The DFA was established in 2007 to promote and protect the interests of doc filmmakers in South Africa. To contact the DFA, please use the contact form: here . The DFA website is at: Membership applications can be made through the website here.

16 April 2009

Meeting with Deputy Minister of Communications, Roy Padayachie and Deputy Director General for Finance and ICT Development, Harry Mathabathe

Dear DFA Member, for those that don't know the DFA has in the past engaged with, and continues to engage with and support SOS (The Save our SABC Campaign). SASFED represents DFA in the ongoing work SOS does. The below an initial report from an important meeting held at the Department of Communications of yesterday!

SOS was represented by Kate Skinner (SOS Coordinator), Patrick Craven (COSATU), Vulture Ntuluki (Communications Workers Union), Rehad Desai (SASFED), Jane Duncan (FXI) and Siphiwe Segodi (FXN)

A number of key issues were covered in the meeting including the following:
o   Who the Coalition is and what its purpose is
o   Our understanding of the nature of the crisis at the SABC
o   Our positions on the way forward
o   Our positions on how the policy and legislative process should unfold
The SOS coordinator, Kate Skinner presented a Coalition memo to the Deputy President. (Please find doc attached.) The memo outlines the Coalition’s understanding of the roots of the crisis and the way forward. She outlined that in the immediate term issues around the Board need to be sorted and that the financial crisis was a symptom of the breakdown in leadership at the SABC. In the medium to long term new legislation needed to be drafted. New legislation will hopefully deal with the vision and mission of the SABC (Charter issues), legal structure, governance and oversight structures, and finances.
Union members talked about the importance of saving jobs at the SABC and not following the route of retrenchments to solve the SABC’s financial woes.
The Deputy Minister expressed significant interest in the ideas contained in our civil society discussion document. In particular he was interested in SOS’s ideas on the SABC’s Charter. Jane Duncan suggested that it would be important to do a roadshow to get public buy-in to a new vision for the SABC. Either the Department of Communications or the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Communications could spearhead this initiative.
Some discussion was held about the finances of the SABC and some of the initial models that SOS has been developing. We however stated that this was only the beginning of the discussion and that a significant amount of research still needed to be done.
In terms of a way forward the Deputy Minister outlined the following three stages:
o   The immediate term – The need to sort out the SABC’s Board and finances
o   The short to medium term – Working on the policy and legislation
o   The medium term – the process of law making
The Deputy Minister said that he felt that it would be beneficial to develop a partnership with SOS in terms of all three stages. SOS members agreed to hold discussions with broader membership to look at what a partnership with the Department might look like. SOS has promised to come back to the Deputy Minister with proposals.
Compiled by Kate Skinner, 15 April 2009

15 April 2009

Copyright & Documentary Film in the Commonwealth: Legal Scholar Reports from Six Countries

PIJIP and the Center for Social Media release Copyright & Documentary Film in the Commonwealth: Legal Scholar Reports from Six Countries

American University Washington College of Law’s Program in Information Justice and Intellectual Property (PIJIP) and the Center for Social Media at American University (CSM) are releasing a series of papers by copyright experts entitled
Copyright & Documentary Film in the Commonwealth: Legal Scholar Reports from Six Countries. The papers cover the extent of fair use or fair dealing exceptions to copyright applicable to documentary filmmakers in Uganda, Nigeria, South Africa, India, Canada and Australia. 

The commissioned papers and their abstracts are available here.

The legal scholars who contributed to the reports include Jeroline Akubu (Uganda), Jeremy de Beer (Canada), Emily Hudson (Australia), Ayodele Kusamoto (Nigeria), Lawrence Liang (India) and Tobias Schonwetter (South Africa).

The Legal Scholar Reports are part of a broader project of PIJIP and CSM exploring how greater understanding and use of limitations and exceptions in copyright laws can promote the development of documentary filmmaking in Commonwealth countries. In this first year, the project commissioned the series of expert reports being released today and also completed an initial study and meeting on filmmaker beliefs and practices in South Africa.  

