5 December 2018:
The IPO welcomes the call from the SOS (Save Our SABC) and the MMA (Media Monitoring Africa) for all major stakeholders to desist from any action that may lead to the collapse of the present board and the resignation of its executive management. We wholeheartedly support the call for President Ramaphosa to exercise the duties of his office to bring the matter to immediate resolution before the SABC implodes. The cost of such a collapse will primarily be borne by tens of millions of South Africans who are virtually dependent on the SABC for its critically important services, including news and information which are vital in the run-up to next year’s national election.
We note, in particular, the SOS and MMA’s call on the producers of the SABC’s soapies, the majority of whom we represent, to desist from not delivering programming to the public broadcaster. The IPO will now poll its score of affected members as to whether they will commit to continue delivering content despite the clear breach of contract by the SABC.
We further note the disastrous financial situation reported by the SABC executive that will lead to a failure to pay salaries of SABC employees as early as March 2019. Likewise, many of our members have been given notice that payment delays will now be extended to 90 days. The amount owed to independent producers is steadily climbing and we estimate that this has risen to over one hundred million rand.
The TV production sector is reeling under this debt. Indeed, the mounting debt sounds the slow death knell of the independent sector. The patience of our producers is wearing thin, more so as many small to medium-sized and black companies are now unable to extend existing loans to fill the huge gaps in their cashflow.
The IPO echoes the SOS and MMA’a call for all parties to step back from the brink and work together to solve the crisis. In particular, the IPO supports the Board’s independence and its painful efforts to bring SABC finances to a sustainable state. Given the urgency of this process we share the SOS and MMA’s concern at the recent resignations which bring the board to the point of being dissolved. We support the call for Board members to retract their resignations and for the Minister of Communications to re-engage with the Board to ensure that the processes for securing the vital loan guarantee are not derailed.
Finally we re-iterate our position that the SABC is a critical pillar of our democracy for a myriad of reasons, including our ability to produce respected news and current affairs shows which build an informed citizenry. The production of quality documentaries and drama is just as important when it comes to the promotion of a plurality and diversity of voices. Only the much-needed recapitalization will allow continued spend on such content and only the state guaranteed loan can ensure the SABC does not collapse.
On behalf of the IPO
Rehad Desai – Chairperson of the Independent Producers Organisation
Nimrod Geva – Convenor of the IPO broadcast sub committee.