the DTI on June 17th 2009 to discuss the current DTI Motion Picture Rebate Scheme and other industry matters.

In the course of this meeting specific bottlenecks were identified by DTI constraining SA Film production and hampering successful uptake of the Local Film Rebate:
1. Inability of Local Producers to guarantee Finance Plan required for Rebate
2. The Rebate is currently paid out only on completion and after approved audit. This is not aligned to the cash flow needs of the local Producer. 
3. Difficulty in securing distribution agreements with local distributors requires another set of interventions not covered by any incentives currently offered by the DTI.
The DTI requested that the Joint Task Team give feedback concerning these key areas and the following recommendations are currently under discussion:
1. A Producer Guidance Service (PGS) is set up to provided, at DTI’s expense, a quality check of Producer’s applications at specific stages of the Rebate approval process.
2. For films budgeted under R10M, a system of interim Cost Report analyses by PGS providers be required by Producers requesting the Rebate Cash Flow option in order to limit the risk to DTI of non-completion of films and to monitor QSAPE against which the Cash Flow is paid. 
3. Introduce a new “P&A” rebate scheme for producers and/or distributors that would incentivise distribution and increase P & A spend to improve market performance for SA Films.

This is only one of two parts of the submitted document and deal only with SA Film recommendations and the Rebate problems that DTI have identified. Other members of the Task Team dealt with the Foreign Film Rebate scheme.

The entire submitted document to the DTI can be downloaded here as a PDF. The document outlines only proposals and recommendations to DTI - nothing cast in stone or decided yet by DTI. Your input and feedback to the task team is welcome. You can direct any comments to the SASFED e-mail.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

SASFED AGM 2009 - Minuets of AGM, Chairs report & Treasurer's report

Dear SASFED Members, Associate Members & Friends,

Last week was a very busy one for SASFED. Not only was a new board and treasure elected, at our AGM, but the new board and committee met again on Wednesday the 24th to decide on the various board positions, and to confirm that SASFED will join FEPACI. As such SASFED will be the only organisation in South Africa as part of the Pan African Federation of Filmmakers, and will hold the South African Vote for this prestigious pan african federation.

We were also honoured to have the Treasurer General of FEPACI, Mr Albert Egbe, attend the SASFED AGM as observer. He commented that he was "truly impressed by the transparency of the election process".

The AGM followed a strict agenda, and MINUETS of this meeting are available here.

A full recording podcast of the meeting can be downloaded or streamed here.

Within the AGM the outgoing Chairperson, Rehad Desai, delivered his 2009 CHAIRS REPORT. This can be seen here.

The Treasure confirm the FINANCIAL REPORT he delivered to the larger forum at the SAGM, and it can be seen in two parts here, for the covering report and here for the figures.

Pictures of the AGM can be seen in a pervious article here.

We congratulate the 2009/10 board as can be seen here as announced perviously.

We thank the previous board for their service and growing the federation to where it is today.

Friday, June 26, 2009

SASFED - A week of turmoil as reported in the media.

The list of recent events is hard to sum up by literally massed of media coverage. It seems there is so much to say about the SABC, ICASA and our industry in general, what with only one board member left on the SABC, and a former CEO back at SABC, parliament lambasting the SABC board, the board blaming management (not that they are not also to blame), the new Minister of Communications getting ready for a bail out, but still not actually meeting with our industry, and ICASA refusing to regulate despite SASFED making a very clear case to do so. Lets take a look at some highlights we found for you. Articles where if you missed them, you missed out:

Communications Minister Siphiwe Nyanda on Wednesday called for state funding for the embattled SABC to be increased. However it seems he made it clear government wont be paying a majority towards SABC, just an increased amount.

A blog by Brenon Edmonds wrote a really great piece on the SABC debacle on the Mahala blog. The article raises some very interesting points, including that according to the article, 38% of the operating budget went to staff costs last year. But only 22.5% went to film, sport and broadcast costs! Considering broadcast costs are high, you can be sure we are talking a low percentage to content. To argue therefore that "local content" is the large expense area of the SABC appears to simply not be true. The article argues that the "headcount costs" and especially senior headcount is disproportionate to content.

It seems ICASA feels there is no need to "regulate" or level the playing fields, when the broadcasters have called for "self regulation", why not give it to them Also seems as if the idea of balancing the IP rights in terms of trade is also something they would rather not get involved in. Seems they have been persuaded by the broadcasters to shift responsibility exclusively to Department of Trade and Industry and the Companies ad Intellectual Property Registration Office. Former SASFED chair Rehad Desai is quoted in this article as disappointed with ICASA's position, and point to the lack of regulation in an unbalanced relationship between broadcasters and independents.