To a greater or lesser extent, two favorable conditions apply in many of the commonwealth countries that are the focus of this project. First, unlike countries of the civil law tradition, they are broadly committed to the principle that copyright law should serve public, rather than private, interest. And second, their foundational legal documents recognize the principle of freedom of expression, which limitations on copyright protection exist to enable. 

In the meeting on Copyright User Rights and South African Documentary Film held in March 2009 in Cape Town, PIJIP and two South African filmmaker organizations – the Documentary Filmmakers’ Association and the Black Filmmakers Network – committed to a plan of action for the next year of the project. The plan of action includes a call for the development of a consensus “best practices” document explicating current rights to quote or otherwise use copyrighted content in documentary films and a legal advice network for documentary filmmakers on user rights in copyright law. The meeting followed a period of research on the actual and perceived barriers that South African Copyright law is posing to the development of the local documentary film industry, including through a survey of over 40 local filmmakers.

More information on the project can be found at the PIJIP webpage on 
Copyright and International Documentary Film. 

Program on Information Justice and Intellectual Property (PIJIP) at the Washington College of Law 
promotes public interest approaches to domestic and international intellectual property law through advocacy, events and the provision of legal and consulting services.  PIJIP’s activities focus on a balanced approach to intellectual property and other legal regimes that reward creators while ensuring broad public access to information and its products.

American University’s 
Center for Social Media investigates, showcases and sets standards for socially engaged media-making. They organize conferences and convenings, publish research, create codes of best practices, and incubate media strategies. The Center is part of AU’s School of Communication.

12 April 2009


Following the TIEC’s meeting with the SABC, we need to get together information from individual companies to ensure that our figure correlate with those which will be presented by the SABC in our next meeting on Friday the 17th of April.
Please will you complete the Excel template (here) as a matter of urgency and email it to Please rest assured that all information will be treated as confidential.  Should you have any queries, please contact Levern Engel directly on her mobile 083 629 0831. She is available throughout the weekend.
Melody Emmett
Indpendent Producers' Organisation (IPO)
Tel: (011) 719-4000
Fax: (011) 719-4090
Cell: 083-600-9554
Postal Address: PO Box 2631,
Saxonwold, 2132

Update from the TV Industry Emergency Coalition (TIEC)  to all members and supporters the Coalition.

