Saturday, October 31, 2009

Controversial Public Services Broadcasting Bill - SOS Initial Comment

The following article from Business Day on the new and highly controversial Public Services Broadcasting Bill - which was launched to an SOS Round-Table on Thursday for comment. SASFED was present and worked with SOS on quickly reviewing the bill which plan to completely replace the Broadcasting Act of 1999.

The news by Nyanda?
PUBLISHED: 2009/10/31 08:30:54 AM

TAXPAYERS should contribute at least 1% of their personal income tax to fund the development of broadcasting, the new Public Service Broadcasting Bill proposes.

The bill, published this week for comment, also scraps television licence fees, gives substantial power to the communications minister over the SABC board and “any entity identified in the act” if it’s believed they are unable to perform their functions .

The draft legislation, which controversially went directly from a discussion document to a bill, is being presented as an amendment to the present Broadcasting Act of 1999. But Kate Skinner, spokeswoman of the Save Our SABC Coalition, says it is “a complete repeal of the Broadcasting Act”.

Members of the coalition— among others the Freedom of Expression Institute, Media Monitoring Africa, unions in the broadcasting sector and academics — met in Johannesburg on Friday to discuss the bill.

Skinner says they decided to appeal to Communications Minister Siphiwe Nyanda for more time to make submissions. The department has asked for public comment by December 7.

“The bill is a major shift from the previous legislation,” she says. “It is not an amendment but a complete repeal of the existing legislation and outlines what they want the broadcast environment to be. The inclusion of a broadcast fund is a brand new idea.”

Nyanda described the bill in his b udget s peech in June as “a new vision and mandate for public broadcasting services in line with SA’s developmental agenda”.

Skinner says the coalition is concerned about several aspects of the bill, and plans to ask the ministry for information or research that contributed to the decisions.

“The new bill aligns the public broadcasting to the developmental state, rather than the c onstitution as in the past,” she says.

“This could mean the state sets the agenda for what is required and means that the broadcaster would be less independent.

“The bill does not define what a developmental state is.”

The coalition is also concerned about a proposal that the Media Development and Diversity Agency manages the broadcast fund. “It’s a very small agency at the moment and will be dealing with hundreds of millions of rand ,” she says.

“We want to know how it will operate — issues like governance and independence of the fund would have to be addressed and it would need to be substantially strengthened.”

Skinner says that the bill gives Nyanda “significantly” more power than the Broadcasting Act does. “The minister may direct any of the entities specified in this a ct to take any action pursuant to the Public Service Broadcasting Bill if the entity is unable to perform its functions as prescribed in this a ct,” it reads.

“The minister may, subject to this a ct and the Electronic Communications Act, instruct the board to take any action specified by the minister if the c orporation is: in financial difficulty or being otherwise mismanaged; has acted unfairly or in a discriminatory or inequitable way towards a person to whom it owes a duty under this act or a related a ct; failed to comply with a directive given by the minister under the a ct; or has obstructed the minister or a person authorised by the minister in performing a function in terms of this a ct.”

Skinner says the role envisaged for Nyanda shifts the SABC “towards a state rather than public broadcaster”.

She says interested parties will need much more time to review the bill than the government is proposing.

“This is the first time we have had any idea where the government is going. The g overnment went straight from a discussion document to a bill.”

She says what isn’t clear at all in the bill is how the government envisages business’s contribution to the broadcast fund.

On Friday afternoon, the SABC sent out a statement warning the bill still had to undergo a public consultation process and various legislative processes before it became law, and South Africans were required to pay their licences until notified otherwise.

“Payment of TV licence fees remains in force, and any person or entity in possession of, or using a television set will still be liable for payment of licence fees in terms of current legislation,” the SABC’s statement reads.

The SABC said that it was engaging with the Department of Communications on the “formulation and finalisation of the envisaged new Public Service Broadcasting legislation”.

Efforts to obtain comment from the Treasury or the Department of Communications on the tax implications of the bill and changes required to the Income Tax Act were unsuccessful.

Treasury spokeswoman Lindani Mbunyuza referred questions to the Department of Communications, which did not return calls.

It was also not clear whether the minister would consider requests for more time to respond to the new legislation.

Apart from areas highlighted by the coalition, the Public Service Broadcasting Bill also proposes the transfer of Channel Africa to the international broadcast service; provides charters for the SABC and community broadcasting services; and introduces a performance management system for the board.

The bill also outlines the mandate of Sentech, the state- owned company that carries radio and television signals for SA’s terrestrial broadcasters.

Sentech, which has long complained that it is underfunded, has been accused of a lack of strategic planning and a failure to deliver on its mandate of prioritising services to rural areas.

The bill stipulates that Sentech must ensure universal access to broadcasting services by rolling out the transmitter network prioritising rural areas, maintaining a robust transmission network, and carrying public and community broadcasting at reasonable costs.

Sentech must also provide transparent mechanisms for its tariff structure and the company may borrow money on the approval of the minister in consultation with the finance minister, the bill proposes.

The company was criticised recently in court papers filed by challenging its high charges for services.

