12 OCTOBER 2016
The Independent Producers Organisation (IPO) is a representative, national organisation of independent South African film, television and video producers constituted to represent, protect and promote the interests and needs of producers. It represents about eighty percent of working producers in South Africa.
Many of the producers of SABC content are Independent Producers Organisation (IPO) members and are concerned by governance problems at the SABC and what this means for the sustainability of the industry as a whole.
The Independent Producers’ Organisation of South Africa (IPO) notes the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Communications’ sanction of the SABC Board for its ill governance of the public broadcaster and for its circumvention of the findings of the Public Protector and the Western Cape High Court against the Chief Operating Officer, and notes its call for the resignation of the Board and for a parliamentary inquiry into the fitness of the Board.
The IPO supports the stance of the Portfolio Committee, however it calls for a broader, stakeholder inclusive public enquiry, into the SABC. This enquiry should include:
- the SABC’s persistent crises of governance, management, funding, policy, programming and operations;
- and key requirements for the public broadcaster to effectively fulfil its mandate.
The current crisis surrounding the SABC Board is not new. It is one that South Africa has experienced before. It points to the problems of the SABC as systemic, needing to be addressed beyond the failings of the present Board and senior management.
The IPO believes the Board of the SABC should not be appointed through a process that involves only party political representatives. Procedures for the appointment of the Board should include non-party political role players too, including public broadcast industry stakeholders, constituted as an independent statutory panel. This is vital for the appointment of Board members who would be accountable to an optimally shared vision of the public broadcaster and its values, and mitigate the politicised appointment of the Board, one underlying factor for the failings of successive Boards of the SABC.
The IPO calls for members of the SABC Board to be judged for appointment against and sworn to the following:
- commitment and accountability to a renewed, optimally-shared vision of public broadcasting services;
- appreciation of the dynamic, full spectrum role of public television in society and an overriding commitment to public service and the public interest;
- resolute independence from untoward state, party-political and civil constituency interests;
- a bold commitment to free and diverse expression;
- commitment to consultation and appropriate co-determination with stakeholder interests;
- unquestioned commitment to local content and independent commissioning regulations, and respective policy that is transparent, fair and of integrity;
- commitment to conducive terms of trade with the independent production sector, including money for value and just property rights recognition;
- commitment to a bold, dynamic and visionary commissioning structure;
- impeccable governance competencies;
- ability to effect a credible, competent and responsive management and operational structure.
The independent production sector is an essential public broadcast stakeholder, critical to the fulfilment of the mandate of the public broadcaster. We are at the coalface of the crises continually besetting the public broadcaster to the detriment of society and the viewing public. This must now be decisively addressed through a fundamental stakeholder inclusive review and overhaul of the SABC.