SOS - Press Statement 26 June 2009

The following press release is of importance to our members and to the media. SASFED is an active part of SOS.

“Save our SABC” Coalition welcomes the Minister of Communications decisive actions and statements

26 June 2009

The “Save our SABC” (SOS) Coalition representing unions including COSATU, the Communications Workers Union, BEMAWU, a host of media NGOs including the Freedom of Expression Institute, Media Monitoring Africa, the Media Institute of Southern Africa, independent producer organizations and individual freedom of expression and communication activists and academics welcomes the recent statements and actions of the Minister of Communications, General Siphiwe Nyanda (ret).

Firstly, the Coalition welcomes the Minister’s statements as regards some of the root causes of the present crises at the SABC. The Minister acknowledged that the appointment process of the 2007 Board was flawed due to political interference and that serious implications arose from this fact. SOS believes that this frank acknowledgement of the issues allows us, going forward, to ensure that all future appointment processes of SABC boards and staff are free of political interference and further ensure maximum public participation and maximum transparency. This is an excellent starting point for resolving SABC problems in the long term.

Secondly, the Coalition welcomes the Minister’s assessment of the SABC crisis as multifold. SOS believes that the crises stem not only from problems with the SABC Board but also with SABC management and further with a lack of rigorous oversight from Parliament and the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA). Moving forward SOS believes that we now have an excellent opportunity to clarify the roles of these various governance and oversight structures so as in the future to hold them to the highest possible standards of governance and oversight.

Thirdly, the Coalition welcomes the Minister’s statements as regards the drafting of new legislation for the SABC. The Minister announced that his department will be amending the Broadcasting Act, in consultation with all relevant stakeholders. Further, he stated that the new legislation would bring the Charter in line with international best practice and that a more appropriate funding model, less dependent on advertising, would be introduced. SOS believes that new legislation will be one of the most effective ways of ensuring that the root problems of the SABC’s multiple crises are decisively and holistically dealt with. SOS is ready and willing to engage with the Department on these substantive issues.

Finally, moving forward SOS has a few further recommendations as regards the solving of the SABC crises. As stated on numerous occasions, SOS believes that Parliament needs to move swiftly as regards the appointment of an interim Board. Parliament should provide the President with its recommendations on the men and women with the necessary credentials to stabilize the SABC and to steer it towards financial health and good governance. Parliament must recommend people who are independent of vested interests, who have impeccable integrity and records of public service and who have skills and experience in corporate governance, finance, media, broadcasting and journalism. The interim Board’s mandate needs to include:

- The commissioning of an independent forensic audit (comprising of people outside the SABC) into the financial affairs of the SABC. These findings need to be reported to Parliament so as to ensure a public airing of issues. The recommendations of the forensic audit need to feed into new policy and legislation for the SABC. Further, the recommendations need to assist with the implementation of strict new financial systems within the SABC and the simultaneous rooting out of corruption and the dismissal of corrupt staff members.
- The negotiating of a financial bail-out of the SABC with National Treasury
- The urgent implementation of sustainable agreements as regards payment issues with key SABC stakeholders such as SABC unions and independent producers.
- Finally, the appointment of an executive management that is skilled and has impeccable integrity and the relevant broadcasting experience.

Also, immediately upon the appointment of the interim Board, Parliament must begin the public process culminating in the recommendation of a permanent Board to replace the interim Board which will sit for a maximum period of six months. The permanent board appointment process must be beyond criticism if the SABC is to have a chance of regaining public credibility. Thus it requires maximum transparency and public participation in the nominations, short-listing, interview and recommendations processes. Parliament must take responsibility for the caliber of people appointed to the SABC Board as they are responsible for making the necessary appointment recommendations to the President. We need a permanent board made up of men and women who are independent of major vested commercial and political interests, who have impeccable integrity and records of public service, who have skills and experience in corporate governance, finance, media, broadcasting and journalism and who broadly represent South Africa through being drawn from various sectors including labour, business and civil society.

For more information please contact:

Kate Skinner: (082) 926-6404
William Bird: (082) 887-1370

Thursday, June 25, 2009

SASFED Board positions for 2009/10 year announced.

Following on the 2009 AGM as detailed previously where the new board was elected, at the first combined meeting of the new 2009/10 SASFED board & committee, on Wednesday the 24th of June 2009, the positions within the board for 2009/10 were decided.

