5 November 2009
TVIEC RESPONDS TO PROPOSED PUBLIC SERVICE BROADCAST BILL
The Television Industry Emergency Coalition has some serious reservations about the new Public Service Broadcast Bill proposed by the Ministry of Communications.
While we appreciate that the Minister is rushing the promulgation of a new bill in order to expedite funding to the SABC, we would like to restate our position that the crisis at the SABC is as much a management crisis as a financial crisis.
Even though the independent production sector has borne the brunt of the crisis, is still owed millions of rands by the SABC and is buckling under the effects of a cut-back in commissioning of local content, we strongly believed that changing the financial funding model without reviewing the operations and management of the organization is akin to throwing good money after bad.
We believe that the present crisis should be separated from the long term issues of funding public broadcasting. The SABC is not going to trade itself out of its present financial difficulties and needs a bail-out regardless of what happens with public broadcasting funding in the long-term.
Moreover, any financial model will fail without competent leadership.
In addition, the Bill suggests adding further institutions into the broadcasting environment either as oversight bodies or as funding bodies.
The TVIEC believes that organizations such as ICASA should be strengthened rather than undermined. Like the SABC, they need inspired and competent leadership and sufficient resources to do their work. Merely adding more organizations will not provide the necessary leadership that is needed.
“What we have witnessed is a serious lack of professional skills and the required leadership abilities that allow independent public institutions to be sufficiently effective,” says a TVIEC spokesperson.
In addition, the TVIEC is extremely concerned about the loss of autonomy for the public broadcaster suggested by the bill and is confused what it means to be serving a developmental state, rather than the Constitution.
We urge the Minster to heed calls to institute a White Paper process so that the changes mooted in the Bill can be debated and thought through properly. To rush through the changes without meaningful participation from the public and broadcast industry stakeholders will be disastrous.
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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).