The funding model for the SABC has occupied the government for some time.

During his budget presentation in Parliament, Nyanda said an appropriate model would need to be set up to ensure that the public broadcaster was not left to the “vagaries of the markets”.

A task team of Department of Communications and Treasury officials and business turnaround strategists was established to help the SABC and to consider Sentech’s strategic thrust.

Nyanda told MPs during his budget vote speech in Parliament that the new Public Services Broadcasting Act would bring the SABC charter into line with international best practice and ensure that it was best suited “to our young democracy”.

Friday, October 23, 2009


Monday 26 to Wednesday 28 October

At Wits University, Education campus

Wits Journalism invites you to Power Reporting 2009, the African Investigative Journalism Conference.

For crime and court reporters and journalists, and anyone interested in how the SA justice systems works, the third day will highlight the new Wits Justice Project, which aims to use the skills of investigative journalists in getting people out of prison. Speakers will include:

  • Raphael Rowe, who spent 12 years in a British prison for a wrongful conviction and now reports for BBC Panorama about similar cases
  • Jim Nichol, a British criminal lawyer who has spent 20 years righting wrongful convictions
  • Jeremy Gordin, director of the Wits Justice Project.

On other days we will highlight sport and financial journalism with:

  • Andrew Jennings, author of Foul: The secret world of Fifa , tracking his investigation of corruption within the organisation (Monday).
  • Danny Schechter, author of Plunder: Investigating our Economic Calamity and the Sub-Prime Scandal on the crisis of financial journalism (Tuesday).
  • There are a range of hands-on courses and workshop:

Computer-assisted reporting
A series of hands-on computer lab classes, to improve your research skills, train you to find data and analyse it, to provide the facts you need to support stories.

Business and finance
Top financial journalists will teach you where to find company information, and once you’ve got it how to read it and use it in stories.

The right to know
Can’t find the facts? Find out how to use South Africa’s Promotion of Access to Information Act.

Skills for investigative journalists
How to organise your investigation, work across borders, work undercover or embedded in your story.

The future of investigative journalism
With the pressure on budgets in print and broadcasting, who will pay for in-depth reporting? We look at alternative funding models, and how computers are shaping our investigative world.

This year, Wits Journalism has teamed up with the Forum for African Investigative Reporters (FAIR) to become The African Investigative Journalism Conference, a part of the Global Investigative Journalism Network.
For more information and registration forms visit our website:
or email
Cost: R2000 for the three days or R700 for one day (with a 10% discount for early booking)

Jim Nichol
is one of Britain’s leading criminal lawyers. For over 25 years he has specialised in investigating miscarriages of justice and obtaining the release of innocent people who have been wrongly sent to prison. Throughout he has worked in partnership with journalists many of whom have, as a result of their own commitment to right a wrong, provided decisive new evidence of innocence. He believes that as a consequence of campaigns in the media for the freeing of innocent prisoners, government, judges, and law makers are compelled to reform criminal procedures and provide safeguards for those arrested.

Raphael Rowe
was sentenced to life imprisonment for a murder and robbery he did not commit in 1988. He was just 19. Twelve years later the UK Court of Appeal quashed his convictions and he was freed. He went to work for the BBC, and became the first person of mixed race to report for it’s prestigious radio morning news programme. He now works for the BBCs flagship Panorama television programme. He investigated the murder of Jill Dando and cast doubts on the firearms forensic evidence used at the trial of Barry George, who was convicted of killing the BBC TV presenter. In August 2008, Barry George was acquitted at a retrial and freed

Visiting Fellow, Investigative Journalism
Dept of Journalism, Wits University

Office: 011 717 4043
Cell: 07606 04815

Click here to download schedule

From our friends at 'Women of the Sun'

WoS invite you our Film Showcase
of some of the most beautiful short films by a new generation filmmakers, films/drama with quirky and refreshing screen plays

Date: Thursday 29th Oct
Venue: The Lab (Market theatre)
Free: Admission, food & Music

Be in the fore front of new talent, network with industry players, catch-up with old and new friends/colleagues... have fun.

We look forward to seeing you there!

From our friends at 'Women of the Sun'

A workshop on Broad-Based BEE (B-BBEE) for the film industry

Date: Friday, 30 October 2009
Venue: Atlas Studios
Time: 9am – 12:00pm
Cost: Women R 100.00, Men R 150.00 (incl. VAT)
RSVP: Thursday, 29 October 2009

It is no secret that many of the intended beneficiaries of B-BBEE are not accessing any gain from it, and barely know what the policy, and its potential benefits are. This workshop therefore aims to correct this showing these potential beneficiaries what the benefits of B-BBEE can be, and how to access them.