SASFED take pleasure in confirming the 2009/10 board positions as follows:

Co-Chairs: Kgomotso Matsunyane & Feizel Mamdoo
Vice Chair: Eve Rantseli
Treasurer: Michael Lee
Co-Secretaries: Thandi Brewer & Khalid Shamis
Legal: Stacy Koma
Communications: Marc Schwinges
Additional Members: Rehad Desai & Dan Jawitz

In the interests of transparency, minuets of this combined board & committee meeting can be seen here.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

6th Screen Africa Talent & Technology Conference 2009

SASFED is supporting Organisation to the 6th Screen Africa Talent & Technology Conference 2009 which takes place on Thursday the 23rd of July 2009 at the Coca-Cola Dome, Northgate, Johannesburg.

Here is the info if you have not seen it yet. The afternoon session represents really good value, and SASFED's TPA affiliate, Robbie Thorpe will be part of the 15h35 panel. We know times are tough, but this conference is a vital part of planning for our future, please attend.


When you know more, you achieve more!
A one-day conference covering broadcast issues and low budget content creation.

07:00-08:00Registration and welcome refreshments
08:15Welcome and introduction to overall programme
Presiding chairman: Lynn Mansfield, Chairman SADIBA & SABC Strategic Adviser to the Group CEO
08:25Introduction to keynote speaker
Nic Bonthuys, GM SABC Air Time Outside Broadcasts
Richard Waghorn, CTO SABC Technology

He was formerly the BBC's Controller of Distribution and was responsible for setting strategies for delivering digital switchover and directing the implementation of the BBC's switchover infrastructure. He is an acknowledged industry expert on digital broadcasting.
Discussion includes the recent FIFA Confederation Cup, the forerunner event for the 2010 FIFA Soccer World Cup; Communications strategy; Role of technology; Opportunities for the industry.

Overview: Gary Shaw, HBS for FIFA
Panel discussion: Thami Magazi, Telkom Group Executive : Multi-National Customers;
David Swannack Programme Director Siemens;
Nic Bonthuys, SABC - Air Time Outside Broadcasts
Panel Convenor: Lynn Mansfield, SADIBA
The panel will discuss how the trials are proceeding, the definition of digital standards specifications, the management of the technical platform, marketing the concept of digital transition to the public, whether the Set Top Box subsidy system is feasible, and if 2011 is a realistic deadline for the analogue switch-off?

Introduction: Lara Kantor Digital Dzonga chairperson
Panel discussion: Dave Hagen, M-Net Digital Dzonga representive;
Yusuf Nabee, DTT Project Leader at SABC;
Zubair Munshi, Digital Dzonga representative;
Marius du Plessis, SADIBA
Panel Convenor: Johann Koster, NAB
The International Monetary Fund recently forecast a 3% growth for the continent. Even though only six countries have a national GDP of more than $50bn, Africa has a population of more than 900-million potential capital market participants which represents a huge audience for broadcast, Internet and mobile communication. The panel will discuss personal experiences of working in Africa, the possibilities for broadcasters and the crucial areas of training which need to be undertaken if the continent is to develop its full broadcast potential.

Overview & Panel Convenor: Phil Molefe, Acting Head of SABC News;
Panel: Dr Melanie Chait, Big Fish School of Digital Filmmaking;
GlobeCast Africa, further speakers to be confirmed
The impact of cheap broadband on broadcasters and how they must adapt and change or face extinction.
Marcos Gonzalez-Flower, Global Head of Media Consulting Siemens IT Solutions and Services Ltd, UK
13:00Networking luncheon sponsored by Siemens Southern Africa
13:00 - 13:30Registration
13:45Welcome and introduction to overall programme
Presiding chairman: Prof Christo Doherty, Head of Digital Arts, Wits School of Arts
Industrial Development Corporation - Film funding criteria

In the current economic downturn, it is tougher than ever before for filmmakers to find the money to make a film. There were well over 10 South African feature films made last year and to exceed this number in the next 12 months, traditional government and organisational film funders will need to rethink the financial equation round supporting the development of the industry.

Basil Ford, head of the IDC Media and Motion Picture Division:
The rationale behind the IDC's funding criteria; industry misconceptions and how the IDC views low budget projects.
Hollywood isn't going to come knocking on your door to get you to direct the next blockbuster film. Truth is you are going to have to do it on your own. Learn how to get your movie made by people who are proof that with a little creativity and a lot of hard work, you can be a success without spending millions.

Panel: UE Ukpong, Nigerian filmmaker - the Nollywood model, and current developments in Nigerian low budget filmmaking;
Jann Turner, award winning filmmaker and director of the successful box office low budget feature White Wedding;
Charlie Sepadin, writer / producer of Swop! specifically made for DVD release;
Aryan Kaganoff, award winning filmmaker, who shot SMS Sugar Man, the first full length feature film on a mobile phone camera.
15:15Afternoon refreshments
Will cost-effective filmmaking become the order of the day for local films and co-productions? The role of government and the funding of low budget films.

