Thursday, June 3, 2010

SASFED Newsletter – 02 June 2010

Dear Friends of SASFED,

We have not sent an update for a long time, but felt it was certainly time to do so now.

As you are probably aware, despite a continuous effort by many tireless volunteers in our organised industry, and via many of our industry organisations, we are not much better off with especially the SABC than we were almost two years ago! And that’s not because we have not been trying… boy have we been trying and investing a HUGE amount of time in this, even accomplishing much, like getting a new SABC board in place (more on that later)!

For those who don’t know, the IPO (Independent Producers Organisation) with whom the TPA merged last year now is also member of SASFED! IPO decided at its AGM to join SASFED []. SASFED welcomed them [], and we are already proceeding as a truly united industry on many new issues. SASFED is much stronger for the experience and guidance of the producers, who after all represent the business side of our industry.

Other good news: it now appears as if most of the long outstanding payments to independents have now been made (not all of them… but at least most). The TVIEC is continuing to chase this and relies on updates from you, so please send them to:

The bad news is unfortunately so much more: from an ever-changing executive to the never-ending power struggles within the SABC board, [] & [], within the SABC and even between government and the SABC! Most recently SOS [] and others [] have even called for the Chair of the new SABC board to resign! Even more scandal on this story is that it seems SABC is itself interfering in what news it publishes on the matter, even stopping news issued by its Board []!

Add to that the totally unbalanced working framework with independents and that no new RFP’s have been offered by the SABC in almost 2 years, despite a previous commitment from the new board that they would be published in May 2010, and we do not look like an attractive business sector to be in at present! More on this scandal will follow soon… so watch the blog!

With the lack of local content being produced at present, and total lack of planning for the next few years, how is the SABC possibly keeping in compliance of ICASA’s local content quotas, the very quotas that make the public broadcaster have to produce far more local content than any other broadcaster? The very quotas on which our industry has come to rely for its existence! Evidence is clear that ICASA is doing nothing on any of the issues of lack of compliance with SABC or for that matter other broadcasters. They are repeatedly seen as weak, and toothless, and need to be brought back on track. []

ICASA claimed to be working to help equalise the playing field, by publishing their typically fairly “toothless” “Regulations on the Commission of Independent produced South African Programming… “on the 1st of December last year. These very regulations however require that within 120 days of promulgation of the regulations (i.e. the 31 March 2010 or is business days is used 26 May), all broadcasters are required to submit their proposed ‘commissioning protocol’, which would have to describe the entire commissioning process, and ensure it follows a pre-published timeline, and is simple, fair and transparent. These broadcasters ‘commissioning protocol’ documents, would then be reviewed by ICASA within 30 days and then be published on the broadcasters websites. Ok, so we are surely saying that by 30 April 2010 (or any day soon is business days are used) all should have been filed, done and dusted? Why then are we still waiting a month later for the first of the broadcasters to comply with this new regulation and publish anything? Goodness… why possibly would we then assume they take any notice of older regulations, such as the all important Local Content Quotes, which by ICASA’s own admission they have to date had no means to ensure compliance of?

What of the ‘new’ broadcasters? We see M-Net adding to their bouquet with Mzansi Magic (focusing on local content) issuing a request for proposals [], ODM launching Top TV (who will soon be commissioning) and now Super 5 Media launching soon, but these are all Satalite Television Broadcasters, who are only required to have a minimum of 10% of their "Programming Spend" allocated to South African Television Content. Compare that to the minimum weekly average of 55% for Public and Community Television Broadcasting (incl SABC 1&2) and that repeats count only once at half the programs length (once for same channel repeat, once for an omnibus, and also once for a repeat on another broadcaster is allowed… after that nothing … ever again), counted within the hours of 05h00 till 23h00, and you will see why they have the lions share of our business, and why their lack of commissioning means they can’t possibly be in compliance now! Certainly our independent test confirmed they are WAY under for a full month we monitored, and we are now looking at a class action against the monitoring division of ICASA (we need ICASA and a strong ICASA, but clearly their monitoring and compliance is NOT up to scratch).

Despite this do we see any of the broadcasters, who face increasing small budgets adopt global best practice and recognise producers rights to own what they develop and create on risk, even if responding to a “RFP”? When do we see the definition of a “commission” change to that of global best practice where, by default, producers own these rights, not the broadcaster? The respective industry bodies within SASFED (lead especially by the IPO), supported by bodies such as the National Film and Video Foundation have made it clear that new plans have to be implemented regarding broadcasters partnering independent producers so that government monetary incentives can be utilised (DTI rebate etc). In short, relaxing the Intellectual Property regime at South African broadcasters and bringing this in line with global best practice would increase what budget the broadcasters do have available for programming.