The Workshop
The format of the training covers the following topics:
  1. A brief introduction to B-BBEE and the seven elements of the scorecardHow B-BBEE affects different size enterprises
  2. What is Enterprise Development?
  3. Who qualifies as an ED Beneficiary?
  4. What are the benefits?
  5. How to position yourself as an ED Beneficiary
  6. How to position yourself as a supplier of goods and services
  7. Getting a scorecard

About the Facilitators - Enterpriseroom
Enterpriseroom focuses on three main activities:
  • Helping smaller companies improve their businesses by developing strategies to access B-BBEE benefits, and matching them to the needs of our larger corporate clients. We call them our “Enterprise Promotion Partners” (Small, black-owned companies can be both qualifying enterprise development beneficiaries and B-BBEE suppliers, which becomes a huge incentive for large corporates to procure from them, and assist them in reducing their operational costs).
  • Working with large corporations in developing strategies for improvement of their B-BBEE Scorecard, with special emphasis on Preferential Procurement and Enterprise Development
  • Training of small black owned businesses on the benefits presented by the Codes of Good Practice on B-BBEE, and coaching those businesses in repositioning themselves and approaching customers.
Booking Details
Preferably deposit to:
Women of the Sun
Bank: Nedbank,
Acc no. 1916 074804
Branch: Killarney
Alternatively Pay at the Door

RSVP - Eve Rantseli:
Tel/fax: +27 11 487 3036
Cell: +27 72 143 1825

This event is sponsored by:
Gauteng Film Commission and Enterpriseroom

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Reminder Call for Entries - Berlinale Co-Production Market 2010 - Deadline October 29

A message from the Berlinale Co-Production Market:

Dear Colleagues,

The deadline for project submissions for the 7th Berlinale Co-Production Market (February 14-16, 2010) is coming up soon: If you are looking for international partners for your project, we would be happy to receive your submission by next Thursday, October 29.

The project should be suitable for an international co-production, it should have at least 30% of the financing in place and the budget shall range between 1-10 million €. For detailed criteria, please see project requirements in the attached flyer. Furthermore, you will find the Submission Form attached, which is also available for download at

We will start with our project selection soon, and will notify you at the latest by December 23, 2009, whether your project is selected.

The seventh Berlinale Co-Production Market will be held from Sunday to Tuesday, February 14-16, 2010, as part of the 60th Berlin International Film Festival.

It is a 2 ½-day service and networking platform designed for producers, financiers, sales agents, distributors, broadcasting and funding representatives who are actively participating in international co-productions.

At the Berlinale Co-Production Market, you have the opportunity to present your project –if it is selected- to interested co-production partners and financiers in pre-scheduled one-on-one meetings. In addition, you can visit the framework programme, which offers opportunities to catch up on film financing and marketing news in Case Studies and Workshops, get first-hand information on co-production opportunities at the Country Tables, exchange experiences in Theme Talks and establish new and refresh existing contacts during informal Speed Matchings, cocktail receptions or while visiting the Producers’ Lounge.

In 2009, a total of 36 projects from 25 countries were presented at the Berlinale Co-Production Market. 500 industry professionals from all over the world attended the event and met in more than 1000 pre-arranged individual meetings.

If you have any questions regarding the project submission or if you want to participate in the Berlinale Co-Production Market without a project, as a potential co-producer for the selected projects, please do not hesitate to contact us

(Tel: +49-30-25920-517, e-mail:

We are looking forward to receiving your project submission.

Best regards,
Your team of the Berlinale Co-Production Market
Sonja Heinen, Martina Bleis, Kathi Bildhauer & MĂ­riam Boixader
Berlinale Co-Production Market
Internationale Filmfestspiele Berlin
ein Geschäftsbereich der
Kulturveranstaltungen des Bundes in Berlin GmbH
Potsdamer Strasse 5
10785 Berlin

Tel. +49.30.259 20.517
Fax +49.30.259 20.529

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

TVIEC Update - 20 October 2009


Report back: TVIEC meeting with ICASA
Report back: Industry meeting with DAC Minister
Report back: TVIEC meeting with IDC
Hunger Strike Continues
TVIEC report to Parliament
TVIEC lobby to government: Request for information
TVIEC research and legal: Call for funding

Dear fellow industry professionals

It’s been a while since our last update – not because there’s nothing to report, but because we’ve been so busy. In the past few weeks the TVIEC, IPO and SASFED have had a broad range of meetings with government and industry stakeholders. Our cause is being taken seriously, not least in the media. We are working on medium term goals to try and stabilise the industry and make some lasting changes.

In the short term, we are still in the grip of a crisis. Data collated from the industry indicates at least 60% unemployment and a growing number of companies are closing. Our only assurances are from the DOC, where the minister has appealed to government for a R230-million bail-out for the SABC to pay its debts, including those to producers with payments outstanding. Further, the SABC Interim Board has appealed to Treasury to underwrite a loan of R1.7-billion to ensure that the corporation gets back to business by December this year.

Report back: TVIEC meeting with ICASA

The TVIEC met with the South African communications regulator ICASA yesterday to gain clarity from ICASA on the monitoring of local content on SABC. The press release below pretty much sums up what went down.

19 October 2009 - PRESS RELEASE


The TVIEC today met with a delegation from ICASA, including the Chair, Mr Paris Mashile, for over two hours. The primary purpose of the meeting was to gain clarity from ICASA on the monitoring of local content on SABC, especially given SABC’s current lack of new commissions and its reliance on repeat programming.