At the request of the TIEC, a meeting between the mandated TIEC team and the SABC took place, Wednesday 8th April.
A brief account of the 5-hour meeting follows (a more detailed report will follow shortly)
The SABC delegation was well represented and included the Chairperson of the SABC board, the Acting GCEO and COO, the GM of the Content Enterprises and a range of executives.
The SABC responded positively to the 5 key questions posed by the Coalition.
In brief the SABC has confirmed that the broadcaster:
·        Can and will meet its financial contractual obligations for the year
·        Will investigate outstanding payments immediately (a task team is already active on this) and attempt to rectify the situation as quickly as possible. (*N.B. A request for information to producers regarding outstanding payments will follow shortly).  A time line for addressing the backlog will follow soon.)
·        Is committed to most of the RFP’s and will clearly state which RFP’s may change, no longer be relevant and (specifically for Drama) which RFP’s will be for script development only, and not for production in this period.
·        Will investigate outstanding royalties, residuals and repeat fees (A request to all companies will follow in this regard)
·        Remains committed to the current levels of local content and will consult with the Coalition in its turn around strategy
A Task Team has been actioned with immediate effect to look into the payment issue. This will serve to re-ignite the IPO-SASFED/SABC Task Team that collapsed during 2008.  Levern Engel will head the Task Team for the Coalition.
It was also agreed that the IP Task Team (which is functioning well) will broaden its scope to include industry development, sustainability and advocacy. Rehad Desai heads the Task Team for the Coalition. 
Before June 2009, the industry will make a presentation to the Board with regard to the sustainability issues of the industry. This is seen as a first step to ongoing engagement between the industry and the Board.  Desiree Markgraaff will lead this process for the Coalition.
An official press statement, released this morning, follows.
The Coalition thanks all members who have participated in this matter to date.
Johannesburg, 09 April 2009- The SABC has assured the Television
Industry that it will meet its contractual obligations for the year.
This comes after the industry expressed its concerns regarding the
public broadcaster's financial situation and its possible impact on the
The SABC met with industry representatives to reiterate its position
that it is not bankrupt but merely facing a short term cash flow
problem. The representative body calling itself the Television Industry
Coalition is made up of South African Screen Federation (SASFED),
Independent Producers Organisation (IPO), Black Filmmakers Network (BFN)
and The Producers Alliance (TPA) , and non-aligned producers and includes
equipment suppliers and facilities representing many of South Africa's
most popular shows.
The Coalition, driven by concerns from its members reporting on
outstanding and missed payments, sought assurance from the SABC that it
intended to honor its financial obligations and consult with the
independent production sector regarding its proposed turn around
The Acting GCEO, Mr. Gab Mampone emphasised the fact that the situation
that the organization finds itself in is symptomatic of the global
economic situation. Being reliant on the advertising revenue has meant
that the SABC could no longer expect to receive the kind of revenue it
had initially projected.
"The SABC had projected revenue of 14% but given the current market
condition that can no longer be possible" said Acting GCEO, Mr. Gab
Mampone. He also noted, in particular, the decline of revenue from the
fast moving consumer goods (FMCG) market.
Mampone says the credit crisis has also resulted in major studios
changing terms of trade increasing the upfront payments on content
All these things coming together at once have resulted in the cash flow
crisis that the organization currently finds itself in, Mampone said.
The SABC agreed to transparency and consultation with the Industry of
its plans going forward to ensure that it manages the situation.
Chairperson of the SABC Board, Kanyisiwe Mkonza acknowledged the
challenges currently being faced by the organisation but assured the
industry that the public broadcaster believes the health of the local
production industry and that of the SABC is clearly intertwined and
views the independent industry as a key stakeholder. Mkonza expressed
her wish for constant engagement between SABC and the industry and her
commitment to locally produced content. ,
The coalition welcomed her comments and agreed to a formal meeting with
the board with a view to providing mutual insights on the challenges
facing the sustainability of the independent sector and the SABC.
The SABC reconfirmed the importance of the Operations Task Team and
Intellectual Property Management (IPM) committees which were instituted
3 years ago. These committees will be reignited and scheduled into the
SABC annual calendar.  The mandate of these committees has been extended
to meet the current and future challenges which include sustainability
and advocacy, but the immediate focus will be to resolve any outstanding
The industry acknowledged the SABC budget constraints and agreed to work
together in finding common solutions regarding the SABC's funding model
and the industries growth and sustainability.
Overall, there was a common understanding that both the SABC and
industry share a common destiny and that both parties seek a
relationship that is based on a sustainable mutually beneficial
'The meeting has cleared things up and we look forward to a relationship
of mutual trust between us and the SABC.  The coalition has people that
we are accountable to and we are happy to be able to report back to them
from this meeting that the SABC  is committed to deliver on their
commitments,' said Rehad Desai, spokesperson for the coalition.
In a quest for broadcasting for total citizen empowerment and to deliver
on our public value, both parties have agreed to constantly engage each
other and strive to build a lasting partnership which can assist in
developing a comprehensive turn around strategy.
 Media Enquiries:  Kaizer Kganyago -  082 306 8888

* NB DFA Note: DFA has made a financial contribution to the TIEC on behalf of it's members, and previously confirmed it's commitment to the Coalition in writing. It has followed up the commission of it's name in this release, and has been assured it was an error, and in will be included in future TIEC correspondence). DFA members are welcome to make additional contributions to the funding of legal and other representation on this important Coalition if they are able. Contact: DFA has made a R2000 contribution to the Coalition and supports and monitors it on behalf of it's members.