Panel discussion: Department of trade & industry (dti);
SASFED - Robbie Thorpe, IPO, Basil Ford, IDC and Paul Raleigh, Film Finance SA.
As broadband penetration and speeds increase, content owners, channels, online video platforms, social networks and mobile networks will have to rethink their business models. Will traditional ways of distributing content via film distributors and cinema or television broadcasters change under the pressure of broadband Internet?
Indra de Lanerolle, independent media and communications consultant;
Jason Probert, General Manager Entertainment: DStv Online. Q&A
17:15Networking cocktails

This premier 6th Screen Africa Talent & Technology Conference, which takes place on 23 July 2009 alongside the Mediatech Africa exhibition, is dedicated to thebusiness of broadcast, film, new media and communications media in South Africa and Africa. It represents an excellent platform for learning and sharing experiences in the fields of technology developments and trends as well as content creation, management and delivery.

With a strong focus on 2010 and Low Budget Production, the conference highlights include panel discussions on 2010 Preparations, New Media, Digital Terrestrial TV, Doing Business in Africa, Film Financing, New Technologies and Platforms, Funding Update and Broadband Internet Opportunities.

Who Attends?

  • Africa broadcasters
  • New Media developers
  • Telecommunications companies
  • Producers & Creators of Non-fiction Content
  • Film, Television, Commercials companies
  • Post Production facility houses
  • Production equipment rental companies
  • Production service providers
  • Commissioning editors & programmers
  • Financiers & funders
  • Government bodies & industry organisations
  • Broadcast/Film technology & professional equipment suppliers
  • Broadcast consultants
  • Training institutions
  • Press
Why Attend?
  • Explore issues & uncover trends
  • Discover new opportunities
  • Get the right information
  • Get updated on new entertainment platforms
  • Establish Contacts
  • Find out who's doing what
  • Have Fun Doing Business



(after 6 July R684)
(after 6 July R479)
FULL DAY:R850 + VAT = R969
(after 6 July R1162)

For the registration form on email, contact

Monday, June 22, 2009

SOS Update - Minutes of SABC Parliamentary Hearings

The following update received from SOS.

Hello all

Thanks to Jane Duncan for sending me the minutes from the Parliamentary hearings held last week. Please find doc here.

As I am sure you are all aware now Nadia Bulbulia has also resigned from the SABC Board.

Tomorrow there will be further hearings into the activities of the SABC Board. Only two board members attended the hearings last week. The remaining board members have been summoned to attend tomorrow's hearing. I will be
flying to Cape Town to monitor proceedings. In the afternoon the Minister of Comms will be presenting the Comms budget. It will be very interesting to see the allocations made in terms of the SABC. I will keep you updated on
all developments.

Warm regards

Kate Skinner
Campaign Coordinator - Save our SABC

ICASA - Commissioning Draft Regulations

We today received a copy of a the ICASA Position Paper and Draft Regulations on Commissioning from ICASA. As you may remember SASFED did an extensive presentation to ICASA on this as both a verbal and oral presentation.

Please review the ICASA document as in my personal view ICASA has mist so much of our extensive submission, and have made a uninspired response to the issue of Commissioning and the imbalance of power between independents and the broadcasters.

The ICASA document can be downloaded as a PDF here.

The SAFSED original written submission to ICASA can be found here.


Sunday, June 21, 2009

SASFED AGM - Pics & New Board

Dear SASFED Member, Associate Member or Friend,

Minutes and the Chairs report of the AGM are to follow soon, however in the interim we are pleased to confirm the new board and treasure as voted for in terms of the SASFED constitution, at its AGM on the 20th of June 2009. The meeting was held in Johannesburg with a video and audio link to Cape Town where the TPA and WIFTSA representatives joined the meeting.

The following nine SASFED member organisations were at the AGM, nominated and voted:
DFA (Documentary Filmmakers Association), PMA (The Personal Managers’ Association), TPA (The Producers Alliance), SACOD (Southern African Communications for Development), SAGE (South African Guild of Editors), WGSA (Writers Guild of South Africa), WIFTSA (Women in Film and Television), SAGA (South African Guild of Artists) and WOS (Women of the Sun).

The Treasure was re-elected as: Michael Lee
The 2009/2010 board is: Kgomotso Matsunyane, Feizel Mamdoo, Rehad Desai (will not be chair), Thandi Brewer, Stacey Koma, Marc Schwinges, Khalid Shamis, Eve Rantseli & Dan Jawitz.

The board makes a team of 10 people with the treasurer and will meet as soon as possible, tentatively this coming Wednesday to decide on the Chair & Vice Chair positions.

The majority of the meeting was recorded and can be downloaded as an MP3 podcast here. Please note however the file is 37MB in size as the meeting was almost 3 hours long.