The TVIEC welcomes ICASA’s willingness to partner the industry on matters of regulation as well as the positive spirit of the meeting.

However, the TVIEC is alarmed at the lack of rigid monitoring of SABC compliance admitted by ICASA in the meeting. Presented with files of evidence about a lack of data accompanying SABC’s local content compliance reports for the past seven years, ICASA admitted that they have not had the requisite methodology in place to fully monitor SABC’s compliance claims.

ICASA stated that they are developing a new blueprint that will be able to accurately measure SABC’s compliance instead of just being reliant on SABC’s summaries and occasional spot checks. The new system will be open to imput from the television industry and the public, said ICASA.

While the TVIEC believes that ICASA intends to beef up its monitoring, the regulator was unable to explain why other broadcasters have in the past provided data to support their compliance summaries but the SABC never has.

Report back: Industry meeting with DAC Minister

The industry finally had an opportunity to meet with Ms Lulu Xingwana, Minister of the Department of Arts and Culture and we came away generally cautiously positive. The Minister put forward a fresh and honest attitude and had clearly done her homework about the industry. She admitted her department was largely dysfunctional and that it needs new blood. She went so far as to commit to an industry a meeting with the President.

In the course of the lengthy meeting, the Minister covered various issues: Sithengi; FRU; NFVF; SABC; Lottery; IP; stats and research. She seemed to agree in principal with our stance on most of the core issues and is keen to champion our cause. She called for SASFED to submit a written proposal to her within two weeks.

Report back: TVIEC meeting with IDC

The TVIEC has also been in lengthy meetings with the IDC (Industrial Development Corporation). We will be providing them with a forward-looking report on the industry (how to expand DTI and IDC initiatives in the industry) when presenting to them on the 29th of October. The goal is to discuss how to turn SA from a film-making destination to a film producing nation.

Hunger strike continues

The hunger strike action gained new impetus with the announcement two weeks ago that actor Sello Maake ka Ncube is the latest protestor to join. For updates, see the hunger action blog at:

TVIEC lobby to government: Continued request for information

The TVIEC is meeting with many stakeholders about the crisis our industry is battling. These include the Department of Trade and Industry and also the parliamentary portfolio committee. We have an opportunity to present to parliament our request for distress funding for the industry so that we can all get back to work. Our presentation needs to include comprehensive data on the state of the industry.

Thank you to all of you who provided information on how the SABC crisis has affected your business. Those of you who haven’t, please respond now. If you are a freelancer, please just respond to questions 5 and 6 below.

1. How many people would your company normally employ in a good year?
Please try to use figures over the last three years. Please include in your answer:
a) The number of skilled artisans – crew, admin and cast
b) The remainder of your permanent and freelance employees. The broadest range of these, down to the last extra on your set and the last voice artist in your post-production facility. (Ie: If you had 300 extras in a drama, this counts as well as the person who takes care of the honeywagon – everyone counts. Every job makes a difference.)

2. How many people do you estimate will you employ in this year (Feb 2009 – Feb 2010)?

3. How many permanent staff do you normally employ?

4. How many permanent staff have you let go this year?

5. What percentage drop in turnover have you experienced this year?

6. If you are not contracted by SABC within the next 3 months, what are the consequences for your company?

Please mail your answers to:

TVIEC research and legal: Call for funding

The TVIEC is pursuing both legal advice as well as research into the broadcast industry. We are looking at options with regards pro bono action against the public broadcaster and we are researching the status of the broadcaster’s local content delivery. Thank you to all of you who have donated funds to this cause – but we continue to appeal for more funding. If each company affiliated to the TVIEC just donated R500, we would be able to meet our goals. If you can help, please mail


This letter is written on behalf of the TVIEC (Television Industry Emergency Coalition) which consists of: IPO (Independent Producers Organization), SASFED (South African Screen Federation), TPA (The Producers Alliance), DFA (Documentary Filmmakers Association), WGSA (Writers Guild of South Africa) as well as the CWU (Creative Workers Union).

Exclusive Interview with the Minister of Arts and Culture from The Hollywood Reporter

Hi all

We are delighted to attach a link to an exclusive interview with Minister of Arts and Culture, Lulama Xingwana, during a recent trip to Los Angeles. The minister spoke with The Hollywood Reporter.

To see the clip, click HERE.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Meeting with ICASA 19 October 2009 Press Release


The TVIEC today met with a delegation from ICASA, including the Chair, Mr Paris Mashile, for over two hours. The primary purpose of the meeting was to gain clarity from ICASA on the monitoring of local content on SABC, especially given SABC’s current lack of new commissions and its reliance on repeat programming.

The TVIEC welcomes ICASA’s willingness to partner the industry on matters of regulation as well as the positive spirit of the meeting.

However, the TVIEC is alarmed at the lack of rigid monitoring of SABC compliance admitted by ICASA in the meeting. Presented with files of evidence about a lack of data accompanying SABC’s local content compliance reports for the past seven years, ICASA admitted that they have not had the requisite methodology in place to fully monitor SABC’s compliance claims.

