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25 August 2009

Report on TVIEC in the Mail and Guardian

Coalition to protest at SABC's cutting local content

Television industry workers will protest this week against the South African Broadcasting Corporation's (SABC) planned R500-million cut of local content budgets, said the Television Industry Emergency Coalition (TVIEC) on Tuesday.

TVIEC said in a statement it would protest at the SABC's Radio Park on Thursday to send the message that a country without a platform for its stories to be told would lose its culture, as well as its power to educate and entertain.

Those taking part in the protest include the Independent Producers' Organisation, the South African Screen Federation, the Producers' Alliance, the Documentary Filmmakers' Association, the Writers' Guild of South Africa and the Creative Workers' Union, which form TVIEC.

"It is the job of the public broadcaster to promote our culture and our stories. We need a responsible SABC that will put together a muscular business plan and streamline its management," TVIEC said.

"We believe that an attempt to turn the SABC around by cutting its key product, programming, will cause irreparable damage to the independent production sector and to the SABC's credibility," it said.

TVIEC said writers and actors would take the lead in a visually powerful guerrilla action to also send "a stark and shocking" message to the SABC that the industry was becoming increasingly angry.

The organisation said the writers and actors were also increasingly desperate as thousands of skilled labourers were without work in an industry crucial to job creation and to the dissemination of South African culture, debate and identity.

Michael Lee, who has embarked on a hunger strike in protest at the SABC's slashing of local content, would also join the protest. Lee entered his 16th day of the strike on Tuesday and other activists were expected to join him. -- Sapa

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