Pictures of the AGM in Johannesburg follow. To ensure transparency nominations and voting were done in front of the entire group on a board.

Friday, June 19, 2009

WGSA - Newsletter June 2009

The following newsletter and WGSA Members Application was received from the Writers' Guild of South Africa, a full SASFED member.

Writers’ Guild of South Africa Newsletter
June 2009
Dear Writers
I hope this letter provides welcome distraction from those deadlines I’m sure you are all chasing, or at least from the cold (and bizarrely wet) winter we’ve been having.
Just so you momentarily think you’re in the Twilight Zone, the first part of the Newsletter deals with the Newsletter. We would like to put together a monthly newsletter for the members – by the members. We want to create a Guild that functions as a network of writers rather than a body which rules us all... (The Lord of the Rings really had an impact on the current Council)... And to achieve that, we need submissions of news and articles from our members. This is an opportunity to actively participate in the Guild as well as draw attention to different projects we are all working on. We encourage all contributions relative to screenwriting, the local industry and writer’s issues. The following ideas have been forwarded by the council, but feel free to add to it or even air your opinion.
1. Achievements: If the writing team you work on won an International Emmy or SAFTA, let us know. We’d like to know about the personal writing awards by writers... we all want to know who you are. You can even include the acceptance speech you were going to make before your producer received the award on your behalf and kept it…J
2. Movers and Shakers: New additions to writing teams. Who got a second season for their show, who joined the other side and got published, who sold their show to Discovery channel and is now retiring… we want to know.
3. Upcoming / past Industry Events: If there is some indaba or other writers should know about, let us know. Or if you attended an event and would like to share your experience about it, write an article and let us know.
4. News from the coast: Our KZN-branch and Cape Town-branch are doing amazing things in their individual capacities and we’d like our members from the coast to share their experiences.
5. Industry related issues: If there are issues you feel writers aren’t aware of and should be, write about it and spread the word.
6. Writer’s Issues: You can even go all Cosmo on us and write us an article about “Five ways to cure Writer’s block”...
7. Interviews or features on established screenwriters… Brent, you’re first! Let’s hear it.
We are writers so let’s write!
And just to nauseate everyone, I would at this point like to add that the deadline for submissions is Monday 7 July.

Guild News

We regret to inform our members that due to the strain of their personal workload, Uzanenkhosi and Phatutshedzo Makwarela have resigned from the council. We wish them well on their endeavors and hope they have much success. Unfortunately with the goals of the current council in mind, we are short of hands. We need two more council members (to be nominated and seconded by members of course) who are hardworking, committed, efficient, energetic, organised, and unafraid as we have many beasts to still slay! (obviously a sword and a steel jockstrap will come in handy)

Our involvement in the March meant that we didn’t send out the registration form for members at the time. We include it in this newsletter. Please do take a moment to fill in all details and send it back to us. We are aware that many of our members are suffering financially due to the state of our industry at the moment, and you’ll be happy to know that we have made concessions accordingly. Membership fees for full Subscribing members are only R250 for a year’s membership and for Affiliate members R100 for a year’s membership. If you are eligible to be a member but membership fees are still out of reach, please contact us as we are willing to help with payment options.

We cannot however run a Guild, nor provide benefits to our members without funding. So to all our members who can easily afford membership fees, don’t be shy to make a donation or even sponsor a young writer with membership fees.

If you have already paid your membership fee, please complete the new registration form attached, as we’d like to update our database accordingly.

We are working towards getting the website up and running again. As we envisage a Guild that would serve the writers, we would like to ask for your input on what you would like to see on the site and how you would like it to function. We will start out simply and expand as time goes on. Below are suggestions from the council, feel free to elaborate and add your thoughts to

1. Info about the Guild - mission statements, history, code of conduct, council, contact details, registration details, minutes of meetings etc. (We want transparency throughout);
2. Guild Activities - contracts for downloading, members CV’s, working information like rates, credits etc., useful guidelines, legal info, tax info, projects the Guild will be undertaking and opportunities for members to pitch in;
3. Workbench Tips - guides, good links, etc.
4. News – Industry news related to writers.
5. Gossip / Chat - Come on we need a space where we can download. No producers allowed. Possibly for blogging by members or even Chat rooms. Kill the isolation now, I say.
6. A complaints section - where people can complain or air any grievances, or share any unacceptable conditions writers might be dealing with. This can be totally anonymous. But the Guild can only represent members and sort out issues they know of. This could also be linked to an article that writers can comment on or elaborate on.
7. Merchandising section – We have had many enquiries for our Writer’s Guild T-shirts, so we will be expanding into cool hats, caps and diaries.
8. Workshops / Master classes
9. Job section… producers will have the opportunity to search for writers for their projects from our Subscribing Members’ CV’s and place adverts for writers.