ICASA stated that they are developing a new blueprint that will be able to accurately measure SABC’s compliance instead of just being reliant on SABC’s summaries and occasional spot checks. The new system will be open to imput from the television industry and the public, said ICASA.

While the TVIEC believes that ICASA intends to beef up its monitoring, the regulator was unable to explain why other broadcasters have in the past provided data to support their compliance summaries but the SABC never has.

Charl: 082-6813680

This press release is written on behalf of the TVIEC (Television Industry Emergency Coalition) which consists of: IPO (Independent Producers Organization), SASFED (South African Screen Federation), TPA (The Producers Alliance), DFA (Documentary Filmmakers Association), WGSA (Writers Guild of South Africa) as well as the CWU (Creative Workers Union).

DAC Minister meeting minutes

To view the minutes of the meeting held with the DAC Minister, click here.

Friday, October 16, 2009

2009 Leap International Developmental Film Festival

Invitation to the 2009 LEAP INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENTAL FILM FESTIVAL has been extended to all Documenters courtesy of the Department of Art and Culture.

Please click here to read covering litter (301KB)
Please click here to read 2nd document (1MB)


Johannesburg, 16 Oct 2009

Actor and hunger protester Sello Maake kaNcube has entered his 11th day of fasting as part of the Hunger Protest.

Yesterday he stated in a series of tweets on Twitter:

"I'm all jacked up to fight for the levelling of the cultural playing fields in my country; as I'm losing my weight, it feels I'm shedding off the many many times of procrastination to take on the battle to fight for what i strongly believe in. And at long last I'm feeling very strong in my stance, in my conviction, that the corruption that is happening in the country is very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very COUNTER-REVOLUTIONARY.”

So far Michael Lee and Zamambo Tshabalala have each gone 30 days without food, one after the next, and Sello followed, stating he would also go until 30. This week, Maake kaNcube was quoted in the Times as saying he will go beyond 30 days if need be.

Lee admits, "To be honest that statement worries me. But keep in mind, no matter what Sello says, it's written in our founding statement right up front - 'This protest is not designed to injure its participants. It is designed to demand an end to a situation of injustice and inhumanity, in a tradition similar to that going back in many cultures for more than 2000 years."

"When I went past 21 days," Lee continued, "the TVIEC and SASFED felt it necessary to issue a statement disagreeing with my decision. Behind the scenes, we agreed I had to stop at 30 and hand over. I'm sure Sello will hand over when the time comes."

Lee noted for the record that the Hunger Protest is NOT a TVIEC initiative as the Times article stated. It is rather a private but aligned campaign in support of the TVIEC's aims.
"I'm feeling fired-up,” Sello added. “I feel like I'm finally awake, more every day. The clarity is what is amazing. I can either be angry about the past, or deal with what's going on now to make the future. My choice.”

kaNcube has announced that he will be taking the protest international when he travels to the Phillipines for a theatre festival on October 21 – projected to be his 16th day without food. He will be there for a week, returning on his 23rd day of fasting.


SABC Statement regarding Suspension of Executives

The following statement was released to all SABC staff today at 08H38:

SABC Media Statement

Board Suspends Four Executives

Johannesburg, 15 October 2009 -The SABC Interim Board has today suspended four members of the executive management, pending the outcome of internal disciplinary processes arising from investigations conducted by the Auditor General and other parties.

The four members who have been suspended are the Chief Financial Officer, Mr Robin Nicholson, the Group Executive: Content Enterprises, Mr Mvuzo Mbebe, the Head of Audience Services, Mr Anton Heunisand the Head of Group Procurement, Mr Mabela Satekge.

The Interim Board would like to stress that the suspension of the four senior executives does not in any way imply that any conclusions have been reached on whether or not there has been any wrong doing by any of the executives or other staff members. The Chairperson of the Interim Board Irene Charnley stated that the Interim Board is committed to ensuring that due process in relation to the disciplinary processes is followed.

“It is important that the integrity of the process is upheld and that the matters are handled fairly in order to protect both the Corporation’s interests and those of the individuals involved,” said the Chairperson Irene Charnley. “The process will therefore be adjudicated by independent and external parties.”

It must be noted that this is an internal matter, and the SABC does not wish to comment further on this at this stage in due deference to all parties concerned and to ensure that the reputations of all role players are preserved. The members who have been suspended are still members of the SABC staff and as such any queries on this matter should be directed to the SABC. At the appropriate time, the SABC will make further announcements in this regard.

Kaizer Kganyago
SABC Spokesperson
082 306 8888

16 October - Press Release - TVIEC to meet with ICASA

The TVIEC will be meeting with the South African communications regulator ICASA on Monday 19 October at 11am. The TVIEC has requested the meeting to discuss a range of issues, but particularly to gain clarity from ICASA on the monitoring of local content on SABC.

The crisis at SABC has resulted in an unprecedented commissioning freeze. With a mass of repeats on air and precious few new shows in the pipeline, the TVIEC is questioning how the broadcaster hopes to meet its local content mandates – and what ICASA is doing to monitor the situation.

