Thursday, June 4, 2009

TVIEC MEMORANDUM as presented to SABC 04 Jan 09

The following Manifesto was just handed to the SABC simultaneously in Cape Town and Johannesburg at a mass action arranged by the TVIEC.

For a PDF Version of the Memorandum can be downloaded here.
For an MS Word version can be downloaded here.



The Television Industry Emergency Coalition which is made up of the IPO (Independent producer organisation), SASFED (South African Screen federation), TPA (The producers alliance), AC (The actors coalition), DFA (Documentary filmmakers association, CWUSA (Creative workers union) is calling for a transparent, fair, responsible and sustainable SABC that upholds the values of our democracy.

The independent production sector faces a crisis resulting from the SABC not fulfilling its existing contractual obligations. The SABC owes millions of rands to companies and individuals which has resulted in job losses, companies teetering on closing down and extreme financial insecurity. We believe the SABC has been disrespectful and reckless in its dealing with our industry.

We want an SABC that respectfully engages the South African public, and its key partner in content supply - the local production sector, which includes writers, directors, actors, technicians, musicians, producers and suppliers of equipment and services.

We are committed to building a sustainable and responsible production sector that is able to meet the demands and needs of our democracy and economy, and offer sustainable employment in line with the objectives of our government. 

Our sector has huge capacity for job creation and we are committed to growing and developing skills.

Our industry has paid a heavy price for the management and financial crisis at the SABC which has lead to company closures, retrenchments and job losses.

We have lost faith in the current board and executive management of the SABC.

We believe that the independence, integrity and sustainability of  the SABC has been severely damaged by both the current and previous SABC administration. 

Both the SABC and our sector need to be protected from further abuse and mismanagement.

This current crisis has been long in coming. It is deep and structural and must be addressed with urgency.

  • The current board and the Chairperson of the board to step down so as to pave the way for a new independent board which is legally constituted without political interference to be put in place. The current impasse has been extremely damaging to public broadcasting and the entire industry.
  • The commitment to a payment plan for outstanding debt to the independent production sector. In addition, we call for a transparent system in which the outstanding "contractual obligations" which have been held up by the SABC's own cumbersome bureaucracy are dealt with timeously.
  • The appointment of executive management who can provide skilled, effective and enlightened leadership of the organisation.
  • A structural overhaul of the SABC– with a broad review of policy and management. The appointment of two successive political boards has eroded the core functioning of the organisation and has distorted the management of it.
  • A complete review of the terms of trade with the independent production sector. The past 5 years has seen incrementally prejudicial contracts in which independent producers have been forced to take all the risks without any autonomy. Producers have been reduced to quasi-employees of the organisation yet with none of the security or benefits.
  • An end to the excessive bureaucracy that has left both the SABC and independent production sector crippled.
  • An immediate stop to the exploitative practices of the SABC with regards local content including price- fixing, micromanagement, editorial abuse by commissioning editors, and any form of blacklisting or bullying.
  • An end to the shameful practice of price-fixing on actors and presenter’s fees, and determining who may or may not work.
  • An end to the reluctant payment and non-payment of contractual repeat fees for actors, writers, musicians and producers.
  • An end to the dishonourable and unfair practice of the SABC claiming ownership of intellectual property rights. This practice has resulted in the independent production sector being unable to build sustainable stable trade. Writers, directors, actors and producers work a life time creating content and never owning a thing they create. Intellectual property should belong to its creators and not to a public corporation. This is real citizen empowerment.
  • An immediate suspension of the current SABC executive's powers to determine any reduction in local content or the fees associated therewith.  The independent industry is already on its knees and cannot bear the brunt of the SABC’s financial crisis.
  • An external review of SABC's compliance with ICASA regulations and license conditions. In addition, we are concerned that ICASA’s role as the regulator of the sector as a whole and as licensor of the SABC will be undermined unless ICASA urgently intervene in the crisis. And specifically that it should hold a public hearing before Council on the SABC’s performance in relation to its licence conditions including fidicuary duties, payment of suppliers, local content obligations, terms of trade, etc.
  • A real commitment to the process of commissioning programming in regions other than Johannesburg.
  • A public enquiry into the processes and procedures which have reduced the SABC to its current crisis. This enquiry should look into the ideal of public broadcasting and the reason for its failings. This would enable the public and government to ensure that this does not happen again. 
  • A mandatory provision for industry representation on the SABC board.
  • A renewed commitment to the ideals of public broadcasting and an independent, sustainable and enlightened public broadcaster which operates free from political interference and belongs to South Africa and all who live here.

In closing:

We the TVIEC are committed to building a vibrant and productive independent production sector.

We commit our support to President Zuma’s call to the nation to continue working to create a united cohesive society out of our fragmented past. To continue promoting unity in diversity and to develop a shared value system based on the spirit of community solidarity and a caring society. 

We are committed to become active citizens in the renewal of our country and within our sector to work together, to help where we can to speed up its economic growth and sustainability and to create decent work and sustainable livelihoods for all in our industry.

The TVIEC thanks the following organsations for their ongoing support.

Communication Workers Union
Young Communist League of South Africa
SOS (Save or SABC)