Let us know what you would like to see, this is your Guild and your website!

TV Crisis March News
What a beautiful turnout and what a beautiful march. I think we had it pegged on our (yes I’m saying it again) our beautiful banner: SOLIDARITY!! And with the disintegration of the Board I think we can safely say, we were successful.

I urge everyone who is on Facebook, to join the Writers’ Guild of South Africa page and have a look at the links relating to the march, there are also photos and video clips.(Soon these will be available on our website as well!)

The march was historic, and we believe that it marked the beginning of a new era in the TV and Film Industry in South Africa, so we would like to record the event. We therefore invite members to volunteer to work on a project to put together individual stories and impressions on the march, as well as hopefully photo and video footage to preserve this moment for future generations. You can email with your details and they will be passed on to a sub-committee who will be handling this endeavor.

The WGSA at the 30th Durban International Film Festival.
Thanks to the indefatigable Jarryn Katia of the KZN Writer’s Guild, the WGSA will be running two Workshops at the Durban International Film Festival:

Workshop 1: 'So You Wanna Be A Scriptwriter?'
(for aspirant screenwriters)

10 – 12 am Thursday 30 July
Breaking into the industry - training and internship opportunities, sourcing work etc.
Different types of career options available (script editors/head writers/storyliners etc.) with panelists to answer questions about each.
What to expect from a writing commission

Workshop 2: 'The Working Scriptwriter in South Africa' (for early career writers)

10 to 12 am, on Friday the 31st of July
- State of the Industry for working screenwriters
- Conducting oneself as a successful freelancer (contracts, professional associations and opportunities)

The WGSA will sponsor a screenplay prize for the Durban Short Film Challenge. WGSA members, on presentation of membership cards, will receive the student ticket rate at all film screenings at the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre venue ONLY! This is 50% of the standard ticket rate.

Guild council members Jarryn Katia, Tracey-Lee Dearham and Thandi Brewer will be there, so if you are at DIFF, do please pop by and introduce yourselves as we’d like to get to know members face to face.

Finally I would like to add that the Guild Council is working very hard to build on the legacy of our predecessors for the future of our members. Thank you all for your hard work and especially to Thandi for her leadership and fire.

Keep tuned in and be a part of this exciting time of change in our industry.

Fluit-fluit, my storie is uit!

Natasje van Niekerk
Communications Officer

SOS - Press Statement 19 June 2009

The following press statement made available for distribution by SOS today.

You can see a .RTF version of the file here, and a PDF. here.

Save our SABC Coalition Press Statement: The SABC Board Fiasco: A Way Forward for Parliament

19 June 2009

The SOS Coalition is concerned at the SABC process unfolding in Parliament. We believe that the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Communications is unwittingly extending the SABC crisis instead of moving swiftly through firm action. At this moment, the enquiry is not helping matters.

Parliament needs urgently to put in place an Interim Board as the current Board is non-functional due to resignations. In our view, Parliament must recommend to the President to accept the Board resignations with immediate effect which will then result in a non-quorate Board, legally (as well as practically) unable to fulfil its fiduciary duties. Parliament should then hold a technical hearing noting that the Board is unable to fulfil its fiduciary duties and should pass a resolution recommending the removal of all the remaining Board members by the President, in accordance with the Broadcasting Act, as amended.

Together with its recommendations to remove the remnants of the SABC Board, Parliament should provide the President with its recommendations on the men and women with the necessary credentials to stabilise the SABC and steer it out of the many existing crises. Parliament must recommend people who are independent of vested interests, who have impeccable integrity and records of public service and who have skills and experience in corporate governance, finance, media, broadcasting and journalism.

The Interim Board must develop a mandate reflecting a commitment to stabilising the SABC during its short tenure which lasts for a maximum of six months. This stabilisation must include, at a minimum:
the appointment of executive management that is skilled, has impeccable integrity and the relevant broadcasting experience
putting strict financial systems in place
ensuring management checks the use of consultants and the appointment of non-essential staff
negotiating a financial bail out of the SABC with the National Treasury
reaching sustainable agreements with key stakeholders such as independent producers etc and staff on payment issues

Immediately upon the establishment of the Interim Board, Parliament must institute two parallel proceedings: First, it must hold a public enquiry into what went wrong at the SABC. In our view, this must include the problematic initial appointment process which saw inappropriate people being appointed as a result of political interference in the Parliamentary process as well as the financial, management and governance lapses that have characterised the SABC crises, resulting in:
  • corruption
  • huge losses totally hundreds of millions of Rands which in turn has resulted in:
- the near-destruction of the independent production sector through non-payment
- low staff morale through annual increases not being paid
  • acting management throughout the organisation, which has been unable to take the hard decisions necessary to stabilise the organisation
  • content-related crises that directly impact the public such as the still-unresolved black-listing saga.
In our view, the Board cannot bear total responsibility for these crises, many of which, appear to be basic mismanagement by the senior executive management at the SABC too. In holding the enquiry, Parliament must call, among others, senior executive management and all Board members including those who have resigned to give an account of their tenure at the SABC.

