The Independent Producers Organisation (IPO) has welcomed the call from the Save Our SABC (SOS) and the Media Monitoring Africa (MMA) – see below – 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.
In a statement the IPO says it support the call for President Cyril 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,” the organisations outline.
IPO has also noted 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 organisation says it will now poll its score of affected members as to whether they will commit to continue delivering content despite what it terms the clear breach of contract by the SABC.
The IPO says the 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 R100 million.”
According to IPO the TV production sector is reeling under 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 cash flow.”
It has echoed the SOS and MMA’s 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.”
IPO is supporting 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.”
SABC – SOS – MMA PRESS STATEMENT ON SABC CRISIS
4 December 2018
The SOS Coalition and Media Monitoring Africa are of the view that today marks the worst crisis faced by the SABC in its democratic history. Cool heads from everyone involved must prevail.
SOS Coalition pleads with all role-players urgently to do the following:
To the directors of the SABC who have allegedly resigned in the past 48 hours, please retract your resignations with immediate effect.
To the President of the Country, if any resignations land on your desk please reject them with a firm appeal to the interests of the nation, calling upon such directors to Thuma Mina for #CountryDuty to the SABC Board.
To the Minister of Communications, whose recent elevation was widely and warmly greeted, please reverse your position of non-engagement, and recommit to a structured, procedural and constructive engagement to save the SABC, while respecting the High Court ruling on non-Executive interference in Board matters.
To Parliament, we need oversight that recognises the enormous financial and administrative chaos that the current board and management were faced with upon assuming office and that works towards solutions both immediate and long-term that preserve the essential role of public service broadcasting in our democracy.
To the Unions, please remember that the institutional survival of the SABC is far bigger than all of us. If the SABC collapses, there will be no jobs for anyone. We need careful joint negotiations between all stakeholders.
To the Independent Producers, do not refuse to deliver your episodes of Uzalo, Muvhango, Generations and Isidingo, resulting in black screens during prime time. Exercise as much patience and forbearance as possible in the face of payment delays in this time of crisis.
There are three urgent priorities which, if they do not happen by Friday 7 December 2018 or very soon thereafter, will, in all probability, result in the collapse of the SABC Board, which is likely to set off a rash of SABC executive resignations, which will in turn likely result in the immediate liquidation of the SABC.
First – the Board cannot be allowed to become inquorate and unable to operate: It needs stability not another interim/final Board circus – which would be the fourth in just over a decade.
Second – the National Treasury, together with the President must immediately provide the SABC with a government guarantee – which we stress is not a bailout, it is a guarantee, giving the SABC’s lenders and creditors a measure of comfort that the Board and management has political support.
Third – given the tension and uncertainty that this has raised, we call on the SABC Board to withdraw the section 189 Notice with immediate effect. The withdrawal does not have to be indefinite. But we recognise that temperatures are such across the political spectrum that this is not serving the public interest at this time.
The political order, in the national interest, that must come across clearly, to all stakeholders, is “STAND DOWN”.
About The SOS Coalition:
The SOS Support Public Broadcasting Coalition (SOS) is a civil society coalition that advocates for the presence of robust public broadcasting in the public interest to deepen our constitutional democracy. The coalition represents trade unions, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), community media, independent film and TV production sector organisations; academics, freedom of expression activists and concerned individuals.
MMA is Media Monitoring Africa is an NGO that has been monitoring the media since 1993.
MMA aims to promote the development of a free, fair, ethical and critical media culture in South Africa and the rest of the continent. The three key areas that MMA seeks to address through a human rights-based approach are, media ethics, media quality and media freedom.