Charl: 082-6813680

This press release is written on behalf of the TVIEC (Television Industry Emergency Coalition) which consists of: IPO (Independent Producers Organization), SASFED (South African Screen Federation), TPA (The Producers Alliance), DFA (Documentary Filmmakers Association), WGSA (Writers Guild of South Africa) as well as the CWU (Creative Workers Union).

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

SASFED talks to the Minister of Arts and Culture

SASFED met with the Minister of Arts and Culture, Honourable Ms. Lulu Xingwana, on 12 October 2009, in what was called an open industry meeting, in order to discuss the independent production industry's concerns over SABC's financial crisis.

SASFED's head of communications, Marc Schwinges, was amongst those who met with the minister. A podcast of the radio interview with SOS for SASFED on YFM is available. Also on the radio was the Communications Director for the DAC.

To hear the podcast from YFM - click HERE.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Sithengi Press Statement

The following release was today received from the current Sithengi Board. Sithengi is the struggling industry market.

SITHENGI has received the news that the new Minister of Arts and Culture, Minister Lulu Xingwana “has called for a moratorium on all spending pending a forensic investigation”. This means that the funding that SITHENGI was promised by DAC in December 2008 will not be available as yet. This after SITHENGI had fulfilled the requirements of both a New Funding Proposal and an Audited Creditors Statement to ensure that all SITHENGI debt will be paid-up from the proposed R 5 Million and the remaining R 1 Million would be used as seed funding for a SITHENGI Market this year. The Audited Creditors Statement was sent toNFVF since the SITHENGI funds were meant to be channeled through the NFVF. Given this present situation the SITHENGI Board hereby informs the industry that we will suspend further activities until such time that DAC will be able to release SITHENGI’s agreed upon R 5 Million.
For enquiries contact:
Faith Isiakpere (Chairperson)
Judi Nwokedi (Deputy Chairperson)
Firdoze Bulbulia (Media Liaison, Spokesperson)

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Hands-on Government Micromanagement Not Appropriate

The role of the Ministry and Department of Communications in solving the crises at SABC


The Save our SABC Coalition working group met this week to discuss a number of issues including a recent statement made by the Ministry of Communications (22 September 2009). The Ministry released a statement calling for its shareholder’s compact with the SABC to be tightened. The Ministry argued that in light of the serious financial findings of the Auditor General’s Report there needed to be much stronger oversight of the SABC. The Minister announced he would be introducing important corrective measures including the following:

  • Conduct a thorough assessment of and clearly define the roles and authority of senior SABC managers
  • Review human resource policies and implementation thereof
  • Review benefits applicable to management in particular and staff in general
  • Review policies governing the involvement of employees in private business activities
  • Request monthly management accounts and monthly operational reports from the SABC
  • Ensure that all major decisions, financial or otherwise have full approval of the shareholder (i.e. Minister), Board and Group Executive
  • Conduct a needs analysis of SABC channels to determine the type and amount of content they require
  • Monitor the implementation of local content quotas and conduct a thorough assessment of the need for and acquisition of international content including ensuring that all content is used
  • Ensuring the SABC complies with the Public Finance Management Act

A further measure included a call for the Department of Communications to participate as full and active members on a number of important SABC Board sub-committees including Risk, Audit and Internal Audit.


The SOS Working Group commended the Minister on highlighting the critical areas that need to be addressed. However, going forward, the SOS Coalition believes that it is not appropriate for the Ministry and/or Department to play such a hands-on role. To solve the myriad crises at the SABC, there needs to be clarity in terms of roles, responsibility and lines of accountability. This is in terms of the governance structures at the SABC (Board and management) and oversight structures (Ministry and Department, Regulator and Parliament).

In summary we believe the Ministry and Department’s chief role is to ensure the overall viability and sustainability of the communications sector through the drafting of clear and comprehensive policy and legislation and ensuring adequate resources are available. In terms of the Public Finance Management Act, the SABC Board needs to report to the Department on a quarterly basis as regards the corporation’s finances. (Monthly management accounts should never go directly to the Department.)

Parliament then needs to rigorously interrogate the SABC both in terms of its fulfilling of its vision and mission (i.e. its adherence to its Charter obligations) and on its finances. The SABC Board needs to present its corporate plans, financials and annual report. In terms of all content issues it is the Regulator that is responsible.

The Independent Communications Authority of South Africa needs to ensure that the SABC adheres to its Charter and to its detailed license conditions. (The license conditions outline the SABC’s local content and language requirements.)

Finally, the SABC Board has a very critical role to play in terms of directly holding management to account. It is the Board that needs to outline the SABC’s strategic vision in terms of programming and operational issues including human resource and financial policies.

So in terms of the above we thus believe that it is not appropriate for the Department to get involved in Board sub-committees. Nor do we believe that the Department should get involved in human resource issues or the monitoring of monthly management accounts and operational plans. These issues need to be overseen by the Board and it is the Board that needs to present management accounts to the Department. This clarity of roles, responsibilities and lines of accountability we believe will be one of the key ways of resolving the present crises.

