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: www.hungerprotest.wordpress.com

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: tvcrisis@gmail.com

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 tvcrisis@gmail.com.

OUR CONTACT: tvcrisis@gmail.com

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).