The World Cup was supposed to bring us all a great boost to the economy, but even this has not materialised on the whole, with broadcasters focusing on covering the large rights costs paid to FIFA, and have issued a strong priority for covering the World Cup, rather than commissioning any new local content? Remember a foreign production company, HBS, provides FIFA television feeds to the SABC ready-made. []. If nothing else our smaller shoots are now enjoying easier access to locations under pressure from international teams shooting around the World Cup. []

And finally, what of the requirement for independently produced programming in the ICASA ‘SA Local Content Regulations of 2006’ which clearly indicate the requirement for an even spread between the genres of Arts, Drama, Documentary, Information Knowledge Building, Children’s and Educational Programming? Has anybody kept tabs of the one or two half hour Documentary slots on SABC 1 a month of late? How can this possibly be considered an “even spread” of genres?

So what do we have to look forward to … well, perhaps short of the ever-improving DTI rebate, and some possible changes to DTI incentives as a whole for our industry sector, very little. Our industry, which was clearly earmarked for fast tracking by government, has in fact been sidetracked.

Even Provincial Film Commissions such as the Gauteng Film Commission (GFC) look likely to be reduced in capacity and restructured with far less money. [] & []. This only moments after SASFED’s engagement helped cancel a strange 3 million US Dollar annual deal with CNBC Africa which saw the GFC spending more than half of its budget on this one line-item. [] NFVF is not helping us much either, and even their budgets are being cut by the Department of Arts and Culture, plagued by internal audits, and corruption allegations. The same department which have ignored our industries submissions since October 2009 [], short of a peculiar last minute ‘mass engagement’ with the president [].

Well what’s new? We have an industry in crisis, corruption, and suspensions at every level within the public broadcaster and even within certain sections in government (really those which most affect us like DAC), cost cutting measures in other areas of provisional and national government which reduce our industries capacity further (NFVF/GFC etc), a lack of certainty on anything, let alone the future, no rights in what we create for broadcasters and a lack of new business in the foreseeable future.

What can we do?

  • Find other business we are capable of, with a better future?
  • Immigrate to another country?
  • Take up positions within a new broadcaster (if you can get them)?

  • Do we continue to fight, and fight harder! To fight harder however, we need YOU! It’s time to get more involved and help those volunteers who are near exhaustion, and to join in defending an industry still at the verge of collapse!

Let’s not re-invent the wheel, and start from scratch… we have leant a lot and those tireless volunteers, have great history on why things that have been tried before have failed.

Join in an area you feel passionate about like Carolyn Carew who has just been appointed to MAPPP SETA Board as SASFED representative! We clearly need more SETA engagement, and Carolyn is an ideal person to do this for our industry. []


In addition to all the above links, so much has been happening that we will provide links to some recent highlights from the blog for you, but as usual we suggest you keep an eye on it regularly

AMAA (The African Movie Academy Awards) Call for nominations – 2011

Nominations from all stakeholders are welcome and open from the 29th May 2010 - 30th November 2010.


Release of - 24TH MAY 2010

More stories on the Furore over the Appointment of the SABC Head of News and the resulting battle with the SABC Board and its Chair can be seen at:

SAGE acronym evening

The South African Guild of Editors invites you to an evening where they honour this year's recipients to use the SAGE Acronym as recognition of their achievements in the craft of editing. Date: Thursday 3rd June 2010

Guide to the World Cup

A useful guide regarding everything members need to know about the World Cup!

Appointment of IPO Co-Chairs, Treasurer and Convenors of Sub-Committees

Chairperson: Desiree Markgraaff and Tendeka Matatu will co-chair the IPO this year.
Treasurer: Eileen Sandrock & Charlene Govender
DTI/SARS Sub-Commitee: Kevin Fleischer
Long Form Sub-Committee: TBC
Broadcast Sub-Committee Co-Convenors: Harriet Gavshon and Lodi Matsetela
IP Sub-Committee : Rehad Desai
B-BBEE Sub-Committee: Marvin Saven
NFVF Sub-Committee: Ramadan Suleman
The following people have been co-opted:
Richard Nosworthy
Ben Horowitz
Mfundi Vundla

From SOS: Communications Minister dissolves Digital Dzonga Advisory Council

The Daily Maverick - CNBC Africa: compromised past, uncertain future

The revelation that local broadcaster CNBC Africa has been getting around R25-million a year from the Gauteng government almost went unnoticed by the local press. Question is, what kind of information have they been feeding us since they launched?

About SASFED and their affiliations

SASFED is The South African Screen Federation, representing the interest of most film and television industry organisations as a collective federation.

Full SASFED Member Organisations: DFA - The Documentary Filmmakers Association / IPO - The Independent Producers Organisation / OSCA SA - The Official South African Casting Association / PMA - The Personal Managers' Association / SAGA - South African Guild of Actors / SAGE - South African Guild of Editors / WGSA – Writers’ Guild of South Africa / WIFTSA - Women in Film and Television SA / WOS - Women of the Sun

SASFED is also formally affiliated to: FEPACI - Pan African Federation of Film – Makers / SOS: Supporting Public Broadcasting / TVIEC - Television Industry Emergency Coalition

All the best,