Kate Skinner, Campaign Coordinator, Save our SABC
082 926 6404
77 First Ave, Melville, 2092

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

My Hunger Protest Statement

by Sello Maake kaNcube

It is said that: “A man’s life is a journey through his life to try and find the simple but great impressions that first found access in his life.”

I would like to believe that I am a child of resistance. Nine days after my birth in 1960 saw the Pass Law resistance in Sharpeville. The spirit of that resistance must have found itself in my infantile nostrils as in some small way I have always been standing up for something.

June 1976 took away political virginity.

In 1986 when I was in Canada on tour with the production of Woza Albert!, during a Q&A after the show I was asked if think doing protest plays would help to liberate us.

And my answer was that in 1976 I threw stones, and that led to the scrapping of Afrikaans as a medium of instruction, and “Today I am throwing stones from the stage for the liberation.”

Later, after democracy came, I stood up for black scriptwriters in the industry.

In my own small ways, I have again and again contributed to liberation of my country. I may not have suffered detention on Robben Island or exile. However, having lived under Apartheid was prison itself. Living with a constant threat to one’s life and being reminded of being a lesser being. I have had my fair share of that.

Now I stand before you about the hunger protest. Do I think that this will amount to anything? Well, every little bit helps – and if the bits each and every one of us did, had not been done, for instance, during the Apartheid years, we wouldn’t have had this new dispensation.

All I know is that I have always stood for something in my life. And this is one of those times that I have to do so. The cultural development that has suffered the brutality of colonialism and the ravages of Apartheid is presently choked by greed, mismanagement, and outright violation of my and my fellow countrymen’s human rights. It is so disheartening when the very fighters of Apartheid who have been given and entrusted the mandate to help us get our dignity back are the very people subjecting us to worse indignity and violation of human rights.

Protests against service delivery happening around the country bear evidence to the indignity that people still go through. The corruption that is so prevalent in my country at the moment can be appropriately equated to a crime against humanity.

When I heard the statement - “I didn’t get into the struggle to be poor” - you won't begin to imagine the consternation I felt. And to think it was MY vote that put person in that position, with a mandate to level the fields and help in dragging people from the muddy slough of poverty. And now it's all about HIM. I couldn't, and still can't, help but feel a numbing sense of despair.

I also can't help but be reminded of an expression that many mothers would say to their children: “If you don’t wake up, you'll end up feeding on the crap of your counterparts.” Sadly this crap has been misdirectedly dished up to us by those we think we share an affinity with.

When it is evident is that for many strugglers against Apartheid there is a latent envy to be like the oppressor. For others of us there is obvious determination for a new social order. Those do not go together well. A primal consciousness gives us an advantage to incisively pierce white culture from a non-European frame of reference. Rather than desiring to ape those who had performed indignity and inhumanity on the African inhabitants of this country, we would like to re-imagine and re-create ourselves in our OWN image. And constitute a culture dictating the terms under which the world is to be perceived and experienced.

I am not deriding Euro-centric or “white” culture. It is part of South Africa's heritage too, and it is to be admired, how the European culture promotes and enlivens itself. I have done my Shakespeare and other plays written by overseas writers. No problem with that. But at the end of the day we also do have our OWN stories to tell. You never go to Germany and can't see a play in German – or Thailand or China or anywhere. You come to SA and see no plays – and now perhaps no TV either - in African languages. Our culture is being abused.

The pseudo-gained economic empowerment - presently without cultural empowerment - can only highlight the lack of integrity, pride, soul, and dignity in day-to-day living.

The ability to articulate our grievances in a healthy and civil way cannot be attained against a decade and a half of personal enrichment and mass impoverishment.

While the well-endowed bellies of the economically-empowered acquired from relishing lavish dinners may be a sign of that enrichment, it is a definite symptom of cultural kwashiorkor. Picture that belly without the Armani suit, against the background of a shack, and you will know what I mean. A protuberance fed on the lack of the main ingredient of character probity.

Our leaders have failed us. It's so clear, too many of our leaders have been aspiring and envious to enter the houses of the former oppressors. There has been no real agenda or something they wanted to pioneer and build for the country.

There was a time when I viewed being a coconut in cultural terms. However, now looking at it in economic terms, one can see a peculiar kind of coconut perpetuating the “if you can’t beat them join them” phenomenon.

The South African people deserve better. It is not in “working together” that we will do more. It is in being accorded the resources that we will do more.

Recently I hear on the Barry Ronge show that: Grassroots are not on the ground anymore. This in my opinion cultivates a fertile ground for the re-escalation of Euro-centric culture and inclusion of tokens who fit in that mould.

A few years ago I was standing for the Artistic Directorship for the Market, a position I knew I was not going to get. Firstly because I was already hell-bent to go and do my master’s degree in the UK, and secondly because the quota had already been covered - a black Managing Director had already been appointed. There was no way that that institution was going to be left in the hands of two black people.

Culturally black people are grossly short-changed. In the days of Apartheid I could understand. However, in a very twisted way, we were culturally stronger during those days than now. African culture was more protected, had more of its own voice, under Apartheid. Yes, I repeat, it was twisted – but everything was. At least then you had your PACs, NAPACs, KPABs. Custodians of culture in various ways. They protected it.

