The SABC’s response to the Television Industry Emergency Coalition’s memorandum indicates that the management fails to appreciate the real need to work with the independent production sector to find solutions that can help shield the industry and our viewers from the present crisis.
They continue to act with arrogance. They continue to decide who will and won’t be paid monthly with no input from ourselves. Reasonable requests put forward by the TVIEC such as to have an independent professional (accounting firm or individual) representing our industry on their financial committee that determines the payment plan to our industry through the crisis are met with resistance. We will not standby idly while production houses are forced to fold and people loose their jobs. We are demanding that a payment plan be developed through a bi- lateral process and the onerous bureaucratic administrative processes recently imposed and used as excuses for non payment be lifted immediately.
The SABC Management needs to build genuine partnerships across the board, and specifically with content creators – the true custodians of public broadcasting who through changing boards and management, through battles between executives at the SABC continue to ensure that quality programming remains at the centre of SABC’s offering. It is the independent sector that truly deliver on the SABC’s public mandate and are central in promoting the values of the society.
There is no sustainable future for the SABC outside of real partnerships with content creators. We seek to see the SABC being built into a truly public broadcaster, free of government or state interference.
Over the last three years expenditure at the SABC has outstripped revenue. Despite this, senior management salary levels have increased dramatically and the number of middle management has grown without any check. The organization has been characterized by a top down approach to all things, an increase in bureaucracy and a deteriorating relationship with all its partners, including workers and the production industry.
The production sector’s deteriorating relationship with the SABC has been compounded by the unilateral imposition of new, onerous administrative contractual burdens on producers. What is also painfully evident over a five year period is that budgets have decreased. A good deal of the cost of programming goes to supporting this increased bureaucracy, and not to what appears on the screen.
Writers, actors, directors, editors, producers and other creative crew’s fees have been adversely affected over the past few years; this while SABC executives earn salaries equivalent to an entire years operating costs for a production company.
This situation has forced professional industry organisations to come together of late and assert that as key custodians of the public broadcast mandate we will no longer tolerate the de-professionalisation of the industry and in turn the public broadcaster. The recent and ongoing failure of the SABC to pay producers and their inability to give assurances as to when and if producers will be paid is highly informative and illustrates the degree of melt down.
The SABC need to demonstrate to the independent production constituency a true willingness to listen to their concerns. The industry is tired of years of lip service regarding partnerships we need to see some movement.
President Jacob Zuma has called for public institutions to be accountable, transparent, responsive, honest and committed to service delivery. There is dire need to translate this into reality at the SABC. We are therefore extremely disappointed that the SABC management still fails to appreciate the depth of the crisis they have caused in the industry and an unwillingness to take active steps to remedy this situation.