Second, Parliament must immediately begin the public process culminating in the recommendation of a permanent Board to replace the interim Board which will sit for a maximum period of six months. The permanent Board appointment process must be beyond criticism if the SABC is to have a chance of regaining public credibility. Thus, it requires maximum transparency and public participation in the nominations, short-listing, interview and recommendations processes. Parliament must take responsibility for the calibre of people appointed to the SABC Board as they are responsible for making the necessary appointment recommendations to the President. We need a permanent Board made up of men and women who are independent of vested interests, who have impeccable integrity and records of public service, who have skills and experience in corporate governance, finance, media, broadcasting and journalism and who broadly represent South Africa through being drawn from various sectors: labour, business, civil society.

Issued by the “Save our SABC: Reclaiming our Public Broadcaster” Working Group.

For more information please call:

Patrick Craven – Cosatu spokesperson
Kate Skinner – Co-ordinator “Save our SABC”
(082) 926-6404

TVIEC - Press Release June 18th 2009

The following release was just made available by the TVIEC - It responds to the SABC's recent response the TVIEC's memorandum.

A Word Version of the release can be found here, and a PDF version here.

Press Release June 18th

The SABC’s response to the Television Industry Emergency Coalition’s memorandum indicates that the management fails to appreciate the real need to work with the independent production sector to find solutions that can help shield the industry and our viewers from the present crisis. They continue to act with arrogance. They continue to decide who will and won’t be paid monthly with no input from ourselves. Reasonable requests put forward by the TVIEC such as to have an independent professional (accounting firm or individual) representing our industry on their financial committee that determines the payment plan to our industry through the crisis are met with resistance. We will not standby idly while production houses are forced to fold and people loose their jobs. We are demanding that a payment plan be developed through a bi- lateral process and the onerous bureaucratic administrative processes recently imposed and used as excuses for non payment be lifted immediately.

The SABC Management needs to build genuine partnerships across the board, and specifically with content creators – the true custodians of public broadcasting who through changing boards and management, through battles between executives at the SABC continue to ensure that quality programming remains at the centre of SABC’s offering. It is the independent sector that truly deliver on the SABC’s public mandate and are central in promoting the values of the society.

There is no sustainable future for the SABC outside of real partnerships with content creators. We seek to see the SABC being built into a truly public broadcaster, free of government or state interference.

Over the last three years expenditure at the SABC has outstripped revenue. Despite this, senior management salary levels have increased dramatically and the number of middle management has grown without any check. The organization has been characterized by a top down approach to all things, an increase in bureaucracy and a deteriorating relationship with all its partners, including workers and the production industry.

The production sector’s deteriorating relationship with the SABC has been compounded by the unilateral imposition of new, onerous administrative contractual burdens on producers. What is also painfully evident over a five year period is that budgets have decreased. A good deal of the cost of programming goes to supporting this increased bureaucracy, and not to what appears on the screen.

Writers, actors, directors, editors, producers and other creative crew’s fees have been adversely affected over the past few years; this while SABC executives earn salaries equivalent to an entire years operating costs for a production company.

This situation has forced professional industry organisations to come together of late and assert that as key custodians of the public broadcast mandate we will no longer tolerate the de-professionalisation of the industry and in turn the public broadcaster. The recent and ongoing failure of the SABC to pay producers and their inability to give assurances as to when and if producers will be paid is highly informative and illustrates the degree of melt down.

The SABC need to demonstrate to the independent production constituency a true willingness to listen to their concerns. The industry is tired of years of lip service regarding partnerships we need to see some movement.

President Jacob Zuma has called for public institutions to be accountable, transparent, responsive, honest and committed to service delivery. There is dire need to translate this into reality at the SABC. We are therefore extremely disappointed that the SABC management still fails to appreciate the depth of the crisis they have caused in the industry and an unwillingness to take active steps to remedy this situation.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

SOS Update - Parliamentary hearings

Hello all

A Parliamentay hearing was held this afternoon (Thurs) at 2pm. Board members (both those who haven't resigned and those who are serving their three month notice period - which also includes Christin Qunta) were informed and invited to come down. Unfortunately the invitation was only sent to some board members at about 5pm last night (Wed). The letter stated that they could either be present in person or they could submit a representation in writing. In the end only two board members attended - Alison Gilwald and Nadia Bulbulia. Apparently they were given a grilling. The rest of the Board members have now been called to a meeting next week Tuesday.