Since the new dispensation, those kinds of institutions have been wiped away. We need them again, even more now than in the past. Because here in this situation for over 300 years our culture has never had a strong voice. Certainly not today. How can it have a voice – when it needs to be propagated, nurtured, by institutions of culture – and those institutions are corrupt?

Yes the SABC is a problem, but it is not THE problem, just a symptom of what is happening in the country. As a black person, I have worked in the industry for over two decades. There is a black story to tell. I was even contemplating giving up acting because there was no black parts to play. The parts I was offered over the years were usually lousy roles in good stories. Fill-in roles, cardboard cutouts. Even today African culture is just a fill-in. You go to a function and you get the African dancers who will just dance to make sure there is a little bit of this culture mixed in! These are some of the things that actually grind my ass to the bone on a regular basis.

The country needs to wake up for itself and the government needs to wake up to what is happening in the country. We the people cannot be on the peripheries of life.

All over the world, TV is a training ground for artists, writers, crew, all kinds of cultural workers who later become the backbone of the society's discourse. If you look at the kind of TV that is coming out all over the world – even people who are well known names are going for TV – Glenn Close, James Spader, for instance in America – and you realize how important TV is. And how in trouble we are if we are not going to have a national public broadcaster that is going to take care of its citizens and provide us a useful and effective platform.

In fact, TV and culture are more important here than elsewhere. South Africa is a fledgling country in the deep throes of reconstruction. We don't have a common voice as a nation – there has to be a concerted effort to unite the nation with culture. Language can be a great divider, there can be ways of bridging it, but right now we have the continuing architecture of division

And I think what is sad is I can never see an English person or an Afrikaans person sitting concertedly and making sure they are pushing their child NOT to know their heritage. No white person would tolerate their child not being taught to speak English. That will never happen. Why should I tolerate my child not being taught African language, African culture? I have a 10 year old boy now, his knowledge of Setswana or Zulu is so limited. He expresses himself more in English. That's what's going to happen now if keep failing with our programs to push local culture and local languages.

And that is what we are doing. We have a government that I voted for, and I also have their membership card, and yet, this is the situation they are propagating. For me, that's very very sad.

The legacy of our culture has been compromised by replacing it with youth-driven initiatives guided by people with no affinity to their culture- I had the personal experience of that with elimination of David Photo who played the head of the Morocco family in Generations. I was the replacement. Needless to say I was incensed.

If one would pause to look back, one would see a litany of robbing African people of age-old wisdom. The white culture of this country is built solidly from its Euro-centric roots and age-old wisdom. Look around at the custodians of it. Pieta Torein, Richard Loring, The Lindbergs, Daphney Kuhn to mention a few.

It is in the light of all this that I am embarking and joining this hunger protest to highlight the cultural starvation of African people. SABC is a major symbol of it and our government is its world-renowned architect.

Yes I am currently working, on Scandal! on a daily basis, and on other work, as well as possibly traveling to the Philippines this month. I know someone will jump now as say how can I be starving when I am working. The fact is I am SURVIVING not living. And if you would take time to investigate you would realise that is what our culture is doing - surviving. It's not alive. It's hanging precariously on the fringes of the predominant white culture.

I survived in the UK when I was there. I don’t expect to just survive in my own country. I came home to live but evidently am thrown into survival mode. Let my hunger be the epitome of that.

I felt like quitting Generations at one point back then. I had a son who was an aspirant actor. He said, “But Papa if you stop, what are we going to eat?” I told him, “It doesn't matter, I am not going to tolerate this nonsense. We will survive.”

But it is enough of just surviving. Enough.

I would like to acknowledge and extend my gratitude to Michael Lee rousing me from my sluggish sleep. When I heard that Michael was going on this protest I was deeply moved as he is an American who was taking interest in something that is going on in MY country. How could I sit by the wayside?

And Zamambo Tshabalala, a brave and tenacious young woman, young enough to be my daughter, who has made me realise my contribution to the industry still leaves much to be desired – and that the industry is surely not yet Uhuru. Or if it is then we have to free ourselves from the grip of the greed of our fellow Africans as they continue to arrest our development by lining their pockets and inflating their bellies. Zamambo is a member of the ANC Youth League – and I think Mr Malema should be seeing how counter-revolutionary the situation is.

So to conclude, I would like highlight a story Zama told about having to cook for her family while she was hungry, and wanting to cheat – but not doing that. For me this was such a powerful metaphor. What stopped her from cheating on her vow, and nibbling at what she was cooking, was conscience. Is that something our government has? When these people continue to squander OUR money – is there a conscience involved there? If a 24 year old girl knows how to listen to her conscience when there is food there to eat, to grab – and she is only really interested in taking her own share. Her conscience even kept her from that! And they, they want to eat OUR share. Conscience is dead in the corridors of power! It is sad, very very sad.

Today Zama I stand looking up to you as my role model. Thank you for being the beacon of light in this time of overwhelming darkness.

©Sello Maake kaNcube, 2009