As SOS we were hoping that the Board would be removed on a technicality - i.e. that it did not quorate and therefore could not fulfill its fiduciary duties or adhere to the Charter. We wanted the investigation to be short so that we could move swiftly ahead to appoint the interim board to stabilise the Corporation. We were hoping that Parliament would do an investigation at a slightly later stage into the details of the financial and governance crises at the SABC. It seems however that the process will not be quite as clear cut. Will keep you updated on all developments.

Warm regards

Kate Skinner
Campaign Coordinator - Save our SABC
(082) 926-6404

SASFED AGM Reminder this Saturday & Venue Change

Dear SASFED Member,

We are thrilled that so many of you have decided to become full SASFED members after a lapse in memberships. We are equally pleased to welcome back some old members and new member organisations also. If you are NOT a paid up member organisation, now is your last chance to do so. Please urgently complete and submit the Membership Form.

You may recall at our SASFED SGM and in subsequent media coverage SASFED committed to holding an AGM on Saturday the 20th of June (ie: this Saturday) in Johannesburg & Cape Town.

Due to various industry pressures and priorities on the old board of volunteers we were only able to re-confirm this meeting and to personally chase any outstanding memberships in the last few days. We are also still addressing the constitutional changes discussed at the SGM.

The SASFED AGM will however take place, as it should, in accordance with SASFED's current constitution, which requires each FULL SASFED Member Organisation to nominate and vote for a new board and treasurer at the AGM. This and the proposed constitutional changes together with a report by outgoing chair, Rehad Desai, will be the order of business for this AGM.

We do not expect the AGM to be as well attended as the SGM, since its core focus is to ensure a properly constituted new board and treasurer for the next year of SASFED's work. It is therefore a largely administrative meeting, where a smaller group representing all members and associate members (as well as observers), are required.

As such it has been decided to move the AGM to a more controlled smaller venue in Johannesburg and Cape Town where the link between the two meetings will be more reliable.

The meeting is still to take place from 14h00-17h00 (latest but probably earlier) on this Saturday the 20th June 2009.

The new venue in Johannesburg is:
Underdog Productions - 92 3rd Avenue, Melville (just off 7th Street).

The new venue for Cape Town is very small, so anybody wishing to attend is asked to make contact with SASFED URGENTLY so we can arrange for you to be accommodated.

To ensure the venue has sufficient space, kindly RSVP urgently to SASFED at:

Members may also request to join the meeting via Skype Audio Conference if they are unable to join physically.

SABC News - SABC Could face another strike

In other news, we just saw a story on News24 with the headline "SABC could face another strike." It seems the Communication Workers Union now have a certificate from the CCMA which allows them to go on a protected strike if they choose to do so. Read the full story here.

SOS Update: Acting Chair of SABC Board resigns

The following update received from SOS again and of interest to members:

Hello all

The acting chair of the SABC Board, Ashwin Trikamjee has now also resigned. Please find Misa press alert on this below. As discussed, the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee is meeting today to discuss the SABC's finances and strategic plan. There is also a possibility that Parliament will be investigating and removing the SABC board. Will keep you updated.
Warm regards

Kate Skinner
Campaign Coordinator - Save our SABC
(082) 926-6404

Thursday 18th June 2009

South Africa
SABC’s Future Debated in Parliament

Three members of the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) board could learn their fate today – June 18th. The remains of the board appeared before Parliament’s Communications Portfolio Committee on June 17th. Members of Parliament (MPs) indicated they could explore various options including taking steps to dissolve the board. News of an eighth member of the board resigning had MPs calling for decisive action to stabilise operations at the public broadcaster.

Opposition party MPs were quick to call for an establishment of a commission of inquiry to get to the root of the financial and management problems at the SABC. ANC MPs on the other hand have indicated they would push to use the new Broadcasting Amendment Act to dissolve the board. Opposition MPs said even if the board is dissolved, an investigation should be conducted to ensure there is no repeat of the financial mismanagement at the broadcaster.

The Communications Ministry confirmed acting SABC chair Ashwin Trikamjee has resigned. He sent a letter to Communications Minister Siphiwe Nyanda on June 17th. The move meant there are only three board members left of the 12 appointed by former president Thabo Mbeki in December 2007. “The minister has received the letter of resignation from Mr Ashwin Trikamjee as a member of the board of the public broadcaster and the minister has accepted it,” said the Communications Ministry’s Tiyani Rikhotso. Nyanda announced an interim board is to be established as soon as possible.

SOURCE: Radio 702